A blizzard of words covers up an issue like a blizzard of snow.

it’s too cold for jockstraps

Just moments after I published my Camel in the tent post, I read a very long blog post by Ron Belgau, a writer on the SpiritualFriendship website. The title of his post was “What is ‘gay’?” From what I could glean just from the post, he is “gay”, as in homosexual, but homosexual in the sense of seeking deep friendships with other men. It was not clear to me whether sex was part of these friendships. He is a very good writer, and very precise with his terms and definitions. He also apologized for the length of the post, more than once, explaining that the degree of precision he was seeking necessitated the length. You may wonder, “is the word ‘gay’ that complicated?” He seems to think so. I do not. I followed a link in his blog to Denny Burke, whose website is subtitled A Commentary on Theology, Politics, and Culture. Lovely, I’m surprised that he doesn’t have a meme of an exploding hand grenade as his masthead. Seriously though, I think he is right on. If you want, here’s the link. http://www.dennyburk.com/the-celibate-gay-christian-movement-what-do-we-think-about-it/

If you don’t want to read the entire post-and it isn’t long-here’s the main point: “I still think, however, that there is confusion about same-sex attraction. What I have been writing about in recent posts is in large part a response to the Christian affirmations of same-sex attraction that are on display in this article. Once the sinful elements of lust and fornication are removed, same-sex attraction is no longer same-sex attraction—at least not the way SSA has been defined clinically. The defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Once that desire is removed, it is no longer SSA. It is just friendship. In that sense, same-sex attraction is not a means to better, more holy friendships. It is an impediment to them. When one feels himself desiring a sexual relationship with a person of the same-sex, the only appropriate response is repentance from sin (2 Tim. 2:22). It is not right or helpful to think of that sinful attraction as the foundation for building holy friendships. It is not.” How much clearer can you be? I can be yet more brief: The very existence of an alternative meaning of the word “gay”, which through hundreds of years meant happy and carefree (exactly what homosexuals are not), is evidence of something being covered up in order to market it to those who would find the truth unsavory. See my previous post, The camel in the tent, right after the word “desensitization”.

Mr. Belgau does not agree, but quotes another blogger, Chris Damian, who appears to be one of the Spiritual Friendship writers: “There are those who would say that identifying with the word ‘gay’ is a distortion of human identity, that it is reductionistic and confines someone’s entire identity to just one aspect. This is a danger, but this is hardly what I (and my celibate gay friends) are doing. Human language can only work in broad categories. We create words for things, even though words have a danger of confining things. People will always be bigger than the words we use to describe them, and words will always have the tendency to give us narrow views. But this danger shouldn’t keep us from using words. I am a man; I am American; I am single; I am 5’10”; I am hungry; I am tired: I am happy: I am sad; I am studious; I am foolish; I am fallen; I am sinful; I am hopeful; I am inquisitive; and I am gay. I’m not just any one of these things, but I am all of these things. You could ask me to not categorize myself in terms of my sexual identity because I am not just my sexuality; but if you’re going to do that, you might as well not ask me to categorize myself at all.”

That sounds oh so reasonable, but whenever I see “reductionistic” used in this context, it smacks of trying to avoid being pinned down. Belgau goes into a lengthy explanation of how being gay differs from being homosexual, and defends gay as the broader term, which includes celibate same sex friendships. Not so fast my friend. 1. If sex is not desired, no special term like gay needs to be even part of the discussion. 2. If homosexual sex was not unsavory to most people, and if sexual desire were not lurking in the background, the original meaning of the word gay would have been left alone, instead of being used to replace the word homosexual. Yes, the one syllable word DID replace the five syllable word. 3. When you see gay pride parades, do you ever see a sign that says homosexual pride? No, and not because it’s more difficult to fit it on a sign. What do you see? What is on parade? Celibate friendships? Or homosexual acts, both simulated and actual. Can you say “unsavory”? 4. The very idea you can remain celibate in the presence of someone you are sexually attracted to is ludicrous. How do you do it? Willpower? Not enough. Or is the Holy Spirit protecting you? If so, you would “flee temptation”, as Paul advised.

