Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hummingbird

A good friend of mine emailed this story to a bunch of us a couple days ago, from Ellen DeGeneres' website:

HUMMINGBIRD (Ellen Degeneres)

"While I was making my morning coffee, I had one of those coffee ground volcanoes. You know when the filter collapses and coffee and grounds go all over the counter? So, I'm wiping up this little mess and something catches my eye out my window. I saw a little hummingbird flying. It was just sort of hovering and then it drank from my fountain. I was just staring at it, mesmerized, and I forgot how about how aggravated I was just a few moments before. I realized that I had been given this little tiny gift. Thank you little hummingbird. It lasted just a minute, but it changed my mood and made me happy and I was able to hang onto it all day.

That's our choice. We can choose to focus on spilled coffee grounds or the hummingbird outside our windows. You just need to take the time and be very still and quiet. I know that right now there is a mother of one or two or four or seven saying, 'That's easy for you to say, Ellen. You don't have a baby in a high chair crying and throwing their eggnog…or whatever babies eat.' I guess what I'm trying to say is, when you're lucky enough to see something beautiful like a hummingbird outside your window, take the time to appreciate it."


I agree.

Too many people are so focused on complaining about the sad state of affairs their lives are in, or this country is in, that we forget that we actually live in one of the most comfortable countries in the world. A country with a Starbucks on every corner and a couple McDonalds in every small, rural town. A country where it is an expectation to receive the best available medical care there is, even when one has no way of paying for that medical care. And a country where the biggest problems facing the coming generation is student loan debt and the psychiatric diagnosis du-jour.

What is more annoying, for example? Learning about a couple of completely wacky, outnumbered "Christian" fundamentalists, or living in a country where there are over 1,000 AIDS deaths per day? Where men don't even care about knowing their HIV status, because it is seen as such a burden, thus apathetically infecting dozens more women by their unprotected heterosexual sex.

Yet many people in the U.S. still find things to complain about that just aren't that big a deal. Maybe it's just a part of societal evolution. If people don't complain, how does society as a whole work towards making anything better?

My point is that complaining is just like an addiction. People become so used to complaining, and putting themselves in the position of victim, that it often seems like nothing will work to get them to stop. Because they like the position it puts them in.

Which brings me to my second point. Our anti-gay opponents are so concerned that the U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket, they are so pessimistic about human nature, I feel they often don't stop to see what they really do have. And oftentimes, that is (or, as we are led to believe) wonderful, loving spouses and children.

If they are so happy with their own lives, why are they so set on attacking other people? Why are they focused on turning gay people into the "enemy of Christianity?" Why, if they are so happy and loving, do they need to scapegoat other groups of people who have nothing to do with their lives or their problems?

They are so focused on everything negative they believe is happening, it often seems they don't stop to look at the so-called humingbirds along the way. Instead of enjoying their alleged happy lives and loving spouses, they would rather construct enemies out of groups of people who are doing nothing to harm said lives.

"Save the 'Institution' of marriage from the homosexualist agenda!" they scream.

and

"Stop mainstream acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle!" they bleat.

and

"Make America more 'Christian,' this is 'one nation, UNDER GOD' after all!" they preach.

and

"Bring Back Prayer in the Schools, and put the 'Christ' back in Christmas, even in this country that has separation of church and state!" they shriek.

Every single day, I get a new AFA Action Alert with Dom Wildmon complaining about something new. Something unintentional. Something usually harmless. For example, a couple days ago, they sent out an Action Alert screaming that the department store Lowe's had called Christmas trees "Family Trees" instead in their ads. And I quote from the Action Alert, itself, "Lowe's evidently did not want to offend any non-Christians, therefore they replaced "Christmas tree" with "Family tree." Of course, if Christians are offended that is evidently ok."

Riiiight. Because it's okay to force your religion on others. But make something neutral so that no one is excluded, it's a damn shame.

But I digress, the ads, as it turns out, were actually due to a marketing error, not any deliberate attempt to exclude God or Christ from the trees. Especially since their website includes many references to "Christmas" instead of the more religion-neutral "holiday."

