Happy holidays!

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope Santa comes down your chimney with bundles of joy!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Drawing Dallas • 12.24.10

All we want for Christmas

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator mark@markdrawsfunny.com

In the season of miracles, meet miracle baby Luis Rios

Name and age: Luis “Lulu” Rios, 25

Spotted at: Throckmorton and Rawlins streets

Occupation: Cashier

Sleek and sexy Plano-born Luis Rios is a miracle baby, being born unexpectedly from a mother who had her tubes tied, then surviving a heart murmur and seizures at 5, which led to a major heart operation at 7. Luis came out at 15. “I did my research about how to be gay and what all comes with it. I knew it would be difficult, especially for my mom.” Luis’ family has been amazingly supportive, welcoming his partners and friends as part of the family. “My friends love my parents.” His hobbies include dancing, music, and fire dancing.

The boy with something extra: This enigmatic Libra has a sixth sense, which runs in his family. He has experienced telepathy and sometimes sees the future in dreams. This empathic ability makes him a go-to guy when his friends need psychological counseling. “It’s a gift, and a curse.”

Happy holidays! Luis plans to spend Christmas on the strip, singing R&B and ballad karaoke at Hungdinger.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Northaven UMC’s members tell First Baptist to chill (and have a happy holiday)

I love when an article starts conversations. The Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas story in the Spirituality section of this week’s Dallas Voice about First Baptist Church’s GrinchAlert.com seems to have done just that.

Last week after I spoke to Eric Folkerth, the pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church, he posted something on his Facebook page about it.

He received dozens of comments.

On GrinchAlert, you can rebuke, reprimand, belittle, berate and spew your general hate for working people, many of them minimum wage, who don’t quite greet you the way you want on their busiest working days of the year. After all, what exemplifies Christmas better than trying to get someone fired.

I called Folkerth for my article because Northaven is a mainstream church and is a beneficiary of Black Tie Dinner.

He obviously has no love for First Baptist’s pastor.

One of my favorite comments on his Facebook page came from Jim Lovell, a member of Northaven who is an elementary school music teacher in Plano. Here’s his comment that is one of the most beautiful descriptions of the holiday season that I’ve seen in a long time.

“All this reminds me how much I love my job,” Lovell wrote. “Today, a 6-year old Muslim boy was so proud to give me a Christmas cookie that his mother (who wears a hijab) bought. His beaming face just made my day! Other Muslim children are sporting Santa hats. Some of the favorite songs of our Christian and Hindu children are about dreydls. Everyone is getting along and having a good time. Happy Holidays, one and all! Whatever it is that you’re mad about, give it up!”

Here were some of the other comments.

“Interesting that they are using the secular Grinch to illustrate their religious celebration,” said one.

Interesting indeed. Not just that the Grinch is a secular character, but that the character was created by Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

Geisel began his career as a cartoonist. Before World War II, he warned of discrimination against Japanese-Americans, African-Americans and Jews. I think Dr. Seuss would be horrified at using one of his characters to spew the hatred coming from First Baptist Church.

Other comment’s on the Facebook page of Northaven’s pastor commented on how little the narrow-minded members of First Baptist actually apply the lessons of their religion.

“Don’t they have something more important to spend time and resources on? Cause if they cant think of any, they surely aren’t listening to the world around them,” said one commenter.

But that’s the point of GrinchAlert.com. You need to celebrate Christmas my way.

—  David Taffet

‘Happy Holidays’ vs. ‘Merry Christmas’

Progressive religious leaders weigh in on 1st Baptist’s ‘Grinch Alert’ website, calling it everything from a marketing ploy to just plain mean

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Locally owned Viewpoint Bank is on First Baptist Church’s naughty list. They have poinsettias in their branches, but they don’t have a Christmas tree.

American Airlines made the naughty list because of “excessive use of holiday, no mention of Christmas. With a name like American Airlines, come on.”

Because what’s more American than telling someone else that they need to observe your religion?

Cracker Barrel “includes Santa and Christ in store.” That’s nice according to First Baptist.

