Dolly Parton and “Travelin’ Trou”

I was visiting a blog I haven’t been to in a while – Two World Collision. On it, the blogger has the words from Dolly Parton’s song “Travelin’ Thru” from the movie “TransAmerica.” A very good movie, whether you agree with the content or outcome or not.
I have come to have great respect for Dolly Parton. Because my parents have always liked Country Music, I’ve witness the progression of her career and life. These past few years I’ve seen her in a number of interviews and she strikes me as someone who is very comfortable in her own skin (no matter how tucked or pulled that skin may be). To me, she exemplifies someone who is “real.”
There is that part of Dolly Parton that I hope I can be like – her ease, her lack of animosity towards others, her self-deprecating humor, her willingness to give the benefit of the doubt to those she may disagree with or dislike, her quickness to laugh, etc. She puts people at ease, it seems, and is unwilling to play God by making quick, self-serving judgments that belittle or condemn others outright. There is a sense of accomplishment in her life, but a humility that keeps it all very real. She realizes that there are reasons behind why people are as they are and that life is tough.
You can read the lyrics below (thanks to Two World Collision). You can also watch Dolly’s video on YouTube.

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Living an Illusion

Living the Collective Illusions
Thomas Merton

People are constantly trying to use you to help them create the particular illusions by which they live. This is particularly true of the collective illusions which sometimes are accepted as ideologies. You must renounce and sacrifice the approval that is only a bribe enlisting your support of a collective illusion. You must not allow yourself to be represented as someone in whom a few of the favorite daydreams of the public have come true. You must be willing, if necessary, to become a disturbing and therefore an undesired person, one who is not wanted because he upsets the general dream.

My source: Inward/Outward
Their source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

It won’t work like they want it to work

The politicized Religious Right and “pro-family” groups keep pushing for victim-hood status as they claim their free speech rights are being violated. There is an element of truth here in the sense that chaplains at the air-force academy, for example, are being kept from praying and saying very sectarian things in the midst of the religiously mixed student body. Another example, see below, is a high school valedictorian who began witnessing to the assembled students, family, and friends about Jesus Christ. Her microphone was turned off shortly after she deviated from her text and began evangelizing the crowd. She and the Religious Right legal organization – The Rutherford Institute – are suing for the violation of the student’s First and Fourth Amendment rights.
There have been so much negative representations of Christianity over the past few decades – much of it self-inflicted and not as a result of blatant anti-Christian sentiments of the media, as some claim. It is not a matter of our rights to force people to listen to us as we witness to them, but we are to earn the right to be listened to. We fall far short in our actions and words, particular by those who most stringently demand their rights. Many in the politicized Religious Right claim that their imperative to “save souls” – in their particular, very American, and very sectarian understanding of how that is supposed to happen – supersedes any consideration of the rights or feelings of those who do not agree with them. They are demanding that they have the right and the ability to evangelize anyone, anywhere, no matter the venue or purpose of the event – especially when the situation is a government sponsored event, as in a public high school graduation ceremony.
It is their right to free speech. I agree that it is their right, in the same way that it is the right of a Muslim, Hindu, or a Buddhist to witness before the same crowd in the same way. (Of course, the politicized Religious Right would have a fit if a Muslim valedictorian evangelized the crowd at a graduation ceremony – because they have a right not to hear the deceptive lies of Satan spewed forth by false religions in a government sanctioned function.) I say, let them say all this stuff whenever and however they want as long as they allowed others the same right. I fear, however, that they do not want others to have that same right.
The problem is that in this day in age most people are going to react very negatively when they are confronted with blatant and sectarian evangelization – not necessarily because they hate “real Christians” or hate God, but because these “real Christians” are acting with very little respect or consideration for those before whom they are speaking. In the long run, it will be counter-productive to the Religious Right’s cause of saving the souls of everyone – again, according to their understanding of how that is supposed to happen to the exclusion of any other form or means.
The loud, shrill, arrogant, and demanding tone of speech and action being employed by the politicized Religious Right will not bring mass conversations to their form of the Christian faith, but more likely will turn more people away from the cause of Christ and Jesus’ call for all to be reconciled to God and one another. There is such a profound lack of “love your neighbor” in their actions – it’s all about securing their rights, regardless of the rights of anyone else.
Yes, anyone who claims to be a Christian can express their faith and their experience, but there are times and places and means of doing so that truly will be effective and others that will not be. A lot has to be undone at this point before earning the right to be heard from here on out.

