Archive for December, 2011

Ten Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Yours Truly

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Lots of heavy things are coming up in 2012, in addition to my fear of the perspicuity of the Mayans centuries ago, so why not end 2011 on a light note?

So, here are Ten Things That Make Me More Interesting, Or Eccentric, Than You Ever Imagined:

1. I am absolutely taken by the old 1950s Dragnet TV Show. The 1960s ones are OK, even if I don’t believe that marijuana makes innocent girls poke their own eyeballs out, but nothing beats the black-and-white splendor of Joe Friday, et al, making L.A. safe for good-hearted citizens.

2. Before the wreck, even in my early 40s, I played basketball better than most people. My son once said I had a better hook shot than any of his friends’ mothers — then realized that, actually, that that would be hard to quantify.

3. I DO NOT understand, nor ever have and likely never will, the appeal of the Beach Boys.

4. I learned to drive a Case backhoe before I mastered the intricacies of a passenger-car stickshift. We used the Case to clear off Jeff’s early nursery property; unfortunately, I only mentioned to him after we bought the 1982 Bronco II 5-speed that I didn’t know how to drive a stick.

5. Owing to my father’s obsession with baseball, I learned to keep official score, which involves more than tallying runs, by the time I was 12. If you know that baseball’s “hot corner” is 5, you know what I mean.

6. I really need to get over this thing I have with finding the perfect purse. Because it doesn’t exist, and I buy too many trying to find it.

7. Why, yes! I WAS named after jazz chanteuse Keely Smith! Lamentably, her music almost makes me run toward the Beach Boys. Or poke my eyes out.

8. In my pre-Christian days way back when, I and a couple of other members of Women Against Violence Against Women Against Violence Against … committed acts of vandalism against some of the more hideous of Tucson’s LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! NUDE GIRLS! dance parlours. I regret the acts, but never the sentiment that motivated them.

9. I once rode my bike, back in 1980, nonstop from Tucson to Phoenix — some 130 miles. We started at 6 a.m. and pulled in by 3 p.m., caught a ride back, and partied vigorously that evening, after which I recall getting up and putting in 50 the next morning. It’s safe to say those days are over. Both the partying and the biking.

10. If someone told me the inside of my house looked just like Aunt Bea’s on the old Andy Griffith show, I’d be the proudest homemaker in town. I’ve emerged from my rustic/cowboy-influenced thing, skipped over contemporary, lamented my “everything’s political” period, flirted with Victorian, and now want a house that looks, on the inside, like some old Methodist lady’s from the 1940s.

BONUS: If I won a million bucks, I’d splurge on a $300 pair of women’s tobacco-colored or deep-russet Frye harness boots. And buy a pair for my husband, because I think they’re just wicked sexy. Alas, I don’t play the lottery, there’s no rich uncle, and I’ll just have to save my nickels . . .

OK. Now you have a more fully-orbed view of your hostess, who sincerely wishes you and yours a New Year full of peace, joy, prosperity and hope. Let the Spirit guide you into keeping the Lord Jesus enthroned as Lord and Savior, Advocate and Friend, and pursue the things that speak truth, lead to peace, and honor others before yourself. Thanks for reading — and feel free to share Prevailing Winds with other co-agitatorss, or even with others who think there’s nothing out there to agitate against.

Hey, Keely, Why Do You Blog?

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Because the most well-known pastor of the largest ecclesiastical organization in Moscow — and a rising star in some conservative Christian circles, despite his bellicosity and maliciousness — writes things like this.

Silence is assent. Whatever Moscow’s brave male evangelical pastors do or don’t do, say or don’t say, I won’t be silent in the face of the smarmy nastiness represented below. Follow this guy at your peril, campers, because his heart is as hard as his pen is sharp and his serrated edge razor-sharp.

The choice is between Jesus Christ and Douglas Wilson. Choose wisely whom you seek to emulate, because one of them will lead you toward a withering death of all that’s holy within you.

