celebrities, Duggars, Ex, LDS, religion

How worshiping at the “church of George Carlin” serves me better than being a fundie…

Today’s post is going to be kind of convoluted and philosophical. I had originally meant to write about the Duggar family, but then I had an interesting talk with Bill this morning that I think can co-mingle with this topic. Bear with me… or don’t bear with me. It’s up to you. But I think these two topics are relative to each other, even if they don’t seem to be.

This morning, I came to the realization that George Carlin, who was famously foul mouthed and frank about his opinions, really had certain truisms nailed. I learned a lot from George, even though he was “godless”. He didn’t believe in the magical thinking, legalism, and mind fuckery that comes from religion. Instead, he was all about common sense. I appreciated Carlin’s astute observations about life, and I looked up to him… probably more so than I did my own parents.

Much to my father’s chagrin, George Carlin, who was raised Irish Catholic and eventually rejected religion, had a huge influence on me. When I was growing up, I worshiped at the “church of George Carlin”, instead of my dad’s preferred faith, the Presbyterian Church USA. I think the “church of George Carlin” probably served me better than being raised Presbyterian did. Not that being Presbyterian was particularly “traumatic” in any way. In my experience, being Presbyterian was just kind of boring… at least until I realized that the Presbyterian is a big part of my heritage. In that sense, being Presbyterian is interesting. But not interesting enough that I want to go sit in a pew and listen to sermons.

My dad didn’t like George Carlin. He used to lecture me when he’d catch me watching Carlin on HBO. He didn’t like Carlin’s seemingly liberal politics or the language he used. My dad would lament about how I found Carlin so funny and brilliant, decrying Carlin’s use of profanity. Dad believed that profanity was a sign of stupidity and a lack of vocabulary. Of course, my dad was wrong about Carlin. Carlin was right about a lot of things… and he was certainly not someone who lacked vocabulary. I also don’t think Carlin was necessarily a liberal. I think he believed both political spectrums sucked. But I also think that many people believe that if you aren’t on their side, you must be on the other side. There’s no room for moderate views, and in my opinion, not tolerating moderate views can cause huge problems.

One thing I appreciated about George Carlin was that he had no problem pointing out hypocrisy and silliness, especially as it pertains to religion. A lot of religious practices needlessly complicate life. If you need an example, just have a look at the Duggar family, and how they’ve fallen from grace. This is a family that lived with a LOT of rules and control. But underneath it all, they were full of shit… carefully hiding their sins. I think if they had embraced their sins and been honest, they wouldn’t be in the regrettable situation they’re in right now. They went from being a family to emulate, to a family humiliated.

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of clips from the original reality show that made the Duggar family a household name. I’m reminded anew of the many false stories and outright untruths the Duggars told the world. It turned out that a lot of what they were telling the public about their lives was straight up bullshit. They presented a fake image and a false reality, and a lot of people bought it, and their formerly huge reality TV show. The clips I’ve been watching have been uploaded on YouTube by someone who starts each video with a minute of the Megyn Kelly interview done in May 2015, showing Jessa and Jill. Jill weeps on camera, while Jessa glances sideways at her, having just said how “wrong” people are that Josh is a “monster”.

Jessa flat out lied in that interview, minimizing what Josh Duggar did to her and three of her siblings. That’s a direct violation of one of the Ten Commandments! So much for obeying the Bible! It’s more important to obey Jim Bob Duggar– “God” in their home, and its “mini cult”. To his family and friends, Jim Bob is not a mere man. To the Duggars, he’s “the MAN”… and those who don’t obey him pay a price. But recently, the whole world has been reminded that Jim Bob Duggar is, in fact, just a man. And as awesome men go, he couldn’t hold a candle to George Carlin. But Jim Bob would probably consider Carlin “satanic”.

Incidentally, Jim Bob and Michelle also lied in that 2015 interview with Megyn Kelly. Why did they lie? Because they’re full of shit, and they worship money and power more than they do the Bible. It’s not so much that I care about the Bible per se. I just don’t like hypocrisy, or people who try to conceal their sins with lies and convoluted religious bullshit.

Many of us were eager to believe that the Duggars really did have a squeaky clean household. Lots of people thought Jim Bob was telling the truth when he said his children had no unfiltered access to the Internet or television. They seemed so wholesome and loving. Michelle Duggar wouldn’t show her knees or shoulders. The kids were shown wearing “Wholesome Wear” swimsuits, which were good only in that they probably helped them avoid sunburns. Jim Bob ran races in jeans. I guess that was supposed to make him appear to be “godlier”. Does Jim Bob really think God cares whether he runs races in jeans or running shorts? Or is he just doing that to look as if he’s a “hardcore Christian”? We all know now that Jim Bob is not any better than anyone else, particularly when it comes to being “Christlike.”

