Friday, December 28, 2007

Warm Fuzzies

I'm hooked on the Top 40 song "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat. Its sweet lyrics and laid-back groove remind me of cozy, intimate times with the guy I love. :-)

The rain is falling on my window pane
But we are hiding in a safer place
Under covers staying dry and warm
You give me feelings that I adore

They start in my toes make me crinkle my nose
Where ever it goes I always know
That you make me smile please stay for a while now
Just take your time where ever you go
I've been asleep for a while now
You tuck me in just like a child now
'Cause every time you hold me in your arms
I'm comfortable enough to feel your warmth

It starts in my soul and I lose all control
When you kiss my nose the feeling shows
Cause you make me smile baby, just take your time now
Holdin' me tight

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ann Coulter does NOT heart Huckabee

Extreme conservative commentator Ann Coulter has written a column "There's A Huckabee Born Every Minute" slamming the former Arkansas governor for not fitting her conservative ideals.
Liberals adore Huckabee because he fits their image of what an evangelical should be: stupid and easily led.
Issue 1: evolution
The media are transfixed by the fact that Huckabee says he doesn't believe in evolution.
Asked on CNN's "Larry King Live" Monday night about his beliefs on evolution, Huckabee rushed to assure King that he has no interest in altering textbooks that foist this fraud on innocent schoolchildren.

I don't understand that. Does Huckabee believe Darwinism is a hoax or not? If he knows it's a fraud, then why does he want it taught to schoolchildren?
Issue 2: gay stuff
When not evolving his position on Darwinism, Huckabee insults gays by pointlessly citing the Bible's rather pointed remarks about sodomy -- fitting the [mainstream media]'s image of evangelicals sitting around all day denouncing gays. (Which is just so unfair. I'm usually done denouncing gays by 10:30 a.m., 11 tops.)
Huckabee has said he agrees with the Supreme Court's lunatic opinion that sodomy is a constitutional right. ...when Huckabee was asked about this jaw-dropping ruling from the high court [Lawrence vs. Texas], he said the majority opinion "probably was appropriate."
Issue 3 (actually, more of a quick rant): Huckabee's position on smoking
Hey! How about adults privately smoking cigarettes in their homes? Nope, Huckabee wants a federal law banning smoking but thinks state laws banning sodomy are "probably" unconstitutional.
Coulter's bizarre conclusion?
I guess Huckabee is one of those pro-sodomy, pro-gay marriage, pro-evolution evangelical Christians.

No wonder Huckabee is the evangelical liberals like.
Coulter doesn't stop there. In a follow-up column, "Liberals sing Huckelujah," Coulter continues her rant against the former governor.

Issue 4: education vouchers
Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse.
Issue 5: education for children of illegal immigrants
He is, however, in favor of school choice for kids in Mexico: They have the choice of going to school there or here. Huckabee promoted giving in-state tuition in Arkansas to illegal immigrants from Mexico -- but not to U.S. citizens from Ohio. "I don't believe you punish the children," he said, "for the crime and sins of the parents."
Issue 6 (actually another quick rant): Huckabee's gubernatorial pardons
That's almost as crazy as a governor pardoning a known sex offender so he can go out and rape and kill.
Coulter concludes these decisions make Huckabee look more like a Democrat than a Republican.
Now, where have I heard this sort of thing before? Hmmm ... wait, now I remember: It was during the Democratic debates!
For those of you keeping score at home, this puts Huckabee just a little to the left of Dennis Kucinich on illegal immigration and border control. The only difference is that Kucinich supports amnesty for aliens from south of the border and north of Saturn.
He supports a nationwide smoking ban anyplace where people work, constitutional protection for sodomy, big government, higher taxes and government benefits for illegal aliens. According to my calculations, that puts him about three earmarks away from being Nancy Pelosi.
And then there's this disgusting gem
Huckabee confirms for liberal TV hosts their image of conservatives as dorks by bragging about how cool he is because he "likes music." What's he doing -- running for president or filling out his Facebook profile? Arkansas former fatty loves to make jokes and play the bass guitar. Remember what happened to the last former fatboy from Arkansas trying to be "cool" by liking music? I'll take "Stained Dresses" for $400, Alex.
This woman's vitriol is unbelievable. It's so bitter and unconscionable that it makes me think of... the words we hear coming from Fred Phelps' family. I wonder if one of these days we'll be reading an investigative report into Ann Coulter's childhood and discover she was horribly abused. I hope that's not the case.

Don't Vote for Mitt Romney

So a confession: a few months ago I was seriously considering Mitt Romney a viable presidential candidate. Unlike many folks, I wasn't at all opposed to his Mormon faith. I thought he had a decent administration record given his work as governor of Massachusetts and oversight of the Salt Lake City Olympics. In the hypothetical case that he was selected as the Republican presidential nominee, I could imagine myself voting for him.

No more. I now don't think the guy can be trusted at all.

Blogger Ed Brayton has posted the transcript from Mitt Romney's recent interview with Tim Russert and some thoughtful commentary. This interview and some recent research by the press has left me totally disgusted with Romney. I'm left feeling acutely grateful for the freedom of the American press and the important antagonistic relationship between the American press and American politics.

