Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Obama's Dog, Shelters, and Pit Bulls

Well, on the news front the big thing now seems to be Bo, the Obama Family new dog.  It didn't actually effect my life too much.  The economy is the same, the wars are still going on and health care is still in crisis, but, apparently, our nation has something settled.  I, personally, think if it takes the Obamas this long to decided on something as simple as dog, we might  in a lot of trouble, or not depending upon where your politics are compared to his.  

Many people are angry because Obama had earlier stated he would like to rescue a dog from a shelter.  I had a feeling that wouldn't happen, although his intent was noble.  However, one of their kids has allergies and a hypo-allergenic dog doesn't typically find itself in a shelter.  The shelter dogs are typically dogs that annoy their owners for one reason or another:  they chew, they won't housebreak, they bite or they shed.  If they were a dog bred to be a pet, one that is hypoallergenic, snugly and easy to train, then they are probably going to stay with the person who paid hundreds of dollars to purchase them.  

I'm not saying this to bash shelter dogs because we have one we adopted from a shelter, Sammy.  She is the sweetest dog, and has been a great pet.  Each spring, she also sheds enough hair to cover the head of every comb-over man in the USA.  She is definitely not hypoallergenic.  

Plus, I believe Obama did rescue the dog, as the dog came to them through Ted Kennedy.  I think enough is said there.  Let's just leave it at the fact that there is more than one type of prison a dog can live in.  

On the topic of shelters, though, there is another reason I hate the Easter Bunny (and thus the commercialism of Easter).  The number Chickies, Duckies and Bunnies that end up at animal shelters about a month after Easter swells.
Parents who are all caught up in the Easter Bunny thing actually purchase these animals for their kids.  Then they are all surprised when the animals do an amazing thing.  They grow up!  I understand kids not thinking about that, but I really can't understand parents.  Since we started duck farming, we get about 2-5 emails a year in late spring about people asking us if we want to take Easter ducks and chickens.  What in the world are we going to do with them?  Then there are the people who just take the Pekin ducks and dump them off at a park.  I guess they think that's an especially nice thing to do since the ducks can find food for themselves, and can't fly.  It really wouldn't surprise me if there are people who are trying to start a wild chicken population in Cincinnati as well.    

On another animal story, in the past month a Pit Bull escaped from it's home (they can climb fences) and mauled three miniature horses.  

If there is one thing I have absolutely no patience for, it's ridiculous dog owners and their dogs.  Some person had the need to beef up his or her machoism, so they decided to get a dog that they 1) didn't know how to handle or train  2) didn't know how to contain  and 3) was dangerous and aggressive.    Now three peaceful, innocent animals are dead and a non-profit is, more than likely, financially hurt by this owner's stupidity.  I hope that they sue the owner and press charges.  Under Ohio law that owner is 100% liable for that dog's actions.  

How do I know all this?  Because I was attacked by an Akita that was owned by a person who 1) knew NOTHING about dog behavior  2)  did NOT know how to handle or train their dog    3)  did not know how to contain their dog     4) Felt the need to own a large aggressive dog because it bolstered their machoism.  As a result of their need to own a vicious dog, I got over 55 stitches in my face to restore my nose and lip and 4 of my 5 children got to watch their mom get attacked by a dog.  

But people who own dogs like that Akita and the Pit Bull, have a twisted perspective on life so the owner actually called me to ask me if I was okay with him not having the dog put to sleep but rather put in doggie therapy.  

Ya know,  NO, I'm not okay with that.  There are how many thousands of great dogs out there that will sit in shelters for their entire life?  It makes no sense at all to put hundreds of dollars into rehabilitative measures for an aggressive one, especially an aggressive one that is owned by someone who can't even put together a reasonable perspective about their dog.  Doggie therapy?  Who, in their right mind, would even consider something like that? 

Maybe Ted Kennedy did.  That certainly seems like something he'd do.  Maybe that's how Obama got Bo.... 

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just How Christian Are We as A Nation?

