Friday, December 30, 2011

Rush to judgments

I went to Austin over Christmas to escape my problems, but the irony is that we really can't escape our problems--not really. Sometimes, we can only be reminded that all human beings experience pain and loss. No individual is crying alone. We all shed tears.
As a teacher, I'm far from wealthy, and I always pursue the better position while simultaneously pursuing my dream of becoming a well-respected author. At times, my lack of funds depresses me, but I'm quickly reminded that other people have suffered more profoundly than have I. My mother is the reason for my balance, I think. She always reminded me that I wasn't hungry and that I was educated. Growing up in the 1920s and 1930s and formed my mother in positive ways. She remembered poverty and never advanced as far in her education as she could have because she had to work. Education had been her dream for me, her only daughter, and I pursued three degrees--often begrudgingly. My mother often reminded me about her life as a young woman, working in a cracker factory in her teens (she'd hate that I wrote this) and then advancing as a prized employee in Reiner's Jewelry Store. Her life was never easy. All of her siblings died before she did. Three of her brothers were young men when Fate took them. Three of them were in World War II, and their lives inspired me to write Love at War, on and Amazon. Through every trial, my mother maintained her buoyancy and pride. She also had a giving spirit and never judged others. I can only hope I've followed her example.
As a resident of New Orleans, I have encountered the homeless and dispossessed. While I was in Austin, I saw people in the same condition. It is easy for us to judge these less fortunate people, labeling them as lazy or stupid. Of course, some homeless people are chronically unemployed, but many are simply "down on their luck." Some suffer from addictions, and still others are victims of mental illness. There but for the grace of God go I.
Those persons who simply need temporary help often find employment and go on with their lives; some, of course, will die as victims. Again, it's easy for us to judge, but judge we do. I teach at a school that requires service to the community, but in the past, the administration has discouraged service to the people needing it the most. Heaven forbid the students see people with rotten teeth, people who mumble or stare, and people who aren't quite clean. Consequently, most service is limited to assisting the middle class, people who are the less needy. As a result, the students too often harbor prejudicial attitudes toward needy people--even when they seek to help them.
The students are not the only ones harboring condescending attitudes. I know of one well-heeled woman who told her classroom of equally well-heeled students that she was leaving the school to teach little "African babies." Sweet God, has she watched Ingrid Bergman in Murder on the Orient Express once too often? The children she would be teaching were primarily "African-American," not "African." How condescending could she be? Does she really hope to be successful teaching children she holds in such contempt? Her comments made me wonder if I've ever sounded so intolerant or clueless. This is the season for resolutions, and I promise that I will try my best not to judge others. Any tragedy can result in our being homeless or mentally unstable. There but for the grace of God. . .

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dishonesty and Pretty Faces

Today in the New Orleans Times Picayune, I read an article about an alleged criminal gang operating around the country. This gang, however, is not the kind of gang anyone would normally consider when classifying gangsters. They do not carry AK 47s. Rather, this group of alleged criminal masterminds consists of handsome college students and adolescent high schoolers. These young people allegedly were part of a cheating ring in which smart college boys took the SAT for underachieving high school kids. Why am I even commenting on this seemingly petty crime when the papers are also filled with murders, rapes, and other heinous crimes. What angers me is that honesty and honor are casualties when thrown into the ring with self-interest and perverse competition.
These affluent high school students (and very likely their parents) were willing to sacrifice their honesty for admission to prestigious universities. Their acceptance into such hallowed halls, however, would be hollow. They did not earn scores necessary to gain admittance to some Ivy League university. Would these students, if accepted, even be able to perform in an academically challenging atmosphere? Their admission to school would be a lie. The first lesson these kids will learn is how to lie and cheat. Such people are the corporate thieves and swindlers of the nation. Will these juveniles learn a lesson or will Mama and Papa Pocketbook simply rescue them from this debacle? Can they learn a lesson and be redeemed?
And what of the fat cat boys who helped the high school kids cheat? Excellent role models, eh? Well, they apparently found a lucrative means of supplementing their college expenses. These young men allegedly hailed from the same Long Island area as did the high school kids they helped cheat. These men attended exclusive private universities, and some allegedly raked in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for showing up to take the SAT for the students. Did the college frat boys need more money for their kegs? For their dates with pretty coeds? Now, their reputations are tarnished. They even face expulsion from their schools. Greed and dishonesty may lead to their downfall.
Or will it? When did dishonesty become accepted? When did wanting to be the best mean lying to others and ourselves? Being a cheat isn't only taking advantage of the people or institutions the swindler wishes to deceive. In the long run, he or she is also lying to him or herself. Is attending a prestigious university so important that a student is willing to sell his or her soul?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wall Street and the Suits

