It’s Okay To Be Pissed Off About That Lion

There’s something that keeps on happening that has been frustrating me. It goes like this:

Person A: “I think that [X] is significant/important/noteworthy in some way, and I believe it deserves your consideration.”

Person B: “You think [X] is significant/important/noteworthy?! How can you care about [X] when there is [Y]??!!??”

It happens all the time. For example, you might have noticed this pattern playing out online when someone said they thought Caitlyn Jenner was “brave,” just to be met with a bunch of comments about what REAL bravery looks like–Firemen, Soldiers, Cancer Survivors, etc…. But imagine if people did this with everything. Like if I said, “So & So is kind.” And then someone else said, “So & So isn’t kind! WHAT’S-HER-FACE IS KIND!!!” If someone said something like this, they would be universally recognized as a complete douche, right? One person’s virtue is not negated or diminished by the fact that you think you know someone who possesses a greater degree of that same virtue.

If people aren't allowed to be upset by anything else each time a police officer shoots another unarmed black person, then there is going to be very little time to get upset by other stuff.

First of all, this is what racism looks like. And secondly, if people aren’t allowed to be upset by anything else each time a police officer shoots another unarmed black person, then there is going to be very little time to get upset about other stuff.

And the same sort of thing is happening right now. A story came out recently about a beloved lion in Africa named Cecil being killed by a wealthy U.S. dentist from Minnesota. And people (rightly, I believe) were outraged. This story happened to coincide with a story about yet another unarmed black man being murdered by police. Immediately, there were thousands of voices saying things like, “I wish we cared about black lives as much as we care about lion’s lives” and “BlackLives > LionLives.” And from the other side, there are shouts of “How can you be upset about some lion when we’re aborting all these babies?” and “If you really think that ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you should be voting Pro-Life.” And on and on and on….

Or Jewish Extremism. And yes, knives can be used to commit horrible acts of violence as well. Still, nobody died.

Or Jewish Extremism. And yes, knives can be used to commit horrible acts of violence as well. Still, I wonder how many would have died if this guy had a gun…

Basically, people are saying “You shouldn’t care about THAT. You should care about [Insert Your Cause Here]—Racism, Abortion, Gun Control, Human Trafficking, The Death Penalty, Police Brutality, Economic Inequality, Gay Rights, Immigration, Climate Change, ISIS, Cancer, Homelessness, Mass Shootings, Alzheimers, Autism, Alcoholism, Healthcare, National Debt, Muslim Religious Extremism, Christian Religious Extremism, Animal Rights, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or even insignificant stuff like War, Poverty, Genocide, and Lack Of Clean Drinking Water. But I think folks who are getting mad when people care about the “wrong” things are missing the point. There is so much indifference in the world, we should be celebrating every time people care about anything outside of themselves.

This is a picture of Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John's, bravely standing next to an elephant he just killed. Just in case you don't feel like supporting his trophy hunting habit anymore.

This is a picture of Jimmy John Liautaud, owner of Jimmy John’s, bravely squatting next to an elephant he just killed…. Just in case you don’t feel like supporting his trophy hunting habit anymore.

There’s a lot of stuff in the world to be care about. If you are one of the people who was genuinely horrified by the story of this dentist killing this lion–Just in case no one has told you yet–IT IS OKAY FOR YOU TO CARE ABOUT THAT. There are a lot of reasons to get upset about this story. Some rich, sadistic jackass paid $55,000 to kill a giant, healthy, beautiful animal that was living in a protected national park. They lured him out of the park by dragging a carcass behind their truck, they shined a spotlight on him as he ate, and then Walter Palmer shot him with a crossbow as he ate his dinner—missing his vitals, and sending him running away and dying slowly while they tracked him for 40 hours. Then they skinned him, cut his head off as a trophy, and attempted to destroy the radio collar he was wearing.

And if you’re not outraged by Cecil being killed, that doesn’t make you a bad person either. While I was talking about this story, my wife said, “I think my 'carer' is full….” Some people don’t have the capacity to care about another thing. And that’s okay too.

And if you’re not outraged by Cecil being killed, that doesn’t make you a bad person either. While I was talking about this story, my wife said, “I think my ‘carer’ is full….” Some people don’t have the capacity to care about another thing. And that’s okay too.

Here’s the thing: If you kill an animal for fun, it doesn’t make you a “hunter.” It makes you a person who fits the description of a serial killer. And it makes you a really gross human being in my opinion, but it doesn’t make you a hunter. Imagine me posting a picture of myself with a neighborhood dog I had just killed…. What kind of psychopath does something like that? And I eat meat. For me, there are two reasons to kill an animal: 1) If that animal is trying to kill you, and 2) If you’re using it for food. And I realize some of you might think I’m being a hypocrite to think it’s okay to use an animal for food, but not for the joy of having its dead carcass decorate my billiards room… and you may be right. But on the spectrum of things from morally questionable to morally reprehensible, shooting an elephant so that you can show your friends a picture of yourself next to the animal you just killed is way closer to “reprehensible” than eating a hamburger.

Say what you want about this guy.... he's got some nice teeth.

Say what you want about this guy…. he’s got himself some nice teeth.

When a person starts caring about something new, what you’re witnessing is the expanding of human consciousness. And that is something to be celebrated! It is the progressive movement toward the recognition that all life is precious…. and get used to seeing it, because it keeps on happening. It happened when people started saying, “Maybe we shouldn’t own people?” And, “Maybe women should be allowed to vote too?” And, “Maybe we shouldn’t be killing all these buffaloes?” And recently, “Maybe we shouldn’t have a different set of rules for gay folks than we have for the rest of us?” (And as a side note, just in case you’re wondering what privilege is, if you are in the group that decides who gets to be accepted…. That’s what it is. That’s privilege. If some other group of people wins the rights you already have, congratulations: You’re privileged!)

The frustrating this is that really, unless I write this within about 2-3 days of the story, it won't really matter anyway, because the vast majority of people will have forgotten all about it.

The frustrating this is that really, unless I write this within about 2-3 days of the story, it probably won’t matter anyway, because the vast majority of people will have forgotten all about it.

