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No Hugs Please

23 Feb

I don’t like being hugged.

Maybe I should clarify that statement a bit.  I don’t like being hugged by strangers and most acquaintances with who I have no real relationship or bond.  When you come at me with outstretched arms, I might obligingly sort of hug you back, but I hate it.  Really, really hate it.

See, I’ve never been one to enjoy being touched.  Sometimes it makes me uncomfortable.  It’s not as if I wasn’t hugged as a child, but we were not overly touchy.  The Pennsylvania German culture—my people—are like that as a community.

That’s not to say I NEVER want to be touched.  As always there are exceptions to this rule—like with children, teenagers, old people, and dogs.  I don’t feel threatened by any of them and therefore, touch is welcome.  Besides, try explaining to a baby why they can’t fall asleep in your arms or a teenager why a game of surprise poking isn’t funny or an old lady who misses the embrace of her deceased husband why a hug isn’t permissible.  My compassion overcomes my discomfort.  I seek opportunities to touch those who most need it.

To me, a hug is an intimate act between two people, which I take seriously.   I may spontaneously hug someone in excitement or because of genuine care or love.  But if you ask me for a hug, I say no, and you hug me anyway—that makes me mad, uncomfortable, and puts distance in our relationship.  You have violated me and my personal space.

It’s not that I can’t offer grace to those huggy types, because I do.  I see the intention of a hug wasn’t to harm, but rather to share a great gift.  I am trying to become more comfortable with hugs because I need physical touch, especially as a single woman.

There are huggers, semi-huggers, and non-huggers.  I’m a semi-hugger, which means I hug with discretion.  Non-huggers would rather not be touched at all and huggers, well, hug everyone and everything.  Here’s what huggers need to understand—not everyone wants to be hugged.

You should never force a hug on a semi- or non- hugger. No means no!

It doesn’t make us frigid people—maybe slightly controlling—but not lacking the full real of human emotion.  Whether it’s how we were raised or personal preference, we need to be respected for the discerning huggers that we are.

And maybe, just maybe, when you enter our inner circle, you’ll get a hug, too.

Until then, don’t force it.  Hugs should be given in love with the feelings of both people in mind.

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Tolerance? Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson GQ Interview

20 Dec

I don’t read GQ.  OK, I looked at it once when I was teenager.  I was in the doctor’s office and Johnny Depp was on the cover   I may have ripped out some pictures of Johnny Depp and shoved them on my purse, but since then, my life has been GQ free.

I also don’t watch “Duck Dynasty.”  Partly because I got rid of cable, but even before that I didn’t watch the show.  Honestly, I don’t get the fascination with a bunch of backwoods hunters who are millionaires.  My friends tell me they’re Christians, therefore it’s a great show.  The local Bible bookstores AND Walmart carry “Duck Dynasty” merchandise, so I suppose the show has bridged the great gap between the sacred and the secular.

That is, until that GQ interview.  You know the one I’m talking about–the one where Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, spoke out against homosexuality and made some ignorant comments on the Civil Rights era.  Now Robertson has been suspended from A&E, the network which broadcasts “Duck Dynasty,” because the A&E execs are outraged by Robertson’s view.  

Really?!  The family prays at the end of every episode and speak at Christian conferences.  Is A&E and the rest of the world really so shocked that evangelical Christians don’t support homosexuality?!  I don’t want the show and I’m not surprised; I don’t understand why anyone else is.

What does shock me is the way Robertson expressed himself.

According to this CNN article, Robertson used some pretty crude language to describe homosexual relationships.  I am appalled at his language, but perhaps that’s why people like him, perhaps they like his frankness…until Robertson says something they don’t agree with.  Then he’s a “racist redneck homophobe.”

I have learned that everyone won’t agree with me…and I’m [mostly] OK with that. But how dare Robertson express a belief that goes against popular culture’s view of what’s “right.”  Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion as long as he or she goes along with the majority view.  Oh, we say we value diversity and individual beliefs, but we don’t.

Instead of wondering whether or not Robertson may have been misquoted or if his words were taken out of context (though it appears they haven’t been), many are ready to tar and feather him while screaming for equality!  As a former journalist, I know I would always look for the best quotes from interviews to tell the story of my interviewee.  However, I am a stickler for context and dislike sensationalism.  As a public figure, Robertson should keep a closer reign on his tongue.

But Robertson has every right to say what he did.

If we really value free speech and want to preach tolerance, then we need to agree to disagree with others.  I have friends who support gay marriage and friends who don’t.  I have friends who think I’m a fanatical Christian, others who think I’m a nice girl, and others who share my beliefs.  Even among my church family, we have different views on theology, politics, and relationships. But I don’t just stop being friends or talking to people with whom I disagree.  If I did, I wouldn’t have left with which to talk.