Like I said, Belgau and Damian have to use so many words to sanitize the word gay. Why even write about it, if not to make it more palatable? I think it’s pretty simple. Gay was the first word alteration, the opening salvo, of a new lexicon of desensitization.

The camel in the tent.

compassion, tolerance, then eviction

There’s an Arabian parable that most of us have heard in one form or another about the camel and the tent. I am going to retell it more or less as I heard, with some fillips of my own just to make it more interesting. A wandering desert nomad named Abdul decided to bed down for the night. Deserts, as you might know, tend to be hot during the day, and to cool down rapidly once the sun sets. This particular night, it got unusually cold, and Abdul was grateful for his little tent. His faithful camel, as usual, was sleeping outside. Well, not really sleeping, he was restless and cold, and decided to share the tent with Abdul. Since sharing was not in his job description, camel had to be subtle, and adopted the strategy of gradualism.

Abdul was suddenly awakened by a wet nose and bad breath in his face. Camel was poking his nose in the tent, and as sweetly as possible, asked, “master Abdul, my nose is so cold, I beg you to be compassionate and allow me to warm my nose inside the tent.” Abdul, remembering camel’s years of faithful service, thought “what harm can it do to share my tent with my camel’s nose?” So he let the camel keep his nose inside the tent. Abdul fell asleep quickly, but in moments was awakened by a nudge. Camel’s nose was followed by his big head and long neck, such things being attached. “Compassionate master, the night is yet colder and my ears are freezing. Please allow my head and neck to share the tent, along with my nose and you.” Camel asked, while looking at Abdul with those big, liquid eyes. Once again, Abdul showed his mercy. “Can I refuse such a reasonable request from my faithful companion? No, I will allow it.”

Camel, though an animal, understood the strategy of gradualism better than compassionate Abdul. Soon the nose, head and neck were followed by the forelegs, and with each request granted, Abdul found it harder to deny the next request. If he could share his tent with camel’s nose, why not his head and neck, and then why not his forelegs, then his thorax, then his back legs? Soon, Abdul woke up shivering. He found that camel had his entire body inside the tent, leaving no room for Abdul. I never found out what happened after Abdul was completely outside and camel was completely inside. I believe the tale ends there. However, the lesson does not.

A 1909 essay by John B. West, founder of the West legal classification system, used the metaphor to describe the difficulty of trying to insert an otherwise innocuous set of facts into a rigid legal system: “it is the old story of the camel’s head in the tent. What seems at first a plausible pretense for forcing some novel case or new principle into a topic or subdivision to which it does not naturally belong, leads to hopeless confusion.” In a 1915 book of fables by Horace Scudder, the story titled The Arab and His Camel ends with the moral: “It is a wise rule to resist the beginnings of evil.”

I will let that last statement digest awhile. Evil usually begins innocuously, be it any dictator, movement, or legal and political strategies. If the true aims of a dictator or a movement of domination were recognized in the beginning, it would be easy and effective to resist. The bombastic people are rarely the most fearsome in the end, rather it’s those who conceal their aims under the cloaks (cliches?) of compassion, fairness, inclusiveness, and equality who are able to steal the tent before you know it. The strategy I called gradualism aims to overthrow the existing order, whatever it may be, by subversive “education”, taking the form of: introduction of new words into the common vocabulary or changing the definitions of words; endless beating of the drums of those four words in bold as the rationale for changing perceptions.

A Scottish pastor/blogger I follow, David Robertson, recommended a book called That Hideous Strength, by Melvin Tinker, from which I quote:

“A manual of sorts for this kind of campaign was a book, Kirk and Madsen’s After the ball: How America Will Conquer It’s Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90’s. Kirk and Madsen combined psychiatry and public relations expertise to set out their strategy.    They advocated a gradualist approach (getting the nose in the tent) before going on to use three ploys.

