Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Monday




It's another Monday, and I just wish I could stay in bed.  Back to another week of school and spoiled kids who don't care about learning, and rotten parents who think teachers are there to pass their kids.  Not all of my students are that bad.  In fact my first three classes of the day are pretty good; however, my other  three classes are mostly rotten.  They just don't want to learn. I will whip them into shape, or they can choose to take my class again next year.  I have no illusion that people are going to like history and English, but they don't have a choice.  All of the classes I teach are required, and if the students don't pass, they don't move on to the next grade.  It makes it difficult at times, but I do my best to make it as interesting as possible.







Sunday, September 21, 2014

Love Is Life



For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
1 John 3:11-15

John begins the next section of his letter with his central theme -- love:

"For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another." (3:11)

It's amazing that Christians need to hear the message, the command, of love so often -- and still many people who claim to be Christians don't get it. Our churches are full of selfish, bickering people and people who teach hate. The world knows the church for its judgmentalism and rigidness, not for its love and joy. How very sad, and especially so for LGBT Christians.  Jesus would embrace the churches that preach love, and He and John would call those who teach hate the antichrists, for as I said last week, they are the opposite of Christ.

It's likely that John's opponents in Ephesus were characterized by their hatred of the faithful, orthodox Christian community. But it's also likely that the true Christians were responding in an unloving manner, too.

John begins this teaching by exploring the relationship between love and hatred, and between hatred and the spirit of murder.

"We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you." (3:12-13)

John refers, of course, to the ancient and familiar story of the brothers Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:2-8). Cain was a farmer; Abel was a herdsman. When it came time to make an "offering" to the Lord, Cain offered the fruit of the ground, while Abel offered an animal sacrifice.  We're not told why Cain's offering was rejected while Abel's was accepted. There seems to be no inherent reason in this instance why a cereal offering would have been inferior to an animal sacrifice. The reason Cain's offering was rejected seems to stem from his unrighteous actions, his sins, since God exhorts him:

"Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7)

Cain hadn't repented of his sins, but is angry and jealous that God favors the sacrifice of his righteous brother Abel. In a fit of jealousy Cain slays Abel -- and that is John's main reason for introducing the story here.  This story is probably more allegorical to what anthropologists believe were the first wars between herders and farmers over land and grazing ground, but that a whole different issue.

"And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you." (3:12-13)

John is explaining why the opponents hate the believers -- and why the world hates them. They can see the stark difference between the believers' righteous behavior compared with their own. John's teaching echoes Jesus' words:

"If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.'If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me." (John 15:19-21)

The world says that it hates Christians because they are "holier than thou" and a bunch of hypocrites. And these charges are often true of many people who claim to be Christian. But the real reason for the hatred is that when Christians seek to live righteously, it exposes the sin and corruption of those not committed to Jesus, stimulating both shame, anger, hatred -- and persecution energized by a spirit of murder.

Don't miss the important link here between anger and murder. That's why John calls on the story of Cain and Abel.

Love, says John, is a mark that we are different from the world.

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers." (3:14)

There's an echo here of Jesus words:

"Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me ... has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24)

Notice that this love first manifests itself in the Christian community itself, "because we love our brothers" (3:14). This, too, echoes Jesus' words:

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12-13)

Sadly, churches are so often loveless places. We sing, we pray, we worship, but we do not love. I have no complaint with the rise of large churches, but unless people connect with a small group within these churches, they are doomed to a loveless model of the Christian congregation. We cannot afford the outward show of success, if at the core of the church we are missing the essential element of "love for the brothers and sisters."  I remember going to church with a friend of mine while I loved in Mississippi.  They had large screens in front of the church to show what were basically advertisements about happenings at the church.  Later those screens were used for the words of the hymns.  However, in this large church, no one spoke to each other before or after the service.  They merely stated up at the screens.  It was so sad to me.  There was no community in that church.  I grew up in a very small and intimate rural church of Christ.  We have always had between a dozen and three dozen members.  We talk and get to know everyone and how they are doing.

