Wednesday, November 11, 2009
From around the world to across the battlefield, they've been to them all, each place a hell of death and a war for freedom. And still they honor their fellow soldiers more than themselves.
In my career, the hours I've spent with veterans has always been my highlight and my joy. So today, on Veterans Day, all I can say is "thank you." And it isn't enough.
Here's a WWII veteran tribute from Reason.TV. I dare you not to cry.
THANK YOU VETERANS. Each of you. My life has been possible because of you. I cannot repay the debt. All I can do is never forget, always honor, and forever fight for this great country and what it represents: the only home of freedom for mankind.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Christians aren't creative? Shush it. Instead of resorting to lewd sex jokes and, oh, more sex jokes, and then when we need another laugh, throwing in another joke about...hmmm...sex, Christian artists actually use this melon shaped mass located in their melon called....wait for it...their brain. That's right boys and girls. Their brain.
Today, sweating away at the only place where I can afford to watch cable - my gym, I caught the advertisement of a new show on some inconsequential network. What's the premise? It's about a college boy who...yep, has sex. That's it. He plays football and has sex. Nothing more to see here folks.
Isn't that entertaining! And creative! So creative. How do writers and producers and networks come up with these unfathomable narratives like a college boy obsessed with nothing but playing football and spreading STD's!?
It's pure genius.
I changed the channel before the advertisement ended. Then I threw up a little in my mouth.
Monday, November 9, 2009
If we've forgotten or perhaps never learned, here's a reminder in breathtaking color:
I remember that morning. And I have my mother to thank.
It was just before school, I was in the bathroom finishing my hair. My mother called me to her bedroom, where she sat on the edge of her bed glued to the television.
That was an odd sight in itself. Mom was too busy in the mornings fixing breakfast and getting everyone out the door to stop.
Yet she stopped.
"Come in here," she yelled. "I want you to see this."
I walked in, seeing images of a large, graffiti enriched wall being busted into pieces.
"Never forget today. This is a monumental moment in history, Tara. Today, Communism died. Don't ever forget. Remember it. You'll understand the fullness of what this moment means as you get older."
And I did.
That moment, not fully understanding why this meant so much to my mother, I marked it in my memory. Something had happened that day. A shift had occurred. Freedom and goodness had overcome evil. People cheered and smiled and cried, a collaboration of relief and promise I could not grasp. I knew nothing but freedom. I understood nothing but individual rights.
Yet there they were, throngs of them climbing and chipping away at a brick wall, more aware of what I possessed than myself.
We haven't experienced the full extent of communistic oppression, though the fringe left thirsts for it. Despite the interference and dictations of government, we're still a free people, free in our very blood, and rightfully endowed with our Creator's plan for humanity.
It isn't far off, however. It isn't all that distant a memory until we, too, could forgo our most humanistic trait of being free, all in the name of compassion that kills and tolerance that imprisons. Our own President and Vice-President are too busy to attend this event, too otherwise occupied to honor the end of governmental slavery and death.
We, the people and breath of this great nation, cannot forget.
Therefore, like my mother before me, I implore you to remember this day. Remember the mark of this great victory. Remember the empty taste of freedom than never quenched until that oppressive wall crumbled into chalky dust. Remember that we once had a President who fought for such things, a President who earnestly believed in the right of mankind to govern themselves under God. A President who shouted the words that resonate across time and corrupt governance:
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Here is that infamous speech which sent the first crack into that cemented symbol of oppression.
And two years later, the wall came down.
Abby Johnson watched an abortion procedure. That's all it took. She left her job as the executive director of a Planned Parenthood facility and is now campaigning with the Pro-Life movement. Her description of that event will break your heart.
And my job was to hold the ultrasound probe on this woman's abdomen so that the physician could actually see the uterus on the ultrasound screen. And when I looked at the screen, I saw a baby on the screen. And she was about 13 weeks pregnant at the time. And I saw a full side profile. So I saw face to feet on the ultrasound machine. And I saw the probe going into the woman's uterus. And at that moment, I saw the baby moving and trying to get away from the probe...Abby says if more Planned Parenthood clinic workers actually witnessed the procedure, they would be running for the door.
And I thought, "It's fighting for its life."
Keep talking Abby. God has given you a message in defense of life.
You can see the full interview on Huckabee at Ms. Underestimated blog, link below.
Curtsy to Ms. Underestimated and Newsbusters
Monday, November 2, 2009
Ayn, what do we do next?
The answer is in the book. And since I have friends in the middle of reading Atlas Shrugged, I won't spoil the ending. Or the middle. Or the beginning, for that matter.
Reason.TV is discussing Rand and her ideas, which I completely agree with minus her views on religion and God (which, sadly, were completely misconstrued). Reason leads you to believe in God, not attempt to ignore Him. Good luck with that, by the way.
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."
author of Atlas Shrugged
Friday, October 30, 2009
It's a plain little house in a very family-friendly neighborhood, which will be under siege in less than 24 hours with the cutest packs of ankle biters you've ever seen.
Here it is a celebration of tradition. Tomorrow I expect to see Jack Sparrow and Michael Jackson and a few dozen bogeymen. And, of course, a princess or two will make an appearance.
So in the interest of the fun that awaits me on the other side of that chilled evening wind, I leave you with political cartoons and the hopes my candy will stretch through tomorrow evening.
For when a Peanuts cartoon is a salve to the soul:
For all the life lessons Dorothy didn't get around to:
Because for libs, Glenn Beck is more frightening than Osama:
For those times when Congress avoids their own reflection like Dorian Gray:
Because Michael Moore should be pitied, ignored, and forced to eat his vegetables:
So unrealistic. I seriously doubt Obama can drive a stick:
For those little lies we tell ourselves...that morph into public policy:
You can always count on Congress to bury you in paper:
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Send the peanut butter cups my way.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
A year ago, in weather warmer than this and a political climate much colder, I sat at this very chair, next to this very window, on this very aging laptop, and tapped out an article for a national and prominent Christian magazine, one I will not name.
I had pitched them a story idea: the silencing of Christians in Hollywood. And they bit, full incisors into juicy, journalistic skin.
Could I have it to them in ten days? They asked.
I could certainly try.
And so I went to work. I interviewed Andrew Klavan and Lionel Chetwynd and Bob Parks and John Nolte and Phyllis Chesler and Andrew Breitbart, just weeks before he launched BigHollywood and eventually BigGovernment, becoming the voice of alternative journalism by exposing ACORN. I even talked to a man my mother has adored since 1957 when he appeared as the handsome romantic lead in "April Love" - Pat Boone, who chatted with me via his motel room while attending the Republican National Convention.
I chased these sources down because of two very important interviews that sent the story in a new direction. Two Christian pastors, men who lead large denominations heavily stacked with Hollywood players, explained to me a simple truth: It isn't Christians that are rejected, it's conservative Christians. There is a very simple yet cutting line between what Hollywood embraces and what Hollywood despises. And the cutlery of choice is conservatism.