1. Desensitization – Create a flood of pro-homosexual advertising, presented in the least offensive fashion.

2. Jamming – More active and aggressive than desensitisation.   Aim to produce ’emotional dissonance’.  Portray those who are traditional in their stance as KKK type right-wing homophobes.  Make sure that anyone who dares to disagree with your agenda is automatically labelled in this way.  Ensure that a reasonable case against your position is never presented – always ensure it is the extremes.

3. Conversion – Desensitization lets the watch run down; jamming throws sand in the works, but conversion reverses the spring so that the hands run backwards. In advocating this approach they actually taught that it was okay to lie (because they had been lied about).   ‘It makes no difference that the ads are lies; not to us because we are using them to ethically good effect. to counter negative stereotypes that are every bit as much.’

“As Goebbels knew there were three characteristics to propaganda  – rely on emotional manipulation, use lies and be subjective and one-sided.’ Kirk and Marsden saw the church as the major obstacle and so should be attacked and undermined in every way possible (although I would suggest that the church had already been undermined by the presence of false teachers who were only too happy to go along with the worlds agenda).”

Sound familiar? It should, it’s exactly what happened. Desensitization always begins with a plea for understanding and tolerance; it usually ends with the camel in the tent that used to be Abdul’s. Shame on the church, by which I mean everyone who accepts the Bible as the word of God. Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Gates are purely defensive, to repel invaders. When Jesus says they “shall not prevail”, he is saying that his church will not be repelled by the gates of hell. That means the church is expected to attack, not defend. Since Jesus’ words WILL prevail, the camel had better not celebrate victory yet.

What if feelings trumped truth?

I have been writing a lot lately about the trans express, or maybe it’s a bulldozer. It seems that a new lexicon has been thrust on us with astounding rapidity and emotion: misgendering, cisgender, deadnaming, trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF), gender dysphoria. The following definitions were taken from Trans students educational resources. My comments are underlined. But know this: VOCABULARY IS THE PRE-EMPTIVE “FIRST Strike” WEAPON IN A WAR OF WORLDVIEWS! The LGBTQ/Whatever activist corps is not satisfied with mere acceptance. The end game is applause and total accommodation.

Sex Assigned At Birth: The assignment and classification of people as male, female, intersex, or another sex assigned at birth often based on physical anatomy at birth and/or karyotyping. Is sex “assigned”? If so, by whom? The operant principle behind this contention is that your sex is not only arbitrary, but foisted on you by whomever supposedly does the assigning. What about cause-effect? Your cells normally have either XX or XY chromosomes; they determine your physical anatomy, hormones and brain chemistry. Who, then, assigned your chromosomes?

Gender Identity: One’s internal sense of being male, female, neither of these, both, or other gender(s). Everyone has a gender identity, including you. For transgender people, their sex assigned at birth and their gender identity are not necessarily the same. Internal sense? If you have been born a certain sex, and that’s all you know, how can you have a “sense”of something you have no experience of? The tipoff that this is utter confusion is “neither of these or ‘other genders’.” What other genders? A true hermaphrodite, someone born with sexual apparatus of both sexes, may have both female chromosomes, XX, and male, XY. Is that what they mean?

Cis(gender): Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end. Just the creation of the prefix “cis” is meant to normalize birth characteristics with chosen characteristics. If someone is “transgender”, that’s their decision based on their interpretation of feelings. There is no need for the word “cisgender” except to water down the concept of normality.

Transgender/Trans: An umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The term transgender is not indicative of gender expression, sexual orientation, hormonal makeup, physical anatomy, or how one is perceived in daily life. Note that transgender does not have an “ed” at the end. Then what the heck is it indicative of?

Transsexual: A deprecated term that is often considered pejorative similar to transgender in that it indicates a difference between one’s gender identity and sex assigned at birth. Transsexual often – though not always – implicates hormonal/surgical transition from one binary gender (male or female) to the other. Unlike transgender/trans, transsexual is not an umbrella term, as many transgender people do not identify as transsexual. When speaking/writing about trans people, please avoid the word transsexual unless asked to use it by a transsexual person. Everything I read, see or hear in the media indicates that transgendered persons want, even demand, hormonal/surgical “transition.” I would like to know what proportion of transgendered folks don’t want their appearance altered to look like the sex they identify with.

