Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Little Advice From My Mother...

Bluffton Today column
August 17, 2011

My mom told me not to write this. But, last week I told her to call the VOX and she didn’t listen to me, so now we’ll be even-steven. If you know me at all – which many of you assume you do – you know that I couldn’t let the religious right have the last word. Since as I type, we are on day 12 of the Courtney is a Heathen 2011 Tour, I thought it important to make a few points and ask a few more questions.

Based on the feedback from my last column, it is clear that I am likely the most prayed for person on Bluffton. So, sounds like you all are taking care of the job for me and I am in the clear. Thank you for that.

In addition to the multiple prayer chains, I also received a healthy load of invitations to attend various church services and most interestingly, the Answers in Genesis Conference being held in Beaufort last weekend. I almost went. I mean I was a huge fan of Phil Collins in the 80s and I figured if he was going to be just a few miles from home, it was worth the trip. But alas, my schedule got in the way.

All kidding aside, I understand that many people have a personal relationship with God, however I found it interesting that so many are so possessive of their relationship, telling me about “their” God. Does this mean God is different for everyone? I was also a little surprised by the church-goers and believers who want to “run me out of town on a rail,” to find my house and sit out front praying for me (which is why I am appreciative of the second amendment), to watch me be punished for what I write. None of those threats appeared “Christian” to me. So, it begs the questions, what would “your” God think of how you treated me? Now I am even more confused.

Here is what I do know. If there is a God, he must have a fabulous sense of humor, because it is a crazy, crazy world that we live in. And, if he has a sense of humor, he read my column and laughed. If he is all knowing, he knows that I ask questions and make points in order to the stir the pot. He also knows much more about me than anyone else ever will. And, after adding it all up, I presume he would dub us even-steven as well.

Now that this is behind us, let’s talk about a few additional suggestions you should heed when your mother makes them …

Cut your hair. Boys, you look like idiots with the Justin Beiber haircuts. Walking around shaking your head, so your bangs fall just so across your eyes, is not combing your hair. Get a buzz cut and get over it. While you are at it, buy a pair of pants that stays up around your waist so I don’t have to look at your underwear.

Girls, get a pair of shorts that are long enough so I don’t have to look at your “juicy” rear. Keep in mind that the boys you are trying to impress can’t see a thing because their hair is hanging over their eyes.

(Boys, see note above.)

Neighbors, power wash your houses for crying out loud. Mold green is not an approved color in our POA regulations.

Dog owners, scoop your poop. In fact, a new town initiative – which you can learn about at town council, after the opening prayer – is aimed at raising awareness about how water pollution from pet waste affects the May River, and encouraging pet owners to be responsible and "Scoop the Poop." Visit for the er, scoop.

Avoid too much sugar.

Brush your teeth twice a day. (And floss.)

Don’t drink and drive.

And, may God bless America.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Are You There God? It's Me Courtney

Bluffton Today columnAugust 3, 2011

They (yup, still trying to determine who “they” are) tell me that God is everywhere. Interestingly, I bumped into him two weeks ago, at a Bluffton Town Council meeting. A town council meeting, in a government building, is not where I expected to stumble into the omnipotent one. I thought it more likely that we may meet whence I meandered into a church, after a ten year hiatus, and as the lightening was flashing, and thunder crashing, I would shout out, “I believe.”

Alas, I was wrong. And, somehow in my previous visits to council I managed to miss the prayer. The prayer! Am I really even typing those words? I was stunned that after the meeting was called to order, Mayor Pro-tem Fred Hamilton ringed up God and ask him to bless the meeting, bless the people, and bless our town. (I later sneezed and also got a blessing.)

Perhaps I’ve been previously side-tracked by Mr. Hamilton’s snappy attire (I am indeed a fan of his wardrobe), but how have I missed this? I am mortified that after six years in Bluffton, I am just now tackling this topic. I must be losing my edge.

But now that I have my wits back about me, I’m thinking that Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. After all, it was old Tommy J. who, in a letter dated in 1802, suggested a separation of church and state. Said suggestion was later adopted as a part of the establishment clause of the first amendment, and cited by the Supreme Court on many occasions.

So, why in the heck are we mixing God and local politics? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sat through some of these meetings, and many a debate, and I am certain I muttered, “Oh my God,” “Christ Almighty,” “Sweet Jesus,” under my breath on more than one occasion. Yes, I’m a blasphemer but this isn’t about me.

