Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Daughter is a Believer -- I Think

Stop the presses! No sooner had I pressed "publish" on my last blog (luxuriate in its heathenistic deliciousness right here), did my wife hand me my eldest daughter's Thanksgiving assigment for her second grade class.

First off, it's precious -- as is pretty much everything she does.

But what surprised me is what she is thankful for.

She said all the things I expected like; "The food I eat," "for my pets," "my mom and dad" and "friends."

And then . . .

She writes "I am thankfull for god" -- which the teacher corrected with a capital "G."

Honestly, I have no idea where that came from -- perhaps my mother-in-law's bible story campaign is actually working. I mean, it was barely a month ago when she asked if she was a Christian and found out her father was not. So maybe she is legitimately looking for spirituality or, as I suspect, is responding to living in America which sort of makes you a default believer (Did I mention we said grace at our company thanksgiving potluck?). I mean, God is in our pledge and on our money, so I shouldn't be surprised that its in my daughter's homework. But for some reason I am.

From what my parents told me, my only inquiries about God were all tied to Star Wars (read that tender piece of hilarity right here), so either I'm not normal or my daughter is, but somehow I think it's me.

Separation of Church and Soap

While my mother-in-law hasn't given up hope in converting my children to Christianity via illustrated bible stories and Christmas plays, I'm pretty sure she's given up on me -- not that she tried too hard.

However, I think she has spies.

Which brings me to today as I was showering (calm down ladies, there are no pictures or video -- unless you pay).

Apparently, my soap is trying to convert me.

I never paid attention to it before, but our purple and white bottle of Dr. Bronner's all-purpose soap is literally covered in religious rhetoric.

Here's a taste (which starts off nice enough): "The whole World is our country, our fatherland, because all mankind are born its Citizens! We're all Brothers & Sisters because One, ever-loving Eternal Father is our only God, & all-One-God-Faith reunites God's legion."

Now, right off the bat, the word "legion" scares the shit out of me. Pehaps because it sounds like "lesion" another nasty word, but probably because for some reason I think of the devil when I hear that word. Isn't satan quoted with saying "I am Legion?" Maybe that was Lex Luthor. Either way, those are both bad people (and fictional) but the word leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Here's another quote: "The 2nd coming of God's Law! Mohammad's Arabs, 1948, found Israel Essence Scrolls & Einstein's 'Hillel' prove that as no 6-year-old can grow up free without the ABC, so certain can no 12-year-old survive free without the Moral ABC mason, tent & sandalmaker Rabbi Hillel taught carpenter Jesus to unite all mankind free in our Eternal Father's great All-One-God-Faith!"

Now, I've never met a crackhead (at least not formally) but I'm pretty sure that Dr. Bronner was on something when he made the marketing decision to splash religious gobbeldy-gook all over his fine product. I mean the irony is that someone who has the sentence structure and historical accuracy of a stumbling hobo has ended up making a terribly good soap.

However, after doing some research it turns out Dr. Bronner was a crusading Jewish soap maker from Germany whose parents were killed in Nazi Death Camps, so yeah, if you're asking if I feel like an ass for calling him a hobo, I kind of do. But still, if Dove soap started proclaiming the second coming of anything, I like to think we'd have a national fit.

Truth is Dr. Bronner's is a natural, hemp soap so its very possible anyone using it is just too high to pay attention. And really, who cares what a bunch of weed-smoking, vegans think about separation of church and soap?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm Gay for Gay Marriage

So surpise, surprise -- the godless-heathen is for gay marriage. Shocker, right?

Actually, what I'm surprised at is that Ashton Kutcher is, too.

Well, maybe not surprised that he's for it, considering that he's one of those leftist-marxist, Hollywood types (you know, tofu, Prius, cavorts with "coloreds"). But I think I was shocked at how much he and I agree on the subject of man-on-man nuptials. Watch Ashton go positively heathenistic in his assesment on why Prop 8 is even a discussion (Fast forward to about 1:30 into the video).

See, right? Until this point the only thing I thought Ashton Kutcher and I had in common was lusting after his wife when we were children. Truth be told, I find Demi a bit too bony these days. She has that I-don't-eat-meat-and-have-no-subcutaneous-fat-anymore (Sadly, one of my other "80's ladies" Lisa Bonet is going the same way).

But according to the poll, I'm not the only here who thinks gay folks should be able to legally tie the knot. If you look at the poll on the right 100% of you (which equals roughly 2 of 2 voters) agree with gay marriage.

Right now, a lot of states offer "civil unions" which, to a brother like me, sniffs of "separate but equal." And Mr. Moore is right, this is only an issue because most of us have been raised Christians and men poking men or ladies licking ladies is not kosher. Even for those of us who are "cool" with it, many don't think they should be married in the same way "we" are. Many black folks also consider calling gay folks struggle to marry as a Civil Rights struggle to be blasphemy. I don't agree, which makes me a heathen in two worlds.

However, my wife has a great solution to this whole mess. And considering that she is/was a Christian, I think you should listen up.

