Out of Left Field or Out of Touch With Reality?

I’m less enthused about Jesse Jackson’s public support of Terri Schiavo than Jerry is. The reverend is, in my opinion, a media whore and skipper of the "rent a mob" crew and Al Sharpton is his first mate. Want to present a lot of angry faces and voices for the cameras? Need someone to yell "Oppression!" with you? Is your bombast not bombastic enough? If you’re not concerned about nitty-gritty details like respectability, credibility, and sincerity, they’re your men. If I found out either of those clowns supported a cause dear to me, I’d ask God to grant them the good sense to keep their mouths shut, at least when reporters are present.

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About Funky Dung

Who is Funky Dung? 29-year-old grad student in Intelligent Systems (A.I.) at the University of Pittsburgh. I consider myself to be politically moderate and independent and somewhere between a traditional and neo-traditional Catholic. I was raised Lutheran, spent a number of years as an agnostic, and joined the Catholic Church at the 2000 Easter Vigil. Why Funky Dung? I haven't been asked this question nearly as many times as you or I might expect. Funky Dung is a reference to an obscure Pink Floyd song. On the album Atom Heart Mother, there is a track called Atom Heart Mother Suite. It's broken up into movements, like a symphony, and one of the movements is called Funky Dung. I picked that nickname a long time ago (while I was still in high school I think), shortly after getting an internet connection for the first time. To me it means "cool/neat/groovy/spiffy stuff/crap/shiznit", as in "That's some cool stuff, dude!" Whence Ales Rarus? I used to enjoy making people guess what this means, but I've decided to relent and make it known to all. Ales Rarus is a Latin play on words. "Avis rarus" means "a rare bird" and carries similar meaning to "an odd fellow". "Ales" is another Latin word for bird that carries connotations of omens, signs of the times, and/or augery. If you want to get technical, both "avis" and "ales" are feminine (requiring "rara", but they can be made masculine in poetry (which tends to breaks lots of rules). I decided I'd rather have a masculine name in Latin. ;) Yeah, I'm a nerd. So what? :-P Wherefore blog? It is my intention to "teach in order to lead others to faith" by being always "on the lookout for occasions of announcing Christ by word, either to unbelievers . . . or to the faithful" through the "use of the communications media". I also act knowing that I "have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors [my] opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and [I] have a right to make [my] opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward [my and their] pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons." (adapted from CCC 904-907) Statement of Faith I have been baptized and confirmed in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I, therefore, renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements. I hold and profess all that is contained in the Apostles' Creed, the Niceno- Constantinopolitan Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church. I am obedient to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That is, I promote and defend authentic Catholic Teaching and Faith in union with Christ and His Church and in union with the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St. Peter. Thanks be unto Thee, O my God, for all Thy infinite goodness, and, especially, for the love Thou hast shown unto me at my Confirmation. I Give Thee thanks that Thou didst then send down Thy Holy Spirit unto my soul with all His gifts and graces. May He take full possession of me for ever. May His divine unction cause my face to shine. May His heavenly wisdom reign in my heart. May His understanding enlighten my darkness. May His counsel guide me. May His knowledge instruct me. May His piety make me fervent. May His divine fear keep me from all evil. Drive from my soul, O Lord, all that may defile it. Give me grace to be Thy faithful soldier, that having fought the good fight of faith, I may be brought to the crown of everlasting life, through the merits of Thy dearly beloved Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Behind the Curtain: an Interview With Funky Dung (Thursday, March 03, 2005) I try to avoid most memes that make their way 'round the blogosphere (We really do need a better name, don't we?), but some are worth participating in. Take for instance the "interview game" that's the talk o' the 'sphere. I think it's a great way to get to know the people in neighborhood. Who are the people in your neighborhood? In your neighborhod? In your neigh-bor-hoo-ood...*smack* Sorry, Sesame Street flashback. Anyhow, I saw Jeff "Curt Jester" Miller's answers and figured since he's a regular reader of mine he'd be a good interviewer. Without further ado, here are my answers to his questions. 1. Being that your pseudonym Funky Dung was chosen from a Pink Floyd track on Atom Heart Mother, what is you favorite Pink Floyd song and why? Wow. That's a tuffy. It's hard to pick out a single favorite. Pink Floyd isn't really a band known for singles. They mostly did album rock and my appreciation of them is mostly of a gestalt nature. If I had to pick one, though, it'd be "Comfortably Numb". I get chills up my spine every time I hear it and if it's been long enough since the last time, I get midty-eyed. I really don't know why. That's a rather unsatisfying answer for an interview, so here are the lyrics to a Rush song. It's not their best piece of music, but the lyrics describe me pretty well.

