Wednesday, December 19, 2012

David Barton Doesn't Know His Bible

Recently, on his WallBuilders Radio Show, David Barton made some remarks about how Christians should think while casting their vote.  Barton framed his position the way that all politicians do - as a dichotomous argument, where there is only one right and everything else is wrong.

As usual, this framing doesn't work.  Barton was decrying the fact that there was a Religious Right and a Religious Left.  He said that there shouldn't be a Religious Right OR Left but only a religious biblicist contingency.  He goes on to state that, if the Bible doesn't speak of it, Christians shouldn't worry themselves about it (climate change, health care, etc.). What he says next reveals his complete lack of knowledge (or, more than likely, his blind acceptance of right wing principles, simply because it increases ratings) of his Bible.

Where does the Bible line up on education? Alright, that's where I am.  Where does the Bible line up on taxation?  Okay, that's where I am.  Where does the Bible line up on social programs? Alright, that's where I am.

If you're at all familiar with theology, you immediately see the problem here.  The reason why there are over 30,000 different denominations of Christianity is because the interpretations of life issues contained in the Bible can be concluded in many different ways.  Couple that with stories that are considered to be prescriptive, rather than descriptive and parables that have many meanings, and you find yourself completely confused as to where you should take a stand.

This is why many religious people boil their faith down to simple truthisms like The Golden Rule or "Love God, Love People".  It's so much easier than trying to navigate all the pretzelified logic.

But let's take a look at Barton's comments a bit more closely.

Where does the Bible line up on education? Alright, that's where I am.

David, David, David.  You are there, but so many other Christians are not.  The Bible says nothing about education.  In the Psalms, it does talk about teaching children the statutes of the god of the Bible, something that many wouldn't really want to do, being that that god wasn't all that nice.  In Proverbs, it says to beat your children with a rod and they'll turn out fine.  On the other hand, Jesus says to not hurt the children.  You see, David?  It isn't really all that cut and dry.

But the Bible doesn't talk about how to teach your kids math and reading.  It doesn't say to teach them at home rather than regular school.  It doesn't say to only allow education funding to be at the local or state level, rather than the federal level.  It doesn't say whether or not to teach a child to a test, rather than teaching them for knowledge.  It doesn't say whether or not to allow a district to increase a tax levy or not. It doesn't speak of whether or not to have strict statutes against bullying.  There is much about education that the Bible does not speak of and thus leads to many differing positions within the Christian community.

Where does the Bible line up on taxation?  Okay, that's where I am.

Really, David?  Are you?  Maybe you think you are.  But, in reality, your position only encompasses one interpretation of taxation in the Bible.

Jesus says to "give unto Caesar what is Caesar's" after his disciples find money in fish.  That can be interpreted in several ways.  First, we are to pay all taxes without question.  That positions wouldn't line up with yours, Mr. Barton.  Or, maybe it means that we are to go fishing and find money in order to pay our taxes.  Jesus also told the rich ruler to sell everything and follow him.  David, have you sold everything and followed Him?  There is also the parable of the ten talents where the one man saves his money and is ridiculed.  Then, another man invests it and makes more money and is warmly treated.  Some people make taxation arguments from that story.

But the Bible doesn't speak about cutting or increasing taxes.  It doesn't speak about whether to give more in order to reduce your tax bill.  It doesn't speak about whether we should remove the home interest deduction from our tax loopholes.  It doesn't speak about the marriage penalty or whether one should claim 18 exemptions or 3.  It doesn't speak of whether it is alright to harbor your money overseas or whether we should file taxes in another state if we only made a few dollars there.  There is much about taxation it does not speak to.

Which leads into Barton's final point:

Where does the Bible line up on social programs? Alright, that's where I am.

The early church owned everything commonly.  In fact, if we wanted to see how important it was to Peter that the early church owned everything commonly, all one has to do is look at how he treated Ananias and Sapphira.  He cursed them and they died when they held back a bit of the money they made from the sale of their personal property, rather than giving it all to the Christian commune.  Yeah.  It was that important, David.  You can also use the story of the ten talents to further the Republican position of keeping all your money and not giving it away but it really doesn't speak to that.  After all, the guy who just kept the money was excoriated.

So, Mr. Barton.  To your point about not voting on issues that aren't in the Bible, my recommendation is to just sit out every single election from President to local dog catcher (the Bible god says nothing about animal control although he says a lot about butchering them and burning them on altars, wasting the meat).  But, more importantly, David Barton, it is time to stop pretending that there is exactly one position for everything in the Bible.  There isn't.  Many issues are not even addressed, let alone addressed in twenty different ways.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tea Party Nation Blames Teachers for Sandy Hook Tragedy

This post continues my views on the "article", written by Timothy Birdnow of The Tea Party Nation.

Birdnow makes a tragic mistake here - willingly.
There is the key to our whole cultural disintegration; we refuse to recognize Evil as a transcendent thing. Good and Evil presuppose a God and a Devil...You see it in the schools where children may no longer be corrected. There was a time when teachers actually spanked children; now a teacher is in peril if he verbally chastises a bad kid.

Good and evil does not presuppose a god and a devil.  My children are the children of practicing atheists and completely understood the evil in what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary.  My children do not get spanked and know exactly what is right and wrong in many situations.  

My little five year old daughter wept for half the night last night for the children of Sandy Hook.  She worried about the shooter coming to her school.  Kristine, my wife, slept with her ALL NIGHT, consoling her at intervals.  She has a brilliant mind and deeply understands what is good and what is not.  

Why?  Because I taught her from the Bible?  Not remotely.  The Bible is full of murder and genocide, SANCTIONED BY THE VERY GOD THESE PEOPLE PRETEND TO KNOW.  God didn't order men and women to go and shoot little pieces of metal into children.  No, he ordered them slashed and spliced by sharp metal objects.  He ordered pregnant women to have their bellies split open to prevent people who didn't give his band of nomads their land from successfully reproducing.  He gloried in children being smashed against rocks.  He ordered the death of adulterers, gay people.  The stoning of rebellious children.  He created the idea of an eternal death, being burned forever, for simply not acknowledging his existence.  All this is only scratching the surface of the very book that Birdnow, et al, say they get their absolute morals from.

