modesty masks and other thoughts

Some of my best friends are Christians. They’re good people; mostly honest, mostly friendly, usually willing to be helpful, relatively clean. They don’t cause much trouble. Terrible dancers, but basically good people. So I am embarrassed for them when some other Christians–people they don’t even know–do something really stupid.

It’s like if you’re a Red Sox fan and you see somebody wearing a Red Sox cap on television and you think, “Hey, fellow Red Sox fan, probably a good person” and then that Red Sox fan does something stupid or wicked–uses a racial slur, maybe, or praises Comrade Trump’s intellectual achievements, or wears black socks with sandals–and suddenly you’re embarrassed for all Red Sox fans because that one asshole has called the integrity and decency of every Red Sox fan into disrepute. Same thing.

Anyway, I came across this in the news:

“[A] Catholic elementary school – Lansing-based Resurrection School – which contends that any state mandate that children age five and older wear a mask in classrooms is unconstitutional. The school says such a rule would violate ‘sincerely held religious beliefs”’ because they say humans were made in the image of God, and masks shield that image from being seen.”

If you’re anything like me (and I’m not sure how I want you to answer that) you had two almost immediate thoughts. Thought 1: That’s really fucking stupid. Thought 2: Five bucks says that school has a dress code based on modesty. And hey, bingo, guess what.

There it is. Girls MUST wear opaque tights, ankle length leggings, or modesty shorts underneath at ALL times. I guess because the legs and ankles of girls weren’t made in the image of god? I don’t believe in god, so who am I to say–but I have a hard time believing an omniscient omnipresent god would want everybody to see your nose and lips, but gets coy when it comes to a girl’s ankles.

At this point I had another thought. Thought 3: what the hell are modesty shorts? Which was quickly followed by Thought 4: Am I really going to google ‘girls modesty shorts’? Which led immediately to Thought 5: Probably the people who think girls need to wear modesty shorts are the types of people who’d google ‘girls modesty shorts’.

Reader, I googled ‘girls modesty shorts’. For research. And I felt a tad creepy. Because let’s face it–the only reason to be concerned with modesty is if you’re having immodest thoughts. Otherwise modesty shorts are just shorts.

But that led me to Thought 6: Maybe we could call the masks ‘modesty masks’ and the school would be okay with it. Or maybe the school would let kids wear modesty shorts over their heads instead of masks. But no, probably not.

In the end, I came back to a thought I’ve been nurturing for a long time. Thought 7: Burn the patriarchy. Burn it to the ground, Burn it to the ground and collect the ashes, and grind them into powder. Bury the powder deep in the earth, and salt the ground above it so nothing will ever grow there. Pour cement over the salt. Then nuke the entire site from orbit (it’s the only way to be sure).

Also? Thought 8: Christians, don’t let these venal anti-science fuckwits be the voice of your religious beliefs. I don’t believe in god and I’m not a Christian, but y’all have something really solid in that whole “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” business. Love your neighbor, encourage them to wear masks for their health as well as your own, don’t waste any time thinking about what’s under the skirts of girls, and really–burn the patriarchy.

it’s just a volcano, what’s the fuss?

I read the news every morning. A variety of news from a variety of sources. A lot of news. World news, US news, weather news, technology news, science news, art news, historical news (which isn’t an oxymoron), an increasingly smaller bit of sports news (mostly cycling news IF it pertains to electric bikes), occasional religious news, and an eclectic smattering of entertainment news (movie/tv/fiction reviews, some gaming news, nothing that involves scandals or super hero/comic stuff or Kardashians–who I keep thinking are an alien species on an early Star Trek series, but apparently aren’t). I like the news. I like to keep up. Even when the news is frustrating.

This morning I read an Associated Press article about ‘vaccine hesitancy’. A lot of people–mostly in Republican-led states–aren’t just hesitant about getting the Covid vaccine; they’re actively resistant. And resistant for massively stupid reasons. For example, this woman from Mississippi:

“All of the strong Christians that I associate with are against it. Fear is what drives people to get the vaccine — plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want the vaccine or feel that it’s necessary.”

I dunno, but I think if I was a god, I wouldn’t want to be worshipped by intellectually lazy people. I mean, what’s the value of a worshiper who essentially says, “You know, I’m not gonna make any decisions that require me to think; I’ll just let god decide.” Folks who could gather information, make an informed decision and act on it, but choose not to? Fuck that; I’d want those fuckwits to worship some other god.

Put a band-aid on that cut.

You get a cut on your leg? “Fear is what drives people to get band-aids—plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want a band-aid or feel that it’s necessary.” You live downstream from a pig farm? “Fear is what drives people to purify their water—plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to want clean water or feel that it’s necessary.” Volcano erupting? “Fear is what drives people to avoid lava and pyroclastic flow—plain and simple. The stronger someone’s trust is in the Lord, the least likely they are to leave town when an eruption is imminent or feel that it’s necessary.”

