Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Last Day to Purge Histories

Dear Readers,

This is the last day before Google starts its new "privacy" policy for you to delete your search history from your Google and YouTube searches.

Even if you don't have a YouTube account, you can delete your searching history from their website.

Madame L highly recommends that you do this.


Madame L

Graham Apologizes to Obama---But Not to Romney

Dear Madame L,

I see in today's online USA Today blog about Obama that the Rev. Franklin Graham has apologized to Pres. Obama for impugning his Christian beliefs.

Do you think he'll ever apologize to Mitt Romney for claiming Mr. Romney is not a true Christian?


Doubt It

Dear Sincerely Doubt It,

Madame L is glad to read that Mr. Graham has apologized to our president. His remarks were out of line and uncalled for and showed prejudice and a lack of judgment, not to mention a lack of the true Christian spirit.

Thanks for the link, from which Madame L has found this quote from Mr. Graham's apology:

"I regret any comments I have ever made which may have cast any doubt on the personal faith of our president, Mr. Obama I apologize to him and to any I have offended for not better articulating my reason for not supporting him in this election -- for his faith has nothing to do with my consideration of him as a candidate."

Mr. Graham apparently realized the apology was necessary after he received a letter signed by the presidents of the National Baptist Convention, USA; the National Baptist Convention of America; the Progressive National Baptist Convention; as well as bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.

Madame L does not believe that Rev. Graham will ever apologize to Mitt Romney or to any members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for calling them not true Christians. And that is because he will never receive a letter from those people mentioned above, because they all agree with each other.

Madame L has written, and reiterates, that she thinks Graham and his pals in all those evangelical churches don't like the LDS church because they think it's "stealing" their "sheep."

"The real issue for many evangelicals is Mormonism’s remarkable success and rapid expansion. It is estimated to have missionaries in 162 countries and a global membership of some 14 million; it is also, from its base in the American West, making inroads into Hispanic communities. Put simply, the Baptists and Methodists, while still ahead of the Mormons numerically, are feeling the heat of competition from Joseph Smith’s tireless progeny."

Mr. Reynolds concludes by asking the evangelicals to tone down their dislike:

"Amid the passions of this election season, it’s time to revive the tolerant spirit of the founding fathers. Religious competition of any kind, they believed, can breed bigotry, repression and hatred. The founders made an earnest effort to keep religion out of politics. Let’s do the same as we carry out the important work of choosing our next president."

Madame L wonders what it will take for these self-anointed "true Christians" to take a truly Christian attitude toward those who don't have exactly the same opinion as theirs. Madame L suggests that this season of Lent and Easter would be a good time to start.


Madame L

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romney Wins Michigan and Arizona

Dear Madame L,

I just saw on the news that Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney has won decisively in Arizona and is projected to win Michigan.

You used to say you would never vote for Mitt Romney. Are you still saying that?


A Romney Supporter

Dear Romney Supporter,

Madame L admires Mitt Romney and would vote for him a hundred times over any of the other Republican contenders for the presidency.

However, Madame L does not agree with Mitt Romney's and the Republican Party's ideas about how to balance the budget, create jobs, and get out of the economic mess the previous Republican president got us into. 

Madame L believes that Pres. Barack Obama is on the right track and that the only reason we haven't gotten out of the mess Bush the Second got us into is the deliberate tactics by Republican leaders in the House and Senate to block every piece of legislation that would help us, without regard for what's really good for America and the American people.

Madame L notes that some liberal and/or progressive commentators have been pushing for Rick Santorum only because they want "anyone but Romney" because they think Romney has the best chance of winning in the general election. 

Madame L does not agree with those people's tactics and finds them to be as cynical and hypocritical in their so-called reporting as those aforementioned Republican leaders and Newt Gingrich and the whole rest of the crew are in their campaigning.

Madame L agrees that Mitt Romney would be a formidable opponent for the President in the 2012 general election and hopes that as the year progresses we will see a lot more speeches on policy and issues and a lot less name-calling and pandering to the lowest of the Republican base.

Best wishes,

Madame L

Santorum's Culture Wars

Dear Madame L,

I read in yesterday's online Christian Science Monitor that Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum said JFK's famous speech about not letting his Catholic religion influence his decisions as President of the United States made him "want to throw up."

And I have two questions about that: 

First, does Santorum really want to break down the Constitutional barriers between Church and State? 

Second, what do you think would happen if Mitt Romney said such a thing?