One brilliant example of why I worship at the church of George Carlin. This is a hell of a sermon. “Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins…” Amen, George. And you can hear that he wasn’t really liberal, because he wasn’t about political correctness.

Hell, they even refuse to call “deviled eggs” by their proper name. Instead, they call them “angel eggs”. Supposedly, Michelle Duggar came up with the name years ago, saying that she didn’t like the name “deviled eggs”. Michelle supposedly said that the eggs were so “yummy” that they should be called “angel eggs”. Here’s a link to a photo of the Duggars’ famous “Yellow Pocket Angel Eggs”. I see someone commented that they’re, in fact, “deviled eggs”. Changing the name doesn’t change what they are. Michelle and her daughters could take a lesson from George Carlin, and his sermon on “soft language”, and how that language is used to conceal “sins”.

“Life doesn’t change because you post a sign.” Angel eggs are still devilishly delicious, despite Michelle’s decision to change the satanic name.

As George Carlin famously said, “Life doesn’t change because you post a sign.” Changing the name of a classic egg appetizer doesn’t change what the appetizer is, even if you’ve exchanged a “satanic” name for an “angelic” one. And, of course, deviled eggs aren’t satanic– that’s ridiculous. However, one of Michelle’s own eggs produced someone whom some might consider “satanic”, as he sits alone in a jail cell, pondering his bleak future. Of course, I’m referring to Josh Duggar, one of Ma and Pa Duggar’s so-called “gifts from God”. In fact, Josh was the very first “gift from God”… and now, he seems more like a ruined first pancake.

I remember in the early days of the Duggar family’s rise to fame, Jim Bob Duggar used to preach to the masses about “buying used and saving the difference.” The Duggar patriarch was famously cheap, doing everything he could to save money so that he could keep supporting the “gifts from God” that came in the form of his 19 children. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar proclaimed that their huge brood was a sign of God’s favor, even though having so many children meant that, for many years, the Duggars lived in poor conditions. The story back then was that they were a “humble”, Christ loving family, cheerfully accepting that there was always a line for the bathroom and never enough tater tot casserole to go around.

But then came the reality show, and many fat paychecks from TLC. Never mind that it meant that the children were forced to work, and they were on television, a medium that the Duggars claimed they eschewed in their home. Gradually, viewers saw the family’s fashion sense change. Instead of homemade jumpers with huge collars on the girls, and khaki pants and polo shirts on the boys, we started to see the family wearing name brand clothes. Granted, they supposedly bought those clothes at thrift shops and second hand stores, but they still changed their style. They were famously frugal and “cheap”… but because they focused more on legalism, collar lines and hem lines on the girls, and being open about praying and singing, they ignored the huge problem that was being covered up and has cost them so much.

Just this morning, I read a story by The Sun about how the Duggars can send Josh “care packages” through the prison commissary. Josh, who used to go to the grocery store with his family and load up on cheap, processed foods, and paper plates, can now get a package of several lunch bag sized bags of chips for a whopping $22. If he wants candy bars, he can get a package of those for $22. His wife, Anna, has to visit him by video, for which she pays 25 cents a minute. Or she can send him an email for $5.

When I think about how the Duggars used to demonstrate how they’d save money by letting the daughters give the guys haircuts or making their own laundry detergent, it boggles my mind at what Josh’s crimes have cost the family. The costs have been huge… not just in terms of the vast amount of money spent, but also their own reputations. I wonder if the outcome would have been different if Josh had been dealt with appropriately when he was much younger. What if he had grown up in a family where things could be discussed openly, and there wasn’t the constant pressure to appear like perfect Gothardite Christians? Would people have more respect for them if they had been honest instead of trying to cover up their lies? What if Jim Bob and Michelle had paid more attention to actually raising their kids and knowing them well, instead of making sure everyone wore modest clothing and “buying used and saving the difference.” I’ll bet actually raising and protecting their kids would have cost them a lot less than homemade jumpers and haircuts.

