Monday, December 12, 2011

Could The Anti-Christ Be A Woman?

I've never been much on religion.  I don't pretend to subscribe to any particular dogma, other than I believe in God because the alternative is too depressing to contemplate.
I also believe in a lot of what Darwin had to say, although I just can't buy into the notion that the intricate functions of a pancreas or gall bladder are really the result of a genetic crap shoot played out over millions of years.
There are big chunks of the Bible I don't believe, mostly because I know that the whole thing was written by human beings, and I know humans tend to lie and exaggerate for their own gains.  But I still enjoy a lot of it, and many of the stories make for excellent drama.
One of the things that appeals to me about most religions is the symbiotic balance contained in their tomes.  If there's a Heaven, there must be a Hell.  If there's good, there must be evil.  If you believe in God, you must also allow for the existence of Satan. 
Along with the more mainstream interpretations of religion are scenarios depicted by zealots.  While I hate having anything forced down my throat, including sweets, and as a general rule I dislike any group that claims to have cornered the market on truth or are in sole possession of the secrets leading to "the way," I also enjoy some of the wild stories they are able to concoct in their quest to scare and sway the undecided.
For example, while there are tons of folks who believe Jesus will one day return to the earth, there's another faction that believes that the "Anti-Christ" is also on his way, if he isn't already here.
Blend into that confection a claim by a small minority that God is actually a woman.  I like that idea, and their arguments make sense.  God created mankind.  When you consider childbirth, bringing forth life is kind of a feminine gig.
Kindness, patience, virtue, and other touch-feely concepts from the New Testament also sit a little heavier on the female side of the ledger.  (The Old Testament God was a bit of a bully.  Just ask Abraham.  But as a lot of modern day troublemakers have shown, men tend to calm down a bit once they become fathers.)
Using these tidbits, I proffer the following:
If it's possible that God is a woman, is it possible that the Anti-Christ might also be female?
I know a lot of guys who would jump on this concept, and quickly hold up their ex-wives as potential candidates.
Because I'm not into religion, I don't know a lot about the Anti-Christ, other than what I've read in the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.  One of the big traits is that Jesus' counterpart will be known as "The Great Deceiver."
I could get into a whole discussion on who makes better liars, men or women.
Comedian Chris Rock did an excellent examination of this question in his show "Bigger and Blacker." 
"Men lie the most, women tell the biggest lies," Rock explained.  "A man's lie is like, 'I was at Tony's house.'  A woman's lie is like, 'It's your baby.'"
Both sexes are guilty of the sin.  So if both are capable, why couldn't the Great Deceiver be a woman?
I've looked for "signs" among current celebrities.
For the longest time, I was convinced Sarah Palin was a candidate for the position.  The job of Anti-Christ may be the only one for which she hasn't actively campaigned at one time or another.  Then I realized that the Anti-Christ is probably going to be a little smarter than a half-term ex-governor from Alaska who has to write crib notes on her hand and punctuates her most meaningful dialogue with "you betcha."
Ditto for Lindsay Lohan, who embodies a version of the old joke: "Q - How do you know when Lindsay Lohan is lying when she's in court?   A - Her lips are moving."  A lot of young girls have followed her like she's the Pied Piper equipped with a bag full of Ecstacy instead of a flute.  But her appeal pretty much ends there, although she's sure to pick up some new male fans when her spread appears in Playboy next month.
I think some votes could go in the direction of Kristen Stewart, the mopey actress from the "Twilight" film series.  She's made millions convincing teenagers that everyone should aspire to become a member of the undead, whether vampire or werewolf.
Casey Anthony would also be a reasonable nominee for the role.  It requires true evil to kill your own child, and the guile of a gifted Anti-Christ to convince 12 jurors that you didn't do it when every scrap of evidence and reason indicates otherwise.
And how could anyone leave Hilary Clinton off a list of potential candidates for female Anti-Christ?  Although, she's been so uninspiring in the last three years that few people would bother to follow her to the bathroom at an all-you-can-drink frat party.
On the male side, it's still easy to find likely options for Anti-Christ, so long as Dick Cheney continues to breathe and Newt Gingrich continues to run for president.
And you can bet the Obama haters are sure to nominate our current president as a likely candidate for the Dark Lord's throne. 
Of course, if you believe those same haters about our president's religion, it's pretty unlikely since Muslims don't count as Christians (even though they believe in Christ), and therefore couldn't technically qualify for the job of Anti-Christ.
So if there really is an Anti-Christ in the offing, who do you think it might be?  And is it possible that the job could be filled by a woman?  And if so, would the Anti-Christ also earn about two-thirds of what a male Anti-Christ would make for the same job?