Now after speaking about brotherly love, John goes back to murder that he introduced with the story of Cain and Abel:

"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." (3:15)

Certainly there's a difference between hatred (an attitude) and murder (an action). But the spirit that underlies both hatred and murder is exactly the same spirit. Recall Jesus' own troubling teaching on this from the Sermon on the Mount:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment...." (Matthew 5:21-22)

This hits home for us when we begin to catalog the people with whom we are angry. Inside we seethe with anger when we suffer unrighteousness -- or even blows to our pride. Anger, of course, is a common, God-given response to cause us to take action. Vital, but dangerous.

Anger comes and goes with the situation. But when we hold onto this anger, it becomes a resident bitterness within us. It produces an unforgiving spirit that Jesus warns us against. Following his teaching on the Lord's Prayer, Jesus says:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." (Matthew 6:14-15)

Of course, full forgiveness can be granted when there is full repentance (Luke 17:3). But we are required to flush our souls of the unforgiveness that manifests itself in harbored anger -- which is in us the spirit of murder. We must! So long as we hold anger towards another, we cannot love him or her as Jesus calls us to.  I hope and pray that the community of Christians in this world will understand the true nature of God's love and the love that he command us to have for our brothers.

John says that if we teach hate then we teach murder.  I don't believe anyone, at least anyone sane, would believe that murder is acceptable.  If we don't see murder as acceptable, then how can we see hate as being acceptable.  Love is life; hate is death.  Don't be turned away by Christianity because some teach hatred, bitterness, rigidness, and judgmentalism.  Instead, embrace the love God gives us, and rejoice in the joys of life.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Moment of Zen: Procrasturbation



Procrasturbation [pro·cras·tur·ba·tion]: A similar experience to masturbation, it feels good while you're doing it but afterwards you realize that you just did yourself; Doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones; Masturbating as a form of procrastination. 

Ex: "I didn't feel like working on my project so, instead, I just laid around procrasturbating." "Your first tip is to avoid procrasturbation." "Man, I love procasturbation!"

I suspect we have all been guilty of procrasturbation at one time or another.  You know you have things to do, but you get that tingling sensation in your penis that says, "I want to play.  Give me a quick solo, and then you can go back to what you're doing."  The only problem is that once you are finished procrasturbating, then you are spent and of you are like me, then you want a nap. Happy procrasturbating!

Friday, September 19, 2014

An Accidental Outing?



Julianne Hough might have just outed "Mean Girls" star Jonathan Bennett.  The "Dancing With the Stars" judge appeared on "Extra" to talk with Mario Lopez about Season 19 of the reality competition show. The conversation turned to a discussion about Bennett, who is a contestant this season.

"He tweeted me last year and said, like, I had a nice butt, but he also tagged my trainer," she said. "And so I was like, 'Oh, he's hitting on me. I should try to go on a date with him.'"

"What happened?" Lopez asked.

"He's gay," Hough responded. "So, I was like, that's not gonna work."

Some blogs have dubbed him a gay man and he was rumored to have once romanced "Kyle XY" actor Matt Dallas, according to Out magazine. Even his Wikipedia page says "Jonathan Bennett is openly gay," but has since been edited to remove that line.  The 33-year-old actor has not publicly come out.  My thought is simply this, he hasn't confirmed or denied rumors, and he not on a crusade to have any mention of him being gay erased from the Internet.  Colton Haynes' publicity people went on a campaign to remove pictures of him and his boyfriend from the Internet, even though they can easily be found (including an earlier post on this blog).  Bennett has done no such thing.  

Maybe he takes the philosophy of Thomas More.  More relied on the legal precedent and the maxim "qui tacet consentire videtur" (literally, who (is) silent is seen to consent) to attempt to save him from his eventual death at the hands of his friend King Henry VIII for treason.  Bennett may understand that he cannot be, does not want to be, or does not care if he is labeled by his sexuality, and he therefore just does not answer questions regarding his sexuality.  Bennett's representative declined to comment on the actor's sexuality or the Hough incident when contacted by the media.

