And then there’s this: FRESNO is Forbes’ Dirtiest City in America for 2012

Fresno, CA. Forbes Magazine's 2012

Fresno, CA. Forbes Magazine’s 2012 “Dirtiest City in America”

Just when you thought all my family and friends back in California’s San Joaquin Valley had it rough enough, there’s this:

Forbes Magazine has named the FRESNO-MADERA metropolitan area the dirtiest city in America.

The booby prize this year for Dirtiest City in America goes to Fresno, California. This Central Valley city suffers some of the worst air in the nation, and a water supply so degraded that the city used to tell pregnant women not to drink from the tap. Fresno epitomizes the environmental challenges of the Golden State.

A bright spot in the pollution landscape is that according to this EPA report, America’s air quality has generally been getting better. Cars and trucks are more efficient, fuel blends are cleaner, and coal-fired power plants have been forced to install air-scrubbing technology.

That’s right, of all US cities over 500,000 people, Fresno – the California conservative hotbed and home of my alma mater, CSU Fresno (Go Bulldogs!) – is the dirtiest city in America for 2012 in terms of air and water quality.

And before you start laughing, Bakersfield, take a look at the number 2 spot, because there you are, once again a runner-up to Fresno. (Although, in this case, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) In fact, 4 of America’s top 10 dirtiest cities are in the San Joaquin Valley (Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, and Stockton), and 6 of 10 are in California (San Jose and Riverside).

Unfortunately (but predictably), this is one of the things that happens when you keep crying, “Get government out! No more government regulations!”: you get crap in your air and water, and in places only miles away from some of the most pristine natural beauty on earth (e.g., the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP, etc.).

So keep up those anti-environmental protests, and “Drill Baby Drill”!

In the mean time, here are the 10 dirtiest cities in the nation.

Fresno and Bakersfield were dubiously named the #1 and #2 "Dirtiest cities in America" for 2012 by Forbes Magazine. In an overwhelmingly blue state, these are two politically conservative strongholds.

Fresno and Bakersfield were dubiously named the #1 and #2 “Dirtiest cities in America” for 2012 by Forbes Magazine. In an overwhelmingly blue state, Fresno and Bakersfield are two politically conservative strongholds.

1. Fresno, Calif.
The Fresno-Madera metro area takes the prize for dirtiest city in America. The 500,000 people in this area suffer from being exposed to groundwater polluted by agriculture as well as having the 5th worst year-round particle pollution in the nation, according to the American Lung Association. Sperling Air Quality Index: 1 Sperling Water Quality Index: 22

2. Bakersfield, Calif.
Bakersfield is the oil capital of California, home to some of the oldest and biggest fields in the nation. Emissions from oil and gas processing contributes to Central Valley air pollution that is the worst in the nation. According to the Lung Association, the population of 800,000 is subject to the worst particle pollution in the country and third-worst ozone. Sperling Air Quality Index: 1 Sperling Water Quality Index: 42

3. Philadelphia, Pa.

4. Bridgeport, Conn.

5. Modesto, Calif.
Modesto is another polluted city in California’s Central Valley. It’s 500,000 people have a 15.5% unemployment rate, rank 5th in short-term particle pollution and 11th in ozone. Sperling Air Quality Index: 6 Sperling Water Quality Index 34

6. Riverside, Calif.
(East of LA)

7. New Haven, Conn.

8. San Jose, Calif.
(Southern Bay Area)

9. Stockton, Calif.
Stockton summer heat exacerbates ozone levels that rank 23rd in the nation. Population is 650,000. The city has little means to fund environmental initiatives. It has sought to avert bankruptcy by laying off city employees, including a quarter of its police force. Sperling Air Quality Index: 15 Sperling Water Quality Index: 35

10. Milwaukee, Wi.

Forget Same-Sex Marriage: Southern Church Prohibits BLACK Wedding

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson were banned from having their wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi because they are black.

This is UN-FRIGGING-BELIEVABLE!

Forget about same-sex marriage: some southern Christians still can’t get past BLACK weddings!!