Going to Vote for Romney

Dear Romney Supporter,

Madame L agrees with your outrage and raises it a notch further. 

According to the article you cited (and thanks for providing the link so Madame L could insert it above), Santorum said, "I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute." 

That just goes along with Santorum's oft-stated desires that everyone should have the same ideas he has about family life. While Madame L finds Santorum's family admirable, especially his long-suffering wife, but also his and his wife's love for their youngest daughter Bella, she doesn't think Santorum's views will work for many other people.

Here's JFK's famous speech, which he gave when anti-Roman Catholic prejudice and rhetoric were prevalent.


Madame L also imagines the firestorm that would break out if Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney said he didn't see the need for separation of Church and State.

Here's a compilation of bits from Mitt Romney talking about his Mormon faith and the fact that he is "an American running for President." 

Madame L admires JFK and Romney and agrees with the principles JFK and Romney delineated in these speeches. They show an understanding of the Constitutional and moral bases that uphold our country, an understanding that Madame L has not seen in any of the other Republican candidates this election season.


Madame L

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Book Review, Sunday, February 26, 2012: The English in France

Madame L recently checked a book out of her local library which was hilarious at times but mostly a disappointing ego trip for the author: "A Year in the Merde," by Stephen Clarke. 

If the title seems to ring a bell, that could be because the book seems to be taking "A Year in Provence," by Peter Mayle, to the next step.

What is the next step? Clarke fictionalizes the memoir and turns it into a lesson on the real way Parisians speak French, do business, and avoid stepping in the piles of dog poo. (It's a step down.)

And while "A Year in Provence" poked loving fun at the French as well as their vacationing and home-buying British invaders, "A Year in the Merde" mostly makes fun of the French, and not so lovingly. The only thing that could pass for love in this book is the mindless sex provided the narrator by various French women in a bourgeois society in which apparently real marital and filial love do not exist; everyone is out to bilk anyone they can out of their money, honor, and ideals; and hypocritical cynicism rules the day.

This was the kind of book that made Madame L glad she'd long ago perfected the art of skimming. While she doesn't recommend this book, she does highly recommend "A Year in Provence" for its gentle charm. And Madame L says to her Dear and Gentle Readers, "You're welcome...for keeping you from wasting time on a mediocre (at best) read."

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Fake Libertarian

Dear Madame L,

I've heard that young people love Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, and that Mr. Paul and candidate George Romney are pals, even to the extent to ganging up on candidate Rick Santorum in the twentieth debate in Mesa, Arizona, earlier this week. 

Do you think that Mr. Paul's young supporters will flock to the side of George Romney when Mr. Paul drops out? 

I ask this only because I know, like everyone else, that Mr. Paul IS going to drop out.


Not Sure Who Will Actually Represent Me

Dear Not Sure,

Madame L does not think that Mr. Paul's young supporters will support Mr. Romney with much fervor because apparently what they like about Mr. Paul is his support of legalizing marijuana and other drugs, which Madame L thinks Mr. Romney will support only if and when Hell should freeze over.

Madame L knows one thing for sure: If you, Dear Reader, are a woman, Mr. Paul will most definitely NOT represent your interests.

Madame L suspects that Mr. Paul is actually still in the race so that his son, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, can become Mr. Romney's vice-presidential co-runner. (Rand Paul says it "would be an honor" to do that.")

Madame L suspects that the majority of the American population has no interest in having Ron Paul as president. Even the true Libertarians recognize that Mr. Paul is not a true Libertarian.

And women, particularly, should be wary of Mr. Paul's amazingly non-Libertarian and appallingly intrusive views about their health and their ability to make decisions for themselves.

Apparently Mr. Paul thinks that government intrusion is anathema only for men, while women cannot be trusted to know what is best for themselves and must have state and federal officials mandating what they can and cannot do, as well as forcing their doctors to perform unnecessary and dangerous procedures (which some commentators have called state-sanctioned rape) on them if they want an abortion.

Again, Madame L emphasizes that she opposes abortion in most cases, while also emphasizing that Madame L doesn't think she (or anyone except the woman in question) is qualified to make the decision about that procedure. 

Madame L has said it before and will say it again: Women, who make up more than half of the American population, are not well served by the policies and beliefs of Mr. Paul, Mr. Santorum, or Mr. Gingrich. Only Mitt Romney has shown (in the past, though not currently) any respect for women's rights and self-determination.

