Thursday, August 26, 2010


One of today's news headlines compelled the Ozark Uncle to write a quick and half-baked post this evening. He really wasn't ready to write an in-depth Brown Perspective on either the Muslim or the Gay issues although his cerebral oven has been baking a Perspective "pie" all summer about the latter.

Snakes Alive!
The Ozark Uncle never planned an extensive Perspective post on serpents nor a shorter Today's Thoughts post but let's start right here and now and get it over with.  As a child and all the way into his thirties, the Ozark Uncle had an abnormal fear of snakes--not spiders, nor bugs, nor lizards, just snakes.  They appeared in his dreams as nightmares, and he found himself avoiding the possibility of a snake sighting or encounter if at all possible.  He even avoided the Biology class in high school for fear he'd have to dissect a snake.

Ozark Uncle and
Grandchildren with
a Friendly Python-2007
As he got older, the Ozark Uncle questioned himself about his fear of snakes and decided he'd never really gotten to know any snakes personally and was totally unfamiliar with their actions, dispositions, and capabilities. One day, a greenhouse friend, Dianna, gave him a tour; as they went down the first aisle of plants she said, "Now, Oscar, don't you go scaring me."  She explained that Oscar was a garter snake that lived in the greenhouse and helped control the insects.  Then she went about working among the plants with no fear of the little creature.

Not long after, I had to work on my mother's landscaping, and she had quite a nest of garter snakes that resided along the back side of her house.  Their presence bothered me considerably but remembering Dianna's technique, I began to call them "friends" and talk to them as I worked.  Now we got along fairly well but the Ozark Uncle was still far from cured.  The next module of sensitivity training for the Ozark Uncle was to watch documentaries on reptiles to get a sense of their movements, their speed and even their striking distance if they struck at all.  This part was probably the hardest because it took a long while before I became comfortable with the closeup views of their heads and bodies.

Ozark Uncle with 4-year old
Ora and a Friendly King Snake
Still a work-in-progress, the Ozark Uncle attended a seminar at the Springfield Nature Center which featured a snake expert.  This gentleman brought several live non-poisonous snakes including a large snake that he let the children come up and touch.  Well, there was the adult Ozark Uncle in line with these seven and eight year olds, waiting for his turn to touch the snake which he did!  Self-worth shot up like a rocket!  Someone in the audience asked the expert about handling poisonous snakes and his reply was, "I don't know, I've NEVER handled a poisonous snake."

In the Ozarks, if any snake should be called evil, it would be a poisonous snake.  The expert's advice is simply to try to stay away from "evil" serpents.   Some of my readers know that the Ozark Uncle has been Mr. Field Trip for his six-year old granddaughter, Ora, since she was about three.  The Nature Center was a major part of my effort to help allay her fears of reptiles and insects caused simply because she hadn't gotten acquainted with them.

Mayhem Over Muslim Cordoba Center 
The Ozark Uncle's regular readers know he displays an extremely open mind on a wide range of issues.  He feels the need to lift up the covers, read between the lines, and listen to what isn't said as much as what is said.  And he wants to make up his mind, not have it made up for him, and he follows his gut as to whether an information source is credible.  He is always on the guard for hidden agendas which in the media are more numerous than snakes in the Ozarks.

The Ozark Uncle has an elderly friend who, at the moment, is frightened for her children and grandchildren because of the impending Muslim menace.  I tried to call her this morning to console her and intend to try again tomorrow.  Although we email regularly, I want to hear her voice and her hear mine.  There will be comfort come out of our visit.

Rick Mathes & Wife, Mission Gate
Prison Ministry, St. Louis, MO
A couple of days ago, this friend forwarded me a "new" email that recounted questions and answers between Rick Mathes, a Christian prison minister, and a Muslim Imam during a prison ministry seminar.  My friend felt this was a recent event, and she's very disturbed about the Muslim faith taking over our society.