I am offended by Phil Robertson comments, not just because some what he said was ridiculously ignorant (yeah, I’m sure the blacks loved Jim Crow laws.)  Note my sarcasm.)  But does a man who calls himself a Christian, a reflector of Christ, need to actually name private parts to make a point?  Does his foolish talk really have to affect what others will think of me as a Christian?  This is what I find the most disturbing because I am nothing like Phil Robertson.  It hurts me that other Christians have to deal with someone who put his foot in his mouth.  We will find the grace to forgive him because that’s what Christians do–make mistakes and are forgiven.  Though some mistakes (or sins) have consequences, like Robertson’s suspension from A&E.  His suspension probably has little to do with his tone and more about his comments regarding homosexuality.

I won’t be tuning in to “Duck Dynasty” any time soon, especially now that Robertson has been suspended and many are questioning the future of the show.  I won’t buy their merchandise or sign a petition to try to get A&E to reverse their suspension of Robertson. Yet Phil Robertson has a right to say what he wants, though I don’t like his tone.  So do what I did, change the channel and watch something else.  Don’t preach “tolerance” and then condemn someone because you disagree with his or her beliefs because seems rather intolerant, don’t you think?  But you have every right to be offended.

An Open Letter to Satan

12 Mar

Because why wouldn’t Satan and [hot] Jesus arm wrestle?  Seems perfectly weird natural to me.

I was starting to feel glum about recent events taking place in my life.  Instead of lashing out at God, which is my former way of doing things, I decided to write an open letter to Satan instead so that I could remind myself and others of God’s promises to His people.  Am I still sad?  Yes.  But I also know that this is temporary in light of eternity…and eternity is an awfully long time. (Feel free to leave comments, if you’d like. Oh, and don’t steal this without permission because that would be mean and very Satan-like.)

An Open Letter to Satan

Satan,

I am writing you this letter to inform you that your rebellion against God and His people isn’t going so well.  Granted, it looks like you’re winning, and I admit there are casualties in our camp.  However, God is guaranteed the final victory, and until then, I suppose you’re going to keep on causing misery and pain in your kingdom here on earth.

Therefore, if you must continue on with this rampage against God’s image bearers, I’d like to give you a few insights on how this all works.

First, you can maim, torture, denounce, martyr, and rip apart our earthly bodies, but you can never touch our souls, though they may experience the darkest of nights.  Even when God seems so far away that we ache and we doubt, our allegiance will never be swayed, for our King will come through in the end.  When we are at our weakest, God is at His very strongest.  If you want to test us, go ahead, because we will only be made stronger.

Second, though I am forced to live in your kingdom temporarily, I won’t be here forever.  My loyalty is to a King with a heavenly kingdom that will not pass away.  The more I learn about my kingdom of eternal residence, the less satisfied I am with earth.  Oh, there are beautiful sunsets, soaring hawks, and wonders that take my breath away, but these things only prove that there is a Creator.  My soul was made for eternity, and I can’t wait to see creation in its glorified, original state.  See, spring is coming here on earth, and you can’t stop it or the fact that it reminds us of the eternal Spring that will one day come and make everything new.

Third, the Bible says that you masquerade as an angel of light, that you were once the most beautiful in all of creation.  Of course, you rebelled against God, took one-third of the angels with you, and now you’re here on earth.  Then Eve (formerly known as “woman”) came, the signature of divine, and you deceived her.  Tragically, the earth and all that is in it because cursed.  I don’t need to tell you the story.  After all, you were there. 

I suppose that some are still deceived by your “beauty,” but I only see you as ugly, twisted, and disgusting.  While some horrible events are the result of living in a fallen world (aka your temporary kingdom), others are the result of the work of you and your counterparts—wars, broken families, corruption, violence, murder, divorce, abuse, and so on.  When lives are devastated, some question God and doubt His existence, but real Christians turn to God with our heartache.  (For reference, see above paragraph on “when we are weak, God is strong.”)

While you do hurt us, injure us, ruin our days, and even destroy lives, you cannot fool us into thinking that you are beautiful, lovely, or “light.”  You gave that all up when you wanted to be God, when you fell from beauty.  I almost pity you.  Almost.   But you made your choice, took humanity down with you, and caused so much suffering, death, and destruction, I cannot pity you.  Once you were breathtakingly gorgeous, and now you’re this—an ugly, imitation of what you were created to be.  We are not fooled.

Fourth, I am personally affronted by all the pain and heartache you’ve caused in my life…and the pain and heartache I’ve caused others.  To the end of my days, I will never stop giving God the glory, which I know also means doing battle with you and your demons.  While I am not thrilled about the prospect of dealing with you and your kind, the Bible assures me that I am fully equipped for this war.  I know I’m not as intelligent as you, so no doubt you will trip me up.  I may even be a P.O.W. in your camp from time to time.  Know this, Satan, my God will always come for me.  He will never leave me or forsake me. 

In summation, you may be winning a few battles here and there.  You may even claim victory from time to time.  Know this, you will lose the war.  God’s people will always rise up, be made strong in our weakness, and be defended by a Warrior, who rejoices over us with singing.  We will sing, dance, and praise God in our suffering; we will take this heartache and turn it into thankfulness, and these ashes will be traded for crowns of beauty.  In the end, it’s not about what we will do, but what God has already done.