But getting upset at injustice is a good thing…. Even if you know of a greater injustice. Of course a lion getting killed is not as tragic as a human being getting killed—Of course black lives matter more than lion lives matter. And I understand that for those of you who view abortion as the single most important issue, seeing someone pitch a fit about a dead lion on the other side of the planet while seemingly ignoring babies dying here might seem like the height of hypocrisy. But I’ve got news for you: People could just as easily accuse either of these groups of not caring about the “important” stuff as well. There are three countries in Africa where over 20% of the population is HIV positive. There are about 358 million people in Africa without access to clean drinking water, and this is a problem we could fix fairly easily…. If we cared. In fact, just the money Americans spend on one “Black Friday” would be enough to provide every person on the planet with clean drinking water. And drinking dirty water kills thousands of people every day. That’s a lot of black lives…. And that’s a lot of babies.

Who knows…. Maybe if something inside of you starts thinking that a lion’s life matters, you might ask yourself the question, “What other things matter?” Those of us who find ourselves, more and more, caring about things outside of ourselves–We must remember what it was like for us when our consciousness was growing–When (whether it was from ignorance or indifference or just plain old selfishness) we didn’t care as much as we should have. And we can congratulate–we can cheer on–those other people whose souls are learning to love…. Whose souls are growing…. Whose consciousnesses are expanding. That is something to celebrate. Getting mad at someone for caring about this lion being killed without showing enough outrage over Sam DuBose being murdered is like me getting angry at a baby for crawling instead of running. Most of the time, people need to learn to crawl before they learn to run. Celebrate every step toward running!

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What We Can Learn About The Republican Presidential Candidates From Their Denouncing Of Donald Trump

Surprisingly enough, with all his billions, Trump has never purchased a convertible....

Surprisingly enough, with all his billions, Trump has never purchased a convertible….

Well, it finally happened. After literally hundreds of comments that were profoundly offensive to women, African Americans, Muslims, Jews, and Mexican immigrants, Donald Trump has finally gone too far…. He criticized a WHITE MAN! Earlier this week, “The Donald” (no relation) made fun of John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam. He said of McCain, “He’s not a war hero…. He’s a war hero ’cause he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, okay?” And it seems that THIS comment, for the republican presidential field, finally compelled them to speak up with a critical voice. Here are some of their responses from Twitter:

As expected, there was plenty of criticism from the other side of the aisle, but I don’t think anyone said it better than Secretary of State, John Kerry. This was the response of a veteran, defending one of his political adversaries:

“John McCain is a hero, a man of grit and guts and character personified. He served and bled and endured unspeakable acts of torture. His captors broke his bones, but they couldn’t break his spirit… which is why he refused early release when he had the chance. That’s heroism, pure and simple. And it is unimpeachable.”

And then there is Senator John McCain’s response to Donald Trump’s Criticism:

“I think he may owe an apology to the families of those who have sacrificed in conflict and those who have undergone the prison experience in serving their country…. When Mr. Trump said he prefers to be with people who are not captured, well, the great honor of my life was to serve in the company of heroes. I’m not a hero. But those who were my senior ranking officers…those that inspired us to do things we otherwise wouldn’t have been capable of doing, those are the people that I think he owes an apology to.”

“We Shall Overcomb.” Someone please buy me this T-Shirt…. Seriously.

Trump could take a few lessons on how to respond to criticism with a shred of honor…. That is, he could learn that there are ways to respond other than simply calling people “Loser, Stupid, Pathetic, Dummy, and Lightweight.” Of course, most people in this country–at least the ones who are able to recognize Trump’s particular brand of toxic incompetence and hypocrisy–have always clearly seen his candidacy for the joke that it is. Except the joke isn’t funny. And the punchline is that the American people lose even more faith in the political process…. If that’s possible.

Here are some things Donald Trump has said that were NOT offensive enough to garner a critical response from the rest of the republican field:

“The U.S. has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems. When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

“#JebBush has to like Mexican illegals because of his wife.”

“Laziness is a trait in blacks.”

“Our great African-American president hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore!”

“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”

“@ariannahuff [Arianna Huffington] is unattractive both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man- he made a good decision.”

“You know, it doesn’t really matter what they [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

“Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

“I don’t think my daughter Ivanka would pose for Playboy, but she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

It's time to tell this smirking pile of smugness,

It’s time to tell this smirking pile of smugness, “You’re Fired.”

So just to recap, this guy has insulted and offended just about every vulnerable group in the U.S., but it took Trump saying something mean about one of the most powerful men in the country for the republican candidates for president to stand up and say, “You’ve gone too far. And there are polls out there that have this guy polling at #1 right now. Frightening, right? But beyond being frightening, it is so very, very disappointing. There was a little bit of encouraging news this week when Huffington Post said that they were going to file all stories about Donald Trump under “Entertainment” instead of “Politics,” as they deemed that “Trump’s campaign is a sideshow.”

This cat is lees of a joke than Donald Trump. I'm completely honest when I say I would vote for

This cat is lees of a joke than Donald Trump. I’m completely honest when I say I would vote for “The Cat” for president before I’d vote for “The Donald.”

Imagine if one of the republican presidential candidates had, from the beginning, just said, “This guy is a joke. I’m not going to act like he is an actual presidential candidate, because he isn’t. He is a joke. And the joke is on us.” That candidate would be in the lead right now. But it seems like this one comment about McCain may have been the unforgivable sine that inspires the other men in the club to tell Trump that he’s no longer welcome…. Maybe they were keeping him around in the hopes that his shenanigans might make them look more competent… the same way the United States keeps Florida around. Or, maybe they have been keeping him around just to try to hurt people’s confidence in the system…. The same way they keep Fox”News” around. Either way, it’s a disgrace. And we are better than this! 

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why The Chattanooga Shooter’s Name Matters

This apple has fallen very far.... #SorryNotSorry

This apple has fallen very far…. #SorryNotSorry

On Thursday, four marines in Chattanooga were killed by a man named Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez. Now, there are basically two different types of people right now: 1) There are the kinds who hear this shooter’s name and think, “It figures.” And 2) There are the kinds who hear this shooter’s name and think, “Well crap….” Certainly, if you are a person living in America whose name sounds any sort of Muslim, you probably belong to the second group…. But there are a lot of people like me out there too–People whose names and physical features and culture has nothing Muslim about them. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of people in the first group as well. People like Franklin Graham, who posted this steaming load of garbage on his Facebook page:

Franklin Graham is an embarrassment to the Church. Actually, "embarrassment" is not a strong enough word. He is the antithesis to a Christian leader.

