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 other folks 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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music, videos, YouTube

Fundie Fridays’ annual Halloween special about the Rodrigues family is hysterical!

And a very good Saturday morning to you, readers, as I recover from watching Fundie Fridays’ latest episode about Jill Rodrigues and her clan of kids. Jill Rodrigues, if you don’t know, is a woman who has big blonde hair and wears tons of makeup. She has a huge passel of children, and makes them sing homophobic songs. She has a sister who is quadriplegic, due to a car accident. Her husband has a brother who is paraplegic, due to a car accident. Her daughter, Nurie, and Nurie’s husband, Nathan Keller (Anna Keller Duggar’s brother), were in a car accident last year with their infant son. None were wearing seatbelts or in the appropriate car seat. So far, they aren’t paralyzed, but Nurie is expecting again.

I could go on and on about the many strange features of Jill Rodrigues and her constant chase of relevance and fame. Luckily, I don’t have to do that, because Jen and James of Fundie Fridays on YouTube have made a hilarious video. I just watched it and, I must say, Jen and James are really upping their games. I am in awe of their talent and courage. It’s not easy for most people to risk being funny, because humor doesn’t always go the way you hope it will. But, at least in my opinion, they really hit the mark with their latest video, which I am linking below.

I am impressed by Fundie Fridays. They keep getting better and better!

I especially howled when she showed the Rodrigues kids swimming in a sewer drain. I mean… yeah, maybe it was fun, but it was still kind of shitty… Today’s featured photo, by the way, is Tim, another Rodrigues kid, doing a fully clothed flip into a canal. Tim is famous for stating that if he weren’t related to his sisters, he’d be dating them, because they are so “Godly”. He’s about 25 years old, and laments that he isn’t married yet. I can’t imagine why… /sarcasm.

Hmmm… he’d date his sisters, and his mother is a fundie shill for Plexus. Attractive qualities in a mate… Seriously, though, I know he means that he thinks his sisters are lovely and “Godly”, and he’d like to find a woman like them. His wording is just a little weird, is all.

I don’t really follow the Rodrigues family at all. What I know about them, I know because I follow the Duggar Family News page and because of Fundie Fridays. I might be inclined to learn about them on my own, especially if I was younger, but since Jen does such a good job on that task herself, I don’t see why I need to add myself to the official snarkers. I’m sure if I did follow, it would only offend and upset me, and I’ve got enough of that going on when I read the news sites. So I will leave it all up to Jen and James, who are brilliant, funny, creative, and informative. And I will occasionally post blogs about them, so you can discover their genius, too. They really do have a lot of fun on their channel, and it’s fun to watch them.

Moving on to another YouTuber I watch sometimes…

This week, I learned that Barney the Dinosaur, that damnable purple demon from Hell out of the early 1990s, has a dark side. Or, rather, the woman who created him, and her son, have dark sides. A week ago today, Dr. Todd Grande’s video, “Did Barney Terrorize Viewers for Years?”, appeared on YouTube. I watched it, and learned new things.

Now, in 1992, when Barney was conquering the world with his moronic song, “I Love You, You Love Me”, I was 20 years old. I was too old for Barney. Even if I had been a child in those days, I would have hated Barney. He was highly annoying. But I didn’t know the history of this… icon… until I watched Dr. Grande’s excellent and informative video a few days ago. It’s all about Barney and Friends, a PBS marvel that captivated so many small children, as well as a few adults.

Now the story CAN be told!

I see from Dr. Grande’s YouTube comments that a lot of people did love Barney when they were very little. He was innocent, uncomplicated, and non threatening. I think my disdain for Barney is due to his annoying voice and weird dance moves. But I guess I can see why small children liked him. I just wasn’t one myself when he was a thing. Maybe it’s the same thing as me loving to watch The Brady Bunch well into middle age. It’s escapism to a simpler time, when problems on TV could be solved in 26 minutes. I’m sure people who loved Barney feel somewhat similarly.

