The Theater’s Alive With the Sound of Chewing

When it comes to punishing customers, movie theater owners are in the same league as airlines. Just as airline CEO’s rarely travel commercial, theater CEO’s evidently never attend a matinee.

And there lies the explanation for the repeated failure of theater owners to understand anything about their customer base. The list of management missteps includes dividing large theaters into very small “multiplexes,” where the size of the screen was only a bit larger than what families used to watch home movies.

Followed by continually increasing ticket prices and then complaining how yearly movie attendance continues to decline. And eliminating ushers and wondering why people didn’t want to buy a movie ticket to eavesdrop on someone else’s conversation.

The only positive development in the last 40 years is the cup holder armrest. Everything else – larger screens, more legroom, reclining seats – are efforts to undo the damage caused by earlier bad decisions.

Adults want a large screen, comfortable seat and no distractions. If management attended movies it would know just before the movie begins seniors make one last trip to the bathroom and then the lights go down.

The idea behind darkening the interior is not to make it harder for gunmen to draw a bead on the audience – it’s to reduce distractions.

So why does theater management believe the secret to success is offering more distraction?

In the case of AMC Theaters it could be the CEO’s background. Adam Aron came from Starwood Hotels. Their movie business consisted of discovering the maximum the company could charge for cable pornography, while the customer’s movie watching experience was subject to, how shall I put this, self-imposed distractions.

Aron’s first distraction was to allow texting in “select” theaters. This is like encouraging smoking in “select” rows. Aron barely had time to bask in the glow from his announcement before AMC’s customer base rose up in revolt. He quickly withdrew the proposal, but at the time I wrote: “One can only wonder, with more than a little apprehension, what Aron’s next bright idea – no pun intended – will be.”

Now we know.

Aron’s latest innovation makes Donald Trump’s foreign policy look like it was designed by Bismark. This is fitting, since one of the centerpieces is “the Bavarian Beast.” The New York Times describes it as “a pound-and-a-half salted pretzel the size of a steering wheel.”

It’s part of Aron’s strategy to turn AMC into a food court that also to shows movies.

Patrons will long for the days when the rustle of cellophane and the occasional box of M&M’s hitting the floor were the worst annoyances.

If Aron gets his way patrons will be chowing down “a juicy chicken sandwich with waffles as buns” and “a new jalapeno-flavored Southwestern dog that’s to die for.” Lip-smacking at AMC will no longer be a descriptive term for flavor, it will be a movie-watching reality.

What he calls “Feature Fare” includes cheeseburger sliders, stone-fired pizza, chili dogs, salami bites, chicken tenders, three new popcorn flavors and hot and cold running bicarbonate.

Think of it this way. If you believe riding in American Airlines economy class during mealtime is stinky, wait until you go to the movies! I’ll bet you can hardly wait to sit next to a gourmand chowing down on an onion-chili-cheese hotdog or savoring his salami bites.

And God help us if Aron adds frijoles to the menu.

Theater management had to set movie sound systems on “stun” to overcome the clueless fools that talk during the feature. Are they going to turn the A/C up to “hurricane” to disperse odors?

It’s tough enough to eat on a plane when the lights are on, what’s it going to be like at AMC in the dark? How much of the “Bavarian Beast” is going to wind up in your lap? People won’t be wearing ponchos to keep dry in the rain, they’ll be wearing ponchos to stay clean at the movies.

And what about trash? Is the satisfied diner going to babysit meal debris until the feature is over? Heck no, he’s either going to disturb you once as he gets up to go to the garbage can and again on the return, or he’ll simply dump all the trash on the floor.

Which brings up another question: How does Aron intend to clean the theater between meals? It’s going to look like the decontamination scene in the movie “Arrival.”

It was bad enough when there was so much gum on the floor of a theater your shoes felt like magnetic boots. The day I sit in jalapeno dog droppings is the day AMC loses me as a customer, but gets my cleaning bill.

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Flyers Progress from Passengers to Freight

More foreigners are complaining about discrimination and Donald Trump hasn’t even taken the oath of office. This time it’s Samoans, which I always thought were New Zealand’s problem, but evidently are ours.

The Telegraph reports two businessmen “filed complaints to the US Transportation Department after they were weighed before boarding a flight from Honolulu – and assigned specific seats to keep the aircraft’s load evenly distributed.”

passenger-sizing-boxOne of the weighees, claims the rule is “discriminatory because it only applies to those flying to or from American Samoa,” which pretty much proves his claim false, since a rule that applies to everyone by definition can’t be discrimination.

Hawaiian Airlines is fighting obesity — or at least poking it in the side — in two ways. First passengers flying to or from Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa, are barred from selecting seats online and must endure the instrumental version of “Fat–Bottomed Girls” while completing their purchase. Later at the airport everyone is weighed before boarding.