In this supposed discussion during the seminar, the Iman confirmed that Muslims are commanded to kill one infidel (i.e., an un-believer).  Well, if one does a search of the internet for the name "Rick Mathes," several sites pop up that identify this forwarded email as being at least five years old, and the underlying encounter has some question marks as to Mathes' version of it.  For example, research indicated that the encounter occurred at the Fulton Penitentiary here in Missouri in 2003.  The prison staff indicated that no Muslim Imam or cleric could be found for the seminar that Mathes attended so a Muslim inmate used what knowledge he had to answer questions.  No one remembers anything resembling Mathes' claims, and when asked by a reporter back in 2005, Mathes didn't really want to discuss it.

This is not the first time one of my older conservative Christian friends have received recycled missives intending to instill fear and encourage older voter turnout.  The Ozark Uncle is really unprepared to address the Muslim issue or agenda, today, but he senses political agendas all over the matter.  The news magazines that come to the Brown house (Time and Newsweek) both identify the issue as being right-wing fear mongering.  If one were to enter the words "Ground Zero Mosque" into a search engine, one can see immediately that the focus of the headline is in direct correlation with the news outlet.  Right-wing outlets are ratcheting up the rhetoric while all other outlets (presumably labeled left-wing) bring out the inconsistencies of the argument and express concern that some Muslims will be pushed to the extreme side of their religion by the issue.

For the moment, the Ozark Uncle's perception is this--Muslims are like serpents; most are nonpoisonous and they would just like to be left alone to lead a peaceful life.  Some of the peaceful Muslims' cousins are poisonous (i.e., they are terrorists), and they WILL strike again within our borders--the Ozark Uncle perceives it will be sooner rather than later.  They are more evil and more dangerous than a poisonous snake because the terrorists are proactive whereas the snakes are reactive.  Generally, if one doesn't invade a snake's den, she won't come into yours.

To my knowledge there are very few Muslims in Springfield.  The only Muslim friends I had moved to Los Angeles not long after 9/11.  They wanted to be in a safer environment, I perceived.  Here in Springfield, small Islamic Center is off of Division Street and it's on my "to visit" list.  It's like going to the Nature Center to get used to an harmless reptile.  The Ozark Uncle wants to know more about this issue.

For God's Sake Help Gays Get Out of the Closet
Today, the Ozark Uncle had lunch with his granddaughter at Pershing Elementary and then headed to Panera Bread for a large glass of unsweetened ice tea and free WI-FI.  In his Gmail Inbox, the Ozark Uncle had a message from the e-magazine, The Atlantic, with the following headline: Bush Campaign Chief and Former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman: I'm Gay.  Mehlman was quoted as saying

Ken Mehlman
"It's taken me 43 years to get comfortable with this part of my life," said Mehlman, now an executive vice-president with the New York City-based private equity firm, KKR. "Everybody has their own path to travel, their own journey, and for me, over the past few months, I've told my family, friends, former colleagues, and current colleagues, and they've been wonderful and supportive. The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

The Ozark Uncle read the above quotation at 2 p.m. this afternoon on his wife's Toshiba Laptop using Panera Bread's WiFi.  Immediately, he felt compelled to write this post, and it had to be this evening.  He picked up his granddaughter from school a 3 p.m., delivered her to her destination and immediately told  his wife, Joy, "I have to write tonight--everything else off the schedule--I have to write."

Please Read Carefully
During the summer, the Ozark Uncle came to know a Christian who went all the way through a Protestant seminary to learn that the related church would not let him pastor because of his life style.   He is the partner to a close relative of mine; since we met this summer, he has opened up to me.  The Ozark Uncle's long unasked questions about homosexuality simply had to do with the following: when and how do adolescents get involved with the gay life style?  That's all he wanted and still wants to know.

The new Christian gay friend recommended that I read Mel White's Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America.  Well, the Springfield-Greene County Library doesn't have a copy.  So a copy was purchased from, and of course came in a brown paper wrapper.  It took the Ozark Uncle a few weeks to finish the book which he did last week.

