narcissists, religion, royals, social media, songs, videos, viral

“Let’s all get loaded and go to a tent revival!”

Last night, I happened to see a hilarious TikTok video on Facebook. Someone shared it in the Duggar Family News groupwhite people having a good old fashioned “praise break”. The TikTok user muted the original music and replaced it with “Linus and Lucy”, by Vince Guaraldi. It’s perfect, if you’ve ever seen A Charlie Brown Christmas. Incidentally, my beagle, Arran, reminds me more of Snoopy every day. Especially at dinner time.

We should all move when the spirit strikes us. Maybe if I did that, my beer filled spare tire would deflate a bit.

Someone in the group wrote:

When I was in college we often would get loaded and go to listen to the music at tent revivals. It was an enlightening experience. We did lose one friend, who while under the influence of LSD went up to be saved. He came back a fews days later…

Bwahahahhaha! I had a good laugh at that. It actually sounds like a great way to spend time with friends. I wish I had thought of that when I was young enough to appreciate the entertainment value of a good tent revival. Now that I’m as old as I am, I know that there’s more to religion than praising a higher power. It’s also a hotbed of corrupt people who want to control others.

Still, what a hoot it must be to watch a bunch of rhythm challenged folks catching the spirit and dancing like… well, very inhibited white guys. I’m not the greatest dancer myself, but I do think that’s something we should all learn how to do. Or, at least learn not to be ashamed when the mood strikes us to bust a move. I know… I’m sitting here laughing at white people dancing in church on TikTok. Maybe that’s hypocritical of me. The video would be much less embarrassing if these folks had not been taught to be so inhibited in the first place.

Sore-y guys. The party’s over.

Dammit, why didn’t I find this last month? Guaranteed to make you smile! That is, if you like banjo… and I do. Someday, maybe I’ll learn to play.

These guys are smokin’ hot!

I’m not sure what got me on this topic today. Currently, I am reading two new books. I don’t usually read two at a time, but one of the books is a good, old-fashioned, honest-to-God book. Bill usually falls asleep before I do, and I can’t read regular books in the dark. A couple of nights ago, after I finished reading Spare, I started reading a new Kindle book. The new Kindle book has literally been waiting years to be read. It’s actually a pretty compelling book, too, and not at all like the physical book I’m reading.

The physical book is a true crime story about two terrible murders that happened in Middlesex County, Virginia, back in 1990. The book is very good so far, although I’m having some trouble reading it, because the print is very small. It’s not available on Kindle, which is surprising. People are still interested in reading about this case. I am personally interested, because I grew up in neighboring Gloucester County. I remember when the murders happened. Hopefully, I will finish the book quickly, both because I’m eager to write about this crime, and because reading tiny print is hard on my eyes.

I will also probably write more dedicated posts about Prince Harry’s book, Spare. Maybe I’ll even do that today. I just decided that my first post of today should be different. A whole lot of people are writing reviews and making YouTube videos about Spare. I watched a couple of them yesterday. Reactions to Spare seem mixed. I would say more people like the book than don’t, with many people sympathizing with Harry and Meghan. However, a significant number of readers seem offended by Spare.

Sky News in Australia seem to think that Meghan Markle can “smell” weakness on King Charles III and is “out for blood”. Personally, I wouldn’t give her that much credit. If the British monarchy crumbles, it certainly won’t be because of Meghan Markle. However, the controversies raised by Harry’s book, coupled with the “woke brigade” and people who think the Royal family costs too much, could spell the end of the monarchy. I don’t know.

Personally, I wouldn’t call myself a royalist. I am simply a child of the 80s, and I grew up watching the British Royal Family because they were always in the news. Also, my earliest memories are of living in England. I will admit, though, that Queen Elizabeth II was an exemplary monarch, and it will be extremely difficult to follow her. She had an incredible devotion to service, and she was mostly very appealing to the public. I don’t think King Charles III can come close to his mother’s popularity. However, I do think William might, which is why I think he will eventually be King. Beyond that, who knows? I’ll probably be long dead by the time George could be King.

Harry’s book doesn’t do William any favors at all. Harry makes William sound like an asshole. He describes his interactions with William and Catherine, at least post marriage to Meghan, as tense and angry. He makes William sound unfriendly and intolerant, and Catherine sounds cold and snobby. I, for one, am taking Harry’s comments with a huge grain of salt, though. Because I think his wife is a liar, and is pushing an agenda. Also, I never heard of any of this type of behavior until Meghan came on the scene. Catherine, in particular, has never put a step wrong in public.

Sky News Australia is notoriously anti-Meghan and Harry. I take what they say with a huge grain of salt, because their coverage regarding Harry and Meghan has been very obviously biased and negative. However, if Meghan is really a narcissist, then we can expect a relentless smear campaign. That’s what narcissists do.

