Don’t dance your horses before they leap

Mitt Romney pissed off just about every equestrian in the world when he dissed his own wife's horse Rafalca. The rest of the world forgot because he went on to diss the Olympics and people of color (not to mention dissing poor families wiped out by corrupt bankers by attending a banquet in the bankers' honor). But for equestrians the damage had been done.

Since Carol is an equestrian (albeit a decidedly lower middle class equestrian who rides a horse she was given by a friend and supports the horse with rescue work), I paid attention to Romney's comment. Why? Because Romney's diss of his wife and horse were the equivalent of a diss to Carol and Gabe.

What did Romney say? That dressage was his wife's event, he doesn't know what day it's scheduled (the answer is: several) and he won't be there to see it. He's happy for her, but that's it.

He, after all, ran the Olympics. She just supported two of the athletes, only one of whom is a real American (that would not be the horse, of course).

If I said that about Carol and Gabe (even if I felt that way), I would be sleeping alone, eating alone and calling Carol on the phone at my sister's house because my family took her side.

Many of us think Romney's trip to London was just his ploy to assure die-hard Republicans that he wasn't content to step into Bush's shoes, he's ready to lower the bar even further. But his comments about Ann and her horse concern us here because they should give pause to Christians about his true character.

Democrats have picked on dressage as an elitist sport, comparing it to horse ballet and running ads showing Mitt with dancing horses. Admittedly, Olympic dressage is elitist, but so are all Olympic sports. Olympic athletes are supported by a number of corporate sponsors who pass the cost of sponsorship onto their customers.

It doesn't matter what we think about dressage, his wife Ann is highly invested. Not only has she supported Rafalca to the Olympics, she believes it has helped her Multiple Sclerosis. For Romney to imply that he's too busy to support her team in the Olympics is dismissive and belittling. More so since he claimed almost $80,000 against future earnings for the horse on his taxes.

We have to ask whether or not a man who shows this little regard for his own family will show any more regard for ordinary Americans to whom he has no connection. This could explain why he would be so willing to outsource employees to insure a profit.

Bill Clinton campaigned with the phrase, “I feel your pain.” This is very much in the spirit of Jesus, who put aside his own needs to minister to the needs of others. Even others of no importance, who were too poor or disenfranchised to matter to the empire or Israel.

Mitt Romney's message consistently seems to be, “I feel none of your pain and it doesn't bother me in the least.” Is this a man we would trust with our country?

There is another explanation for Romney's dismissive comments about his wife's olympic efforts. He wants to distance himself from criticism that he is disconnected from average Americans. And how much more disconnected could he be that throwing money after dancing horses?

Sure, he has vacation houses, Swiss bank accounts and a long list of corporate clients. But he has to draw the line at his wife.

This too has Biblical implications. In this, Mitt is not unlike Peter who denied his connection to Jesus three times. And while I certainly don't want to imply that Ann Romney is on the same plane as Jesus, I do want to remind readers that Peter's real sin was to back away from those he loved when they needed his support.

A real family values guy, a real husband, a man who cares would say, “I couldn't be more proud of my wife and you bet I'll be at her side when her team represents America to the world.”

Even if her team does include a dancing horse.

And, as for the Democrats who ran that ad, a dancing horse is far more beautiful than a braying ass.


It isn’t generosity when it’s required

Once again I was prepared to discuss the Higgs-Boson particle, which is essential to the mystery of Jesus (at least according to some blogs). But then Ann Romney spoke up. In the wake of the controversy about her husband's falsifying records about his stint at Bain Capital, she said Mitt was one of the most generous men she knows. Her example? Mitt gives ten percent of their income to the Mormon Church.

First of all, let me explain to Republicans and members of the Christian right why Romney's record at Bain is so important in an election that will be primarily about the economy. First, he lied to the government about when he ran Bain. When you lie to the government, you are officially, on the record, lying to the American people who are the government.

What did he lie about? His economic record as CEO. This should send a warning flag when he says that he will do as President what he did as CEO.