Best wishes,

Madame L

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More on Super PACs

Dear Readers,

Madame L has found a great graphic illustration of where the big money is coming from and which candidates it's going to:

This information has become available AFTER the voting in the first caucuses and polls of the season. More information will become available about future contributions and funds AFTER the next round of voting takes place. Transparency, not much.

Madame L thinks the election system in the U.S. is a disaster since the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling last year. But she still urges her Dear Readers to educate themselves about the candidates, contribute what they can and volunteer whenever possible for the candidate(s) they think will best represent them, and, for Pete's sake, VOTE, in the 2012 elections.


Madame L

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Super PACs

Dear Madame L,

I was just reading in a weekly news magazine that Mitt Romney's super PAC raised more than six million dollars in January, and that the Republicans have raised more than $500 million for various super PACs for their candidates. 

And I know that these super PACs can keep their donors' names secret, receive unlimited amounts from donors, and spend the money any way they want to. 

I thought it was interesting because one of my conservative friends is always hinting darkly that Pres. Obama is raising more money than the Republican presidential candidates, and that if he's re-elected, it will only be because of all the campaign money he has raised.

Please, Madame L, what ever happened to our electoral system, if votes can be bought by these rich people while people like me, with our $25 here and $15 there for the causes we support, essentially are left without a voice?


Feeling Disenfranchised

Dear Disenfranchised,

Madame L doesn't know if it will ease your fears to know that Pres. Obama has given up and decided to let super PACs help raise money for his re-election  campaign, or if it will just make you feel more cynical.

It makes Madame L feel very conflicted, between grateful to know that Pres. Obama may now stand a chance of being re-elected, and more cynical that he would have to stoop to this level to do it.

There's nothing that can be done about this dilemma immediately---the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision in 2010 that paved the way for the existence of these fund-raising organizations cannot be changed except by future legislation. Madame L is aware of some online petitions that ordinary people can sign, but she hasn't signed one herself because they would require her to disclose private information that then may become available to the public and because some of the petitions appear to be no more than marketing tools and even scams.

Madame L notes also that conservative publications are trying to justify the idea of super PACs, as in this  article which claims they're really "good for democracy" because they "increase transparency" (not true), "level the playing field" (absoLUTEly not true), inform voters (an out-and-out LIE), and "inform the voters" (PANTS ON FIRE). 

Madame L hopes you've kept track of Stephen Colbert's hilarious and right-on-point super PAC, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow." The ad video Madame L posted above gives you an idea of Colbert's attempt to show through satire just how wrong the Supreme Court's decision was and how detrimental to the democratic political process these super PACs are. 

As always, Madame L urges you to become involved in local politics and to vote, because political office-holders are the ones who will eventually lead us to having a Supreme Court that isn't dominated by reactionary political activists. 

Best wishes,

Madame L


Dear Madame L,

If you Mormons are really Christians, then why do a lot of other Christians think you're not? Like the Rev. Robert Jeffress said on "The Last Word" last night, if they really have the same beliefs, then why do two of their missionaries keep coming to his door to try to convince him they're different?


A True Christian

Dear True Christian,

Madame L has read the dictionary definition of "Christian": "A person who has received Christian baptism or is a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings."

So, Madame L believes, Mormons are Christians. They are baptized in the same way Jesus was baptized and they believe in Jesus Christ and his teachings.

Here's what's different: Mormons believe in another testament of Christ, the Book of Mormon. Mormons believe that this is a translation of ancient records kept on metal plates by earlier inhabitants of the Americas.

The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, teaches of a loving God and his Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth to live a perfect life, atone for our sins, and be killed as was prophesied in the Old Testament so that He could be resurrected, thereby giving all of us the gift of eventual resurrection and a return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

(Yes, Dear Reader, all of these teachings are in the Bible. The Book of Mormon prophets explain the relationship between God's justice and His mercy, and how, because of His great love for us and His desire for all of us to return to His presence, He made this plan, before He created the earth, a great plan of salvation and happiness, so we could return to Him. That's one of the things Madame L loves about the Book of Mormon: Its explanation of teachings like this, long lost or misinterpreted. Madame L also loves the way the Book of Mormon prophets explain these teachings and point to other lost books which will eventually be discovered and will add to the ancient testaments of Christ.)