This fact alone creates a mental picture of American Samoa that’s not appealing and pretty much flies in the face of all Pacific tourism advertising. If you’re getting the feeling it would require a tarpaulin rather than a sarong to cover the women of Samoa, you’re correct.

The CIA has done research into the topic — why fight hard–to–find ISIS when it’s so much easier to locate the obese — and its World Factbook informs us American Samoa has the highest rate of obesity in the world.

And this is without a single Old Country Buffet location on the entire island.

The spooks found 74.6 percent of the population comes in the large economy size. But since Samoans haven’t stopped eating since 2008 when the research was done, more current estimates “claim the obesity rate could now be as high as 94 percent.”

Since Jenny Craig’s nation–building effort has evidently failed, the airline was forced to weigh all passengers in the balance. “Our aircraft cabin weight was heavier than projected. This requires us to manage the distribution of weight across each row in our cabin and we have elected to do so by making sure that one seat in each row is either empty or occupied by a traveller under the age of 13,” a spokesman explained.

Samoa Air, which competes on the same route, came up with a solution in 2013 that’s completely neutral. It determines all passenger fares based on weight. Wikipedia ran the numbers and the program works like this: “The fare is calculated by multiplying a base fare (depending on the route flown) by the total weight of the passenger plus their luggage. So a passenger flying from Apia to Asau weighing 176 lbs. and carrying 45 lbs. of luggage would pay $132 for the flight (220 lbs. x $1.32 base fare), while another passenger weighing 132 lbs. and traveling without luggage would pay $79.20 for the same flight. Children are charged in the same way at a 75 percent rate.”

That’s a much more equitable fare structure. I think the bodybuilder that weighs 300 lbs. should pay a premium just like the couch potato who weighs 300 lbs. Right now flying in the US is airborne Obamacare only in this instance smaller people’s ticket prices are subsidizing larger people.

On second thought, here on the ground a lot of the pre–existing condition class is made up of people who annex your armrest when you share a row. And to add insult to injury they often claim a disability and board early, getting your overhead space, too.

Weighing passengers is certainly less punitive than the baggage–sizing boxes at the gate. Sadistic gate agents know any bag larger than an Altoids box won’t fix in those Iron Maidens, which are designed solely to force passengers to check bags.

A slight modification to Samoa’s idea would make the fares more palatable for US flyers. Airlines could publish height and weight ranges for passengers. I was 6 feet tall before I got married and my wife crushed my spirit. That height and my 186 lbs. puts me squarely in the 160 — 196 lb. range for males, so no extra charge for me, but if I was over then it’s only fair to add to the fare.

If a passenger is below their weight range and able to get down the Jetway unassisted then I think a rebate is in order.

The only downside to a weight–based fare structure is it would encourage parents to ship their kids more frequently. I can’t decide which is worse: A dormant obese person passively invading my space, or a juvenile kicking the back of my seat.

The Freshman 15 Now Refers to Drinks

Typically its the embarrassment connected with a low ranking that galvanizes a college administration into action.

The football coach is fired. Assistant coaches tell their families to start packing. And the college president assures everyone the next head coach will be the one who can finally balance academic excellence in one hand and a bail bondsman in the other.

But this time it was a top 20 ranking that built a fire under the College of Charleston. The Princeton Review ranked that school at #15 on the list of the top 20 party schools in the nation, joining the other members of the Bacchanal Conference in offering a bachelor’s in binge drinking.

ever-been-so-drunkShortly thereafter President Glenn McConnell placed a temporary ban on serving alcohol at fraternity and sorority parties. McConnell didn’t mention the Princeton ranking, but he did refer to out–of–control parties and students so drunk they required an ambulance to transport them to the emergency room.

“Enough is enough,” McConnell announced. “This type of reckless and dangerous behavior will not be tolerated.”

And then what happened? You can find out how the College of Charleston response differed from the difiident approach of the University of Virginia, but first you’ll have to click on the hyperlink below and finish reading my column at Newsmax.com:

http://www.newsmax.com/MichaelShannon/alcohol-drinking/2016/10/06/id/751967/

 

Why Mr. Ed Gives Better Lifestyle Advice than the Media

Mr Ed Gives AdviceParaphrasing William F. Buckley, I’d rather take lifestyle direction from 200 randomly selected people in the phone book than follow the advice found in the 200 most prominent media outlets. Reporters are fad–conscious professionals at the expense of common sense. If they can identify a trend first, they become media experts and their journalistic prestige — if there is such a thing today — increases among their peers.

Since the media has the attention span of Joe Biden, it doesn’t matter if the trend makes sense or even exists outside a few malcontent exhibitionists. What matters is novelty. Putting the story in context could only take the luster off a scoop, so it’s rarely done.