I hope Harry prepares, too. If he and Meghan ever have a falling out, she will use his book to cast him in a bad light. He was very frank in the book, with multiple revelations about mental health issues, drug abuse, and questionable behavior (wearing a Nazi uniform, anyone?). If they split up, and there is a custody dispute, it stands to reason that Meghan will point to that book as evidence that he’s not a fit parent. I hope it doesn’t come to that… but I still hear those pesky “N” chimes.

Well, I suppose it’s time to do some housekeeping chores and get back to reading my new books. In the spirit of getting loaded and going to tent revivals, may you all have a blessed Thursday. I encourage you to dance, but try not to emulate the kids on A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Bwaahahahahaaha!

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Duggars, marriage, religion, wingnuts

A big bumper crop of new fundies in 2023…

Yesterday, I noticed that my blog was getting a lot of hits on posts I wrote about fundie Christian families. I know why people are visiting. Recently, there have been a couple of announcements that are making the rounds on the Internet. But no one should be surprised by the news… because it involves newly married, young, relatively healthy people having sex and getting pregnant. This shouldn’t be news… but when you’re in the Duggar family, or the fame lusting Rodrigues family, baby making is your one big job. Gotta make new quiver arrows for the Quiverfull… although if you were to ask them if they’re following the Quiverfull movement, they’d probably deny it.

So, Katey Nakatsu Duggar, wife of Jedidiah Duggar, is now pregnant with her second baby. She’s due in May 2023. Below is the video posted from Jed and Katey’s YouTube channel, announcing Katey’s condition. I don’t feel the need to snark on Jed and Katey. They are a young couple, and this is only their second child. I’m just glad they didn’t announce it the way they did the first time they were expecting a baby. But dayum, they just had their son in the spring of ’22, so maybe they will give Ma and Pa Duggar a run for their money.

Gotta admit, Truett (the baby) is very cute.

Katey is very pretty… and it looks like she’s already getting the voluminous hair that develops when women get pregnant. Not that I know from personal experience… but I do have a lot of relatives and friends who have been pregnant. I didn’t watch the whole video, but I do know that a lot of folks have been commenting that the annual Duggar party was pretty sparsely attended this year. I guess it makes sense, given the pall cast over the family by Josh Duggar’s incarceration. But at least we get to hear Michelle Duggar shrieking that Katey is pregnant at about 7:30 minutes in… sheesh! John and Abbie’s daughter, Gracie, has the best reaction at all. It’s practically memeworthy…

Gracie is also very cute.

John David looks kind of like he’s got one in the oven, too…

The Duggars aren’t the only ones who had big news… nor is Katey the only pregnant Duggar (Joy Anna and Hannah Duggar — Jeremiah’s wife– are also expecting). Jill Rodrigues, whose daughter, Nurie, is married to Anna Duggar’s brother, Nathan, also shared the news that her second married daughter, Kaylee, is preggo. Kaylee only JUST got married in November, so that means she’s only been expecting for about ten minutes. Nurie and Nathan already have two babies– boys, I believe.

Again, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that Kaylee is pregnant. She’s young, healthy, Christian, and married, and that’s what people like her do. As long as they’re able to take care of the baby, that’s all that should really matter. It’s not her fault her mom is a bit snarkworthy. I sincerely hope she has a healthy pregnancy, even if I’m definitely not a fan of extremely religious people. I see from Jill’s Facebook that besides being newly married and expecting their first baby, the happy couple are also brand new homeowners, as of November 24th. They have a lot going on for being so young. I’m 50, and I still haven’t owned my own home or had a baby.

Nice to know they’ve been so busy.

I’ve found that I’m less interested in the fundies, lately. I’ve been too focused on the soap opera that is Ex’s life. But she’s been pretty quiet over the past few days, and besides, I don’t think most people are as interested in her as I am. Alexis has been busy with the big things in her life, and she’s pretty much the only one who pays attention to the drama that is Ex. So, even though I feel compelled to write about her, I know those aren’t my most interesting topics for regular readers.

Younger daughter sent us a video this morning. Her youngest child, who is a baby boy, is just adorable! He appeared to be very hungry, too. 😉 Guess he’s a breast man, like his grandfather.

And it’s also the day before Christmas Eve… which isn’t a big deal at our house, since it’s just Bill and me and our dogs. But this is the time of year when production tends to slow a lot and people are busy with the annual holiday ritual. So it’s hard to come up with anything exciting to write about that is new or fresh, and I don’t want to delve into politics or world events when people are struggling to be happy for the holidays.

I did get my new parka yesterday. It’s very nice, although I probably need to take more walks to get rid of my beer gut. 😉 People will think I’m pregnant… a la Sarah, elderly mother of baby Isaac. My parents would be so proud that I remembered something from Sunday School. But anyway, it’s a very nice new jacket. I will make good use of it. Especially if we have another cold snap like we did last week.

