Where have all the flowers gone?

We tried to go to a Bellamy Brothers concert last night.

The evening began with a rousing tribute to our brave and glorious troops, after which the crowd burst into spontaneous applause because they, too, love our brave and glorious troops.

Then we were compelled to rise and recite the pledge of allegiance (I declined), after which the woman next to us, grinning from ear to ear, shouted “AMEN!” Several men, overcome with emotion, pumped their fists in the air.

Nobody but me seemed to notice that there wasn’t actually a flag present.

Over an hour later the band still had not taken the stage. We looked around at the stone-faced polyester stretch pants and western shirts mindlessly contemplating their cell phones, and decided to call it a night.

We’re giving up.

In the future, we’ll drive a little farther to attend concerts that are more focused on music than some weird political/religious litmus test.  East Texas is not for us.

Pete Seeger used to host a famous Strawberry Shortcake Festival in New England. It was purposely, decidedly non-political. He just wanted everyone to come, have some strawberry shortcake, and enjoy singing songs and each other’s company.

I miss Pete.


As If

Mona and I went to see a David Phelps concert at a nearby church last week. It didn’t go well.

I’m not Christian, but I was raised Catholic so I know all the stories. I enjoy devotional music of all faiths, and like David Phelps in particular. I have a few of his albums.

But from the moment I walked in, I felt a very bad vibe. I stood out, and not in a good way. I have long hair and a long beard, and my t-shirt had a picture of Pete Seeger on it. I found myself surrounded by clean-shaven men with very short hair, polo shirts tucked into their belted waistbands. I was the only one wearing sneakers.

A lady sat down next to us, smiled, and said, “We’re a very inclusive church here. We even have some Negroes and Chinese!” She considered this for a second. “They might not be Chinese. I don’t know what they are.”

If I could digress for just a second here: Madalyn Murray O’Hair didn’t set out to file a lawsuit ending mandatory prayer in public schools. Before taking such a drastic step she had gone to the school and explained that, as an atheist, she simply wanted her own child to be excused. The school agreed that he wouldn’t have to pray, but insisted that he would still have to stand, bow his head, clasp his hands, and move his lips as if he were praying. They considered this a reasonable compromise.  (She disagreed.)

And that’s pretty much the East Texas definition of inclusiveness: we’ll allow you to exist, all we ask in return is that you believe the things we believe, do the things we do, say the things we say, and look the way we look. If you can’t do that, well, it’s a free country– and by that we mean you’re free to go, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I could see the sideways glances direct my way, and I wasn’t happy about being the local sideshow freak, but thought that once the lights went out and the show started, we’d be fine.

Unfortunately, the show stunk. You would never believe these were professional musicians. They seemed intimidated and confused by the instruments in their hands. The mix was all wrong– every time the bass player plucked a note, the lead singer was completely drowned out.

We gave it a few songs, hoping the engineer would notice and fix it, but he didn’t.

So, we called it a night and snuck out early. The ushers glared at us.  One literally shook his finger at me.

I briefly considered giving him a finger of my own, but didn’t.

I was in a church, after all.

All sense of proportion

Via Ron Davison, who maintains a blog HERE.

I have a knee-jerk reaction against the term “political correctness.” In my life, I’ve never heard anyone denied their right to say unkind things– but I’ve heard a lot of people say unkind things followed by “I guess I’m not ‘politically correct,’ hur-hur, hur-hur,” apparently believing that the suffix converts them from bigots and bullies into Fearless Defenders of Free Speech.

I gave this a chance because I trusted Ron’s judgement, and I’m glad I did because it’s brilliant.

(He also pointed out that I’ve been mispronouncing “Cleese” for my entire life.  It’s not pronounced the way you think it is.)

“Other than the burning eyes and cancer, it’s quite safe.”

From the Tyler Morning Telegraph:

This month’s water bill comes with some added reading material – a glossy four-page color pamphlet explaining recent issues with the city’s water supply and assuring residents the water is safe.

Apparently, this is some new definition of “safe” that I haven’t heard before, because what the pamphlet actually says is that the water can irritate our eyes and increase our risk of cancer.

The pamphlet goes on to suggest that if burning eyes and cancer are unacceptable to us, we should buy and install filters to remove the haloacetic acid.


Here in East Texas we get a lot of weird comparison arguments.  Maybe everyone does:

“How can you be concerned about the Cowboy’s running back situation when MILLIONS OF BABIES ARE ABORTED EVERY YEAR!?


How can you be upset about a lion in Africa when THERE ARE COMMUNISTS IN THE FRENCH GOVERNMENT!?

And my response is always the same:  “All that is very well, but let us cultivate our garden.” (source)


My neighbor told me today that Jesus is going to punish America for allowing abortion.  This wasn’t just rhetoric for her, she truly believes it, and she’s scared.

But here’s the thing:  There was a time when abortion was illegal, prayer in school was mandatory, and gays were safely ensconced in the closet.  This was the time of the Great Depression, the polio epidemic, and two world wars.

Since then we’ve legalized abortion, removed state-sponsored prayer from schools, and gays are allowed to walk freely among us- and we’ve entered an unprecedented era of peace, health, and prosperity.

There are things she should be legitimately worried about.

Divine retribution should not be on her list.