Saturday, May 19, 2018

Iowa Lawmakers Target the University of Iowa Community Credit Union with New Law

Iowa became a solidly red state in last year, which has triggered a series of legislative attacks on most of their traditional targets: Planned Parenthood, labor unions, teachers, municipal employees, the environment, the disabled, etc. Earlier this session, Iowa's legislators took aim at the state's credit unions, proposing to raise taxes on them. That ended up not happening, but that didn't stop the Iowa legislature from snubbing Johnson County, yet again.

Iowa's lawmakers added a last minute provision to the end-of-the-season legislation that bans Iowa's credit unions from using the names of state universities in their titles -- which is a direct attack on the University of Iowa Community Credit Union:
It deals a blow to the largest Iowa-based financial institution, which is a frequent target of Iowa bankers. They claim that the UICCU, aided by its nonprofit status, unfairly competes for business by using the name of the state's flagship university, despite having no affiliation with the school. 
Sen. Charles Schneider, a West Des Moines Republican who is chairman of the Senate appropriations committee, said lawmakers included the new rule to officially separate the credit union's name from that of the University of Iowa. "Just as a good business practice, we think it makes sense that they change to a name that doesn't infer or imply that they're somehow related to the university," he said.
Now UICCU's board of directors have until April 30, 2019, to implement this new name-change rule:
"It struck us as a somewhat unusual provision to be thrown in at the last minute," (UICCU  President and CEO Jeff Disterhoft) said. "Most of the conversation leading up to this point involved income taxation at the state level. So it would seem at least plausible that this provision was a way to placate the banking industry in the state of Iowa."
It's not clear if the UICCU will change its name or if they will challenge the new law.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

"Roseanne" Addresses Pain Med Addiction in Wednesday's Episode

ABC's "Roseanne" did something that really surprised me Wednesday -- it addressed the topic of pain med addiction. And the addict appears to be Roseanne Connor herself!

It started out with her complaining that her Vicodin pain meds were missing prematurely. She begged Dan to get some replacement meds from his doctor, claiming that his back was hurting him. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Later during their 45th anniversary ham dinner, Roseanne began acting bizarrely and Dan discovered that her wine was interacting with some secret Vicodins that she took earlier. He began digging around and found several bottles of pills that she'd scored from various Uber riders.

Roseanne has been struggling with pain in her knee all season. The family just can't afford knee-replacement surgery. Dan knew that the pain was bad, but didn't realize that she was taking way more of the drugs than what had already been prescribed.

I told her that he would come up with the $3000 deductible for her knee surgery somehow. But he will now be rationing out her pain meds. Which she seems to accept. Except that we later learn that she has even more stashes of pain meds hidden away, such as in her cold compress!

New WEST COAST AVENGERS Series Coming to Marvel Comics!

I've been reading Marvel Comics since the late 80s. This was a wonderful time, filled with second-tiered characters like the New Mutants, USAgent, and... the West Coast Avengers!

One of my favorite WACKOs story had Hawkeye, Iron Man, Tigra, and Mockingbird travel back in time to team up with Two-Gun Kid, Rawhide Kid, and Phantom Rider. This ultimately led to Phantom Rider kidnapping and drugging Mockingbird, which eventually led to her killing him. And this led to an interesting story line that killed Hawkeye & Mockingbird's marriage. The Wackos split into two factions: killers vs. never-killers. Plus, I first discovered the Living Totem in this story!

The Wackos always seemed to languish in the sales -- even after they were renamed Avengers West Coast and Force Works. And they eventually got canceled. But the West Coast Avengers have always held a warm spot in my heart -- to the point where I once created a fan-fiction team called the West Coast Pet Avengers!

I learned tonight that Marvel Comics plans to publish a new WEST COAST AVENGERS ongoing comic book series in August 2018!! It will feature both Hawkeyes (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop), Gwenpool, Ms. America, Quentin Quire, and some newer guy named Fuse.

