I almost became a Catholic over the holiday break


On our ride down to North Carolina, Tina took over driving for a few hours. I took the time to rest my eyes and catch up on social media.

On my Facebook feed, a young, Catholic girl posted an article that blew my mind. I mean. I’m dying to see how this current pope is going to change the current dismal perspective of Catholicism, but this particular article threw their efforts into overdrive.

Here’s the article if you want to read it.

The title reads: “POPE FRANCIS CONDEMNS RACISM AND DECLARES THAT “ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE” AT HISTORIC THIRD VATICAN COUNCIL”

And then the mind blowing began.

This in particular:

In a speech that shocked many, the Pope claimed “All religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there? In the past, the church has been harsh on those it deemed morally wrong or sinful. Today, we no longer judge. Like a loving father, we never condemn our children. Our church is big enough for heterosexuals and homosexuals, for the pro-life and the pro-choice! For conservatives and liberals, even communists are welcome and have joined us. We all love and worship the same God.”

And later:

“God is changing and evolving as we are, For God lives in us and in our hearts. When we spread love and kindness in the world, we touch our own divinity and recognize it. The Bible is a beautiful holy book, but like all great and ancient works, some passages are outdated. Some even call for intolerance or judgement. The time has come to see these verses as later interpolations, contrary to the message of love and truth, which otherwise radiates through scripture. In accordance with our new understanding, we will begin to ordain women as cardinals, bishops and priests. In the future, it is my hope that we will have a woman pope one day. Let no door be closed to women that is open to men!”

The words in that article, this passage above included, would almost — ***ALMOST*** — cure me of disbelief.

This section was pure gold:

Through humility, soul searching, and prayerful contemplation we have gained a new understanding of certain dogmas. The church no longer believes in a literal hell where people suffer. This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God. God is not a judge but a friend and a lover of humanity.

When I read most of the article to Tina, her response was, “Man, I’d consider becoming a Catholic again.”

That’s the rub.

The article is so well written and so ideal to what the church should do, but it gets too caught up in hoity toity, we’re right, they’re wrong bullshit.

It took three paragraphs before I said to myself, and Tina, “This is satire. We’ve been duped.”

So I looked further at the web site it was hosted on and sure enough, the site is satire.

Gold, though. Gold. Pure greatness.

Cheers to those folks at Diversity Chronicle. That was the closest I’ve been in a LONG time to consider even considering the consideration of a considerate thought about admiring the church.

And then you see stuff like this story (about how white American evangelicals reject science), and all that hope for the world is a flatulent balloon sound.

But then there’s the following, and my hopes are rejuvenated.

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Let’s go back to the future!


Above is an acoustic guitar version of the Back to the Future theme. Back to the Future happens to be one of my guilty-feeling favorite movies of all time. If I catch it on a station, I will watch a good bit of it.

Tina and I got back from a Christmas trip to North Carolina a couple days ago. All in all, it was a good time.

There were a couple hiccups, and there was a moment that — had I heard a comment that was made — we would have left and driven home at around 9 p.m. at night.

I’m not sure how members of your own family can be so fucking cruel and completely oblivious to it.

I trust everyone here had a nice relaxing Christmas time, and you celebrated in the best way you know how.

 

 

Thirty-five signs that show you’ve destroyed your heritage


enhanced-buzz-3479-1369234571-19Over at Buzzfeed, they worked up a mighty powerful post on “38 Signs you’re from North Carolina.”

It was described as “spot on” and “this is hilarious” by my North Carolina friends.

Well, Buzzfeed, you’re a failure. The ONLY thing you’ve succeeded in is getting attention and hits on your site. But your list sucks.

I opened the article, and read with great hope and tenacity. I figured I would love the way it made me relish in my North Carolina upbringing.

Upon reading, of the 38 signs I’m from North Carolina … I qualified for about 2 or 3 of them.

Insert tail between legs.

Number two is about Cheerwine. I loved Cheerwine growing up. Number two got me.

But I’ve never fought over the best barbecue. I’d argue for my Texas friend’s recipe for beef brisket over NC BBQ any day.

I left NC before Asheville became the beer brewing capital of the state. I didn’t really drink much when I lived there either.

I grew up in a Michiganer’s home, so while we had a firm religious hold, we didn’t say “Y’all.”

Number six is about sweet tea. And while I loved it growing up, that shit is bad for you. It eats your teeth, and makes you love guns and churches with huge stages, drum sets and awful music. Or something.

Number seven is about NASCAR, which is the dumbest, gasoline-wasting, brain-cell depleting “sport” ever. You know how kittens love to watch a toy go around and around in front of their face for long periods? That’s NASCAR. Only cats know when to say “Fuck off” before scratching your hand and taking a nap.

But number eight appeals to my long-guilty pleasure of loving Bojangles. It’s the best fried chicken biscuit … ever. No argument. Shut up.

They are so bad for you, but so good.

Mmmm.

Then there’s a series of things that don’t appeal to me. Collard greens, burgers all the way, the fight over first in flight. Who cares. I never got too upset about Florida license plates. I don’t have a basketball team I love over another. Carolina blue and Duke blue can screw themselves.

Pro sports were not a part of my upbrining.

But the one that hurts the most is the last on the list.

Number 38.

“And even when the state disappoints you, you still ardently defend it.” 

I’m guilty for dragging North Carolina under the bus. It’s responsible for the term “Yeshua Fog,” a place so densely disturbed by unfounded religious tenacity that its citizens often can’t see three feet in front of them.

But what do I know? I live in the Diversity Fog, blinded by all the different views from different ideas. A place that made me turn on my heritage and whine endlessly about it.

