The Meming of Life: on secular parenting and other natural wonders

A holiday message from Tiny Tim (Minchin)

And you, my baby girl
My jet-lagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school…
ERIN McGOWAN (12), singing under her breath while waiting for the school bus

I still get close to tears every time I hear this astonishing, lovely song. Tim acknowledges the complexities that swirl around the Christmas holiday for nonbelievers, then lifts deep and simple meaning out of that mess, expressing what this holiday has always meant to me. What a rare and beautiful thing it is.

Enjoy — and whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate it, have a happy and peaceful holiday.

White Wine in the Sun by Tim Minchin
I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know, but I just really like it
I am hardly religious
I’d rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu, to be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, to the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the Westernization of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I’m looking forward to Christmas
Though I’m not expecting a visit from Jesus

I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don’t go in for ancient wisdom
I don’t believe just cause ideas are tenacious it means that they’re worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords but the lyrics are dodgy

And yes I have all of the usual objections
To the miseducation of children who, in tax-exempt institutions,
Are taught to externalize blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs

I’m not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate is just fine by me

‘Cause I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun
I’ll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They’ll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jet-lagged infant daughter
You’ll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won’t understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who’ll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if, my baby girl
When you’re twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You’ll know whatever comes
Your brother and sisters and me and your Mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun
Whenever you come
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We’ll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Waiting for you…
Waiting…

I really like Christmas
It’s sentimental, I know…

Believe it or…look, just believe it.

santabelieveI’ve been in such a good mood lately, and now the Universe is trying to muck it up.

One thing that never fails to pee on my Yule log this time of year is the “Yes, Virginia” editorial. I had so far avoided it, then the wretched thing found me through #@*&% Facebook:

DEAR EDITOR, I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA O’HANLON. 115 W 95th St.

The editor replied:

VIRGINIA, Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

jbNot believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

And so on.

Let’s look at this. A little girl says, “Please tell me the truth.” In response to her direct request, the adult not only lies, but tells the girl that the world would be intolerable and devoid of poetry if this thing he knows to be false were false. And the world coos with delight.

I’m convinced that the roughly six percent of kids who feel “betrayed” when they find out Santa isn’t real most likely had their belief perpetuated beyond its normal course, usually by the parents. I advise parents who do Santa to use a light touch and allow kids to find their way out naturally. They start with tentative questions about this or that aspect of reindeer aerodynamics or house entry. When my son asked how Santa’s sleigh flies, as I described in PBB, I gave him the opportunity to work it all out:

“Some people say the sleigh is magic,” I said. “Does that sound right to you?” Initially, boy howdy, did it ever. He wanted to believe, and so was willing to swallow any explanation, no matter how implausible or how tentatively offered…But little by little, the questions got tougher, and he started to answer that second part – Does that sound right to you? – a bit more agnostically.

For two years he intentionally avoided the obvious direct question, because his desire to know had not yet overtaken his desire to believe. But once he asked directly if Santa is real, as Virginia O’Hanlon did, I answered honestly and congratulated him on his self-propelled journey to that answer.
jc4
“Yes, Virginia” is an unbeatable example of Daniel Dennett’s hypothesis that any given magical belief is less about a given god or text or myth than simply “belief in belief” — the untethered but deep compulsion that belief itself (in gods, faeries, Santa, karma, good luck charms, The Secret) is a good to be treasured and its loss a thing to be grieved. It’s one of the greatest insights into the religious impulse I’ve ever heard.

Just as I was recovering from the yearly “Yes, Virginia”-induced nausea, a related piece of spam plopped wetly into my inbox from EZSantaLetters.com:

How to Convince Your Child That Santa is Real

One of the major drawbacks of life in today’s world is the fact that children grow up too fast. Belief in Santa Claus is one of the aspects of childhood that is usually first to go. Promoting the belief in Santa is one of many things parents do for their children. Several methods exist to accomplish this, but two of the best are a Santa call and Santa letters.

A call from Santa Claus will go a long way in promulgating the belief in him in most children. Children do not normally receive many phone calls as a rule. Since they are usually a special event to begin with, calls from Santa Claus will be especially well accepted.

As parents, we all want our children to be able to hold onto their childhood as long as possible. One aspect of childhood that we encourage is the belief in Santa Claus and all he stands for. Arranging for a child to receive a phone call from Santa and planting evidence of his visit are two ways to help keep children believing as long as possible. These will add to the child’s enjoyment of Christmas as well.

