Thursday, April 1, 2010


I'll admit it: I titled this post "synergy" just to annoy my friend Emily. 

Emily and I have a mutual loathing of corporate buzz words. But don't worry, we're both "team players" who like to "visioneer" our "imagined future".

Aaaaaand that's the mood I'm in today. I call it Sassy Smart Alec in Electric Purple. It's probably just derived from the obscene number of mini Cadbury eggs I've managed to eat today.

But let's put on our smart glasses and get down to brass tacks. What are smart glasses? They're the purely decorative specs my college roommate used to put on when she wanted to get things done, like schoolwork. And she was amazingly productive when she wore her smart glasses. As for brass tacks, I have no idea where that phrase comes from. Is it upholsterer slang? Carpet layer lingo? 

Anyway, this is our Round Table time, where I share opinions, news, and facts into the Void That Is The Internet. It's like I'm a one-woman episode of "The View." Speaking of which, while Elisabeth Hasselbeck is the panelist with whom I usually share the most in common, I agree a surprising amount of the time with Whoopi Goldberg. I wouldn't know this if I hadn't spent the last 12 months unemployed. But now I do.

So, folks, the *first topic* today is Why Stupid People Happen To Good People. There is some hugely negative press  floating around about religion - and it's not because religion is bad, it's because people are stupid - contra Christopher Hitchens.

Three big stories broke this week: the arrest of "Christian" militia members from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio; the ruling of a judge that the family of a fallen soldier pay for court costs in their complaint about that wacko "church" that demonstrates at military funerals; and the alleged negligence of then just church leader, now Pope, Joseph Ratzinger in transferring a pedophile to another congregation.

Here's the deal: the FBI raided militia sites of a group who considered themselves God's warriors. They had improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and had "breathed murderous threats" against law enforcement officers, plotting to lure them into ambushes by fake 911 calls. Now, I would call these people nuts, or lunatics, extremists, or imbalanced, but I wouldn't call them Christians, just because they themselves do. But when you watch the news, they are labelled a Christian militia group. With all due respect, I suspect that were they Muslim, they would be called an extremist sect that in no way represented the mainstream, and I request all media representatives to afford the same benefit of the doubt in this case. I don't know anyone - anyone - who thinks keeping grenades and bouncing Betties stockpiled is a good idea.

I do know a guy who's really into paintball.

But that's about it.

And I am glad that the FBI finally gave the reason for the raids, because there's nothing that will rile up conspiracy theorists hiding in the woods quicker than unexplained FBI raids on their camouflaged compounds.

The next story is really tragic, but involves some interesting twists. A "Baptist" "church" from Kansas - known for its shock-jock-esque website, - protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Somehow they reason that when servicemen and women are killed in battle, that that is God's judgment on America. Meanwhile, heartbroken families deal not only with the grief of the loss of their loved one, but the hijacking of the funeral by these nutjob protesters who carry signs that say things like "God killed your soldier." So a father of a U.S. soldier who died while fighting overseas finally took them to court.

The problem has been free speech: while everyone wants to protect free speech, most decent people also want to protect grieving families from having protesters show up picketing at their son or daughter's funeral.

Things have reached a boiling point: a judge ordered the soldier's family to pay court costs in addition to allowing these protests to continue. It's now going to the Supreme Court.

And in a strange, but good, moment, this morning on "Good Morning America" former Clinton administration member George Stephanopoulos teamed up with Fox News celebrity Bill O'Reilly to support this soldier's family and to call for some kind of action to be taken to protect other military funerals. 

It's possible they'll be able to work the "disturbing the peace" angle. However they're able to argue it, I believe that free speech can be protected while also protecting the families of fallen soldiers.

Finally, right in the middle of Holy Week, the Pontiff finds himself in hot water. New sex abuse cases have been discovered in Germany - and the current Pope was in leadership there at the time. Now, the Vatican claims that he didn't know about the transfer of a pedophile priest from one congregation to another. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But the fallout is immense: in Germany, when you renounce a religion, you register it with the government to avoid paying a church tax.