The Wackos will operate out of Los Angeles and will share the same living quarters. And it appears that they're stealing a page from one of the old NEW WARRIORS titles. They will be funding their team by starring in a reality TV show. (Which really doesn't excite me...)

WEST COAST AVENGERS will feature writing by Kelly Thompson and artwork by Stefano Caselli.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Openly Gay Methodist Minister Reports That Somebody Stole His Seminary Diploma & Ordination Certificate

I wrote earlier this month about efforts within the United Methodist Church to make things less contentious for both its affirming and non-affirming factions. Personally, I don't think that the One Church Plan that's currently being recommended by the Council of Bishops will make too many people happy. But it has the potential for making things less hostile towards pastors who officiate at their own kids' same-sex weddings. And it has the potential to open up ministry options for openly gay pastors within the denomination.

Anyway, this must be the UMC's time to shine (or not). WKRC from Cincinnati posted an article about a openly gay UMC pastor in Clifton, OH, who reports that his seminary diploma and ordination certificate have been stolen from his church office:
Near the end of April, Meredith says someone broke into his office and stole two framed documents. The documents had not been hung but rather were sitting against the wall, they’re Meredith’s seminary diploma from Saint Paul School of Theology and his ordination certificate. His laptop, historic church jewelry and other valuables were not taken. “This is clearly a planned, purposeful way to de-authorize my ministry as a pastor in this place,” said Meredith. “It’s a very directed, very intentional and feels like somebody is trying to do what the processes of the church have not yet been able to do."
Meredith married his partner Jim back in 2016 after being together as a couple for 30 years. Shortly after his wedding, parishioners began acknowledging his marriage by filing complaints against Meredith to the UMC higher-ups. He was taken to church court and eventually received a favorable decision last year. However, a district church appeals court decided to reconsider that decision in March 2018.

And now somebody has broken into his office and stolen his diploma and ordination certificate.

Frankly, incidents like this (the protracted church trial for getting married) is why I remain in the UCC and why I haven't attempted to return to the denomination of my childhood. The UMC holds a warm spot in my heart, but I really don't have the energy to exist within a denomination that continues to struggle with whether or not to affirm or respect LGBTQ members, families, or leaders.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Jon Responds to a Small-Town Pastor's Anti-Gay Newspaper Essay