She says the term "marriage" should apply to everyone -- gay, straight or Republican -- but for those who want to announce their opposition to gay rights can call their union a "Religious Marriage." So instead of amending the fucking constitution, let's just the bozos call their shit something different. Brilliant, right? That's only half of why I married her. The other half is not fit for this blog.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Self Portrait

Everyone . . . my calling card.
One of my friends (Badasschick) sent me a link to this website called The New Humanist, a UK magazine thats been around since 1885. It's a mag for "free thinkers" of which, apparently, I am one.
I mean, how could I deny it when the image above so clearly captures all of my various idiosyncrises and tics?
Logic? Check.
Reason? Check.
Sarcasm? Well, duuhh!
Large ears and glasses? Only on Tuesdays.
Honestly, I don't know that I like the idea of throwing myself in with such a dorky looking gang, but considering the alternatives, I guess I don't really have a choice.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easy as ABC

I'm a whore.

Actually whores get paid and also get a lot of cardiovascular excercise "on the stroll" so that's probably not a good description.

I also don't get paid to do this, so that makes me something decidedly less than a whore.

What's the point, you ask?

My hotmail account had been down for weeks (probably because I opted NOT to take a stupid tour of the "exciting new mailbox features" ) and when I finally got in there, I saw an email from this guy at ABC. "ABC" is not me giving some made up company name -- I'm talking ABC, American Broadcasting Corporation; home of "Lost," "Pushing Daises" and roughly 40 other shows I have never watched.

Nevertheless, this guy didn't know that but he seemingly knew that Reports from the Third Kingdom would be the FIRST place to come to get some much needed viral campaigning. He knew I would be the perfect person to publicize (read: say something nice) about "Life on Mars" starring my former wife Lisa Bonet. He knew I was an attention-whore who dreams of nothing more than seeing my blog's name in some ABC promo saying something like:

"It's goddamned good TV!" says B.Cause at


"I'd leave my wife if this show would marry me" whines B.Cause at

And he would have been right if my hotmail was working!

So, here's a little post-coital hug for "Life on Mars" which premiered some weeks ago:

"Lisa Bonet is sizzlingly sexy."
"Just when I was ready to throw my tv out the window, this show saved my Thursdays."
"Makes me wish the 70's never went away."
"I have found a new purpose in life and it exists between 9 and 10 ET on ABC Thursdays."

Now if that's not quoteworthy, well dammit, I don't know what is!

By the way, I'm TOTALLY going to send this blog to the ABC guy.

Yes, I'm that desperate.

And now back to your regularly scheduled heathenism.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big Question

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

This is what my 7 year-old daughter asks me today as I pick her and her 3 year-old sister up from a slumber party this morning.

Now, I've dodged a lot of existential bullets from her ("How did God make trees?," "Is Great Pop-Pop in heaven?"), but this was undodgable.

Lucky for me, I've become a bit more bold with my heathen pronouncements as of late. Around Halloween, her good friend JD, whose house she was at last night, developed a fear of devils ("not the red ones," my daughter assured me, "just the blue ones"). So when she asked me if I was afraid of devils, I told her I was not.

"Why not?" All big eyes and wonder.

"Because devils don't exist." I didn't even flinch as I wiped out the king meanie of Christianity, and, by default, it's main recruiting tool.

"But JD says . . ."

"Honey, JD is six. Who do you believe, him or me?"

The fact that she didn't answer right away concerned me.

Which brings me back to this morning.

"Daddy, am I a Christian?"

I'm no Bill Cosby, but even I realized this would require a little something called tact, or as I like to call it, "verbal tap dancing."

"Well, honey that depends on what you believe. Christians believe that Jesus is the savior of mankind. Do you believe that?"

"What's a savior?"

From there it was Christianity 101 taught by yours truly, which if there are any Hollywood execs reading, should be a TV show.

"Did Jesus die?" "Did God die?" "Did God go to heaven when he died?"

I give Christians credit because I have a hard enough time teaching her how to tell time on an analog clock, I can't imagine teaching the holy trinity. Not to mention, if you can explain the physics involved with Noah's Ark without laughing, you're either a great liar or a very dedicated believer.

However, what struck me most is that I really, really, don't want my daughters to be indoctrinated with a belief system they have little to no chance of ever understanding in a rational way. I'm not saying they can't be christians, just not yet. Like sex, drinking and cell phone use, they should at least be teenagers before they go down that path.

As it is with most bloggers, eventually the conversation came back to our favorite subject -- me.

"Daddy, are you a Christian?" She asked.

"No, I'm not" I said.

It felt good, honestly. Maybe because I knew my daughter would not judge me for my lack of faith or wonder if I had any morals or a spiked tail in my pants. She just accepted that her father was not a Christian, which didn't make him a bad person.

I hope she's as understanding when she discovers that while I'm no Christian, that I am indeed, Santa Claus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Religious Experience

It happened.

It finally fucking happened.

On Oct. 28 I had a religious experience.

I'll be honest, Jesus was nowhere around, not unless he was parading as the woman in the Redskins jacket behind me. But shape changing is something I believe only God does (at least he does in the movies and TV shows like "Saving Grace" and "Joan of Arcadia") -- truth is, any person who claims to be God would a get a polite nod from me as I backed away to a safe, distance.

