Rafa\’s Corner of Nonsense, Part Deux

… where Rafa\’s thoughts see the light of day…

Are there are any real Christians out there?

In an earlier post I had mentioned my inability to understand how religious fanatics cannot leave personal and religious prejudices at home when they go to vote.

This reminded me of just how much these Christian zealots bother me. I would consider myself a Christian (if more in the way I conduct myself and treat others than in the dogmatic beliefs I hold to be true): I think most Christian fanatics in this country behave in a way that is so utterly un-Christian that I’d like to be right there during the Second Coming just to see them get a disapproving “tsk tsk” from Jesus Himself.

Fanatical Christians in this country do not “love their neighbor as they love themselves,” they do not “do unto others as they would like to be done unto them,” they “judge though they be judged” (OK, that last one was hard to rephrase, but you get my drift). An outsider to the faith would be hard-pressed to understand how these fanatical Christians could consider themselves to be Christians at all, and how they could possibly pretend to draw people to their faith if their most salient representatives seem to be divise hate-mongerers.

Reading the New Testament you should get a warm, fuzzy feeling about Jesus and, thus, His followers. You should feel that you would be embraced and loved by them, just like Jesus said He’d embrace and love all of us. Why isn’t this so? Why can’t these so-called Christians follow their Master’s teachings, and love everyone equally, including those they personally find unpalatable? Loving cute little kids and embracing your best friend is easy: loving and embracing those who behave in a way that is contrary to your own is what’s hard, is what separates the wheat from the chaff: it is, in fact, what should theoretically separate a Christian dilettante from someone who truly leads the life Jesus said we should lead.

To wit, I pose the following question: how would have Jesus reacted if one of His Apostles had been gay? Would He have shunned His follower, calling him a sinner, denouncing his lifestyle, ensured that he would be treated as an outcast, and if possible, have less rights as a citizen? Or would Jesus have embraced him, told him that he would be loved anyway, and furthermore told the rest of His followers that “he who is without sin cast the first stone”?

I know which one I would like to believe… but I guess everyone, including myself, writes in his or her head the version of the Bible that he or she finds more palatable.

What do you think Jesus would have done?

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A sad day…

For those of you who don’t know, Texas (my home state) was one of the states where a Constitutional amendment was being voted on this November to determine if same-sex marriages should be forbidden or not. Needless to say, it passed. It wasn’t so much that it passed, but that it passed with such an obscene majority of 76%.

I knew it would pass: I wasn’t kidding myself. What saddens me is that it passed with such vehemence, with such a mandate; that so many people either hate homosexuals, believe them to rightfully belong in a lower class of citizenry (with less rights than heterosexuals), or truly believe that two people of the same sex getting married somehow diminishes the meaning of the marriage of people of opposite genders.

Same-sex marriage was already illegal in Texas: as far as I knew, that wasn’t even being under threat of being repealed. Making this into a Constitutional amendment just seals the vault with concrete, and by writing into the state Constitution just says out loud: “We don’t want gays here in Texas” (which may very well be true, come to think of it).

What I can’t fathom is how people can’t seem to leave personal and religious prejudices at home when they go to vote: regardless of whether your church says same-sex relationships are (to quote the Bible) “abomination,” or whether you “like” homosexuals, what does that have to do with what your secular State should allow within its citizenry? What can’t more people make the distinction between what they like, and what should, fairly, be written into law? If everyone could make their pet peeves into law, believe me, no one would be able to do anything anywhere!

This is the relevant part of the amendment (you can read the full text here):

“Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.”

By the way, I find it hilarious that the State cannot “recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage” because, unless basic algebra has also been repealed in the state of Texas, marriage is identical to marriage! (This means, I guess, that Texas can no longer recognize marriage, same-sex or otherwise).

I guess I’ll have to wait for a fair, level-headed pundit to explain to me yet how two people of the same gender getting married (and having all the legal benefits thereof) is an affront to our society, or how it hurts “family values.” Family values should be about unconditional love, about companionship, about caring for someone else, sometimes even at the expense of your own well-being: when someone can convince me how this can intrinsically never be the case in same-sex marriages, I’ll be the first to vote against them.