I’ll let you do the commentary. This Santa spam and its “Yes Virginia” ancestor are like drops of amber with a bit of human nature inside — that urgent human yearning toward belief, and revulsion to disbelief.

What fascinating and funny things we are.

Isn’t it romantic

candycane350I like stories. I like reality. I don’t so much like stories posing as reality.

Two different parents wrote to me recently about a Veteran’s Day flag-folding ceremony in their children’s public school. The ceremony in both cases was filled to the gills with religious language. A few excerpts:

The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded…In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body…

-The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
-The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

-The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

-The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
-When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.”

My correspondents had reasonable concerns about the separation of church and state. Me too. But I had just as much concern about the separation of fiction and reality.

If there’s an original meaning to the flag-folding ceremony, that’d be interesting to know. Less interesting is learning what someone somewhere dreamt up and applied ex post facto. And that’s what happened here, according to both Snopes and the U.S. Air Force, whence the religiously-saturated ceremony is falsely said to have sprung.

By 2005, the Air Force (apparently tired of having this ceremony falsely attributed to it) wrote a script of their own. “We have had a tradition within the Air Force of individuals requesting that a flag be folded, with words, at their retirement ceremony,” said the USAF protocol chief in the Air Force Print News. The article continues:

This new script was prepared by Air Force services to provide Air Force-recognized words to be used at those times…Individuals who hear [other] scripts end up attributing the contents of the script to the U.S. Air Force. But the reality is that neither Congress nor federal laws related to the flag assign any special meaning to the individual folds. “Our intent was to move away from giving meaning, or appearing to give meaning, to the folds of the flag and to just speak to the importance of the flag in U.S. Air Force history,” he said.

The new script replaces unconstitutional Christian triumphalism with entirely constitutional nationalistic triumphalism. An improvement, I guess — at least in public schools.

The new script includes actual footnotes. References to the flag’s role in the Battle of Baltimore, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the moon landing lead to my favorite:

3Based on historical facts.

I wished I’d known about that source in grad school.

Another parent email:

My son came home from (public) first grade today and told me that they read the legend of the candy cane at school. He told me, “It’s about Jesus.”

Ring a bell? You may have seen this one in your inbox:

A Candymaker in Indiana wanted to make a candy 

that would be a witness, so he made the Christmas Candy Cane. He 

incorporated several symbols for the birth, ministry, and death of 

Jesus Christ. He began with a pure white, hard candy. White to 

symbolize the Solid Rock, the foundation of the church, and the 

firmness of the promises of God. 

The candymaker made the candy in the form of a ‘J’ to represent the 

precious name of Jesus, who came to earth as our Saviour.

Red stands for what it always stands for in these things — hemoglobin. The tale goes on, but you can already smell the ex post facto. And sure enough, Snopes has this one debunked as well.

Incredibly, there was a court case about the candy cane legend in schools. A Michigan teacher asked his fifth graders to develop products as a class assignment. One student sold candy canes with the “J is for Jesus” story attached.

A skittish administrator said it constituted religious literature and pulled the project. The boy’s family sued, and a federal judge ruled that the boy’s rights had been violated. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling. The case then went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear it.

Obviously I don’t know the details, but I can’t imagine what the Appeals court was thinking. A teacher reading a book about the candy cane as a tribute to Jesus presents a problem. But a student expressing religious convictions in school is protected speech and has nothing whatsoever to do with government endorsement of a particular religious perspective.

But again, it’s not just the church-state thing for me, but the preference of pretty fictions over mere reality. That’s Romanticism, the declaration that reality just isn’t good enough. Whether it’s candy canes or something Lincoln or Voltaire or Margaret Mead supposedly said, or whether Jesus actually secured us an afterlife option — well two, if you think of it — I’d rather see the world as it is than imagine it as I’d like it to be. Period.

The best epiphany I ever had during my teaching career was that the history of music, the arts, even of culture itself, can be effective understood as a struggle between Enlightenment and Romanticism. The current “culture war” fits nicely into that paradigm.

Inspired by flags and candy canes, I’ll start the New Year with a short series on romanticism, and why I so bloody frigginly hate it.

Ah, but there’s plenty of time for frothing later. First, have a Merry Krismas!

Merry Krismas to all

Originally posted Dec. 20, 2007

nikOh, how completely I adore this.