Sincerely,

An unsatisfied temporary resident of earth

Fat Dogs and Fat Women

31 Aug

My mom's "fat" dog, Katie.

Whenever people encounter my mom’s one dog, Katie, it seems they cannot help but comment on her weight.

“Wow, she’s a little butterball, isn’t she?”

“What a beautiful dog!  She’d be gorgeous if she lost a few pounds.”

“Your dog is fat!  Why is she so fat?” (That’s my favorite tactless statement.)

Sure, Katie is a bit tubby, but why do close friends and even perfect strangers mention it when they encounter her (and of course, my mom, since Katie doesn’t wander the streets alone)?  It just doesn’t seem to be good etiquette to comment on a new acquaintance’s fat dog.

My mom's "fat" daughter (me) . Yes, my family loves dogs.

Not only that, but for people like my mom and me, it drives our suspicions about our own struggles with weight deeper—that when people look at us all they see is a big ball of fat.  They don’t see a person with a name and a history and a personality and a love of books and the outdoors, just fat.  Each of the statements people make about Katie can easily be said to me.  In fact, they have been said to me.

“You have such a pretty face.  If you lose some weight, you would be beautiful.”  (Because apparently I can only date the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man right now.  I mean, he doesn’t seem to be much for conversation, but I guess he’ll do.)

“Do you really need two cookies?”  (No, I don’t.  But I had a bad day and I’m cramming the extra cookie down my throat to make myself feel better.)

“Lose weight and you’ll find a husband. (Uhhh…who says I want a husband?  Maybe that’s just not part of God’s plan for me.  I am painfully aware of how many guys view fat chicks, especially those who sport “No Fat Chicks” t-shirts.  I am told that confidence is sexy to guys, but haven’t actually found that to be the case.)

And I know people are just dying to say, “You’re fat!  Why are you so fat?”  I don’t know!  Because I ate two cookies?  Because I don’t exercise enough?  Because I’ve only been able to effectively lose weight by eating grass (it was salad, but it tasted like grass) and chicken noodle soup?

I know I need to lose weight, not so I can nab a husband, but so I can feel better and be healthier person.  But I do not need to be reminded of the fact I need to lose weight by well-meaning friends and family members.  It’s not like I woke up one morning and “forgot” I’m fat.  I am aware of it all the time—when I don’t sit on flimsy lawn furniture for fear my girth will break it, when a store doesn’t have clothes in my size, when I look in the mirror (or avoid looking in the mirror), when I don’t pretend it bothers me.  Believe me, I know better than anyone that I’m fat.

Then why don’t you do something about it?  (Another fun question.)

It takes time, lots of time.  It took a lifetime to get like this, but it won’t take a lifetime to undo it.  There are physiological, psychological, physical, mental, and personal issues at play.  Sadly, eating salad and exercising isn’t as easy as it sounds due to financial limitations (healthy foods cost more), emotional issues (food is comforting), mental health issues (depression and anxiety suck the energy right out of you.  Plus, my fear of open spaces and crowds doesn’t help at all), and medical issues (my medications make it hard to lose weight.)

But I know this woman/man/horse/what who (fill in the blank with weight loss tip) and lost 80-100 pounds!

Everyone knows someone who lost a massive amount of weight and that’s great for that person.  I am not getting weight loss surgery (as it could *kill* me), trying a fad diet, joining Weight Watchers (can’t afford it), signing up for Jenny Craig (can’t afford it and their commercials are incredibly annoying.  Their commercials alone make me want to stay fat.  Sometimes people who have successfully lose weight are most annoying) or Curves (can’t afford that either). 

I am going to do this thing my own way—slowly as I learn to enjoy food, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle.   I am not going to trade one problem for another.  I am going to trust my therapist and my doctor to treat my eating disorder, those close to me (who someone don’t even see my fat), and my God to make it through.

So, instead of focusing on whether or not I take one or two cookies, how my fat has ruined my chances at love, and why I’m fat, maybe you should take a look at that plank of condemnation in your own eye.  Hear that rattle?  The skeletons in your closet are calling.  You just don’t wear them on your physique for all to see and judge.

And while you’re at it, stop calling my mom’s dog “fat”!  Animals don’t like it either.

(Note:  All thoughtless remarks, insulting comments, and diet tips will be deleted.  Remember, I am Backseat Writer’s benevolent dictator.)

What is something you wish you could hide? (It doesn’t have to be physical.)  What thoughtless remarks are repeated to you by people “just trying to help”? (And how are you dying to respond?)  Do you think my mom’s dog is *that* fat? (I think she’s cute. By the way, I groomed her myself.)  Do you have a fat pet?  Do people comment on your fat pet?

Friday Faves: I Survived My Wal-Mart Shopping Experience Edition

24 Jun

On Wednesday, I accompanied my mom on a shopping excursion to the scourge of all giant retail chains–Wal-Mart.  Not just any Wal-Mart, but a SUPER Wal-Mart (though it’s not the biggest, nor super-est Wal-Mart I’ve ever visited.  It’s certainly the most unpleasant.)  Since she’s developed an ulcer on the bottom of her foot, she has been forced to wear a boot which makes driving (and walking) difficult.  While Mom loaded herself into a motorized cart, she gave me the task of following her with a shopping cart and dubbed me “Lady Amy, Keeper of the Cane.” (That’s a fancy way of saying, “My mom shoved her cane into the shopping cart and told me to push it.”)