But before finding out the truth, the AFA was all set to have their sheeple boycott Lowe's, as they have done with Ford. The next day, the AFA had to send out a sorry-ass email explaining what had really happened.

Here is the letter that was supposedly sent to AFA from Lowe's:
"Randy, Thanks for taking my call this morning. Let me reiterate my apology that we had an advertising error that created a stir. Here's a statement that we'd appreciate your posting on your web site, if possible:

Lowe's has contacted the AFA and assures us that it is proudly committed to selling Christmas trees this year, as it has done for more than 60 years. The company apologized for the confusion created in its 2007 holiday catalog when it headlined the page of Christmas trees "family trees." The error was not caught before the publication was distributed, and Lowe's says it is disappointed in the breakdown in its proofing process.


Lowe's assures us that they refer to trees as Christmas trees in this season's television and magazine ads and in its advertising flyers. The company says it is redoubling its efforts to proof its catalogs in the future to prevent this issue from recurring.


We appreciate Lowe's for listening to its customers and responding appropriately to our concerns."

And don't even get me started on the Watchmen on the Walls:

"We are against cohabitation, divorce, abortion, adultery and other behaviors that weaken the marriage-based society on which civilization depends. But we are especially focused against homosexuality, because those who practice this self-destructive vice, and have organized themselves into a political movement, are the chief enemies of the natural family." [emphasis added]

and

"We are seeking clear-thinking men and women of every nation and ethnicity to join with us. We don‘t want cowards who, for example, speak out against “gay” marriage but are afraid to say that homosexuality itself is wrong. And we don’t want bigots who hate homosexuals in the same way they hate races other than their own. We want brave people of conscience who love and respect the natural design of the human family and want it to be promoted, established, strengthened and protected as the foundation of every society on earth.

We are the Watchmen on the Walls and we will not shrink from our duty."

Oh really? And what duty is that? In their poor, little misguided--not to mention delusional--eyes, they actually see themselves spreading the word of God and love. Because surely if Jesus were alive today, He would approve of their speech and actions.

It reminds me of those bracelets everyone wore in grade school. "WWJD?" Surely not any of the above.

Which brings me to my third and final point. What if everyone were to throw down their weapons, their defensiveness, and their hatred for one minute and actually try to empathize with the other side?

Usually, when people complain, they don't want solutions. They don't want cheering up. They want empathy.

In an US (gay rights advocates) vs. THEM (AFA/Watchmen/Opine) battle, empathy is usually what is lacking in the debate.

So here it is, my empathy to THEM: "Wow, your lives must be terrible, and I see you are burdened with so many problems! I had no idea, as I go about minding my own business, that others like you are suffering so much. I don't know how you deal with all the problems of this country's morality on your backs. I certainly wouldn't be able to do it. It must be a horrible way to live. Thanks for tackling it for us all. I realize you are tackling an insurmountable beast that will likely fail in the end. I know how frustrating that can feel, and now I understand why you are often very hateful towards people like me. May you one day find peace."

24 comments:

John said...

I understand the mind of fundy because I've been there.

I wasted two to four years of my life, years that could have, should have, been the best years of my life under the spell of Jehovah's Witnesses.

Now, Jehovah's Witnesses are a bit different than Wilton's brand because they are not politically active, but the mindset is the same.

It's not that they can't feel joy, because they certainly can. But the only joy that they can experience is by doing things that they feel glorify their God. And I can appreciate that; I remember well the exhilarating thrill of heartfelt worship.

And if that is as far as they took it, I would have no objection, and I would do nothing the diminish their joy. But that is not as far as they take it because ultimately, their philosophy is based on fear; fear of the Lord.

So when you say:

"Our anti-gay opponents are so concerned that the U.S. is going to hell in a handbasket, they are so pessimistic about human nature, I feel they often don't stop to see what they really do have. And oftentimes, that is (or, as we are led to believe) wonderful, loving spouses and children.

If they are so happy with their own lives, why are they so set on attacking other people? Why are they focused on turning gay people into the "enemy of Christianity?" Why, if they are so happy and loving, do they need to scapegoat other groups of people who have nothing to do with their lives or their problems?"