My children know that the Bible god was an evil being.  How?  Because they know that killing people is very wrong.  Especially if it is just because they disagree with you.  Or...for revenge - like the Bible god.

Teachers understand bullying.  Teachers understand right from wrong.  Teachers understand the value of teaching children to think, rather than telling them to just accept.  To just accept is to roboticly do whatever you have been told, setting up the sorts of scenes like the Salem Witch Trials, the murderous acts of John Calvin, the Inquisition of the Catholic Church, the massacre of millions of Jews during Hitler's reign, the obliteration of millions of Russians during the years of Stalin and beyond, the Civil War in America, the hundreds of foreign actions we do across the globe, the killing of innocents with drones from the air-conditioned, plush seats of a lab in Nevada.

All of these deaths were done by people who followed orders.  Had human beings been taught to question authority and think for themselves and act on that thinking, might some of these epic tragedies been thwarted?  I suspect so.  Only the future can tell.

Tea Party Nation's Despicable Sandy Hook Article

I am livid over this article

First, the author, Timothy Birdnow, nonchalantly makes a joke about the elementary school being named "Sandy Hook":
...the ironically named Sandy Hook - it’s been a bad year for anything named Sandy...

Then, he starts in on a diatribe against Barack Obama and Eric Holder by connecting the deaths of Mexican citizens (not that Tea Party Nation gives one small crap about the citizens of Mexico) and the precious students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary.

It appears no tragedy, no matter how horrendous, is to be allowed to “go to waste” as Rahm Emmanuel would say. And, given the hundreds of dead Mexican citizens as a direct result of one such anti-gun scheme (known as Fast and Furious) one wonders if Misters Obama and Holder are really that broken up by the carnage

Did you catch that?  Barack Obama cried on the public stage and uttered some beautiful words that millions upon millions of Americans were thinking, looking at the tragedy through the eyes of our own children.  Birdnow forgets that, as much as he disagrees with the president, Obama is still a man, a husband, and a father - just like me.  And the fact that I disagree with the ease that killers can get a gun does not make me indifferent to the suffering of the families and the friends of the precious victims of Sandy Hook Elementary.  This is beyond the pale.

After excoriating human beings by erroneously amalgamating their deeply held emotions and beliefs as a human being with their political positions, Timothy goes on to try and connect a lack of belief in good and evil with the tragedy.  He states that we have become a nation of "criers and weepers" instead of "angry and hot as hell".

I actually cried when I read that part.  He's right.  We do cry.  And we do weep.  We cry and weep for those lives that are meaninglessly and tragically snuffed out by a horrible human being - that every one of us can become if we do not FEEL!!!!!!!!!!!  And by "feeling", I am referring to empathy, love, and mutual respect for our fellow human beings.  Anger is definitely part of it, as is the case here.  We get angry when we see humans wronged.  But, Timothy, you miss the point.  I'll put it in all caps for you because you need it.


None.  It doesn't exist.  All of those emotions are part of the human condition and definitely part of the grieving process, as is the case here.  I grieve one moment for the victims and become angry for them the next.

But Timothy misses the real issue here.  He is so wrapped up in his support for unadulterated and unfettered gun rights that he thinks people who make comments about the shooter's mental state are simply post-modernistic relativists, thinking that all victims of this tragedy, including the shooter, are to be viewed as equally suffering.  This is NOT the case at all.  And the actuality of the position of pragmatists define the very problem that we continue to face when people like Timothy Birdnow frame the argument in this manner.

That position is simple.  We don't do enough to help people with mental health issues.  We simply don't.  A large faction of the United States denies that mental health even exists.  I grew up in Christian fundamentalism where the answer was always the same - you need Jesus.  If you were depressed or had autism or Asperger's or anything that wasn't a festering sore on your right eyelid, it was all in your mind (ironically) and of the devil.

So, yes, Mr. Birdnow, we do give a rat's rear end about the mental condition of the shooter.  But we don't care about HIM anymore.  We are angry that he killed himself and got off easy.  But, the reality is, we care about his mental condition because we want to understand HOW TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING AGAIN!!!!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Wear Green and White Monday, December 17, 2012

My friend and co-worker Michael reminded me to wear green and white tomorrow, Monday, December 17, 2012.

Green and white are the elementary school colors for Sandy Hook Elementary.  I will wear them to stand in solidarity with the families and friends of the little victims, as well as the adults that lost their lives.

The victims were as follows (courtesy of the Huffington Post):

Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female

As you know, if you read this blog and are friends with me or follow me on social media, this incident shook me up pretty bad.  I have six beautiful children and one of them is in Kindergarten.  As President Barack Obama said in his remarks directly after the attack, I looked at the tragedy through the lens of being a father of my own little precious children.

Thus, I am wearing green and white for the victims, as well as those that I love dearly.  We were all affected.

Wear green and white on Monday, December 17, 2012.


I. C.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Psy

<-- Read about Train

Psy’s entrance was unimpressive, as is the portly gentleman when he just stands or speaks.  He was unassuming and warm.  The first thing he did was to thank us for the loudest volume ever in the United States and then ask for the lights to be turned on in the whole arena so he could see the fans.  It took a while before some lackey finally found the switch, giving Psy ample opportunity to ramble on in broken English about anything and everything.  He was very touched by our reaction to his presence.

The lights came on and Psy spent a minute taking pictures of the crowd.  Then the lights dimmed and he gave the people what they wanted – Gangnam Style.

It was more impressive in person than it was on Youtube.  On Youtube, you get these little splices of this man with a jiggly stomach pouring over his belt, dancing, but in person, this same man had to hit every step, jump, swoop, swipe, and sweep for the whole four minute set.

The crowd loved it.  All around me were people singing every word of the song in perfect Korean and dancing the entire dance.  A group of young men entertained the whole arena as they danced in the third level right by the railing. 

