Archive for category Prohibition

Liberals reveal hidden puritanical streak. Again.



The latest political silliness, now from the Democrats, rivals the absurdity of conservative ‘birthers’ and Islamophobes .  This from Matt Lewis at Politics Daily:

While it’s impossible to know, some are beginning to speculate that Boehner’s penchant for turning on the waterworks might have some connection to his consumption of wine. Liberal MSNBC host Ed Shultz, half-jokingly, called Boehner a “cheap drunk” the other day, Capitol Hill aides of both parties are wondering, and there’s even a web page devoted to it.

For years, political professionals have quietly discussed Boehner’s drinking. Some have told me off the record that his mannerisms remind them of that of an alcoholic. So far, most of the public speculation having to do with the connection between drinking and Boehner’s crying has come from the left. In addition to Ed Shultz, liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes recently implied Boehner’s crying was due to his drinking. But the speculation is becoming more widespread. Earlier this year, Joe Scarborough noted of Boehner that “by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars.

Well, that is the traditional time, Joe.  It’s called the cocktail hour.  And drinking in bars?!  Sinful!  I guess Boehner would feel more comfortable drinking behind closed doors, with the puritanical hypocrites.  Probably not.  And Randi Rhodes calling someone a drunk?  Talk about people who live in glass houses.

So is drinking the issue — and why might a person struggling with drinking be more prone to weeping in public?

Really? Is that the important question? I’m not too crazy about the recent spate of conservative histrionics but you’d think that liberal progressives would be a bit more accepting of a man’s emotional openness. I mean, aren’t we supposed to be overcoming our gender stereotypes? Maybe all the conservative rhetoric about the nanny-ness of liberals is not so far off.  Time to stop playing to the namby-pambies in the Democratic party and let adults decide for themselves if, and how much, they should drink.

As for blaming this new political emotionalism on alcohol consumption, tell that to Winston Churchill or John F. Kennedy, neither man likely to refuse a drink and neither man prone to silliness. In fact, I thought that cigars and whiskey were the main staples of a political diet (which, I guess, is one reasons why I am a frustrated amateur pundit). Besides, Glenn Beck will break down at the drop of a tricorn hat and he’s a teetotaler.

It’s bad enough that the neo-cons resort to this type of sensationalist rumor mongering, and I can understand the liberal media’s frustration with that, but this kind of foolishness can eclipse any credibility they might have. No longer will serious people  swallow any story at Fox News without a liberal dosing of salt because of this penchant for reporting on sensationalist non-news stories.

For his part, though, Boehner — who was described in one profile as “a heavy-smoking, hard-drinking former linebacker” — has made no secret of his affection for merlot, and those familiar with Capitol Hill know he frequents The Capitol Hill Club, as well as a favorite Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill, where he is frequently spotted sipping vino.

Good for him. I’m not likely to vote for Boehner but I probably would enjoy sharing a meal with him (but sorry, no Merlot, please).  Dinner without wine is no dinner at all (unless it’s brats or BBQ and then beer is essential).  I myself enjoy at least two glasses of wine with my evening meals and maybe a cocktail before and/or after.  And then I might smoke a nice big cigar.

I know this admission will horrify some of you, but I can’t remember the last time I cried, drove off a bridge, beat my wife or flew a plane into a mountainside.  My blood work just came back and my liver functions are all A-OK, thank you very much.

C’mon liberals. For folks who are always crowing about a personal right to privacy , it’s time to pull your noses out of peoples lives and let them eat, drink and smoke what they want.  Just like you want for your selves.  And as for you conservatives out there, I meant just that:  whatever they want, even if it’s not made by your friends over at Phillip Morris or Bacardi.

The first vice we should worry about is our unhealthy addiction to hypocrisy.

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Outta This World



Overheard during choir practice:

“As long as you continue to sin by playing in that rock band you cannot sing in the choir. It’s your choice, not ours.”

Overheard in church on any Sunday morning:

“Do you SEE what she’s wearing? How disrespectful! She looks like a tramp. Thank God she sits in the back.”

Overheard in a toy store during the Christmas shopping season:

“Whaddya mean that’s the last Super Barbi? Look, you idiotic clerk! ! I stood in line 3 hours for that @#$&* damn doll!”

