Thinkerfromiowa's Blog

Conversation about a variety of subjects

The Need To Be Appreciated

The Need to Be Appreciated

Hello, everyone.

Last Sunday, September 10, Lloyd Newell gave a meditation with the above title on the program “Music And The Spoken Word.”  On this one occasion, I am going to quote it verbatim.

“We all know that every person has basic needs: food, water, shelter. But we don’t often think of some less-visible needs. The philosopher and psychologist William James is credited with saying, “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” And yet so many people go days, weeks, months, or even longer without ever hearing a word of thanks or getting any recognition for their good work.

“Conveying appreciation costs so little, but it means so much. A little effort—a word or two, a note, a smile, a hug—can express how much we appreciate another person and give credit where credit is due. It can be surprising how profoundly such an act of appreciation can change people’s attitude about their work and effort and inspire them to do more. It’s hard to forget a genuine compliment or a sincere expression of appreciation and admiration. We treasure it always.

“Unfortunately, noticing the good that others are doing does not always come naturally. So the first step to helping others feel appreciated is simply to notice.

“A woman who oversaw a large community event discovered that few people took the time to thank her or even acknowledge her hard and unpaid work. She resolved to have a more abundant heart and pay attention to the service of others. A man who worked for several years under supervisors who rarely acknowledged his work or appreciated his extra efforts determined to be different if he ever became the boss. Now he is the boss, and he continually looks for ways to recognize and thank people. A mom and dad learned early in parenting that they strengthen bonds with their children and positively motivate them when they say things like “I noticed how hard you worked on that” or “Thank you for being so kind today.” All these people have learned the value of creating a generous, positive, appreciative culture, and it works in an organization, in a home, and in the heart.

“If it is true that humanity’s deepest need is the need to be appreciated, then perhaps our next greatest need should be to show appreciation—to make a difference in someone’s life by expressing how much we appreciate a job well done.”

-Lloyd D. Newell

September 10, 2017

Newell is totally correct.  We all need to know that we are loved and appreciated.

Like everyone else, I have gotten my share of “thanks until you’re better paid” comments.  Back in the 70s, I was the accompanist for a singer who had to be the focus of everything and everyone.  He was an only child, and this fact permeated his personality.  What is sad is the fact that I can’t recall one time when he actually expressed his appreciation for me and my efforts.  His parents did, and I thanked them and appreciated their kindness, but a few words from him would have made my time with him.

In my diary about class reunions, I shared the experiences of my 25th – and 40th – year reunions.  At the first one, we were all friends and equals.  Laughter and memories – and appreciation – were abundantly shared.  At the latter, that all went by the boards, and the cliques that existed during our student days were manifest and rampant.  We outsiders shared our friendship and appreciation of each other, but it just wasn’t the same as our earlier reunion.

It is a psychological fact that each and every one of us needs to be affirmed – and affirmed regularly.  MANY years ago, I read a story about an American lady who visited a German orphanage.  A darling little girl came up to the American and said several times, “Bitte liebe mich.”  The lady never responded, and the little girl finally walked away and sat down in a corner of the room and began to cry.  The lady at the orphanage asked the American, “How could you turn your back on that poor little girl?”  The American said that she couldn’t understand what the girl was saying.  The other lady answered, “She was saying, ‘Please love me.’”  The American lady had the German lady bring the little girl back to her.  She then hugged the little girl and said over and over, “Ich liebe dich!” (“I love you!”)  I don’t think the story said so, but I can picture the little girl’s face lighting up brighter than a million suns.

In this diary, I have used the words “appreciation” and “love” interchangeably, because I believe that they ARE interchangeable.  If you love someone, you appreciate them.  Conversely, if you appreciate someone, you love them.  It is almost impossible for one to appreciate an enemy.

Appreciation can be expressed in so many ways – a smile, a hug, a kiss, a clasp of the hand, a pat on the shoulder, a kind word, even a gift.  HOW appreciation is expressed is not what is important.  What IS important is that appreciation for another person be expressed.

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.”  William James is absolutely correct.  It is amazing what love, understanding, and appreciation can do to the human soul.

You all have a good day today and a great day tomorrow.




September 14, 2017 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

I Miss Him — The Old Man

I Miss Him – The Old Man

Hello, everyone.

Today, June 19, 2016, is Father’s Day.  I want to begin this diary with the lyrics to a song written by Phil Coulter:

Copyright 1981, Four Seasons Music, Ltd.

The tears have all been shed now
we´ve said our last goodbyes
His souls been blessed
He’s laid to rest
And it´s now I feel alone
He was more than just a father
A teacher my best friend
He can still be heard
In the tunes we shared
When we play them on our own

I never will forget him
For he made me “what I am”
Though he may be gone
Memories linger on
And I miss him, the old man

As a boy he’d take me walking
By mountain field and stream
And he showed me things
not known to kings
And secret between him and me
Like the colors of the pheasant
As he rises in the dawn
And how to fish and make a wish
Beside the Holly Tree


I thought he’d live forever
He seemed so big and strong
But the minutes fly
And the years roll by
For a father and a son
And suddenly when it happened
There was so much left unsaid
No second chance
To tell him thanks
For everything he’s done


The first time I heard this song was a night when my Carol and I watched the Three Irish Tenors.  John McDermott sang this song, and I cried all the way through it.  Carol tried to comfort me and asked me what was wrong.  I told her that this song opened up some old wounds involving my stepfather.  She understood and gave me a loving I deeply needed.

My biological “father” walked out on my mother when she was pregnant with me.  A couple of years later, a fine gentleman named Charles T. Chambers met my mother and eventually married her.  In time, he adopted me as his son.  His own mother died when he was a young boy, so he never really knew a mother’s love.  He had to quit school when he was in the second grade to try to earn a little money for his family.  My mother often told me how happy he was to get a family all at once – a wife, a little son, and a mom and dad.

My grandpa was the greatest man I ever knew, and he accepted Dad as his own son.  His wife didn’t, though.  She hated and despised him – for no known legitimate reason – and refused to even let him inside her house.  I  lived with Grandpa and grandma, but Dad wanted me to live with him and Mother.  But that bitch of a mother-in-law he had refused to consider it and threatened him with legal action if he persisted in wanting us to be a true family.  I finally went to live with him and Mother when grandma became too sick to continue living in her house.

Thanks to her, I never had a good relationship with him.  Granted, he was a laborer and outdoorsman and I was a scholar and a brain, but still, I didn’t have the relationship with him that I really wanted.  I can understand his not understanding me, but still.  I eventually came to understand that it was not necessarily me – I was just his outlet – but it was how his in-laws had treated him.

I knew that in his own way, Dad loved me, for it came through in little ways from time to time.  The folks moved me to Wolf Point, Montana, in 1969 so I could take a job there.  Mother mentioned several times how on the trip back to Iowa, Dad talked about how hard it was for him to leave me all alone out there.  I moved back to Iowa a year later because of my health.  I had a horrible time finding work, and Dad kept after me mercilessly.  He just could not understand that guys with disabilities had difficulty in finding people who would hire them.  His treatment hurt me deeply, but I understood where he was coming from.

I remember the last time that I ever saw him.  As time went on, I moved to the north suburbs of Chicago, got married, and found a job.  He had developed cancer – of the liver, I believe – and was in the Veteran’s Hospital in Iowa City.  My brother Tommy and I went back to see him.  I didn’t have a lot to say because there was too much that I wanted to say to him.  A week later, I got the call that he was gone.

In Matthew 10 and Luke 14, “Jesus Christ” said some things that troubled me deeply and eventually led to my renouncing him.  “Jesus” said that we were not worthy of him and could not be his disciples if we loved anyone more than we loved him.  I loved Dad.  I could never renounce him for any hairy “Jesus.”  I took his passing hard because there was so much that I wanted to say to him, but couldn’t.