So many people think the answer to living a better life is to be someone they’re not, embrace legalistic belief systems… and to cover up their sins. This morning, Bill and I talked about this concept, as he discussed a recent session he had with his Jungian therapist. Bill had told his therapist about how, prior to Easter 2000, Bill had always enjoyed visiting his father and his stepmother at their home. But then, they allowed Ex to use their home as a setting for her humiliating ultimatum over Easter 2000. That was where she falsely declared Bill a “reprobate” of sorts. She didn’t use that word, of course, but that was what she meant.

The issue was, Bill wasn’t “bad”. He wasn’t a reprobate at all. That was a false narrative his ex wife was pushing, as she was also supposedly embracing Mormonism and using religion to present Bill as a bad person. By allowing Ex to use their home as the setting for Ex’s condemnation of Bill, Bill’s dad and stepmother changed the conditions of how Bill saw them, and their home. And then, instead of doing what he was expected to do and had always done in the past, Bill went off script, which really fucked things up, and changed the course of the future.

Ex thought Bill would beg forgiveness and bend to her will. But Bill had had enough, and it was time for a reckoning. So, when Ex told Bill he was “bad” and needed intensive church based “therapy” with his LDS bishop (who was a lay person with no professional training in counseling) or she would divorce him, Bill decided he wasn’t going to accept her conditions. He asked, “Where do I sign?” instead of “What can I do to make you love me again?” And that decision was not what Ex expected. It made Bill seem “satanic” to her… suddenly, he wasn’t the man she arrogantly thought she knew, inside and out. Suddenly, he was someone who was capable of saying he’d had enough. He couldn’t be controlled, and that somehow made him “evil”. She had to banish him. She used Mormonism and its strict “moral code” to justify what she was doing, which was ultimately harming the children and Bill.

Then I came along, and I upset the apple cart even more by refusing to dance to Ex’s tune. I refused to go along with her plans for Christmas in 2004. Because I insisted on being treated like an adult, instead of one of Ex’s flying monkeys, I became “evil” and needed to be cast out of the cult. I couldn’t be trusted around the children, because I might influence them. I’m sure she thought of me as “Satan”, too. But they were influenced anyway, and as most children do, they went their own way… or, at least a few of them have. That’s how it is in Jim Bob Duggar’s little fiefdom, too. Some of his children are going their own way. Jim Bob might think of his wayward children who have gone astray as “touched by Satan”.

If you think about it, in some ways, Satan was really just an agent of change. Sometimes the change was bad or difficult, and sometimes it was indifferent, or even quite good. After all, what would the world be like if Adam and Eve hadn’t eaten the apple? Would we all still be living in the Garden of Eden, naked, and frolicking in paradise? What fun is that? How does one grow from that experience? Sure, working all the time is hard, as is having to birth children… but hanging out in paradise isn’t very challenging or rewarding. Being stuck with Ex, likewise, wasn’t rewarding… although it was pretty challenging.

The “church of George Carlin” taught me that people have to be allowed to think and act independently. Blind obedience to one person or idea isn’t healthy. Independent thought is essential. That’s how positive change and growth can happen. George Carlin was a brilliant man… but he was also humble enough to propose that people worship someone other than him. He said, instead of worshiping God, we should worship the sun… or maybe Joe Pesci. In that sense, George Carlin, as an atheist, was probably more Christlike than Jim Bob Duggar will ever be as a “Christian”.

George Carlin says you have to “stand in awe” of the bullshit peddled by religion…

Imagine the heartache that could have been avoided if the Duggars had just worshiped George Carlin instead of Bill Gothard. Maybe Josh would have still been a pervert, but at least they could have a laugh about it. Naw… there’s nothing funny about a man who is so sick that he wants to watch children being abused and gets sexual gratification from it. That’s a problem that should have been taken care of many years ago… and maybe could have, if not for the distraction of religion, and the illusion of power and money grabs that come from adhering to strict religions. For all of the emphasis the Duggars place on being “saved”, religion and control couldn’t “save” Josh or spare his victims. He’s still sitting all alone in a jail cell, probably hoping someone might think enough of him to spend $22 on some Doritos and Cheetos for him.

So, given Josh Duggar’s pathetic example, I’m sticking with worshiping at the church of George Carlin. I think it serves me better than Duggar style fundie legalism ever could. And with that, I think I’ll praise George and get on with the rest of my day.

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celebrities, condescending twatbags, narcissists

Let’s talk about Dave Ramsey…

Dave Ramsey… that’s a name I’ve heard bandied about in fundie Christian circles. Before this morning, I didn’t know much about him. I’d heard a little about what he does. He’s a Christian financial guru. I probably first heard about him from the Duggar family– Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, specifically– who used to tout their theories on how to stay out of debt and raise a humongous “quiver full” of children who would grow up to be God fearing, tithe paying Christians.

