Fear

I wrote a post I titled, “Anxiety“. I wanted to be done with it. I am not done with it. I am not over it. Fear touches me in two ways lately. My son, who I don’t usually write about, suffers from anxiety that causes depression for him. This is actual for him. There isn’t a “just get over it” for him. When he gets knocked by life it takes him out. Recovery is never sure and can take months. It hurts and no amount of tough love will move the ball for him. Yeah, he is a millennial, something of a snowflake. The angst is no less powerful for him.

That’s one. The other is the intense tantrum the press is having now that HRH Pimp Daddy US has left the building. Their king, their god, their bhodisatva, did the horrible thing and let Cheeto Satan move in. It’s the end of the world as we know it. A bajillion women worldwide marched and carried protest signs and sang and spoke of wanting to burn down the White House. The *White* House. Shouldn’t it be something else, maybe the 1600 House or something. I mean, seriously, “white” House. Isn’t that racist somehow? All that strom and drang and what of it? Not so much.

I have a question for all those who are trying to learn to contort themselves so that ass and lips can meet. Who is your lord and king? Who is your Daddy? You knew this would end. Pimp Daddy US said so. Is that it? Is that who you worship? A dear leader who committed a venial sin and simply walked away from being the most powerful man on earth? You are that simple, that empty, that you worship a pimp? No wonder you are a mess.

This was going to end. It has to. It’s been a century of diddling about with socialism, either more or less of it. Every election cycle the offers of mo money came and went. Every election cycle we found out that the offered mo money was more money for our pimp, not for us. Instead of less tricks it was more. When we tried to object we got hurt.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Spain’s flirtation with anarchy fell into authoritarian socialism and after some bloodshed, came around to democracy as the least evil way to run a society. China is a mix of places. Where the party still dominates it is a shithole. Where capitalism has infested places like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Shanghai these places have exploded in wealth and disparity. We are at a generational turning point where the old guard of the last century is dying and losing elections. Sorry to say it, baby-girl, but this is the beginning of something impossible to avoid.

It’s one of the freakish things about abusive relationships. The victim keeps going back and the abuse keeps escalating. The cycle is well known. Obama was an abuser. Sorry, that’s what his term in office felt like to me. He spoke sweet words, said a lot, but his outcomes hurt us. Each time he would promise to treat us better, do some therapy, be a better pimp, and beat our ass back into the hospital. All the while making sure that we were out in public looking fine as fuck.

After all that, and now that he is gone, we somehow forgot the abuse and want him back. If we can’t have him then we want his bitch-in-chief, Billary. None of what we said in the hospital to the social worker means shit now. Jimmy Choo’s y’know. He took our Jimmy Choo’s with him. We want our pimp back.

The press is doubling down on the propaganda of Pimp Daddy US. They insist that Pimp Daddy US’ story was accurate. It was one of fear, of an unspoken fist in our stomach if we got out of line. Pimp Daddy never hit us in the face or above the neckline. Nobody ever saw the scars. We had to bring him his money, after all. The scars are there. Our John’s saw them.

Now that we don’t have Pimp Daddy we don’t know how to live. Self reliance? What is that? We haven’t shopped for ourselves in Walmart in 8 years. The people who shop at Walmart are missing teeth and can’t speak proper English. You want that for us? We always went to Nordstrom to the personal shopper desk with Pimp Daddy’s card. He always ordered in from a stack of takeout menus. We got thick but he said he liked it.

He’s gone. We went to the doctor and doc says we are diabetic, have high blood, are ?!obese!? and could die if we don’t quit living this way. The HIV test was negative but doc wants to test us again in 6 months. Our pimp daddy god-king left us to go on vacation in Palm Springs. How could he?

Yes, self-reliance. change the things you can, let go of the things you can’t, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We who spent time in meetings have a bunch of these. Change who you worship. Get a new god-king because the one in Washington D.C. dates “models” who turn up on porn sites. Melania is just a high-class mail order bride. Think what you will of the last 2,000 years of idiot followers of that martyred Nazarene carpenter. I’ll put my martyred carpenter up against Cheeto Satan Melanic Dumpf all day. We try to use foundation to cover the bruises but we are not so different from you.

Who would you give your fealty to? A magic brown man who didn’t care enough to shoot Cheeto Satan? Cheeto Satan himself? How about . . . that dead guy the Romans killed whose followers claim is still alive and conduct a cannibalistic ritual meal of his blood and flesh? Is fealty to him, to the Nazarene carpenter any less insane, less absurd than fealty to a rich John with a taste for expensive whores?