Franklin Graham is an embarrassment to the Church. Actually, “embarrassment” is not a strong enough word. He is the antithesis to a Christian leader.

And I don’t have the time or the energy to go into all the many reasons why Franklin Graham is such a sad, prejudiced old man who is doing way more to denigrate and defame the word “Christian” than he is doing to bring anyone into the knowledge of the love of God and the life of Jesus…. If you can’t already see it, nothing I’m going to say is going to change your mind. The moment Franklin Graham found out that the shooter’s name was Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, he decided to use this tragedy as a fear-mongering tool to fan the flames of a centuries-old conflict between Christians and Muslims. But the thing is, the Chattanooga shooter’s name does matter. It matters very much.

Just like my name matters very much. It’s what distinguishes me from other people. That’s one of the things that names do. When people heard the shooter had a Muslim name, they were like, “See? That’s important to point out!” And yeah, it IS important to point out…. Because these actions were the actions of ONE PERSON–NOT A WHOLE COMMUNITY. His name is SUPPOSED to be the way you distinguish him from all of those other people with names. For example, if my wife heard that someone named “Chris” was seriously injured in a car wreck, she would probably be very concerned. Then, if she found out that it was actually someone named Chris McGillicuddy who was injured, she would probably be more than a little bit relieved…. Because she doesn’t know anyone by that name, and who cares if some dude we don’t know gets hurt, right?.

If people start being prejudiced against beards, I am going to be so sad.

If people start being prejudiced against beards, I am going to be so sad.

SO joking obviously, but seriously, your chances of getting killed by a Christian extremist in this country are way more than your chances of getting killed by a Muslim extremist…. But you don’t see Franklin Graham calling for an immigration freeze on Christians. Actually, in this country since 9/11 you have more of a chance of being shot by a kid under five years old than you do of being shot by a Muslim extremist. Think about that for a moment. I’m really happy that we DON’T decide things in this country based solely on stereotyping–Especially as a white man. Guess what nearly 95% of serial killers and pedophiles look like…. That’s right, white men. Guys that look like me. And Franklin Graham. Probably a little more like Franklin Graham than me…. Whatever. White guys.

Oh cartoons. I love when you nail it.

Oh cartoons. I love when you nail it.

When nine people were gunned down in a Charleston Church, right away there was a big effort to encourage people NOT say the murderer’s name, but instead focus on the names of the people who lost their lives to that colossal act of hatred. I doubt there is going to be the same sort of push to not say Muhammad Youssuf Abdulazeez’s name. Next to his yearbook picture, the shooter wrote, “My name causes national security alerts…. What does yours do?” He was making a joke about it at the time…. Man, it’s so tragic that this young man’s mind was poisoned by an extremist ideology. You mustn’t let your mind be poisoned by extremist ideology from the other side either. If Christians are to be any sort of extremist, we are called to be extremists of love. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is anything we can do to change the minds of the Franklin Grahams of the world. They are going to be all over social media talking about things that “walk like a duck and quack like a duck,” making hateful, prejudiced comments, and calling for some sort of holy war. But really, these folks are just the Christian version of the Taliban. And it’s very hard to change the Taliban’s mind.

But what you CAN do is you can find a Muslim friend, talk to him or her about how they felt when this guy’s name was released, and give your friend a hug. Take them out for a meal. Do something to let them know you are thinking of them, you love them, and you are with them. As hard as it is for you and me to deal with the sudden influx of jingoism and overt prejudice, it is way harder for someone walking around with a Muslim name. Maybe one of the haters will see you acting like Jesus and their heart will be changed…. Probably not. But at least you might make your Muslim neighbor’s day a little better. And I’m betting they need something like that right about now….

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Four Reasons I’m Not Sending My Kids To A Charter School

I’m trying to figure out how to write this without offending just about every person I care about. Because this isn’t just about pulling your kids out of public school and sending them to a charter school. It’s about fear of public schools in general. It’s about fear. It’s about being afraid of what your kids are being taught in public schools, and pulling them out to go to a private school. Or homeschooling. And just in case you feel like I’m leaving you out, “People Who Moved To A Richer, Whiter County Because Of The Perception That They Have Better Schools,” I’m talking to you too.

If this post is already making you feel like this, hold on for just a little bit.

If this post is already making you feel like this, hold on for just a little bit.

Now, before you start writing your angry response, I should say that I am aware that there are all kinds of good reasons to make a change in your child’s schooling. There are all kinds of families out there who are trying to tailor their kids’ educations to each individual child’s learning style. We know families who have some kids in public schools, some at private, some being homeschooled…. I get it. I’m not saying that you are a bad parent if you make sacrifices to move to the suburbs because of the school system. There are even good reasons to send your child to a charter school. I have friends who work for charter schools, I have other friends who have decided to send their kids to a charter school–I promise, I get it. I’m just going to try to explain a few reason why me and my family are proud to keep our kids in our lovely, somewhat-failing school district.

1) THE PLAYING FIELD ISN’T EVEN/AN IMBALANCE OF ASSETS
I went to a Christian school my whole life. My mom made huge sacrifices to provide a Christian education for me, and as far as I was concerned, I was going to the best school. Once a year, the paper would publish the standardized test scores for the different area schools. And our little school would always top the list. But there were a few assets that the kids at our school had that a lot of the kids at public schools DIDN’T have. Here are a few:

  1. We had parents who were so invested in our educations that they were willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on something that is offered for free. If parents are willing to spend $20 on bottles of water, chances are pretty good their kids are going to be well-hydrated.
  2. We had parents that were ABLE to pay thousands and thousands of dollars on our schooling. In other words, having actual assets is a significant asset to a child’s education. In many cases, being able to afford something like this means that there are two parents at home…. That’s worth something.
  3. Even that pride was an asset. Feeling like you are “better than that” often leads to acting and even performing like you are “better than that.” Which is something that people might be willing to pay for, but it begs the question, “What about all the kids in the schools that AREN’T expected to do well?”
Don't feel TOO good about your victory.... This might have been the field you were playing on.

