It Turns Out “Soiree” is Not Spanish for Blogger Orgy

Mack’s having a soireeup at the cabin tomorrow.  I’ve made my famous potato salad, which might be a tad mustardy and a little under onioned, and seven layer bars (or Hello Dollys as the Plimcos call them).  I’ve got bendy straws, a vegetable platter, cups, plates, bowls, plastic silverware, and napkins.  And a cooler.

I’ve got to clean out the car.  But then I’m ready to go.  Oh, yeah, after I write down directions to Rachel’s house, because I smoothly printed out the directions to NM’s house twice and the directions to Rachel’s a whole none.

You know, it’s kind of funny, the differences between Carter and me.  Shoot, this is a tangent, but this is what I was thinking about while I was cooking.

In general, I don’t consider myself particularly German.  I know most of my folks came from Germany, but, with the exception of being from a family full of folks happy to eat cake at the start of a meal (which I think is more Anabaptist than strictly German, but who can blame them?  If you have to wait until you’re an adult until you can get baptised, it’s nice to have one thing–chocolate cake–that you get to before everyone else.) and having a penchant for owning dachshunds, we don’t really have any particularly German things about us.

I’m German on both parents’ sides and yet I don’t have a noticeably German last name and neither did my parents.

In general, I don’t really think about being German in any particular way and I don’t especially worry about being identified as German, except for the rare times when white supremacists take that as an indication that I share their love of hatred.

Please don’t think I’m making light of the Holocaust–I’m not trying to–but really, except for being associated with the folks who perpetrated it, there’s nothing particularly uncomfortable about being descended from good German stock.

But the “But” is huge.  The one negative thing associated with being German is… well… pretty much the definition of “negative thing.”

When folks call Bush Hitler you can barely hear for all the outrage coming from Bush supporters.  And yet, a state legislator picks “Kleinhitler” as a nickname for Carter and all the conservative white boys are “Come on.  It’s funny.”


Why is it funny?

It might be funny (depending on one’s taste) if Carter were clearly not racist, but it can be hard to tell how far his nationalist leanings go.

Is it funny then because it’s kind of true?  This from the state legislator who tried to join the Black Caucus and believes in aiding in the creation of searchable databases of women who’ve had abortions?

I don’t think it’s a joke.

I think it’s a term of endearment.

I think that state legislator likes Carter and giving him a cute nickname is just his way of showing it.

I don’t understand why Carter’s not insulted and grossed out, but that’s his business.

What really perplexes me, though, is how far people will bend backwards to defend a man who thinks it’s appropriate to call people he likes after a madman who killed ten million people.

Y’all I hate to harp on this but Campfield is saying that this guy is like the guy who would do thisand Campfield doesn’t think that’s a grave insult.

I’m not calling for Campfield’s resignation or anything.  I’d just like for us to stop acting like he’s just a little farther right than most conservatives, but in general, is a good guy.

Another Review of Another Song That’s Been Out One Billion Years

As we’ve discussed, Don Williams is perhaps my favorite mid-card country music singer.  I mean, think about it.  If musical genres were wrestling organizations, who could you put against him? No one.
Don Williams has a voice like an unexpected knock at the door from an old friend.  You get up to answer it and in comes this giant presence with all the associated memories.

Anyway, we’re talking about “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” which came out, according to Wikipedia, when I was three years old.  I think this makes sense if you listen to the song.  You’ve got some really weird stuff going on with the choice of instrumentation–the prominent steel guitar is so twangy country, but the strings in the background are more violin-style than fiddle.  But if you understand it as bridging both the impulses of the Nashville sound and the Outlaw movement, it doesn’t sound so strange.

I think you hear that same bridging in the two verses.  The first verse is very traditionally Nashville–“Coffee black, cigarette, start this day like all the rest, first thing every morning that I do is start missing you.”  The family resemblance to Faron Young’s “Hello Walls” is undeniable, that cataloging of the ordinary things in life and the moving towards the emptiness of those things without the missing woman.  But the second verse clearly owes a nod to the sexual frankness of the Outlaw movement, as the singer is having a “rendezvous in the night, a willing woman to hold me tight” that’s not interrupted by some kind of moral panic, only the image of his beloved*.

I don’t know.  I thought I had more to say about it than I do, just that I love Don Williams’s voice and of all the folks one might run into in Nashville, what’s a girl got to do to run into him?

*Speaking of songs about failed one-night stands, it just occurs to me that “Lucille” by Kenny Rogers is really a love song to Lucille’s husband.

Why I’m Not a Christian

Jamey Tucker, bless his heart, is asking all kinds of questions about ministers’ families in the wake of the Mary Winkler verdict.

Ginger and I were talking about this at lunch the other day, too, how ministers, when they go bad, just seem to flake out in the stupidest ways.

It’s got me thinking.  I stopped going to church regularly when I was in college.  I still considered myself a Christian and I think, had things gone differently, I would have eventually found my way back to the church.

I just needed a break.  Most folks who spend 18 years in a parsonage are thinking about retirement.

Yes, there was stuff that pissed me off about my dad’s congregations.  It pissed me off that the women of the church thought they could just drop by any time day or night and demand to have a tour of the house to make sure that my mom was keeping it to their standards.  And it pissed me off that people felt free to call my dad and share with him their opinions on who I should be friends with, or not.  There’s a lot of busy-bodying congregations do when it comes to ministers and their families which is almost unbearable.

Theologically, I was so desperate to hear that there was something holy about being a woman.  And I wasn’t getting that at church.  Again, though, I think that I could have found a church that gave that to me, as an adult.

I think I could have gone back, even with the fascination with the occult, even with the tarot card reading, even with the irreverence with which I treated most things religious, even as late as 1999.  Shoot, I willingly and deliberately of my own choosing went to Easter service in 1999.

And then the recalcitrant brother disappeared.  For six weeks he was missing and, we assumed, he was dead.  If you’ve never been through that–having to imagine if and how they will find the drugged up corpse of a sibling–count your blessings.  It’s been eight years; my brother is off drugs and very much alive; and I’ve had to stop typing now twice because I’m crying so hard just remembering it.


So, yes.  Six weeks the recalcitrant brother is missing and then one day, out of the blue, he shows up at my apartment there on the south side of Nashville, crack whore future sister-in-law in tow, announcing “We need a place to hide; our friends are trying to kill us.”

Long story short, I sent them up to my parents.

Again, you know, there’s even a Biblical precedent for this, so you’d think a church would cut a pastor some slack.

It’s true.  My parents didn’t ask anything of the recalcitrant brother.  They didn’t ask him to stop doing drugs.  They didn’t ask him to chuck the mentally-ill crack whore.  They didn’t ask him to get a job.  These were all things that the folks in the church thought they should do.

But here’s what I ask you, kind reader.  Imagine if you could have back your dearest dead loved one.  If he or she were on crack, if he or she just sat around watching tv all day, would you give a shit or would you just be so relieved to have them back that you took them however it was they came to you?

I venture to say that many of you would just take them back, no matter how rough a shape they were in.

If there were folks in my dad’s church that understood that–that had that kind of compassion for him–they never showed it.  Instead, they called his District Superintendent (which, in the Methodist Church, is my dad’s immediate boss) and complained.

My dad got a call from a higher-up higher-up than that saying that he needed to choose between his son and his ministry.

He refused.

And so the Church moved my dad to a charge that I believe was intendedto break him.  There he was, pushing retirement, and they stuck him at a two-point charge (meaning he had two churches to serve) with a pay cut.  My mom had to take a job, any job, just so they could survive.  Hence the reason she ended up with the apartment in Kankakee, which, in retrospect, probably saved their marriage.

That’s when I was done with the Church.

My dad’s no saint, but he gave up his whole life to follow what he feels is his literal calling, and, at the worst point in his adult life, that’s how the Church treated him–you need to choose between your son and your ministry.

Fuck you, Methodist Church.  Fuck you.  I hope when my dad retires from your god-forsaken denomination that he pulls a Matthew 10:14 on you and it sticks.

Whew.  I guess that spot’s still very tender.

I should also say that I love the Methodist church very deeply, which I guess you could guess from how deeply hurt I am by it.

And frankly, that’s when I was done with the Christian god.  My dad gave up his whole life to become a minister because God told him to.  He dragged us from church to church, from town to town, from set of friends to set of friends, because God told him to.

And, in return, God couldn’t smooth the way just a hair for my brothers?  Their lives are hard.  They can’t get just a tiny break?  They didn’t sign up for that life; they got hauled along by fluke of birth.

No other god can get away with that shit.  If you have a close relationship with Zeus and he seems to require a lot of you and your family and doesn’t deliver on the goods for you, no one would blame you for switching your allegiance to Poseidon.

I would rather believe in gods who are not all powerful than to put my faith in a God who is, but chooses to let the people who love him suffer.

To me, there’s just not enough difference between “My friends are trying to kill me” and “My God won’t get involved, even though He can, because we have free will.”

I respect that other people feel differently.  Shoot, there are days when I wish I felt differently.  It sure would be easier to just be “Oh, yeah, I totally go to the West End Methodist Church and I love it.  My God is an Awesome God, indeed.”

But I can’t find any forgiveness in my heart.  I keep waiting, just to feel that slight sliver of peace that comes from understanding, when it comes to the Church.

It’s just not in me yet.

Men Talking about Abortion

As a side-note, I know these discussions aren’t fun, but I’m glad men are willing to try to have them.

Go check out Braisted and Jebbo mulling over the deep issues.

Ha, I was just thinking, I don’t think there’s anyone but Coble I call by their last name, but here I am wanting to call Braisted “Braisted.”

Braisted, among my people (white Midwesterners), that’s quite a compliment.