Overheard in a restaurant:

“I said I wanted my dressing on the side. Take this salad back and get me another one. Oh, by the way. I have a coupon.”

Overheard one afternoon in a bank:

“I’m sorry you’ve been laid off, sir. But that’s not our problem. If you can’t make your payment by the end of business today we will be forced to take legal action.”

Overheard at a neighborhood association meeting:

“Children are not allowed to play in the street and we don’t want the liability of playgrounds. If you have kids then you should’ve moved somewhere else.”

Overheard at a White House cabinet meeting:

“We estimate that there will be some civilian casualties. But we feel these are acceptable losses in light of our national interests.”

Overheard on the television:

“I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans…I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were recipients of the judgment of God for that..”

“AIDS is the wrath of a just God against homosexuals. To oppose it would be like an Israelite jumping in the Red Sea to save one of Pharaoh’s charioteers …

Overheard at an insurance company claims meeting:

“Hey look at this. According to these medical records the claimant had a prescription for blood pressure medicine back in the eighties. Since he never told us about it we have a legal excuse to refuse his claim.”

Overheard one day during rush hour:

You moron! Get your fat a** outa my way!”

Overheard in the human resources department of a garment factory:

“Look. We need to hire more people. Some of the current employees are getting over 35 hours and benefits kick in at 38. We can’t afford that. Let ‘em fight for shifts.”

Overheard in a Christian Book Store:

“No ma’am. We don’t carry any Catholic books. That’s not a religion, that’s a cult.”

Meanwhile….

Overheard in a rock-and-roll bar:

“Yeah, I think Geddy Lee has it all over Jon Anderson, too. Hey, can I buy you another beer?”

Perceptions. Brent and Buddy have been talking about them on their blogs. It seems that a lot of Christians perceive some places, activities and even people as being more ‘sinful’ than others: Bars, nightclubs, R-rated movies, rock and roll concerts….God forbid if you should belong to a rock and roll band that plays in bars! But why should Christians avoid these places and people? Is it about the demon rum? Bad language? The animal sensuality of the rock and roll rhythm? Is it because places like bars and concerts are full of ‘sinners’, so obviously engaged in ‘sinful’ behavior that we might be led astray?

I wonder if these are really representative of the ‘world’ that Christians should have no part of. Perhaps, while the Church was distracted by other ‘sinners’, it missed how much an integral part of the ‘world’ it has become.

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Mothers Against Drunk Driving are Madd at Jesus


That’s right. It has been reported that Jesus of Nazareth, at a wedding in Cana, did knowingly and willfully provide alcoholic beverages to children UNDER THE AGE OF 21!!!!

As reported by the Jerusalem Examiner:

It was alleged that the bride herself was only around 13 or 14 years of age, and although the groom sported a full beard he wasn’t a day over 18. This did not deter Jesus and his mother Mary (listed as an accomplice) from providing double the amount of wine intended for the feast, which some say was a deliberate intent to encourage ‘binge’ drinking.

The Palestine chapter of MADD is asking that Jesus be brought up on charges but it is believed that the local Roman magistrate will dismiss the complaint as being a tad hysterical. No evidence can be found that Jesus actually purchased any wine near the time of the wedding.

Last week a 17 year old Judean boy was injured when his camel tossed him into the side of a date palm just two blocks from the site of the wedding. Centurions on the scene suspected that he had been drinking and he was given a breath test. Failing this (the camel fainted), he was ordered to gargle with lemon juice, vinegar and mint. His wife and four children suffered only minor injuries.

The instances of wine induced camel and donkey accidents among young people in the region around Jerusalem is said to be on the rise. New legislation is in the works to make it illegal for camels and donkeys to consume alcohol.

Seriously though. Recently a large group of university deans and presidents have asked that the legal drinking age be lowered, under the assumption that this will help reduce alcohol abuse on campus. Their arguments actually make a lot of sense.

But the only argument I need is this one: if you are old enough to get married, old enough to vote and old enough to die for your country then you are old enough to drink. I know 50 year olds who shouldn’t be allowed near a bottle of Bud – age does not always equate with maturity or the lack there of.

Europeans, who have don’t have  the Puritanical baggage we are saddled with, don’t have this problem with teen alcohol abuse. They never made alcohol into a forbidden and, therefor, very attractive taboo. Their coming of age parties are not built around getting ‘wasted’ because to the European kid it’s just another…food.