Ultimately, they believe that if we, as a nation, do not glorify the Lord in everything we do, then God will, at best, lift His veil of protection from this nation. At worst, He will destroy us, as he did Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a sincerely held belief.

And deep in the bowels of their Christian Nation mindset, lies a very ugly truth to which they are blind. The nation which they believe God so richly blessed, beginning, in their warped view of history in 1620, was a nation that practiced slavery, denied political rights to all but land-owning white, Christian men. A nation whose marriage laws placed women under the cloud of coverture. And yet it is that nation that they believe God has blessed, and it is the 21st century nation of relative peace and unprecedented proesperity that they fear has angered God.

So, yes indeed, they are suffering.

John Hosty said...

Jane, if you want to see an example of this in action, head over to:

http://dtf-jayg.blogspot.com/2007/01/does-anti-gay-marriage-anti-gay.html

The sheer hatred is tanglible, and proves this point we're making. I think you'll see you friend Renee in that argument, or maybe it was the one from December?

Fannie said...

The way some of them speak of marriage and raising children, they don't seem to enjoy either very much.

I was briefly inclined to join the debate that you and John Hosty are having with Opiners on their website, but many of their arguments seem to come from the watchmen on the walls "how to rebut homosexualist arguments" handbook (particularly Chair Mohn's). I don't know that it is possible or worthwhile to engage with people who are either a part of the Watchmen or who have incorporated their beliefs and tactics.

Judging by how they responded to your arguments, it is more toxic than anything.

No thanks.


Great article today, though.

Jane Know said...

John,
Thank you for your insight, as a former Jehovah's Witness. Having been raised Methodist and now agnostic, I can't pretend to understand what it is like to fear God. As my former (Baptist) boss used to say, "Being raised Methodist is like not being raised religious at all." I think what he was really getting at is that it is too laid-back and accepting for his--and many others'--standards.

John Hosty,
I will definitely check out that website. Thank you.

Fannie,
Yeah, notice I haven't gone back to continue the argument? I don't know if John Hosty has because I haven't been back there again. But after reading the recycled, regurgitated Watchmen-like answers, it's pointless. I said my piece, gave my opinions, and got the hell outta there. I'm starting to think they don't even think for themselves. It's like they have this collaborative of answers, as you suggested, similar to the Watchmen's "How to rebut homosexualists' arguments."

John said...

"The way some of them speak of marriage and raising children, they don't seem to enjoy either very much."

Absolutely, kids are a major burden to them. If you are not familiar with Dr. Dobson's book, "Dare to Discipline", just check out the comments on Amazon.com.

http://www.amazon.com/New-Dare-Discipline-James-Dobson/dp/0842305068

I have a bit of mean streak in me. When in the presence of fundamentalists, I make it a point to talk about how much joy I have received from my children. I also like to tell them how easy I find child-rearing to be.

I am not kidding; I find it easy, but it kills them. The tell me of the problems, expecting me to be able to relate, but I can't.

I tell them, they're doing it wrong.

Oh, and John Hosty, when are you going to stop posting under your maiden name :)

Fannie said...

Jane as for your boss saying this:

"Being raised Methodist is like not being raised religious at all."


Unfortunately that's a common refrain among some religious people:

"Being raised [insert religion other than one's own] is like not being raised religious at all."


From an outsider's perspective, it's sort of amusing. I see some people of all denominations and religions take that attitude.

Fannie said...

John,

"I am not kidding; I find it easy, but it kills them. The tell me of the problems, expecting me to be able to relate, but I can't."


Ha ha ha. If they find raising children so difficult, maybe they shouldn't be raising children....

John said...

"maybe they shouldn't be raising children...."

Absolutely!

I like to read and occasionally comment on the Family Life Forum, which is forum for Christians. I especially like the parenting forum.

The extent of dysfunction I see over there is mind-numbing.

I won't say it is because of their hard-core Christian beliefs but their faith doesn't seem to do them much good either.

And yet, they have the audacity to claim that gay people are unfit to raise children,

John Hosty said...

