Monday, September 20, 2010

The Night Ministry

Many of you know I just started working with The Night Ministry as their Community and Congregational Relations Coordinator. Here's an embedded youtube video about their work.

Unrelatedly, somefolks just hit three hundred posts(!). Go team.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Acres of dental floss

Okay, I should probably say something to put the foregoing in context. The two statements are tangentially related (I am currently not at liberty to provide further details on that statement nor to confirm nor to deny any speculation on how).

Something that has been bothering me an awful lot lately is the statement that keeps cropping up, in one way or another, that various occurrences are "God's will". (To avoid overcomplicating things, we won't go into detail about describing or defining God). As often as not, though, I hear a lot of talk in the circles of Christians with which I am most familiar, that being my family and their churches, of "God sightings", which ultimately are best described as fortunate coincidences. One of my favorite examples of a "God sighting" came when two carloads of parishoners from my parents' church were driving to some church event--possibly a concert or a convention--in Pittsburgh, neither driver being familiar with the locale, got separated on the Interstate and were suddenly reunited immediately before arriving at their destination: the reunion was a "God sighting" because it assured both drivers that they'd arrived at the right place. Never mind that nothing remotely miraculous occurred, nor that it was only to be expected that they should arrive more or less together having traveled under the same directions and left at the same time. The real wall-banger in this to me, though, is that attributing this happy happenstance to divine intervention necessarily implies that these individuals truly believe that in a world of disease, disaster, war, and injustice, God somehow made a priority of sparing them the inconvenience of having to find each other after arriving.

That doesn't really answer the latter and more provocative of my statements from yesterday, though, at least not yet. The connection is here: the first time I heard that particular story, or any of the dozens like it that were given the same honorific designation, I was still disposed, if not to believe it entirely (the latter of my two objections had already become quite apparent), at least to want to believe it. At the same time, I was all too eager to comply with the prescriptions of the leaders of my--relatively conservative--church, including the recommendations of reactionary Christian philosophers, the consumption of whose doctrines and publications was heavily encouraged by the church and my parents. Hence the association with Dr. James C. Dobson, whose organization was instrumental in my voluntary subscription to a variety of the popular fundamentalist morality crusades, and even a few of my own for good measure: someone we all know here will remember all too well my zealous concern for his spiritual safety upon finding out that he liked to play Dungeons & Dragons, and how when given to see that this was not much different from my having played the villain of my middle school class play, I was much more ready to condemn myself along with him than admit that I might just be overreacting to things a bit. And I wondered why I didn't have many friends in middle school.

I wonder if the inevitable kickback from Rev. Jones' upcoming Qur'an barbecue can be attenuated at all if some volunteers organize a competing Bible burning alongside it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A yard strewn with yogurt containers

It occurred to me today, by far not for the first time, that baby dolls disturb me somehow. I find them depressing and sad, just to see them in a store or on TV.

I also said to myself today, also not for the first time, that it's too bad Hell doesn't exist, just because it would be satisfying to see characters like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson end up there.