Thursday, December 30, 2010

This Is So Cool!

This is a map of American English dialects. (h/t to [redacted]) You can even click on various areas and hear the different pronunciations of common words. It's fascinating! Though the creator has clearly never visited Northeastern Pennsylvania. We've got our own thing going on that is completely different from other areas of Pennsylvania and the Northeast in general.

It's funny for me to experiment with this because I lived in so many different places growing up that I picked up bits and pieces of various dialects and ended up with a mishmosh accent. I say "werter" instead of "water" and "wursh" instead of "wash". I got that from Indiana. I do, in all seriousness, say "y'all", which is left over from three years in Texas. I refer to the coastal region of New Jersey as "downashore" from two years in Philadelphia. (The weather reporters will literally say, "The weather downashore this weekend will be . . ." It took me three months to realize that "downashore" is not the name of a town in New Jersey.)

Anyway, have fun!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yeah, You Didn't Prove Anything There

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence (hereinafter "ECREE") is something of a credo for atheists. There is a reason for that. Having never seen anyone raised from the dead or turn water into wine or walk on water, and knowing what I know of reality, I find the claims of Christians to be extraordinary. By definition, just look at the word: extra-ordinary.

Christians* will occasionally, and very annoyingly, respond with, "Oh yeah, well prove that you own a sweater. Hah!" Hence, ECREE. Owning a sweater is ordinary. While I certainly could prove that I own a sweater, and am in fact currently wearing a sweater, it's such a mundane thing that asking me to prove it is ridiculous. Raising the dead is just not in the same category as sweater owning. The only way sweater owning could rise to the level of ECREE is if I claimed my sweater was the sweater Elvis was wearing when he died, or that my sweater cures cancer. (It's a nice argyle in a wool blend, nothing more.)

As you might imagine, Christians get really frustrated by this, primarily because, outside of the Bible, there really is no proof of these claims. So then they engage in sophistry:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence or ECREE is nothing but an illogical catch phrase used by skeptics devoid of logic to judge religious claims. What constitutes an extraordinary claim is entirely subjective and relative to the person, for example; a man living his entire life in the amazon jungle might find the entire concept of an airplane to be an extraordinary claim, whereas you or I will find the concept of an airplane to be a mundane claim. Which leads me to my next point, there is no such thing as extraordinary evidence.

Sophistry is funny. On the surface, it seems like Theological Discourse (hereinafter "TD") has a point. There are tribes in the Amazon who have had no contact with the rest of the world, and I have no doubt they would find an airplane to be an extraordinary claim. However, this does not make ECREE illogical or meaningless. In fact, it proves the purpose of ECREE. I can provide evidence of a plane, very easily, in fact. I would merely have to drive that person to the airport and point. (Edited because I forgot to add) This person would have every right to dismiss the existence of planes if I simply said, "Airplanes: they exist". I wouldn't have provided any evidence, extraordinary or otherwise.

What TD seems to be missing is this: it's the receiver of the claim who decides whether or not that claim is extraordinary and demands equally extraordinary evidence. That's how ECREE works. You might find it annoying to have to provide proof for what you consider self evident, but that doesn't make that demand of proof less sincere or reasonable.

This is, by the way, ludicrous:

You might think certain claims from a Christian are extraordinary claims, but to the Christian they might not be, just like how an the guy living in the amazon might find the existence of airplanes an extraordinary planes, but to you they might not be.

Look, whether or not you believe in God or Jesus or the story of Jesus as contained in the Bible, you have to admit that turning water into wine, walking on water and rising from the freakin' dead are extraordinary events. You've never seen those things happen, have you? You don't live in a physical reality that allows for those things, do you? In fact, that's what makes the story of Jesus so remarkable, isn't it? If rising from the dead isn't extraordinary, then what's so special about Jesus anyway? That's just painting yourself into a rhetorical corner right there.

*By no means, not all. I doubt some of my own commentors find it unreasonable that I find these claims to be extraordinary.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Comments - I Do Get Those

The following comment makes exactly as much sense as this fashion choice. Now, pull your eyes away from the shiny red codpiece and read the post.