No, my religious experience was based around another swarthy man who mostly goes by one name -- Obama.

And before you ask, Obama did NOT appear at the foot of my bed in the middle of the night nor did he carry me across a beach leaving only his footprints in the sand.

In fact, Obama did not appear before me at all.

That did not stop me from standing outside.

In the cold.

And rain.

For an hour.

And a half . . .

just to cast my absentee ballot for Barack Hussein (yeah I wrote it) Obama.

Now, I don't pretend to know what it was like to march during the Civil Rights Movement or follow Moses through the desert for 40 years, but goddammit if standing in that shit weather felt like a huge, biblical sacrifice.

And for what? Would Obama really win (remember this was Oct. 28 so I didn't know I would be part of history)? At the time, it was still entirely feasible that Sarah Palin would be the American Vice Pre . . . even now I can't finish typing that sentence, but you get the idea.

That's when I realized that voting is an act of faith. It's casting hope into a void for someone you've never met or will ever see with your own eyes. It's a well wish for someone else to triumph and make YOUR life better.

Standing in that line felt a little like prayer or how I think prayer is supposed to feel.

And yeah, it was kind of nice being huddled there with strangers who couldn't help but smile through the misery. We smiled because we all put our hearts and frozen fingers on a future we could only wish for.

I guess what grandma said is true: Voting works.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Blogging at a Funeral

I'm an asshole.

My friends and family would never say it, but I can't help believe that anyone who sees a funeral as a potential to write a "witty post" could have a very solid moral center. Not to mention I laugh at biblical puzzles.

So yeah, I'm an ass. But since you're already here, I'll have a go at it.

I made my yearly trek to church this past year. Sadly, it was to say our final goodbyes to my wife's grandfather, who had suffering through the dignity-stealing Alzheimer's disease. It was sad to see him go, but worse to see him suffer.

The funeral took place at my wife's family church -- though her mother has recently defected to a new church; a snazzy place with widescreen TV's and video kiosks (You can read all about my first/only visit right here). The church is over 100 years old and filled with very nice, well-meaning old people who say things like "have a blessed day" and throw salt over the shoulder to blind the devil (apparently a little Morton's is all you need to beat back Satan -- who knew?). Needless to say, I fit right in.

OK, a heathen I may be. But death visits us all and I've attended plenty of funerals. Still, I'm never sure what to say and when. I counted four times when the pastor (or passuh -- as he was readily reffered to) told every one to get up, but the section of pews I was in remained seated. So I was the asshole looking like slow kid in a game of duck-duck-goose.

Oh yeah, and what's the proper response to "God Bless You?" When I sneeze and someone says it, I say thank you -- you know, thanking them for acknowledging my brief discomfort. But the "God Bless You's" I was getting from the parade of sad strangers was more like a greeting (and even came with handshakes) and all my heathen ass could think to say was "Hey, how are you?" Like I bumped into them at Target. Awful.

Anyway, what really got my goat (I know you were waiting for me to get to this right?) was how this sad occassion, where family and friends are grieving and crying, was constantly barraged with warnings about hell.

Naturally, the deceased is heaven-bound -- no one wants to go to a funeral where the pastor says "Joe was great man, father and husband. Sadly, he was never baptised and is surely now fornicating with dead mules in hell." Truth be told, my wife's grandfather was pretty pious and died singing "Amazing Grace," so even by my standards, he's heavenbound. But what about the rest of us? Well as the passuh said "I know you didn't come here for this but heaven and hell are real. You have to ask yourself, if you don't go to sleep in Jesus, where will you wake up?"

(First off, sleeping IN Jesus sounds as icky as sleeping WITH Jesus. Better phrasing next time. )

And then, as the funeral is ending, he calls for anyone who wants to accept Jesus to come up to the pulpit because, you know, there isn't anything else happening -- might as well shore up some more business.

However, what struck me most about the funeral and all the speeches was this constant talk of death and the fear of it. As I gather, Christians are free from death because they will be resurrected in heaven where all the Starbucks are open 24-hours and your sides don't jiggle when you hit a bump on the road. It's called everlasting life and you only get it when you believe in the The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost. It's like Comcast's Triple Bundle Package except without HD channels or multi-room DVRS.

I understand that no one wants to die. It's like being forced to take a nap while there's strippers downstairs shooting mojito mix out of their nipples and throwing free cash at you. Life is fun and death, from where I stand, looks to really suck. But I don't know that it's anything to be afraid of. Not when everything alive has to do it. Now, I wouldn't want to be the first motherfucker to ever die because I'm sure that was pretty scary. But I'm sure no one wanted to be the first person to get on an airplane, but now we all do it.

But Christians are afraid. They're afraid because, as my wife points out, the idea of hell is real. All of their life choices could leave them with permanent sunburn (don't forget mule fornication) so those last moments are really frightening. Thankfully, I don't have that baggage. And I don't want my children to either.

