Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cold-Hearted? Moi?

When did Christians of a fundamentalist nature become linked with rigid rules? Who is it that decides that so-called Fundamentalist Christians will be colored in one way, tarred with a brush of narrow-mindedness and cold, unfeeling hearts? When did the idea of going back to the roots – as we might see them – was tantamount to some frigid abolishment of Love from our lives?

The Anchoress discusses an interview she read with author Bruce Bawer. He has written Stealing Jesus; How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity. Seemingly, Bawer has a dim view of Christian believers of the Fundamentalist, or Evangelical, schools of thought.

Rather than rehash what The Anchoress has written – and how could I come close to her eloquence? Use the link above and visit her! – or parse the man’s interview, I figured I would simply scribble down some thoughts I have. And, yes, they will ramble a tad. I don't usually do this sort of thing for a post!

First off, yes there are denominations, or perhaps Sects, within Protestantism, that have some odd beliefs not informed by Scripture. (I am not knowledgable enough to even try to speak on Catholicism.) Just where, for example, in the Scripture do we find a rule against dancing? Anyone? No? For all his bad behavior, David, son of Jesse, danced for the LORD. In public! GOD did not strike him down. David’s sorrows and punishments came, not for dancing but for his many sins, such as adultery. Coveting is not a good thing, Folks.

So if your church tells you that dancing is a sin, you ought to rethink your membership there. Same thing with music.

Look, I have a host of respect for the Amish – the Pennsylvania Dutch, as they are popularly known – and can see so many positive things in their way of life and worship. But where, in the Bible, did they find a cut-off date for technology? Yes, a zipper could be considered a manifestation of pride – if you are the only one who owns a zipper. A car? A Truck? Where is the cut-off point in Scripture? Actually, there isn’t one. The Amish are wonderful Folk, but they are Scripturally off the mark.

What critics of Fundamentalist and Evangelical churches most often get confused is in regards to their Doctrines and Dogmas. And those errors, those departures from Scripture, rarely affect how Christians act toward others.

All too often, "Judge not, lest you be judged” is thrown at a believer, as if Jesus did not believe in sin. He was cautioning against damning people, not discerning sin. When people sin, we are not forbidden from mentioning it. Not at all. We should bloody well be polite about it, but sin is sin. And if we, as followers of Christ, can not condemn sin, then why are we here? How do we worship the Father if we ignore sin?

Can you commit murder and be just dandy with GOD? Somehow, I doubt it.

But when we move beyond sin, to the majesty of Love, we find a different Christian as well. Not the Christian that Movie-makers, TV script-writers, and the MSM would have you see. Those are cardboard cut-outs. Propped up for the MSM to point to as paradigms of Religion in the Western World.

Yes, Fundamentalists can get wrapped up in End Time things, and forget the present and the mission Christ gave us. But it never lasts. Those prophecies, and studies become a hobby to so many Christians, but never become their life’s work. Spreading the Love of Christ does.

The most charitable people in the US are the Christians and Jews. Whenever the need arises, you see their money flowing into the charitable coffers, their canned goods, and blankets, and bottled water flowing to collection points. And it doesn’t slow when news is reported of cheats, and thieves. Waste doesn’t stop the giving.

Why? Because we do heed the call to Love Our Neighbors.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that we love too little, but that we do not say so loudly enough. Yet, we are enjoined by Christ to do our charity in secret, just as we are supposed to pray. So, to stop the lies and assaults on Christians, do we speak up?

Well, a little. But it really isn’t our problem, you know. It’s the Media’s problem, as usual. And the problem of those Christians who do not understand Fundamentalism, or Evangelicalism.

Going back to a more basic understanding of GOD and his WORD should not be an excuse for other Christians to hurl abuse at us. If we read the Scripture and don’t think most of it is allegory, or parable, or nice stories to make us nice people, why is that a reason to think us hateful? Do I think there may be some errors in the Bible? Perhaps. But I know that Scripture is remarkably unchanged from the time of Christ. Why? Because the Dead Sea Scrolls show no difference in the Scripture. The commentaries of Julius Caesar can’t claim the same accuracy. And maybe that’s why the Media, and the Liberal Christians have such a problem with us. We truly believe!

Imagine that! We believe, in our hearts and minds, in Jehovah, the Father, and Jesus, the Son and Messiah. We have faith. Not that timorous apologetic faith that makes some of us Christmas Christians, but a strong Faith in GOD and Christ that allows us to speak boldly to any who ask. We don’t look at our feet and scuff our toes when asked about things Christian. We aren’t embarrassed by Jesus. We are not iffy about GOD the Father. Even the Holy Spirit is in our thoughts. And I, for one, cannot imagine any man or woman who professes to be a Christian, apologizing for that faith. Those kinds of Christians are the biggest problem with Modern Christianity, sorry to say.