I don't get PZ's amusing emails, but I do occasionally get amusing comments, always on old posts, for some reason.

This comment is from a post in May, Act Now to Receive the Antichrist:

I believe in the one God the Father, maker of the heavens and earth.

Does that ever bring me back. If you're from a Protestant or nonChristian background, that's the beginning of the Nicene Creed, which is recited at every mass. Considering that I attended Catholic schools exclusively, I attended mass 6 days a week. I probably said that thousands of times. Actually, the official Catholic version is I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, but wow, blast from the past for me.

One needs to only look around and see his beauty. I surely don't believe that everything came from evolution but there is a divine power at work in the creation and the future.

So, you're scientifically illiterate. Good for you. I look around and see beauty, too, I just don't need an invisible superpower to make that amazing.

The problem lies in the free will God gave us all and the ability to interpret it. Over time mankind has abominated God's promise and turned it into their own self-fulfilling idea of what they want without regard to their fellow man.

You know, your god is supposed to be omniscient. That means he knows everything that will ever happen. Why give us free will if he knows that the inevitable end of that is a great many of us hurting ourselves and each other and then spending forever in hell. Think about that for a second. Really think about that. God knows that free will ends with millions suffering an eternity of torment and does it anyway. This god of yours really isn't a very nice guy, is he?

Humankind lives for one thing and one thing only - themselves. Witness the cruelty, strife, wars, torture and unspeakable things man has forced on fellow men.

Sure. Witness also the art, the music, the selfless acts of love and generosity as well. We're bad, sure, but we're good, too. And religion has done nothing to end the cruelty and strife. If anything, religion has encouraged war and unspeakable acts (see also: Crusades, The). And the greatest torturer of all? Your god, for giving me the free will that will land me in hell.

God gave us his promise that if we but believe in him and his Son we will escape what is coming (look around) as long as we keep faith.

*looks around* Um, what's coming?

Yes we will be persecuted but God will protect us and reward us. The rest of the world will, literally go to HELL forever.

Again, your god is a douchebag. The biggest douchebag of all time. And you're a douchebag for enjoying his douchebaggery. Wait, I'm sorry, DOUCHEBAG.

Put your hormones aside and look inside for reason and faith.

My hormones? Atheism is hormonally modulated? What . . . I don't . . . what the fuck?

Too many of you will not make it to the other side and scoff those of us believe it to be true. It's not too late.

For what? Also, I do believe hell is the other side, the undesireable other side, but the other side nonetheless. I've never understood the promise of "eternal life" Christianity makes so much of. According to you, I get eternal life either way, you're just promising a less physically painful eternal life. (I gotta tell you, eternity praising God is just as unappealing to me as an eternity of torture.)

Anyway, Arthur, so long and thanks for all the lulz.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Inspiring (Almost) Women - Liberian Edition

Sure, I bitch and snark a lot around here (it's a gift), but I do find great beauty and inspiration in my fellow human beings. Today, I'd like to introduce you to Lovetta Conto.

She is 17 years old, a survivor of the Liberian Civil War and an inspiration. Just the fact that she could smile like that after living through a war is inspiring, but it's what she's doing with the artifacts of that war that I'd like to highlight: she's turning bullets into beautiful jewelry.

At first my dream was to be a lawyer because I thought that was what would make my father proud. I had no idea what to do for my project related to law. Nothing seemed right. I wanted to make my father proud but something in me pulled me to fashion and design. No matter how down the women in the refugee camp were, they always found a way to express themselves with beautiful jewelry and clothes they made from what they had. I was so scared to admit to my father, to Strongheart and to myself that my true passion was not law but design.

Some people may say, “Why should a girl who comes from a place where people struggle to get food care about fashion or jewelry?” But I believe that your spirit wants beauty no matter your conditions. Even something as ugly as a bullet that was fired in a war can be made beautiful if you are willing to work to change it into something else.

That's amazing. She looks at an instrument of death and sees the possibility of beauty. I could never do that, but I can wear that necklace (thank you, Marzie!) and remember that there are people in this world whose very existence makes it a better place for us all.