While religion is not supposed to be tied to politics, it often is. Fundie Christians have huge families, in part, so that they can make more voters who have been trained to vote for political candidates that champion their religious beliefs and make laws that favor Christianity. Dave Ramsey appears to be one of those people. He’s made a career out of courting Christians and recruiting them into his financial programs.

I don’t actually know too much about the quality of Dave Ramsey’s financial advice. I have read that some people like his budget plans. However, after reading an article about him this morning, I’m reminded an awful lot of another famous person who was recently in the news… Tom Cruise. Cruise, as we all know, is famously devoted to the Church of Scientology. He’s also quite narcissistic and abusive, as evidenced by his recent verbal tirade that put him in the news a couple of months ago. I’ll get to why Dave Ramsey reminds me of Tom Cruise in a minute.

Dave Ramsey is in the news this morning because he has said that he doesn’t agree with giving people stimulus checks to help them through the pandemic. Dave Ramsey said on Fox News, “If $600 or $1400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed already.” He continues, saying “That’s not talking down to folks. I’ve been bankrupt. I’ve been broke. I work with people every day who are hurting. I love people. I want people to be lifted up, but this is, again, it is just political rhetoric,”

Probably because of Ramsey’s comment on Fox News, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared an illuminating article about people who have worked for Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions. It’s said that the company is run more like a church than a company, and being employed there means giving up a lot of privacy. Ramsey reportedly has a lot of dictates about his employees’ personal lives. People have been fired, for instance, because of things their spouses post on social media. In fact, according to the article, when a person is considered for a job working for Dave Ramsey, their spouses are also interviewed. Why? Because Dave wants to make sure no one is “married to crazy”. He says being married to crazy means that employees won’t be at their best. According to Ramsey’s Web site:

“When hiring someone, you are employing more than just the person… You’re taking on the whole family. And when they are married to someone who is domineering, unstable or simply full of drama, you’ll end up with a team member who can’t be creative, productive or excellent.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be judged for jobs that my husband takes. It was bad enough being an Army wife, which has really affected my life a lot. When my mom was an Air Force wife, back in the 60s and 70s, she was often judged as much as my dad was, when it came to promotion decisions. I remember hearing that my dad was once passed over for a job because the leadership didn’t think my mom was a good enough hostess. Thankfully, those days are mostly over in the military community. I think that nowadays, maybe the only people whose spouses might be judged are those who are going to be Generals. Ramsey’s running a private company, so I guess if his employees don’t have a problem with him running their private lives, it’s perfectly legal. But it sure doesn’t seem right.

Ramsey is being sued by a former employee after she was fired for having premarital sex, which is against company policy. Ramsey, angry about being sued, yelled at his remaining employees at a company meeting:

“I am sick of dealing with all this stuff,” Ramsey bellowed, according to a recording obtained by Religion News Service. “I’m so tired of being falsely accused of being a jerk when all I’m doing is trying to help people stay in line.”

Right… but who appointed Dave Ramsey as the person who has to “help people stay in line” in their private lives? Reading that quote by Dave Ramsey reminded me a lot of Tom Cruise, both when he screamed at his employees back in December… and back in 2008, when he famously said this:

“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident it’s not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can help,”

It sounds to me like Dave Ramsey and Tom Cruise are similar in their beliefs that they’re the ones who ought to be in charge. However, unlike Cruise, Ramsey isn’t taking the pandemic seriously. He thinks people who would rather work at home to avoid getting sick are “wusses”. While Tom Cruise screamed this to his employees about COVID-19:

“They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers,”

“I don’t ever want to see it again! Ever!,” he rages. “If I see you do it again, you’re fucking gone.”

“And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it — and you too and you too. And you, don’t you ever fucking do it again.”

Dave Ramsey says this to his customers and employees:

“You would think that the black plague was coming through the U.S., listening to people whine,” he told his audience. “You guys have lost your mind out there.”

“We have people calling in, they are wanting to cancel stuff for a live event in May — let me tell you how much of your money I am going to give you back if you don’t come for the coronavirus in May,” he said. “ZERO. I am keeping your money. You are a wuss.”

And yet, Dave Ramsey doesn’t let his employees think for themselves. He doesn’t practice what he preaches when it comes to minding one’s own business.