On abortion:
MR. RUSSERT: I want to take abortion first. I participated in your debate in 2002 when you ran for governor of Massachusetts. I asked you about that issue, and this was your response. Let's watch.

(Videotape) GOV. ROMNEY: My position has been the same throughout my political career, and it goes back to the days of 1970. There was a woman who was running for political office, U.S. Senate. She took a very bold and courageous stand in 1970, and that was in a conservative state. That was that a woman should have the right to make her own choice as to whether or not to have an abortion. Her name was Lenore Romney, she was my mom. I will preserve and protect a woman's right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard. (End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: "Devoted and dedicated" to honoring your word. When you ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy, you were asked the same question. This was your response.

(Videotape) GOV. ROMNEY: Many, many years ago I had a dear close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter.

Offscreen Voice: Thank you, Mr...

GOV. ROMNEY: And you will not see me wavering on that. (End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT: You--will not see you wavering on that issue. You now have said you support the 2004 Republican Party platform, which says this: "We say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We" suggest "a human life amendment to the Constitution." Such amendment would ban abortions all across the country. Why such a dramatic and profound change after pledging never to waiver on a woman's right to choose?

Bah. We're not talking "flip-flopping" here. We're talking about lying--either then or now--about his deep "unwavering" convictions.

On religion and freedom:
(Videotape) GOV. ROMNEY: Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. (End videotape)


MR. RUSSERT: But when you say freedom requires religion, can you be a moral person and be an atheist?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, oh, of course. Oh, of course.

MR. RUSSERT: And participate in freedom?

GOV. ROMNEY: Oh, of course. Yes, this...

MR. RUSSERT: So freedom doesn't require religion?

Bah. Ridiculous! Thomas Jefferson must be rolling in his grave.

On racism and his Mormon faith:
MR. RUSSERT: You, you raise the issue of color of skin. In 1954 the U.S. Supreme Court, Brown vs. Board of Education, desegregated all our public schools. In 1964 civil rights laws giving full equality to black Americans. And yet it wasn't till 1978 that the Mormon church decided to allow blacks to participate fully. Here was the headlines in the papers in June of '78. "Mormon Church Dissolves Black Bias. Citing new revelation from God, the president of the Mormon Church decreed for the first time black males could fully participate in church rites." You were 31 years old, and your church was excluding blacks from full participation. Didn't you think, "What am I doing part of an organization that is viewed by many as a racist organization?"

GOV. ROMNEY: I'm very proud of my faith, and it's the faith of my fathers, and I certainly believe that it is a, a faith--well, it's true and I love my faith. And I'm not going to distance myself in any way from my faith.
Romney went on to claim (as he has on multiple occasions) that both he and his father (the former governor of Michigan) once marched with Dr. Martin Luther King in Detroit. Several newspapers, including the Boston Globe, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and the Detroit Free Press have done some research and discovered that claim just isn't true. The Romney campaign's new tactic: claim that Romney "figuratively" marched with King. At a recent campaign event in Iowa, Romney said:
If you look at the literature, if you look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of in the sense I've described. It's a figure of speech and very familiar, and it's very common. And I saw my dad march with Martin Luther King. I did not see it with my own eyes, but I saw him in the sense of being aware of his participation in that great effort.
Bah. Can you believe this stuff? 100% pure bull.

Interestingly, New Hampshire's Concord Monitor has anti-endorsed Mitt Romney:

When New Hampshire partisans are asked to defend the state's first-in-the-nation primary, we talk about our ability to see the candidates up close, ask tough questions and see through the baloney. If a candidate is a phony, we assure ourselves and the rest of the world, we'll know it.

Mitt Romney is such a candidate. New Hampshire Republicans and independents must vote no.

Now we watch and see whether the good people of Iowa and New Hampshire agree.

The Cost

A dear friend of mine has posted an emotionally-charged and thought-provoking entry to his blog. I met "Pomoprophet" during my five years in "ex-gay" reorientation therapy--at the time both of us were convinced that gay relationships were immoral and were trying our best to become heterosexuals.

Time, experience, and thought has brought me to a different perspective. Pomo is unsure at the moment, but he is seriously rethinking his moral convictions. He has written a blog entry about the "costs" he would incur if he does come out as gay and begin seeking a life partner. He is acutely aware of the relationships he would lose among his evangelical Christian friends and family.

I encourage you to read his blog entry and the comments that follow. Quite a few gay Christians have weighed in with their thoughts and lessons learned when they came out. Tough stuff. Good stuff.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas from Iowa City

I'm relaxing in an easy chair in my boyfriend's parents' living room. Before me, a large window affords a gorgeous view of the snow-covered rolling hills of East Central Iowa. We are enjoying a very pleasant white Christmas with C's family.