I had an interview [back then] with Rev. Welton Gaddy for the Air America program STATE OF BELIEF. Among the questions was the classic “How do nonreligious families celebrate Christmas?” My staple answer usually includes phrases like “Many different ways, there’s no need to all conform to a single expression,” “The winter solstice celebration is as old as humanity,” “Food, folks and fun,” and “Oh, there’s a religious version, too?”

Three hours too late, I learned from a comment on the PBB Discussion Forum that I don’t celebrate Christmas at all, and never have. I celebrate Krismas. As Jacob Walker, one of the namers of the holiday, put it:

Krismas is a secular holiday that celebrates the myth of Kris Kringle, commonly known as Santa Claus. It happens on December 25th of each year, and is also closely associated with Krismas Eve, which occurs December 24th… Krismas is about giving gifts, especially those “from the heart”; it is about the magic of childhood; it is about peace on earth; and it is about goodwill towards humankind, and anything else you wish it to mean that does not involve the Jesus as a savior bit.

Apparently this idea is three [now eight] years old. Leave it to me to miss it. This is not merely cute; the more I think about it, the more genuine brilliance I see. Here’s more from Jacob:

I loved Christmas growing up. I treasure those memories. I treasure the mythology of Santa Claus, Rudolph, Elves, etc. I treasure the idea of giving gifts, the beauty of Christmas lights and the smell of Christmas trees. This is what Christmas was about to me. These are the secular mythologies and symbols that we have made Christmas about.

I really didn’t think much about the birth of Jesus while growing up; it was just another mythology surrounding the time, and I never believed in Jesus as a savior. As I have grown, I have come to believe that the notion of Jesus being a savior, and many of the ideas of fundamentalist Christian churches, and the Catholic church to be detrimental to peace, acceptance and love in our world. So I didn’t want to support them any longer. It also would not be true of me to celebrate Christmas when I really don’t follow what many people consider the MAJOR tenet of that holiday. So I decided to create a new holiday that would support the tenets that I believe are good and righteous.

In recent years there has been a movement by many fundamentalist Christian groups to “pull” Christmas back to being a religious holiday only. I think that is fine. We can have Krismas, they can have Christmas.

(Many thanks to BornAgainHeathen for the tip!)

DADT and the chaplains

chapA little while ago I said that accepting a certain level of facepalming human malpractice is one of the keys to passing my short vivre with some degree of joie. But I added that some nonsense is misguided and unworthy enough of respect to get me out of my chair. And sometimes, despite every effort to understand, I can’t muster anything but nauseous contempt.

Such a thing came to my attention yesterday in an action alert from the Interfaith Alliance, an outstanding organization that opposes religious extremism and promotes separation of church and state for the benefit of both. It was a letter, sent to the President by retired military chaplains, claiming that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” would infringe on the religious freedoms of active-duty chaplains because they would no longer be able to preach intolerance of homosexuality.

That’s not as much of a paraphrase as you might hope. From the letter:

If the government normalizes homosexual behavior in the armed forces, many (if not most) chaplains will confront a profoundly difficult moral choice: whether they are to obey God or to obey men. This forced choice must be faced, since orthodox Christianity—which represents a significant percentage of religious belief in the armed forces—does not affirm homosexual behavior. Imposing this conflict by normalizing homosexual behavior within the armed forces seems to have two likely—and equally undesirable—results.

First, chaplains might be pressured by adverse discipline and collapsed careers into watering down their teachings and avoiding—if not abandoning—key elements of their sending denomination’s faith and practice. Such a result would be the very antithesis of religious freedom and inimical to the guarantees made by our First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Second, chaplains might have their ability to freely share their religious beliefs challenged and torn away in a variety of everyday situations. For instance, chaplains who methodically preach book-by-book from the Bible would inevitably present religious teachings that identify homosexual behavior as immoral. Thus, while chaplains fulfill their duty to God to preach the doctrines of their faith, they would find themselves speaking words that are in unequivocal conflict with official policies.

(The chaplains had the cojones to footnote this with Leviticus 18:22 but weirdly neglected to mention the required punishment.)

The letter is a festival of fallacies, including the slippery slope, special pleading, ad populum, and argument from authority. But poor argumentation and bigotry are not the real problem here. The chaplains are asking not just for the private right to hold these beliefs about homosexuality, which are theirs to keep, but that their beliefs be given pre-eminence — that military policy be bent and shaped to reflect their beliefs, first and foremost, and that the rights of others be foregone to accommodate them.

