Department Of The Sister- And Brother-Hood Of The Soiled Stocking

You feline fanciers know what I’m talking about: the moment when you discover a pile of cat barf – consisting of either too-hastily-consumed kibble which makes a rapid reappearance, or slimy green-fiber-streaked matter from a chewed-up houseplant –  by stepping in it.

At least my family is supportive to one another when it happens. We also have our own “scoring system” re the matter (which involves how many times you have to change your socks due to stepping in the cat upchuck   [1]).

It happens so sporadically I sometimes forget about the fact that it, like shit, does happen.  Just when I’m thinking, Ah, sweet hamster-cuddling bliss, I am living in a world of harmony and safety…I feel the sudden but unmistakable, cold, wet ick creeping in through the sole of my REI 90% wool blend…

I had an usually bad morning last week: it was a Three Sock Day ®  before 9 am. On a morning like that , sometimes it’s better (and safer) to just go back to bed.

 

 

barfsock

 

 

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Department Of Inadequate Obituary Headlines

The New York Times announced the recent death of Billy Graham by noting two of the activities that the protestant evangelist was arguably most known for – that Graham “filled stadiums and counseled presidents.“ Yep; that he did. As for what those stadium (attendees) and presidents were filled with and counseled for…let’s just say that, regarding Graham’s demise, there will likely be few if any tears (crocodile or other) shed by the Freethinking and human rights loving communities, especially as we see how the damage Graham both perpetuated and advanced (“in the name of the gospel” is no excuse) for those who were not straight white male evangelical capitalists are glossed over in the tributes to “America’s Pastor.”

My parents were admirers and financial supporters of Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. Their coffee table groaned under the weight of back copies of the BGEA‘s monthly Decision magazine and its other periodicals and brochures (which were kept company by at least a six month’s supply of Reader’s Digest and Trailer Life magazines). It was a goal of my mother’s to attend a Billy Graham crusade, and our family did so the summer of my 5th grade year, when the Circus BG Crusade came to town (i.e., to nearby Angel Stadium).

 

 

circusmonkey

Strangely enough, this was not the runner up to the Billy Graham Crusades motto contest.

 

 

 

I can’t remember if my entire family attended the crusade; I remember my parents encouraged me to invite a friend, and I brought my buddy, NJH. I can’t remember one single thing of what Preacher Billy said but I was fascinated with the whole show – for that is truly what it was – and when it came time for the “call,” [2] my friend wanted to go down and I went with her. I wasn’t going to miss that for the world.

NJK and moiself (along with the other crusade attendees who’d come down to the stadium field) were soon surrounded by BGEA “counselors.”  NJH and I each had our own young (college age) woman, whose soon-to-be-apparent mission was to “lead us to Christ.”  Straight-A student that I was, I prided myself on figuring out what would be the correct answer to every question my counselor threw at me…even as I was only giving her marginal attention. The real show – the interaction between NJH and her counselor – was right next to me.  NJH was crying, but not for the reasons her counselor had hoped  [3]  While NJH expressed her concern about her beloved cat who had recently died,  [4]  her counselor gently but persistently tried to steer NJH into believing that NJH’s tears should be shed for the state of her own sinful soul, not the welfare of a pet. What you are really upset about even if you don’t truly understand it now, the counselor counseled, is your realization of your own/ultimate sickness which is your separation from god, and there is no answer for that except to accept that Jesus who died for your sins (but not your cat’s)….

 

 

EVIL

 

 

 

I only vaguely recall the “follow-up” to having attended a BG Crusade: I must have given the counselor my name and address, because I began to receive (school-age appropriate) workbook-type materials in the mail from the BGEA. These workbooks instructed me to read select Bible verses and fill out and mail back a questionnaire based on the readings, for which…some kind of brownie points were promised.  It was homework, and I quickly lost interest. But the counseling on the baseball turf itself I remember vividly, with the enthralled clarity of a child  [5]  who at age 11 had neither the insight nor vocabulary to define to myself then what it was I was truly experiencing: one of the earliest sparks had been lit in my this stuff makes no sense detector.