At Least They're Honest About Their Hatred of the Consumer

So, I had a little Christmas money yesterday, and some seriously ragged hair, so I thought, "well, how much training or talent does someone need to trim 1/2" off the ends, anyway?" As it turns out, not much, the haircut went fine, but what led up to the haircut makes me think naked capitalism isn't always a good thing.

This was one of those low end strip mall hairstyling chains people work at for the first year or two out of beauty school. They have names like . . . Awesome Eddies, shall we say. A shampoo, haircut and blowdry is $17.99. (Keeping in mind that they have to wash your hair because it's easier to cut hair wet and whatever leftover styling gunk you had in your hair would dull their scissors, but whatever.)

Yesterday, December 26, in Pennsylvania, the receptionist asks me if I want the $9.99 special. Hey, I like saving money as much as the next person so I ask what the $9.99 special is. A wash and haircut. No blowdry. In December. In Pennsylvania. It was 22F (-5.6C) without the wind chill. Yeah, I'll be happy to pay $8 for you to blow dry my hair.

Seriously, I can see this as an option in the summer, though not for my supreme frizziness, but midwinter? That's like prefacing surgery by asking someone if they'd like to save $500 by not having the wound sewn shut. It's like some sort of evil marketing ploy to make me beg the hairstylist to charge me an outrageous sum of money for 5 minutes of blow dryer time.

No, wait, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what it is.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Red Christmas Frying Pans

All I want for Christmas is a very slow hug . . .

Hi! It's Christmas, so I wanted to share with the world what makes me happiest. Sloths.

Well, sloths and my friends. I love you and I am very grateful to know you. I can't tell you how much you mean to me, how much I look forward to your emails and phone calls, to your stories and frustrations and triumphs and complaints. I am very lucky, and it's you that makes me that way.

I hope you are having a good day, but even if you aren't remember one thing: 2010 kicked our collective asses, but 2011 is ours, if we have to beat it into submission with stylish red frying pans. Hear that, universe? Ours! And frying pans! And they're red!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Where, Exactly, Is the War on Christmas Being Waged?

I finally did my Christmas shopping last night (I depend upon my bonus for that, and we don't get it until the week before Christmas) and while I fought the crazed crowds for the last zebra print Snuggy, I looked for evidence of this famous War on Christmas. I live in a liberal, Democratic, college town of approximately 200,000, not that far from New York City. If ever there were a place for godless atheists to make their mark in the War on Christmas, where I live is it.

I found no evidence of any such war. None. At all.

The county buses all flash "Merry Christmas!". I went to five stores, and all the cashiers wished me a Merry Christmas. Christmas music was playing at every store. Christmas decorations abounded. This morning's bus driver wished me a Merry Christmas.

So, where, exactly, is the War on Christmas being waged?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where Have All the Ladies Gone?

I do enjoy a good screed in the style of Ladies Against Feminism, and Modesty Is Next to Beauty has given me an early Christmas present.

Where have all the ladies gone? into our local grocery stores, onto the construction sites, into our police cars and into burning houses.

Amusingly, I would assume the good godly women would be in their grocery stores. After all, who's buying the food in our traditionalist marriage? I find it terribly amusing that she seems to think that female grocery store cashiers are some sort of feminist dream.

"[I]nto burning houses", btw, refers to female firefighters, not to women with curious hobbies or serious suicidal urges. That took me a minute.

behind our pulpits. . . .

Spreading across our nation and world like a deadly flu.

This implies two very unfortunate things. (1) That the author, Katie, believes that prior to the 1960s women were kept in compounds and then were released by Gloria Steinem, and that (2) women and viruses that kill millions have something in common. Yeah.

Taking authority into hands and leaving biblical womanhood behind.

Into whose hands, Katie? I wouldn't be so concerned, but I suspect you are or will be homeschooling children. Do try to learn English, okay?

What a sad day we live in,


where a woman would rather go out and fight a war or arrest somebody, build a house or preach

dreams, you need a penis to fulfill them.

(Note to readers this does not mean spreading the gospel which is right for ALL to do, this means preaching behind a pulpit.) then to have children and take care of them, and her husband, but does she take care of her husband? certainly not. Women of today have taken a height role of authority, fighting wars and preaching.

