Not Very Christian of Them

The Wesboro Baptist Church was not feeling the love…

About a half-dozen members of the Westboro Baptist Church traveled to McAlester, Oklahoma Saturday to picket Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey’s funeral.

Following the protest, the group returned to their minivan to find that the front and rear tires on the passenger side of the vehicle had been slashed.

“To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police,” Tulsa World reported.

I have to give the Phelps clan credit, though. They are demonstrating to our nation what we do not want to be. Last year they brought students and administrators in East Providence together in a public repudiation of hate.

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders turned out on street corners Friday in spontaneous opposition to the anti-gay, anti-Jew message of a tiny group of demonstrators from Kansas.

More than 300 students from East Providence High School crammed one corner of the city’s busiest intersection at Taunton and Pawtucket avenues as school let out. Some gripped neon signs supporting gay people. During the school day, students also wore yarmulkes to support their Jewish classmates.

At another corner, 100 or so people, including high school alumni, gathered, holding signs such as “Teach Love, Not Hate” and “Our Giant Signs are Better than Yours.” One even had a pink bunny suit on with “I Love Boys” written on his belly.

On a third corner, five members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., carried epithet-laden picket signs, denouncing homosexuality and declaring, “America is doomed” for tolerating gays and Jews.

Various counter-protestors chanted — “Go Home” or “Gay is the Way” — and for a short time the shouts unified in obscenities.

“I know a lot of gay people in my family,” freshman Jayden DeCosta said. “It’s anybody’s right to do what they want.”

A heavy police presence kept the groups on their respective corners. No incidents were reported and the Kansas group left 40 minutes after it arrived.

School Supt. Mario Cirillo said he was proud of his students’ “peaceful and responsible response” although he and other school officials had asked the nearly 2,000 students to walk by the protestors silently.“This is what I spent 42 years in the military to protect — their right and the kids’ right to demonstrate,” said Lonnie Barham, a retired Army colonel and the school district’s chief operating officer. “I’m very proud of our students.”

I’m not condoning slashing tires, but desecrating a funeral is the greater crime. There are millions of good people who call themselves ‘Baptist’. Maybe it’s time for some of them to visit ‘Rev’ Phelps and do an intervention, or an excommunication.

Too Fat for Love?

Kat Hudson on Salon has a beautiful post about learning to stop waiting for the day when she will be worthy…

In the past seven years, I’ve slowly gotten comfortable with myself. I know I’m not for everybody, but then again, who is? In learning to love my whole self, I’ve learned to love others, too. It is rare I find anyone physically ugly; I joyfully embrace all of our imperfections and differences. I see the spark of the soul hiding behind the eyes of all people and I fall in love a hundred times a day with everyone I see. Beauty is everywhere if you open your heart to see it.

There are so many kinds of beauty. Long ago I took art classes and discovered that when you look at a person with enough concentration to draw them, their beauty emerges. An older gentleman who lived in a little apartment near RISD was the model, so it was counter-cultural to find beauty in a person not young or buff.

I spend a lot of time with people who are physically challenged, but I’ve never met anyone I’d call ugly– barring behavior that is.

So much depends on self-hatred. It’s cost-effective to persuade people to whip themselves. Then they pass along the pain to others and restlessly buy stuff.

Women’s magazines come in two kinds. The kind that tells you that you bear the mark of original sin but check out the ads for mark remover, and the kind that has three weight loss diet plans and nine recipes for dessert in every issue. I used to appreciate the fact that men think they’re gorgeous no matter what they look like, but the commercialization of the body is getting to them, too. Like women need them to be more neurotic and self-absorbed?

What will happen to our consumer culture if enough people believe they are just fine the way they are? What if enough of us decide to wear what we look good in– regardless of this year’s fashion? Why be normal, when there are so many more fun things to be?