In any case, before I saw this video, I did not know that Barney’s story had a dark side. Now, thanks to Dr. Grande’s reporting and analysis, I know more about how this purple dinosaur came to be, and the people who were behind his creation. It is a very interesting tale, especially given that boy who inspired his mother to dream up Barney, went on to a life of crime. You should watch the video for the lowdown on that story.

I’m grateful to Todd Grande and Fundie Fridays, for giving me something to watch besides anti-Trump political rants, analyses of Meghan Markle’s obvious narcissism, and bodycam videos by cops. It’s obvious to me that Dr. Grande and Fundie Fridays are throwing some shade, which is to be expected when one becomes “popular” in any form of media.

And finally…

A couple of days ago, while Bill was still gone, my Aunt Gayle sent me the lyrics to the beautiful song, “Bill”, from the musical, Show Boat. I don’t think she realized that I knew and loved the song, but she obviously could see how the lyrics would fit my own perspective. “Bill” is a song about a plain, everyday guy, who doesn’t seem impressive on the outside, but is actually quite wonderful. I don’t totally agree with the song’s lyrics. For instance, I am often impressed by my Bill’s brain. And I would never sit on Bill’s knees, because I would hurt him if I did that. But yes– the song rings true to me. So I decided to do it. Here’s MY YouTube video… in which I don’t opine or speak or show my face, other than in pictures. It may still provoke controversy, but at least it’s a nice tribute to my husband, who is “just my Bill”.

This is a cool photo, because you can’t tell that I’m missing a tooth. This was taken after I had a baby tooth pulled, and not long before I had my implant put in. I still have a baby tooth that will probably need to be replaced with an implant at some point.

Our 20th wedding anniversary is next month, so I’ll probably make another video for that. But this was a nice song to try. We’ll see how long it lasts, and how many hits it gets. But I don’t make videos for hits. I just like to sing, and that’s my outlet. If other people enjoy my efforts, that’s a nice bonus.

Condolences, by the way, to Carly Simon, who lost both of her sisters this week within a day of each other. Oldest sister, Joanna, was 85 years old and had been fighting thyroid cancer. Next oldest sister, Lucy, had been battling breast cancer for a long time before succumbing at age 82. Carly, herself, has had breast cancer. And the youngest sibling, Peter, died in 2018 at age 71 of a cardiac arrest, but he, too, had cancer. That damnable illness is EVERYWHERE.

Well, I think that about does it for today’s post. Hope you all have a fabulous day. The sun is out here, so maybe if Arran isn’t feeling too icky, we’ll go out for a while and look for some nice fall foliage.

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blog news, family, social media, stupid people, technology

I’ve got new DNA results!

I believe the featured photo is of my mom’s father’s family tartan…

Bless Ancestry. com and 23andMe. I was having some trouble coming up with a topic to write about today, mainly because I don’t feel like complaining about Trump, and he’s making up a lot of the news lately. But since both Ancestry and 23andMe just updated their DNA results, and my results changed a bit, I can now write about that! And it will be soooo interesting, too. To me, anyway.

According to Ancestry.com, I’m now even more Scottish than I thought. The updated results now have me at 58 percent Scot. That would probably make Ex green with envy, since she fancies herself a Scot. The rest of the results were also interesting, as according to Ancestry, now I’m only 28 percent English and otherwise northwestern European. They also report that I have 3 percent Welsh ancestry, which I can certainly believe, given how many of my ancestors were from the British isles and Ireland. Ancestry.com also reports that I still have Scandinavian ancestry– Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Again, that’s totally believable. I am as white as they come.

Interesting… and probably pretty accurate.