"Height" is not the word you are looking for. Katie, seriously, you are killing me here. Look, I don't know too many women who choose not to have children, nor do I know too many who don't care for their children. Our husbands, being adults, can take care of themselves. And help with the children, while they're at it.

A fine job of such, leaving thoughts of children in the dust, off to business like jobs, I feel in my opinion, that you can have a career, it's called raising children! a fine career that is!

Oh. I think maybe this was supposed to be poetry. Um, well, nope. Not poetry. Maybe . . . no, not even if I squint. Also, do you mean "business-like jobs"? I have no idea. Also, I support the right of women to raise children as their primary work. If they want to. And if they don't, well, dreams really don't require a penis to fulfill, as it turns out.

But of course, for some women, and notice I use the word women, because I feel that these females that go out and work do not have the title of "Lady" For some women that would be the end of life, a waste. . . . Some ladies feel differently. Being a wife and homemaker would bring no greater joy to me (Job wise.)

Well, if we're using "lady" as a title, you don't deserve it, either. No one in the US does. We don't have nobility. Why do you hate America? Look, I'm glad that you enjoy your life. That's nice. I'm not you. That doesn't make you better than me, it just makes us different. What is it with some people that everyone has to be exactly like them or they just can't be happy.

But women have it in their little heads that women have to make something of themselves in life, and being a housewife is not.

"Little heads"? Really? As if I am a child and don't know what I want a want and what makes me happy and what doesn't? Maybe your head is little, Katie, but mine isn't.

Sadly enough the title "Mr Mom" is used frequently in today's society. While the woman goes out and works the husband would stay home and care for the children, clearly in that situation the woman would be "Wearing the Pants"

Yes, the only way women can have power is to take it from men. Feminism is not a zero sum game. Men don't automatically lose when women win. We can all win. (If the only way for men to win is for women to lose, what exactly does that say about men, anyway? It's not feminists who hate men.) And plenty of men like being stay at home dads. That's what we call them, btw.

Curiously, this ends with a description of the Virtuous Woman (not "lady") from Proverbs. She worked. Color me confused.

The Real Meaning of Christmas- From an Agnostic, Possibly Deist

Teh Hubby (the agnostic, possibly deist) and I gave our 11 year old niece the perfect gift for a girl her age: a (tiny) shopping spree at Justice. (It's the place for tweens to shop. Accordingly, it is insanely expensive.) We agreed to take her to Justice and let her pick out one outfit- bottom, top, accessory- without having to worry about price.

We did this Sunday, during the Eagles-Giants game. Yes, that game. We left when the Eagles were down by 21 (I think). My niece had been bugging us all day, unable to be patient, so we decided to stop watching the massacre and get her present out of the way. We spent a delightful hour shopping and then got into the car and turned on the radio just as the Eagles won the game on the most amazing play of all time.

Yup, we diehard Eagles fans missed the best Eagles game that will happen during our lifetime. Teh Hubby turned off the radio and sat facing forward, turning purple and vibrating slightly. My niece says, very quietly, "I'm sorry Uncle [blank]. I'm sorry I made you miss your game."

At which point he turns around, plasters a smile on his alarmingly purple face, and says, "It's okay. I'd rather make you happy," and then turns back around before he loses his fake smile.

I've never seen my niece more radiant. That's Christmas. Probably arterial damage as well, but Christmas.

[edited for clarity]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christians Most Likely to Jettison Jesus at Christmas

Guess who's winning the War on Religious Christmas? Christians, but only because they're apparently the ones waging it.

A new study by LifeWay Research reveals that nine in 10 Americans (91 percent) personally celebrate Christmas and those aren’t all self-identified Christians. A majority of agnostics or those claiming no preference (89 percent), individuals claiming other religions (62 percent), and even atheists (55 percent) celebrate Christmas along with 97 percent of Christians.

So, practically everyone celebrates Christmas in the United States, whether Christian or not.

In fact, 81 percent [of Christians] put family first at Christmas, agreeing, strongly or somewhat, with the statement, “Family traditions are the most important part of Christmas to me.”