President Barack Obama made a statement last week that has just sent some conservatives up in arms in ways that... well, probably only Barack Obama can do.  And, as my role as official heckler of all leaders despite their political affiliation, I should be just so filled with blog fodder.  However, for once, I agree with the President.  Sigh... yet another thing to make me unpopular with the Evangelical crowd.  First my distaste for "christian cruises", then the Easter Bunny  and now this. 

So, he said it.  We can't even say he finally said it, because he also said a similar thing while campaigning for the presidency.  But, boy, this time, the conservative media really attached itself to it. 

The reality is, though, that we are not and have never been a "Christian Nation" in any real sense of the word Christian.  We have been a nation that has had Christians who have acted as salt and light within our government and culture, even at it's founding, to try to bring Christ-like qualities to our society.  However,  you can hardly call "christian"  a government that says in one breath that we are all "endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights" and in another declares that you are not entitled to that label unless you're a white, affluent male.  

You can hardly call the greed of capitalism Christian.  You can hardly call slavery Christ-like.  You can hardly call our nation's absolute annihilation of our native peoples something Christ would do.   Is our nation's unsustainable agriculture what makes us Christian?  How about our fascination with Hummers?  Our denial of basic civil rights to minorities and women?  Is it how disabled people were historically  denied the right to immigrate (the poor tired masses have to have all their limbs, apparently to enter our country)?  Is it our history of institutionalizing the disabled and mentally ill?   Or is it our more recent history of de-institutionalizing them and then ignoring them while we drive our Hummers that makes us Christian?

The name of Christ is too precious to me to tie it up with a blundering empire of this world.  Our nation, like so many others, is absolutely great at throwing around the name of God when it suits us, but living however we feel comfortable.  

The thing that I think is hilarious about this, is that people who truly do believe we are a "Christian Nation" either don't know the Bible or are in denial.  Between the jubilee laws and the instructions in the book of Acts, if we truly were a theocracy, we should really be a socialist nation.  

But, we aren't.   We are a nation that was built upon the ideals of the Enlightenment (a set of values -- gasp isn't that what Obama said?) that have some salt of the gospel mixed in by our earlier brothers and sisters in Christ.  Unfortunately, I often think that their sacrifices and work has been lost when the more recent generations have decided to be the Empire rather than work as a leavening agent within it.  The really sad thing is that these people who claim to promote the Gospel, but really promote their own form of American Civic Religion, aren't concerned about spreading the Kingdom of Christ.  They are concerned with preserving their way of life.  

It is a near-truth.  Near-truths are so dangerous because they are so much harder to detect than a blatant lie.  However, they are just as destructive. 

This first thing that struck me about Obama's comments was that his definition was not his own.  In fact, almost 5 years ago, I read that definition of America for the first time, and I'm sure it wasn't new then, in a letter "written" by George W. Bush,  to our little Ballerina Princess.  It was a letter welcoming her to U.S. citizenship.  It described America as an "unfolding promise" and a "country bound by a common set of values and ideals".  I thought it was one of the most beautiful descriptions I had ever read of our country.  

The reality is that we don't live in a Christian nation, even beyond my belief that it never was one.  About 3 months ago, Barna released a study that showed just over 50% of the U.S. no longer even bothers to identify themselves as Christian.  The number swells even more if you delve into what most people call being a Christian.  Most recently, over 58% stated that the Holy Spirit is merely a symbol for God, and about 60% believe that Satan is also merely symbolic.  What is really disturbing is that a full 48% of the people who call themselves Christians doubt the divinity and perfection of Christ!  

How in the world someone can be a "Christian" and not believe in "Christ" is beyond me, but that's the picture of America today, like it or not.  The real question is:  are we going to keep barking up this tree or are we going to accept the reality of this day and get back to building Christ's Kingdom which can exsist anywhere in the world no matter what the reigning Empire says? 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Street Cars???

Just a quick blog entry here, to pose a question to anyone who can provide an answer:

Why, in the name of all that makes sense, is the city of Cincinnati asking for stimulus for a STREET CAR when we don't have a decent east-west metro bus route?  We live just off the same street that my husband works on, yet he can't take the bus to work unless he wants a commute that is almost 2 hours both ways.


