June 21st, 2014


Who Moved My Cheese?

I remember those early days when I started exploring other religious faiths and other branches of Christianity.  Among the ones I decided to try giving some equal time to was the Methodists.  Maybe they weren't as strict and fascist as the Catholics I'd be raised with.

Then, shortly after 9/11, an interfaith service was held at a sports stadium in NYC to help everyone begin to heal.  Religious leaders from all faiths were brought in -- Jewish, Catholic, pagan, you name it.  And among them was a Methodist minister.

Who was defrocked afterward for officiating a ceremony with nonChristians.

And that was the end of my interest in the Methodists.

Gay rights is becoming a major battleground.  Just yesterday, for example, the high council of the Presbyterians voted to not only allow gay clergy, but to redefine marriage in their own constitution to allow gay marriage.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church allows gay clergy and lets individual clergy decide for themselves whether or not to bless a gay union.  The Catholic church is losing members and money thanks to their hardline antigay stances, and are even seeing a revolution in their own ranks as people tell them to suck it.  The Episcopalians were openly supportive of gays, but when a gay man was made a bishop, a schism happened and there are now two branches of the Episcopalians, all separated by that one act.  The United Church Of Christ just flat out supports gay marriage -- no technical definitions, no saying certain things can't be done, they just say, "Go for it."  Into this comes the Methodists, who accept gay members, but they can't become clergy and, in response to the growing wave of then commitment ceremonies and now gay marriages, forbids its ministers from officiating at a same-sex union, despite hundreds of their own clergy vocally and publicly calling the administrative body out on this.

The Methodists are covered by the Book Of Discipline, and this is where its position on gays is spelled out.  Everyone must uphold The Book.  Accidentally thrust into this was Frank Schaefer.  In 2007, his gay son decided to get hitched in Massachusetts, where gay marriage had been legal for three years at that point.  It's his son, what dad could say no?  So Schaefer went and blessed his son's union.

Well, someone in Schaefer's congregation blabbed.  In 2013, Schaefer was put on trial for not upholding the Book Of Discipline.  He was given a 30 day suspension.  He was asked if he would continue to uphold The Book, including that part about no gay marriages.  Schaefer gave an evasive answer, which anyone knows means he would gladly defy it but he's trying to play nice with the bosses.  The bosses knew it, and defrocked him.

Schaefer is appealing his defrocking.  His representative says the defrocking was a punishment for something he might or might not do, not something he has done.  Yeah, he's got a point, but let's face it -- since his defrocking, he has become an outspoken advocate for gay rights in the Methodist community.  Him presiding over another gay ceremony is as certain as the sun rising.  I'm not even sure why he's appealing it, everyone knows what is going to happen.  He's going to eventually defy the established order again -- he won't stay in his box or he will be labeled a hypocrite.  And the church will bounce him.  This is just asking if we have to sit through the whole movie or can we skip to the end credits.

Now, the church has its laws.  They may be in conflict with what the majority of their congregation wants, but they have their laws.  However, if the church stands by those laws, the church needs to do something -- it needs to own up to it and take every last bit of flak they get.  No hiding behind tradition, no hiding behind Scripture, no hiding behind interpretation.  They need to state that this is what they believe and that's all there is to it.

And when people abandon them because they are being intolerant assholes, they need to accept that, too.  All actions have consequences, and too many church bodies think they should be shielded from such consequences because of whatever.  No.  We are being threatened with damnation by you.  You are being threatened with extinction by us.

Awwww, Why'd You Do It, Alice?!?

Longtime readers are aware that I have beef with Nick Barrucci, the guy in charge of Dynamite Entertainment.  Despite several titles that pique my interest, the only series I will buy that they publish is The Dresden Files.  I refuse to touch anything else.

Please note this doesn't mean no one else should buy their comics.  This is my little personal protest, it's up to each of us to decide what we will and won't do.  Not everyone thinks Barrucci is a douchebag, and that's their decision.

I mention this because Dynamite is releasing a comic based on Alice Cooper.


Cooper has flirted with comics before.  He first appeared in an issue of Marvel Premiere, and the immortal Neil Gaiman wrote The Last Temptation Of Alice.  Now, here comes a regulation series.  The setup is a sort of flip side to Sandman.  Cooper is a rocker by day and the Lord Of Nightmares at night, saving innocents from terror as they sleep and delivering horrors to the evil.  But someone stole his power, pushed him from our realm, and locked him away.  Now, he's coming to take it back.

I'm not going to fault Cooper.  He's clearly having a gas with this.  "We're doing cool things with Dynamite.  I always say that the best thing about being in a comic book is that they draw you with great abs!  (He wouldn't say that if Liefeld was handling the art.  -- G)  Artistically, for me there is hardly a better medium.  There is so much you can do in the form of a comic that we'd never been able to do on stage.  It's just a different way of storytelling, and it really has almost limitless possibilities.  We're looking forward to stretching the existing boundaries of the comic medium again.  We have new stories to tell, but we'll do it with the same theatrical, sinister sensibility that comes with the name 'Alice Cooper.'  This is just the beginning!  Welcome to my new Nightmares!"

Cooper is shrewd, so I'm sure he's got the terms of the contract locked up tight.  But it's still helping Barrucci gain market share, and I just can't bring myself to buy it.

(But wait, there's more.  Dynamite is also releasing a deluxe edition of Last Temptation this October.  It will feature all issues complete scripts, Gaiman's original outline, and correspondence with Cooper.  Shit.  Another one for the "ick" list.)

Almost any other publisher, I'd be on this like cheese on pizza.  But I can't.  I wish you luck, Mister Cooper.  And lots and lots of protection.
Barney Fife

Junior Matlock Club -- He Shoots, He Scores

It's time for another installment of the Junior Matlock Club, where we look at criminals who should consider another line of work as they don't have what it takes for a life of crime.  As always, we kick things off by reciting the oath --

"Now, it is from little misdemeanors that major felonies grow.  And it is my duty -- it is ANYBODY'S duty -- to stop them before they get too far.  Now THE LAW MUST BE UPHELD!"

So, the World Cup soccer tournament is going on right now.  Maybe you've heard of it.  Well, Jose Diaz-Barajas, 49, did.  He and his family flew to Rio de Janiero from Paraguay on June 11 to watch the tournament, specifically the Mexico/Brazil game.  He didn't scalp tickets or anything, he bought the tickets legal with his real name and identification.

And that's the problem.

See, Barajas is a drug trafficker.  He's on the DEA's most wanted list for bringing meth in the US.

Drug agencies already watch sports events because most kingpins are sports nuts and it makes it easier to find and arrest them.  But Barajas turning up under his real name had everyone wondering if something major was going to go down.  It soon became apparently they were just there to watch the games, and they simply waited at the airport for him to take his flight home and nabbed him.

So, you're probably wondering why he used his real name and papers instead of forgeries.  He thought that, with everyone focused on the World Cup, he wouldn't be noticed.

So, like American Express, you alternate identification -- don't leave home without it.
Peter G

One Foot In The Grave

I'll be doing some more writing either later tonight or tomorrow. In the meantime, here's a little free advice for you all -- have your houses checked for mold. That shit will put you in the hospital and can possibly kill you. This is a new voice of experience talking here.