New World Man He's a rebel and a runner He's a signal turning green He's a restless young romantic Wants to run the big machine He's got a problem with his poisons But you know he'll find a cure He's cleaning up his systems To keep his nature pure Learning to match the beat of the old world man Learning to catch the heat of the third world man He's got to make his own mistakes And learn to mend the mess he makes He's old enough to know what's right But young enough not to choose it He's noble enough to win the world But weak enough to lose it --- He's a new world man... He's a radio receiver Tuned to factories and farms He's a writer and arranger And a young boy bearing arms He's got a problem with his power With weapons on patrol He's got to walk a fine line And keep his self-control Trying to save the day for the old world man Trying to pave the way for the third world man He's not concerned with yesterday He knows constant change is here today He's noble enough to know what's right But weak enough not to choose it He's wise enough to win the world But fool enough to lose it --- He's a new world man...
2. What do you consider your most important turning point from agnosticism to the Catholic Church. At some point in '99, I started attending RCIA at the Pittsburgh Oratory. I mostly went to ask a lot of obnoxious Protestant questions. Or at least that's what I told myself. I think deep down I wanted desperately to have faith again. At that point I think I'd decided that if any variety of Christianity had the Truth, the Catholic Church did. Protestantism's wholesale rejection of 1500 years of tradition didn't sit well with me, even as a former Lutheran. During class one week, Sister Bernadette Young (who runs the program) passed out thin booklet called "Handbook for Today's Catholic". One paragraph in that book spoke to me and I nearly cried as I read it.
"A person who is seeking deeper insight into reality may sometimes have doubts, even about God himself. Such doubts do not necessarily indicate lack of faith. They may be just the opposite - a sign of growing faith. Faith is alive and dynamic. It seeks, through grace, to penetrate into the very mystery of God. If a particular doctrine of faith no longer 'makes sense' to a person, the person should go right on seeking. To know what a doctrine says is one thing. To gain insight into its meaning through the gift of understanding is something else. When in doubt, 'Seek and you will find.' The person who seeks y reading, discussing, thinking, or praying eventually sees the light. The person who talks to God even when God is 'not there' is alive with faith."
At the end of class I told Sr. Bernadette that I wanted to enter the Church at the next Easter vigil. 3. If you were a tree what kind of, oh sorry about that .. what is the PODest thing you have ever done? I set up WikiIndex, a clearinghouse for reviews of theological books, good, bad, and ugly. It has a long way to go, but it'll be cool when it's finished. :) 4. What is your favorite quote from Venerable John Henry Newman? "Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt." 5. If you could ban one hymn from existence, what would it be? That's a tough one. As a member of the Society for a Moratorium on the Music of Marty Haugen and David Haas, there are obviously a lot of songs that grate on my nerves. If I had to pick one, though, I'd probably pick "Sing of the Lord's Goodness" by Ernie Sands.

33 thoughts on “Out of Left Field or Out of Touch With Reality?

  1. howard

    “Either you have a warped sense of ‘balanced’ or Mr Terry is a pretty screwed up guy.”

    Mr. Terry is a pretty screwed up guy, Funky, and this is coming from someone who is in basic agreement with his stances on a lot of things. I’ve been following his exploits since the days when he almost scared me away from the pro-life movement altogether. He may well belong in class of “advocates” below even the level of a Jesse Jackson.

    That said, if God could use a donkey on the roadside to get through to His own prophet, then I suppose either Randall Terry or Jesse Jackson could also be used by God for whatever He chooses.

  2. Matt

    “The reverend is, in my opinion, a media whore and skipper of the “rent a mob” crew… Want to present a lot of angry faces and voices for the cameras? Need someone to yell “Oppression!” with you? Is your bombast not bombastic enough? If you’re not concerned about nitty-gritty details like respectability, credibility, and sincerity, they’re your men.”

    Doesn’t every single description here also apply to Randall Terry?

  3. Funky Dung

    1) Jackson and Sharpton ought to be just about the last people blacks should want to champion their causes.

    2) What am I saying? What the heck does color have to do with any of this?!? I called J and S “clowns”, not “black clowns”. If a notable white, yellow, brown, or purple-with-polka-dots media whore caught my attention, I’d have said something about them, too. As it so happens, I only know about Jackson because of Jerry. If you’d like to present a case for particular white, or any other color, media whores in the Schiavo case, by all means do so. Try to provide support for you claims. As for mine, I think Jackson’s reputation speaks for itself. Jerry does make a good point, though, about the seeming incongruity of his support for Terri’s cause.

