This is an open letter in response to the comments made by Congressman Grothman regarding the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling. http://www.rawstory.com/2015/07/wisconsin-republican-says-marriage-decision-insults-christians-who-died-in-the-religious-civil-war/
I am a Wisconsinite and I recently heard your reaction to the gay marriage decision. I respect your candor and honesty, but you severely misrepresented Pres. Lincoln, the Civil War, and our nation.
Pres. Lincoln was almost certainly not a Christian.”The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.” — Abraham Lincoln, quoted by Joseph Lewis in “Lincoln the Freethinker”.
Clearly he held a public persona of faith, but as a politician I’m sure you can understand publicly holding a position you don’t personally believe.
The Civil War was not religious war. How dare you simplify the worst conflict in our history. Moreover if it was a religious war, what was the opposing religion? This was not Sunni vs. Shia or Catholics vs. Protestants or The Crusades. It was about states rights, taxation, independence, and slavery. Which brings up the fact Ministers were for slavery and used the Bible to justify limited rights of black people just as you seem to use the Bible against the LGBTQ community. Pastor Ebenezer Warren, in 1861, delivered a sermon entitled, “THE SCRIPTURAL VINDICATION OF SLAVERY”. It was published in The Macon Telegraph. In this sermon, this Christian Pastor speaking to, as you said, “a much more religious country”, said, “Both Christianity and Slavery are from Heaven; both are blessings to humanity; both are to be perpetuated to the end of time; and therefore both have been protected and defended by God’s omnipotent arm from the assaults, oppositions and persecutions through which they have passed.” This seems very similar to the persecution rhetoric Christians have been bandying about since the SCOTUS decision.
Lastly, you speculate the 620,000 Americans who died in that war would be appalled at the SCOTUS application of the 14th amendment. What reason do you have to assume those brave people would agree with you? There were certainly Liberals, Progressives, and homosexuals who died in that war. We are a nation of Jews, Muslims, Christians, Spiritualists, Buddhists, non-believers, and so on. Who are you to speak for those who died for what they believed? You called the judges “arrogant” and yet you claim to know the minds of dead heroes when you don’t even seem to understand the most basic reasons they fought in that great war. Pride goes before the fall Congressman. You are on the wrong side of history and some day someone will be quoting you to show how backwards and regressive our secular nation once was.
Someone who believes Wisconsin deserves better
Tom and Jim are two old friends getting together for coffee at a local, rundown-but-you’ve-been-there-a-hundred-times-so-it-doesn’t-bother-you diner, and Jim has had a quandary about his life. He probes Tom for insight. “Tom, Do you think we control our lives?” Tom thought for a moment, looking into his coffee as though it had the answers Jim sought. Finally, looking up with a quiet satisfaction on his face he replied in question. “Why did you get up this morning?” Jim, knowing his friend had what he was looking for, patiently answered, “Because my alarm woke me.” Still prodding further Tom asked, “What did you do after you awoke?” Jim sipped his coffee and said matter-a-factly “Went to work.” Tom continued in his interrogation while rearranging the condiments, “And why did you go to work?” Jim squinted at his friend in reasonable puzzlement. “To support my family of course.” Tom, apparently satisfied or bored with the condiments, lit a cigarette and after exhaling asks, “And why are you here now?” Jim stops tapping the table (something Tom hates by the way) and darkens, as he believes to comprehend, “I see what you are driving at. My alarm controls my sleep, my family controls my responsibilities, and you, my dear friend, control my time. Is that your point, that I am not in control? That I am merely a pawn whose actions are dictated by the driving forces in my life?” Tom breaks into a full smile at his friend’s discomfort and incorrect deduction. “No. Think about it Jim. Who set the alarm? Who got married and had children? Who drove here, sat down, and ordered? You did. You are in everyday control of your life. I wouldn’t smile too quickly because you have no one to blame if you fuck it up. Never feel pity for yourself, and never believe there is nothing you can do about your situation for even your mood is your choice.” Jim sits back in the booth to reflect. He looks at Tom with a slight scowl, “You couldn’t lie just once to make feel better could you?” Tom, intent on his engineering work of art consisting of two forks, a toothpick and a salt shaker creating a monolithic pyramid answers without looking up, “You could stop asking.”
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
As I complete what is likely to be the first third of my life I have lived just long enough to objectively see changes in myself, and more so in my heroes. Happily, most of my inspirations have shuffled off this mortal coil. Men like Huxley, Orwell, Russell, and Hitchens, have made their beds and now I happily sleep in them. That said, my most important and defining hero is very much alive and as the two of us grew, we grew apart.