Don’t feel TOO good about your victory…. This might have been the field you were playing on.

And these same assets apply to kids whose parents are moving to the richer counties as well. Having parents who can afford to live in the more expensive neighborhoods is an asset most kids don’t have. And you don’t see a whole lot of single moms deciding to homeschool their kids either. A lot of parents look at the cost of private school, compare it with the higher housing costs, and decide to move away and get that money back when they sell their house. And again, that may make sense for one family, but it pulls yet another family that cares away from a school that is perceived as “lesser.” Maybe it wasn’t lesser until all those families moved away? Maybe it started being perceived as “lesser” when all “THOSE” people moved into the neighborhood…. If the makeup of a school consists only of families who cared enough about their child’s education to pull them out of their assigned schools, of course they are going to have some better test scores. Which brings me to my next point….

2) THE MYTH OF TEST SCORES
Every once in a while, people who are considering moving to the Nashville area ask questions about where they should be looking for houses, and a main consideration for where to live is how “successful” the school system is. Here is the thing about those scores: They are complete BS. There is a school down the road from our house where there are almost 30 different languages spoken. THIRTY! And you know what? Those kids take the same tests that the rest of the kids take. I’m a relatively smart guy, and I couldn’t pass an elementary standardized test that was given to me in Spanish…. And I have taken four years of Spanish!

Slow down....

Slow down….

How many of those immigrant families can afford to live in the rich neighborhoods and counties? How many of them have the skills necessary to apply for a charter school? How many of those parents are able to homeschool and teach their kids english? Most of these kids have parents who don’t speak any english at home…. And they are being given the same tests as the kids who have been speaking english their whole lives. They’re not getting home and getting help at home with their home work like my kids do…. In a lot of cases, they’re getting home and teaching their parents. And they’re able to do this because of dedicated teachers who did not abandon a difficult teaching environment. Or the kids there who desperately need good teachers. Which brings me to my next point….

3) A GOOD TEACHER IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A GOOD SCHOOL
For my job, I see the insides of more schools than just about any other occupation I can think of. And although school climate is very important, I have seen so many example of crappy teachers who are teaching in “desirable” schools. My wife volunteers for the PTA, and she spends a lot of time in our kids’ school. Within a short period of time, it’s easy to tell which teachers go above and beyond. You can go to a terrific school, have a bad experience with a teacher, and come away thinking that it was the school that was lacking. And sometimes, it might just be a good teacher who was a bad fit for your child. A good teacher makes a world of difference–Someone who educates, but also someone who inspires, challenges, and prepares the learner for the real world. Which brings me to my next point….

4) CHARTER SCHOOLS DON’T PLAY BY THE SAME RULES

“I used to ‘sweat the small stuff,’ but now I basically just sweat vodka.”

Beyond the longer school day and the frequent removal of special subjects like art and music, there are other reasons to be skeptical about charter schools. A lot of charters have a discipline policy of “Sweat the small stuff,” but that way of doing things can actually be really harmful. As nice as it seems seeing kids in straight lines, not saying a single word while they are out on a field trip, this hyper-structured, almost militaristic, “Sweat the small stuff” way of doing things leaves kids floundering once they experience the freedom of college…. Much like the kids from the super-sheltered Christian families who ended up being the REALLY drunk kids in college. There’s a really good This American Life about this issue that you can listen to HERE.

Seems like the ones who have the

Seems like the ones who have the “discipline problems” always seem to be the ones with the low test scores….

Also, when kids go to a charter school, the tax money allotted for that child goes with them. And statistics show that kids are getting kicked out of charters at much higher rates than public schools. This is one of the reasons there is an influx of charter school kids into public school just before it’s time for state testing. And [not so] coincidentally, these expunged kids are the same ones whose pre-tests show scores which aren’t predicted to meet the standards they advertise in order to sell the charters to parents. They cover this practice by saying the kids are “not living up to their high standards.” So basically, they are getting rid of the kids who are going to do poorly on the test in order to keep their numbers looking good. It’s a gross practice that many teachers in school systems effected by charters will tell you is widespread. And then worst of all, if those charters stop being profitable, they are outta here. You can READ HERE about what happened to a Michigan school system when the system was turned over to for-profit charters, and how those charters said “Buh bye” when there was no more money to be made.

“Is there any room for anyone else on those lifeboats, ladies?

The single greatest indicator of how well a child does in school is how involved that child’s parents are in their education. If all of the parents who actually care about their child’s education start abandoning ship, what do you think that does to the school? Our kids get a lot out of attending a school that is diverse. They are exposed to different languages and beliefs and customs, and that is a valuable thing. But it’s not just what our kids get out of it…. Those other kids that attend our school–They need our kids there. They need families like our who are invested in that community.

Those kids speaking English as a second language, those kids with parents who couldn’t care less about their child’s education, those kids with no other options–they NEED my kids at that school. There are some good reasons make changes in your child’s schooling, and honestly, there are some schools that I wouldn’t send my kids to. But before you pack up and move one county over or enroll you kids in one of the 18 new charter schools that have popped up, I hope you give some of what I have written some consideration. Here is another REALLY GOOD ARTICLE discussion this issue. And as I’m sure someone other than me has probably said before, “Ask not what your school can do for you…. Ask what you can do for your school.”

Posted in 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The One Where I Share Some Music Or Whatever….

We're thinking about getting the band back together....

They did this themselves. We’re thinking about getting the band back together…. 

Most people who have only known me since I moved to Nashville don’t know this, but I actually moved here for music. I expected there to be someone at the Tennessee state line who was handing out record contracts…. but all I found was some construction. In Michigan, if you told someone that you write songs, they would not let you leave their house until you played at least one song…. In Nashville, if you tell someone that you are a songwriter, you can expect them to say something along the lines of “I will literally pay you $20 NOT to play me a song.” Long story short, in addition to my mad blogging skillz, I’m kind of a musician–Even though I don’t really write anymore. Writing music, for me, takes a whole lot of time and solitude…. And those two things are hard to come by with three kids and two jobs. Anyway, I won’t submit you to any of the stuff I actually sang on, but I wanted to share an instrumental I wrote to what I consider one of the best hymns ever written: “This Is My Father’s World”

So here is what I want you to do: I want you to push play on the track (that I just learned how to embed), and then I want you to read the lyrics as you listen to the music. Even if you’re reading this in Nashville…. Don’t worry, I don’t want anything from you, and I don’t have any industry connections for you either. The words of this song are so good. And so true. And in the midst of all the garbage around us, it’s good to be reminded every once in a while of some goodness and truth. Enjoy!

