politics, Trump

Cassidy Hutchinson is truly a hero, as far as I’m concerned…

I know I’ve already written a book review today, but I wanted to add a few comments about Cassidy Hutchinson, former junior White House aide to Mark Meadows in the Trump administration. Yesterday, I read and heard about how she was “encouraged” by “ethics attorney” Stefan Passantino to lie under oath to protect Donald Trump and his cronies. Or, rather, the attorney advised her “not to recall” things that she remembered from her time in the White House. When Hutchinson asked the lawyer if that wouldn’t be perjury, he told her no one would know what she did and didn’t remember. So she could say “I don’t recall”, even though that would have been a lie. And yes, technically it IS perjury.

Thank God Cassidy Hutchinson has integrity.

After I watched the above video yesterday, I posted on Facebook that I think Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero. I truly believe she is, even though she worked in the Trump administration. I’ve seen a number of people holding her work for Trump against her, and minimizing the fact that what she did took immense courage and maturity. She has proven that she’s very professional and has a high level of personal honor.

Consider this. Last summer, when she was all over the news, Cassidy Hutchinson was 26 years old and had never needed to hire a lawyer. When this stuff came up, she was out of work, because Trump lost the election. She didn’t have the money to pay for a lawyer. One lawyer she contacted said they could help, but requested a $150,000 retainer. I bet that lawyer is kicking themselves now.

Stefan Passantino, one of Trump’s crony lawyers, offered to help her, and said she didn’t need to worry about legal bills. He refused to tell her who was paying for his services. It is legal for lawyers to be paid by third parties, but clients are supposed to know who pays so that they can give “informed consent”. Someone working for Trump would expect Hutchinson to be on Trump’s side, rather than allowing her to tell the truth.

Shortly after Passantino started working with her, some of Trump’s buddies started contacting her about job opportunities. I remember what it was like to be 26 and hungry for work, although I was waiting tables at that time of my life. I’m sure it was tempting to keep her mouth shut and take the job security and legal assistance. Naturally, once it became clear that Hutchinson was cooperating with investigators, those lucrative job offers were pulled, just like the proverbial carrot on a stick.

Fortunately for all Americans, Hutchinson realized that accepting this help from Passantino was akin to making a deal with the devil. She went to her parents for help. Her mother couldn’t help. Her father, with whom she understandably doesn’t have a relationship, is a big Trump supporter and refused to assist her in hiring a lawyer. In spite of her fears about retribution from Trump and lack of financial resources, Hutchinson told the truth. And now, a lot of people are thinking of her as a hero. I doubt she’s going to have to worry about finding a job. She has her self-respect, and she may have done a lot to help save our democracy. We’ll see what actually happens to Trump. Still… what she did took some guts!

I know a lot of people think Hutchinson should be criticized for working for Trump in the first place. I am inclined to cut her a break, though. It sounds like she was raised by Republicans, like I was. She may have never had a chance to consider other political views. Her father is a Trumper, so much so that he would protect Trump over helping his own daughter. She describes herself as a first generation college student, which probably means her parents are working class. Democrats used to be considered the party for “working class” people, but now it seems that Republicans are mostly folks who aren’t big on education. Trump even famously said that he “loves the poorly educated”. Hutchinson also went to Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia, which is very close to where I grew up. It’s a very conservative, red, part of Virginia. She’s only twenty-six years old. Maybe she hasn’t been exposed to other ideologies yet, in spite of her degrees in political science and American studies. Or maybe she considers herself the old style of Republican, which is what I used to be.

I’m sure Trump and his minions thought Cassidy Hutchinson would be easy to manipulate, flatter, bribe, or threaten into compliance. There she was, a beautiful young woman with just a bachelor’s degree and some entry level experience. She had her sights set on a political career and was making it happen. Surely they could get her to cooperate in this little matter, right? She sure proved them wrong. Maybe it would make sense to do Trump’s bidding, but it would have meant being beholden to him forever. Lots of Trump’s pals were contacting her relentlessly before she was to testify, trying to sway her testimony. I’m glad she realized that trusting them would be foolhardy. Trump is a snake, and he has no honor. There’s no guarantee that Cassidy Hutchinson would be rewarded for her cooperation. People like Trump routinely use people until they’ve gotten all they can and then ditch them. So Hutchinson was absolutely right to do the right thing.

