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"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"A whole lotta ugly from a whole lotta stupid."

This was the weekend of the Annual Sandcastle Contest at Rehoboth Beach. These are three among the many, many entries.

I don't know which one won, but this rendition in sand of the Pirates of the Caribbean would have won my vote for first place.
This turtle would have won second place.

Pretty awesome, right?
And this sandcastle would have won third.

Our daughter says she would have voted the sandcastle first place. Admittedly, it's not the best picture - not bad for a cell phone camera - but, oh, I don't know. It just didn't have the personality of the other two.

Okay. You wanna know what the title of this post has to do with the Sandcastle Contest, right? Let me explain.

This is a line from the movie HAIRSPRAY, a film by John Waters about racial intolerance in Baltimore in the 1950's. It became a Broadway play which is, once again a film. It was released just this week and it stars none other than John Travolta and Michele Phiffer.

It's a line spoken by Queen Latifah's character who is trying to explain to a white teenager and her black boyfriend what they were about to experience when seen in public together. She says to them, "You've got to get ready to face a whole lotta ugly from a whole lotta stupid."

I was thinking that it was this time last year when the second wave of ugly began to hit this blog. The first wave came just as General Convention 2006 was ending.

One of the very mean-spirited blogs had taken one of the more emotional entries I had made after B033 passed and hung it up for target practice - a habit that continues to be a modus operandi of the Right. I'm told there's even a term for it. It's called being an "Internet Troll".

Actually, it was worse than that. My essay was made into a Victorian-esq parody that could only be described as a cruel mockery of authentic distress and pain. Then, it was dragged around some of the Blogs on the Right where the ridicule and parody continued for days.

I thought it was just the fervor of General Convention that brought out the ugly in some people. I know I sound naive but, at the time, I had no idea about the power of the Internet - or the amount of hate generated by General Convention 2006 in general and the election and consecration of Gene Robinson as bishop of NH in particular. I didn't have a clue that many people from all across the religious political spectrum were continuing to read my blog in search of things they could discredit or ridicule.

Sometimes, I am amazed by my own incapacity to comprehend the workings of Cyberspace. The only thing more amazing to me is my continued naivete in believing in the inherent decency and natural inclination of the goodness of the human heart.

I thought a whole lot of the ugly of B033 brought out a whole lotta stupid in blogs and then it would be over, until . . . during the first week of August, 2006, while on vacation, I wrote a blog about the Sandcastle Contest and some of the bumper stickers and T-Shirts I was seeing around town.


WELL! You might have thought I was Satan incarnate. I got absolutely excoriated over at one of the most scurrilous of the conservative blogs. It was amazing. Truly. Even something as innocent as posting a picture of the cover of the rear tire on a jeep became a sign and symbol of my inherent evil and all that was wrong with The Episcopal Church.

I had suggested that, instead of putting signs in front of our church that said stuff like, "8 AM HE I, 10 AM, HE II, sung, solemn," that only 'insiders' and "members only" would understand, perhaps we could bear a message of evangelism more in line with that sign on the back of that jeep. You know - a message of hope that would invite people in from the darkness of the world into the light of Christ.

What was that sign?


It said, "Life is good."

I know, right? How could I? How much more evil could I possibly convey?

Well, I got my own kinda stupid, I suppose. I've since gone out an bought a baseball cap and a bag that say, "Life is good." And, I wear them everywhere.

There's more. I've been at it again. These past two weeks, I've carried a small notebook with me and I've been writing down sayings on bumper stickers and T-shirts I've seen in Rehoboth Beach which have made me laugh right out loud, in public, and in front of God and everybody.

So, having not yet lost my sense of humor, and refusing to have it taken from me or surrendering it to anyone, I'm presenting - TA DA!- the Second Annual "Silly Sayings at the Beach."

Before I do, I'm girding my loins for the reaction from the Right. I'm repeating the advice to myself from Queen Latifah, "You've got to get ready to face a whole lotta ugly from a whole lotta stupid."

Ready? Here we go -

In the FOOD Category:

"Drink coffee. Do stupid things faster and with more energy."

"Stressed is desserts spelled backwards."

"Having good health simply means you are dying at a slowest rate possible."

In the ALCOHOL Category:

"Finish your beer, there are sober kids in China, Africa and India."

"Tequila: Helping women lower their standards for years."

"Beer: Helping white guys dance since 1842."

In the POLITICAL HUMOR Category:

"01.20.09 Bush's Last Day."

"You're in America. Speak English."

"Which is worse? Screwing an intern or screwing the country?"

