Thursday, February 27, 2014

Up Your Nose With a Rubber Hose

I'm sure all those old timers out there in my age group remember this old show, "Welcome Back Kotter" where the main insult hurled between students was "Up your nose with a rubber hose"? I watched it every week as a teenager and drooled over that hot Vinny Barbereno as played by John Travolta. Well, I got the Kotter rubber hose up the nose treatment this very morning.

Since Johns Hopkins ENT could not see me to evaluate me for vocal cord movement syndrome till almost May I decided to visit my old pal Bruce, the town ENT I know from college back in a mesozoic era. Bruce squeezed me for 7:30 a-ohmygawditistooearly-m.

Sure enough, Bruce pulled out his rubber hose whatsit instrument and proceeded to snake it down my nose into my airway and down to my vocal cords for a peek.

Hint if you have to have this done. Not my first time and I have learned it goes worlds easier if you a) relax (yeah, I know, hard to do with that hose going in) and b) inhale deeply as they are squirting xylocaine up your nose to numb you. It hurts very little if you do those two little things.

Afterward Bruce and I had a long conversation. He told me he could see denada wrong with the vocal cords and everything looked all too normal. He pointed out to me that going to a place like Hopkins was going to come up with some wild ideas, like looking for a zebra where everyone assumed a horse was.

I had to point out that assuming something was a horse for seven years and treating it like a horse while it kicked like a mule and bit like a zebra was a tad foolish, better to put up with the tests, the testing of my comfort zone and take a closer look. What if it's merely a slightly different horse, a horse of a different color even if it might not be a mule or zebra?

Then Bruce pointed out that vocal cord movement syndrome was 'psychogenic'. In laymans terms many doctors think it's a symptom of mental illness. Recent research at places like Mayo Clinic show it's a type of symptom of either nervous system damage or another illness, like long term steroid usage or Cushings, not mental. But back in Bruce's day, well over twenty years ago, in South Louisiana, he was taught it was mental. He was curious as to why I would seek to see if I had a 'psychogenic' illness.

I had to tell him that yes, even if it was the result of a mental illness would it not be better to know you were mentally ill just so you could get treatment? I'm no ostrich. I wear my big girl panties every day so I'm always ready to deal, to face the unpleasant or weird curveballs of life without curling into a big old crying lump of stuffing that can't deal with a damn thing.

Left his clinic knowing that nothing I could say to Bruce would ever make him doubt his view that VCMS was caused by anything but an unquiet mind. Bruce sent me on my way after telling me he thought I just have that really bad asthma that responds to nothing well. He wants me to immediately come in to be scoped with the rubber hose again when I have another bad bout. I'm open to that. My horse/mule/zebra might reveal a bit more of itself.

In that respect Dr. Bruce is much like Pastor Bob over at Bruce Gerencser's blog The Way Forward. Bob is the guy that triggered me mightily last week. Pastor Bob wasn't interested one bit in what Bruce had to say, he merely wanted to impose his views on Bruce and the rest of us. He's viewing us through his shit-colored glasses seeing a mule of a color he doesn't like so he's telling that mule to change it's colors, even if he's not seeing the correct color because of his shit-goggles.

Even though he's wearing those goggles that are coloring everything the wrong color it's still somehow the fault of Bruce G. and his readers that they don't conform to his expectations. Of course, his view might just improve if he pulled his head out of his rear end and he genuinely sought to dialogue the differences and the commonalities between himself and others. But he's contented to toss out tired cliches and issue judgments.

He ain't never bringing anyone to Christ with those words. Bob also has no idea why he's not able to reach the 'unsaved' with his words and he doesn't have the intellectual curiosity as to why that might be. He just wants to be right.

And that's where Dr. Bruce and Bruce my friend significantly differ from Pastor Bob. Both have enough intellectual curiosity to soldier on and be open minded to what else there might be.