This is my Father’s world 
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres. 
This is my Father’s world 
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world
the birds their carols raise
The morning light, the lily white
declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world
He shines in all that’s fair
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world 
O let me ne’er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong 
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world 
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!

God Reigns; let the earth be glad!

The Lord is King… let the heavens ring 
God reigns… let the earth be glad!

Posted in 1) Jesus, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , | 13 Comments

How To Keep Yourself From Becoming A Cynical A-Hole

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”~ Marianne Williamson

This country is not as good without Stephen Colbert's voice.... I can't wait for him to come back to TV.

This country is not as good without Stephen Colbert’s voice…. I can’t wait for him to come back to TV.

Have you ever felt powerless? Felt like there is nothing you can do? It is a terrible feeling– a feeling that we have all had to one extent or another. I believe this feeling is the beating heart of the darkness that we refer to as “depression.” It is a feeling that keeps things the same. It is a feeling that keeps us from taking action. It is a feeling that keeps us from realizing our true selves. And–most importantly to understand–This feeling is a lie. You are not inadequate. WE are most certainly NOT inadequate. We are powerful enough to change the world around us, especially when we work together. And like the quote above proclaims, “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

This is not our destiny.

This is not our destiny.

This feeling of powerlessness presents itself in many areas of our lives, but one place where people are becoming increasingly hopeless is in the area of political change. There’s this feeling of “They’re all crooks, and there’s nothing we can do about it.” And though the first part of that statement may indeed be more true than not, the second part of that statement–once again–is a complete lie. If there is anything at all that is great about this country, it is that the people have the power to change things…. The power to make this “A More Perfect Union.” But in order for that to take place, two things have to happen: 1) We, the people, have to be educated and informed. And 2) We have to believe that it is possible for change to take place. Most of the efforts of the people in power to maintain the status quo are directed at these two points. If the electorate is kept uneducated and misinformed, and if they can be made cynical enough to believe that they are powerless, then the ones with all the power and the money can do what they want with impunity.

This is part of Oak Flat. The yellow dot on that spire is a climber. Why in the world would we destroy this land for some copper?

This is part of Oak Flat. The yellow dot on that spire is a climber. Why in the world would we destroy this land for some copper?

For example, yesterday I was made aware of a brazen act of congressional corruption and heartless greed that strikes at both of the above threats to democracy. It is a new low–even for congress–and it should enrage you and stir you to action, regardless of whether you call yourself a democrat or a republican. Recently, a rider was added at the last minute to a must-pass military spending bill. This rider takes a protected public land in Arizona called Oak Flat–Land that is a holy site to the people of the San Carlos Apache Reservation–and turns over that sacred land to a foreign-owned mining company. Did you get that? We are handing over sacred Apache lands to a foreign mining company so that they can turn their holy site into a two-mile-wide, 1000 foot deep crater…. because there is some copper in the ground.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reacts as a lightning hit a nearby building while answering to questions from students of the Japan-America Student Conference (JASC) at the Tokyo American Center in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. McCain on Wednesday called on US officials to use their influence over Egypt, as members of Congress remain spilt over whether to cut off military aid to the country. (AP Photo/Franck Robichon, Pool)

I’m not super into shaming people, but you should be ashamed of yourself, John McCain.

Now, you might ask yourself, “Why–OH WHY–would we give protected lands that are sacred to Native Americans living in the area to a foreign mining company to exploit and plunder?” Well, the answer might not surprise you. It turns out that Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake slipped in the rider to the military spending bill to avoid public scrutiny. It has been attempted before by Arizona congressmen…. Including former representative Rick Renzi, was sent to a federal prison for three years on corruption charges, based on an earlier version of this shady deal for Resolution Copper Mining, and their parent company, Rio Tinto. You can learn more about it in this terrific article by The New York Times’ Lydia Millet.  In the article, she writes It’s worth noting that Rio Tinto affiliates have been McCain campaign contributors, and that Mr. Flake, before he made it to Congress, was a paid lobbyist for Rio Tinto Rössing Uranium (a huge uranium mine in Namibia).”

Seriously–Have we not done enough to the Native Americans in this country? 

These are some of the Apache Elders who are protesting this mine. Without adding our voices to theirs, they might not be able to make enough noise....

These are some of the Apache Elders who are protesting this mine. Without adding our voices to theirs, they might not be able to make enough noise….

The act of taking sacred Apache lands and handing them over to a mining company to exploit is, by any standard, a completely despicable and disgraceful action. It is even beneath the tarnished dignity of Congress. So here’s the thing: We are not powerless to do something about this. We are powerful beyond measure. Every one of you has a phone in your pocket or your purse or your hand right now. Here is what you can do: You can click on this LINK RIGHT HERE. You put in your zip code, and it gives you the names and telephone numbers of your state senators, as well as your representatives. Call them up, and DEMAND that they work to repeal the rider that hands the Oak Flat lands in Arizona over to Resolution and Rio Tinto. Remind them that we, as a country, are so much better than this. Let them know that if they don’t take a stand on an issue as clear as this, you–as well as your friends and family–will work as hard as it takes to insure that the next elected official in their position will be one with a moral compass…. And one who listens and responds to the voices of the people he or she was elected to represent.

Cynicism makes everything seem shitty. But it's a lie!

Cynicism makes everything seem shitty. But it’s a lie!

But most of all, do two things: Firstly–Educate yourselves! When you hear about stories like this one, read more links about them. Take a few minutes and find out what is actually happening. And then, take a freaking moment to share the story on social media. There are probably a lot of other people like you who have never heard about this before. And secondly–Don’t give up! There is hope. You are powerful…. WE are even more powerful together. This shameful action by these Arizona senators not only hurts the Apache people, it hurts our nation by building a distrust of government and a growing cynicism….And cynicism is the death of democracy. It is the tool that powerful people wield to insure that they obtain even more power.