"The Patriot Act: Turning Citizens into spies since 2001."

"Bush is listening. Use big words."

Picture of Bush with these words: "Like a rock. Only dumber."

Special BUSH QUOTES Sub-Category:

"Rarely is the question asked, 'Is our children learning?'"

"I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure."

"More and more of our imports come from overseas."

"It's clearly a budget. It's got lots of numbers in it."

'Women Rule' Category

"When he left, she realized that the only thing she lost was the reason to shave her legs."

"BITCH: Babe in Total Control of Herself."

"If at first you don't succeed, redefine success."

"Of course women don't have to work as hard as men. They get it right the first time."

"Well behaved women rarely make history."

Baby T-Shirt Category

"What happens in play group, stays in play group."

"I Pood"

"(with the logo for AC/DC) AB/CD"

"Dairy Queen"

LGBT Category
"I only dress like this to piss off the Drag Queens."

"I wish I could quit you."

(The following is about the Senator from Louisiana, an ardent opponent of gay marriage and spokesperson for Christian 'family values', whose telephone number was on the call list of the DC Madam. Oops!)

"Senator David Vitters: Jambalaya, crawfish pie and a floozie in the gumbo."

"I don't have a lifestyle. I have a life. Run along now and get your one of your own."

Religious Category

"Jesus loves me, this I know (but he thinks you're a real jerk)."

"I love Jesus. It's his followers that drive me crazy."

"What part of 'Love One Another' don't you understand?"

General Excellence Category

"You're only young once, but you can be immature forever."

"National Sarcasm Society: Like we need your support."

"Hard work must have killed someone."

"Save the drama for your momma."

"Teenagers: Tired of being harassed by your parents? Move out, get a job, pay your own way while you still know everything."

"I am nobody. Nobody is perfect. Therefore, I am perfect."

Actually, I'm thinking of having my own bumper sticker made. It will read: "Life is good, but first, you're going to experience a whole lotta ugly from a whole lotta stupid."

Well, there it is folks. If the past is any indicator, some will be more convinced than ever that there's enough here to initiate a Title IV complaint.

Meanwhile, you'll excuse me while I continue to enjoy my vacation.


Anonymous said...

Those are all MUY FABULOSO!

I want a "Life is Good" hat too.

Lisa said...

Oh, my! Elizabeth, there are so many "winners" here among your t-shirt and bumper-sticker slogans that I can't possibly decide which is my favorite. I loved them!

But in the sandcastle contest, there's no contest: it's the 1st one you posted, from the Pirates of the Caribbean.

This is delightful stuff, you ol' lezzie heretic, you!

You remind me one needs to just get out and play! Even if this "one" isn't blessed to be on vacation, enjoying the beach, and feasting on freshly-caught crab.

Blessings to you.

Kris G. said...

I'm all agog that someone could find any evil whatsoever in the phrase "Life is good." Goodness. I want a "Life is good" sign to hang over my desk-- such a wonderful reminder!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kris G,

I admit. It is an outrageous thing to have said just a few weeks after General Convention 2006 and B033.

Outrageous only if you're not a faithful follower of the theachings of Jesus.

Which is what, I think, really pisses them off. That we continue to have hope. And bold faith.

But, mostly that we don't slink away, silenced and cowering in fear in some dark corner of hell - which is where they imagine we belong.

We know how the story ends. B033, TWR, and what they write on their blogs are just a few blips of the meta story of God's love for the world.

Life is good. And then, you die. And then, we've been promised (and +VGR reminds us), we go to heaven.

So, what's to fear?

Bill Carroll said...

They're equally pissed off about "Pefectly love casts out all fear."

What HERETIC wrote that?

I personally think that Irenaeus more or less said "life is good," in Against Heresies. And that some of the heresies that abound in the Church today, like in Irenaeus' day, depend on us believing that life and love are evil, and on making us very, very afraid.

If it weren't for Jesus, on a bad day, we might even believe them.

But life IS good. And perfect love casts out all fear.

Jim said...

A friend recently sent me a bumper sticker 'Jesus called: he wants his religion back.' I like it a lot, as well as the 'what part of love one another don't you get?' one.

I think the commenter's are correct. Here they are doing their level best to humiliate and disparage the horrible, evil lesbians, gays and their evil fellow travellers, and we dare to be hopeful? Not acceptable. After all, they have decided we are apostate!

Ah well, anyone got a party hat?


Muthah+ said...

"A whole lot of ugly from a whole lot of stupid" sounds like what is coming out of our diocese.