The messages are different, but the disrespectful, snarky, directive tone is very much the same. It’s abusive and mean-spirited. And again, even though Ramsey isn’t giving a paycheck to the spouses of his employees, the spouses are expected to toe the line as much as the employees are. They aren’t supposed to have credit cards, and their social media posts are monitored. One former employee’s wife who suffers from asthma and worries about COVID-19 posted this on Facebook:

“Jon’s company [Ramsey Solutions] wants to bring all 900 employees back asap when a majority can do their work from home… I do *not* understand how people don’t see we are setting ourselves up for a huge second wave. Ugh, people make me so angry.”

“Jon” was soon called by a supervisor, who chastised him for his wife’s Facebook comment. The wife of a co-worker had screenshot the comment and sent it to their boss. And yes, Jon was fired for it. On his way out, he was offered $18,000 in severance pay if he and his wife would sign a nondisclosure agreement and promise not to ever say anything derogatory about the company. To their credit, the couple chose not to sign the agreement. They have had to rely on the generosity of friends and family members to help them survive during the unemployment. Meanwhile, Ramsey’s legal goons are still trying to silence them by sending cease-and-desist letters.

When an anonymous employee sent a letter of complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Ramsey’s failure to take precautions against COVID-19, Ramsey’s response was to berate his entire staff, calling them “morons”. First, he complained that the pandemic was ruining his golf game, then he reportedly said:

“So whoever you are, you moron, you did absolutely no good, except piss me off,” he told his staff. “You are not welcome here if you are willing to do stuff like that. If you are really scared and you really think that leadership is trying to kill you … please, we love you. Just leave. We really don’t want you here.

After warning his employees not to complain to anyone outside the company about the working conditions, he continued:

“If you really think the people here are evil, bad people and you think that you can effect change by reaching outside of here, you are wrong… And you are not welcome.”

Then, against the advice of his board not to speak about the OSHA investigation, Ramsey went on:

“I love this place and I really don’t want any morons here.” If he found out the person’s identity, he threatened,I will fire you instantaneously for your lack of loyalty, your lack of class, and the fact that you are a moron and you snuck through our hiring process, And then he reiterated that he “loves” his employees and Ramsey Solutions is the “best” place to work in the entire world. It’s also a place where your boss tells you he loves you as he calls you a “moron” and threatens you.

Ramsey supposedly “loves” his employees. But he calls them “morons” and tells them they aren’t welcome if they have a legitimate complaint or concern about workplace safety. Seems strange to me… but also familiar. Because after Tom Cruise screamed at his employees in December, he said something rather similar:

“That’s what I’m thinking about. That’s what I’m doing today. I’m talking to Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Movies are going because of us. We shut down, it’s going to cost people their fucking jobs, their homes, their family—that’s what’s happening. All the way down the line. And I care about you guys. But if you’re not going to help me, you’re gone. OK? Do you see that stick? How many meters is that? When people are standing around a fucking computer and hanging out around here, what are you doing?

Now… it’s not that I don’t think Cruise had a right to insist on proper COVID-19 protocol. My issue is with the extremely disrespectful way he addressed his staff. He called them names. He swore at them. He threatened them. That is verbal abuse. Dave Ramsey does the same thing, for the opposite cause. But they’re very much the same in terms of how they deal with people. They treat them very much as if they’re objects who don’t deserve the most basic of respect. That’s what narcissists do, and I speak from experience when I say that being in an environment like that will take its toll. I definitely wouldn’t consider a fear based workplace where people are pressured to shut up and color the “best” workplace in the world. Far from it.

Ramsey’s company also has a policy against gossip. Gossip is defined by Ramsey as “when you discuss a negative with anyone who can’t solve the problem.” He fires people who “gossip”. Below is a famous Ramsey rant about gossip. Just listening to this, and Ramsey’s mocking tone, is kind of triggering for me.

On the surface, this doesn’t sound bad… until you realize that you can’t even vent about this to your spouse or a friend without risking your livelihood. It’s very controlling and abusive.

Many employees supposedly love the culture of Ramsey’s company. People are reportedly helpful and kind… until someone has a criticism. And then, Ramsey reportedly goes on a rampage to find out who is complaining. He even goes as far as to offer “bounties” to those who are willing to snitch. It sounds a little culty and East German-ish.

Ramsey also preaches a lot about Judeo-Christian values. He reportedly goes as far as to fire people for adultery and being pregnant outside of marriage, claiming that people have violated the company’s “righteous living” code. And yet, I see him writing and hear him saying things like “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” and “I’ve got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them. They freaking work for me.” That doesn’t sound very “Christlike” to me. It sounds controlling and abusive.