I fell prey to this as a freelance writer in the 70’s. Some eastern media outlet, where I desperately wanted to work, ran a story on a decline in coffee drinkers. The tyranny of the young was making itself known by switching from coffee to carbonated drinks. (What an innocent age. Now the young drink powdered alcohol.)

Consequently coffee beans rotted in the warehouse, cocaine production was looking better and better and Mrs. Olsen was considering switching from Folgers to Metamucil.

Eagerly trend–surfing I contacted a coffee distributor, interviewed the owner of a well–known diner and talked to random customers sitting behind a coffee mug.

I would soon be Oklahoma’s caffeine–conversion expert. Only I didn’t know Starbucks had opened about three years earlier and was gaining fast on the Bunn complex. Soon a cuppa Joe would be an “Espresso Macchiato,” and the trend cycle would resume with carbonated beverages replacing coffee as the liquid on the decline.

A trendy Wall Street Journal story concerning high–end steakhouses is another cycle entry.

You may recall steakhouses, and meat for that matter, were dead just a few years ago as the Kale Revolution swept America. Food that had heretofore only been fit for rabbits was now appearing in the White House as youth (those wretches) traded flavor for regular bowel movements. Since it was a trend other businesses, with superficial easily stampeded management, had to hop aboard or be thought uncool.

Ronald McDonald was so eager to attract skinny herbivores it instituted a new “healthy” menu featuring the McCompost. In spite of McDonald’s subsequent sales decline, Subway felt the social pressure and hired a child molester to promote produce in a bun.

Steakhouses weren’t eager to serve malnutrition on a cracker, but it didn’t matter because a vile cabal of granola–heads and the USDA was busy ruining beef with another fad. Instead of corn–fed beef that produced tender, marbled steaks, anti–fat crusaders gulled beef producers into going back to “natural” grass–fed beef.

Now two generations of Americans have no idea how steak should taste. They try to masticate Florshiem–like steaks from cows that look like the herd in Lonesome Dove and think it’s a luxury.

When I was chasing the extinction of Juan Valdez diners could get a fork–tender steak at a mid–priced restaurant. No longer, today you must visit a den of one–percenters and contrary to past predictions, high–end steakhouses are prospering. The WSJ reported: “Eight of the top 15 highest-grossing restaurants among business diners in New York City are steakhouses.”

A popular dish — bulk food for bulky people — is the 40–ounce cowboy ribeye that sells for $59.95. This posse–sized meal of meat alone might be good enough for the late Cecil the Lion, but most diners want a side dish or two. Unfortunately all your $60 bucks gets is meat and utensils, everything else is a la carte.

It’s like buying a new car and discovering you have to pay extra for “options” the rational would consider basic. (Oh, you want tires with that?) Iceberg lettuce that Whole Foods hides in the Mitt Romney section at the back of the store sells for $9.00 a wedge.

These restaurants aren’t obsessed with attracting female customers, running contrary to other trends. Smith & Wollensky founder Alan Stillman explains in a quote that may indicate grammar ignorance is hereditary, ‘“I know a tremendous amount (sic) of women that love to go to our restaurants…but they’re the outliers.” By contrast, at Quality Meats (sic), developed by his son, around 45% of the customers are women, Mr. Stillman said.’

The moral is take any media lifestyle advice with a large grain of salt, if you’re still allowed to do that. As a wave of steakhouse trend stories begins to break over the nation, keep in mind fad stories are a blurry snapshot in time with about the predictive power and relevance of a political survey taken last year.

Meet Mom & Dad the Libido Extinguishers

Dad asks, "Who's your new friend, Sonny?"

Dad asks, “Who’s your new friend, Sonny?”

Displaying that tone of pretentious concern that its made famous, the New York Times writes that as of 2014 the US birthrate has declined for the sixth consecutive year. One would think the Times, of all papers, would be overjoyed by this development since the decline means a reduction in number of little carbon producers in the future.

Although it’s too late for Cecil the Lion, maybe polar bears will have a fighting chance.

The decline is also counterintuitive “because the number of women in their prime childbearing years, 20 to 39, has been growing since 2007.”

This means the drop in absolute numbers is cushioned due to the larger population of potential mothers. “The National Center for Health Statistics reported Thursday that there were 3.93 million births in the United States in 2013, down slightly from 3.95 million in 2012, but 9 percent below the high in 2007.

Some think this could be a problem in the Boomer’s golden years, when there’s no one around to push the wheelchair even at a $15/hr. minimum wage. Demographer Andrew J. Cherlin assures us, “Americans haven’t worried much about birthrates in the past, because we have the faucet of immigration to turn on and off.” Actually, that’s not true. Every high school kid that’s got it on in the back seat has worried the next morning about birthrates. But for the nation as a whole, Cherlin says we can decide whether we want to become Mexico slowly or rápido.