From Blog and Mablog, December 28, 2011, on what he sees as the faddishness and compromising of the “postmodern” evangelical Church in the U.S.:

“So as all the lunacy of 2012 — with digital swiftness — fills up your inbox, computer screen, and flat screen, and as you see Christian leaders stroking their chins in response over some particularly fruity contributions from the homo hipsters, or the femmy flannery fanboys, or the dodgy darwinians, or the pomo poofters, or the vitalist vegans, or the loco localists, and so on, down the street and around the corner, always remember this. You can’t attack a gaudy show by becoming part of it. If your desire is to attack the circus, you won’t get anywhere by joining the circus.”

I don’t care, Doug, that you’re not a nice man. “Nice” doesn’t mean much to me, or, I imagine, to Jesus. But you’re neither a wise man nor a kind man, and that matters very much . . . and least of all to me.

The Times, They Are A-Changin’ — Praise Be To God

Friday, December 30th, 2011

“We live between the times, between the breaking up of an old order and the birth of a new one. It is a new order of justice and flourishing. The old order in which the ranks of women’s voices were muffled—that old order is coming to an end. Slowly and with pain, but it is ending; it really is ending. We have seen signs of that, clear signs, of flourishing and of justice. And wherever and whenever we see signs of flourishing and justice, we celebrate, we break out the champagne. Cheers!” —

Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Between the Times”

Two Books You Have To Read.

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Hey, I’ll even buy you a copy if you’re the first person to contact me (kjajmix1@msn.com) and ask nicely.

I’ve just finished “The Bible Made Impossible” by Christian Smith, which argues convincingly that the “inerrant handbook with answers to everything under the sun” approach to Scripture is not only unwise, indefensible, and illogical, but also has the effect of dethroning the Lord Jesus and his death resurrection from his position as the sole focus and purpose of the Bible. The Word presents the Word/Logos, Smith writes, and using the Bible to prooftext arguments about dating, dieting, taxation and testosterone (I’m paraphrasing here) leads to disunity in the Body and disgust from those outside. It’s a rare theological treatise that ends up affecting the reader as a devotional, and I found myself with a deeper appreciation of the Bible and an intense drawing-near to the Savior while reading it.

If, by chance, you know of a Christian pastor who, say, defends slavery as Biblical, or who believes that the only problem with the Crusades is that they happened too late, or who associates with other men who claim that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were better off being slaughtered by “Christian” conquistadors, why not loan him a copy of “Must Christianity Be Violent?,” edited by Kenneth R. Chase and Alan Jacobs and published by Brazos Press. It’s a collection of essays that explore the theological, historical, and practical justifications for and condemnations of violence, particularly as practiced by Christians. I’m only halfway through, but I’ve read enough to know that this collection is a treasure, a gift to the Body that, if taken seriously, would be a gift to a lost, suffering, dying world desperately in need of peace. It’s a challenge to read and a greater challenge to dismiss, and I’ll be sending a copy to someone I know in Moscow who actually DOES say the things I mentioned above.

Take me up on my offer: Copies of both to the first person who emails me and asks. Certain local pastors, however, don’t have to beg. They just have to risk having their scaly, calloused hearts polished and buffed by these fresh, powerful words grounded in the Spirit and fragrant with love.

The GOP And The Personhood Of The Zygote

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I’m going to talk dirty here and use words like uterus, sperm, and even “whore,” so shoo the kidlets from the room, will you?

The GOP Presidential contenders, besides representing possibly the biggest single collection of dull-witted, fanatical, cruel, factually- and morally-confused zealots ever amassed for your TV viewing pleasure, have, a few days before Tuesday’s Iowa caucuses, lurched even further to the Right — and away from anything like a truly Christian public witness. It’s not enough to tarnish the message of Jesus Christ with enthusiastic embraces of torture, the telling of lies, grotesquely reckless extra-marital behavior, social policies that condemn the poor and suckle the rich, and the elevation of gross ignorance as a weird sort of civic virtue. They’re not content with language and policies that out-Scrooge dear Ebenezer, nor with foreign policy utterances — the Palestians as “an invented people,” Newt? — that make George W. Bush and Dick Cheney sound almost sagacious, almost gracious. And it’s not enough that they’ve taken oaths, rather than simply letting their “yes” be “yes” and their “no” be “no,” as Scripture commands, to never raise taxes and to defend “traditional” marriage in order to appeal to the farmland fundamentalists who, in Exhibit A of “What’s Wrong With The U.S. System Of Electing A President,” wield such disproportionate influence every four years.