I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if his bitch of a mother-in-law had treated him with even a sliver of the respect that he deserved.  I will never know.  I think that he truly wanted to be a Dad to me, but just didn’t know how.  I knew I wanted to be a son to him, but I didn’t know how.

Phil Coulter said it well:

I never will forget him
For he made me “what I am”
Though he may be gone
Memories linger on
And I miss him, the old man

Have yourselves a great day and a great Father’s Day.  And if you still have your dad here with you, give him an extra dose of love today.  You’ll be so glad that you did.



June 19, 2016 Posted by | Life, Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

2015 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

January 2, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Love Thy Family

Love Thy Family

Hello, everyone.

I know I don’t blog as much as I should.  But when I started this blog, I determined that I would never blog for the sake of blogging.  I would instead blog when I feel that I have something to say.  And I DO have something to say in this diary.

I have always been up front with the fact that I have absolutely no use for the creature known as “Jesus Christ.”  One reason is the lies that he spoke or had attributed to him in Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10, and in assorted other verses in the Gospels.  Those verses deal with the idea of asking “Jesus” for things and receiving them, no conditions, no qualifications, no ifs, ands, or buts.  But there is another reason why I feel contempt for “Jesus” and that is what I want to talk about.

The basic human organization is the family.  God himself said during the creation that it is not good for man to be alone.  Indeed, I believe that God built into us the craving and desire for companionship.  We can achieve that companionship in many ways – on Facebook, on athletic teams, in lodges like the Masons and the Elks, in clubs like book clubs or photography clubs, and so on.  But the primary organ for satisfying that need to belong and be with others is the family.

And “Jesus” had some rather sick ideas about the family.  For instance, in   Matt 10:34-37 he said:

 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.  35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;  36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’*   37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

And in Luke 14:26, he says:

6 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

In Matthew 12:46-50, there is an account of “Jesus” renouncing his own family.   This is also recounted in Mark 3:31-35 and Luke 8:19-21.  So out of his mouth, “Jesus” expressed some attitudes about the concept of “family” that were not healthy at best, and absolutely sick at worst.

I mention all this to set a point of reference.  A couple of weeks ago, I made a visit to Taylor, Texas, to visit a cousin of mine.  Her brother from Florida was coming to the area to visit his wife’s son.  Since Jimmy, Nikki, and I were extremely close as kids, and since we are in our 60s and 70s and have had health issues in the past, I made this trip to see them and so the three of us could be together again.

If any of you ever saw the show “Roseanne” starring Roseanne Barr from 20 years ago, you may remember that the opening for each episode featured a scene at the Dan and Roseanne Conner table.  They may be eating or playing a game, but there was always this scene of people sitting around a table talking, laughing, and loving.

Nikki has a table, and just like on “Roseanne,” a lot of socializing goes on around that table.  Nikki’s daughter Sarah and her son Grant and their families came around a lot while I was there, and it was just like when Roseanne’s sister Jackie came for a visit.  And, just like the Conners, there was a lot of eating, talking, game-playing, laughing, and loving going on around Nikki’s table.

While I was there, Sarah’s son Jacob decided to run off because of bullying at school.  But Jacob is a very sharp young boy, and he realized very quickly that he needed help, so he called the police and turned himself in.  A couple of days later, Jacob, his grandfather Jerry, and I were seated at the table talking.  There was no judgmental attitude or speech.  The incident was over, and that  was that.  Purely because that is the way it is in families.  And perhaps THAT is one of the problems that “Jesus” had with families.

I felt badly when Jacob ran off – not just for him, but also for his family.  I love Sarah deeply and I love her husband Clint and their daughter Emily as well, and I hurt for them.  I was so relieved when Jacob was found and returned to his family, not only for their sake, but for mine as well.  Because that is the way it is with families.  You all love each other, come rain or shine, and you are always in the same corner.  With love that deep, it is no wonder that “Jesus” was not cool with the idea of familial love.

So, everyone, please love your families.  Stand together in both good times and bad.  And if any outsider or family member should ever disparage your family or any member of it, rally behind that person or against the disparager and stand united.  Because that is just something that families do.

So to Hell with “Jesus” and his anti-family nonsense!  Embrace that thing which the Supreme God built into you when he created you, and embrace and hold dear those who are closest to you.  Love them for who and what they are, warts and all.  You could be unfortunate and marry into a family that is worse than they are.

Everyone have a great day today and tomorrow.


January 24, 2015 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Religion, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World

Hello, everyone.

Today (5/12/13) is Mother’s Day. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir celebrated the day with a special broadcast with a Welsh baritone who sang two songs. First he sang “How Great Thou Art” and did manage to make something out of a wretched dipstick song. But the song that caught me up was “What a Wonderful World,” a truly magnificent, excellent song. I first got acquainted with the song through the rendition done by the late wonderful Louis Armstrong. The lyrics to his rendition are below. The song was written by songwriters George David Weiss, George Douglas, and Bob Thiele. Here are the lyrics.

I see trees of green…….. red roses too
I see em bloom….. for me and for you

And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights

And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow… pretty the sky
Are also on the faces…..of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands…..sayin.. how do you do
They’re really sayin……i love you.

I hear babies cry…… I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more…..than I’ll never know
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world

(instrumental break)

The colors of a rainbow… pretty the sky
Are there on the faces…..of people ..going by
I see friends shaking hands…..sayin.. how do you do
They’re really sayin…*spoken*(I ….love….you).

I hear babies cry…… I watch them grow
*spoken*(you know their gonna learn
A whole lot more than I’ll never know)
And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself …….what a wonderful world.

Yes indeed. What a wonderful world!

I cannot listen to this song or read its lyrics without crying. It is indeed a wonderful world we live in.

Out of my window I see the San Juan Mountains to the south, with snow on them when it’s cold enough to snow. To the east are another range of mountains. To the west is the Uncompahgre Plateau. And to the north there is the Grand Mesa. When I see them all, I can’t help thinking, what a wonderful world I live in.

Last year, I made a trip back to Iowa on the train. As we went through the Colorado Rockies, we crossed the Continental Divide in the 7-mile-long Moffatt Tunnel. As I viewed the majesty of the mountains, I thought, what a truly majestic world this is.

Maybe 15 years ago, Carol and I rode the cog railway to the top of Pike’s Peak. It was cloudy that day, and it rained ice pellets at the summit. But when I saw and videoed the monument to Katherine Lee Bates and her poem “America the Beautiful,” I thought to myself, what a totally wonderful world she must have seen from the top of that mountain!

In December of 1972, I made a trip at Christmas time to visit my brother and his family in New Jersey. I went by train, of course, and was privileged to go around the great Horseshoe Curve in the daylight. As I looked at the scenery through the train window, I thought, what an incredible world to demand an engineering feat like the Horseshoe Curve to get train up and over that particular range of the Appalachians!

A little further, we crossed the Susquehanna River on the Rockville Bridge, the longest stone arch bridge in the world. I looked at the hillsides that went down to the riverbank and thought how, on that drab, dreary gray morning in December, what I was seeing reminded me of pictures I had seen of the fjords in Norway. I almost imagined that I could hear the music of Edvard Grieg being played! And I thought, what a wonderful world I am privileged to be allowed to see!

As I became fully awake, I noticed a black gentleman sleeping in the seat beside me. I remember his getting on in Pittsburgh and how I was not the most polite to him because I was awakened as we went through Pittsburgh. He soon woke up, and I apologized to him for my conduct during the night. He said that there wasn’t any problem, and we got to talking. It was some of the best conversation that I have been privileged to have, and he was also most helpful to me in describing Penn Station in New York City. He was going there too and explained to me how Penn Station operates and what to expect there. I have reflected over the years on what a fantastic world we live in, to allow wonderful people like this very nice black gentleman to cross my path.