Balancing private and public rights is tricky, but a lovely body of law and policy has defined that balance over the years. Better yet for the current debate, the Pentagon’s recent DADT report already examined and dismissed First Amendment concerns:

…the reality is that in today’s U.S. military, Service members of sharply religious convictions and moral values…and those who have no religious convictions at all, already co-exist, work, live, and fight together on a daily basis. This is a reflection of the pluralistic American society at large…

Service members will not be required to change their personal views and religious beliefs; they must, however, continue to respect and co-exist with others who may hold different views and beliefs… [p. 135, emphasis added]

It’s heartening to see the Pentagon grasping the balance of private and public rights that eludes so many of their retired chaplains. Unfortunately it also eludes some of the current ones. Again, from the Pentagon report:

In the course of our review, we heard some chaplains condemn in the strongest possible terms homosexuality as a sin and an abomination, and inform us that they would refuse to in any way support, comfort, or assist someone they knew to be homosexual. [p. 134]

I had to read that three times. I hope and assume that any chaplain following up on that disgusting threat would be dishonorably discharged.

But there are others:

In equally strong terms, other chaplains, including those who also believe homosexuality is a sin, informed us that ‘we are all sinners,’ and that it is a chaplain’s duty to care for all Service members. [p. 134]

I could do without the gratuitous crap about sin, but accepting a certain base level of facepalming human malpractice is etc. Still other chaplains, and many religious laypeople, have come out unequivocally in favor of ending the prohibition, and without the backhanded sin-slap. “[Gay soldiers] were forced by the situation, the system, to be dishonest, and that took its toll on them. And me,” said Rev. Dennis Camp, a former Army chaplain. “It was horrible. Right from the beginning, I was saying, ‘This is bad. This is wrong.”

Mindless, pointless hatred is bad enough, but asking others to feed and water it is outrageous. Little by little and against the odds, we’ve pulled ourselves up out of the tar of so many of our old fears despite the resistance of orthodox religious traditions claiming the special right to preserve those fears. As others have pointed out, the same dynamic was in play when the U.S. military introduced racial integration.

It must be difficult to find yourself doctrinally bound to the wrong side of the great moral issues of our time, chaplains. But while you wallow in the tar, don’t expect the rest of us to offer you an ankle.

The retired chaplains’ letter
The Pentagon DADT Report
“Chaplains’ views on gays strong, varied” – WaPo “On Faith” blog
Countries that allow gays in the military
Countries that disallow gays in the military
The other one

Santa Claus — the ultimate dry run

The annual reposting of my take on Santa, which first appeared in Parenting Beyond Belief. This year is our first fully Santa-less Krismas, as Delaney declared her akringlism in February (described here).

santa32076IT’S HARD TO even consider the possibility that Santa isn’t real. Everyone seems to believe he is. As a kid, I heard his name in songs and stories and saw him in movies with very high production values. My mom and dad seemed to believe, batted down my doubts, told me he wanted me to be good and that he always knew if I wasn’t. And what wonderful gifts I received! Except when they were crappy, which I always figured was my fault somehow. All in all, despite the multiple incredible improbabilities involved in believing he was real, I believed – until the day I decided I cared enough about the truth to ask serious questions, at which point the whole façade fell to pieces. Fortunately the good things I had credited him with kept coming, but now I knew they came from the people around me, whom I could now properly thank.

Now go back and read that paragraph again, changing the ninth word from Santa to God.

Santa Claus, my secular friends, is the greatest gift a rational worldview ever had. Our culture has constructed a silly and temporary myth parallel to its silly and permanent one. They share a striking number of characteristics, yet the one is cast aside halfway through childhood. And a good thing, too: A middle-aged father looking mournfully up the chimbly along with his sobbing children on yet another giftless Christmas morning would be a sure candidate for a very soft room. This culturally pervasive myth is meant to be figured out, designed with an expiration date, after which consumption is universally frowned upon.

I’ll admit to having stumbled backward into the issue as a parent. My wife and I defaulted into raising our kids with the same myth we’d been raised in (I know, I know), considering it ever-so-harmless and fun. Neither of us had experienced the least trauma as kids when the jig was up. To the contrary: we both recall the heady feeling of at last being in on the secret to which so many others, including our younger siblings, were still oblivious. Ahh, the sweet, smug smell of superiority.

But as our son Connor began to exhibit the incipient inklings of Kringledoubt, it occurred to me that something powerful was going on. I began to see the Santa paradigm as an unmissable opportunity – the ultimate dry run for a developing inquiring mind.

