Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Go Arkansas! Take up the Religious Freedom Fight!

Even as Indiana is being bullied by the pro-homosexual forces, Arkansas is apparently about to join the fray.

The Arkansas legislature has passed a religious freedom law similar to the one in Indiana that has unleashed ignorant, ill-informed attacks against Indiana.

If the law is signed into law, Arkansas will be yet another state taking a stand for the rights of religious people.

Governor Huckabee is right - the coastal states and governments and elites just don't get it when it comes to the values of most of the country.

And it's about time that someone fights back against the bullies who have been trying to force their disordered ideas on people of faith - the kind of bullying that has forced people out of business.

Pax et bonum

The Theater of the Avoid

As usual when I have piles of work to do - in this case, essays to grade - my mind turns to my own writing projects.

This week, it's plays.

I started thinking about the Father/Son/Bird play I scribbled notes for a few years back, but never finished. Then there are a series of short pieces that jumped into my head just this week - the Tea Kettle, The Mirror, The Bickering Couple, The Football Toss. Ooo - I could use video. Maybe draw the audience in - how far? Would it work in a dinner theater setting?

Of course, I recognize it all as a way to avoid grading.


Back to the papers. 

Pax et bonum

Monday, March 30, 2015

Anti-religion forces target Indiana - Updated

There's all sort of hoopla over the new religious freedom law in Indiana. The usual suspects are out claiming it discriminates against homosexuals, and are calling for boycotts and protests.

Apparently, few of these folks have actually read the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act." Or are aware that such laws exist in more than 20 states. Or that the law mirrors one passed by a Democratic Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.

But we are dealing with emotion, not reason here.

The key to the law is that there must be an undue "burden" placed on the person for it to go into effect - burdens that courts must rule on on a case-by-case basis. In more than 20 years of such cases, there are guidelines out there already. And those precedents make it difficult to discriminate under normal circumstances because the person claiming the religious out must prove a true burden.

Take the case of a religious baker, for example. If a woman comes in and is wearing a button that says "Lesbian," the baker could not just refuse to sell her a dozen cookies claiming it's a "burden" to sell to her. The law would not uphold that, as simply selling cookies to an individual under normal circumstances does not create a burden.

Now if that same woman came in and requested a wedding cake for her homosexual marriage ceremony, the law would allow the baker to say no, as taking part in a ceremony that clearly goes against the baker's religious beliefs/teachings would create an unnecessary burden.

So, refusing to serve homosexuals under normal circumstances would still be considered discrimination, but refusing to take part in an activity that goes against one's faith would be allowed.

As I said, these cases would be judged on a case-by-case basis. But it is clearly not a law that allows random discrimination.

And the service provider would have to prove it is a burden.

Now there are other areas where such an argument might not hold up.

Take a bed and breakfast. If a homosexual couple comes in and says they want to stay in one of your rooms, and you say no on religious grounds, but you do allow unmarried couples to rent the same rooms, your claim may not hold up. After all, fornication is a sin too, and it would be hard to argue you uphold your faith's teachings in one area but not another.

But again, this is not about reason or logic. It's about emotion and bullying.

The pro-homosexual side wants nothing less than to force people to accept them and their agenda.

Even if it means violating the Constitution and others' religious liberties.

UPDATE: The Democrats are jumping on the anti-religion bandwagon - but after the 2012 National Convention, what could we expect? Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo have joined the ranks of those calling for no official travel to Indiana. Predictable.

Meanwhile, Indiana Governor Pence is waffling under pressure from businesses and the pro-homosexual lobby known as the mainstream media. After all, the bottom line is the bottom line, right?

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Jane Austen and Me

I have a confession to make.

I am not a fan of Jane Austen's novels.

Yes, I know she is a skilled writer. I appreciate her humor and satire. I've even taught Pride and Prejudice.

And as a veteran English teacher with an MA in English Literature, I should like her work.

But frankly, if I were not teaching it I would not be going out of my way to read her fiction.

Her focus on social conventions and situations, and on marriage just don't interest me.

I'm a guy.

Now I do like some romances - though with a dash of gothic. I like Jane Eyre. I like Rebecca. I enjoyed reading them.

But the whole Darcy and Elizabeth business - eh.

I first encountered Austen when I was a teen and college student. People told me I HAD to read her, that she was one of the great English novelists. So I tried Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. I couldn't finish them.

I never got through Pride and Prejudice until I had to teach it. I was older, I could better see what she was doing, but if I didn't have to read it I wouldn't have finished it even then. I've now read it three times, and skimmed it a couple times more.

Still not my cup of tea.

There are other "greats" I was told I had to read, and I did out of duty, got why they are so highly regarded, but still don't particularly like. Faulkner. Hemingway. Tolstoy. Eliot.

Sorry. I'll take Steinbeck, Dostoyevsky, and Dickens over them any day.

And there are many people whom I respect who love Austen - my oldest daughter, for example. I mean no disrespect toward them or the many other Austen fans out there. Enjoy her - just don't expect me to do so.

So I will continue to teach Austen because she is in the curriculum.

I'll even reread her.

Of course, the next version of her I might try is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Now that one might hold my attention.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Saint Gilbert Chesterton

There is in The Atlantic a wonderful piece ("A Most Unlikely Saint") about the effort to have G. K. Chesterton declared a saint. It begins:

If the Catholic Church makes G. K. Chesterton a saint—as an influential group of Catholics is proposing it should—the story of his enormous coffin may become rather significant. Symbolic, even parabolic. Chesterton’s coffin was too huge, you see, to be carried down the stairs of his house in Beaconsfield, its occupant being legendarily overweight at the time of his death, in 1936. So it went out a second-floor window. Very Chestertonian: gravity, meet levity. Hagiographers might pursue the biblical resonance here, citing the Gospel passages in which a paralyzed man, unable to penetrate the crowds surrounding the house in Capernaum where Jesus was staying, is lowered in through a hole in the roof. Or they might simply declare that Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s was a spirit too large to go out through the conventional narrow door of death—that it had to be received, as it were, directly into the sky.

It's a well-written piece, a good introduction to Chesterton and the sainthood cause for those who were not aware of him or it. Even for those of us who were familiar, well worth reading.

Pax et bonum

Sunday, March 22, 2015

I'd rather not hear it

I was coming out of the supermarket yesterday when a vehicle pulled up and waited to turn.

Despite the closed windows, loud music was belting out from the vehicle. Music with offensive lyrics. Pouring over me and the families, with children, walking in and out of the store.

This sort of thing has happened before. Vehicles blaring down the street. Vehicles blasting away at red lights and stops signs.

I believe people have the right to listen to music of their choice.

I also believe they have no right to force others listen to that music.

Now maybe some of those folks have hearing loss - due to blasting music? - so that's the only way they can hear it. Maybe they are just oblivious to how loud it is. Maybe they don't care. And maybe they don't realize how offensive some of the lyrics are.

Whatever the case, I just don't want to hear it.

Maybe I need to get some good speakers and a few classic music cds in my car.

Pax et bonum