Scaramouche, Scaramooch, Can You Do the Fandango? Also, Thank You Jane Kenyon

The same week that Apple programmed Siri to answer iphone users who said, “I see a little silhouetto of a man,” with, “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, can you do the fandango,” followed by the rest of the song’s lyrics by Queen, Anthony Scaramucci was hired to be the Communications Director for the White House. In his first interview to hit the press he mentioned cock-blocking and firing everyone who didn’t agree with him.

The dictionary defines a scaramouche as,

“a stock character in commedia dell’arte and farce who is a cowardly braggart, easily beaten and frightened.

and a fandango as,

1. a lively Spanish dance for two people, typically accompanied by castanets or tambourine.

2. a foolish or useless act or thing.

I recently began a formal break from social media. I did it to lessen the pain in my eyes from scrolling motion, to self-protect from the radical undulations of news suggesting our democracy is failing, and to satisfy a blood desire to meet a writing deadline. An occasional peek to see what a few loved ones had posted revealed the scary “mooch” (he referred to himself as The Mooch) and also a speech given at the Boy Scout Jamboree, which seems to be have been mistaken as another campaign rally to a crowd of his voters instead of a bipartisan organization made up primarily of children. Someone posted the speech Obama gave at the same event a few years ago and I felt my ears bleeding.

Remember the days when the administration of the free world spoke in complete sentences and kept their use of profanity within a professional decorum? I wonder if those who voted this situation into office remember these words:

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

I sometimes want to add, “Ye shall know them by their vocabulary. Ye shall know them by their sentence structure. Ye shall know them by their education.” But who am I to do so.

I kind of like a world where a communications leader knows how to communicate well. And also, kindly. I also like a world where leaders lead from a position of intelligence and discretion.

Good fruit, according to the bible, which a majority of Republican voters say they revere, is:

  • love
  • joy
  • peace
  • patience
  • kindness
  • gentleness
  • goodness
  • faithfulness and,
  • self-control.

I heard one of his voters once say they didn’t expect him to be a pastor. They expect him to be a leader. Good luck getting grapes from that thorn bush. Or, maybe it’s the other way around: he’s the fruit from the tree of the voters.

Either way, Queen already said it. “Scaramouche, scaramoosh, can you do the fandango? Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening.”

The remedy to this, a tonic offering temporary sanity during these troubled times, came from Jane Kenyon’s Advice to Writers.

Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.

July sunset in Florida, unfiltered.



We are all the same.

Equal Rights are Human Rights
On the way home from driving the carpool to school today, I was listening to our local public radio station’s morning show, First Coast Connect. They were discussing the ongoing struggle to get Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance updated. This will be the third time the city council has voted on it. It’s still legal to discriminate against LGBT people in the workforce and in businesses here– people can be fired or refused basic service for being gay or transgendered. Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida without discriminatory protections. This has impacted which businesses come here and the hiring practices for those already here.
I have a friend who, I like to say, is the brother my parents never game me. I love him very much as well as his husband and the two sweet boys they adopted. Several years ago, after he left Jacksonville for New York and then Massachusetts, I was carping on how much I missed having him nearby and he said, “I’m sorry, I just don’t think Jacksonville is where I should be right now. It’s not where I can raise my family.” At the time he said this, “his family” would not have even been legally recognized here. Gay marriage was still banned here until 2014.
I was thinking about him this morning as I listened. An image came into my mind of him and his family sitting at a table in a restaurant. If I’m understanding things correctly, it’s legal for the restaurant owner here to refuse his family the same service they’d offer mine, specifically because they are a same-sex marriage.
Not because they were loud or disruptive in a way that harassed other guests. Not because they refused to pay the bill. Not because they broke any kind of law. Just because of who they are and how the business owner feels about that.
That is discrimination.
If that happened to them, there is no recourse they could take. Our current ordinance in Jacksonville sides with the restaurant owner to turn away anyone they please simply for who they are. It reminds me of pre-war Germany turning away those with yellow stars although, that was for the Jews. The nazis made gay men wear pink triangles and if they were gay and jewish, two of them like a pink star.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. You are all one….” (Galatians 3:28)
It really turned my stomach. And it stuck with me all day– key clue to, “use my words.” The end of that verse in Galatians is, “…in Christ Jesus.” The opposing group that’s prevented Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance from passing is evangelical christians.
I wonder if those opposing have loved ones affected by discrimination. Have they considered the heartache and impact their position has on actual human beings? Can they remember these are not ideas but real lives being discussed? Do they realize that a culture that legalizes discrimination can simply swing back over to bite them in the ass? Christians have been discriminated against in history. They’ve been fired for who they are. Killed for who they are. I hope the Christian community, of which I am also a part of, sees the irony of the situation and remembers to do unto others as they’d have done unto them.
We live in a country that was built to allow freedoms to all. Human rights are equal rights.
*You can read more about Jacksonville’s Human Rights Ordinance and the upcoming February 14th vote by clicking on the link.
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Equal Rights are Human Rights

He Seems to Me an Anti-Christ.

Is Donald Trump the AntiChrist?