There was no noticeable (to me) follow-up to my family’s BGEA Crusade attendance. As the years passed the only connection to all things Billy Graham was the propaganda literature my parents continued to receive and pile on the coffee table. When I’d come to my parents’ home for a visit, whether as a college student and later as young (and then not so young adult),  I’d occasionally peruse the coffee table offerings…and when I did, I’d often than not find myself cringing at the “messages” contained therein, as, beginning in the 1970s, Graham/The BGEA used the anti- “homosexual agenda” and other right-wing political  fear-mongering as “culture-saving” (and fund-raising) tactics.

 

 

REALLY

 

 

Yep.

I also, very gradually, became aware of/began to educate myself re Graham’s background, including his history of involvement with (and mentorship by) the Good Old Christian Boy Tent Revival network, much of which espoused racist, anti-Semite, sexist  [6] and pro business/anti-worker attitudes.  As per the latter, Graham famously listed “union dues” and “labor leaders” among the ills that could not have existed in the Garden of Eden,  [7] and his public anti-union rhetoric caused one London columnist to nickname the American preacher “The Big Business Evangelist.”  Graham’s rise to public influence was abetted (and financed) by the wealthy and powerful, including billionaire Texas oilman, Sid Richardson, who,  

“… befriended the evangelist, introducing him to other corporate leaders and helping him out any way he could.  Graham’s film production company produced a movie, “Oiltown USA”, which cost $100,000 and espoused, “the story of the free enterprise system of America, the story of God-given natural resources by men who have built a great new empire.”  In 1951, {Graham} spoke about the “dangers that face capitalistic America”, that as a nation America was no longer devoted to, “the individualism that made America great”, and that to survive Americans needed to show, “the rugged individualism that Christ brought” to mankind.
(Billy Graham, “Big Business Evangelist”, Is Still Anti-Union And Touts Christ’s “Rugged Individualism.”

 

 

 

americanjesus

Forget “Turn the other check” and that Sermon on the Mount pacifist shit – I died to bring you American capitalism and rugged individualism!

 

 

 

 

 

In his later years Graham withdrew (somewhat) from his self-appointed Pastor To The Presidents ® role, in particular, after the Nixon tapes began to be released.  Graham made statements indicating he felt he had been used, in part, to help shore up Nixon’s image. I remember being shocked by Graham’s reactions to the release of the Nixon tapes – I was shocked that the Rev.  Billy was shocked by the language Nixon used as opposed to the content of what the president of the United states was actually saying and thinking. Nixon’s salty profanity seemed to be more important to Graham than the beliefs and policies Nixon espoused and which the strong language bracketed.  Who gives a fuck, I marveled, how many times tricky Dick said fuck and goddamn, when the real obscenity was Nixon’s racism, anti-Semitism, criminality, subversion and justification of genocide and lawbreaking. Graham was upset that Nixon took “the Lord’s name in vain.” How’s about literally and figuratively taking the very ideals of humanity in vain?

And then there was that pesky business about Graham’s private conservation with President Nixon being caught on tape, a conversation not included in the first batch of tapes but which became public record years later.

On March 2, 2002, the ghost of fascism came home to roost on the head of Riley’s  [8] chosen successor, Billy Graham. On that day, an additional 500 hours of Nixon tapes were released. In a 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham, the preacher expressed his contempt for, as he saw it, Jewish domination of the media.
(The Neo-Fascist Christian Roots of Rev. Billy Graham)

”They’re the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,” Mr. Graham said on the tape, after agreeing with Mr. Nixon that left-wing Jews dominate the news media. The Jewish ”stranglehold has got to be broken or the country’s going down the drain,” he continued, suggesting that if Mr. Nixon were re-elected, ”then we might be able to do something.”
Finally, Mr. Graham said that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.
”I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know,” he told Mr. Nixon, referring to A. M. Rosenthal, then the newspaper’s executive editor. ”And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I’m friendly with Israel. But they don’t know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.”
(Billy Graham Responds to Lingering Anger Over 1972 Remarks on Jews, NY Times)

 

 

billydick

Just look at them out there, ready to swarm….

 

 

 

 

 

Graham attempted to excuse the inexcusable by saying, re his conversation with Nixon:

“I didn’t remember it, I still don’t remember it, but it was there. I guess I was sort of caught up in the conversation somehow.”

