Saturday, 10 March 2018

American Evangelical casuistry

The right wing evangelicals/fundamentalists would not have given Barack Obama the benefit of this doubt.   And yes, I know.... there are also skeletons in the cupboard of the Episcopal Church.  jmp


"When you worship political power more than you worship God."


Robert Jeffress: Bible's 'Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star' is 'totally irrelevant' for Trump's evangelical supporters

Conservative pastor Robert Jeffress has defended Donald Trump over allegations he had an affair with a porn star saying the biblical commandment against adultery is 'totally irrelevant' for evangelicals support of him.
'Evangelicals still believe in the commandment: Thou shalt not have sex with a porn star,' Jeffress, who is one Trump's closest evangelical advisers, told Fox News on Thursday.

YouTube / Fox News

'However, whether this president violated that commandment or not is totally irrelevant to our support of him.'
The pastor of the 12,000-member First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, went on to imply that when it comes to Trump's moral behaviour there was little the president could do to alienate his core base of support.
'Evangelicals knew they weren't voting for an altar boy when they voted for Donald Trump,' he said. 'We supported him because of his policies and his strong leadership.'
He added: 'I'm his friend. I will never walk away.'
It comes after porn star Stormy Daniels was reportedly paid $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election to stay silent about her affair with Trump just months earlier.
Now she is suing the president and claiming the agreement is not valid because he never signed it.
Representatives of Trump have denied the affair, as has Daniels via a written statement.
Jeffress has previously come to Trump's aide over previous controversies, saying God is not 'an open borders kind of guy' in response to criticisms of the president's immigration polcies and saying God had given Trump the authority to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Friday, 9 March 2018

I give the Sarasota Herald-Tribune a mere passing grade.

Headlines from today's Sport Section.  Feb 9th 2018

Virginia Waltzes past Cardinals.

Alabama Slips past Aggies.

No. 2 'Cats Roll past Marquette.


Does your team Waltz, Slip, or Roll, or something better?

Please post your suggestions for headlines in a similar vein. 

Mine would be  Red Sox Race past Yankees.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shop Local

"Shop Local" they say:  I think that they mean "Shop Locally".

I am trying to do so.  I want my dollars to stay in the local community and not to be siphoned off to some other place at home or abroad.

Many Americans are familiar with "Ace Hardware".  I think (and hope) that it is a franchise.

So I try to use my local Ace Hardware (rather than the Big Box and understaffed place up on Fruitville, its name begins with an "L" not with "H.D." )

I was at Ace a few years ago looking for an item which I knew by the British name "Rawplug" - in truth that's brand name not an item name but I did not know the item name here.  I described its function.  "Oh" said the super Clerk, "you are looking for a fastener", and he took me to the right aisle.   That would not have happened at the "Big Box", even if I'd been able to find a clerk.

Similarly when I was recently shopping for Mulch I used my locally owned store.

Farm and Garden, Beneva Rd.

Maybe the mulch was a wee bit more expensive than at the "Big Box", but the service was terrific.  A bright and cheerful young man loaded the ten bags of mulch into my car, with a grin on his face. (Of course I tipped him!).

Many Sarasota friends know that I am not very fond of the near-monopolistic Supermarket chain "Publix". I think that they are a bit pricey, and I am vexed at their over use of plastic (who needs to buy three Zucchini Squashes which rest on a styrofoam tray, and are covered with cling wrap?)  Not I.

And although I am a fan of Trader Joe's (they have great cheeses and good wines at reasonable prices),T.J's is Plastics Central. Not good for the Planet!

So I increasingly find myself at the locally owned Detwiler's where the prices are good and the fresh produce is touchable!


Shopping locally can be good!

My four or five year old vaccum cleaner went belly-up the other day.  It was a Hoover upright with no cord, and rechargeable batteries.

My first thought was to junk it and buy a new one at my local "Target".

My second and better  thought was to see if it could be repaired so I took myself here (in Sarasota's wonderful Gulf Gate area).

The owner/operator tested my Hoover, then looked up repair options (they were not cheap, I would had to have  bought a whole new power unit - not inexpensive).

Then, he showed me the many options for a new Vaccum cleaner with their prices from low to high.

He did not pressure me to buy the most expensive.  Most importantly, he knew my needs (mostly tiled floors, but with a dog who sheds), and he knew the features of all the products he sold.

I bought a mid-range Canister vac (sadly not cordless). I was so pleased to be dealing with a local owner who is familiar with the products he sells, rather than making my own decision at the Big Box store where the prices are good but the staff have no idea of the plusses and minusses of products on display.


Wednesday, 7 March 2018

America First and the Gospel of Jesus Christ (via S.I.Alden)

Christian Nationalism and Other Heresies

God doesn’t bless America.
That’s not how this works.
I’m sorry to break it to you, Bible Belt Christians—but that’s just how it is.
I know this kinda wrecks the convenient narrative you’ve been working for the past 60 or so years (and hitting especially hard the past eighteen months), but honestly that nasty bit of heresy has done enough damage already and it needs to go. It’s straight-up of the devil.
I’m not sure where you’re getting your taglines and hat slogans from, but I know it isn’t from the Bible. I know it isn’t from your coveted and regularly trotted out John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God loved the world.

God is in the world-loving business—not the America-blessing business.
You remember the world, don’t you; that massive, spinning sphere of 7.6 billion disparate human beings: brown people, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, Atheists, shithole countries—and lots and lots of non-English speaking, non-Americans?
Check out the Old and New Testaments again.
Read through the Gospels a few times.
Use any translation you’d like:
No America First.
No Making America Great Again (or at all.)
No flags or national anthems to pledge allegiance to.
A few other bits of news from the Scriptures:
Jesus was born in the Middle East.
He didn’t speak English.
He wasn’t white.
He wasn’t Southern Baptist.

