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Blog Archive/September 2005

September 28, 2005

Ashley Smith: The Full Story

You remember Ashley Smith. She was the 27-year-old Atlanta woman who persuaded suspected murderer Brian Nichols to release her by discussing her faith in God and reading to him from Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life.” Her story inspired millions as “CNN proceeded to thrust before the cameras evangelical pastors, ministers, and even a rabbi claiming that Smith's use of Christian sentiments to save her life was proof of God's grace and divine intervention,” as  The New Republic put it back in March.

But what Smith didn’t tell the world, or the authorities, was that in addition to sharing her faith with the alleged courthouse shooter, she also shared her crystal meth with him.

In her book “Unlikely Angel,” released yesterday, Smith says that after Nichols taped her to her bed he asked her if she had any pot. She didn’t, “so she dug into her illegal stash of crystal meth instead,” AP reports today. [Read more here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 28, 2005

Slumming for God

As a Jesuit novice, David Nantais decided to test his trust in God by living homeless for a couple weeks. He hopped on a bus with a one-way ticket to a distant city to see if he could handle life on the streets with only $20 in his pocket and virtually no safety nets. Though he had a home he could return to, he still had to confront questions many of us never have to ask ourselves: Would he get picked up by the police for loitering? Would he have to beg a free stay at a cheap hotel? Would he eat that night?

Nantais viewed his "pilgrimage," as he calls it, as a challenge "to meet the poor, and even more importantly, to begin to look at the poverty present in my own soul." He'd stood on the serving side of a food line in a homeless shelter before, and now he felt he needed to stand on the other side, to get a sense, however limited, of what it's like to hold out a tray and beg for dinner.

In "A Taste of Homelessness," Nantais makes it clear that he harbors no delusions he's had an authentic experience of poverty. Still, his memorable two weeks on the streets offered him insights into helplessness, gratitude, hospitality, compassion, and the dignity of all people that, if more of us shared, we as a society might take better care of those who are unable to take care of themselves. [Read Nantais' essay here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 27, 2005

Of Zombies and Intelligent Design

I believe physical objects have souls—in some cases the souls of our dead relatives; e.g., my great-great-great grandmother lives in my Eames lounge chair—and that there are hundreds of spirits that control our health, wealth, and happiness, not to mention the weather. My wife and I conjure up spirits by drumming, singing, and sacrificing animals. When these spirits appear, we ask them for help and advice. Once, when my lawnmower wouldn’t start, I danced myself into a sexual frenzy until a deceased former neighbor materialized in my garage. He told me the engine was flooded. Very mechanical, that man.

I also believe the Serpent and the Rainbow brought forth creation, telling men and women how to procreate and how to make blood sacrifices so they can commune with the spirit world. Call it Voodoo, if you must, but that’s what I believe, and before my young sons enter high school I’m going to march down to the school board and demand that they be taught MY cosmology in their biology classes. Not in place of either evolution or intelligent design, mind you—but as an alternative. And if the board gives me any grief, I will tell them about Sheree Hied.

A mother of five, Hied lives in Dover, Pa., and she believes that God created the earth and all the flora and fauna. She wants her children to believe the biblical creation story too, so she was “grateful,” writes Laurie Goodstein in yesterday’s New York Times, when the Dover school board voted last year to require high school classes to offer “alternatives” to evolution, like intelligent design.

Hied and her school board insist that teaching I.D.—which posits that nature is so complex a higher being must have created it—is a matter of free speech. “I think we as Americans,” she told the Times, “regardless of our beliefs, should be able to freely access information, because people fought and died for our freedoms.”

Amen, sister—“regardless of our beliefs” is exactly right. May the Grand Serpent bless you!

Indeed, as a concerned parent I follow closely science’s war on faith in our public schools. With fear and trembling I open the NYT’s “Science Times” section every Tuesday, as I did this morning. Once again, Richard Dawkins, that great enemy of faith and, presumably, of Voodoo and snake worship, has been granted an opportunity to air his atheistic claptrap.

In an essay entitled, “Agreeing Only to Disagree on God’s Place in Science,” George Johnson reports from a Templeton Foundation seminar on science and religion in Cambridge. There, Dawkins, a featured speaker, had a heated exchange with Simon Conway Morris, a Christian paleontologist.

