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I Hate Halloween

Preparing tomorrow’s Daily Office prayers (Oct.31) turned out to be remarkably difficult. In the morning we observe two obscure but noble Asian bishops, Paul Sasaki of Japan and Philip Tsen of China; there’s only one picture of Sasaki on the whole dang internet, and none at all of Tsen. Since I operate a blog called The Daily Office East for the Asia-Pacific region, as well as one for the Western Hemisphere, I can’t ignore these guys. China had a long history of Western missionaries trying to drum up support for Jesus Christ, while the Japanese Anglican church is unique as the first homegrown, indigenous missionary effort, supported by The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Church of England.

I know nothing about these Asian churches except what I read online, so it’s difficult to tailor a “product” for them; the blog is in English, not their native languages, and most of the traffic we get (and it isn’t much) naturally comes from Australia. I’m always on the lookout for art and photographs that depict Asian Christians, but that means relying on Google and Wikipedia in English, both of which leave a lot to be desired. At any rate I finally got Morning Prayer done for East and West (the content is almost identical, but the East is many hours ahead).

Then at night, I have to make a slight nod to secular Halloween, while the Church celebrates the Eve of All Saints (which is what All Hallows’ Eve really is). I have only one great painting of all the saints, by Fra Angelico, which I have to save for the real day on Thursday, plus a dozen pictures of All Saints churches, of which any one will do. Then I’ll run the All Saints’ Day Collect again on Sunday, when most parishes will actually observe the feast day. In My Ideal World™, Episcopalians would actually observe All Saints’ Day like it’s supposed to be done, with a big celebration this Thursday and no concession whatever to ghosties and ghouls, trick-or-treat and Texas chainsaw massacres. I hate what Halloween’s become.

Then there’s what Gay people do to it, which is the most appalling of all.

I’ve never found drag amusing. I don’t oppress the people who engage in it, but it completely leaves me cold.

Halloween turns me into a mean old man, a curmudgeon. I have “no sense of humor.” But I don’t know what’s funny about drag queens, or leathermen wearing eye shadow, or guys going naked in public, or blood-soaked skeletons on the eve of a religious holiday.

I’m not fond of the Mexican Day of the Dead, either – and I don’t think it should be observed in churches.

You can buy “Jesus Malverde,” patron saint of Mexican drug traffickers, right next to conventional Catholic statuary on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens, New York. They’re equally popular, says The New York Times.

All Saints’ Day is one of the highest holy days of the year, according to the Book of Common Prayer, a “principal feast” which takes precedence over any other day or occasion. There are only seven such days, with Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Christmas and the Epiphany. Further, All Saints’ is so important it now has a popular “extension” the next day, called All Souls’ Day, supposedly for unrecognized saints, and more popularly for deceased friends and family, even though the word “saint” means any member of the Christian community, past or present. I’m a saint, you’re a saint, we’re all saints here. But most people don’t see it that way, they think saints are always heroic figures, so now we’ve got an extra day to remember Aunt Gertrude too.

You can tell I lack a sense of humor about this – though when I was a kid we actually did tricks along with our treats, which was great fun, especially for a “nice” little boy like me. In town we “soaped” windows, which meant buying a cheap bar of Ivory soap, then going out at night to rub it on the windows of neighbors’ cars and houses, whether we liked them or not, then running like hell so we didn’t get caught. To little boys, the most fun part was showing that mean old man on the corner what we thought of him.

Now I’m the mean old man. Country kids would knock over neighbors’ outhouses. We’d have done that too, but in town everyone had running water.

Today towns and cities designate a day and an early time frame for kids to go out, invariably with their parents, to beg for tooth-rotting treats. It can’t be nearly as much fun, but everyone’s paranoid these days about apples and Snickers bars with razor blades in them. I doubt anyone ever stuck a razor blade in a Red Delicious, but today you’d get arrested just trying to give a kid a piece of fruit instead of a mound of candy.

So, bottom line, I am old and curmudgeonly, and I’d like to observe All Saints’ Eve and Day in peace.

When I first moved back to smalltown Indiana in 2005, I eagerly bought bags of mini-Snickers and Butterfingers; no one came, leaving me with 80 little candy bars to get rid of. The next year I didn’t buy anything, so kids knocked on my door; I gave them coins instead. Now I just act like nobody’s home. I haven’t had my windows soaped once. You can’t even find a picture of it online.