According to the Washington Post:

“It wasn’t just that I had Stefan sitting next to me; it was almost like I felt like I had Trump looking over my shoulder,” Hutchinson testified. “Because I knew in some fashion it would get back to him if I said anything he would find disloyal. And the prospect of that genuinely scared me. You know, I’d seen this world ruin people’s lives or try to ruin people’s careers.”

And…

Hutchinson testified: “Pam [Bondi- Former Attorney General of Florida] texted me that night and said something to the effect of: ‘Susie, Matt Schlapp, and I had dinner with POTUS at Mar-a-Lago tonight. Call Matt next week. He has a job for you that we all think you’d be great at — that you all — we all think you would be great in. You are the best. Keep up the good work. Love and miss you.’”

I’ll bet none of those people are calling her now… The article continues:

Ben Williamson, a former White House aide who was still working for Hutchinson’s former boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, reached out to Hutchinson the night before her second scheduled interview with the committee with a friendly reminder.

“He said something to the effect of: ‘Well, Mark wants me to let you know that he knows you’re loyal and he knows you’ll do the right thing tomorrow and that you’re going to protect him and the boss,’” Hutchinson testified. “‘He knows that we’re all on the same team and we’re all a family.’”

Williamson did not immediately offer a comment.

Hutchinson was still concerned about lying under oath. She spoke to Passantino about her misgivings, and he said:

“I would have heard if he was mad about anything discussed in yours, but it’s just a good reminder that the boss does read transcripts,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her. “And we want to make sure that, like, whatever he’s reading isn’t going to put you in a bad situation.”

Yeah, right.

The WaPo article I linked indicates that there’s another brave woman who deserves some credit. Alyssa Farah Griffin, another former Trump aide who had managed to break free of the MAGA cult, spoke to Hutchinson, who confided that she was withholding information at Passantino’s request. Griffin served as a conduit to the January 6th committee, letting them know that Hutchinson had more information that she was willing to divulge.

Through Griffin, Hutchinson answered more questions from the committee. When Stefan Passantino found out about it, he demanded to know how the committee found out. She tried to maintain plausible deniability, but the jig was up. The lucrative job offers dried up, and she was out in the cold. Hutchinson told a staffer, “I’m about to be fucking nuked.” She soon started to realize the price she could be paying for betraying Trump. I’m sure she experienced great anxiety and sleepless nights, realizing that these heavy hitting Republicans could and would happily steamroll her in their bid for maintain power and money. She could have given in to that and been a slave to Trump’s MAGA cult. She chose integrity, instead.

According to The New York Times:

“They don’t know what you know, Cassidy,” she quoted [Passatino] as saying. “They don’t know that you can recall some of these things.”

After the interview, Ms. Hutchinson said, Mr. Passantino told her that he would help her get her “a really good job in Trump world.”

“We’re going to get you taken care of,” she quoted him as saying. “We want to keep you in the family.”

But obviously only if she lied for Donald Trump and his cronies… and only if she was willing to sell her soul to his MAGA cult. It’s not a nice way to live, is it? Yes, she should have avoided Trump in the first place, but because she was there and was willing to talk, we know a lot more than we might have. Cassidy Hutchinson is to be commended for her grace under pressure, her commitment to honesty and professionalism, and her extreme bravery and integrity. I’m sure she will be rewarded for this on many levels. The biggest and best reward of all, in my opinion, is maintaining her dignity and self-respect. She’s going to go down in history as a courageous young woman who didn’t bow to Donald Trump. She seems to be one of the few and proud. I think she has a bright future ahead of her, as long as she stays healthy and safe… because, frankly, I would not put it past Trump to try to get her offed somehow. He has proven, time and again, that he’s an insane, ruthless, vindictive bastard who will stoop to incredibly low levels to get revenge on his enemies. I sincerely hope she has some protection.

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blog news, Ex, love, marriage, musings

Today’s WordPress prompt is… “Tell us one thing you hope people never say about you.”

Not long ago, I wrote a post about how my blog host, WordPress, seems to think I need “special help” with my subject matter. Recently, I noticed that at the top of each new blank page, there’s now a “prompt”– a question or a suggestion on what my topic should be for the day. I think this is a new feature, as I’ve only just started noticing it. I see I can hide the daily prompts if I want to, but I probably won’t bother with that. Although I doubt I’ll need to use the prompts regularly, there are times when I could use a suggestion. Sometimes, even I get writer’s block– like if I’ve got a hangover or nothing exciting has happened. But I usually have SOMETHING I can write about, even if I’m the only one who’s interested in the subject.