Bob, just because you can feel the mane and comb the tail doesn't mean that animal is what you think it is.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fallen Into The Hands of Modern Medicine! Eeeek!!

First let me start off by baldly stating that there are times when I rant about my health here that I cringe at the same time. There are so many obvious fakers and malingerers out there that they make it hard for the rest of us, make everyone skeptical of any online ongoing medical confloption and make it impossible to receive narcotic pain meds when you are having a crisis, just as falling on the ice and messing up your knee.

There is one lady in particular that has recently been outed as a fake that I'd like to get by the neck and squeeze the crap out of her like Homer does to Bart on "The Simpsons". Pain pill seeking, recording that she went to the ER with this or that and got this immediate diagnosis, diagnosis piling up after a twenty minute visit to her doctor? All pretty much impossible. Modern medicine, like the law, goes slowly and grinds exceedingly fine.

Which was my frustrations with yesterday at Johns Hopkins asthma and allergy clinic. I was evaluated by one of their allergy doctors. He told me that there wasn't really anything he could do for me other than do an allergy panel to see what common allergies he could find. I got off my allergy meds for six days for NO FREAKING REASON!! It's been itchy, wheezing, sneezing hell for me the last week and now he's agreeing with my old doctor and saying that allergy testing me would be life-threatening.

Okay, so this was a consult, and he does want me seen by the ENT and the Pulmonology clinic people, which is fine. But to sit there and have a research doctor tell you that you're on the drug of last resort and he has nothing for you is massively disappointing.

The only good that came out of my ordeal is that we sat down and seperated out what is a true allergy for me and what is an environment irritant that triggers my asthma attacks and anaphlaxis response. That was useful. The other thing is that he thinks I might have Paraoyxnal Vocal Cord syndrome (hope I'm spelling it right) wreaking havoc with the asthma and multiple chemical sensitivity. Which might actually make sense. It's common in people with years of asthma and many many many rounds of steroid treatment. Reading about it online it's common to have Cushings Syndrome with it and yes, I have symptoms of it too.

He also confirmed that my old doctor's treatment of my condition was entirely appropriate and right. I knew it. Jim could never accept that my doctor knew what he was doing.

Of all the things I've learned over the past seven years struggling with my breathing the most important is to keep pushing forward looking for an answer.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Goat Rodeo Two Step

So here I am, supposed to stay completely off my leg and not drive until Monday. Can you guess what I've had to do the last few days? If you guessed drive and run around you'd be right.

I am so freaking frustrated right now. Monday I have an appointment at Johns Hopkins Asthma and Allergy center and they are wanting my medical records from my old doc that closed up shop. My new doctor sent him many, many faxed requests for my medical records with no answer. She's telling me that all her new patients that came from him are also getting the same run around I've gotten.

So the last seven years of records, a file that's a good foot thick, has vanished into thin air!

Running around trying to get ahold of him, signing permissions for the hospital to release info to Hopkins, the new doc, trying to chase down the old doctor. Finally I called Hopkins and explained the no records situation and they told me to come on down anyway since they are going to do all their own testing.

That's good but it doesn't give me my old medical records. I have to wonder why the old doc is not giving up the records. Does he fear a malpractice law suit?

I have his home address and phone number. Left a message on his home phone and if he doesn't call back I'm going to be ON his doorstep this afternoon. I know it's rude to chase a doctor, but damn, this is my life and health I'm dealing with.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Forced To Believe In Jesus or How Not To Do a Salvation Call

There's an interesting debate going on at Bruce Gerencser's blog: The Way Forward. Part of me has been enjoying watching Bruce's readers point out to some roving internet Pastor his incorrect conclusions. Gives me something to do while I'm stuck with my right leg enrobed in a brace, propped up and covered with it's own winter wonderland of ice in a bag. Stillness is so boring.

One of Bruce's critics, Pastor Bob, is very busy painting all of the readers and commenters with a paint roller dipped in Sherwin William's newest shade - "Atheist" and issuing 'Come To Jesuses' between saying he'll 'Pray For You'

If I had to picture a color I would say it is a sickening shade of puce.