Bennett starred in 2004's "Mean Girls" (an entertaining movie) as heartthrob Aaron Samuels.  Bennett knows firsthand how mean people can be.  Bennett supports the Love is Louder project and uploaded a video of himself talking about the bullying that he had gone through. Bennett stated, "Of all people, I know how mean people can be to each other. I mean, we made a whole movie about it [referencing "Mean Girls"]. It happened to me in high school, it happened to me in college [and] it still happens to me today. And I’m not gonna lie, it sucks. Sometimes it really sucks. But it doesn’t have to forever because there are people out there who love you, and love is a lot louder than hate.”

I love that quote, and I wholeheartedly identify and agree with him.  In my opinion, I don't think people should act as if this is big news.  Julianne Hough obviously didn't think it was, and then again she could just be an insensitive woman.  It seems that Bennett's sexuality is not really a secret and he has done nothing to keep it a secret (unless he changed his Wikipedia biography).  I can completely understand why celebrities often do not come out.  There is a great deal of media attention, both good and bad.  I can also understand why someone would not want their sexuality to be the main fact people know about them.  Each of us is so much more than our sexual orientation.

I would love for him to acknowledge his sexuality, but I can understand why he doesn't.  The more people who come out, the easier it will get for each subsequent generation.  



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pitch Perfect: It's Aca-Awesome


Pitch Perfect is an enjoyably snarky campus romp that’s both wildly nerdy and somewhat sexy, which makes it totally my kind of movie. Set in the unlikely world of a cappella singing, this snappy, smart-mouthed comedy with tons of great one-liners and fantastic music, offers choice opportunities for a bunch of young performers to pop out of the crowd while playing game characters searching for modes of self-expression. Girls, gays and music fanatics represent the core audience, but the good times also should go down easily with a wider in-the-know crowd.  Think Glee in college.  And to add a little eye candy for the gay crowd there are plenty of sexy guys in this movie along with a few dorky types. 

A too-cool-for-you smarminess sheathes the cutthroat competitiveness at Barden U., where, on club recruiting day, The Bellas, an all-female a cappella group, urgently need new blood to have a chance of beating male rivals The Treblemakers, who prevailed in the national finals the previous spring.

Debuting feature director Jason Moore, best known for having staged Avenue Q on Broadway, sets a quick but not frantic pace and keeps it there; one easily could believe he goosed the actors before every scene, so alert are they to everything going on. The unusually attractive cast, which is consistently filled with performers well over college age, is fun to watch. Among the Bellas, Anna Kendrick's Beca appealingly blossoms from wary outsider to the one everyone counts upon; Anna Camp's Aubrey seemingly would rather die than take off her self-imposed straitjacket; Brittany Snow's Chloe receives some of the knocks she needs to begin straightening herself out; Rebel Wilson's Fat Amy has a hilarious arsenal of quips, looks and moves; Ester Dean's Cynthia Rose shows the kind of right stuff you always want on your side; and, for maximal eye candy, Alexis Knapp's Stacie is always towering voluptuously and informing everyone how much sex she has. You get the feeling all of these talents will be heard from more decisively in the near future.

Scarcely five minutes of screen time goes by without music, be it in rehearsals, impromptu challenges or regional competitions leading up to the national finals at Lincoln Center in New York, and the bulging soundtrack calls upon oldies, newbies and everything in between to be rendered vocally without instrumentation, with normally arresting results unless it’s supposed to sound bad. The choreography is similarly sharp without tipping over into the outlandishly professional.

As I was reading about this movie, I came across a review from a "religious" site called Dove Family Friendly Movies that reviewed it as "Not Recommended for Families."  Well, as Aubrey says to one character, "It's time to get your head out of your ass, because it's not a hat."  Yes, there is some language but nothing that's not regularly on television.  Dove Family Friendly Movies was too funny not to read their review.  At one point they state, "The music is really quite good and except for one line uttered by a lesbian, 'I’ll make you my queen,' the soundtrack might be considered family friendly."  To top off their stupidity, this is what they said about nudity in the film, "close-up of boy in a speedo swimsuit; cleveage [sic]; two girls and a guy talking while naked in the shower (nothing shown on screen); girl with see-thru t-shirt; girl rips open blouse during performance."  The thing is there is absolutely no nudity in the whole movie, and "close-up of boy in a speedo swimsuit" just made me want to see it more.