I submitted my story on deadline. And it was rejected. Why? Here's what they said:
"Really appreciate all your work on it. The main issue is that the majority of this article talks about conservatives in Hollywood, as opposed to Christians. As you and I had talked about, those overlap to some extent, but we really want to make the focus on faith—(the magazine) doesn't take a stance on conservative vs. liberal, plus the article almost makes it seem like Christian = conservative, which we certainly don't want to do nor agree with."
So the truth didn't fit into their talking points. I didn't create the meme, I reported it. Conservative Christians are bullied in Hollywood into silence. Liberals are not. I cannot change that fact. I also don't feel self-righteous enough to suppress it. As Christians, do we not want truth? Or do we, instead, crave acceptance?
But the magazine doesn't take a stance. That's why their publisher interviewed Obama and McCain in the next issue, endorsing the liberal candidate. They don't take sides, except when they do.
I've held the story on this very aging laptop, sitting on this very antique desk, next to this very small window, for a very exacting time. Now I'm going to post it here. Why now? I honestly don't know. It simply seems time. And I really need the memory space.
So now: I give you "Hollywoodn't."
- Religion and conservatism in the entertainment industry: a welcome voice or undeclared war?
Jefferson Smith went to Washington.
He arrived on a colorless speeding train into the city of lawyers and legislators, where cotillions are democratic and committees are fanciful, a courtyard of antics where the clowns carry briefcases and entertain youngsters with blatherings.
Smith stepped out of the train and into the political jungle armed with his American ideals in one hand and a cage of pigeons in the other.
Lincoln called to him. Standing at the toes of the national monument, Smith awed at the gleaming whiteness of it all, the shining brilliance of historic words – like “life” and “liberty” and that harried “pursuit of happiness” – and the gaze of America’s 16th President beckoning every man into the servitude of truth.
The Lincoln Monument would call him back once again on an evening of lean shadows and whispered lies when Smith had lost a battle he didn’t even know he was fighting.
“Mr. Smith Goes To Washington”, a 1939 film staring James Stewart, was a tribute to American idealism, a call for integrity, and the troubling journey of an average man set with an unimaginable task – to resurrect the conscience of Washington.
He would do it.
Drenched in sweat and musty hope, Smith would beat back decades long corruption with a passion for American history and a hoarse voice.
The movie was three parts patriotism, one part faith, creating a main character who, to filibuster the Senate, would read from his bible and defeat his nemesis by defining the greatest lost cause as “Love thy neighbor”.
And perhaps, for many Christians in Hollywood dangling above the chasm between faith and success, he spoke the rallying battle cry with his last chalky rebuke, “You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked and I’m going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause, even if this room gets filled with lies like these….somebody will listen to me. Someone.”
In Hollywood, many may be listening but are conservative Christians free to speak?
Pop culture religiosity
“In Hollywood, like in any industry, you kind of make your own way,” said Philip Wagner, pastor of Oasis Christian Center in Los Angeles. “If Christians go in waving a bible or pointing a finger, it doesn’t matter if you’re a musician or a carpenter, you’re going to have trouble.”
Religion is an open field, full of daisies and milkweeds and land mines. Step lightly and you just might make it. Don’t water down the message, he explained, just control the flow of the approach.
“The more you earn their trust, the more you have a right to share what you believe,” said Wagner.
Christianity, in and of itself, is tolerable. The image of an all loving, all forgiving Savior of mercy and acceptance is embosomed, said Mel Ayers, former actor and pastor of In His Presence Church in LA. As long, however, as you aren’t a Republican.
“It’s more threatening to say you’re a Republican than to say you’re a Christian,” said Ayers, who often sees more evidence of political convictions than religious ones. “If you have faith in Christ, you have a life that looks like Him. Jesus was not just nice to people, helping old ladies cross the street. His life had power.”
Political convictions in Christians inside the entertainment industry garner rebuke, Ayers said.
“A very well-known actor, someone you’d know instantly if I mentioned their name, said to me, ‘I’ve been labeled a cross-dresser, homosexual, adulterer, but I still get work in the industry all the time. But if I told them I was a Republican, I’d never work again,’” he said.
For the industry of glitz and glamour and gossamer convictions, the adherence to passionate conservative belief is outside the line of tolerance. In Tinseltown, your political belief has more authority because “you live life a certain way,” he explained.
If you want to be a patriot, work undercover.
Lionel and his buddies decided to stop for coffee on their way to a fundraiser.
It isn’t an interesting story unless you know the fundraiser was for Republican Rudy Giuliani, the friends were Emmy-Award winner Gary Sinise and Aussie comedian Tom Gleeson, the hero of our story is Oscar and Emmy nominated screenwriter Lionel Chetwynd, and the coffee was just coffee, minus or plus some sugar and creme.
The meeting, however, started something all its own. It was the birthplace of an idea, a movement, maybe even a cruscade, called Friends of Abe (FOA).
“FOA isn’t a group. It’s an individual, a person who is a friend of Abe,” as in Lincoln, Chetwynd said. “It describes a state of mind, someone who is not a liberal.”
Friends of Abe are individuals in the entertainment industry seeking a place, as well as comrades, who want to express their beliefs in a welcoming environment.
“We have lunches, and we sit around and talk about common experiences,” Chetwynd said. “I remember when it was sometimes just two of us. Now it’s about 1,000, or 800 last time I checked, and always growing.”
He said meetings have attracted names like Jon Voight and Tom Selleck, Kelsey Grammer and Patrician Heaton, James Caan and Pat Boone, and many others who have decided to keep their attendance private.
“The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club,” Chetwynd said.
The meetings are for those in the entertainment industry to seek advice, talk about difficult experiences with confrontational liberals, and find support.
“I was invited to a (FOA) luncheon and thought, ‘Man, it’s terrific!’,” said entertainment icon Pat Boone, taking a moment during the Republican National Convention to speak with me. “It was like a vestibule to Heaven. Very heart-warming. Very encouraging. I looked around the room and saw actors I respected, like Jon Voight. You look around and it’s a real ‘who’s who’. A lot of us didn’t know the others were conservative.”
The main purpose of FOA, which is not an activist group, is simply to prove conservatives in Hollywood aren’t extinct and aren’t alone.
“At the lunches you have 40 to 50 people. Then you get to the dinners. There are all these people around, the sheer numbers are a support group,” said Chetwynd.
Other groups, like Hollywood Republicans, have also seen the binding of their members, around 700, clinging to each other like survivors lost at sea.
“As Republican organizations go, we’re a younger crowd. We have young people struggling in the business, working for Disney, Warner Brothers, and Universal,” said Mark Basil Vafiades, president of Hollywood Republicans. “We have to be careful about being really outspoken.”