C's maternal grandparents are here, as are his two sisters and his adorable 1-1/2 year old nephew, Alexander. Xander and I have endeared ourselves to each other yesterday via a simple game Xander calls "earthquake." Xander will push a square plastic laundry basket up to me and then climb inside. The he will look up at me, say "earthquake," and begin rocking back and forth in the basket--that's my cue to contribute to the rocking up the basket, picking it up off the floor and swaying it side-to-side or tossing him in the air. He giggles nonstop :-)

C's parents have a nice home in the country just outside of Iowa City, Iowa, the old state capitol. The image above is of the snow-covered old capitol building in downtown.

Speaking of government, this state is crawling with political activity leading up to the Iowa Presidential Caucuses, the casting of the first votes in the nomination process for the next U.S. president--now only a week away. Since we've arrived, I've seen six candidate TV commericals, three or four featuring Barack Obama and one each featuring Hillary Clinton and John Edwards (but no Republicans...?) I've had a few conversations with C's family members, hearing their thoughts on the candidates, whether they intend to caucus, and if so, which candidate they intend to caucus for.

C's sister is a big fan of Barack Obama and proudly shows photos of Obama to her baby. She's told us how frustrated she is that she missed Barack this past weekend--he was scheduled to hold a rally in Iowa City last Friday, but weather prevented his plane from arriving. Barack will be back here this coming Friday, and C's sister plans to be there. Obama's campaign is bringing in out-of-state volunteers to take care of her baby the night of the caucuses next week.

All the presidential candidates have apparently taken today (Christmas Day) off to be with family, but the political frenzy returns tomorrow. Chris Dodd has even moved his wife and kids to Des Moines earlier this month so that he can celebrate Christmas without leaving the state and be centrally located for the last big push before the caucuses.

The Des Moines Register--the big newspaper in Iowa--arrived at C's parents' house yesterday stuffed with the latest information on the candidates and promising the paper's official "caucus guide" to the candidates and issues next Sunday.

So much activity. So much potential in the air. Everyone is talking about change and the future.

And here I sit, enjoying the beauty of the snow and the warmth of C's family's hospitality. Xander is rocking on a wooden horse built by C's grandfather. C's mom and grandmother are on the couch flipping through an Amish cookbook and a cookbook for cast-iron skillet meals. C's sister has the paper spread on the floor. And C himself has fallen asleep (post-Christmas dinner drowsiness) next to me.

It's so relaxing and nostalgic and no big deal. C and I are welcome here--not just tolerated--welcome. I never, ever imagined that this was possible. I am so grateful today, and aware that C and I are tremendously blessed.

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Adopting Foreign Babies

Hee Hee :-) Here's a funny clip from the Daily Show from earlier this year. Correspondent Samantha Bee finds out why adopting foreign babies is so hot with celebrities.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Vermont Legislative Commission Ponders Gay Marriage

On July 1, 2000, Vermont became the second state after California to create legal recognition of some sort for same-sex couples. These legal relationships--called "civil unions" in Vermont--offer many but not all benefits of legal "marriage" to same-sex couples.

Earlier this year (2007), the speaker of the Vermont House of Representatives and the president pro tem of the Vermont Senate created the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition to review and evaluate "Vermont’s laws relating to the recognition and protection of same-sex couples and the families they form." The Commission has been criscrossing the narrow state, holding townhall style community meetings to assess Vermonters feelings about civil unions and the idea of "gay marriage."

So far the Commission has held 6 of these community meetings (3 more to go). The response has been interesting: virtually all participants in the meetings are supporters of gay marriage. If there are opponents of gay marriage in Vermont, not many have decided to come to the meetings.

Check out this audio article from Vermont Public Radio, in which Commission Chairman Tom Little is interviewed.

Hat tip: Google news

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mike Huckabee: What Environmentalism, Homosexuality, & Necrophilia Have in Common

Jim Burroway has just announced Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is the latest recipient of one of his infamous LaBarbera Awards for "the most outrageous, offensive, malevolent, crazy, or excessive" statements and claims. Huckabee's statements that have attracted attention come from his 1998 book Kids Who Kill:
Abortion, environmentalism, AIDS, pornography, drug abuse, and homosexual activism have fragmented and polarized our communities.
It is now difficult to keep track of the vast array of publicly endorsed and institutionally supported aberrations—from homosexuality and pedophilia to sadomasochism and necrophilia.
First of all, what's so bad about environmentalism? How is it in any way similar to AIDS? Second of all, when did the government begin "endorsing" pedophilia and sadomasochism? How are these in any way similar to homosexuality? And necrophilia? Seriously, what in the world was Huckabee thinking?


Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin

Yale: Top 10 Quotations of 2007

From the Yale Book of Quotations comes the top 10 quotes from the year 2007.
  1. "Don't Tase Me, Bro" --University of Florida student Andrew Meyer, seeking to stop campus police from throwing him out of a speech by Senator John Kerry.

  2. "I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S.or should help South Africa and should help Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us" --Lauren Upton, the South Carolina contestant in the Miss Teen America contest, responding to why one-fifth of Americans are unable to locate the United States on a map.

  3. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country" --Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comment at Columbia University in New York.

  4. "That's some nappy-headed hos there" --shock jock Don Imus on the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

  5. "I don't recall" —Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' repeated response to questioning at a Congressional hearing about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

  6. "There's only three things he [Republican presidentialc andidate and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani] mentions in a sentence: a noun and a verb and 9/11" — Senator Joseph Biden, speaking at a Democratic presidential debate.