It should also send a warning flag since he oversaw massive layoffs and outsourcing to maintain profitability. This is the clearest indicator of his economic policy's effects since his policy is pretty much to cut corporate taxes and let them create jobs elsewhere.

It's hard to be upset about the lying part since we already know the Christian right has pretty much struck that off the ten commandments to make room for their abortion plank.

But I'm interested in Ann Romney's claim that giving ten percent to your church is generous. Jesus pretty much said the opposite. Tithing is not an act of generosity, it's an article of faith. You aren't being generous until you give more than asked.

Romney may be generous (even though his employees might not feel that generosity). But it isn't for paying his bills to God.

My family had a hard time getting a handle on this, but I was raised Baptist Preacher's Kid (BPK) so it may have come with the territory. My family loved to ask us to be generous with each other, so much so that we twisted each other's arm until the spirit of generosity overwhelmed us.

It would begin simply and innocently. With a suggestion like, “Wouldn't it be nice if you…?” Innocent to people who don't speak Baptist (or Stephens). To those of us who speak the language, it meant “You will.”

Nor was a gift really a gift so much as an obligation in its own right. The master of obligatory gift giving was my grandmother, who wan't Baptist but a conservative Presbyterian raised in the heart of John Birch country in Ohio. My sisters and I learned to keep our gifts still wrapped in our closets so we could return them whenever she said, “How can you be this way when I gave you such a wonderful present.”

Perhaps the best example of this was the fifty dollar gift an uncle gave to a family in need who were also in his employ. He had just hired the dad, so he floated him fifty dollars to get by until the first pay day. We learned about this gift at the next family dinner when he complained that he spotted the family at Kentucky Fried Chicken that very evening. Even worse, when he saw his employee in the grocery store later in the week, he was buying beer.

That ungrateful lout. It seems my uncle expected his employee to spend the money on baloney sandwiches and milk because that's what poor people should eat to stay on budget.

I thought it might be useful to touch bases on a few tips that you might not be a generous as you think. From what I read in the Bible, you aren't being generous if:

  1. You have an obligation to give.
  2. You give but you don't want to.
  3. You give less than you tell people you do. (This actually got some people killed by the Holy Spirit.)
  4. You do it because someone twists your arm.
  5. You complain about it.
  6. You have to tell everyone how much you gave.
  7. You have to remind them constantly that you gave.
  8. You have a plaque with your name mounted on the gift.
  9. They have to wear it or put it on display whenever you're around or you make them feel guilty.
  10. You expect something back.
  11. You expect it to be used differently than the recipient wants it to be used.
  12. You claim it on your tax returns

By my calculation, Romney's tithes aren't really generous by counts 1, 6 and (most likely) 12. Oh, and, by the way, it isn't generous if you feel you're being generous. That's pride. (So maybe we should add 13 to 1, 6 and 12).

And my hyperactive dog Pearl tells me it isn't being generous to give your dog a ride on the roof so she can share your vacation.

I don't claim to be a generous person myself, by the way. Generosity is difficult by any measure. Grace allows us to slide when we fail to be generous, and we shouldn't jeopardize grace by proclaiming our generosity.

Building on Christian initiative

According to Michelle Bachmann, reelecting Obama would bring about Taxmeggedon. I find this a delightful and inventive turn of phrase, which means she probably got it from someone else. This is the same woman who appeared on Piers Morgan last week to tell everybody that states who require auto insurance aren't acting in the public interest but protecting the property values of car owners.

According to Bachman, there is no comparison between mandated auto insurance and health insurance because people choose to buy cars. So it's okay to mandate insurance on things we choose to have, but not on health, over which we have no control.

These are the same Republicans who want to mandate prayer in schools, mind you. In fact, they are fine with mandating Christian imperatives. For instance, they want to mandate women giving birth so long as women have to pay for it out of their own pockets. They want to mandate teaching Creationism in schools.