    3) Pardon me for not assuming that Congress was only grandstanding rather than showing a real desire to help Terri Schiavo. Maybe they were, but I don’t know that for certain, so I’ll give them benefit of the doubt for now. Remember, I’m not part of their “base”, so if they were rallying voting forces, I was oblivious. I’ll be voting for Casey over Santorum in ’06. Besides, it’s not impossible for a person or group to both care deeply about a cause and alos find it to be poltically convenient. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    4) I never cease to be amazed at how duped, sucked-in, and easily manipulated hard-core conservatives and liberals are. I get lots of mail from both sides – newletters, petitions, etc – because I like to stay balanced. Just about every day I marvel at the troop-rallying rhetoric used by both sides. I shake my head as the lemmings instictively follow each other to edge of a cliff. Where am I going with these images? Well, look at how liberal panties are in a knot over what Congress did. I’ve heard hardly a liberal soul say that any of them had even an ounce of real concern for Terri. It’s been a loud chorus of “Grandstanding!” across the board with nary a unique thought in the bunch.

    5) I’ll freely admit that sometimes I’m more blind to conservative group-think than liberal group-think. I’ve been reading a lot of conservative blogs lately. It hasn’t been intentional, really. It’s just a consequence of who reads me – a kind of six degrees of separation thing. I recently put the call to my readers for liberal bloggers with traditional, orthodox Christian views in an effort to broaden my horizons. Feel free to join that effort.

  4. Jerry Nora

    After all, when a patient with a–I’ll be generous–debatable neurological diagnosis has her decisions and rights manhandled like they’ve been, it’s a cause for concern, and traditionally this has been something liberals have been better about working on. Alas, the rhetoric used by Michael Schiavo’s supporters was similar to the Roe v. Wade or Griswold v. Connecticutt decisions, and so that finished off most liberal opposition to this mess.

  5. John

    Conservative White Bandwagon.
    For a start, the Republican slate of Congresspersons.
    That’s not an exhaustive list. But it’s a damn good start.

    If they actually gave a damn they could have passed a law ordering the tube be put back in. It would be Constitutionally iffy, but not nearly as muchso as the law they did pass.

    They didn’t want he to live, she is more politically useful to them as a martyr.

  6. Matt

    He chose to defend himself, though, in an outlet that had a much higher visibility factor than the one in which he was attacked. I mean, the readership of Out Magazine vs. the Washington Times?

    And, besides, if this isn’t airing “dirty laundry”:

    “He was recently arrested for DWI; he’s writing bad checks on a closed bank account; he dropped out of school a year ago; he doesn’t have a job; he bounces from house to house; he’s racked-up huge bills for friends and family that he cannot pay; he’s been taken to court by former friends to get money he owes them; he’s lied to friends, saying his “famous dad” was going to send money to pay his debts; and he has a trail of wrecked friendships and family relationships because of deceit, money fraud and crossed boundaries — a mirror image of the home he was in from his birth until he was 8.”

    …then I’m not sure what is.

    Again, though, this is all a side issue to my larger point.

  7. Matt

    I agree that it wasn’t balanced (when I wrote the first sentence, I was still looking for articles). But as it was just factual info, without any commentary, I thought it was worth posting.

    Again, the CNN piece is the most balanced I’ve seen, having a fair number of actual quotes from Terry. Sorry if you haven’t gotten a chance to watch it yet.

  8. Matt

    I brought it up because Funky Dung asserted that the only reason Jesse Jackson was involved was because he was a “media whore” (a point I don’t dispute). However, the only reason anyone outside of the Schaivo/Schindler circle (or, to be generous, Florida) knows about this case is because of another “media whore,” Randall Terry–brought in by the family precisely because he is a “media whore.”

    If you don’t feel that piece of information is pertinent, then what’s the point in attacking Jackson (and I know you didn’t, Jerry)?

  9. Matt

    I don’t have a print one handy, unfortunately. But I highly recommend the CNN video. He is very upfront about the fact that the Schindlers hired him due to the fact that he would attract media and publicity.

    As far as him not wanting to draw attention to himself, I don’t buy it. Do a little reading on why he spent some time in jail in the 90s.

  10. Jerry Nora

    I don’t know about white conservatives renting out a mob, and I do share Funky’s general dislike of Jackson. In fact, when I saw the Franciscan who was advising Terri’s parents, I thought “Hey! Isn’t that Jackson’s job, being a pastor to famous?” I busted out laughing, or at any rate grinned, when I saw that Jackson did in fact gravitate to this case.

    However, I am not sure if his intentions are wholly whorish… This debate has often been framed about people’s right to choose what to do with their bodies, hence why liberals have often rallied behind Michael Schiavo. Rev. Jackson is notable for having whored his views on abortion (he once spoke at National Right to Life Council meetings) in order to be a Democratic candidate for president (we have it on good authority that selling one’s soul to gain the world is a bad deal, so how sad is it when one sells one’s soul to be a failed presidential candidate? Rep. Kucinich falls in this pitiful category as well, though he succeed at being totally irrelevant as a candidate, whereas Jackson at least kept up a presence for a little while).