Now, in general, it is hard to keep up with my mom in stores.  She starts pushing her shopping cart haphazardly–rushing ahead one moment, stopping the next  )without informing her fellow shoppers, who continue on).  All this is made worse with an electric cart.  My mom was flying through Wal-Mart like she would get a $10,000 prize for “Fastest Disabled Shopper in an Electric Cart.”

Forget trying to look at anything.  It was a work-out trying to keep up with Speedy McSpeedster.  So I lost my mom.  Multiple times.  I hate being alone in congested stores like Wal-Mart on busy afternoons, especially when I’m crabby because of the heat and humidity oppressing our region, the screaming kids running up and down and around the aisles, and the ever-changing product locations.  Wal-Mart, would it really be too difficult to keep “Seasonal” items in the same place every time I shop at your store?

After yelling at some kids who were screaming like howler monkeys as they flicked each other with Martha Stewart brand towels, I sought refuge in the book and magazine section of the store.  While perusing luscious literature, I discovered this hilarious product placement (see photo below.) Photo caption contest, anyone?

Shopping at Wal-Mart feels like "23 minutes in hell."

Finally, it was time to check out.  Despite having 100 cashier counters, approximately five of them were open—four of which were for 20 items or less.  Therefore, I instructed Mom to speed over to the self-check-out.  We were about to do what I hated other people doing—buying a multitude of groceries at self-check-out.  And I did it—only slightly shamed—and disrupting the system a total of seven times (the cashier didn’t even have to come over.  She just pressed a button from her kiosk.)

I loaded Mom’s items in my vehicle, backed out of my space, and silently prayed I would make it out of the Wal-Mart parking lot without getting into an accident or hitting a pedestrian.  The Wal-Mart parking lot is a Wild West of its very own, and I, friends, am not brave enough to pioneer it on a regular basis.  Those are the sordid details of my grumpy Wal-Mart adventure—some of which I’m proud of (like telling those annoying kids to stop acting like howler monkeys) and some of which I’m not-so-proud (telling my mom to stop acting like a howler monkey.)  All-in-all, I think I learned some valuable lessons here:

1. Electric riding carts should come with a GPS unit that allows daughters to keep track of their free-wheeling mothers.

2. When yelling at other people’s children, expect a confrontation with Momma Bear.  Or in this case, “I-Don’t-Care” Momma.

Me: “Your kids are running around screaming.  You need to some something.

IDC Momma: “So?  They’re my kids.  What does it matter to you?”  Far off look, as though she sees pink bunnies hopping down the aisle.

Me: “It matters to me because they’re annoying me.” Walk away in a huff.  Not the best exemplification of Christ.

3.  There is a plentiful selection of Oreos available at Wal-Mart, including the much sought after Mint Oreos, which can be used to make this delicious recipe.  My “Oreo Buddies” on Twitter will be overjoyed at this discovery.

4. It is less stressful to drive in New York City at rush hour on a Friday than it is to drive in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

5.  Finally, Wal-Mart’s underwear prices really are unbeatable.

I hope that my story will help you have a more pleasurable Wal-Mart shopping experience.  But I doubt it.  You know what I don’t doubt?  That you will enjoy the smattering of excitement awaiting you in some of the best stuff I found around the web this week…

*The brand new OWL CITY album is out!  All Things Bright And Beautiful released June 14, but I purchased it on iTunes this week with a gift card.  So far, “Alligator Sky” (without the rapper) is my fave song, but “Honey and the Bee” is flirting with my affections. Review forthcoming.  If you’re an extreme Owl City fan, you might want to buy the album on iTunes for the bonus song, “How I Became the Sea” for $9.99.  On Amazon, it’s $7.99 to download and $11.88 for a hard copy (plus shipping, of course).  Plus, if you don’t have Owl City’s first album, Ocean Eyes, you can download it for $5.99 on Amazon. Ocean Eyes contains the hit song “Fireflies” and lots of other awesome.  I highly recommend both albums.

*My friend, Shari, is doing a giveaway on her blog for a $20 gift code to DaySpring’s Online Store.  You can read her story about how all things are possible and leave a comment to enter. Enter now because her giveaway ends TODAY!!! (My DaySpring review and giveaway is coming up on Monday.)

*Over at The High Calling, Gordon Atkinson wrote a beautiful post called “A Letter to My Doubting Daughter.”  Sometimes I’m the doubting daughter and sometimes I’m a “father” who wants someone I love to understand and cling to my faith.  Prepare to tear up. (Amy’s personal note: I think I find this so emotional because I wish my own father wrote a letter like this to me when I was wrestling with my doubts.  I wish he wasn’t wrestling with his own doubts.  Father/daughter situations always make me sad.)