Hopefully it’s Santa as we know him today — in the red suit that was created by Coca Cola for a 1935 ad campaign. The red was chosen to match Coke’s corporate color. Apparently, nothing says Christmas like corporate greed to First Baptist.

Previously, Santa was “dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot,” as described in Twas the Night Before Christmas.

To combat the so-called “War on Christmas,” First Baptist Church in Dallas created a new website, GrinchAlert.com, for people to report stores and other service companies that are naughty or nice. Naughty is anyone who greets you with that offensive term, “Happy Holidays.”

The Rev. Steven Pace suggested the website shows that First Baptist isn’t paying attention to the right issues this holiday season.

“I can’t believe an institution with that kind of capacity to do real social action work could concern itself with something so trivial,” Pace said.

“They need something more meaningful to do.”

Yet emphasizing the consumer side of Christmas and penalizing retailers that don’t put Jesus in the middle of their marketing plans is, apparently, exactly what First Baptist wants.

Macy’s in the Galleria is on the naughty list because a single employee in a single transaction returned a customer’s “Merry Christmas” with the offensive “You, too.”

And no doubt it was the Muslim extremists in the small town of Crowley, Texas south of Fort Worth who hung “Happy Holidays” in huge letters in front of city hall. Or was it their massive Jewish population?

“How about peace on earth and good will to all?” suggested the Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC of Greater Dallas. “It’s the kind of thing that gives Christians a bad rap.”

She said that although she’s Christian and celebrates Christ at Christmas, she has Jewish friends whom she wishes Happy Hannukah.

“We want to wish happy holidays and seasons greetings to people of all faiths,” she said.

Darraugh said that by emphasizing what retailers are doing, it emphasized that Christmas was for consumers.

She questioned whether the website’s creators know about the religious part of the holidays … uh, Christmas.
Cantor Don Croll of Temple Shalom in North Dallas said, “So I guess at New York-style delis, they should just say ‘Happy Hanukkah.’”

He pointed out that The Christmas Store in Richardson has a large Hanukkah section and wondered if it offended First Baptist that a store with that name would be selling anything else, or if it should offend Jews to shop in a store with that name?

“I guess I’m old fashioned. I like saying happy holidays and including everybody,” he said.

The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope was aghast at a church’s emphasis on the retail aspect of the holiday rather than the religious part of Christmas.

“It shifts focus from what it should be,” she said.

Hudson suggested more appropriate lessons from a church might be feeding the hungry, caring for the sick or, if retail must be the emphasis, buying toys for poor children.

She admired it as a successful marketing scheme. But questioned whether Christmas be used as such a blatant promotional mechanism by a church?

But Hudson did acknowledge the ploy’s success.

“The website is clever because people have responded to it,” she said.

Northaven United Methodist Church Senior Pastor Eric Folkerth agreed with Hudson, but he questioned whether the campaign appealed to prospective members or the lowest denominator of the church’s base.

“The pastor there has shown himself to be a master of publicity,” Folkerth said. “But it only speaks well to the people they already have.”
Folkerth called the campaign silly, annoying and mean.

“Among his base it sells, but it sells a theology of division. He has a remarkable way of doing divisive things,” Folkerth said, referring to Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church.

Folkerth also suggested that during a recession, the website sends bad signals.

“Given the way the economy is, it’s such a bad message to say we’re not going to this store or that because of a perceived lack of Christian-ness,” he said.Folkerth said that religion should call us to our better natures.

“This doesn’t seem like our better nature,” he said.

“People who are secure in who they are don’t have to impose it on other people,” Hudson said, adding that people of different faiths have more in common than they have differences.

“How you greet people isn’t a measure of your faith,” she said

“How you treat people is.”

She said the GrinchAlert.com website was a good example of people not treating each other well and she found it particularly offensive during Christmas.

“Someone can wish me Happy Holidays and I can wish them Merry Christmas,” Darraugh said.

Taking either of those greetings as anything but best wishes, she said, “flies in the spirit of Christ who brought good will for all.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.17.10

What’s your preferred holiday greeting and why?