Caught up in the conversation, somehow.  Somehow as in, because it fit Graham’s actual, deeply held thoughts and beliefs – those attitudes were not the just-going-along-with-a-friend aberration Graham would have had us believe

Graham’s rise to publicity and influence was enabled by the wealthy and powerful, and he courted those who had both money and power as long as they stayed in power, including those whose origins or beliefs he disagreed with and/or despised, even as he privately (or so he assumed, until the oops! taped excerpt) and practically boasted about what he really thought about, e.g., the Jews who “swarm around me.”  Graham eagerly posed for pictures with JFK once he’d attained the presidency, even as Graham had supported Nixon and privately met with Protestant leaders to confab about ways to stop JFK from being elected president because he was a Roman Catholic .

 

 

 

WWJD

 

 

Life is short; it is curdling the contents of my stomach to go much further with this. Do your own research, if you care, about Billy Graham’s legacy to American politics, religion, and culture. Aside from the detestable Hebrewphobia and capitalism-at-all-costs-ophilia, you’ll encounter

* his support for (even creation of) toxic Christian patriarchy, including the (controversial even within some members of the evangelical community) “Billy Graham Rule [9]   regarding male/female workplace interactions;

* his and the BGEA’s long-held and  outspoken homophobia, which includes opposing and actively lobbying against LGBTQ civil rights laws;

* his apocalyptic/end days theology that only the return of Jesus, not civil rights   [10] and environmental legislation could “save” us, leading to his denial of the threat of global warming and rejecting federal efforts to stymie it and indicating that the federal government has no business passing laws to protect the earth for future generations.”

* his conflation of (white) Christianity and patriotism and work to destroy that most American of principles, the separation between church and state.

And then, you’ll be in need of this:

 

 

 

 

banghead

 

 

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Department Of Just In Case This Is Your First Time Visiting This Blog
And You Were Wondering

 

 

anti

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May you always try to free the monkeys in someone else’s circus;
May you never need the excuse of being “sort of caught up in the conversation somehow;”
May your worst of times merit, figuratively and literally, no more than a one sock rating;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] You feel lucky when there is just enough moisture to dab the bottom of your sock with a towel and can convince yourself that you don’t *really* need to change your sock this time…it’ll dry up…soon….

[2] Analogous to an altar call, with the stadium infield serving as the altar.

[3] as were most of the people who’d made their way to the stadium field – that was the goal of Billy’s and his cohorts’ rhetoric, to induce tears, which were seen as a sign of your realization of your sinful nature and unworthiness (for which they had the only fix, of course, after they have put this idea into your head in the first place).

[4] god loves me so much he killed his son for me; okay, but if he’s in charge of everything like you say then why did he kill my cat, and maybe he could change his mind? If he can raise Jesus from the dead, one little kitty shouldn’t be too much trouble…

[5] who of course considered myself a Christian, as my family was and we were regular churchgoers.

[6] A term that would have shocked Billy and his supporters, who, of course, thought of their Iron Age attitudes towards women and girls as merely following “god’s plan.”

[7] (The Religious Right Has Been Pushing Anti-Union Right To Work Laws For A Century),

[8]  William Bell Riley, a Minnesota preacher and organizer (aka “”The Grand Old man of Fundamentalism”), whose contributions to American culture included spawning the Anti-Evolution League of America. Riley, a powerful force in the conservative wing of the Baptist Church during the 1920s, was “…rabidly opposed to the teaching of evolution, and was also extremely anti-Semitic.” Riley  founded Northwestern Bible Training School (aka the Northwestern Theological Seminary) and, shortly before his death, placed the leadership of Northwestern under the direction of Billy Graham.

[9] which, under the guise of “protecting” women (and the reputations of the powerful men who may be led astray by their female colleagues’ lady parts), effectively insures that no women will rise to positions of power, influence and leadership in conservative Christian/Political organizations.

[10] Graham was one of the first evangelists (in the late 1950s) to integrate his revivals, and made comments which seemed to support the emergent civil rights movement. But as the movement began to embrace confrontation in addition to its turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and seek actual and effective change in acquiring civil rights and overturning racist and segregationist legislation, Graham’s position changed:  “Once leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. began practicing civil disobedience and asking for the federal government to guarantee African Americans’ rights, Graham’s support evaporated. Within days of the publication of King’s famous 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Graham told reporters that the Baptist minister should “put the brakes on a little bit”.  (Billy Graham was on the wrong side of history, The Guardian)