Seems the two scientists started off pleasantly enough. They agreed, Johnson writes, that the “richness of the biosphere, humanity included, could be explained through natural selection.” They also agreed that “evolution is not a crapshoot”—that if the earth’s history could be redone the result might differ slightly, but “certain physical constraints would favor the eventual appearance of warm-blooded creatures something like us, with eyes, ears, noses and brains.”

But that’s where they “forked in orthogonal directions.” For Conway Morris, nature’s ability to produce moral creatures, humans, indicates that God must have orchestrated evolution. Dawkins doesn’t buy it, and he asked Conway Morris why, if they could agree on everything else, he has to add God to the picture. From a scientific perspective, Dawkins said, Conway Morris’s God was “gratuitous.”

Ouch. Dawkins’ remark apparently left Conway Morris “momentarily flummoxed,” as he “muttered to himself.” Dawkins, Johnson writes, “had scored a crucial point.”

“Science is the name we give to the practice of finding physical explanations about the universe,” Johnson explains. “Anything spiritual you bring to the table is extraneous, a matter of personal belief.”

But as anyone like me, who’s used black magic to resurrect an army of zombie slaves, can tell you, personal beliefs are way ahead of science in explaining, and controlling, how the physical world works. And if Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe that he should try walking into any doctor’s office and asking for an ounce of chicken’s blood and a healing spell. All he’ll get is a dumb look and maybe a boot in the pants.

Thanks to the Dover school board, however, that could change soon.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 21, 2005

Why God Prefers Processed Food

George Bush, God’s man in the White House, cares deeply about preserving the Good Lord’s creation. He’s against abortion and is uncomfortable with all of that stem-cell research and whatnot. Now, some say burning fossil fuels is bad for the heavens and the earth. But if it’s good for business—oil business—and thus is good for God, how bad could fossil fuels really be for His created order, right?

Same thinking applies, it seems, to lowering organic food standards so that large corporations like Wal-Mart, Kraft, and Dean Foods, in cahoots with Bush appointees in the USDA, can add a list of synthetic ingredients to food production and still call it “organic.”

This week, Sept. 20 through 23, the U.S. Senate votes on a rider to the 2006 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that will do just that. So, maybe your organic food won’t really be organic anymore. But that’s only part of the problem. “Even worse,” says a release at the Organic Consumers Association's website, “these proposed regulatory changes will reduce future public discussion and input and take away the National Organic Standards Board’s (NOSB) traditional lead jurisdiction in setting standards. What this means, in blunt terms, is that USDA bureaucrats and industry lobbyists, not consumers, will now have more control over what can go into organic foods and products.”

Sounds like Big Government really is bad, eh? The USDA, the release reminds us, has hardly been a friend to good, wholesome organic food: “Remember the USDA proposal in 1997-98 that said that genetic engineering, toxic sludge, and food irradiation would be OK on organic farms, or USDA suggestions in 2004 that heretofore banned pesticides, hormones, tainted feeds, and animal drugs would be OK?”

To send a message to your Senator concerning this week's vote, click here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 19, 2005

Will Our SUVs Cause More Katrinas?

On November 2, PBS will air a documentary filmed over the past two years and called “Global Warming: The Signs and Science,” which predicts with chilling accuracy the sinking of New Orleans. “But that is not all,” writes “eco-evangelical” author and doctor Matthew Sleeth, in article for SoMA. “Because of constantly rising sea levels and dramatic increases in air and water temperature, scientists predict more frequent and more intense severe weather. This will place population centers such as Miami, New York, London, and Baltimore at similar risk for storm surges and flooding. Vast areas of the American Southwest will simultaneously experience drought.”

