Somewhere Between Sin and Sensationalism

It seems that no matter how hard I try to avoid certain pop culture phenomena, I cannot escape snippets of information about the biggest names.  On one end of the spectrum, I cannot avoid hearing that someone who calls himself The Situation, is in trouble for tax evasion.  On the other end, I cannot avoid hearing that the Duggar family thinks bare midriff is a gateway to hell.  The former makes me shake my head because it is beyond me how someone who goes by The Situation earned multiple millions of dollars.  The latter makes me shake my head because everyone knows it’s ankles and armpits that lead men down those thorny paths to Satan.

I feel like society has lost the art of Appreciation.  There has to be something between, “Her breasts will cause you to lust, and send you to your doom,” and “Oh, yeah! Show me dem titties!”

There is nothing wrong with wanting your children to be chaste.  Chastity has a multitude of benefits.  Chastity means not worrying about STDs, or unplanned pregnancy.  It can take a load off your mind.  But there is also nothing wrong with appreciating a good looking person.  Acknowledging that Dwayne Johnson is a mighty fine specimen, and appreciating how nice he looks in various states of dress does not mean I am going to commit a cardinal sin, having looked upon him.  I do not fear for my marriage because my husband thinks Alyssa Milano is hot.  Alyssa Milano is hot.  Even I can see that.

What bothers me is when we ask our children to suppress their nature, rather than teaching them how to healthily embrace their desires.  Telling a boy that it is sinful to appreciate what a girl looks like can confuse that boy to the point that he projects his self-hatred–not being able to avoid sin, for his natural desire to look at the girl–onto the girl, and causes her and/or himself any number of harms.  “You are a whore because you make my pants feel funny!  Therefore, whatever I do to you is punishment for your nastiness!  Here, I shall punish you with this funny-feeling thing in my pants!”

Teach a boy that girls (and boys) can be wonderful to look at, but that we should always respect the other person’s right to privacy and respect, and I think you’ll have a much healthier boy.

The worst is when women take on the attitude, and they become self-loathing, or anti-woman.  They are so afraid of being seen as stumbling blocks to men’s salvation that they have internalized an attitude that a slip of beauty means a willful attempt to derail goodness.  I don’t want you to know I think I am beautiful because that means I am vain, and my vanity can lead to a man’s downfall, so to keep you from looking at me, and what I am trying to bury, I am going to point my finger at Sue Ellen over there, and yell that she’s spent too much time making her lips look pretty, and that’s sure to make Joe Ray go devilnuts.  Sue Ellen wants Joe Ray to go to hell!  Just look at her hair!  Look at how much of her collar bone is showing!  Whatever you do, don’t look at me because you’ll see I’m just as hateful as Sue Ellen.*

We have to be able to look at The David and admire the art without fixating on the fig leaf.  We have to be able to look at Liberté and see the strength without gasping at her nipples.  We have to be able to appreciate the natural beauty of humanity without being worried that thinking someone is beautiful, or desirable means there is something dark in your soul, or something in them inciting you to lust.

Appreciation is a giving, creative force.  When you appreciate, you show honor, and you give weight to the value something brings to its surroundings.

Find the happy medium.


*Or, how dare Sue Ellen be beautiful and catch Joe Ray’s eye!  I’m over here being as blandly attractive as possible (because you have to be just attractive enough that some man might want to marry you, so you can make some babies, but not so attractive as to look like you’re trying), and she’s being downright attractive, and that’s wrong!  That’s sin!  She’s making Joe Ray look at her outsides, when he should be focused on my insides (and by that I mean my heart, because he’s not supposed to think about my baby maker until after we’re married.)


How to Talk to a Zealot

The short answer:  Unless you are one of them, don’t.

Things you can’t tell a religious zealot:

  1. They are wrong
  2. Someone else might be right
  3. Not everyone wants to hear them
  4. They are offensive

This is not because they won’t believe you (except on point #2, and they definitely do not believe that), but because the religions that most inspire zealotry tell their followers to be prepared for persecution because if they are doing it right, people will tell them they are wrong, people will say they don’t want to hear it, and people will call them offensive.  “No, I don’t want to hear about your almighty Bob! Will you quit?!  I find your constant talking about Bob Almighty to be offensive,” is music to the zealot’s ears–not because the zealot wants to be obnoxious (although some do), but because you are reinforcing the zealot’s teaching.  You don’t like him, so he is doing it right!

I, having been chief among zealots, am well qualified to say so.

