Archive for December, 2009

Epidemicish

Posted in Public Service Announcments with tags , , on December 18, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have an epidemic on our hands. Ok, possibly not an epidemic, but definitely a great danger. Well, no one is going to die or even get injured. But we should definitely be concerned. Deeply concerned. I should just tell you what I’m talking about and let you draw your own conclusions.

A few days ago I wrote an open letter to a woman I have dubbed “Grandma Smurf,” a little old lady I spotted at Wal-Mart with frighteningly blue hair (not the typical, chemical rinse blue; Marge Simpson blue.) By herself she is a singular and humorous anomaly. However, I have now spotted, at the same Wal-Mart, another older woman, this one with lime-green locks. Whereas Grandma Smurf had all of the appearance of a normal woman her age (excepting her ferocious, blue hair,) this second woman had a long, stringy, grunge-like do going and was wearing a black and white flannel shirt. I have therefore issued her the code-name “Nirvana Lime.”  

This second sighting has led me to the conclusion that we are at risk of an epidemic of senior citizens* with wildly colored hair running amok and wreaking havoc. Having not yet heard reports of any sightings outside of Midland, TX (or outside of the north side Wal-Mart) I am still calling this an epidemic not a pandemic. Also, pandemics are a little too trendy for us here at the Fringe, so we will be avoiding this upgrade barring reports from several states (excluding California and New York City where this type of sighting might be expected (other portions of New York state will be counted)) and at least one foreign country (Canada doesn’t count.)

Please, update us with any further sightings in or outside of the Midland area of unnatural colored hair on senior citizens. Snap a picture if you can. Although both ladies sighted seemed to be otherwise acting within the realms of normal, the chance of mental instability should not ignored. Thoughts from the Fringe cannot be held liable for any harm that may come to you as a result of interaction with the above mentioned or any other symptomatic people. Initiate contact at your own risk. If you do see Grandma Smurf, Nirvana Lime or any other person that seems to likewise afflicted, and you do speak with them, tell them to visit Thoughts from the Fringe so that we might learn more about this condition.

I recognize the possibility that both sightings in one localized area could be the result of a retirement village hair dresser that “drinks a little” at work. By “drinks a little”, I of course mean that she imbibes gallons of hard liquor while dropping acid before plying her trade. Although this possibility is noted and therefore could make this epidemic speak excessive, it is still an issue that should be addressed before anyone else is victimized.

*Note: although only symptomatic females have been spotted, I do not think the possibility of males being affected should be ignored or otherwise discounted.-J.S.S

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Grandma Smurf

Posted in Open Letters with tags , , on December 15, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Dear Madam,

I have to give you the proper respect due your age and due your extreme courage in the face of the judgmental microcosm that this world calls “Wal-Mart.” When so many women of your age might wear a head scarf (or babushka if you prefer) to cover up the shining, odd-colored, chemical residue after their regular salon visit, you took that blue-haired old lady stereotype and owned it. That shade was so dark and so blue that I could only imagine, as you rolled by on your electric shopping buggy, that you were attending some type of punk rock show later in the evening. Possibly a game of truth-or-dare went terribly awry at the retirement village. Maybe after losing the farm in a high-stakes bingo game, you took that one last gamble. Regardless, all eyes are on you, grandma. People in their twenties admire your daring and high-school kids envy your freedom. You are an inspiration to a generation; a generation that you are at least 50 years removed from. But as long as Keith Richards is still rocking, I see no reason why you should settle down.

So, with all sincerity and admiration, I say “Rock on, Grandma Smurf. Rock on.”

Sincerely,

J.S.Smith

A Quick note from the Fringe

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Recently, some of you may have read comments where I have vehomently defended the positions I take. I will continue to do this; but I do in fact welcome opposing views. I am in favor of intelligent debate; I enjoy intelligent debate.

Here’s the problem: if you want to argue with what I write, argue with what I write. I stated in my post A Christian Nation-Part II that the god (“Nature’s God” and “Creator”) mentioned in the first two paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence was not the Christian God because the rights it is said he bestowed upon man are not biblical. I did not say he was unspecified and therefore we must look at the make up of the audience. I never asserted in any way that the Continental Congress or the colonials in general were not mostly Christians. I did assert that some of them, particularly Jefferson and Franklin, were not Christians and that a non-Christian influence is evident in the document. So, to argue with this point, one would have to attribute to the Christian God that which I said could not be attributed. Religious make up of Congress was not part of my argument.

I hope this explains why I may have seemed quite frustrated in my debating. I felt as if it were I said “that dog has long hair” and was argued against by being told “the dog is black.” I never said the dog wasn’t black. Regardless, if I seemed to be bullying, it was not my intent and I do apologize.