In an insane age, in an age where the dominant language is imagery and video, the image of the crucified Christ remains powerful and good. The cross makes sense in this bonkers shit show we were born into. Cheeto Satan will do whatever. The teeth knashing over his latest crime against socialism will continue until he leaves office.

For eight years I deepened my marriage to the cross. I prayerfully sought ways to serve my neighbor, my kin, and my enemies. I have been blessed to be granted chances to do small acts of kindness, sometimes with love, sometimes not. That doesn’t change because Pimp Daddy US is out of office and playing golf until winter break is over and his daughters have to come back to school. Cheeto Satan is just a side show as it concerns the practice of my faith.

Last year some protesters stood across the freeway and stopped traffic for half an hour. They wanted us to care about black people, to understand that black lives matter. Not more than a mile from their protest is public housing where numerous churches and NGO’s are working to get the residents out of there and into stable lives. It is hard, frustrating work that goes largely unnoticed. It is stunning to me that a dozen people would block traffic and claim that black lives don’t matter in complete ignorance of the work under way in Richmond’s public housing. This says a lot about the protest community.

Cheeto Satan? Whatever. Some of what he’s doing was going to happen either by intent or by disaster. Pimp Daddy built a house of cards that was going to collapse anyway. At least Cheeto Satan wants to take it down card by card rather than just let it collapse.


I’ll end here. If fear is a powerful force in your life then you have surrendered to a false-god. You worship a lie. God made you fearfully to love him more dearly. He loves you and wants you to thrive. There is no such thing as courage. Courage is what we say about someone who was terrified and did the needful. To conquer fear get a new god, a real god, who is love. The threat to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was not myth or an empty one. The miracle would be less amazing if it were not as the bible tells it. Yet these three men were willing to die for their faith. They risked death and found freedom. That’s an awesome god, way better than Pimp Daddy or Cheeto Satan.

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Knowing You


The last question in the Explore God series was, “Can I know God personally?” There is no reasoned answer to this question. That said, nearly 500 years of Calvinist tradition says, yes, yes you can. With something like this, though, tradition and reason are not enough. You either feel it as a yes or you don’t.

First, our pastor Sarah Marsh, said this in her sermon. Next, my first reflex was to say, no you can’t know God personally. The God I know is a jealous god. He is uncompromising in his demand for surrender and devotion. If you want to know Jesus a lot of the life you have now is going to die. Remember, this is a god who launched a new kingdom by being martyred.

Another reason you can’t know God personally is modern science. Jesus is booga-booga-booga weird. We tell people that they have to die to live, to give to get, serve to be served, be a servant to lead. Being Christianity is living in a topsy-turvy world where Carol’s Wonderland is not strange. A lot of the Bible is starkly bonkers. Knowing God is the realm of the heart. If you try to bring empirical reasoning to understanding God your head will hurt. God isn’t reasonable. He is reliable. To know God you have to surrender some of that itch for utopia we get from my Puritan ancestors and some of that surety that through science we can understand how many angels fit on the head of a pin.

Next, I was raised in the church. I’ve been saved longer than I’ve not been. I’m not perfect, far from it. Dig far enough back in this blog and you’ll find plenty that I have had to apologize for. I spent some of my youth accusing my Dad and the church of various high crimes and misdemeanors. For a time I knew God as a stern taskmaster who disapproved of me and my behavior. It hasn’t been that long since I surrendered deeply to God.

img_jesusWhich, sort of makes me the worst one to write about this. I already believe. I know God, know Jesus. It took me a while to come around to this. I was/am a fan of apologia, of criticism of the church. Damned hypocrites, look at them.

You are going to hear all the standard answers from ordained graduates of seminary. They studied hard and I applaud them for their hard work and consequent knowledge. Their answers are worthy. Mine is not. Mine is the answer of a cantankerous man who wasn’t always this devoted to God. Mine is a lifelong relationship that has swelled and faded. God never stopped knowing me nor loving me. It is I that have shunned him at times then come home like a repentant prodigal son.