Because the big metro routes run north-south.  So, he'd have to take a metro to downtown and then take a separate metro up to the east side of town.  

So, the street cars are going to create exactly what?


Friday, April 10, 2009

We are Known by the Company We Keep

I think we can see under whose counsel the Republican Party started heading in the wrong direction: 

Why I Hate the Easter Bunny

If you've read my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I have some strong opinions about certain things.  Maybe.  Well, in this case I do have a strong opinion about something:  The Easter Bunny.

Now, if you're reading this, you might think, "Deb, how could you possibly hate the Easter Bunny?  A cute fluffy bunny that brings candy to small children?  How innocent is that?"

But I ask you to consider this.  Have you ever seen a cute fluffy Easter Bunny?  No!  First of all, most Easter Bunnies I've seen are the size of an adult human.  In fact the ones at the mall are about the size of men that can't find full time employment elsewhere.  Based on mall experiences, too, I think the Easter Bunny smokes.  Another strike against him -- especially since I'm evangelical and we don't bode to well to smoking bunnies.  

Think about the Easter Bunny's face.  You've got a head that is not only 3 to 4 times bigger than the average bunny, but is proportionally large for his body.  And the teeth!  To quote Monty Python, "LOOK AT THE FANGS!" Can you really trust that plastic smile? Really?

Then there is his color.  What sick genetic mutation or radiation causes a bunny to be pink or purple or blue.  But the freakiest thing is that he, HE I might add, lays EGGS!  That's just creepy!  Do you people really believe that the egg shaped things coming out of a bunny's rear end are chocolate? 

All kidding aside, we don't let the Easter Bunny visit us.  Santa doesn't stop here either.  And, yet, somehow our kids are happy and well behaved.  Santa doesn't visit because there was no way that I was going to give credit for money spent by me, time spent by me, and creative energy spent by me to some lazy old guy who forces little people to work relentlessly and himself only works once a year.  In addition to that he is no longer based upon the story of St. Nick but on a great marketing scheme thought up by Macy's in  the early 20th century.  Although lots of Christian publishers and marketing companies would really like us to believe we can tie the two together, they really aren't the same.  Santa of today is a marketing tool to manipulate parents into standing outside a Toys R Us over night in order to make sure that they can get the gift that their kid asked for from Santa.  It's really an ingenious scheme. 

 We celebrate Christmas, and the gifts are all from people who love them, know them and were excited to take the time to purchase them,  And those gifts are not given based upon the kid's behavior but on our unconditional love that wants to give them good gifts.  

Now, my intense hate for the Easter Bunny dates back to a time in my life when I was teaching Sunday school to 4-year-olds.  It was Easter time and I asked the kids, "What is Easter all about?"

The entire class looked at me and answered in unison,  "CANDY!"

That was disturbing to me because these kids were kids that were from homes where I'm confident that the true significance of Easter was being taught.  However, with kids, chocolate trumps eternity in paradise and so the message that came across was, "Candy!"

While we do have some candy at our house at Easter, and we do an Easter Egg hunt, we've made a point to intentionally point it toward the empty tomb.  The empty Easter Egg gets you a prize and we have a special box and book we use to tell the story of Easter in the weeks leading up to the day. There are no evil oversized bunnies that poop chocolate in our house, and nobody misses him. The only star of Easter is Jesus and we don't want to ask him to share the stage with a mutant bunny.  

Easter is a celebration of the single most important event in the entire history of the world!  Until the moment that Jesus came back to life, it looked as though death had conquered and there was no hope.  On Easter, though, we won the victory over sin and death and could now be in relationship with God again!  No longer was there any separation at all.  

I love to tell my kids the part of the Easter story where the curtain in the Temple rips in two.  Every time I tell it, we stop to talk about how, in the times before Jesus they would tie a rope to the ankle of the priest who was required to enter the Holy of Holies where God's presence resided.  