In November, 1987, I started seeing an absolutely incredible woman. Over a period of time, we learned much about each other, and we decided that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Finally, a week before Christmas, 2007, she was taken from us. As I have recovered from her loss, I never ceased marveling at what a bright, beautiful world we have because it was illuminated by her presence.

In February,1972, I became a teacher at a very small boarding school in rural Iowa. That semester, I came to know a very bright, pretty young woman who went by the name of Roxy. I was her algebra teacher when she was a freshman and also had her in other classes over the next couple of years. She was one of the two smartest students I ever had. I was close to many students and became close to Roxy as well. Her teasing was an abomination, but I let her do it. In time, we both left the school and reconnected for a period of time. Earlier this year, Roxy – now Roxanne – and I reconnected on Facebook, and we both were very pleased to have those old bonds restored. What a wonderful world it is when I can have such an exceptional person as Roxanne as not only a student, but also a friend!

About the time that Carol and I were married, Carol’s sister had a baby girl named Hilary. Carol and I were able to actually watch Hilary grow up. In a sense, we were Hillie’s second set of parents because she spent a lot of time at our place with her Aunt Carol when she was too sick to go to school. Hillie became our pride and joy, and we were especially proud of her when she won the national Miss Teen USA pageant in August, 2007. She took the death of her Aunt Carol extremely hard, but she managed somehow to help her Uncle Bill get through that time. What a wonderful world it is when one can hear such a beautiful, accomplished young woman say, “I love you, Uncle Bill.”

I had, and still have, a tremendous mother. My grandmother raised me, but she gave me little except a ton of grief. My mother, on the other hand, had a portion of wisdom that was far beyond that that her mother owned. My mother taught us three boys the importance of truth and of always speaking the truth, even if it made the shoes pinch the toes to do so. My beloved mother took me on countless fruitless job interviews without ever complaining. When I would come home for a visit, I knew that a batch of Swiss steak and a batch of caramel dumplings awaited me. And my brothers and I weren’t sent to church – she took us! She was always there for all the church Christmas programs and all of the school programs that we were involved it. And I say to myself, what a wonderful world it is to have a mother as loving and devoted to her family as my mother was.

Back during my freshman year in college, the 60-61 school year, a singer named Ernie K. Doe had a hit song titled “Mother-In-Law.” Two of the lines were: “Satan should be her name / Because to me they’re about the same.” He sure wasn’t singing about my mother-in-law. Virginia is now launched on her 102nd year. She isn’t what she was when Carol and I got married, but thank God, she is still with us. Since I am legally blind, girls – and their parents – have not always been kind to me. So naturally I wondered about how Virginia felt about her daughter marrying a guy with a disability. If sh ever had a problem about it, I never knew about it. No man can ask for a better mother-in-law than what Virginia has been to me. Her love and wisdom have many times helped Carol and me over the rough shoals of life. What a wonderful world it is when a man can say things like this about his mother-in-law and mean them!

I now live in subsidized senior housing, and there are several people who live here who have dogs. This morning, when I went to the store to get a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread, a couple of ladies and their dogs were waiting on the first floor to take the elevator upstairs. One of the dogs was a little black and white bitch dog who looked like she had trouble walking. Either that, or her little mind was not on the same page as that of her owner / mother. I have cried several times over that little dog because it hurts me to see her in that condition. I have had dogs in the course of my life and I love them deeply. Indeed, it took me decades to get over the death of my little beagle mix, Sandy Dog. What a wonderful world it is when we are privileged to have these beloved selfless little critters enriching our lives!

My mother used to have some neighbors who owned horses. One time when I was home on vacation, I went out in our back yard and went over to the fence which housed the horses. Immediately when they saw me, they came over to greet me and make friends with me., Pretty soon, one of them had poked his nose over the fence, so I began to stroke him and talk to him. Immediately the other horses started to shove him aside to get THEIR noses over the fence and get their share of the loving I was giving out. Of course, I made them wait their turn, but they each got a full helping of my stroking and talking and loving. I love horses deeply, and think of what a wonderful world it is to have these beautiful majestic animals playing a part in our lives!

Carol loved the outdoors. When we lived in California, we made many trips to the ocean at Morro Bay because she loved watching the waves roll in and watching the surf crash against the rock jetty when the surf was high. Here in Colorado, she loved the second apartment complex we lived it because of the green grass, flowers, trees, and birds. There were squirrels, and one year, there was one who hung out on our patio. We more or less adopted him and named him “Jerome.” It was fun to watch Jerome and his little squirrel friends frolic and play. And though she is gone now, I know that Carol isn’t in some drab, barren locale with streets of gold. I know deep down that she is in a realm with trees, birds, grass, flowers, frisky little critters – and breakers rolling upon the beach, because the God we worshiped knew that that would be what heaven would be to Carol. A wonderful world, indeed!

George David Weiss, George Douglas, and Bob Thiele did such a glorious job of capturing my world in their lyrics. And you know, Old Satchmo’s gravelly voice somehow made this song even more beautiful than it was already. Yes indeed; we DO live in a wonderful world.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms who happen to read this. And everyone have a wonderful day today, tomorrow, and evermore.



May 12, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Leader of the Band

Leader of the Band

Hello, everyone.

Thirty years ago, Dan Fogelberg had a smash hit with a song titled “Leader of the Band.” It was written by Dan himself and was copyright around 1982. Here are the lyrics.

An only child alone and wild

A cabinet maker’s son
His hands were meant for different work
And his heart was known to none —
He left his home and went his lone
And solitary way
And he gave to me a gift I know

I never can repay

A quiet man of music denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once but his music wouldn’t wait
He earned his love through discipline
A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls
Took me years to understand.

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul —
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band.

My brothers’ lives were different
For they heard another call
One went to chicago
And the other to st. paul
And I’m in colorado
When I’m not in some hotel
Living out this life I’ve chose
And come to know so well.

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go —
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, papa, I don’t think i
Said ‘i love you’ near enough —

The leader of the band is tired
And his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument
And his song is in my soul —
My life has been a poor attempt
To imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy
To the leader of the band
I am the living legacy
To the leader of the band.

Just in case anyone needs to be told, Dan Fogelberg wrote this song about his dad.

I sat at the computer and cried as I listened to Dan’s song on YouTube. And I felt like I had found a buried treasure as I downloaded the videos to my hard drive. All of the comments on both video pages said essentially the same thing: This song is possibly the greatest tribute song to a dad that was ever written.

I never knew my dad. He walked out on my mother when he found out that she was pregnant with me. My grandparents raised me, and as I said in my comment on one of the video pages, I saw so much of my Grandpa in Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics.

I have heard of dads who would play catch with their sons in the back yard after supper. Or who would take their boys fishing or hunting. Or who worked in the Boy Scouts with them. Or who would work with their sons building an electric train layout. I never had any of that.

But rather, I have these memories. I remember my Grandpa, who was a coal miner, taking me with him when he went to Local and my playing on the floor while the men discussed union business. I remember Grandpa taking me with him to the picture show and my sitting on his lap, trying to be as quiet as I could so I would not disturb his enjoying the movie. I remember seeing him working on his ledger as the treasurer of the Local, or taking a book out of his bookcase, sitting down in his rocker, and opening the book and reading it. I remember seeing him sitting in his rocker in front of his radio, reading his newspaper. But most of all, I remember sitting on his lap in front of the radio, listening to the musical programs that were broadcast on WHO in Des Moines on Monday evenings.