Now, my 23andMe results are a bit more surprising. I did the 23andMe test before I did Ancestry’s, so it’s changed a few times since I first got results in 2017. Overall, 23andMe agrees with Ancestry that I’m mostly from the British Isles and Ireland. But they added some spice to my heritage, which is also believable. Behold…

23andMe classify their results somewhat differently, grouping Scotland, England, and Ireland together. They used to report Norwegian DNA, but replaced it with Finnish. And Ancestry doesn’t report Finnish DNA, but does report Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

Some might be surprised to see the Spanish and Portuguese results, but to me, they make perfect sense. I probably picked up that DNA thanks to the Spanish Armada. Some people from that dramatic event in the 1500s inevitably got together with Irish and Scottish people, forever changing their DNA. I was glad to see French and German again, since I know for a fact that I have some German heritage, and likely have French, too, somewhere deep in my genes. I also know that there were a few Native Americans from Virginia who got with my family, since they appear in my family tree. I was surprised to see the Levantine result, which has origins in Jordan, Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. But, I guess if we go back far enough, that makes some sense, too. Most people probably have some genes from the Middle East. I got a kick out of the photo 23andMe uses for the French and German section. It’s actually a photo of Hallstatt, Austria.

This is a screenshot from 23andMe’s Web site. I’ve been to this town and have my own photo of this view. It’s unmistakable as a famous Austrian town, where many Chinese tourists visit and wear dirndls and lederhosen.

What’s funny is, I just talked to my mom about our ancestry. She really doesn’t know much about her family of origin– especially on her mother’s side. I’ve told her a lot that she didn’t know, mainly because of these DNA tests and interacting with distant relatives. She never knew her maternal grandparents, since they died within three months of each other, before her second birthday. She was surprised when I told her I went on FindAGrave.com and found photos of her grandparents’ graves, as well as an entry for my dad, which was not put up by a family member. My Uncle Ed, who died just over a month ago, has an entry already, although no one but family is allowed to develop it until a year has passed. I think FindAGrave is kind of freaky, but it does provide interesting information about my long lost relatives.

Like my mom, I never got to know my maternal grandparents. My grandmother died when I was five, and we were living in England at the time. My grandfather died when I was six, and he was extremely senile and didn’t know who any of us were. I do remember living in his house briefly, back in the summer of 1978, because we had just come back from England, and my parents were purchasing a home in Northern Virginia, where we lived for just two years. He died months later, after having been court ordered to move into a facility, because he could no longer take care of himself.

The only grandparent I really knew was my father’s mother, who was affectionately known as “Granny” to just about everyone, even those who weren’t in the family. She lived to be almost 101 years old. My father died only seven years after she died. He was 81 years old, and had only lived without a parent for seven years. That is astonishing to me. Granny was mostly a wonderful lady, although she wasn’t as perfect as some people made her out to be. She had a mean streak. But mostly, she was full of stories, and made wonderful bread. I am glad Bill got to meet her and knew her for five years before she finally passed.

I find genealogy fascinating, especially since I grew up not really knowing my mom’s family too well. I knew my Uncle Glenn, who died in 2015, and I knew his daughter, although I haven’t seen her since my wedding day in 2002. She and I have the same blue eyes, inherited from our grandmother. Well… she got hers from Glenn, too. He had beautiful blue eyes. My eyes are probably my best feature.

Anyway… I’m glad to see the update from both DNA registries, even if Bill’s results are more interesting than mine are. He has African heritage.

Moving on…

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an irate private message I got from someone who was angry about an eight year old blog entry I reposted regarding an extremely violent murder in their family. This person was threatening, and complained that I had mentioned the name of one of the victim’s children, who is still a minor. They acted as if I had invaded their privacy to find out the child’s name, and threatened legal action against me. It was not a nice thing to wake up to on a Saturday morning. In my post, I was pretty sure I had only included information that was already openly reported in the news, circa 2014.

I did some sleuthing yesterday, mainly because I wanted to block this person from ever contacting me again on Facebook (or anywhere else). I managed to find the person’s profile(s) and block them. However, in the course of doing so, I found out some new things.

