Monday, January 31, 2011

Man, Where Did The Weekend Go?

I like to keep my life as simple as possible, so as to keep it manageable. And I think I may have overdone it. I've gotten everything in life to fall under one of three categories: being at work, being at home, and being on the bus. You can't make it much simpler than that.

But it can be kind of hard to manage when work, home, and the bus are pretty much the only three places you are. The only other place I went last week was The Village Cafe. This can get on my nerves at times, and then I start saying things like I said on this blog yesterday.

And to top it all off, I was under the weather today. Still went to work and put in eight hours, but that makes for a long shift. At least I'm doing better now.

On the plus side, I do have fourteen vacation days at my disposal. It was fifteen, but I used one on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I haven't decided how to divide the rest of them up. I'll probably use them two and three at a time -- and later this year, after they're all used up, I'm going to try to get an unpaid fourth week out of the company. I've done this before, and since I'm close to being out of debt, I'll be able to afford it.

Whether management will go for it this time, I don't know. They've gotten noticeably stricter over the last few years. In fact, we now have a "use it or lose it" policy when it comes to vacation time. Before, if you had unused vacation time, it was automatically cashed in and it showed up in your first paycheck of the new year. I used to save a day or two just for that reason. Now I have to use them all before year's end.

After all the hours I put in last year, more time than any other year I've worked there? You're damn right I'll take fifteen vacation days in addition to the six paid ones we already get. The pre-press department never seems to catch a break. Hell, we and the customer service reps are still working for two companies: the one we're at and the one in New Jersey our company acquired last year.

Right now, all I'm personally doing for that company is putting together matchprints and digital proofs. But I hear they want to combine the platemaking abilities of the two print shops, putting their plate settings into our machine and our settings into theirs, presumably so we can FedEx each other sets of plates whenever necessary. We already do a hell of a lot of outsourcing because we simply cannot print all of the orders that we receive -- the sheer volume is too great for us to handle alone, and our pressroom already runs 24/7.

So I don't even want to think about the possibility of burning plates for two print shops -- doing that for one can be tricky enough. Two could become a logistical migraine. You think I've been saying crazy shit lately? Let this come to pass, and see what I say then. I just might put in for all of my vacation days at once.

It isn't getting any easier over there. Not lately, anyway. I would still rather be doing what I am now than running a press -- I worked in the pressroom for ten years, nine of them on nights. But not by much...

The Moon And Sixpence...

I can't see myself ever leaving Richmond/Henrico. I didn't come here looking for a place to spend the rest of my life; it just so happens that this is a place where I would have no problem living out the rest of my years. I like it here -- and I can't say that about any other place I've been.

But I don't have any idea what the future holds for me. For that reason, I find it close to impossible to make long-term plans. So I take things one day at a time.

Lately, I've been thinking about leaving the Richmond/Henrico area behind. I don't think I will, but there was a time I never thought I'd leave New England, and look how that turned out.

I don't know how to explain this, other than if I do leave, that's it. I'm gone.

And I'm thinking about it. Y'all better hope the print shop makes me an offer I can't refuse real soon...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Testing New Ground...

Friday night, there was just me and the woman in our graphic arts part of the pre-press department talking to each other, after everyone else had gone home. She has only worked for the print shop a little over seven months, but in this brief time, she has proven her value to this company several times over. Just believe me when I say that when the company hired her, it spared itself a series of migraines -- I was there to witness the reasons why, and it would bore you to tears if I tried to explain them to you.

Anyway, we were talking last night, and she is rather discontent over how the last seven-odd months have played out. I don't blame her -- she has every right to feel that way. But it turns out this is the first time in her life she's really been doing things all alone. I didn't know that. But I'm a long-suffering veteran when it comes to doing things all alone -- come April, I'll have been doing just that for thirteen years. She's been wondering if coming to Richmond and this print shop has been a good idea.