Anyway, Jesus didn’t have a problem sharing a glass of wine or two with young people. Not that it makes any difference to me. I was more than happy to allow my 19 year old daughter to enjoy a Mike’s Hard Lemonade on our family beach picnic the other day. Quite civilized, really, if not quite legal.

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Christian Chameleons


londonpub

Tonight I will once again sally forth into the fray, exposing myself to debauchery, drunkenness, sacrilegious song and other temptations of the flesh. I just hope I have a good time.

There was a period not too long ago, just after I had my conversion experience, when I was a bit unsure as to how a Christian should behave. I think my confusion was due to where my spiritual home was at the time; a fairly conservative Methodist church (pretty hard to find these days). Confronting the challenges of Methodism’s fading Puritanism along with the ‘old time religious’ habits of my congregation, I felt like my lifestyle might be inconsistent with someone who claimed to be born again. So I faked it. I was a chimera – the owner of separate personality characteristics- some reserved for my church, some for those who knew me to be a Christian and some for those who did not know me at all.

I’ve talked about this at other times and places so I don’t want to bore anyone with the details. Suffice it to say, I was masquerading as what I thought a Christian was supposed to look like. I am embarrassed to tell of some of the silly things I did. For example; when friends from church would visit we would hide the wine, the wine glasses and the corkscrew, lest anyone get the ‘right’ idea. I began to think of myself as a clean cup with a permanently stained bowl.

You can imagine my relief when I found out that I need not become a 21st century disciple of Carrie Nation in order to be a “good Christian”. I remember the pivotal point as an enjoyable evening spent having cocktails with another Christian couple while listening to live music at a local…(gasp!)….bar. No lightning bolts fell from the sky and it was not the slippery slope to hedonism that I’d heard about. (Or more likely what I thought I had heard.) That was a few years ago and since then I have grown in my faith and, losing some of these hang-ups, learned how to enjoy life in the process. I’ve also had more opportunity, through the casual acquaintance of people I’ve met in “secular” venues, to talk about Jesus.

A friend from work has a band, a classic rock- heavy metal type band that will be playing near my home tonight. He’s had a fairly difficult time of it lately. About a year ago he had his own ‘conversion’ experience and, like so many of us, went through some significant lifestyle changes. The partying he once enjoyed has fallen by the wayside, with the smokin’ and the drinkin’ that go along with it. He’s had some influence on the band as they no longer play music that employ lyrics of a violent or overly sexual nature and any song that even hints of insulting God has been kicked off the play list.

Yet the people of his church are telling him that he is sinful and the Bible is very clear in its condemnation of bars, bands and beer. In the process they use terms such as; sinners, fornicators, profane, drunkards, depraved, sluts and whores. I guess I should take offense, since these epithets are also directed towards people like me and my wife, since we will be in attendance this evening. But that doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is that these words, these bigoted thoughts, are being directed at anyone at all. None of the patrons at these clubs and bars are known to his congregation yet they have been conveniently labeled and filed away under the heading “unsaved”.

It is also disappointing that, when confronted with a man in their midst, who has grown closer to God through Jesus, they demand an immediate and visible change in his habits and appearances. This change needn’t be something that mimics Christ, who was also labeled as a glutton and drunkard as well as someone who consorted with prostitutes and the unclean. He need only mimic those in his congregation, becoming a born again chameleon. To avoid being preyed upon it may be necessary for him take on their colors, blending in with the ecclesiastical scenery. To his credit, he refuses to be this type of hypocrite and suffers even more scorn and derision.

I wonder how many other Christian chameleons are out there. For those of you who find yourselves in this type of scenario, weary of always having to be ‘on’, censoring your speech and playing at being holy, I heartily recommend coming in from the cold. The company is warm and the beer is cold.

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Good Bread and Wine


BREAD AND WINEFor the past couple of weeks in class the kids and I have been learning how to bake bread. Although I have spent over half my life working with all kinds of food I have shied away from baking. It looked just too complicated, all those different steps involved, all the precise temperatures and measurements. I’ve always been a lazy cook and baking just looked like too much work.