The idea of a night for adults to dress up, act silly and have fun does appeal to me. But don’t do it on the eve of a holy day, it’s insulting to my religion – even though the Church chose November 1st to be All Saints’ Day deliberately to co-opt and Christianize the old Celtic/Druid festival. It turns out people are more interested in celebrating death than life, which shouldn’t surprise us at all. Now we’re stuck with it and I don’t like it.++

 

But this guy in drag was plenty funny. (Blake Edwards)

Put Grandmère Mimi among the Wikipedia Notables, Where She Belongs!

It has come to my attention that Wikipedia contains a glaring omission. It has no listing for June Butler, aka “Grandmère Mimi,” among the Notable Natives in its entry for Thibodaux, Louisiana.

WANTED: Suspicion of blogging.

I am sure Jimmy Wales, founder of the free online encyclopedia, never intended such a shameful oversight. Grandmère is a Distinguished Personage in any city – in every city – much less the capital of Lafourche Parish, there on the banks of the bayou.

So I am appealing to all my friends, followers, and my very large Entourage to correct this mistake immediately.

Now the good news is that Mimi’s entourage is even bigger than mine. Yes, that’s hard to believe, but hey, she’s got white hair and looks harmless. But do not be deceived; she’s notorious.

She always returns to the scene of the crime.

For many years Ms. Butler has masterminded a criminal enterprise called The Wounded Bird, from which her influence has spread worldwide. She was among a handful of shadowy operatives who prevented the Church of England from adopting the Anglican Covenant, along with her accomplice, one Jonathan Hagger, who goes by the alias MadPriest. Together these  anarchists have sought to undermine all Anglican Stuffiness and Pretense™,  which is all that keeps those old English bishops from crashing over at the slightest puff of wind.

Ask yourself, people: what institution will she try to topple next? The CIA, the Stock Exchange, the Jane Austen Lending Library & Tourist Trap plc?

Mind you, this so-called Mimi (which in English means, “Me, me!”) got started innocently enough; for years she cultivated her image as a charming, inoffensive Church Lady. But one fateful day, she got introduced to a life of crime, and let it be a lesson to you all. Ms. Butler took her first bribe.

Ten years ago she accepted the offer of a free, all-expenses-paid vacation at a palace in the American Southwest, where she rode around in limousines and ate like a queen – despite knowing that her hosts were charter members of the International Gay Cabal (known to the CIA as the “Gay Agendists”). These subversives succeeded in beginning her conversion to warped ways.

Experienced spies will tell you that everyone can be seduced to The Other Side. For some it’s sex, and for all we know that may have been part of her downfall. But for others, “the love of money is the root of all evil.” Those Gay tempters must have taken her to the top of a mountain and shown her, “All this can be yours!”

She signed right on the spot, happily entering a life of sordid degradation.

Within a few years, Ms. Butler published a four-part series called “Confessions of a Recovering Homophobe.” It’s still in print today. Even worse, she began undermining all standards of propriety in the Diocese of Louisiana, particularly concerning a man referred to in official publications as “the practicing homosexual Bishop of New Hampshire.” (Co-conspirators know him only by his code name, “Gene.”)

From there Ms. Butler infiltrated a very popular blog run by one Terry Martin, a purported Episcopal priest using the alias “Father Jake.” This gave her access to a vast worldwide network of radical ne’er-do-wells and brilliant criminal minds, known to occupy key positions in the misty Anglican Mafia. She rose in the organization by mild, reasonable-sounding comments on events in the underground war on the Establishment, and occasional jokes she blamed on the patently fictional “Doug.” Fellow travelers took her to be a sweet, kindly old Southern lady who was no threat to their positions. But the bodies began piling up quickly behind her.

The Bishop of Pittsburgh – disappeared! The Bishop of Fort Worth – kaput! San Joaquin, even Quincy, Illinois, no town was too small to escape her wicked bloodletting. She became the de facto ecclesiastical authority (though she modestly calls herself merely Ordinary) in every section of the country.

And then, my friends, she went after The Mother of Them All – yes, Canterbury itself.