During their monthly meetings, it’s a different story.
“There’s so many Christians in our group, it’s totally cool to talk about it,” he said.
This day in history
Like our man Stewart, a Brigadier General, many Hollywood legends were also war heroes, like Captain Clark Cable, Flight Officer Gene Autry, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Henry Fonda. Their era of films often reflected tales of moral relevance and American greatness, a time of patriotism and religious stability.
Then the scene changed.
“If you are a Christian or conservative in Hollywood. You have to be destroyed,” said Bob Parks, of black-and-right.com, who worked as a graphic designer for over a decade in Hollywood.
He lost a network job and a post house job, both after his political and moral views became known.
“If you are Bruce Willis or Clint Eastwood or Chuck Norris, you’ll be fine. But if you are a lower tier person, you better not open your mouth. That saying, ‘You’ll never work in this town again,’ that is probably the only thing honest in Hollywood,” he said.
The sentiments for conservative Christians in Hollywood shifted during the anti-establishment movement of the 60s, said Phyllis Chesler, Emerita Professor and author of 13 books, including bestsellers Women and Madness and The New Anti-Semitism.
“There is a devaluation of born-again Christians, evangelical Christians, Baptists, conservatives, Republicans, this is what is happening on the world stage,” said Chesler, an expert on anti-Semitism, jihadic terrorism and Islamic gender and religious apartheid.
In the world, Christians are being persecuted. In the West, they are simply victims of “slander and hate speech,” she said, with discrimination against Christians or people of faith most intense “in the academic world, in the world of media, in the world of entertainment, and in the world of Hollywood where dreams are propagated.”
She traces the shift in religious perception to changes in American academia starting in the 60s.
“They (academia) didn’t start out with evil intentions or communist values or ideas to bring down America. They wanted to improve America, not bring it down,” said Chesler. “All these liberating forces in academia became rapidly Stalinized.”
Slowly, belief in God has been pushed out, leaving no basis for principles and no room for dissent, said Chesler, who’s books use to be front-page stories in the New York Times until she wrote, The Death of Feminism, which was only reviewed by conservative publications like the Washington Times and Weekly Standard.
“If you have a universal principle that human rights belong to all human beings, and may be even given by a Godly endowment, if you think America is the last best and first best hope for humanity and say, ‘look at what Saddam Hussein did to people, the genocide, the raping of women…,’ if you say that then you are branded a racist by academia secularism, who believe the greatest crime today is racism, not sexism,” said Chesler.
Now America is seeing the tainted views of academia in the students matriculated, she explained.
However, Chetwynd said in his dealings with youth entering the entertainment industry, there is free thought and rebellion against the academic propaganda.
“The new generation tends to be independently thinking and more on our side. It’s very clear, we are the majority in the under 30s,” Chetwynd said.
Perhaps more revealing in the root of anti-American sentiments in Hollywood is the fact the industry is no longer an American industry, he said.
“My first job was with Columbia in distribution, back in the 70s. Then, 65 percent of our revenue was domestic, the rest foreign. Today, it’s more like 15 to 20 percent is domestic, the rest foreign. It’s shifted dramatically,” he said.
And with the movement of money came the movement of ideals. Suddenly, films enjoy a larger foreign market with a broadening of the labor pool, themes made for international audiences, and the integration of international views.
“They are opposed to crafting scripts and ideas to the American audience and instead craft scripts and ideas to appeal to the foreign box office,” said Andrew Breitbart, author of Hollywood, Interrupted and founder of Breitbart.com.
Foreign bankers and investors are supporting the film industry, with films being hyped and promoted through international film festivals held in Toronto, Venice, and London. The global sentiment has even prompted some entertainers to refer to themselves as “citizens of the world” with a “euro socialist mindset,” Breitbart said.
“A lot of Hollywood actors and writers and directors are starting to ask, ‘Did we give it all away?’”
Storming the castle
It isn’t gone yet.
And there are subtle hints and movements by conservatives in the film industry to slowly interlace messages of patriotism, as well as Christianity, into the story line. It’s subversive but there, said John Nolte, editor of the up and coming Hollywood blog, BigHollywood.com, a joint project with Breitbart, and blogger at www.dirtyharrysplace.com
“Dark Knight, in my opinion, was an open love letter to President Bush,” Nolte said. “Look at the heroism and what he is going through. Gotham City didn’t get the hero they wanted, they got the hero they needed. Whether they wanted him or not.”
The parallels are there, he said. You have Joker, a terrorist, saying if they give up Batman, he’ll stop.
“The cowards believe Joker. Like they say, just get out of Iraq, we’ll stop. Or get out of Saudia Arabia, and we’ll stop. The idea is if you stop fighting terrorist they will not be a terrorist and do something like join a community college,” Nolte said. “You know the Joker wouldn’t stop and terrorists won’t stop either.”
The appearance of various messages is a movement appearing more and more, he explained.
“300 was very conservative,” Nolte said. “It talks about how you have to stand up for freedom, not only by facing the overwhelming evil – the Persians – but also facing the Senate who wanted to appease the enemy.”
Then you have Juno, which portrayed abortion clinics as ugly and uncomfortable, or I Am Legend, whose heroin was driven by Christianity and convinces Will Smith’s character some things are worth dying for. Or, you have Spiderman, who always seems to swing past a massive and pristine American flag on his way to save the day.
“Themes showing up in films are all very subtle. If you do it outright, they make you take it out,” Nolte said, explaining the ‘they’ could be producers, actors, or even the directors not wanting to be tagged patriotic, conservative, or Christian.
One bold movie, An American Carol, debuted Oct. 3, with actors Kelsey Grammer, Jon Voight, James Woods, Dennis Hopper, Robert Davi, and even a special guest appearance by Bill O’Reilly, is using a no-subtlety-here approach to anti-American and anti-Christian films. It could be the first of many or the last of one.
Roll the credits
The fat lady hasn’t sung yet, though she’s been warming up her lungs for generations. Instead, an opening is broad and wide and ready for conservative Christians to enter.
“The industry, not wanting to violate the code of multi-culturalism – which is a bad thing – and political correctness – which also is a very bad thing, it’s hamstrung Hollywood into an inability to make firm, moral statements,” said Andrew Klavan, Edgar award-winning author of Don’t Say A Word and True Crimes, both adapted into movies. “There is real hostility in approaching religion in a serious and definitive way.”
That leaves a large, gapping, unfilled hole for intelligent films about Christianity to step in and step up.
“One of my real pet peeves with Hollywood is not what movies say or where they start or end. It’s the underlying assumptions from the left. Anyone truly religious is small minded, bigoted, deceptive and evil. I use to watch Law and Order. And after awhile, you knew if a guy walked in carrying a Bible, he was guilty,” Klavan said. “To have an evangelical who is a good guy, thoughtful, and decent person, doesn’t happen.”