Binary: Used as an adjective to describe the genders female/male or woman/man. Since the binary genders are the only ones recognized by general society as being legitimate, they enjoy an (unfairly) privileged status. Ah, the now familiar privilege canard!  Are you privileged to identify with your biological God-given sex/gender? Notice I resist the false distinction between sex and gender being foisted upon the majority. By calling gender a social construct, they make it sound arbitrary. If indeed you are privileged, you can be grateful, or you can feel guilty. These definers want you to feel guilty. If binary genders are a “privilege”,  what is having your privacy in the bathroom invaded by someone who feels like your sex, but isn’t, and who considers a unisex bathroom option as “exclusionary”?

Bigender: Refers to those who identify as two genders. Can also identify as multigender (identifying as two or more genders). Do not confuse this term with Two-Spirit, which is specifically associated with Native American and First Nations cultures. Two or more genders? How many? How ridiculous is this getting?

Cissexism: Systemic prejudice in the favor of cisgender people. Prejudice, by whom? Is not wanting to share a bathroom with someone who looks like the opposite sex prejudice? If you mistakenly use the “deadname” or wrong pronoun for  trans person, and can be blocked from social media or fired from your job because, is that not prejudice?

It’s like I said, this is a war of lexicons and concepts. I never wanted LGBTQ’ers to be denied a job or promotion, or bullied or assaulted  because of who they are. Today, however, that’s less of a systemic problem than individuals, politicians and employers being harassed or threatened because they won’t accept special privileges for the LGBTQ posse.   

The Bible and the Belt.

I just read a piece about Tua Tagovailoa, the transcendent quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Because the piece was on Deadspin, Gabe Fernandez chose to focus on what he loftily proclaimed was the “shitty parenting”, especially by Tua’s father Galu. Tua said the that his dad would spank him with a belt for bad performances, and that he was raised by “the Bible and the belt.” So if his upbringing was so “shitty”, why doesn’t he resent his dad, the Bible or the discipline? Ah contraire, even the same writer admits he idolizes his dad. Tua also loves the Bible and his Christian upbringing. Where’s the anger, the depression, the bitterness that the pundits of our oh so healthy culture say is the inevitable result of “hitting your kids?”

A loving spanking is not hitting. When we were raising our three daughters, we studied the art of spanking and how it fit into a program of loving discipline. The rules we observed were: never discipline while you are angry; never make discipline about you or your feelings; spanking is not for accidental behavior, like spilling the milk, unless the child deliberately did it as an act of rebellion or defiance; if the parents believe that a spanking is appropriate, they should make sure that they are in a spirit of calm and love; you begin by asking the child what they did wrong or what they are being punished for, and if they don’t know or understand, explain it. Example: “you broke your sister’s toy after we told you to leave it alone. “You knowingly disobeyed and broke something that was not yours.” Depending upon the child’s age, you protect their modesty by leaving their bottom covered while you spank. Never use your hand, but rather a flexible rod, which will sting but not injure. Administer only enough spanks to turn their heart and attitude to repentance, to break the rebellion. How will you know? Our requirement was that our daughters would say, “I was wrong for ___________, will you forgive me?” Then you hug and tell her you love her. Saying I’m sorry is NOT the same as admitting to how you wronged someone–it is NOT adequate. What passes for an apology in our enlightened world–“I apologize” or “I’m sorry” doesn’t touch the heart and does not indicate repentance. It is meaningless.