If I was a god, I wouldn’t force worshipers to put band-aids on cuts or get vaccinated against deadly diseases or leave Dodge if a volcano was getting frisky. But I like to think I’d let them know they idiots and maybe they’d be better off finding another god somewhere down the street.

Okay, I’m not a god. I don’t have a clue how gods think. I suppose there might be gods who are willing to be worshipped by any dunce that walks down the street. I suppose there are gods who don’t care about grammar, who hear their followers say ‘the least they are likely to’ and just give a celestial shrug. Maybe there are gods who actually want worshipers who can’t be bothered to slap a bandage on a cut or purify their water. Maybe they think that’s funny–the divine equivalent to prank television. Look at those rubes; the pigs shit in the water upstream and they’re just gonna drink it…hilarious! There’s no reason gods can’t be assholes too, I guess.

I TOLD you to put a band-aid on it, but did you listen?

Here’s the problem: all those folks refusing to use band-aid, refusing purify their water, refusing to evacuate when the volcano gets active–they’re only hurting themselves. But refusing to get vaccinated, that hurts other people. That’s selfish. I’m of the opinion that any god who wants selfish worshipers is an asshole god and doesn’t deserve any respect. I feel sorry for people who’d worship an asshole god. I feel sorry for them, but I want them (and their god) to stay away from me.

And would it hurt them to wear a mask?

the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet

Here is today’s lesson: if you elect stupid Christians, you get stupid Christianity.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. This is NOT an attack on Christianity or Christians or religion of any sort. It’s not an attack on Jesus or Jeebus. It’s an attack on stupidity. It’s an attack on insulting the intelligence of the American people. It’s an attack on religious gaslighting. It’s an attack on religious arrogance. But mostly stupidity.

I’m talking about Cindy Hyde-Smith, one of the US Senators (oh my fucking god she’s a Senator) from Mississippi. Yesterday, in an actual real Senate hearing on voter rights, she sorta kinda semi-quoted the Bible to defend legislation in Georgia–a state that is NOT Mississippi–that restricts early voting on Sundays. She held up a dollar bill and said (and I swear, I am NOT making this up) the following:

You know, this is our currency, this is a dollar bill. This says, ‘The United States of America, in God we trust.’ Etched in stone in the U.S. Senate chamber is ‘in God we trust.’ When you swore in all of these witnesses, the last thing you said to them in your instructions was ‘so help you God.’ In God’s word in Exodus 20:18, it says ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’

Okay, where to start? Let’s start with this: What the fuck? She’s not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of US currency–which would be galactically stupid. Nope, she’s saying people shouldn’t be allowed to vote on Sundays because of her Christian religion–which is only massively stupid. Is she aware that not all voters are Christian? Maybe? Maybe not? Either way, this is stupid.

Next, let’s look at what Exodus 20:18 actually says, which is this:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

Thunderings, lightnings, noise. All of which is oddly appropriate. The thing is, Senator (I still can’t believe somebody this stupid is an actual Senator) Hyde-Smith made an simple, understandable mistake. She actually quoted Exodus 20:8, which does, in fact, say: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Of course, she left a bit out. It goes on to say more than that. It also says this:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.

Any work. Thou shalt not do any work. Thou and everybody else. No work. No stores or shops open, no restaurants, no taverns, no Walmart, no spa or gym, no movie theaters, no Waffle House, nothing is open. Nobody doing chores. Nobody working the fields. Nobody tidying up at home, nobody doing laundry, nobody cooking or doing dishes. Six days shalt thou labor, and do ALL thy work, but on the seventh day you do fuck all. Just sit around praying and generally being holy.

Senator (it hurts me to call her that) Hyde-Smith may not be aware of this, but her own state of Mississippi is open for business on Sundays. It’s hard to justify forbidding people from voting on Sunday, but allowing them to buy mufflers and eat waffles and watch movies. There’s a flaw in that reasoning.

But also, there’s this: the book of Exodus, which is the second book of the Torah, was almost certainly written around the 5th century BCE. What does BCE stand for? That’s right. Before the Common Era. Before Jesus. The Sabbath mentioned in Exodus? The Sabbath Senator (Jesus suffering fuck, how can she be a Senator?) Hyde-Smith is referring to? That’s not the Christian Sabbath; it’s the Jewish Sabbath. We’re talking Friday evening to Saturday evening, not Sunday.

Finally, there’s this: Senator (really, how is that possible?) Hyde-Smith and her comrades in the GOP are blatantly gaslighting. They’re not interested in protecting the Sabbath. They’re only interested in protecting the GOP from people who want to vote. Mostly, that means they want to protect the GOP from Black people. And Democrats.