The audience, however, is there, even if the films are not. Passion of the Christ proved that beyond question.
“The Passion of The Christ woke some studio executives up to the fact that they were leaving billions of dollars on the table by ignoring the interests and values of the American heartland,” said Mark Joseph, a multi-media producer, columnist and author who produced the rock soundtrack for the Passion of the Christ and has marketed 18 films including The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
When done right, from production to marketing, the success is astronomical. The movie made Mel Gibson $610 Million, a feat that could happen several times a year for the phenomenally filmed Christian movie, Joseph said.
“The key thing is for people who understand the heartland values of America to come up with great stories and then get into positions of influence where those stories can be brought to market,” he said.
One major blunder in major Hollywood productions to entice the conservative Christian base, Joseph explained, is the basic lack of knowing them.
“Christians are not stupid. They see a project dear to their hearts is in the hands of people and it’s being disrespected,” Joseph said.
Breitbart took it one step further, saying the impression of Hollywood concerning conservatives is polarized into a stereotype from an 80s movie.
“The Hollywood Left does not understand what being a conservative is. They believe a conservative is the movie, Footloose, and the town elders won’t let Kevin Bacon dance,” said Breitbart.
It might just take a movement, or at least a major gamble, to change the message emanating from the big screen.
“The Left works through vindictiveness, seclusion and disdain,” said Klavan. “They’re bullies. Punch them in the nose and they run away.”
For an accurate representation of conservative Christian values in Hollywood, Klavan said it’s going to take courage from individuals in the industry.
“We can’t creep about and whisper like we’re saying something naughty,” he said. “It’s scary. It may make it harder for you to get work…but we’re just going to have to take it.”
And then it takes support. When patriotic, conservative, Christian films are produced, money still talks and the language is universal.
“Too many conservatives write Hollywood off. They don’t like Hollywood people. I understand that, by the way,” said Chetwynd. “But it’s wrong to write it off. There are good films out there and it’s important to talk about them, sensitize people about them and embrace them.”
In the middle, with the industry pulling in one direction and their beliefs the other, many conservative Christians in the entertainment industry are isolated, separated from the country by misconception, separated from Hollywood by conviction. They are outsiders in and out of the industry, not knowing if their convictions are welcome or shunned, not knowing when to speak or just shut up.
“There is a general sense of isolation from the rest of the country, like no one knows we’re here. It’s a feeling of aloneness,” said Chetwynd.
Conservatives and Christians are out there, behind that camera, writing that line, directing that shot, slipping in a mysterious ingredient of optimism and American exceptionalism. The truth is out there, though it may come first in understated pieces.
“This is joy, just joy to watch this happen,” Chetwynd said, concerning the growing conservative base. “Gary’s (Sinise) efforts are just fantastic. Things are really changing. There’s change in the industry, in the profile, in the attitude, but in it’s approach to the world? I don’t know.”
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Too good not to post today in it's entirety, via Hot Air.
The following was taken from Allahpundit’s twitter stream, over roughly a two-hour period on the night of 9/10. This may be the first time - no, it is the first time - that I’ve ever seen anything on twitter that reads like poetry. For this reason, I’ve preserved the form as best as possible.
Eight years ago, I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. in my downtown Manhattan apartment because…
…I thought a truck had crashed in the street outside
I remember pacing my apartment for the next 15 minutes thinking, stupidly, that a gas line might have been hit in the North Tower…
…and then I heard another explosion. I hope no one ever hears anything like it.
All I can say to describe it is: Imagine the sound of thousands of Americans screaming on a city street
It was unbelievable, almost literally
I remember being on the sidewalk and there was an FBI agent saying he was cordoning off the street…
…and then, the next day, when I went back for my cats, they told me I might see bodies lying in front of my apartment building (I didn’t)
We held a memorial service in October for my cousin’s husband, who was “missing” but not really…
He worked for Cantor Fitzgerald. They found a piece of his ribcage in the rubble not too long afterwards.
This is the guy who conspired to murder him: http://is.gd/38h7y
Had a friend from the high school speech and debate team who disappeared from the 105th floor
Had another friend of a friend who worked on the 80th floor or so, married six weeks before the attack…
Speculation is that he was right in the plane’s path, and was killed instantly when it plowed through the building
Did a bit of legal work for a couple whose son worked in the upper floors. Was dating someone else up there at the time…
I was told that she managed to call her parents while they were trapped up there and that the call “was not good”
Never found out if it was cut off by the building collapsing or not
I remember opening my eyes at 8:46 a.m. thinking “I hope that was just a pothole.” Then I heard a guy outside my window say, “Oh shit”
Opened the window, looked to my left, saw huge smoke coming out of the WTC
Left at around 9:30, decided to walk uptown thinking that the buildings would never collapse and that…
…I’d be back in my apartment by the next night. I never went back. It was closed off until December.
I remember thinking when I was a few blocks away that the towers might collapse, and so I walked faster…
…although I sneered at myself later for thinking that might be true and for being a coward. Although not for long.
To this day, you can find photos of thousands of people congregated in the blocks surrounding the Towers, seemingly…
…waiting for them to fall that day
When I got to midtown, rumors were that Camp David and the Sears Tower had also been destroyed. I remember looking around…
…and thinking that we had to get out of Manhattan, as this might be some pretext to get us into the street and hit us with some germ
I callled my dad — and somehow miraculously got through — and told him I was alive, then headed for the 59th street bridge
To this day, the scariest memory is being on that bridge, looking at the Towers smoking in the distance,
and thinking maybe the plotters had wired the bridge too to explode beneath us while we were crossing it.
I remember talking to some guy on the bridge that we’d get revenge, but…
…you had to see the smoke coming from the Towers in the distance. It was like a volcano
I remember being down there two months later. There was a single piece of structure…
…maybe five stories tall of the lattice-work still standing. It looked like a limb of a corpse sticking up out of the ground.
They knocked it down soon after
At my office, which I had just joined, I was told that…
…some people had seen the jumpers diving out the windows to escape the flames that morning
There was a video online, posted maybe two years ago, shot from the hotel across the street,,,
…and it showed roughly 10-12 bodies flattened into panackes lying in the central plaza
Maybe it’s still online somewhere
You have to see it to understand, though. You get a sense of it from the Naudet brothers documentary hearing…
…the explosions as the bodies land in the plaza, but seeing it and hearing it are two different things
I remember after I got over the bridge into Queens, I heard a noise overheard…
…that I’d never heard before. It was an F-15, on patrol over New York. Very odd sound. A high-pitched wheeze.
I remember on Sept. 12, when I got on the train to go downtown and try to get my cats out of the apartment…
…the Village was utterly deserted. No one on the streets. Like “28 Days Later” if you’ve seen that
We made it to a checkpoint and the cop said go no further, until my mom intervened. Then he took pity…
…and agreed to let me downtown IF I agreed that any exposure to bodies lying in the streets was my own fault.