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Trauma Of Buying A New Christmas Tree

Workman Christmas Tree
I broke one of my personal taboos recently, and the shopping gods punished me accordingly.
I usually don't do any Christmas shopping until after Dec. 10.  It's one of those quirky things about me, like insisting that Christmas presents get opened Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve, and the fact that I don't eat my dessert until after dinner.
On the weekend closest to Dec. 10 each year, I inflict holiday torture on my family with what I call "Christmas Spirit Day."  On that day, I used to tie our children to the sofa with garland and force feed them a non-stop lineup of old Christmas movies like "Miracle on 34th Street" (the colorized version), "It's A Wonderful Life" (the black and white version), "Scrooge" (the 1951 version of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" with Alastair Sim, the absolute best version ever made), "Scrooged" (the comedy version of "A Christmas Carol" with Bill Murray, the second-best version ever made), the Jim Carrey version of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas," "A Christmas Story" with Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun, and my all time favorite Christmas movie, "White Christmas" with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and George Clooney's aunt Rosemary.
When all the movies were done, or after the children managed to chew through the garland, my wife would make hot chocolate and we would decorate the Christmas tree and put up holiday decorations inside and outside the house.  I can tell you that the hot chocolate part of the tradition was another form of torture back when we lived in Florida, where drinking a hot beverage in 80-degree weather could cause another Southern holiday tradition called heat stroke.
The movies and decorating were intended to put all of us in the mood, and make it easier for me to crack open my wallet for the trip to the North Pole (also known, then and now, as Walmart).
Filled with the Christmas spirit, shopping wasn't such a burden; also, since Christmas carols were verboten around our house until Dec. 10, I wasn't yet sick of the Muzak arrangements of "Silver Bells" and "Little Drummer Boy" force fed into the speaker systems at the stores and malls since just after Labor Day.
This year, we bent a little early on the rule.  We're still going to watch all of the Christmas movies on Dec. 10 (our youngest daughter is now 21, old enough to tie herself to the couch), but I relented on an early shopping trip over the weekend, a full week before the legal start of the shopping season at the Workman hacienda.  That's because you can't decorate a Christmas tree without...a Christmas tree.
We've had the same artificial Scotch pine since 2002, the year after we moved to the desert, and it was getting a little worn.  You know your fake tree is too old when it sheds more needles coming out of the box than a real tree does by Dec. 28.
So we went in search of a new tree.
Within two hours, it began to look like there wouldn't be any presents UNDER the tree this year because our entire Christmas budget was going to get blown ON the tree. 
Our first stop was in a craft store that boasted it had trees for sale.
I quickly realized that whoever was responsible for putting the price tags on those trees needed to step away from the glue gun and its fumes.  The first one we looked at was $400.
To be fair, it was pre-lit, which is how most trees are sold these days.
Initially, I thought a pre-lit tree was a great idea.  It meant one less step in the tree-erecting process, and a lot fewer four-letter words on Christmas Spirit day at our house while the patriarch tries to untangle the strings of lights from the previous Christmas (and one less trip to the North Pole/Walmart to buy four more boxes of lights to replace the tangled ones after the patriarch yells "Scrooge it" and throws away the lights bought last year).
At the next stop, a big-box home improvement store whose name in no way resembles its pricing structure (the store would be called "Highs" if that were the case), we found pre-lit trees in the $200-300 range.  Unfortunately, even with the built-in lights, the trees were so scraggly looking that even Charlie Brown would have taken a pass.  How scraggly were they?  There are Las Vegas strippers that aren't as bare as some of those trees.
I was beginning to think that maybe a home-made Christmas tree was in order.  I was pretty sure I could take an old broom, spray the handle with a light adhesive, then wave it around under the bed where the family cat sleeps, and still have a version of fake tree that looked fuller than anything we had seen so far.
On our way out of Highs, irony got a chance to slap me upside the head.  There, we found a display of real trees, priced anywhere from $30 to $60.  One of the reasons we bought a fake tree back in 2002 was because it was cheaper than buying a real one.  Guess those days are gone forever.
Finally we ended up at the rich-man's Walmart, a store we affectionately refer to as "Bullseyes" or "Tar-jay" (said with a redneck French accent). 
There, we finally found the 2011 Workman tree.
It doesn't have any lights, isn't pre-decorated, and is full and bushy enough that you can't see the rods and wires to which the green pipe cleaners are attached.  It also has uncomplicated instructions that basically say "attach section A to section B; attach section B to section C; attach section C into the decorative plastic tree stand."  The only thing missing is a little white warning label that reads "this is an artificial tree - do not water." 
It was "only" $85.
So when Dec. 10 rolls around, we'll have something to decorate at the Workman castle.  Now if only our worn out 15-year-old video tapes can withstand one more go-round in an ancient contraption called a "VCR," my family can enjoy another year of hearing Jimmy Stewart yelling "Merry Christmas, movie house" while drinking hot chocolate in the middle of the desert.