Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Farewell to "Rolaids' McClellan

I know it's not "grateful friday" but here's something to be grateful for:

Scott McClellan is gone!! Personally, I like to refer to him as "Rolaids" McClellan -- I can't think of a more miserable, nauseous-looking man, this little mouthpiece of evil. I know there's no reason to celebrate his resignation because someone worse is bound to spring up in his place, maybe even someone more articulate, who sweats a bit less, looks less constipated, has a bit thicker a veneer of sincerity, and then maybe more people will be fooled... but... does anyone watch White House press conferences anyway? Sigh. I'd like the think he's out there right now munching on Rolaids and filling out a MacDonald's application, but I know it ain't so. Puffy little weasel will find some plum job!

On a more cheerful topic, Alexandra and I went to hear Anne Lamott speak last night!!! She's such a warm and funny soul and one of the few people in the world for whom I would go to a church to hear thoughts on faith. Couldn't all Christians be like her? Please? She's a deeply loving person, and she talked a bit about how hard she's trying to practice Christian love towards our current administration... because apparently the doctrine is that Jesus loves us all equally. Really? Does Jesus REALLY love Dick Cheney? I could never be a Christian because I know I could NEVER accept that, never never never! She admits to having big problems, too, accepting that "God has such bad taste," and says she's achieved about 4% love so far. That's something! But... I don't mean this as a joke... I know Jesus is all about love, but what incentive is there to be a good person if Jesus loves Dick Cheney too? It makes no sense to me! But I do think it's a worthy pursuit to work hard at love and empathy and kindness, rather than being infected with hatred by having to live in a world controlled by evil men. And it IS work. It made me think of Liz's post a while back about adding Bush to one's spiritual altar. I can't really wrap my mind around it! (I have a secret wish that the world could split like cell mitosis and create two identical worlds, and the Republicans could all be in one doing their polluting/money-grubbing/war-mongering thing, and the rest of us could watch in a magic mirror as they stew in their foul juice!!)

Anne Lamott actually didn't talk much about politics. She read an essay from her book about a ski trip she took some Easter past with a terminally ill friend, and she spoke of her 16-year-old son and how he grew up on bookstore floors (and I remember! I worked in her local bookstore during college, and remember her there, and Sam on the floor with his toys while she taught or spoke), and she talked a little about her planned July 14th revolution that is all about libraries and kindness, and she led us to sing "My Country Tis of Thee" (it sounded beautiful, as if we were a choir), and when a baby cried in the audience and the mother tried to creep out guiltily with him, Anne said, "Please stay. Your baby is welcome here," and the mother did stay, and the baby didn't cry again. It was marvelous.

Afterwards Alexandra and I went out for veggie burgers and talked about our current writing projects at a neighborhood pub, just the kind of thing I was so looking forward to doing when she moved here last year. We hadn't lived in the same city since 1994 when we both lived in North Berkeley and used to go for long walks at Tilden Park and eat whole pints of Ben & Jerry's (each). She's since lived in Seattle, Israel, Bulgaria, and Los Angeles, and now she's here in Portland, often to be found camped out in some remote corner of Powell's Books with piles and piles of books around her, like a fort. I'm so pleased to finally have my best friend living just minutes away, and I'm also so pleased she started blogging, because she had been so SECRETIVE with her writing for so long, and now I get to read it every week, and I love it!


Amber said...

I would love to go see Anne L speak. Lucky you.

I have to say, it makes me so sad to hear people talk about Christians as if all of us were Far Right Wack-Jobs. Those are just the people who make the biggest fuss. Most of us are just like Anne, I believe. But I think so many people have decided that being a Christian means certain things, and a lot of walls go up. And I notice this most in my friends who identify themselves as Liberal,and it is puzzeling to me. I thought the whole idea was to be open minded, and wait to cast judgments? See people as individuals, right? Yet I always feel most catigorized by this side. What's up with that?