Madame L had to laugh when she heard Lawrence O'Donnell on "The Last Word" last night poke fun at the idea that Jesus Christ appeared to people after his resurrection in the United States of America. Madame L knows that Mr. O'Donnell knows the United States weren't in existence in 33 A.D., but it was a mis-speak that comes naturally to people when they're deriding, no matter how genially, beliefs they disagree with.

Madame L herself is undoubtedly mis-speaking when she points out that Catholics are taught that the bread and wine of the Eucharist are actually Christ's body and blood. Madame L thinks the sacrament of the last supper is a lovely symbol of Christ's presence in our journey through life, but wonders how anyone could think that the idea that the symbols of Christ's body and blood are really His body and blood is a more rational belief than the idea that ancient people in the Americas kept records and that Jesus Christ appeared to them as he did to His people in Jerusalem.

But Madame L digresses. What Madame L started to say is that she suspects a lot of the outrage of the anti-Mormon crowd comes from a much different source than they generally admit, but a source which the Rev. Jeffress inadvertently referenced when he derided the Mormon missionaries who knock on people's doors: This is, simply put, the fear of so-called "sheep-stealing."

Madame L found a great explanation of this idea on a blog called "Apostasy Alert," which notes, "More and more churches are saying that they want to come together in unity in the name of Christ, while at the same time working on ways to steal sheep away from the very churches they attend prayer breakfasts with... Churchianity [sic] has become a very competitive business at a time when very few unchurched people are open to hearing the truth of the Gospel."

Dear Reader, Madame L suggests that you Google "sheep-stealing" for an eye-opening view into the world of competitive Churchianity.

Reading this was a huge revelation for Madame L: Aha! Rev. Jeffress thinks Mormons, through their missionary program, are trying to "steal" his "sheep." 

The only answer Madame L can think of for that accusation is this: If people read the Bible and ask the obvious questions, like what's missing here, and why does the text appear to contradict itself there, and find answers to those questions that Rev. Jeffress can't provide, does he really want to hinder them from looking further to find the answers? Madame L thinks Rev. Jeffress should pay attention to what the missionaries want to tell him, about God's love for all his children, about the great plan He created before He even created the earth and put us on it, to bring all his beloved children back to him---not just the ones who are alive today, but all of them. (And, yes, that's why Mormons build temples and perform ordinances in them, by proxy, for their ancestors and others.)

Rev. Jeffress and Rev. Graham themselves admit readily that they aren't the ones who can judge a person's true adherence to the teachings of Christ. But they sure are enjoying their 15 minutes of fame, aren't they, and the resulting increase in income and flock members, that come from their outrage at Mormonism.

By the way, check out what former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said about Rev. Jeffress:

Best wishes,

Madame L

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Who's A Christian?

Dear Madame L,

I saw the Rev. Franklin Graham on TV this morning say that "most Christians" don't think Mormons are Christians, and then I saw the Rev. Robert Jeffress repeat several times in the evening (on "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell) that Mormons are definitely not Christians.

Jeffress---remember him?---he's the one who said last October, over and over again, while smiling as if he'd just won the lottery or something, possibly excited about being interviewed on TV, as he was endorsing Texas Gov. Rich Perry's bid for the Republican presidential candidacy, that Mormonism is a "cult." 

I know you've been writing about how YOU think Mormons ARE Christians, but apparently most of the evangelical ministers in America think Mormons are NOT Christians.


Are They Or Aren't They?

Dear Are They Or Not,

Madame L, as you know, is herself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, as many people call us, a Mormon. And she is a Christian: That is, she accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of the world and tries to live a life of love and compassion.

Madame L notes that Christ taught us to love everyone and to refrain from judging, because judgment is God's and God's alone. 

Therefore, Madame L doesn't feel qualified, as the two ministers you mentioned above do feel, to pass judgment upon who is or is not a Christian. 

But Madame L thinks it makes sense that any church with Christ's name in its very name, which believes the Bible to be the word of God and accepts the Book of Mormon as a further testament of Christ's mission and divinity, is a Christian church, and its members are at least trying to live Christian lives.

Madame L notes also that Christ said you'll know people by their "fruits," that is, by their deeds, and other Christian evangelicals have said that Mitt Romney "is a believer in Christ like me" (Joel Osteen) and that Mitt Romney is "an outstanding Christian (Pat Robertson).