If your child refuses to admit their wrong, or to ask for forgiveness, or to hug you back, the rebellion is not broken. Now I need to be very clear on what you are trying to accomplish. Every person has a will and a spirit. Socialization is a process of training their will to desire harmony, honesty, cooperation and other mature attitudes, without injuring their spirit. Anger, yelling and name calling crush the spirit without any beneficial effect on the will. Spanking is designed for directing the will, and if administered lovingly, will not injure the spirit. The resentment, anger, depression and rebellion we see so often among teenagers are symptoms of an injured or crushed spirit. Lashing out in anger, or yelling at and cursing the child, will reliably produce anti social attitudes and behavior. When I returned from Vietnam, I lived in a low income neighborhood in Philadelphia. I would pick up trash from the pavement on my way to the bus daily, and would see kids just throwing trash on the ground. When I would say, “this is our neighborhood, why would you want to mess it up?” The answer I got most of the time was some variation of “if the Man doesn’t care about how I live, why should I?” Of course, I would say “the Man doesn’t live here, we do.” All that ever accomplished was curses or being shown a gun in the waistband.

I wondered at such an attitude, then one day in a convenience store I saw a probable answer. There was a little boy, probably 8 or so, who was reaching for a bag of chips that his mother didn’t want. She smacked him in the mouth and yelled at him, then pushed him away. Maybe she thought she was doing right. She was actually creating a delinquent. A few years of that and his default behavior will be violent.

When Tua was accepted to university of Alabama, his whole family moved from Hawaii to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The writer mentions that tidbit in passing. What “shitty parenting.” I noticed an interesting phenomenon as I was writing this post on an iPad. The device refused to complete the word “spanking”, even after I used it six times. I could type out spankin and it would still not complete the word. Hom yields homosexual, les yields lesbian, gender d yields gender dysphoria. That’s Apple’s morality police for you.

Guilt or gratitude.

There is a horrible, wasting disease epidemic scourging my country. The CDC, hospitals, and the best of modern medical science are all helpless to slow it down, let alone stop it. People who succumb to it become sour, then bitter, then start to waste away. The cure for it is available to everyone, free of charge, but few reach for it. Both the carriers and the victims of this disease spread it deliberately, not aware of what they are doing. they don’t realize it’s a killer, it masquerades as something else. The symptoms can include depression, obesity, alcohol and drug abuse, self mutilation, an urge to violence

This disease is ingratitude, but the carriers and victims think it’s sophistication. They easily see and bemoan the privilege of others: white privilege, male privilege, rich privilege. They say that evidence of your privilege is to be unaware of it. I will admit, it is probably easier in most ways to be caucasian and male than to have more melanin or XX chromosomes, though I have no way of knowing how my life would have turned out had my chromosomes been different. Neither do you. Therefore, I have no reason to be guilty about the privileges I had nothing to do with. I am grateful, if indeed my melanin content or gender is a privilege. Isn’t that the healthy, sane response to a privilege? By accusing me of being privileged, do you expect me to feel guilt?

If you are a citizen of the United States, is that not a great privilege? Did you have anything to do with that? If not, your appropriate response is gratitude. If so, if you or your parents made great sacrifices so that you could eventually become a citizen, I don’t even have to advise you to be grateful. You are probably even more grateful than I am. The guilt mongers who were born U.S. citizens, which is most of them, probably don’t think of their privilege, and regularly spit on it rather than give thanks. But you who had to earn your citizenship probably give thanks regularly.

I was born here, but unlike my skin tone and gender, I am consciously and regularly grateful. Every time I cross the border from Washington to Idaho, I marvel at the absence of checkpoints with armed guards. Every time I go to the grocery store, I marvel at the abundance. Every time I walk out my door to a peaceful neighborhood, I marvel at the absence…. of gunfire, of decapitated bodies hanging from bridges, of armed gangs demanding my money or my life. Every time I vote, I marvel that armed thugs are not lounging by the polling place (full disclosure, I always vote by mail, but I have passed many polling places). I hope to take the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles and back, and I will marvel that no armed soldiers will be getting on at any stops, demanding my papers and dragging some of my fellow riders away.

So complainers, whiners, guilt mongers, scolds, ingrates, who are ultra privileged to be citizens here, but unaware of their privilege, isn’t that the definition of privilege, you are unaware? But that’s not what you mean, eh? What say you to them, new american citizens? Probably try a little gratitude…or a lot!