Well… I’m already kind of bored with this topic, so that about does it for me today. In spite of my occasionally snarky comments about fundie Christians, I do hope the expectant mothers in these families have safe, comfortable pregnancies, and they deliver happy, healthy, much beloved babies. And I also hope you have a great Friday! I think I’ll go back to bed and read more of Matthew Perry’s book. 😉

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controversies, music, religion

I didn’t know “Mary, Did You Know” offends some people…

Most people who know me well, know that I am very passionate about music. I love all different kinds, from classical to country to R&B. I have an enormous music library with songs from almost every genre you can think of. Even though I’m not a very religious person, I have a lot of religious music in my catalog. That catalog includes a large number of different interpretations of religious songs, many of which are usually enjoyed during the Christmas holidays. Music helps keep me sane, and before I was married to Bill, it kept me company.

Back in the fall of 1990, when I first started attending what was then Longwood College, I took a voice class for my degree. The class was taught by an adjunct professor named Ann Ory Brown, who also taught at the University of Richmond. Because my parents were involved in music in my hometown, Ms. Brown knew my dad. Her mother was once a concert pianist, and Ms. Brown’s mother directed some locally run choral groups that counted my dad as a member. I, of course, did not know these people at all. I was mostly uninvolved in music when I was growing up, mainly because I didn’t want to do what my parents were doing. But then I took Ms. Brown’s voice class, and she told me I should consider studying voice privately with her. I ended up taking private lessons from her for three semesters, until she stopped teaching at Longwood.

At one point during our time together, Ms. Brown gave me a copy of a Kathleen Battle CD. I don’t remember why she chose to give it to me instead of one of her other students. I remember a voice major who was in my studio actually asked me to give it to her, instead. I chose not to do that, and fell in love with Kathleen Battle’s beautiful, distinctive, crystalline voice. I started collecting Battle’s music, and sometime in the late 1990s, I acquired a Christmas CD she made with a classical guitarist named Christopher Parkening. On that album, there was a song called “Mary, Did You Know.”

Ahh… so pretty.

This was the very first version of “Mary, Did You Know” that I ever heard. I thought the melody was very pretty, especially coupled with Parkening’s intricate guitar playing. It never occurred to me to be offended by the lyrics of this song. I didn’t know anything about the songwriters, Mark Lowry, who wrote the words in 1984, and Buddy Green who wrote the music in 1991. I just enjoyed the music for what it was to me– peaceful and appealing. The whole album, Angels’ Glory, was just relaxing and good for studying, which I was doing at the time, as I was a graduate student when I first bought it.

Some time later, I came across another version of “Mary, Did You Know” done by The Isaacs, who are known for performing bluegrass, gospel, and spiritual music. I love Sonya Isaac’s voice, and she does a gorgeous rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” with her family members– mom, Lily, sister Becky, and brother, Ben. Lily’s ex husband and the father of Sonya, Becky, and Ben, Joe, was a member of the band until 1998, after he and Lily divorced. Last year, The Isaacs were invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry.

According to Wikipedia, Lily Isaacs’ parents were Polish Jewish Holocaust survivors; she was born two years after they were liberated from a concentration camp and two years later, they moved to New York City, where Lily’s musical talent soon became evident. She got her first recording contract in 1958, when she was just ten or eleven years old. In 1970, Lily married Joe Isaacs, and they became Christians after Joe’s brother died in a car accident. Their group exclusively performs bluegrass gospel music.

A live version of The Isaacs’ rendition of “Mary, Did You Know?”

There have been many different interpretations of this song, done by a huge gamut of performers. Kenny Rogers did a version with Wynonna. Dolly Parton has also sung it.

A more pop country version of this song…
And the grande dame of goodness, Dolly Parton, has also sung it.

And so has CeeLo Green!

It’s a long way from his big hit, “Fuck You”.

By now you can see, this song has been recorded to great success by MANY fine musicians, coming from an array of different racial and musical backgrounds, and even representing a broad array of genders and sexual orientations.

Clay Aiken has sung it…

Most of the performers have sung this song earnestly, with great emotion and warmth. While I can’t say that this particular Christmas song is my favorite, I have generally enjoyed most of the versions I’ve heard. It never occurred to me to be affronted by this song. Until last night, that is… when I ran across a very active post on Father Nathan Monk’s Facebook page.

Yikes!

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I’m really getting sick of people trying to tell people what should or should not offend them. I’m no fan of mansplaining, which regular readers of my blog will probably notice, but honestly, I have never thought of the lyrics to “Mary, Did You Know” as offensive in any way. I certainly never thought of them as “mansplaining”! Maybe it’s because the versions with which I am most familiar are sung by women! To me, the lyrics express wonderment and awe. They aren’t about trying to school Mary, the mother of Jesus, about how special her baby is. I’m quite sure Mary knew very well. It probably started with that whole immaculate conception thing, followed by her talk with the Angel Gabriel, and the Magnificat. It’s the regular rank and file people who didn’t know about Jesus… and to me, it would make sense for them to ask Mary if she knew. In the song, Mary doesn’t answer. I picture her smiling serenely and nodding, not getting pissed off and offended that a man would ask such questions. I think Mary would be above being offended by mansplaining. 😉

As one might imagine, Father Nathan Monk’s post blew up, with many people opining. Quite a few people heartily agreed with Father Nathan Monk and Jezebel Henny (aka Ally Henny) that this song is “offensive”. Ally Henny, herself, also weighed in, clarifying that the tweet originated in 2019, and that Lowry deleted the tweet without apology.