When, for the first time in my twenties I quieted down and started to listen, God had some stuff for me to do. First, shut up. No, really, be quiet. Next, all my bluster about how no one is doing anything for that little kid I saw on TV growing up, the one staring up at the camera with big eyes, God said this, “You do it.” Me? Help? When I am a wretch? When I am the one entitled to being protected from my own hot mess, coddled and spoon fed. Yep, I am to do it. I and all the other hot messes that came to Jesus.

The creator of the Universe talks to me, to this hot mess. I hear voices, hear His voice. Crazy, right? Yep. I’ve heard him since the age of 14 when he appeared to me in a vision I had while praying at summer camp. Though, his voice isn’t the lovable, round Pappa I want him to be. He’s a carpenter. He’s short, brown-skinned, curly haired and a bit thick by modern standards. His language is rough. He knows me so when I try to game him it doesn’t take him long to checkmate me. He’s the one that was in my head cussing me out when I complained yet again that I was out of gas, out of money, out of cell-phone minutes, without even change for the parking meter. He was the one laughing at me when lately I tried to catch a kitten and failed in entertaining ways.

I can’t make you agree that you can know God personally. I can only tell you that I have come to count him as an intimate friend. Know this, I tried other ways of living. I tried to keep God out of my head. All those years of Sunday School, my baptism, catechism class and the many books I’ve read and still, there is no place like my usual spot on the left side of the sanctuary, toward the front, singing hymns badly and listening to Keith and Sarah and others talk about Jesus.

The third thing God asked of me is to work for change within the church. This means I had to sign up for the full program. I am responsible for my own worship, prayer, tithe, study and service. I have to show up. Beyond that, I have to participate. Beyond that I have to contribute. Beyond that I have to serve, to serve without hope of return or desired outcome. Out of these five responsibilities I have built my relationship to God, to Jesus, to know Him. And out of *that* I can become a voice for change within the church.

Husbands know this. Many times the sexiest thing a man can do for his wife is dishes. Families are hot beds of chaos and strife. The kids are taxing, the workload withering, the ways it fails constant and numerous. Into that a guy tries to hug her and ask for a little affection. One more demand of her, one more too much. But, he’s entitled, right? It’s all over the Bible, that guys come first, get served, helped by their wives. Uhm, actually . . . no. Knowing God is a kind of death to all that came before, all that binds us to the worries of the world. Dishes are the least of it. And . . . if you remember, it is Adam that is cleaved to Eve and her family, not the other way around.

God is in some ways, a jealous husband and we are his bride. He demands that we give and give and give and it just doesn’t seem to be fair. He is demanding, his people are hotbeds of chaos and strife. Church people are taxing, the commitment withering, the ways that sin intrudes are constant and numerous. Into that arrives you, full of anguish and hope that this Jesus thing could work out for you, with your one more demand too much. Yet these Jesus people seem to be crazy in love with an absurd God. Either they are nuts (we are) or there is something to this God who does a reset by dying.

The central narrative, metaphor for life in Reformed faith is the cross. It is in death and resurrection that we find our knowledge of God and a life as a disciple of Christ. Our greatest heroes are those who made deep sacrifices, even unto death. So, I almost don’t want you to know God. You have to be ready for this. You have to risk your life to gain it. The prayer itself is trivial. Altar calls are ecstatic experiences for some. I worry about the commitment, the days after, the work of being in a relationship with God. All five of my responsibilities involve sacrifice of some sort. Are you ready for this? Are you ready to die on the cross to be reborn stripped naked and having to start over?

I’m really good at words. I’ve been in enough therapy, sat through enough Sunday School classes, that I can confess like the best. It’s all a front, though. My slings and arrows flown against the church accusing it of hypocrisy said a lot about my own life. God took me all the way to the street and to jail. He met me in my truck, out of gas, out of money, out of cell phone minutes, homeless, a convicted wife beater, in a phone call with a cocaine addict who wanted a ride to the grocery story. Boom.

If you are ready, cool. There are plenty who will welcome you and become your family in Christ as you live this new life. It doesn’t have to be me. Most Sundays you can find me in my usual spot, singing praise songs badly at St. Giles church. If you do choose me, beauty. We can walk together as we live out our promise to be a disciple of Christ.

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What’s the Point?

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope . . . Jeremiah 29:11, ESV

I am not sure there is a point, or a purpose to this shit-show we are born in to. I’m over late night tossing & turning wondering why I was born. I’m here and it ain’t over yet. I’ve still got time to do and while the sun still traverses the sky I need shit and have ambitions. There is world peas to attend to and those kids on TV who look so hungry. Oh and those deplorable white folk who treat black folk like range targets. I mean, somebody needs to do something, seriously.