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Oft used quote…

What length will people go?

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience …. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level with those who have not yet reached the age of reason … You start being ‘kind’ to people before you have considered their rights, and then force upon them supposed kindnesses which they in fact had a right to refuse, and finally kindnesses which no one but you will recognize as kindnesses and which the recipient will feel as abominable cruelties.”

– C.S. Lewis

The First Time

This morning, at 10:00 am, at St. Paul’s Carroll St., I celebrated my first Eucharist, or as they say at St. Paul’s – Mass. Low-mass, Rite I Prayer II. I was/am glad!
It took six weeks after my ordination, but I didn’t want this, too, to be a hurried affair. Even while I say that my priestly ordination was the culmination of around seven years of discernment and work, it was really this morning when it all came together. Being ordained to the priesthood without fulfilling my priestly sacramental functions – then why be a priest? I actually did a competent job.

Truth, I suspect…

Questions and answers in the The Wittenburg Door
Bob Gersztyn for the Door asks, “Someone has said that Star Wars is the myth of the 21st Century, for Americans.”
Terry Mattingly responds, “…The Star Wars universe gives you good verses evil, yet then turns right around and puts you in kind of an Eastern religious, yin yang context where there are the two sides of the force, the dark side and the light side. It wants to have Eastern religion and Western religion at the same time… People are constantly telling Anakin Skywalker, later Darth Vader, to trust his feelings. Why? Why are you supposed to believe that both the good guys and the bad guys want him to trust his feelings? They guy’s feelings are all messed up. How is he suppposed to get to truth through is feelings when his feelings are a circus? You can’t have truth any way other than feelings because the culture of the 60’s, and thereafter, is all based on experience, feelings and emotions. Anything else is linear, transcendent, doctrinaire truth, and we can’t have that. That’s old fashioned Judeo-Christian or something. So, however you find truth, it’s got to be entertaining, fun, edgy and visual, and make you feel a certain way. Trusting your feelings is very close to the heart of the ’60’s, as I said earlier”
A bit later Terry Mattingly responds, “Yes, that’s what Roberto [Rivera Arcarlo] means when he says the Star Wars universe wants it both ways. It wants to have good and evil, and moral certainty but yet then again it doesn’t want to have a conceptof truth taht actually gives you that, and that’s America. We want very badly for everything to be true except the parts that kind of bug us.”
Terry Mattingly being interviewed by Bob Gersztyn of the Wittenburg Door. Mattingly writes the column On Religion and works as a journalist for the Scripts Howard News Service in D.C. His new book is entitled, Pop Goes Religion: Faith in Popular Culture
Pertaining to a question about the potential for TV and the Internet as vehicles for evangelism or church programs, “I’m of the belief, as I say in the book, that media makes lousy evangelism, but media makes tremendous pre-evangelism.”
The Wittenburg Door July/August, 2006, Issue No. 206, pp 8-9.

Refocusing their efforts on laity

Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Communion (LEAC), a strident group reacting against the Episcopal Church leadership (they wore black arm bands during the General Convention in Columbus), states here that they were moving forward with their plans to bring presentments against the “40” bishops who “laid hands on” New Hampshire’s bishop Gene Robinson at his consecration, and against him. They have refocused their efforts, however, because of what they believe happened at General Convention in Columbus and over the past few weeks. Their new goal is targeting the “middle 80% in parish pews across the nation” who they believe are being dooped by apostate clergy and led into non-Christian beliefs.
I am amazed that this group really believes that 80% of Episcopalians are too stupid to comprehend the Christian faith on their own. Of course people can be deceived, but this is one of the most well educated churches in the country. Now, they will target those 80% and attempt to convince them that they are in fact that stupid and that they have in fact let themselves be deceived by nefarious forces and that they should rise up against their priests and bishops and join LEAC in coming back to the true faith. I don’t think they will have much luck, and it isn’t because 80% of Episcopalians are heretics, but because very few Episcopalians are fundamentalists!
Here is a snippet of the whole article:

“We go now full-bore into the most challenging and crucial mission since LEAC’s founding. Our attention must now be directed to assisting what we call ‘the middle 80%’ in parish pews across the nation, many unwittingly led down a blasphemous path. They have quietly if not secretively been taken away from their Christian vows and historic faith, although still mouthed in their creeds every Sunday.
“If we don’t succeed, most will go innocently away from Christianity, perhaps forever, blindly favoring comfortable ‘unity’ while losing their historic Christian home. We want to keep a robust national church, not a remnant. We want to save souls in unity with Christ, not unity in Unitarianism.”