I discovered that my memory was correct. The child’s name was included in several newspaper articles, most of which are online today. Furthermore, I found a wide open Web site, where what looked like some of the child’s schoolwork was openly posted for all to see. There was an essay there, revealing the names of the child’s parents, birth date, birth place, and the names of many family members, to include other minors. I even learned what kinds of food the child likes to eat, what the child’s career goals were at the time the essay was written, and where the child lives. So much for maintaining the online privacy of a minor.

I would suggest, to the person who contacted me, that before they issue legal threats regarding privacy of a minor, they might want to do some more Googling of the child’s unusual name. I learned a lot more about this child than I ever wanted or needed to know, simply by typing the name into a basic search engine. I suspect that their claims that I invaded their privacy would go nowhere, mostly due to this fact, but also because of the First Amendment, and the right to freedom of expression, which all Americans still enjoy, at least for now. If you want to come at me because I posted your minor relative’s name, you might also want to have a go at the reporters who originally covered the case. Because that is where the child’s name was originally shared, and that content is still freely available eight years later. And I had nothing to do with that.

In spite of being quite pissed off about that hostile PM, to the point at which I am deleting the blog’s Facebook page, I have removed the offending content as a courtesy to the person who contacted me. I did so because, frankly, no one else was reading that post anyway. Also, I removed it because, in spite of their false accusations toward me, I’m not a terrible person who is just out to make money by blogging. Likewise, I don’t want to cause people unnecessary distress. But even if I were just trying to make a buck, what would be wrong with that? There’s no crime against earning a living, right? Writing is a perfectly respectable career choice, even if some people don’t like the things that get written.

This blog isn’t a source of significant income for me. It’s more something I do because I enjoy writing. Moreover, I didn’t do anything wrong, and the claims that I violated anyone’s privacy are baseless and false. There is no law against writing or opining about things that are in the mainstream news. I do understand that people get upset when people talk or write about true crimes that affect them personally, but I don’t think that threatening to trying to censor people is the answer.

Finally… something a little ridiculous…

This graphic of stereotypes was posted in the Duggar Family News group…

Apparently, the above photo is circulating in certain parts of social media. It’s pretty disgusting. I would also say that it’s not very accurate. I’m not sure fundie women keep their figures when they’re eating things like tater tot casserole and barbecued tuna fish. I’ve also seen quite a few fundie women sporting heavy makeup, colored hair, and ridiculous perms. Moreover, I don’t think Jesus Christ would approve of the judgmental and negative attitude displayed regarding “The Godly Tradwife”. Jesus supposedly loved everyone, and helped those in need. It makes me sick that genuine Christian values have been co-opted and bastardized by hypocritical Republicans, who just want to quash anyone who isn’t like them, and doesn’t want to keep white, conservative men in power.

I might write more about this later… or maybe not. Hope y’all have a good Wednesday. Time to pick up my guitar.

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book reviews, religion

Reviewing The Case for Heaven: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death, by Lee Strobel…

I’m not sure exactly what made me purchase Lee Strobel’s 2021 book, The Case for Heaven: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death. I think it might have been an impulse buy after Bill and I had a talk about near death experiences. I have mentioned a few times in this blog that Bill had a near death experience in 1980, when he was 16 years old. He and his buddies were drinking beer somewhere near Houston, Texas, when one of his buddies’ girlfriends was having a teen girl hissy fit. She wanted to leave, so Bill’s friend, with whom he’d gotten a ride, mounted up his Subaru Brat– basically a car with a truck bed in the back. As it was 1980, it was legal for Bill to ride in the back. He went to climb in, but his friend hadn’t noticed and started to back up. Bill lost his footing and was soon under the car’s tires.

