You Feel Shame

When John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, testifies today before the Senate Banking Committee about his employees opening unauthorized customer accounts, he’ll no doubt feel shame… #BigDeal #GoToThePenaltyBox

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Hypocritical and Horny – The Ashley Madison Plaintiffs

sexy judge

Presently eight douchebags, I mean people . . . people across the United States who registered to use Ashley Madison are suing the cheating website after hackers released personal and detailed information on them and millions of other users, including credit card numbers and sexual preferences.

Now, get this. These total ass-hats, I mean people . . . people are alleging, among other things, that the cheating site Ashley Madison committed a breach of contract against them. That is, because of the theft of their personal information, both financial and fornicatory, they have been hurt such that there must be a legal remedy to assuage their injuries.

But these whoreholes, I mean people . . . people who are/were married and used Ashley Madison did far worse to their spouses than just mishandle or steal financial information, or breach a business contract. These cheaters broke sacred vows to their betrothed. They took the trust their families had in them – the trust of their life partners and their children – and smashed it – smashed it into a million fucking pieces – pieces that likely will never be mended.

These prostijerks, I mean people . . . people live in California, Texas, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Minnesota. They all seek class-action status to represent the estimated 37 million other registered Ashley Madison cheaters. How righteous to represent such a worthy class of injured plaintiffs. How noble of the attorneys to advocate for such a lovely gaggle of slutnuts, I mean people . . . people.

Yeah. They’re just people. Flawed, miserable people who committed a sin against their significant others and children. We’re all sinners. We shouldn’t judge. We all need forgiveness each and every day for the stupid, malicious, selfish shit we do to each other each and every day. So, while it may seem harsh to write such a high and mighty sounding blog post about these imperfect human beings who made a bad mistake – the mistake of seeking to cheat, or actually cheating on, their “loved” ones, I’ll just add this:

There is a big difference between committing a wrong and owning up to it with contriteness, and begging for forgiveness with sincere tears in one’s eyes and one’s soul. It is quite another thing to decide to sue the website you engaged to destroy your marriage in secret after things go wrong and the destruction is laid out there for all to see.

Now these people want justice. Spelled m – o – n – e – y.

Money won’t make their shame go away. But if you have no shame, what’s the difference?

A Prayer for Meat

On the beginning of Orthodox Lent this 2014, a re-publishing of a post from two years ago as the close of the Great Fast then approached:

“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal!”They’re Made Out of Meat by Terry Bisson

meet your meatWith Orthodox Lent coming to a close, I look forward to once again eating meat. Real, savory, delicious, melt in your mouth meat – prime rib and filet mignon, fall off the bone barbequed ribs, Cuban grilled pork chops simmering in mojo creole and onions – the list goes on and on. As one newly baptized into Orthodox Christianity, only having partaken of a few communions, this is my first experience with fasting long term. For a card carrying carnivore who’d never gone more than maybe three days sans meat, if even, six weeks without ingesting the flesh of God’s other living, sentient creatures is a famishing experience.

Now not all Orthodox give up all flesh. Some continue to eat fish or at least shell fish. And probably a fair number of the faithful are far less strict than the intent of the observance, enjoying a burger for dinner once in a while and a glass of milk with their cookies for desert. That’s right, even dairy and wine and oil are supposed to be given up except on special days when wine might be permitted. But converts tend to be the more hard core of any group’s faithful. And in our family, we’ve been pretty strict. Once for lunch my wife and I went out for sushi on a non-fish day. We kept that a secret from our son who, at twelve, is the most committed of our lot. Still, we’ve been pretty diligent in our dietary fast.

Some Orthodox reading this may object that eating shell fish is permitted during Lent. But our priest advised that the ultimate goal – and he was clear that we as neophytes were only to fast to the extent we were comfortable – is to abstain from participating in the destruction and eating of any living, sentient being. We, never being a family to do anything halfway, no matter how much sense moderation might make in a given circumstance, have made a strict fast our approach throughout – save the occasional calamari appetizer at the local Italian restaurant. And that sushi lunch I mentioned.

more meatNow the real point of the fast – akin to that of the other two monotheistic faiths, i.e., Yom Kippur in Judaism, Ramadan in Islam – is to make one cognizant of how far separated from God the observer has become. Then, it is through prayer and abstinence that true repentance and the asking for forgiveness enables the penitent to come Home and reunite with their Maker.