(Madame L mentions both of these as examples that not all evangelicals and "mainstream" Christians  necessarily agree with Franklin Graham and Robert Childress, not because she thinks Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson have any inside information on Mitt Romney's wonderfulness or God's acceptance of his Christian life, and CERTAINLY not because Madame L agrees with their views on anything at all.)

Lawrence O'Donnell in his "The Last Word" show of Feb. 21 pointed out that Christ himself said no one can be his disciple unless they're willing to give up everything; that Franklin Graham has not only not given up anything but is making a minimum of $750,000 per year and continues to make political pronouncements to maintain that income; and that Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress have also accused Pres. Barack Obama of not being a "real" Christian and the whole Catholic church of being apostate. Yet they both think candidate Rick Santorum is okay (even though he's a Catholic) because he has affirmed his Christian beliefs to their satisfaction, but, Madame L cynically suggests, mainly because he agrees with their political views. (Franklin Graham, as Lawrence O'Donnell pointed out, really opposes Pre. Obama's re-election because he has never in his life voted for a Democrat for president.)

Madame L thought the funniest part about Rev. Jeffress's interview with Lawrence O'Donnell was when he said, "I'm gonna hold my nose and do it" ("it" being to vote for Mitt Romney next November) because "I believe there is merit in choosing the non-Christian [Mitt Romney] over the nominal Christian [Barack Obama]." 

Madame L thought it was not so funny when Rev. Jeffress mentioned, again with that big grin, to show what a great guy he is, Madame L supposes, that many ex-Mormons have contacted him to tell him that Mormons are really not Christians --- not so funny, but very telling. 

Here's the video from "The Last Word," in case you want to see the whole thing. Madame L was pleased to see Lawrence O'Donnell call the two pastors on their hypocrisy.

Madame L thanks you for bringing this to her attention. She regrets that the politics of this election year have sunk so low, that religion and self-righteous judgment are being made part of the political dialogue, and that these so-called Christian beliefs are being used as excuses to deny women their rights.

Madame L also apologizes for digressing from her usual attempts to be a true Christian. This political year is definitely getting to her. Madame L is well aware that she's not as good at  being a Christian as she'd like to be. But she's going to keep trying, and wishes you the best.


Madame L

Not Your Typical...

Dear Madame L,

I just received a forwarded email message from an acquaintance who is a conservative Mormon in our small town where a lot of people are Mormons, a lot of people are conservatives, and there's a lot of overlap between the two.

I'm going to paste the message here so you can see it and respond: (Note to readers: Madame L is making the text of this email message a different color to separate it from the rest of the Dear "Not Your Typical" Reader's message and Madame L's response.)

What others see plainly, we often ignore.
*Here's something to think about.*

I remember asking dad about Castro when I was about 9 years old. I asked, "Is Castro a good guy or bad?"  
Dad said...he couldn't tell!! This was about 1955. We were living in Louisiana the time. Dad was in the Army there.

Cuba was fairly close and in the news a lot. The Cubans were asking the same question!
Ike was president.   This past July, we had the pleasure of sharing a summer barbecue with a refugee from Cuba . Our dinner conversation was starkly different than most.

This refugee came to the United States as a young boy in the early 1960's. His family was more fortunate than most, as they were able to bring a suitcase...and $100 when they fled Castro's newly formed revolutionary paradise.

Our dinner consisted of all-American fare: hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon and fresh ears of sweet corn. This is a menu shared with family and friends nationwide...while celebrating the birth of our beloved America ...on the Fourth of July.

We began with a simple discussion about our country, and the direction it has taken since Barack Obama came to power. We shared the usual complaints about the sour economy and liberal social engineering emanating from the rulers in Washington.

But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train. "You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist".

We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical." 
The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?"  He responded; "Yes, just like Obama."

He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied."
I remember my uncle saying after it started; Castro will only nationalize some of the big  industries. He will never come and take our family hardware store!! But that is exactly what happened. Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you is now our property also, can move yourself and five  children into two rooms of the house, because others are moving in with you."
The lesson learned from this discussion, is a lesson most Americans refuse to hear. Political leaders can lie about their agenda and once in office...they can take totally unexpected turns.

f you had asked us three years ago if we thought General Motors would be nationalized, we would have never believed it. We could never contemplate a country where the rule of law, the most fundamental building block of a justice society...would be evaporating, just like it did in Castro's Cuba in the early 1960's.