He wasn’t a Republican.
Heck, he wasn’t even Christian.
Jesus was a Rabbi who spent his days as an itinerant street preacher, living off the generosity of strangers and speaking in parables about a new “Kingdom of God:'” a radical way of living where the poor were cared for, the oppressed freed, and the outcasts welcomed in. 
Jesus came to usher in a countercultural kind of interdependent community, in direct opposition to the power-wielding Roman Empire he stepped into. It was a diverse, barrier-breaking, border-transcending, nation-defying movement of generosity and mutual affection. It had nothing to do with blessing a Government or building an army—or creating a gated community of white folks in North America two thousand years in the future.
To claim that America was at all the point of the Gospels is flat-out heresy.
To assume any God-ordained supremacy based on religion, nation of origin, pigmentation, orientation, or native tongue—is a perversion of the work of Jesus and idolatry of the worst kind. 
I’m sorry to break all this bad news to you. I understand the actual words of the Gospel are problematic, given the story you’re selling to those whose fear you’re leveraging in America right now.
It’s almost impossible to claim devotion to the Jesus of the Scriptures, while refusing refugees, expelling immigrants, vilifying brown people, worshiping political power, guarding borders, and neglecting the poor—which is exactly the point.
As long as you continue to conflate God and America, you’re going to be whitewashing the Good News, shrinking God into your own image, and bastardizing the message of Jesus in ways that can only be described as fully and violently heretical.
If your God is America—you need a bigger God.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Orange Day

If you have been in the U.K. or the Republic of Ireland you may have been lucky enough to have a "Full English/Irish/Scottish/ Welsh" breakfast.

If you were lucky it will have included sausage, ham, eggs, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes,  and black or blood pudding [ not pictured above] with:

U.K. and Ireland style baked beans. 

Heinz is a popular brand, but they are also sold by Cross and Blackwell

They are not the American style Baked Beans with molasses and pork,  but darn it all, they are so very good, in a mild tomato sauce. They are available at some Publix stores in South West Florida.


Today, March 6th was my orange day!

For breakfast  "Beans on Toast" (be proud of me my  U.K. family and friends).


For lunch home-made "Carrot and Ginger Soup", with some barley to thicken it.


With my supper, some Cantaloupe.

None of this (I swear) has anything to do with Zion's hair colouring.

Zion the Adorable!

Monday, 5 March 2018

A visit to the Moving Pictures

I rarely go to the Cinema.  

I think that I have seen no more than five movies since I moved to Sarasota almost twelve years ago.

Until today the most recent time was in 2011/12 when I went with my late friend Ben to see "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". By mutual agreement Ben and I left about half way through 'cause we couldn't deal with the violence.

But for once I wanted to see a movie, so off I went this afternoon with my pals Bill and Patrick to view "The Insult".

The film was made in Lebanon and in the Arabic Language (with excellent sub-titles in English).

I've had the blessing of visiting Lebanon there to stay with my friends Hani and Rula Asfour.  Hani is a Christian with Palestinian heritage.  Rula is a Lebanese Christian.  I had a most splendid time there:  It was a delight to be with the Asfours; to enjoy the legendary and gorgeous Middle Eastern Hospitality;  and to see a fair bit of this tiny Country.

So "The Insult" piqued my interest. It focuses on the issues of honour and insult, especially  when that personal/communal sense of honour is perceived to have been violated by "the other/outsider".

Here is the New York Times review of the film: read it please, at least to get the plot.

I do not agree with every word of this review (but who am I to question the N.Y. Times!).

I have a feeling that my Lebanese Christian friends might see the film as being more friendly to Palestinian (Muslim) refugees than to Lebanese Christians.

But the themes are important wherever we live. They have to do with our prides in our history and ancestry, and the fear of the outsider - the unknown. It's not just a film about the tangled history of Lebanon.  It is a film about us.

I am glad that I saw it, and I would love to hear from friends who have seen it, especially those who are Lebanese, or Palestinian, or Christian, or Muslim, or who have lived in Lebanon.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

New Englanders - don't mess with us!

So I have a neighbour who wanders around with her dog, but is always on her 'phone, with the speaker on.

As I sat outside with my dog this afternoon I could not help but hear this.

"But they are all New Englanders.  When people from the mid-West move to California they become Californians"

But I am not into New Englanders.  They come here for the winter, but they are always New Englanders.  

I suppose that I should be grateful for the luxury of living in Florida".


Oh dear! I beg to differ.

1)  They are not all New Englanders: -  follow the road maps.

Here is I-75. 

I-75 is the seventh longest Interstate Highway, the second longest north-south after I-95, and passes through six different states: Florida, GeorgiaTennesseeKentuckyOhio, and Michigan. The major metropolitan areas that I-75 connects to includes (from south to north) Miami, TampaAtlantaCincinnati, and Detroit.

Most of the snow-birds in western Florida use I-75 and are  from the mid-west

Here is I-95.

 I-95 is the main Interstate Highway on the East Coast of the United States,[running largely parallel to the Atlantic Ocean coast and U.S. Highway 1, serving areas from Florida to Maine. In general, I-95 serves the major cities of the Eastern Seaboard and metropolitan areas such as MiamiJacksonvilleSavannahFayetteville, and Richmond in the Southeast; and Washington, D.C.BaltimoreWilmingtonPhiladelphiaNew York CityNew HavenProvidenceBoston, and Portland in the Mid-Atlantic up to the Northeast.

Most of the snow-birds in eastern Florida use I-95 and are from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and New England.

(2) As an honorary New Englander I assert that (generally speaking) people from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut are the smartest and wisest of all Americans!