Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Death of a Word

How long has it been since you read the 10th commandment? Put simply, it's YOU SHALL NOT COVET. In the traditional King James Version: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

This gets me to sad is it that a guy can't use the word ass in a sermon anymore?

Here in the year Twenty-Oh-Eight, that word is used 99-and-44-100ths percent of the time in reference to a particular part of the human anatomy...the part split vertically in the middle...and would be considered far too vulgar for use within the walls of a church building.

50 or 60 years ago, and certainly in 1611 when King James was having the Bible translated, it was the proper word to use when designating a particular animal which was stereotypically characterized as being stubborn and/or stupid. (See donkey.) And it was also quite proper to refer to a stupid and/or stubborn person as an ass or a jackass.

Pop culture references to prove my point:

1) In Disney's 1940 cartoon feature, Pinnochio, Jimminy Cricket warns the puppet-boy to not make a jackass of himself (which he promptly--and literally--does).

2) In the musical play, Peter Pan, Peter quotes Tinkerbell as saying, "You silly ass."

As far as I know, these uses of the word stirred no controversy, even though they were within the confines of entertainment particularly aimed at children. Try doing that today! (On second thought, don't try doing just might succeed, and that would be a crying shame in itself.)

How did the usage--and thereby, the meaning--of ass change from animal husbandry to the anatomy of your husband--or any other convenient human being? (Though still mostly used as an insult.) When did the name of a pack animal become the name of a person's patootie? How did that happen?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Well I wonder, wonder, who-ba-doooo-who...

What determines whether we think something stinks? I mean, do we scrunch our noses at dog poop because of the way it smells, or because of what it is?

Why put fertilizer on our lawns and then complain about having to mow it?

Am I the only one who thinks that all baseball announcers sound the same?

Who decides that Jennifer Aniston deserves 27 million dollars for being in a movie and Reese Witherspoon is only worth 25 million? And what makes the 2 million dollar difference?

And speaking of Jennifer Aniston, does anybody else find it strange that she's got endorsement deals for both Heineken and Smartwater?

Are those special Vietnam Vet license plates an honor to the veteran or a warning to nearby motorists? "Don't mess with me, man! I'm on the edge! If you cut me off, I'm breakin' out my napalm!"

Did anyone else see the following Pearls Before Swine comic and immediately think of people who write blogs?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pope Less Visible

(reprinted from the 2006 edition of the MySpace version of "Almost the Truth")

Did you hear about what's happening with the Pope? You know...the Pope. Pope Benedict the 16th?

I--uh--I don't know what to make of this. On one hand, I'm intrigued, but on the other...well, frankly, I'm disgusted. Here, let me tell you what I'm talking about.

The big headline in the St. Paul Pioneer Press said "Benedict surprises in first year." Okay...great...fine. During his first year as pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did some things that were unexpected. That's wonderful. Kind of a break-out-of-the-mold kind of thing. Glad to hear it.

But listen to what those surprises were. The sub-title of the article, "Benedict surprises in first year," says this: "New pope less visible, more hands-on."

I read that and I thought, "Whoa--the new pope is less visible? Less visible? How does that work? Is he slowly fading away, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future? Is he gradually becoming transparent? How freaky is that?"

Or is it that he just every once in a while disappears? He's sitting there blessing people or making pronouncements or getting his hat polished--you know, going about his normal pope-stuff--and then suddenly, poof, he's not there anymore? Or rather, he's there, but you can't see him. He's not visible.

And apparently, this is happening more and more, because the paper says, "New pope less visible." (Sounds like a commercial: Friends, are you tired of the old pope? Same old face. Same funny hat. Everywhere you turn, there he is! Well, have we got something for you! It's a brand new pope! But wait, there's more! Yes, he's a new pope, BUT--he's less visible. More carbs. Less trans fat. New pope. Less visible. Get yours today.)

Now, you see, by itself, this whole invisibility thing would be pretty impressive. I mean, if he weren't already pope, that would be reason enough to vote him in right there! It's not everybody that has that claim to fame: "Hi there! Wanna see me disappear? Now you see me, now you don't!"

But the problem is...what he's using this special ability for. Look, it says it right in the headline: "New pope less visible, more hands-on." Great! He's got this special ability to be invisible, and what does he do? Puts his hands on people. For cryin' out loud, hasn't the Catholic church been scourged enough for this kind of thing? You'd think the pope would have learned something from all those scandals, but NOOoooo...the minute he can do it without getting caught, (because you can't see him) he gets, quote/unquote, hands on. That's disgusting.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Long Arm of the Law

"Minnesota's new laws take effect August 1"
By Rachel E. Stassen-Berger
Commentary by Dewey Roth

If you send or read text messages or e-mails while you are driving, stop! Such multi-tasking will now be a petty misdemeanor. This is in addition to the general assault upon the English language that is constituted by most texting. "Your" does NOT equal "you're," and don't even get me started on whatever "ur" is. Also, please note: the words are "there," "their," and "they're." It doesn't take a college degree! (Not that a college degree guarantees anything...)

