Woo Saturday!

scary-easter-bunny-6I sold nearly sixteen thousand moneydollars worth of furniture and furniture-related services and accessories at work today.  The boy is at his grandparents’ so that he can do an egg hunt in the morning, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to allow any pagan bunny nonsense in my house.  I am watching Into the Badlands with my wife and sipping on a very small bottle of moscato.

Yes, I am drinking the alcohols.  Not many of them!  But I never drink the alcohols so this is a bit of an event.

Happy Easter, if that’s your thing.  I don’t have to work tomorrow, so … thanks, Jesus, I guess?

In which I contain multitudes

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I have always been very ambivalent about Santa Claus.  Hell, as a non-Christian I’m ambivalent enough about Christmas, so the idea that I’m compounding celebrating a holiday that’s supposed to be about the birth of a divine being who I don’t believe in with lying to my kid about a white dude who drops presents down the chimney just hasn’t ever sat well with me.  I don’t like lying to my son– and yes, I think telling your kids about Santa is lying to them, unless you also want to explain why Santa seems to like wealthy white kids more than everybody else.  But I’m not so opposed to the idea of Santa Claus that I’m stomping on it, so to speak.  The position my wife and I have evolved over the years is that we simply don’t talk about Santa.  My mom can tell the boy whatever she likes; he can absorb whatever messages about Santa he wants from the wider culture.  Hell, I’ll even read A Visit from St. Nicholas to him on Christmas Eve if he wants, like my parents used to do with me.  I let him read Captain Underpants and don’t make a big stink about him not being real; why should Santa be any different?  My policy has simply been to neither confirm nor deny, and I don’t write “from Santa” on presents that we bought him– the “from” tag on all his presents is just left blank.  He hasn’t seemed to notice that Santa seems to think he lives at his Grandma’s house.  And we’ve never done the “go to the mall and sit on Santa’s lap” thing either.  Which, honestly, as I’m typing this, I gotta admit I regret just a little bit.

So last week he told my wife that one of the kids in his class was telling everyone that Santa wasn’t real.  My wife, caught by surprise, fell back on our usual “What do you think?” shtick and eventually he dropped it, or so we thought.  This morning, as we were getting in the car to go to school, he ambushed me with the same question, and seemed frustrated that I reacted the same way.  He is 6, and in kindergarten, just so you can properly contextualize this if you’d like.

And then he said something that really caught me by surprise, which was that he thought that this other kid was “ruining Christmas” and “taking all the fun out of everything” by telling the other kids that Santa wasn’t real.  I pushed back on this as gently as I could– if Santa wasn’t real, does that mean that the tree and the lights and the presents and the cookies and the family stuff weren’t fun anymore?  Surely the fat white guy isn’t the most important part, right?  He didn’t answer, but I could see him thinking about it.

And then my reaction surprised me, because I found myself more than a little bit pissed at this kid, and by extension this kid’s parents.  I think the family in question is at least nominally Muslim, as I’m pretty sure they’re ethnically Pakistani, but at any rate they’re from that area (the boy may or may not have been born here; I’m certain the parents weren’t) and while in general they’ve struck me as more or less secular people they’re definitely from an area where Christianity isn’t the majority religion.  So, okay, your kid got raised with no Santa.  You told him the truth.  Cool.  But maybe you go ahead and make sure your kid knows that showing everyone else the light isn’t so much the way to go?  My son is friends with this kid, and he’s visibly upset with him for, again, “ruining Christmas.”  And if my son decides that the boy is right about that, then I’m going to have a talk with him about not screwing the shit up for the other kids.

And I gotta admit, I’m thisclose to dropping an email to either my kid’s teacher or this other family (our school makes sure everyone has everyone else’s emails) and in the most polite way I can manage to phrase it suggesting that they tell this other kid to knock it off.

That’s probably in utter contradiction to everything in the first couple of paragraphs.  Do I care?  I dunno.  I care enough that I wrote this to try and hash it out in my head, and I probably need to be talked out of contacting any of the other adults involved– which, again, I promise I’d do politely.

“Eventually ruining Christmas for him was my job, dammit” is not the most persuasive line of argument, after all.

Blech.  Parenting is stupid.

In lieu of anything else to say

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I haven’t been getting a ton of comments lately, so I’m kinda hoping everybody pitches in for this one, since as an atheist I’m not really qualified to comment on it.  Help me out, I’m confused.

A spot of context, in case you don’t recall: the local AAA baseball team is the South Bend Cubs.  I have been to a couple of games but I can’t name a single player.  (Actually, I can’t name a single active baseball player at any level, but that’s not entirely relevant.)

There is a church near my home that I drive by every day on my way to and from work.  Hell, it’s on a main thoroughfare, so I probably drive past it something like 70% of the time I leave my house.  And there’s a big sign out in front of the church– wood, attached to what appear to be 12 x 12 beams, so they intend for it to be at least semi permanent– that declares the place the “church home” of the South Bend Cubs, including using their logo, which something makes me doubt they got permission for.  The sign specifically names two players and their numbers; I don’t know if any more than those two attend that church and I’m not sure that two players really constitute an official team endorsement either.

So here’s the question: there have to be some at least moderately religious people who read this blog.  Assuming you were already Catholic, is there any universe where this sort of “rub elbows with very minor local celebrities” advertisement might entice you to check a church out?  And, as a secondary question, am I right in feeling that calling these two players out and yelling HEY THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE GUYS ON SUNDAY MORNING to literally everyone who drives by is kind of rude?