Dumpf got elected. They are going to build a pipeline across Indian land and ruin it. I saw that kid on TV and this time the voice-over is asking me to donate to UNESCO. I don’t have a job, my girlfriend kicked me out, and breakfast this morning happened at the Grace Cathedral on California street. I tried begging and got arrested. I had to pawn my guitar to get a room for the night. I’m out of meds and the voices lately are really hard to ignore. Maybe I should just eat worms and die.

The depths of my angst never got that deep. My troubles are trifling compared to those of many. There was an afternoon at my paternal grandmother’s house where the huge problem was a lack of a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. There is a kid in my life who is twenty-something and followed a familiar narrative arc for an African American youth living in the inner city. He achieved early success as a drug dealer, gained tremendous wealth and notoriety and now, is living in public housing. The devil gaveth and the devil took it all away.

After two twelve-hour shifts driving a cab recently I arrived at Monday morning, back at my desk, with a feeling of futility. All that work and what I had to show for it was a couple Jacksons. I had magnanimous dreams. I was going to make beaucoup benjamins. I had plans for my hard earned cash. What a waste.

Wikipedia’s article on the meaning of life. You have the Dalai Lama saying that we should seek to be happy. I suspect that the full weight of his words isn’t getting through in English. Tibetan Buddhist happiness is a deep conversation. It’s one of many things that seems simple at the surface but can consume a lifetime trying to know it deeply. So, there is that. Wikipedia tries to provide a broad survey of answers. I need to warn you. This space isn’t good for you if you were looking for comfort and safety. The answers I have here are troubling.

On with it. I’d say that life does not have a purpose. Your reason to be doesn’t exist. All this angst over why you were born is neurotic, narcissistic wind and water. You are alive. ’nuff said. So, average life-span being 70-80 years, or 4 generations or so, you have time on your hands. The first couple decades happen because of your parents. After that, with some exceptions, it’s on you. A reason to be and a purpose to pursue. Well, you are here. There really isn’t a reason why you are here. So, that leaves the next 40 years or so and a purpose to pursue.

Why not 60 years?. Our lives are bookended by childhood and old age. As children we have no choice but to rely on the adults in our lives to care for us. Without them, without their support, we are fucked. Argue all you want about the oppressive tradition of a nuclear family, how it traps women into the oppression of patriarchy. I’ll grant you that embedding that oppression in law and policy is a bad idea. Women should have a voice, have agency and the freedom to pursue their chosen purpose. Please, though, if you are pregnant, or you are a Mom, it’s really important that you put your kids first, even though that limits you. Kids need parents that love and care for them.

Moving on. At the other end, at the phase of my life I am growing in to, is increasing loss. We become more dependent on the people around us for basic needs. Starting at around age 60 things escalate. We become more and more feeble until our time comes and we become epitaph. So, our purpose becomes merely breathing until death kindly stops for us. We come full circle and need to be taken care of.

That leaves the years between 20 or so and age 60 where life happens. That’s the window in which our purpose will be fulfilled. That’s the years in which your story is told. Maybe there isn’t a reason why you were born. I’ll leave the answer to that, to why you were born, to better minds than mine. It is enough that you are alive and beyond the first four levels of Maslow’s hierarchy what you do has an impact, though perhaps small. Your impact matters, thus, you matter.

This space is the house of the odd ones, the trolls, the people who generate regrets. It’d be nice if my readership had a comfortable spot on the fat part of the curve. But . . . I’d have to write about something else if that became the case. From what I know of history I’ll never run out of odd stuff to write about. So, yeah, causes to pursue . . . all that Maslow hierarchy stuff helps a lot. Unfulfilled essential needs can become a consuming purpose leaving you without much bandwidth for anything else.

There is also Ecclesiastes, “Vanity of vanities . . . all is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” Yeah, that’s all warm & fuzzy. Thank you for sharing, Solomon.

Without God, without some sense of identity outside ourselves, life has no meaning. The nihilists are right. Solipsism is epiphany. Death after a meal of earthworms would be mercy. Without God we are supper for Satan and his minions. Things get increasingly morose. Suicide begins to feel like a plan.