Didn’t see any bodies, but I did see soldiers, ATF, FBI, and so on. The ground was totally covered by white clay…
…which I knew was formed by WTC dust plus water from the FDNY. It look like a moonscape.
There was a firefighter at the intersection and I flagged him down and asked if I could borrow his flashlight, since…
…all buildings downtown had no power. He gave me a pen flashlight.
The doors to my building at Park Place were glass but had kicked in, presumably by the FDNY, to see if there were…
…survivors inside. When I got in there, all power was out. No elevators, no hall lights…
…I had to feel my way to the hall and make my way up to my apartment on the third floor by feeling my way there…
…When I got there, the cats were alive. There was WTC dust inside the apartment, but…
…for whatever reason, I had closed the windows before I left to walk uptown that day, so dust was minimal. I loaded them…
…into the carrier and took them back to Queens. That was the last I could get into the apartment until December 2001,…
…and then it was only to get in, take whatever belongings were salvageable (i.e. not computer), and get out. I lived…
in that apartment from 7/2001 to 9/2001, but given the diseases longtime residents have had…
…I’m lucky I decided to move
My only other significant memory is being in the lobby of the apartment building on 9/11…
…and trying to console some woman who lived there who said her father worked on the lower floors of the WTC. I assume…
…he made it out alive, but she was hysterical as of 9:30 that a.m. Who could blame her?
I do remember feeling embarrassed afterwards that…
…I initially thought the smoke coming out of the North Tower was due to a fire or something, but…
…it’s hard to explain the shock of realizing you’re living through a historical event while you’re living through it.
For months afterwards, I tried to tell people how I thought maybe the Towers…
…were going to be hit by six or seven or eight planes in succession. Which sounds nuts, but once you’re in the moment…
…and crazy shit is happening, you don’t know how crazy that script is about to get.
When I left at 9:30, I thought more planes were coming.
I left because I thought, “Well, if these planes hit the building the right way, it could fall and land on mine.”\
I remember getting to 57th Street and asking some dude, “What happened?”
And he said, “They collapsed” and I couldn’t believe both of them had gone down. Even after the planes hit…
…I remembered that the Empire State Building had taken a hit from a military plane during WWII and still stood tall
So it was never a serious possibility that the WTC would collapse. I assumed…
…that the FDNY would get up there, put out the fire, and the WTC would be upright but with gigantic holes in it
It took an hour for the first tower to go down, 90 minutes for the second.
Even now, despite the smoke, I’m convinced most of the people trapped at the top were alive…
…and waiting, somehow, for a rescue. The couple whose legal case I worked for told me that…
…their son and his GF contacted her father very shortly before the collapse. Which makes sense. As much smoke as there was…
…if you have a five-story hole in the wall to let air in to breathe, you’re going to linger on.
So for many people, the choice probably quickly became: Hang on, endure the smoke, or jump
If you listen to the 911 calls, which I advise you not to do, some of them chose “hang on”
Although needless to say, if you ever saw the Towers…
…you know how dire things must have been up there to make anyone think the better solution was “jump”
They were ENORMOUS.
Another weird memory: Shortly after I got my apartment in lower Manhattan, on Park Place…
…I remember taking my brother to see “The Others,” which had just opened.
And afterwards I remember taking him up to the rooftop of my building to admire the Towers. According to Wikipedia…
“The Others” opened on August 10, 2001, so this must have been within 10 days or so afterwards. Very eerie.
And I remember we also went to Morton’s and Borders right inside the WTC complex to celebrate my new job
That Borders was gutted, needless to say, on 9/11. You could see the frame of the building in the WTC lobby after the attack
I was reading magazines in there the week or two before
One of the weirdest feelings, which I’m sure everyone can share, is that I remember distinctly feeling…
…in the month or two before the attack that “important” news no longer existed. It was all inane bullshit about…
…shark attacks and Gary Condit and overaged pitchers in the Little League World Series. To this day…
…I try never to grumble about a slow news day because the alternative is horrifyingly worse
After the attack, maybe a month after, I remember going to see “Zoolander” in Times Square and…
…coming up out of the subway tunnel having the distinct fear that…
…the sky would light up and a mushroom cloud would appear instantly above my head in my lost moment of consciousness. No joke. In fact…
…I ended up going to bed around 6:30 p.m. for maybe three months after 9/11.
Even when I ended up working downtown for years after that, with a luxurious view of upper Manhattan from the top floors…
…I always feared looking out the window because I was paranoid that at that precise moment, the flash would go off…
…and that’d be the last thing I see. And in fact, for a moment in 2003 when the power went out city-wide,
…I did think that was what was happening. The wages of 9/11.
I leave you with this, my very favorite film about the WTC. If you’re a New Yorker, have a hanky handy. No. 3 is golden http://is.gd/38qsT
One more note: If you’ve never seen a photo of the smoke coming from the Trade Center after the collapse, find one.
Watching it from the 59th bridge, it looked like a volcano. There was so much smoke, it was indescribable. Just *erupting* from the wreckage
I adore this speech. It touches my very sad heart.
Meet Tim, a 9/11 survivor from the 61st Floor. I first printed his story in 2001 when I was a mere newspaper reporter, traumatized by the attack on my country and commissioned to keep my emotions detached and do my job. It wasn't an easy couple of weeks. Instead, days after 9/11, days without sleep, I went home as the sun went down, turned on my TV, and mourned my country like an American, not a reporter.
I heard the first notes of panic listening to a morning show on my drive into work that infamous day. By the time I had arrived at the news room, our country would never go back to the lackadaisical world only an hour earlier. Dispatched to the Tulsa International Airport, I watched the towers collapse in a crowded airport restaurant standing shoulder to shoulder with Americans from all over the country grounded on their way to a different destination.
Standing in a daze, numb with shock like the rest of the country, I overheard a man talking to a stewardess. He was a safety officer for American Airlines, grounded and confused and worried about his fellow airline personnel. I chased him down the crowded lobby, cornered him near a exit door, and pleaded for a few minutes in the midst of national frenzy and panic.
Graciously, he talked to me about what he KNEW had happened. Those pilots were dead, he said. Long before they flew into the buildings, they were dead. No way would any of them release their command of the plane other than through physical force. Safety had been breached and here's the truth, he told me, it wouldn't be all that hard to accomplish.
His co-workers were dead. And many more might be, as well. I learned this moments before the Pentagon attack report, moments before the crash in Pennsylvania.
Americans bonded then. All of us. We joined together and realized, no matter our personal political views, we all wanted to live. We wanted our families safe. We wanted the glory of America to rise again.
And it has.
What we can never do is trivialize the tragedy for politically-correct purposes. We must remember. So here, yet again, is my time with Tim Veldstra, a 9/11 survivor from the 61st Floor. His story will always be a part of our own.