But the fight is not over. Just like any law, it can be reversed through legislation, but the time is getting short. Please join with the hundreds of Apache people who are protesting on the Oak Flat lands in an attempt to make their voices heard. Please share this post, or share one of the posts I’ve linked to–whatever speaks to you. And PLEASE, call your state congressperson and demand action on this travesty–Demand they repeal the rider. I did, and it felt really good. You will be surprised how one little act of civic action works as a catalyst toward even more action…. And even more hope. And we desperately need that.

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My “Sort-Of-Friend” Bob

My friend Bob just died.

He was my age. We met at Chick Fil A. Back in the day (if three years ago can be considered “back in the day”), my wife and I would take our three kids to Chick Fil A for family night on Tuesday nights for music and a balloon guy and free ice cream and cheap food…. It was right up our alley. Bob’s family and my family looked very similar. They had three little girls who were near the ages of our three kids…. Similar temperament as well. I think we met because I congratulated him on his beard, and I instantly liked him. For a while there, we went to Family Night at Chick Fil A just about every Tuesday. It got to where I was disappointed when Bob and his family weren’t there.

When we first met, he was a teacher, but he was working on his masters in administration stuff because he wanted to be a principal. He was soft-spoken and kind and confidant. The more we talked, the more it became clear that he was adventurous in a way that I genuinely envied. And it wasn’t like he was name-dropping the places he had been or the things he had done…. It was just unavoidable that those sorts of accomplishments were going to come up if you spent any time talking to Bob.

One night, Chick Fil A had this thing where you could get free food if you came dressed up like a cow. In my normal half-assed fashion, I safety-pinned some pieces of black construction paper to my kids’ white shirts, and I told them to moo. One of my kids was cold, so I went out to our van to get her a sweater, and there, in the parking lot, were Bob and Jennifer and the girls–all of them under one cow-patterned sheet–trying to take steps through the parking lot, but not going anywhere. The sounds of a child crying came from somewhere near the udders, and it was the kind of crying that didn’t seem like it was going to end any time soon. You could tell they had put a lot of effort into that costume, but one of their girls was just not having it. I remember thinking that I would have probably yelled in that situation, but both of them–husband and wife–just laughed. It was no big deal.

We talked many times about trying to get our families together away from the organized chaos that was Chick Fil A’s Family Night. I carried the card that he gave me with his number on it in my make-shift wallet (it’s basically just bills wrapped around some cards and whatnot) to remind me to make plans, but–as so often happens–all of a sudden it would be Tuesday again, and we hadn’t gotten together.

We finally got together one Sunday afternoon in the summer. They invited us over to their house to go swimming in their pool. Our kids were small enough to have the afternoon be nothing resembling relaxing–I was on high alert the whole time trying to keep all those small people from dying. It turns out that they had invited us over for their daughter’s birthday party, and we didn’t even know. Still they gave our kids these party favors that might as well have been bars of solid gold to them. The sun had gotten lower, and the pool was in the shade. The kids were out of the pool, and most of the other guests had left, but there my family was…. like a bunch of goofballs, talking about “What are you guys doing for dinner?” If we were imposing, they didn’t let on. It was a complete day. The kind of day that makes your bed feel so. Freaking. Good.

While talking with Bob on that perfect summer day, I started to suspect that our political ideologies might be a bit dissonant. I think he had an NRA sticker on his car, or something. Plus it’s hard for me to keep that stuff completely out of my conversations–It was even harder for me three years or so ago. Right around the bend was all the hullabaloo about Chick Fil A donating money to anti-gay groups, and those Chick Fil A run-ins with Bob and his family became a thing of the past.
5190610_1436207999.1665

After we lost touch, they had another baby…. A boy. Little Bobby. And if you’re wondering why I’m writing this about a person who truly is more of an acquaintance than a “friend,” here’s why: Bob Fraser was a good dude. It took almost no time for you to tell that the bearded man standing in front of you was a good father. He was smart, he was driven, and he was kind. I don’t know how he died, but it was sudden and unexpected and what matters is that his family needs help right now…. He leaves behind an amazing wife and three beautiful daughters who are hurting. And he leaves behind a son who will only have the stories of the people who loved his father to know how cool his daddy was–Maybe even people like me who made a friend at a Chick Fil A.

So if you are able, GIVE SOME MONEY to this family who really needs your help. Money should be the last thing on their minds right now as they grieve the loss of a father and husband. People can raise $100,000 in eight hours for a florist who refuses to sell flowers to a gay couple, this kind of thing should be as easy as anything. There are several thousand people who read this blog, and I know some of you value it…. Help this family out.  If you consider yourself part of the Church, this is what Church looks like. It’s taking care of people who need it…. And if you feel like praying, that’s fine, but also pray that God will stir your heart enough to help take care of this family in their time of need. Please GIVE!

Posted in 1) Jesus | Tagged , | 17 Comments

America’s Newest Hero

Like something out of a comic book....

Like something out of a comic book….

So just in case you missed it while you were celebrating the SCOTUS ruling on Marriage equality this weekend, there is one more reason to celebrate. The world gained one more hero over the weekend, and her name is Bree Newsome. This past Saturday morning, Newsome, a 30 year old filmmaker, musician, and activist scaled the pole in Columbia, South Carolina that flies the Confederate battle flag. Here is a short video of the event:

While she was up on the pole, holding that symbol in her hand, she declared, “You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence…. I come against you in the name of God. This Flag come down today!” And then, after she finished her act of civil disobedience and climbed down, she put her hands behind her back and got arrested. And yes, I realize what she did was illegal, but as @WillBrianna tweeted so perfectly:


Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.54.46 AM


Within hours, the hashtag #FreeBree was trending…. But don’t worry, there have been many people who have offered to pay her bond and court costs. Before Bree Newsome spent a couple days learning how to climb a pole, before she put on her black superhero clothes–fully expecting to get arrested–and took down that flag, she tweeted a few things worth reading:


Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.33.38 AM


Those are some tough questions…. Within hours of being taken down, that symbol of the “hatred and violence and oppression” that Bree Newsome spoke of was raised right back up that flagpole. You might wonder then…. What’s the point? Well, here’s your answer:


Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.55.19 AM


It’s still up right now. And even though we don’t have one less symbol of hatred and violence and oppression right now, we DO have ONE MORE symbol of bravery and sacrifice and love…. And that’s worth something. That’s worth a whole lot. What a time to be alive!