Rev. Mel White
I had not read too far into Mel White's book, maybe 30 pages or less, and I realized he was writing my own story as a teenage Christian except from the opposite sexual orientation.  Just as I felt guilt for my lust and desires for females, he felt an even worse guilt for his desire for males which surfaced when he was 12 years old.  Raised in a very religious home where his grandmother was a Pentecostal minister, Mel White hid his desires for years, and married a wonderful and beautiful Christian woman who he loved and she loved him.  He went on to become a national Fundamental Christian leader and pastor, and also a Christian movie producer.  Eventually he was hired to "ghost write" books for Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and Jim and Tammy Bakker.

After all kinds of Christian counseling and therapy treatments while in the closet, Mel was a nervous wreck and finally after many years of marriage, he cheated on his wife for the first time.  His guilt was unbearable and a more sympathetic Christian therapist said "Mel, you have to tell her, today!"  Well, he did tell Lyla White that day--what a fantastic woman!  The couple prayed and tried to work through it for several more years but they finally let each other go after 25 years of marriage.  Still he remained in the closet until 1993 when he was 53 years old!  His lovely wife, Lyla, wrote the foreword to Mel's book and it was heartwarming--I still can't get over her love for Mel and her spiritual strength.

My regular readers know I seldom if ever use the use the word believe and prefer the term perception.  The latter allows more information to come in that might alter a perception but beliefs are much more concrete and immovable.  

Well, here's a rare moment--I believe the Whites' story, and I perceive that there are no telling how many other Ken Mehlmans and Mel Whites still in the closet across this nation.  America, we have to let these fellow Americans out of the closet--men and women.   They are in your churches, your military, your work place, and they are not causing you any harm but they are living a miserable life in the closet.  That's now my perception, and I'm stickin' to it.

My discussion on gays doesn't have anything to do with gay marriage--it has to do with kindness for our fellow human beings.  And the Ozark Uncle wants to learn more about my gay brothers and sisters--Mel White contends you can't be led to the lifestyle, your natural sexual orientation does it for you.  A conservative friend told me there are no scientific studies of this--Mel White says there are.  The Ozark Uncle wants to know more.

(There is an irony to gay marriage -- it's an institution that gays want but a lot of heterosexuals are giving up on--isn't that ironic?)  I saw somewhere the other day, "Fix Marriage, Not Gays."

Are there evil gays like there are evil Muslims (terrorists) or evil snakes (poisonous)?  Yes, but even before his enlightenment this summer, the Ozark Uncle has always perceived that there are several times more sex crimes against women by men than there are against men by men.  And pedophilia, child porn, and sex abuse are evil regardless of the parties involved--that's a major issue and breaks my heart but is not relevant to this discussion.

The Ozark Uncle will no doubt write more on the topic of sexual orientation, and he may lose some friends because of it--he certainly hopes not.  Mel White lost friends and even though Mehlman says he's being supported, one has to know there will be lots of acquaintances who won't be accepting his phone calls tomorrow.

Message to the GOP
Republicans, the Ozark Uncle is a gosh darn independent who is also a fiscal hawk.  He's an old Governmental Accounting professor and knows his stuff regarding budgets.  America needs real Republican fiscal conservatism but would you stop pissing me off?! Stop putting fear into everyone to get votes.  (Note to self: yeah, like they're going to listen to you?)

And here is Today's Thought for Tomorrow's Generation.  Young people, it may take thirty years or more but the Ozark Uncle perceives that you will bring a stop to this political madness.  Watch, listen, and feel for all that is going on around you, and a true path will appear on which you will travel forward as Americans.

1 comment:

  1. Ken, you covered a big chunk of territory with this post!

    I do so appreciate your thoughtful comments...glad to hear you're overcoming your fear of snakes, and thanks for using your journey as a means of making an important point about Muslims. It is extremely frustrating to see so many folks ready to jump on the bandwagon of any and every recycled nonsense that lands in their email inbox. arghhh.

    Side note: My niece has been married to a Muslim for probably 20 years now, and while they live far enough away that I haven't had a chance to get to him very well, so far, he hasn't tried to kill any of the Christians in our family, and I'm fairly confident we're all safe in that regard.)

    I also appreciate your thoughts regarding homosexuals....I know it's a touchy issue with many folks, but we always have to bravely speak out in favor of loving everyone.

    Thank you, Ken!