Fortunately, because he was so young when he had his accident, Bill’s injuries didn’t kill him. Save for a couple of scars and arthritis in his chest, as well as a couple of crushed disks in his back, he was mostly left with no physical ill effects. But he did have an experience that changed his life and, in my opinion, made him a different person than he might have been. He says he experienced a NDE that day and described it as being very peaceful and comforting. I had long ago read Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody’s 1975 book about NDEs, and found it fascinating. So, I probably bought Lee Strobel’s much newer book, because I figured it might be kind of like Raymond Moody’s book. But Strobel’s book isn’t like Moody’s book. It has a much more religious bent to it, which, for me, made it somewhat less of an enjoyable read.

Lee Strobel is a journalist who has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University. For a good portion of his life, he was skeptical about religion. But then he found himself in a medical crisis. When he came to in an emergency room, the physician tending to him told him that he was a step away from a coma and two steps away from death. Mr. Strobel suffered from hyponatremia, which is a potentially lethal deficiency in blood sodium. I was immediately intrigued by that, since Bill also has chronic hyponatremia, as well as hypertension. He’s one of the few high blood pressure patients regularly advised to salt his food, since his blood is naturally low in sodium. If a person’s sodium is too low, their cells can swell, which can cause health problems that range from mild to severe. In Mr. Strobel’s case, the hyponatremia almost killed him, and during the episode that landed him in the hospital, he reportedly had a near death experience. It profoundly changed his life, and he went from being a skeptic about religion, to becoming a true believer.

Strobel writes well, which stands to reason, as he was once the award-winning legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. His work has put him in touch with many interesting people, some of whom he describes in The Case for Heaven. I mostly enjoyed reading his thoughts on what happens after we die, as well as some of the stories he includes about people’s NDEs. The book attempts to provide concrete that Heaven is for real, and for some people, it will succeed and be a great comfort.

However, for me, this book was kind of difficult to get through. The religious aspect of it was a bit of a turn off, especially since it’s really directed at Christians. I was raised a Christian, and don’t quite consider myself an atheist, but I’m not a very religious person. I was expecting this book to be more about the actual experience of having a NDE, but after a couple of chapters, it sort of veers away from that topic and delves into other areas that seemed less relevant to whether or not there’s really a Heaven, and more about Mr. Strobel’s beliefs about faith and religion.

Lee Strobel talks about his book, The Case for Heaven.

I do remember reading some of Strobel’s thoughts on Hell, which were kind of surprising to me. He uses Bible verses to explain what Hell really is, and what it’s actually like. Most of us think of Hell as a lake of fire with never ending suffering and torment for those consigned to go there. Below is a video in which he discusses his thoughts on Hell with podcaster, Alisa Childers. Strobel’s thoughts on Hell did interest me, in fact, probably more than most of the rest of The Case for Heaven did. I might recommend this book simply for that part of it.

Lee Strobel is interviewed about his thoughts on Hell.

I notice that many Amazon reviewers were already fans of Mr. Strobel’s work. He wrote a well-received book called The Case for Christ, that I’ve seen many people referencing. Some write this book isn’t as good as that one is, while others opine that The Case for Heaven is a perfect companion to the earlier work. I haven’t read any of Strobel’s other books, so this is my first experience with his writing. I can tell that he has a gift for grabbing his readers. I was into the book when I first started reading it. But then, after a couple of chapters, continuing to read became a real struggle. I found myself rushing to finish it, skimming instead of really focusing on the writing. I’m a pretty experienced and enthusiastic reader, and I try hard to finish the books I start. I just found this book hard to finish, even though it’s well written and researched. Strobel does, for instance, include an extensive reference section for those who want to explore more.

So, I’m left with a mixed mind about The Case for Heaven. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it… and nothing really exciting sticks out for me about it, other than the fact that Mr. Strobel has had hyponatremia, like my husband has. But I’m sure that some people– particularly those who are very religious, and regularly read books about faith and Christianity– will enjoy this book and be comforted by it. For me, it was just kind of “meh”… and I much prefer Dr. Moody’s classic, Life After Life. I think I would prefer more of a scientific approach, complete with stories of experiences of NDEs, rather than discussion about the Bible or religion.