Several incidents that directly have affected my own life have caused me to reflect on Wall Street and why so many citizens have staged protests across the country decrying the policies that have thrown the world into turmoil. I confess that I hold various banking accounts--as do most world citizens. My goal is not to be homeless when I'm old or imprisoned in some nursing home, surrounded by dementia-ridden patients. With the current economic situation strangling world finances, I may be working until I'm 150--if I'm lucky. However, I'm not one to moan about my own financial problems. Indeed, compared to what some people have gone through, I'm very fortunate this Thanksgiving Eve.
My relative prosperity has not blinded me to the greed and callousness of Wall Street. If I could withdraw my money without being taxed up the ass, I'd stuff the goods in my mattress, but the financial wizards have so worked it that we can't even withdraw the money for which we've slaved without being penalized. Let me pontificate on the indifference and callousness of Wall Street. The--primarily--men who run it are guilty of gross insensitivity and patronizing arrogance. During the summer, I met with my own advisor, an overweight, self-righteous pseudo-wizard. He'd managed to ruffle my proverbial feathers when he remarked that banks had given money to people who didn't "deserve a home." When he saw the look on my face, he quickly backpedaled, saying that they weren't "ready for a home." Now, I fully agree that many banks leant money to people who wanted homes bigger than they could afford, but I take great exception to the idea that some people "don't deserve a home." Who in hell does he think he is? Anyway, I went to Mr. Suit on an unrelated matter over the summer. He proceeded to lecture me as if I were some rube from nowhere or kid born yesterday. I realize it's his job to advise me, but when I say I want to do something else, it's his job to do as I say. It is money I slaved for in various teaching positions. If want to run away to Europe in a Roma caravan, I can do so and no puffed up piece of bourgeoise can tell me what to do, and frankly, I don't want to pour my money into funds that produce nothing and exploit others. Now, there was a time when I would have swallowed abuse because my family is of a class that this idiot would deem "not fit to own a home," but now, I don't put up with bullshit. I have more degrees than does this puffed up suit, and I pulled my money from his company.
Of course, I met even more ignorant, calloused pieces of crap along the way. I conveyed my goals to another suit who began to pontificate about what was best for ME. I understand he needs to trap another sucker for the next big swindle, but I'm not blinded by fancy talk from some suit. Reluctantly, the jerk off put my money where I demanded, but he looked like some round-faced, sulking kid. For whom does he work? Some giant, corrupt Wall Street firm? I don't want those idiots losing my hard-earned dollars or collecting them to exploit children sewing in a factory. I also expressed my concern to Mr. Suit that I didn't want to be some poor old person who was working at McDonald's because my money had evaporated. Mr. Suit had the unmitigated gall to say that these people hadn't planned well. No, you asshole, it's not always that. Not all of us have the resources to invest millions of dollars in stocks only to see companies abuse our trust. Some of us don't have millions to invest at all. Our means are modest, and we don't have the privilege of showing up in a shirt and tie to click a mouse behind a desk. Many of us earn our money by the sweat of our brow. Maybe these poor old people were given lousy advice by a moron like you who let their hard-earned money evaporate in a corporate collapse like we had a few years ago. Not every poor person is badly off because he or she was careless or a spendthrift. Many of them were duped by the promises of a bunch of parasites who received bailouts and then took bonuses. Maybe some of those poor souls flipping burgers at Mickie D's took the advice of Mr. Suit and his crummy associates. They put their faith in banks and greedy, incompetent businesses.
I'm sick of people who consider themselves "elite." Even my spin instructor, whose main talent is screaming "Up," has made ugly comments about people who died during Katrina. No, bimbo, not everyone could just leave. Not everyone had the resources to do so, and if you open your mouth again, I'll report your stupidity to the gym management. I'm sick of bullshit, and to Mr. Suit: My pulling my money from your bank will be the least of your problems. I'll put you in my novel. No, wait! I'd never write about anyone so boring!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today is Veterans Day, 11/11/11. My novel, LOVE AT WAR, takes place during World War II, and not many of those veterans still grace this earth. Many, like my Uncle Russell, lie beneath foreign soil. Still others died years after coming home, returning to build homes and families. As young people, they piloted planes, parachuted into enemy territory, or served on ships. Military women often served as nurses or translators. Some, like Nuala in LOVE AT WAR, worked as covert operatives. I wrote LOVE AT WAR to tell the story of their sacrifice.
LOVE AT WAR, however, was not the first time I've created characters who were military veterans. In my as yet unpublished mystery novels, my main detective is a veteran of Iraq, and in BURIED TRUTHS, Dr. Wesley Chou braved the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. The storm, however, was not his first encounter with unspeakable horror. As a doctor in Iraq, Wesley faced death, carrying arms as he aided the wounded.
Remember the veterans this Veterans Day. As a gift to my readers, I will give an e-book version of one of my novels to the first three people who visit my website at Post a comment about this blog in the "Questions" section, and then be sure to tell me which book you'd like (Love at War or Buried Truths). Please leave your e-mail. I will take comments through Sunday.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I read the news today, oh boy!