Today, for instance, I could write about Donald Trump’s ridiculous “big announcement”, which turned out to be really embarrassing and stupid. He’s selling Trump superhero NFT cards for $99. Jimmy Kimmel put it as “QAnon meets QVC”. Seriously, this is “not a good look” for Trump. I’m sure a lot of his supporters– many (but not enough) of them former supporters at this point– are feeling kind of sheepish and humiliated now, as their former hero who promised “greatness” is shilling more worthless shit to the masses. Trump is legitimately embarrassing on so many levels now. Just like with Ex, whenever I think I’ve heard the worst about Trump, there’s another layer of rot to excavate. It’s unbelievable that so many people fell for his lunacy. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that one of my cousins bought Trump’s stupid superhero cards. There are too many people who still worship him, though the number is dropping.

How dumb is this?

I haven’t bothered to watch Harry and Meghan on Netflix, because I haven’t been bored enough for that. I am reading Matthew Perry’s book, though. I know I’ve seen him in some things, although I was never a Friends fan– again, it aired at a time when I wasn’t available to watch a lot of TV. I bought his book because I like true stories, and his was getting some good press. So far, I’m enjoying it. Matthew Perry is engaging and funny, though some of his story is sad and scary. I’m four chapters in so far. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on his book soon.

Or I could write about how the dishwasher that was supposed to get to us last night is coming this morning… (ETA: The dishwasher is still delayed) and Bill will be home later today, much to the dogs’ and my relief. I’ve been on the wagon all week, too… mainly because Arran has been getting me up every night , sometimes two or three times, so he can pee and beg for food. He left me alone for 3.5 solid hours yesterday after I yelled at him. He slunk away with a guilty look on his face, as if to say, “Gee mom, I didn’t realize I was imposing that much!” It’s hard to stay mad at Arran, even if he is a little stinker… and he always has been, so this is nothing new. Prednisolone just amplifies the effect. Luckily he’s adorable, sweet, loving, and very loyal. But I really need a full night’s rest! So does Bill.

Yes, I have a lot of topics I could write about, and I don’t necessarily need WordPress’s help. But WordPress has queried about what the one thing is that I hope no one ever says about me. That’s actually kind of a hard question to answer. I’m a pretty forward person, and I’ve never been one to hold back. Lots of people don’t like me, although I don’t think I have too many true haters. Most people just find me annoying for any number of reasons, ranging from my distinctive laugh to the fact that I drink and swear a lot. Most people don’t seem to appreciate the fact that I’m outspoken and opinionated. I’m sure a consequence of growing up with people who repeatedly criticized and disparaged me, often in favor of other people’s kids, is a major reason why so many people seem to think I’m an asshole today.

I suppose a lot of people would be horrified to be thought of as an “asshole” by so many other people. Most people want to be liked. I used to be that way, too. But I found that trying too hard to be liked by everyone was impossible, exhausting, and pretty pointless. Because those who would want you to not be your authentic self for them are not people who would ever be a true advocate. In other words, they’re “dead weight”. I’d much rather have a few loyal, true friends who love me exactly for who I am, than a bunch of “friends” who love me for what I can do for them or a false persona I put on just so I can feel liked and included in a group.

Does it hurt to be– or just feel— disliked and uninvited? Sure, it does. But at least I can wear my jammies when I’m alone, and no one will criticize my laugh, personality, looks, or opinions.

Also, I suspect that even those who feel like others think of them as an “asshole” are overestimating their real impact on other people. I, for one, agree with Eleanor Roosevelt, who said “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement. And, while it may take us aback to consider how little other people actually care that much about us, once you get past that initial shock, the end result is kind of freeing. Because when it comes down to it, people have their own lives, and their own problems… and the truth is, they probably DON’T think too much about you and any “asshole” behavior (from their perspective) you might exhibit.

So… I guess if I’m going to answer WordPress’s query, I would say that the one thing I would hope people never say about me is that I’m a fake. You may not like what you see or hear from me, but rest assured, it’s authentic. I try to be a good friend. I may not always say or do what other people want, but I do things with pure intentions. I don’t intentionally screw people over– which is NOT the same is letting them screw ME over without protest. The one kind thing my dad used to regularly say to me when I was growing up is that I’m a “survivor”. There’s a big part of me that doesn’t feel like that’s true, as I suffer pretty badly from anxiety sometimes. But, when I look back on my life, I realize that he was right. I am a survivor. A lot of times, that means I’m alone. But I am my true self when I’m alone, and I’m myself when I deal with other people. I’m never going to be popular, but what you see is what you get… ALWAYS. Or almost always… because I have to admit, there are times when fakeness is needed for survival. Like, for instance, being polite to an authority figure when you really feel like going off on them.