ABC News is reporting that First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi has prohibited the wedding of Charles and Te’Andrea Wilson from taking place in its building because they are African-American:

“There has never been a black wedding at the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Miss., since its founding in 1883. According to Pastor Stan Weatherford, some church members objected so strongly to breaking that precedent, they threatened to oust him from his pastorship.”

David Kenney of WLBT News in Jackson, Miss. reported the rationale of the pastor:

“This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that,” said Weatherford.

Seriously? This is what is STILL happening in the American South?? This is still an issue?

For the record, this is what we’re dealing with when we talk about racism and homophobia. And this is why people are so outraged about the Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A scandal. Yes, they are different issues, but they are treated the same in the eyes of many fundamentalists. Many of the same “Christians” that are actively campaigning to suppress the civil rights of gay Americans and prohibit same-sex weddings are also still campaigning against allowing African-American weddings. They are different issues, but the hatred and condescension and racist/homophobic fear is all the same.

Think about it: this church REALLY banned a black wedding!!! And yet, for some reason, we are supposed to value their opinion on same-sex weddings???

This is the mentality we’re dealing with in conservative Christianity. Gay weddings are not allowed. Black weddings are not allowed. Only white, straight Christian weddings please.

NBC News reported the frustration of the groom, Charles Wilson:

Charles Wilson said he doesn’t understand the ban. “I blame those members who knew and call themselves Christians and didn’t stand up,” Wilson said.

This is why we must stand up and we must report the absurd behavior of those who seek to use religion to prohibit anything different them themselves.

I’m still waiting for the church to claim that they were prohibited from getting married in the church for some other reason, as racism and homophobia are usually disguised in a something else. It still wouldn’t change the fact that the church has never hosted a black wedding.

Maybe Chick-fil-A can sponsor the next potluck for the First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi…

(HT: Jim West)

southern christianity, nascar, product placement, and a smokin’ hot wife

if this is not the epitome of selling out christianity for product profitability and popularity, then i don’t know what is.

i shake my head…

[HT: MPT]

epic fail: real housewives of the bible (and why i love scott bailey’s blog)

I love Scotteriology (Scott Bailey’s Blog). In addition to being a former NHL player (and despite being a Canadian ;-), he’s a got a wicked sense of humor and a sharp eye for critical biblical scholarship.

His latest commentary on a web-based evangelist and author (Ty Adams) who produced a straight-to-DVD series called, “Real Housewives of the Bible” is epic! You must read it.

Here is the YouTube promo:

ezekiel 23:20 is now apparently a drink at a new zealand pub

Scott Bailey has the story of the day:

A pub in New Zealand has introduced horse semen to its drinks menu, a stomach-churning addition tinged with the wholesome flavour of apple.

Yeah… ’cause ‘Apple’ makes everything go down better… especially Horse jizz. Dear God…

The Green Man Pub in Wellington offers the 30ml shots for a princely sum of £12 – and apparently it’s going down a treat with regulars.

The gastro-pub serves the drink chilled fresh from a Christchurch stallion farm and each shot contains about 300 million individual horse sperm cells.

Green Man pub co-owner Steven Drummond is to blame for the grimace-inducing drink, which he explained is knocked back by both male and female customers.

He advises his customers to shoot the sticky horse semen back in one gulp rather than attempt to sip the bizarre concoction.

He came up with the idea when trying to invent a new drink to spice-up a local food challenge.

—————————————————

I don’t know anyone from New Zealand, but I’m pretty much judging the country en masse right now…

Can you imagine the pickup lines in that pub?

Absolutely brutal. And yet, they’ll sell a ton of them, mostly on dares.

(BTW: Ezek 23:20 reads, “and lusted after her paramours there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose emission was like that of stallions.” At least it’s biblical, no?)