A microcosm of why humanity fights wars.

Hayden, Idaho is a small town in a beautiful location in northern Idaho. I have been there numerous times and never realized there’s a war going on. No, not the one you expect in a place sometimes connected to “white supremacists” and “neo-nazis” (not my terms, just parroting the national media). The war, between a man and a homeowner association, is over a Christmas display, but it’s as bitter as most other wars. No one has been killed….yet. You may be thinking, “what does a silly disagreement over lights have to do with real war?” We’re talking 200,000 lights, but even so…..

I read about this war in The Inlander, a Spokane alternative newspaper. The article was well written, and tried to be fair and objective. The writer presented both sides pretty evenhandedly, no one was demonized, no one was evil, both sides tried multiple times to find agreement. The conditions for a negotiated truce were present, all except one, and no one, including the writer who was neutral, seems to understand that missing condition was crucial for preventing the war. I have to tell the story first, leaving out real names, since this could happen anywhere.

There was a man, call him Kris, who in 2014, put on a truly massive Christmas display, complete with 200,000 lights, a live camel named Dolly for the nativity scene, cotton candy machine, a professional mandolin player and volunteers dressed as Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, Christmas elves, the Grinch and Clifford the Christmas Dog. The festival lasted 8 days. It raised Thousands of dollars for kids with cancer. Everyone loved it, including presumably astronauts circling the earth, except for some of his closest neighbors. Grinches, no doubt. Whether by popularity or special revelation, Kris became convinced that God wanted him to do this every year. And 2015, he decided, would be even bigger and better. That’s logical, since Hayden is nothing if not roomy. Due to the complexity of the situation, I am going to paraphrase the writer.

Just two days after Christmas, Kris and his wife go house hunting. He tells his real estate agent to find a place outside the city of Hayden, where he wouldn’t have to worry about getting permits for Christmas shows. he consults with lawyers to make sure that his planned Christmas Light Show wouldn’t break any of the rules in the subdivision’s neighborhood covenant. He calls the president of the West Hayden Estates Homeowners Association, and gives her a heads up about the massive five-day Christmas bash he’d be bringing to their quiet neighborhood. He tells her that he considers it his ministry. So at a tense meeting at a Caffe Capri in Hayden, Kris offers the board an ultimatum: De-annex his house from the HOA — freeing him from its oversight — and he would agree to not pursue legal action. Yes, the neighborhood covenants require three-fourths of his neighbors to agree to boot him from the HOA, but he wants the board to convince them. 

“Instead, in February 2015, the HOA board sends out a message to the other 48 homes of West Hayden Estates, warning them Kris was threatening ‘legal action’ if they did not approve his holiday light show. Kris fires off own rebuttal letter to the neighborhood, accusing the board of lying in its letter and arguing it had violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against him. All this before he even gets his house keys. So in March, he and his wife move into a neighborhood that has already begun to resent them. For months it’s quiet. But finally, in October — after he finishes putting up his Christmas lights — he gets a letter from the HOA’s attorney claiming his Christmas show would be ‘be offensive to the senses,’ congest traffic and violate the neighborhood’s covenants. The letter threatens litigation and gives him 10 days to respond. 

Kris responds with a single word: ‘Nuts.’ (I should point out that the response is exactly what general Anthony McAuliffe, acting commander of the 101st. airborne, said in response to a German demand to surrender during the WWII Battle of the Bulge). And then he calls in the artillery. He sends an email to national media outlets. Fox News, which had been beating the ‘War on Christmas’ drum for a decade, laps it up. ‘It seems to me the homeowners association has a legitimate concern about crowds and traffic and livestock,’ right-wing Fox pundit Todd Starnes opines. ‘But I suspect this has more to do with Christianity than camels.’ 