There is even hope for reinforcements from the hard–boiled egg crowd. The report found an increase of 14 percent in births for women ages 45 – 49, which explains the little guys in the maternity ward that appear to need a shave.

The Times blames the economy for the baby bust, but I blame mom and dad.

The Daily Mail has found “One in three young adults is still living at home with their parents, despite years of economic recovery which have seen more of them bag jobs and bigger pay packets.” And many of them are still leaving their dirty clothes in a pile on the floor.

If that’s not birth dearth cause and effect I don’t know what is.

“Young adults” is defined as the 18 to 34 age group. At the low end you’ve got college students and recent high school grads. It makes sense for them to still be at home. After age 24 though, it’s time to hit the road. One of the few things Obamacare doesn’t require is the kids still be at home to be covered by dad’s policy.

The lack of little bundles of joy prove there are real trade–offs for getting a bundle of laundry done for free. Walking a date of either sex in the front door and seeing pops in bathrobe and slippers watching Duck Dynasty is a rapid romance reducer. Once the introductions are over so is any hope of extra–curricular activity.

A logical solution would be to use dad’s bathrobe as motivation to find someone, fall in love and get your own place out from under the ‘rents prying eyes and ears. But for this generation a tattoo is the only permanent commitment they will ever make.

Explaining the parent’s lassitude is easy enough. If they were okay with everyone getting a trophy on the soccer team, they are probably still okay with junior in the basement.

Eagle–eyed Elizabeth Harrington, of the Washington Free Beacon, spotted a National Science Foundation program that may fill the breach where births have not. Taxpayers are spending $1.2 million on a project to design robots to dress the elderly who don’t have a descendent at home.

The grant explains, “Physical disabilities due to illness, injury, or aging can result in people having difficulty dressing themselves, and the healthcare community has found that dressing is an important task for independent living.”

It goes without saying that if you leave the house naked your days of “independent living” will be drawing to a close. Still the algorithm for coping with “passive–aggressive” oldsters will be an interesting programming challenge. I’d pay money to watch a robot dress my mother while she still has a burning cigarette clutched in her hand.

The grant also has the usual blather about “fruitful collaborations (sic) between robots and humans” and a “simulation that can mix and match numerous outfit combinations.” Maybe if the robots were dressing hipsters and Millennials, but my mother still uses a dial telephone made by Western Electric.

My suggestion is a dual programming effort to solve both problems. A simple switch on the robot for either dress granny or kick junior in the behind and get him out of the house.

New York City & the Powder Room Police

Traditional American outhouse.

Traditional American outhouse.

My father grew up in rural Texas during the 1930s. His childhood featured dirt roads, a hand–crank telephone and outhouses. Most, if not all, of the bathrooms the Shannons constructed were what is termed a “one–holer.”

Meaning the board that kept you from falling into a pit of (you–know–what) had a single hole carved in it, usually smack dab in the center. For some inexplicable reason, a some people built outhouses that were two–holers, possibly on the theory that if there were two of you inside, you stood an even chance with the flies. Although it seems to me it would have worked better if one swatted while the other, well, you know.

But on the plus side for modern progressives, all those bathrooms were “gender neutral.” The splinters didn’t care whose behind they poked. And the Shannons recycled without any government coercion. Last year’s Sears Roebuck catalog provided reading matter to pass the time and once you were finished passing, the pages helped one tidy up.

Today in New York City leftists with time on their hands aren’t reading mail order catalogs. Instead they’re running as hard as they can to catch up with Depression–era North Texas. City Comptroller Scott Stringer — whose authority, one would think, does not extend into bathrooms, unless it’s a pay toilet — is recommending all one–holers in the city be made “gender neutral” or in Ringling’s phrase: Come one, come all!

Stringer told CBS New York, “We must look to help trans-gender individuals who quite frankly, have fears.” Evidently there are Kohler Kops who closely monitor the comings and goings in city bathrooms and this legislation would persuade them to stand down.

The Comptroller of Commodes assures us that two–holers and above will be exempt from the law and all building owners will only be required to post a new sign, which I assume will not be my father’s “gender–neutral” half-moon.

Eoghann Renfroe, the manager of transgender education and advocacy at the Empire State Pride Agenda, told CBS, “Being transgender, it’s not about the bathrooms. It’s that other people try to make it that way.” I would have to agree. It’s not about bathrooms; it’s about indulging mental illness.

Unfortunately for NYC lavatory landlords, I fear that signage is only the beginning. Rules that cover the size of the sign, acceptable typefaces and size of the lettering are soon to follow. And, considering who we are accommodating, there may be rules on color schemes and logos.