A WITNESS to INFAMY
Tim Veldstra watched burning papers flap against the window from his view on the 61st Floor. It must have been an explosion. It could have been an accident. It had to be coming from the other building.
He walked out of the coffee room inside the World Trade Center, second twin tower, on September 11, 2001, and looked for an explanation. It was 8:45 a.m. on the infamous morning and Veldstra had no idea of what was happening.
He had been thinking about his wife and daughter back home in Tulsa when he heard a boom.
"It was like a ticker tape parade falling down in front of my window," Veldstra said.
He had flown into New York from Tulsa three days earlier on a three-week trip. Veldstra, a financial adviser, had been only briefly oriented with the building the day before.
"The first day up there the first thing you want to do is look out those windows," Veldstra said, concerning the World Trade Center. "We went around to all the windows on our break." From one window you could look down on Staten Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Now beginning his second day and taking his coffee with creme and sugar, Veldstra left the break room and walked into the hallway to see a broken window and shattered glass on the floor. Believing an explosion had occurred in the other building, he walked around to the windows still looking for an explanation.
He was unaware of the dramatic sequence of events that had started their decent into history. The second tower, his building, would be attacked in a matter of minutes.
"I was in trouble and did not know it," but God did, Veldstra said.
Still on the 61st Floor, he heard the intercom system switch on and a man saying, "We need to evacuate the building. We need to use the stairs."
But where were the exits?
"I didn't see any exit for stairs, This was my second day," Veldstra said. He headed back into his office to grab his briefcase before heading to the exit. "Everyone else left everything - purses, wallets, laptop computers. They thought we would be back in a couple of hours."
Through the single door exit, he stepped into the small walking area.
"The staircase was no bigger than you would have in your house."
He had walked the sidewalks of New York his first night in town following a late dinner and had been shoulder to shoulder in a crowd. Now again he found himself in the midst of a crowd, many of them panicking, as they headed shoulder to shoulder down the narrow staircase.
"We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 60 there were people coming in. We headed down, turned a corner, at Floor 59 there were people coming in."
Outside the narrow staircase now jammed with people, the world had begun watching. Every radio station broadcast the breaking news, every television program was interrupted, every life had tuned in to witness Veldstra's life.
"I had no fear at all. Some people did. Some people were terrified," he said.
Before he had left Oklahoma, Veldstra's trip had received a lot of prayers.
"My wife was just not feeling good with letting me go," he said. Every person they knew, every person they met, she would say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." They would go to Wal-Mart and see people they knew and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim." Someone would call their house and she'd say, "Tim's going to New York. Pray for Tim."
As he walked down the stairs, Veldstra knew her feelings had prompted thousands of prayers on his behalf. When he had arrived in New York days earlier, he had called her the first evening, "See? I'm fine."
But now he understood.
The intercom switched on again. The man said, "Your building is secure," then incomprehensible words, and then a repeat, "Your building is secure."
The noise level in the staircase was too high, too crowded, too garbled for many to understand. Nonetheless, some turned away and headed back, perishing when the tower collapsed.
Veldstra kept on.
Feeling he had not yet found his explanation, Veldstra continued, one step at a time behind the person in front of him like the person in front of them, and so on, and so on.
The air had become muggy. It would eventually take him half an hour to climb down the tower.
Past the 31st Floor, Veldstra met with the second event.
Inside the staircase, the entire building moved from one side and then swing back to the other side, absorbing the shock from the second plane. However, inside, the wall to wall crowd knew nothing.
"People started screaming, pushing and shouting," he said. He needed to stop. he wanted to take a minute and consider stopping.
Up against the wall, Veldstra said people continued "coming by like a herd of cattle, pounding into my chest."
The panic had caused an increased pressure from people behind to move quickly. Although he considered stopping on a floor to escape the crowd, Veldstra started the descent again.
"We just kept going floor by floor by floor all the way from 61."
Less than 10 floors to go, smoke filled the already stuffy staircase. At Floor Seven, the smoke started and grew thicker as they continued down. Some covered their mouths with handkerchiefs or articles of clothing. He just prayed for an open door at the bottom of the staircase.
"I still did not have any fear, but I had all kinds of people praying for me," Veldstra said.
In the lobby, he was directed by security, firefighters, and police officers to head through the mall instead of exit out the front where feet of debris had been piled.
Now blocks away, the crowd was no longer pressed to keep moving.
Meeting up with fellow co-workers from Oklahoma, Veldstra and the group headed toward the hotel as he glanced up at the holes in the building, still unaware of what had caused it. Walking away, he heard a woman scream and turned around once more.
"There was something falling and I did not even know what it was," he said.
Then he comprehended. People were jumping out of the building.
"Seeing those people fall is the most sickening feeling. They fell so long," Veldstra said.
The seriousness of the situation met him at Ground Zero.
Although he would soon understand, Veldstra said he found it difficult to absorb the idea the situation had been hopeless for these people, so dire was the circumstance they leaped out the windows with no hope for survival.
A mile away, Veldstra and the Oklahoma group walked from behind several buildings to get their last chance at seeing the towers, but they had disappeared. The landmarks were gone, vacating the New York skyline.
"The first thing I see from the television in (my hotel) lobby is the plane flying into the building."
Now he had his explanation. now he knew what the rest of the world knew. He had escaped, thousands had not.
Veldstra said his experience is his testimony of God's goodness, a testimony he tells frequently since that day, a testimony he'll tell until his last day.
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
From Tulsa-based Daros Films, a film short that takes only three minutes to evoke character sympathy and emotional attachment. Amazing. Ryan Dunlap, producer and co-writer and lead, has done it again. I've seen his art before. It always leaves an impression.
Mark Steyn wrote a love letter, or at least a respect letter, about Cary Grant recently. It's excellent, a winding tale of the man's humor and greatness, achievement and memorable moments.
I'm a huge Cary Grant fan. You have no idea how huge. Thus, I had to send Steyn a response. Here is his article. I definitely recommend it. And for you, my committed and not-so-committed readers, is my response.
You can't create a character like Cary Grant. But Cary Grant did.
Whatever he was or could be, he became. He isn't simply the embodiment of style and seduction, if either can be considered simple, but a character of capitalism. He dreamed. He gambled. He risked it all. He walked onto the open road and dreamed a dream. Then he reaped the fruition of his labor.
He personified the spirit of American exceptionalism: from a child of poverty to a man of legend, all without the aid of anything more than his charm. And oh what charm.
I was nine-years-old when he died, not even coming to understand his cinematic and personal significance until decades after his death. Then when I noticed, I noticed. I think all who cross the path of Cary Grant find their motion halted. You have to stop, have to notice. There is something about that man that simply cannot be ignored. He's Cary Grant. And he understood the responsibility it required.