No, in their relentless pursuit of a good showing on January 3, four of them — Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and the odiously pandering Newt Gingrich — have now signed a pledge vowing their support for the legal “personhood” of the fertilized, pre-uterine-implantation human egg, a concept found in November to be too radical even by the somewhat-less-than-progressive citizens of Mississippi, who soundly rejected a statewide “personhood” measure that would equate abortion with homicide.

The whorish wing of the Right, represented by all of the GOP candidates except for Huntsman, Paul, and Romney, has determined that to win evangelical-influenced Iowa, they have to craft a sort of “Christian” persona and platform that mindlessly veers rightward, recklessly speeding away not only from plain common sense, but from the Gospel of the Christ they all embrace with such public, and presumably sincere, fervor. As is true across the country, conservative evangelicals in Iowa are “pro-life” when it comes to abortion and unquestionably Republican in their politics. If they hate abortion, the winning candidate will have proved to hate it more plus ten. The “personhood” issue is simply another field on which they can jostle each other for the turf as far away from the center, or from rational thought, possible.

(I don’t include Ron Paul in my list of “whoring candidates,” because he’s risked the ire of the Religious Right in Iowa and elsewhere by calmly and clearly stating that waterboarding is torture and that U.S. involvement in unnecessary foreign conflicts is unwise and immoral. Paul is also a Christian; sadly, his condemnation of torture and desire to not embroil the “Christian” U.S. in warfare puts him at odds with his brethren. If that doesn’t indicate something seriously wrong with the witness of American Christiandom to the message and work of Jesus Christ, then let’s agree, here and now, that the Religious Right and the Christiandom that fuels it are false religions, as bereft of the Holy Spirit as the worst pagans they’re itching to bomb next. I am not a Libertarian, not even close, and I disagree with virtually all of Paul’s positions. But the “Christian” voter’s rejection of their brother Paul, if on the basis of his opposition to warfare and torture, is that voter’s rejection of their Savior’s message. Warfare and torture are anti-Christs; that a significant majority of evangelicals refuses to see that — or, worse, CAN’T see that — is a tragedy far more dangerous to the stability of the United States than anything imaginable).

As I’ve written here before, I do believe that abortion ends a human life, just as spontaneous abortions, “miscarriages,” result in the cessation of life. I do not believe, however, that criminalizing abortion is the answer, neither as an effective deterrent nor as a reasonable punishment. The “personhood” of a fertilized egg, both before and after uterine implantation, is something I take on faith, with a measure of logic — if it is alive, its taxonomy, then, is of homo sapiens rather than, say, volpine or porcine (fox or pig). The personhood of a week-old baby, or a slave in the antebellum South, is evident and obvious; the personhood of a fertilized egg, an embryo, or a first-trimester fetus is not. Sadly, to the Religious Right, this means that good and decent people can disagree on the issue of the criminalization of abortion, whereas someone who argues for the enslavement of Blacks immediately disqualifies himself from a designation as “good and decent.” Nonetheless, I believe that the deliberate ending of that taxonomically-human life, then, is arguably and logically “homicide.” But it’s not murder, and it’s not about logic.

If the zygote/embryo/fetus/unborn child is a person, it must have, must be, a soul loved by its Creator — who also loves its mother, whose decision to terminate her pregnancy is not something she makes lightly, and particularly not if she’s faced with the loss of either her life or that of the fetus, or with a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. In a fallen world that seamlessly accommodates neither the musings of the theoretical nor the sterile, if solid, argument from the logical, judgment borne of perspective and empathy must prevail. That judgment might agree that the deliberate cessation of life-called-human is tragic for all involved, but it would not presume to use the plumb line of mere logic to determine that all tragic things must, then, be met with judicial sanction.