If you are a teen with a new driver's license, for the first six months of driving you can have only one passenger — unless a parent or guardian is along. You can't drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless you have a licensed passenger age 25 or older or are driving to or from a school event or work. You can't have more than three passengers younger than 20 unless you have a parent or guardian along. In months with an "R" in it, you are allowed to drink non-carbonated energy drinks while driving, unless you happen to be wearing any synthetic fabrics, in which case you must have a person with no body piercings, including earlobes, sign a form stating that cotton causes you to hallucinate a purple polar bear on roller skates with a mango.

You now can pay your landlord's delinquent utility bill in order to make sure your service isn't disconnected. Wow...what a privilege! I think we should pass a law that says the utility company can buy me dinner at the dining establishment of my choice, followed by a movie and maybe a quick kiss at the door.

If you own a single-family home, you must have a carbon monoxide detector within 10 feet of every bedroom. This makes me wonder about double-family homes and triple-family homes. Apparently, Big Brother doesn't care if LOTS of families die in their sleep, only families that have the place all to themselves.

If you go to a concert, the band must include at least one member of the original group or someone who has the rights to use its name. That means if you bought a ticket to see Sha Na Na, whose singer Bowzer lobbied for the music law, you actually will see someone who was in the original Sha Na Na or is allowed to use the name Sha Na Na. And aren't you glad that our state legislators turned aside from balancing the budget in order to take care of this plague upon society? W00t! W00t!

If you buy a concert ticket, a computer can't butt ahead of you in line. Using software to buy up tickets will be illegal. This, of course, only applies until someone devises a computer program that can do it without being detected as being a computer program. This will happen in approximately...oops, too late.

If you smoke in a hotel room designated nonsmoking, be prepared to pay big. Newly increased fines could include the cost of restoring the room to its smoke-free status, plus $600 if you don't pay within 30 days. Not to mention your hospital bills from when I personally beat you to a bloody pulp.

If you are in a car accident, doctors or other health professionals can't contact you to solicit your business unless they know you already, work in an emergency room, or operate an ambulance. Which would be the only people trying to solicit your business at such a time anyway, right?

If you call police or fire emergency lines and you know there's no emergency, you are guilty of a misdemeanor. You're also ugly, and your momma dresses you funny.

If you attend a dogfight, cockfight or animal fight of any kind, you can be charged with a gross misdemeanor. But if you get injured while watching, feel free to sue the host of the fight to within an inch of his life.

If your dog has repeatedly hurt or bitten people without provocation, it may be sterilized or killed. Or, it just may be depressed; in which case, the PETA folks can recommend a fine pet psychologist.

If you are in the military, your employer can't punish you, your spouse or your children for taking time off to attend military deployment and reintegration events. They CAN, however, call your parents names and shave your cat.

If you run for state office, you must make your radio and TV ads accessible to the hard-of-hearing. Augh! Abuse of the handicapped! What have the hard-of-hearing ever done to deserve this kind of foul treatment?

Ahhh...Minnesota...the Land Where 10,000 Things Are Not Allowed

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1,700 Teens and Me

I recently had the honor of accompanying 30 high school students on a week-long conference at a college campus in Southern Illinois. Translation: the church needed another Relatively Adult Type Person (RAT-P) to ride a rented school bus 27 hours in the hottest part of summer so the kids in the youth group could join seventeen hundred other hormone-infested creatures in a 5-night slumber party with cafeteria food.

I know that sounds horrible, but there's a reason why -- it WAS horrible.

No...I'm kidding.

Having 87 years experience in Professional Youth Ministry, I knew exactly what to expect while serving as RAT-P:
  • Feeling like Forrest Gump when trying to find a place to sit on the bus. ("This seat's taken.")
  • Feeling like a marionette with broken strings when trying to stand up and get off the bus.
  • Becoming increasingly sleep-deprived throughout the week as the Darling Youth under my charge grew more interested in late-night fellowship than in restorative rest.
  • Going slightly deaf after five straight evenings of double-digit decibel, rock-n-roll worship.
  • Experiencing record levels of constipation from the new routine of high-starch dining.
  • Loving every single minute of it, because there is no where else on the planet where teenagers become so totally focused on their relationship with God and where they can hear more clearly, if they listen, His call on their lives. That's why it was truly an honor to participate, and that's a factual fact.