Now I'm not the best person to ask about the print shop -- I've been there eleven years, and I spend a lot of time thinking about leaving it behind. But I listened to the things she had to say about trying to make it on her own -- and when I say that, I mean waking up alone, going to work without someone telling you to have a good day, coming home to no one, and going to bed alone, which she has been doing since she moved to Richmond. She's doing the best she can, but she's just not accustomed to living like that.

There's a whole lot more to her story than this, and I'm not going to share any more it with you. What I will say is, I advised her to give all of this more time. Eight months is not enough time to make any final decisions in this regard -- I told her that I was down here for more than two years before I started getting my own feet on the ground. You're in a whole new territory when you make a move like she and I made. There are no Cliff Notes for this sort of thing -- you either figure out how to adapt to your new surroundings over time, or you go back to wherever it is you came from.

I figured out how to adapt. I'm hoping she figures it out, too. She just needs more time...

Print Shop, Restaurant, YooToob, and Robert Plant...

Well, last Friday, I got off work around 9:30 PM. Tonight, I did better, punching out at 8:45 PM. I could have gone home, but instead I went downtown for something to eat.

If you're ever in downtown Richmond and your stomach starts rumbling, you gotta go to The Village Cafe on the corner of Grace and Harrison. Breakfast, lunch, supper, or just after-supper drinks with a friend or two, you gotta go there. That's where I went tonight, since I hadn't eaten there in what seems like ages. Richmond is a major restaurant city -- if you're a restaurant lover, you'd probably feel quite at home here. The only reason I've eaten at dozens of local Restaurants instead of hundreds in the nearly thirteen years I've lived here is because the more familiar I became with the lay of Richmond's land, the more I stuck with what I already liked and the less I experimented with new restaurants. I've behaved the exact same way over time in listening to music and reading what other bloggers write. So, if for old time's sake, I went to the next-door 7-11, bought a copy of Rolling Stone, and dropped in on The Village.

Funny thing about The Village. It's a busy and noisy place after the sun sets -- the jukebox is loud, the patrons are loud, the bar is loud, even the kitchen seems loud at times. And yet, it's the only restaurant in this city where I can read a magazine or a book without all that commotion bothering the piss out of me. It's probably the jukebox that makes it all bearable. I was eating lunch there one time years ago, and that jukebox played King Crimson's "Starless And Bible Black" (the instrumental off the album of the same name) -- and I wasn't the one who picked that song.

Tho I wouldn't have picked that song, had I known that album was in there. I would have picked this one:


Anyway, The Village is not a fancy, high-end establishment. Unlike the informal, clamorous, off-center atmosphere of the place, its menu reads pretty much like that of any American diner. Burgers, pizza, pasta, subs, burritos, breakfast items served at all times, that sort of thing. What The Village is not is a greasy spoon -- it may not be French cuisine, but they actually put a little thought and care into the food they serve to their customers. I like that aspect of The Village, too.

I fell back on something I already liked (as I often do): the Village sub -- lettuce, tomato, onions, salami, ham, bologna, Swiss cheese. It comes with fries, but this time, I substituted onion rings just for the hell of it. I'd never ordered onion rings from the Village before. When the waitress brought my order to the table, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets. Their onion rings have diameters of up to seven inches. There were only five of them, but those were the biggest-assed onion rings I've ever seen! They were good, too.

Paid for the meal, meandered about the city for a while, caught the bus, got off, started walking, and got home at 12:30 AM. I had left the apartment around 9:50 AM to go to work. So once again, there went my Friday.

And now it's approaching 3 AM. I probably won't get to bed until after dawn starts breaking. I'm just not tired right now...

* * *

I don't see it online, but the print version of Rolling Stone has a piece on what Robert Plant is up to these days that I found interesting. Currently, he draws his inspiration from the country music of Appalachia. At first, I was surprised, but I shouldn't have been. Plant has been something of a chameleon musically, at least since his rhythm-and-blues-influenced stint with The Honeydrippers in the 80s. That's part of why I like him so much -- he can't be pigeonholed. Not to say people haven't tried to do that to him.