Grandpa laid a hand on me only twice that I can recall, and I deserved it both times. The one that stands out in my mind was when I was so mean to our little brown dog Snooper. I used to hold Snooper’s snout shut and pull his ear. One time Grandpa got me down on the floor and grabbed hold of my nose and began to pull my ear. I yelled for him to stop, but he said that he wouldn’t stop until I knew and understood how that poor little dog felt. Needless to say, I never mistreated Snooper ever again. And needless to say, little Snooper made up to me again when I began treating him better.

My Grandpa attended the Evangelical United Brethren Church in my hometown. But I cannot recall any time that he ever discussed religion. He never talked about his faith; he merely lived it. His faith radiated from him in how he treated people and how he raised me. He could get along with anyone and everyone. I cannot recall one unkind word that he ever spoke about anyone, and I cannot recall anyone who could not get along with him.

My Grandpa was killed all too soon in my life. Of all my cousins, only my cousin Jimmy and I have any kind of memories of him. But I am the kind of man that I am today because of him. Dan Fogelberg said it so well in his song: “ My life has been a poor attempt / To imitate the man.” And, like Dan, I am a living legacy of the man who taught me through his example how to be a real man.

Jesus Christ, the long-haired, bearded delusionary who believed that he was the “Son of God,” had some very serious problems with the concept of fathers. In Matthew 10:37 he said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” NKJV

And in Luke 14:26, he said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.“ NKJV

And, most disgusting of all, in Matthew 23:9, he said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” NKJV

HATE our parents? Not acknowledge the man who begot us? I’m sorry, but such ideas are totally preposterous! It is natural for us to love and revere our parents. Little girls want to be like their mothers, and little boys revere their dads and want to be just like them. That is simply the way that the Supreme God created us, and any ideas to the contrary simply are not from him.

As I said earlier, my real father walked out on my mother when he found out that she was pregnant with me. I did have a step-father and step-brothers. My grandfather got along fine with him, but my grandmother had an irrational hatred of him. After Grandpa was killed, my grandmother worked night and day, 24-7-365, to poison me against him. When she eventually got sick with stomach cancer and I had to go live with him and my mother, there was no way that I could ever connect with him as a son. His hatred of me was as deep as her hatred of him.

But I did get some idea of what a father’s love was from one of my uncles whom I used to visit often in my younger days. And to a degree, I can see him in Fogelberg’s song.

In the beginning, I made the comment that Fogelberg’s song was possibly the greatest tribute song to a dad that was ever written. I would like to change that; it is ONE of the greatest tribute songs. John McDermott, when he sang with the Three Irish Tenors 15-20 years ago, sang a song titled “The Old Man” that I would call the equal of Fogelberg’s song. It too is a hymn of praise to a dad.

In conclusion, I would say that I envy everyone who has and had a loving dad, a father who was and is worthy of being looked up to and loved. I never had that. But I did have a grandfather and uncle who filled those roles for me, and for these two dear men, I am most thankful.

Have yourselves a good day tomorrow.



March 3, 2013 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Eleven Questions

Eleven Questions


Answers to Ten Hard Questions

Hello, everyone.

Before I begin, I MUST share something that I found on Daily Kos tonight (6/29/12). This is absolutely delicious.

– – – – – – – – – –

FRI JUN 29, 2012 AT 07:30 PM PDT

Texas Republicans express ‘regret’

for officially opposing critical thinking skills

Laura Clawson

Texas Republicans are saying that their 2012 platform’s opposition to “critical thinking skills” was a mistake—but that mistake is now the formal policy of the Republican Party of Texas until 2014.

The stated reasoning behind opposition to critical thinking skills was that such education programs “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” As Hunter described this logic:

Critical thinking, of course, is what allows a person to differentiate between fact and hokum. I will assume that this is the peeve being addressed by the party plank (which, as it turns out, doubles as a handy paddlin’ board). Differentiating between fact and hokum sounds all fine and good until it leads to questioning your elders. When elders spout hokum, now that needs to be properly respected. If your elders say the Loch Ness Monster is proof that evolution never happened and that Noah’s Ark was actually a hovercraft, you had better damn well not start using your newfound critical thinking skills on picking apart that. Believing something contrary to your parents counts as behavior modification only if the original behavior was a full-on brainwashing.”

 But don’t worry! Its inclusion in the formal platform of the Republican Party of Texas was all a mistake. As a party spokesman told TPM,

“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,'” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”

 Since they “regret” it, no harm, no foul, right? About that. Even if we take them at their word that this was in fact a mistake rather than just being something you regret when you get caught, and aside from the fact that this regretted mistake remains official party policy, it’s pretty damn clear that the party’s Education Subcommittee seriously discussed its opposition to critical thinking skills and included said opposition in some advanced drafts of its part of the platform. I think we can safely say Texas Republicans don’t support critical thinking skills, anyway.

– – – – – – – – – –

Now on with our regular business.

Back in May, someone posted an article on the Net about questions that we could ask the conservatives that we are unfortunate enough to know. They are good questions, but I am afraid that if anyone dared to actually ask them, they wouldn’t likely get any answers. So I decided to answer them for us all. Here they are.

10 Questions To Ask Your Favorite Conservative

May 6, 2012

By Wendy Gittleson

1. Why is it that when people hoard things, they are a scourge on society and when they hoard money, they are job creators? In fact, aren’t the people that buy things the true job creators?

You bet your life the purchasers are the TRUE job creators. It works this way: When someone needs something – a car, a refrigerator, a TV – they go to a store or dealership to make their purchase. So they go to Walmart, Target, or some such place. In the store, there are sales clerks, or “associates” who tell them about the product. When they are done shopping, they go to checkout, and a clerk handles the business transaction. In the meantime, a stocker puts a new unit on the shelf to replace the item just purchased. In addition, there are customer service people who are at their stations in case they are needed. So that means 5 or 6 people interact with the customer if needed. That’s 5 or 6 jobs.

It’s much the same in a car dealership. There is the salesman who discusses the car with the customer. There is also the credit manager who arranges the financing for the car. There are also 2 or possibly 3 shop people who prepare the car for the customer to drive off the lot. That’s 4 or 5 jobs.

But if anyone decides to sit on his money and not purchase that car or appliance, there are 9 – 11 jobs that are not filled because the workers are not needed.

So yes; it is the purchasing customers, not the money hoarders who are the REAL job creators.

2. Both the 10 Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins have no mention of being gay or having abortions. Greed, though, seems to be a biggie. Why do conservatives seem to get that backwards?

Lack of smarts, mostly. Also, lack of convenience. It is quite inconvenient to see the Bible speak out against one of one’s favorite practices. That’s why they perform the age-old practice of transfer. They transfer their venom from a practice of theirs that is condemned in the Bible to another practice that is NOT condemned in that particular section or context.

Let’s take another example. The Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.” Christians LOVE to play the little mind game of “Should the word be ‘kill’ or ‘murder’?” Now, murder is defined as “the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought.” Kill is defined as “the taking of a life.” Thus, by the “rational” thinking of conservatives and Evangelical Christians, abortion is murder and war and capital punishment are not.

But wait a minute. I just said that murder is defined as “the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought.” What about war? Isn’t one of the goals of war to kill off the enemy in order to lessen his numbers? Last I heard, it was. Remember the big deal over the killing of Osama bin Laden? And you also take out some civilians while you’re at it; that is called “collateral damage.” So war definitely fills the definition of “murder.”

And what about capital punishment? When someone kills another person, do you just give him a kiss on the lips and a fare thee well? Heavens, NO! The perpetrator is arrested and charged with a capital crime with the ultimate penalty of death by whatever means. Is this the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought? Yes it is. That is why the first-world countries have pretty much done away with capital punishment and gotten with life without parole, or something similar. Only backward, third-world countries like the United States still carry a form of capital punishment on their books.