Thoughts? 🙂

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Movie theaters: black hole of capitalism

My friend César had an interesting post regarding movie theater seating, which reminded me of another rant of my own (thanks, César!). 😀

I think the movie theater business is one where the laws of capitalism and supply and demand totally break down.

Think about it: every movie, regardless of how much it cost to make, regardless of who made it and how much (and how many) people want to watch it, costs exactly the same to watch at the same theater.

Let me put this another way: regardless of whether I am watching Star Wars: Heir to the Empire [not directed or touched in any way by George Lucas], Spy Kids 2: The Reckoning, Schindler’s List 2: Electric Boogaloo, or Harry Potter [insert number here], I’ll still shell out the same amount of money if I go see it at the same movie theater and at the same time of day.

Why is it that the only difference in movie ticket price is determined by the theater you go to, and the time of day (matinée or not)? Surely the investment of millions made in the creation of each movie and the amount of anticipation it creates in the viewers should be more important in price determination than whether the theater has new seats and doesn’t (yet) smell like stale popcorn.

The movie industry is the only one in which the quality (or perceived quality) of the product has no bearing on the cost to the consumer. While you may argue that a sucky play may be overpriced, and thus its price will not reflect its quality, plays are priced according to more natural capitalistic rules: tickets for Broadway plays with critical acclaim and well-known actors, for instance, will surely be more expensive than an unknown play at Coco’s Casa de Acting featuring the acting prowess of the best community college drama students.

So, faithful readers (yeah, both of you), what do you have to say on the matter?

November 24, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Parental twinge

On my last flight I was seated next to a little boy, around 10 years old, that was evidently travelling alone (he was escorted to his seat by one of the flight attendants). He was wistfully looking out the window, and after a few minutes he started crying quietly. It wasn’t the annoying, attention-seeking cry of a spoiled little kid, but rather the mournful, dignified crying of a boy that’s old enough to feel shame for crying in public, and yet not old enough to be able to do anything about it. As his big sorrowful eyes welled up with tears, for the first time I felt what can only be described as a parental twinge, this notion that this boy needed taking care of and that I should somehow do just that: I felt this urge to put my arm around him, hold him tight, and tell him everything was going to be all right, or to at least ask him what was wrong.

Of course I did none of those things: the Rafa rooted in reality is as cowardly as he is not destined to be a parent. I glanced at him once in a while, watching him regain his composture, and wanting desperately for him to engage in conversation so I could try to make him feel better. During the flight we did talk a little bit about what he was seeing through the window and about just how many swimming pools people in Orlando have, but after he had calmed down it almost seemed cruel to bring up the subject and ask him why he had been crying. I could not tell if he was sad for someone he was leaving behind, something he was going to have to face after landing, or some deeper sorrow that would have inexorably followed him to the farthest corner of the earth.

After we deplaned, the thing that struck me was that all through the flight, even after he had stopped crying, I never once saw him smile.

A ten-year-old should always be smiling.

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Travelling while Puerto Rican

Having flown to and from Puerto Rico this past weekend, it occurs to me that, as air travellers, we Puerto Ricans have several distinguishing features. I shall try to list some of them:

1. Every member of the family needs to come to the airport to say goodbye — if the aisles in a Puerto Rican airport seem crowded, it’s because 90% of the people there are not travellers, but actually their families and extended families: they will accompany the actual travellers to the security checkpoint and stand there watching until the traveller has completely disappeared from view or landed at his or her destination, whichever occurs first

2. Puerto Ricans never travel light. Ever — this whole FAA mandate of allowing only one carry-on luggage and one “personal item” clearly doesn’t apply to Puerto Ricans: we need 4 bags per person, since we’re bringing pasteles and quesitos to no less than five relatives on the mainland

3. Everyone must travel with a baby — presumably since Hispanics are dead-set on taking over the United States one unwanted teenage pregnancy at a time, all Puerto Ricans must travel with at least one crying baby: note that it doesn’t matter if the Puerto Rican in question doesn’t even have a baby: it’s a little known fact that 90% of kidnappings in the country are a direct result of baby-less Puerto Ricans with an upcoming flight