I was visiting family up north over the weekend. My mom is subscribed to all of these city and county newspapers, including the Fillmore County Journal. I usually scan through them when I'm visiting, but otherwise don't pay too much attention to them. I started reading this one commentary titled "Good Old Fashioned Morals and Common Sense" from the 05/07/18 edition of the paper by a writer named Pastor Bobbie Horning of Ostrander, MN:
I am writing to oppose, in love, of course, a commentary written last year titled “Give me that old time secularism.” (Fillmore County Journal, December 4, 2017) The article bashed God, Christians and the Bible. How awful and sad and untrue the things that were stated. First of all, the really real Christians are never violent towards the gay lifestyle or anyone in it. They disagree though and believe God can heal them and bring them out into a victory lifesyle (man and woman as God created). They pray for them and show them unconditional love. There are always those who profess to be a Christian but arent if they are violent in any way! There have been instances where the gay community has rallied and had a big sign that said “BURN CHURCHES NOT QUEERS,” and violence was generated on their end, attacking churches and people that oppose them! We have a right to raise our children and families in a way we choose without being told to not talk against it or have no views in the matter. God has always been against homosexuality and all wrongdoing but he loves everyone sooo much!! There is freedom of speech and the real Christians have a voice and a right to choose the way they believe. (Without violence!!!! or hate!) Paul in the Bible was not for slavery. Let me quote a verse from 1 Timothy 1: 10, “For the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers – and for whatever else is sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” Paul lived in a time when slavery was permitted, but he was not for it! You can’t just take one scripture out of God’s Word, you must study it. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both lived in a time when slavery was permitted; they were not for it though!! George was able to free his slaves in 1799 in his last will and testament. Jefferson was unable to free his slaves because he couldn’t fulfill the reguirements of the law. But he was a strong advocate against slavery!! Just because I live in a time where abortion is legal does not mean I am for it, there are laws and people’s freedoms that I cannot stop, only pray for. I am not bashing or hating that lady that wrote the article. In fact I love and pray for her. It really boils down to the fact that God is a good God! And the devil is a bad devil. God gives us choices and he does not cause earthquakes, tornados and killings. He has given us this earth to take care of and things will turn out for our good if we would listen to Him. Go on YouTube and see the testamonials of homosexuals being set free; it’s awesome. People that stayed away from the 911 incident had strong senses that something said, “Don’t go to work today.” God is speaking to help us but are we listening?
This commentary was such a jumble of mismatched thoughts that I couldn't get it out of my head during the ride home. I consulted with some online friends and decided to write up my own response to her essay. And yes, I know that it's somewhat snarky. I did my best to avoid too much of that:
I was visiting the area for Mother’s Day weekend and stumbled across a commentary in the 05/07/18 edition of the Fillmore County Journal titled “Good Old Fashioned Morals and Common Sense” by Pastor Bobbie Horning. She was responding to an old commentary against Biblical literalism. Which somehow required a “loving” response 
against homosexuality. Five months later. In a rambling mess of generalized thoughts and ideas. 
Let’s set aside the irony that Pastor Horning cited 1 Timothy 1:10 to speak out against homosexuality while seemingly ignoring the commandment against female religious leaders that also appears within 1 Timothy 2:11-14. 
I really want to focus on Pastor Horning’s discussions about LGBTQ people. First, there haven’t been instance*s* where the gay community has rallied and had a big sign that said “BURN CHURCHES NOT QUEERS.” There was one incident last year in the middle of a contentious political campaign in Australia where two women held up that sign. Violence wasn’t generated from that sign, nor were churches or church people attacked because of that sign. So let’s not exaggerate. 
Instead, let’s talk about ex-gay testimonies, which Pastor Horning referenced twice within her commentary. I’m old enough and have been in the gay community long enough to know how few of those testimonies actually play out long-term. I would refer you to the premier ex-gay Christian ministry, Exodus International, for a list of its successes – except that the agency eventually collapsed on its own lies and on its founders’ admission that ex-gay ministries don’t work back in 2013. 
Both reparative treatment and ex-gay ministries nurture self-doubt and depression. It falsely blames parents as bad parents who messed up their LGBTQ children. It kills the faith of religious LGBTQ people. And it leads to increased incidents of self-harm and suicidal actions by LGBTQ teens and adults. 
Sadly, local church leaders like Pastor Horning continue to urge LGBTQ people to marry heterosexually in hopes that their unwanted same-sex attraction will get wiped away. Unfortunately, this is a false hope. It just latches unsuspecting heterosexual spouses and their children to unhappy gay spouses. Pastor Horning referred readers to check out ex-gay testimonies on YouTube. I would invite her and other readers to check out the testimonies of ex-ex-gay people on YouTube – and to do it without the veil of Christian anti-gay agenda. 
I will end with the following rhetorical question for Pastor Horning – or for any other readers: How many of you would seriously encourage your son or daughter to enter into marriage with a gay person? Regardless of how much he or she says that she or he has been set free of their same-sex attractions. My hunch is that their own inner voice will urge them to “Don’t unequally yoke yourself to that person.” God is speaking to help us, but are we listening?

United Methodist Bishops Propose Plan to Allow LGBTQ Ordination & Gay Weddings in Some Areas of the Denomination // Updated Below...

(Originally written on 05/06/18): I grew up in the United Methodist Church. I eventually quit it and joined the United Church of Christ -- in part due to the UCC's open & affirming belief systems towards LGBTQ members and leaders. I still have a warm spot in my heart for the Methodists and I enjoy worshiping there when visiting my family. But I don't see myself returning to the UMC, in part because of my now twenty year connection to the UCC. But also because the United Methodist Church has a pretty awful history for defrocking LGBTQ pastors. Well, for defrocking any pastor who expresses any ounce of support for same-sex marriages and weddings.

Don't get me wrong. It's the UMC's right to push back against same-sex marriage and LGBTQ pastors. But it's also my right as a married gay Christian with nearly adult kids to worship elsewhere because of this.

I was reading an article yesterday from Religion News Service about a proposed plan within the United Methodist Church hierarchy that would allow individual pastors and regional bodies to make their own decisions when it comes to same-sex weddings and LGBTQ clergy ordination. The Council of Bishops recommended the One Church Plan on Friday the 4th of May:
(T)he One Church Plan... provides conferences, churches, and pastors the flexibility to uniquely reach their missional context while retaining the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church. 
The One Church Plan allows for contextualization of language about human sexuality in support of the mission; and allows for central conferences, especially those in Africa, to retain their disciplinary authority to adapt the Book of Discipline and continue to include traditional language and values while fulfilling the vision of a global and multicultural church. 
This plan also encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions. The One Church Plan removes the restrictive language of the Book of Discipline and adds assurances to pastors and Conferences who due to their theological convictions cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals.
More details about this plan will be released on 07/08/18.

Personally, I don't think it will be that easy. It was challenging to be a married gay man living in Iowa when most of the rest of the USA refused to legally recognize our marriage. I would imagine that it will be similarly challenging if one is a married lesbian pastor in one conference and then trying due mission work elsewhere, or even Trying to move to another region.

Updated on 05/14/18: Religion News Service posted this article about reactions to the One Church Plan. It seems that nobody is happy about this recommendation:
Socially conservative evangelicals say the plan, which aims to avert schism in the 12 million-member denomination, goes too far by permitting individual pastors and regional bodies to make their own decisions on whether to perform same-sex weddings and ordain LGBT people as clergy.

“The reaction from the evangelical side of the church in the U.S. was, I think it’s safe to say, entirely negative,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a conservative advocacy group.

Meanwhile progressives aren’t happy either. Reconciling Ministries Network and the United Methodist Queer Clergy Caucus, two groups committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church, also expressed concerns that none of the three plans included in the bishops’ report would affirm ordination and marriage for all the denominations’ LGBT members.

“We took a step back and said there is an option that’s missing in all of this discussion, and that option is legislative language written into the Book of Discipline that would welcome and celebrate the lives of LGBTQ members of the United Methodist Church,” said RMN Executive Director Jan Lawrence.
I was visiting family over the weekend -- a bunch of Methodists. They hadn't heard yet about this recommendation. It really hadn't trickled down to their local church community -- and nobody was talking about it during coffee hour during church on Sunday.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

"700 Club" Features Pulse Shooting Survivor Who Came Out as Ex-Gay

Remember the Pulse Survivor who came out as ex-gay? He showed up on "The 700 Club" and told his story about becoming a Christian following the mass shooting: "It wasn't a gay to straight thing. It was a lost to saved thing."

Luis Javier Ruiz doesn't go to clubs anymore and he doesn't drink and he's leading a more stable life these days. To him, this is leaving the gay lifestyle. For others, that's just maturing and leading a more stable life. But CBN eats up stories like his and reduces our lives to drinking and partying and implies that one is no longer gay once one stops drinking and partying.

In the video, Ruiz assures us that he still loves his LGBTQ friends: "I love the LGBTQ community. I love them with all my heart. If they want to come as a transgender, if they want to as a homosexual lesbian to the church, come. Come as you are. Experience Jesus. Then you make the decision."

Once again, he implies that you cannot be LGBTQ and Christian or involved with the Church. Despite the existence of affirming church denominations like the United Church or Christ or the Metropolitan Community Church, or online queer Christian communities like Q Christian Fellowship.

And then CBN segue-ways to a "former transgender activist" named Jeffrey McCall who joined a church and transformed into an ex-transgender activist. Which once again brought home the false idea that LGBTQ people cannot have LGBTQ identities and Christians.

Always remember: CBN loves to talk about LGBTQ Christians -- but only if we are ex-gay. Otherwise, they marginalize us and deny our stories and our collective faith.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Freddy Jones Is Killed Off in SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #25

I've been enjoying SCOOBY APOCALYPSE since the beginning. This is part of DC Comics' effort to reimagine the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons for a modern audience. SCOOBY APOCALYPSE tells the story of humanity transformed into cannibalistic monsters -- with the exception of the Scooby Gang and a handful of other people. The Scooby Gang recently set up based in an otherwise secure mall, waiting for two factions of Consumerite monsters to kill each other off.

Last issue, Freddy proposed to Daphne while investigating the mystery of why the Consumerites never seem to reduce in numbers despite bloody battles every day. And she said yes!

Daphne was being weird when SCOOBY APOCALYPSE #25 began. I almost dug out issue #24 to remind myself why she was so upset. But then I figured out that Freddy sneezed and alerted the Consumerites at CJ Nickel to their presence. They attacked our two heroes, forcing them to shoot up all of the monsters.

But that still didn't explain why Daphne was reacting so badly to this battle. I mean, it wasn't the first time that she'd killed monsters. Then we learned that she'd been forced to shoot up a bunch of baby monsters. Which made me wonder if she was upset by the baby monsters' deaths, but that wasn't it.

Then I figured it out. Freddy was killed during the attack. One of the baby monsters survived the attack and sliced him up. He ended up dying in Daphne's arms.

We learned that Daphne has been speaking with Freddy's ghost. Or his memory.

Freddy's ghost then watched over Daphne and the rest of the Scooby Gang as they went to retrieve his corpse.

Freddy's death was certainly surprising. He's such an iconic character and it's highly unlikely that he'll be resurrected within this series -- though it's possible that he might be brought back through supernatural intervention, or even with the help of nanites.

But for now, Freddy Jones is dead. I can't imagine the Scooby Gang without him...

Thursday, May 10, 2018

David Platt Finally Opens Up to Shona About His Rape on "Coronation Street"

It's been nearly two months since Josh drugged and raped David Platt on "Coronation Street." (See these posts for more information here, here, here, and here.) Since then, David has imploded emotionally. He's isolated himself. He's chased away his girlfriend Shona. He's emotionally attacked his family. He's physically attacked Gary. And he's freaked out by Josh's continued presence in the neighborhood. He's refused to tell anyone about his rape. He won't see a doctor. He won't speak to a therapist. And he won't speak to the police.

He finally spoke to Shona last night about his rape.

If anything came from Aidan's suicide, it was David's sudden understanding that he was going to destroy himself just as much as Aidan unless he told somebody. So he told Shona. He told her how Josh drugged him and took him to his place and dragged him to his bedroom and forced himself on him.

And his darkest fears didn't come true. Shona believed him. And she promised to stand by his side, no matter what.

I was so impressed with both David and Shona in this story. I knew that Shona would rise to the occasion. I just so pleased that David finally turned to somebody for help. He's needed somebody on his side for a long time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Emotionally Gutted Following Aidan Connor's Suicide on "Coronation Street"

I finally finished watching tonight's episode of "Coronation Street." Monday's episodes featured Aidan Connor's final episode. He spent the episode giving gifts to various friends. He bought a dress for young Summer. He gave an expensive watch to Liam. He purchased country club passes for his father. He gave Eva back her old engagement ring and danced with her one last time.

And then he went home and killed himself.

Tonight's episode was emotionally draining. I couldn't stop the tears from flowing as his family and friends discovered his suicide and coped with his loss.

Apparently, 84 men take their lives every week in the United Kingdom. Suicide is the single greatest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. I can't imagine what the numbers are in the USA.

If "Coronation Street" told its viewers anything, it's that you cannot always recognize when your friends or family are feeling suicidal. We viewers have been witnessing signs of Aidan's depression for months. And even we were taken by surprise.

"Coronation Street" also told us another message: Talk with somebody that you trust. You don't have to suffer in silence. Talk to your partner, or your friend, or your parents, or your brother or sister. Talk with a mental health hotline if you have to. But talk to somebody so that they can help you.