HT: Scott

and the golden turd award for religious exploitation goes to…

you must read this post. i don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

Special Passover Award For BS (Biblical Stupidity) And the winner is? Drum roll please…. Paula White. Usually, Paula is doing some serious BS with the calendar and the feast days of ancient Israel. Paula has articulated an immense amount of BS pertaining to the calendar. She really likes the calendar… she loves the calendar. When Paula is around a calendar it gets awkward. But her calendar has magic powers for your finances! Paula is the dilettante queen who brought you the Day of Atonement ble … Read More

via Scotteriology

my choice for worst christian song ever: ancient words

Rod of Alexandria has begun a meme asking different bloggers to choose the worst Christian song in existence and describe why it is so abhorrent to them. Those who know me know that I have been no fan of much of what passes as “Christian music” for many years, be it what we today call contemporary worship or “praise” music, ridiculous, out-of-date hymns (especially those particular hymns with “Christian soldier” themes, or those that employ the use of the word “yonder”), or the newest fad, wannabe Christian rock songs, which (imho) were they any good would be able to cut it with the big boys and girls on the “mainstream” charts like U2. The fact that so many Christian musicians and bands choose to flee to the safety of the “Contemporary Christian” minor leagues to have any chance at “success” is quite telling.

And let not a Christian song’s widespread presence in churches across the country fool you; the fact that a “praise song” gets played repeatedly in many worship settings is usually more of an indication that the song’s instrumentation is easy to play, or that the congregants mindlessly singing along lack any theological training or inquisitiveness than it is an indicator of a well-written song. Let us also not neglect the possibility that many crappy Christian songs survive only because individuals in worship settings are often too polite to look to the person standing next to him/her and say, “This song really, really sucks!” For some reason, we’re told we’re not supposed to criticize bad Christian songs, because it may have edifying qualities to another listener no matter how theologically unstable the song’s lyrics may be. This phenomenon tells us much about the state of Christian music (and Christian knowledge of the actual text of the Bible) today. But I digress…

Contemporary worship or “praise” music bugs me the most. With their theologically vapid lyrics, I have just about had it with what passes for worship music today. The theological complexity of many of these songs today often sounds like little more than: “Jeeezussss, I sooo freakin’ loooove youuuuu, you are my all in all, fill me with your presence, help me feeeeel you inside me, me me me me me me me me.”

It seems “worship” is quickly taking the place of doctrine/dogma as that which stands in the way of what ought to be at the center of the Christian life: service to others. But, service to others is hard (read: “haaarrrrd,” like a whiny child), and takes a lot of time, as does forgiveness, kindness, making do with what you have, and educating oneself about precisely what one believes (and, for that matter, what one does not believe, as well as what can be proved and what cannot be proved, what is outdated, and what no longer belongs as part of a modern Christian life!). It’s much easier and much more fun to see church as a divine therapy session, where self-righteous, self-absorbed doctrine helps us feel superior, and “meaningful worship” helps us recharge for another dreary week of actually having to interact with others outside of the gated communities and guard booths, and make a difference in the unsterilized, unsanitary world Christians are supposed to be affecting. But again, I digress…

Being raised in the Restoration Movement in an a cappella tradition, song lyrics are all the more important, especially when there is no instrumental accompaniment to cover up poorly written, theologically defunct, or grammatically incorrect words.

Speaking of theologically lacking, grammatically incorrect music, let me introduce Lynn DeShazo and perhaps one of the worst offerings of grammatical nonsense of the past few decades. About five years ago, the University Church of Christ in Malibu introduced a song entitled Ancient Words into the repertoire. This group of thrown-together words that some call a “song” has got to be one of the most ill-conceived songs in the recent history of the English language. And yet, it gets passed along from one church to another like a joint at a reggae concert, often without anyone ever pausing to ask, “but is this really any good for us?” If you succeed in getting past the fact that Michael W. Smith is performing it (above), you are then left with the unavoidable reality that the song is a complete butchery of the English language.

Here are the lyrics:

Holy words long preserved
for our walk in this world,
They resound with God’s own heart.
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

CHORUS:
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you,
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ.

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world.
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart.

CHORUS x4
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart.

Please allow me for a second to explain the grammatical concept of a transitive verb.

Intransitive verbs do not need an object. I run. The dog eats. He dies. These verbs are intransitive; they don’t require direct or indirect objects. One cannot die something. You die. In this sentence, “die” is an intransitive verb. However, transitive verbs are verbs that require objects. For instance, were I to say, “Tomorrow, I am bringing,” you would think me an idiot, because “bringing” is a transitive verb and requires a direct object. What, precisely, am I bringing? (Answer: I’m bringing the smackdown on this disgrace of a song.)