Unfortunately, Tennessee, where Ramsey Solutions is based, is an “at will” employment state. So Ramsey is within his legal rights to fire people for almost any reason. He has a lot of fans, too. Like Tom Cruise and Donald Trump, Ramsey has charisma and people are drawn to that, even if that magnetism includes a helping of narcissistic abuse.

Well… before this morning, I didn’t really have much of an opinion about Dave Ramsey one way or another. Maybe his plans do help people get control of their finances. But I don’t find him to be a likable person, and I think I would hate working for him. I sympathize with those who are trying to take action against his policies. He seems to delight in being the “boss” of his employees, telling them what they can and can’t do, even when they’re off the clock. It’s hard to escape such an environment, particularly when there’s a pandemic going on and jobs are scarce. And so, people who are legitimately frightened of getting COVID-19 have to suck it up and drive on, maskless, because wearing a face mask indicates that God isn’t in control. It doesn’t matter that the virus has spread through the company and people, in general, are getting sick and dying of the virus.

If you try to use your own free will to protect yourself, Dave Ramsey doesn’t want you to work for him. Working for him apparently means your ass is his, on or off the clock. No thanks. I’m an adult and can make my own decisions. And… as Bill and I found out, I can even get us out of debt without Dave’s financial plan. So I don’t have to buy what he’s selling.

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complaints, language, psychology, rants, religion

“Fike you!”

You might say today’s post is a bit of a rerun. It involves a certain relative of mine who has been “trying to clean up [his] vocabulary.” In his quest to quit cursing, he’s taken to replacing letters in certain swear words in an attempt to “improve” his language. Why he feels compelled to do this, I don’t really know. I can only guess.

I know I’ve written about this before. In fact, I’m just now looking up when I last wrote about this topic. I see it was exactly two months ago to the day– June 30, 2020, when I wrote about how my cousin referred to “chicken shot” instead of “chickenshit”. But that post was about a memory I found on Facebook in which he and I had butted heads over a National Rifle Association ad. This cousin– I routinely refer to him as “Timmy”, although that is not his real name– got into an argument with Bill and said that his argument was “chicken shot”.

Naturally, I rolled my eyes at that, since I think it’s a waste of energy to clean up one’s language in such a way. Words and language usage do matter, of course, but I personally don’t believe in “bad” words. All words, even the really offensive ones, have a legitimate usage somewhere. Every word can be used in a non-offensive way. That includes the infamous “n-word” that gets people riled up. Try reading a slave narrative without encountering that word. Try listening to Stevie Wonder’s brilliant song, “Living For the City” without that word. Even certain episodes of 70s era sitcoms employ the n-word in a way that is useful. Sometimes the right word really is one that shocks and offends. Aside from that, I have a serious problem with black and white thinking on almost any subject, as well as issues with authority. So when it comes to language use, Timmy and I will probably always butt heads.

But never mind the n-bomb. I don’t want to get into that discussion today. I want to write about my cousin’s use of the non-word, “fike”, and how it makes him seem kind of “fake” to me now. And that makes me sad.

Um… we all know you meant to say “fuck”. Just fucking say it already!

I don’t understand using a non-word like “fike” when it’s clear that one actually means to say “fuck”. In this instance, Timmy wasn’t even swearing. It’s not like he was saying “fuck you” to someone, trying to debase them. Even our sweet grandmother, a woman I never once heard utter a “bad word”, sometimes quoted her mother, who would swear on occasion. In my mind, Timmy wasn’t cursing in the above example. He was quoting someone else. Mind you, he also referred to using a weapon on someone who was cursing. Frankly, I prefer someone who swears, to someone who is overly casual about using weapons. Isn’t it a bit “fucked up” that Timmy writes that he would have shot more of them for using “bad language” and taking pictures? But he wants to clean up his “vocabulary”… Hmm…

Seems to me that if you change letters in a word so that it no longer spells the bad word, but it’s obvious that the bad word is what you really meant, you’ve actually accomplished nothing in your goal of “cleaning up your vocabulary”. The thought was still there, and we all know what your intent was. If Timmy really wants to upgrade his vocabulary, he should say something else or use a different, but legitimate, word in the “bad word’s” place. But I suppose that’s too much to expect from someone who thinks that guns are less offensive than four letter words are.