While reading THE TIMES PICAYUNE, I learned of two events that brought my novels to mind. The miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS will be packaged with the series THE PACIFIC and sold on DVD. In the New Orleans area, an original play by New Orleanian Jim Fitzmorris is making its debut at the Westwego Performing Arts Center. I thought of my novels for various reasons. LOVE AT WAR, my most recent publication (, is set during WWII, a period that tested the world's resolve. Many of my characters, like those young people in the HBO series and like real soldiers, find themselves in uniform. Still others work as covert operatives, spying on the enemy and entrapping them. My novel begins in the summer of 1941, and within months, these carefree young people are fighting a war. They, like real soldiers, faced horror in Europe and in the Pacific.
FROM A LONG WAY OFF, currently making its debut in the New Orleans area, stars the amazing Dane Rhodes as a politician seeking redemption after Hurricane Katrina. In BURIED TRUTHS (, Heather Kerry and Wesley Chou also seek redemption for past sins in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Like the protagonist in FROM A LONG WAY OFF, Heather and Wesley allowed themselves to be victims of convention, but Katrina gives them a reason to make amends for their earlier failures.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Suspicion, Hate, and Destruction

My last competed manuscript is set in Ireland during the late 1500s. The Renaissance had spread to most of Europe, but alas, Ireland was no longer the land of "saints and scholars," and cities like Dublin and Galway had little chance of rising to the heights of Rome and London. When Henry Tudor and his descendants sat upon the throne of England, Ireland lost what little autonomy it had. Why? Prior to the Tudors, Ireland had been a curiosity of sorts for the Brits. Yes, they had a foothold in the isle, but prior to the Tudor ascendency, the Irish were simply people with strange customs and a garbled language, inhabiting a portion of thew island. When Henry broke from Rome, the Irish became much more problematic. They were loyal to the Church of Rome and would welcome claimants to the throne, such as Philip of Spain and Mary of Scotland. Thus, this race of strange people had to be subdued. Why do I bring this up? I bring it up because I see the effects of hate all around me.

The suppression of Ireland resulted from the same type of suspicion that now threatens to divide people and set them against each other. Our world is in transition because of technology and ability to travel more freely. More and more people encounter each other, but many of them don't like those from other cultures invading their own space. Recent events have caused me to wonder why human beings are suspicious of each other. In centuries past, the Irish had reason to suspect the British. The oppression of Ireland was brutal and cruel, and I wondered why this was. Of course, the superficial reason was that the oppressors wanted the land, and that's true. However, I think the reason for the oppression lies deep within the human psyche. Human beings fear the "Other." Many people don't like those not similar to them in race, religion, or creed, and social networks have provided people the means to vent their frustration and even their hate. Recently, I've noted posts on Facebook and Twitter condemning "foreigners" or persons of different races or religions. Many of the posts express resentment of the supposed privileges those not native born receive, but most simply resent the presence of those who do not look like them or do not practice their customs. Understand that these comments are not restricted to one country or race. An American woman said she felt "like a stranger in {her} own country." A Brit wanted to leave England to escape foreigners.
An Irishmen railed about Muslims.