I remember, from a few years back, many of the long faces and complaints that Plant generated when he nixed the idea of a Led Zeppelin reunion. Veteran blogger BartCop, in particular, seemed particularly pissed off over this. His basic argument sounded like, what, Plant can perform with Alison Krauss, but he can't perform with Zeppelin? Who does he think he is? He owes it to the fans.

That was my personal favorite part of the angry contingent's case: Robert Plant owes reuniting with the other members of Led Zeppelin to the fans.

Oh, really? Because I'm one of those fans. And you want to know something? Robert Plant doesn't owe me jack shit. He has not only earned his keep when it comes to the rock 'n roll realm a thousand times over, the number one rock 'n roll song of all time -- "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin -- features Robert Plant on lead vocal. How dare any Zeppelin fan worth their salt suggest that Plant owes them anything? We owe him, motherfuckers. The least we can do toward that end is let him indulge in whatever style of music he wants to indulge in, and just shut, the fuck, up if we don't happen to like it.

And furthermore, that man is 62 years old now. I think when you get to that age, you deserve every break in life you can get. Shut up, and let him sing what he wants to sing in peace.

And further furthermore, about that Krauss-Plant collaboration: they may look like beauty and the beast respectively, but when they sang together...


They sounded goooood. I love the way their voices blended together so smoothly.

One last thing. As much as I would love to see a Led Zeppelin reunion, it's totally impossible. Not because of Robert Plant, but because of John Bonham -- he died thirty years ago. Jason Bonham is a powerful drummer in his own right, and he's proven it when he's played with Plant, Page, and Jones. But when the fans see Jason, they're thinking of John, and there is nothing Jason will ever be able to do about that.

That may be why Robert Plant killed the possibility of a reunion. Maybe he thought he owed that to the fans. If so, I think he made the right call...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

That Time Of The Week Again...

Left the apartment for work around 9:55 in the morning. Got back home at 10:30 PM. I just don't have much left tonight.

And tomorrow is Friday -- and I'm the only person in America who thinks Friday is the worst day of the week. I used to think Sunday was the worst, back when I was working Sunday through Tuesday, 6:30 PM to 6:30 AM, in the pressroom. Now it's the best day, because I spend much of Saturday catching up on my rest -- this past saturday, for example, I ended up getting out of bed around four in the afternoon. Jesus.

Most of my Fridays nowadays are pretty much shot. I know this because I'm going to wake up in the morning, and the first thing that runs through my mind will be, "My day is shot." See, the pre-press department works the typical five-day workweek, but the pressroom runs 24/7. So on Fridays, I have to carve up digital proofs and burn plates for at least three days' worth of orders instead of one day. That often means I stay late -- sometimes even when I come in early in a vain attempt to avoid staying late. Print shop is a busy print shop, that's all there is to it.

But I put up with this arrangement because 1) unlike when I was in the pressroom, I no longer have to work on weekends, and 2) my Saturdays are for rest and my Sundays are for recreation. The fact that the fun parts come on Sunday is especially satisfying, since I used to start my workweek on Sundays, and those dreadful days are over and done with. It almost feels like that whole period of my life was some kind of test, and I passed it.

For now, though, I'm slowly winding it down and getting ready for bed. Later...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Making It Regular...

Years ago, I was a one-a-day type of blogger -- I would come home from work in the morning, read the news for a little while, write a blog post about something in the news that interested me, and then go to bed. I think I might go back to that routine, only I'll be posting at night, since I now get ready to go home around the time I used to start my shift.

There probably won't be much here in a political vein. It'll just be... stuff, I suppose. There is a presidential election not too far around the bend, but I already know how I'm voting, and for some reason, nothing ever seems to change in Washington. The top left-leaning bloggers spend far too much time going over a lot of the same well-worn grounds -- Democrats have no spine, Republicans are never held accountable, the Villagers are Very Serious People, Wall Street sux, that poll says this, this poll says that, and so on ad nauseam. All right already, I get it. What has changed lately? The congressional roster. That's it.

I would like to give the four readers I have something different from the same ol' same ol', if I can. Or, failing that, a quick review of what I've been up to lately, for anyone who may be keeping tabs...