Now I must pause a moment to point out that the bias of the writer is starting to seep out. Starnes is described as a “right wing pundit”. While I believe that Starnes’ opinion is wrong, what is achieved by labeling him in a way to stoke the fires of resentment among the readers of The Inlander? I did describe it as “an alternative newspaper”, but it is recognized around here that their readership is overwhelmingly liberal. While Fox News cultivates conservative audiences, The Inlander cultivates the liberal. Perfectly okay, there’s no other way for media to survive today. Most people don’t want actual, unbiased news, they want their own opinions validated.

Some Christians might have seen all the anger as a sign that God actually didn’t want Kris to hold this event. Instead, after intense prayer, he drew the opposite conclusion: That his faith was being tested and he should hold strong. ‘When he was a kid, he says, he heard the Bible story of the Jews who braved the flames of a Babylonian furnace rather than bow down before an idol — and asked himself if he would have that same sort of courage. I wanted to have the faith of a martyr,’ he says.” Noble sentiment, and courageous, in the proper context, which is NOT an argument over a Christmas display. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Jewish youth who had been enslaved by Babylon (those were names given to them by Babylon, not their Jewish birth names), staked their lives on their stand for God.

“He doesn’t leave. The HOA withdraws its lawsuit threat. The 2015 Hayden Christmas Light Show proceeds. Kris decides to pay former law enforcement officers, armed and undercover, to patrol his show. There were more guns in front of this street than you would ever believe,” he later tells a neighbor. Ultimately, the guards aren’t needed. For two hours for five nights, Kris’s house glows a brilliant white. “Look at all the people you made happy,” a visitor tells him, as he pans his camera to show the camel and the donkey and the assembled crowd. For Kris it’s bittersweet. His wife isn’t there: With all the threats and media attention, she chose to stay at her mom’s house in Virginia rather than attend the Christmas Light Show. 

“In February 2016, the board sends out a Happy New Year’s letter passing along complaints about Kris’s show, including littering, a crushed culvert pipe, impeded traffic and “children urinating on bushes and in the snow.” Kris is furious — again threatening a lawsuit if his house isn’t de-annexed. Even if he still has to pay the equivalent of HOA dues, he says, he just wants to be free. He ups the ante for his 2016 show. Somebody from San Francisco donates 10 miles of Christmas lights. He brings in a crane to put them up and installs a separate 400-amp electrical panel to keep them powered. The more lights, he reasons, the more visitors, the more powerful his ministry. Costume designers turn donated upholstery into 23 new outfits. Volunteers plan to dress up as Roman centurions to collect ‘taxes’ — voluntary donations — for the two charities.

“So with the statute of limitations about to expire in January of 2017, Kris makes good on his years of litigation threats: He sues the HOA under the Fair Housing Act, demanding $250,000 in punitive damages, on top of damages for ‘shock, humiliation, embarrassment, inconvenience, and economic loss’ his family incurred. When the news of his lawsuit breaks, Kris gets a Facebook message from a stranger warning him, ‘I would watch my back and your family’s back. Be a bummer if something happened.’ When Christmas of 2017 rolls around, in the midst of his lawsuit, his house remains dark. It’s not that he’s given up, he says. He’s just worried that because of a stunt gone wrong or intentional violence, somebody could get hurt. He says he keeps his kids inside because they might get hurt. But Kris also filters his experience through another story: The book of Exodus. He thinks that God may have hardened the hearts of the homeowners association — like he did with Pharaoh’s refusal to let the Israelites go amid the plagues of Egypt — for God’s greater glory. 

“‘Sometimes God wants to show a great work,’ he says, ‘a miracle, a parting of the Red Sea.’ And now he’s heading for his promised land. He won’t be holding another Christmas Light Show in the West Hayden Estates. Instead, he wants to move to a big stretch of private property where he can build ‘New Bethlehem’, an entire Christmas nativity village of shops and actors. ‘Through all the strife that my family endured, in the end I know that God’s name was lifted up,’ Kris says.” No Kris, you got your way, but God’s name was not lifted up, it was blasphemed, by you, trying to baptize your willfulness with Bible verses and drawing false equivalences between true, God ordained trials of faith–the Babylonian captivity and the Exodus–and your refusal to compromise for the sake of peace. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23. That passage describes what Godly dealings look like.