I'm not saying that people have to love others or that they even have to socialize. That is their right, but what these people don't like is that what is "familiar" no longer exists. I understand this insecurity to an extent. America is no longer a Rockwell portrait. Britain is no longer a scene taken from Dickens. Ireland is no longer identical to the land of Joyce. Some people don't like that change and want to hold onto the landscape of the past. I'm not saying that all immigrants behave well or that all natives of a place behave badly, but we need to find a common ground. We don't need to adopt others' views in order accept them as human beings.

I've found myself writing about hate a great deal. This proclivity hasn't been conscious on my part, but for some reason, I have gravitated to this issue. When I wrote BURIED TRUTHS (, I examined the story of two lovers torn apart because of race. When I wrote LOVE AT WAR (, I examined lovers damaged by a war started when a madman thought he could eliminate a race of people and rule the world. In my latest manuscript, I've looked at a country almost wiped away because of prejudice, fear, and suspicion. Unless we learn to accept each other, this world will explode in a blood-filled paroxysm of fear and hatred.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

War, Memories, and Legacy

When I began writing LOVE AT WAR, my WWII novel, I relied on extensive research as well as my own family history. The novel opens on Pontchartrain Beach in the summer of 1941--before the madness already occurring in Europe and Asia engulfed America. Pontchartrain Beach in 1941 was a haven for many New Orleanians--part beach and part amusement park. Young and old sojourned there to meet and mingle. My mother and her siblings frequented the beach, but the summer of '41 was unlike any other. My protagonist Nuala and her sister Rose discuss the possibility of war, and the normal adolescent abandon they normally would experience is tempered by the threat of war. I'm sure my mother, father, and their respective families experienced a similar sense of foreboding before war actually erupted.
My mother's brothers fought in that war; one of her brothers never returned. I researched the history of that conflict extensively. No one in my family experienced the same battles that my characters do. None of the female family members were covert operatives like Nuala, yet many of them did provide "male" jobs while keeping the home fires burning. What I included in the novel of our family history were small details. As my cousins read the novel, they saw many similarities linking the fictional Comeaux family to the very real Zimmermann family. Many of my cousins experienced emotional catharsis as they read. My cousin Jim, a very conservative Vietnam veteran, said the ending brought tears to his eyes. My many cousins began e-mailing each other and me, sharing memories of our grandparent's house on Palmyra Street in New Orleans. They remembered my grandmother's Sunday dinners--very similar to Magda's in the Comeaux household in LOVE AT WAR. I wove those warm memories into the thread of a novel that is at times sad, violent, but ultimately joyous. My characters triumph over their adversity.
Such is often the nature of war. After WWII, my grandparent's loving home would never be the same. My uncle Charlie left a boy and returned a sailor with a tattoo. (I can imagine what my grandmother said.) My uncle Will, the wildest and most buoyant, returned hardened and emotionally scarred. Russell is buried on foreign soil, the victim of a bombing after the war ended. My mother saw the end of her first marriage. Nonetheless, our family persevered. Those who returned lived on, producing children now woven into the fabric of society. Those of us old enough remember that house on Palmyra Street and bask in those warm memories. Many of my cousins, the children of those WWII soldiers, have families of their own. We are all citizens who carry on the legacy our parents left us. Like our parents' generation, we will face and have faced other wars and trauma, but we, like they, have persevered. My cousin Alexandra and her husband have had a baby. I think of little Leila and wonder what wars she will see and what losses she will suffer. Then, I remind myself that such thinking is defeatist. She also will experience great joy.
Here's to family ties, joy, and trials.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Myth, Harry Potter, the Canon and Morality Tales

This weekend, I saw the final film installment of the Harry Potter franchise. I have long been a fan of J. K. Rowling's books and of the films based on them. The reasons for my support of them are manifold. As a teacher, I applaud that Rowling has brought so many young people and adults to the written word, and the films have introduced the public to a host of talented young and veteran actors who have given the books life. Several talented directors also should be credited for their vision. What dismays me is that parents and various conservative groups deride the Potter series because it deals with witches and magic. Others denigrate Rowling's series because it is new and not in the sanctioned canon. For many of these people, literature written after 1899, or at the latest 1940, is of no value. Literature written by minorities or other non-privileged groups also is verboten, according to these fonts of purity and wisdom. What these people don't realize is that the central theme of the books has its roots in the depths of ancient myth and biblical literature. The Potter series deals with a young hero who must battle evil, thereby saving his world from destruction. Such a battle has been fought by Moses, Jesus, Odysseus, Aeneas, and King Arthur. Now, before my religious friends are offended, let me say that I'm not saying figures like Odysseus rank with Jesus, but these ancient tales share many of the same admirable traits. (By the way, I'm also religious.)