* * *

It's stopped snowing. Good. It started coming down around 5 PM while I was still at work. That was not so good. The flakes were big and wet, and they stuck to everything. One of the CSRs had a woman who was driving through the storm on the speaker phone. She described the road as "slicker than a peeled onion." Later on, I started trekking to the bus stop in it. That woman wasn't kidding. This winter is shaping up to be as bad as the last one.

Sometimes, I think "blizzard" is a Norwegian word that means, "Can you believe all of this goddamned snow?" We didn't have a blizzard here today, but I still cannot believe all this goddamned snow we've had so far this winter...

* * *

I didn't catch the State of the Union address last night. Judging from what others have had to say about it, I didn't miss much.

But Michelle Bachmann giving the State of the Union response while looking at the wrong camera is amusing. A classic Tea Party production.

Then again, she wasn't really talking to anyone other than the Tea Partiers. So it's fitting, too...

* * *

Last item for tonight. Two girls' basketball teams played in Utah the other day. Final score: Christian Heritage defeated West Ridge Academy, 108-3.

Yes. 108... to 3.

That score was so ridiculously lopsided, Christian Heritage administrators apologized to West Ridge. I don't even know where to start with this story. Hell, I thought the 30-3 beating the Rangers gave the Orioles a few years ago was horrible.

But I'll bet that whoever the coach for the West Ridge team is might be looking for a new job soon. Man, that's a harsh final score...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Miscellanea...

You know what they say about too much of a good thing? I started taking vitamins back in the summer. I stopped taking them about a week ago. And now, I feel a little better than I did. I guess I was overdoing it on some of the essentials, and they were building up in my system, messing with it.

And I wasn't even taking them whole -- I broke them in halves and took one half in the morning before going to work. And it was still too much.

Man, the hell with these. I'll keep the foods I've been eating instead...

* * *

I got some pleasant news at work today: I'll be getting a couple hundred dollars extra or so with my next paycheck. We have a profit-sharing program there, where a portion of the profits from the previous year are divided among all eligible employees. 2010 is the company's best year in its history.

Two hundred dollars may not seem like a lot, but I can't really complain about getting free money...

* * *

Have you ever noticed how, when it comes to right-wing ideologues, they have to create their own version of everything the rest of us have? The most obvious example is their answer to the mainstream media: Fox News, the primary objective of which is to constantly tell lies to and rile up that subset of self-described conservatives who yearn to be constantly lied to and riled up. And it's not even a news organization, it's a right-wing propaganda machine run by the guy who gave us President Richard Nixon. Fox News not only generates and propagates lies, it's a lie all by itself.

There are other examples of this. In the reality-based community, we have the AARP. The right-wing ideologues' version of that is the CSA -- the Christian Seniors Association. Unlike the AARP, though, it's not the non-profit organization working on behalf of people in their 50s and older that it claims to be; it's a subsidiary of the Traditional Values Coalition, run by the Reverend Louis Sheldon. You have to admire the brass balls of this hard-right Christian leader, using deception in the name of morality and the Gospel to serve his own purposes.

Even more galling (and downright insidious) is the right-wing example of the American Civil Liberties Union. Ever heard of the ACRU? That stands for the American Civil Rights Union. Yes, a collection of mostly white and totally conservative people are using the words "civil rights" in one of their political endeavors. Talk about chutzpah!

But that's the MO of these folks. They take a word or phrase that has a specific definition, give it a different, almost entirely opposite definition, and effectively kill the word or phrase, and they do this intentionally. George Orwell did the same thing in his novel 1984 ("freedom is slavery," "ignorance is strength") but that was how he lamented the way words were intentionally being rendered meaningless in the best interests of a dictatorial, warlike government -- he didn't advocate doing this. The Far Right, on the other hand, looks like it's reading 1984 as a political manual instead of a dystopian novel.

It makes you wonder what it is they really want. By all appearances, they want it all; but the way they're going about it, what they really desire is nothing at all. They're like necrophiliacs who are in deep denial. That's fucked up, man...