Does Lowry owe anyone an apology? Maybe he was offended, too, for people trashing and misinterpreting his song.

I totally understand that when someone puts something creative out there– be it a song, artwork, a film, or even a blog post, they invite criticism. I’ve gotten some pretty salty remarks on things I’ve written. In fact, until quite recently, I used to occasionally get nasty comments via this blog’s now defunct Facebook page. I disabled the page because I was tired of getting abuse for simply expressing myself. I don’t mind having respectful dialogues with people who might disagree with me, but I don’t feel like I should have to abide threats, rudeness, or disrespect. Maybe Lowry’s retort to Henny was a bit snarky and rude, but he’s human. I’m sure he was annoyed that she reduced his song to simple “mansplaining”. I would be, too. Like any human, prick him and he’ll bleed. I saw many people referring to Henny as a scholar, and I’m sure she has an impressive intellect, even if I didn’t necessarily discern it in her tweet. I had never heard of her before last night, though. I’m sure Mark Lowry hadn’t, either, when he retorted to her criticism. Maybe he didn’t know he was supposed to be deferential to her. He probably made that comment off the cuff in a flash of irritation. By most people’s standards, his song is an enormous success. I can’t blame him for responding with annoyance, even if it’s not the best look.

Mark Lowry’s version of Mary, “Did You Know” with help from Guy Penrod and David Phelps.

I don’t think Mark Lowry sings his song like a mansplainer would. There’s no hint of condescension when he sings… just wonderment, reverence, and awe. The above interpretation is a bit dramatic, and that could possibly annoy some people, who might think it’s too over the top. Others will find it uplifting and inspiring, as Lowry tries to convey the miracles Jesus will deliver during his brief lifetime. There is no accounting for taste. One of the lovely things about being human is that we can each have our own perspective and our own preferences. Many people love “Mary, Did You Know?” and would never see anything about this song as “offensive”, no matter how many supposedly more evolved people tell them their opinions are somehow “wrong”.

Bear in mind that Mark Lowry is also a Christian comedian. In addition to “Mary, Did You Know”, Lowry also wrote and sang a song called “Hyperactivity”. Someone on Father Nathan Monk’s post was upset about that one, too, claiming he was “making fun” of neurodivergent children. I had not heard of “Hyperactivity” until last night. To me, the song sounds like Lowry wrote this song about himself, not all neurodivergent children. It’s supposed to be funny. Not everyone will find it funny, which is the nature of comedy. Personally, I think “Hyperactivity” is kind of an annoying song, but I can see why some people like it. I wouldn’t presume to tell them they shouldn’t enjoy Mark Lowry’s song about hyperactivity, even if it sounds, to me, like he’s trying to copy Weird Al Yankovic.

Interesting song.

Here’s one about overeating… Weird Al had “Eat It”. Mark Lowry has “I Can Eat it All”.

This doesn’t offend me, but some people probably think of it as fat shaming.

I am a big fan of personal expression, particularly when it’s politically incorrect. I think people should be allowed to speak their minds, even if I might not always like to hear or read what they have to say. Some of it might offend me. I might even take a vow not to use certain language myself. For example, I refuse to call someone a “karen” or a “dependa”. I don’t use the term “douche” as an insult, just as many people don’t use the n-word or the word “retard”. I think it’s important to allow freedom of speech and expression. That does also apply to criticism, of course. I just wish people would stop insisting that others share their views, because that’s how we end up with dangerous megalomaniacal people like Donald Trump in the White House.

There’s a large contingent of people in the United States who like Trump, because he freely says what they’re thinking, but feel too intimidated to say out loud. They’re so enthralled with hearing Trump stand up for the “conservative values” that some sanctimonious people are trying to quickly bury, that they excuse and ignore the really awful things he says and does. Then they show up and vote for him at the polls, and the rest of us are stuck with him and his toxic brand of fascist “leadership”. I think if some of the “woke brigade” took things down a notch, lightened up a bit, and showed some respect for other people’s differing values, they would get further in changing hearts and minds. People don’t like to be lectured or shamed.

Anyway… getting back to Father Nathan Monk’s post… I noticed this comment just now and was left a little bit puzzled…

What was racist about Mark Lowry’s comment? I saw no reference to race in what he posted. However, I did see a lot of people making presumptions about him based on what he posted. All I can see that he wrote was “I wasn’t asking you.” Is that a racist comment? Did I miss something?
Wow. I think some of these comments are pretty offensive. Especially the one about Lowry being “in the closet”. It doesn’t seem like a very “woke” thing to say.