*This is my dog, Maddy the Shih Tzu, attacking those airbags that cushion mail packages.  She seems to think ripping them apart is hilarious.  Now my friends and family are saving these little treasures so the world can have more videos like the one you see above starring Madddy with a special appearance by Cassie the Peekapoo, my hand, my voice, and Shari talking in the background.

*Shannon over at Books Devoured (yes, the same chick who made the Kindle vs. Nook Color video from last week) wrote a great post this week called “Burning the Pretty Candles.”   She writes about how she saves eagerly anticipates book releases, buys books, but saves them for later.  Oh, Shannon, I am the same way!  There’s always another book to review or something to write and I find I’m not enjoying myself.  I forget about the music I really want to listen to and the books I really want to read.  It’s a great post, so check it out!

*Finally, I want to tell you about the exciting new ketchup packaging available at Chick-fil-a.  Gone are the days where you have to squeeze your ketchup out of a little packet or pump it into a mini-cup.  Now  you can do both–dip or squeeze!  Are these not the best ketchup packages available?!  I just want to get an order of waffle fries so I can squeeze and dip to my little heart’s content.

Stop back next Friday when I disclose information about a top-secret project I’m working on called “Amymore.”  It is going to be just like “Pottermore,” except completely different.  I may or may not make this a video announcement, but if I do, I promise I’ll wear make-up and probably brush my hair (maybe even my teeth!)  There you have it, I’m announcing my announcement.

Of course, I know that you’ll be back way before next Friday because I’m kicking off a special contest on Monday in conjunction with DaySpring and (in)courage to win $35 gift code to DaySpring’s online store. Next Friday is also the start of the Freedom Giveaway Hop, which runs from July 1-7 and I’ll be giving away something special.  Trust me; you don’t want to miss it!

Now it’s your turn, answer one or all of the following questions–what are your shopping trips to Wal-Mart like?  Did you check out the new Owl City album?  Did you enter Shari’s giveaway?  Are you gonna enter my giveaway? Do you put ketchup on your chicken sandwiches?  Are you a squeezer or dipper when it comes to your waffle fries?  What do you think about the launch of Amymore?  Do you burn your pretty candles?  Aren’t my dogs the cutest ever?  What do you say to your doubting loved ones?

Dear Huff Post & AOL, Suicide is NOT painless

7 Jun

In my undergrad journalism classes, the importance of the headline or title of our pieces was always emphasized.  While some slick editor might come in and change a catchy headline to save space or cause sensationalism, often in magazine writing or op-ed pieces, the writer’s title was left intact…unless it was terrible.  After years of study and sometimes less-than-stellar titles for my own work, I try not to judge others too harshly.

For instance, our local paper, The Morning Call, which I think is lacking in various areas including bad headlines, terrible lay-out, inadequate copy-editing, stupid opinion pieces, and lack of newsworthy content (there’s not much else to lack in, is there?), uses the term “obits” on its main news page instead of “obituaries.”  While not the most terrible mistake in the world of news, it is in the very least tacky.  I mean, let’s look up Grandma Ruth’s “obit” online just sounds insensitive.  Some things shouldn’t have catchy little names outside the newspaper office.

This morning while I was munching down on my cereal and reading the morning news, I decided to check my AOL email.  I was aghast at what I found–and no it was not another spammy email from my wanna-be fiance James–it was this news teaser on AOL’s main page, which linking to a Huffington Post news article.

(While the screen shot below is here for effect, you actually have to CLICK HERE to see the picture in its full size to see the teaser.)

Did you see it?  And, no, it’s not the picture of Anthony Weiner and Weiner Gate or the naked man chest or even the Sprint ad (because we all know they have crappy customer service.) In case you didn’t catch it, I’ll post the picture again with a few handy dandy modifications of my own.

The teaser is so small you can’t read it, so you’ll have to view THIS VERSION, which is unreadable, so then you have to go back to the ORIGINAL FULL SIZED VERSION and see it for yourself.  I know that’s a lot of work, but I want you all to see to see picture proof.  Here’s the faulty header (in case your computer shut down looking at all those pictures): Man Finally Kills Self After 10 Tries (emphasis and color added.)

I just about threw up my Rice Krispies.  First of all, why is an article about a clearly disturbed man from California front page or national news at all?  And, more importantly, did the word “finally” really need to be added to this headline?  Then again, the teaser is only pulling from the first sentence of the Huffington Post news article which reads, “After at least 10 documented suicide attempts spanning several years, Francisco Solomon Sanchez finally succeeded in killing himself last Friday, reports the Pasadena Star-News.”  Gee, poor Francisco may have been unlucky in life but at least he finally succeeded in something–suicide!  Perhaps The Huffington Post wanted to cover this story, but did they have to be so thoughtless in the delivery?  The fact that that’s a number for the National Suicide Prevention Life Line at the conclusion of this short article doesn’t soften the blow, not for me.