A friend had sent the movie when he found out that HRH had passed.  He said that I needed something that would help cheer me up.  After watching this movie last night, I can honestly say it worked.  I haven't been in this good of a mood in nearly two weeks.  Even before Victoria got sick, I had suffered from a three day migraine.  So this movie was just what I needed, and I laughed a lot, something I haven't done in a while.  One of the ladies at school told me that she missed my smile.  She understand though why I have been sad.

If you have not seen Pitch Perfect than you really should.  It's a fun and wonderful movie.  I plan to watch this movie over and over again. This movie is perfect for putting me in a good mood, and I recommend anyone who has not seen it to run to the store and buy it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Someday...



Paw Print On My Heart



Paw Prints On My Heart 

You came into my life one day, 
So beautiful and smart, 
My dear and sweet companion, 
I loved you from the start. 

And though I knew the time would come, 
When we would have to part, 
You'll never be forgotten, 
You left paw prints on my heart.

HRH did truly leave paw prints on my heart.  From the time she was a kitten until her final days, she would lay, not in my lap, but lengthwise across my stomach and chest with her paws over my heart.  We spent many an hour like this or with her laying under the crook of my arm, her paws on my chest and her head nuzzled to my chin.  When I was sad or sick she'd come to comfort me.  When a storm would hit she would run to me for comfort, but always act as if she wasn't scared.  

As most cats do, she refuse to show fear or embarrassment.  I remember her once falling off the bed, actually between the headboard and mattress.  I tried to catch her but couldn't move fast enough.  I worried she'd hurt herself, and I looked under the bed.  When I looked up she was in the doorway to my bedroom acting as if she'd been there the whole time. Even in her final days, when I know she was scared and in pain, she refused to show it.  Only when she was sedated and in such agony did she let her guard down and it broke my heart further.

The poem above and below are both anonymous.  I'm not sure I've ever posted an anonymous poem before on my Poetry Tuesdays.  So this is a first.  I just felt they were so beautiful and touching.  I couldn't resist.

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge

As much as I loved the life we had and all the times we played,
I was so very tired and knew my time on earth would fade.
I saw a wondrous image then of a place that's trouble-free
Where all of us can meet again to spend eternity.

I saw the most beautiful Rainbow, and on the other side
Were meadows rich and beautiful--lush and green and wide!
And running through the meadows as far as the eye could see
Were animals of every sort as healthy as could be!
My own tired, failing body was fresh and healed and new
And I wanted to go run with them, but I had something left to do.

I needed to reach out to you, to tell you I'm alright
That this place is truly wonderful, then a bright Glow pierced the night.
'Twas the Glow of many Candles shining bright and strong and bold
And I knew then that it held your love in its brilliant shades of gold.

For although we may not be together in the way we used to be,
We are still connected by a cord no eye can see.
So whenever you need to find me, we're never far apart
If you look beyond the Rainbow and listen with your heart.

The story goes that just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.  When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals like HRH, who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes will be intent. Her eager body will quivers. Suddenly she will happily run from the group (she never liked other animals anyway), she will fly over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... I know I will see my beloved Victoria and Calico again someday.  I'm sure there will be other special animals in my life as well.  Most likely said animals will be cats.  Calico was my first real pet, but she was as much a family pet as mine.  Victoria, however, was a vat I picked out and took her home. She was loyal to me and I to her above all others.

I promise this will be my last post about HRH.  I know it is sad, and I am dealing with the grief which is hitting me hard.  I don't want this blog to be a downer, so I will move on to happier topics.  Thanks again for all of your love and support.