My boy was eight years old when he started in with the classic interrogation: How does Santa get to all those houses in one night? How does he get in when we don’t have a chimney and all the windows are locked and the alarm system is on? Why does he use the same wrapping paper as Mom? All those cookies in one night – his LDL cholesterol must be through the roof!

This is the moment, at the threshold of the question, that the natural inquiry of a child can be primed or choked off. With questions of belief, you have three choices: feed the child a confirmation, feed the child a disconfirmation – or teach the child to fish.

The “Yes, Virginia” crowd will heap implausible nonsense on the poor child, dismissing her doubts with invocations of magic or mystery or the willful suspension of physical law. Only slightly less problematic is the second choice, the debunker who simply informs the child that, yes, Santa is a big fat fraud.

“Gee,” the child can say to either of them. “Thanks. I’ll let you know if I need any more authoritative pronouncements.”

I for one chose door number three.

“Some people believe the sleigh is magic,” I said. “Does that sound right to you?” Initially, boy howdy, did it ever. He wanted to believe, and so was willing to swallow any explanation, no matter how implausible or how tentatively offered. “Some people say it isn’t literally a single night,” I once said, naughtily priming the pump for later inquiries. But little by little, the questions got tougher, and he started to answer that second part – Does that sound right to you? – a bit more agnostically.

I avoided both lying outright and setting myself up as a godlike authority, determined as I was to let him sort this one out himself. And when at last, at the age of nine, in the snowy parking lot of the Target store, to the sound of a Salvation Army bellringer, he asked me point blank if Santa was real – I demurred, just a bit, one last time.

“What do you think?” I said.

“Well…I think all the moms and dads are Santa.” He smiled at me. “Am I right?”

I smiled back. It was the first time he’d asked me directly, and I told him he was right.

“So,” I asked, “how do you feel about that?”

He shrugged. “That’s fine. Actually, it’s good. The world kind of… I don’t know…makes sense again.”

That’s my boy. He wasn’t betrayed, he wasn’t angry, he wasn’t bereft of hope. He was relieved. It reminded me of the feeling I had when at last I realized God was fictional. The world actually made sense again.

And when Connor started asking skeptical questions about God, I didn’t debunk it for him by fiat. I told him what various people believe and asked if that sounded right to him. It all rang a bell, of course. He’d been through the ultimate dry run.

By allowing our children to participate in the Santa myth and find their own way out of it through skeptical inquiry, we give them a priceless opportunity to see a mass cultural illusion first from the inside, then from the outside. A very casual line of post-Santa questioning can lead kids to recognize how completely we all can snow ourselves if the enticements are attractive enough. Such a lesson, viewed from the top of the hill after exiting a belief system under their own power, can gird kids against the best efforts of the evangelists – and far better than secondhand knowledge could ever hope to do.
_______________________
A related post from Krismas 2007
For Tom Flynn’s counterpoint to this position, see pp. 85-87 of Parenting Beyond Belief.

Look at the puppy

AA028213Asking for money is not a strength of mine. My allowance stayed put for about seven years when I was a kid because I never thought to ask for more. So it’s no surprise that my least favorite part of heading up a non-profit is asking those who support its mission to help keep us going financially.

Yet here I am…and there you are.

Hi.

The expenses incurred in running Foundation Beyond Belief are not huge, but they are a decidedly positive number. One hundred percent of our member contributions goes straight to our featured beneficiaries. But before the checks can go out, we have to assess and select the charities and present them to the membership. We’ve created a unique website to showcase their work, to allow our members to distribute their donations as they wish, and to provide a distinctive voice for humanists in the philanthropic community.

That’s what you see in front of the curtain.

Behind it, there’s a tremendous amount of sawing and drilling going on. In addition to assessing nearly 100 new nominated charities each quarter, we have communications with members and beneficiaries, professional web design and maintenance for a complex site, bookkeeping, grant writing, publicity, tax preparation, web hosting, and ever so much more. To pay for all that, we rely on the generosity of our friends — those who believe that what we’re doing has real value.

We’re 60 percent of the way through our year-end fund drive but only 22 percent to the amount needed to finish the year in the black. Our sincere thanks go out to those of you who’ve brought us this far.

Now we need all the rest of y’all. No, really. Don’t make the puppy sad.

IF you think the Foundation is a worthwhile project AND you can help us out, please consider clicking on the big orange button in the pretty blue widget in the sidebar of this humble blog. Thanks!

(Puppy.)