3. At what point did getting sick become a moral failing?

Actually, about the time that Saint Ronnie, the Movie Star, sat in the White House. The concept of universal health care actually began with FDR. Remember him? He’s the guy who got the country moving again after the Great Depression. He created the New Deal, and universal health care was to be a part of the New Deal originally. But he put it on the back burner in order to get the rest of his program enacted. In the 60s, LBJ had entertained the idea of making UHC part of the Great Society. However, like, FDR, he put it on the back burner in order to get the remainder of his program enacted. LBJ DID give us Medicare and Medicaid, however.

The last noteworthy attempt to enact universal health coverage, before Barak Obama, was, of course, Bill Clinton. UHC was particularly a passion of his wife Hillary, now our Secretary of State. But everyone with a memory remembers how the Evangelical Christians vilified her, her passion, and her husband. So as a result, the Clintons had to abandon the idea of universal health care. And many of the reasons for the consersatives’ and Evangelicals’ vitriol point right back to Saint Ronnie.

So the idea that illness is a moral failing began in the early 1980s.

4. In what way are people who buy and sell paper making a more significant contribution to society than teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, artists, etc.?

They aren’t. Only they and their worshipers think they are.

In my case, there are four people who shaped my life and helped make me the man I am. They are Rev. Floyd Murphy, the little Irish pastor of my boyhood; Marie Cain and Gladys Smith, two of my high-school teachers who encouraged me in all that I did, including my decision to become a teacher; and Dr. Dorothy Box, my mentor when I was in college. Three teachers and a pastor. These people did not buy any paper, unless it was to write on. They also didn’t sell any paper in any way, shape, or form. What they sold me – or, rather, gave to me — was a passion, a dream, and an acquaintance with God. And to me, these four blessed people are far more important and worthy, than is any buyer and seller of paper, any politician, or any pundit in the media.

As the old saying goes, it all depends on whose ox is being gored. The dealers in paper are far more important to the 1%, and the teachers, firemen, pastors, and so on are far more important to the 99%.

5. When did the right to unlimited profit become greater than the general welfare of the people?

Again, I lay the blame for this at the feet of St. Ronnie. Up to and including Jimmy Carter, personhood and integrity counted for something in this country. That all changed under Reagan. And, incidentally, the Evangelicals all sneered at Carter – a man of true integrity and a true Christian – and embraced St. Ronnie, who never showed any traces of Christianity so far as I could find.

6. Why don’t people realize that there’s no such thing as a “self made man?” Even the most successful and ethical people can thank their parents, their teachers, their siblings, their employees, their customers, the government, their contractors, etc. Without them, they would be nothing. The unethical might want to work on their apologies.

The so-called “self-made man” is nothing more than a figment of the conservative imagination. In Question 4, I mentioned the pastor and three teachers who shaped my life. Anyone who is honest and legitimate can do the same thing. No one ever made it on his own throughout life. A person needs that first boss who is willing to give him that first job. He needs that classroom teacher to guide and instruct him. He needs that pastor, priest, or rabbi to introduce him to the realm of God. He needs that other person who is willing to say “I do” at the altar. But most of all, he needs Mom and Dad to teach him responsibility and how to fill his niche in the world. “Self-made man” is only a fictional creation, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

7. Why is physical labor less important than sitting behind a desk?

Because physical labor is seen as a symptom of lack of intellect.

But is it really? Not at all. If the guy on the assembly line doesn’t know what he is doing, the resultant product is nothing but a pile of material. If the auto mechanic doesn’t have a clue as to what he is doing, then you’re in deep trouble, pal. Sure, we have machinery that can lay railroad track, pave a road, print the daily paper, etc., but the machine can’t do it alone. The machine needs people who are off their duffs and on their feet to operate them, watch over them, and maintain them. If all of our workers held down desks, then society could not function. Without laborers and other workers who use their hands and feet instead of their butts, society would be chopping in tall cotton!

8. Why should people who inherit their money not pay taxes and people who earn their money be taxed at the highest rate?

Because a parasite known as Republican infests our government. Republicans and Evangelical Christians are champions of the wealthy – the 1% – while Democrats and Mainline Christians are champions of the little guy – the 99%. It’s as simple as that.

9. At what point did we start judging people based on the size of their checkbook rather than the size of the heart?

At the point when the second question that we ask a new acquaintance is “What do you do for a living?” That was when society started seeing a fat wallet as being far more important that integrity and a good character.

In my younger days, dads – especially Evangelical dads – did all that they could to keep me away from their little girls. They saw my poor eyesight leading to a skinny wallet, and they didn’t want their little frails to have to live with that. Finding a potential son-in-law who was going places was of far more importance than finding a son-in-law who would love, cherish, and treasure their daughters. Of course, if the “potential son-in-law” would knock up their little girls and then walk out on them, THEN the daddies would look for guys with integrity for their girls. But by then, it would be too late, because we good guys were no longer interested. After all, who wants to buy damaged goods?

So the moment when knowing a person’s occupation became all important was when we started judging people on the basis of their possessions.

10. How has being a conservative helped you?

Since I am not a conservative, I cannot answer that one.

Here are a couple of comments from the original website where I found the questions.


Matthew Simon Miller· San Francisco, California

LOVE this! Unfortunately, most of the conservatives I know just get very belligerent when they can’t win an argument.

Danielle Bernier· University of Maine

so true! Trying to have a conversation with my conservative brother is frustrating

These comments will lay the foundation for this question. I would like to propose an eleventh question, if I may.

11. Why are conservatives such sanctimonious assholes?

Sure, there are exceptions to that rule. The little white clapboard Nazarene Church with the little Irish pastor of my boyhood and the neat, intellectual Nazarene Church that I attended while in graduate school are two of them. So is the Baptist Church that Carol and I attended and were married in. But they are indeed exceptions. The evangelical / conservative world that I knew and habituated was full of vicious, unpredictable, and bigoted people.

An absolutely glorious illustration of this mindset appears in Allen Drury’s political novel Advise and Consent. There are two senators, Brig and Fred. The whole Senate loves Brig as much as it despises Fred. The Senate is occupied with the nomination for a Secretary of State. Fred wants him confirmed. Brig has his doubts. In his younger days, Brig has an encounter with another young man. Someone sends Fred a picture of them together. When Fred meets Brig in the halls of the Capitol, he greets Brig with “You poor bastard!” Brig responds, “What on earth is your problem, Fred? Don’t you have it in you to be nice?”

And that is exactly the point. Don’t conservatives and Evangelicals have it in themselves to be kind and nice? I truly don’t believe that they do.

On a website which discussed the Libertarian view of Obamacare, there was this paragraph:

This is what a sociopath looks like. In the 19th century, the same principle was expressed when Dickens wrote “Let them die, and decrease the surplus population.” Yes, people still believe this, especially those who also claim to be Christians.”

I saw the Dickens edict stated and restated countless times on conservative websites. I do not visit Evangelical Christian sites, but I would not be surprised if it was stated there as well.

I have mentioned countless times in Solus Christus the hell I went through when I lost my beloved Carol. When I got the phone call telling me that she had died, 13 hours after I had walked out of her room for the last time, I went to pieces. I sent an e-mail to her family, who are virtually all strong conservative Evangelical Christians, asking that they not e-mail me with the usual Christian cliches until I had had time to process her sudden death. A few days later, I sent another e-mail saying that I had come to terms with losing Carol, and that I would welcome any and all messages. Wait a minute; you’re way ahead of me. But you’re right – not a single word from anyone. A few months after her memorial service, her sister Ginny sent a message to the family saying that I was having a rough time and that I would appreciate people letting me know that they were thinking of me and saying that they were in my corner. Right again. Not a single word. And that was over 4 years ago!

