Bring It On!

[The littlest nephew always says this when he’s looking to wrestle. He clenches his small square fists and growls it out in his cute Southern way and I cannot resist saying it back to him, at which point, he usually hits me right in the arm, hard. Which is not very nice, but what can you do? I did say “Bring it on” and he brought it. I have to stop picking fights with people; I am so wimpy.]

I’m totally digging on the Nashville Knucklehead, whose name could only be better if he’d called himself the Knashville Knucklehead. But what can you do?

Anyway, he’s great in that cantankerous old coot way that I love. Go check him out.

This Kind of Feminist Posturing Has Nothing to Do with Me!

I swear to god, I’m almost done going on about The Redneck Manifesto, but you have to understand it’s the first book I’ve read for fun in months, so it’s stuck in my craw. It’s not the greatest book in the world and Goad isn’t the greatest person in the world, but I feel like someone has turned on another dim bulb in the poorly lit basement of my life. Until I adjust to the new things I’m noticing, we’re going to have to rehash.

But, let’s take a look at another article about the mysteries of feminism at Salon.com. Kate O’Beirne has written this book, Women Who Make the World Worse, which is about the ways that feminism has ruined America. You can read the interview for yourself, but basically it’s all “Women don’t want to work. They want to stay home and raise their kids. It’s their nature.” and “But shouldn’t women have the same opportunities as men if they want them?” and “Only if you want a world in which it’s okay for men to hit women.”

And it dawned on me as I was reading this that nothing in this discussion applies to me. I don’t have to have an opinion about it* because, as far as I’m concerned, this is some fairy-tale world of money and resources and options beyond which I can even imagine.

Let’s just take the “Woman stays at home and raises the kids” issue.

Let’s say, for the sake of easy math**, that I make $100 a month. To run my household and pay off all my vast debts and eat, I need $150 a month. Hence one reason I have the Butcher. And let’s say that I meet a man and we fall in love and get married. For me to continue to live in my luxurious lifestyle, he just needs to make $50 a month and we’re breaking even every month as a household. If he also makes $100 a month, we can get a little ahead and buy some things like shoes or a new orange jacket.

But say we decide to have kids. And let’s just say that this adds $50 a month to our household expenses. Now, the household needs to bring in $200 a month for us all to eat and sleep and shit with a roof over our heads.

Do you see where I’m going with this? If I’m going to stay home and raise kids, with my household expenses and personal debt, I have to marry someone who makes at least twice as much as me for that to even enter the realm of possibility.

How is that going to happen?

To even have a discussion about whether a woman is going to stay home with her kids requires a household income beyond my ability to imagine, let alone negotiate.

So, giving two shits about what wealthy women do in their day-to-day life is a waste of my time. Go to your cushy lawyer job. Stay home with your kids. Snipe at each other about which is the more “just” or more “natural” choice. It’s all the same to me.

*Though, of course, I find it funny that the anti-feminist woman makes such a big deal out of making sure we know she could have made more money than her husband if she wanted to.
**Which, yes, I will probably fuck up anyway. I’ll be counting on you more mathematically inclined to correct me if I’m wrong.

"You Don’t Need No Strength; You Need to Grow Up, Son"

This morning, I was feeling better and so I bounded into the Butcher’s room and sang for him a rocking version of John Mellencamp’s “The Authority Song,” complete with pit bull solo.

As you can imagine, the pit bull is one of the most dangerous musical instruments there is to play. Pointy teeth at one end, stinky at the other and, if you aren’t familiar with the dog, you’re taking your life into your own hands. Plus, there’s the difficulty of actually getting said pit bull to lay still while you go all John Bonham* on her. I got her to lay still, but I couldn’t both beat on her and shield myself from her tongue. It’s very hard to perform a drum solo while being licked. I suppose Tommy Lee could give me pointers, but who can wake up Tommy Lee at 7 in the morning, central time?

Anyway, it’s kind of a funny story, how the Butcher first came to live with me. Basically, the recalcitrant brother was on probation, but needed to move back in with my parents. The Butcher was also on probation and lived with my parents. However, the terms of both of their probations forbid them from associating with other known criminals.

So, the Butcher came to live with me. As a present, I had one of my co-workers make him a mix CD. On it were such gems as “The Authority Song,” “In the Jailhouse Now,” “I Fought the Law,” “Mama’s in the Graveyard, Papa’s in the Pen,” and some kick-ass old jazz songs about smoking pot. Whenever we were in the car together, I would put this CD on.

The Butcher would say nothing.

But one day I got a call from my dad in which he ordered me to stop making my brother feel bad about his “incident.”

Incident.

America, Hova and B may be a modern day Bonnie and Clyde**. The Butcher fancied himself some kind of modern day Junior Johnson. There wasn’t just one incident. There were a series of incidents and eventually they found someone to flip on him.

He’s lucky it wasn’t worse than it was.

And I was merely trying to provide him with the proper soundtrack to his life. I don’t see how that’s cause for calling up Dad and tattling.

Anyway, it’s with all this in the background that I stood at the end of his bed, singing at the top of my lungs “I fight authority, authority always wins. I been doin’ it since I was a young kid. I come out grinnin’. I fight authority, authority always win” while the dog barked and jumped around and the Butcher grumped and pulled his pillow over his head and begged the cats to attack me.

“What are you going to do?” I asked. “Tell on me?”

*This is actually possible, after enough trust and training has been established. I would never, ever recommend attempting to go all Igor Cavalera on a pit bull, though, no matter how well you know her. That’s just foolish.
**Just as an aside, I love that line “The problem is, you dudes treat the one that you lovin / with the same respect that you treat the one that you humpin.”

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Moping

(Heh, you just know it’s not going to be Jerry Sutton who finds that last post, but one of his kids and they’re going to read it and be pissed off and embarrassed and they’re going to get that sharp pain right behind their eyes, and they’re going to hate me with every bone in their bodies.

Well, kids, get used to it. We all go through it. Our dads have shitty jobs. Be thankful your dad at least brings home some money. It could be worse: he could be Methodist.)

Anyway, the Professor gave me a ride home and I sat in her car and sobbed hysterically and dripped snot all down my jacket and made that terrible hiccupy noise over and over again and she pretended not to notice and instead offered to beat the Butcher up. And I tried to explain to her that it’s more than that.

And she said that she knew, that she’d sat and watched just about every protective barrier I have come down over the past year. And I hadn’t thought of it that way, but maybe it’s true. Something has changed.

Because it used to be that I’d get down and think that I was miserable because I sucked and any happiness I had was just a fluke until the Universe righted itself. And there was a way that that attitude was actually kind of comforting: my life sucks because I suck; therefore there is justice.

But I don’t suck. I don’t deserve a shitty life. I don’t even have a shitty life. I just have this feeling that I’m barely holding onto the good things I have and the good folks I know and it scares me that I might lose them through no fault of my own. We don’t have much, but what we have, I want to keep. And I’m afraid of losing it.

Afraid in a way I don’t even know how to talk about, because it comes from some place so fundamental to how I understand the world–just when you come to be some place long enough that it feels like yours, just when you find yourself with a large group of people you can’t imagine not knowing, there’s the moving truck and the new house and the new church and the new town and there you are, new again. And so every time something goes wrong, I think that we’re going to lose everything and have to leave.

It’s kind of funny, y’all. Most folks are afraid of being abandoned. I’m afraid of abandoning you.

And also, like I told the Professor, it’s just this feeling, like things are beyond my control. If I’m happy or not, if I feel safe or not, if I feel loved or not, it’s not something that I alone can control.

Which means that I’ve got to learn to be open to people and to trust that when they tell me things that what they say is what they mean and that they don’t have ulterior motives. I have to stop trying to anticipate if and how people are going to hurt me.

The Butcher is just not getting his life together. He’s not intentionally trying to make me spend the day wondering if I’m going to throw up or start crying like a baby. I’ve got to stop perceiving his troubles as such a direct threat to my well-being. For my own sake, I have to stop that.

Eh, I know this is kind of jumbled, but I just want to get it out.

Jerry Sutton, I Almost Feel Bad For You

I didn’t watch “The Book of Daniel” because if I get my share of fucked-up mainline Protestant minister family dynamics by virtue of being alive.

But I can’t watch it now, even if I could, because Reverend Jerry Sutton of Two Rivers Baptist Church right across the street from that mammoth rip-off of a hotel named after a themepark that no longer exists is a bully and an idiot.

I wanted to go to the Two Rivers Baptist Church website and have a little look around, but you have to have the most fancy-pants version of Flash and for some reason my computer, though it claims to have the most recent version of Flash, refuses to open the church’s website.

Luckily, Egalia’s got the important documents–letters, blog entries, lists of advertisers, etc. Now, I’m going to say up front that Egalia draws conclusions I don’t feel comfortable drawing, since I wasn’t at that church* the Sunday before last. But the letters, if real (and I have no reason to doubt their authenticity), are doozies.

Shall we take a look?

January 10, 2006

Mr. Elden Hale,

General Manager

WSMV-TV, Channel 4

5700 Knob Road

Nashville, TN 37209

Dear Mr. Hale:

Last Friday night, January 6, 2006, I spent two hours watching your new pilot, “The Book of Daniel.” From start to finish, I was offended by the distortion of Christianity. In fact, your program borders on blasphemy. Never in a million years would you have run a program like that on Islam, and yet, for some reason, you felt it perfectly acceptable to air a program which denigrated Christianity. I am writing to express, first of all, my profound concern that you would put on the air such trash, but also to request that you consider running something else in its place.

I have personally talked with several sponsors, one manager of a Chevrolet dealership and a manager of one of the local Kroger’s, and both assured me that their companies had no intention of being sponsors of such trash and will make sure that their names will not be identified as sponsors again.

With all the moral and social concerns in our society, I am absolutely amazed that your network would even consider producing and promoting a series like “The Book of Daniel.” I don’t think you want a war with the Church, but if you continue, I can promise you that we will be much more vocal and much more intentional in our attempts to remove the advertising dollars from your station and your network.

Sincerely,

Jerry Sutton

Senior Pastor

and then

January 12, 2006

Mr. Elden Hale,

General Manager

WSMV-TV, Channel 4

5700 Knob Road

Nashville, TN 37209

Dear Mr. Hale:

I just saw where you made the decision to cancel “The Book of Daniel.” I want to thank you for being responsive to your constituents. Although the newspaper noted that the show finished first in its time slot, a lot of us watched it because of the pre-publicity information that it would be critical of Christianity. The pre-airing publicity didn’t tell half of the story.

Again, I want to thank you for being responsive to the large Christian constituency here in Nashville.

Sincerely,

Jerry Sutton

Senior Pastor

Whew. It almost makes you wonder if he’s got a notch on his Bible for every “war with the Church” he instigates and wins. Every once in a while my dad will run around waving his hands and yelling “The Pharisees have won! The Pharisees have won!” I have a feeling Sutton’s letters would send him into fits.

Anyway, Sutton, if you’re reading, you’re a bully. If you don’t like something, turn the damn TV off. Encourage your friends and parishioners to turn the damn TV off. But don’t force the station to pull the show, thus imposing your will on me. Aren’t you supposed to be meek?

But you’ve got bigger problems, my friend. And your bigger problems include, I suspect willfully, misinterpreting the Bible and passing on those misinterpretations to your congregation, who rely on you to teach them about the love of Jesus. That’s pretty unconscionable.

You say “I was offended by the distortion of Christianity. In fact, your program borders on blasphemy.” But, as Katherine Coble points out, “The beautiful thing about Christianity is that it is for everyone. That’s precisely who Christ died for. So let’s get rid of this idea that there’s a right type of person to be a Christian.” But what you’re doing is even worse than just assuming that, if people aren’t Christian exactly the way you’re Christian, they aren’t Christian. In these sentences, you’re suggesting that a distortion of Christianity borders on blasphemy.

Excuse me?

Are you really suggesting that if Christians aren’t portrayed to your liking, the portrayers are committing blasphemy? Are you really suggesting that Christians are gods that can be blasphemed against?

I’m really stunned by this level of heresy coming out of the Senior Pastor at such an influential church. How did it come to this?

I think we both know.

Jesus says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Paul says: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

And you say: “I don’t think you want a war with the Church, but if you continue…”

Well, I think it’s clear whose example you’d rather follow. And who can blame you? Jesus says hard things like “Blessed are those who mourn” and “Blessed are the meek” and who wants to sit around being mournful and meek and merciful and peace-making when you can kick some ass for Jesus?

Paul is a first-rate ass-kicker for Jesus and sharing in his righteous indignation is good fun. Who doesn’t understand your inclination to take him as your model?

And, for the pastor of an enormous church with thousands of members, who gets to run in important political circles, I’m sure it’s much easier to read “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” and think it applies to you than to read “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation” and know it does.

*Or, come on, any church.