Thursday, May 14, 2009

Faith Works 5-23-09
Jeff Gill

Who You Calling a Hypocrite?

I am a hypocrite.

There, got that out of the way. Now, what is a hypocrite?

Generally speaking, a hypocrite is someone who says one thing, or stands for one thing, but then does something quite different, usually in opposition to what they claim to represent.

A police officer who breaks laws would be a hypocrite; a firefighter who is an arsonist would certainly be hypocritical; a “family values” politician who is found to be cheating on their spouse would be lucky if hypocrite is the most people call them.

(No, I have nothing to say about “Jon and Kate + 8” and please don’t make me.)

So those would be dramatic and clear-cut examples of hypocritical people. Now what about my admission up top there, in the lead paragraph?

Well, there’s another way of using hypocrite which has some common currency behind it, and that it the more rhetorical, more argumentative way to label someone a hypocrite. That would be saying that if you don’t always and emphatically live up to the best values of a strong, public stance that you take, you are in fair danger of getting tagged as a hypocrite.

If said “family values” pol is so committed to their cause that they travel constantly, hardly know their eight kids’ names (ahem) one from another, and neglect basic parental duties like birthdays and anniversaries, can you call them a hypocrite? Sure. A different sort, perhaps, but hypocritical in degree if not to an extreme.

This past week my wife and I celebrated our 24th year of marriage, and if I said I was not always the best husband I could have been, I doubt that the Lovely Wife would disagree. If I take a strong stand in defense of marriage in public settings – say, in a weekly newspaper column – is that a wee bit hypocritical? Sure. It doesn’t take being a John Edwards to make you less than the husband and father God wants you to be.

When I want to make a comment about the recent news that we’re now up to 4 out of 10 births in the US being “out of wedlock,” I think a decent respect for the opinions of mankind makes me think carefully about what stones I might throw.

And then still say “Folks, does this worry anyone else? ‘Cause it sure does me!” Because being a little less than the angels means I am a sinner who has fallen short of the glory of God, but a sinner who still should say what’s on their heart.

All of which makes me watch and listen in bemusement to the long line of people waiting to take a gleeful pitch of the hypocrite hardball at Miss California USA in the dunk tank of public opinion. Apparently, she’s a hypocrite because she’s said something out of her understanding of where her Christian walk has taken her, but she has a) taken pictures in her foundation garments, b) gotten artificial enhancements of the blessings God already gave her, and c) walked down a runway in a sash.

News flash, folks: yes, some Christians are adamantly against beauty pageants and such, but there are probably more progressive/liberal Christians against them as exploitation of women than there are Christians who think women should wear burkhas. Joke all you want, but I think breast augmentation surgery is doing just fine in Oklahoma and Texas, so where did you get the idea that conservative Christians were against them as a matter of faith?

(I think they represent poor stewardship. See, theology to go, that’s me.)

There is a real insincerity at work when you hear commentary that tries to tell Christians to go back into a ghetto enclave that exists only in the commentator’s mind (and perhaps in their hopes). Ms. CA may be somewhat inarticulate, she may not be politically correct, and she may not be the best preacher I’ll hear this month, but hypocritical is an odd point to make.

Where it comes from, in my hearing, is the use of “hypocrite” as a bludgeon to end debate, to close discussion, to tell people what they can and can’t disagree about. My solution is to simply say as quickly as possible “I know I’m not perfect, but let’s talk about the merits of what I’m proposing, and not whether I’m the best advocate for it.”

Because, you see, I know I’m a hypocrite, but I’m working on it!

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he thinks the big debate about marriage is in that 4 of 10 babies born outside of it. Tell him what you think at, or follow “Knapsack”
Faith Works 5-16-09
Jeff Gill

Decoding Certain Movies, One Error At a Time

Growing up in northwest Indiana, my interest in morning radio was limited to days when the snow had fallen by the foot the night before.

Obligatory snarky comment: a few miles off of Lake Michigan, as my friends in Ashtabula County, Ohio can tell you along Lake Erie, you get lots of snow, and your highway departments are fully equipped and your school staff is used to opening up on time even when eighteen inches fell the night before, unless it was blowing. So we all hoped for wind much more than we counted on snow to get us a day off.

In my youthful neck of the woods, the best station for getting the fastest school closure announcement also had a gentleman of the region who subscribed to everything the John Birch Society mailed out. This meant that along with waiting for the joyous news of “no school” (or the grim silence that meant the bus was coming at 7:00 am sharp), I learned a great deal about the Bavarian Illuminati.
Or at least what the John Birch folks thought about the Illuminati.

Yes, I know, not believing they exist is one of the ways they work their evils plans, no need to send me that e-mail. But I and my fellows all knew that the Bavarian Illuminati were founded, eerily (cue music) in 1776, by one Adam Weishaupt.

You can web search more if you want.

So when Dan Brown tries to say that Galileo the scientist and Bernini the artist were members, subverting the Catholic Church with their materialistic machinations, I thought way back when I read his book (koff) “Angels & Donuts,” or something like that, “hey, there’s something wrong about the dating here.”

Sure enough, Galileo died in 1642, and Bernini in 1680. So something was wrong here . . .

“Ankles & Demons” was written (koff) by Dan Brown before his opus manglous, “The DaVinci Code” sold sixty bazillion copies and got Dr. Langdon made into Tom Hanks. Since that movie got made first, they’ve gone back and retrofitted “Angles & Deacons” into a sequel, Hollywood’s favorite sport, second only to mangling history.