But on the other hand it's been very triggering to me in my recovery from spiritual abuse to read the words of Pastor Bob and his attempts to condemn or convert. It reminds me in many ways of probably the earliest time someone tried to spiritually abuse me, an incident that made it very hard for me to swallow what was being taught to me at my old church four years later. It's a miracle I did finally join a fundamentalist-evangelical church after that occasion. It should have been an omen, a standing stone, to the damaging ways of extreme religion.

Back when my daughter Laura was a baby, her father, my darling Jim, was having a big bout of depression. We didn't know then he'd started developing a tumor on his parathyroid gland and that was driving the beginning of the 'Stones, Bones, Groans with Psych Overtones'. Hyperparathyroidism will cause kidney stones, weak bones, painful joints and depression if untreated. Jim was untreated for years, misdiagnosed, mistreated and put through the wringer.

At the very beginning of this someone had suggested that Jim see the Christian counselors over at the big non-denominational church in downtown Warrenton, Virginia. It was a huge old Victorian building converted over to a church just a stones throw from the quaint court house downtown.

After a few weeks or a month or so I started to accompany Jim to his therapy sessions. I would sit in the car and read and after the session we'd go to dinner without our kids and then do something together, a weird sort of a date night. It was just about the only night that we both had off together. Jim worked days and I worked nights so that the kids were never with daycare, a babysitter or strangers. On our 'date night' my teenaged daughter from my first marriage would take care of her half siblings.

The second or third time I was quietly reading a novel in the car the pastor came out and invited me to wait in the sanctuary. And so I did, coming into the quiet hushed atmosphere of a church laid out in a half circle with offices in the back. I think, if I remember correctly, that the pastor brought me coffee and we talked for a few moments.

As time went on I started being invited to have coffee and talk to the pastor while Jim was in his session. The main pastor of this church was a very loud, larger than life, sort of oddball named Angus. I wish I could remember his last name but I can't. The church is gone now and only God knows where Angus is.

Angus was verbose, welcoming and also very confrontational and into debate. We talked about everything you could imagine. I was enjoying the verbal jousting, intellect to intellect, not having done anything like it since college. We were both folks of strong opinions that didn't necessarily agree.

But things took a decidedly strange twist after about six months. One afternoon when I'd settled into a chair with my full coffee cup, all eager for our debatesque discussions Angus slipped around me and locked the door, taking the old fashioned skeleton key out of the lock and putting it in his pocket. I remember being afraid for the first time around this man with his nimbus of crazy red Albert Enstein hair, wondering if he was about to try something, thinking I'd kick him in the nuts and jump out of the window if he tried something.

What followed was a 45 minute hellfire, brimstone, yawning before me mouth of hell 'Come To Jesus' spiel. This man, whom I'd started to consider a friend, albeit a squirrelly friend, began to talk and talk and talk, manipulating, cajoling, threatening, charming, promising and pleading with me to accept Jesus and turn to God. I was so shocked that it was hard to mount a defense and I believe I said something about years of Catholic school, my aunt dragging me to Mass every Saturday evening and my father dragging me to the Episcopal church every Sunday morning was plenty enough religion to last me a lifetime.

This went on for what seemed to me to be an eternity and it finally dawned on me that the only way the door would unlock and I would escape this insane asshole was to recite the sinners prayer. Gagging because I was being forced, like a recalcitrant mule with a twitch tightening on its muzzle, I said the sinners prayer. I remember feeling relieve that my ordeal was just about over when Angus quickly strode to his desk and dialed a phone number before shoving the telephone receiver at me and barking out, "Tell my wife that you've made the decision to come to the Lord. It's not real until you confess it to someone else."