And that’s just before you open the door. Once inside there will be disputes and edicts over one–ply or two–ply and recycled or fresh. And what about texture? Is it going to be soft, cushiony Mr. Whipple rolls or the more austere John Wayne paper (Won’t Take C**p Off Anyone!)?

And then there is the installation question. Should the sheets come over the roll like Niagara or make you pull the paper under the roll, which contributes to waste since the individual can’t use the roll for leverage during the tearing process. But since NYC is the home of Leftist total control, that may not be an issue. There is a good chance virtue vigilantes will demand single–sheet dispensers (always a favorite in the Sheryl Crow household) Vs. the individual choice, all–you–can grab continuous rolls.

Then there’s soap. Will they be allowed to continue using the industrial–strength soap that’s also used to wash jets or will the hyper–sensitive demand something organic that smells like butterfly wings? I suppose it’s too much to hope for paper towels. It will probably come down to a choice between those turbines that blow the water back on your pants or a fan operated by a foot pedal like pre–electricity sewing machines. Maybe the Fitbit system will give users exercise credit.

What most men fail to see, and I’m certain that includes Toilet Totalitarian Stringer, is that this ordinance is the opening feminists have been anticipating for the last 50 years. Mark my words the culmination of this drive will be an amendment that requires men to return the seat to the down position when they’ve finished, regardless of why they entered the bathroom in the first place.

Fines and sanctions to follow.

Rachel Dolezal’s Complexion Problem

She's either a giant Q-Tip or preparing to become a human cannonball.

She’s either a giant Q-Tip or preparing to become a human cannonball.

Elizabeth Warren meet Rachel Dolezal. Or better yet, Liawatha meet Fauxprah. Talk about your sisters from another mother! One pretends to be an Indian to exploit the racial spoils system on the East Coast. While the other undergoes what Zorro & The Blue Footballs called the “race change operation” to become black and abuse that quota system on the West Coast.

When Warren’s deception was discovered her nicknames became very colorful: Crockagawea, Fauxcahontas and Liawatha were some of the best. Dolezal and her blackface masquerade also have great potential. In just a few minutes I’ve come up with Josephine Faker, Liah Angelou, Phony Morrison, Nodetta and Fauxprah. You can create your own, but hurry, Rachel’s notoriety won’t last as long as Elizabeth’s, unless she can find enough deluded Democrats to elect her to office, too.

Dolezal’s transformation started slowly. Her parents adopted four black orphans. This act of kindness had a bizarre impact on blonde, blue–eyed Rachel. Maybe it was the attention they received. Maybe it was the melatonin.

Eventually she applied for a scholarship to historically black Howard University in Washington, DC. Family members couldn’t help but notice she sounded more like Hattie McDaniel during her phone interviews than white–bread Rachel, but their surprise was nothing compared to the shock in the admissions office at Howard when Goldilocks walked in the door.

Her time there was not without incident. She attempted a failed lawsuit against university for racial and sex discrimination. I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she got tired of being called “Snowflake” and decided to do something about it.

Her mistake may have been combining Man Tan with Jheri Curl in a single session. She dozed off as Rachel and woke up as Fakey Minaj. After listening to Michelle I was under the impression life as a black woman was tough: subtle insults at state dinners, news media hanging on your every word and people at Target asking you to reach for items on the top shelf.

But here’s Rachel volunteering for duty. She had a brief marriage to a black man — it may have caused problems when he asked why a black woman had to spend so much time on the tanning bed — and then moved to Spokane to become the Al Sharpton of the organic clothing crowd.

And that proved to be the beginning of the end. Spokane is not all that far from her parent’s home in Montana and as Rachel’s profile increased it was only a matter of time before someone made the connection.

In retrospect Dolezal is almost a cliché. First she tries too hard. Rachel grew this huge, unruly mop of Rasta hair that I thought was supposed to be confined under a large knit cap. But no, she piles it on top of her head and as a result she looks like a cross between giant Q–Tip or a human cannonball testing a new shock absorption system.

She uses her chemically–induced race to become chair of the Seattle Police Ombudsman Commission where she searches for police brutality. Rachel claims her adopted black brother is actually her son. Ben Shapiro has unearthed an interview with The Easterner where she says the family lived in a teepee, dad hunted with a bow and arrow and they had to flee to South Africa where she was abused with a Boer whip.

Rachel claims to be a professor when she’s not; says she was date raped but didn’t file charges; explains her hair is blonde because she had cancer and whines that someone painted a swastika on the door of an office where she worked.

Essentially Dolezal is a leftist grievance recycling center masquerading as a human. The only thing she hasn’t claimed to justify her ethnic transformation is dad was the “black sheep” of the family.