I can see that a lot of people commenting on this thread don’t like Mark Lowry’s music or comedy. I see that some people, like me, didn’t even know who he was until they read the above thread. Now they’re describing him as “execrable”, “in the closet”, and “a turd” in a thread about how he “mansplains” to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It’s very strange to me, because some people are quoting the Bible and demonstrate actual knowledge of theology when they present their arguments. Others have just resorted to character assassination and name calling, having only been exposed to ONE song by the man. I am not a big consumer of contemporary Christian music or comedy. I only know what I like. And I sure as hell don’t need other people telling me that I’m wrong for enjoying what I like. I would feel a bit nervous, though, to add too many comments to this thread, lest someone call ME “execrable” for daring to disagree with them. 😉

Actually, I DID leave a couple of comments. It was to a well reasoned dissenter’s observation. Behold:

Yeah… this is pretty much my view of “Mary, Did You Know?”. I have no problem with people criticizing the song, but when people resort to personal insults toward the songwriter, they lose out on the moral high ground they’re clearly trying to take.

One woman wrote the below comment, which I think is pretty respectful. I mostly liked her take, but I was disappointed when she seemed to doubt herself for liking the song. There’s nothing wrong with “checking” oneself, but this response read a bit like a disclaimer. She’s not wrong to wonder if the lyrics come across as mansplaining when they’re sung by a female singer like Dolly Parton or Kathleen Battle, who is not only female, but is also Black. Would I call either of them “mansplaining”? Would I question their choices to sing this song? Neither of them are slouches when it comes to making music, that’s for damned sure!

What an interesting discussion!

I always hear the song from the viewpoint of a mother. I could personally not imagine all of the joys, trials and tribulations my sons would experience and bring me as their mother. I thought about how a theoretical mother of god could not possibly conceive of her future either, even knowing what the score was upfront.

Then again, I can be a little naive about intentions. And yet again, my demographic has me pretty experienced in receiving mansplaining.

I also didn’t know that Dolly Parton did a version. She is pretty much a feminine divine voice IMHO so even though she isn’t the male composer, I would have to hear it differently from her.

But “I didn’t ask?” Humph. When you put art in the world that’s what you risk: criticism and interpretation.

Another person, a guy calling himself a “musician”, wrote this derogatory comment:

Mostly, that song just sucks. As a musician, that is among the WORST and least fun, festive, or even touching or emotional Christmas songs. It’s just a boring list of stuff Jesus did with a weak contextual premise. If little kids don’t like it, and/or it doesn’t touch you emotionally, it’s trash.

Um… lots of bonafide and highly accomplished musicians would totally disagree with the above comment. And plenty of people are “touched” emotionally by “Mary, Did You Know”? Does the fact that the above musician isn’t moved by the song negate other people’s experiences listening to it and overall opinions of it? I don’t think so. And there are a lot of songs I might think of as “trash”, but that’s just MY opinion. I only get one vote, even though I am pretty musical myself. 😉

This whole controversy reminds me a bit of the huge uproar a few years ago about the song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” In the wake of the “Me Too” movement, people were saying that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” promotes date rape. I wrote a blog post about my annoyance about that, since “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” was written decades ago, during an era when it was considered improper for women to stay unchaperoned with men. The song was written by Frank Loesser and his ex wife Lynn, meant to be a “parlor song” for entertaining their dinner party guests. It has nothing to do with date rape. But people sure want to project their modern sensibilities on classic songs and “cancel” them. Is the world really a “better” place without so-called “rapey” songs like “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” polluting the airwaves? I don’t think so. I think the world is a better place when people consider context, original intent, and history, and stop trying to impose 2022 values on songs that were written decades ago. Even “Mary, Did You Know” is a pretty old song. It’s 38 years old! And the world was very different in 1984, right?

If people don’t like certain songs, they have choices they can freely make. They can choose not to listen to it, sing it, or buy albums that have it on the playlist. They can listen to and promote songs that are more to their tastes. They can even express why they don’t like it and invite a dialogue. Or, hey, here’s a novel thought– they can try to write their own, more “appropriate” song! But please don’t tell ME that I shouldn’t like a song because of how YOU interpret it. I’ll try my best to show you the same level of respect for your individual opinions and taste. And please don’t try to qualify yourself as a “musician” and declare someone else’s song as “trash”. Lots of musicians, most of whom are more famous, successful, and acclaimed than you will EVER be, completely disagree with your assessment.