I write what I write for me; I hope readers may also enjoy what I write. If someone is inspired to thought or to do additional research on a topic I cover, great, I am happy I have contributed, but my purpose in writing is primarily selfish; I enjoy writing. So to protect my main purpose, I have made some rules. I’m not going to engage in black vs. long arguments anymore. I feel that if someone wants to argue with points I haven’t made, they did not spend enough time reading what is written, and so I do not owe them the time it takes to entertain them. I will henceforth respond to these arguments by saying “The dog is black.”

I recognize that more than a few of my thoughts may be off center,( that is why I named it “Thoughts From the Fringe”) and therefore will be disagreed with. If you want to argue with those thoughts, fine. If you want to insult me or any of my other readers, you will be blocked permenantly. I might take a shot once from you; I might give you a warning and a chance to recant/apologize, but don’t count on it. Do count on not being given a second chance if you insult one of my other readers.

If you feel as if I am being unfair, take a look at your browser’s address bar. Do you see the “justinssmith” in the address? That means you are on my turf. I am Justin S. Smith. This is my house, if you want to come in for a cup of coffee, you need to show some respect.

Now then, back to the nonsense at hand….

Please enjoy the rest of your day here at the Fringe. 

A Christian Nation-Part II: the Declaration

Posted in A Christian Nation, Politics, Religion, and Society with tags , on December 8, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

If you have not read the introduction or Part I please start here.- J.S.S.

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

So begins the Declaration of Independence and the official founding of this nation. Before this point, the Colonial Congress was just that, a colonial congress, seeking rights and recognition from the King and Parliament and trying to patch up a bad relationship between Mother Britain and her American children. Also, we see God mentioned in our first national document. But what God are they referring to?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. –Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.  

Now we see marked that this God referred to in the first paragraph is clearly the creator. Depending on whether I am a Christian or Jew or Moslem, I may see something different here in this mentioned God without contradicting the words of this document. No one is claiming that this is a Jewish or Islamic Nation though. So what do we see here that is distinctly Christian? Nothing; multiple religions and deists would agree with one creator and have no issue referring to “Nature’s God.” To call this document for any one belief system we would need to see what belief system, what God, would “entitle” a people to a “separate and equal station” from and to the power from which they now dissolve their ties. We should also see which Deity “endows” us with the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

As a Christian, in order for me to call this a Christian document, I would have to be able to attribute the rights given by the god of this document to the God of the bible using Holy Scripture to do so. I cannot accomplish this. Unalienable means something that cannot be surrendered or taken away. Whereas life is considered sacred, it is alienable. As per Christian scripture, death is the wages of sin. A quick walk through the Old Testament will show that God’s chosen people had their liberty taken from them on more than one occasion. Pursuit of Happiness is not, as best I can tell, a Christian thought. Christians are to pursue the Glory of God. We should enjoy God, and we should derive pleasure from the gifts which God has given us, but the Pursuit of Happiness, in general, without adding to or subtracting from, is more hedonistic than it is Christian. So it seems that this beginning is best in line with Deist, not Christian, thought, which makes perfect sense when one studies the beliefs of its primary author (Jefferson) and its first editor (Franklin.)

At the end, after a long list of injuries made by the King, in the last paragraph, we find two more mentions of a higher power.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

“Appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world” and “firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”, these statements are as Christian as this document gets. I submit that although these thoughts are to or about a personal god, that is more than the Deists’ god, they still do not make this a Christian document nor do they make this the marked beginning of a Christian Nation. These statements rather suggest that Congress felt compelled to add weight to this Declaration. I also submit that I believe the draft submitted to Congress by Jefferson, that had already been reviewed and revised by Ben Franklin and that did not have these phrases, was more cohesive in thought as it was not appealing to more than one god, and stood on its own without the additional weight. That being said, the combination of the Deist phraseology at the beginning and the possibly Christian appeals at the end show this document to be a representation of who we were at the founding of our country: a mix of various backgrounds and beliefs, the great Melting Pot.

A good resource on the Declaration here.

This series is continued in Part III covering the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution here.

Chloe’s story- by Jack H. Smith

Posted in Guest Author, Reflections on December 3, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

The first guest writer on Thoughts from the Fringe could be none better than Jack H. Smith, my dad. My fringe dwelling is in no small way a result of this man leading me off the beaten path during my formative years and doing his best to unrepairably warp a developing mind. I can only hope to be as equal a warping influence on my children. -J.S.S

Justin I read your essay on the birth of Chloe and the problems that occurred. After reading it I decided that Chloe’s side of the story needs to be told and her grandfather was a good person to tell the story. Because I wasn’t there I will have to take poetic license in writing the story. Poetic license means I have to make it up (lie like a politician).