God is weird. There is this book that is full of nonsense and ancient myth that some promulgate as the word of God. He leaves behind the words of St. Paul, Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” That’s not crazy, right? Who writes stuff like, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” As if we are twigs. This god that these people believe in is whom I am to find a purpose to my life? I may be crazy but that’s epic.

Does Life Have a Purpose?” Maybe not. But, I am here and the clock has not run down to zero for me yet. If I live to age 90 there are still over 12,000 sunrises to get through. Might as well do something to pass the time. Of suicide, I believe you freeze yourself in the angst that drove you to take your own life. Because you are then frozen in your misery, death offers no relief. In life there is hope. As long as there are more sunrises there are more chances to break out of a solipsistic mood and leave a legacy of light and salt.

My answer to the troubles is a little more village and a little less delicate snowflake. If we allow a more collectivist view of our identity then it’s harder to point a quivering, accusing finger at some boogeyman who has called us a poopy-head. This is a bottom-up thing, not some dictate handed down by a bloated bureaucracy. This is you making a choice to locate your identity in something greater than yourself. When it comes in the form of a dictate from Caesar it’s not the same. With this more collectivist view our purpose isn’t good self-esteem or the markers of success envied by some. It is the well being of our kin and village.

My pastor says in his sermon on this that we need a reason to be and a cause to pursue. There is no reason for me. I exist. For the next 12,000 days or so I am going to rise each morning needing things and wanting to have some purpose to this shit-show I was born into. Now that I am off the ridge and walking into the Valley of the River Styx my legacy, the story I leave behind, is what worries me.

I hope I have served, have touched some and been a point of light that illuminates hope for the hopeless. I am saved. I was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see. It’s been 4,380 days since I last confessed my faith to my Christian brethren at St. Giles Church. The trans-formative moment for me was a phone call from Darlene. I was to go to work for God with no hope of return or desired outcome. It’s my cause to pursue.

While your sun’s rise and fall to greet the moon I have a request. While you cower in your safe spaces at us the grownups who want you to do annoying self-care things like clean your room and wash some dishes, do a little more than that. Rather than litter the South Dakota desert with your detritus from protesting capitalist oil pigs, volunteer locally. There is something you can do, some place that would love your angst and youthful energy. Use your phone, google stuff, an NGO out there is looking for some help. Go help.

Of worm eating . . . it’s a metaphor. Just saying.

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Is the Bible Reliable?

No. That’s why I like it. That’s why I believe it is true. People are unreliable. Truth is fluid. At one time the earth sat at the center of the waters under the waters. Then by observation we come to understand that the earth circles a star. Over the decades we learn more and the truth changes again. A religious text that wasn’t a hot mess is to me a suspicious text. I’d expect a species that is a hot mess to write a hot mess book. What? People are not a hot mess? Seriously?

1cor134Mohamed declared he had recieved a revelation. He wrote the القرآن الكريم. He wanted the Bible to make sense. It does not and neither does the Q’uran. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, annoyed at the flaws in translation that have crept in to the Bible over thousands of years, did the scorched earth thing, and started from scratch. They messed up. But, since, they’ve gotten on their high horses and declared all of us to be apostate. No, they are right and we are going to hell. Some Muslims, impatient with God, have decided that the way to bring about a post-apocalyptic paradise is to force God’s hand and have that final calvary battle in Syria.

Sure, God is going to reward a bunch of zealots a post Revelations paradise on earth, with Mohamed returned, because they charged across a battlefield in Syria waving swords and firing muskets at the enemy while riding horseback. That’s not nuts. That’s rational.

Let’s not forget the numerous Christians who isolated themselves somewhere yelling that the rapture was nigh and they needed to be ready. The moment comes and the less insane of them realize that the buzzer on the dryer has gone off and one of the kids is crying because it’s time to eat. Life. Intrudes. Or the more insane of these sects that loses their damned mind and immolates or drinks poison.

If you brought me a religious text designed by Apple that was all bauhaus and logically (Aristotle’s logic) solid I’d not want it. The meaning of the word “bible” is library. It is a selection of religious texts argued over from the beginning. If there is any feature of Christianity it is our love of debate and apologia. We get it from our Jewish ancestors. Our central religious texts reflect that.

How much more loving, poetic, and accurate is a canon of 66 books which have stood the test of time. And, yes, we can’t even agree on a consensus of which books belong in the bible and which should be left out. So, 66 books is a fungible number. There isn’t even one bible. BibleGateway offers roughly a hundred editions of the Bible in various languages and from different sects. Over these books a grand narrative plays out from the creation story(s) in Genesis through to the Revelation of John. It is us. It is reliable in its depiction of the core values, core beliefs of us, of followers of Christ.