Drawing by @Niall_JayDub

Drawing by @Niall_JayDub

Take it down. And keep it down.

Posted in 2) Politics, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Marriage Equality–The Most American Thing We Could Have Done

The U.S. is definitely the world leader in number of heroes named "Hacksaw."

The U.S. is definitely the world leader in number of heroes named “Hacksaw.”

There’s this idea out there called “American Exceptionalism.” You may not have heard the phrase before, but you almost certainly encountered the ideology. It’s basically the idea that the U.S.A. is inherently different than all the rest of the countries…. And, for many people, it means that we are different in a way that is better. And this belief is so ingrained, so widely accepted, that to even question the doctrine of American Exceptionalism is almost a non-starter for presidential candidates. We have a long period of primaries and elections and debates ahead of us…. I dare you to try to find one candidate who doesn’t whole-heartedly profess that America is the greatest nation in the world. To suggest otherwise is to be labeled “unpatriotic” or even “traitorous,” and it is a political death sentence. The first scene from HBO’S “Newsroom” (that they don’t allow me to embed) touches on this taboo.

The world leader.... In production of giant foam fingers declaring our team to be the best.

The world leader…. In production of giant foam fingers declaring our team to be the best.

But the anger and offense at suggesting that the United States is NOT, in fact, the greatest country on the planet (and, indeed, in the cosmos) is not limited or reserved for those few folks running for office. If you criticize the U.S. online, you will be served to an all-you-can-eat buffet of “Love it or leave it!” It is scandalous to even suggest that we are not the best, but that makes sense…. We have been groomed to believe that “Our ______ is the best” since we were very young (fill in the blank with whichever of “Our” thing you want…. Family, School, Church, Sports Team, City, State, Country, etc…). But just like the kids in schools who stand on the bleachers cheering “We’re number one,” most of the people cheering have never actually spent any significant time in one of the schools to which they are professing to be superior. And though simple “school spirit” seems harmless enough, when that same “spirit” spills over into nationalism, things can get dangerous. The Germans have the word “Sonderweg” which refers to a “special path” that is set out for them, and the Japanese used the term “Yamato-damashii” to refer to a “Japanese Spirit” that is mostly understood in contrast to a Chinese way of thinking. But those ideologies almost seem quaint now…. Of course, they LOST the war.

And don’t get me wrong–I don’t think there’s anything wrong with believing that the U.S.A. is the greatest country in the world…. But I think there’s something REALLY WRONG with creating the kind of culture where dissent from that view is met with such alarm and accusation and anger. And it gets even more messed up when people bring God into it.

Sometimes it stinks being on a him because everybody can see you.

Sometimes it stinks being on a hill because everybody can see you.

But this way of seeing our country has been a long time coming. It started as early as the Puritan idea of “A city upon a hill” and the American Revolution, it has been going strong for centuries, and it got another kickstart during the Cold War. I mean, come on! We had “Manifest Destiny!” We had “The American Dream!” We were this new kind of country, this grand experiment, that finally got it right…. at least closer to “right” than anyone else had come. And there was proof–We had all kinds of cool stuff, our team was undefeated (for a while)–God must have been blessing us, right? Because (it was thought) nothing this big happens without God’s approval. God IS on our side. America IS that “City on a Hill” that the Puritans dreamed of.

And this is why I believe it is so hard for so many conservative Christians to process the Supreme Court ruling for marriage equality. Their nationalism has gotten so tangled (or managed, really) up in their religious beliefs that when something like the SCOTUS ruling happens, this cognitive dissonance sets in, and they believe there must have been some sort of coup d’etat that needs to be remedied. It’s like a whole part of the Church at a certain level of consciousness discovered the theodicy at once. It’s like, “Wait…. God is in control, and something bad just happened…. So that means either God ISN’T in control, or Marriage Equality being the law of the land was ordained by God…. Or maybe America isn’t God’s favorite?!?!” Unfortunately, the mental stress caused by the cognitive dissonance is too much for many conservative Christians, and they throw their hands up in the air and declare that it must be the “end times.” Jesus must be coming back soon, y’all.

God didn't mind the slaughter of the Native Americans or hundreds of years of slavery, but he's probably going to end the world over Marriage Equality....

God didn’t mind the slaughter of the Native Americans or hundreds of years of slavery, but he’s probably going to end the world over Marriage Equality….

But these beliefs–especially mixed with a lack of insight and a distain for intellectualism–can be so very dangerous. Imagine if Americans had the same sort of expectation of an assumed understanding of White Supremacy as they have with expecting that everyone here believes in American Exceptionalism. But really, there’s very little difference. Here’s the hard truth: If you look closely at its history, you find that there is a very fine line between “Americans are the best!” and “White people are the best!” America has a long history of declaring, “That’s not what America looks like!” And you multiply that times God’s Sovereignty and divide by a City on a Hill, and you got yourself an even more powerful (and dangerous), “That’s not what GOD SAYS America is supposed to look like!”

Be very afraid of people who don't look like you.

Be very afraid of people who don’t look like you.

And every step away from “The Norm” has been a painful process. And that’s where things get really racist and sexist gross, because “The Norm” has always been white people. White men, to be exact. Who speak english. And are Christian. And straight. Native Americans? You’re either going to worship our God, or we’re going to kill you. Irish? That’s not what America sounds like. Asian? Mexican? I guess, but you better learn the greatest language in the world! What’s that, Ma’am? You say you want to VOTE?!? Don’t you have some dishes to wash? Negroes? Tell you what–You and four of your friends will get to count for three votes…. Deal? Muslims? You want to build a WHAT in my neighborhood?!? And now we have those stubborn Gays, daring to think that America looks like them too. And every time we allow a new group to become “What America looks like,” it is painful for the group who is “The Norm”…. even if that group was just welcomed in recently themselves. We tend to forget.

