Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Is There a Dog Whisperer in the House?

We’re walking along on a clear, crisp, day when all of sudden, for reasons I cannot perceive her ears peel back, she cowers, and I can see the fear in her face.   She throws her nose in the air for a sniff.

Back pedaling ensues.  Pulling in the opposite direction.  She knows the way home and she’s making a b-line for it.  Full steam ahead, dragging me and her companion with.

I stop.  I have her sit. She even cowers from me.  I smooth her.  I try to reassure her.  I give her a minute to calm herself.  Then I say, “Let’s go, Dottie,” in the most excited way possible.

I try to pull her out of it.  Encouraging her to come along, “Come on, sweet girl.  It’s alright.  Nothing to worry about.”


This hasn’t always been the case.  She loves her walks and the minute she hears me moving the harness she happily runs up with a smile on her face.  She stands still while I put it on her and once I’ve said, “Good girl,” her tail wags her whole body she’s so excited.  Then she goes to the door and sits to wait for me to open it.  “Good girl,” again I say.

Not even five minutes later, here we are, in full panic mode that nothing will calm except the shelter of home.

Just a few days ago I discovered that she’s suddenly afraid of birds.  Whatever next?  An eighty-five pound dog afraid of a few chirping birds. She’s always been afraid of bad weather and gunfire. But birds?!?  No.

Just when I thought she was nearly fully recovered from her neuroses another one pops up.

The worst bit is I don’t really even know how to help her.  I feel terrible that she has such anxiety.

I won’t lie.  It’s doing my head in.  She’s even become afraid of going into the garden when it’s dark.  She “hides” behind the butterfly bush if I do manage to get her to go out.

This hiding is ridiculous.  It’s a tiny bush.  She’s huge.

Do any of my dog pals have any suggestions?


This is a Christian Nation

Many Evangelical Christians have insisted that America is a Christian nation founded on Judeo-Christian values and that our government policies should be reflective of that.

Even moderate Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich has gotten in on the act saying that he would, “Create a government agency that would teach Judeo-Christian values.”

Um..no.  Just…no.

Yes, Evangelicals want their cake and eat it, too because, I mean, who doesn’t.  They call this a Christian nation and attempt at every turn to interject their Christian values into our laws.

They want the Ten Commandments displayed in every court room.

They want [Christian] prayer and Bible reading in every government run public school.

They want Creationism taught as an alternative theory to Evolutionary Theory in government run public schools because Evolutionary Theory is just a theory.  It says so right there in the name of it.

They want [Christian] prayer before government council meetings and Senate and Congressional meetings.

They want to ban abortion and same-sex marriage.

I could go on.

Yes, this is a Christian Nation and the government should operate on those values, except when it shouldn’t.

Namely now.

On just one blog that I read in just two posts  I’ve read these responses from three different Christians to our current situation regarding the refugee crisis:

It is important to keep in mind that the US Government is not the church, and should not be expected to conduct its affairs according to the teachings of Jesus. While we have always and will always accept refugees, I do think it is prudent to put some safety measures in place to keep ISIL terrorists out of the group we let in. -Jim


For instance, I keep having the good Samaritan pushed in my face. Great story. I should treat my enemies exactly that way on a personal level. Yep yep yep. Agreed no problem.

But, that story is not a good analogy for how a government protects it’s citizens, Ruth. – Wally


Where I stand now is that the government—those who are responsible for the defense of the nation—may not have the same position I as an individual have. – Rebecca

Now, in the spirit of fairness, I get  that people, all sorts of people are conflicted about this issue.  And it is entirely possible that all three of these commenters favor the wall of separation between church and state.

But I keep reading these sentiments over and over on various forms of social media.  The U.S. Government is not the Church.  The U.S. Government doesn’t have to or need to ask, “What would Jesus do?”

Well, dang, that’s what we’ve been saying all along.

Now, can we just be human beings and help refugees because it’s the right thing to do? Can we not all put our collective heads together to come up with a solution to this crisis that doesn’t involve eating each other alive?

For those who can, welcome to the middle ground.


We Have No Use for Them

I says to myself, “Self, don’t do it.  Just don’t do it.”

But then myself did it anyway.  How does that work?  How does it work that when your brain tells you one thing you up and do another?  My brain is a real asshole sometimes.