And this is something the “Righter-Than-Thou” GOP candidates never discuss. If “personhood” amendments are added to State Constitutions, for example, who, exactly, is subject to prosecution? Is the mother guilty of solicitation of murder or conspiracy with intent in the same way as a gang thug who orders someone to kill a rival? Is the ob-gyn or ER doctor guilty of homicide if she performs the abortion? Regardless of the circumstances, even if the pregnancy is only in its first month, or if it resulted from incest or rape, or if carrying the fetus to term could kill the mother? What about the biological father who compels the woman to terminate her pregnancy? Is he an accessory to murder? The rigidly religious GOP, who rarely quote from the Psalms in their desire to outlaw all abortions, insist that “life + taxonomical designation = personhood” is a matter of unassailable logic, logic that leads to the conclusion that the deliberate termination of human life is always homicide, perhaps always MURDER, and that that logic is, in its unassailability, impossible to argue against. And if life were a neat, perfect exam proctored by Pharisees, they would be correct.

It isn’t. I write this, as I have before, not only as a victim of a rape some 30 years ago, but also as the mother of two young men whose conceptions, however unplanned, were begun in love and met with a joy so profound that I would never be the same. Unlike the men who rail against abortion and pour out their love on the unborn, I’ve had children. And unlike those men, and presumably unlike Bachmann, I’ve experienced the brutality of rape — and I would not presume, ever, to insist, personally nor legally, that any woman carry any pregnancy to term if she herself believes she simply can’t.

In the case of pregnancies resulting from rape, pithy, seemingly logical appeals to “not punishing the victim” of rape reveal the contempt with which most of the Religious Right holds women. It’s the woman, not the fetus, who is the victim of rape. The fetus is the result, not the victim, and there is no classically Christian logic that erases the appalling absence of mercy that accompanies the State’s decision that the violated woman continue the pregnancy, living for nine months, and then the rest of her life, with a reminder of the horror she endured. She may well decide that she honors her Lord best by continuing the pregnancy. Bless her, and may the Church be there to care for her and for the baby. But she may determine that she cannot endure the pregnancy. Bless her, and may the Church be there to care for her. Either way, though, mercy and empathy triumph over judgment and logic, and in the face of this terrifically imperfect tableau called “life,” it’s better to trust the fetal soul to its Creator and to offer the fully alive, fully formed woman in front of us not judgment but peace.

I despair that the majority of GOP Presidential candidates, even those who previously have affirmed abortion as a matter between a woman and her doctor, not the State, have decided now to “out-Right” each other so unrighteously. The rigid fundamentalism of Iowans is not something to be catered to, fawned over, or applauded. Their endorsement at the ballot box, while important in a run for the Presidency, isn’t something that ought to cause people who, charitably, are sincere in their religious convictions, to prostitute themselves trying to win their affection. True Christian morality — a true Christian worldview — is neither Democratic nor Republican, neither Left nor Right; it is, however, utterly absent today in the words and platforms of the GOP slate. The staunchly Bible-believing Religious Right has produced a public witness that looks nothing like the Gospel, and the largely Irreligious Left has managed despite itself to cling, if barely, to social policies that reflect the actual and tangible good that government, ordained by God, can do. I wish there were more of it. Nevertheless, the Republican Party has abandoned its commitment to its neighbors, to the God it proclaims as LORD, and to any real semblance of common sense, reason, and civic-mindedness.

A rush to the Right will, I think, result in a pile-up from which no Jaws of Zygote Life can extract victory in 2012 — but it also will enshrine the GOP as the party of those who seek to be Right and embrace Right-ness while shrinking from any notion of being truly righteous. That’s a trial to the few clearheaded Republicans left, a tragedy for this nation, and a toxic infusion of godless hypocrisy into the message of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

We’re back in town, and I wish all of my readers the merriest of Christmases, happiest of Hanukkahs, and a New Year full of all good things from the One who is author of all good things.

And yep, there’s a lot more Prevailing Winds scheduled to blow your way in 2012!

Keely Goes Country

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Hey, I’m not all Prius and no hat, or cattle, or whatever. (I do have a cowboy hat and will wear it in public with you if you annoy me). But, you know, I WAS born in Tucson, and I’ve only ever lived in the west, and my maternal roots are in Little Rock, and my mother and Emmylou Harris looked alike on Emmylou’s Angel Band CD. I’m not just a one-punk-note Sally . . .

