Archive - Aug 23, 2013



I am at the Barnes and Noble. The girl next to me is talking very, very loudly to her elderly father on the phone. She has to repeat everything two or three times. Everything. I was getting irritated until the conversation graduated into farce. 

It was clear that she had just brought her boyfriend home to meet her elderly parents. Dad was worried he didn't make a good impression. Daughter assured him, no. 


"Dad, I have a medical question." 

"Mark and I don't believe in sex before marriage"


"But is it possible to get pregnant through clothing?"

I assume her father is a doctor. 

"Well, I am on the pill and everything, but sometimes I forget."

Forget to wear clothing? 

As I write this, the details are continuing to pour out, audible to at least twenty people. 

"So as long as I am on the pill and I am wearing clothing, we should be all right." 


"Oh, hi Mom!"

Apparently somebody heard Dad's end of the conversation and grabbed the other extension in a hurry. 

The world is bizarre. I don't expect you all to believe me, but this is happening. Loudly. In Barnes and Noble. 

UPDATE: Now it all comes out. She has had a couple of drinks and her boyfriend Mark didn't want her to drive home, so she is hanging out in a coffee shop. 

And now: "Mark's parents are super Christian so it is important that I am a Christian, and they are glad you are a Christian, too!"

Just keep your clothes on, girl. 


"Well, actually, I called to tell you I am engaged!"

"Dad, are you there? I am ENGAGED." 



Street scene

somali woman.jpg

A Somali woman watches the street preachers 1/2 block down and across the street from her.  

Two medical ideas

Here is a fascinating article on the connection between the stomach and mental health. I was an anxious kid and gulped Rolaids by the dozen. Eventually, I developed an ulcer which, thanks to the then-recent introduction of ranitadine, healed within a year of diagnosis. From that point on, I have seldom had stomach problems, although I later fought a couple of month-long bouts of depression. 

What I have always suspected is just what the article postulates: Stomach problems can create anxiety and mental stress, and not just the other way around. I have noticed when I have had temporary stomach upset due to illness or bad food that it immediately causes my mental state to tank. Getting the stomach in order can bring the mind around as well. 

On the matter of heart disease, a world-renowned heart surgeon says in this article that the present cures are as bad as the disease. In particular, the excessive use of statins to lower cholesterol (he says 25% of the population is on them!) has done nothing to reduce heart disease. 

Food for thought. 

Empathy Failure

Ever since I worked as a page at the Minnesota legislature in 1995 (full-time pages in the Minnesota House range in age from college grads looking for openings at the Capitol to retirees wanting to expand their horizons) and watched as about a dozen Republicans giggled their way through a debate on transgendered people, I have made a person's attitude towards the issue a litmus test: If you immediately get grossed out and giggle at the mention of a person born with ambiguous gender--if you make immediate judgements such as "I guess I can understand, but only if they try to..."–-you don't have enough empathy to make decisions for the rest of us and should get your bigoted ass out of elective office. 

Here is an excellent response from a Christian perspective which I think the fundamentalists and other neanderthals might consider. I have met several transgendered people in my life and there ain't nothin wrong with 'em. They don't need to be told that they need to struggle to conform with God's plan for their body, as the fundamentalists do. They just need (and deserve) unconditional acceptance of who they are. Why this is so difficult for self-professing Christians, of all people, mystifies me. So often they rise up to defend the status quo, the rules, and conventionality in general, when the founder of their religion was a revolutionary who had no time for convention. 

This is yet another example of empathy failure in the world of modern evangelicalism. Instead of demonstrating the radical love, forgiveness and acceptance so obviously demanded by their founding prophet, they go into panic mode when confronted by people who are different, demanding that they conform. 

I think their anxiety, their stern "concern," stems from the fear which grips middle-aged parents: What if our kids get ideas and don't turn out normal? A lot of hatred and ignorance is perpetrated in this world by people in the grip of this fear. 

I remember when a local mother found out that the theology of the Lutheran church she attended denied the literal existence of hell. 

"Well!" she snorted, "How are we going to get our kids to behave?" 

Her kids were little angels, but that didn't seem to matter. You still need hell to keep them that way, according to her warped, self-centered thinking.  

These desperate middle-aged parents, above all, want their kids to be conventional. I would say they value their kids' conventionality over their safety, or at least have confused the two. 

I struggle to understand the desperate anxiety people on the religious right have to get everybody to conform to 1950s social norms, none of which are actually laid out in the Bible. Such norms can be found there only if you maintain massive blind spots and pick and choose your verses.

How many nuclear families with 2 children living in a single-family home appear in the New Testament? None that I have encountered. 

I wouldn't waste one minute of time on the religious right if they weren't so close to the levers of power. It appalls me that we even have to spend time and energy making sure they are properly discredited for their sheer indecency