I blame a lot of it on the horrible political climate that has pushed people so much to either side. I call myself a sort of Zen-Christian, and I am adamantly Independant when it comes to politics. I hate partisanship on either side. I hate the towing of any "party line", as it were.I believe this is derailing our country, and the important issues we face. And it is not only Republicans who have some evil juices to stew in, you know.(although I admit that many of them should be nice and tenderized by now ;) ). I am suspicious of anyone in politics, actually. They all need to be watched, the dirty SOB's! Lol.

Sorry I took up so much space, here. But, that is what happens when you blog something thought provoking! I hope you won't think I'm a jerk, or anything.


telfair said...

I think a lot of non-Christians have walls go up when Christianity is mentioned because they've had bad experiences in the past. I'm not Christian, and I remember going home from school sobbing one day because three or four of my little friends told me I was a terrible person because of that, and they couldn't be friends with me anymore, and by the way -- I was going to Hell. And our teacher sadly agreed.

I certainly think that there are extremists in every group, and I know many loving, tolerant, cool Christians who would never make me or anyone else feel like that. But I've also run into a fair number of incredibly stern, narrow-minded ones, too. Again, there are people like this across the board, in every group, of every belief system. I'm a true adherent to "live and let live" -- everyone should believe what gives them the most peace and happiness -- just don't try to force others to conform to it. The Bush administration has no such viewpoint -- in fact, their opinion seems to be, "agree with us, or we will stomp you into submission, or roll over the top of you with little to no regard for your points." Allies, citizens, dissenters, people with alternative lifestyles, etc.

Even if I were a Christian, I think I would have a hard time feeling "Christian love" for this administration. They seem so intolerant, full of avarice and violence and hatred for people who aren't like them. Yet they're politicians, so they undoubtedly have ulterior motives for doing so.
In fact, if I were a Christian, I think I would utterly resent the fact that they seem to have co-opted Christianity and the principles behind it in order to rationalize and justify their avarice, their thoughtless, rash actions and violent ambitions, and to manipulate a large segment of the US voting population.

Great, thought-provoking post...

megg said...

I'm glad she started blogging too - so I could meet her and you! I laughed out loud at the beginning of your post, and nodded at the middle. I won't get into religion here because I need to mull a bit about it but I understand where you are coming from. It is hard to love where it seems to be undeserved. This gets me onto my soapbox about countries spending less on war and more on taking care of their children and young parents so kids wouldn't grow up angry enough to start fights and wars. When I am Queen of the world I will sort all of that out!

But I am looking forward to sitting on the floor of Powell's and building my own fort with you guys someday!!

Marilyn said...

Anne's speaking in S.F. tonight, but alas, I can't go. (Only one car...and it's headed to boyfriend's first aid class tonight...) But one of these days I'll finally get to hear her speak. I'm quite excited about her 7/14 thing. :)

Off subject... May I call you when I/we come to Portland? (May be sooner, rather than later...) email me.

Jennifer said...

I've been wanting to read The Blue Shoe. Now I feel like I must!

HoBess said...

amber and telfair: Thanks for putting together some of the thoughts my brain never seems able to paste together in order! Laini, Loved reading about dinner with the girls and hearing that your family gathering was a success. And I love this post because even the way you approach your frustration makes me smile and say "Yes!" But I have one question: How can we make sure Tom Cruise lands on the simmering side after the split?

Deb R said...

I kind of love your world-splitting idea.

Laini Taylor said...

Amber: Eek! I just reread my post to see if I characterized Christians as nut-jobs, and I don't think I have -- I guess in saying I wish all Christians could be like Anne Lamott it's implied that I believe many are the other kind of Christians, the "burn in hell" kind, the Rapture type. Thanks you for speaking up. I KNOW there are a lot of wonderful people, giving, charitable, loving people, who are Christian. But it's easy to forget sometimes because the other kind are so much louder. It's really not the religion I have a problem with -- the teachings of Jesus would be a wonderful way to run a world, if only that world were not being administered by people so singularly unfit to preach it. As for why liberals seem anti-Christian, I think it's because we hear and see alot more about Falwell & Robertson and about God talking Bush into invading Iraq, than we do about people living by the principles of Jesus, and because in this political climate the Church is becoming an agency of intolerance in the hands of men like that, and the principle battleground over issues near and dear to liberal hearts, like gay marriage and freedom to choose, and because ministers are telling their parishioners to vote for Bush! But I sincerely thank you for speaking up and reminding me there are more Anne Lamott Christians out there!