Instead of advocating popular policies that will make people want to vote for Republicans, they’ve chosen to find ways to discourage people from voting for Democrats. And what have the people done in response? Having seen the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off from the GOP. And told them to go fuck themselves. Amen.

quō vādis, y’all

Okay, Republicans, quō vādis and all that. Whither goest thou? To where are you marching? Where in the holy hell do you go from here? After a couple decades of shifting your focus away from policy and governance and investing almost exclusively in ‘owning the libs,’ what comes next? Where do you go when your party has lost control of both Congress and the presidency, and is now defined almost entirely by unquestioned subservience to a leader who’s been impeached twice? What comes after supporting the only president in U.S. history to foment a violent assault on the nation’s Capitol building? Seriously Republicans, quō fucking vādis?

Lacking leadership, the GOP is content to march angrily off in all directions at once.

Quick tangent. You may be asking, “Greg, old sock, why the Latin? Why quō vādis?” Because it’s appropriate in a couple of ways. First, it’s appropriate because most Republicans call themselves Christians, and the Latin phrase comes from a Biblical story. Well, sort of Biblical. It’s in the Acts of Peter, which is one of the apocryphal gospels. I’m going to resist the temptation to explain the apocryphal gospels, because that would require me to go off on a tangent within this current tangent. If you’re curious, do the research.

Second, the Latin is appropriate because of the lesson of the story. So, here’s the story. Around thirty years after Jesus got crucified, Peter, the apostle, goes to Rome to preach the gospel. While he’s there, he gets in a fuss with a guy named Simon Magus (again, if you’re interested, do the research), after which Peter decides it would be a good idea for him to leave town for a bit. Let the fuss die down. As he’s on his way, Peter meets Jesus toting a cross. Remember, Jesus had been dead for three decades at this point. Also, that cross? It talks. (I am NOT making that up; this talking cross may help explain why the Acts of Peter was shifted into the apocrypha). Anyway, Peter asks Jesus, “Quō vādis?” This is usually translated as “Whither goest thou?” or more simply, “Where are you going?” A more accurate translation, I’m told, would be “To where are you marching?” but the intent is the same. Jesus answers, “Rōmam eō iterum crucifīgī,” which means “I’m going to Rome to be crucified again.”

“No, really. I’m going to get crucified again. It’s my job. You should try it.”

This is the Biblical lesson. Sometimes you need to stop, think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, then turn around and get back to doing the good work you know you’re supposed to be doing. It gives Peter the courage to return to Rome and keep preaching. Unfortunately for Peter, he gets crucified on his return to Rome. Upside down, apparently.

So yeah, it didn’t end pretty for Peter, but the idea is still sound. The question and the answer are still important. Where are you going, Republicans? What’s your intended destination? What’s the purpose of your journey? What’s the nature of your good work? Where does the Republican Party go after they’ve attempted to overturn a fair election…and failed? Where do they go after they’ve shrugged off a violent insurrection?

Think about it. A hundred and twenty-one Republicans in the House objected to the Electoral College vote–and that was after the insurrection threatened their own safety. A hundred and ninety-seven of them voted against the second articles of impeachment. Forty-three of the fifty Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit Trump of inciting the insurrection–an insurrection that was not only intended to disrupt and/or stop the peaceful transfer of power to the legitimately elected president, but also threatened the lives of the next three people in the line of presidential succession.

“Wait…Jesus gets killed? That’s how it ends? Seriously?”

The only good thing about this is that some Republicans are asking themselves about the future of their party. Susan Collins, the tower of Jello representing Maine, said this:

“I think we need to get away from the idea that the Republican Party is just one person and adherence to just one leader.”

She thinks that’s what the GOP needs. But her comment is a sad example of the very problem Republicans are facing. Instead of addressing the actual issue–instead of trying to figure out a viable future direction of the party–Republicans are concentrating their energy on whether or not they should remain faithful to an unfaithful, dishonest, failed former president. That simply reinforces the notion that they ARE a party of just one person, just one leader. Without Trump, the Republican Party is rudderless. Without Trump, there is…well, nothing.

Don’t forget, for the first time since 1854, the GOP didn’t bother to craft a party platform for a presidential 2020 election. They basically said their party platform was whatever Trump wanted at any given moment. There is no longer any traditionally conservative governing philosophy that unites Republicans and shapes their policy positions. There is absolutely nothing that moves the GOP forward except the entertainment value of “owning the libs.”

Do they try to regroup? If so, as what? As a traditional center-right conservative political party? Do they gather together and concoct a political party platform? Do they get caught up in some sort of political mitosis and split into two different political parties? Do they just continue to drift randomly, driven only by opposing whatever Democrats propose and the haphazard, arbitrary, volatile anger and resentment of their base? Do they organize and morph into a violent guerrilla insurrectionist movement?

Live Trump or die.

I don’t have any answers. I know what I’d like. I’d like to see the GOP reform into a functioning organization with moderate, conservative values and policies I can oppose but still understand. I’d like them to be a traditional loyal opposition party. But that seems unlikely. Hell, nothing seems likely. No particular possible future seems more likely than any other; it all seems pretty aimless and accidental.

I haven’t a clue what comes next. But I’m genuinely curious, and a wee bit fearful.