I send the Solus Christus diaries to a guy who knew Carol and me out in California. He wrote me one time and said that he didn’t respond because he didn’t know how to interact with the “New Bill.” Others – the Christians in the group – simply unsubscribed from the group when the shoes begin to pinch their toes. In the church world, those behaviors are defined as “shunning.” But I’m OK with that. They don’t have to read my musings. They can delete them every time that they show up in the inbox. Conversely, I have no reason to buy into the bill of goods that they may want to sell me.

So I would simply echo Brigham Anderson’s question: Don’t you have it in you to be nice? And I would pose it to the conservative world at large.

Psalm 34:8 makes a fabulous statement: It says in the New International Version(©1984)

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Why did the psalmist put that statement in those terms? I have no idea except this one. He was familiar with the fact that our taste buds govern our opinions about food and that we humans savor and enjoy a meal when the food is delicious. He then tries to convey the same idea in terms of our relationship with God. In other words, if we enjoy a nice, juicy, tender steak because it is delicious, then we should enjoy God because he is delicious in a spiritual way. The psalmist stated it very well, in my book.

I have tasted and seen that God is good. I no longer believe in the hairy, unkempt, uncouth, Jesus, but I have a very strong belief in God. And I guess that that is why I am not surprised that the followers of “Jesus” do not have that capability of being nice that I have found in the Mainline church and its parishioners. You see, the Mainline focus is on God. When I was involved in the Lay Witness Mission movement 40 years ago, we never talked about “Jesus” when we visited a church. We always talked about God and what he had done for us. And the host church and its people always appreciated that. Indeed, many times I had people tell me that they had had enough “Jesus” to last them 20 eternities, and that it was so neat to go to church and hear about GOD for once. At the end of each weekend, they had tasted and seen that The Lord – God – was indeed good.

And so I firmly believe that it is indeed God who gives us the ability to be nice. And speaking for myself, I can say that it is far easier and more fun to be nice than to be a conservative or an Evangelical.

You all have a great day both today and tomorrow.


September 18, 2012 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

More Adult Talk About Guns

More Adult Talk About Guns

Hello, everyone.

This morning (7/22/12), Crooks & Liars had a fragment of an article from the New York Daily News about the massacre over in Aurora.  Here is a portion of their quote.

– – – – – – – – – –

The police chief in Aurora, Colo., said he is confident that massacre gunman James Holmes acted alone. The police chief was dead wrong.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he unleashed an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun and a handgun was Wayne LaPierre, political enforcer of the National Rifle Association.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he sprayed bullets and buckshot into a crowded movie theater were Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, a President and a would-be President, who have bowed to the NRA’s dictates and who responded to the slaughter Friday with revolting, useless treacle.

Standing at Holmes’ side as he murdered 12 and wounded 59 were the millions of zealots who would sooner see blood flow and lives end than have to check a box on a gun registration form.

In a vain claim of innocence, the fanatics will say Holmes is a monster and a maniac, that he fired and fired and fired as a man possessed. Each protestation clamps their fingers with his around the trigger.

Because they made sure that virtually everyone, Holmes included, has unfettered legal access to heavy weaponry. And they made sure he was permitted by law to drive to the kill scene with a fully loaded arsenal.

Such is the conscienceless extremism of America’s gun lovers that they accept wholesale slaughter as akin to a fatal highway pileup. Accidents happen, in their grotesque view, and so do mass killings by firearms.

– – – – – – – – – –

Here is the URL for the full article:

I would add one extra thought that would blend in beautifully with the Daily News’ magnificent statements:

Standing beside James Holmes – and passing him filled ammunition clips – are the maniacal, fanatical Christian zealots who shudder at the thought of stem cell research – which has the potential for SAVING lives – but who give hugs, kisses on the lips, and tons of dough to Republican politicians who genuflect to the NRA and who oppose viciously ANY attempt to bring reasonable and rational gun control to this country.

At last, we are learning some details about the victims.  Here is a paragraph from another news item linked to by Crooks & Liars:

“Among the dead were two members of the military, a man celebrating his 27th birthday and a 6-year-old girl, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, whose 25-year-old mother, Ashley Moser, is in critical condition and semiconscious with multiple gunshot wounds to her throat and abdomen.”

This whole situation strikes me where I live, because I remember all too well the carnage done by those two gun worshipers Dylan Kliebold and Eric Harris at the Columbine High School down in Littleton back in 1999.  One Sunday morning, my late wife Carol and I made a pilgrimage to Clement Park, not far from the school, where there were tents set up for each victim.  Under each tent were flowers, notes, and stuffed animals.  I cried the whole time I was there, because I was a high-school teacher and church youth worker at one time.  But just because the United States could not handle the thought of a legally blind teacher leading a high-school classroom and acted accordingly, that did not remove the love of young people from my heart.  I am still haunted by the massacre of those innocent teens, and I therefore have some VERY STRONG opinions about the Republicans’ and Evangelicals’ worship of armament.

Right after the massacre, someone found a very sick video that Kliebold and Harris had made, in which they whined about being “bullied” and how they wanted to kill people to get even.  I did not buy the stuff they were saying about being bullied; something about it did not ring true to me.  In the fall of that year, Columbine played for its division’s state football championship.  At that time, I had access to a channel that broadcast Denver-area high school sports, and I got to watch Columbine win.  I was struck by the behavior and demeanor of those kids on that team.  They were gracious in their victory and spoke respectfully of the team they had defeated.  If that school actually bullied Kliebold and Harris, then it is possibly because Kliebold and Harris were not involved in the normal everyday life of the school.  They were too wrapped up in their own little world to be part of the larger world they were a part of.

There is one thing that is way too common in these shooting cases.  In my last diary about an adult conversation about guns, I wrote the following paragraph:

“I titled this diary “an adult conversation about guns.”  Why adult?  Many years ago, I read an article, either from a psychological journal or from a psychological website, that stated that guns were a phallic symbol, and that “men” worshiped their precious guns because in their minds, the guns made them virile men.  In other words, they needed the guns to replace what was missing inside their pants.  In the years since I read that, I have not seen even one item of proof that disproves that statement.”

The one common element in too many of these shootings is that after they commit their mayhem, the shooters kill themselves.  They don’t even have the manhood to stay alive and face their punishment like men.  They do indeed need their almighty precious guns to make them men, because they lack any trace of genuine manhood.

And as of this hour – 5:40 pm Mountain Time on 7/22/12, there still has been no word of regret for the victims or words of comfort for their families from the Republicans or the Evangelical community.  I don’t expect any either.  Where is Rick Warren?  Where is Pat Robertson?  Where is the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate?

In time, the pain will stop and this shooting will go away, only to be replaced by the next one.  But nothing will undue the physical, mental, and emotional pain of the victims.  Nothing will bring back the life of that darling little 6-year-old girl that James Holmes was so brave to go up against with his assault rifle, shotgun, and handgun.

It’s OK, Christians, if the shoes pinch your toes.  Go ahead and ignore what I have to say because you don’t know how to talk to the “new Bill.”  I’d tell you how you can communicate with me, but somehow I believe that it would be over your heads.  So it’s OK if you ignore me.  That simply gives me a rationale for believing that there is no earthly good in your belief system, your Bible, or your Christ.

For the rest of you, thank you for letting me vent my spleen this one last time.  I have said all I have to say about Aurora – unless some Christian nitwit decides to open his mouth and add more male bovine excrement to the pile.

Have a great day tomorrow.  And thank you again for bearing with me.



July 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trains, Not Brains – Part Deux

Trains, Not Brains – Part Deux

Hello, everyone.

A few days ago, I posted the first “Trains, Not Brains” diary in my Yahoo group, in which I discussed the study headed by Dr. Gordon Hodson, which found a correlation between a person’s intelligence and his involvement in religious right movements and causes. Since that posting, I have been reading on the Net, as I always do, and I found more evidence to support Dr. Hodson’s findings. Or, in the words of radio station WHB in Kansas City during the 60s: The hits just keep on coming!