Now it’s all come crashing down. She had to resign from the NAACP, the police stopped investigating her hate crime magnetism, the university didn’t renew her contract and the black man she claims is her father disowned her.

The only good news for our drama queen is the gullible and superficial media is flying her east to appear on network TV. And there are rumors of an endorsement deal with Fake Bake.

Before she resigned, authentic members of the NAACP were starting a petition to force Rachel to take a leave of absence during the controversy. Her resignation pre–empts that, but some alone time might come in handy. Rachel could try to get in touch with her roots. I hear Scandinavia is very nice this time of year.

Flavor Is a Human Right, Too.

Flavor is not a choice. What bigot would deny this man his rights?

Flavor is not a choice. What bigot would deny this man his rights?

The biggest problem Christians and conservatives have in making the case for marriage to the younger generation is we don’t speak the same language, and I’m not referring to the number of ‘likes’ inserted into each sentence that replace thought. Our frame of reference has only a tangential connection with that of the younger generation.

The default authority for Christians when explaining their opposition to homosexual marriage is the Bible. But it’s not for the generation born after 1980. The Washington Times reports, “More Americans are doubting the infallibility of the Bible, treating it as a guidebook rather than the actual words of God, according to a survey released Wednesday.”

This belief (no pun intended) puts that generation in agreement with Episcopalians, Methodists and Unitarians who also don’t understand what the big deal is when Rev. Adam and his wife, Steve shake hands with the faithful as they leave the sanctuary on Sunday.

This finding was part of a survey conducted on behalf of the American Bible Society. In the Times its president, Roy Peterson explained, “I think young people have always questioned their parents, questioned the church…Today the skeptics are saying, ‘It’s just like any other piece of literature, and it’s no different from that.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when a Christian references the Bible, the youngster counters with, “You may like the Bible, but I’m partial to the Epic of Gilgamesh. However, if there was a modern language translation, the Egyptian Book of the Dead also has some value for those who want to increase their spirituality quotient.”

This declining interest is an indication there’s a real chance the Bible may lose it’s spot as the perennial number one best–seller, although this is not sufficient cause for Ellen to hope her bio will take its place.

The importance of the Bible for moral instruction has also declined. In 2013 almost a third of respondents “blamed a lack of Bible reading as the problem” behind a decline in American morals. This year it’s only 26 percent, but that decrease may be explained by the corresponding number of Americans who purchased 70” TVs in the intervening months.

So how does one explain opposition to homosexual marriage in terms the young can grasp? How does one put in context the aggressive demand that Christians conform to an unprecedented definition of marriage that didn’t exist even 25 years ago and flies in the face of all of human history?

How can they relate to our rejection of this absurd definition of marriage that completely upends an accepted way of life in the interest of pleasing an intolerant minority and its cheering section.

There are essentially no sexual taboos today, so approaching the problem from a Biblical angle is like expressing your opposition to the healing power of crystals by using the Physicians Desk Reference, when your audience hasn’t read either one.

Fortunately in today’s brave new culture food taboos have replaced sex taboos and it is here Christians can make our case in a way that duplicates the situation we encountered with homosexual marriage and is simultaneously understandable by the younger generation.

My analogy works regardless of whether you’re locked in debate with a smug and superior homosexual marriage supporter or you’re simply answering a question from one of those ‘love and let love’ types unable to understand why we feel so strongly about the issue.

The demand that Christians completely redefine marriage and accept a radical new definition that institutionalizes and affirms a form sexual practice the Bible specifically forbids, is the exact equivalent of pork lovers demanding that vegan restaurants serve bacon.

If America’s homosexuals can demand “marriage equality” then bacon lovers can demand “flavor equality.”

A vegan’s unconstitutional exclusion of bacon is simply elevating personal preference over a fundamental human right to have food that tastes good. And even diners who aren’t eating bacon because of an irrational fear of being attacked by their heart, can still feel the pain and humiliation of being ostracized.

Just try wearing an Arkansas Razorbacks’ Hog Head hat into your nearest Busboys & Poets restaurant if you want to see how a real second–class citizen is treated by kale bigots.

And who says vegans get to define what qualifies to be labeled as “vegan?” Flavor is flavor, people. Just as we’ve been told “love is love.” You may like the slimy feel and hay–infusion aftertaste of tofu, but I like the crunch of crispy, fried bacon and how can that be so wrong?

One doesn’t choose to love bacon any more than one chooses whom to love. It’s fried into my DNA.

I should be able to go into Sweet & Natural bakery and ask them to whomp up a delicious quiche Lorraine and not get a bunch of sanctimonious static about beliefs, animal rights and cholesterol.

Who are these Pharisees to tell me I can’t eat pork?