Not that — conspicuous nod to Sally — I wouldn’t relish a little punk passion in my country music. I find today’s slickly produced jingoistic swagger not only not pleasant, but not country. Nonetheless, I was so taken by Rick Perry’s accent that it made me think of Leon Russell’s twang, which led me to a wasted afternoon, although I really am making a killer cioppino, of YouTube-ing my favorite country classics.

There will not be one song on here by anyone born after about 1960, nor who performs at NRA events in a cowboy hat, nor who is named Toby Keith and promoted by G. Gordon Liddy. Promise. And so, in no particular order, are my Ten Favorite Country Songs:

1. If You Needed Me, Emmylou Harris with Don Williams (sniff!)

2. Goodnight Irene, Leon Russell

3. Telephone Road, Steve Earle

4. Don’t Toss Us Away, Maria McKee, who, along with Emmylou Harris, could make me buy a recording of her singing from the label of a shampoo bottle . . . and with Emmylou, I’d buy the DVD, having seen her in concert four times and wishing it were more . . .

5. Green Pastures, Emmylou Harris with Ricky Skaggs

6. Queen Of The Silver Dollar, Dr. Hook version, for which I feel really guilty and am thus duly chastened.

7. Leanin’ On The Everlastin’ Arms, Iris DeMent, who otherwise is an acquired taste I have yet to, uh, actually acquire.

8. Folsom Prison Blues, Johnny Cash

8. Before The Next Teardrop Falls, Baldemar Huerta (you knew him as Freddy Fender)

9. Western Dreams, Ranch Romance

10. Rosewood Casket, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt

More on Rick Perry. Because I Simply Must.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

A couple of additional thoughts — OK, three — about Rick Perry, besides what I wrote in the post just below:

One, if you’re going to criticize Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court Justice who you say is “anti-religion,” get her name right. It’s not “Motamayor.” Need a memory aid? OK. “Kid Rock is SO not the Mayor of ‘The Motor City’.”

You’re welcome.

Two, no child anywhere in the U.S.A. is prohibited from praying in a public school in the way Jesus taught — namely, quietly, privately, and non-disruptively, as he says in the Gospels. They just can’t be privileged in their prayers or religion, as the Constitution teaches, although rote, loud, public, and such is quite as the Pharisees taught. Jesus doesn’t like it, but the priests and the scribes, like you, really did, like perhaps with Mrs. Woodbury leading a rote murmuring of The Lord’s Prayer in fifth grade, even before the ipledjuvaleegents. Even with little Bobby O’Shaughnessy pulling adorable Denise Crowden’s hair while Skeeter Bickle snickers uproariously from his seat by the blackboard, it wasn’t OK.

Now, Rick, I know you know a lot about “privilege,” but what I mean here is “privileged in any organizational, affirmed manner by the State.” Which, perhaps, someone boldly not “ashamed” to “admit” he’s a Christian probably ought to know, and someone running for President simply must. Your supporters, however, continue to punch their pugilistic fists in the air, ’cause you sure got the libs and homos with that one, huh?

One final thing: Before you say elsewhere that “my religious faith hasn’t gotten in the way of the people of Texas,” as evidenced by your State’s (alleged) economic success story in light of that bold, radical, uncompromising faith of yours, please go home, enter your prayer closet — don’t panic; “closet” is just a metaphor here — and ask the Holy Spirit if this really is where you should be, or if you should make some changes.

Wouldja, Rick? Wouldja please?

I Approve This Message. Not Rick Perry’s.

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a Christian. But you don’t need to be in the pews every Sunday to know something’s seriously wrong with this country . . . when a bigoted lightweight like Rick Perry can both shamelessly apologize for his faith AND capitalize on it by mewling about a non-existent war on praying in school as well by bashing thousands and thousands of lesbian and gay soldiers and veterans, while running for the job of Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces they’ve bravely served.”

Addendum: No, Rick didn’t originally say “seriously wrong,” just “wrong,” but, as you can see, the quote above features MY words, which include my thought that any consideration of Rick Perry for anything higher than walk-on in a Western is SERIOUSLY wrong. Still, I shoulda been more clear.