We could all stop posting on the websites of our adversaries, but I would caution that thought as being self-preservation at the expense of a much larger group. Those who have the courage and intellect to argue have a responsibility to bring about change through their dialog.

All websites, including this blog has lurkers. Most lurkers read what is siad from both sides and think about the comment's importance. Posting on websites like Opine Ed might seem to people like an act of futility, but it gets our message out to people who are on the fence. Some of the most virulently anti-gay people in politics have made a turn-around, and I am sure that the common man is doing the same.

Like in John's experience, once the "light goes on" it never fades. Then we have one more soldier to march in our war on ignorance.

In short, don't give up, join me! Together we can. (Shameless Deval Patrick plug)

Fannie said...

John Hosty,

I see your point.

:-)

Jane Know said...

John Hosty,
That is very true. Point taken.

They like to claim, when we stop posting on their sites, that they have "won" by default. Or that their "logical prowess" has left us unable to come back.

Yet, I still come back when I feel I can make valid points counter theirs. And you're right. Hopefully, even if we aren't making a dent in their opinions, perhaps the lurkers will see it differently.

The same goes for those "on the fence" of the issue, who don't care much right now either way.

Jane Know said...

Case in point, many of my girlfriend and my straight friends and classmates and colleagues were like, "why should we support gay marriage, it doesn't affect us?" or hadn't thought much about it at all.

So when we explain where we are coming from, and why it is important to have relationships that are recognized by the law to protect ourselves and any potential children, they get it. But that's because they are our friends, and they care about us. We do family things together, and they view our relationship no differently than they view theirs.

It is much easier to empathize when it hits you personally. When you see how unfair laws affect those you love.

Like the Mayor in CA who recently reversed his anti-gay marriage stance because of his daughter and friends and employees. Once he saw that they were good, normal people, he saw that the laws were unfair, discriminatory, and have real-life consequences. Not just hypothetical, far-fetched ones.

John Hosty said...

In the absence of the voice of reason people will listen to whomever speaks. Therein lies the danger of silence.

You make a great point Jane, and Aaron Toleos is one such person who made the change, like John. I don't know if everyone caught it, but he was in the Advocate as one of the "Top 100 Cool Straight People" this month.

I will be absent from bloggin for a little while, we just had a death in our family.

Fannie said...

I'm sorry for your loss John. Take care.

Jane Know said...

Thank you for coming to my blog. And I'm sorry for your loss, as well.

Take care, my thoughts are with you and your family.

Paul Jamieson said...

"But make something neutral so that no one is excluded, it's a damn shame."

Exclusion makes the world go around and is a reality.

Its not a "family tree", its a "Christmas tree". Always has been, always will be. Just like 2 men or women do not make a "MARRIAGE"

Its a shame you have to have an entire blog that does nothing but whine about how tormented and tortured you are.


and Your Jesus is NOT my Jesus, John

"If they are so happy with their own lives, why are they so set on attacking other people?"

We are not attacking, just doing our job as Christians. We speak up for injustice and we spread the word of God as we have been instructed.

You need salvation. Christ tells us to go to you and spread the word. You don't like the words so you attempt to change them.

Its really that simple. You are the original angry folks, you started it, and now you don't like it that you have pissed everybody off.

Jane Know said...

Oh man. How did he find my blog?!

Jane Know said...

Why do you have so much hate in you, Paul? That seems very un-Christian.

You claim to stand up for injustice, and yet you demand no justice for gays and lesbians. Oh wait, you mean justice for Christians? Or heterosexuals? What do you mean by justice?

Furthermore, in a country that has separation of church and state, you and your sheeple can't force your "values" and your "word of God" on us when it comes to laws. Thankyouverymuch. Good-bye.

ps-thanks for demonstrating exactly what I was talking about in my article.

Rachel M. said...

Paul,
I think you've got the wrong guy. Jesus was put on this earth to spread love and to stop oppression. Me thinks you don’t get it.

John said...

Ask any fundamentalist to justify his/her position on almost every issue and the will quote from the Gospel according to St. Paul.

It is Paul they worship, not Jesus.

When I must talk of God, I distinguish between Jesus, Jehovah and Paul.