  7. "I'm not going to get into a name-calling match with somebody [Vice President Dick Cheney] who has a 9 percent approval rating" —Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

  8. "[I have] a wide stance when going to the bathroom" –Idaho Republican Sen. Larry Craig's explanation of why his foot touched that of an undercover policeman in a men's room.

  9. "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man" —Senator Joseph Biden describing rival Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

  10. "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history" —Former President Jimmy Carter in an interview in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.
Hat-tip: Bible Belt Blogger, VMVZ news

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Peter Jackson to Film "The Hobbit"

Yep. Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema are returning to Middle Earth. Check out any of the top ten search results for "the hobbit" on Photography is set to begin in 2009 with a release of the film in 2010.

Hat tip: Charity

Two Funny Videos

This one is not new, but I thought the timing was proper for a re-viewing. Jamie Denbo, fake author of the nonexistent book "How to Fake a Happy Christmas," makes a hilarious appearance on the Criag Fergusen show.

This next one I just came across. It's a clip from the episode of "Desperate Housewives" in which a gay couple moves into the neighborhood and makes first contact with a busybody neighbor.

Fred Phelps: Child Abuser, Spouse Abuser, Drug Abuser

Wow. I suddenly see the crazies over at Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in completely different light.

Check out the report "Addicted to Hate: the Fred Phelps Story" written several years ago by reporters for the Topeka Capital-Journal, the newspaper in the Phelps' hometown. The report reveals Fred Phelps to be something of a monster who brutally beat his wife and 13 children until some of kids began fleeing the family once they turned eighteen.

Two of his sons, Mark and Nate, now both businessmen in California, have spoken to the press about the unbelievable atrocities committed in the Phelps household during their childhood. These stories illustrate the insanely hateful mind of Fred Phelps and offer an explanation for the bizarre "God hates America," "God loves dead soldiers," "God hates fags," etc. messages that Phelps spreads across the internet and at pickets around the nation.
"My father is addicted to hate. Why? I can't say. But I know he has to let it out. As rage. In doing so, he has violated the sacred trust of a parent and a pastor.

"I'm not trying to hurt my father. And I'm not trying to save him. I'm going to tell what happened because I've decided it's the only way I can overcome my past: to drag it into the light and break its chains."

Mark believes that Fred Phelps, no longer able to hate and abuse his adult children if he hopes to keep them near, by necessity now must turn all his protean anger outward against his community. Mark has decided to tell the truth about his father so that others will be warned. He and his brother have now come forward with specific and detailed stories, alarming tales, ones that could be checked and have been verified.

Mark's testimony supports Nate's previously, and both men's statements have been confirmed by a third Phelps' child. In addition, the Capital-Journal has uncovered documents which substantiate this testimony, and interviewed dozens of relevant witnesses who have confirmed much of this information.
For instance, consider the following Christmas story that begins the second chapter of the report, disturbingly titled "Daddy's Hands."
Mark Phelps feels nauseated whenever he remembers that night. He was hit over 60 times and his brother, Nate, over 200 with a mattock (pickax) handle. Nate went into shock. Mark didn't. A boy who became a compulsive counter to handle the stress, Mark counted every stroke. His and Nate's. While their father screamed obscenities and his brother screamed in pain. Every 20 strokes, their mother wiped their faces off in the tub. Nate passed out anyway.

That was Christmas Day.

A mattock is a pick-hoe using a wooden handle heavier than a bat. Fred swung it with both hands like a ballplayer and with all his might.

"The first blow stunned your whole body," says Mark. "By the third blow, your backside was so tender, even the lightest strike was agonizing, but he'd still hit you like he wanted to put it over the fence. By 20, though, you'd have grown numb with
pain. That was when my father would quit and start on my brother. Later, when the feeling had returned and it hurt worse than before, he'd do it again.

"After 40 strokes, I was weak and nauseous and very pale. My body hurt terribly. Then it was Nate's turn. He got 40 each time. I staggered to the bathtub where my mom was wetting a towel to swab my face. Behind me, I could hear the mattock and my brother was choking and moaning. He was crying and he wouldn't stop."

The voice in the phone halts. After an awkward moment, clearing of throats, it continues: "Then I heard my father shouting my name. My mom was right there, but she wouldn't help me. It hurt so badly during the third beating that I kept wanting to drop so he would hit me in the head. I was hoping I'd be knocked out, or killed...anything to end the pain. After was waiting that was terrible. You didn't know if, when he was done with Nate, he'd hurt you again. I was shaking in a cold panic. Twenty-five years since it happened, and the same sick feeling in my stomach comes back now..."

Did he? Come back to you?

"No. He just kept beating Nate. It went on and on and on. I remember the sharp sound of the blows and how finally my brother stopped screaming... It was very quiet. All I could think of was would he do that to me now. I could see my brother lying there in shock, and I knew in a moment it would be my turn.