……………………………

John Kroll — “I respond however I’m greeted. ‘Merry Christmas’ gets ‘Merry Christmas;’ ‘Happy Hanukah’ gets ‘Happy Hanukah,’ and so on.”

Terry Don — “A hug. No matter the greeting it gets a hug.”

Tomi Kuczynski — “My preferred is ‘Merry Christmas’ because it is what I grew up with and has many memories attached to it. But I also believe in respecting others’ cultures and beliefs by greeting with happy holidays when with an acquaintance or client.”

Courtney Davis — “I say ‘Happy Holidays’ out of respect for someone’s culture and religion. The nasty right wing gets so upset over this. Really?”

Jason A. Walker — “Depends on what holiday it is and what the cultural/religious tradition of the person I’m speaking to is. If I don’t know the person to whom I’m speaking I generally go with ‘hello.’”
………………………..

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com
.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Quite possibly the best pitch to listen to one gay singer’s Christmas tunes

This pitch by out singer Darren Stewart-Jones was one of the best things we saw all week. He’s in a bit of a quandary with his two new Christmas releases. As it turns out, they are the same two songs that are going to be  released by a singer with a much higher profile. So he offered the reasons why LGBT Christmas music lovers should pick his tracks over (or maybe along with) a certain pop star’s.

Subject: Kylie or me…

So, I decide to officially release two Christmas tracks on iTunes this year. A week later, international gay icon Kylie Minogue does the same. And by the same, I mean the exact same two Xmas carols, out of all of the fucking Christmas songs out there. Anyway, I took the liberty of doing some comparison shopping for you. Happy Holidays!

“Santa Baby”
Why you should buy my version…
1.       My version is gay. I mean, the song has always been a little gay but my version is sung by me, a gay man, to Santa, a kind of gay daddy bear, if you will. If you sing along, you don’t have to pretend to be a girl.

2.       Inspired by the It Gets Better project, proceeds from my version go to Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans youth charities, including the LGBT Youth Line here in Canada.

3.       My home-made video on YouTube features naked guys and is really hot!

Why you shouldn’t buy hers…
1.        She is already rich.

2.       Plenty of people will download her version even if you don’t.

3.       She can really grate on your nerves sometimes. Admit it.

“Let It Snow”
Why you should buy my version…
1.       I won’t be making any money from Santa Baby because it is all going to charity so if you download Let It Snow, I actually get some cash.

2.       You really feel a need to support independent, gay artists.

3.       I grew up in Canada so when I sing about snow, I know what I am talking about.

Why you shouldn’t buy hers…
1.       She is already rich.

2.       Plenty of people will download her version even if you don’t.

3.       She is from Australia. What the fuck does she know about snow?

Happy Holidays from Darren Stewart-Jones

Baby Gumm Productions

His cursing isn’t very Christmas spirit-like though. After sampling his music snippets on iTunes, you can compare with these clips of Minogue singing her versions here and find more information about her Dec. 7 holiday release.

—  Rich Lopez

Happy Rockin’ Rosh Hashanah Eve

Crappy wine is part of every Jewish celebration

Rosh Hashanah literally means Head (rosh) of the (ha) Year (shanah) or New Year. The holiday starts at sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 8 this year.

The holiday is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishrei, the seventh month of the year on the Jewish calendar.

So what’s up with that crazy Jewish calendar? Well I thought I’d answer some questions you might have been too polite to ask in the most smart-ass, but accurate, way.

How do I wish someone a good holiday?

That’s the No. 1 I’m asked every year.

Right:

Happy holidays.

Happy New Year.

Happy Rosh Hashanah.

Have a good few days off! See you Monday!

Also appropriate:

Are you getting together with your family?

You going to Florida for a few days?

Tell me again, is this a happy holiday?

Doesn’t God frown on taking a cruise during the holidays rather than going to temple?

Wrong:

You god damn Jews get so many holidays. (However, that’s the one I’ve been greeted with many times by well-meaning … well, you know who you are).

—  David Taffet