By this time I was bawling so hard I couldn't speak, that ugly crying that turns your voice into a gasping moan and your face into a fright mask. I could barely whisper out what Angus wanted me to say, but I did get a few words out. After I did Angus congratulated me on my becoming a baby Christian and unlocked the door just in time for me to join Jim.

I didn't say much about what happened to Jim. Part of it was because I couldn't stop crying. I cried for a week and was sad for months and couldn't formula a word of why. Of course Angus had brayed out to Jim when I joined him that I'd 'come to Jesus' and I'd wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. Instead I swallowed my feelings and the abuse.

I cry now when I think about it, think about what a stupid, naive, gullible young woman I'd been. Recounting what happened makes me feel sick to my stomach. I should have gotten up and kicked the damn door in and walked out. Instead I sat there and took it.

Months before I'd had a spiritual experience alone in my bedroom but what happened with Angus quashed any stirrings of spirituality inside of me for a very long time.

Sometime in the next year Angus got in trouble with the church for sexual relations with a female at church he was not married to. Sometime after that since the church had lost their charismatic guru and people drifted away the church folded.

What he did to me was wrong, but even more wrong conservative Christians still try to force people to believe in God with spiritually abusive tactics. Pastor Bob hasn't locked anyone in a room demanding salvation, but he's done everything short of it on the internet.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Fun, Fun, Fun Till Costco Takes Your Rascal Away

I got to do something today I'd been itching to try out just to see what it was like. I got to ride around in an electric cart. Sometimes they're known by names like "Hoverround" or "Rascal"

We went to do our monthly Costco run today. Which was a problem considering I'm not supposed to be up and walking around for the rest of the week. Can't send Jim by himself because he'll ignore things like blue agave syrup and kale chips on my list and bring home peanuts and ice cream bars instead. Best if we go together, usually he wanders around looking and I pile all the stuff we need in the cart.

I rode in the electric scooter, visibly festooned with that thigh to ankle leg support and crutches and got a huge pile of stink eye from many folks. Okay, so here is where I admit I usually give fat people without anything visibly wrong with them the stink eye when they tote their fluffy rears around in an electric scooter in the store, but not to those people obvious impaired or the very elderly.

 Just the kind that makes me want to yell at them to get up and walk!

Getting dirty looks was surprising, like I said I was clearly impaired and for bonus points I am nowhere near as large as those ladies. I actually fit in the seat perfectly. But, it's Costco and that means it's more crowded than even Walmart. However, I did take a capacious amount of care not to run over anyone's feet no matter how irksome.

Jim pushed a cart behind the electric scooter, while I barked like a general to his troops and pointed at the things Jim needed to put in his cart. Teamwork.

It was almost more trouble than it was worth because I walk faster than the electric cart will go. Top speed is turtle. Not for me. Next time I'll lean on the regular cart for support.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Slippetty Doo Dah

Last night I was out for a walk when I stepped on a patch of ice and zing went my feet, down went my body like something out of an old cartoon and my noggin got knocked hard on the blacktop. I lay there a minute or two, not seeing birdies or stars circling over head like those old cartoon, but I was sort of confused and stunned. Walking one second, then, flat on my back staring at Orion's belt with nothing much in between, like someone skipped the movie reel forward and skipped a lot of frames. No injuries from flinging out any random body part to futilely try and break the fall.

After I sat up and realized there were no bones sticking out and the only thing that hurt was the back of my head I got up and slunk away home in tears.  Jim got to call me his favorite old nickname "Miss Spasmo" because I've got three left feet and one of them is on backwards. I've always been clumsy, except when I used to take ballet. I wasn't spastic at ballet, just at life. This hasn't changed as I've aged, it's gotten worse.

Fast forward to this morning after sleeping well all night even with a hideously large goose egg on my head. Got out of bed, took a step and started screaming with each right step. I might not have scrambled my brain on the way down but I did apparently make my bad knee much worse. ER visit and sent home in a knee brace from almost crotch to knee and told to stay off it and home til next weekend.