"I can't describe the basic animal fear you have in your gut at a time like that. Where someone has complete power over you. And they're hurting you. And there is no escape. No way out."
This story is just the tip of the iceberg. I was horrified reading the document. Fred Phelps brutally beat all his children--boys and girls, young and old--as well as his wife.
Sometimes Pastor Phelps preferred to grab one child by their little hands and haul them into the air. Then he would repeatedly smash his knee into their groin and stomach while walking across the room and laughing. The boys remember this happening to Nate when he was only seven, and to Margie and Kathy even after they were sexually developed teenagers. Nate recalls being taken into the church once where his father, a former golden gloves boxer, bent him backwards over a pew, body-punched him, spit in his face, and told him he hated him.

"He habitually had violent rages that included profane cursing, beyond any sailor's ability to curse, where he threw and broke anything he could get his hands on," states Mark. "My father routinely demolished the kitchen and dining room areas, as well as his bedroom. He would not only beat mom and the kids, he would smash dishes, glasses, anything breakable in sight; he'd even throw everything out of the refrigerator.

"He'd literally cover the floor with debris. I remember seeing so much broken crockery once it looked like an archeologists's dig. There was ketchup and mustard and mayonnaise splashed across the walls, cupboards, and floor like a paint bomb had gone off in there. "Afterwards he'd go upstairs to the bedroom-and force mom to go with him. It would take hours for us kids to clean up after his rages. He never helped-he'd just dump on us and leave.
Fred Phelps became addicted to drugs during the 1960s, when he attended law school.
According to Mark, who was 10 when his father graduated, Fred Phelps became heavily dependent on amphetamines and barbituates while in law school. Every week for 6 years, from 1962-1967, their mother would give Mark a 20 dollar bill and ask him to go down and pick up his father's 'allergy medicine'. Mark always got the bottle of little red pills from 'the tall blond man' at the nearby pharmacy. He was told they were to 'help daddy wake up'.

He also picked up bottles of little yellow pills that were to 'help daddy get to sleep'. But the beast already so poorly penned within Fred now came out. Under the conflicting tug of speed that wouldn't wear off and the Darvon he'd taken to sleep, the Pastor Phelps would often wake his family in the middle of the night while doing his imitation of a whirling dervish whose shoes were tied together: "With all the drugs, he had very little body control," remembers Mark, "so we weren't really scared of him then. But he would fall and break the bed apart; get up and knock over all the bedroom furniture.

"Mom would start screaming and call Freddy and me to help her get him under control and put the bed together. My dad's face would look totally stoned, and he couldn't focus his eyes. He couldn't walk in a straight line, and sometimes he couldn't even get up off the floor."

Adds Nate: "Another time when he was stoned on drugs, my dad started going after my mom. She was yelling for help. My two older brothers, probably 12 and 13 at the time, went running upstairs and tried to force my dad back into his bedroom. He was ranting and raving like a lunatic.

"They managed to get him inside his room and slammed the door shut and locked it from the outside. He started pounding on the door and screaming incoherently. Finally, he actually broke the door down. That seemed to calm him a bit, and he fell back on the bed and passed out."

According to Mark, the physician who wrote those prescriptions delivered all or most of the Phelps children, and was their family doctor when they were growing up. During the period in question, he at least twice reported his doctor bag stolen and its narcotics missing. The thieves were never caught. When this physician shot himself in a Topeka parking lot in 1979, he was under investigation for providing drugs illegally to his female patients in exchange for sexual favors.

What kind of drugs? Amphetamines.

The pastor's heavy drug use continued from 1962 until late 1967 or early 1968, according to Mark Phelps. Confined to itself and tormented by an increasingly explosive, abusive, and erratic father, the family hung on day-to-day. Finally, Fred's system could no longer withstand being wrenched up by reds in the morning and jerked down by barbituates at night. One day, he didn't wake up. Mark remembers seeing the long, gray ambulance in the driveway. His father had slipped into a coma from toxic drug abuse. Fred Phelps remained in the hospital for a week, while Mrs. Phelps told the children he had suffered an adverse reaction to an 'allergy medicine'.

When he emerged, Phelps was drug-free and powerfully resolved to regain control of his body. If it was the temple to his soul, he had neglected it. With an astounding strength of will, he immediately plunged into a water-only fast, dropping from 265 to 135 in 47 days. During the fast, "he looked like a scarecrow," says Mark. "He stalked about the house with a scarf around his head, clutching a bible to his chest." But the Pastor Phelps broke his addiction and never relapsed.
Although you can see Fred Phelps on YouTube giving his weekly diatribes, the member of the Phelps clan that I see most often in the national media is Shirley Phelps, one of Fred's daughters. I recall watching videos of Shirley several times on Fox News, the BBC, MTV, and the Tyra Banks show. Previously, her vitriol enraged and confused me. Now, as I watch Shirley spew stunningly hateful words about people she doesn't even know, I imagine her as a child being held in the air by her father while he swears at her and knees her in the groin--or I see her back against the wall as her dad is throwing dishes and food around the kitchen, screaming and swearing and spitting--or I see her screaming as her father beats her incessantly while telling her she is ugly and that he hates her.