Well, I was happy to find out just how easy it is to make good bread. Like most anything else, all you really need is the right equipment, good ingredients and the patience to learn from your mistakes. The first couple of attempts at making a good German rye would have looked more at home stacked next to a Howitzer instead of inside a wicker basket. The Italian bread turned out pretty good the first time we pulled it from the oven and today we finally produced what is an excellent, chewy and very flavorful seeded two pound rye.

It’s so cool to see how the yeast takes the dough and turns it into something that is literally alive and breathing–before you sacrifice it to the ovens. There are some other foods that serve as hosts for these or other little creatures, resulting in some delicious eating. Cheeses are the most common, some of them sporting visible molds. Then there are the fermented meats and cabbages – sauerkraut, kimchee, some pickles; but many of these are ‘acquired tastes’. But everyone loves bread.

Of course alcoholic beverages are also made by little living organisms as they encounter and thrive upon the natural harvest of the earth. Fermentation in its various forms is responsible for all the beer, wine, whiskeys, vodkas, rums, cordials and fortified drinks that are made. Some of them will even display the telltale effervescence of their active work.

I guess that it is possible that Jesus did not intentionally choose to use bread and wine for the Eucharist. After all, these two ingredients were common staples of the Palestinian people. It was pretty much a given that these two items would be found on the table. Wine was often cut with water, to enhance the dubious qualities of both the water and the wine, but good wine (like Jesus was famous for) was usually served at special occasions. Although we often hear of Jewish unleavened bread, risen dough was also baked and consumed. There were other foods served at the Last Supper, but Jesus used only these two to remind us of his living sacrifice.

I don’t think it was any accident that Jesus turned to bread and wine when looking for a metaphor for his death and resurrection. It’s also no accident that these two foods were served at Jewish holidays. Both bread and wine are the two naturally occurring miracles of the food world. Left alone, both crushed wheat and crushed grapes will invite in living creatures that change both hosts into bread and wine. This is why moistened flour will eventually start to rise on it’s own as it receives the yeast floating in through the kitchen window. Grapes (and many other fruits) will always ferment – in fact, grape juice is more of an ‘artificial’ beverage than Pepsi. Man must work hard to prevent grape juice from turning into wine.

Wheat, crushed, mixed with water and in communion with live yeast grows to become a bread ready to be baked. Grapes, crushed, it’s juices communing with live yeast, turns to wine ready to be drunk. Both bread, wine and yeast work together to become so much more than the sum of their parts. Perhaps we are like the yeast, encountering Christ’s blood and broken body, being taken in and then taking him in to ourselves, we work together with others to raise up his Church. Broken bread and poured out wine, shared by those who remember Jesus as the creator of grass and vines, giving himself to be broken and poured out for our sins – this is what we know as Communion.

What a great gift. Wouldn’t it be nice if, the next time we shared communion, that we served some really good, fresh baked bread? And maybe some good, inexpensive red jug wine? Instead of paper wafers, little cubes of Wonder Bread, Welches grape juice and Christian Brother’s Cream Sherry? Something maybe a bit more aesthetic, a bit more authentic, maybe a bit more…tasty? Instead of little medicine cups perhaps we could try intinction or -what the heck?!- take a risk and share the cup! (We can always offer grape juice for those who cannot or would prefer not to partake of wine.) Perhaps bringing wine back into some Protestant services would cause too much arguing – I don’t know. But there is no reason not to serve some good bread. Jesus chose food for a reason. He probably enjoyed good food. I don’t think it would be too hard for us to give the elements of this meal the respect that they deserve.

And now that I can bake…..

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The Architects of Fear (Our Drug Prohibitionists)


architects of fearThere is an old “Outer Limits” episode called “The Architects of Fear” in which some scientists decide on taking drastic measures in an attempt to prevent the Cold War from erupting into nuclear holocaust. They choose one of their own, played by Robert Culp, to undergo an experimental genetic mutation that results in his transformation into a hideous alien being. A crash landing of his ’space ship’ near the UN is staged , the idea being that he would then engage in such mischief as to create a world wide panic over alien invasion. This would hopefully encourage the warring factions to put aside their differences and unite behind one common cause; the defense of the Earth.This is not a novel idea, but merely a creative Sci-Fi spin on what demagogues and tyrants have known for so very long; It is much easier to control your subjects by giving them a common enemy than it is to maintain a constantly high level of coercion and oppression. People throughout history have proven themselves to be easy pawns at the hands of master propagandists.