I don’t even post to facebook very much and I rarely get into discussions.  It leads to nowhere.  As my blog buddy Swarn Gill said in his fine post, Social Media, Fear, Change, and Love, “either I’m utterly awful and changing people’s mind, or social media just isn’t the place to do it.  Or maybe it’s both.  Either way the result is the same.  My sanity and well-being is more important, because being bombarded with the kind of people there are out there just drains me of my strength.”

Anyway, I’m sorry Michael Mock for littering up your facebook post with my brain assholery.

Michael posted this:

So, apparently the Bible was right: perfect fear casts out love. That *is* how that verse goes, isn’t it?
::is depressed::

To which I posted a comment:

Right, my knee-jerk reaction had been, “Not accept refugees?!? Are you kidding me? How unAmerican? What’s next internment camps for the refugees we have already accepted? Tracking devices for a particlar religous sect? What happened to freedom of religion? Shut down mosques? Are Christian churches next?” Having had time to absorb all the fear-based rhetoric has made me re-think accepting refugees here. The backlash they might face would only increase their anymosity and create a whole ‘nother set of problems. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I think we should accept them, but I don’t think a lot of Americans are prepared or even capable of doing that. ::is depressed, too::

And what followed was even more depressing.  I didn’t expect what I said to get a pass.  But I didn’t expect a response like this, either:

Why not just feed them there, where they live?

Which is where I should have left it.  But did I? Nooooooo.  Because….well…my brain. Did I mention my brain?

So I responded(bad move):

They aren’t running because they don’t have food. They’re running from attacks on every side. Let’s see; I can either eat a bomb or a sword. Seems like a good selection to choose from. Where they live? They have no home anymore. They are displaced. They don’t have an address.

It only devolved from there.  I should have seen when the respondent said this…

…Ultimately- these people need to handle their shit- the 75% of them that are young men need to return and fight for their homeland, as men are expected to do. The women and children may remain in refugee camps locally.

But we as a population have no use for them, no reason to bring them over here, and no imaginable benefit– hell, their fellow syrians who immigrated her years ago don’t want them (and i don’t blame them- most of the Syrians over here are Syrian Christians, with some VERY interesting stories about their peaceful neighbors.(emphasis mine)

…that he had no interest in being compassionate, nor accurate facts.

This went back and forth for way longer than it should have.  I should have just stopped, dead in my tracks, right there.  We have no use for them.  There is no imaginable benefit.

I did provide some facts, to which he provided some of his own skewed facts.  We were using the same website to get them.  But even when I showed him the nature in which they were skewed he replied with:

Did you not see the stats I just posted were also from the UN? *shrug* To be honest? It doesn’t matter one way or the other- this still doesn’t address the question of why we’re paying to fly people here instead of leaving them In Situ.

Meh….facts, schmacts.  Doesn’t matter.  Facts are stupid.  No facts will change my mind.

It did take him quite a while to invoke Jesus’ name:

These people need food, and shelter, and safety and comfort- frankly, even Jesus Christ doesn’t require us to do more than that. The Good Samaritan didn’t find the man on the side of a road a job in Samaria- he helped him, paid for his treatment, and they both went on in their lives.

What is this twisted interpretation of those scriptures?  Suddenly the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a maxim on foreign policy and an analogy for doing only what’s required.  Somehow I thought that parable meant exactly the opposite.

I left it here because that part of my brain that isn’t an asshole kicked in and told me to get out:

The whole point of resettlement, not only in America(we would be taking relatively few in comparison to the total number) but around the world, was to help these people become self suffient and get back on their feet. Teaching them to fish, so to speak. But since they are of no use to us, perhaps it is better just to throw them their daily fish. My concern is that we will be doing that forever which will be far more expensive than plane tickets. In a few years we’ll be bitching about paying their way, too. I guess we can agree to disagree.

His parting shot:

*shrug* to be honest? Jesus commands us to help our neighbors. I have no idea, as an intelligent person or as a Christian, why the hell this is our issue- any of it. From helping the Afghanis fight communism to invading Iraq to this. The middle east is like this, it always has been like this, it always will be like this. All we can do is kick the can down the road- but as the Euros have seen- bring them in, and they keep fighting their ancient wars in your cities.