You see, Timmy used to be a lot of fun. Yes, he got into trouble a lot, mainly because he drank too much, got into fights, and brought his guns into places he shouldn’t have. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie, too, and I think that influenced him to put himself in situations that made life more difficult for him and his loved ones. But when he was younger, he was free-spirited and loving. I remember him as kind to me when I was a little girl. He used to be one of my favorite relatives. I rarely got to see him when I was growing up, because he grew up in Texas and I grew up in Virginia. It was rare that his parents would bring him and his brothers to Virginia for our annual Thanksgiving shindig.

Years later, when my uncle retired from full time work, he bought a home in Virginia and resettled there with his wife, who passed away about ten years ago. Timmy and one of his brothers followed their dad east. I got to see and know my cousins more… at least the ones who came east. For awhile, Timmy was still fun. But then one day, he publicly declared himself an alcoholic and found religion (although I’m not sure he’s found Jesus yet). And now he’s drunk on religion instead of booze. I’m glad he quit drinking. His drinking legitimately got him into trouble. But it seems that he’s now traded alcohol for being a religious wingnut.

I find Timmy hard to talk to nowadays, mainly because he’s adopted this holier-than-thou smugness and seriousness that he didn’t used to have as much. He won’t say words like “shit” or “fuck”, and he’ll get upset when someone curses on his Facebook feed, but he’s ruder than ever in the way he talks down to people. I’ve seen him do it to Bill, but he is especially condescending to women– particularly women he thinks are too liberal. It’s clear to me that he looks down on people who are liberal and thinks he’s “smarter” than they are, to the point of not being willing to listen respectfully to what they have to say and learning from them, even if he disagrees.

Bill and I were talking about this yesterday. Bill thinks that sometimes, when people decide to change their lives by giving up vices such as drinking alcohol, they feel like they have to make amends for everything “bad” they did in the past. They worry excessively about offending God somehow, and they start going into overdrive, trying to become “better” people. But they don’t really recognize or change their behaviors, nor do they realize that by trying not to offend a perfect being (God), who should be above being “offended”, they annoy everybody else. They just change their obsession to something they think is more acceptable. In Timmy’s case, I think he traded boozing, cussing, and partying with being really pious, to the point of being obnoxious and insufferable.

I know that people involved in addiction recovery have a term known as “dry drunk” syndrome. Basically, it refers to a person who has stopped drinking or using drugs, but is still engaged in the negative behaviors and psychological maladies associated with their addiction(s), except for the drinking and/or drugging itself. One thing I’ve noticed among the alcoholics in my family is that they tend to be very controlling, overbearing, angry, and smug. That quality doesn’t go away when they stop drinking, although if I’m honest, I’m not entirely sure that any of the alcoholics in my family ever permanently gave up the sauce. I know my dad was never able to. But they know they have a problem with booze, which only adds to the guilt, frustration, and “demon” load they’re already bearing.

One thing I’d like to tell Timmy, though, is that carrying weapons and “shooting” people who swear and take pictures is not Christlike behavior. It’s all well and good that he wants to clean up his vocabulary. If he really means it, that’s commendable. But I would much rather hear him let loose with a blue streak of cursing than see him champion gun rights people who have no qualms about shooting people they think are “punks”. And to be very honest, I suspect that Timmy has certain people in mind that he wouldn’t have issues with dispatching somehow. He would never admit it, of course, but I know he holds certain people in disdain. Again, it’s not very “Christlike” behavior, nor is it an admirable attitude. I’m sure God appreciates that one of the world’s flock has decided to say “fike” instead of “fuck”, but I’m sure he’d rather Timmy cuss than be violent. But I suppose not taking take the Lord’s name in vain is easier than not wanting to be violent.

Anyway… I know that Timmy really meant “fuck” when he wrote “fike”. And seeing him write “fike” is annoying, especially when he claims he’s only trying to “clean up his vocabulary”. As a self-identified English language snob, I wish he’d simply find a more creative but legitimate way to say what he means and mean what he says. And I wish he’d stop glorifying guns as he proclaims his love for Godliness. It’s just a load of horseshit… or “chicken shot”, if he prefers.

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music, religion

Musical mission of dorkiness…

This morning, I am starting the day off with a hearty laugh. Why? Because my friend Mike shared a cringeworthy video of two LDS sister missionaries rapping. It totally cracked me up in all its glorious dorkiness. I suppose I could upload it to the blog, but I think it’s better if you simply navigate to the page yourself and take a gander. It’s public, after all, and apparently getting spread around… (by the way, I know the link isn’t working. It worked when I put it in the post. Just look up Mike Norton on Facebook. His stuff is very public. You’ll find it and another equally cringeworthy rap video by sister missionaries.)