Zealots don’t have an off switch.  If you are being offensive toward them, they will see you as either someone who deserves pity and prayer, or as someone who is an agent of their spiritual enemy (in which case you deserve pity, prayer, and possibly some sort of awful thing to happen to you–like financial ruin, in the event of which, all your worldly goods are somehow magically transferred into the hands of the zealot/coffers of the zealot’s place of worship.)  In either case, they do not see you as being wise/clear-minded enough to have made your own rational decision about faith.  If you don’t believe what they do, it is because you either haven’t been taught, haven’t been taught properly, or need prayer and pity because you are a willful child, resisting Bob Almighty’s love.

A very sincere zealot, who has actual concern for your soul is the most purposefully obtuse kind (see Lane).  That zealot sees every person outside her faith as standing on the edge of a volcano.  One false move, and you are doomed.  That zealot really, truly, genuinely wants you to believe what she believes, so she can get you down from the mouth of that volcano.  If you yell at her, she thinks you are really yelling for her.  She does not believe you when you say, no, you are yelling at her.  She is a gadfly, who thinks she is a godfly.

Which brings me to that time I got written up at work for being an evangelical asshole.

Ironically, I wasn’t even talking to the girl who reported me.  However, I was her manager.  She was trapped in a corner, on a teller line, where I was stood yakking away with a fellow believer (not quite a zealot, but I was working on it, and working on getting her into my church.)  As I recall it, we were both praising our churches to high heaven, probably Christian-competing with one another.  The trapped girl did not share our beliefs and felt uncomfortable with our conversation (which probably included things like, “I just wish everyone understood,” or “If people would just let go, and let Bob,” or “When Bob comes back for us, it’s going to be so hard for those left behind,” or “People who don’t have Bob in their lives are just sad,”) but because I was her manager, did not feel like she could tell me to shut up.  She also couldn’t just walk away.

So, she did the only thing she could do:  She reported me to upper management, and they wrote me up and counseled me on what was, and was not appropriate as far as sharing my faith was concerned.

I was furious.


I made such a stink that the company had to fly down HR personnel from our New York office to deal with me.  It didn’t matter what anyone said, you could not get it through my brain that while I did have a right to free speech, and a right to freedom of religious expression, as a manager, I did not have the right to create a hostile work environment by subjecting a captive audience to my absolute delight in Bob.

That whole issue dragged on for a month, during which I most magnanimously forgave the teller who had reported me because she was clearly a pawn of The Enemy, who had been sent to kill, steal, and destroy my faith.  I focused myself on spiritual warfare and being prepared to do battle with the demonic forces that oppressed the HR lady.

I will never forget how her face looked while she was trying to talk to me.  Clearly, she understood it was a forgone conclusion:  This girl is nuts, and she is not going to give an inch.

I must be as magical as Sookie Stackhouse because they never fired me, and they could have given my resistance to their instruction to cut it out with the Bob talking, and my increased outcry of Religious Persecution (in front of the teller who reported me, because I am as subtle as a heart attack.)  Instead, after a month, they gave the girl a new position far away from me, took the written warning out of my file, and just registered it as a verbal.

I stayed in the job a little while longer, then quit to pursue work in the actual ministry.  Because if you want to bring religion to work, you should probably go to work in religion.  Otherwise, it’s going to be clash of the Titans when you run into someone who is a zealot for the opposing team.

Now?  I wish I could find that girl and apologize to her.


Chef Lane: Breakfast Burritos

I get very excited when I strike upon something that Thor will eat without complaining.  So, when I discovered he liked my breakfast tacos, I decided to pre-cook and freeze them.  Unfortunately, breakfast tacos (a tortilla folded over the ingredients) do not taste as good as a breakfast burrito (a tortilla wrapped around the ingredients), so the first batch largely went into my belly.  The second batch?  Gone in 4 days.

They are very easy to make.  Easy to freeze.  Easy to reheat.  And if you’re in a hurry and forget to pack your lunch one day, grabbing one of those and a banana will get you through a Monday.  I know this for a fact.

Here’s what you do:

The hardest part is folding them up, and wrapping them.  I've seriously considered getting a part time job at Freebird, just to learn how to properly wrap a burrito.

The hardest part is folding them up, and wrapping them. I’ve seriously considered getting a part time job at Freebird, just to learn how to properly wrap a burrito.

Summer Music

This has been an excellent summer for music.  Unlike the last couple of years, I’ve been excited to turn on the radio because the Top 40 is full of great tunes.  I don’t think I’ve enjoyed the radio this much since 1985.

Some of my favorites have been:


This video is weird as all get out, but I love the song



This video is disappointing in a number of ways, but for me, it’s how cheap it looks.  Good lord.  At least match the mouth to the singing–because the song is infectious.