She triumphed a few months ago by reducing the Anglican Communion Office to rubble – though no photographic evidence exists that she actually burned the Anglican Covenant in a pagan ceremony under the ancient fig trees at Lambeth Palace. One source reported that instead of singing the hymn St. Anne, as any proper Anglican would do after burning effigies at the stake, the rebels danced instead to Dixieland jazz, in defiant violation of three known rubrics in the 1662 Prayer Book.

(Another report, since discredited, maintained that while the Covenant remained unlit, Ms. Butler oversaw a deliberate burning of the steak – known as “blackening” in south Louisiana. An eyewitness reported, “That wasn’t beef, ya’ll, that was largemouth bass. Them’s good eatin’.”)

The Foreign Office confirms that Ms. Butler’s passport shows multiple trips between Thibodaux and Heathraux. Her dossier in MI5 is six inches thick.

THEREFORE, as one of the many secret acolytes of our High Priest and Grandmère, and yes, a card-carrying subversive myself, I call upon all hippies and yippes, Gayboys and Dykegrrls, friends and relations, and everyone who knows anyone to join our Amalgamated Queer Entourage and rectify this horrible oversight in Wikipedia at once. Way-farers of the World, Unite!

As they say down in Cajun country, “If Grandmère ain’t Notable, Thibodaux don’t knaux Notable.”++

Treat her nice and she might let you kiss her ring. (revdlesley.wordpress.com)

Romney Disqualified to Be President

The Romney scowl. (Saul Loeb/AFP-Getty)

Presidential Debate #1: Mitt Romney looks presidential while running roughshod over sleepy Barack Obama. Debate #2: The President wakes up and punches him out.

Result: Obama retook the momentum, but Romney gained more the first time than Obama gained back last night.

The election, just three weeks from now, will be close – a lot closer than it needed to be, because at the time of the first debate, the President was pulling away in all the swing states and Romney was fading into irrelevance, just like John McCain did in 2008.

Obama allowed Romney to roll him like a drunk in the gutter. I count that as an epic moral failure, because as Obama well knows, this election isn’t about him, it’s about us.

With America still recovering from a terrible recession, our future depends on who wins this election. If Romney wins, rule by the rich will replace rule by the people. If Obama wins, we still have a chance to create our own destiny, as individuals and as a nation. And as we go, so goes the world.

It’s a world in which the Taliban shoots a girl in the face for advocating female education.

May God forgive Barack Obama for that first debate. Jesus is our Savior, but the Lord depends on us today to get his message out about Love Thy Neighbor.

Obama let Jesus down, and billions of us mortals. He let down Malala, now in the hospital in London trying to recover from her wounds.

Romney of course is no friend of the Taliban – but he’s also no friend of Malala.

He’s “qualified” to be president as a former governor and businessman, but his positions (to the extent anyone can say what they are), his values and his personality disqualify him. Two weeks ago Obama was well on his way to proving that.

Romney believes in patriarchy. Why would he not, being a Mormon? Patriarchy is the basis of his religion.

He’s a nice guy; I’ve never met a Mormon who wasn’t. But the foundation of the “latter-day saints” is one man, lots of wives, lots of kids, and eventually the man will end up as a god on a distant star.

It’s unbelievable in every way. Mormons think sex is the way to salvation – heterosexual sex, that is. It’s why they give millions to defeat same-sex marriage.

As Romney said last night, he’s got “binders full of women.” That’s a Mormon man’s goal. (Plus getting rich.)

I don’t believe in a religious test for public office, and Mormons who are Democrats are free to run with me. Maybe I’ll vote for a Mormon someday – but I won’t vote for Romney, whose Catholic running-mate wants to ban all abortions, no matter what, and whose Republican platform declares that a fertilized egg is a human being with 14th Amendment rights to life, liberty and, as Chris Matthews loves to point out, property. (What, they’re doing real estate deals in the womb now?)

Romney says he supports exceptions to the abortion ban in the case of rape, incest and the life of the mother. How many abortions do these exceptions account for, 5%?

What happens to the other 95% of women who feel they need an abortion?

I oppose abortion in principle, as an undesirable thing. But I completely believe in a woman’s right to choose. If she needs an abortion, I want her to be able to get one safely.

A lot of times, ethics and morality do not depend on good vs. evil, but on figuring out which is the lesser of two evils. Safe, legal abortion is the lesser of the two, because God didn’t put women on earth to be baby machines, for Mitt Romney or anyone else.