* * *

One last thing. In recent months, I have started swearing by two certain foods: garlic and red onions. Can't get enough of either one. I've been including them in meals twice a day for a while, and if they're not giving me all this extra energy I've been running on since, I don't know where it's coming from.

But I found out there's one thing you shouldn't do with them: never put them in a microwave. Apparently, the radiation kills the active ingredients in these things. So nuke whatever you plan to eat, and then add the garlic and red onions raw. I nuke a lot of my meals at work, so I thought this might be a useful tip to anyone else who relies on microwaves a lot.

Later...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Random Stuff...

I yanked the Billy Joel clip. I didn't have a problem with posting it at the time, but I have a problem with it being up here now. So it's gone. Some things that seem like an okay idea at the time seem pretty stupid later.

And so far, that's been the only eventful thing that's happened for me today. Went back to work this morning, put in eight hours, completed a moderate and rather dull workload, punched out, and went home. In other words, a typical Monday.

I'll probably spend some time online at King and Pogo tonight. I'm not in the mood for brushing up on any political crap tonight, and definitely not anything to do with a certain person named Jared. Aside from being uneventful (and unusually cold), this hasn't been a bad day -- why screw it up now?

In other news, there are going to be some important changes this year. One is that I'm planning on moving out of my current apartment, sometime around late spring/early summer. I won't know where, or begin to know where, until about April -- I have to wait and see how things go at work until then. A second is that, barring any emergencies, I'll actually be saving money soon instead of constantly being two or three paychecks away from becoming homeless. Which means I'll finally have the money to buy a new synth.

A third change may or may not happen: cross-training in the department I'm in for what is known in the printing business as imposition. Currently, I carve up matchprints and digital proofs and burn plates for the pressroom all day. Sometimes I do some inventory, plate processor maintenance, and housekeeping, and that's about it. What started out as a thirty-day trial back in March somehow turned into what seems like a permanent gig. But I can't see myself doing this forever -- at some point, I'll be expected to learn more about the pre-press aspects of the job. I mentioned the idea of learning imposition to my supervisor last month; it turns out he and one of our bosses had already been talking to each other along the same lines. It wouldn't hurt. We have two people doing imposition; when one goes on vacation, the other has to cover a workload for two. I can name about fifteen coworkers off the top of my head who can burn plates -- if I knew imposition, they could pull me out of the plate room for that and get one of these other fifteen to work on the plates. But for now, it's all been just talk.

Well, all right. I'm gonna go pick a game to play for a while before bedtime.

Til further on...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

All Right, Here We Go...

I just read Time magazine's Saturday article on Jared Loughner. In light of the venting I did out of my disgust with him over at skippy's place (here and here), I want to think DBK is right: it's about time I looked for a good clinical psychologist. Which means, at those of you who have at least a basic understanding of my personal history know, that I won't do that. Not of my own accord, anyway -- it's going to take an order from a judge to make that happen, since I'm just getting a little bit more stubborn and set in my ways every new day.

There's another reason. In the old days, there was the practice of exorcism. Today, we call that shit therapy. If you're possessed by demons, then therapy just might be the solution for you. I'm not possessed by demons, though; I'm haunted by ghosts. There's a major difference...

Most of the time, if not nearly all of the time, my temper is under control -- believe it or not. But once in a while, something will happen that will just piss my ass off for days on end, and all I can do is ride it out until runs its course. This time around, it was the Tuscon shootings. At first, my anger was directed at members of the right-wing noise machine and their violence-heavy rhetoric, Sarah Palin in particular. But when I first saw Jared Loughner's mug shot, it made my blood run cold. I wrote that I saw a younger, chunkier version of myself in that mug shot. That's superficially true, by the way, if that: I have a shaved head and face like he does, and our noses, ears, and even the shapes of our heads are similar, but he's 22, I'm 40. When I was his age, I still had hair. And unlike him, I don't have buggier-than-batshit eyes -- just the beginnings of crow's feet and some slightly dark areas courtesy of working 12-hour night shifts for too many years and losing too much sleep. I guess I was too astonished at how similar we still look to process it all properly.