Please, though, stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. The foolishness of some, that want to bend the bible into a modernist, utopian exegisis of orthodox truth, reliable in its facts, historically accurate down to the angel on pinhead count, this is nonsense. The bible is a canon of the heart and stomach. It is absurd when viewed through 20th Century, rational eyes. Let it be what it is and the beauty of its truth exposes itself.

John 1:1-John 1:5 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” One of the oft-quoted mistranslations by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is:  “In the beginning was the Word,+ and the Word was with God,+ and the Word was a god.*+  This one was in the beginning with God.  All things came into existence through him,+ and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” Much is made of a small change, “Word was a God“.

The whole debate makes my head hurt. You can read one article on it here. It is significant to this piece because in spite of our continued wrangling over what we believe, what should and shouldn’t be part of the canon, the Bible thrives. One answer for many is to dismiss the whole mess out of hand because there has been so much hypocrisy, so much evil done in the name of the Lord. If that is you, fine. If humans have any constant, it is our talent for strife. We know the right thing to do yet we still do things we should not.

To repeat something I said in another post, my world is nuts. It is absurd. Nobody behaves, not even God. Them that throw tantrums because there are too many that don’t behave in amenable way are entertaining idiots. As I write this there is a small group of protesters who have decided to occupy a bridge. The idea is that they can stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Many beloved tropes about evil oil companies are sung as hymns by the press and fellow travelers. Those evil oil companies want to pipe oil across sacred Native American lands, ruining the water table, despoiling Mother Earth and worst of all, make money. This is sacred truth for the protest bunch. We who might disagree are apostate. We are ipso facto fascist.

I’m sure, were I able, opening a conversation with the protesters that challenged their orthodoxy, would not go well. They know their truth is accurate, factual. Me, the WASP, just doesn’t understand. If I understood I’d agree with them. The bible is reliable because it accurately reflects us. We are obstinate, sure of our orthodoxies, intolerant of opposition or differences, quick to speak with two mouths and close one ear.  For some, my drunk alien is more true than some wild-assed fable about a martyred carpenter from Nazareth. An absurd word of God works for me.

The books we keep resonate across time. Of all the greek plays to keep we kept Oresteia. Of all the inspirational books across time there are 66 which persist in spite of everything. They reflect who we are and how we can be better. Their very absurdity is what makes them beloved by me. Last bible quote as I end this, Colossians 3:16, “ Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Ok, actually, a couple more: John 1:9-14, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

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F R E E D O M ! ! !

Explore God: Is Christianity Too Narrow?

Christianity has too many rules. If I want to party all night long to loud music while my buddy boffs a hot chick, why not? I mean, it’s my life. Fuck off!

Let’s see . . . creepy fifty-something guy trying to relive his despicable twenties. That’s not a problem. No. It’s fine. Yeah. Totally fine.

Some two-year old’s discover a certain word and find it to the the most powerful spell they can utter. It’s one syllable. It’s total bad-ass magic. What’s the word? “No.” That child utters that word and suddenly the world stops. All the grownups perk up. Some of them freeze. It’s awesome.

Right around puberty we learn a word-storm that boils down to, “the grownups are stupid. I’m old enough. I should be able to do what I want.” Some of us do and get noticed by this space. Those that do make great copy. We love them.

The question for today in church was, “Is Christianity too Narrow?” I had a reflexive, “no” come out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop it. You can click away now because I’m going to say triggering and macro-aggressive things next. Gone yet? Go. Git. Seriously, this is not the blog post you should be reading. Go back to YouTube for more kitten videos.

The ones I want gone are the ones who will not listen to what’s next. According to them I am intolerant, racist, misogynist, lbgt hater, alt-right freak, etc. Because of my adjectives I am innately at odds with the orthodoxy of the day. Because of my history I cannot shed the scarlet letter that binds me to shame. Nothing I can say is sufficient. It is I who has to change, who has to behave in a way amenable to the haters of this blog. It is I that must continue to ask for supplication from my haters and fail to get it. So, I’m not talking to my haters.

I loved the word, “no” so much I kept saying it all the way to my grandma’s house in Albany, CA where I found someone who had me before I could say it. It wasn’t until I was fifty-something that I could sing, “I’m Trading My Sorrows” and feel it deep in my belly.