This device makes simple actions, like trying to get your pants down and pee, very problematic and feeling like a routine from Cirque du Soliel. Thank heavens I am at home having to do the loo loopdy loo dance. 

You want to know the worst, most difficult bit of all of this? No, not that it hurts like a *insert obscene words here*. No, not that I'll leave work high and dry during a state audit. It's that I had/have a hard time letting Jim take care of me. Seriously, letting go of everything and letting someone else meet my needs is more jarring than the injury.

I was getting dressed and preparing to drive to the ER, figuring that there's no reason both of us should miss church. Jim stepped in and said oh no, he was skipping church to take me to the hospital. He sat there the long boring intervals between xrays and doctors with me, carried my purse for me, picked me up at the ER in our car, and the list goes on and on. I love him for it and it really proves my point from yesterday that it's not that one day of the year that determines if someone truly loves you, it's the day to day.

Since I had no expectation that he would do this I was blessed by his behavior. It's just so hard letting go of control when you are the one that is usually doing for others. I wonder how Debi Pearl would have spun this in her book "Created To Be His Help Mate"? I'm betting she would have said in her book that she would have gone on to church and pasted a smile on her face after filling the crock pot with food stuffs.

 Wonder if I can get Jim to sweep, mop and vacuum tomorrow?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love (or Something) Was in the Air!

 Not the same guy but very close!!

Valentine's Day is a landmine that's sometimes tricky to navigate. But not for Jim and I. When I was younger and had very foolish expectations while being married to a guy who's family rarely celebrated holidays I'd get bent out of shape by the lack of lavish Valentine's Day gifts and celebration by my beloved.

Two things disabused me of my feeling disgruntled I didn't more than a card and some small gift like a balloon, small box of candy or few flowers. I wanted that over the top roses, chocolates, teddy bears, lingerie thing that seemed like the world was experiencing. I felt cheating and unloved.

But I would never step up and tell Jim I expected this. I wouldn't even hint, expecting him to just know. Waiting for someone else to guess your expectations and wants is pretty foolish. I've learned now when I really want something or have expectations to just tell him in a non-ranty, no-brat way.

That's the advice I wish some older, wiser woman would have told me on my wedding day. Tell him straight up with no emotion what you need and leave it at that.

So what changed? My attitude via those two things happening.

  1. One Valentine's Day he came in late with the tiniest starting to wilt miniature rose plant. It was planted in a plastic medicine cup sized container, still bore the 7-11 price tag and was the Valentine's Day equivalent to the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. My old cockatiel Elvis rushed over while I was holding that unloved dying thing in my hand to nibble off the browning bud. I was surly over the last minute nature of this gift, replanted it in a large planter, watered it and watched over the months as it flourished out to a nice size and many, many beautiful blossoms. I enjoyed it for a long time, much longer than any bunch of long stemmed roses that would have wilted and candy that would have been long time ago gobbled up. That rose bush is now planted in the front flower bed and I'm still enjoying it!
  2. For three and a half years I worked at a floral ordering company, like 1-800-Flowers but a smaller one. Every year at Valentine's Day I was treated to the surly, grumpy, resentful male populace freaking out over the holiday and sending just the right thing. Let me tell you, the hostility and frenzy just about ruined me for holidays ever. People would price shop and tell you off. Florists would call back screaming about orders or prices we'd sent out. Men would call the day of the holiday and demand we deliver within the hour to someone (not possible) after hours. My first Valentine's Day there was truly the worse. I got cussed out, physically threatened, my job threatened by a woman claiming to be a producer with Disney who was upset that her new girlfriend had not received her Valentine's Day package, so upset that she was now in Cedars-Sinai hospital in the mental ward after a suicide attempt.  I looked at her order and saw she'd placed it online the morning of Valentine's Day and that the pop up had warned her that it was scheduling the delivery for the next day. That first Valentine's Day season was so freaking awful that more than once I ran into the restroom to cry only to find several others there already crying.
Both of those led to me thinking about love and entitlement. There's no way I ever wanted to be like those people over a made up holiday. It's not how you're treated that one day a year, love is more how you're treated every single day.