4. The right time to board the plane is now — it doesn’t matter whether the airline is trying to board the plane by row numbers, or more quaintly, by group numbers: Puerto Ricans will stand up as soon as they start announcing the boarding process and will try (repeatedly if necessary) to board the plane regardless of the section currently being boarded (someone, after all, may take their seat if they don’t board right fucking now)

5. Everyone must clap upon landing — to thank the pilot for not smearing their bodies on the landing strip, Puerto Ricans will clap after the plane has landed (to the embarrassment and chagrin of the younger generations)

All that said, on my last flight this was an older gentleman that made a cellphone call to someone (presumably his daughter or grand-daughter) just because he hadn’t been able to properly say good-bye to her, to wish her well and give her his blessing: I found that to also be a typically-Puerto Rican gesture that kind of made me nostalgic for my long-gone grand-parents.

So, did I miss any? 🙂 I’m sure I did, so post away!

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

No longer a bastard! Weeeee!

I went to Puerto Rico this past weekend (just a short Friday-to-Sunday stint) to be at my parents’ church wedding (well, technically a vow renewal, as they got married by a justice of the peace 30 years ago). I guess this means I am no longer the Hell-bound bastard fruit of a Godless marriage, yeay! Well, I suppose it’s still debatable whether I am still Hell-bound, or a bastard for that matter (feel free to post your opinions on either account). 😉

The ceremony was nice, short, and just for the handful of close friends and family that attended. The day before the actual wedding, during the rehearsal, the priest roped my sister and me into doing some readings during the ceremony: and I thought I just came to walk Mom down the aisle and eat good food and cake! I guess God moves in mysterious ways (mainly because His representatives on Earth are quite sneaky)!

The funniest part of the ceremony was when the priest read a passage that insinuated that my Mom, over 60 years old, was “fertile soil,” which I guess is priest-speak for “barren rocky terrain where not even cacti would grow.” I think some of the passages should be tailored to the people being wed (the whole part about raising their children in the Church was particularly laughable: I am sorry to say that that ship has sailed, gotten lost at sea, and eaten by a sea serpent).

The reception was held at our house and I have to say I had a good time, as I got to see many relatives that I barely get to see anymore (the worst of which, in small doses, are still fun to be with). I did get plagued by the same question over and over: “So, when are you getting married?” Ok, let me state this plainly: that is ostensibly the stupidest question ever. Unless I had an actual fiancé, a wedding date, and the law on my side, the inevitable answer to that question is “I don’t know”: what answer are they actually expecting?

I am used to being asked that question by elderly folk: it seems that after a couple of generation gaps there are really very few topics of conversation that may be broached, from the banal (like the weather) to the horribly personal. I was surprised, however, that I was also asked the same question by other unmarried cousins, some younger, one about my age, and one even slightly older. My staple answer (since with the younger relatives I could afford to be more of my own smart-ass self) was: “Five days after you get married” (hopefully by then they will have forgotten all about it)! It was funny because, since my sister is getting married in December, even the priest had asked me: I felt quite tempted to say: “Well, never, if your Church has anything to say about it!”, but visions of fire and brimstone danced in my head and I decided to keep my trap shut.

I also found it curious that whenever an older relative asked and I said, as politely as I could, that I don’t know (not being a prescient seer and all), they always seemed a bit embarrassed to have asked and quickly replied that it was all right, that there was no hurry, and that I should just enjoy my bachelorhood (as if I had indicated any discontent in not being married), which leads me to ask why they were so intent in asking in the first place… but what can you do, right? Family: can’t live with ’em, can’t kill them and bury them in the cellar because there are no cellars in Puerto Rico.

And with that lovely murderous thought, I bid you adieu. 🙂

August 15, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Bad Paragraph! Bad Paragraph!

