Category Archives: religion
My Friend’s Documentary on Childhood Assault by Catholic Clergy
My dear friend’s documentary, Procession, is something I keep putting off watching, despite its many accolades and awards. It was listed listed in the top 50 films on Netflix by the NY Times, alongside Rocky, Reservoir Dogs, The Sting, Brokeback Mountain, you name it.
For decades I’ve been a fan of the documentary genre, with its raw subject matter — and typically gross injustice that enrages viewers, hopefully spurring us to action — yet it is another thing entirely when you know someone in it, I suppose. I felt bad enough about Flipper’s kin in The Cove and I’ve never even gone to Sea World.
This one sounds different in a few ways. But I hate spoilers and being spoiled. I’m just going to have to watch it. Maybe you can encourage me.
The New York Times Finds Jesus
Home delivery of The New York Times...to the manger. (The Times is in blue plastic on the bed of pine.) All the news that’s fit for the coming of the Lord?
A friend snapped this on her early morning walk. I can’t tell if the topmost angel is strolling down the sidewalk or suspended in mid-air. Either is good.*
*Inside tidbit: As I was entering germane “tags” for this post into WordPress, one mysteriously autofilled when I entered the tag, “Jesus learns to read”: Advice to youth in the workplace. Snort.
Life-sized creche, Pleasantville, NY, USA
Thank you, Jesus!
Lists Are Good For You
And now a tribute. To the mighty, the daunting, the beloved…the list.
I don’t have a real bucket list. If I did, Disney World® wouldn’t be on it; I didn’t know it was any good. I went to Disney in my 40s by chance. When most people hear, “I’m goin’ to Disney World!” they think Sooperbowl. I think: time capsule, spinning teacups manned by deranged nieces, and Christmas parades with “princes” in wigs with many hair follicles per square inch. Also: pack well. Unexpected weather and unplanned befoulment demand backup.
While a winter trip to a theme park ain’t exactly Christmas in New England, a good way to steel yourself is to get a flu shot then go to one. Disney’s a good bet because as the sweat of many nations and the sputum of the Lands settles upon you, you are exposed to virtually every germ currently available. It is, after all, a small world, certainly for a microbe. And as you build character standing on lines for rides and hear songs that won’t leave your head ever, you leave the prior year behind entirely—often a good idea.
Before I get into a favoured list of deep importance, the annual Fake New Year Predictions, here a short list of things overheard at Disney World:
-Will all the lines be this long?
-I don’t think this line actually goes anywhere.
– It makes the line longer.
-We’re definitely under surveillance.
-Disney World is a young man’s game.
-I don’t want to go peeeeeeee peeeeeeeeeee! (said by more than one child from more than one nation in more than one Land on more than one day.)
– Did you say “teeming thong?!” NO, teeming THRONG.
-This. Line. Is. Going. Nowhere.
Lists! Weekends generate lengthy lists. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em down. Dump? Check! Tenny? Check!! Margherita – rocks – salt at Richardson’s Tavern? Checkarooni. Another…good day.
On to the prescient populist predictions for 2015, submitted by you the people from ME to FL, NH to CA:
North America will break up along the Mississippi and drift apart.
Angelina Jolie will have an affair with Jennifer Aniston.
Office betting pools explode on which former Disney child star will implode next.
Congress will be fined for not working; fined members will be unable to run again.
3D printing will be applied to implants from cheek to calf.
Jenna Bush Hager and Chelsea Clinton will decide to run for president in 2016.
With cheap gas, the price of vintage Hummers will strengthen.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will steal the rights to his own life story from himself, then turn it into a multi-billion dollar video game called Zuckerville, a place where he has the rights to all players’ personal information. Suckerville?
The first smart refrigerator will arrive, voicing the caloric, fat, sodium, sugar, protein and fiber content inside. It will lock after 8pm and won’t admit entrance until 6am.
Texas will secede.
Quebec will secede.
Killington will secede.
Punxsutawney Phil will be canned when he is bitten by a vampire and no longer casts a shadow.
ISIS will splinter off into new factions, one of which by year’s end will become the world’s most popular boy band.
More people will buy VW campers and park in Walmart lots to avoid campground fees, accumulating decals for amusement parks, roadside attractions, and states.
Americans will be required to rescue an animal by paying for its care or adopting it.
Vladimir Putin will be poisoned by an elite squad of journalists.
Putin will come out as gay, step down as President, and marry figure skater Johnny Weir.
The inane patter on award ceremony red carpets will worsen.
People will leave [followed by unintelligible gibberish].
I will be befuddled by new social media I’m supposed to master (Yik Yak?).
I will not gain weight (glad you said fake.)
I will stick to my New Year’s resolution to be happy and smile at everyone I meet.
I’m going to have sex every day.
Due to Equatorial Vortex Irene, we’ll have 90-degree days at the end of February.
Candidates vying for the presidency will optimistically fund new dog breeds, the Dachsoodleman (dachshund, +poodle + Doberman) and Cockzerstiff (Cocker Spaniel +Schaunzer + Mastiff) for his/her Whitehouse dog .
And my ties for Personal Favorite:
Rather than “predict, I “wish” we could all just slow down, get our faces out of electronic devices and embrace the outdoors…but silly me, then corporations wouldn’t make bank.
We will have weather.
A unifying figure will emerge.
With that, I wish you great list-making, great outcomes, great incomes, and good day.
Total Eclipse of the Mud
The universe deals people some pretty bad hands. Whether it’s a physical affliction making life a living hell, or a heart so broken you can’t inhale, it almost doesn’t matter whether it’s happening to you or someone you love. When you love someone, their pain becomes yours. As anyone who’s watched their beloved person die will tell you, at some point they wished they could trade places with their suffering person. Even though watching it unfold—and enduring its aftermath in a daze—likely hurt worse.
Now that’s a dire way to start a column, especially one you’ve come to rely upon instead for laffs, seemingly unrelated topics woven together, questionable spellings, and general disregard for propriety. You shall have that, dear Reader. But if Holy Week and Passover aren’t about death and mayhem and baffled onlookers, I don’t know what is, so try to run with this. I write on seasonal subjects and, well, here we are.
When it comes to religion, I pretty much believe all of it. Meaning I think that people at the time believed these things were happening, and whether they did or did not occur is not important to me. What matters to me is that humans today get together to honor those that were beacons of kindness a really long time ago, to give thanks to something bigger than we, to whisper wishes for those in need, and that there’s a place you can go where you can leave your purse unattended and probably no one will go through it. Our religious affiliation is typically decided by our parents; that a single religion is The Right One is to me as perverse as the notion that Christians were born sinners whose sometimes unbaptized children languish in Hell or Limbo eternally. I don’t believe there is a Hell outside of Earth proper. We have plenty of Hell right here at home.
Whether Jesus was a son of God who performed miracles and rose from the dead is, in my opinion, anyone’s guess. But I believe he was a real and good man and that, as with other religious figures, some things he said and did were accurately recorded. There could well be a God, as anyone who’s seen a live moose up close, smelled a lemon blossom, or shot a hole-in-one will agree. I had to “block” an unruly scarf this week, and while the travel iron my boyfriend bought me in 1987 is adorable, it doesn’t have steam. I borrowed my neighbor’s. While blocking, I thought, “Yeah, I wouldn’t mind owning a steam iron.” An hour later at the dump I found on the FREE table a steam iron for the taking. Coincidence? Proof of God?
Or Gods! The pagans will surely have rocked Tuesday’s full moon by this column’s printing, what with the Blood Moon total eclipse. Having missed March’s Worm Moon (?) entirely, I’m paying closer attention. CNN Tech claims the moon will be red-orange like a “desert sunset”; one NASAn preferred “reddish, ugly-looking.” I’ll settle for dishwater gray, as we have been let down repeatedly by scientists promising a spectacular celestial event that turns out either a dud or obscured by clouds. Although, as with religious followers (which they kind of are), I do believe scientists think it to be true when they say it.
America, you’ve got another chance. On October 8, then April 4 and September 28 of 2015, there are three more Blood Moons visible from the entire US. Four in a row, according to effusive CNN, is “like drawing a rare lunar poker hand.” Which I didn’t read until an hour after starting this column’s first sentence. Coincidence? You decide.
One thing is certain: mud is upon us (lit. and fig.). As its mellifluous downhill oozings and the soft, sweet hum of cluster flies lull us to sleep at night, may we dream of ways to slog through mud and life with grace. God shows [its] face from time to time, seems like. If in fact real, God apparently lets us do whatever we want. Which a lot of the time is no good at all. So it’s up to us manage our relationships, communities, and planet with brains and respect. If there is a God, I do hope we haven’t been too much of a disappointment because I, for one, am trying my damnedest. And I see you out there, too, people. I see your deli slicer-sharp minds, strong hands, and big hearts at work. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Good day.
Up Next Month Evidence of the Devil: Black flies, BP, and the Disgraceful Home Printer Ink Scandal of Modern Tymes
Stand Up for Others ~ And Self
One trait is evident in today’s Young People (hereinafter, the “YPs”). In print at least (meaning, on Facebook), they seem to have more of a grip than we did. Better advised by parents and schools, they understand more which roads to go down—and which not to. We were kind of shooting in the dark, as I recall. “You must have a liberal arts education!” we were told. Sadly, I’d have been better off with a welding certificate from Apex Tech.
With their impressive grip, the YPs seem willing to protect and defend what they believe in. In prior generations, people considered it rude to speak up in polite conversation—at, say, a dinner party—regarding, say, marriage outside of one’s race or (specific!) religion. Really, there’s nothing noble about listening to someone excoriate what you believe in, or (politely!) watching someone catch abuse. The YPs make a stand without being nasty about it. We can be like them. Just say, “I disagree. Can we change the subject?” Or when it’s unsalvageable: “Hey wow, I forgot have a dental appointment. It starts in 10 minutes, and lasts the rest of my life.”
Sure, it’s uncomfortable to confront people, but as Rudolph the Reindeer’s father (Donder!) notes with a (Yankee?) disdain for self-indulgence, “Some things are more important than comfort. Like self-respect.” Okay, so he says it regarding a fake nose cap he’s making his son wear to fit in. I’m using it anyway.
Speaking of Rudolph, I have a friend with that name. He introduced himself to me years ago with, “Rudolph…as in ‘the Red-nosed Reindeer,’” a thrilling and crisp addendum. Ever since, when meeting people I imagine (silently!) what they could say to jazz it up (“White, as in the absence of color”; “Creamer, as in ‘non- dairy’”; “Joseph, as in ‘Jesus, Mary, and…’”; “Lava, as in ‘molten”; “Polly, as in “’…wanna cracker?’”) Let’s face it, in hard tymes, we can use all the laffs we can get. So if you have a name that’s a word in the English language, you might try this out for the benefit of All.
Back to protect/defend: many motorists dig those construction road signs with giant letters, “LET ‘EM WORK ~ LET’ EM LIVE.” Succinct; clear; a trifle threatening. I’d like shirts saying that for protecting/defending. See someone getting picked on? Wear the shirt and stand around him all day. Hear an employee getting wailed on by an employer or customer? Speak up! Throw the shirt at the perp! Do something. Do it!
I have a post-menopausal acquaintance that looks younger (dammit) than I. There was a guy she liked who seemed interested but wasn’t asking her out. She told her friend that he’d better make his move because, “My clock is ticking.” Friend’s response? “Yeah, the big one.” Not the biological clock, the big clock. The big clock is ticking, people. Don’t tarry. At age 32, another friend started getting cold feet about his relationship. Someone advised him to stay, suggested he was just panicking about giving up his solitary lifestyle. Two decades later, he’s glad he did. So I say if you’re (1) dilly dallying: knock it off and (2) putting up with dallying/dallying: knock it off. Speak up for yourself. Time’s a wastin’.
Now if you’re taking repeated punches from someone, the smart thing is to nip it in the bud. Let your attacker know his or her unkind behavior is being noted and that you are not falling for it—that this is not something you somehow “deserve.” They’ll move on to other prey and, generally, it’s much more fun sticking up for someone else than for yourself. That’s why god invented bodyguards, wingmen, tailgunners, right-hand women, and riding shotgun. But remember, the pen is mightier than the shotgun. As is a well-arched eyebrow.
Your monthly good news is that eco-protector/defender Mayor Bloomberg is crusading for New Yorkers to separate their garbage for composting. NYC plans to compost 100,000 tons of food scraps yearly, then build a plant to process this into bio-gas to generate electricity. Frisco and Seattle have already mandated same. Right on.
I’ll leave you with this quote from John Caruso’s excellent YA novel, Hard Magic: “They knew from then on… they could depend on each other. That was real. It was one thing to sit around a room and share information and speculate about the truth of things; it was another thing to use what you knew and go out into the world and change things for the better or, at least, keep things from getting worse.”
Get up. Stand up. Don’t give up the fight. Good day.
It’s a Grand Old…Peace Dove?
I love a parade. What’s better than a marching band? Nothing. And what’s the most important section? The drums, of course [no pix cuz I have no technology to blur the faces of the yoots in the Randolph Union High School marching band. Which would look creepy anyway.]
The next best part of any parade is the nutters. These ones are the Gifford Medical Center “Health Angels.” The front of their “biker” shirts said, “Who’s Your Doctor?” and they carried placards with stuff like, “Catch it early or it could get surly,” or “Colons and Prostates: Go there.” My favorite was, “After 50, Give ’em a Squeeze.”
But wait, there’s more! My church made “Peace Doves” one year for the heck of it — giant doves to be paraded about town in a promotion of peace. These birds are trotted out from time to time. While I don’t take issue with our national anthem being about war, I understand those for whom it’s a bother, and stand behind my anti-war brethren 100%. Here they are, the Peace Nutters!
If you’ve never attended an Eastern Orthodox Easter service…
At one point, everyone leaves the service to circle the church three times while a madman pounds on the bells in the carillon — crazy loud. Crazy good.
XPUCTOC BOCKPECE! Looks like Zuptock Bockpeace to me, but is of course pronounced nothing like that. And no one finds it funny. At all.
Come To Vermont
We have arranged a nice dumping for you. They’re pumpin’ out the white stuff as we speak. But this is just a primer.
It will go on for 2 days, then the sun will come out. Catch you on the slopes, the trails, and in the sugar shack. BYO hooch.
The Final Word from Mighty Whitey
What I like, and as a professional exit poller in Vermont I know for certain, is that people here vote across party lines.
But even we didn’t reach quite far enough. You really have to think long-term.
An Unorthodox Easter
I don’t know about other Eastern Orthodox Easters, but the Russian one is what you might expect. One metric ton of food. Vodka, vodka, and more vodka. Throw in your next-door neighbor pressure-washing his house as ground bees surface during the Easter egg hunt, and it’s fun for everyone. XPUCTOC BOCKPECE!