Now our Valentine's Day is like yesterday. We went to lunch at a favorite restaurant followed by gift exchange. I got Jim some small practical thing he wanted and he gave me a flowering plant, with cards of course. We split some small amount of chocolates and that was enough. In fact, it was perfect.

That's after he dug our cars out of the new snowfall, heee.

Around eight last night I decided I was getting cabin fever and needed another skein of cotton yarn for a project I'm donating for the local animal rescue craft show and fundraiser. Fifteen inches of snow on the ground plus some very haphazard snow plowing meant that just about the only place actually open was Wal Mart.

Those you that read here on a regular basis know I loathe Wal Mart with the fire of an exploding dwarf star. But.... I live in a small Southern town where the only joint open in town during bad weather is always The Wal Mart. Away I went and witnessed stuff too bizarre even for The People of Wal Mart.

There were....

  • Oodles of fundie families in long corduroy skirts and wool tights.
  • Teenager couple making out in the parking lot.
  • Four Indian ladies in beautiful Saris ringing the bell in the fabric department like meth-addled chimpanzees trying to get the attention of their trainers. This went on about fifteen minutes. I woulda had a sprained wrist out of that action.
  • Men crying and shouting "NONONO!" on the Valentine's Day aisle being empty except for a few mangled and broken boxes of Pangburn's candies.
  • Another young couple making out against the cooler holding the eggs, one of the few things I needed.
  • andddddd..... drum roll please...........One very drunk guy peeing on a display in the back of the store while his female companion yelled at him to hurry because she didn't want the beer in their cart to get warm.
Oh why oh why didn't I bring a camera?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Peaceful Wonderland

Yesterday we had an amazingly deep snowfall in the Piedmont section of Virginia. The last time I measured the depth, which was around 5pm before the second snowfall, the snow was just over fifteen inches in depth.

We get snow many times each winter but usually a dusting or a few inches. Anything under six inches isn't worth getting excited about.

Ah, I remember snow in South Louisiana, a few falling flakes and New Orleans and Baton Rouge go into panic and gridlock. Southerns and snow, not a good combination at all.

It's been a few years since we've had that type of snowfall. It's the kind I always look forward to because it damps down and kills off random mold spores, dust, pollens and other floating crud that impacts my lungs. This type of snow means I get to breath deeply outside without anything impeding me. I can breath! I love it!

But the most unexpected benefit of yesterday, besides catching up on my sleep, was that it was totally silent outside. No traffic sounds, no shouts of neighborhood kids, no hearing the grinding mill at the farmers co-op, no nothing. A peaceable kingdom and a winter wonderland.

The only one that didn't enjoy it was one of my cats, Kiki. Kiki loves to go out in the snow but with that depth of powdery snow he just kept sinking to his belly.

He kept trying to go out and falling down into the snow immediately before slinking back into the house.

I guess he's remembering the last time it snowed this deep and we went on a silent midnight walk around the neighborhood, just he and I.

Today's high is going to melt some of this off and I'm kind of sad about it. But people have started driving around and I'm sure the grist mill will grind double time to make up for yesterday. I knew it couldn't last. It was nice while it was happening.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Foggy Anticipation and Nekkid Church?

Just stumbled across the strangest thing of all times - Nekkid Church? I get wanting to be vulnerable and emotionally naked before the Lord, but... but... but... or should I say a whole lotta butts, I would never be able to concentrate on the sermon from my own discomfort and the distraction of the pastor's naughty parts swaying in the breeze. I guess different strokes for different folks.

I've had some trouble sleeping the last few nights after the break in. It's been back to good old Trazadone to bring the Sandman back around.

Work is better. I spoke to the facility manager and they're going to move me to another position. I'm fine with that. I've just had it with the egos and conflicting orders I've been given.