 

 

How do you confuse a liberal? The answer is easy!


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As you already know, we were traveling over the weekend in Texas.

Going into the trip, I knew my views conflicted with some of Bill’s friends’ views. It’s neither here nor there. I’m used to having views that conflict. I’m not a believer. Most people are. I am a liberal. Lots of people in Texas are not.

And while I have people in my family who openly convey their views and act on their faith and religion, I willfully decline expression unless it’s on this blog. It’s not worth it.

I guess you can say by abstaining from belief practices, I’m practicing my world view. I disagree, though. I go to church when I’m with a church goer. I bow my head and say amen with a prayerful person.

So this weekend was no different than spending it with some of my North Carolina or even my Michigan family.

I thought maybe something would come up that would cause me to retaliate. For the most part, the trip was tame.

I wasn’t nearby when one guy — who had just arrived about 10 minutes previous — was sitting with several Chicago folks including Tina.

Suddenly I heard, “Whoa!!!” and “Oh my goodness!” I think there was a “Wow!!!” Then I heard someone say, “There is no political discussion this weekend.”

Apparently one guy had asked, “Do you know how to confuse a liberal?” And the answer was “With reason and logic.”

Tina was the one that said, “Whoa!!!” Our host was the one who said, “There will be no political discussions this weekend.”

It bothered me that a stranger would walk into a room of Chicagoans and within 10 minutes, make a joke about their potential views. That doesn’t seem very reasoned or logical. If you want to make friends, it seems one would try a little harder.

fig,army,mens,ffffff Take this other guy for example. He waited an entire 24-hours before putting on his t-shirt that read “Infidel” in both Arabic and English. “Nice T-shirt,” I said when I read it.

“Thanks,” he said with a smirk. “We don’t take to their kind around here.”

I assumed their kind was referring to Muslims and here was a deserted location 20 miles from civilization.

We almost started a conversation, but all the Chicago folks let it slide. There was talk of killing muslims, and even then, we rolled our eyes.

For the most part, the Texans were proud of their heritage and made no bones about their gun-lovin’ ways. And why not? They were in the safety of 25,000 acres of country lovin’, white-majority, male-dominated, scorpion-infested, snake-ridden land.

I have to point out that shooting guns is fun. If I lived there, I would consider owning one. Maybe one of those pink 38-Specials. Light weight and the color of my belly.

I feel a little guilty because at one point, a Chicagoan sat down to shoot a sniper rifle. When we saw he was left handed, everyone jabbed him with a comment or two about being a leftie or south pawed.

As it grew quiet, I said, “You know, Nick, you’re going to hell.”

I sensed a little “Huh” moment from our Texan compadres, but no one responded verbally.

It’s no mystery that lefties are hell-bound. Just like me, apparently.

Of course, I am a confused liberal. I’m dimwitted and support unpopular views. Or something.

Tina took the above graffiti photo in a restaurant outside of Dallas. Love how it reflects accurately the oppositional views found in our southern states. You don’t find many people around here who do not accept evolution.

I’ll leave you with this: how do you confuse a conservative? You can’t. They’re cocksure they’re right.

Yes! There are more good people in North Carolina.


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From The Daily What … Cheezburger:

The Green Street United Methodist Church in North Carolina is refusing to perform any marriages until same-sex marriage is legally recognized by the state. The announcement comes in conflict with the official laws and doctrines of the United Methodist Church, which lists homosexuality as a practice that is “incompatible with Christian teaching.” In the meantime, the church will be holding “relationship blessings” as an alternative to marriage ceremonies.

My brother went to heaven and sent me back a picture


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My brother is a gigantic music lover.

He’s a musician and he performs as much as he can. He’s nothing short of an audiophile, as well.

When we were growing up, his taste in music was so vast and somewhat esoteric. We lived in podunk North Carolina, but he somehow knew about bands that even Tina is surprised I know about.

I’m really not sure who influenced him, but he’s always been my influence for new, fresh and great music.

To give you some idea how nuts he is about great music and sound, he bought a lot of vinyl records over the course of a year or more. But he didn’t own a record player to play them.

He knew what he wanted, and bought records when he could afford them and then the “right” record player when the time came.

That, dear reader, is dedication.

Right now, my sister-in-law and he are in Los Angeles. He sent me the above panorama taken at Amoeba Records, which according to him is, “Biggest record shop I’ve ever seen…amazing.”

Click to enlarge!

 

A 365 Photo-a-day project that makes our 365 Peeper Dee Project look like trailer trash


 

 

Photographer Aaron Nace recently moved to Chicago from North Carolina, and he opened a studio for making videos to help others learn Photoshop. It’s called Phlearn.

Our partner Bill Whitmire knew of Aaron before he moved here, and when he found out he landed in Chicago, he looked him up.

Now that I know him, I can’t help but be completely jealous of his ability. He’s a super cool guy, and frankly, I’d like to selfishly be his only friend so I can mooch soak up his vast knowledge.

In 2008, he challenged himself to a 365 Photo project. Only, his photos were well-though-out, heavily photoshopped images that will — frankly — blow your minds.

Above is just one. Go check his Flickr feed for the project and be inspired.

From his mind about the project:

Be prepared to get really sick of seeing this face. Average time spent to get photo as of now:

Planning 1-2hr
Setup 10min-1hr
Shooting 30min-1hr
Total 2-4hr

Finding an extra 3 hours everyday might get tough, looks like someone is going to have to get more efficient. Or sleep less.

I am going to try and take a (semi)interesting photo for all of the 365, so if I skip a day it pretty much means I didn’t find the time to do anything interesting, and didn’t feel like posting total crap.