Andrew Schwab, journalist, frontman, and the light in a dark room, was the voice of reason and angry hope for myself and many like me. His frustration with both the church and corporations resonated clearly through Project 86’s albums, notably Truthless Heroes (Sept 2002). His books conveyed the confusion and frustration so many of us had previously been unable to articulate. He was larger than life on stage and exuded an untouchable presence off it. He didn’t shy away from exposing the dirty under belly of religion and the record industry. More importantly, he didn’t complain and minge without purpose. He inspired people to be angry and stand up against injustices.
He was our spokes person and we his rabid followers.
He was so willing to bite the hand that fed him (i.e. the church and the almighty record labels) he inspired us who intuitively knew there was something wrong with the church and gave us hope to make music on our own terms. For years his books, posts, and lyrics reflected this unyielding need to buck and better the system, then something happened. He softened. His lyrics became less singular minded and individually disempowered. His writing, once poetic and brash, became devotionals. Even his stage presence became accessible and congenial (for a rocker). I do not know Andrew or anything about his journey other than what he has volunteered to the public, but put to it I would wager the change was marriage. That and a need for peace. Like so many young men out to fight the world and make a difference to the masses, all they really wanted is to matter to one special person. Andrew’s social media activity around the time of his marriage focused less on social action and more on gardening and sports. His Blog once looking to identify and solve hypocrisy and inequity in the church became a Bible study. Even his latest book, Tin Soldiers, is a devotional work book riddled with cartoons.
Let me be clear I am stating his later work is good on its own merits. In contrast to what made me and others like me love his earlier work, it seems soft, pandering, and without original zeal. One could even argue Andrew now supports the system he so vehemently (some would say virulently) railed against. Again, it is not that he has stopped putting forth effort and passion, but it feels like The Matrix turned into Matrix: Revolutions. They are good movies for completely different reasons, but one clearly pushed the boundaries. The other sat back on its laurels and gave the masses what they wanted. I think the change in the not so “Macabre Schwab” can be summed up by comparing some lyrics written about 10 years apart.
S.M.C . (Sunday Mass Consumption) circa 2002
Big business ain’t easy
I’m sure you’d agree
Especially when the product is eternity-
To stay one step ahead we must achieve
And turn this holy temple
Into a factory
Is there anywhere you can run
To hide from these thieves? –
Cause eternity’s on sale today for a fee
Faith is buying me away
Buying me a way
To convert the masses into little servants
Faith is buying me away
Buying me a way
Buying me into your home (soul)
Our sanctuary of this high-rise
Our steeples our billboards
Our slogans our converts
Oh don’t forget to buy this T-shirt
As you leave
And open up the offering box
And give until it hurts
Show me an open heart and we’ll steal it away
Cause eternity’s on up for sale for a small fee today
This altar is a stage
Our sponsor must be paid
And maybe even make the front page
Blood Moon circa 2012
The knife held high above your
Head is framed against the constellations
While my back is splayed upon this altar
Might you just reveal where this is headed?
I brought you to this pinnacle
The height above the desert sea
To wash away the blemishes
In burning holy offering
I know you came from me
Your blood is in these veins
I know you came from me
There can be no other way
Yes, relent, transcend
Reverse this madness
Call to mind the curse
The pain that’s promised
Search within and admit
You cannot do this
Wait, reflect, recall
When she was barren?
You, my only progeny
My tears may never ever cease
I long to give you sweet release
But I cannot disobey
Stay your steel and sheath the dagger
You have shown this day
Belief beyond your reason
Gaze above and count
Those lights, my heavens
You gave his life
Your wage is endless
To trust is to obey
In the end I am sad at the loss of a hero, but I am at consoled feeling Andrew Schwab is happy and at peace in his life. To paraphrase him, “My hero is dead. He was all in my head. When nothing is left I’ll start again.” Andrew, if you happen to read this, you should know you saved my life once. Thank you for your work and may you become a new hero to many.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.
Male objectification isn’t anything new, however it is definitely picking up speed and intensity. In no way do I intend to diminish the valid complaints of women about how their gender is often portrayed as an assembly of sexual enticements and nothing more, but it is time to acknowledge they are no longer the only gender who have an ax to grind. We men, we have a big sexy ax to grind.