I feel like I came into Bill’s life for a reason. It was like the universe set it up. Matthew Perry writes about it in his book, about how, against all odds, he got cast as Chandler Bing on Friends. I think I was meant to be Bill’s second wife. I’m here to teach him new things… new ways of dealing with people. Maybe I was a washout as a career or family woman, but I think I’m here for different reasons… if only to show my husband that his voice counts, too. He doesn’t always have to appease other people and strive to be liked. His voice has worth, too. The real him is better than the fake persona he put on for Ex and other people who tried to force him into a place where he doesn’t fit. There’s a place where he DOES fit, just like a puzzle piece. And it’s with me, because I love him for who he is. He rewards me by loving me for who I am. It’s all I could ever ask for. If even one person can do it, it’s enough.

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politicians, politics

Thank heavens good sense has prevailed in Georgia…

This morning, I woke up with a headache and the news that Republican Herschel Walker has lost the runoff election in Georgia. That means that Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock will remain as a Senator in Georgia.

My sense of relief about this result has little to do with actual politics. Politically speaking, I’d call myself pretty much “purple”. Before the MAGA movement, I didn’t really think there was a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans. I was inclined to vote for candidates in either major political party or, quite often, I would cast a vote for a third party candidate. Most of the time, I was voting for people over parties. However, ever since Trump invaded the political arena, the Republican Party has put forth terrible candidates who are extremely flawed and inappropriate for holding public office. For so many reasons, Herschel Walker was an egregiously bad candidate for Senate. What’s terribly sad, though, is that even though Walker was a terrible candidate, the race was still very close. It’s obvious that a lot of people in Georgia vote for parties over people, and some are stubbornly resisting seeing that some candidates for the Republican Party are just plain bad choices.

Herschel Walker never should have been allowed to run for Senate. He is eminently unqualified, can barely string a coherent sentence together, and doesn’t even live in Georgia, although he was born and raised there, and went to the University of Georgia. Walker resides in a mansion in Texas. Walker is best known for his prowess on the football field as a running back, not as a statesman or a scholar. Although he had once claimed to be the valedictorian of his high school class and graduated at the top of his class at the University of Georgia, fact checkers have determined that both of these claims are untrue. In fact, Walker never even graduated from college. He dropped out of school so he could play professional football, which was probably the right career decision for him, since he was very successful on the football field. However, his athletic ability doesn’t necessarily translate as an important skill in the political arena.

Like Donald Trump, Walker is not known for his strong sense of family values, which the Republicans supposedly push with their allegiances to Protestant and Evangelical Christians. He’s had multiple children with different women. Also like Donald Trump, Walker has been accused of domestic violence. In spite of being “opposed” to abortion and any exceptions to abortion bans, Walker has been accused of pressuring at least two women to have abortions. One of the women even produced a check for $575 and a get well card, allegedly from Walker. Mr. Walker has also spoken publicly about his diagnosis with dissociative identity disorder, and has served as a spokesperson for a mental health program for veterans. While I would never want to automatically count out someone from political service, solely because they have a mental health issue, I do think that some diagnoses are incompatible with political service. Dissociative identity disorder is a very serious diagnosis.

It seems to me that only a few years ago, people who ran for public offices, particularly on the federal level, met some minimum standards and levels of decorum. Donald Trump has introduced a new era, which includes people who are wildly inappropriate as leadership candidates. As these folks get elected to office, we find out that they’re completely and embarrassingly unprepared to do their jobs. So, instead of solving problems that affect the citizenry of the United States or even more locally within their states, they pursue issues that are irrelevant. And now, Donald Trump has openly stated that he thinks it’s time to “suspend” the United States Constitution! Why? Because the Constitution is an obstacle in his way. The man wants to be back in power, and he wants to stay there for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, he champions stooges whom he hopes will do his bidding, rather than work for the people who elected them. I think Herschel Walker is an obvious example of that type of candidate.

I have a number of relatives who live in Georgia. I’m sad to say that the probably all voted for Walker over Warnock, simply because they are dyed in the wool Republicans who are convinced that Democrats are evil “communists”. And so, instead of choosing the obviously more qualified candidate– one who isn’t a Trump croney– they will simply vote for the “R” or abstain. They’re good people, and I love them, but this inability to vote for the best interests of everyone makes me feel very sad.