Another sign…

Here is another indication of the underlying intent of Religious Right (RR) groups. The RR has given itself over to a strange ideology and political, social, and theological fundamentalism (little “f”). They no longer reflect the Christian faith, in my humble opinion. They are not even conservatives in the classical sense.
A new organization of “family-values” organizations in Georgia have banned together to form the “Coalition for Clean Baseball” to try to stop the sale of the Atlanta Braves to a person they don’t like. I don’t necessarily like what this guy does for a living (amassing a fortune of around 4 billion dollars) – he is a large distributor of pornography (according to this new coalition).
This group has a right to advocate for their position against porn, and frankly I would support advocacy against pornography, but what concerns me is that they are taking upon themselves the role of arbiters of who is and who is not worthy or eligible to buy and sell in Georgia and regarding the national organizations nationwide.
There was a time when men held that women were not worthy of owning land. Not too long ago, certain groups determined that blacks were not worthy to buy and sell certain assets within our nation. Now, these groups are deciding that this man is not morally worthy and should be ineligible to buy the Atlanta Braves. What if a gay person was attempting to buy the Braves – would this group mount a nation campaign to keep this “reprobate homosexual” from engaging in the economic process?
You can see what would happen if these people (who are defaming the Church and the cause of Christ) every truly obtained power. Just wait, this kind of thing will only increase. It just depends on whether their influence will continue to cause people in power to listen to them. Their true intent is being slowly laid out before the American public, and while many Americans can and do agree with some of their policies, this kind of thing (the interference with commerce) goes too far. Who is next on their list of people who are not worthy of buying and selling within the United States? They can only become more extreme.

July 11, 2006
Campaign Launched to Stop Porn Magnate from Buying Atlanta Braves
by Pete Winn, associate editor
Baseball, apple pie and pornography?
A Colorado billionaire wants to buy the Atlanta Braves baseball team. But a pro-family grassroots campaign in Georgia is springing up to oppose the purchase because of the way he made his fortune.
Major League Baseball owners will meet Aug. 8-10 in New York City in a regularly scheduled meeting. They may discuss whether John Malone’s company, Liberty Media, can buy the struggling Braves from Time Warner.
No one doubts Malone’s financial resources. The Englewood businessman, one of the world’s richest men, is estimated by Forbes Magazine to be worth $4 billion.
But Stephen Adams, associate editor of Focus on the Family’s Citizen magazine, says Malone is not what he appears to be — and doesn’t deserve to own the Braves.

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What is the real agenda?

The following news post came through Focus on the Families “CitizenLink” daily e-mail updates. The real agenda of the Religious Right becomes so much clear as time goes by.
What this article makes very clear is that the intent of Religious Right organizations, such as The American Family Association of Michigan (AFAM), who initiated the lawsuit against Michigan State, is not the “protection of marriage,” but the denigration of same-gender relationships and the perpetuation of discrimination against gay people. In addition, the consequences of this kind of attitude also impact non-married couples – as in those who might otherwise be under “common-law” marriages.
My hunch is that if the Michigan public where allowed to vote on a referendum to allow state and private agencies to grant same-gender or domestic-partner insurance benefits, hospital visitation rights, etc., that it would pass, despite what AFAM wants to believe. The public may have voted to define “marriage” as being between one man and one woman, but that is not the same thing as denying any type of equality under the law to same-gender partners or relationships. The Religious Right knows this, so they have to be as diligent, demanding and harsh as they can be in order to keep the perception of the issue among the people as they want it to be.
It’s called fairness and compassion. The Religious Right is not about that, however, but they simply want to denigrate and stamp out homosexuality under the misguided belief that if the public returns to believing that homosexuality is a horrible sickness and a danger to society that people will stop being homosexual. Of course, some truly believe that if society accommodates homosexuality, but will destroy the society.
Here is the article:

Family Group Sues University Over Domestic-Partner Benefits
July 10, 2006
from staff reports
Suit claims Michigan State University’s policy violates marriage-protection amendment.
The American Family Association of Michigan (AFAM) filed suit against Michigan State University (MSU) last week after the school began offering health-insurance benefits to partners of gay employees. AFAM charges that it violates an amendment to the state’s constitution protecting marriage.
Gary Glenn, president of AFAM, said the benefit scheme is an attempt to create an alternate universe to marriage.

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