As for me, why I cling to the Scriptures for answers to the really tough questions. After all, if you believe that GOD has no problem with Euthanasia, why that’s your problem, Friend, not mine. I believe in the Scripture.

If you believe that women should be allowed to be Ministers, Pastors, even Priests, why more power to you! Ask the Catholics about Priests. If you ask me, I will tell you that the early Church had no problem with women leading the services. All were welcome; all were equal in GOD’s eyes. And it was that early Church, not the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or Lutherans, that spread GOD’s WORD to the world. Not even the Catholics did that. No, it was the small, persecuted Churches that spread the Gospel.

And they did not use Liturgy – no matter how beautiful it may be – nor fancy Pulpits – I do love the way they look – nor robes, nor silly humanist sermons on Diversity and social ills. No, they preached love and the WORD of GOD. They preached the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ. They did not protest the wars of Rome. They did not riot over troop movements into Gaul. They did not involve the Church in the Political machinations of the day.

They preached the WORD. And that was, and is, Love.

Any Fundamentalist worth his/her salt will know what charities his/her church supports. They will know which families are in need in the church, and in the neighborhood. They will go to their jobs, and pay their taxes, and be insulted every day by Society at large. And on Sunday they will start their week again at Church. Hearing the WORD of GOD. The Love of GOD.

How hateful of them, huh?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Blogthing

Thanks to hooey for this silly thing! Fun test to take! Go on ... give it a try!

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!

And since I was there, I did a few others. Some are very odd, but I liked this one. Probably because I look good in the results! LOL

You are a Believer

You believe in God and your chosen religion.

Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu..

Your convictions are strong and unwavering.

You think your religion is the one true way, for everyone.

Update - Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Anchoress had a slow day and actually posted a link to the above! This is the first link to my blog! *sigh*

I suppose I should quit now, huh?

In any event, I recommend a visit to the fine Lady's site for some interesting, thought-provoking reading. She's a pip!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Good Memory - 2000

I stand near the gate, waiting for the flight from Dallas to disembark. My brother, Tim, stands there with me. We’d arranged to meet in the Charlotte airport at the central food court. His flight from Philly had arrived a little before mine, and he’d found the lockers to stow away his baggage. He met me coming off my flight from Tampa, and we’d gone to the baggage pick-up and then stowed my bags away. We had some beer and cigarettes while we figured out when Kay’s flight would be in. I was anxious to meet her plane, and we finally headed down the concourse to the correct gate. Now, here I am, waiting for Kay. My stomach is turning over. Nervous? Nahhhhh.

I’ve known Kay since early 1998. We met at an online Trivia site and hit it off well. Over the months we chatted, surfed the Web together, played Cribbage online, and got to know each other. I explained to her how to make a sound file of her voice and heard her speak for the very first time. After a while, I found myself “going online” specifically to see Kay.

It was exhilarating and scary at the same time. I liked Kay. I was attracted to her humor and intelligence, worried because she lived alone, and asked about her tiny dog. We had become friends. For me, it had become more.

I check my watch for the hundredth time, glance at Tim, and scan the crowd near the doors. The plane is there, and I know how long it takes to get off the darn thing. I crane my neck to see around the lake of heads in front of me, as if that will make her appear faster. It doesn’t work.

She was careful about what she told me and how much she let me know. We’ve both heard the tales of what can go wrong when you didn’t know who was on the other end of the Net. She didn’t have a scanner – neither did I – so I asked her to send me a photo of her. We’ve described ourselves to each other, but that really tells nothing, and I wanted to see what she looked like. So, I gave her my address and she promised to send a picture.

At some point, she gave me her address and I sent off a picture of me. Yes, I was worried that she was four-feet tall and 500 pounds. I confess: I’m shallow. I wanted her to be pretty at the very least. As if I’m a Tom Selleck clone, right? Yeah.

The envelope arrived, her ink purple – that’s her color – her script precise and curly. I saved it for last, opening the bills and stuff first. I opened the envelope at last and pulled out her letter. I read it, but I don’t remember now what it said. Then I turned over the photo.

Taken at Christmas time, she looked tired, the photo shot head on from across the room. She was dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. She had a pretty face, but looked kind of haggard and puffy. This had to have been the worst photo ever taken. And I was disappointed. Not terribly, but that picture was not the dream photo I stupidly expected.

The doors bang open and the attendants open them wide and kick down the doorstops. I stare down the hallway and see nothing.