Past to Present:
Stars on the Big Screen and TV
If you look at the studs of the Golden Age of Movies (1930’s-1940’s), they are undoubtedly manly, hansom, and fit. Men like Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and Cary Grant, while easy on the eyes, rarely had cause to lose the shirts on camera and if they did they were fit and that was good enough. If you had a pleasing face and lacked a belly you could be a “dream boat”. Some actors like John Wayne did it on swagger and charisma alone. Not to say buff hunks were no where to be found. I’m sure most of us remember the beefcake movement stretching back as far as the 20’s, but being cut wasn’t a requirement to be sexy. We see this trend continue through the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. It really isn’t until the 80’s when powerhouses like Stallone, Van Dam, and Schwarzenegger gain traction do we see men bulking up for the camera as standard. Fast forward to today. The hunks like Jason Statham, Matthew McConaughey, and Channing Tatum are common place. If you want a seat at the “hunk table” you have to be able to bench press thirty Tom Cruises. Try and think of one of Hollywood’s hottest who isn’t rippling and stacked. If you can, he truly is the exception or in between movies.
Sex sells. Everyone and their mother knows this. I remember the first time I noticed it. It was an Uncle Ben’s Rice commercial where a couple was engaging in teasing foreplay while microwaving rice. It seemed so out of place it stuck with me. Women had the market cornered for the longest time regarding selling with sex, but men are catching up. Maybe even surpassing. Calvin Klein changed the rules in the 1980’s when he marketed men’s underwear as something sexy. A huge picture of a hunk in CK briefs was unveiled in New York and the marketing industry was forever changed. Understandably we see hunks selling Old Spice and AF jeans, but increasingly we see chiseled Adonises selling completely unrelated products. Everything from air freshener to salad dressing can be pitched by pecs. I think Wal-Mart and Home Depot are the only ad campaigns not featuring the offspring of Olympus. Clearly exaggerating, but you get the point.
Women regularly point out Barbie’s dimensions are impossible ideals of beauty and I heartily agree. That being said, when was the last time those same women looked at action figures? Boys in the 50’s and 60’s played with Howdy Doody and the Original G.I. Joe. Fast forward to the 80’s. He-Man, WWF figures, COPS, and a toy line called M.U.S.C.L.E. were all the rage. Even G.I. Joe got a muscly makeover. He-Man is the most glaring of all these examples. Is name is repetitively masculine, he is very near nude always, and his body shape is more or less impossible to attain. Sorry ladies, but He-Man just beat out Barbie for causing body dysmorphia in children. Since the 80’s this has only gotten more intense. WWF stars are even bigger than they were, Batman and Superman surely can’t be played by Adam West and Christopher Reeve any more, and with the advent of video games young men can vicariously roam digital worlds as ultra-hunks, no imagination required.
More Intense in Some Ways
In some ways to be the pinnacle of male beauty is even more intense than for females. The skinny ideal in women is ridiculous and often unhealthy, but the diets and workout regiments for men are just as intense if not more so. While filming Death Race Jason Statham dropped his body fat level from 20% to a truly impressive 6%. He lost around 17lbs in six weeks thanks to a brutal fitness regime and a diet of raw veg mixed with bitter food envy. The entire cast of 300 went through insane workouts and diet to shoot that movie. Even after getting the male form into its peak condition marketers still feel the need to photoshop their subjects into perfection.
I pose this question: How many of you have had plastic surgery? 80% percent of American males are lying if they said no. Circumcision is plastic surgery. The health benefits by in large are up for debate so at the end of the day we cut babies penis’ for aesthetic purposes. Honestly women, if society said your genitals looked a little better with less skin and we started cutting 80% of you just after birth, would you put up a fight? Men are told we are born unattractive and must have immediate surgery to correct it. In no way am I saying women have it easy, but the damage done to joints from excessive lifting, chemical imbalances from steroids, and socially mandated cosmetic genital surgery is surely evidence men aren’t getting off any lighter
Loss of Male Identity
With this new found obsession on male form, manscaping has become common place. In the past a straight man needing to moisturize, wax, or get manicured was at the very least done behind closed doors if at all. More and more I hear my contemporaries talking about chap stick, luffas, and body spray. All these things are perfectly fine. My concern is the loss of male identity. We are rapidly being drowned by vanity and consumerism. Sean Connery and Charlton Heston may not have been able to flex their leg hair, but at least they still had it. If a man wants to remove body hair, have baby soft skin, and glossy lips, great! I love we are expressing our physical personality and sexuality openly as a culture and think we could go a bit further since you can kill a hundred henchmen for a PG-13, but some breasts in a love scene flips it to an R rating. The key word is want, but we are trying to make it the standard. For years the man was the bread winner, the hunter, the leader, and the warrior. Happily we are giving women a right and equal place in society, but that means the male identity had to shift. It seems to me its shifting into being able to bench a thousand pounds of hair conditioner and being more concerned over your cuticles than your integrity. Let’s not sacrifice the traditional male characteristics of integrity, honesty, hard work, and respect for women at the altar of Body Wash and Moisturized Razor Blades.
Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.