And the same goes for the photographer who refused to document my family’s annual fall hog butchering reunion and hoe down. If she/he (I think the photographer was undergoing some sort of transformation) is open for business to the public, then the photographer should not be allowed to discriminate based on unscientific belief and superstition. Go down that path and the next stop is Montgomery and Bull Connor.

Separate but equal is inherently unequal. If Western Sizzlin’ can offer food for vegans then its only fair that Arugula ‘R We be forced to offer a BLT.

World Vision’s Secular Myopia

Even better than having 'Vision' in your name is having it in your brain.

Even better than having ‘Vision’ in your name is having it in your brain.

Maybe it was a Mexican divorce.

Last Monday World Vision President Richard Stearns walks hand–in–hand down the aisle pledging fealty to homosexual marriage until death do they part. This is big news, because World Vision is a Christian charity and the nation’s 10th largest.

Then, only 48 hours later, the happy couple is fighting over who gets to keep the china as Stearns backpedals furiously.

And through all the uproar Stearns has this slightly baffled aspect, as if he’d just spent the last two days selling flowers in Terminal A for the Moonies, and now his parents have whisked him back home where he decides joining the Jaycees isn’t that bad after all.

For those who missed the controversy, in Christianity Today World Vision announced it“will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman” — an implied endorsement of homosexual marriage.

Stearns characterized this surrender as a “very narrow policy change.” Yet AP described it as “a dramatic policy change on one of the most divisive social issues facing religious groups.”

During an interview Stearns became defensive, “We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope…This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.”

Which makes one grateful World Vision didn’t have any members of Westboro Baptist on the board.

Still you can’t help but wonder what version of the Bible Stearns and the board is consulting. “This is also not about compromising the authority of Scripture. People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on this issue,’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.”

This is sophistry. Bart Ehrman is James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the UNC and a best–selling author, yet he denies the divinity of Christ, which at the time this is written World Vision still supports. Evidently Stearns and the board pick–and–choose among theologians as they pick–and–choose among Bible verses.

Then demonstrating his utter cluelessness regarding fundamental issues of church doctrine and how the secular world views the faithful, Stearns remarked, “I don’t want to predict the reaction we will get. I think we’ve got a very persuasive series of reasons for why we’re doing this, and it’s my hope that all of our donors and partners will understand it, and will agree with our exhortation to unite around what unites us.”

I suppose this type of reasoning makes sense when your reading matter is limited to The New York Times and Sojourners.

But in the Evangelical Christian world his “persuasive series of reasons” produced a stunning backlash. In the ensuing 48 hours World Vision lost money, support and credibility. Approximately 5,000 individual sponsors and contributors canceled, costing the organization upwards of $2.1 million. 60 church partners called the office to withdraw their support. And a number of employees at headquarters resigned. Some in protest, some because of the stress of dealing with the fallout from Stearns’ colossal stupidity.

Wednesday a chastened Stearns and board chairman Jim Beré signed a contrite letter that read, “We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.”

Later in a conference call with reporters, Stearns elaborated, “We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness” and if he “could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders.”

But he just ran out of time, what will all the meetings with The New York Times editorial board, the Human Rights Campaign and the cast of The Laramie Project.

The rapid retraction is a good first step, but the fact remains World Vision’s current leadership is unfit to run the organization.

In a post–divorce interview with Religion News Service, Stearns is taken aback by the notion he bears any responsibility. “No, there have been no serious requests for my resignation. I would certainly under- stand if the board wanted to make a decision around that. Some of the board members have asked the question about their own resignation. Right now, our feeling is we were all in this together. We made certainly, in retrospect, a bad decision, but we did it with the right motivations.”

Here we agree. Stearns and the board are all in it together and they should all take the honorable path and resign.

Here’s just a brief rundown of the unnecessary havoc these morally blind people have caused:

  1. Seriously damaged a reputation in the Evangelical community it took 63 years to build.
  2. Proved themselves totally unfit to manage the reputation and public relations of a billion dollar organization by demonstrating a basic failure to understand the culture and media.
  3. Potentially endangered employees working in Africa where governments are passing laws criminalizing homosexual conduct.
  4. Cost the organization millions of dollars.
  5. Opened World Vision up to scrutiny and attack from militant homosexual organizations and a hostile Obama administration.
  6. Distracted the staff from the mission of serving the world’s poor.

Any one of these offenses is enough, but all are an indictment that only resignation, reflection and repentance will answer.

Naturally many Christian leaders are welcoming World Vision’s return to the fold and urging Christians to resume financial and prayer support. But as for me, if I want to make a contribution to an organization run by leadership that is this slippery and disingenuous, I’ll send a check to Congress.