“This is taking forever,” I mumble to my brother. He shrugs. It doesn’t matter to him. He’s met Kay in chats and played Cribbage with her online. They get along, but he’s not here waiting for her, I am. He’s here because I asked him to be. A group of us from the Trivia Site is meeting here in North Carolina – my choice of places – to have a vacation and finally meet the people we’ve come to know in our daily games online. One is coming from Britain. He’s meeting the woman he fell in love with online. They’ve never met before this get-together was planned.

I hear a hubbub and can finally see people moving up the hallway from the plane. I have no idea if I will recognize Kay. I have one photo to compare her with, and it’s months old. And a lousy picture. But I do have a clue. She told me she’d be wearing purple shorts. My gaze moves from the sea of faces to a forest of legs. It seems nobody is wearing purple today.

We exchanged telephone numbers and I spoke with her for the first time. She had a midwest twang, and I liked hearing her. We were both nervous the first few times we spoke. By this time, I knew I was falling in love with her. Had fallen for her a while ago. She asked about the picture and I did my best to hide what I knew was disappointment. I knew how bad some pictures could be. She told me she liked my picture, liked the way I looked. Made me feel wonderful to hear that.

Somebody in the Trivia group had floated the idea of a get-together. Las Vegas. Tim and I had visited Boone, NC the previous year. I was doing research for a novel, and we both liked the area. So I suggested Boone as a meeting place. I described its beauty and the area around – lots of touristy places – and how cheap the accommodations would be. For me, this would be almost like home ground.

Discussions went on for a few weeks and it was finally decided to head for Boone. We’d meet in late May. I would handle some of the arrangements, but each person would take care of the rest. Kay and I had made a very good friend with a woman in California – Kelly – and she was coming, too. Kay and Kelly would share a room; Tim and I would share a room, too.

We’d agreed that this was a good idea. If we didn’t get along in person, we’d have our own rooms and wouldn’t have to deal with each other. We played it safe. We were not exactly brave souls. But we were going to meet. At last.

We planned and planned; I set up our hotel rooms, and worked out the timing so that the four of us would arrive close together. By this time, we weren’t spending as much time online anymore; we were piling up big long-distance phone bills instead. The night before our flights, our conversation was nervous and expectant. We were both scared and both hopeful. I’d already proposed to Kay by then. Without ever meeting this woman, I had fallen in love with her, and wanted to spend my life with her. So nobody ever accused me of smarts. I went with my heart.

Kay said yes. Yeah!

I see black curls bobbing along in the crowd emerging into the concourse, but I still don’t see purple. I look down and see enormous legs clad in khakis. “Move, Fatso, move,” I think. He does, and I see a flash of purple move to my right, heading toward the center of the airport. The Food Court is our alternate meeting place.

I stand on tiptoe and see the curls, then look down and see the purple shorts. “Kay!” I yell. “That’s her!” I babble to Tim, over my shoulder. I head in her direction. The black curls swivel around and I see her face turn to find my voice. Her smile grows wide, and mine hurts me it is so big. We move right into each other’s arms and embrace. She holds me back and looks at my face. It’s the first time I get to see her face close-up. She’s just absolutely beautiful. She smiles again and her nose crinkles.

We kiss and she tastes good. Her waist feels fine under my hand; the scent she wears is delicate and tasty. When we hold hands, hers fits in mine like a glove. She is not a disappointment. She is a delight. Kay and I are finally together. Sometimes, life is very good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Living Colors go on ...

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"The Stable of the Inn" - 1912 - N.C.Wyeth

"It was, then, not a dream. This was the sign unto them."

If you have ever read, seen, or owned a children's book from the early to mid-twentieth century, you may well have see the illustrations of N.C.Wyeth. Known these days primarily for having sired Andrew, and Henriette Wyeth, and the grandfather of Jamie Wyeth, Newell Convers Wyeth was one of the giants of American Illustrators. His work has been copied by many illustrators over the years. I would guess you may even get the sense of deja vu at times, when seeing some comic book illusrations. For they bear the imprint of Wyeth's style. As a student of Howard Pyle, Wyeth, then, was continuing a tradition. He passed on his skills to the next generation, too.

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"The Last of the Mohicans" - 1919 - N.C.Wyeth

Granted, his work seldom reaches the beauty of Parrish, or Bouguereau. Yet there is an honesty in it, a reality that makes for compelling viewing. His illustrations are adventurous. His Ads whimsical, and enjoyable. His work was in demand by the most important companies, much like Maxfield Parrish's was.

Wyeth's art is still in demand. And as it is understood buy those who see it, and buy it, it is truly Fine Art in every sense of the phrase.

Now, what do you think of his art? Be honest.

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"The Bateaux On The Dead River" - 1931 - N.C.Wyeth

Friday, February 10, 2006

Copying the Anchoress

The Anchoress has her own Quiz results posted. That's why I went to the Quiz Farm to take the "Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in?" test. The results are below!

