Monday, February 20, 2012


Something felt off all day today. At first I thought it was because I was leaving Basil Diva Dog after a weekend of dogsitting.

Basil Diva Dog is so much more frail then when his sister Ginger Puppy left us last October. He gets a little bit weaker every time I see him, so when I'm packing up my stuff as I did today, I can never tell if it's going to be for the last time. And I thought maybe that's why I felt so off kilter.

But it's not Basil Diva Dog. It's Pembleton. I came home to the Shabby Shack and Pembleton is gone. His human owners had to put him down this morning.

It wasn't completely unexpected. Pembleton had been going downhill for a few months now. He was old, and arthritic in the hips, couldn't run anymore, could barely walk, couldn't get out of bed, and wasn't eating and he was in pain and it was time.

His younger brother Pepe is doing okay. He apparently went with them to the vet, to observe and be with his brother till the end.

Pembleton was always a little on the loopy goofy side. His eyes were a little cross-eyed, his tail was always wagging. On the rare times that they had a sleepover in the Shabby Shack when their human owners were gone, Pepe would curl right up on a towel and go to sleep, Pembleton would run laps around the couch. Pembleton had floppy ears, two crop circles on his back, and he loved people. They say he was a puppy extra on the 102 Dalmatians movie , how they figured that out, I don't know, but I'd like to think that was true.

Even when he was annoying with his whines and cries, it was only because he wanted to be with people so much.

He had a really great life. He really did.

This is my favorite shot of him. It was the first picture I ever took with my fancypants iPhone last year. He absolutely loved sunning on that diving board. His favorite spot.

And his real name was Max.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #8 – Mary, Jesus’ Mom.

You guys, I'm still having internet issues. Working off two to no bars. THIS SUCKS! This is what happens when something goes wrong at your Shabby Shack at the same time that there's a death in your landlord's family. Nothing can be simple.

Sigh. Onward we go, still no pictures.

Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”

Which One Is She?

Oh, please. Everyone, Christian or not, knows who the Virgin Mary is. The Virgin Mary, Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ Mommy.

And with Stella, My Biblically Super Smart And All Around Awesome Person’s encouragement, I have put Virgin Mary in the Schemer category.


Yes, Mary’s days before Jesus is born are filled with obedience, and hiya Gabriel, I’m pregnant with God’s son? Well, “I am the Lord’s servant, my it be to me as you have said.” (Matthew Ch: 1:38) Toodleloo, I’m off to hide out at my cousin Elizabeth’s house, and she just so happens to be married to Zechariah, a high priest of the temple, but he currently can’t talk to rat me out (and besides, I’m family), so I’ll hang out and be obedient and head to Bethlehem and pick up the rest of the story there with the donkey, manger, swaddling clothes, wise men, la la laaaaaaaaaa.

But after that, the few times that Mary is mentioned, it COULD be viewed through a Schemer lens.

Hell, if there’s such debate (and boy howdy, is there) about whether Mary remained a virgin her entire life, or only until Jesus was born, and whether she was exempt from the whole “original sin” thing, or how she died (normally, or taken up body and soul by Jesus?), then I think it’s okay to look at Mary’s few mentions in the Gospels through a Schemer lens. Because then things get interesting…

Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?

Today I am saying it’s Sarah Michelle Geller, Ms. Buffy, Ms. Ringer. She grew up in the industry, getting her first modeling roles at the age of 4, and being an actress/model ever since without plunging into wretched starlet excess. Because by all accounts, she’s squarely a solid businesswoman who plans her next career move meticulously, aka a Schemer, in the very best sense of the word.

Where Is She In The Bible?

She’s mentioned in all four Gospels, and a tiny bit in Acts. And she MIGHT be mentioned in Revelation, as we briefly touched upon last week, she seems to be represented as “the women clothed with the sun…” in Revelation 12.

What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?

I knew what most everyone knows. I did a series of monologues about the Christmas story in 2006, and specifically had written a monologue from Gabriel’s perspective in 2006, as he comes down to give Mary the news about being pregnant with Jesus. So I’ve examined her from the pious “I am the Lord’s servant, my it be to me as you have said” angle. Yawn. Let’s get to the Scheming!

What Verses Do You Want To Focus On?

So Mary gives birth to Jesus, and he’s a little stinker running around and staying behind at the temple while Mary and Joseph do the classic “I Thought He Was With YOU!” routine. (Luke 2:41-52) and God knows what else he did as a kid and a teen (though Anne Rice has taken a fictitious stab at what that was)

But let’s look at two other instances:

The first recorded miracle (if you’re going chronologically) of Jesus was the wedding at Cana. (John 2:1-12) The whole turning water into wine thing. Giving credence to million of alcoholics everywhere, YAY!

At this point in history, Jesus has not announced his ministry, hasn’t announced he’s the Son of God, nothing. John the Baptist has been shouting about it, there’s a voice in the Heavens that essentially says That’s my BOY! but Jesus hasn’t said boo.