Biblical figures and ancient characters often fight the forces of evil through God-inspired power. Moses spoke with God, deriving a power from the Holy Word that would allow him to part a sea. Jesus turned water into wine and consulted with long-departed prophets. In so doing, Jesus unites his message of goodness with the ancient traditions of His people. In ancient literature, Odysseus conferred with the dead to gain their wisdom and find his path. Again, I'm not saying that Odysseus equals Christ, but all of these heroic figures from the past share certain important traits. I find it very ironic that the very people who criticize Potter on the grounds that it is non-canonical praise tales like the Odyssey, the Aenid, the tales of Arthur, or the Lord of the Rings; the Potter books deal with many of the same issues as do these heroic tales.

Rowling definitely builds on ancient myth and biblical precedent. Like the young Arthur, Harry is chosen to fulfill a prophecy and to lead others to greatness. Like Arthur who is drawn to a sword meant only for him, Harry has his special wand that will help him defeat evil. Like Odysseus and Aeneas, Harry must travel far to claim his place in a world that is at times dangerous and even deadly. Like the young Arthur, Harry learns that the world is not always what it seems. People betray and disappoint. Arthur is betrayed by his queen and his first knight. Harry learns that his parents and his teachers are human, prone to frailty and pettiness as well as courage. Like Tolkien's hobbit heroes and their band of warriors, Harry and his friends must face the enemy and forge their destiny. Each of us is set on a path with pitfalls and battles to be faced. Harry and his friends also are an unlikely band of warriors. They are wizards, but they are also kids wearing jeans and T-shirts. Kids identify with them because they are Everyman, armed with magic. Many have read Tolkien's work as a metaphor for his own experiences in the Great War. The young people who fought that conflict, like the hobbits, were also unlikely heroes, but they, too, faced the enemy with courage.

What I say to skeptical parents is that Harry Potter follows an ancient tradition that hopefully will ignite their children's imaginations, encouraging them to read the source material from which it derives. Because of Little Women, I read German philosophers like Kant and Fichte. Because of the Beatles' lyrics, I read King Lear and Lewis Carroll. Because of Godspell, I read the Bible. The Harry Potter books stand on their own, but they also can send children on a treasure hunt in which they discover the source of the magic. Don't discount "popular culture."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Love, War, and the Human Spirit

My latest release LOVE AT WAR( was born of a great deal of research and more than a touch of family lore. My grandparents lived on Palmyra Street, as do Nuala's parents. My grandmother fixed stewed chicken on Sundays. My uncles fought in WWII, and one of them never returned from that horrific conflict.

I've placed some very dramatic posts on my Facebook page of late. When I wrote LOVE AT WAR, I was extremely conscious that I was portraying a momentous time in history. Yes, I realize that history is a construct that varies depending upon the writer and the culture, but the loss war inflicts onto the people caught within its web is overwhelming. Supposedly, WWII was the war to end all wars, but the Second World War soon followed. We saw the evil of genocide with that war. Many predicted that genocide would never happen again, but it has occurred in places like Rwanda and Serbia. My novel recreates many graphic war scenes, but I hope I have shown the damage war inflicts as well as the heroism it inspires. In the midst of terror, people rise above the chaos of war, conquer their fears, and often defeat the evil they must confront.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Love at War

I started writing after a long draught. It was 2005, the year Katrina devastated the region. My first book, BURIED TRUTHS (Sapphire Blue Publishing), grew from my despair and grief, but it also showed the resilience and hope of the area's people. Like my characters, many of them rebuilt their lives and even found love.