Syria and the limits of my knowledge

SIRIA_-_TURCHIA_-_RUSSIA_-_pace_paese.jpgI’ve kinda had my head in the ground for the last couple of days; I’m sort of still there, as it’s taken me a good five or six minutes just to write this sentence.  It’s been a shitty few days to be an American, or at least to be a sane one.

(It’s been a worse few days to be a Syrian; I hope that I didn’t need to clarify that, but I’m going to anyway.)

I’ve been very clear here on multiple occasions about how I feel about how this country should treat Syrian refugees.  What I’ve been less clear on– in fact, I don’t know that I’ve really addressed it at all– is how we should treat Syria.  There’s a good reason for that; I know when I’m in over my fucking head, and this is absolutely one of those times.  Even before we get into “Should America take a side in the Syrian civil war?” there is the very important “Can America do anything about the Syrian civil war?”  There is also the minor fact that the Russians are involved and anything we do with Syria runs the risk of provoking Russia, which is something I suspect all of us would like to avoid.

I don’t know what to do about this, except for the part that is both relatively uncomplicated and morally clear: we should accept every refugee from this conflict that we possibly can.  Period.  I don’t have the tiniest idea what the hell to do about the rest of it.  I don’t feel bad about that.  I’m a fucking furniture salesman from Indiana.  There are people for whom figuring this shit out is their jobs.

Which, speaking of that: another thing I am absolutely certain of is that none of the gang of scam artists, poltroons and quarterwits currently occupying the White House have the vaguest fucking clue what to do, and I don’t trust them even the tiniest little bit to get any aspect of this shit right.  Barack Obama went to Congress to authorize military action and they turned him down; the shitgibbon fires fifty Tomahawk missiles at an airport, warning the Syrians and the Russians first but not bothering to notify Congress, and somehow fails to even disable the airport.

That is a failure of such epic proportions that it simply had to be intentional.  The point was to make a bunch of noise and waste a bunch of money but not to actually do anything worthwhile.  I suspect when Obama asked for Congress to authorize military action this was not what he had in mind.  Was what he wanted the right thing to do?  I have no idea.  I know that I trust Obama’s judgment infinitely more than I do the shitgibbon’s.  But that doesn’t mean he was right either.  For all I know there may very well be no way to cut this particular Gordian knot.


Fuck ’em for the stolen Supreme Court seat, too.  Which doesn’t really fit in this post but I’m including it anyway because it’s my blog.

On refugees and Christianity, again

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On the right, Rouwaida Hanoun, a Syrian five-year-old who is, as far as I know, still alive.  On the left, Anne Frank, who is not.

There are– it is horrifying to think, but it is true– people who believe that the orange fascist currently occupying the White House is a Christian.  Many of these people are the same people who believed Barack Obama to not be a Christian, so it’s immediately and apparently clear that when they say “Christianity,” what they mean is “White supremacy,” and they have little to no idea of what Jesus actually preached, what he might have believed, or– rather importantly– what he looked like.

I noticed this morning that the post I wrote about refugees last year is spiking in page views again, which is not surprising.  The monster in the White House has chosen to ban desperately frightened and endangered people– the “least among us” who Jesus spoke of– from our country, has deliberately decided to let children die rather than incur even the slightest risk to people who look like him.  He has, of course, excluded his business partners from these calculations; if  you are wealthy enough for him to have business dealings with, you are a Person, of course; Rouwaida Hanoun is not.  When I wrote the post last year we had a President who, while he made bad decisions in any number of ways, I believed fundamentally cared about people.

Unfortunately, that is no longer remotely true, and the man who was trying to keep Syrian refugees out of my state at the time is now Vice President.  Most of the time, I have trouble believing our current President is actually human.  It takes every bit of moral strength I have to recognize that the demented narcissist in the White House deserves as much compassion and dignity as anyone else by simple virtue of having been born a person.  Somebody or something fucked this man up; I don’t believe he was born this awful.

But that’s beside the point.  When I wrote that post last year, I was trying to be nice and trying to be the voice of reason.  You may recognize the tone; I use it around here from time to time when I’m writing something I want to be taken more seriously than usual.  At this point, I’m going to take a different tack: if you don’t think these people should be allowed into the country, if you think refugees (and people with green cards!  People who have been here, and are now separated from their families simply by virtue of having been somewhere else when the ban went into effect!) should be banned from the United States simply because of their religion, you’re a fucking monster.  You’re not a Christian.  Christ himself would rebuke you– he already has, in fact, in clear terms in the Bible you claim to believe is divinely inspired and true in its every word.

You are a bad person if you agree with this ban.  You are a racist and a monster and a coward and every bit as much of a piece of shit as the people trying to keep the Jews out of the country in the 1940s were. You are the exact same people saying the exact same things for the exact same reasons, only with “Jew” crossed out and “Muslim” written in.  And while I don’t want this to be true and I try to be a better person, I really wish there was a Hell so I could see the look on your face when you end up there. Because Jesus has been clear on your responsibilities in this matter.  If you’re not a Christian, you don’t have to follow Jesus.  I certainly don’t.  But he was perfectly clear on this, and you are the bad guys.  


As I was writing this, word came through Twitter that the ACLU has won a stay against this executive order, which is good, as it was wildly illegal from the start.  I set up recurring monthly donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood today.  You should too.