Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization: South Carolina, Take Down That Flag

  Click to read Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 in the “Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization” series.   The eyes of the world rest upon South Carolina. I would say the eyes of the “civilized” world, except I have a little trouble using that descriptor for any planet that has had so many global genocides in the past several centuries that its online encyclopedia requires an alphabetize function for users. And don’t even get me started on the fact that it takes a full minute to scroll through Wikipedia’s “List of Serial Killers by Number of Victims” article.   We’ll get to the Confederate Flag, positioned like a racist hood ornament on the South Carolina State House grounds, in a moment. By the way, I took the photo used for this article. That devil-begotten quadrilateral piece of fabric flies about two miles from where I’m typing this article. For years, I have passed that flag multiple times every day. I have walked within spitting distance of it countless times on the way to work meetings.   I even took this video of Ole Dixie a few days ago during the historic Take the Flag Down Rally. “TAKE IT DOWN! TAKE IT DOWN!” Has a…

Read More

Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization: Part I

  Click to read Parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 in the “Humanity, Not Quite Ready for Civilization” series.   Despite such advancements as the particle collider and Lean Cuisines (not to mention Steak-umms), humanity, it seems, is not quite ready for Civilization.   In fact, I am beginning to realize that Civilization is only now just being born.   …   Last summer, my young daughter and I sat on the steps of a local community pool, resting in the shallow water following a rigorous swim. Nearby were several young adults, a man and two women. They were tan and fit—seemingly invincible specimens of our species. Exemplars of Evolution. Soaking in the rays of the modest star that nurtures life on our world.   A honeybee alighted upon the rim of an empty soda can at the pool edge. Apis mellifera. A most innocent winged creature—for millennia, a pollinating friend of human harvest. And at that particular moment, fatefully tempted by the wafting scent of high fructose corn syrup.   One of the female hominids in our company spotted the insect and shrieked. The adult male toolmaker grabbed the can, flipped it over and…

Read More

“As-salamu alaykum, What’s up, Bro?” The Many Graces of Allah

    “As-salamu alaykum, What’s up, Bro?”—The Many Graces of Allah (CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)     I have been in many mosques, but I have never truly been to a mosque—not as a worshiper of God…     April 27, 2015 /…

Read More

Reading the General, or Ixnay on the “Sherman Didn’t Burn Enough” Bumper Sticker

  Then sang we a song of our chieftain That echoed over river and lea; And the stars of our banner shone brighter When Sherman marched down to the sea! *   One-hundred fifty years ago this week, General William Tecumseh Sherman sat on a log on the Broad River—not far from where I type this evening—and watched a pontoon bridge being built. Soon his 65,000-soldier Union army would cross that river and enter Columbia, “the capital of the haughty state that instigated and forced forward this treason which has brought on desolating war.” That is how General Sherman’s aide-de-camp, George Ward Nichols, described the South Carolina capital, at the time a critical Confederate administrative city.   (What a coincidence that Columbia now serves as a Tea Party mecca and political funding guinea pig. Perhaps that fate could have been prevented had a mysterious match never been struck.)   While on the west bank of the river, Sherman ordered a soldier to cross and send assurance to his family friend “that we no destruction of any private property in Columbia at all.” In his memoirs, Sherman states that he caused no deaths in the city to…

Read More

“Papa, if God wants to bring us peace and light, why did he…”

      Papa, if God wants to bring us peace and light, why did he… (CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)         I don’t always allow my daughter, who is seven, to read during church service. Technically, it’s Mass, as we are Roman Catholic. But I grew up in an Evangelical charismatic church, and sometimes it still feels funny to use the “M” word…         February 5, 2015 /…

Read More

Je Suis Charlie / Je Suis Satirist / Je Suis Jesus

  for the brave men and women of Charlie Hebdo, and other fallen victims in Paris, plus Erin Nanasi, top-notch satirist   JE SUIS CHARLIE.   JE SUIS SATIRIST.   JE SUIS JESUS.   In its heyday, Columbia City Paper was like a journalistic Roman candle borne from a twisted Hunter S. Thompson dream. How to explain? Perhaps as such: once upon a time, three of us associated with this once-and-former, infamous South Carolina alt weekly paper sat at a bar with columnist Dan Savage. While we downed beers, he congratulated us on what we had been able to accomplish on a shoestring budget in a capital city where the Confederate Flag flew defiantly upon the State House grounds within our sight.   It meant a lot for someone of Savage’s caliber to pat us on the back. However, I was drinking bourbon that night, not beer. I felt so guilty when Savage picked up the tab that I later mailed a $20 bill to his editorial offices in Seattle. Scout’s honor. Those were the days.   We were engaged in such gonzo journalism at the time that I had to hide my identify. This made for some pretty fun pseudonyms. I was J. Pelikan…