Hardly shocking. Christmas in the US is family and family traditions. That's why nonchristians of every stripe celebrate- we either have fond memories of childhood Christmases past, we're mollifying family members, or seeking to provide our children with fond memories of our own. (Of course, only a fundamentalist Christian would find such devotion to family troubling. Family values and all that, I guess.)

Among a list of 14 things people do at Christmas, giving gifts to family members is the most common activity at 89 percent. Additionally, more than three out of four households report they gather with family or friends for a Christmas meal (86 percent), put up a Christmas tree (80 percent), listen to Christmas music(79 percent), and decorate their homes (77 percent).

Attend church or otherwise acknowledge Jesus rates lower than those activities, and it's Christians who drive this.

Christians are actually among the most likely to enjoy elements of the Christmas season not related to Jesus’ birth, with 66 percent saying they watch fictional Christmas movies, as compared to half of agnostics or those with no preference, and less than half of atheists and Americans of other religions.

So . . . who's waging a war on what now?

Christians are also more likely to encourage a belief in Santa Claus than nonchristians:

Gift giving is also most popular among Christians, 94 percent of whom say they give gifts to family members. This affinity for giving gifts perhaps points to why Christians are also most likely to encourage belief in Santa Claus. Overall, a little more than one-third of households (38 percent) encourage belief in Santa, compared to 42 percent of Christian households. Just 27 percent of agnostics or those without a religious preference, 22 percent of those claiming other religions, and 18 percent of atheists encourage belief in Santa Claus.

You know guys, I don't think it's atheists and pagans that's your problem. It's you.

That's not to say Christians don't pay any attention to Jesus, but it's not their primary focus.

Though a majority encourage belief in Christ at Christmastime, 67 percent of Americans say that, “Many of the things I enjoy during the Christmas season have nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ.”
“Americans give Jesus a head nod at Christmas but spend most of the season pleasing their eyes, ears and taste buds with decorations, music and meals,” McConnell said. “Many celebrate Christmas the way most have celebrated Halloween – the fun traditions without sharing the religious significance.”

Which only makes sense, because the Bible makes it pretty clear Jesus wasn't born in December. Seriously, when are lambs born? Not in December. What we're celebrating is the winter solstice. Axial tilt is the reason for this particular season. Apparently, even the Christians know that one.

Monday, December 20, 2010

These Tips Will Make You a Millionaire!

When I saw the headline

I clicked on that right quick! Heck, I'd settle for having an extra $50, surely one of these tips would be enough for that.

1. Be patient.

Well, okay. I've waited 35 years. Can't get more patient than that.

2. Pay yourself first. Before paying any bills, you need to set money aside every month to build your wealth. It's simple math, but you'd be surprised how many people ignore it.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! If I set aside money to "build my wealth", I wouldn't be able to pay my bills. So apparently, we need a tip that comes before #2, Have More Money.

3. Don't be afraid to look into foreign investments.

Well, #3 is a bust. I don't think anyone's going to invest my 25¢, foreign or otherwise. Perhaps #4 will be more useful.

4. Don't count on winning the lottery in the stock market, either.

I certainly wasn't doing that! Huh, that's odd, I'm still not a millionaire.

5. The more money you can save while you're young, the better. You want to save any way you can, even if it might mean living with mom and dad for awhile. Staying at home and doing laundry at home in your early 20s to negate the cost of rent and transportation is not bad advice as long as you have a plan how you're going to move out.

Seriously, #5 is "sponge off family even if you don't have to". Is it me, or is there something inherently wrong with taking advantage of your family in order to be a millionaire? Logically, yes, given the mathematical magic of compounding interest, the earlier you can start saving money, the better, but still, this just seems . . . a little . . . oh, I don't know . . . welfare queen to me. I guess you're not mooching as long as you "plan how" you're going to move out. Okay then.

6. Map out your financial future. List goals and realistic plans for achieving them. You can't go places you want to go without a road map.

Look, OnStar could follow me every step of the way, until I get a little more earning power, and a little relief from ever rising bills, I'm screwed. Maybe they should have covered that in a few easy to follow steps first. Step 1: don't be poor . . .

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Is Why I'm Not on Facebook

Actually, going by the word "dikerd" (which I cannot at all figure out, despite spending several minutes attempting to pronounce it out loud), I think Sophia will be majoring in Afrikaans.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Yeah, That's Pretty Much What Being a Woman Is Like

Yup. That's pretty much it.