When the song was over, Psy received a standing ovation and realized that he would have to keep performing for us.  He asked for the lights to go back on.  Minutes passed and nothing happened.  Psy said, “I’ve been doing this for many years and I know lights can go on inside a building.  It can’t be that hard.”

The crowd rolled.

Finally, the light boy was woken up and driven back to the arena and he flipped the switch (must be a union job) and Psy could see the crowd.  Then he began to give us directions. 

“Now, I’ve been singing for 12 years, so I should have more songs – and I do.  But here, in the United States, I’m only known for one song.” A big cheer went up.  “So, since I’m going to sing it again, I want you to sing it louder, jump louder, and do everything you can louder so you don’t regret tomorrow.”

Then he took off his sequined shirt and rocked the house again.  The evening ended on a note of perfection.  

Everyone went home satisfied – except for me.  I wanted to write.

I hope it was worth your time.

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Train

<-- Read about Ed Sheeran

The Lights went dim and the sound of a train began to play over the speakers.  It was a deafening sound and was timed to ratchet up the noise to a high crescendo the moment Train entered stage right.  The crowd did as they were told and ramped up their noise until we were in a deep throated cheer when Train burst in the door.  My wife began to go hoarse.  She would have no voice left after Trains half-dozen song set, singing every word (and guitar note) at the top of her lungs and wanting with every bone of her body to jump onto the stage and kiss Pat Monahan.

Pat Monahan is not a singer.  Sure, he can sing, but he doesn’t care about that.  He doesn’t even care about the fans, that is, unless they buy tickets to his next concert.  Pat is a master marketer and proved it with everything he did while on stage.  I watched his face and mannerisms carefully.  He hit every note perfectly and yet was completely bored out of his mind.  It appeared that he didn’t want to be there.

But the fans didn’t notice.

They were too busy catching t-shirts that Pat threw out to them.  They were too busy watching Train take off his own shirt, sign it, and throw it out to a section of the crowd.  They were too busy being told to take pictures of him and post them to Twitter.

Train debuted his new and horrid song “Mermaids” by adding a little extra marketing pizzazz.  He called up a few dozen girls (and one boy) onto the stage and sang the song while high stepping around the group of fans, grabbing their phones, and taking group pictures with them.  Train knew they would immediately post them to social media and tickets would begin to move for his next show in Milwaukee, WI.

More shirts flew off the stage as Train sang through all of his modern popular songs, including his older “Drops of Jupiter”.  The crowd ate up “50 Ways to Say Goodbye”, “Drive By”, lost it when he sang “Hey, Soul Sister”, singing every word, among other songs.  He disappointed many in the crowd, including my wife, by not singing one of his best ballads, “Marry Me”, where he shows off his vocal talents.  But it made sense.  He wasn’t there to spin his singing.  He was there to whet the interest of every fan to get them to the next concert.

He succeeded.  The minute Pat finished his set, Kristine, my wife, turned to me and said, “I’m buying tickets to Milwaukee”.  Train was to perform in three days in that town.

In short, Train didn’t care for a single fan in the arena, and everyone ate it up, thinking he loved them and was there for them.  He is a master salesman.  I was thoroughly impressed.

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Ed Sheeran

<-- Read about OneRepublic

There is a reason Ed Sheeran is so well loved and will be loved for quite a while.  He cares about music.  He doesn’t give a damn about what sells.  He uses passion, his voice, a guitar, a little technology, and an attitude of “This is me and I’m glad you like it”.  You, as the onlooker, are forced to just simply accept what is being fed to you.  And it isn’t bad, either.  The boy can sing!  And his lyrics are very strong, not coming from a word-randomizer and spit out as prosey poetisism, as much of pop today tends to be.

Ed Sheeran takes a well-known song like “The A Team”, nails it, and then adds his own rendition of it at the end, crooning out some serious opera notes, and stretching the song to seven minutes.

Ed only ended up singing three songs because his second song proved my point.  It lasted twelve minutes.  Yep.  A whole twelve minutes!  Ed Sheeran started it off by asking permission (basically just telling us) to use a Boss Loop Station. He quickly explained in terms we could understand, what the technology did.  It essentially made him into a one man band, allowing him to play, beat his guitar, and blow or sing into the microphone and the BLS would repeat it over and over again.  Then, Ed would sing and play over the top of it.  He could also stop the BLS with his foot and start it up again when he relieved the pressure.

About eight minutes into this song, not one word of his rat a tat lyrics had been understood by anyone in the crowd and the awe-inspiring talent began to wane on us.  People stopped cheering and sat down.  By the time Ed was done, everyone was in their seats, hoping beyond hope he would play “The A Team”.

He did, they popped up, and everyone loved him again.  Ed Sheeran was gold.  Ed Sheeran will be gold.  Look for more from this confident and talented young man in the future.

Ed Sheeran left quickly, not caring what anyone thought about his exit.  He was done.  He had come, he had shined, and he had wowed.  My wife was jittery.  The next act was the only reason she was there.  Her hands were cold and clammy and she wanted nothing to do with me.  The love of her life was about to enter her room.

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: OneRepublic

<-- Read about Owl City

After a break in the action, OneRepublic appeared on the big screen and we listened as Ryan Tedder  told the audience that he doesn’t hold back anything with any performance.  He was right.  OneRepublic stormed the stage and we got to watch as Ryan showed his multitude of talents.  He could play the guitar (not to mention, he could throw one and hit another of his bandmates in the back), he could play the piano, beat on drums, jump up on large speakers, run up stairs into the arms of hundreds of screaming tweens and teens, he could yell, jump, dance, prance…but he couldn’t sing.

Ryan Tedder  is talentless with his voice.  Every single note he tries to sing is at least a 64th off key.   The first couple songs were so bad, I was ready to leave the arena.  My favorite pop song of all time, “Good Life”, was butchered right before my eyes – by the group that originally sang it.  I found myself trying to sing the notes and get Ryan back on key and yet I failed to telepathically enable him to do so.