This should come as no surprise. “The majority of climate scientists and meteorologists worldwide agree that global warming is a fact, not a theory,” Sleeth writes. “Still, there are a few who say there is no problem, or that the problem needs more study. As a physician, I cannot help but think back to those few scientists who for decades declared that there was no connection between cigarette smoking and disease. We can see for ourselves that cities are consistently warmer than nearby rural areas, and 80 percent of our population lives in greater metropolitan areas. We burn trillions of gallons of fossil fuels yearly and we are cutting down the world’s forests. Riding in a plane, we can see the extent of mankind’s reworking of the planet. From the air and from the ground, an ominous haze hangs overhead. Denial of the obvious is as old as Adam, yet no less dangerous today.” [Read more here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 16, 2005

John Bunyan: Christian Hipster

Quick: What do Lauren F. Winner’s “Girl Meets God,” Patton Dodd’s “My Faith So Far,” and Rodney Clapp’s “Tortured Wonders” have in common? Yes—they’re all marketed to hip, young Christians. And? They all feature on their covers young Christians lying on the ground with their hands behind their heads (or, in the case of Winner’s book, forming a steeple on her chest) and gazing inquisitively into the sky, where apparently God lives.

Clearly, this cover image is successful, as well as popular, and it got me wondering: To what extent are the sales of these and perhaps other books due to the image of a recumbent, youthful seeker, and is there any Christian title it would not help sell?

I put this question to friend and writer Tamara Jaffe-Notier the other day, and we asked ourselves another question: What would happen if you took the image of a hip, young Christian flat on his back and slapped it on the cover of a new edition of, say, John Bunyan’s 17th-century spiritual autobiography, “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”? Though “Grace Abounding” portrays the Christian life as full of doubt and torment—and as anything but cool and inviting—could the new cover image turn fusty old John Bunyan into the next Donald Miller?

Probably not. But as we played around with this idea, a fun, wicked little piece about marketing today's spiritual memoirs was born. It’s called “John Bunyan’s Reformation,” and you can read it here.   

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 14, 2005

Stuff That Matters

The ordinary stuff of our lives—trinkets, photos, even an old pair of shoes—“is our memories made tangible, the only means we have of traveling back in time, even for a few seconds,” writes Karen Spears Zacharias, commenting for SoMA on what Katrina took from those who lived in her path. “With it we feel connected to the past. Without it we are lost, struggling to keep hold of who we once were and what we once held dear. When we lose everything, as the victims of Hurricane Katrina have, we search desperately through rubble, hoping to find a remnant of our past intact. Even a piece of wood from the old house is something to be cherished forever; its very scent could propel us back in time, and for one brief moment we would once again be part of that life that is gone forever.” [Read more here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 11, 2005

Mike Brown: No Brownie

When George Bush praised FEMA head Mike Brown for screwing up the Katrina relief effort, saying, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job,” SoMA’s Mary Beth Crain nearly fell out of her chair. You see, Mary Beth was a Brownie for a year, in second grade, and take it from her: Mike Brown is no Brownie. “I should know,” she writes in her latest essay, noting that the Girl Scout motto is “Be Prepared.” “I wore my little chocolate colored uniform with the matching beret, and I took the solemn oath. ‘On my honor, I will try to serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.’

“The Girl Scout Law: ‘I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, use resources wisely, and make the world a better place…’

“Does this sound like Mike Brown? Honest and fair? Oh yeah, check out his bogus resume. Friendly, helpful, considerate, caring? Just ask the folks in New Orleans. Courageous and strong? Well, let’s not be too hard on him—after all, who in Washington is? Responsible for what I say and do? Oh, but it wasn’t his fault he wasn’t informed about those Convention Center inmates until three days after the rest of the world knew. Use resources wisely? Uh huh.

“No, if Mike Brown were a real Brownie, his response to Katrina would have been a model of speed and foresight. He would have been on top of the whole situation way before the actual event. He would have had a viable game plan in place, with all forces at the ready. He would have been on the scene within 24 hours with food, water, medical aid, and a central command that knew precisely what the hell it was doing. He would have been prepared.” [Read more here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 7, 2005

Robert Funk, 79

Biblical scholar Robert W. Funk, founder of the controversial Jesus Seminar, has died at age 79.

“Associates at the Westar Institute, which sponsored the Jesus Seminar, said Tuesday that Funk died Saturday at his Santa Rosa, Calif., home of lung failure,” writes Larry Stammer in today’s Los Angeles Times. “He had undergone surgery in July to remove a malignant brain tumor.”

Stammer’s piece includes this memorable Funk statement: "I do not want my faith to be in Jesus, but faith in the really real…in some version of whatever it was that Jesus believed."

Read the Westar Institute's obit here.