I’ve already written about the DaVinci Head Cold’s various congestions of fact, and I’m driven to pull out “Angels & Detours” just to alert y’all to what they’re very likely to inflict on you while you’re innocently trying to eat your popcorn in air conditioned peace.

Copernicus was killed by the evil, nasty papacy, Brown tells us, when he died in bed of a stroke at 70 (they recently found his bones buried with honor in a cathedral where he had served as a priest – cool story; they weren’t sure it was his skull, but did DNA analysis on the bone and hair from among the pages of a book he was known to have owned, and got a match!).

He tries to say that Winston Churchill was a staunch Catholic; he might have been a staunch alcoholic, and committed cigar smoker, but when he went to church it was the Church of England, the Anglican Communion.

And the idea that a pope (the one he names was dead by the time the event described, by the way) banished the famous “Ecstasy of St. Teresa” because it was too sensual flies in the face of the well-known fact that a Cardinal (not from St. Louis) commissioned Bernini to make it for his mortuary chapel, which is exactly where it still is on display today.

My point is simply that Brown isn’t making errors based in ignorance or poor research: he’s changing facts to make his point. Does he have a point? That’s a different argument, but if you change facts to make it, I think one should be suspicious from the start. I’m not saying “boycott the movie,” but I am saying that you should know you’re being sold a manipulative bill of goods if you go.

Don’t even get me started on what he does with anti-matter and physics . . .

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he is not a physicist, but he knows anti-matter isn’t what Brown says it is. Tell him a true story at, or follow “Knapsack”

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Staycation 2009 Licking County

Summer of 2009 -- the season of Staycations, a family trip that
doesn't involve plane tickets, passports, or time changes.

May: You run the family budget numbers, and determine that the plans
for this summer will not involve major travel.

Memorial Day weekend: You check and find out
when the ceremony at the local cemetery is held on Monday; Sunday,
you watch the Indianapolis 500 on TV and then cook out, with the
family talking about where you went last year (they're still coming
to terms with it). Monday morning you get up and go down to where
the Legion fellows are lining up with the high school band and the
Scouts and all, and walk down to what turns out to be a very moving
ceremony, with stories about people from right down the block from
you that you'd never heard. You and the kids walk along the
tombstones and grave markers, and they ask about their great-

The next weekend is Strawberries on the Square, and the county
courthouse makes a solid centerpiece for this big event you've always
heard of but never been to. Everyone finds the evening fun, and the
strawberry shortcake is delicious; the Kiwanis server tells you the
shortcake is from Riley's and the ice cream is from Utica and Velvet
Ice Cream, which gives you an idea . . .

June: On a weeknight, you drive out to Utica to Ye Olde Mill, which
you'd been meaning to do for years. Spouse notes that neither of you
had tasted Moose Tracks for too long, and you should come back again
before the summer's over.

A later weekend takes you past Brownsville and up to Flint Ridge
State Memorial, which the Licking Valley Heritage Society is now
operating. You realize that this flint stuff is not only the "state
mineral," but it's beautiful, and you find out that people 2,000
years ago traded across thousands of miles to get it -- which makes
sense. A hike around the flint pits makes you feel like you earned
the ice cream from last week.

When you go on vacation, you like to stop sometimes at a completely
off-the-wall little hole-in-the-wall place; so you do that on the way
home through Newark (or were we still in Heath?), and get some
delicious fried chicken and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

July: You hadn't been to Granville since the Candlelight Walking
Tour last December (or was it the December before that?); the Old
Fashioned Fourth of July is a ridiculously affordable trip into a
Rockwell painting of a carnival on Main Street in a New England
village -- both of you wonder if you've ever thought to drive through
the Welsh Hills in autumn instead of going to New England and being
disappointed by a badly run B&B, when you can underbake your own
muffins and not water down the OJ. As the sun sets, you pick up a
flyer about the free Sunday evening concerts on the College Green.

Someone mentions at work that Licking County has enough golf courses
that you could play a different one every week all summer; you and
some others decide it isn't too late in the summer to try to hit 'em
all. But that evening, while the light still lingers, you load the
kids' bikes into the back of the van and run down to Toboso -- think
of that, a Licking County town named after a place in "Don Quixote"
-- where you go for a ride along the Black Hand Gorge trail. Looking
up at Council Rock, it's like the Grand Canyon, on a slightly smaller
scale but without three dozen Germans all complaining about the food
right next to you.

August: The kids ask you to take their friends to the trip they'd
heard about to the "floating island," Cranberry Bog. Sure enough,
you call the Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society and they have
regular boat trips and guided tours of one of the very few floating
islands in the world, left adrift in the 1830s by the rise of the
lake for the Ohio & Erie Canal, with plants dating back to the
glaciers 12,000 years ago. Mmmm, glaciers. You stop in Hebron at
Hayman's Dairy Bar for ice cream.

Then you finally make it to the new museum, just open a year, at the
Newark Earthworks State Memorial, air conditioned but so interesting
that you actually want to go back out in the heat, and walk around
this largest circular earthwork in the entire Western Hemisphere.
They give you a flyer that reminds you there's a huge event back at
Flint Ridge on Labor Day weekend, and you realize -- that's coming up
soon, and the summer's almost over. The 151st Hartford Fair up in
Croton, and when the week is over out there, school begins just a
week or so later.

And you haven't even made it out to Pataskala yet.