I’ve loved everything I’ve heard out of this band, but this is probably what I’ve liked best





Friends, Food, and Fishy Secret Santas

I decided to audition for a cooking show, and one of the questions on the application was, “What type of food describes you, and why?”  I spent a few minutes googling, “Foods that look bland, but are actually spicy,” and then gave up and turned to Facebook, hoping my friends could help me out.  In a matter of minutes, I had all kinds of hilarious suggestions.
My friends who answered range from family members, who have known me all my life, friends I’ve known since 6th grade, friends I’ve made as an adult, eFriends I adore, but have never met, and friends I’ve made through work.  They all tickled me.  They all flattered me.  But most of all, they all reminded me that maybe what I’m best at in life is finding good people.
Dianne Brill wrote about being the cream filling of the social donut.  The idea is that you go into a party/office/classroom, and you find little social donuts there.  Every donut has a center of influence.  What you do, is go and make friends with that COI and carry her/him along with you to the next donut, where you make friends with that donut’s COI, then move on to the next, and the next, until you have tasted all the donuts and carried along the best parts of them with you.  That’s when you find yourself in the center of the best social donut, because it is made out of the best part of every original donut.  You end up with a diverse, lively crowd of interesting, fantastic people, and they make you look interesting and fantastic by proxy.
When all your donut centers of influence start interacting, it looks something like this:
I have to say what type of food describes me. Ideas?
Wonder Bread?
Vanilla Wafers?
Saltine Crackers?
Mashed Potatoes?
Boiled Grits?
  • Suz  Suz Angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.
  • Lane  Aw! You love me! I also have to say why the food describes me. So I will probably go with Wonder Bread. I’m fluffy, white, and look good in polka dots.
  • Suz  You’re white and fluffy but sassy and sweet at the same time. You’re as comfortable at a tea party as you are at a wild bachelorette bash. Everyone loves you!
  • Lara Smoked Salmon!
  • Suz You can’t be wonder bread. That’s too boring. And YOU my dear, are NOT boring.
  • Lane Lara!!!! HAHAHA!!!!!
  • Lane  Suz, I <3 you
  • Robyn Thai-spiced butter and honey souflee…that someone else made.
  • Kat Garlic-cheddar potatoes- a spiced up traditional favorite
  • Lara I think it suits you on many levels!
  • McTabby Deviled egg?
  • Woody Something southern and jazzy…just what, escapes me at the moment
  • McTabby Okra: it’s covered in a light colored fuzz and not everyone likes it.
  • Woody No no no. Okra is SLIMY inside!!
  • McTabby So is Lane. We all are.
  • Woody Uh…no.
  • McTabby You haven’t splashed around in guts enough!
  • Woody Now I’m just scared. =-O
  • Jo Rice crispies… Snap, crackle n pop baby!
  • Suzanne  You’re a grits girl.
  • Dreama Oh come on! Nothing short of red peppers describes you.
  • Stephanie kettle corn? salty, sweet and entertaining
    See?  Fun people.  Good times.
    Now I have to explain the smoked salmon.
    Lara and I worked together in an HR department for a major retailer.  Every year at Christmas, we would get massive baskets of goodies, which we would spread out on tables, and share as a department.  One particular Christmas, there were two, tiny, 2oz packages of smoked salmon in the baskets.
    Lara and I asked around, and no one wanted them, and they weren’t items that could be left open to share, so we ate them.
    Apparently, the head of the HR department was really into smoked salmon because he went around to every desk in the department asking who had eaten it.  He was loud.  He was angry.  “Have you seen the salmon?  Did you take the salmon?  Where is the salmon?  Who took the salmon?”  When he came to us, where we sat side-by-side, and all was revealed, he lost his freaking mind.  He went off for minutes about our deplorable manners, and our terrible American-ness, made worse by virtue of his posh, British accent.
    He ended it with a sniffy, “I do not know what you think, but here, we do not smash-and-grab.  We do not simply take what we want and leave.  Here, we share.”
    My response was to go to the store, buy the biggest pack of smoked salmon I could afford, and take it back to him with a letter of apology.  He was horrified, and tried to give it back to me, but I only like smoked salmon at about 2oz a serving, so I thanked him kindly and said no.
    For the next couple of years, someone always anonymously gave that man smoked salmon for Christmas.  It wasn’t me.  It wasn’t Lara.  We never found out for sure who his secret Santa was, but we did laugh.
    Maybe I should have said I was a smoked salmon.  I know I’m not okra.  (I probably am a deviled egg.)