And Privilege Denying Dude will no doubt show up to tell me how wrong I am about that in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . .

Thursday, December 16, 2010

For the Last Damn Time, We Celebrate Christmas, Too!

I'm not sure when "liberal" became synonymous with "atheist", or when the definition of "atheist" changed to mean "does not like or celebrate Christmas", but can someone call the dictionary and let them know it's not true?

T’was the night before Christmas, in a liberal home,
It was gloomy and heavier than the Metrodome dome.

My house is cheerfully decorated with many, many lights. (I seriously wanted to buy outdoor light up deer and put them on the fireplace mantle. Yes, I become that person the day after Thanksgiving.) We watch hokey Christmas specials and generally act goofy on Christmas eve.

They were each in their rooms, each in silence and shame,
In hopes that no Carolers would visit again.

I love carolers! (Though I'm not sure they're supposed to capitalized.) We never get any, but I'd love to! Plus, Italian family at Christmas = red sauce and alcohol, which never leads to silence.

Tis the darkest of days in the Liberal year,

I'm not sure what you mean, really. Is there some liberal calendar I am unaware of? When is our New Years?

Banned from schools, streets and courthouses, all that laughter and cheer!

Yes, that's right. You never, ever see any sort of decorations this time of year in schools, on the streets or at courthouses. The fact that the city I live in puts up lights before Thanksgiving and there is a 20' tall tree smack in front of the courthouse is just an illusion.

For they know there’s no magic man riding sleighs in a suit,

Yes, all adults know that.

Or child in a manger, What a crock! What a hoot!

Um, plenty of liberals are Christians. Plenty of Christians are liberals. Don't conflate Christian and conservative.

Obama’s healthcare, was slashed by a GOP judge,

So you admit it was judicial activism?

And the tax-cuts extended by some Democrat sludge,

I just don't know what this has to do with Christmas.

Then the Christian extremists were all pealing with joy,
to make matters worse! How they stress and annoy!

Yeah, you are annoying. I'll grant you that.

‘I hate Santa Claus!’ the man shouted to chase away the mirth,

So . . . we know he doesn't exist, but we hate him? Do you hate Zeus?

‘He never gave to me all I’m entitled to, or worth!
He’s a hypocrite, he's gone after just one small day,
Only rewarding riches, He hates Muslims and gays.’

What the hell does Santa have to do with any of that? That's just . . . stoopid.

His Red parents had made sure that he knew the real truth,

Dude, liberal =/= communist. Calm down.

Between Ritalin shots and TV time in his room,

So we're mocking the very real conditions of ADD and ADHD as liberal fantasies now? Classy.

‘Don’t leave gift giving to some old white man, dressed in red,
It’s the government’s job to do that,’ they had said.

Has anyone anywhere said that? Plus, wtf does Santa have to do with capitalism? He's pretty much the ultimate communist.

‘Free those twelve captive reindeer from that barbarous man,
And the minority elves, with no unions at hand.

I'm not sure elves would count as a minority at the fictional North Pole, especially given that Santa was usually described as a "jolly old elf", which would simply make him the leader of the elves.

Spread the wealth, save the trees, stop this dumb Christian sham,
That was copied from old legends, in the Egyptian land.’

Well, yes, actually, Christmas is a syncretization of pagan traditions and Christianity. That's just a fact. I can't help it that reality has a liberal bias.

Thus, this sad liberal muttered to himself all night long,
Till he put on a miserable Jane Fonda song,

Who the hell is listening to Jane Fonda? I mean, I had no idea she ever recorded music at all.

The next morning he exploded when wished a good day,
‘God is dead! So are you!! Now get out of my way!!!’

Yes. I usually respond to "Have a nice day!" with "God is dead!" if I simply don't shoot the person for having the temerity to be polite.

Seriously, what is wrong with you, dude?

Office Safety

New OSHA regulations require that this be posted in any office of 15 or more employees.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Words Fail Me

Well, not really. Words almost never fail me, and I certainly wouldn't be typing up a post if they did, but really, this is the best way to sum up my reaction to this Treasure Hunt:


and then


and then

o.O because it was still there.