Look at how American that foot looks moving forward....

Look at how American that foot looks moving forward….

So here’s the way I see it: The reason that giant oak trees are so strong is not because of their rigidity…. It’s because when it starts getting windy, the tree is able to bend and sway. And this country is like that–at least it has the capability to be like that.  If there’s one thing that’s great about this country, it’s our ability to change. To learn from our mistakes. To progress. Even the Statue of Liberty is not standing there, rigid and unchanging…. She is taking a step forward. She is progressing. She is moving from the old way into something new. And I know new can be frightening, but it’ll be okay. In fact, I think that saying to the LGBT community, “You ARE what America looks like” might be just about the most American thing we could do. We have a long history of expanding the definition of what America looks like…. And I’ve got some news for you: If there’s anything about America that is even CLOSE to the actual Church that Jesus started, it’s that the understanding of who gets to be “part of the group” is constantly expanding.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Let’s Just Call it “Marriage” Now

You’ve undoubtedly heard the the Supreme Court ruled today to make marriage equality the law of the land. Anyone anywhere near a computer today probably felt a little like this:
1907492_1292974370732013_9189754401205793039_nI worked late last night and my wife let me sleep in. This morning, she woke me up and said, “I’m going to need you to look at Facebook.” I did, and most of the people in my virtual world were pretty jubilant. They were filled with hope. And they were celebrating with their friends who have been treated like second-class citizens for far too long. If you know anything about me, it probably comes as no surprise to you that this came as really good news to me. I don’t want to get all “hipstery” here, but I’ve been on board with this for a while now. This feeling of hope is such a stark contrast to last week…. A contrast that is summed up perfectly here:
11071304_10153455501654700_2585492975036252125_nBut even though there is room for celebration when a battle is won, the victory is far from over. The fight for equal rights for ALL PEOPLE continues and continues. And continues…
11141350_10153422968176880_3279347084887726016_nAnd even though it would be easy to focus people who are using this decision as a reason to stir up division and fear and hatred (like this person below)…. We can’t.
Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 12.37.17 PMA bunch of republican presidential candidates weighed in too–guys who welcomed the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision (defining corporate money as “free speech”) as the rightfully decided law of the land, but hail this SCOTUS decision as an affront to “state’s right” (that sounds familiar, right? This age old belief that states should have the right to discriminate against whoever they want to discriminate against–That if the majority of the people of a state want to keep certain groups of people with less rights than the majority, it should be their “right”), an affront to natural law, and indeed, an affront even to God’s law. Candidates like Rick Santorum, who actually compared today’s decision to the Dred Scott case:

“Today, five unelected justices decided to redefine the foundational unit that binds together our society without public debate or input. Now is the people’s opportunity respond because the future of the institution of marriage is too important to not have a public debate. The Court is one of three co-equal branches of government and, just as they have in cases from Dred Scott to Plessy, the Court has an imperfect track record. The stakes are too high and the issue too important to simply cede the will of the people to five unaccountable justices.”
~ Rick Santorum

He was not the only one to focus on the fact that these Justices were “unelected.”  Scott Walker also weighed in, referring to this decision as “judicial activism….”

“I believe this Supreme Court decision is a grave mistake. Five unelected judges have taken it upon themselves to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that the author of this decision acknowledges “has been with us for millennia.” In 2006 I, like millions of Americans, voted to amend our state constitution to protect the institution of marriage from exactly this type of judicial activism. The states are the proper place for these decisions to be made, and as we have seen repeatedly over the last few days, we will need a conservative president who will appoint men and women to the Court who will faithfully interpret the Constitution and laws of our land without injecting their own political agendas.”
~ Scott Walker

Ahh yes, “state’s rights.” A familiar refrain when people are upset that our government makes it illegal to discriminate. Louisiana’s governor, Bobby Jindal said,

“The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.”
~ Bobby Jindal

And then, we’ve got good old Mike Huckabee, making a comment that is filled to the brim with military language, while making allusions to the kind of “tyranny” that resulted in the American revolution. Hold your nose for this one….

“The Supreme Court has spoken with a very divided voice on something only the Supreme Being can do–redefine marriage. I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our Founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.

“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”

“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”
~ Mike Huckabee

So yeah, this is a reminder that your vote matters…. Especially when considering that one of these bozos could be appointing a new SCOTUS Justice or two over the next few years. But none of these presidential wannabes’ comments hold a candle to the comments of the ACTUAL president. President Obama spoke to the nation today about the ruling…. Here is one segment which I found particularly moving:

“We are people who believe that every single child is entitled to life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. There is so much more work to be done to extend the full promise of America to EVERY American, but today we can say, in no uncertain terms, that we made our union a little more perfect. 

That’s the consequence of a decision by the Supreme Court, but more importantly it is a consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions by people across the decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents…. Parents who loved their children no matter what…. Folks who were willing to endure bullying, and taunts, and stay strong, and came to believe in themselves and who they were…. And slowly made an entire country realize that LOVE IS LOVE.

What an extraordinary achievement, but what a vindication of the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. What a reminder of what Bobby Kennedy once said about how small actions can be like pebbles been thrown into a still lake–“ripples of hope” that cascade outwards…. and change the world. Those countless–often anonymous heroes–they deserve our thanks. They should be very proud. America should be very proud.”

You can watch the video of his whole extraordinary speech below.

So yeah, I am thankful. I am thankful for the millions of LGBT heroes who have endured so much pain and hatred and discrimination over the years…. And even though there is so much work to be done while we continue to love the people who don’t get it yet, I’m happy to celebrate with my LGBT brothers and sisters–as well as straight allies like myself–because today is something worth celebrating. And I am hopeful. I am hopeful that those “ripples of hope” continue to change people’s hearts…. And by doing that, changing the world. Like MLK said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But maybe if we keep pulling on one end on that arc, it will bend a little faster. Keep bending, moral arc…. Keep bending!

My wife made this for me this morning. It makes a really nice cover photo for your Facebook page, just in case you're interested.

My wife made this for me this morning. It makes a really nice cover photo for your Facebook page, just in case you’re interested.

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