Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sometimes It's Hard

Sometimes it’s hard to be a Christian.

I know, some would say it has always been hard to be a Christian, that the Christian life is very difficult, what with all the “take up your cross and follow me” stuff that Jesus said.

But I’m not talking about that. Read my other blog if you want deep thoughts.

No, what makes it hard to be a Christian today is all the embarrassing stuff that other Christians are saying – out loud! – in the name of God.

If you have checked out any of my links (over there on the right side of the page), you’ll see that I keep a finger on the pulse of the non-churched public as well as the religious types. Gay blogger Joe.My.God., in particular, frequently takes to task the hypocrisy of major Christian figures in the news.

I find myself constantly wanting to apologize to Joe for what these crackpots are saying!

                             Dear Joe:
Please understand – not all Christians are alike!
                             Thank you.
                                   Capt. Dave

When I was younger, the American Family Association was the primary agitator. Its members “monitored” television shows, reporting to the AFA membership the number of profanities in each episode, as well as any other unsavory activities in the show. The organization frequently pushed for boycotts of products and companies that sponsored such shows, and occasionally pushed a boycott even when AFA had the facts wrong.

No, the original symbol for Procter & Gamble is not satanic, and no one from the company ever appeared on “The Tonight Show” admitting such!

Yet somehow the AFA still exists, and it is still launching boycotts. In fact, during this holy season, they have drafted a list of businesses who supposedly don’t allow their employees to wish customers “Merry Christmas!”

Suspiciously, they left off the list the overtly-Christian Chik-fil-A, which opted for the more inclusive “Happy Holidays!” this year.

Then there are the TV preachers. Who can forget the scandalous ministry of Jim and Tammy Bakker? Or the time God held Oral Roberts hostage, threatening to "call him home" if people didn't send him $900 million?

Most of us have long since gotten over Pat Robertson, who blames every tornado and hurricane on the wrath of God against homosexuals. It was with no little leap of joy that I watched him try to explain how he got God’s message wrong about the recent presidential election! But frankly, the man is 82 years old, and obviously bordering on dementia.

The Westboro Baptist Church continues to pop up in the news, spewing their unique brand of hatred in the name of God. Fortunately, the general public has risen up against Westboro and now stages counter-protests, coming between the Westboro haters and their intended targets.

And then there’s that preacher-guy in Florida with the biker mustache and a congregation of 20 followers who felt lead by God to burn the Muslim holy book, the Koran – despite warnings from our State Department that his actions would create even more problems for our troops in the Middle East.

And don't forget that old guy who predicted the end of the world last year.

I wonder what he's up to these days?

But the one that takes the cake this week is Scott Lively, a former California lawyer who is now leading a congregation of zealots in Massachusetts. When a local strip club was recently destroyed by a gas explosion, Lively gave God the glory, claiming that his congregation had been praying against that strip club (and other unsavory elements in the community) for more than two years.

Lively employs what are known as “imprecatory prayers”, based on Psalm 109, which asks for God to totally destroy His enemies. With this explosion, he claims, God finally and decisively acted.

Investigators, on the other hand, concluded that the explosion was due to an accident caused by a utility worker. But Lively still insists it was answered prayer.

Critics of Lively, questioning the efficacy of his claim, have pointed out that the strip club will probably sue the local utility company for millions of dollars. In effect, God has provided the club’s owners with a reason and the financial resources to build a bigger and better strip club in its place.

And non-Christians have been questioning why God would make the effort to strike down that particular strip club, when there are so many other things God could be doing with his time – like feeding the hungry and healing the sick.

More damning, however, was the realization that more than 20 people were injured in the blast, including firefighters responding to the alarm; and several other buildings were damaged, including a day care center.

Who would worship that kind of god?

Add to these the great number of people who were praying to God that President Obama would not get re-elected (including spiritual powerhouses like Pat Robertson and Billy Graham), and you have to wonder what God’s been up to lately!

“I know God was pretty busy last year helping Tim Tebow score touchdowns for the Denver Broncos, but from what I’ve seen this year, God apparently doesn’t care for the NY Jets! So what has he been doing, am I right?”

Do you see why I say it’s hard being a Christian today? I can’t compete with that!

While I’m out there trying to tell people about the loving and compassionate God of Christianity – the one who sent his Son to die for the sins of the world – I am constantly having to defend, deflect, and apologize for – not the Gospel message – but the pronouncements of all these other haters and crazies who claim to be speaking for my God!

They’re just making my job harder, that’s all.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Le Beaujolaise Nouveau est arrive'!

Today is the third Thursday of November, and you know what that means!!!

Yes, the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau has been released!

And this year I only had to stop at two wine shops to find it!

Now, if you’ve read my posts from previous years (here) and (at the bottom of the story here) and also (here), you will know that I haven’t yet found a bottle of BN that is actually drinkable.

Something about “new wine”…

But it’s a tradition, so I plunked down the $10.99 for this year’s bottle of plonk... just because. I’m looking forward to popping the cork – maybe as soon as this weekend – and seeing what this year’s vintage tastes like.