That might have happened sooner if it wasn't for the information about this kid that dribbled in over the following days. Some of the similarities bother me. He's a loner, I'm a loner -- and have been for much of my adult life. He's abused alcohol, I've abused alcohol -- and though I've managed to curb that somewhat, I do still drink more than I should. He's seriously contemplated murder and suicide, I've seriously contemplated murder and suicide -- although those are two things I don't do anymore, and haven't done for many years, and unlike Jared, I can say that I've never attempted either one. And then there's that lucid dreaming stuff. I happened to have an interest in that when I was in my twenties, too. I never got wrapped up in it, though -- after all, the lucid dreams I've had were all in my head.

There are a couple substantial differences between him and me, though, aside from me never attempting suicide or homicide. One, Jared Loughner is clearly mentally disturbed. I am not. What I am is an individual haunted by ghosts. The second difference between him and me is, I don't want to die. Not now, not yet, anyway. I mean, shit, I don't feel like a kid anymore, and all that drinking I've done over the years has clearly taken a toll on this old mocker's carcass, but I'm only 40 -- I am not finished with this world by a long shot. Maybe, when I'm 50 and I learn that, say, my liver and kidneys are just about shot, and oh by the way I have a tumor the size of a baseball where my prostate used to be, maybe then I'll reconsider suicide. But I got at least ten more years to go, goddammit. At 22, your life hasn't even begun. Suicide should not be a consideration for a physically, if not mentally, healthy 22-year-old person -- much less suicide-by-cop after becoming a mass murderer.

What I meant when I said that Jared Loughner and I have stood on the edge of that same cliff and looked down, and while I backed away from it, he jumped right on in was, I don't want to die. This is the difference between him and me. He's tormented by demons that have persuaded him that he wants to die; I'm haunted by ghosts that are there to remind me of what I have forgotten from time to time. Therapy just might work for Jared Loughner if he wants it badly enough. But it will never work for me. Two different cases.

Because I'm not tormented. I'm just haunted. Sometimes I get angry as hell over it and say things that scare a few people. But that's just how this deal works. If you think this is the last time I'll fly off the handle like this, then you have never understood a single word I've written in the six-odd years I've been blogging.

I have a lot more to say about how I came to these conclusions -- and I came to them long before the Tuscon shootings. But for now, suffice to say, Jim is what he is. One human being among many trying to figure out what it all means, knowing that he will never figure it out in this lifetime...

Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

This Jared Kid (Part One)...

It's been a week since Jared Lee Loughner went completely off his nut and shot twenty people, killing six. When I first heard about that, I initially thought it was some good-for-nothing lay-about who spent more time reading articles from the Whirled Nut Daily website in his mother's basement than he did looking for a job to pay for room and board. Then I heard about that cross-hairs map Sarah Palin tried to erase from everyone's memory, and even though there was, and is, no evidence that Loughner was motivated by her or that map, I jumped on the Palin-bashing bandwagon like nearly every other left-leaning blogger.

As for that "blood libel" remark Palin made in her pathetic defense later on, my best guess is that she was speaking in code to the Bible-believing Republican base, and not anyone else. George W. Bush did that throughout his presidency -- and it took those of us who were paying the most attention to him, but at the same time were unfamiliar with the lay of the Bible-believing fundie fantasy land, about six years to figure that out. So far, I haven't seen any other left-leaning person who correctly pointed out that "blood libel" is a demonstrably false claim that non-Christian people use the blood of Christian children and babies in their own religious rituals make the same guess -- and, of course, my guess could be flat-out wrong. But the vast bulk of the people who do believe the "blood libel" claim are hard-right Christians -- the same group that most strongly supports the likes of Sarah Palin. For all I know that was her way of telling her base, "They want your blood" -- "they" being everyone who criticized Palin for that crosshairs map and called for the likes of her to tone down the vicious-minded rhetoric. (Don't hold your breath on that one.)