So I thought, as long as the Christian Right wants to mandate that non-believers practice commandments made to Christians, I should look up some of the other things the Bible commands and see what else the government should mandate. Here were a few that I found.

We should mandate taxes

Surprisingly enough, the Bible mandates that believers pay taxes. It's in Deuteronomy 26. Being raised Baptist Preacher's Kid (BPK) I was led to believe that was a tithe to ministers, but it's actually to the Levites. And who were the Levites? The government.

I have also heard it argued that the tax was only ten percent, but that was ten percent before inflation. Based on the rate of inflation since the Old Testament, the Bible would have Christians pay 13000 percent of their income to the government. Even worse, when the Israelites demand God replace the Levites with a king, he reminded them that kings charge even more in taxes than the Levites. So that would make the Biblically approved tax rate closer to 56000 percent.

And, if we apply the mandatory prayer principle, every American should pay that much as well.

Give the same amount to the poor every three years

You heard it here. It's the same passage in Deuteronomy. Every three years you give as much to the poor as you give to the government. And in the Bible you don't get to write the donation off your other taxes.

That includes your worthless relatives, by the way.

Pay off lawsuits against you

Don't believe me? How about this? “Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. (Matt. 5:25)”

I don't think it gets much clearer than that. Tort reform was just tossed out the window of faith. If Christians get sued, they pay up, and as long as we're mandating public prayer, we should mandate mandatory settlement.

Does that seem a little harsh? It gets worse. “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matt. 5:40-42)

If we were to extend Biblical injunctions the way we want to extend mandatory prayer, corporations, wealthy Republicans and Bain Capital would have to pay twice what any plaintiff demands. Without a trial.

The banks would be required by law, not just to loan money (interest free) to people who ask, but to give it to them. But the banks would go bankrupt, you might claim. Oh, ye of little faith. Don't you know that whatever you give, God gives back ten fold? The banks profitability would shoot through the roof and even the poor could buy houses without crippling substandard loans.

This might upset members of the Corporate Christian Complex (CCC), but in the end we're all Christians and I'm sure they'll come to understand that universalizing the commands of Jesus is more important than self-interest. In fact, universalizing the commands of Jesus, and writing them into law, is self-interest.

No more swearing

Jesus said: “But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne. “(Matt. 5:34 ) You can see where I'm going here. If we really want a Christian nation, we should eliminate oaths of office and swearing in court. In fact, it could be argued that pledging allegiance under God would be swearing as well.

Heal the sick

That's right. Luke 10:9 commands Christians to heal the sick. The Democrats just want to help pay their bills. But the Bible says we should heal them ourselves. Just in case there's any question, Jesus gives an example. The righteous person, who turns out to be a Samaritan by the way (Democrat by today's terms) take the poor wounded stranger home and feeds him and care for him personally.

If you ask me, health care is much cheaper.

Now for the killer commandment.

Love one another

That's John 13:34 by the way. So if we want to mandate public prayer, we might as well mandate love too.

Ironically, the Bible not only doesn't command Christians to pray in public, it commands them not to. And it doesn't mention abortion or teaching Creationism at all. So we need to move those items down the list and focus on passing laws requiring everyone to pay taxes and to love each other first.

That's WJWRD.


Nessie saves Jesus in the nick of time

I had a hard time writing this week's post. Carol showed me a sign that said “put off procrastinating.” That seemed like decent advice since I was procrastinating working on a number of important projects.

So I thought about putting off procrastination and gave it even more thought, but weighing the decision on whether or not to put off procrastinating seemed like one task too many given all the other tasks I'm considering. So I put off procrastinating on the decision to put off procrastinating which made it much easier to put off the decision to finish my other tasks.

Speaking of procrastination, after putting off releasing the Health Care Act ruling as long as possible, the Justices finally admitted they reached a decision this week. Health Care mandates are okay with the USA and Obama gets a vote of confidence from the Supreme Court.