The Faithful Respond to Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has brought out the best and the worst in people, from great acts of bravery and self-sacrifice to looting and profiteering. And it’s revealed, for those who may have been in doubt, where many of our leaders’ heads and hearts really are.

Take George Bush. Critics see his delayed, out-to-lunch response to the disaster as a metaphor for his presidency. In the latest New Yorker, editor David Remnick writes: "To a frightening degree, Bush's faults of leadership and character were brought into high relief by the crisis. Suntanned and relaxed after a vacation so long that it would have shamed a French playboy, Bush reacted with fogged delinquency, as if he had been so lulled by his summer sojourn that he was not quite ready to acknowledge reality, let alone attempt to master it… The whole conceit of his Presidency, that he was an instinctive chief executive backed by 'grown-ups' like Dick Cheney and tactical wizards like Karl Rove, now seemed as water-logged as Biloxi and New Orleans. The mismanagement of the Katrina floods echoed the White House mismanagement—the cavalier posture, the wretched decisions, the self-delusions—in postwar Iraq."

Others lay much of the blame on Mike Brown, director of the emergency management agency, who was commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association (from which job he was fired) before joining FEMA in 2001. Brown waited hours after the storm hit before dispatching 1,000 Homeland Emergency employees to the area, and then he gave them two days to get there. And on Thursday night, the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Brown told CNN “he did not know that thousands of people had no food or water at the New Orleans convention center—even though TV images had shown their plight all day.”

With so much failure at all levels of government, it’s heartening, then, to see the tremendous response of private individuals and organizations, particularly churches. “Churches help fill Katrina relief void,” reads one Reuters headline, and Google News lists 358 hits to a “churches respond to Katrina” search, from a Newsday article describing the efforts of churches across New Jersey to a small North Carolina paper’s report about the “buckets of love” local congregations are sending to the Gulf Coast.

All the websites of the large denominations I checked promptly offered ways to donate money and help with the relief response—the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of the Nazarene, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and American Catholic. The United Church of Christ has set a goal to raise at least $3 million to support long-term hurricane relief and recovery.  

Other releases and reports describe the efforts of the Orthodox Church and various Jewish groups, and newspapers in the Arab world have called for compassion following the destruction wrought by Katrina.

Needless to say, the storm has not brought out the best in all Christians. Today I received a press release from Ford Vox, founder of the Universist Movement, reporting the results of a UM survey of Sunday sermons delivered after Katrina. “A variety of mainstream Christian voices ranging from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to the Archdiocese of New Orleans are united in the belief that Hurricane Katrina was the will of God,” the release says.

Russell Moore, dean of Southern Seminary, interpreted the hurricane as part of God’s curse on humankind after the fall, say the release, quoting Moore: "The hope is for Biloxi, Miss., and all of the created universe, to be redeemed and restored in Christ. There will come a day when the curse is reversed, and the Gulf Coast along with the entire cosmos fully reflects the glory of a resurrected Messiah."

Other quotes in the survey include:

J. Edward Norton, Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn., who invoked Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
"Happy storm that wrecks us on such a rock as this. Oh blessed Hurricane that drives the soul to God and God alone.... The Lord will magnify his might in the midst of your distress."

Mark Chanski, Reformed Baptist Church, Holland, Mich.:
"I believe that there is a message from God brought to light in every dark providence. [This disaster represents] the blast of God's judgment against sin." Chanski cited the Southern Decadence Festival as an example of New Orleans' sin. "The trumpets of God that are sounded throughout history are warning blasts, birth pangs about the arrival of the final ultimate birth and letting out of the wrath of God. Birth pangs are present here."

Ian Brown, Londonderry Free Presbyterian Church, Northern Ireland:
"If Hurricane Katrina was a contest between the power of God and the power of man, there has only been one winner… It is an accepted fact that New Orleans was the most decadent large city in America. Politicians often referred to it as a banana republic, a city that thrived on corruption. It held several events each year celebrating undiluted sensual pleasure. People traveled in from far and wide to participate in the debauchery and the festivals that were held there. They celebrated the worst in human nature, and numbing ordinary sensibilities."

Chris Hodges, Church of the Highlands, Birmingham, Ala.:
"If there's ever been a city that's needed to be swept clean of the sin and the wickedness it's New Orleans, and it's those gambling casinos along the gulf coast. And I'll tell ya, I think there's a shakin' goin' on that God's gonna use to bring us to a new day. I'm praying for revival, and I'm encouraging you the church—lift up your heads, don't be discouraged, this is our finest hour. This is what Christians do best."

Steve Wilkins, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church, Monroe, La.:
"God is the ruler of the storm," Wilkins preached, citing Psalm 127:25. "He commands and raises the stormy wind which lifts up the waves of the sea." Wilkins said: "It's only when you've got a problem, it's only when God sends trouble that you learn that you need to pray to Him."

Tim Bourgeois, Tree of Life Christian Church, Canoga Park, Calif.:
"When there are storm winds, they don't just meet because a low pressure area happens to meet with a high pressure area in the upper atmosphere and suddenly this wind just randomly, naturally occurs, and waters randomly fall along with it. This is God's word at work in the midst of his creation."

James E. Adams, Cornerstone Church, Mesa, Ariz.:
"The voice of the Lord, seven times the voice of the Lord, echoes down through this storm, and God's power is made known right before us here."

A.T. Stewart, Westside Baptist Church, Mableton, Ga.:
"As wicked as New Orleans is, I don't think it's any more wicked than Atlanta, New York, or San Francisco. But what I do believe, is that this destruction is God's call on this nation to repent…Do we think we can continue to flaunt our sins before God and murder over a million unborn children every year? And flaunt immorality and sinfulness, and pornography all over the Internet. Do we think we can continue to do this and God's just going to weep and look the other way?"

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 6, 2005

In the Wake of Katrina

“We’ve heard it for days now,” writes Louisiana novelist Dayne Sherman. “Over and over. ‘One of the worst natural disasters in our country’s history.’ I promise you, it is far worse than what you are seeing on CNN, and there are places, such as rural Washington Parish, where the Red Cross and FEMA ignored the country people until perhaps Saturday, September 3rd, if they bothered to help out at all. Years from now, people will hear tell of a America’s hell on earth, once a great city, reduced to a fetid wasteland where bodies were stacked in the streets like cords of wood while our government—state and federal—ran around with its pants down, hopping on one foot, with a T-shirt over its head, trying like all hell to get dressed for the big party.” [Read more here.]

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 5, 2005

Fred Phelps, Anti-Christ, Strikes Again

In a recent letter, concerned SoMA reader Meg McSweeney writes:  