The crowd seemed to catch it and had a hard time responding to him.  Ryan must have felt it and did what every male singer knows how to do to get the girls back on his side – croon in falsetto.  When he would, he would elicit a huge scream from the girls in the arena and then lose them immediately.

If it hadn’t been for the stage presentation of “Apologize” where the cellist brought the house down with his imaginatively talented cello playing, and the best drumming of the entire night by their drummer, as well as the introduction of their new single “If I Lose Myself” (they handily nailed that one), the crowd would have left in one unit to hit the bathrooms.

Then they sang, “Feel Again”.  Ryan Tedder again butchered the tune but the band saved him and the crowd was able to enjoy one of the better written songs of the year.

All in all, I would never go to a OneRepublic concert again.  Buying the album allows the music company to fix Ryan Tedder’s voice and make the music the awesome sound we hear on the radio every day.

As OneRepublic left the stage, the room was electrified.  Everyone knew the choice meat of the evening was about to enter.  Ed Sheeran was in the house.

Read the next Act - Ed  Sheeran

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Owl City

<-- Read about Cher Lloyd

Owl City came on the stage.  The crowd lost it.  Adam Young is a local boy, from Owatonna, Minnesota and we all knew that.  Not only did we feel a local connection to him, but he had been around longer than the previous artists.  His unique brand of music had wormed its way into our everyday consciousness and most of us found ourselves randomly humming one of his tunes every few days or so.  The lyrics, while always simple, were meaningful, fresh, and fun.

Adam came up to the microphone and, throughout his whole set, never left the ten square feet around the mic.  But it didn’t matter.  He owned the crowd from the first note of his first song to the dying echoes of his last.  Had we been able to call for an encore, we would have brought the house down, asking for more.

His emotion was apparent throughout his set.  He loved to perform for a crowd.  Not only him, but his keyboardist and the rest of the band.  They didn’t leave an ounce of emotion off the stage.  As Adam sang his new song, “Shooting Star”, his mildly popular and enrapturing tune, “Gold” (where he seems to sing a natural auto-tune on the chorus), his most famous song, “Fireflies”, and his newest poppy song he sings with Carly Rae Jepson, “Good Time”, the crowd sang along.  EVERY. SINGLE. SYLLABLE.

We rocked, danced, and sang with the same amount of emotion he was projecting at us from the stage.  The music that we turn up to envelop us in our cars now surrounded the deepest corners of our consciousness and we were as one organism, lost in the sound together.

Owl City was good.  They won the night by winning the crowd, with no pretenses.  As Adam Young walked off the stage, I looked on with wonder, leaned down and whispered in my wife’s ear, “I’m going to his next concert.”  But, more importantly, as I watched him sing and exude his confident air, all I wanted to do was go home and sing beautiful songs that I wrote, to my own six kids.

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Cher Lloyd

<-- Read about Ellie Goulding

A lovely young lady walked onto the stage, wearing a very sexy short blue skirt, and some seriously shiny black leather, high heeled boots.  She looked nervous but pushed through it to yell out the lyrics of “Swagger Jagger”.  The tune was eerily similar to a kids lullaby.  The crowd tried hard to sing the lyrics, but it was obvious the song’s popularity in Ireland and Britain hadn’t reached our merry shores.

Cher Lloyd didn’t care.  She walked up and down the stage, back and forth, back and forth, every once in a while, rubbing the top of her legs and teasing you by pulling up on the hem of the short skirt.  She was showing off what was currently selling records for her – sex appeal, bright youth, and easy tuned lyrics.  She’ll be a flash in the pan, but sell a lot of posters of herself in the meantime.  When she’d get to the middle of the stage, she would stop and begin to stutter sway like a thin twig in the breeze, side to side, to the beat of the music.  She had good rhythm and sweet waves to rabid fans.

Unlike other artists, Lloyd made a point to introduce the title of every one of her songs.  Whenever she did, ten twelve year olds would scream as if on cue.  But that small group loved her.  By the time she reached her most recently popular song, “I Want U Back”, my ears were irritated by the similar beats, music, voice, and boring prance moves.  But!  She did have the crowd waving their hands.

Ah.  I Want U Back.  Yes, she was so excited to sing this song.  As she introduced it and the music started, she became as excited as the little group of tweens that were screaming.  But, the grunts throughout the song were recorded – making them sound fake and cheapening the next part of the song, not to mention her moves whenever “UH!” happened.

True to cuteness factor form, she sweetly thanked the crowd for having her and walked off the stage while the last notes of “I Want U Back” were finishing.  Not just notes…stanzas.  The imagery was ironic.  I don’t expect to see her on stage again.

The Excel Energy Center was about to be rocked.  The crowd had no idea what was about to hit it.

Read the next Act - Owl City

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Ellie Goulding

<-- Read the Intro and about Conor Maynard

Enter the beautiful and talented Ellie Goulding.  Ellie Goulding knows how to put on a show.  But, at Jingle Ball, she wasn’t in her element.  She wanted so bad to dance like she was in a hair band, throwing her head around and air-guitaring all over the stage.  Instead, she looked stiff, walking up and down the stage, keeping her arms very close to her body.  A few times during her set, she let loose and the crowd ate it up.  We saw how emotionally into her music she was as she did throw her inhibitions to the wind and grabbed drumsticks, beating drums, twirling her head.  In those moments, you watched a true star.

She sang through her beautiful song, “Anything Can Happen” and nailed it.  The crowd was enthused and sang right along with her.  Then, at the very end of her set, the electronic music for “Lights” came on and the crowd lost it.  But so did Ellie.

A few stanzas into the song, she forgot the words and waved her band off.  They stopped immediately, as she apologized to the fans.  Her apology was sweet and very short, ending with her calling her guitarist down to stand with her.  What happened next was the coolest, most intimate moment of the whole concert.

Ellie’s bandmate played his acoustic guitar to the tune of “Lights” while Ellie sang a solo.  It was beautiful.  Perfect.  Professional.  Crowd pleasing.