I really hope that the recent election results will convince both of the major parties that it’s time to stop championing people who are suitable candidates for public office. We have a lot of problems that need to be solved, and they will never be fixed if we keep getting seriously flawed candidates like Herschel Walker taking up precious space on the ballots. Enough is enough. We’ve got lots of important shit to do, and we need people in public office who can and will do the work.

In other news…

I was right about younger daughter’s birthday yesterday. She was delighted to receive my gift to her, and sent me a very thoughtful thank you note. It’s so nice that we’re enjoying this turn of events. I just wish this could have happened sooner, but I suppose this was the way things were supposed to evolve. In any case, I’m very appreciative. It’s always a good thing when a narcissist loses. And, as we can see, it looks like Trump, the biggest narcissist of all, is finally losing, too.

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blog news, politicians, politics, Trump

WordPress must think I need special help…

I’ve noticed that lately, WordPress has been offering unsolicited blog ideas. Just beneath the post title, there’s a question to answer. I’m sure it’s to help bloggers who are stumped for a good topic. I do sometimes have that problem, but I probably wouldn’t turn to WordPress for help. The topics they suggest are a little too mundane for my taste.

Today’s suggested topic is, “What is one thing you would change about yourself?” Yesterday’s was, “Are you a night person or a day person?” I don’t know if everyone who uses WordPress gets the same suggested topics. I don’t even know if every user gets this new gimmick. For all I know, I unwittingly flipped a toggle switch somewhere in the settings. I hope not everyone gets the same topic. Otherwise, all of the bloggers would be writing about the same thing.

I guess it doesn’t bother me too much to have suggested blog topics. I usually have something in mind for my posts, though, or I have a hot repost to republish. I will admit that today, I have struggled a bit for a topic, hence the reason I’m writing this in the middle of the afternoon instead of the morning. I also had something else to do today… after I threw up my breakfast. 🙁

Yes, it’s true. Once again, my face looks all measley, because of a forceful puking session. This usually happens when I cough too violently, or the coffee is too acidic. Today, it happened because I tried to eat Gruyere cheese. I have very sensitive tastebuds. There are certain flavors that are overpowering and make me sick. I can’t eat strongly flavored cheeses, for instance. I usually do okay with Gruyere cheese, but today I was eating a soufflé, and there was a big hunk of cheese in it. I spent too long chewing it and next thing I knew, it was time to hurl.

You’d never know it to look at me that I have these kinds of food aversions. I also have trouble with certain textures, which is why I can’t eat most cheeses unless they’ve been melted.

Because I had that unfortunate morning bout of sickness, I didn’t really feel like writing anything new for the blog. This was true, even though Donald Trump’s latest stunt has given me plenty to write about. Over the weekend, Trump suggested “suspending the Constitution”, so he could be placed back in office. I don’t know what Trump has to do before people wake up and pull their heads out of their asses. This man is literally suggesting that he’s above the Constitution! So all of the MAGA folks, who have been yammering incessantly about the importance of the Constitution, now have a hero who wants to see the Constitution terminated! Trump is literally promoting unAmerican values!

I wish I could say that I thought people would wise up about Trump after this news. I’m sure most of them are claiming that it’s “fake news”. But Trump put this in writing, for God’s sake. It’s absolute lunacy. If ever there was a sign that Trump should never be near the White House again, this is it. Trump is literally telling people what he would like to do… He’s not lying, folks. We can’t afford to disregard these statements. There’s too much to lose.

Anyway… today has turned out to be just another grim Monday in Germany. The weather is cold, damp, and cloudy. It’s chilly enough that I can see my breath, and the cloud cover is so thick that it’s been oppressively dark and gloomy all day. The dogs didn’t get a walk today, either. It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago, it was so sunny and dry that our backyard was covered in crispy patches of parched grass. Now the backyard is like a mudpit.

I have managed to put a few presents under the tree for Bill. Arran is still doing well, although he’s driving Bill crazy, because he gets up several times a night. It will be my problem next week, as Bill has to go away on business again. This time of year is kind of depressing, in spite of the Christmas holidays. I think I would find it less depressing if the sun would come out every once in awhile.

Well, that about does it for today’s post. Let’s hope Trump gets knocked out of commission sooner rather than later. I truly fear for the country as I’ve always known it.


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controversies, music, religion

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

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

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

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

Ahh… so pretty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so has CeeLo Green!

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

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

Clay Aiken has sung it…

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

Yikes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting song.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What an interesting discussion!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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