Read More

Today, the Revolution Did Not Happen (but it May Have Started)

  An Argentinian Catholic, a Tibetan Buddhist, a Pakistani Muslim and an American Lesbian Talk Show Host walk into a bar.   Bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve your kind here.”   The foursome exchanges looks and replies, “Well, damn! Then who do you serve?!” . …   Today, the Revolution did not happen.   (But it may have started.)   Instead, injustice continued to reign because human beings allowed their self-interests to be quashed—including such basic self-interests as equitable access to education, healthcare, even shelter and food and water. Though perhaps we’ve had it when it comes to not being allowed to breathe.   Many of us allowed ourselves to be sheep-penned by the invisible American caste system. We allowed pastors and aldermen and Morning Joe talking heads and any number of other system shepherds to convince us that Jesus or Mayor Rahm, or sometimes both, want us to be on the outside looking in. It’s our destiny. If we only had more faith and less melanin and the right parents, things might be different. Ho-hum.   I don’t mean to discount the efforts of the…

Read More

The Tenth Crusade: ISIS, Senator Cruz and the Military Industrial Complex Walk Into a Bar…

  To His Eminence, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Al-Husseini Al-Qurashi, Supreme Puba of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham:   We all know that a Tenth Crusade benefits us all. You kill as many of us as you can; we’ll kill as many of you as we can.   Let’s keep the machine of war well-oiled, then spoil some virgins together in the afterlife and count our coins. And all that jazz.   Sincerely,   The Pentagon, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Pat Robertson, Senator Cruz, et al.   … . This evening, I was contemplating the bizarre events of the Fourth Crusade, and how Christians intent on “liberating” the Holy Land made a pit stop in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1204 and proceeded to sack the city, raid the great cathedral of Hagia Sophia, and rape and murder fellow Christians in such a bloodthirsty manner that more than one historian has described these events as the worst crime spree in recorded history.   One could argue that it’s senseless—even perverted—to rank massacres. Even so, I imagine that historians who know something about the Rape of Nanking might challenge the…

Read More

Mark Driscoll and the Amazing Technicolor Evangelical Funhouse Mirror Sexual Worldview (Swedish Batteries Not Included)

  Mark Driscoll and the Amazing Technicolor Evangelical Funhouse Mirror Sexual Worldview (Swedish Batteries Not Included) (CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)   Perhaps the recent tsunami wave of “Mark Driscoll Penis House” headlines has finally subsided to the point where one can write on the subject of the American Christian sexual worldview for a reason other than to gain an easy 10,000 views—and perhaps with a little substance in mind. …   September 26, 2014 / Patheos / Faith…

Read More

Happy Birthday, Leo Tolstoy! Sincerely, Gandhi

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LEO TOLSTOY!   Any of the tens of millions of Internet users who headed over to Google today noticed a special Google Doodle marking the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy’s 186th birthday. Normally we associate the literary Count with epic tomes like War and Peace and Anna Karenina. We think of glimmering ballrooms with officers in full regalia and dames in dazzling dresses, of trains speeding across snowy tundra, and of a whole host of unpronounceable surnames that send many of us rushing to George R.R. Martin as the 500-plus-page novelist of choice. (Besides, Tolstoy didn’t provide much in the way of dragons.)   While many associate Tolstoy’s works with military campaigns, such as the French invasion of Russia and the epic novella Hadji Murat, few realize that Tolstoy was a pivotal figure in the 20th century peace movement. In fact, his staunch anti-militarism cost him his communion with the Russian Orthodox Church: “Leo Tolstoy, who felt only contempt for militarism, enormously admired those Doukhobors who refused to bear arms, came to their aid and incurred the strongest disapproval of the state, including excommunication from the…

Read More