We gave her a loud standing ovation as she left the stage.

I recommend that you watch Ellie in a small and intimate setting, rather than a large venue.  She’ll be more in her element then.  Or, you can simply buy her albums.  Her talent is worth it, her sound is unique, and her music is delicious.

Read the next Act - Cher Lloyd

2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique: Intro and Conor Maynard

I, the author of this Common Man Critique of KDWB’s 2012Jingle Ball, arrived at the St. Paul, MN Excel Energy Center about 30 minutes before the concert was supposed to start.  I was with my wife, Kristine, who had purchased the tickets months in advance.  She was there for one reason, and one reason only – to see the love of her life, Train.

This was the first pop/rock concert of my life, at the ripe old age of 32 and I had no idea what to expect.  I would soon be both disappointed and dazzled at the same time.

Arriving at our seats, the arena was full of smoke.  Obviously for effect at one point or another.  We had missed the pre-party and were just in time for some lovely ladies in Mrs. Clause lingerie to start tearing it up on the stage.  After they were done singing whatever they were singing (who cares…they looked wonderful), dance troops jumped all over the stage to random drum beats and electronic reverberations.

These ladies and gentleman danced it up while one male dancer in a horizontally wide-striped shirt, seeming entirely disconnected from every ligament on his thin frame, made everyone else look like amateurs.  I watched in awe, and then was irritated when some local fare came out on stage and started yelling into the microphone, trying as hard as she could to get the crowd excited with what she was….singing?

We all collectively yawned and waited for a little known (to me anyway) gentleman, Conor Maynard to pop out on stage.

Yes.  Conor Maynard.  The young mini-heartthrob from Britain – Ne Yo’s protégé.  When he was announced, the girls sort of went wild. Not much enthusiasm for a guy they really didn’t know.  Conor pranced around the stage, singing his few popular songs, looking more like a puppet on strings.  At points during his set, you could see his brain think, “Oh!  I need to jump!”  And he would.

The crowd yawned again until he began to sing “Turn Around”.  Then they half sang, half Twittered, waiting for Ed Sheeran.

Which brings me to a funny truth from Jingle Ball.  Whenever KDWB, the hosts, decided the crowd was too lethargic, they would yell, “Who’s here for Ed Sheeran!!!!???”  The scream from all the tweens caused you to go deaf immediately.  The hosts ate it up and used the line the rest of the show.

Conor Maynard left the stage and nobody noticed.

Almost Here: 2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique

I am almost finished with the Common Man's Critique.  It's a lot bigger task than I figured it would be and I hope you all enjoy being able to understand the non-proletariat version of the description.

It should be posted in an eight part series - all at the same time.


Friday, December 14, 2012

May God Get the Glory for this Tragedy

Yes.  You read the title correctly.

This came across my news feed:

I just spent an hour going through my newsfeed, reading all the comments from people expressing shock and horror at what has transpired today. I am as horrified as everyone else, but sadly, I am not shocked. We live in a culture steeped in self-obsession, and while the concept that a human being would willfully slaughter so many innocent lives to pacify his ugly need to for self-fulfillment (whatever that might be) is terrible and disgusting, it is no surprise to me. I'm not sure if that means I'm jaded, a realist, or just plain cynical, but it sure expresses the way I'm feeling right now. May God use this ultimately for His glory!

Forget about his assessment of human behavior.  Forget about the fact that he thinks the Connecticut shooter was attempting to fulfill a need, rather than carrying out a "last stand" serial murder before ending his life.  Forget about every one of his words - except for the last sentence.

May God use this ultimately for His glory!

What. The. Hell.

Am I supposed to love an omniscient, omnipresent, omni-freaking-everything deity that looks at himself and says, "Damn straight yaw...I need some more freaking glory heaped on my awesome head.  Hey angels...let's have a school shooting.  Let's see.  Yeah!  That dude down there.  Yep.  That aspie.  He'll do.  [Wording removed by request of commenter.  Again, I apologize.].  We can whisper in his ear and force his OCD to work against his high functioning autism, (that we gave him, by the way!...'cause we're that awesome!), grab a few guns, and go kill a whole classroom of 5-year-olds.  Yes!  That will do the job.  Let's get on it boys!  For glory!"

Kindergartners people!  I'm supposed to love this god?  Why would a god who knew this shit was going to go down, allow it to happen, and then be worthy of the millions of prayers that people are sending his way?  He killed the children.  Now he's supposed to work the other end and make everybody else happy?  He has the power, according to the stories he wrote, to stop everything.  But he doesn't.  And why?

So he will get the glory in the end???!!!!

I will never worship this god - ever.  Any god who wants 20 children slaughtered in cold blood, just so he gets a few extra worships, deserves to burn in the same hell he designed for everyone who breaks HIS COMMANDMENT and, well...murders.

Spare me the religious bullcrap.  Think before you write such horrible words.

My Daughter is Growing Up

Renaya is now 10 years old.  She's in 5th grade!  I can't believe it, even when I write it down here.

Last night, the whole family went to watch our daughter and sister in her 5th grade music program.  Renaya sang, played odd African instruments, and played in a sextet of recorders.  It was beyond perfection.

I sat in the risers, mesmerized at her talent and how quickly she has grown up.  I realized how much I had poured into her and how little she was using of my pouring the whole time she was on stage.

As a father, I can still show her love, but she is growing up and beginning to develop some serious individuality.  My idiot side is going to do my damndest to screw it up, but she'll swat me away like an irritating flee and fly right by me.  I'll try and grab on but she'll shake me off.  I feel the maturing years coming fast.

I miss my little girl.  But I'll be clapping for an encore courtside.

Who am I kidding...she'll give me free VIP tickets to the cheap seats and Mommy will get courtside.

School Shooting in Connecticut

Hello.  I'm weeping.  I cannot handle this.  I have six beautiful children and love all their classmates, including their teachers and the school administrators.  Every last one of them are near and dear to my heart.  They deserve the world for what they are doing for me, my wife, and my children.