But the news of injustice keeps increasing. Black Panthers are not charged with wrong doing by the U.S. Department of Justice...because their crimes are against whites. The bondholders of GM are stripped of their assets...without due process by the government! Governmental leaders are bribed in full daylight...only to have all investigation of the crimes the Attorney
 The U.S. borders are over run with crime and illegal activity, and the leaders in D.C. act as if it is important to protect the lawbreakers...while the innocent are killed and over run. When local communities attempt to enforce the law, they are ridiculed...and threatened as racists and bigots. They are sued by the very administration...entrusted with enforcing the law.
Without the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution is a sham!! Without the rule of law, our beloved  America is swiftly becoming a country where only the well connected and politically powerful will be safe. As Michelle Malkin has so eloquently explained in her recent book...a culture of  corruption has replaced honest government.
 The only way this problem will be fixed, is by massive citizen action. All honest citizens that want
 to be treated equally, must come together...and demand that the favoritism, the bribes, the 
 uneven enforcement of law...end now!! And yes, it can happen here.
 PLEASE SEND THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!! And...may God save the United States of America ! 

6 million plus Jews didn't believe it would happen in Germany either!!! If you're a Christian in  these United States of America, you're next on the list. The real problem here is, the boy from Cuba did manage to make it to the U.S.We will not have any place to escape to...except death! And, for the most part...even though I'm forwarding this to recipients, probably only 5 or 10 will even read it.
So, Madame L, my question is: How do you think I should reply to this email message?


Appalled and Shocked To Receive This Kind of Garbage From Someone I Thought Was Intelligent

Dear Appalled and Shocked,

Madame L suggests this response:

"Dear Friend, I think maybe you meant to send this to a different friend, not your liberal, Obama-supporting friend who hates mass e-mails and wishes people could come up with their own thoughts and opinions instead of just forwarding the hateful and intolerant garbage that comes to their inbox from their other hateful and intolerant friends. If you feel offended by this, then what can I say? I feel offended by what you sent to me."

Madame L has noticed a trend among certain conservatives to feel sorry for themselves, to be paranoid, and to make outrageous comparisons of themselves to the Jews under Hitler or Cubans under Castro.

Madame L doesn't know whether to laugh or to cry when she receives similar email messages, but she always responds, and she appreciates your willingness to respond. 

Because here's the thing:  We all need to stand up for what we believe in, and we need to point out the ridiculousness of the kind of martyred and self-pitying irrational thinking exemplified by that message. Some politician once said that if you say a lie often enough, people will begin to believe it. (Three points and a delicious dinner for the Dear and Well-Educated Reader who can provide a source for this.) Likewise, if you counteract lies by telling the truth, people will be able to see the difference and accept the truth.

Madame L sometimes feels like she's in the middle of one of those jokes about how the guy fell out of the plane but fortunately had a parachute but unfortunately the parachute didn't open but fortunately he landed on a lake but unfortunately he landed on an island on the lake but fortunately...and so on.

Yes, our country is unfortunately going through hard times, courtesy of George W. Bush.  But the good news is our country is fortunately coming out of the hard times, courtesy of Barack Obama.  Unfortunately some people don't understand that the way our world is changing is actually good for us.  Fortunately they're being saved financially in spite of that by government regulations and bailouts.  Unfortunately cynical wealthy individuals and corporations are willing to manipulate public opinion to suit their own ends (i.e., more wealth for themselves, and the middle class be damned), and politicians are willing to go along with that to suit their own ends (i.e., same as the rich people and companies)...and so on.

Comparing Barack Obama to Fidel Castro, our current political situation to Nazi Germany, and Michelle Malkin to an insightful and truthful writer---all are travesties. 

What's funny is that there's some truth mixed in with the lies: Corruption IS indeed a problem in our government. But Christians are not "next" on anybody's "list," while Muslims are being arrested and held without charge simply for being Muslims. Political leaders DO change their policies once in office, George H.W. Bush being a prime example of that. 

But General Motors being nationalized? What irony! Obviously your email correspondent isn't up on the news: The U.S. government did indeed bail out General Motors, which saved the company, saved hundreds of jobs, brought a huge profit which means it will soon be able to pay back its debt to us (yes, us, the U.S. government, us, we the people) --- and the result is that GM made a record profit of $7.6 billion in 2011 and was able to give bonuses to its working-middle-class assembly-line employees of about $7,000 each.

Please, Dear Readers, pay attention and distinguish between truth and inflammatory lies, and pass the truth on to everyone who will accept it.