This family has been brutally mistreated. They don't deserve our anger, they deserve our action. Child abuse tends to be a behavior that is repeated by the abused. There's no telling what is presently happening to Shirley's children or Fred Phelp's other grandchildren. The State of Kansas needs to take immediate action on behalf of the grandchildren--perhaps removing the children from their homes while a thorough investigation takes place. And Shirley and her siblings need a lot of help.

Hat tips: More Musings, Nate Phelps

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ridiculously Cool Blogger

Meet Misty Sayoko Irons: straight, mother of three, devout Christian, homeschooler, married to a former pastor, and resident of California. Mrs. Irons received a B.A. from UCLA in 1990 and a M.A. in Biblical Studies from Westminster Seminary California, in 1996, has all the credentials of a highly intelligent, highly respected member of her Calvinist church community.

And then Misty met Gregg and Joel. I strongly encourage you to read the short piece she wrote about meeting the gay couple who moved into the apartment across from hers in the fall of 1997. I almost wept when I read it last night. Misty describes being deeply convicted of her bigotry and misunderstandings through her interactions with the gay couple across the hall.

She began to read a lot of literature on homosexuality, both from the gay perspective and the Christian establishment perspective. Although her conviction on the morality of homosexuality never changed, her understanding of the issues involved deepened considerably.

In February 2002, Misty wrote an essay called "A Conservative Christian Case for Civil Same-Sex Marriage" and posted it to her blog. The document was discovered by someone in her denomination, touching off a controversy that spread not only throughout her home denomination, but several other Reformed (Calvinist) denominations as well. As a result, from March 2002 to April 2003 she was repeatedly threatened with church discipline if she did not comply with shutting down her blog.

In the end, she never did shut down her blog and charges never were brought against her. Her husband however, an ordained minister, was brought to trial in church courts on two charges. In January 2003 one of the charges against him was upheld in court (his subsequent appeal in June 2003 was denied), resulting in him being indefinitely suspended from the ministry. The couple left the denomination in October 2003 and ended up dissolving their congregation in December 2003. Her husband is presently pursuing an academic career in New Testament studies.

Folks, as much as anyone I know, I think Misty "gets it." I'm so impressed with this woman.

I encourage you to check out her blog, especially her stirring piece about Gregg and Joel.

Hat tip: Eugene at Paradoxy

Friday, December 14, 2007

Evan and Addison

Meet Evan Hoyt and Addison Smith. I have a lot in common with these guys. Both are in their late twenties, both grew up in Texas, both attended Southern Baptist churches in their youth. Oh yeah, and they are both gay.

That's where the similarities end--for now. Why? Well, Evan and Addison just officially became domestic partners in New York. In a recent Queerty article, they talk about their lives growing up, coming to terms with their sexuality and their faith, their first relationships, and how they eventually met and decided the other was "the one."

Yeah, I'm a sucker for sweet relationship stories. :-)

BTW, in case you're wondering, Evan's mug (seen in the photo above) is emblazened with the phrase "Faggots to Burn." Fred Phelps would approve ;-)

Mormons and Racial Minorities

In 2 Nephi 5:21 of the Book of Mormon, we find the following words describing God's punishment of the sinful Native Americans.
And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them (emphasis mine)
This scripture formed part of the basis of Mormon doctrine that banned black people from entering any Mormon temple prior to 1978. According to Frank Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

Mormons believe that these passages are the word of God, as sacred as the Bible itself.

Good Mormons do not believe the ban on blacks was immoral, Brigham Young University religion professor Robert Millet said, adding, “It isn’t something we’re ashamed of. It isn’t something we feel was inappropriate.”

Mormons, Millet said, believe they were obeying God by barring blacks.
There has been much speculation on whether the peculiarities of the Mormon faith will scuttle Mitt Romney's bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, we must remember that the history of evangelical Christianity--the religion claimed by most of the Republican presidential hopefuls--is also besmirched with racial prejudice and justification of slavery, based partly on Genesis 9:25-26, from which many Christians concluded black people ("Canaanites") were cursed by God and designated to be slaves.
"Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers." He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem."
Like Mormons, most evangelical Christians no longer hold racist views. But there are still some remnants (i.e. Thomas Robb Ministries) who preach otherwise. (For a crazy read, check out the article "The Anglo-Saxon Jesus" by lawyer Jason Robb, who goes to great lengths to argue that Jesus has fair skin and fair hair color).

In my opinion, if Mitt Romney's faith is going to be roasted on the spit of public scrutiny, the faith of the other candidates should be as well.

Hat Tip: Bible Belt Blogger

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Creation Science Museum Photos

A group of conservative Christians opened the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky (a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio) earlier this year. The museum educates visitors in "young earth creationism," a belief that the earth is about 6,0000 years old and that the earth and all life came into existence in six calendar days. Proponents of this belief hold that the Bible teaches young earth creationism is fact and therefore the theory of evolution is false.

A skeptical (and quite sarcastic) blogger recently paid a visit to the Creation Museum and posted photos from the museum (and snarky comments) on FlickR. While I find the blogger's attitude rather repugnant and not very helpful in the "culture wars," the photos he has posted are fascinating. I have selected three of the most interesting to point out.