To see the horror done to children as young as kindergartners and even their teachers and administrators breaks my heart.

I need to get myself together.

I love you all.

I. C.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Catholicism has Lost Its Mystery with a Tweeting Pope

You always saw the man in funny hats, behind bullet-proof glass (odd that a man of such god-ness would need such protection of mortals), heard about secret meetings of bishops, watched short clips of special Masses at the Vatican, and read short statements of philosophy, politics, and religion, whenever the Catholic Church would deign to put out something of consequence from the mouth of the most holy man in the world.

Now, the man is no longer a mystery.  He is on the most modern of mediums - Twitter.  He tweets little tweets all day long, inquiring of Catholics, albeit rhetorically, on how to live life, among other topics.  But so does Lady Gaga.  So does Justin Bieber.  So does Chris Christie.  So do I.

And that's the point.  The last great mysterious bastion of religion, the office of the pope, has now been relegated to common status, no different than a woman who dresses in a meat dress.

The religion of Catholicism has now entered the age of the beginning of its death.  Mankind can now see it for what it is.  They can also interact directly with the god-man...well...sort of.  But, at least now, all people will see the most common of critics and be affected by the truth of their words.

Catholicism.  Will you be missed?  I, for one, liked the smell of candles.

Answers In Genesis Should Have an Atheist on Staff

They have no clue what a lack of belief in a god is.  First of all, an atheist is an individual who doesn't believe in one or multiple gods.  What that effectively means is that Mark Looy, the author of this feedback letter, is as much an atheist, believing that all gods, other than his god, do not exist, as an atheist who doesn't believe his god exists at all.

Mark says:

If there is no absolute authority, people are free to make up their own rules.

This argument is so prevalent in the Summit Ministries/Ray Comfort era we live in today.  It has been regurgitated ad nauseum, and subsequently pilloried.  And yet, apologists for "biblical morality" continue to use it.  It's sad, really, for two reasons.

First, it's a fact of history that people have been free to make up their own rules.  All societies do.  Individuals, as well as the individuals as part of a collective society, have built many common understandings of the way life should be.  As that society learns more, the rules progress. 

During the days of the Bible, it was commonly believed that children should be stoned if they disobeyed their parents.  It was also believed that a god spoke to people from the sky and told them to commit genocide on millions of unfortunate souls that had the misfortune of being in the path of a band of nomads.  Rape was sanctioned by that god.  Kidnapping of women.  Subjugation of women.  Slavery.  Smashing children against rocks.  Killing gays.  Abstaining from sex with a woman because a menstrual cycle was dirty.  Cutting people off from society when they were sick with diseases that had no cure. 

Even in modern times, we believed that you should bleed people to heal them.  We also believed that you should burn witches and heretics.  We believed that sex outside of marriage meant you had to wear a proverbial scarlet letter on your chest, never allowed into normal society as an upstanding citizen.  Most importantly, the majority of protestant Christianity used to believe that abortion was the decision of the woman who was carrying the fetus.

As you can see, rules, no matter what "absolute authority" is referenced, will always change.  It's a smokescreen for the second reason this argument is saddening - those who claim the knowledge of absolute truth from their self-imposed absolute authority have a deep fear of (even a hatred for) people being allowed to make their own decisions for their own lives.

Mark goes on to explain his reasoning with a laughable example:

In fact, suppose someone considered your personal views to be dangerous and sought to harm you? Why shouldn’t they hurt you if that’s their wish and there is no absolute standard of behavior to prohibit them from doing so?
This can be answered in several ways.  I could tell Mark that the person who sought to harm me was foolish in believing that his standards of morality were somehow superior to the collective society he was a part of.  That collective society has already set up a standard of behavior. I could also point to many readily available stories of Christian leaders, the ones who are supposedly the closest to their god, understanding the intricacies of what they perceive as absolute morality, and yet purposefully commit crimes against those beliefs.  Many crimes against those beliefs are not considered evil in society, thus allowing the criminal to continue in his "ministry", unscathed and "forgiven".  I could also point out the myriad equivocations that Christians go through whenever a sin is committed.  "Don't be quick to judge" is a powerful tool to begin the discussion on whether a sinner really sinned, making a mockery of absolute morality.  I could go on.  But I digress.
You did not offer a basis for the beliefs you presented in your email.

 Is that even necessary?  That question, while decent, is a moot point to Mark.  He is being very disingenuous here.  All he wanted the letter writer to have done was to offer a basis for his belief so he can yell, "Nuh uh!  God!"  But we've been over the murderous and self-loving beliefs that Mark's god requires of mankind.  Why should we, a modern society, stoop to that iron-age level of understanding.  We actually care about women and children these days and find value in their opinions and worth to society.  We don't look at foreigners as potential slaves, merely squatting on land that is rightfully ours because a magical voice in our head told us so.  Those types are in prison - on psychological medication, pulling out their hair, refusing to bathe.

Go ahead and read the rest of that response.  Mark continues to ask the same question over and over again, thinking that if he says it in enough ways, everyone who is an atheist, or who believes in the morality of another god (news flash for Mark: many do!) will miraculously realize that they should kill all the gays.

He also slings a little mud, trying to prove to the letter writer that the writer has no purpose.  That's quite a position to take.  He also makes the erroneous claim that if you don't believe in his god, you must know everything.  No atheist has ever claimed that.  And if they did, I would ask them how many yellow toenails I have out of ten.  Mark is obviously a Ray Comfort follower.

It's really quite laughable towards the end.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Hammer Drops - Dr. Ken Copley Employed Again

Many of my readers may be familiar with the series about Dr. Ken Copley sexually molesting his adopted daughter, Ruth Copley Burger.  If not, it is a nine part series, written from the pen of Ruth herself, telling the gruesome details.  The first part is titled, Adoption Into A Family.

Just before publishing this series, we discovered that Dr. Ken Copley was employed at Brownsburg Baptist Church in Brownsburg, Indiana as the Counseling Pastor.  In a whirlwind of confusing events where many phone calls were placed to the church and a letter was even sent to the governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, Incongruous Circumspection was informed that Dr. Ken Copley was no longer employed at the church and the website was scrubbed of all his information.