Which is why, when Mary asks him to take care of the Bar Gone Dry at the wedding, Jesus tells her, “Dear woman, why do you involve me? My time has not yet come.” (John 2:4)

If we look at Mary through the Schemer lens, we can think this:

1. Mary knows that Jesus is the son of God, thank you Gabriel, Elizabeth, wise men, Anna and Simeon at the temple, la la la.
2. Mary knows that Jesus is precocious, thanks to his stunt at the temple.
3. She must have reason to believe that Jesus COULD turn water into wine, or else she wouldn’t have asked him to. I like to imagine that maybe she caught Jesus drinking underage, and when he sent him to his room with only a water bottle, she shows up later to find him completely hammered, laughing, and really needing a bathroom. I KNOW THIS ISN’T TRUE. But it’s fun to think about.

So if we know all of this, why does Mary ask Jesus to bust out his bartending skills? I think Mary’s Scheming in the very best possible way. She’s giving her firstborn son the nudge he needs to announce his Awesomeness, aka his ministry. She might also want him out of the house, ho ho ho.

Jesus knows she’s gonna ask, because the son of God usually knows everything, and he
finally does what Mary wants, and turns six stone jars of water into the best possible wine ever. Behold, Jesus’ Ministry O’ Miracles and Baptizing Folks and Preaching Good News begins!

Next mention of Mary in the Gospels comes later. (Matthew 13: 1-15/ Mark 3:20-21; 31-34 / Luke 8:19-21)

I’m using the verses in Mark, not just because they coincidentally were the ones the sermon was about at my church this past Sunday, but because for once, for once, Mark is the one that gives the most interesting details about this story.

The reason why that’s hysterical is because Mark is generally known as the briefer than brief Gospel. It was written first, and kinda of a general summation of Jesus’ life. Mark’s the highlight reel after the Superbowl/Grammys/Oscars are over. You can usually get more detail about Jesus’ life in Matthew, Luke, or John. Mark is kinda like the Twitter of the Gospels – short, sweet, and under 140 character per mention. HA!

But here’s the exception that proves the rule, as Mark gives much more context. Basically, Jesus is raising a ruckus by being awesome and performing miracles and arguing about Fasting and Rules Of The Sabbath with the Pharisees, and drawing crowds everywhere he goes. Mary knows that if Jesus doesn’t watch it, he’ll get arrested. So she and the family “went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” (Mark 3:21). Mary’s Scheming here, because she knows if she floats the theory that Jesus is insane, he can’t be held responsible for his actions if he’s arrested. She might also think he’s legitimately out of his mind, but the Insanity Defense is probably the better cover story until she can get a hold of her son and suss out what’s what.

But Jesus then says, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35) to expand the definition of family, and Mary’s probably grumbling going Great! They can ALL go look for you at the temple. Or something like that.

But! It should be noted that Mary is there at Jesus’ crucifixion. She (and other women) stood by her son, even when the majority of the disciples had abandoned Jesus. As a mother would. Which goes to show that being a Schemer does not inherently make you a bad person. It makes you a very passionate person. And in this case, a singular woman bearing the pain and joy of the Savior of the World on her soul.

What did you learn?

You know, I was really at a loss in trying to find a lady in the New Testament who could be classified as a Schemer. There’s a smattering of Sluts, and an endless supply of Shockingly Interesting Women, but I was digging REALLY hard to find a Schemer. Whereas they are all over the place in the Old Testament.

And if you think about it, it sorta makes sense. Most of the ladies in the OT are very concerned with whether they’re married, or have kids, and if they aren’t, they’ll Scheme to get that way.

In the semi-more enlightened New Testament (now is not the time to get into Paul’s wackadoo attitude toward women) the women have a little bit more freedom, and more independence and can do things with their own money like fund Jesus’ ministry or host churches in their living rooms, and those OT things aren’t as important. So the ladies of the NT don’t necessarily have time to Scheme about getting pregnant or married, they’ve already done that, and are trying to spend their money wisely.

It’s an evolution that spans the entire Bible – From Schemer to Shockingly Interesting Woman.

Sluts will already be around. I guess. HA!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Sluts, Schemers, And Other Shockingly Interesting Women Of The Bible #7 – The Whore Of Babylon.

My internet is busted at the Shabby Shack, which is annoying and also why this post is late. Mucho apologies.

Disclaimer: I am doing this as a way to share what I learn about these gals. I’m not saying what I discover and write about here is the absolute truth about them. I’m not thinking I’m going to discover some revolutionary truth that nobody’s heard before, nor am I looking to start legalistic fights. This is more about me being curious and wanting to learn more about these gals, and saying “Here’s what I learned in my Bible readings today!”

Which One Is She?

You really can’t be called the Whore Of Babylon and be anything other than a Slut. Sorry. Very technically, she’s known in Revelation as “the woman,” , “the great prostitute” and then over the centuries, people would casually call her “the Whore Of Babylon.” You know, ‘cause that’s catchier.