Even more shocking than the piece itself are the comments left by anonymous morons with cartoon avatars.  Yeah, I’d be afraid to show my face if I uttered some of the statements these people made, which include this from “Huff Post Super User Dr Scott”: “The poor man. Can you imagine the depression this guy experienced over not being able to kill himself 9 times? The last 9 attempts took considerab­le fortitude. I’d never try it again after the first failed attempt. The shame would be too much.”  I truly hope this man isn’t a real doctor.  I can only imagine his bedside manner.

Then there’s “amugsey,” who not only disdains capitalization, but writes, “you can reach your goals if you work hard enough.”  And actually a lot of people echoed this sentiment.  Wow, you all are hilarious.  I hope you feel so proud of yourselves for being disgustingly unoriginal and callous together.

I didn’t read all the comments, but out of the ones I did read, the next comment has to be the winner for the most despicable of all, courtesy of “InsuranceGuy”: “Good to see that this determined man finally got his wish.  It will save the taxpayers money. It is the County that picks up the costs for comminting him to the mental institutions all of this time. More than likely, the county or the state paid for all the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for his previous failed attempts (one of his previous attempts resulted in 2 prosthetic legs).”  Incidentally, I also appreciate his fine grammar and spelling.

Thankfully, there were a few rational comments, but the vast majority were stupid one-liners, like suicide is funny, like Francisco Solomon Sanchez was a joke, like Francisco Solomon Sanchez wasn’t a human being who suffered or had a mother and a father.  I don’t know what demons tormented Francisco; I only know the scant details of his life reported in these articles.  I do know that Francisco Solomon Sanchez lived among us, suffered among us, and died on June 3 after jumping onto the 210 Freeway in LA County.  And I know this is a tragedy that has little finality to it.

*If you stumbled onto this post because you are contemplating suicide, please seek help.  Talk to a friend, a family member, a stranger, anyone!  Call the National Suicide Prevention Hot Line at 1-800-273-8255.  Please do this!  My friend, Matt, suffered from schizophrenia and committed suicide in 2002, just after I graduated from college.  I will never forget that day–the moment I received the phone call about his death–and I don’t want your friends and family to feel the same way.  You are so valuable, even if you don’t see it at all right now.  You matter.  You were created for a reason and a purpose.  Please, please, please get help.*

Why Christians Can “Celebrate” Osama’s Death

2 May

“Death of OBL reflects the world’s universal longing for justice. We want a God of love, but we also want a God of justice.”

–Dan Darling via Twitter (@dandarling)

Since the news broke last night about the death of Osama Bin Laden, there has been a flurry of reaction—some patriotic, some celebratory, some hilarious, some warning, and of course, some articulating the “Christian” response to Osama’s death.  According to some individuals (who I don’t want to call out and “flame” on this blog post), because Osama Bin Laden was a human being created in the image of God (a fact I don’t dispute), Christians should not be celebrating his death.  He was, after all, a human being.  In fact, the only “Christian” responses I’ve read on the blogosphere are ones condemning Christians for being happy because, they claim, Jesus would not celebrate Osama’s death.

Honestly, I don’t know what Jesus would have done.  While I can’t envision Him dancing around with a flag and a tacky patriotic T-shirt (His allegiance was to God after all, though He did render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s), I also cannot say that Jesus would not approve of Osama’s death.  Since there is no actual depiction of Jesus and the death of a human terrorist in the Bible, I guess we’ll just have to divvy up the Bible verses between this side and that and try to make sense of this whole thing.

And that’s the funny part—I’ve got my verses talking about how God hates  injustice, my Old Testament stories about how God smite “mighty” tyrants (like how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against God, which I would argue, is probably also the condition of Osama’s heart), and a slew of other Scripture to back up my position.  The other side has verses about how Jesus calls us to love our enemy and do good to those who mistreat us, but then again, aren’t we talking about interpersonal conflicts?  Jesus also said there would be wars and rumors of war…and He didn’t usher in the peace that everyone was calling for.  In fact, He brought a “sword.”

Therefore, I don’t think either side can really lay claim to the biblical position because I’ll match you Bible verse for Bible verse.  We can argue this thing all day and all night.  So I’m not going to do that.  In fact, I’m not even interested in debate.  I merely want to say this—to those of you who, like me, are tired of other Christians trying to make you feel guilty for being happy about a very bad man being killed, you are not alone.  In fact, you may find much justification for your feelings in Psalms and the Old Testament (which some have conveniently thrust aside).

My breakthrough came from a high school girl named Janette, who tweeted this: “’When the wicked perish there are shouts of joy’ Proverbs 11:10.”  She told me that she felt bad about celebrating until she found this verse.  Interestingly enough, Janette’s older brother is in the Air Force and has served overseas fighting in the war on terror (or whatever we’re calling it these days.)  Despite her family allegiance, she sought a higher allegiance—one to her God.

I am not saying that Janette’s verse or conclusion settles the argument—that would be oversimplifying the whole debate.  I am merely pointing out that there is another side to the “Christian” response—one that understands that to bring justice, social or otherwise, evil must be destroyed.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that evil will be destroyed once and for all, but until then, we simply do our best to understand how to live in light of what Scripture and God reveal to us.  Unfortunately, we all seem to have varying opinions on what that is. And my opinion is that we Christians can celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, for it is a picture of when our Warrior God will destroy Satan and his legions.  One day we Christians will be at a miraculous party, a wedding feast, for the royal union of Christ and His Church—after He vanquishes the villains.  Now that’s something worth celebrating.