But abstinence from what? Food. Well, duh.

Yes, certain kinds of food, for sure, are to be excised from one’s diet during a religious fast. Everyone knows that. But also the amount one eats is part of the equation. Pasta and tomato sauce thickened with texturized vegetable protein (TVP) may be good for Lent, but stuffing one’s self full of three or more full-sized plates of it still makes for gluttony. By the way, they’re making incredible faux-meat products out of TVP including simulated burger patties and artificial chicken chunks. It can also be used in place of taco meat or as attic insulation. But back to the gluttony issue, let me just say that after a modest lunch of lentil soup, eating a full bag of hot fries is yet  another great way to blow the fast.

More important than the kinds and amounts of food we eat during Lent, or outside of Lent even, the real crux of that matter is evil and sin. It is evil and sin which we truly are supposed to give up. As Saint Basil the Great says,

“Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood perjury. Privation of these is true fasting.”

Really, this is what all believers in God should be trying to do every day of their lives. Isn’t it? If so, then why bother having a special six week period of fasting from sin? And why the focus on meat?

For one thing, I find there is most definitely value in having a special period set aside for focused reflection on one’s interpersonal state vis-à-vis God. That is to remember it is not our outward appearance, but our inner beauty or lack thereof, which concerns our Creator. And for me, that involves a muddled, but with God’s grace and patience, slowly sharpening recognition of my fallen pig and kid share big, sloppy kissstate. For it was not long at all after my first confession I found myself swearing at my fellow drivers on the road, gossiping about my neighbors, being selfish with my time, being impatient and unfriendly, and thinking rotten, vile things. Pulling away from meat, along with the struggle to figure out what to have for the family dinner which exacerbates the temptation to break the fast, continually puts before the mind the point of the exercise – to continue to struggle back Home. We are all prodigal sons and daughters.

The giving up of meat has also inadvertently forced me to consider the cost of meat. I’m not talking about economics or price to the environment. I’m actually speaking of the cost to meat. Now I’m no fan of PETA. Not by a long shot. Nor do I intend to become a vegetarian. Though there are plenty of ethical and health reasons to do so, I am now and probably always will be a carnivore. I possess sharp canines and a taste for rare steak – I like a little moo left in my filet.

But I’ve also watched some of the horrid videos that have been surreptitiously taken in the nation’s slaughter houses. And while I will not post animal snuff films on this blog, they’re easily discoverable. Just do a search on YouTube. While not at all pleasant, there is a certain virtue I think to becoming aware of the total price of living in the world – especially for those of us immersed in and nearly, if not fully, possessed by American consumer culture.  There’s nothing wrong at all if we consumers demand that the animals we live off of are killed as painlessly – as humanely – as possible.

Now the animals we eat could at other times be pets. While varying in degree, some can be quite intelligent. The pig and the octopus may be the smartest species my family regularly enjoys as foodstuff. Though we may express remorse at their demise, my wife put it very succinctly – “Intelligence has nothing to do with deliciousness.”

So while I will soon again eat bacon with my eggs, and inhale the rich aroma of simmering Hamburger Helper – not TVP Helper – filling our kitchen, my prayers of thanks for the table set before me will be a little different than they were before this, my first, Lent. Not only is God owed thanks for providing my family and me with sustenance. I also feel the need to ask for forgiveness for participating in the cruelty and pain of the world – of the torture and misery caused the animals we not only have been given as food, but of whom we are supposed to be caretakers. And I’d ask you to pray with me that the day will come when all meat on the table is not only safe to eat from a health perspective, but safe to eat from a moral perspective – that the animal that has become our dinner this night was caused as little pain as possible during its dying.