Filings have tripled since January.

A wry priest who teaches theology at Notre Dame explained this morning to TV viewers that there is no one who can ask the Pope to resign. People had been bandying about the possibility, but that is simply to fail to understand how the Catholic church works. If a Pope could be ousted easily - well, he wouldn't be the Pope. The whole point is that it's thought that he speaks for God, that he holds the legacy of St. Peter being given the keys to the kingdom - the Catholic church is a church of hierarchy. There is a lot I respect about the Roman Catholic Church, and there is a lot I hold in common with my Catholic brothers and sisters. But the Papacy is not like the U.S. presidency, elected every four years.

That being said, he has a crisis on his hands, and it will be fascinating to see how things unfold. Fascinating, not flippantly, ignoring the damage and heartache of the situation, but rather fascinating from the church history nerd, ecclesial studies angle.

On to the next topic: *mini Cadbury eggs*. They're yummy and delicious. They're the Easter candy I get every year. What's your favorite? Do you have something you make for Easter dinner every year?

*Sweet Husband used to do "Peep Jousting"* - putting two beloved marshmallow Peeps in the microwave with toothpicks stuck in them. As they expand, the toothpicks are thrust into the Peeps. Whichever Peep pokes the enemy Peep first wins. Thus "Peep Jousting."

I think it was a College Guy activity. I'm imagining a really messy microwave surrounded by a large crowd of yelling guys who are ignoring their schoolwork and laundry to turn Easter treats into a competition.

In other news, *I finally captured cute kiddo's smile on camera*. The problem is that he's so dang smart. Every time I'd hold the camera up to take a photo, he'd start concentrating on the camera, and would stop smiling. But BAM! Mommy was persistent, and finally got the picture. They'll be posted sometime soon.

*Put the movie "Glory" on your Netflix queue* - it's the best war movie I've seen in a long time. It's loosely based on the letters of the white leader of the first black battalion in the Civil War. 

*Facing the sex industry head on*, Here's a cool website my friend Chad from college has started.

Well, that's all for today's Round Table. 

But in more other news, *I discovered today I can block blog followers*. 

Which meant I immediately blocked "US Gov Info."

We'll see what happens.

I warned you - Sassy Smart Alec Electric Purple.


Carrie said...

Peep jousting?? AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That is THE best! As soon as Brennan gets home from mom's house, I'm going to teach him!

Favorite Easter candy:

Cadbury eggs
And this week I found: Bonafide chocolate-covered Peeps--ahhhh, I love Easter candy!

vanilla said...

"get down to brass tacks"

derivation uncertain, but possibly refers to the tacks set in the counter at the dry goods shop. used for accurate measuring. When I am ready to purchase, I might say, "Let's get down to brass tacks."

you are welcome. and this is a great post. sorta like spelunking, exploring the nooks and crannies of your mind.

Elizabeth Turner said...

Carrie - I should mention, that left too long, the Peeps WILL explode.

Vanilla - thanks! Great mental picture of a general store. I wish there were more general stores. Or "dry goods" stores. With large glass canisters of candy. And a guy behind the counter with those things on his sleeves. What are those things on the sleeves for? You know, they look like garters, right above the elbow, and bartenders in Westerns wear them, and shopkeeps in old movies wear them.

vanilla said...

Strangely enough, those "things" were called "sleeve garters." I understand, though I'm not old enough to remember it in spite of rumors to the contrary, that early ready-made shirts had but one sleeve length-- long. Garters were used to adjust the sleeve to the desired length.

Carrie said...

Yes, I have experience with cleaning Peeps out of the microwave. Not an easy task, I might add. I'd just never thought of the jousting aspect before. Then again, I was never a bored college guy.

Unknown said...

Sassy Smart Alec Electric Purple... I like it!