But I was just wasting my time on Palin -- basically, she's an easy target, and I was just venting at her expense. The real challenge for me is Loughner. I sensed that he was buggier than batcrap about the same time everyone else did. But when I first saw his mug shot, my heart damn near skipped a beat: looking at that picture, I instantly saw a younger, slightly chunkier version of me.

And since then, I've learned that he and I have quite a few things in common. I find this humbling and disturbing, and it's been eating away at me for most of this past week.

Sooner or later, I have to explain why...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner"...

Something I posted at Fur Affinity, in its entirely -- somehow failing to note the obvious absurdity of the Biblical absolutist individual I was slaaming against even having an account at a site as unclean FA, but hey, whatever...

I was reading someone else's journal, and in it was a link to an FA member who calls themselves a Christian and wrote a long post explaining why homosexuality is a sin. Their basic argument was, homosexuality is a sin because the Book of Leviticus says so, therefore it must be true, and this was rounded out with some of the usual proof-texting fare this sort of Christian routinely employs to justify their own prejudices -- along with a heavy dose of {*drumroll*} "hate the sin, love the sinner." {*crash*} I'll get to that old-time religion ditty in a minute, once I have two other things out of the way.

One, I'm not going to say who this Christian is or link to the post, because they've already pissed off a swarm of other FA members, and I don't feel like piling on over there and adding to that particular drama. There's a chance you may have read it, and you know who it is, but there's way too much drama around FA. Don't make it worse. Also, I have not read all of the comments to it -- they number in the hundreds now, and I usually start skimming after about forty or fifty -- but from the ones I did read, I know at least one user has reported this individual to the administration. So we'll leave that at that. What I do want to do is try and explain why this Christian's way of thinking inevitably turns destructive, however good their intentions may be. Left unchecked, it may turn self-destructive.

Two, yes, Leviticus does have a couple things to say about what we now call homosexuality -- a word that, by the way, was coined in the late 19th century, and which the ancient Jews who wrote Leviticus apparently had no equivalent of. The first is 18.22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." The second is 20.13: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them." So it's crystal clear that Leviticus considers same-sex relations bad, and even punishable by death. Actually, chapter 20 is a gold mine of injunctions punishable by death: worshipping a god other than the Judeo-Christian one (vs. 2-5), consulting mediums or wizards (v. 6), cursing one or both parents (v. 9), committing adultery (v. 10), sleeping with one's own mother (v. 11) or daughter-in-law (v. 12) or mother-in-law (v. 14), bestiality (vs. 15-16), incest (v. 17), sleeping with a menstruating woman (v. 18), sleeping with one's uncle's wife (v. 20) or brother's wife (v. 21).

In other words, there is one admonition for homosexuals in chapter 20, and (by my count) eight for heterosexuals. That might explain why Christians who are anti-gay and quick to quote the homo-oriented one never say a word about the hetero-oriented eight.

Which brings me to this hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner bullshit. And bullshit is precisely what it is. I may disagree very strongly with a self-described Christian who says homosexuality is a sin, and occasionally, I may get mad as hell over it. But I recently started calling myself a Christian, too. I wrote a brief post about it a couple months back...

So far, I gotta admit, I've sucked at what I would consider being a good Christian. But I did mean everything I said in that post. That, and I came to Christianity in a way that was very different from the way all too many others come to it. Many, if not most, are driven into Christianity by some combination of guilt, despair, anger, frustration, resentment, insecurity, and a sick thirst for revenge and violence -- these are the people who not only believe sincerely in the bizarre and chaotic Revelation tale, they actually want to live it through, believing they'll be the ones who emerge unscathed from the apocalypse. I can't help wondering if the Christian FA user who wrote the homosexuality-is-a-sin post is one of them. They don't seem to be, judging from their main page, but they are saying things like "hate the sin, love the sinner." That's a bad sign.