This is one day I am hoping not to be at work very long. We're supposed to be getting a great deal of snow here and I really do not want to be trapped at the facility because of the dirt roads being impassible. Looking forward to it because big snows make my asthma feel much better by tamping down the mold spores and dust outside. Cannot wait!

On the dieting front I have to laugh and share this tale. Darling Jim was telling a compadre on the phone a few nights ago that he didn't think I was taking it seriously because I refused to join in the aerobics classes he was taking.

I am working out as much as him but I am committed to doing just those things at a gym that will not jolt my neck and back's thin disks. I'm doing what my physical therapist recommended. Jumping jacks do not do my back good.

So later that same night we both went to weigh in at the gym that's running the community wide weight loss event. He'd lost a half a pound this week and I'd lost three. In. Your. Face. Jim! Now who is taking it seriously? LOL.....

Monday, February 10, 2014

Scariest. Thing. Ever!

I know some folks love horror movies to get their thrills and chills, but.. I'm not one of those. Life has enough crazy without finding something new to be frightened about.

Scariest thing happened about an hour ago! I was sitting in my living room having a cup of coffee and relaxing after work, when with a pop and screech someone forces my front door open. I'd locked it after coming home.... I think

Suddenly my foyer is filled with a drunk or high Hispanic male. Dress slacks, dress shirt, shiny shoes standing about 5'4" and swaying like he might fall down. He just stood there and stared at me. Asked him what he was doing in my house, he just stared me. I told him to leave and he just stared at me. Tried talking to him in my pigeon Spanish, he stared at me. It literally took picking up my very sharp sewing scissors in one hand and my cell phone in the other to make him leave. He understood that!

He ran from my house and promptly fell down the steps outside, drunk as who shot Cooter Brown, like some Latin Keystone Cops before he sat on the steps and didn't leave for a long time. He staggered off like he was walking around on a tiltowhirl and vanished down the street. 

I called the cops hyper-ventilating that this guy had forced his way in. Long gone by the time the cops got here.Thank god they got here and searched the yard. I was hiding upstairs still clutching the scissors in my hands.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Alone Yet Not Alone Not Worth A View

This is me when I'm not picking bugs off Jim and flinging poo at the neighbors
Recently I've been doing like my friend Bruce Gerencser has been doing and writing a letter to the editor of the local paper. Bruce is always articulate and he makes his points well, unlike many of those he opposes who seem to churn out Biblical Word Salad with no real points.

Me? I think I'm more like an angry monkey mashing on the keyboard, hooting and throwing banana peels around.

Our local paper had an article by the storyboard artist for the movie churned forth by the now-defunct Vision Forum and the students of Patrick Henry University - a mere hop, skip and flip down the road to hell.., erp, ah, I meant Purcellville. The artist was claiming that persecution against Christians caused the movie to lose it's nomination for best song for the upcoming Academy Awards.

Persecution? More like cheating. The song composer was on the Academy Awards Committee and apparently used his influence to get the song from the movie nominated well before this film has even been released in theaters. Very hinky. I've also posted about this at NLQ.

Are blaming, complaining or racism good “Christian” values?

It was with dismay I opened up my copy of Friday, January 31st Star Exponent and saw that the headline article featured a local Evangelical Christian blaming “anti-Christian bias” for a recent film having its Oscar nomination removed. The film in question is one developed by the recently closed Vision Forum ministries, “Alone Yet Not Alone” It's not been actually released for the public yet and is due to be released this spring/summer.

While the song is very pretty and it features the vocals of Joni Eareckson Tada, noted Christian author and radio host, the claims of Tad Butler come across as merely sour grapes. The Academy Awards chose to pull the title song from the competition because of the appearance of impropriety by a former Academy Award governor, Bruce Broughton. Not only did Bruce Broughton hold a position with the awards, he was also one of the song's composers. What Mr. Broughton did or did not do cast a shadow of favoritism, or 'cheating' in the eyes of the board, forcing the board to make the hard decision to pull the song. Seeking to keep the award nominations free of any taint of unethical behavior is fair and just. Not “anti-Christian bias” that many Evangelicals retort when things do not go their way.