My second book, LOVE AT WAR (Red Rose Publishing), also sprang from grief, but I pray it also shows the triumph of the human soul. My beloved mother died in 2008. She was my touchstone and my best friend. When I went through her things, I found letters from her brother Russell written while he was in Germany. Re-reading those letters reminded me of the lore that had circulated throughout our family. That summer, my cousin Sandy invited me and other relatives to her house. We read her parents' letters to each other, weeping and laughing together. Sandy's father, my mother's brother, never returned from Germany. He died in an attack on the Bremen enclave after WWII officially ended. The passion he and his young wife shared made us all cry, smile, and even blush as we read.

My mother had died only a few months before I read those letters. I was grieving, doing nothing except watch television, cry, and starve myself. Writing again saved me. I began researching the war that claimed one of my uncles and sent the others home changed. These young people had left the States as kids and returned as hardened men. I researched the war, devouring books and articles that added to my own family lore. None of the main characters are based on my family, but they, like my family members, lived through those tumultuous times.

The world was never the same after WWII. The strides made in civil rights and women's rights would never have occurred without that war. That war changed the world order, but it was fought by innocent kids who stormed the beaches of Normandy. One day, they were goofing around on a beach, jumping on amusement park rides and flirting. Then, they were on Omaha Beach, a very different one than they had known in New Orleans. I was obsessive about getting it right. I owed it to my mother and her siblings. Portraying the role of women in the war also was important to me. WWII was the first time women had full military rights. They often worked as nurses, but they also were undercover and frequently worked as translators. My protagonist, Nuala, works for the OSS, the precursor to the CIA. She is covert and military.
I also wanted to show the brutality of war and what becomes of the young people caught within its web. I opened the novel on Pontchartrain Beach. The young people are queuing for rides. The action takes these kids to Pearl, to Bataan, to Omaha Beach, and beyond. I wrote like someone possessed. Sometimes, I think my mother's spirit guided me. I hope so.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sad Street Theatre

Every time the Souther Decadence Festival comes to town, New Orleanians and tourists are treated to the protests of Rev. Grant Storms and his band of "Christian patriots," or so they deemed themselves. They walk through the French Quarter with broom, cleaning the area of filth, or so they said. Rev. Storms had a church--which he lost--and a radio show on which he railed against those he pronounced sinners, non-Christians, or any other Christian denomination not to his liking. Catholics were satanic and demonic, so I guess I'm going to hell in a hand basket.

Last week, Rev. Storms found himself embroiled in a scandal of his own. Two women allegedly saw him masturbating in his vehicle, which was parked in a local park near children. They were collecting their children and flagged down a park employee. The employee detained Storms until police responded. Storms is a bit of a puzzle. He vehemently denies masturbating or being a danger to children. He says he had stopped for lunch in the park, felt the urge, and was relieving himself in a can. In almost the same breath, he readily admits to a penchant for liking pornography but denies the allegations against him, insisting the truth will come out in court. Now, Rev. Storms has a right not to approve of certain lifestyles. That's his business, but his willingness to condemn others violates the very Christian tenets he supposedly espouses. Curious, isn't it, that some people who sing the loudest in the choir may have the ugliest sins? Notice that I said he was allegedly seen doing something inappropriate. I wouldn't want to judge him in the same way he's judged others. Lately, he's been on the news, admitting to his liking of porn and asking for forgiveness. He admits to being "prideful" and has even asked for forgiveness from the gay community. Surprisingly, the owner of one establishment he has vilified has expressed compassion for the man and pity for his family. I wonder how it feels to have someone you once hated and saw as inferior come to your defense. As I said, Rev. Storms will have his day in court. So far, these are only allegations, but the man's lambasting of others is simply wrong. Storms professes to be a Christian, but I guess he missed the lesson in which Jesus advised people with sins not to throw stones. None of us is without sin, not this preacher, his family, or any other human being.

People who promote hate are quick to judge and often intolerant. Storms and his followers crusading through the Quarter reminded me of the members of that Kansas church who protest at military funerals. They say awful things to grieving families and brand anyone who doesn't practice their flavor of Christianity as hell bound. They, like Storms, have the right to their opinions, but they say they are Christians. How is harassing people at a funeral Christian behavior? I've seen these people. They stood outside my church in New Orleans, holding signs and screaming awful things at us because we're not a denomination of which they approve. They were in town that week because a Jewish group held a conference downtown. They approve of no one and feel free to vent their fury on others. Perhaps one day, they, like Storms, will have to look to the very people they vilify for succor.