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Here’s a post my grad school professor, Dr. Phil Monroe (call him “Dr. Phil”) wrote titled, “What is the proper response to Bin Laden’s death?”  I believe that Dr. Phil and I are saying the same thing, but being as he’s highly intelligent and much more eloquent, so he says it minus my tongue-in-cheek.

________


On a completely different note…I can’t help but sharing some of the funny (and touching) Tweets I’ve read about the death of OBL in the same post.  I don’t want to overplay the “Osama is dead” thing, so you get a mixture of both sides of my personality in one bite.

In no particular order, here we go:

@Reuters: U.S. official says loss of OBL puts al Qaeda on path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.

@jaykrul: The joy is not that he is in hell but that he can’t destroy other peoples’ lives.

@jimmyfallon: Got Bin Laden AND interrupted Celebrity Apprentice? Win for Obama all around.

While waiting for the President to officially announce OBL’s death @jenbjones said “News folks are now reading tweets to stall for time. All they had to do was ask me to sing. I have numbers ready just for times like this…”  To which I asked what number she had prepared.  Jenny’s response, “I’d do my Born in the USA/Material Girl mash-up. It’s only half relevant, but the costume is very sparkly.” (Read her blog at JennyBJones.com.  She’s a laugh riot!)

@amysondova I might just unfollow the next person who tries to make me feel guilty for being happy about the death of a VERY BAD man. (That’s me and I think I’m funny because a lot of people RT’d this!)

@KatDuncanPhoto: Obama didn’t address speculation that bin Laden was killed by a blue bird that turned into 3 blue birds just before hitting the compound. (Angry Birds game referece)

@AmandaStratton: The girl married her Prince. The bad guy is dead. It’s a real Disney weekend here on Earth.

@ArizonaNewsnet: Historical note: Hitler death announcement also came on May 1 (1945).

@nimprojects: Is Obama also going to announce who got fired on Celebrity Apprentice?

I can’t find the Tweet, but Harry Potter nerds all over the place will appreciate this one (paraphrased): “Apparently Obama’s birth certificate was Obama Bin Laden’s final horcrux.”

Tweeted on Monday afternoon–@owlcity: Wait, what? Did you guys hear what happened to #Osama???????

So, what’s your response to Osama’s death (without getting too heady)?  What’s your favorite Tweet or something funny you heard?  And what do you think about the U.S. burying OBL at sea at 2 AM Monday morning–does that scream conspiracy theory to you?

Updated Review Policy and My Love Note to the FTC

10 Mar

Hear ye, hear ye!  I have updated parts of Backseat Writer’s Review Policy and added a bit of plain speak to my FTC Disclosure.  Read on, you know you want to…

REVIEW POLICY

Request for reviews/interview/marriage proposals can be sent to amy@backseatwriter.com.

Why, yes, I would love to review your album, book, movie, or product!  Due to time restraints, that book I’m eventually going to write, and my personal preferences, I may not be able to honor all requests for reviews, interviews, or Nigerians who want to wire me money.

Before you hit me up with your latest and greatest, please note that I will only accept music for review (and artist interviews) that is downloadable or send to me via snail mail.  Additionally, I will only accept books that are readable on Kindle or sent to me in hard copy format (again, in the mail).  My reasoning?  I need my music and reading material to be portable—to go with me where I need to go.  That’s how I live life and that’s how I review materials.  I cannot be chained to my computer listening to music or reading books.

Additionally, I retain the right to accept or reject all materials based on quality of content and whether or not I believe the materials fit in with the vision of Backseat Writer.  Usually I can tell whether or not something is a good fit by the press release and I will tell you so before you send materials, so feel free to send your queries to amy@backseatwriter.com.

I also added this to that terribly interesting FTC Disclosure or what I like to call “My Love Note to the FTC”…

I do not get paid to do reviews or interviews (though if anyone wants to hire me for freelance work, I’m listening.)  I do not accept money in exchange for posting press releases or endorsements.  All content is generated for the pure love and joy of writing!

Links included in posts are for informational purposes only and are never composed for the purpose of including advertising.

No record company, publisher, publicist, band, artist, hobbit, or gnome will ever influence the content, topics, or posts made in this Backseat Writer, though they may inspire a few!

Any time you want to review parts of my publications policies, you can click on the “About Backseat Writer” tab and read your little heart out.  It is slightly more interesting than watching paint peel.

I’m not OK with it, Rick Warren!

3 Mar

RT @RickWarren: Half the world lives on less than $2 a day. One billion people live on less than $1 a day! Are you OK with that? // How much do you live on per day @RickWarren? –@amysondova, via Twitter

This is how I started a war with Rick Warren on Twitter.   Shots were only fired in one direction. Directly at Rick Warren and his Hawaiian shirt.