I'm already going to have to take Santa away one day, no need to replace him with Satan.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bible Toys Suck Part 2

So I wasn't really sure how my parents would take the blog, seeing as they are often cited in them as being fairly bad parents -- at least by Black standards -- since they didn't bother to indoctrinate me with any religion.

Yeah, turns out they love the blog -- they share it with their friends, laugh out loud. All the things I want YOU to do. They don't leave comments, so I suppose they're not perfect but, hey neither are any of you (starting to get the hint there thirdsies?).

Anyway, we were at the beach during our yearly summer excursion when I birthed the masterpiece "Bible Toys Suck." You know it and love it.

I shared it with my parents who laughed. A lot.

Shortly after reading it, they ran out to get some puzzles for my children.

They returned with two bible puzzles -- The Ten Commandments and Parting of the Red Seas -- at which we all laughed heartily which got me to wonder, if there is a hell, is laughing at bible puzzles something that gets you there faster. I don't suppose God ever thought about such an occurrence as cheap pharmacy toys hadn't been around back when God was born/invented. But surely in his/her/it's supposed infinite wisdom, I imagine there has to be a punishment meted out for mocking the sanctity of a $2, 12-piece puzzle featuring a biblical miracle.

Jesus -- I hope I'm wrong (in this case).

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bible Toys Suck

Bible toys suck.

Case in point: My wife recently held a birthday party at our house for one of her friends' children. Not ours, mind you but a child I had never seen before was now having a birthday party at my house with cake, games, the whole shebang. Not to say the kid wasn't deserving. As a matter of fact the kid is super deserving since he's got a brain tumor and really hasn't had any parties on account that his two brothers are also really sick. So as you can imagine, it's kind of tough for me to find an opportunity to be a snarky asshole when presented in the face of such unabashed goodwill.

That is until . . .

One of the mothers shows up with a Samson doll (see picture above)

Hey kids, are those comic book and movie franchise heroes getting a bit too worldly? Looking for soemthing a little old-school, self-righteous and boring to play with? Well, great news! The geniuses who brought you "All Jew Babies Must Die" Old Testatment Action Set (complete with lamb's blood on every door) have banded together to bring you . . . bible action figures! Just think, now you can experience hours of mind-numbing church lessons in your very home! EVERY DAY will be Sunday -- yippeee!

Now, I was already aware that people made bible "action" figures (with both White skin AND historically-accurate beige) but I didn't think anybody, outside of ironic college students actually bought them. Much less, for real children who, I can only imagine, would be supremely disappointed to find a Moses or Nebuchannezer doll instead of Batman, Superman or a mutated, turtle trained in martial arts.

I think it's important to restate that the kid who opened said gift only has six birthdays under his belt, and of those six years, perhaps two included actual parties so he was ripe to enjoy pretty much anything that had been wrapped up and given to him. So while he wasn't as let down or shocked by the gift as I was, he never actually opened it either.

But here's why biblical toys suck. Not because they're biblical, but because bible toys aren't for kids, they're for the adults who buy them. I've done my research and found there are exactly TWO motives for buying bible toys:

1. To keep actual cool toys away from your kids for fear that the toys are satanic, evil or fun. I submit that this is parental abuse and should be a crime (I suggest starting a drive or a fund or contacting your congressman)

2. To show off your righteousness as a god-fearing parent the same way some parents love to announce "well my little Jimmy only watches two hours of TV a week, so he doesn't know anything about this Sponge, uh, Bob character."

Neither motive really takes in consideration that the kids who have to play with these toys live in the real world where teenagers bitten by radioactive spiders are actually heroes and NOT demon spawns out to teach kids about sodomy and gay marriage (which, may be the same thing in some cases).

Most importantly, the knuckleheaded parents who buy these toys seem intent on ruining a kid's imagination. Sure, I think the Bible is mostly make-believe, but 90% of this country does not, which puts bible toys in a new and possibly worse category -- HISTORICAL toys. And when's the last time your kid asked to play with an Abe Lincoln action figure?

Your kid's rampant imagination is only going to last a good 10-11 years, so why ruin it with your moral, theological hang-ups? Let them imagine a world where an orphaned boy will avenges his parents' deaths by wearing a cape and cowl. Or one where a woman named Barbara can be an astronaut, a singer AND a stay-at-home mom.

Trust me, they'll have the rest of their lives to stress over what small infraction they've incurred to deserve hell without you dangling the Jesus, Mary and Joseph "Immaculate Conception" playset in their faces.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

No Mormons Allowed

Don't let this entry's title fool you thirdsies (hey, if I don't keep this trend up, who will?), I am a very tolerant man. My father, however, is not.

OK, that's not really true. OK, it is but not when it comes to religion. He honestly doesn't care what faith you profess, but like most Black men born in the 1940's, he can smell racism at a million paces. In films, cartoons, cereal boxes -- the man is like a golden retriever for bigotry.

So when you see my father and want to start espousing your faith, don't be afraid -- he'll listen and only silently judge you.

But if your faith has even a whiff of racist doctrine be prepared for this Baltimore-born, West Philly raised Negro to hop directly in your face.