Sigh…we have no use for them. I wish I could say that this has been taken out of context, but I really don’t think it has.  Ugly is out there and I know it full well.  Yet each time I encounter it I’m just as surprised and dismayed.

::is depressed::


Meme Machine


I’m not generally a huge fan of memes because they tend to be very simplistic about very complex matters.  This one, though.  This one struck a chord.

I keep hearing the same refrain; individuals should be able to choose whether or not to help the poor and the disadvantaged and if the government would only stop taxing us we would.  I don’t think that reflects reality.  I think if the government would only stop taxing us so much we’d all have more money to line our own pockets.

There’s a reason why we’re taxed to help Veterans and the poor.  Because we’re too greedy and selfish to help them  ourselves.  If the government stopped taxing us for those things, we would still have Veterans and poor.  I don’t think they would be any better off and certainly stand to be a hell of a lot worse off.

We are a nation of excess even with our taxation.  What do you do with your money?  Where we spend our money says a lot about us.  When was the last time you sought out a place to give?  I mean on your own accord without being emotionally manipulated into and begrudging it?

This nation has homeless, impoverished, and disenfranchised Veterans because we don’t want to help them, not because we can’t.




Trouble on Every Side


Dear refugee woman,

I see you there, struggling with your children, wondering what might be next.

You weren’t Muslim enough for the extremists in your country.  Or you refused to become Muslim and instead were threatened with your very life and the lives of your children.

You’ve probably already lost your husband.  And if you haven’t you are afraid for his life, too.

You’ve been bombed by those fighting the extremists in your country.  Your home and your homeland is in shambles.

I see the worry in your face.  Every line earned.

You’ve seen and experienced violence the likes of which my privileged, white, self has never even had nightmares to rival.

You had no choice but flee.  Flee the problem. Flee the arrogant supposed solution to it.

Run for your life.  Run for your children’s lives.

Run to where?  Nowhere.  No job, no home, no money.  Run away from terror into horror.

I’m sorry for your luck, really.  Through no fault of your own you look like them.  Whoever them is.  You have the wrong color skin.  You wear the wrong garments.  We can’t help you.

To hell with you.  We’re closing the door in your face.

I see you, but you are on your own.  I will turn my head pretend that my country and others have no blood on their hands.  I will pretend that we had no hand in empowering those who seek to do you harm. Your plight is not my problem.

I see you there, with your trouble on every side.  You might just bring your trouble to me.  I will close my eyes and hope it turns out alright for you.

I’m praying for you, nonetheless. I hope you find Jesus before it’s too late.

Warmest regards,

The United States of America


I am sad to see our country closing it’s borders to those in need. I have no idea how to help in any tangible and meaningful way.

If you want to help, even in a small way, please consider giving to one of these organizations:


The UN Refugee Agency

The Red Cross

Refugee International

Amnesty International


Black Friday


The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the U.S. by France as a symbol of freedom and democracy

Did you know, young man with the rest of your life ahead of you, when you left for the concert that yesterday would be your last day?  Did you hug your parents?  Did you tell them you love them?  Did you have plans for today?  For tomorrow? For the rest of your life?

Did you know, young couple madly in love, while you sat in the crisp air on the sidewalk of the café sipping your wine, having easy conversation with your lover, anticipating your meal that it would be your last? Were you talking about the weather?  The children?  Work?  Your future together?  That trip you were going to take?

How could you have known?

Who were you going to call today?  Your mother?  Your sister?  Was today the first day of that long-overdue vacation? Were your children playing soccer today?  Was your phone filled with contacts and a full calendar?  Is today your birthday?

I’ve thought of you full of life on the morning of November 13, 2015, what your life might have been like, full of promise. I’ve thought of you on the street, going about your daily life, not expecting what would come next.  I’ve thought of the horror you experienced as you realized what was about to happen to you.  I’ve thought of your lifeless body, shrouded with sheets, lying there in the coldness of the night.

I’ve also thought about the streets filled with people, defiantly marching in remembrance of you, chanting and holding their signs.  Their signs say they are not afraid.


I suspect that they are afraid, though.  I’m afraid.  No one is safe.  No one is immune.  But we are something more, something stronger than fear.  We are courageous.  Take heart, France.  We are with you.  We are afraid, but we will stand with you through the fear today, the day after a very Black Friday.  And every day after that.

When we are afraid we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger.  ~Mark Rutherford