I was reading this year’s winners of the 2005 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. If you are unfamiliar with this contest, they basically challenge people to write really really bad first paragraphs for a potential novel or short story (apparently Edward George Bulwer-Lytton was the pretentiously-named novelist who gave us that staple of suspense novels, “It was a dark and stormy night”). Many of the paragraphs were indeed very funny, and I particularly liked this entry for the “Vile Puns” category:

Falcon was her name and she was quite the bird of prey, sashaying past her adolescent admirers from one anchor store to another, past the kiosks where earrings longed to lie upon her lobes and sunglasses hoped to nestle on her nose, seemingly the beginning of a beautiful friendship with whomsoever caught the eye of the mall tease, Falcon.

Jay Dardenne
Baton Rouge, LA

I shall now try my hand at this, evoking the spirit of Agatha Christie if she had been a pill-popping crack addict:

The butler served the afternoon tea to Lord Nigel Thurpleton III, and gave him a smile clearly saying “The Butler Did It!” that went unseen, which explains why they found Lord Thurpleton III dead four hours later with a dagger in his heart with a note saying “Go fetch your own damn tea!” written in perfect penmanship.

Can you come up with a bad first paragraph, too? 🙂

August 8, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Murphy reads my blog!

So, less than a month after my proclamation that all was quiet and all was good, a bomb-shell was dropped that left me once again in singlehood, and after a week of absence from work I also had a couple of pretty stressful and miserable work days. Ok, Murphy, I take it back: all is neither quiet nor good anymore, you win! 🙂

I spent a couple of days in an (understandable) funk, but after thinking about it for a bit I realized that I could not see our relationship lasting until our sixties, after having adopted our third Vietnamese baby (Po Dân) and our fourth cat… so it was probably for the best that it ended sooner rather than later (although I was having a lot of fun).

Don’t worry, after the initial shock things have been talked out and I’m sure we can still be friends; not being able to see each other anymore would have been much harder to bear.

But, just to be safe, I will never again discuss my personal life on my blog (call me supersticious!). 😉

June 2, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

All is quiet, all is good…

You might have wondered, if you are the sort to wonder about such things, why I haven’t blogged in about a month.

Well, since you asked (shut up, you did too ask!), I’ll tell you: things are good! 🙂 Things at work are busy but I’m having fun (against all conceivable logic) with the extra responsibility I’ve been given. Things at home are even better! 😀 (If you have problems guessing what I meant by that, you are entirely too naïve to read this blog: go away and read web cartoons or something).

Of course, my guy doesn’t read my blog (he apparently took exception to my scathing wine rants, which is a shame because that wasn’t my intent and because it’s unfathomable how anyone could take anything I say or write to heart): I guess this means I can talk about him all I want and he’ll never know, hehe. But I wouldn’t do that, of course. 😉

I guess when something else upsets me enough to rant about, you’ll be hearing from me again. I know, I know: “Be still my beating heart,” right? Well, try to contain your excitement in the meantime and see you later! 🙂

May 3, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I wants me some human meat!

I heard somewhere that a poll of cannibal tribes (and please don’t ask me whom you have to piss off to get the job of “Cannibal Tribe Pollster”) revealed that human flesh tastes most similar to pork (I would have guessed “chicken,” if only for comedic effect, but oh well).

Could this be true? Is that why once a wild animal tastes human flesh it has to be killed, because it always tries to eat more humans? I’m sorry, but I’ve had ham and bacon, and if we humans taste anything close to bacon, I not only perfectly understand these animals, I must confess I’m kinda curious to try me some human meat!

“Oh, Rafa,” you might say, “that’s disgusting! How dare you say you’d eat another human being!” Ok, first of all, who the hell are you, and how are you writing directly to my blog?! Second, I never said I’d eat another human being: that’s way too much meat for me; I just wanna try me a slice! Plus, I’m on a diet, and judging from the average American, I would get a coronary if I ate an entire human being. So no. Not so much.

Also, I’m sure if I could convince you that the person the meat came from was a total asshole, or at the very least, occassionally rude, your mind would be at ease and you wouldn’t feel so bad about your wanton, Godless flesh-eating.

Finally, two words: Atkins Friendly. Need I say more?

February 14, 2005 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments