We're My Dad's Kind of "Religious"

"Ranching in Montana is not easy nor is it that profitable most of the time.  The Church was always trying to guilt my dad into tithing a strict 10% of his income.  He had a running argument with them that that meant 10% of your net income.  The Church said, no it was supposed to be 10% of any income, meaning your gross.  It turns out that the church founder actually said that it was to be '10% of your gain.'  Those were his exact words, '10% of your gain.'  It was there in scripture in black and white.  But the current Church said that was then, this is now, they are God's representatives on earth and it's 10% of any income at all.  So this back and forth went on for years with my dad's status as a 'Member In Good Standing' often hanging by a thread because he wasn't about to turn over 10% of the sale price of a bunch of cattle he'd sold at a loss because of bad weather or a hard market or whatever.

"Then one blustery Sunday they had what they called a Stake Conference, a bigger than usual meeting of people from several churches in the area.  One of the elders gave a speech about how tithing was 'partnering with God.'  If you take on God as your partner, you can't help but succeed.  When he uttered those words, 'partnering with God,' my dad laughed out loud.  Reportedly, it wasn't a chuckle, either.  It was more like a guffaw.  My mom wasn't there.  It was a 'men folk only' meeting and she was off with the women folk tending the kids and getting the church supper ready.  The news traveled like wildfire through the congregation though, and when my mom heard, she was mortally embarrassed.  My dad swore for years after that it was completely involuntary, it burst out of it's owm accord.  He said that what flashed through his mind was, 'That feed that went bad when the barn flooded last spring, the fencing we lost to that ice storm two years ago, is God, as my partner, going to go halvsies with me on that?'  When that thought crossed his mind, the belly laugh just happened.

"He only went to church for other people's stuff after that, baptisms and such.  He never functioned as an elder in the church again.  Around our house after that it was 'religion optional.'  And because I was such a late baby and my siblings were going off to college as I was starting school, I was allowed the run of the place as long as I didn't get hurt or hurt anybody or destroy anything.  I sang at my friends' church and went to some special services, but it wasn't my church, it was theirs.  I just went to hang out with them.  I didn't believe anything."

Is the Secret Service getting bored?

My favorite incident was when G.W. was giving a speech or news conference or something in Iraq (probably the Green Zone) and a reporter of Arab descent in the back of the room took off his shoe and heaved it at G.W. (a grave insult as well as an assault in Arab culture). G.W., displaying more mental and physical agility than anyone would have thought, ducked, and the shoe missed him.

But the funniest part was that the Secret Service did not push him down behind the bullet-proof podium or wrestle the shoe thrower to the ground. They, and whatever Iraqi security people were present, stood there while the "assailant" took off his other shoe and threw that one as well. The second shoe also missed G.W., again thanks to G.W.'s presence of mind, not the attendant security details.

It makes me wonder if the Secret Service doesn't just grow weary of defending repugnant people after a while.