Monday, October 5, 2015

Crisp Burnt Umber Days

Crisp Burnt Umber Days
A Poem by, James Kiester
My porch in Fall
Subject: My Porch in Fall | Date: 10/05/15 | Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell |
 This picture was taken by the author of this blog. |
Pumpkins and gourds adorn porches,
Which caress lawns of dry brown grass,
Blanketed in leaves of crimson, saffron, ochre, burnt umber.

Crisp air stings pink cheeks,
As it kisses ripe apples and pears,
Making their way to cider presses and Cheddar topped pies.
Young men prepare to tote pig skins,
Across fields of freshly mowed and painted grass,
And peddlers bombard nostrils with salty scents of popcorn and roasting nuts.

Pleasant wives stir rich pots of soup,
While peering through frost laced kitchen windows,
At husbands cleaning freshly killed game hanging from trees in backyards.
 Night falls as crackling fires lick, snap,
And warm the chilled toes of lazily tired people,
Before nestling into warm and cozy beds for pleasantly comfy slumber.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Watch Your Phrasology

Not long ago, on my food blog, I wrote about the misuse of food terms, and explained why things such as "eggless mayo" and "beefless burgers" are logical impossibilities.  Not long after I wrote about the misuse of food terms, I was reminded of our rampant misuse of ideological terms.

I was at a dinner party when the conversation became about an individual who doesn't approve of same sex marriage.  One guest said, "Well, she's a Christian," and everybody nodded in understanding.  They were using "Christian" as a synonym for "intolerant."

Surely, there's precedent for such an equivalence.  Jews were tortured by the church during the inquisition, the Confederacy sited scripture to justify slavery, and Governor Wallace tried to use the Bible to justify Jim Crow laws.

All that being true, there are plenty of Christians who are not intolerant of minorities.  I'M ONE OF THEM!  My Bible study is full of them.  Christ himself was tolerant of others; John 4 verses 7 thru 10 says, "When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)  10 Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'"  He accepted and respected everyody.

Now before I get too uppity, I have to confess to using the word "Republican" to mean "bigot."  That's not fair either.  Yes, there is the extreme fringe of the Republican party who wants to outlaw same sex marriage, undo the Voter Right Act, and build a wall across the southern border of Texas.

Yet, there are many republicans who; believe in smaller government, believe in zero tolerance for crime and drug abuse, believe in a strong national security, and believe in putting people to work instead of giving them government handouts; who don't believe in making America into a heterosexual white men's club.

Of course, these days if you really want to slur someone you simply have to call them a "Muslim."  People will argue over whether Obama is a Muslim.  Rather than proving he's not a Muslim, which is easy to prove by the way, educated people should be pointing out that being a Muslim isn't a bad thing.

The five pillars of Islam are the declaration of faith, prayer, fasting, charity, and pilgrimage.  Our enemies, Al-Qaeda and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) have as much to do with the legitimate Islamic Faith as members of the KKK have to do with Christianity.

Finally, we come to my favorite.  There are individuals who will earnestly rail against "those Communist Nazis."  Communists are an extreme liberal faction who believe people should be 100% equal, even if it means outlawing religion to create an artificially level playing field.  Nazis are an extreme conservative faction who believe in the absolute superiority of a single race, based on a twisted view of religion.

 photo poliscie.jpg
Graphic drawn by James Kiester for this blog.
While both philosophies are fundamentally flawed, they're products of diametrically opposed schools of thought.  One can't be both.

In the U.S.A. we're allowed to say anything we want, but wouldn't it be nice if we used the correct terms when we do?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Why The Kim Davis Case Isn't About Religion

Kim Davis, the Clerk of Kentucky's Rowan County, was jailed last week for defying a court’s order to comply with the law by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As she spent the holiday weekend behind bars, her supporters claimed Davis' incarceration was an example of religious persecution.


The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

That means the government can't dictate what church we go to (if we indeed go to a church), who/what we call God, how we pray, or what religious symbols we display on our property and person. The Amendment was never intended to give citizens carte blanche to pick and choose which laws we'll follow based on our religious beliefs.

No matter what religion Americans belong to, we can't:
  • smoke peyote,
  • marry more than one person at a time,
  • sacrifice children and/or virgins,
  • or avoid doing our job.
Think of it this way.  Mormons are opposed to drinking alcohol.  However, if a Mormon got a job waiting tables, they would still have to serve the drinks ordered by the patrons.  On a personal level, they wouldn't have condone drinking, or drink themselves.  They'd simply have to perform the duties they're payed to perform.

It's the same with Kim Davis.  No court in the land could order Davis to approve of gay marriage, or attend a gay wedding.  Yet, they can compel her to perform the duties she's legally payed to perform.

Kim Davis was released from jail today. The release order, issued by Judge Bunning, directs Davis not to, “interfere in any way, directly or indirectly, with the efforts of her deputy clerks to issue marriage licenses to all legally eligible couples.”  Whether, or not, she stays out of jail is COMPLETELY up to her.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


For somebody, like me, who can't get to the theater every time a good movie comes out, Netflix is a wonderful thing. Last weekend I finally treated myself to Selma. The movie tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s struggle to convince President Johnson to support the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Photo courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

As the closing credits rolled, I said to myself, "White officials were brutal 50 years ago.  Golly gee whiz, we've come a long way."  It's the reaction the film is designed to elicit.  Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I doubted the accuracy of my reaction.

Well, today African Americans are free to vote in the south
Yeah, except for the fact that in 2013 the Supreme Court effectively struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by a 5-to-4 vote, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.  Not long after the ruling was handed down, Texas reenacted their Jim Crow era voter I.D. law.  Other states quickly followed suit by passing restrictive voting laws of their own.

OK, but white police are no longer brutalizing African American citizens
  • Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. 
  • Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American resident of Baltimore, Maryland, sustained fatal injuries from being shot multiple times by police officers.  
  • In McKinney, Texas, a police officer pulled his gun on several unarmed African American teens and wrestled a bikini-clad girl to the ground.
As much as I'd like to believe society has learned from our past mistakes, I'm not sure it's true.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.