Case in point:

It was the year of our lord 19 and 87; Michael Jackson lost his third shade of melanin, Prince's masterpiece "Sign O the Times" was still a year away and I was in the seventh grade. It was summer, and despite the fact that we lived in Pennsylvania, I remember the day felt distinctly Houston-ish -- hot and humid enough to melt your face like a Nazi in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Now, like most children, I grew up thinking my father was Superman. And like supes, my dad has his own kryptonite -- heat. Remember "Superman 3" with Richard Pryor where Superman encountered red kryptonite and turned into a badly-shaven asshole? Well, that's what heat does to my dad. Not that he becomes an asshole or badly shaven but he does get damned cranky. He starts cursing more (though that might be hard to notice) and complains of sweating. Keep in the mind, this is a man who turns the AC on in the car during WINTER. Nutshell: Dude does not like heat.

Next on my father's shit list is grass, specifically, tending to it. However, since we were one of three Black families in our neighborhood, so racial pride kept him mowing, edging and weeding our lawn.

And it was on this fateful day of heat and lawn care that two Mormon boys strolled up to my father with recruitment on their minds.

"Sir, have you heard about Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints?"

Now, I don't know exactly what they said because I was inside enjoying the air-conditioning and NOT doing the lawn, but one thing I can be sure of is that my father had indeed heard of them.

Having spent years in hotel rooms during company trips, he took it upon himself to read the Mormon bibles while staying in Marriots. Now, without reiterating everything ( see what Mormons believe right here), the Mormons believe that Black people have dark skin and kinky hair because they were cursed by the biblical Cain (the first brother-on-brother crime in history).

So you have to imagine -- heat + lawn + racism parading as religion = the perfect storm.

Sorry -- back to the story.

"Sir, have you heard about Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints?" -- I imagine them asking in unison.

"Get the fuck off my lawn!" -- That part I know is true.


"I said get the fuck off my lawn. Don't come to my house with that racist bullshit!"

"Bu ---"

"How the hell do you expect me to buy into a religion where I'm a second-class citizen? I can't even get into the same heaven as White people and you expect me to join your little cult?"

"Bu ---"

"You know why Brigham Young started that shit out in the midwest? It's because he couldn't hack it in New York? The only way he could get people to swallow his bullshit was to move to the middle of fucking nowhere."

"Bu ---"

"How would you feel if I came to YOUR house and asked you to join the Black Muslims? Do you know what they think of you? How about you do that? Does that make any fuckin' sense to you?"

"Bu ---"

And then my father punched them both in the face with a single punch.

OK, that part isn't true but it's a great way to end the story as I really have no idea what happened next.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Jehovah Witnesses' Giant Mistake

To be honest, nothing terribly interesting has happened to me lately, so I figured this would be a good time to revisit my wife's spirtitual life. I understand this blog is supposed to be about me, but since we've agreed to live together forever, I might as well start co-opting her life for blog fodder. It's the least she can do.

So, for those who have been following along (I call you Thirdsies), you know that my wife's grip on her native christianity is tentative at best. Ironically, this was helped along by actually studying the bible -- or at least the Jehovah Witnesses' version of it.

The JW's have been studying with her for years now and even got her (and me) to attend their Kingdom Hall for Saturday service (an event lovingly recreated in words for you right here). And while they definitley helped her challenge her fear of hell, their years-long recruitment campaign started to wear thin when they realized they weren't making the progress they had anticipated. So, like most organized religions, they resorted to their last and best line of defense -- the fire sale.

That's right, they brought out the big guns and jumped right to Revelations a.k.a. the crazy shit at the end of the bible. It's filled with multiheaded lions, apocalyptic events, robots that turn into camaros -- it's a show.

Not to mention, they threw in this nugget: "Based on the bible, people live to their 80s. You are in your mid thirties, so your life is almost half over. And it's time to make a choice." Now what the JWs didn't know is that by erasing the concept of hell, they had affectively given away their best bargaining chip. With all the pressure to buy off the plate, my wife had no real reason to commit.

Somewhere during their "end times" spiel, they started regaling my wife with stories about giants who were the offspring of angels and humans. When my wife asked how the angels mated with humans (considering the fact, well maybe not FACT, but the idea that angels have no gender) the JWs said the angels heard so much about this "sex" thing that they took human form and started boffing Jewish women. Turns out, none of the angels wanted to be bottoms and they ALL chose to grow penises.

Apparently, that is where my wife got off the bus. She had had enough and she told them so. Ok, not immediately.

It took some time and lots of hand-wringing, but eventually my wife had to work up the nerve to tell the JWs that she was no longer interested. Seriously, it was like she was breaking up with a boyfriend, a boyfriend who looks like a 50-ish year-old Carribean woman.

But they brought it on themselves -- not just with the fornicating angels and their over-sized offspring -- but by implicating that my wife had to join up now or never. My wife would turn down a free mortagage payment if the person offering it pressured her to "act now." It's a good thing she was pregnant when we got married, otherwise I'm pretty sure my bended-knee proposal would have been nicely rebuffed with a "can I get back to you on that?"