Anonymous said...

puffy little weasel!


yeah, Cheney and his ilk get nothing from me-- too many others to love-- they are evil incarnate.


M said...

Great post! Once again, so glad I'm living up north in Canada! I love the world splitting idea- can we put tapered jeans on that side too?
I love Anne Lamott, need to check out this 7/14 thing. Glad you have your best friend around too, you lucky thing!

Amber said...

Oh, I understand! I didn't mean to make it sound like you were being hurtful, or anything!
You are right that the voices people most hear are these other ones. Speaking as a Christian, it makes me sad for the faith, that non-believers think that. The vast majority are NOT fundelmentalist believers. Those types do a true disservice IMO, because they turn people off so much, and act like they have the only answers to the mystery and mysticism of Christ. Instead, I only wish people would understand that there are as many different types of Christian belief systems, as there are shades of blue in the ocean.(And, believe me, I KNOW there are a lot of Christians who need to understand this too! Many would not 'get' me.)

From reading your blog, I really think you are a neat person, and a true talent! I truely enjoy your thoughts. I guess when you said that you "wish more Christians were like Ann Lamott", it just struck a cord with me, because I think most Christians I have known ARE like that. That's all. Maybe I attract that kind of energy. :)

As far as polictics goes, I can honestly say I have NEVER heard a pastor tell me how to vote! LOL! And I have been to many churches. (I would never come back if one did that.) I think that is one of those things that people really believe is true and wide spread, that causes such an automatic divide. I think it might be hard for some people to understand that others can come to opposing conclusions about things without being told what to believe, or that this must mean they are hatefull, closed minded idiots... I can't talk to somebody about why the war sucks, or why gay people should get married if I automatically shut them out as being some kind of sheep. That just closes doors to healthy discussion, like this! And that is not good. ;)

Thanks for letting me say this, and hear your POV, too. It is a good thing! I don't think we are so far apart in ideas.


Amber said...

Laini-- Please go read my post back to you on my blog! :)

Alexandra S said...

I'm so glad too Chinnyfrump to be living so close to you and Jim-rollerskating distance away! Thank you so much for all those kind words (I'll pay you later) and I am so very blessed to have you as a best friend but you already know this I think. But I actually moved here to found a local 700 Club spin-off show, and so I find your comments very distasteful. Or not. Something I read in Eat Pray Love was wonderful. She talked about the Indonesian medicine man she studied with and he said something like if someone disagrees with you about religion, just agree with them and then go home and practice what you truly believe because we will likely all never see eye to eye. What would be lovely is more tolerance and humor tossed in Anne Lamott style instead of the venom and shadow projections style of people like our Administration and Al Queda alike. We all should just be focusing on our own areas we need to grow instead of trying to make others do and believe how we think best. I still can't believe what is and has happened to our country and how quickly it is happening. I don't even blame Bush for being himself. He doesn't seem to have been born with a curiosity or ability to admit wrongdoing on his end. I blame my fellow Americans for voting for him, for being willing to toss our liberties like toiletpaper into a wastebasket.

Jim Di Bartolo said...

I have to admit (as Laini well knows) that I watch many (FAAAR too many probably) of these White House briefings with the Press Corps. Anyone who has watched a few knows that the answer given most often is "We don't comment on ongoing investigations."

Seriously, I'm not even CLOSE to kidding.