It should come as no surprise that Republicans are ready to tar and feather Chief Justice John Roberts. He upheld the constitutionality of a law that our own Governor Rick Perry called a shocking disappointment to freedom loving Americans. One Republican Congressman said Roberts' ruling upheld a law that is “an abomination” on the FOX news network.

Carol and I don't normally watch FOX but it was showing on the overhead screen at our gym. It was kind of fun watching the Republican response (or meltdown) unfold. After all, Jesus doesn't want the U.S. to require citizens to buy health care, because caring for the sick and needy is the job of Christians.

It's better to ignore the command to charity than to be forced to pay for it with our tax dollars.

But I procrastinate again, because the Health Care Act wasn't the topic of this week's post.

I'm much more interested in the news that the Loch Ness Monster proves creationism. That's right, after years of complaining that promoting the belief in Santa Claus trivializes Jesus, the Christian right wants to promote the belief in Nessie.

I suspected this news was really a Leftist conspiracy theory to humiliate the righteous since it appeared in the Washington Post, but I found it in the New York Daily News as well. So it's true. Jesus does indeed love Nessie.

The news about Nessie came at just the right time for the faithful given recent speculations by scientists that the mysterious chupacabras prove evolution. That had to be a crushing blow for Creationism. Fortunately, however, reports of Nessie predate the reports of chupacabras. Creationism wins.

Admittedly, the scientific evidence for Nessie is stronger than the scientific evidence for creationism. According to a textbook being used in a Christian academy funded with tax payer dollars: ” ‘Nessie’…has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others.” This is certainly stronger than the evidence for Creation which wasn't recorded on sonar, wasn't photographed, and, apparently happened before any eyewitnesses were around to see it.

The thinking goes that Nessie is clearly a dinosaur, and Nessie proves that dinosaurs and people exist side-by-side, something science denies. I'm convinced. I was so disappointed to learn Santa was a fake, so I'm relieved to learn that Nessie has Jesus' official seal of approval.

So I looked for other proofs of Genesis in the literature and I found a lot. Here are just a few:

  • Bigfoot. According to Genesis, the Nephalim (who were giants) mated with women and had children (6:4). No scientific proof of this claim existed until Bigfoot was videotaped and his footprints found in the mountains. Who else could Bigfoot be but half-human, half-giant?
  • Fairies. Lots of people have photographed flying human-like creatures with wings. They think they're fairies, but I'm betting they're angels who have been in hiding since humans sodomized them (Gen. 19).
  • Giant squids. Leviathan, a giant sea monster, was mentioned in Isaiah, the Psalms and Job, but nobody believed in him until the first giant squid carcass washed up on shore. Of course, the Bible describes Leviathan as a serpent, but maybe the writers only saw Leviathan's tentacles. This would be a natural mistake.
  • The Golem. The Golem proves that people are made out of clay and brought to life by the breath of God. There are no photographs or sonar records, but I've personally read dozens of accounts.
  • The Jersey Devil. Dozens of eyewitnesses have seen the Jersey Devil and I've seen the videos on YouTube. If the Devil has been seen in New Jersey then it's pretty clear we'll spot God sooner or later. All those mob guys hang out in Jersey, so I'm betting God will be seen in Texas where the best Bible-believing Christians hang out. I predict we'll see him on YouTube before 2030.
  • The Adam and Eve sour cream dollop. Pictures of Jesus have been showing up on tortilla chips and grilled cheese sandwiches for years, but last year a senior citizen in Omaha saw the image of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the sour cream dollop in her tomato soup. Unfortunately the retirement home server stirred the sour cream into the soup before she could figure out how use the digital camera on the iPhone her granddaughter gave her. But I believe her. I looked for the link but I can't seem to find it. You can trust me.

Speaking of Jesus, as long as we're looking for contemporary pop proof of the Bible, how about Elvis sightings? For twenty years eyewitnesses saw Elvis popping up after his death. To me, that now verifies the authenticity of the eyewitness accounts of Jesus' resurrection.

Don't thank me. Thank Nessie.