I think if I were rating this on a five star scale, I would give The Case for Heaven three stars. It’s probably best for people who enjoy religious books, especially from a protestant Christian perspective, and especially for those who have read Mr. Strobel’s other books. As for me, I’m happy to move on to my next title, which has already grabbed my attention.

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Ex, music, narcissists, Neighbors, politicians, politics, reviews, YouTube

Lauren Boebert’s family are allegedly not good neighbors… and more!

Happy Sunday, y’all. Once again– lots I could be writing about today, and this post will probably diverge a bit, because I’m not sure I can fill a proper post with stuff about the ever disappointing Lauren Boebert and her raucous clan in Colorado. However, I feel impressed to share the below video by MeidasTouch, which I discovered on YouTube this morning and… sorry, it’s really not funny for the hapless 911 caller, but I did laugh a lot. He made it sound like a scene from any reality TV show. Pure madness!

OMG… Lauren’s husband and sons sound like a bunch of total howler monkeys. I particularly cracked up when the first caller called Jayson Boebert a jackass and told him to get the fuck out of there.

Neighbors from hell are one of life’s biggest nightmares, even if you live in a detached house and don’t have to share walls. The folks in this recording sound like they are at the ends of their proverbial ropes. It makes me appreciate cold passive aggression I have experienced from certain neighbors… and landladies. I’ve said it before– it’s NOT a punishment to be shunned by an asshole. Too bad the Boeberts aren’t the type to deliver the silent treatment. What makes it worse is that they’re heavily armed with weapons, and apparently Jayson Boebert is threatening everyone. We know Lauren is a fan of guns, so anything can happen.

Here’s hoping the Boeberts get what is coming to them, as their orange turd hero, Trump, goes down in flames. Or… so I pray for, as the world finds out that Trump stole highly classified documents and apparently thinks the law doesn’t apply to him. It sounds to me like the Boeberts are cut from the same ignorant, entitled, TACKY cloth.

Moving on…

Yesterday, I watched Fundie Fridays’ most recent video, which was a repost after she was forced to take down an older version. Lawson Bates– a country singer and one of Gil Bates’ many children– hit Jen’s channel with copyright strikes, which she says threatened its very existence. But common sense prevailed, and Jen didn’t lose her channel. Better yet, she was able to repost the below video, which I have to say, made me die laughing… especially at the end when she spoofs a country song, complete with pink cowboy hat, toy horse, and fake guitar playing.

You have to watch the end of this. HILARIOUS. I love Jen’s uninhibited sense of fun and sharp witted humor.

In the above video, Jen talks a lot about the Bates family. Before Josh Duggar’s mighty fall from grace, the Bates were riding on the Duggar family’s coattails. They seemed poised to take over the realm, as Gil Bates comes across as somewhat more pleasant and friendly than Jim Bob does. But– I think Josh’s disgusting perversions and their long affiliations with the Duggars have made the Bates family somewhat more tarnished, so they have also lost their reality TV show(s). The Bates were actually on two networks– TLC and UpTV– and they had two shows, neither of which I ever watched. But I do remember them from the Duggars’ show, which I did watch for awhile, then got bored with, then watched again as the girls started “courting”.

Anyway, the Bates are only an aside to what I want to comment on next. In her video, Jen does a short snippet about purity culture and purity rings. Apparently, Gil presented one of his daughters with a purity ring and told her he wanted to wear it until she found herself a good Christ lovin’, Bible thumpin’, father obeying man to marry. As she was playing that clip, Jen played this schmaltzy sounding music, to which she sang along. She declared the song, which I later determined to be the 2015 song “Always Love You” by a singer-songwriter named Tyrone Wells, “disgusting”. I have to admit, the part she played was pretty cringeworthy. Below is the video, followed by the lyrics.

He has sort of a acoustic pop sound, with obviously Christian friendly lyrics.