I went out on a Treasure Hunt this past Thursday the 9th with a group of 5 from our School of Ministry to the Capital City Mall, in Camp Hill. IT ROCKED!

What is a Treasure Hunt you ask?

Well, simply put - the hunt is seeking who God has on His heart to bless through us. He gives us clues to who it is, and we go find them.

How does it work?
Before we went, our group met together and prayed....jotted down some "clues" on our treasure maps. The map is just a list on a piece of paper. Clues are grouped in categories of location, name, appearance, prayer needs, and misc....

Okay, that's not much of a description. It sounds like they are just writing down random words on a piece of paper and then looking for things to fulfill those words. It's also possible the organizer of this event gave them "clues" . . . you know, he has "clues" sarcastiquoted and I don't know if he's being sarcastic or using quotes as decoration or what.

So, just to base this event in a reality most people can agree upon, Capital City Mall in Camp Hill, PA (that's what I found, anyway) has hundreds of thousand of people working and living within 15 miles. It gets some serious traffic, and that's not during the holiday shopping insanity. In other words, this mall was packed.

We encountered 4 people on our lists in about 50 minutes...I will highlight one on this post.

One of us had 'silver columns & rainbow' on the list as the description of a location...another had the name Thomas, and three of us had the word depression as a prayer need...

Okay, so we have a busy mall made busier by holiday shopping and you're looking for Thomas. Thomas is the 11th most popular name in the United States, with over 2,000,000 people sharing that name. In other words, it would have been bizarre if they had not run into anyone named Thomas.

Major Depression affects approximate 6.7% of all Americans 18 and over, approximately 14,800,000 people. That's just major depression, mind you. Many people describe "feeling a bit run down" as depression. If not running into Thomas would have been bizarre, not running into a person who would describe themselves as depressed would have been impossible.

In other words, this person is incredibly impressed that having the name "Thomas" and the problem "depression" that, in a very busy mall, they actually managed to find a Thomas and a depressed person. However, looking at how common both Thomas and depression are, it's not surprising at all.

As we walked along, we passed the entrance to Macy's within the mall, and noticed to big stainless steel columns at the entrance. Just inside the store there was a display of Christmas stockings. The stockings at the end of the display were all rainbow prints. To top it off, above the display there was a BIG sign - the word 'believe'...we thought, this has got to be the spot. So we hung out there for a few moments keeping our eyes opened for other clues.....(like a red hat, blue jacket, or platform shoes).

I saw a family (mom, dad, and two little sons) sitting at one of the columns. I wondered if one of the boy's names might be Thomas. I approached and asked "by any chance, is either one of your son's names Thomas?" They said no. But then, the mother said "his middle name is Thomas"...pointing the the younger son who was coughing. "Well, that's good enough for me", I said. And I waved at the other people in my group to join me.

I explained to the family that we are on a treasure hunt...telling them that we met 1/2 hour before coming to the mall to pray about who it is that God would want us to meet and share His Love with, bless and pray with....and that they were "holding" some of the clues (a location surrounded by silver columns & rainbows, and the name Thomas)....

So, let me get this straight, you were on the way to the mall and you're surprised that one of your "clues" was the description of a prominent display in a store in the mall? I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. It's lovely.

So, we just offer to pray with them, specifically for Zachary Thomas and his cold....they had no problem receiving the prayers.

When we got done praying over Z.T. I felt there was something more. The Lord reminded me that three of us had the word 'depression'. So, taking a chance, I asked our group if they felt there was something more, and they agreed.

I explained to the family that we had another 'clue' on our list. This clue was a prayer need. I took a chance and mentioned the word depression.....

With that, the mother's countenance changed dramatically and she began to cry...she explained to us that their 13 year old son had just been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and that it was so extreme they were talking about institutionalizing him....*yay God*...

We explained to her that The Lord set up this divine appointment. We had the opportunity to pray hope, joy, and faith into this family and into the mother. We were able to declare depression broken, bi-polar disorder canceled, and restoration of their family to begin....