I’ve already been warned that the 2012 Beaujolais’ will not be as good as 2010 or 2011- I can hardly imagine - so I’m not real excited about this year’s BN.

And sadly, this little tradition may be on its way out. According to one report, U.S. sales of Beaujolais Nouveau have plummeted over the past decade. In 1999, 742,000 cases of the vile swill were sold. In 2011, only 107,000 cases were sold.

And I suspect much of that was poured out somewhere besides into a wine glass!

Ah, Georges Dubuoeuf, it has been fun! But, alas, all good things must come to an end.

Tasting Notes 11-19-2012: it wasn't bad! Which doesn't mean it was good, but the 2012 BN tastes much better than 2011. 

Once poured, the fragrance of strawberry Jello filled the air. The First Mate / guinea pig - noted that it tastes like a fruit salad - strawberries, cherries, bananas, etc. 

And yes, according to tradition, it tastes better when "guzzled"!

Most anything does!

We re-corked the bottle and returned it to the fridge. If you want to try it, stop on by!

Final thought: if it was served to me without expectations, I would drink it. But I won't be buying a second bottle... Probably won't finish the first one!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bad News of the Week!

When I picked up the newspaper (on my iPad, of course) on Wednesday, I was truly alarmed at the headline I read! In fact, it sickened me! It disgusted me! What is this country coming to?!?
The headline read:
[Hold on to your seats, gentlemen! Ladies, avert your eyes!]
“Warner Bros. Considering Sequel to ‘Casablanca’”
What’s that? Yes, I know there was an election on Tuesday. What’s your point?

Seriously, Cass Warner, granddaughter of one of the original Warner Bros., is pushing for a sequel to what is arguably the greatest movie ever made!
I was preparing to write a blog about “Casablanca” for later in the month, since November 26th will mark the 70th anniversary of the premiere of the film, but this development has pushed up the timeliness of this post.
According to the news (and I checked several sources because I couldn’t believe my eyes!), Ms. Warner found a script written in 1980 by Howard Koch, a contributor to the original screenplay. In this script, we “learn” that shortly after leaving Casablanca, Ilsa Lund has a baby. But – you guessed it! – turns out Victor Laszlo is not the father. Rick Blaine is.

What you hear is the sound of me banging my head on the desk!
As the description reads, “The secret was not kept from Laszlo, but being the kind of man that he was, and owing so much to Rick, he adopts the child and treats him as his own son.”
So, 20 years later, young Richard goes back to Casablanca to learn more about his real father.

Maybe this is why I’ve had a headache these past couple of days! I thought it was the SoCo, but it could be all the head-banging I've been doing thinking about this hot mess!
Besides the triteness of this concept, I have two problems with this idea.
First, you don’t mess with the greatest film ever made! No sequel will ever be able to live up to the beauty of the original. Over the past 70 years, several directors have been approached with the idea of a sequel, even a re-make (“shudder!”), but each have WISELY turned down the offer. In the 80’s there was even a move to colorize the film, but that idea was also rejected.
What we have in “Casablanca” cannot be re-made or added to or improved upon. It is a self-contained work of art, and it should be left alone.
The second problem I have with this concept is, how exactly did Isla have Rick’s love-child?

Okay, maybe not “exactly”. I know how babies are made. I just don’t know when Rick and Ilsa had the opportunity.
Those who buy into this idea say that Rick and Ilsa did the dirty deed when she came to get the elusive Papers of Transit from him. Ilsa was willing to do whatever it took, they say, even shoot Rick if necessary. She doesn’t shoot him, so how else would she be able to get the papers from him?
Because, y’know, women only know two things: murder and seduction!
Some say that the sex scene was in the original script, but in the 1940s, sexuality was kept out of movies by the Production Code Administration. Thus, it is only implied that Rick and Ilsa had sexual relations in Paris (“We’ll always have Paris!”), and again that night at Rick’s Café Americain. They point to the awkward film cut-away to a lighthouse with a beam of light sweeping across the screen before returning to Rick and Ilsa’s emotional – and fully dressed – discussion about the papers.

Not to be naïve, but, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, “Sometimes a lighthouse is just a lighthouse.”
So did they or didn’t they?
Think what you will, but I will never believe that Rick’s decision to put Ilsa on the airplane with Laszlo was determined by a one-night stand – even with a hottie like Ingrid Bergman!
No, as I see it (and I’ve seen it dozens of times!), the soft-hearted tough guy sees true love between Ilsa - whom he had once loved but who had broken his heart - and Laszlo, a hero of the resistance whom Rick greatly respected.
An honorable man – and Rick was – does not steal another man’s wife!
In the final scene, we see the airplane carrying Ilsa and Laszlo to safety, enabling Laszlo to continue his work for the resistance. Rick remains behind with Vichy Captain Louis Renault, who enabled their escape. And then we hear Rick’s inimitable line: “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

The End.
Forever and ever. Amen!
Dear Warner Bros.:
      Forget “Return to Casablanca”! Go work up a sequel to “Space Jam” or some other WB property that nobody cares about!

Yours truly,
     Capt. Dave