These two ladies are sister missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are in the England Leeds mission. I give them mad props for their youthful enthusiasm and creativity, although I ain’t gonna lie… I kind of cringe when I listen to their rhythmic rapping about Joseph Smith. But hey, they’re putting their heart and soul into it, and I’m sure they’re nice people. And they say they’re “doing it for Italy”. They’re doing THIS for Italy? Really? Why?

My husband’s daughter did a mission in Utah. In her case, it was a very good thing to do. It got her away from her crazy mother, and she learned that people can be good and not be LDS. She grew up a lot during her time away, although I will admit that at the time she was doing her mission, I didn’t have a very high opinion of her because of the way she and her sister treated Bill. Now that she’s married and on her own, she’s become a much nicer person, and it’s become clear that she was coerced.

I suppose given how much younger daughter changed, I no longer have as much animosity for Mormonism as I once had. I still think the beliefs are a bit wackadoodle and I don’t like some of the things the members do to get and keep people in the fold. But I no longer have a burning desire to bust on it anymore. Now, I’m just amused by people like the young women in that video. I am also legitimately grateful that people in the church helped Bill’s daughter when she needed help. It’s help that her parents should have given her– particularly her mother, since she forced Bill out of his daughters’ lives. But since Ex wasn’t prepared to do her duty as a mom, I’m glad some good people in the church did.

Here’s another video done by a missionary. He’s got a nice voice and plays ukulele well, but I don’t know about the lyrics. It’s a little too cheesy for me, and the music is very pop. I think the video done by musicians in Berlin’s Opera is more my speed. I legitimately teared up the first time I heard this coronavirus inspired, socially distanced, spot on impromptu performance… It’s very inspirational to me in the way dorky missionary performances are not. But I guess everyone has difference sources of inspiration.

I’m always amazed by extremely religious young people. What do they have that I didn’t when I was their age? I never enjoyed church at all and couldn’t wait to stop attending the forced gatherings every Sunday. I didn’t go to a particularly demanding church, either. I was a Presbyterian. I guess I still am a Presbyterian, although I don’t go to church anymore. I prefer to look for God outside of church and formal religions.

Yesterday, an Armenian friend shared the news that the “last” Armenian in Bangladesh had died. I didn’t know Armenia had such an influence on Bangladesh, but I did remember that I used to live in a part of Yerevan that was on the way to the city district nicknamed “Bangladesh”. I asked my friend if the part of Yerevan called Bangladesh had anything to do with the Armenian presence in the country. He said it didn’t. Apparently, “Bangladesh” in Yerevan came about as a nickname during the early 70s, when Bangladesh was getting its independence from Nepal. At that time, Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, which was, of course, a closed society. People of that time would not have had much of a chance to meet anyone from Bangladesh or anywhere else that wasn’t part of the Soviet Union or the Eastern Bloc.

I found an interesting article about Yerevan’s “Bangladesh”, having been inspired by my friend’s post about the last Armenian’s death. Within the article, which was written by Maxim Edwards, a British journalist, there is a story about how Armenians were wary of Americans who speak Armenian. Why? It’s not because of Peace Corps Volunteers, of which I was one in the 1990s. It’s because of Mormon missionaries. I kind of liked this story in Edwards’ article:

Incidentally, I was among the first “foreigners” to visit Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union. I was in the third Peace Corps group to serve there, and I got to know a lot of people who worked at the American Embassy. I didn’t know of any Mormons there, although there was a Mormon couple in my group with me. I think Armenia did become somewhat of a hotbed of LDS activity after I left. I think it’s pretty funny what the locals had to say about the church’s invasion into the “first Christian country”. I’m sure the LDS church is a tough sell in Armenia, a place where people like their coffee, tea, booze, and cigarettes, and it’s way too hot to wear temple garments. Moreover, even though they were officially atheists during the Soviet era, Armenians are mostly very proud of their Christian heritage, although I did run into a couple of Jewish and Muslim believers, too.

Anyway… the above video is not the first one I’ve seen highlighting silliness among the LDS folk. They probably get pretty bored, especially nowadays, when they can’t be going door to door peddling their religion to the unaware. I was amused by their antics, though. Hope they had as much fun making their video as I did watching it… and laughing at it. It’s a brave thing to put stuff out there on the Internet. Believe me, I should know.

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