God bless us all,

Madame L

Monday, February 20, 2012

Church Statement on Jewish Names in Genealogy Database

Dear Madame L,

I know you're not a leader in the L.D. S. Church, and I appreciate what you wrote about the fuss over some genealogical work being done by the church for people whose friends or descendants didn't think they would appreciate it. 

But has your church come out with a statement about this issue?


Thinks It's Important

Dear Thinks It's Important,

Madame L thanks you for your question. At the time she wrote her answer to your question about this issue, in her post titled "Baptisms for the Dead and Elie Wiesel," she wasn't aware of the Church's position on the issue. 

Reading your new question, however, prompted Madame L to go to the Church's official website,, to see if there was such a position statement, and there is.

In the statement, Church leaders reiterates, "Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited...In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database.  Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted...In a few instances, names have been submitted in violation of policy.  Whether this is done by simple error or for other reasons, the Church considers these submissions to be a serious breach of protocol."

The statement concludes, "It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention.  The Church will continue to do all it can to prevent such instances, including denying access to these genealogical records or other privileges to those who abuse them in this way."

Madame L thanks you again, Dear and Gentle Reader, for asking this question, giving her a chance to learn more about the Church's policy for herself as well as you, so she can answer her friends' questions about this.


Madame L

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Book Review, Sunday, February 19, 2012: Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast

As Madame L promised Aunt Louise's readers on Friday, after seeing the Disney national touring musical of "Beauty and the Beast," she's been re-reading some other versions of the story.

One of Madame L's favorites remains the book by Robin McKinley: "Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast" (available new in paperback for $5.99 and used for as little as one red cent from

In this version, a wealthy merchant has three daughters, Grace, Hope, and Honour. Honour, the youngest, asked when she was a young girl to be called "Beauty," and the name stuck. 

So, those details are different. But once the father is trapped in the castle of the Beast, this detail is the same: Beauty begs and demands to be his replacement there. 

Madame L likes the fact that the bully-bad-guy-clownish-but-arrogant body-building lout, Gaston, is missing from this version. She understands the need for a character like him in a stage or screen version, but doesn't think he's necessary in the real story. (Madame L is a romantic, but she doesn't think a romantic story always has to have a loutish beau for the beautiful princess to reject before she finds the right guy, any more than this plot point is necessary in anyone's real romantic life.)

But mostly what Madame L likes about Robin McKinley's version is the beauty with which the story is told. Madame L recommends it highly for all her readers.

Bonus: While Madame L was researching the story online, she found this script for the Disney Broadway show.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Does the Quran Really Sanction Murder?

Dear Madame L,

I heard on the news today (Thurs., Feb. 16) that Umar Farouk Abdulmutalla, the so-called Underwear Bomber, claimed that the Quran says it's okay for Muslims to kill non-Muslims. Is that really true?


Thought Muslims Were People of the Book

Dear Person of the Book,

Madame L is no expert on Islam or the Quran or its teachings. Quite the contrary, in fact. Therefore, Madame L doesn't want to get in an argument with anyone on either side of this issue, though Madame L would like to hear from anyone has any thoughtful, informed, and civil comments to make about this issue.

It is Madame L's understanding that Islam does not teach that killing people is acceptable except in war or self-defense.  Madame L has been told by Muslim friends that the "jihad" or "holy war" so often mentioned by terrorists refers in fact to the internal struggle every individual undergoes to subdue evil tendencies and replace them with thoughts and actions that are acceptable to God.

Madame L believes that in fact the terrorists who wage "jihad" against non-Muslims aren't doing this from any "holy" motivation, but rather are acting from anger and hatred and a misunderstanding of Islam. By the way, the word formed by the consonants "s-l-m," in a religious context,  means "voluntary submission to God," and  Allah, the God of the Quran, the same God worshiped by Jews and Christians, abhors murder.  So it's hard to accept the idea that that same God actually approves of any of His followers committing murder or any terrorist acts.

Madame L has read that many recruits to the various pseudo-Islamic terrorist groups are actually unschooled in Islam and are recruited for that very reason. While Madame L cannot find the source for her original reading on this, she has found this quote from the online journal Middle East Forum: "Among Islamists, conspiracy theories thrive, reinforced by influential preachers unschooled in the ways of the West."