            Rather than take up space on your blog site I decided to email this to you. But I decided to take up the space anyway. It’s worth it.

 

                                                            Chole’s Story

                                                Created by her grandfather.

 

            It was after their children were in bed for the night. Justin and Faith were getting in a little together time uninterrupted by little people. Faith was in her favorite chair trying to find a comfortable position. Being eight and a half months along in her pregnancy there was no comfortable position. Justin had sat down on the sofa close to his wife’s chair.

            “Did you read that article by researchers who say you need to explain every thing that’s going on to your baby.” He said.

            “We’ve already told the kids what’s going on. They seem to understand, the older ones any way.”

            “Not those kids. They say you need to tell the one you are carrying what’s going to happen.”

“We’ve been talking able this for some time.”

“But we haven’t told her directly.”

“If you want to tell her go ahead. I’m going to try and rest.” She laid her head back and closed her eyes.

“ Chloe…” He started sitting on the sofa.

“If this was one of the other children you would have to first get their attention.”

“If I speak louder it would wake the others.”

“Try getting closer.” She replied using the speaking to an idiot voice.

“Oh. “ Justin got down on his knees beside his wife. “Do you think I should knock and get her attention?”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” She closed her eyes once more.

Leaning closer to his wife he started talking to his unborn child. “Chloe they say that we are suppose to tell you about every thing that is about to happen.” He stopped to gather his thoughts.

Who are you?” The voice was very soft and low. If he were even a little farther away he wouldn’t have heard it.

He looked at his wife to see if she was making fun of him. She appeared to be asleep. He couldn’t tell if he was really heard a voice or not.

“I’m your father…your Daddy.” he replied in a soft voice.

“What do you want to tell me? I’ve been resting. Something is about to happen and I need  to be rested for it.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about.” He said. “The event is your birth. It is going to happen in the next couple of weeks.”

“Birth?”

“Yes. That is what I want to talk to you about. Birth is where you come out and join us out here.”

“I don’t know how to do that.” She almost sounded lost.

“That’s okay. You’ll know what to do when the time comes. Your mother and I have decided to do thing differently this time. Instead of cold Doctors just doing their jobs there will be a loving midwife helping ease you into our world. Instead of a cool sterile delivery room there will be a warm pool of water.”

“Water?”

“Yes you will come out into a pool of water.

“You do realize that I’m young and unable to swim? I will drown.”

“You are in water now.” He told her.

“I am?” Her little voice raising several octaves.

“Calm down. Your mother is breathing for both of you.”

“Tell her to breathe a little faster, one of us is about to have a panic attack.”

“What are you doing? She seems to be agitated. “ Faith asked without opening her eyes.

“I’m just telling her what is going on.” He said. Turning back to his little girl to try an aleeve her fears. “Do you see that cord that’s attached to your belly?””

“You do realize that the light in here is very poor? I have kept my eyes closed most of the time. There isn’t much to see in here any way.”

“That cord is what is used to feed you and supply your other needs. And you don’t need to breathe in water as long as it is attached.”

“Okay Daddy.” She sounded calmer. “Tell me more.”

“When the time comes you’ll know what to do.”

“I’m scared and I have to get this right. Tell me what to do.”

“You turn head down and come out head first. ”

“What is down? Leading with my head doesn’t sound real smart.”   

“That’s the way it’s done. Down is toward the exit.”

“I don’t know which way the exit is. Will you be there? Will you help me? Will you call me so I’ll know the right way?”

“Yes I’ll be there and I’ll help you.”

“Thank You, Daddy.”

“Are you asleep.” Faith asked.

“I don’t think I was.”

“You were quiet for such a long time.”

“Maybe I was. I had the strangest dream.”

“Well it’s time for both of us to get some sleep.”

“You mean the three of us.”

 “Yes.”

   

“Justin, I think its time.” Faith said as she stood in church waiting for the kids.

“Daddy it’s time.”

“Go collect the kids so I can kiss them goodbye. Get the ones that are going to watch them too.”

“Daddy? Where are you?”

“Okay. I’ll be right back.” He disappeared to find his children.

“Daddy, its time and I need you.”

“He had better hurry. That last one was a good one.” Faith said speaking of her contractions.

“I hear Momma I’ll go to her.”

“She’s getting active.”

“I’m coming.” 

 

 

“Daddy there is no way out here.”

“We’ve tried several ways to induce labor again.” The midwife said. “I can’t find her heart beat where it’s suppose to be. I think we need to go to the hospital.”

“Daddy I’m here.”

 

 “She’s breech and up high.” The Doctor said as he looked at the sonogram. “She is way out of position.”

“What are we going to do?” Justin asked as he sat beside Faith.