Now re-read the lyrics to Ancient Words above and pay special attention to the chorus. “Oh let the ancient words impart.” Period. Impart what exactly? Impart direction? Impart wisdom? Impart love? Joy? Happiness? What are the ancient words imparting? Nothing! We don’t know what the ancient words are imparting because the song’s author never tells us! She just wrote some pretty sounding ancient words together, but forgot the ancient rules of grammar!

Here’s a Christian lyric for you: Of what good are open hearts if we know not what the words impart? (See, this stuff is easy.)

It’s a sixth grade grammatical song for an increasingly sixth grade Christian consumer market, willing to recite anything – including theological and grammatical nonsense – just to have their ears tickled and feel good. In many contemporary worship services, words mean nothing, but, if we sing them with heart and passion, perhaps we can overlook the fact that the lyrics are fundamentally ridiculous.

So add Ancient Words to Ha-la-la-la-la-la-la lei-lu-jah (whose second verse, ‘Jesus is a friend,’ sounds like a bunch of snakes hissing at each other), Blue Skies and Rainbows, Shine Jesus Shine, Onward Christian Soldiers, I Come to the Garden Alone, and anything written and/or arranged for a cappella by Ken Young as songs that should never be sung in corporate worship settings. And, as I have the unfortunate experience being reminded of others, I shall add them to this list.

Until such a time as this, allow me to offer this challenge to songwriters: focus on the lyrics. Good lyrics make good songs. But, don’t just write pretty sounding lyrics. Show your lyrics to others, preferably, to those with a theological education and at least a sixth grade education in English grammar. Use poetic license, but check for glaring grammatical errors. And, for the love of all that is good and holy, write lyrics that have meaning beyond simply fitting alliteratively into a fixed syllabic space.

a biblical solution to the bedbug infestation terrorizing america from ‘the acts of john’

BedbugWith all of the news surrounding the apparent bedbug infestation spreading across America, from the United Nations and the Waldorf Astoria in New York to out here in Los Angeles, I was reminded that despite how much this menace sucks (literally), this is no new problem. Actually, the problem of bedbug annoyance has been around since biblical days. In fact, one of the more humorous (albeit implausible) stories from the earliest moments in Christianity is a story from a pseudepigraphal gnostic document called the Acts of John.

At one point in the Acts of John, we have the story of “The Miracle of the Bedbugs”:

Now on the first day we arrived at a deserted inn, and when we were at a loss for a bed for John, we saw a droll matter. There was one bedstead lying somewhere there without coverings, whereon we spread the cloaks which we were wearing, and we prayed him to lie down upon it and rest, while the rest of us all slept upon the floor. But when he lay down, he was troubled by the bugs, and as they continued to become yet more troublesome to him, when it was now about the middle of the night, in the hearing of us all he said to them: “I say unto you, O bugs, behave yourselves, one and all, and leave your abode for this night and remain quiet in one place, and keep your distance from the servants of God.” And as we laughed, and went on talking for some time, John addressed himself to sleep; and we, talking low, gave him no disturbance (or, thanks to him we were not disturbed).

But when the day was now dawning I arose first, and with me Verus and Andronicus, and we saw at the door of the house which we had taken a great number of bugs standing, and while we wondered at the great sight of them, and all the brethren were roused up because of them, John continued sleeping. And when he was awakened, we declared to him what we had seen. And he sat up on the bed and looked at them and said: “Since ye have well behaved yourselves in hearkening to my rebuke, come unto your place.” And when he had said this, and risen from the bed, the bugs running from the door hasted to the bed and climbed up by the legs thereof and disappeared into the joints. And John said again: “This creature hearkened unto the voice of a man, and abode by itself and was quiet and trespassed not; but we which hear the voice and commandments of God disobey and are light-minded: and for how long?” (60-61)

Thus, the solution to the bedbug problem: get an apostle to order the bugs out of the bed before you go to sleep every night. It’s an almost biblical solution to the bedbug infestation terrorizing America. (And don’t talk while John’s trying to sleep!)

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