It started like this.  I was on Twitter trying to win a giveaway and someone reTweeted this message from Rick Warren: “Half the world lives on less than $2 a day.  One billion people live on less than $1 a day!  Are you OK with that?”  Rick Warren—who makes millions in book sales, has a ginormous congregation with several satellite campuses, and who despite giving a lot of money to charity still makes more money than my roommate and I put together—asks me if I am OK with that.

I’m really not OK with that.

I’m especially not OK with Rick Warren pointing this out to me.  I feel bad for half the world that lives on less than two dollars a day and the other billion that live on less than one dollar a day, but I don’t have any money left to give them.  I always want to sign up for a Compassion child at concerts (when I go because I have a free press pass), always want to give to those Salvation Army bell ringers at Christmas, always want to donate to the ASPCA when those sad puppies light up my television screen.

I just can’t afford it.

Sometimes I tell a friend or family member, “I should stop wasting my money and give it to the poor.” To which I get the response, “Amy, you are the poor.” Oh, good point. (I wish I could elaborate on this—wait for the book.)

Unless I win a gift card or obtain a review copy, I can’t even afford a Rick Warren book.  Rick Warren, are you OK with that?

To be fair, I really don’t have anything against Rick Warren.  He seems like a nice guy.  I am just sick of the “thought” statements well-known mega-pastors and other Christian celebrities throw out to “challenge” the flock.

Do they have any clue what it’s like to be poor in America?  To eat peas and noodles for dinner? To stop answering the phone because it’s just the creditors again?  To go through the humiliation of bankruptcy?  To wonder how the heating bill will get paid?  To shop at the thrift store out of necessity, not just for fun?

While the poorest of poor probably don’t grace most churches in the United States, believe me, there are those struggling in her midst.  There are elderly folks who can’t afford their medications and young mothers who can’t buy milk and out-of-work college graduates who are grateful for a job at Wal-Mart (don’t ask how they are ever going to pay back those college loans!)  There isn’t an easy solution to these problems, yet desperate prayer keeps people up at night.  Stomachs gnawing, acid builds in the throat, and sleep never comes.

So I asked Rick Warren how much he spends a day—right out in the open, right there on Twitter.  I don’t expect a response from him or anyone else.  I decided to check out Rick Warren’s history of tweets, which were mostly comprised of happy encouragements for the masses with a challenge here and there.  Strangely enough, on Feb. 27 one of Warren’s tweets read, “You can’t understand the pain of others until you’ve suffered deeply yourself.”

Now most of us live on more than $1-2 a day, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we’re wealthy or even have an extra dollar to spare.  It also means we probably understand the struggles of the have-nots much more than the haves.  And we also acknowledge that we’re lucky to live in the United States, have a home, and all the rest of the stuff we’re told to be grateful for.  Of course, we praise God for all that!

But we certainly don’t need Rick Warren asking us if we’re OK with it.

An Open Letter to the Gospel Music Association

18 Feb

Dear GMA (Gospel Music Association),

For years, I’ve watched the Dove Awards with interest.  When I was a teenager, I eagerly devoured your suggestions on artists.  But I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with your “product.”  It seems like good artists get ignored while the same musicians keep getting awards, not necessarily for producing amazing albums, but for producing lucrative products.  I can deal with this. It’s your prerogative to do with the Dove Awards as you see fit.

Just so you know, those in the industry secretly call GMA Week “Give Me Attention Week.”  Perhaps a week is a little self-indulgent.  While good efforts certainly deserve recognition, maybe you’re taking things a little too far.  Extravagance has a price. And just how much do you spend on the week anyway?

This year for the 42nd Annual Dove Awards, you’ve chosen “The View’s” Sherri Shepherd to be your emcee.  I applaud you for choosing to a plump, women of color. That’s about all I applaud you for.

Surely you have seen some of the questionable comments that Shepherd has made on “The View” or even caught her recurring role on “30 Rock.”  While I know that Shepard says that she’s a Christian, I do find some of her statements, and particularly her roles questionable.  Sure, she’s a funny comedienne (if that’s your kind of humor).  Yet this is Christian music’s “biggest nights” (at least that’s what your advertisements say year after year).

While you hold your heads high as the purveyors of what is the best in Christian music and who deserves an award, know that your opinion is just that–your opinion.  Clearly, picking someone like Shepherd is a ratings booster for a program that you hope goes more mainstream.  I fear that you’re less concerned with praising musicians who honor God with their music and more concerned about your bottom line–making (and spending) money.

It’s your show and you can choose whoever you want to be the emcee.  Just know that your opinions are not important to me anymore.  I will congratulate the artists who receive a Dove Award, as it is still an honor for the artist.  But know that my respect for the GMA as a whole–your week and your awards ceremony–has been exhausted.

Sincerely,

A Former Christian Music Enthusiast

Update: Upon further reflection, I’ve decided to boycott the Dove Awards.  I’m only one little voice, so I doubt anyone will care.  But it makes me feel proactive!  And to think, it used to be my dream to go to the Dove Awards in a pretty dress as some musician’s arm candy.  Those days are SO over!

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