Who Could Be Her Celebrity Counterpart?

Oh hell no. No thank you. We shall be using paintings of her from across the centuries. (when I get my internet service back up and running, thank you.)

Where Is She In The Bible?

Revelation 17 and 18.

What Did You Already Know About Her Before This?

Surprisingly, not much. I know she’s there, and I know she’s not a real person, but a concept, the book of Revelation is mostly written in code, so she’s an example, an allegory, an enigma wrapped in a metaphor.

What’s Her Story?

Revelation is the revelation of the apostle John, who is writing this book o’ the Bible while in exile on the island of Patmos and has a vision about the ultimate battle between good and evil.

The Whore of Babylon represents Rome, Babylon, Jerusalem, hell, let’s just say any culture, civilization or person who has turned away from God and have abandoned their faith for pagan religions, false teaching and worshipping false gods.

In John’s vision, Chapter 17 has an angel showing up to John and basically saying “Wanna see a whore?” Okay, fine, the official phrasing is “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” (Ch. 17:1-2)

Rather than saying, “Um, gee, thanks but no,” John doesn’t say anything, and in the classic sense of Not Saying Anything Means Yes Indeedy, the angel spirits John to the desert, and there our lady is, “sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries” (Ch17:3-4)

Such specific detail! Scholars suspect that the color scarlet is in there to directly contrast with white, which is the color of purity (though to me, the opposite of white is black, and black and purple is a cool color comb, but whatever.) Purple has long been noted as the color of royalty, so this chickie is the Queen of Blasphemers.

She also has a “golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things,” (Ch. 17:4), which to me means it was filled with Cheddar Ranch Doritos, and she’s also drunk “with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus,” (Ch.17:6) so she’s all around not very nice person.

There’s a bunch of symbolic mumbo jumbo woo woo stuff about the beast she sits on, the beast’s seven heads, ten horns, waters, a partridge in a pear tree and la la laaaaaaa.

The Beast and the Whore are going to turn on each other, because evil will always turn on evil, and “… they will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.” (Ch:17:16)

So the Whore of Babylon is basically a city, “The woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth.” (Ch:17:18) And she’s a whore/prostitute because a gazillion people (in the form of kings, cultures, civilizations and populations) have “committed adultery” with her in a metaphorical sense by abandoning God for pagan religions and teachings.

Chapter 18 goes on to talk about how how she, as a metaphor for a city, comes to ruin. At first kings come to her and commit adultery, merchants grew rich from “her excessive luxuries” (Ch.18:3), but God “has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given, pay her back double for what she has done…” (Ch.18:6) and so she as a city burns, and kings, merchants, sea captains all mourn the loss of the great city, and then an angel throws a boulder into the sea and says “With such violence, the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again.” (Ch.18:21b)

Whatchoo Thinking About?

Well sigh. Why does the metaphor of a blasphemous city have to be a CHICK? You’ve got a lot of Roman emperors (like Domitian, who’s the ruling emperor when John’s in exile) who demand to be worshipped as a god. Why can’t the metaphor be a dude?

Because John’s letters don’t make it out from Patmos if there’s any language in them that could be read as slander against the emperor. So let’s make Babylon a CHICK! Why? Because everyone knows a chick has the possibility to be a WHORE, right? Because it’s an easy association, since most pagan religions worshipped at temples where they could have sex with temple prostitutes (even though there were male temple prostitutes as well, but whatever).

You know, you could’ve used animal imagery. There’s already quite a few dragons, and unnamed beasts, sea creatures, horses, and locusts scurrying around Revelation. So why couldn’t it be the great Bear of Babylon? Bruno, the Babylonian Bear, clothed in scarlet and purple, drunk on honey and blood.

They probably have never seen a bear. This is the Middle East we’re talking about. You don’t find bears in the desert.

I joke, but I am kinda sad. Because whenever there’s a metaphor to be written about, especially if it’s a metaphor where someone has gone astray, a lot of writers of the Bible smack the Chick button. As a literary tool, it’s done to death.

I’m not talking about the real women who have real adventures in the Bible. I’m talking about women as metaphors. Revelation also mentions another woman in Chapter 12, a woman who’s obviously meant to be the Virgin Mary. But it’s like, when it comes to literary devices, women are either Virgins or Whores or In Labor (see book of Jeremiah).

There’s just so much more to us, we’re so much more interesting, so much more complicated, to reduce us to broad literary stereotypes. And if this is how men in Biblical times saw women, we’ve come a long long way. Sometimes. No, yes, maybe, depends on what day it is.

It’s just a shame that these particular literary metaphors live on in the Bible, to haunt us still.

What Did You Learn?

Bruno, the Bear of Babylon. That cracks me up. Whenever I see the phrase “Whore of Babylon” from now on, I’m just gonna mentally switch to Bruno the Babylonian Bear. It makes me happy.