They said they were believers and that they belonged to a church, but hadn't been there in over a month because of their oldest son. We certainly invited them to our church, but rejoiced with them over theirs....

Can I just say - we were all charged and blessed from that encounter....we had three other ones that night, but this one was 'way cool' :)

Okay, first of all, depression is not the same thing as bipolar disorder, so now you're really reaching, but you "declared depression broken, bipolar disorder cancelled"? How? I am literally shaking with rage at this point. These poor people are having to deal with a seriously ill child, a child that may require institutionalization. And this fucking fuck "declares the disease cancelled" and walks off feeling all "cool" about it? Hey, fuckhead! Yeah, you. While you were going home feeling all way cool, those people went back to their lives, lives that still included a seriously ill child. You . . . you . . . you know what? Now I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Red Dead Redemption Is Not the Game of the Year

(I have a wicked paper cut on my left forefinger that required a band aid, so my typing is off. Please ignore all typos.)

There, I said it. I know, I know. Red Dead Redemption is the Mona Lisa of video games, and if you don't get it, it's because you're a soulless philistine who doesn't understand art. In fact, I may have just said that I am impenetrably stupid and don't understand and love video games.

Seriously, that's the hype about Red Dead Redemption in the gaming world. I may as well hire my own firing squad by saying that I don't like the game. I do not like Red Dead Redemption. I tried so hard to like it, though. I paid good money for that game. (Well, I traded stuff in, mostly, but still, money was involved at some point.) I played RDR for a total of 15 hours. Some games only have 10 hours of play in them, but I spent 15 hours just figuring out that I did not like RDR.

Here's the thing. Gamers, at least gamers that play games like RDR, are adults. Most xbox gamers are adults*. And we've all absorbed the stigma that video games are for kids, that video games are the trailer trash (or bogan, for my NZ readers) of entertainment. Movies are the fine wine of entertainment, TV is the cheap beer, and video games are like huffing glue.

Nobody likes to think of themselves as the sort of person who huffs glue instead of engaging in truly worthy pursuits, especially not for 30 or more hours a week**, so gamers end up defending video games as art. I don't bother, because I don't really care what nongamers think of something they've never done, and because I know games are art. You don't see anyone defending Monet's works, do you?

However, most gamers aren't me, hence the hoopla around RDR. "It's art! It's beautiful! It's historical! There's no aliens or BFGs here, this is real Americana!" It's crap. It's boring, draggy, buggy crap. Yes, the scenery is lovely. Yes, the audio is inspiring. Yes, John's facial hair probably consumed some poor programmer's life for months and the results are totally worth it, but it's still crap.

Keep in mind, I love these types of games, where you can roam about at will, interacting with characters and creatures, discovering a beautiful new world. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion contained dozens of books explaining the world, books on history, magic, mythology, etc. I read them all. They added nothing to the game itself, but I loved each and every one. Fallout 3 had approximately 200 locations to discover, many no more than lonely shacks or holes in the ground. I found each and every one of them. Dragon Age had dozens of characters with interesting stories to tell, completely unrelated to the game. I talked to every character I could entice to conversation, sometimes more than once.

What I'm trying to say is, I love the pointless and obscure in video games. Some person somewhere wrote those books, created those shacks and voiced those characters, and I celebrate their efforts.

I just couldn't celebrate Red Dead Redemption. There was no magic there, no life, no love. I have felt that way about other Rock Star games, as well. I feel, perhaps, that the creators of Oblivion and Fallout and Dragon Age loved their creations beyond reason, while Rock Star just puts out a product. There's no soul. It sells well, but no one at Rock Star thinks to put a melancholy note from a fictional person dying of radiation poisoning after the apocalypse in a shack at the top of a mountain perhaps half a dozen gamers will bother to find.

Or maybe I just don't get it. Maybe the emperor is wearing a fine new set of clothes and I'm just the idiot who can't see them.

*The kinect may change this, but for right now, the Wii is for casual and child gamers, and the xbox is for hardcore and adult gamers. (Playstation is for propping up the economy of Japan.) Someone will bring up Viva Pinata, but anyone who actually played that game knows that it takes more tactical skills than invading Russia.

**Not having kids is awesome!
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