Anyway, I say all because as a heathen, it's hard to know where other peoples's bullshit meters are. Mine tends to go off when mortal folks say they know everything about the afterlife. My wife's? 12-foot-tall angel/man hybrids.

Go figure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In a Neighborhood Far, Far Away

Now that I think of it, I can pinpoint the exact moment when I could have become a Christian. I was literally being offered a ride on the Jesus bandwagon and at the tender age of four, my heathen tendencies were already raring strong.



So it was 1970-something and I was at home with my mom in our tract home in New Jersey. All you need to know is that I was a probably the most adorable child you had ever seen. Imagine Gary Coleman but without the guilt of knowing he was really a teenager trapped in a toddler's body -- wait, I'm watching "Spider-Man 3" on demand and the part where Peter fights Harry for the first time is on, gimme a minute . . . aaaand I'm back. Where was I, oh right, I was cute as a fucking button on a baby bunny.

So, as they are wont to do, a well-intentioned Christian woman was going door-to-door looking to --- wait, Sandman is being born --- recruit fresh, young minds to a lifetime of believing they are sinners by way of a Sunday school program that picked kids up right from their homes. Being four and knowing that a couple of the neighborhood children were going, I naturally wanted to go, too. You may not remember but riding on a bus at the age of four is like being offered a ride on a space shuttle now.

The crazy thing is, when I asked my mother about it, she was down for the bus ride -- kinda. Truth is, my mother was convinced everyone was trying to steal me. Actually, I'm not sure she doesn't believe it now. But surprisingly kidnapping was her ONLY objection to sending me to Sunday school. See, I was under the impression that my parents were committed to non-committal. That their own issues with religion had opened their eyes to the traps of organized religion and steeled them against any idea of raising their own precious (and incredibly adorable) son in the same idealogical quagmire.

Turns out, not so much.

Seems my mother was basically keen on the idea of sending me to Sunday school if it weren't for the threat of kidnapping. So she invited the Christian lady in to see if I was Sunday-school worthy. Naturally, the woman wants to know how much I know about Jesus and the Lord to which my mom for some reason thinks I know enough. Thank God (yeah, I said it), my father comes home from work at that time. Perhaps having a better grip on my situation, he has doubts about my theological leanings.

Here's how, I'm told, the conversation went:

"What does your son know about the Lord?," Ms. Christian Bus asks my folks.

"Oh he knows, I've been teaching him," my mom insists.

My father responds with a disapproving look that says "Bloody hell he does" (FYI --he's not British).

So, naturally they call me downstairs to see what I really know.

And down I come, "Star Wars" action figures in hand, afro at full puffitude.

"Baby, do you know who the Lord is?"

Now I have no recollection of any of this, mind you, but my answer to this question pretty much sums up my life.

"Yes mommy, Lord Darth Vader."

That's right, I knew then where my alleigance lied. More to the point, it was evident that the only place I had heard the word "Lord" was in reference to the baddest Sith bastard to roam deep space.

You could pretty much say it was a wrap after that. The woman left disgusted and my parents spent the rest of the night laughing their asses off. My spot on the Christain bus was taken by some poor sap who is probably now fretting about his eternal soul.

However, when my mother recounted the story to me earlier today, I was confused as to why she thought I knew anything about Christianity at the age of four -- as I had always remembered my life as being pretty much areligious. She replied that she had taught me a few Christian songs and a bit about the story of Jesus but in her words, "You weren't very interested."

"So was your intention to raise me as a Christian?"

"Yes, but I guess I never really got around to it."

And that, my friends, is the story of my life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oprah: My Wife's New Pope

There are a few things you never really expect to hear your wife say:
1. "I'd LOVE to have a threesome with Sanaa Lathan!"
2. "If you don't mind, I'm going downstairs to watch Revenge of the Sith."
3. "I agree, my ass does look nice and big in these jeans."

About a month ago (I've neglected the blog, I know), my wife dropped this gem on me: "Maybe I'm not a Christian."

If you knew her you'd know this was a big deal. And if her mother read this, she would literally shit a brick. I'm half tempted to actually make my mother in law read this so I could tape the brick-shitting and a make a grip by selling the video to Guinness. Ok, that's gross (but I'd do it).

So why is this a big deal? Because like most Black folks, she has always defined herself as a Christian. She was raised in a typical Baptist church (collection plates, little white dresses, hooting and/or hollering) and unless you go whole hog and take on Buddhism or Islam, you don't just up and leave the table and cash in your chips. Why not? Because you'll go to hell.

One of the biggest advantages of being me (aside from the obvious) is that my complete lack of a religious upbringing has left me without a concept of hell. I mean, I know what people say it is, but I have literally no faith that such a place exists so I have no fear that I, or anyone else for that matter, will ever go there. In that sense, it's a lot like Lynchburg, Virginia.

But as bad a place as hell is, its a hard place for my wife to turn her back on. Despite her vocal questioning of Christian doctrine, she never really broke camp because to NOT believe -- more importantly to SAY you don't believe is punishable by an eternal trip to God's oven.

Now, I have to give credit where credit is due. The Jehovah's Witness who have been "studying" with her have opened the door to a "hell-less" spirituality. Too bad they're not coming any more (I'll explain more next time).