    Okay, that parenthetical comment went on too long. At any rate, this actually runs counter towards much of the groupthink that Rev. Jackson has bought into for the past couple decades, so perhaps there is some good will behind it, and not just grandstanding. I presented his article as a counterexample (along with Hentoff, and atheist whose character is not so easily impugned as the reverend’s) to those invoking a conservative vs. liberal mythos for this all.

  11. Funky Dung

    I found this Beliefnet interview with Randall Terry. It’s an interesting read.

    “There are three options when you find out a family member is homosexual. One is accept them and their lifestyle as if it’s normal. Two is to reject them and sever your relationship. Three is to love them unconditionally, but to tell them you do not accept their behavior as normal, and to tell them the truth.”


  12. Funky Dung

    I hesitate to call him a media based on the interview. He repeatedly tells the interviewer that he doesn’t want to air his son’s dirty laundry in public. If he’s so much like Jackson, I’d have expected him to milk his son’s outing for all it’s worth, but he didn’t. He doesn’t want a private matter to be discussed too much publicly. I respect that.

    I’ll hopefully have time after work to check out the video. In the meantime, could you hook me with some balanced articles? I’m not looking for glowing praise or diatribe. I just want a fairly reported article about a guy I’d never heard of before today.

  13. Funky Dung

    I just read the Wikipedia entry. Either you have a warped sense of “balanced” or Mr Terry is a pretty screwed up guy. The article article doesn’t give me any sense of whether or not he’s a media whore, but he doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy I want rooting for my causes.

  14. Funky Dung

    I knew I was setting myself up when I admitted to not knowing who someone was. I decided that honesty is the best policy.

    I think it’s worth pointing out that most Americans – on boths sides of the issue – probably aren’t well-versed in the facts/history of this case. I don’t watch news or read newspapers all day to keep myself abreast of case developments. Whenever I have seen or read anything, the voices and opinions I’ve been exposed to have been mostly those of the Schindler family, Michael Schiavo, and George Felos. In the last couple weeks, I haven’t heard Mr. Terry’s name mentioned even once.

  15. Funky Dung

    I read the op-ed. I think he was justified given what his son did. Terry hints at a lot but leaves out most details regarding his son’s life prior to being adopted. If he was out for publicity, he could have easily exploited those details. Compared to what his son wrote, it’s pretty tame. He was protecting his reputation against what he feels are lies and distortions.

  16. John

    I’m still anxiously awaiting an explanation why Congress didn’t just order the tube put back in. The only theory that I see fitting the data is that they like having her as a martyr more than they like having her alive.

  17. Matt

    I’ve been looking for some balanced articles on Randall Terry. Here’s a few I came up with.

    His Wikipedia entry – not really complete, but it’s got some biographical info.


    And, geez, that’s about it through 7 pages of Googling. Everything out there seems to fall under the headings of a) hatchet job, or b) hagiography. The CNN piece is still the most balanced, informative thing I’ve seen.

  18. John

    If they genuinely wanted to save her, why didn’t they enact legislation ordering the feeding tube to be put back in?

    They knew that if it went to a Federal Court the judge would make the same ruling as the Floriday jugde did, because that’s what the law said.

  19. Jerry Nora

    John, the state of FL did explicitly order for it to go back in, but it got shot down in December. Congress was also wary (as was I) about meddling too specifically in this case, lest we set a disastrous precedent for other cases.

    “Hard cases make bad laws”–Oliver Wendell Holmes. I keep thinking of this quote with regard to Terri, may she rest in peace. Congress, to its credit, seemed wary (at least with many people on both sides of the aisle) of legislating too broad an act to help Terri–to do so would only increase the chances of the court’s shooting it down anyway.

  20. Matt

    The original language of the bill did force the tube back in. The language was changed. Congress knew exactly what the law required, and what the outs for the court were.

    Funky Dung, any thoughts on whether Randall Terry and Jesse Jackson have anything in common yet?

  21. Kevin

    The Republicans also probably didn’t try to order the tube back because the Democrats in the Senate would have likely fillabustered it too death.

  22. Matt

    The Schindler family spokesman, and the only reason you know about this case at all.

    He has quite the backstory, too. Here’s a CNN bio about him from last week.


    An observation, and I’m honestly not trying to be rude here, but not knowing who Randall Terry is doesn’t indicate to me that you’re very well-versed in the facts/history of this case.

  23. John

    The white conservatives who rented out this mob didn’t seem to bother you as much as Jackson does. If you’re going to be angry at people for crassly capitalizing on the situation. Take all comers.

  24. Jerry Nora

    Um, what does it matter who this Randall Terry guy is? My support for Terri was never predicated on him (or Jackson, whose involvement in this I perhaps should have let go unmentioned, lest we lose sight of the real person of interest).

  25. Matt

    Well, now that you do know who he is, I restate my original question. Can’t all of the negative qualities that you said Jesse Jackson brings to the table be attributed to Randall Terry as well?

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