I’m getting real tired of people– especially total strangers– insisting that there’s only one way to look at something. I’m tired of people telling me to “stop” doing something because they don’t approve, or that I should do something because it’s the “right” thing to do. I’m over being told how and what to think, especially by people who claim that their freedoms are being infringed upon. This happens on both sides of the political spectrum, and it’s time more thinking people spoke up about it. If we really live in a free society, then people should be allowed to create things freely without fear of being canceled. Yes, it’s fine to criticize creative pursuits, but when you resort to personal insults and character assassinations, you risk falling off that moral high horse and landing at the bottom of the pit with the rest of the lowlifes. I’m just saying.

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business, Ex, religion

Sometimes Ex leads me to some interesting rabbit holes…

Happy hump day, everybody. Like a lot of people, I was shocked to hear about Christine McVie’s death last night. Guess who alerted me? It was none other than Stephen Bishop, whose book I reviewed yesterday. He left a comment on Christine McVie’s Facebook page, where it was announced that she passed away in a hospital after a “short illness”. She was 79 years old. Although her music has meant a lot to me over the years, I’m not going to dedicate this post to her passing. I did write a brief post on my Dungeon of the Past blog. Since we also lost Irene Cara a few days ago, that blog is getting some unusual attention lately, although not that many people read it these days. I’m waiting to hit $100 in AdSense, and then I’ll probably discontinue it. But it is a handy place to express my thoughts and prayers for musicians who made the years of my youth worth enduring.

Last night, before I read about Christine McVie, I was perusing the latest Ex nonsense. I noticed that she had made an intriguing comment.

I have no words for how repulsed I am at the thought of attending such a scary and surreal event. Of course… we could crash it…

I noticed that someone had responded, so I clicked the link, and there I found a most interesting post by some stranger from Birmingham, Alabama. Behold:

The person who post this wrote “It’s a coffee shop in my city that is owned by a cult.”

Well… given my love for investigating cults, this post interested me, so I went looking for more information, and I was led to this article written by journalist Greg Garrison on AL.com. There, I learned about a man named Terry Colafrancesco who has opened a “different” kind of business in Alabama called Villaggio Colafrancesco. Mr. Colafrancesco, who is an Alabama born Italian Catholic, was inspired by a visit to Italy 25 years ago, where he noticed people standing in line for gelato on a cold, November night. Colafrancesco is an entrepreneur, but he also happens to be super religious. His business, which sells all manner of Italian style treats from gelato to coffee to charcuterie, is operated as a tax paying enterprise. But he also runs a non-profit religious community called Caritas. Most of the people who work at Villagio Colafrancesco are members of the community. Colafrancesco will be directing all profits after taxes toward the Caritas ministry that he founded in the 1980s.

According to the AL.com article I linked:

In 1988, Colafrancesco hosted one of the six famous visionaries of Medjugorje, who claimed to have daily visions of the Virgin Mary in their hometown in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Yugoslavia starting in 1981. Marija Pavlovic Lunetti came to UAB Hospital to donate a kidney for her brother, Andrija Pavlovic. She stayed with Colafrancesco and continued to have her visions of the Virgin Mary in a field in Shelby County. She has returned to Caritas to visit dozens of times.

The field where she had her visions in Shelby County became the focal point of the 250-acre world headquarters of Caritas, which still takes tour groups to Medjugorje and promotes the visions on its web site, Mej.com. It has a printing press and publishes Colafrancesco’s commentaries on the visions under his pen name, “A Friend of Medjugorje.” Hundreds of thousands of the books have been distributed worldwide.

The Medjugorje visions have never been endorsed or authenticated by the Catholic Church, which has approved other reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary such as the ones in 1858 in Lourdes, France, and in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal.

So yes, this Italian treat paradise is very much a business, but it’s also influenced by religion. So patrons are required to be dressed “appropriately” and leave their electronic devices at home. Profanity is not allowed. People are supposed to hang out and talk to each other, rather than hanging out on their phones. Ex is apparently disgusted by this.

Now, I’ll be honest… I initially laughed when I read about these rules, because I have been to Italy a bunch of times, and I’ve never seen an establishment there that bans cell phones, skimpy clothing, or profanity. And while I don’t wear skimpy clothes anymore, and never purposely did when I was younger, I do have a strong tendency to curse. I also love to look at my phone. However, having grown up at a time when cell phones and Internet trolls didn’t exist, I do sometimes feel pangs of nostalgia for that time. Maybe this happens to everyone as they age, but once you get to a certain age, you look less favorably on “progress” and start remembering the “good old days”. So there’s a certain charm in the idea of visiting a place where patrons are required to put their electronic devices away.

BUT– while I do try to maintain basic respect for people and their religious beliefs, I don’t think I’d want to patronize a commercial business with an obvious religious agenda. Obviously, I don’t mind visiting churches or even spending money in them in the form of donations. I will, for instance, give spare change to the cathedrals when I visit them in Europe. But I’ve seen the damage that organized religions can do to many people, and I’ve also seen how cults can complicate people’s lives.