The Jewish Holocaust during World War II is the classic example at how unwitting dupes can be conditioned to perpetrate atrocities, just so long as the trains run on time. Many of the Nazi’s may have actually believed their imbecilic theories of a master race and the sub humanity of the Jews, but plenty of them (Albert Speer for one) felt that it was an unfortunate but necessary situation, expedient for the success of the German state. Though this despicable period in history is perhaps the nadir of ‘civilization’ it is certainly not unique.

Thank God this kind of thing can’t happen in America. But of course it can happen and it has happened. American power brokers, both private and political, have used the xenophobic tendencies of our citizens to justify stealing land from the Native American nations while simultaneously increasing their own power base. Many a politician was able to capitalize on the racial bigotry of white Americans as well as the mindless fear brought on by ignorance and propaganda, to advance their own agendas.

“But we are more enlightened now and it is obvious that these examples of fascist demagoguery are far behind us. ” I would disagree. For years now there has been a class of people that have generated such fear among our populace that our police forces have been encouraged to grow dramatically (especially the secret police), that writs of habeas corpus have been suspended and we have willingly sacrificed our protections against unlawful search and seizure. Mandatory and draconian punishments have been eagerly pursued and implemented and even convicted children are imprisoned for many years with no chance of parole. Who are these dangerous people?

In spite of the obvious excesses of the neo-Orwellian “Office of Homeland Security”, I am not talking about Islamic fundamentalists. No, these much more sinister people do not belong to an easily identifiable religion or political group nor do they consist of any singular ethnicity. They can be found at all levels of society, in all cities and towns and in most neighborhoods. In fact, I think some of these subversives may be my best friends!

I am talking about Dopers. Heads. Stoners. Tokers. Pot Heads. Kids and adults who either occasionally or regularly partake of cannabis to enjoy a sensation that is pleasurable, not unlike that of alcohol but with much more humility, much less violence and much less hangover.

Since the ‘War on Drugs’ there are more cops on the street, more people in prison and much more crime in our cities. Our country more closely resembles a police state than the old Warsaw Pact nations do. We have 19 year old kids doing mandatory 10 year sentences with no chance of parole because they were caught with LSD. Not guns, not knives, not low yield nuclear weapons. Acid.

We have parents who have had their cars seized and impounded by the local sheriff’s department because there was a joint found within. These legally stolen cars have proven to be a financial windfall for the state. What a great incentive for additional low risk police work!

There are more anti-drug laws on the books in the USA than there are in Holland yet our per capita drug consumption is higher. (As is our violent crime rate). We have even blithely ignored international law and invaded countries because of the excuse that they are exporters of illegal narcotics. Well then, what’s stopping us from attacking Canada?

The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be. (Lao-Tzu)

I don’t want to clutter things up right now with too many examples of government excess in fighting this conjured up and hyped up “War on Drugs”. Check out what the (very conservative) Cato institute has to say instead:

http://www.cato.org/dailys/3-03-97.html

…or this article by Larry Levine: http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/levine.secret.html

But I would suggest this; after all these years we still have this prohibition on drugs, this attempt to legislate morality, this ‘tyro-anarchy’, because it benefits people in power. It allows the government, both local and Federal , to consolidate power, to deprive people of due process, to ensure continued lucrative employment and to provide a scapegoat for social injustice that allows our self righteous citizenry to dodge their responsibility. As we sit back on a Sunday afternoon, enjoying our Budweisers and gin’n’tonics we can feel safe knowing that our tax dollars are at work providing today’s Elliott Ness with the means of protecting us from the likes of….Spikoli?  From Ridgemont High? Makes me feel much safer, dude.

History has taught us that prohibition does not work. Unfortunately there are too many piglets fighting for their place at one of the many anti- drug enforcement teats to ever expect this country to come to their senses.

“Scarecrows and magic and other fatal fears do not bring people closer together. There is no magic substitute for soft caring and hard work, for self-respect and mutual love. If we can learn this from the mistake these frightened men made, then their mistake will not have been merely grotesque. It will have been at least a lesson—a lesson at last to be learned’

(from the closing narration; “The Architects of Fear”)

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