Madame L recommends this article for those who want to understand more about the way that terrorists justify their terrorist acts. In fact, terrorism, including hostage-taking and murder, consists of a series of tactics used to gain political and social power. It has no actual religious justification, any more than any such act if it were committed by someone of another faith.

Finally, Madame L  notes that the term "People of the Book" ("Ahl al-Kitāb") refers to people of the non-Muslim monotheistic religions: Jews, Sabians, and Christians---all the people who believe in the God of Abraham and/or are descended literally or spiritually from Abraham. These people are supposed to be at least tolerated by Muslims, as these quotes indicate:  

"And there are, certainly, among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), those who believe in God and in that which has been revealed to you, and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before God. They do not sell the Verses of God for a little price, for them is a reward with their Lord. Surely, God is Swift in account." (Quran 3:199)

"And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit." (Quran 29:46) 

"Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Quran 2:62)

"Those who follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Sabians, Christians, Magians and Polytheists — God will judge them On the Day of Judgement" (Quran 22:17).

Madame L prays that all of us will be tolerant of those of other faiths and let God judge everyone, rather than attempting to pass judgment and punishment on people who are different from us.


Madame L

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baptisms for the Dead and Elie Wiesel

Dear Madame L,

I hear what you're saying about freedom of religion, but why does the Mormon church keep performing baptisms for the dead for people who probably wouldn't have been interested in the Mormon church when they were alive? 

And the church keeps doing this even though Jewish Holocaust survivors, including Elie Wiesel, have asked the church to stop doing it.


Not Everyone Is A Believer

Dear Not Everyone,

Madame L does not represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormon church") so she cannot speak for the church.

However, Madame L has done a little research into this issue, including watching MSNBC's "The Last Word" on Wed., Feb. 15, where Lawrence O'Donnell addressed the issue with an interview with 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel.

Madame L notes also that the L.D.S. Church does NOT sanction or authorize the submitting of names of Jewish Holocaust survivors or any Jews whose descendants are living to its program of temple work for the dead. 

Even the "former Mormon researcher" Helen Radkey, who brought to the attention of Elie Wiesel that temple work had been performed for his ancestors and former concentration camp inmates, admitted on that show that the Church does not authorize that kind of "genealogical research."

However, even though Ms. Radkey said the church had "reprimanded" the church member(s) who submitted names that shouldn't have been submitted for temple work, she claimed that the church was doing so only as a result of publicity and admitted that "she could not find evidence that" the church had reprimanded people who did this in the past. 

Madame L does not claim to know everything about how the LDS church works, but she knows that the church has reprimanded people in the past for submitting names of people who are not their ancestors. Madame L says this because she knows some LDS church members who tried to submit names of people who were not their ancestors for temple work to be done, and who were indeed reprimanded.

Madame L thinks that the reason such a fuss is being made now is not because the church was somehow forced into making a fuss about it but because Ms. Radkey and Mr. O'Donnell and Elie Wiesel made such a fuss about it. Madame L suspects that Ms. Radkey is obsessed with and still gnawing over some bone that the church has long left behind. 

(Here's what one of her sons said about her obsession with the church's genealogical and temple work, according to the Salt Lake Tribune: "She sends us e-mails all the time, I feel bad because we can't read it all. I couldn't care less what Mormons do behind closed doors in their temples. I don't see the impact that [proxy baptism] has. It's all based on a belief system, and, if you don't buy into it, it's not going to move you.")

Madame L thinks that Lawrence O'Donnell and Elie Wiesel have their own reasons for making such a big fuss over the issue. 

Though she declines to speculate on this blog about what those reasons may be, she notes with irony that one of Elie Wiesel's expressed reasons is his distaste over the fact that temple work has been done for Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin; Wiesel added, "I respect their right to practice their religion, but doing work for them?!?" Madame L  sympathizes Wiesel's desire not to be lumped in the same post-mortal bin with monsters, but notes, again (with irony, again), that the Jewish religion, like the Christian religion, preaches love and forgiveness for all, and that if Wiesel really respects Mormons' rights to practice their religion and if he really doesn't believe in their doctrines of post-mortal life and temple work, he probably wouldn't care about which dead people the church is or is not performing baptisms for.

But Madame L knows that not every non-Mormon can have the live-and-let-live attitude of Ms. Radkey's son, which is, to repeat from above: 

 "I couldn't care less what Mormons do behind closed doors in their temples ... It's all based on a belief system, and, if you don't buy into it, it's not going to move you."

Best wishes,

Madame L