You're article was magnificently right. Cary Grant pulled off a feat extinct in today's glamor brigade, he created a sellable product while never losing appreciation for it's customers. He could be debonair and rogue, manly and flirtatious, all while receiving devotion in humility. He was real. He was grateful. He was gracious. And in the end, that is what solidified his class.
Cary Grant was something, all right. But he would have been nothing without the worn shoes, undying spirit, unfailing gumption, and capitalistic spirit of Archibald Leach. And they both knew it.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
“But I should say that I, and the rest of entertainers, don’t know a god-durned nothing about policies. We’re too busy self-aggrandizing to come up with any solutions. It’s amazing how many entertainers can find time between adopting children to tell you how to live your life.”Chris Isaak,
asked by The Washington Post to comment about California's economic crisis
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
You look different, he said.
It might have been the new shirt from Target. Or maybe it's the wind. Either way, despite my aversion to the word "change", I've had some. A friend of mine, and one of my blog readers, sent me a direct message on Twitter today about a recent photo I posted.
"Your countenance has changed. Sarah, Ayn Rand, perhaps a guy, perhaps you're older-don't know," he said.
Whatever has happened, it isn't a guy. Look at how fast we can narrow our choices! Was it Sarah Palin? Reading "Atlas Shrugged"? My new zest for teff bread? Perhaps we'll never know. There are mysteries in life that compel educated men to dig in the dirt with little toothbrushes. And still, they only have guesses and conjecture.
I gave it a little thought. A little. And with me, that means I dissected his words into letters and then into sounds and then into groanings of a primal, medieval form.
"You're blogging increased dramatically. Changed from personal stuff to natl/world matters," he said. "Definitely more driven. Like somebody plugged you into a light socket. Olderness makes people more production oriented. I've observed."
So I looked older? I'm not going there.
Actually, his thoughts sparked my thought bubble, my light bulb, my zing of understanding. Being driven. I had been thinking about that for days.
Yesterday, I got a call from a friend. It was one of those calls where you instantly know they are frustrated, not with you but with life. Pleasantries are disposed of. Instead they jump right in with, "Have you ever experienced..."
My friend had a problem of progress. He viewed his life, his accomplishments, his economic and personal status, and wanted to achieve more. In pre-Obama, pre-Lefty extremism America, you considered this aversion to status quo an attribute. Reach for those stars. Succeed. Be all that you can be. Success begets success. Those that achieved opened roads to other achievers. Trickle-down economics still dripped.
In all honesty, I'm not so sure we've completely given up the dream. We still want success. We want fame (in moderation) and fortune (in a Swiss bank account) and the good life. We want the happy ending, the thrilling beginning, and the comfy middle. We've forgotten, however, it required a fight. Or maybe our competitive muscles simply atrophied.
I don't know if I'm sandwiched between lazy generations or it's basic misconception. We've been taught you're special for being a color, not a character. Different is only good in thus, thus forms. Individuals outside the box, angling their view around current culture - from questioning global warming to Matt Damon's political prowess - should be shunned. And for too long, shunned we've stayed.
Yesterday, I told my friend, "Personally speaking, I don't know when I got the ignorant idea life was suppose to be easy. When did I decide success should come because I was ready for it?" I wasn't raised with that mentality, but my frustration at the fight ahead revealed the ugly truth: I had entitlement issues, too.
So life is hard. Yeah. It's universally known, printed on coffee mugs and embroidered on pillows. I won't be recognized as more than a state writer because I want it. That takes earning. And that's, actually, how I want it.
It won't come from catching a break. It'll come from writing a few hundred thousand more words, reading my thesaurus like a Dean Koontz thriller, losing innumerable nights of sleep because inspiration always hits at midnight, and working for it until adjectives produce beads of forehead perspiration.
At some mile marker on this journey, I realized my conservative values, as well, won't win easily. I might have to attend some rallies, write more blogs, read more history, prepare more arguments, have more conversations, encourage more voters, volunteer more time, actively and purposefully seek more personal drive.
It's going to take work. Conservatism won't win simply because we're ready, we're annoyed, we're devastated at the turn of national events. I hope I never forget: I don't believe in entitlement.
So, yes. I look different. Perhaps it's the competitive glint back in my eye. Perhaps it was a speck of dust. Whatever he saw, I feel it, like a growl rising from my throat. I'm sick of being silenced, sick of the intimidation, sick of being spurned for my beliefs. And when individual freedom is on the line, losing gracefully is only losing.
I'm so ready for a fight. Cue the cheesy Rocky music.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
America wasn't founded on Christian principles. Yep. I can believe that as long as I ignore history. ALL of it.
David Barton, founder of Wallbuilders, was a man my parents introduced to me at an early age. I learned more from one of his 30-minute videos than my entire four years of High School history. And I enjoyed it.
History fun? You know it. Fiction is never better than the truth. And America's history is one of the best stories every written, with love and loss and war and sacrifice and valor and inspiration and pulse-pounding revolution.
Barton spoke this past Sunday at Dr. Charles Stanley's church, giving a brief, very brief, overview of the foundations of our nation, from why a Christian nation is the only way for all religions to be free and how capitalism is the only way for individuals to flourish. And it's all spelled out, uh huh, in the Bible.
I can't embed the video. But here is the link.
I encourage to the point of implore you to watch it. It's 30 minutes long. Break it up and watch pieces of it, if you want. I plan on watching it a few hundred times until I can grasp everything he's saying. Not kidding. I have this kind of time on my hands.
Okay, no I don't. But I'm going to do it anyway.
If the entire country could grasp only the points and facts presented in this well-done, fast-paced presentation, only these points, America would remain the last best hope for freedom. Instead, we're selling our rights off, one at a time, for the idea it makes us a better, more caring, more compassionate, more enlightened individual. When, in actuality, we're being led into economic and cultural slavery with a stupid grin on our face.
Hello rabid Conservatives.
Tomorrow I leave for Colorado and am absent for about 10 days. Yes, I have a house-sitter. He's a big guy, too, so don't even think about messing with my property. I'm a conservative, as is he, which means we're always armed and just itching for someone to give us a reason to shoot.
In preparation to leave, I've been totally swamped and unable to blog. The amount of work you have to complete before going on vacation requires vacation when you're finished. But it will be worth it. And I need some time in thinner air to spend writing.
I may blog while I'm gone. I may not. Since it's my vacation, I get to decide and no one can complain.
Thank you to all of you, little and small, big and tall, who tune in each week to hear my poignant, succinct, and insightful commentary. And for those who sit through my garbled ramblings, too.
I do have a few things I'm wanting to post today. But, oddly enough, my priorities today are grocery shopping and laundry. As I get time, IF I get time, I will be posting today. Then I'll be gone to soon return.