Serenity (Firefly)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


SG-1 (Stargate)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Moya (Farscape)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

So, what results do you have? Are you stranded with the original cast of "Lost In Space"? Hey! Lemme know, why don'cha?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Taxes? Yeesh!

Just when I think I'm confident in my ability to do something, change comes along. As always with the Gubmint, the change is not exactly for the better.

Tele-File is dead. I've been tele-filing my taxes for a few years, now. It had gotten pretty easy. The IRS mails you the returns, you fill them out, and you call them at the 800 number. The computer voice walks you through the process, and when you are done ... BINGO! ... your taxes are filed!

Not no more, Compadre!

No, the IRS sent a nice, multi-colored postcard - a bog thing! - to say that the Tele-File was dead. It then directs me to go to the IRS E-file page, online. Easy, right?

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Before, I refused to efile my taxes, because you were required - as far as I understood! - to use a tax program, like Quicken or something. A program that you had to purchase! Yeah, I was gonna do that. Buy something I couldn't afford to do my tax return so I could, maybe, pay the Gubmint money I didn't have. Ohhhh, yeah, thats a good idea to me!

Okay, so I type the addy in my browser, and off I go! So far so good. Except ... you cannot simply file your return at the IRS. They aren't equipped. Or they aren't interested in being equipped. No, you have to go to an outside website to use a tax-preparer. This is through a link to an IRS page called FreeFile. Isn't that special, eh?

Okay, so I'm off on a new adventure. I click on a link and head to a new site - that of a tax-preparer. Off-site. Away from the IRS. A third party! Just what I wanted. I like having my meager earnings seen, possibly, by a third party, don't you?

Trust me, I do not like doing this stuff without enough information at hand. Too many places give you little iconic links to help you. But when you click on them - within the form you are working on - you end up with your form erased. Luckily, this site does not do that. They are fairly into the 21st Century.

So, I doggedly filled in the tiny blank boxes, and hit the "next" buttons, and progressed through the site. There I was, fearfully awaiting the page that asked about 'Home Equity Loan Rates' or 'Mortgage Depreciation'. Heck, just about anything would throw a wrench in the works for me. And it was tedious, but not as difficult as I had feared. I actually finished in less than a half-hour. Now, that's because I have damn near nothing. But I did finish. Not too many error pages popped up during the ordeal.

So, I learned a lesson, I think. I did what I had to do. I was afraid it would be hard, or impossible to complete. It wasn't.

"...I'm scared o' lots o' things. But y' can't

let that run yer life. Sometimes y' gotta . . . grit yer teeth

‘n go ahead. Usually what yer afraid of doesn't happen. Or

it's not as bad as you were expectin'."

Isaac Benning, 1780 - "Benning's War"

Maxfield Parrish: Living Colors

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Cinderella (Enchantment) - 1913

Besides the spectacular colors, something a Maxfield Parrish painting always has, there's also an attention to details that is unimaginable. In fact his art was always so much that it would not be mistaken for a photograph. The colors were simply too vivid, the settings too perfect. Just beautiful beyond belief.

There are quite a few Artists that I think are fantastic, those whose works I think are among the finest any man or woman has ever produced. And right at the top of that list stands Maxfield Parrish. On an earlier post you would have seen Image hosting by Photobucket "Moonlight", my favorite Parrish painting. I have yet to find a print of this for sale anywhere. Nertz!

Take a little time to wander through any Gallery of Parrish's works. Soon you will be enthralled at the depth, vibrancy, power that the colors he produced hold. "Garden Of Allah" is one, and "Daybreak". The skies Parrish produced, the water - still or falling, or waves crashing - all evoke a living world. So many painters seem to have problems making their works seem alive, whether an abstract or otherwise. There is just something missing from what they produce. In Parrish's case it is the opposite. There is too much life! Does that make sense?

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Aquamarine - 1917 (Isle of Lesbos)

When I was younger, I was a drawing, painting kid. I can still remember being punished for drawing on a nice, white wall with a yellow crayon. I hadn't figured out that white walls were not big pieces of paper waiting for me to toddle along. And over the ensuing years I thought I would be a painter. Ask anyone in my family about the life-sized John Wayne that once adorned the door of my bedroom. I wasn't bad, as a painter. I even read up on the techniques Parrish used for his colors. (Did you know, for instance, that Maxfield Parrish didn't mix his colors? He used pure pigments, atop clear varnishes, to let light blend his colors. This in the age of oils not acrylics. Talk about time-consuming!)

Alas, I was not good enough, or driven enough, to enter the world of painting. But I had gained a tremendous appreciation for the works of Maxfield Parrish. Along with him I discovered N.C.Wyeth, whose children you may have heard somthing about. Others soon came along, as well.

(To be continued! Interested?)