One of the sites I visited discussed a film titled “Christmas With a Capital C.” It is a totally obnoxious film about a lawyer from a small town in Alaska who returns home to enforce the celebration of Christmas, rather than Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, in his home town. He plans to do this by running for mayor and winning the election. I watched the trailer, and I could not grasp the fact that there were people who would gobble this crap up. But then I remembered Dr. Hodson and his research, and I realized that they could and would.

I don’t remember where I saw the trailer – I don’t think that it was YouTube – but they had a comments section. Here are a couple of reactions to the movie.

– – – – – – – – – –


18 September, 2010 at 5:21 PM

Well I suppose that Christians cannot accomplish their goal of converting the world without being just a little obnoxious about enforcing their customs. But I like that there is such a thing as a “Christian comic.” That is news to me; it conjures up images of Ned Flanders attempting standup. And I like that it is set in Alaska, the new Mecca of “small town” rednecks. But my favorite part is the woman who says that “rights don’t matter” because all that matters is Jesus; sounds like a Republican plank. [COMMENT: It also sounds a lot like what Sarah Palin would say. Incidentally, “Palin” is nothing more than “pain” with an L in the middle.]

But this perception of atheists as a threat to American culture and values is ironically reminiscent of the way that early Christians were perceived by the Romans. Even this issue of usurping each others holidays is sort of similar, as Les mentioned. But I do not mind Christian decorations in public places, so long as other faiths and ideas are allowed. Perhaps we can hang up those fancy scarlet “A” symbols in public places.

The shoving was a bit much; seems almost like a veiled message to incite Christians to attack atheists. And, echoing Les, there is a special bit of bigotry in saying that a private store cannot hang up “Seasons Greetings” signs acknowledging that Hanukah and Kwanzaa are also taking place. There is no atheist “War on Christmas” but there clearly is a conservative Christian “War on Tolerance/Inclusion.” Not quite as catchy I suppose.

. . .


19 September, 2010 at 12:50 PM

(BTW LOL @ JethricOne, funny!)

Great write-up Les, per usual

As an atheist, I have NO PROBLEM with nativity scenes at churches etc. I don’t even mind them on city hall property, though that’s the borderline. At that point, it HAS to be either all or nothing. Allowing religious scenes of one group and denying a seasonal display of atheists is clearly wrong legally.

FAR more christians make a big deal out of an atheist BUS AD then any atheists ever make about an openly religious display on PUBLIC property.

Oh well. So much for christian brotherhood and goodwill.

– – – – – – – – – –

Right after the first quoted comment, there was a comment by a Christian. It went something like this: “There is a war on Christmas – er, uh, let’s start over. Christmas is the only holiday that should be observed – er, uh, no, that’s not it. Jesus is the reason for the season – er, uh, that won’t work either.” And so on.

What a GLORIOUS piece of evidence to support Dr. Hodson’s findings!! Next to Jesus himself, that is.

Want another? I didn’t think so, but here it is anyway.

On 1/31/12, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, which issues grants for treatment for breast cancer, withdrew a grant from Planned Parenthood on the grounds that PP is being “investigated.” That “investigation” is being conducted by a lone crackpot Republican representative. (Is there really any other kind?) But come to find out, that policy came into being when Komen hired some former Bush administration people to undertake some chores. What is not widely known is the fact that Komen is not enforcing their “guidelines” consistently. Penn State University is also conducting research on breast cancer, and it is also under investigation due to the sexual misconduct that was going on in its athletic department. But Penn State got to keep its grant. It is not hard to understand why.

Penn State doesn’t traffic in abortions. Planned Parenthood does include abortion in its health services to low-income women. And everyone knows how the Christers and their Republican cronies feel about abortion.

This whole pile of shit is so very much like Jesus. Remember the Canaanite / Syrophoenician woman of Matthew 15 who had a sick child whom Jesus healed extremely reluctantly? Christers bray like drunken jackasses about “the sanctity of life.” Aren’t the lives of those poor women doing their best to fight breast cancer just as sacred as the “lives” in the wombs in this country? Evangelical Christians say no, they aren’t. Christers will belch that I am wrong. But if I am wrong, then please explain to me why Komen tried to cancel Planned Parenthood’s grant, but not Penn State’s.

On the subject of sanctity of life, just exactly whose life is sacred? We all know that the Christers consider life sacred while it is in the womb. But what about OUTSIDE the womb? Do Christers support the programs that enable the poor to remain alive? Are they speaking out against this country’s tendency to go looking for wars that it can immerse itself into? Do they speak out against and protest capital punishment? If you say yes, then you’ve got to be kidding. I was in college 50 years ago when the Civil Rights protests were getting hot and in graduate school 45 years ago when the anti-war protests were getting heavy. You know who were taking to the streets and raising their voices in protests? Mainline pastors and laity. It was the Mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics who joined Martin Luther King in his marches in the Bible Belt. It was the Mainline pastors and laity who joined with the Berigan Brothers in protesting the Vietnam War – a war that, incidentally, did not cut the muster in terms of the Constitution. Where were the Evangelicals? Sitting on their dead asses, whinnying their praise to their “Jesus.” I did not hear even one word of support for King in the Nazarene Church I attended while in college. I DID hear the voicing of some concern about our involvement in Vietnam in the church I attended while in graduate school. But then, the Nazarene Church in Kirksville was not your typical Nazarene Church – not by any stretch of the imagination!

Before I forget it, can’t you Christer dummies discuss ANY topic other than abortion? Somehow, I have my doubts that you can.

This morning, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang “Morning Has Broken.” I had some renditions of the song on my laptop, but none on my desktop, so I went into YouTube and got some. A couple of them were, of course, by Cat Stevens. Here are a couple of YouTube comments about Cat’s rendition:

“”But of all the countries I have been to, the poorest one I have been to is America.” Somewhat shocked, the reporter informed Mother Teresa that America was one of the richest countries and questioned how it could be the poorest. “Because”, she replied, “America suffers most from the poverty of loneliness.”” — ganthony1 1 month ago 16 

enjoy beautiful music and stop talkin about religion politics and all that endless subjects… we live in a fucked up wild world as he said. We’ve been controlled by politics, religion and all that shit. so just think about better things and let’s love each other.” — nocaptivity 2 weeks ago 6 

 I couldn’t come close to topping the wisdom that these comments contain, so I won’t even try.

 Now from the sublime to the preposterous. One commenter said that s/he liked Cat Stevens ”while he was human before he walked away from the cross.” “Walked away from the cross?!?!” Oh, puh-leeezz!!

 And another thing: Since when do people who “walk away from the cross” and who walk away from “Jesus” stop being human when they do so? And what exactly do these former humans turn into? Gorillas? Kangaroos? Penguins? Thompson’s gazelles? Horses? I would be willing to bet my next year’s pension that the person who made that asinine statement was home schooled, since he / she couldn’t possibly learn such nonsense in a biology class in a public high school.

 Now for this little gem from Crooks & Liars:

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Sunday suggested that Susan G. Komen for the Cure shouldn’t provide grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings because abortions cause breast cancer, a false claim that has been repeatedly debunked.”

Everybody with a functioning brain knows what a moron Rick Santorum is. He is the one who made man-on-dog sex a household word almost 10 years ago. No further comment is needed.

We will wrap up this diary with a little serious food for thought. This is also from C&L and their discussion of today’s Fareed Zakaria program.

 “That’s all too much fact and critical thinking for your average Republican voter. They don’t want to contemplate the reality that all those “We’re #1!!” chants mask a country where we’re actually ranked 37th in medical outcomes, 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics, and 28th in life expectancy. They cheer on someone whose personal income lands him in the top one-tenth of one percent, ignoring that almost half of Americans are at or near the poverty level.”

