(photo by E. Herd)

A walk in the snow,
a lavendar bath,
bedtime tea,
a glass of wine,
positive self-talk,
a workout at the gym,
yoga breaths,
kitty hugs

nothing works

some things
just have to be
gotten through
before the fear
goes away

Pat Robertson: Fifty Shades of Weird

blue demon

Jack Keene

Pat Robertson, former Baptist preacher, media mogul and founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network (“CBN”) warns us of demons in the thrift store. His program can be seen in 200 countries and can be heard in 70 languages. His 700 Club program is seen daily by about one million people. One viewer wrote in for advice on the demon matter:

“I buy a lot of clothes and other items at Goodwill and other secondhand shops. Recently my mom told me that I need to pray over the items, bind familiar spirits, and bless the items before I bring them into the house. Is my mother correct? Can demons attach themselves to material items?”

Robertson’s answer:

”Can demonic spirits attach themselves to inanimate objects? The answer is yes. But I don’t think every sweater you get from Goodwill has demons in it. In a sense your mother is just being super cautious, so hey — it isn’t gonna hurt you any to rebuke any spirits that might attach themselves to those clothes.”

Well, there you have it. Demons can insinuate themselves into moth-eaten sweaters. Is there a scientific basis for this belief? Oh, no, not since Creationism undermines Christianity. Never mind, no need to think. What are the markers for demonized apparel, and what will happen if we forget to pray over it? Pat, we need answers! I will certainly avoid Goodwill from now on. And what about the Salvation Army? Do they offer demon-free apparel?

He leads the fold on a path of righteous ignorance, and ignorance goes hand in hand with fear. As my husband aptly pointed out, the only “sin” in Buddhism is ignorance. But I don’t believe Robertson believes in the Buddha.

More on Demons
Pat also advised a mother of the possible repercussion s of her daughter posting fetal ultrasound photos on Facebook:

“I don’t think there is any harm in it,” he said. “But I tell you, there are demons and there are evil people in the world, and you post a picture like that and some cultist gets hold of it or a coven and they begin muttering curses against an unborn child. You never know what somebody’s going to do.”

Okay, so no thrift stores and no fetal photos on Facebook. What else have we to fear?

Fifty Shades of Demons, I Mean “Grey
Charisma pundit and director of Messiah’s Mandate International, Ron Cantor, cautions on the dangers of Fifty Shades of Grey. (Note: I have neither read the book nor seen the film, so I am not biased.)

An excerpt from Cantor’s warning:

“I want to strongly encourage you: DON’T GIVE IN! It is a gateway to demonic bondage. Don’t open the door! As Paul warns “Don’t give the devil a foothold” (Eph. 4:27). Going to this movie could be the beginning of years of sexual bondage (and I mean bondage in bad way!). Again, don’t open the door.”

Okay, so no thrift store clothing, no fetal photos on Facebook and no Fifty Shades of Grey.

Even though I haven’t seen the film nor read the book, I wonder how either can start you on a downward trajectory towards “demonic” bondage. So. Fifty Shades is to demonic sexual bondage what marijuana is to heroin? Is it possible that the demons involved in bondage slithered out of the clothes from Goodwill you forgot to pray over before bringing into your home? Are demons good in bed? So many questions.

Here’s what Pat Robertson has to say about Fifty Shades:

 “. . . an unbelievable story of sadomasochistic bondage of women.”

“It’s about all kinds of sadomasochism, it’s about bondage, about whips, it’s about boiling oil, it’s about various types of restraints,” he explained on “The 700 Club.”

Well, if Pat Robertson says it’s true, that’s good enough for me.



Don’t Smile for the Camera at the DMV

Lodi DMV


This morning I went to the DMV in Lodi to renew my driver’s license, arriving at around 8 a.m. After presenting and having my 6 points of ID approved at Checkpoint 1, I was given a cardboard number 30 and asked to sit down and wait for my number to be called. A group of middle-aged white men had gathered in front of us sitting “waiters.” One was all in black with a holstered gun. An armed security guard in blue manned the information podium in front.