“Alone Yet Not Alone” really has no business at the Academy Awards in the first place. The story told in the film is one of racism and miscegenation, painting the First Nations Native characters as immoral savages. The premise of the film is that evil Godless Native American kidnap good Christian children and raise them in Native culture, while the children hang onto their Christian faith and are rescued. Obviously whoever scripted the film has never read “One Church Many Tribes” by Richard Twiss, which destroys the myth of Godless Heathen Indians they seek to show in the film.

If that wasn't bad enough all of the Native American characters are played by White Anglo-Saxon type actors in brown face. There are many talented actors whom are actual Native Americans they could have used Adam Beach, Gary Farmer, Graham Greene, or Russell Means just to name a few . Don't believe me? Take a look at the films “Smoke Signals” and “Reservation Road” just to name a few great films starring Native Americans. Another disrespect for a different race, not so subtle racism.

There are increasing larger numbers of good Christian films and entertainment coming out every year, films like “Flywheel”, “Fireproof” or my personal favorite “Courageous”, none of which promote racism or gender inequality or insult the intelligence of the audience. “Alone Yet Not Alone” is not one of those films. I've seen much of the movie and the acting is cringe worthy, the script stilted and wooden, with historical inaccuracies and the racial bias all throughout the film. One of the scenes that made me drop my coffee involved one of the rescued girls washing the black dye from her hair and emerging as a smiling blue eyed blonde, straight out of eugenics literature and race exclusionary ideology.

Evangelicals, if you truly want to witness to the world and bring others to Jesus it would be a good start to stop claiming persecution and behave every single day with the same integrity you claim you have. The Christians in China and other restrictive countries are being persecuted, you're only claiming it because the world hasn't been flocking to your beliefs.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Book Review: The Seeker King

The Seeker King: A Spiritual Biography of Elvis Presley by Gary Tillery

Before opening up this book I thought I knew everything there was to be known in the public realm about Elvis Presley. After all, I grew up in the Deep South, and the Deep South is still a place where the shadow of Elvis looms like a rock and roll Jesus. My mother loved Elvis and my father wasn't a fan of his. I grew up in the 1960s, surrounded by the music of Elvis Presley courtesy of my mother keeping Elvis Presley records on our stereo turntable.

My father could not take Elvis serious as a worldwide phenomenon because he'd seen a young unknown Elvis perform at the Brown Door lounge in Hammond, Louisiana near his university. For him, Elvis was just a regular guy who made it big. Somehow after reading this delightful book I get the feeling that Elvis would have liked to have been thought of as a regular guy.

Turns out there is a side of Elvis that was hidden from most everyone, including those in his 'inner circle', the Memphis Mafia, at times. That was Elvis Presley's search for spiritual significance. Even as he was surrounded by loving family, friends and fans he wasn't satisfied. His search in some ways reminded me of the words of King Solomon, a man with everything that inside is longing for more. Nothing earthly satisfies when you have riches and privilege surrounding you. That becomes even harder to accept as your reality once you've experienced more in the realm of the spiritual.

From Elvis's earliest days he was immersed in the Assemblies of God church. Like everything else in his young life, being raised poor in Mississippi amidst the nearby impoverished African Americans, the blues, cotton and country music, it was a perfect storm of conditions to break down cultural walls and usher in the beginning of rock and roll.

Author Gary Tillery manages to link all the early influences of the King of Rock and Roll with the music and spiritual needs. His book gives the reader a deep insight into the inner world of Elvis, the unknown Elvis. It was a fascinating read on many levels, enjoyable by the most intense Elvis fan or those that barely know anything about him. Tillery shows the real man, not just the glittering image on the Las Vegas stage.