“The Christmas movie version of this saga, of course, would end with both Kris and the HOA delivering a neat little Christmas lesson. The spirit of Christmas isn’t about camels or candy canes. It’s about love and generosity. Having a great neighborhood isn’t about tidy lawns or trimmed hedges. It’s about living in harmony, cherishing even the neighbors who sometimes drive you crazy.”  The writer is mostly correct, but leaves out the vital piece: Christ himself. It is His spirit which allows willful, stubborn, prideful human beings to love, be generous, and cherish people who drive you crazy. The missing piece I alluded to at the beginning was a true spirit of love, which would have allowed both Kris and the HOA to truthfully examine their own motives, to negotiate with the goal of finding a solution everyone could live with in harmony. Instead, we see self righteousness, ultimatums and threats. This microcosm is why we have wars. Christ is peace, the “fruit of the spirit.”

I’m a ruff tuff creampuff!

The Urban Dictionary describes: “One of the many, many priceless contributions from R. Crumb – perhaps passed along by this misanthropic genius from someone else. It refers to a male with a ferocious posture, threatening gaze and aggressive stance, but a guy who will actually cave in and whimper when faced down in earnest.

I must guiltily admit that back when I was 25, in 1971, I voraciously enjoyed what were called “head comics”, the term “head” referring to people who smoked dope i.e. marijuana. The most popular and probably sickest creator of these counterculture icons was Robert Crumb, better known as R. Crumb. Among his many characters were a few I still remember: Mr. Natural, Artsy Fartsy and Ruff Tuff Creampuff. While researching some R. Crumb characters, I just discovered that there is a website called rufftuffcreampuff.com, a personal lifestyle and fitness blog of sorts, by a woman named Eliza who used to be fat but is now fit. I recommend it, she’s funny and self deprecating, which bespeaks true confidence.

But my title refers to neither she nor the R. Crumb character. Rather, I am thinking about all those snowflakes and creampuffs who think they are too tough to need or believe in a sovereign God, yet who need “safe spaces”, “hate speech” police, disagreement-free zones, and other thumbsucking cultural blankies. They certainly whimper when faced down in earnest–individually–but in a pack or mob they can be vicious and aggressive. Antifa is a good example. Does anyone even know the names of individuals in that pack? Many wear bandannas over their faces, some wear masks, others wear expressions so twisted with hate and fear that their friends wouldn’t recognize the mild mannered creampuff from their everyday interactions. What’s next, hoods? Burning swastikas?

Is aggressiveness when part of a mob, courage? It appears to me that the pattern of violence from so-called progressives, leftists, radicals is mob related and often anonymous, and if building a following, they are mostly motivated by increasing the reach of the mob, while the pattern of violence from the opposite political camp tends to be individuals brooding over perceived slights, then seeking recognition through violence rather than anonymity. Since the corporate, national–reach media like CNN, MSNBC, Washington Post, NY Times and TV networks, the self appointed opinion mediators, love to highlight the violence of “domestic terrorists” who are by default “white supremacists”, whether they are or not, and downplay the violence of the “anti-fascists”, whose tactics are identical to the actual fascists–go figure–their emphasis is on the body count of victims of brooding, mentally unstable, white killers. Idiots like Don Lemon of CNN feel free to make up “statistics” to validate their prejudices, as if bloodshed is the only measure of social damage.

The crazy people tend to act alone, and are usually objects of scorn or pity. Few sane individuals are influenced by their rants and acts. I propose another measure of societal damage, that of ruined minds, futilely searching for peace of mind through the illusion of autonomy. How many malleable college students, confused children, clueless parents, craven corporate figureheads, attention-starved youth and directionless idealists have been lured or pressured into the morass of damaging “progressive” fads and theories? I will borrow a marketing phrase from the United Negro College Fund: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Beware the ruff tuff creampuffs’ mind-wasting cant.