Well, We Remember It Now, Grandma

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

My shrill, birdlike, eccentric and utterly splendid in every way paternal grandmother, Mary Lou Emerine, was a liberal’s liberal.

Not in the sense of being owned by a liberal, as the apostrophe would indicate, although she was devoted to my dear grandfather, about whom I’ve written elsewhere, who was as leftist in his politics as it was possible without actually being a socialist. Which pretty much was what everyone to the right of him called him anyway, and which bothered him not a which, once he pointed out that the Trotskys were intellectually inept, whereas true progressives generally were pretty smart.

But Grandma was a quintessentially liberal, FDR-minded, sharp as hell nurse who traveled around the west with Papa, co-publishing the newspapers he owned and helping him pack up the old Remington and reporter’s notebooks when he got fired by the ones he didn’t. She came from a family of osteopathic physicians and firebrand, anti-papist evangelists who were instrumental in the founding of the Disciples of Christ denomination in the Midwest, but by the time I was born, she had adopted the faith that I consider the religion of my family during my youth — progressivism, liberalism, and Jesus as The Ideal, True Democrat.

I am now aware, but wasn’t ’til I was 19, that that’s an anemic, ultimately human-cast view of Christ, and I reject it entirely in favor of the Christ of the Bible — whom I nonetheless believe was “liberal” in his day and whose message is best embodied, however imperfectly, by the Left. But that flawed, lacking view of Jesus did result in a social ethic that my preaching great- and great-great grandparents, including Louisa Spiller Bowles, a physician and evangelist, likely would’ve demonstrated in their lives, and it was one that certainly made its way into the heart of a woman who was in every way central to my heart, my mind, my conscience, and my awareness of toothpaste as a wonder treatment for acne, burns, and jewelry cleaning.

From the time I was about two, Grandma and Papa lived in Tucson, and when I was ten they moved two blocks away. Their apartment was cluttered with newspapers, printing apparatus, typewriters, ghastly art from her ancestors’ days in med school — the photos of Louisa peering at a body during autopsy and the graphic diagram of a human hand during reconstructive surgery were carefully hung over the dining table — and a plethora of campaign memorabilia from Teddy Roosevelt on. Even when she broke her hip and moved into her assisted-living apartment, years after Alzheimer’s claimed the rock and jewel of her life, she decorated with pictures of what we used to irreverently call “The Trinity”: JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She had every picture ever taken, I’m thinking, of Cesar Chavez, and her ever-present “medicinal” jug of red wine was never the Gallo we boycotted, just as the dinner salad she ate every night, slathered with Imo Dressing, was never lettuce grown by farmers whose pickers were not represented by the United Farmworkers Union. She smoked like a longshoreman, kept not a single opinion to herself, was devoted to the St. Louis Cardinals and, in fact, any sports team with a player from St. Louis, was steadfast in her belief that bowel regularity was the key to health, and once bought me a purse that, she explained loudly at my 13th birthday party, had a zipper pocket for my feminine hygiene products.

I never said she was always appropriate.

But every December 7, she lectured us about how damned little the average American — this poor guy or gal, the “average American,” was the target of most of her ire — knew about Pearl Harbor. Steadfast in her opposition to the Japanese interment camps, she nonetheless experienced a surge of patriotism, even nationalism, whenever she held forth about the Day of Infamy. We all assured her, just to move on to how the Cards’ pitching staff looked for the spring opener, that we would solemnly remember Pearl Harbor Day in a manner most befitting children of liberals, growing up in the desert.

My father called me early one morning about fifteen years ago and told me that this vital, active, 90-year-old woman had died a few hours before. I had just talked to her two days before; she was cheerful, utterly engaged, and feisty as ever. But according to him, that night she had had her two glasses of red, smoked her cigarettes, and cheered her team on to victory via the always-blaring-TV, but when she stood up to go to bed, she vomited. She called Dad, he came over and cleaned things up, put her to bed, kissed her and told her he loved her, and woke up the next morning to a call from Casa Esperanza, whose staff had checked on her when she missed breakfast and found her still warm, but gone.

It was December 7, 1997. So, Grandma, you gave me innumerable gifts of inestimable value . . . and you made damned sure, bless your heart, that I’ll never forget this Day of Infamy.