I also don’t think I’d feel comfortable at a place where workers are “dress coding” people. I can, however, see why some people love the idea of such a place, especially in Alabama, where there are a lot of “conservative” types. On the other hand, I’d be interested in seeing how many native Alabamians know what is, and what is not, authentic in Italy.

As Mr. Colafrancesco is operating a private business, he has the right to run it as he sees fit. And I would imagine people in Alabama will fully support that right. It’ll be interesting to see if this idea takes off. Some people don’t mind dress codes. Planet Fitness famously has a dress code to keep less fit people from feeling intimidated and uncomfortable by more fit people showing off. However, that chain has run into problems, as they have confronted people about their dress who didn’t feel they were shaming anybody. And my guess is that there could be trouble when someone outspoken and influential gets kicked out of Villagio Colafrancesco for wearing a halter top and leggings or something.

In looking at Mr. Colafrancesco’s blog, I see that he is no fan of “college”. In fact, he literally writes that in the section about his story. And while Colafrancesco is a very successful and apparently self made man, I can see that not going to college left him with a bit of a vocabulary deficiency. He writes that long hours and hard work had paid off, so that by the time he was in his mid 20s, he and his wife were living “financially comfortable”. He bought several “tracks” of land and “never had a mortgage or debt”. I think Mr. Colafrancesco means “tracts” of land, and a mortgage is, in and of itself, debt. It’s not that I don’t understands what he means, of course, and obviously he didn’t need college to succeed. Not everyone needs higher education to “make it”, and some people don’t “make it” even with fancy degrees. It’s just that as religion is important to him, proper grammar is important to me. 😉

In any case, more power and big props to Mr. Colafrancesco for “doing it his way”. I just wouldn’t necessarily assume that everyone can do what he’s done, or hold him up as an example of someone to emulate. Especially since it’s pretty clear to me that he’s politically conservative and probably would vote for Trump, in spite of his stated conservative values. Trump is a big fan of the skimpily clad, and he doesn’t mind swearing like a sailor as he hangs out on social media and talks about overthrowing the government. Edited to add: I see I was right. Colafrancesco is a Trump supporter. How can a man who self-righteously bars profanity and skimpy clothing in his establishment champion a man who grabs women by their pussies? What a hypocrite! Sorry, I just can’t respect someone who preaches about decency and supports Donald Trump.

Moreover, there is some belief that Mr. Colafrancesco’s group is a destructive cult. I don’t yet know enough about Caritas to state whether or not it’s a cult. I just learned the first about it last night, thanks to Ex. According to the above link, which dates from December 13, 2001:

Five former residents of Caritas of Birmingham have filed suit in state court seeking an unspecified amount of money from the group and its founder, Terry Colafrancesco.

The suit claims Colafrancesco lures people into Caritas with promises of spiritual enrichment and then drains them of money. Families are made to live in nasty trailers at the group’s compound, and Colafrancesco controls their lives almost totally, the suit claims.

The plaintiffs include a one-time lieutenant to Colafrancesco and five parents who sued on behalf of their children, who still live at the mission located about 30 minutes south of Birmingham.

The suit claims Caritas has assets of about $5.9 million. Colafrancesco “said he was knighted by Mary the mother of Jesus,” the suit says.

“It’s just bitterness,” Colafrancesco said Tuesday.

A 2012 Reuters article indicates that the lawsuit was later settled privately.

Anyway… I guess people have the right to decide if they want to buy coffee at a place where they aren’t allowed to curse, wear spaghetti straps, or look at their phones. I’m sure some people will think Villagio Colafrancesco is a very nice and inviting place for a treat. No matter what, this venture is sure to bring in money, press, and controversy… although it’s pretty rich that Ex is “repulsed” by it. This is the same woman who joined the LDS church and used it as one of her parental alienation tools. And when it turned out they weren’t going to give her what she wanted and expected things from her, like money and time, she suddenly decided it was “bad”. I’m sure the fact that church members helped younger daughter escape her clutches also contributed to her changed mindset about religion and politics. It sure is interesting and entertaining to watch.

But… it seems that Ex is pining to ditch America, too… Behold.

I’m a poor white girl. I have no power. I am a mother raising her kids and if Trump were to EVER hold office again… I’m leaving this country and won’t be looking back. He’s worse than a horror movie to me and I cannot fathom how ANYONE would vote for that scum of the earth.

Yeah… says the woman who causes multiple people to experience PTSD style nightmares due to her abuses of them. Just shaking my head and hoping she avoids Germany…

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Duggars, holidays, mental health, religion, sex, silliness

Repost: I’m grateful for orgasms…

I am reposting this article I wrote for my original blog back on November 22, 2013. It’s not that I don’t have another topic in mind for today. I just saw this in my Facebook memories and realized that yes, nine years later, I am STILL very grateful for orgasms. And I just wanted to spread the news.