 Here are the pertinent URLs:

 Medical outcomes —

 Reading skills —

 Science –

 Mathematics —

 Life expectancy –

 The Poverty Line —

 One final comment says it all:

AnonymousFeb 5, 2012 06:49 AM

Holy rollers aren’t that bright or else they wouldn’t be holy hollers.

Amen to that!!

As radio station WHB used to say, The hits just keep on coming.”  Yeah, they just keep on coming, whether you want them to or not.

That’s it for now. Don’t be surprised if there’s a Trains, Not Brains, Part Troisbefore too long from now.

Have yourselves a great day – and a good, hearty belly laugh!!



February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trains, Not Brains

Trains, Not Brains

Hello, everyone.

In an e-mail today (1/28) from D. M. Murdock, aka Acharya S., I learned about one of the most sickening, most disgusting things that I have ever heard of.  Here is a brief recap from a site called the New Jersey Newsroom.

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Atheist Jessica Ahlquist has been battling since 2010 to get an 8-foot banner removed from her high school auditorium. It contains a prayer that a student wrote in 1963.

The teenager has been dealing with consequences from Cranston, a highly Roman Catholic city. She has been receiving threats from social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and had been receiving police escorts to classes. She had planned to take time off from school, but according to WPRO News, Ahlquist posted on Twitter that she plans to graduate from Cranston High School West in 2013.

. . .

According to ABA Journal, a state representative called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a talk radio show, and three florists refused to deliver her roses sent from national atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation.

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And this comment from Acharya’s own site:

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“Jessica Ahlquist is clearly an articulate and courageous young woman, who took a brave stand, particularly in light of the hostile response she has received from her community.”

Fortunately, the federal judge in this case – who made the above quote about Ahlquist – saw fit to uphold the Constitution and ruled in her favor. Naturally, the hate speech and death threats have continued to fly.

In the final analysis, the hate speech, death threats and irrational religious fanaticism displayed inRhode Islandcould be deemed “un-American” and “anti-American,” as well as illegal and/or immoral. Jessica Ahlquist is the true American in this situation, following the ideals of the American and Rhode Island Founding Fathers.

Moreover, I personally find the idea of a “Heavenly Father” to the exclusion of all other divine concepts, including the “Heavenly Mother” or, perhaps more appropriately, the “Earthly Mother,” to be offensive to my religion. It is a sexist and human-derogating notion that I reject – so,these spewers of hate speech and death threats are offending my religion.

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Earlier today (1/28), I followed a Crooks & Liars link to an article that discussed a study conducted by a Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor up inCanada.  Hodson’s study concluded that people with lower IQs tended to embrace conservative positions and tended to accept as true conservative views regarding races and gays.  The Live Science website had an article about Hodson and his study, and the following paragraph is taken from that article:

“In another study, this one in theUnited States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in theU.K.citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]”

I have always had questions in the back of my mind about what Hodson discovered in his research.  It has always been my personal experience and observation that intelligent people tended to be mainline believers and that those who were not so gifted tended to the Evangelical churches.  I also saw a parallel fact that those who were intelligent tended to belong to groups that were more “free-wheeling,” or who had less structured, or enforced, sets of rules, and that those who were lacking in the mind gifts tended to belong to groups that had strict sets of rules and strict enforcement of those rules.

I have always said that “He’s A Rebel,” a song done by The Crystals back in 1962, was my personal theme song.  I always was a rebel, but my rebellion was not against institutions, but against arbitrary rules and arbitrary reasons for enforcing those rules.  One rule that never made any sense to me was that the Nazarene Church, and other Evangelical churches, had against membership in “oath-bound secret organizations.”  This rule was directed specifically against the Masons and Odd Fellows, but could be directed to the Elks, the Moose, and the Lions, as well to collegiate fraternities and sororities, as well  Why in heaven’s name would a body object to membership is benevolent organizations like these?  The answer, as brayed by Evangelicals, is that these groups do not worship “the precious Lord Jesus.”  Well, DUH!   I was an initiated  Entered Apprentice when I joined the Nazarene Church for the first time in 1965.  I did NOT join the Lodge to worship “the precious Lord Jesus;”  I joined it in order to have fellowship with other men.  In the fullness of time, I came to discover that Masons in general were of higher intellectual ability than were their detractors.  You had to be smart to memorize the lectures in all the degrees that you had to recite in lodge in order to advance to the next degree.

I am so thankful for Dr. Hodson’s research because it confirms what I have seen and experienced.  A few examples are in order here.

Fifty years ago, when I was a junior in college, a good buddy of mine started attending church with me at the Nazarene Church in my college town.  In time he became involved with a girl in the church who was essentially an adopted sister to me.  John and Sally thought it would be neat if they found a girl to go out with me and the four of us double.  So Sally talked to a mutual acquaintance in the church.  At first this girl thought it was a wonderful idea.  But she backed out just a few hours before we were all to get together.  She decided that I would want to go steady with her after one date!!  Where she got that stupid nonsense, only God knows.   When he saw how deeply this good Christian girl had wounded me by chickening out at the last minute,  John, of course, quit going to church with me then and said that he never again wanted to hear the awful, revolting name of Jesus Christ!  Who in his right mind could blame him?

When we lived in California, I was a choral music consultant with the local Christian bookstore for a year.  One day, I was working at home and the phone rang.  It was someone in south San Luis ObispoCountywho wanted some information concerning good background music for a social function that she was giving.  I told her that that was a no-brainer; that anything by Tchaikovsky would make good background music.  The lady’s function was for a bunch of Evangelical Christians, and they were hostile to Tchaikovsky because they believed that he was gay!  I have no idea where in the world they got THAT nonsense!  The lady told me that if she even suggested Tchaikovsky, the Evvies would have her head on a platter.  I believed her, since the meanest, most vicious people I have had the non-privilege of knowing have been Evangelical Christians.

When we lived in California, we attended the local Nazarene Church.  We both had Sunday morning responsibilities, but we simply had to have some time away from there, so we would recruit replacements for a given week.  One Sunday, we drove down to Santa Barbarato go to church at the PCUSA church there.  Unlike the church we attended, the Presbyterian Church was virtually silent before the service.  In the chancel, there were three chairs and a harp.  Before the service, a flautist, guitarist, and harpist sat down in the chairs and began to play.  I knew and loved the piece they were playing, and a tear started rolling down my cheek.  Carol leaned over and asked me if I was OK.  I told her that I was just fine.  We had an absolutely wonderful service that morning.  After the service, we had coffee on the church patio.  The Presbyterians were so happy that we drove down highway 101 to join them for church.  When we got back to the car, Carol broke down and started crying.  She said, “Honey, for the first time in months, I feel like I have been to church.”  I told her that I felt the same way.  She and I were both intellectual in nature, and the church we attended regularly was definitely NOT an intellectual church.

So I am not surprised at the Christer reaction to Jessica  Ahlquist’s legitimate court case.  I have watched a video of her, and she is extremely well-spoken for a high-school junior.  She reminds me a lot of AngryLittleGirl, the user on YouTube that I have mentioned before.  Her name, incidentally, is also Jessica.  I have been so impressed with these young women because of the level of their intellects and how poised they are, and also how convincing they are in their presentations.  And, like me, they are frustrated at the ignorance and out-and-out stupidity they have witnessed and experienced at the hands of Evangelical Christians.

When we were kids, we would ridicule any of our number who said or did a stupid thing by saying something like “When God made Johnny, he asked Johnny if he wanted any brains.  Johnny thought that God said ‘trains’ instead of ‘brains’ and  he would tell God, ’No, because I am not the president of a railroad.’”  Over the course of my 70 years of life, I have seen far too many Evangelicals who also thought that God said “trains” instead of “brains” and they likewise declined his offer.  Oh well.

All of you have a great day today.



January 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment