Brief Bit of Clarity

I just noticed this again over at S-Town Mike’s (not saying he’s done it before, just saying that I’ve seen it before and seeing him do it just reminded me that I wanted to say something about it):

Why is this even getting play at “Taxing Tennessee”? Just because pastors may have to pay taxes if they publicly endorse parties and candidates? A congregation’s tax-free non-profit status is an entitlement by any other name. Instead of welfare queens, we’ve got a lot of welfare clerics running around making lots of money and not giving anything back to our common public life (and please no explanations about how proselytizing people is a public service).

This is not true.  Churches are tax-exempt.  Pastors are not.  They still have to pay income tax just like everyone else and sales tax on their own stuff just like everyone else.  When a pastor manages to conflate his private life and the life of the church so completely that he’s avoiding paying either income or sales tax, he’s committing tax fraud.

Conflating the tax status of pastors with the tax status of churches is a mistake.  They are not one in the same.  Which is, to me, why this nonsense is even more infuriating.  People do conflate pastors with their churches and do conflate the views of the pastor with the established will of the church and those are not and should not be the same thing.  A pastor is, at the end of the day, just human and just as likely to be wrong as the next person.

Taking political advice from your pastor is as wise as taking spiritual advice from your senator.

Well, Damn It. That Made Me Cry.

I started my long slide out of Christianity when I realized that, unless God were incredibly cruel to people who didn’t deserve it, there could be no Hell, or at least no one in it.  After all, everyone I know has someone whose life is a little better because that first person is in it, no matter how big a jackass that first person is.  So, if you love Jackass A, even if I hate him, even if I know he deserves to rot, how can I wish for you an eternity separated from the person you love?  How could that be Heaven for you, without all your loved ones, even the fuckers?

My dad has this theory, which I love, that Heaven and Hell could be the same place, but when you are stripped of the blinders of this life, and you can fully see the whole weight of your actions and understand the magnitude of the suffering you caused or the pleasure you spread, that same place could be for you either Heaven or Hell.

I mention all this because I guess, at the end of the day, I don’t know how to be out of sympathy with the lovers–and I mean that with a small, untawdry “l”–the frail, imperfect people who try to open themselves up to other frail, imperfect people and to do their best by them.

And so, reading about him taking his nieces to Disneyland just broke my heart right in two for him.  It put me on his side.  Not that it matters.

But it’s important to admit when you’re wrong.

I’m a jackass.  What can I say?

Going to a Prayer Meeting

Yeah, I know all the cool slang the young kids use and throw it around just to ruin it for you!  That’s right, just like I’ve ruined pit bulls and rap music with my driving around with both of them coming out of my car, and you hoping to see somebody worth seeing and ending up with the likes of me, yes, me, who is now just as firmly associated with pit bulls and rap music as any ne’er-do-well in your mind, I’m also taking up ruining good slang for your illegal indulgences.

You might ask “why” young Nashville, why would I go around ruining perfectly good stuff by associating itself with me?  It’s not on purpose.  It just seems to be my luck.

And so, in keeping with that theme, I am apparently single-handedly ruining Whites Creek.

Okay, let us backtrack.  Because, Nashville, you know I love you, but my pet-peeve with you is the way that you use “rough” as a euphamism for “a lot of black people” or “bad” as a euphamism for “a lot of black people.”  I hate being warned out of Shelby Bottoms because it’s in a “rough” part of town or dissuaded from taking my nephews to play in the fountain at Bicentennial Park because it’s in a “bad” part of town only to discover that what you actually mean is that it’s in a part of town where a bunch of black people live.

You know, Nashville, it about makes you into the boy who cried wolf.  There are indeed bad parts of town, rough parts of town, but who the hell can tell from talking to you whether a part of town is rough or bad or just a place where a lot of black people live?

So, I told folks we were moving to Whites Creek and a couple of people were like “Oh, that’s rough up there.”  And I was like “Um, yeah, did I mention the half a million dollar homes behind us?  The homes with Cadillacs across the street?”  But I think it’s just that there are a lot of black people in Whites Creek, that that’s supposed to make it “rough.”  Like folks who can afford the homes back behind us are just waiting for an excuse to loot or riot?

I don’t know.  Anyway, my point is that if you were living in Whites Creek, getting street cred for living in a “rough” place, I am yet again single-handedly ruining that reputation with my presense.

Sorry about that.  And now that I know what “going to a prayer meeting” or “having a prayer meeting” means, you can rest assured that little bit of slang is now too dorky for you to use as well.

Quick Thoughts

–I am tired of being sick.  When I finally unsicken up, I’m laminating myself to prevent the incursion of any other crap.

–Is even floating the idea of having a great big show wedding for your kid so that your boss can score some political points really that cool?  I don’t know.  I don’t like it, though.

–So what if grizzly bears and polar bears regularly interbreed?  Scientists, sometimes I have a hard time understanding why you’re excited about things.  Will this make a monster bear that can take over the world or what?

–I hired folks to come in and clean the house.  they’re on their way there now.  As is the Butcher.  I hope he’ll help them with the trash, because I never did make it off my couch yesterday once I got back inside.

–Last night I had a dream that the Hall of Fame was buckling to criticism that they don’t have enough women in the Hall so they found this woman from the hills of Kentucky and claimed that she was some great missing link to the history of Country music, lost to history, but crucial to its development.  But everyone in town thought her induction was a total sham and bullshit and so I was roped into doing the ceremony, being the one who had to introduce this woman and make the case for why she was going in.

So I’m up there doing my best and I make up some stuff about her and she comes up, whispers in my ear that she’s got to go to the bathroom, exits stage right, and leaves me up there to keep the crowd occupied.  I’m leading them on our second round of “Mama Tried” when the folks at the Foundation tell me that she’s skipped out.  “Nerves.”

Whew, I woke up in a complete panic.