Jesus was a decent preacher of love, tolerance and empathy for the least amongst us. He took it a step further and gave the working stiff more credit for authenticity than the phony rich.

Paul was a closeted self-hating gay man who was so tortured by his personal demons he could find satisfaction only in preaching intolerance. He has perverted the simple message of the Nazarene.

Jehovah is, or was, a fucktard.

Paul Jamieson said...

"Why do you have so much hate in you, Paul?"

Nice Try, but it won't work on me.

"Jesus was put on this earth to spread love and to stop oppression. Me thinks you don’t get it."

Shows how much you know about the Bible

"Jesus was a decent preacher of love, tolerance and empathy for the least amongst us."

I guess that day in the temple was just a bad hair day huh John?

"Paul was a closeted self-hating gay man"

LOL - you wish - the homosexuals have spent way too much time trying to make this urban legend fact.

"He has perverted the simple message of the Nazarene."

Do you know what Saul of Tarsaus did for a living before he was struck down by God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit?

Do you realize that he was chosen by God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit to be the messenger of the Nazarene?

You do NOT understand the "fundy"

Your JW experience just makes you more of a delusional ass than you already are.

Happy Thanksgiving!

John said...

Paul, you will find few people who know the Bible better than I.

I know full well the history of Paul and his conversion, but I will not discuss here as I doubt the typical reader of this blog cares much for the theology of Paul, and I won't intrude on Jane's hospitality.

But, there is one point about Paul that I think will tie in well to Jane's overall world-view. (Jane, correct me if I am wrong)

Those of us who are straight can live our entire lives with a hetero-normative world-view and never know what it is like to walk a mile in the shoes of a gay person.

So, with that hetro-normative view, we can read Romans, Chapter 7 and imagine Paul's torment to be all sorts of "ordinary" struggles with sin.

Or can we?

Now, I will not sit here and and say that I have never struggled with sin, but Paul is beyond the pale. There must be something extraordinary about him (and the times in which he lived) to be so tormented.

Now, I have blessed with gay friends with whom I can speak frankly and several gay men that I know have told me this:

"As a straight man, you CAN NOT KNOW, what Paul was struggling with, but many gay men can read Romans Chapter 7, and say, "I've been there; I know what Paul is saying"

To the point that one gay man said to me, "You might HAVE to be gay, to understand Paul's torment.

Read Chapter 7, and try to put aside your hetero-normative view and just read his torment, beginning with verse 7:

7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.

7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.

7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Think about it.

Rachel M. said...

Paul,

Rachel M. said: "Jesus was put on this earth to spread love and to stop oppression. Me thinks you don’t get it."

Paul said: “Shows how much you know about the Bible”

Wow, Paul. That’s great. It’s right up there with “I know you are but what am I?” As far as intellectual retort. Care to support that…um…er…statement?

John said: "Paul was a closeted self-hating gay man"

Paul said: “LOL - you wish - the homosexuals have spent way too much time trying to make this urban legend fact.”

I’ll have what Pauls having! He’s over 2060 years old and got to see Christ and all the apostles. This will change society as we know it! Finally we have someone who can separate “fact” from myth. I mean, I’m more than willing to believe that someone can turn water into wine, but when someone starts saying “homosexuals” walked the earth; things start to get a little fishy. I mean, not take five fish and feed thousands “fishy”, but FISHY.

Last I checked only God was allowed to judge. I’m sure He’ll be pleased as punch to know that you have used His Word into order to spread hate and judgment.

"He who humbles himself will be exalted. He who exalts himself will be humbled." I’ll race you to the gates, Paul. There’s NO WAY I’d wanna miss that!

John Hosty said...

"Wow, Paul. That’s great. It’s right up there with “I know you are but what am I?” As far as intellectual retort. Care to support that…um…er…statement?"

LOL!!!

Paul has become my personal pet troll. I take him with me wherever I go! Look on several blogs, like KTN and you will find him. He even followed me over to Statesmenjournal.com over in Oregon. My advice is to cut him off and not to bother with him. He will not contribute any more than insults anyway. I'm not sure he is intellectually equiped to provide more than that anyway.