The following is something I wrote a few weeks ago, right after the news broke about Donald Trump’s, “I grab them by the pussy” comments on a hot mike. The momentum of the outrage has since subsided and the talk is now more about this horrible election cycle coming to an end, Standing Rock, the Cubs winning the World Series, and cute Halloween costumes.I have since heard many church going, bible believing Christians say they are voting 3rd party or for the Democratic ticket because voting for Trump goes against everything they know about love, faith, trust in God, and community. However, the thoughts I wrote weeks ago are still relevant to me and feel important for me to express.  Yesterday I saw one adult woman verbally abuse her sister online while using the evangelical position and bible as her rational for cruel shaming. I live in an area with crowded with Trump signs and evangelical bumper stickers. I spoke with my Dad over an uncle I’d distanced myself from because with the same lips he spews vitriol towards women, justifies sexual assault, and encourages I use my baptism name instead of my given name because it’s more “Christian.” Gratefully, my Dad understands and he validated my concern over why men like that don’t feel safe to be around but I think he’s in the minority. The general attitude is, “get over it. Trump is better than her.” 

Dear Church-going Republicans Voting For Trump,

I still hear your voices in my head: Sunday School teachers, deacons, choir directors, family, pastors, friends. Love one another. Love your neighbor. Be kind. Be in the world but not of the world. Go against the culture—this is not your home. God is in control always—bigger than the government or the elections or any trial or tribulation. Marriage is sacred—even after infidelity. Forgive. Measure your skirt length for modesty. Don’t tempt men. Don’t have sex outside of marriage. Don’t watch R rated movies or associate with crude people. Be a person of your word. Make sure your word means something. Manners matter. Pursue godly leaders. “You are the light of the world.”

And now you are protecting a sexual predator.

I used to think church was a safe place, protected from sexual predators and the objectification of women. This largely in part because so much time and attention was given to defining what righteousness looks like. Anything or anyone not adhering to the standard was cast out, right? I saw girls reprimanded when their skirts were too short or their clothing was too tight. I saw boys denigrated for having hair that was too long. Posture was important, tucking in shirts, having a pure countenance— this was all part of setting a good example. We were encouraged to stand out at school—carry our bibles and pray at the flagpole. Refuse to participate in any kind of cultural fun—proms, dances, jokes, the “in” crowd. Be in the world and not of it.

I know you from the inside out. I know this with hymns still memorized in my head. I know this from crackers and koolaid in the nursery, through high school bible clubs, through my virginal wedding, to the baptisms of my children. I’m From You.

I’ve known what you stood for longer than I’ve known Who I Am.

When I left, like many others have, I left your rules in pursuit of love—God had become so small and boxy, so clearly defined and so disconnected from creation. I’d become so set apart that I could no longer function in the world around me. I now attend a church with an ancient tradition, an emphasis on listening and serving, and a willingness to embrace mystery. We don’t drill things down verse by verse to the most right answer and I like that. God is bigger than we can explain. I’ve become a better friend and listener, more open minded towards people who aren’t just like me, and I’m closer to the healthy person I know the creator would want me to be.

Even though I no longer agreed with an evangelical right wing position, I thought I was the one who changed.

But it seems now it’s okay for you to Hate. “Love your neighbor” means everyone except a few kinds of people and especially one in particular. Love your neighbor unless her name is Hilary Clinton. Then it’s okay to hate. You vilify this She-Devil so thoroughly that hating her becomes the justification for something else: an excuse for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is your chosen candidate to lead the country you used to call the City on a Hill. Your new standard-bearer has absolutely no political experience and a very complicated business resume but you believe this man will protect the unborn, make America wealthy again, stock the supreme court full of conservative judges, and protect American interests into the coming generation. He won’t follow a teleprompter but many have said he will appoint wise advisors. Most importantly, he will beat the She-Devil into extinction.

He’s where you’ve placed your hope. Even for those who don’t like him, they hate her more. Hate is now justifiable. Forget any righteous indignation over the reasons why; her face, form, clothing, voice and very being is enough to create recoil and he’s the antidote for your vitriol.

Donald Trump didn’t just happen to your party. He isn’t some Caesar you’ve been told to render something to; he’s the majority of the GOP’s chosen one.

Here’s the thing: once you endorsed his behavior by refusing to hold him accountable, you rendered yourselves and your cause irrelevant. If church isn’t safe from sexual predators then who should go? Remember when the Catholics protected the predatory priests? Remember the Baptists who protected Bob Gray, Darrell Gilyard, and a host of others? They sheltered sexual predators because they refused to reject men who violated the bodies of others. They did it because they felt their end goal justified whatever means it took to get there. You are doing it now by voting for Donald Trump.

Which means, you don’t stand for anything. You stand against someone upon a foundation of hatred. God isn’t in control—that’s only true if your candidate wins. Manners don’t matter and neither do standards—as long as your candidate opposes Hilary, he’s fine. Or, maybe not fine—but if he apologizes and goes a few days between running his mouth again then he’s fine enough to buy some time so someone can assemble a bunch of more accusations and quotes taken out of context to remind the world of the She-Devil on the other side. Enough time to deflect blame towards the culture, the media— You aren’t really going to hold him accountable as long as she’s his opponent.

You’re choosing him on purpose. Politics aside, in so doing, you are sending the message that sexual assault behavior is okay. Someone can live that way and still be elected to the highest office in our land and will do so with your help. You’re in the world and of the world so much now that ironically, it’s the non-religious community that cries out against this danger more. At least at work, Donald Trump would be fired.

Here’s the sad end to those twisted means:

Women and children are safer outside the church than in it.

The sheep have chosen the wolf over their shepherd.


Recommended reading for anyone who takes a child to church:

Tim Gilmore- Devil in the Baptist Church

Author Tim Gilmore reading from his book, “The Devil in the Baptist Church.”

* Featured Image on the front page for this post is from  Daniel 7:8, about the beast known as the AntiChrist- “I considered the horns….and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking boastful, arrogant things.”