" 'Millions of Years' Undermines Every Major Doctrine of the Bible." This display from the Creation Museum highlights the "young earth" belief that evolution is contrary to Christian faith. My first response to this is curiosity; I grew up an evangelical Christian, but I never believed the earth was 6,000 years old nor that the physical world came into existence in 6 calendar days. In fact, the age of the earth didn't matter to my faith or my respect for the Bible. And this brings me to my second response to this photo: offense. This display communicates a passive-aggressive message discrediting the faith of many Christians who respect every word of the Bible while not interpreting every word literally.

"Scripture Abandoned in the Culture." In a room eerily illuminated in red light, the museum displays newspaper headlines and magazine clippings that supposedly indicate the depravity of American culture which, the museum contends, has "abandoned" the true teaching of the Bible. See how many occurances of "gay" and "homosexual" you can find on this wall--mixed among headlines on school shootings, Terry Schiavo, stem cell research, and a bumper sticker that says "no heaven. no hell. just science." What a bizarre mixed message! My first response to this photo is exhaustion and sadness. I long for a day of respectful dialog between Christians and gay people; this photo reminds me that day is a long way off. My second response to this photo is surprise; where are the abortion headlines? the headlines about no prayer in school?

"God's Word is True." I found this placard particularly interesting, because it contains many of the reasons I no longer consider myself an evangelical Christian. The first reason is the phrase "God's Word," which is equated (without justification in this photo, although I'm sure any of the museum's founders would readily supply his or her personal explanation) with the Bible. While I grew up believing this equation to be true, I no longer believe it is accurate, and therein lies my primary break with evangelicals. The second is the top bulleted item on the placard, "40 authors, writing over 2,000 years, spoke the SAME MESSAGE." I heartily disagree with this statement. What I can agree with on this placard is the footer message: "ABOVE ALL, the GOD of TRUTH, the CREATOR of heaven and earth, inspired the men who penned the words." I find it interesting that I agree with the "ABOVE ALL" statement, but not with any of the above statements...

Hat tip: Dispatches from the Culture Wars

U.S. Drought Monitor

Just how dry is it in Atlanta? Check out the U.S. Drought Monitor courtesy of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Maps show contours corresponding to the most abnormally dry areas of the U.S., indicating Atlanta plight is shared by Northern Alabama and the Carolinas. Animated maps show the progression of the drought over time.

Cool. Informative. Sobering.

Hat Tip: NPR

Are Social Conservatives Obsessed with Homosexuality?

Have you ever visited the site It was created a few years ago as an online encyclopedia with a socially conservative slant--to "balance", the online encyclopedia which conservapedia's creators contend is liberally biased. Conservapedia's appeal to conservative Christians is immediately noticeable from the "Daily Bible Verse" displayed prominently on the site's front page.

Not long ago, blogger Andrew Sullivan noted the statistics for most frequently viewed pages on conservapedia. See if you can spot the trend below [the numbers in brackets corresponds to the number of times a particular conservapedia page has been viewed]

1. Main Page [1,897,952]
2. Homosexuality [1,496,027]
3. Homosexuality and Hepatitis [516,229]
4. Homosexuality and Promiscuity [417,064]
5. Homosexuality and Parasites [387,476]
6. Homosexuality and Domestic Violence [329,295]
7. Homosexuality and Gonorrhea [328,327]
8. Gay Bowel Syndrome [318,139]
9. Homosexuality and Syphilis [262,286]
10. Homosexuality and Mental Health [253,125]

Hmm. There seems to be a preoccupation with homosexuality.

Those were the top pages as of November 20th. I checked the statistics again today; the current stats are as follows.

1. Homosexuality‎ [2,113,469]
2. Main Page‎ [2,022,992]
3. Homosexuality and Anal Cancer‎ [295,958]
4. Homosexual Agenda‎ [274,972]
5. Arguments Against Homosexuality‎ [253,143]

  • Homosexuality and it's perceived nasties still dominate the top five. Moreover, the "homosexuality" entry has surpassed the main page as the most visited page on the site. This seems to imply that external websites are now linking directly to conservapedia's homosexuality page (bypassing the need for site visitors to go to the main page and enter the search term there).
  • Note the order of magnitude difference in the number of hits received by the "homosexuality" entry and the main page with that of the next-most accessed pages. Nearly ten times as many people visit conservapedia's "homosexuality" entry as visit any other entry in the encyclopedia.
  • Four of the pages that were top hits a month ago ("Homosexuality and Hepatitis"[516,229], "Homosexuality and Promiscuity" [417,064], "Homosexuality and Parasites" [387,476], "Homosexuality and Domestic Violence" [329,295], "Homosexuality and Gonorrhea" [328,327], "Gay Bowel Syndrome" [318,139]) no longer appear, despite the fact that they had higher visitation than the present 3rd and 4th most popular pages. It seems conservapedia has rearranged its gay pages, perhaps consolidating these lesser pages into it's now mammoth "homosexuality" entry.
  • Also of interest is the fact that homosexuality no longer occupies all of the top ten slots on conservapedia. The remaining five of the top ten indicate somewhat diversified interests.