"And do you guys remember why they tied a rope?" I ask.

And every time, with big eyes and hushed voices they reply, "In case he would DIE from being the presence of God!  Then they could drag him out!" Needless to say, they are pretty impressed with a God whose presence is holy enough to cause someone to just drop dead! And any story involving pulling a dead guy with a rope is a great story. 

But, thanks to Jesus, there's no more rope.  In fact, there's no more curtain!  You can just be in the Holy of Holies, we can be in the presence of God, and he can inhabit us.  Kids can understand this, they really can, and they can celebrate that truth. 

That is so much more exciting than a stupid bunny that lays eggs!  Why would we even want to draw attention away from the exciting good story to the utterly ridiculous one! 

So, at our house the Easter Bunny is in the same boat as Santa Claus.  Because I don't like either of them, that is a really small row boat, with a tiny leak in the bottom that will hopefully one day sink and they'll both die. 

Until then, though, when nice people ask my kids if the Easter Bunny is going to visit they just look at them with totally blank faces and nod their heads.   But don't worry, they know they aren't allowed to tell other kids the truth about the Easter Bunny or Santa.

And, as far as the tooth fairy goes, I have them pretty convinced that Dad dresses up in a fairy costume, steals into their rooms and exchanges the tooth for money.  


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Swimmer Girl Turns 10!

March is birthday month in our house, and the problem is that I'm tired of birthdays by the end of the month.  Actually, I'm tired of holidays period.  They need to be spread out more.  Anyway, the end of March is my little Swimmer Girls birthday, so I must do a tribute to her as well before I can move on with any other blogging that might be swimming around in my mind.

Swimmer Girl was born in a small city in north west/central Ukraine.  I know the city fairly well because I was forced to stay in it for 3 weeks while waiting for a council to meet and tell us that we were allowed to apply for a court date in order to try to adopt her.  :)  

From the moment we met her, Swimmer Girl was outstanding.  She called me "Mama" from day one, and declared her love for both me and Rob, despite the fact that she found Rob's beard to be an unsightly disfigurement.  She really does love unconditionally.  At age three, she was speaking Ukrainian, understood Russian and started picking up English from us immediately.  This girl can talk.  I am convinced that if you dropped her anywhere in the world and left her stranded, she would be fluent in that language within months.  Now, that would happen not so much because she has a desire to communicate with others, but mostly because she's really nosey.  She would just have to know what other people are saying.  I'm convinced that her love of history, civics and government is based in her need to know other people's business.   

This is a child that, at age 4, asked me, "Mom, exactly how do you go about taking over a government?" And, at age 5 would routinely stop people and ask them, "Have you ever considered adoption?  My mom and dad adopted me from an orphanage.  I'm a great kid.  There are so many great kids like me.  Don't you want a great kid like me?"  And when she was about 7 told me, "It must be so hard to be a person with a disability.  I'm glad I don't have one!" 

Not only an athlete, Swimmer Girl loves to write and read.  She's currently working on a book called "Toucan's Song", and has written stories about Detective Dogs, Wolves and also a family living through the Great Depression.  

She'd probably rather eat worms than work on math.

Since swim season is over, she is currently trying to run a mile every day.  You just can't keep her down.

And, it's in part because of her beautiful little heart that our family is now sponsoring a little boy in Rwanda, through World Vision.  She has emptied her piggy bank to help send food to Ukrainians rallying in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, to send Bibles to persecuted Christians in Asia,  and to feed hungry kids in Africa.  She looks forward to feeding the homeless people we see that wander about Colerain Avenue near our home. For the longest time, her dream was to train service dogs to take back to Ukraine and give to people with disabilities there. 

But the coolest thing about my Swimmer Girl is her undying belief that no matter what, God is good.  No matter what this child has faced, she has always pressed on with a joy and faith that just isn't shaken.  Not after abandonment, poverty, gaining an understanding of her disabilities and differences, and not even when she can just never place first in a heat at a swim meet.  She just keeps going and goes in joy.  

Happy Birthday to my beautiful little girl!