It was once I began to say, “Yes Lord” that a lifetime of Sunday’s in worship began to make an impact on my life. None of the altar-calls before the last one stuck. I’m alive today because of Jesus.

Tommy Nance gave the message last Sunday. He made a challenge to those present. He asked us if worship could be a sin. He asked us to wonder if all we do is warm a pew on Sunday whether our comfort in that pew could be used to coddle us into a dead reflection of God’s image birthed in us when sperm & egg became zygote. He challenged us to get out of the church and be the church in our communities. He accused us of brilliantly winning debates against unbelievers who challenge our exegesis. He described listening evangelism where we let people tell us about God.

You have met us before. You know us better than we know ourselves. You see us come down the street and go inside your homes to wait us out. We are the traveling sales people of the church. We door-knock, bibles at the ready, locked & loaded to capture more heathens. The only win is one where you give your life to Jesus right then. What we want is to close the sale, win the deal and bring home another buck for the church.

That isn’t me. I wasn’t asked to sell you so you become a Christian. I was asked to shut my pie hole and serve you. I am narrow in my beliefs. I do believe that a lot of the current orthodoxy about inclusion is the very opposite of inclusion. I don’t get what I want most of the time because my way of life as a Christian forces some difficult choices.

I’ve had it good. There is very little I can’t have or do if I set about to accomplish it. I’m almost 15 years into boot-strapping myself to where I am today. The devil’s buffet was a delight for some of my years. Until I pushed away from it and left my dirty plate and half-empty soda-pop at the table. To root myself in a 2,000 year tradition, to know that many have gone before me with similar questions, didn’t become a reason to reject my heritage. It has become a comfort.

When you have privilege, when the world is your oyster, your presence as a citizen of a first world nation gives you access to uncountable wealth. Oh stop. I know. The vast majority of the world lives on a few dollars a day. Our richest 1% controls an obscene percentage of the world’s wealth. I won’t hear a pitch that the answer is to take all that wealth and give it to the 99%. Go away.

Well, not yet. The wealth redistribution project that has been under way for almost a century has cost in the hundreds of trillions. We have sent boatloads of cash to that doe-eyed kid on TV who just wants a few cents a day from us to be able to eat a couple crumbs of leftover UNESCO rice. That kid is still in the late-night TV ads with a tear in his (?her?) cheek. Multi-trillions of dollars later and the claim is that we have not done enough. I’m in my mid-fifties. I first saw that ad as a teenager. That kid is old enough to be a grandparent. Somebody must not think I am very bright.

I need to stop at one paragraph of that. This is what I want to say. My privilege did not fix my major malfunctions. Quite the opposite. My privilege enabled me to have my major malfunctions. I could, to a great extent, use my position to insulate myself from misery. The idea that the answer for that doe-eyed kid is a first world life of privilege is an idea ripe for this space in its absurdity and folly. What I need is structure. It is miserable to choose a life which demands I wake at 4am for chapel and includes a reading schedule that will get me through the Psalms in a week. I count that misery as joy compared to having tasted the Devil’s buffet and pushed away from the table.

All of what the Devil has to offer has a short half-life. Early on it is grand. You want that early experience. Soon enough, though, his appetite for your soul begins to drain the euphoria out of his buffet and the bleed of your joy and spirit begins. Each attempt at recovering that early ecstasy diminishes the pleasure and increases the soul-sucking pain. These should be familiar outcomes: morgue, hospital, rehab and prison or jail. Some or all of those happen more than once except the morgue. If you are there then you have been eaten and there is nothing left to eat.

Jesus offers us an examined, disciplined life of self-sacrificing love. Those aspects of our lives that need to die are offered up to the cross in repentance. Christian life is a constant sacrifice of those aspects of ourselves which hinder a deeper relationship to Christ. It is narrow by design. And their lies the problem for anyone like myself that has a first-world life. We are asked to give up all the perks that come with being who we are in this time and place.

I part company with evangelists because they run right past this truth: this life isn’t for everyone. Christ died to live and to be his disciple we must also die to the world in order to live in Him. It is a high price to pay for a life that does not assure comfort. No, actually, being Christian has been and continues to be a miserable life for many. Saying the prayer and joining us isn’t ipso-facto, life-time warranty, 100% guarantee acquistion in 5 easy payments of a release from strife. Nope. I did both. I supped at the Devil’s buffet and realized he was eating me. Then I knocked on Heaven’s Door and Jesus let me in. That has made all the difference.