The trail went cold - until now.

Dr. Ken Copley is now employed at The Cross in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  You can view his name on the right of the home page.  And yes, he is the Associate Pastor. 

Why am I telling you this?  Simple.  Dr. Ken Copley has never once admitted to his crimes.  He hasn't even addressed the allegations in a public forum.  He has also never provided information to rebut the allegations.  More importantly, having never confessed to his crimes, Dr. Ken Copley has never admitted to himself that he has a problem and needs to be rehabilitated for his sexual deviance. 

In short, Dr. Ken Copley is in a position of authority, in a religious institution, which brings through its doors, many trusting individuals - especially women and young girls - never being given the opportunity to completely vet their associate pastor for his alleged sexual crimes.  They have the right to know.  The parents who attend that church has the right to know the danger that exists right under their noses.

I hope justice will prevail and nobody else will ever be harmed.

Parenting via the Golden Rule vs. Authoritarian

Darcy at Darcy's Heart Stirrings wrote a beautiful piece, listing her thoughts on parenting.  She came from the same background as I did, where we were taught that good little children obeyed their all-knowing, god-ordained parents.

But, is there another way?  Find out...

If you need to know, Incongruous Circumspection fully endorses Darcy's writings.

Nicki Minaj/Usher Syndrome

Hey yaw!  My name is Incongruous Circumspection.  I'm known around these parts as I.Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....!!!!!


Oh, and by the way, I'm awesome because I dance and party all night and throw my hands in the air-air-air-r-r-r-r--r-r-r...

You know why?!!!

Because my name heard it name is I. Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

I. C. yaw.  I. C. yaw.  Yeah b*tches, it's I. Ceeeeeeeeeeeeee.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lady Gaga...oops...I mean Nicki Minaj (I'M SOOOOO SORRY!  I'LL NEVER MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN!!!) and Bieber Daddy/Usher, yeah...both of you.  Come to my little table of advice.  Yep, the little table of advice from a guy who hasn't sold millions of records and run for miles in a white tuxedo or worn funny hats that would get you laughed at in Wichita, Kansas.  Yeah, that's me.

Here's a tip:

Don't mention your name in every bloody song you sing.  It's not cool.  Either we know it's you because you're unique and differentiated from all the rest of the noise out there, or you're just "one of them" - with a name that you like to shout.

And that's all I have.  And oh, by the way...I'm freaking I. Ceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!

That's I. C. yaw.

Babies Are Evil and Can Kill You In Your Sleep

Cue the venerable Voddie Baucham from Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX.

No Longer Quivering, in their Quoting Quiverfull series, lifted a piece of this gentleman's sermon titled, The Doctrine of Total Depravity, a cornerstone of not only uber-fundamentalism, but also the popularized Calvinism of John Piper (Piper Boy) and Marc Driscoll (Strawberry Boy) of infamy.

Baucham stated the following:

One of the reasons that God makes human babies small is so they won’t kill their parents in their sleep. They’re evil. Yes, this is true of children. ‘None is righteous; no, not one.’…Yes, that little, precious one—you better believe it. If you don’t, you miss the big picture and you don’t realize your desperate need to get the gospel to your child again and again and again and again.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Babies are not only evil, but they can kill you if they were bigger.  And thus, the obvious conclusion is that they need the gospel, because, everyone who doesn't believe in the gospel murders their parents in their sleep.

Imagine that! A sleepwalking, pacifier sucking, poopy diapered, little urchin, coming at you with a zombie stare and a rigid arm, fingers tightly gripping a knife, forearm swinging roboticly in a downward motion.  Okay...right, babies killing their parents while the parents sleep.  I know.  It was just funnier the other way.

So, the next time you look at your baby, look deep into their perfect eyes.  See the murder there?  The evil?  The spiritual depravity? don't?  Look deeper....

Here's my advice.

Kiss your damn baby and give them a hug so tight they get the point that you love them.  Then release the hug. You don't want to stop their breathing.  Then enjoy that precious perfection.  They deserve your unconditional love.  Not your scorn and hatred for what others say they are, based on artificial truthisms from ancient cultures who had no idea that a woman's menstrual cycle was a natural occurrence, rather than an evil issue.

And celebrate the menstrual cycle too, while you're at it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fatherhood Moments That Make You Cry

Analisse (2) heard me yell, "Bye, everyone!"

She rushed out to the dining room where I was getting my coat on.  I had decided that I wouldn't bring a lunch that day, settling for the infinite snacks at work.  But she would have none of it.

"Hew daddy!  Hew daddy!," she said as she loped over to the front closet.  Opening the door, she grabbed my massive lunch cooler off the floor and dragged it over to me.

"Hew daddy!"

"But, Freak, I don't need it.  I'm not bringing a lunch today."

She held up the carrying strap.

"Hew daddy!  Hew daddy!"

"But, Ani...I'm not bring...."

I stopped dead in my tracks.  Who cares if I knew I wasn't going to put anything in that lunch pail.  Here was my two-year-old daughter handing it to me, making sure I wouldn't forget it and be hungry.  She knew what I brought to work every day and it made her day to make darn sure I had it with me.

"Thank you, Freak!"

I scooped her up in my arms and gave her a big hug, put her down and turned to leave.

"Piss, daddy.  Piss!?"

I had forgotten to give her a kiss.  Oops.

I bent down and kissed her upraised lips.  Standing up again, I watched her face beam with happiness.

"Peek, daddy!  Peek!"

I had no idea what Peek meant!  Frantically, I looked at Kristine who informed me she was asking for a kiss on the cheek.  Sure enough, blockheaded ole' me couldn't see that she was pointing to her right cheek.

So I obliged.  Turned around to leave again....

"Obow peek, daddy.  Obow peek!"

There she was, looking up at me sweetly again, pointing to her left cheek.  I placed another kiss and left, my heart warm and full of life.