I scanned the room for African Americans. I was praying that none of them would pose a threat, seen or unseen, and get shot by either the man in black or the man in blue. Can’t help it, my mind’s been going in that direction these days.

The man in black said loudly, “When I was in Korea during the war, I saw this guy take a cat and knock it on the head, then hang it upside down and skin it. (pause) I thought I was in a pet shop.” The guys in the circle roared with laughter. “A pet shop!” the man in black said.

It was too early in the morning to fully digest this kind of information. It felt like the rest of us were intruding on a good ole boys circle, or maybe they belonged in a fraternity lodge somewhere. I imagined them in the woods guffawing, hunting deer and doing other manly things—not that there’s anything wrong with that.

One of the middle-aged men engaged in conversation with the middle-aged white man sitting next to me, who was with his wife.

“I was in Ramsey yesterday afternoon, and the high school was on lockdown. Not sure what was going on.” the standing man said.

“Don’t know,” the other man said.

The man in black strutted up and down the floor like a peacock–patrolling, it seemed.

“Number 28, 29, 30,” the woman at Checkpoint 2 called.

She said, “There’s a glitch in the computer system. That’s why it’s taking so long. I don’t understand—new computers and it takes longer.”

“Yes, I know.” I said, smiling. “I work with computers at my job too.”

It was a bit of a wait. I was there till almost 10 o’clock.

I made sure to “put on my face” before leaving the house, knowing they would be taking my photo for the new license and not feeling very photogenic.

A bespectacled woman with a lovely smile called me to window 6, and said “Hi.” She was much softer than the surrounding atmosphere, a breath of fresh air. I gave her my 6 points of ID and read a sign on the wall, “When posing for your photo, please keep a neutral expression.” Six photos of people of varying ages, sexes and races above the text demonstrated what a “neutral” expression was. None looked cheerful. I carefully studied their expressions: I can do that. Stay neutral, don’t call attention to yourself. There’s reason for this: the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission’s facial recognition technology software can only recognize a “poker face,” not a smile. This new technology is meant to combat drivers license fraud.

I succeeded on the first take. I was neutral with a dash of Serial Mom, and a slight turkey neck. Maybe it’s time for a neck lift. The woman with the lovely smile kept my new photo on the screen for awhile, almost too long. I didn’t want other people to see the photo, but it gave me time to study my wrinkles and neck.

“Is it okay?” she said.

“Yes, it’s fine. Can you remove the wrinkles?” I said.

She smiled warmly, “We do that on Saturdays.”

I paid the $24 and took my receipt. The lady said, “Happy Holidays!”

“Same to you,” I said, not afraid to smile now.

Next time you’re at the DMV, don’t smile for the camera.

Zen Bus Driver

Ralph Kramden statue at rush hour (evening)

Ralph Kramden statue at rush hour (evening)  (photo by Erica Herd)

I took the early bus to work this morning, the 7:45 which arrives at 7:43. I wasn’t feeling great – have a pinched nerve in my neck, I think, but I hunkered down in my seat, and continued reading Gone Girl on my iPad. My seat mate wore a floral dress and crocheted black shawl and big dark glasses, her mop of dark bangs curtaining the lenses as she read a paperback. All in all, a serene and uneventful trip.

The New Jersey Transit bus drivers are a varying lot: some are gruff, some friendly, some unintelligible. Our Christian driver says over the intercom, “Enjoy the grace of God” and wishes us a “blessed day” as we depart. One driver acts as a tour guide, remarking on the forsythias on the side of the side of the turnpike and how they only bloom in spring. When she was our nighttime driver, she announced each stop (which not all the drivers do) in an erotic, bordering on pornographic purr: “Summit Avenue and Prospect, Summ-iiiit Aaav-e-nuuuue.” Commuters giggled and laughed out loud, but she didn’t seem to notice or care. She would give some of the male passengers a “ come hither” ogle as they departed. I haven’t seen her in a while, perhaps she retired.

Today the driver was silent until we reached our destination, Port Authority (aka “PA”). As we pulled in, he announced over the intercom, “Please remember to take all your belongings and have a peaceful and mindful day.”