The Pope and the LDS church love to cite “natural law,” which states that women’s purpose is motherhood. But we’ve learned an awful lot of laws of nature since Aquinas popularized his notions of Plato’s philosophy in the 13th century.

We’ve learned what women can do, that they’re full human beings entitled to the same freedom as the penis-proud.

Abortion would be a lot less necessary is everyone had access to contraception. Yet Romney’s first order of business is de-funding Planned Parenthood.

To me that disqualifies him from being president. He’s a sexist pig, and these are the United States of America. We don’t do prejudice here, or take political contributions from bigots.

Romney takes them every day and says Thank You.

He politicized the death last month of the American ambassador to Libya – before his death was even confirmed. That disqualifies Mitt Romney.

I loved how Obama put him in his place about it last night. I’ve never seen a political staredown quite like that before.

This is the moment when Romney was certain he’d nailed Obama to the wall over the terrorist attack on Benghazi. Obama told him he had said the words “act of terror” the next day, and Romney wanted to get him “on the record” for what the governor thought was an outlandish claim. He stared at the President, then raised his eyebrows, like “Did I really catch you saying that?” When moderator Candy Crowley shot him down, Romney was left sputtering in disbelief. He clearly never bothered to learn the facts – after politicizing the assassination of a U.S. ambassador. (screen capture via MSNBC)

Romney wants the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer – and lies about it. That disqualifies him.

He says 47% of Americans “regard themselves as victims and refuse to take responsibility and care for their lives.” His running mate calls 30% of Americans “takers.” That disqualifies them both.

They’re anti-Gay bigots too, both of them. Maybe that’s why Romney won’t release his tax returns, afraid we’d see how much he gave to pass Proposition 8 in California. You know he didn’t sit on the sidelines; he gave money. He raised money for it from all his Mormon businessman friends. He’s a former bishop; they’re all such conformists they can’t say no to anything that will turn them into gods on a star.

(I must say I’m proud that Democrats have not raised the Mormon issue against the man. Let there be no religious test for public office. I only comment about it because it seems relevant in understanding Mitt Romney; Harry Reed is also a Mormon, and he favors same-sex marriage.)

Romney’s tax “plan” involves cutting Medicaid and shifting it to the states, which we all know will underfund it, thus harming the poor, disabled and elderly. It’s immoral; he disqualifies himself. He isn’t fit to be president.

He should try reading the actual Bible, not the Mormon counterfeit version. Jesus said, “It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.” The entire prophetic tradition of the Hebrews demands justice for the poor – but Romney wants to make the poor poorer and then blame them for it.

He will run up the deficit and the national debt, after portraying himself as a savior who will cut the deficit and debt. Republicans always do this – while running up the national debt!

He’s a good salesman; he’s got nearly half the country believing him. But why on earth would we elect a financier, four short years after getting screwed by financiers?

Not only are they screwed, they smile about it. (Paul Fell/Artizans)

Romney enjoys threatening war with Iran. But no Romney has ever gone to war; his sons and grandsons won’t either. Going to war is something the “little people” do to indulge the fantasies and greed of the rich.

Romney wants more coal mining, and arranges photo-ops with miners ordered by their bosses to appear without pay. We’ve seen a remarkable increase in employer intimidation this election, but Romney has no problem whatever in cozying up to the dirtiest industry on earth. If it will get him elected, he favors lopping the tops off every mountain in Appalachia.

I guess he figures that when global warming renders God’s green earth uninhabitable, he’ll already be a god himself on a star somewhere.

Pollution is immoral, Mitt; you’ve disqualified yourself.

You’re a liar. God doesn’t think much of that either. Your campaign “isn’t going to be dictated to by fact-checkers.”

Steven Colbert predicted that truth will be replaced by “truthiness,” which George W. Bush was fond of too, and if you win, no one will ever be sure what the truth is again.

America’s existence depends on voting for what is moral, based on what is true. If you replace truth and morality with lies and immorality, we’ll never be the same.

That was the risk Obama – and his strategists – ran when he slept through the first debate. Thank God he woke up in time for the one last night.

We need America to be better than it is today, not worse, and that’s ultimately not a function of the employment rate; instead it’s a result of moral decisions by our leaders and our citizens.

Romney chooses immorality, and is disqualified.++