Ran by SFiF physical home yesterday to see a new sign. Good Shepherd--an Anglican parish spread over the whole face of the church about 5 or 6 ft high. Yep. "A whole lot of ugly from a whole lot of stupid"

Bill said...

Elizabeth, Feel free to use the saying on my T-shirt: "So many right wing Christians; So few Lions."

Padre Mickey said...

I enjoyed all the phrases, but my favorite was the one from the National Sarcasm Society!

Do you really think people are going to get upset about these?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Padre, honey, you have absolutely NO idea what can send them off on a rant.

I mean, just saying the baptismal name of the Bishop of NH will send them off for 15 minutes of sustained laughter.

It got so bad that the Head Bully at Bullies on Viagra has set a policy on that blog that no one may use Gene's baptismal name, for which I give him total propers.

It's like that. . . .

Cheryl said...

My favorite, by far:
"What don't you understand about 'love one another'?"

I may get it put on a t-shirt - or have it tatooed on my forehead!


Padre Mickey said...

Hmmm, maybe I'll stay in Panama for quite while.

Caminante said...

My so-called atheist cat sitter left a magnet on my refrigerator door:

"Don't make me go down there." God

Suzer said...

I don't remember the "Life is Good" post, but I do think it interesting that the folks you are referring to would have a problem with it. Some of the blogs that I have read from what I will call a "conservative fringe" element (because they are neither the conservatives I know, nor the extremists I see in, for example, the Phelps clan) are written by people who seem very unhappy in their lives. Perhaps they resent someone who, though they do their best to oppress them, still can say "life is good."

I will repeat what another blogger said quite a few months ago -- some of these folks seem to suffer from a collective autism which makes them not only incapable of empathy, but angry at anyone who has any feelings at all. (And I don't mean autism in the clinical medical sense, or in a negative way -- I'm simply using it as a descriptor of some of the behavior I've seen.) One of the definitions of autism I looked up includes the terms "excessive rigidity" and "emotional detachment." I wonder what makes these folks this way, and pray that they can be touched by God's grace in such a way that they can see our common humanity. But I won't hold my breath for that to happen.

I'm sorry that they so delight in attacking a fellow Sister in Christ. I eventually made my blog by invite only after being attacked by the same people. We are all human and we all have shortcomings -- myself most definitely included. And we all must humble ourselves to accept correction when needed. Where we differ with those attacking us is in what we define as "sin" and that's where they stumble, and lay a stumbling block before others.

Life is indeed good. God is indeed good. I hope they can see and accept that in their lives someday as well.

John said...

Oh, this is great. My hands down favorite is, "I don't have a lifestyle. I have a life. Run along now and get your one of your own." Keep them coming! It's posts like this that remind me that life really is good!

Mark said...

Elizabeth, my college roommate had a t-shirt I loved:

"The National Non-Sequitir Society: We May Not Make Sense, But We Do Like Ketchup!"

learning said...

I can't let too much time go before I check your blogs. God is Good! Elizabeth, you are a smart cookie. I live in a very enclosed world and need you to remind me all is not as it seems. L, Joyce

just another piskie said...

Most of those are good, but I'm not sure why "You're in America. Speak English." is in there. Personally I'm delighted that "American" can mean so many different things and that Americans speak so many different languages (and cook so many different wonderful foods, and create so many different kinds of art, music, and dance, etc.).

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks to everyone who has contributed their own favorite slogan/T-shirt/bumper sticker.

The one that said, "This is America. Speak English." was so shocking to me I had to put it in here. I don't think it's an isolated thought or sentiment.

I think it says something quite disturbing about the xenophobia that has become part of the backlash - in our culture and in our church.

Eileen said...

I just always thought that the You're in America, Speak English, spoke huge volumes about how spoiled, and insulated and well, PROVINCIAL Americans tend to be, as a lot.

Of course, God did have the KJ Bible written in perfect Elizabethan English, which we know Jesus spoke...

Lapinbizarre said...

Among the sayings of what Molly Ivins used to call "Our Only President", do not forget the observation "After all, you just go to an emergency room", made with regard to his threat to veto any extension of Federal medical coverage for uninsured children. This has to be the winner of the 2007 "Let them eat cake" award.

My absolute, all-time favorite Bushism - also pertaining to matters medical - continues to be "Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country".

In closing, I must thank the "Wounded Bird" poster, whose identity now escapes me, who brought to my attention the "WTFWJD" t-shirt, costing me money and drawing me further into sin.

Lapinbizarre said...

On checking a little harder, it was Caminante who posted on the WTFWJD shirt. Northern New England stirring it up again! Thanks Caminante.