Now that’s a first! What a refreshing change from the Big Brother announcements in PA and signs that say “If you see something, say something,” and the “TEXT AGAINST TERROR” campaign: “NJ TRANSIT Reminds Customers to Report Suspicious Activity at 1-888-TIPS-NJT.”

(photo credit: KnowAddiction.nj.gov)

There’s also a NJ marketing campaign to fight heroin abuse. Some buses tout the sign, “Your medicine cabinet could be the gateway to heroin.” More fear, another “war” against something. I’ve made it a personal crusade to fight against the Fear Campaigns. I’m not living in denial. I know there are terrible things going on in the world, but I’m tired of the Fear Bullying. I agree with the bus driver, let’s not have a “safe” day as they say on the MTA, but a “peaceful and mindful” one. We can be aware without allowing ourselves to be terrorized by another “war” or campaign.

Fear: It’s What’s for Breakfast

CBS news team

“What’s the point of truth or beauty or knowledge
when anthrax bombs are popping all around you?”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

The CBS morning news smacks me awake with cold FEAR, aside from weather with my favorite meteorologist John Elliott, traffic updates with Jill Nicolini and Alex Denis’s delightful-bordering-on-daft “Now Trending” segment. Before I have a chance to grab my morning Joe, I swallow FEAR in the guise of ISIS, Ebola, Enterovirus, a fire in Paterson, carjacking / police shootout in front of Sleepy’s in Paramus, baby black bear found dead in Central Park, a stabbing in Jamaica, Queens, on and on. Fear is what’s for breakfast or what Charlie Rose calls, “your world in 90 seconds.”

Of course, I can shut off the Fear Channel whenever I choose. It’s on when I drive my husband to the bus stop in my pajamas, then I do some stretches and soak in more . . . FEAR. After that I tune into Soundscapes, the New Age music station, and go upstairs to shower. The cats prefer Soundscapes, at least that’s what an animal behaviorist told me. She said they are most soothed by New Age music. Back to Fear.

This morning Charlie Rose asked chief medical correspondent Dr. John LaPook, “What is the worst case scenario?” Norah O’Donnell nods, almost salivating.

LaPook makes it plain that there is little to no chance of an Ebola outbreak on our shores. One look at Charlie’s furrowed brow and we can tell LaPook’s response does not satisfy him. Does he want Ebola in America?

Todd Kincannon’s answer to Ebola is the most straightforward: Kill (“humanely”) everyone who has contracted the disease.

Governor Rick Perry, whom people seem to take more seriously since he donned glasses, has assured Texans he has set up a “task force” to deal with Ebola, now that it has hit home, literally.

In between the sound bites of Fear, commercials are yelling at me: call 1-800-MATTRESS, call  1-800-STEEMER, with the accompanying jingle, “Call 1 800 Steemer, Stanley Steamer gets your home cleaner.” They want me to give my car to a kid, and they sing,“1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, 1 877 Kars for Kids, Donate your car (kar?) today.” It’s a catchy tune, but I need my car (kar?)!

At last, I switch to the Soundscapes channel which once offered bucolic visuals along with tranquil music with titles like “Sensual Afterludes” and “Zen Dreaming.” Now there’s a black screen with ads popping up offering deals on catheters, telling me who to call if my house is facing foreclosure and who to call if the IRS or collection agency is after me. Help!

I don’t know where to turn. I want to get the weather, traffic report, a sweet, harmless tidbit from Alex Denis, and a smidgen of real news that isn’t fear-based. Of course. there’s WBAI which I can listen to in the car, but it’s often an endless fundraising-a-thon. Perhaps silence is best. Looking out the window upon waking, my kitties in tow, I can determine the weather based on the coolness of their eraser noses, or check my iPhone. But I’ll miss John Elliott, who not only provides weather with a smile, but tells me it’s National Bring Your Ferret to Work Day. He must have a book that he refers to because every day is a holiday with him. And Jill Nicolini announced she’s pregnant this morning. Congratulations, Jill! And it’s a boy!

Okay, now I’m being daft. All I want in the morning is coffee, a dose of visual and audio pablum, and to trundle off to the bus stop, catch the 163 and not be terrorized before reaching Port Authority. Is that too much to ask?