It is about you. It is about your right to a separation of church and state. We have rules people. In fact, we have rules at town council meetings. For example, if you would like to be heard, there is a process you must follow. You must, in advance of the start of the meeting, fill out the appropriate paperwork (online or in person), to be heard. Once you are called to the podium during public comment period, you have three minutes to get your point across. This begs a few questions -- If God is at town council, does he fill out the form in advance? What organization does his form say he is representing? If he (or is he a she?) exceeds the allotted three minutes what happens?

The agenda at the July council meeting was rather benign. The meeting, uneventful. Nothing to get all excited about. No scandal. (There was a special guest appearance from former councilman and mayoral candidate Charlie Wetmore, but he behaved and even stayed within his 180 seconds.) Was the peace and calm a result of a shout out to God or was he too busy to hear the call come in that night?

Now I have even more questions. Does God show up anytime he hears his name? In traffic, when someone cuts you off? At the gym, when you can’t lift another pound? In your living room when you’ve (yes, you!) got the volume on the “Skinemax” channel a tad too high? (You'll note that this sentence didn't make the print version, but I had to try!) In the middle of the night when one of the kids is crying? At the airport when your flight has been delayed again?

How does he know when help is really needed versus when he is being called in vain?

Good lord, I could go on all day …

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

August: A Line in the Sand

August 2011 CH/CB2
This month, crazy Frank Dunne, Jr. and I pontificate on philandering politicians. I, as always, am right. You can read Frank's opinion here, if you must.

Frank, I know you are not suggesting that I lack character or the ability to judge character. (Even though, per last month’s column, I do contribute to the eroding moral compass of the nation.) So, I’m going to give you a pass on that one and instead focus on that fact that your singular “Weiner” example is actually the perfect illustration of your one-track argument.

Anthony Weiner, that’s the best you can come up with? I mean granted, Weiner is media gold, he’s out and about showing off his private parts and his last name just happens to also be the caption for his pictures? Jackpot!

But, in truth it’s not about Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mark Sanford. Once again your narrow mind steers you down the wrong path as you suggest that this issue of philandering is one, only limited to politicians and two, that the only ones doing it are the ones who get caught.

Oh contraire mon frère. You may remember my “open your eyes regarding marriage argument” from last month? Well, let me continue to enlighten you. Let’s talk numbers, including the staggering 8.5 million members on, a website dedicated to helping married philanderers find a “philanderee.”

While infidelity statistics abound, I’m actually going to go conservative here and quote a 2007 Lust, Love & Loyalty survey, which concluded that, “About one in five adults in monogamous relationships, or 22 percent, have cheated on their current partner. And nearly half of people admit to being unfaithful at some point in their lives.” MSNBC also cited research expert Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey for the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago who conducted the study “American Sexual Behavior,” a poll of 10,000 people over two decades. The study found that 22 percent of married men and 15 percent of married women have cheated at least once — similar to the results from the survey.

If these statistics are true, 20% of our nation is cheating on their partner. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say that 20% of elected officials are cheating on their partner. However, unless they’ve been caught in a media firestorm, we don’t know about it. Is it really their cheating that makes them a bad politician or is it the media circus that surrounds the “big reveal” that renders them unable to lead?

I vote for the latter. Character is comprised of many things. And, everyone defined character differently. If politically a politician stands for and works for everything that you believe in, do you really care what he does in his personal life? What if you find feet to be disgusting and your Congressman has a foot fetish? What if he is having an affair (with a women with beautiful feet, mind you), because his wife hasn’t been interested in sex in 10 years? Better yet, what if his wife is cheating too? Or, what if they have an agreement to step outside their marriage? Why do we care? Are you not going to vote for him because his ideals don’t match up to yours in every column? If so, you’d never vote again.

Look around right now. One in every five people you see is statistically a cheater. It could be your mailperson, the little league coach who lives next door, the bagger at your grocery store, your child’s teacher, your best buddy, your boss, the waiter at your favorite restaurant, the minister at your church (oh yeah, I’m going there).

Is your mail still being delivered on time? Is team moral up? Are your freezer items separated from the cans? Is your kid getting A’s? Is your buddy still your favorite drinking partner? Is your boss still tolerable? Is your service still top-notch? Is Sunday’s sermon still inspiring?

All I am saying is let’s not rush to judge.

I’m sure you’ve made some mistakes along the way Frank, but heck, our Editor still let’s you write. Right?