Conservatives Ready for Sexual Cowardice

Mainstream media closely follows the Michael Sam story

Mainstream media closely follows the Michael Sam story

When does doing something — other than charging a machine gun nest — that has been done countless times previously stop being ‘courageous?’ Sally Jenkins of the WaPost has ruled that football player Michael Sam’s advice to people interested in dating him is a monumental story: “There are great courageous sports stories being played on the international stage at the Sochi Olympics, yet nothing has resonated like this.”

Ho hum. Pardon me if I’m not vibrating like Ms. Jenkins. If Sam doesn’t want awkward situations where female groupies try to make time with him, why doesn’t he just open an account on eHomony.com?

Other than the occasional soap–on–a–rope joke whispered out of Sam and the gaystapo’s earshot, he will have smooth sailing in the locker room. The Canadian Football League may be treating Sam comments as international hate crimes. (Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive tackle Bryant Turner Jr.  was fined after tweeting: “Michael Sam locker room gonna come with complimentary robes.”)

But in the NFL he’ll be treated like Bao Bao, the new panda baby at the national zoo. For teammates and football fans, Sam will be just another seldom–seen species that has problems when it comes to reproduction. Maybe he’ll be able to share Internet bandwidth with Bao Bao after he gets his own Sam Cam.

I tell you what real courage would be in a situation like this. A married potential NFL draftee announcing that he’s open to adulterous relationships and no one’s wife, girlfriend or daughter is off limits. Now that takes some courage and would certainly create a frisson of sexual tension at home, the locker room and various team functions.

Sam, on the other hand, is just a me–too narcissist hoping for a spot as Grand Marshall in a ‘pride parade.’ He’s certainly not the first athlete to go public. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a figure skater that walks on the wild side. Then you’ve got Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, innumerable female softball players and gymnasts.

In showbiz there’s Ellen, Rosie, Jodie and Neil and that’s just the ones with ‘e’ in their name. Even superheroes are getting in on the act. Green Lantern only lets his love light shine for men. Society has reached a point where we can start hanging clothes in that particular closet because it’s now empty.

And for the sake of accuracy, Sam is in limbo right now. He’s a former college player who has yet to make an NFL team. And it’s entirely possible he won’t be the only homosexual player in the NFL, just the most vocal.

(If you ask Deacon Jones, he probably considers all NFL kickers to be gay, but at least they’ve made the team, in contrast to Sam who is merely potential.)

Besides, when is giving in to a compulsion courageous? How about a linebacker who holds a news conference announcing he’s only interested in 18–year–old cheerleaders? Is that brave? Would Woody Allen be courageous if he finally admitted to abusing Dylan? The statute of limitations is up and like Woody says, “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Which is pretty much the foundational philosophy of the alternate lifestyle left.

In the wake of his proclamation Sam’s NFL draft value dropped almost a hundred points. This will be blamed on homophobia, but the real reason is how many teams — other than the Dallas Cowboys — need another narcissistic exhibitionist?

If NFL teams avoided signing Tim Tebow because of the alleged ‘distraction’ factor, what director of player personnel is going to volunteer to draft the Michael Sam three–ring circus?

The Broncos’ John Elway volunteered to lead the ‘some of my best friends…’ caucus when he said he would have no problem with Sam on his team, which is easy for Elway to say since he’s retired and showers at home.

But the real question is why announce now? Sam told his Missouri teammates that he was playing for the other side before last season. It was a simple statement that didn’t require a phone call to the New York Times. This current public relations campaign screams exploitation and not by the hetero community. It sounds like national homosexual advocacy organizations snooped into his private life and convinced Sam to take a stand that will benefit their fund raising.

If Sam has any doubts about his NFL future, and he’s not a sure thing, then his public statement guarantees a lucrative future career as a homosexual symbol. If he makes the NFL he demonstrates homosexuals are everywhere. If he doesn’t make the team he’s a living symbol of heterosexual bigotry. Either way Sam is on the speaking and interview circuit for a decade and national lobby groups stay current and in the news.

And while we’re discussing fanatics, the homosexual lobby is starting to remind me of some of the more zealous Mormons. There are groups of Latter Day Saints who baptize the dead by proxy so the deceased can enter into heaven in spite of the poor choices they made while alive. In like fashion homosexual scholars browse through history looking for notable figures they can recruit into the homosexual hall of fame.

Leonardo da Vinci comes to mind, along with Abraham Lincoln, my relative President James Buchanan and Janis Joplin to mention but a few. Something tells me activists are going to be taking a long hard look at unmarried early professional football players.

In the meantime, I’m ready for some sexual cowardice. How about returning to the days of a gentleman never tells? I know it’s unlikely, but one can dream.

So let’s close with a riddle: What do Michael Sam and Manti Te’o have in common? All their girlfriends are imaginary.