“Daddy?”

“There are several choices. One is to wait and see if she turns on her own. I think it’s too late for that. Two we can try and turn her. She might turn and she might not. If she doesn’t then we have to do a C-section. Three we schedule and do a C-section.”

“What happens if you try to turn her?”

“Daddy? I hear you and I’m coming.”

“To be honest it’s going to stressful on both the mother and the baby.”

“What are the chances of it working?” Faith asked.

“Seventy five or eighty percent of the time we have to do a C section.”

“I think both have been through enough.” Justin said looking at his wife.

“Let’s get this over with. I’m tired.”

“Okay we’ll get things set up and bring her into the world.” The Doctor said.

 

“She’s moved.” The doctor said as he started the operation. “She’s sideways.”

“The cord.” The nurse said in a quiet voice to the Doctor.

“I see it. Let’s get this little girl out of here.”

“This isn’t like daddy said it would be. It not right. Daddy? Let me get that lung ful of air and I’ll let you know who’s not happy.”

 

Some people reading this will say it couldn’t happen that way, but I’m willing to stick to the fact as I created them. Congratulations to you both. Kiss the sweet child and tell her you will be there the next time she needs you.

You will notice that this telling puts the blame squarely on me. But who should we blame, Chloe? Faith? No, they’ve been through enough. I’ll take it.

Thanks for the story, Dad.

J.S.S

Ahoy, Cap’n Griffin

Posted in Open Letters, Open Letters to Matthew Griffin on December 3, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

Dear Mr. Griffin,

I recently noted on FaceBook (the great modern chronicler of our lives) as you extolled the illuminating value of the pirate language setting. I believe you stated that it was as if you had been viewing the world in a shadow. Since this setting has such great power for a landlover as yourself, I can only imagine what it might do for the FaceBook experience of our seafaring friends. But why, dear sir, should we allow the great oracle of FaceBook to benefit from this wonder alone.

I propose that we should make a pirates translation of the Holy Scriptures. Imagine the power of our Savior saying to Peter “YARR, get thar aft, ye scurvy dog!” (Mat 16:23 PSV(copyright pending)) The PSV will be a rage among scurvy dogs, drunken sailors, and, I’m sure, the youth of America. And, after the travesty that was the TNIV, getting Zondervan on board to publish should be pretty easy.

Clearly there is a niche in the Bible market that is yet to be filled (which is kind of hard to believe), but we must act fast before someone else sees the void. This may be your only opportunity to be such an influence in church history, so consider it carefully.

Sincerely,

J.S.Smith

A Christian Nation-Part I: The Colonies

Posted in A Christian Nation, Politics, Religion, and Society with tags , on December 3, 2009 by Justin S. Smith

First, Please see the introduction   -JSS

The Colonies-

The colonists were Catholics, Puritans, Quakers, other miscellaneous Protestants and some loyal to the Church of England. While the Catholics and Puritans came specifically to avoid religious persecution, many of the rest came in hopes of wealth. Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement, was granted a charter in order to find gold and a shipping route to the Orient. A church was among their first buildings, and it should be noted that by the mid 1620 attendance to worship in the Anglican Church was mandatory and taxes went to support the Church of England, but this does mark them as separatists trying to form a new society. It marks them as English, behaving as the English of the time. We should also note that the first slaves were brought to Virginia in 1619. Slavery, particularly in the colonial and early American iteration, cannot be called Christian institution without a lot of biblical stretching.

The Puritans who landed at Plymouth, and those who later followed to Massachusetts, were after religious freedom and founding of a particularly religious settlement. Essentially, Massachusetts was a Puritan Theocracy for the first half century of its existence. But the Puritans so zealously fought for their religious state that they lost their charter from the king for, among other things, discriminating against Anglicans. A nice turn from where they started.

European style fighting between Christian denominations was not uncommon. Maryland was first settled by English Catholics avoiding Anglican persecution. Lord Baltimore tried Newfoundland, which he found unsuitable for its climate, and Virginia, which was found unsuitable for its Anglicans, before settling in present day Maryland. The Catholic settlers were quickly outnumbered by Protestant settlers seeking economic opportunity. The Catholics, while they still held power in the colonial government, passed the American colonies’ first religious tolerance act. This act was repealed and passed a couple of times with plenty of fighting in between.

So, with Puritans in Massachusetts, Catholics in Maryland, Quakers in Pennsylvania, and Anglicans in Virginia, and intolerance towards each other, IF these colonies were to join into one CHRISTIAN nation, What Christianity would they be able to agree on?

(I have only touched on a few of the highlights and would encourage further reading on this topic of colonial history. Lots of information is available on the internet.)

This series is continued with the Part II covering the Declaration of Independence here– J.S.S.