But the one who really drove it home was none other than the biggest spiritual leader in the freeworld: Oprah.

My wife is completely in love with Oprah's latest book choice Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" which my wife says "feels right." More right than the Christianity she grew up with. I think most of that has to do with Tolle's similar hell-less spirituality and idea that there is more than one way to connect with a higher power. Curiously, none of these ways mention Sanaa Lathan but I suppose I shouldn't hold that against anyone.

Anyway, my wife seems to be finding a new spirituality, one that does not fill her with dread or remorse and I can honestly say I'm thrilled -- not just because it cuts down on my church-going (once a year is a tough schedule for me), but because she seems a happier person, and isn't that what a connection with God should be about? Seriously, I'm asking because I don't know.

I look forward to your answers.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bigger than religion?

Erykah Badu has said a lot of crazy shit over the years but on her "New Amerykah" album (which, by Badu standards is a C+. I submit "Mama's Gun" remains her masterpiece. Note to E: Don't string a bunch of overlong interludes together and call it an "album") there's a nice cut called "The Healer" in which Erykah proclaims "hip-hop is bigger than religion."

Now, as someone with tons of hip-hop and no religion, you might expect me to agree with this statement except that it makes no fucking sense. To illustrate, I have come up with three reasons why hip hop is NOT bigger than religion.

3. We will elect a president who doesn't have any hip-hop affiliation (in fact some might insist). We will NOT elect a president who doesn't have a religious affiliation.

2. Israel and Palestine would not be engaged in the holy clusterfuck they are in now if the dispute were over the birthplace of hip-hop. (Unless Shug Knight ran either country and then, yeah, there would be war -- and lots of people wearing red leather jumpsuits).

1. Nobody gets in trouble for taking the Lords of the Underground's name in vain. (Youngsters look 'em up. "#1 Chief Rocka" was the SHIT!)

I understand that Erykah's bigger point is that music, quite arguably OLDER than any organized religion, holds sway over EVERYONE and definitely has an affect. And that's not to say hip hop hasn't had an effect. I mean, without hip hop do you think Maury Povich would know the brother handshake/hug so well -- check him out when he greets the next potential "baby's father." He's got that shit down pat! Without hip hop, do you think it would be acceptable for journalists on CNN to talk about giving each other "props" (and not in an ironic "isn't this funny cause I'm white?" kind of way either)?

But in terms of sheer power to mold the social landscape of human history I submit that nothing competes with that old time religion and the fear of hell.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

HEATHENS!! They're . . . EVERYWHERE; sorta

Apparently, I'm not alone.

In all my travels, I have yet to meet someone else like me -- A Black American raised without any specific religious faith or practice. However, according to a new Pew report, 16% of Americans consider themselves "unaffiliated" with any faith. Were the Right Wing nuts actually right? Is the progressive secular "movement" really taking over this great, faith-based world of ours?

More importantly, how can my blog sustain any of its niche cool if there are 48,568,033 fellow heathens fucking up my property value?

And while getting company should bring me comfort, it oddly does not. Don't get me wrong, I do like company (even if my wife is a little "company shy"), but if there are 50 million people like me what does that say about "me?" What does that say about my specific outlook on life as a person raised with no faith?

Unwilling to let my individuality go without a fight, I did what very few people do -- I actually READ a Pew report.

What I found was very reaffirming.

So what does "unaffiliated" mean? Pew says "secular unaffiliated" is described as "those who say that religion is not important in their lives." Hmm, OK. The report goes on to, uh, report another subsect called the "religious unaffiliated," or "those who say that religion is either somewhat important or very important in their lives."

Huh? So unaffiliated is based upon how important religion is to you? I eat food everyday but if you were to ask me how important carbs are to me, I might be an unaffiliated eater. This Pew guy seems less than accurate.

Out of the 16% unaffiliated only 1.6% are TRULY unaffiliated a.k.a atheists. 2.4% are agnostic. So . . . .yeah, no big news here, at least not for me.

The media, even the usually level-headed Bill Maher, saw this report as ground-breaking but it only confirms what I know to be true. Even as people pick up, try on and put down various spiritual hats, they still feel compelled to wear them. Mostly due to the fact that they've been wearing hats since they were children. But what about those without any baby hat-wearing experience (OK, this analogy is getting out of hand)?

The MOST interesting, though least shocking stat, was that "black Americans are the most likely to report a formal religious affiliation. Even among those blacks who are unaffiliated, three-in-four belong to the 'religious unaffiliated' category."

As I said before, when it comes to Black America, I am a dying breed. And if my reluctance to pop my eldest daughter's "God" bubble persists, I may really be the last dragon after all. But as Yoda says, "there is another" -- my 3-year old who has yet to ask about death or draw pictures of her dear old dad taking a dirt nap.

Bless her heart.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Out of (Cruise) Control

OK, let me state up front that all of my knowledge about Scientology comes from an episode of "South Park." That and wikipedia. Not that I haven't had a chance to learn first hand -- there's a Scientology temple/mosque/church/labor camp right up the street from where I used to work -- but for all of my religious tourism, I never had the balls to go into that building. I was afraid I'd come out in a brown tunic and no pupils (and really no balls).