Have a great week, everyone. Stay informed. And should the nation crumble into pieces while I'm gone, I'm heading for an unknown location in the Colorado Mountains, never to be heard from again.
Nah. I'll be back.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
You can choose to redirect the path of the country, as Obama is doing, but you cannot rewrite the journey of our history. We were and are a Judeo-Christian nation.
For those who have forgotten our history, our heritage: If/When this great country topples, which seems at the present time inevitable, that will be the moment you remember again.
"When you accept your talent not as something to take pride in but as something for which to be grateful, you set the ego aside, and you are freed from the desire to impress, and you enter into play. When that happens, the consequent spontaneity enriches the work, and you experience moments that are spiritually exhilarating, an awareness of God within and without."
Tara Lynn's favorite thrill writer
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
The sacrifices our military and their family make are unimaginable. They do it. And they do it willingly.
Yeah, I can't see anything for the President to brag on either, like a 10-year-old taking care of her baby sister while dad is serving his country. Maybe Obama will apologize for America again soon. It's been nearly 24 hours.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force."Ayn Rand
author of Atlas Shrugged
Friday, May 22, 2009
I can't help but smile.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
See for yourself.
Here is a powerfully animated speech given by Theologian John Piper in January, a reaction to a President who believes children are burdens, not blessings. And willfully supports infanticide.
"Now, my question is, if President Obama at Notre Dame yesterday says that everybody on this debate is decent and we gotta work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, is he not admitting there's something wrong about it, then? If there's nothing wrong with an unwanted pregnancy and if there's nothing wrong with abortion, why do we have to limit them?"
May 18, 2009
He's not really concerned with limiting abortions. In fact, he wants your tax dollars to pay for them, he made that clear today.
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) -- President Barack Obama's new federal budget calls for taxpayer funded abortions in the nation's capital. Although Obama has promised Americans he wants to reduce the number of abortions, one pro-life group says he is violating that promise by calling for taxpayer-financed abortions in the District of Columbia.
Is there anything he doesn't want tax dollars to pay for?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
His words were a nice reminder.
Scratch that. Not nice. Necessary.
They were simple and concise, known and understood, but still existential. Perhaps even crucial to the next moment and the moment after. The words clung to my mouth, like drops of honeysuckle from the monstrosity of a bush that overtook my parent's backyard every bug-infested summer and chopping it down neither cleared the view nor lightened the spirit. That honeysuckle bush, with it's creamy buds tickling the senses and patient sweetness there for the taking, had to survive.
I hung up the phone and thought, "That's right. That's exactly right. I'm not defeated. What a filthy lie."
Optimism does nothing for me. When faced with a reality of death, destruction, mayhem or just a really, bad day, a dose of "the sun will come out tomorrow" ticks me off.
I don't care about tomorrow. I'm living the now...now. And peppy people get on my nerves. Optimism for optimism's sake is pathetic denial. There is no law of nature that requires the world to automatically right itself, the day to end like a sitcom, or the bad guys to actually get "it", whatever "it" is, in the end.
Justice isn't guaranteed, neither is goodness, rightness, or even the victory of truth. In the end, the innocent might die and the cheaters might win. And believing otherwise, for believing's sake, means you've watched too many movies.
Turn off the TV and look around. Life is ugly.
Last night I went to asleep with a simply prayer, "God help." It was more out of desperation or depression.
The last few weeks have been a Chinese water-torture of bad news, each drop expanding a cesspool of woe. Myself, along with family and friends, take variable turns losing jobs, losing money, losing health, all while our President apologies for our existence and publishes classified memos so our enemies feel safer.
The world hasn't gone mad. That happened ages ago. But now we've taken down the gates and invited the madman to afternoon tea.
Why fight for prosperity, for safety, for truth, even for hope, when defeat had already crossed the finish line and sat picking our future from between it's yellowed teeth?
Then, he spoke. And real change happened.
I was chasing down a story for one of my clients, seeking a source. He was a real possibility and so we talked. The article is about spiritual authority, the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And admittedly, I was hoping the article would inspire others with courage, not taking into consideration I was one of the "others."
Then he said something. I had heard it before. Lots, actually. And it wasn't any great revelation. He said, "When we pray, we are actually praying to Jesus Christ, asking Him to make intercession, to pray, essentially, for us."
Right, right. I nodded. Writing down his contact info, with the haze of the rainy day clinging to the window outside and my mood just beyond. Right. Got it. Knew that. Moving on.
But I didn't move on. It rested on my slumped shoulder, like a whisper growing in volume as the wind carried it further away. I'm talking to the Son of God.
Now, for those of us who are Christians, that's pretty basic stuff. Jesus 101. We pray, He hears. I learned that on the first day.
"We think it's about the routine of prayer," he went on. "But it's not. It isn't the words we speak. God is looking at our heart."
Right, right. Heard it all before. Nothing new to see hear everyone. Moving on.
Yet again, I didn't. I stopped. It was really just a pause, a hitch. I felt my mind hesitate, as if trying to decide between crossing the road or standing at the corner reading the street signs. I paused somewhere between the double yellow lines. We pray. Jesus acts. God hears. What a blissfully, marvelous concept.
Suddenly, my exhaustion didn't overwhelm, it didn't irritate, it didn't intimidate. I hadn't forgotten that God hears me. I had forgotten He does anything about it. For far too long, I think it's all up to me.
I have a savior complex. I do. It's got a nasally voice and short legs and whenever I have battles to win and mountains to move, it pulls a hamstring and pouts in the corner. The darn thing is absolutely useless and smells like Baby Power deodorant. And when it fails, I feel like a failure too. I can't right the wrongs. My family is still struggling financially. My friends are still going into surgery. And I'm still at a loss to finish the laundry. Success is a myth.
But what if it isn't up to me? What if I actually serve a God, THE GOD, mind you, who talked and Annapurna formed, who met death and laughed at it, who thought up the Bumblebee Bat, who would have more Twitter friends than Ashton Kutcher, who neither needs me nor requires my devotion but loves me anyway, who never checks opinion polls before acting, who shoulders the weight and criticism of the entire planet without a single slipped disc, who not only listens to my prayers, but acts on them? What if I served a God like that? Wouldn't that mean I could rest? Wouldn't that mean I could hope? Wouldn't that mean I could trust the future, whatever it was? Wouldn't I be the most powerful person in the world?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Yes, I have a cold. A bad one. A foggy-headed one. A itchy throat, can't stop blowing my nose, why are my eyeballs swelling, cold. And in this state, despite the fact I've still been writing to meet deadlines, I fear high-voltage danger of blogging with a fever.
No, I'm not usually feverish when I blog. Though it might appear that way, sometimes.
So...I'm going to take a few hours, maybe even a whole day, and not write anything until my face stops looking like Rudolph or Bill Clinton, whichever mental image you prefer.
Be prepared! For the end is nigh! (I'm talking about the flu)