As it’s November and the month of Thanksgiving, there have been a number of Facebook posts recently about gratitude.  Many people post something they are grateful for every day in November.  In the spirit of gratitude, I too have been posting things I am thankful for.  I try to keep my thanks upbeat and light-hearted, though.  I figure there are enough schmaltzy posts about being grateful for good health and happiness or a supportive family.  I like to give other things their due.

So I am grateful for odd things like clean underwear, modern plumbing, and Jagger’s swagger.  And yesterday, I was grateful for orgasms.  I posted that thought and was amazed by how many “likes” it got.  Some people thought it was funny.  Some thought it was shocking.  Some people, who know me, thought it was typical.  But yes, a lot of people apparently appreciate the ability to have an orgasm.  And you know, it’s something that many of us probably take for granted.  I’m aware that a lot of people thought my post on Facebook was funny, but when you think about it, the ability to have and enjoy an orgasm is really a much more serious subject than meets the eye.

Back in the late 1990s, I took Prozac for awhile.  It wasn’t the best drug for me and pretty much killed my ability to have an orgasm, not that I had a sex life at the time.  I just remember that even when I was in the mood for a little self abuse, it took forever.  It was very frustrating.  I remember thinking of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story, “Welcome To The Monkey House“, a story about overpopulation and indecency and how people of the future were ordered to take a drug that took all pleasure out of sex.  In the story, a druggist had taken his family to the zoo and was appalled when they saw monkeys masturbating.  He came up with “ethical birth control”,  a drug which didn’t actually render anyone sterile, but just made sex unappealing.  Because the world was overpopulated, everyone was required to take the druggist’s birth control pill. 

The story was also about how people were encouraged to visit “ethical suicide parlors”, where beautiful, tall, virginal women would help people voluntarily kill themselves as an effort to keep the world population of 17 billion people stable.  There was a group of rebels who refused to take the birth control and therefore were able to enjoy sex.  And indeed, they did enjoy it frequently.  One of the characters kidnaps a “suicide hostess” who is very much in favor of the laws.  The characters force the woman to allow the birth control to wear off… which, of course, gives her the ability to know what she had been missing.

I have always liked the story, but after taking Prozac, it became very profound to me.  It’s been years since I read it, but I do remember Vonnegut describing what the ethical birth control did to people and how it made them feel… kind of numb in the sexual regions.  And that’s how Prozac made me feel, too.

But at least I had the ability to stop taking the drug.  I eventually switched to Wellbutrin, which was a much better antidepressant for me.  My nether regions came back to life and my depression finally lifted.  I was able to make decisions.  Later that year, I met Bill online and the rest is history.  You might say Wellbutrin actually helped me finally get a sex life, though it took a few years.

I am very grateful not to have been raised in a belief system that thinks of sex as a dirty thing.  It’s bad enough that we have a number of religions that discourage masturbation and subject members to humiliating interviews about their “habits” and refer to masturbation as “self abuse”.  There are also belief systems that promote the idea that enjoying sex is a sin and that it should only be done for the purpose of procreation. 

There are a number of religions that forbid members from admiring others, even to the point of forcing young men to look away when a pretty woman walks by or worse, forcing young women to wear shapeless garments that obscure their figures and veils that cover their hair and face.  This is all done in the name of avoiding lust or, heaven forbid, immorality caused by an orgasm.  An early episode of the fundamentalist Christian Duggar family’s reality show featured someone shouting “Nike!” when a pretty but “inappropriately dressed” young woman walked by.  It was a code to get the boys to lower their eyes, lest they be “defrauded”– that is, driven to lust by the tempting appearance of a beautiful woman.  Can’t have those young men having boners, can we?  Not until their wedding nights to women who are hand-picked by daddy… and may or may not be all that attractive or interesting. (ETA in 2022– oh, how innocent we were about the Duggar family in 2013!)

There are also a lot of women who, unfortunately, can’t have orgasms because they have been subjected to female circumcision.  Female circumcision is a horrible misogynistic custom practiced in certain countries around the world.  It’s considered a rite of passage in some places, perhaps even celebrated to some extent before a poor girl between the ages of birth and puberty is forcibly held down as her genitals are brutally mutilated by other women or even the local male barber, who may be a local health practitioner.  It involves removing part or all of the clitoris and sewing up the labia, which makes the eventual enjoyment of sex very difficult.  This procedure can be done with or without anesthesia.  It can cause significant health problems and gynecological difficulties.  It can also cause death.

Women who have had their clitorises amputated can’t experience orgasms.  They may or may not know what they are missing, which seems like a small problem in the grand scheme of things.  Just the idea of trying to recover from such a brutal operation, as routine for them as having wisdom teeth extracted is for many Americans, is hard to fathom.  It really is food for thought if you happen to be lucky enough to be a woman living in a place where female genital mutilation is not common.

So yes, during this season of Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for orgasms… the ability to have them at will, and for the sweet man who still inspires me to have them.  Orgasms are one of life’s most wonderful gifts.  May you enjoy your orgasms as much as I do mine…

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