But maybe that's because I don't know any Scientologists -- or anyone rich and famous enough to be one. OK, that's flawed logic since I know TONS of Christians and some of them scare me, but at least I've gone in their places of worship without fearing a mind wipe and/or anal probe (actually as long as the mind wipe came AFTER the anal probe, I guess I'd be alright with that).

It doesn't help that Scientology is so damn secretive. Call them what you like but Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses will come to your door espousing their brand of crazy. Now, you don't have to answer the door, but they're willing to talk . . . alot.

But scientology is the one religion where you have to go fucking Sherlock Holmes to find out anything (or watch South Park like me). From what I understand, you have to pass all these tests and reach a certain level before they drop the Xenu story on you. I can't tell it better than South Park (so watch it here)but if you prefer my words to theirs (who wouldn't?) here we go: Long time ago, in a galaxy, far, far away . . . (seriously) there was an evil alien ruler named Xenu froze aliens from other planets and cast them into Hawaiian volcanos using spaceships that look like American airplanes. When their souls escaped . . . OK, you get it right? No? Good, if you did you'd be a Scientologist.

But it sort of makes sense that you have to sell a million bars of soap before you get this doozy of a story. As a video game player, I understand the logic of logging tons of hours completing tasks so you can unlock new powers and knowledge. I also understand that, like Scientology, games are created by sci-fi geeks who literally make shit up as they go along.

Having said that, stories like Noah's Arc are no more believable than Xenu and the soul catcher story but we've been living with them so long we kinda forget and forgive those who believe it (well I don't, but you know).

Anyway, I say all this because there's video of Tom Cruise talking about his faith in Scientology and everyone is falling over themselves to make fun of him. And yes, jumping on Oprah's couch is weird and so is marrying Katie Holmes but is his Xenu story that much crazier than Jonah living in a whale? If he was on there professing how he believed some guy raised a man from the dead and walked on water, some of us would be proud that he's not afraid to show his spiritual side.

I think Scientology's biggest problem is that one on hand their all hush-hush about their beliefs but then sue people for slandering them. Dude, if you believe there's a volcano in Hawaii with alien corpses in them, PROCLAIM THAT SHIT! There are people running our government who think a dude separated the Red Sea with a stick. As a matter of fact, we won't let anyone who DOESN'T believe that a man can fit two of every animal on a boat run this country.

Now who's crazy?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why Heathens Are Responsible for Evil

Guilty Admission: I listen to Evangelical radio. A LOT of it. I'm not quite sure why as I have no interest in being "saved" (an irritating term that I'm sure most Christians don't know adds to the perception that they are pompous condescending)by Jesus or any of his friends, but where else can I go to listen to folks who honestly believe witches are REAL threats and that the end of the world is coming? Since I don't attend the third grade anymore, my only option is WAVA in the Washington DC area where every weeknight during my drive home I get to hear the Bible Answer Man, some dude named Hank.

Now, before I commence to snarking I DO have to give him props for making fun of Juanita Bynum. For those that don't know (and I was one of you two months ago), Ms. Bynum is a pastor who was in the news after her perfect marriage dissolved into alleged abuse and rape. Ok, that's not why she deserves being made fun of. But have you ever heard this woman before? She starts speaking in tongues and screaming at the top of her voice and ending each utterance with "and-uh." I mean, I guess she's no different than many other Black ministers but the clip Hank played of her made her sound like a fool. Click here for some that old-timey preachin'.

Anyway, one day Hank (or BAM, as I know him) was talking about the great scam of demon posession and exorcism. So, naturally to hear a man of Christ dispel the myth of demon posession was of great interest to me. Little did I know BAM would soon be pointing his judgmental finger through my radio at me. He went on to say that while demon posession is real (shucks!), those who believe in Jesus cannot be posessed by the devil. He went on to justify through some verses which ultimately lost me but it was the equivalent of "this town ain't big enough for the both us." So who, might you ask, CAN be posessed by the devil? According to BAM, only NON-believers.

I'll let you stew on that for a minute.


Ok, so by this logic, while I do not personally believe that Lord Voldemort is real I COULD concieveably be possessed by him -- just like the guy who had old Volde's head under his turban in the first Harry Potter movie. But the difference between myself and Prof. Quirrel (didn't think I could pull that name did you?) is that He is a fictional character who also believes in the power of another fictional character Lord Voldemort. Wheras I am a real person who knows Voldemort, Harry and the mythical country of England are all figments of J.K. Rowling's billion dollar imagination.

Seems to me BAM has it backwards. ONLY those who believe in God, and thus the devil, could be posessed by either. I fear many things in life: dying in a plane crash, not living long enough to see the new Batman movie but demon posession never crossed my mind mainly because I don't believe in demons. And I would guess, statistically, the number of demon posessions of non-believers is pretty low compared to those who think the devil is real.

Just a thought, not a sermon. (Oh yea, that comes from another radio show I hear/loathe).