In my eyes you’ll always be
Princess and the world to me
Wonderful than any twinkling star
I will guard your innocence
All I ask in recompense is that
You know the truth inside your father’s heart
I hope you remember
Don’t you dare forget
I will always love you
I will always love you

It’s just a simple truth
And what else could I do?
I will always love you

You will grow up way too fast
And leave me wishing for the past
Back when you were still a daddy’s girl
So I’ll hold onto the memories of
The little girl upon my knee that
Little girl that forever changed the world
I hope you remember
Don’t you dare forget
I will always love you
I will always love you

It’s just a simple truth
And what else could I do?
I will always love you

And when your heart breaks
My heart will break
When your dreams come true
My dreams do
It doesn’t matter what you’re going through
I will always love you
I will always love you
It’s just a simple truth
What else could I do?

I will always love you
Oh, I will always love you
Sometimes you will fly
Sometimes you will fall
And till the day I die
Daughter, through it all
I will always love you

I will always love you
I will always love you

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Tyrone Wells

The part Jen plays and sings to is this:

I will guard your innocence
All I ask in recompense is that
You know the truth inside your father’s heart

I agree, on the surface, it does sound gross– like the weird fundie father “purity ring” bullshit that gets pushed. But I listened to the whole song, and on the whole, I disagree that it’s “disgusting”. It has a nice melody, and Wells has a pleasant voice, even if it does sound like most of the other male pop singers out there today. Just as a quick aside– I really miss the days when we had more distinctive singers who didn’t sound so “perfect”. I don’t like autotune, and I hate that so many popular singers are indistinguishable from other singers, with so many electronic sleights of hand and wizardry to completely alter organic sound. But again, I don’t think “Always Love You” is a particularly gross or disgusting song. Just those three specific lines, when paired with video of a weepy Gil Bates giving his daughter a purity ring, are kind of yucky. I mean, I’m married to a man who has a huge, loving heart. No, he can’t sing, but I can see him expressing this kind of love to his daughters. Or, at least the one who speaks to him.

And finally, speaking of Ex…

Apparently, Ex is now an expert on what makes marriages work. I guess, when you’ve had three husbands, and your adoptive mother has been divorced seven times, you do get an education of sorts. I didn’t think this quip was enough to base a whole blog post on, but I did have a good chuckle at this comment she tweeted about married characters on her favorite TV show. Someone had asked if she thought a time traveling couple would have lasted in marriage. I don’t watch the show myself, so I have no idea… but Ex’s comment did make me pause for a guffaw.

I don’t, actually. Frank and Claire had different things driving them. Even if they had a good sex life, it would not have held their marriage together. It takes a deeper, truer love to make marriage work in the long term.

I dunno… from what I’ve heard, she and #3 don’t have a marriage like that. They HAVE been together for 20 years, but it’s probably because #3 knows Ex alienates her children from their fathers; he can’t afford to pay her child support; and she may have actually convinced him that he can’t do better. She almost convinced Bill of that, even though it’s preposterous! As for sex… it’s true that she is adventurous, but it comes at a huge price that can potentially leave literal scars. My guess is that nowadays, she’s too busy watching TV and fantasizing about celebrities to do much rational thinking. As we know, narcissists aren’t really capable of true love, so I think she may be speaking out of her ass again. I remain grateful to her, though, because by divorcing Bill, she gave me the chance to find a deep, true love. <3 And we’ve managed to have that, even without a “great sex life”.

Even if what she says is technically true, in her case, it’s pure book smarts. Because I am convinced that she’s never experienced deep, true love. She has experienced infatuation, lust, and maybe attachment related to narcissism, which switches on and off at the drop of a hat. But she doesn’t know love… and she doesn’t give love. She’s about possession and loyalty binds, and if a person dares think for themselves, they will be cast aside, ostracized, and smeared. Not very loving, is it.

So ends today’s post. Bill is bottling beer today. I feel better than I did yesterday, so maybe we’ll do something. Or maybe not. We’ll see.

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