The splattered Koran

Recall the rather unconvincing and callous explanation that some copies of the Koran were — what was it? — “splashed with urine” at Guantanamo —

well, in my never-ending combing of the Internet (I was reading about adaptive interior design for persons with physical disabilities) I found an article on the toilet habits of Muslims that makes the infraction — but the religious and nudity humiliation — all the more distressing.

One for the files.

Designing Public Restrooms for the Muslim Culture

Reprinted from Bathroom Today.

Wicca-licious day in the blogosphere

There are two interesting developments on the blogosphere with a Wiccan or neo-Pagan theme.

First, there is last Wednesday’s posting by Andy T of Searching for a Better Way, a Wiccan who wrote “I’ve Been Reading The Bible” .

He comes up with a rather Jeffersonian tack to the Gospel, and is rather pleased by what he reads coming out of Jesus’ mouth. He writes: “Sorry man, but I don’t see any Christ in many of the present day “Christian” churches. Instead they remind me of college fraternities where a select, chosen few are welcome and the rest are turned away at the door.”

Such a selective reading of the Gospels has its perils (mainly for Christians) but you have call this a postive interfaith exchange.

Likewise, read Andii Bowsher at Nouslife picked up on this story and thanks to him for writing on it first. He also commented at the article above.

UU Pagan writer Jason Pitzl-Waters (The Wildhunt Blog) wraps up some of these themes nicely in “Communicating.”

In other news, TallSkinnyKiwi spreads the news (“Will Wicca Be America’s 3rd Religion?“) that Wicca may be the United States’ next “third” religion, after Christianity and Judaism by 2030. Like him, I’m a little dubious of the numbers and the source, but the Wicca mainline doesn’t seem to be. When these kind of news stories come fron fundamentalist Christian sources, I have to wonder about motive.

See “Christians and Pagans Agree, Wicca Emerging as America’s Third Religion” through the frames atWitchcraft Today.

Being a Lutheran brother

I heard Hubby say, “I guess he’s here,” and called me by first baptismal name, “William! the phone.”

It was a customer service rep from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which I got into as a wee one via its Lutheran Brotherhood predecessor. She wanted to know if there was anything my agent could do for me. I have a life insurance policy.

Yes, I could use a beneficiary form, and some information about IRAs.

And then she said something about a member benefit — if I had not already received one — what? a tax calculator? an kitchen appliance, perhaps? discount tickets to the cinema, perhaps?

“. . . . one of three devotionals.” Ah. Lutheran devotionals.

Now they had my attention. One was large-print — not a good sign for me — and another was from the Missouri Synod’s Concordia Press: not a likely choice.

Still, I’m feeling a bit silly giddy that my insurance company sends devotionals. I’ll let you know how it is when it arrives.

Death watch

Simply put: I’m a bit weary of the public death-watching. Especially after Easter. That’s all.

If you love me, let me go

My friend (and neighbor) Terrance and I don’t usually blog on the same things, but his post (“Compassionate Release on Terry Schaivo deserves a link and an elaboration. I go back and forth on the theory of euthanasia and the suspension of life-sustaining aid — there are serious theological issues here — but for crying out loud! This matter has been settled in the courts, has exhausted her husband’s efforts, and now and the congressional Republications need their heads examined (again) at the thought they’d use subpoena power to drag that poor woman to Congress. Does anyone still remember the day when leading Republicans would have fought bravely against this kind of governmental intrusion into personal lives? And why are these same leaders pitting a husband against a birth family? What happend to to the sanctity of marriage? I hope this measure backfires.

Well, anyway. Terrance links back a defunct, former employer’s website which has state-specific advanced directive forms for download. Read his entry, but even if you don’t be sure to visit the remaining information page of Parnership for Caring. I’ve already downloaded the advanced directive forms for the District of Columbia.

Weighed down by books

I’m going to try to loose 100 pounds this month: all paper. I have books, books, books, and paper files galore. Clearly, my book buying phases have not benefited from the Internet revolution. (Or if they have, God forbid the number of books I would have now.)

The sad thing is that I only use a small fraction of the books I have in any given month. I feel this most poignantly when

  • I pay my credit card bill, which still bears the scars of impulse book buying.
  • Ditto, my student loan.
  • In my back when I try to move them.
  • and of course the trobbing in my temples when I try to find one I actually need.

So, first, I’ gleening my files of those papers that exist as a word processor or PDF file on my home computer and on the Internet. But the book question is bigger. We’re taught to love them, and spend all available money on them: it isn’t right or proper to talk people out of buying books, is it? (Disclosure: I sell books in my Day Job.)

Well, I’m coming up up with my own gotta-have list. Now I need you to add your must haves in the comments.

Barbershop tale

I now have very, very short hair. Despite instructions to the contrary — there was an understandable communication gaffe; plus, I would rather have hair too short than too long — I seem to have a #2 guard cut all over my head, for those out there who knows what that means. Put another way, it is too short to comb. I trimmed my beard twice to keep it in proportion. Also, it literally towel dries.

But I like it. And I like the experience of my neighborhood barbershop. Though all the barbers are black, the clientele is a represenative male mix of blacks, Anglos (mostly gay I’d say) and Latinos. Judging from the photos on the wall, the politics there are classically populist Democratic. This is a great “third place.”

About the time I saw my recruitment-poster ‘do, Stan the barber and I had a little chat about origins. He’s from Newberry, South Carolina. (I used to preach there, and have a friend from there. Katharine, do comment.) He knows where Anderson’s Shoes is, my Hubby’s hometown, and the apocryphal tale of why Pomaria, S.C. is named the way it is. (There was no “po’ Maria.”)

In a few moments, I got more than headtop of fuzz; I was reminded of home, and made a heartwarming connection. The barbershop has been for so many people and places a place of community and solace. Oh, do I have to spell it out. A church should be at least as much to its parish, which is more than its membership. An outward-oriented sense — “us to the unknown people out” — has been too often confused with true evangelism.

So, I don’t begrudge Tom Schade his analysis of churches idolatrous and prophetic, but I don’t get a good sense of how JLA’s church would minister to its members as well as it would minister to the rest of the world. And I think the basic Christian mission today is to reorient the faithful towards the “unrewarded option” of communion with God in Christ and away from meaninglessness. That’s a good place to be, and a good place to act from.

P.s. The irony is that there are two anomy-filled films on the tube right now: Fight Club and The Matrix.

John Ashcroft gone; a better or worse future?

One of the top reasons I wanted Sen. Kerry in office over a return of Pres. Bush is because the latter appointed John Ashcroft as Attorney General. Now he’s gone, and no tears over his gall badder either. It seems to me to be a perfect illness for such a man as he.

But Demosthenian friend Hope wonders if his successor will be as bad or worse?

Perhaps, but those who love freedom (and know its costs; as opposed to those who want order, and know the price) have at least one thing working for us: We’re ready this time. No honeymoon; no deference; no grace period.

So, let’s start with something pretty obvious, and traditionally vital for Christians. Of course, I mean the state of prisoners at Guantanamo.