All day at work, my lunch cooler sat on my desk - empty - reminding me of a daughter that loves me for being her daddy.

Life.  Is.  Good.

Can I, An Agnostic Atheist, Read My Children Bible Stories?

Libby Anne at Love, Joy, Feminism just wrote a brilliant piece about being able to read her daughter stories from the Bible.  After all, the stories in the Bible are no different than Greek Mythology or The Little Red Hen.  It's just that people choose to believe them as fact with similar evidence to the nature of their falsehood as the other stories.

I have one problem with the premise.  I pulled out a book called, "The Story of Jesus", off of my bookshelf. It was a Christmas theme.  I sat Analisse (2) down and opened to the first page.

Jesus is the son of God and he loves you very, very much.


That isn't my idea of mythology and simple children's stories.  That isn't story telling at all.  It's indoctrination.  Sure, you can make an argument that it is just the same as the "other" myths and fairy tales I mentioned above, but I would rather not read something that is written so factually and vociferously. So I tossed the book aside and grabbed another one.

Analisse shrugged it off and snuggled in to enjoy the time with me.

She loves books, words, pages, covers, bindings...everything about the printed page.  It matters not what the story is about - yet.  But, one day, we will have that lively discussion that Jesus is most definitely not the son of any God but was most probably just a good man that made people very happy (and others very angry) - well...just like other popular historical figures.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sexual Abuse by IFB Pastors - A Rampant Problem

Head on over to No Longer Quivering where they wrote a summary of Chicago Magazine's well-researched  article about sexual abuse by Independent Fundamental Baptist pastors.

Jack Schaap: The Mess at First Baptist Church in Chicago Magazine

You'll find that, though this specifically references the much-pilloried, now-maligned, Jack Schaap of First Baptist Church of Hammond, the birthplace of the bus ministry, the site of the infamous Jack Hyles sex scandals, the location of Hyles Anderson College, and the love interest of many thousands of Christians in America and Canada, sexual abuse, as an epidemic, is rampant in IFB circles.

Might this have something to do with the fact that a pastor and the elders are considered to be a direct mouthpiece of God, himself?  Or, could it simply be that men are elevated to all-powerful status and women are relegated to second class underlings.

Yeah.  That must be it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Children Do Not Have Rights

Libby Anne from Love, Joy, Feminism writes an excellent critique of the rabid right wing and fundamentalist homeschooling movement's outcry against the UN Disabilities Treaty.

Take a look.

Flat Stanley Project - Need Volunteers

A dear friend of mine is a Media Specialist at a local school here.  She is doing a Flat Stanley Project with her students.  She needs 10 more families to get involved.  This project is simple and fun to do with kids.

If you don't know what a Flat Stanley Project is, here is a description from their website:

The basic principle of The Flat Stanley Project is to connect your child, student or classroom with other children or classrooms participating in the Project by sending out "flat" visitors, created by the children, through the mail (or digitally, with The Flat Stanley app). Kids then talk about, track, and write about their flat character's journey and adventures. Although similar to a pen-pal activity, Flat Stanley is actually much more enriching-students don't have to wonder where to begin or what to write about. The sender and the recipient already have a mutual friend, Flat Stanley. Writing and learning becomes easier, flows naturally, and tends to be more creative. This is what teachers call an "authentic" literacy project, in that kids are inspired to write of their own passion and excitement about the project, and given the freedom to write about many things through the rubric of the Flat Stanley character.

All you have to do is email your address to me at crackedcornjimmy at gmail dot com and I will have my friend mail you the project kit with a personal letter from one of her students.

Please get involved and make a kid happy!


I. C.

People Who Leave Church Are...Excrement

Check out this article at Ministry Best Practices' website.

In my humble opinion, a ministry best practice would be to not equate those that leave your church to sh*t.  

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pending Post: 2012 KDWB's Jingle Ball - The Common Man's Critique

Yes.  I'm going to do it...soon.

All my life, I've read movie, theater, and other show critiques and got lost in the bloated language.  To me, from the cheap seats, a Midwesterner from the great state of Minnesota, it feels like my eyes are supposed to glaze over whilst the proletariat nod in glazed-eyed agreement - having no clue what they are reading.

So I'm going to write up a play by play of KDWB's 2012 Jingle Ball from a common man's perspective.  You'll finally be able to feel like you were present, rather than sitting 20,000 feet above the event, surrounded by feather pillows and a stuffed tiger.

Wait for it...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Emotions ARE a Necessary Part of Life

A few days ago, I wrote the following blurb on Facebook:

What's that you say? Logic is king and feelings don't matter? Oh! Good! There is so much I've always wanted to tell you!!
Your butt makes you look like a pear fell off the tree and went 'boooooink' instead of 'thud'. Your hair looks like a spider got distracted or drunk and went on a rampage. Ever since the day I met you, I thought your deodorant choice was awful, not to mention it fails to cover up anything. Your choice of clothes are stuck back in the eighties, but, don't worry, give it ten more years, the style will have come back around and you'll be fine. Your feet smell bad when you take your shoes...
What? Wait! Why are you crying!?

The above thoughts popped into my head while taking a shower.  Emotions are constantly belittled as unnecessary and disallowed as a part of discussion or decision making.   In many areas of Christianity (many religions, for that matter), emotion is used as a social status barrier - attributed to women.

The argument goes like this:

1. Emotions fail a person.  After all, they come from the heart and the heart is exceedingly wicked, who can know it?  (The conclusion is that only God knows the heart.)
2. Logic is the only allowable approach to any discussion that can be taken seriously.
(...then the hammer drops...)
3. Men are logical and women are emotional.
(...and the conclusion...)
4. Women are not good decision makers.  Thus men should be in charge.

The obvious error here is that men DO use emotions for their arguments. It's impossible to reason logically without emotion.  But men have a fail safe argument for that - it isn't's PASSION!  And passion is okay.

I call bullshit.

Calulu has another, more personal perspective on the matter.  Head over there and check it out.  It's worth the read.