And so, ironically, it was just announced that George Bush is going to be his own White House Spokesperson, but since EVERYthing in his administration is being investigated, he doesn't have to answer ANY questions. He said he'll just stand at the podium, eat a bag of chips, and hold up a sign. A once difficult job has now become easy. (He may have actually now found a job that he's OVER-qualified for. Weird, huh?!)


la vie en rose said...

i've read several of ann lamotts books and i just love her. she is such an inspiration and everytime i read her wise words (birthed from quite a life journey) i feel like maybe i could go to church and maybe i could give religion another try. and then i realize where i am and know i can't. and part of me misses the community and the fellowship. but now i have my blogging community. i just wish i had more of you in the flesh.

as for the current administration. ...i'm a texan and i didn't even vote for him (of course i'm about the only person i know who didn't). but i dare say that splitting the country in two wouldn't solve it all because unfortunately it's not that black and white--or that republican vs. democrat. i wish it were that easy and then i could just pick up and move to the 'right' side (where ever that is). until then i'll continue to *try* to put bush on my alter. blah!

holli said...

Oh well, I'm a republican and I hope I'm not stewing in foul juice! I have friends on both sides of the story and that's what makes the world go round.

Anyway, I'll try and pull something positive out and say - I love it when my friends start a blog. There is nothing like seeing what someone writes to get a different angle on the inside of their head.

Kim G. said...

Laini - thanks for the report on Anne's time here in town last night! How great to hear that she provides that "real" picture of someone who has chosen to follow Jesus. Honestly, sometimes I feel like saying to people, don't call me a Christian - it's too loaded of a word these days. Others judge me by their experiences with that word rather than who I am. The older I get and the more I study about Jesus I realize that he did not deal in generalizations - but instead dealt with people's hearts. He did this with prostitutes, tax collectors, fisher-men, soldiers, harried hostesses, his friends and his enemies; anyone and everyone was worthy of his perfect love and forgiveness (even the likes of Dick Cheney). If this wasn't the case, he would just be another man, with another agenda, claiming things that he couldn't deliver.

I have changed my thinking in the past few years to make an effort not to generalize about ANY people group, even if their beliefs run contrary to my own. It's tough, because we live in such a polarized society, and yes, there can be pressure from some to "take a stand" regarding some of these hot-button issues. (Like Amber,I have never been told by any of our pastors to vote any certain way.) I hope that the way I live my life would demonstrate that I don't have to agree with you, and I might passionately disagree with your position, but I can still love you with a love that is honest and real.

Thanks for the great discussion and to ALL who have left comments for us to think about.

kelly rae said...

i couldn't agree with you more. though i struggle with calling myself a "christian" or "religious" i certainly believe in all things Love, and everything spirtitual that comes with it. the mystery, the faith, the discovery. all of it. and i agree with alexandra, that i blame and am so disappointed in the people who voted for bush, almost more so that bush himself.

acumamakiki said...

I've loved Anne Lamont's books for awhile now; what a treat to hear her speak. I'm glad to see this bastard gone and I"m hoping this is just the one of many events to bring down our current, crap-filled administration. However, I do respect my friends that vote otherwise, even if I can't embrace their opinions.

liz elayne said...

ok i feel like there is nothing i could possibly add to this discussion because you have all said it in your amazing, different ways. Each of you have me pausing to think, cracking up out loud, and just being really happy that I have found this community in blog world.

Seeing Anne Lamott must have been incredibly. I am very jealous.

And forts of books at Powells. Me too please. Jon and I almost emailed saying "we are coming down again," because of the Wordstock festival that is going on at the convention center this coming weekend. Ursula Le Guin and others on stages for two days reading and talking about writing. hmmm...sounds like a pretty great way to spend a weekend.

ESB said...

i agree that blogging about your political beliefs can get sticky, should do it anyway! keeping silent won't help anything...

you're very lucky to have seen anne brother took a college creative writing workshop with her in 1989--and he's STILL talking about it. i've been following her career since the early eighties, when she was struggling, and it's so great to see how far she's come.