Dear All,
I thought I’d heard everything, but I guess not. Did you know that a coterie of fundamentalist Christians is disrupting the funerals of dead American soldiers in the name of God?
Listen to this.
Obediah Kolath, the nephew of my friend Betsy Rackover, was killed in Iraq last week. Obie was 32 years old, an Army Special Forces soldier patrolling Husaybah, when a bomb exploded near him and three comrades. His mother, Betsy’s sister Mary Kolath, is a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Because the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not recognize governments or armies, his mother was never comfortable with Obie’s choice, but she respected it.
The respect was mutual. In deference to his mother and her beliefs, Obie left instructions that in the event of his death, he would forego the full honors of a military funeral.
So the Army has sent Obie’s remains to his hometown of Buffalo, Mo., and his family is preparing to lay him to rest in a simple, non-military service on Tuesday, September 6.
Enter Reverend Fred Phelps. If you saw the movie or play “The Laramie Project,” or followed the events around the murder of Matthew Shepard, you’ll remember Phelps as the crackpot who protested Shepard’s funeral and then held vigil outside his trial, spouting Scripture. He holds Shepard responsible for his own brutal murder in Laramie, Wyo., because Shepard was gay.
Rev. Phelps’ 15 minutes of fame from the Shepard funeral and trial apparently was not enough for him. He is now organizing and carrying out loud and disruptive protests at the funerals across the country of soldiers killed in Iraq.
According to the Associated Press, “The Rev. Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from God for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church, which is not affiliated with a larger denomination, is made up mostly of Phelps‚ children, grandchildren and in-laws.
“The church members carried signs (at a recent protest in Smyrna, Tenn.) and shouted things such as ‘God hates fags‚ and God hates you.’
“About 10 church members protested near Smyrna United Methodist Church and nearly 20 stood outside the National Guard Armory in Ashland City. Members have demonstrated at other soldier funerals across the nation”
If you go to Rev. Phelps’ website,—and be prepared because it is positively vile, rife with hate and negativity and a twisted view of Scripture—you will see that the funeral of Sgt. 1st Class Obediah Kolath is on the schedule of his “Love Crusades” for the week of September 5. (LOVE Crusades? GIVE ME A BREAK!) Obie’s brother, John Kolath, has received a letter from Westboro Baptist advising him that Rev. Phelps and his followers intend to demonstrate at the funeral.
The police in Buffalo have responded and are working with the Kolath family, the funeral home and the Phelps group in an effort to maintain peace. The protesters will be confined to a designated area across the street from the funeral home, and the funeral home is providing marquee so that the mourners will be shielded from view of the protesters as they arrive for and depart from the services. However, the protesters will be permitted to follow the cortege to the cemetery.
Jesus taught us to bury the dead with love and dignity. Phelps and his followers demonstrate at funerals in the name of God. His picking on the grieving families of our casualties in Iraq is sick, vicious and incomprehensible. It only makes a sad day all the more unbearable for the people who loved Obie.
There is nothing we can do to stop the crazy and hateful Rev. Phelps. But we can organize our own protest against him. I keep thinking of the good people of Laramie, Wyo., and how they opened their hearts to the grieving friends and family of Matthew Shepard. Shepard’s funeral was on a rainy day. People opened their umbrellas and stood in front of Rev. Phelps and his hateful signs and they sang songs with loving lyrics to drown out his diatribes.
Later, at the trial, friends of Shepard showed up outside the courthouse wearing homemade angel costumes. Like the "umbrella people" at the funeral, they stood in front of Phelps and his crew and blocked them with the large wings on their costumes so that Mr. and Mrs. Shepard would be spared seeing the picket signs when they attended the trial.
The Kolath and Carothers families will need flights of angels Tuesday to help them sing Obie to his rest. “Bury the dead” is a Corporal Work of Mercy, and Obie’s family will endeavor to bury him Tuesday in peace and with love. But they are certain to be mightily distracted by the uninvited demonstrators. Betsy is trying not to curse the darkness, but is instead reaching out with love and support to other families whose loved ones’ funerals are also on the “Love Crusade” schedule.
I write to ask you to say a prayer for Betsy and her sister Mary Kolath, Obie’s brothers and sisters and uncles, aunts, cousins, grandfather and friends. May they focus on their important task at hand, and may angels and heavenly umbrellas be with them in Buffalo on Tuesday to block the messengers of hate and reaffirm the real love and compassion of the true Jesus.


Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

September 1, 2005

Spiritual Discipline...for Dogs?

I’ve known SoMA’s Mary Beth Crain almost 15 years now, and for the longest time I thought of her as a dyed-in-the-wool cat person. Back when we first met, I had a geriatric cat I adored, and Mary Beth was under the spell of a pair of young cats, and whenever the two of us got together the conversation invariably turned to our felines and what they’d done recently to remind us who really ruled our lives.

Then, nine years ago, Mary Beth found herself in a pet store beguiled by, of all creatures, a tiny three-month-old Chihuahua. Against her better judgment, she bought the affectionate yet high-strung pup, and thus began an adventure with more ups and downs than a Hollywood marriage. But Mary Beth and Truman, as she named her first and only pooch, have far outlasted most Tinseltown couples, and the hilarious tales she’s accumulated about life with him could fill volumes. And in fact, they already do fill one volume, “A Widow, a Chihuahua and Harry Truman,” published by HarperSanFrancisco in 2000.

When Mary Beth first got Truman she thought he was a perfect angel—loving, loyal, devoted. But she’s come to realize that he’s “no paragon of virtue,” as she writes in her latest piece for SoMA. “He can easily fall prey to selfishness, vengefulness, manipulation, and other ego-invested vices, and in fact, he grew so clever at getting everything he wanted that my friends started calling him Truman the Human—not necessarily a compliment.”

If you don’t think it’s possible for a dog to be guilty of most of the Seven Deadly Sins—except, in Truman’s case, sloth—then you must read “Raising a Spiritual Chihuahua,” Mary Beth’s wonderfully funny account of her futile attempts to keep her canine on the straight and narrow. Click here.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

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