Four reasons why. First of all, they start with the premise that homosexuality is a sin; therefore, homosexuals are sinners by definition. This implies that there's at least a subset of non-homosexuals that are not sinners. If you believe that (and more than a few do), then you're ignorant at best, and indulging in sheer hubris at worse. If you're human, you're a sinner, no exceptions. I came to Christianity in large part because while I do not consider the Bible a history book, do not believe Jesus performed any of the miracles ascribed to him, and definitely do not believe in talking serpents, talking donkeys, talking burning bushes, or the value of pi being equal to 3, I nonetheless became convinced that sin was undeniably real -- or, as Saint paul put it, that I do what I choose not to do, and do not do what I choose to do, in a number of areas in my own life. I came to view Jesus not as the one who would save me from my sins, but as a guide who just might help me do what I choose to do, and not do what I choose not to do. I wasn't driven to this through fear, despair, hatred, frustration, or any negative reasons. I just wanted to try and live my life better than I've been living it -- and Christianity just happened to have the framework for better living that I was the most acquainted with.

Second of all, the Christian absolutist says you can't pick and choose -- you either embrace the whole enchilada, or you avoid it completely. That's is simply impossible, not to mention indefensible. One way to illustrate this is by saying that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Christian leader and a civil rights activist in the 50s and 60s. During the same time, the Reverend Jerry Falwell was a Christian leader railing against the civil rights movement, those who thought blacks and whites should be allowed to attend church together, and even what he call the evils of the black race. Is it possible to embrace allof the ideas both of these Christian men were voicing? Or were people in those days picking and choosing who to believe?

Because third of all, picking and choosing one's way through this life is what everyone, Christian or otherwise, does, whether they realize it or not -- and we do it based on what we think is the best evidence we have at our disposal at the time. And the best evidence the ancient Jews who wrote Leviticus had at that time led them to declare that a man lying with another man as with a woman was an abomination -- or a sin, if you prefer. Fine, let's call it that for the sake of this post. What these ancient people didn't know, however, was that homosexuality is also a sexual orientation, right along with heterosexuality. And one's sexual orientation is just of of many fundamental aspects that make up any given person, right along with one's skin color or hair color. So to say that being gay is a sin is moot -- we're already human, and sinners by definition, so what's the point of anti-gay people bashing gays?

Reason number four: because it's not about gay people at all -- it's about the anti-gay people trying to rationalize their feelings about gay people, feelings which make them rather uncomfortable on some levels. And the more they try to rationalize these feelings away, the more prone to destruction they get. You can hate the "sin" of homosexuality, or you can love the sinner who happens to be gay. But you cannot do both -- this time, it's either one or the other for real. Those who don't address the inherent fatal flaw in their reasoning will eventually "hate the sinner" -- something anti-gay Christians have long been extremely loathe to admit, but their victims know very well, and have some sixteen centuries of history to draw from to support their case.

This hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner Christian insists in their journal, over and over again, that the solution to overcoming one's homosexual tendencies is to sacrifice them on the cross and be redeemed -- and even says in the comments that that's how they overcame their own homosexual tendencies. That's right. They basically gave the game, and their desperate side-agenda, away. But that's not the issue here. The issue is, the solution they're championing is... well, death, of a kind. Death of one's homosexual tendencies, to be precise. And that's why I call this hate-the-sin-love-the-sinner business bullshit -- what is ultimately called for is not love, but self-destruction.

But there's an astonishingly simple solution to this problem. Let's say you're an anti-gay Christian who nonetheless tries to live your life in a way Jesus would approve of. Obviously, your best bet is to read the Gospels in earnest and try to come up with a game plan of your own that best exemplifies what Jesus had to say about anything and everything -- you know, What Would Jesus Do?

Well, why don't you read the Gospels and find out what Jesus had to say about homosexuality, then? Whatever he says about it, you go by it.

And when you find out what he has to say about it, drop me a line. Because I've read the Gospels, and near as I can tell, he never said one word about homosexuality -- and unless you can show me otherwise, maybe you should shut the fuck up whenever you feel like railing against homosexuality

You want to fall back on Leviticus instead? Go ahead -- I got eight bullets to your one...


I get this way at times. You know this...