    6. Examples of Bias in Wikipedia [242,191]
    7. Wikipedia [232,082]
    8. Adolf Hitler [225,767]
    9. Theory of Evolution [224,777]
    10. David Beckham [219,654]

    What surprises me is the appearance of David Beckham among the top entries. What the crap? How'd he get on there? I never thought he was as interesting as "Homosexality and Parasites"... ;-)

Hat tips: The Daily Dish, Box Turtle Bulletin

Meet the Parents

So much has transpired since my last blog entry. I am weary from the last month of events, but so happy because of what has happened. In the past month, I traveled home and introduced my boyfriend C to my family for the first time. I also took and passed my Ph.D. preliminary exam--an achievement that means I am a short six months away from graduation!

I am excited and exhausted and happy :-)

Okay, the details:

My boyfriend and I flew home to Texas, and I introduced him to my grandparents, parents, and brothers. It was the first time my family has met C--in spite of the fact that he and I have been dating for almost two years now. When we began dating, Mom requested that I not bring C home until she was ready--but this year she asked to meet him, and he politely agreed to come along we me on a trip home for Thanksigiving.

I'd be lying if I said we weren't scared. Interaction with my family was so unbelievably miserable last Christmas that I wasn't sure that I wanted to spend time with them again, even without my boyfriend being there! Moreover, I deeply treasure and care for C; I didn't want to walk him into familial hell.

So as our airplane drew closer and closer to Dallas, the knot in my stomach grew tighter and tighter. Finally, about a half-hour from landing, I turned to C, put my hand on his leg, and said, "I don't know if I can do this." C expressed his discomfort, too.

Greeting my parents at the curb of Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport was one of the toughest emotional tasks I've faced in a long time. But we did meet.

And I'm so glad. My parents were awesome. They were so kind and hospitable and warm. They rolled out the red carpet for C, preparing wonderful meals on beautiful dishes day after day. We had long, wonderful conversations in which they got to know C. They taught C their favorite game--a complicated domino game called "42" which C picked up quickly, much to the surprise of me and my parents. And then the four of us played the game for hours on end during the holiday. Dad made a fire in the fireplace. Mom prepared meals. C and I helped clean up the meals.

Only one of my brothers spent the holidays with us--my youngest brother, J. He was good-natured and fun the entire time. J is perhaps the most liberally-minded member of our family, even more so than me. T, my next younger brother, continued his (now 14-month) boycott of family gatherings where I was present. But his absence was surprisingly not a big deal this time around. Our family really mourned his absence last Christmas, but we were quite accustomed to it this time around. No mourning whatsoever. And our time with my family was so warm that I actually felt pity on T for missing out.

My oldest brother, S, celebrated Thanksgiving with his wife's family. C and I did get to see them for about 3-4 hours one day, and I'm grateful we had some time with them. I'm also feel strangely grateful that we didn't have more time with them. S is perhaps the most conservative member of our family (even more so than T; I think T's boycott is based on homophobia, not conservative principles).

We also toured Texas for a few days. I was able to introduce C to both of my grandmothers and my one living (but now senile) grandfather. We also met up with one of my aunts and a few of my cousins. All of my extended family was delighted to meet C.

Our time in Texas exceeded all my expectations and even my hopes. I was stunned. As our plane winged its way back to Illinois, C turned to me and said something I never imagined he'd say, "I loved our time with your family. I'd like to go back someday."

:-) Thank you, God :-)

Part of me is still incredulous. Part of me still doesn't believe what happened happened. Part of me wanted to grab my family members by their collars, shake them vigorously, and shout, "who are you and what have you done with my dysfunctional, ultraconservative family?!" But I didn't pick up any fakery, and forgery, any "masks." Well, with two small exceptions, which I will keep to myself.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with them and was delighted to see C enjoying himself too :-)

God, how can this be? Is there a possibility that C might become a fully-accepted part of my family at some point in my life? :-)

I'm not going to get my hopes up yet. Well, I confess my hopes have gone up based on my experience over Thanksgiving. But Mom and Dad are thus far unaware of all the conversation C and I have put into marriage. They don't know about the three pre-marital counseling appointments we have had recently (a fourth one is coming next week). They don't know that we're planning to buy wedding bands at Christmastime to wear on chains around our necks as a token of engagement. They don't know of our plans to request a small traditional Quaker wedding in our church next summer.

I know all those events will come as emotional "blows" to my family. We may be back to square one after this month. There is such a tough emotional road in front of us still.

But I feel so grateful that we're even able to tread this road. Was this road even imaginable twenty years ago? Would any member of my family be supportive of our relationship thirty years ago? Would anyone in the country be supportive of our relationship fifty years ago? I'm so grateful for the change (that I perceive to be motivated by God) that has happened in our culture. :-)

And I'm happy to be back in Illinois, which is now under snow and ice. While it was nice to be with my family, it was clear that their home is no longer my home. It was wonderful to be there, but I could not truly "rest" there.

I am discovering a new home for myself here. A home shared with the man I love.