 

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Why The Suffering?

This was the third question of the Explore God series for Metro Richmond churches. It seems I started this essay series in the middle. Onward. If this is a question that is deep for you, sorry, twice. First, sorry that it disrupts your life. It’s kind of cool that you feel it deeply. It’s also rather shitty that the available answers all suck. Second, if you hoped I’d be the genius that had the epiphany of the ages, fail. I’m not the brilliant one. I’m a cab driver. My brilliance lasts long enough to get you to where you are going and get paid. Then I’m just another smelly plebeian.

christ-on-the-crossOver 2,000 years ago another smelly plebeian born in a stable in Bethlehem was crucified by the Romans at the behest of local rabbis. He was Nazarene and nothing good comes out of Nazareth. He made outrageous claims to divinity throughout his life. His followers attributed miracles to him. Three days after his crucifixion his body went missing and certain of his followers made the absurd claim that he had risen from the dead.

The absurd lies about Jesus have continued for two millennia. Today, his followers make the claim that he took all suffering, all death from all time with him to the grave and delivered it to Hell. So . . . why didn’t the shit-show stop 2,000 years ago? Anybody?

St. John said a lot crazier things in the book of Revelations. The fight over what the hell he was saying is as old as the book. Bottom line, instead of the shit-show stopping when Jesus was crucified, it kept going. What was/is the answer? Sheer bullshit, that when Jesus comes back he’ll make that a priority. In the meantime the misery will continue whether morale improves or not.

I am a confessed Christian. Well meaning evangelists have pressed me for the desired answer to their perpetual question, “are you saved?” My consistent answer is still, “yes I am“. I’m not your usual, doe-eyed unquestioning devotee of the mythology and orthodoxy of my church. I came to Christ a deep skeptic. I was sure God existed, somewhat less sure about the claims of Jesus, and very cynical about the church.

Still, I believe the bible is true, all of it. Is it literal, neat, Pythagorean truth lending itself to a linear exegesis? Don’t be silly. Even a superficial browse of it will turn up absurdities that destroy any childish assertion that the Bible holds up as a factual explanation of anything. Some of the Bible is narrative that we have learned is history. Some of the Bible is reliably absurd when read as journalism. I don’t expect my world to be so convenient. My world is absurd. That my religion and its central tome is absurd just fits.

I’ll leave it to others to be frustrated with the ways in which the Bible is bonkers. This is where I am going with this: the claim that the shitty aspects of life would end with Christ’s death is false. Every evangelist who tells you that your misery will stop once you say a quick, 10 second prayer is a liar. Things do improve, sometimes miraculously. I am one of many for whom this has been a life-long project. There is more blessing and less shit-show in my life lately. It didn’t just fall into my life. I had to work my ass off to get to today. I got here, though.

I said I would fail you. 500 words in and I’ve not touched the question–why is there suffering? “Everything happens for a reason?” And that reason would be? Or this, “You must have sinned somehow and this is the consequence of your sinful ways. Repent.” My Mom died last summer. She was 83. Her curriculum vitae was admirable. Dementia stole her from me. Are you seriously going to close the story of her on, “everything happens for a reason” or “She’d be healthier if you weren’t so evil”? Can I smack you? No? Damn. I can’t accept that she did something or I did something to cause her to contract dementia. Dementia just happened to her. It was how the story ended for her. I’m at peace with that. Your well-intended words of comfort that her last 5 years happened for a reason just pisses me off.

That utopia, where we are all the same, frozen at our mid-twenties, free to accomplish the seven deadly sins as often as we like without consequence . . . is a fantasy for some boomers and a nightmare to me. I like this world, where my Mom went home one afternoon during a nap. No, five years of watching dementia eat her wasn’t fun. For a time, I wouldn’t go home and when I did the times in the day when she needed to be moved or fed or her sheets changed or any of numerous small acts of care performed I found a way to be incapable of helping. Still, this world, with my Mom reduced to an imbecile toward the end, is one I’d choose over a pastoral first world where I am coddled and protected from misery.

That I live in a two-story walkup on a back alley off a run-down street next door to the Devil’s Funhouse in a valley named Valle de la Muerte may be concerning to some. It’s home. I’ve got incredible neighbors. There are days when the college kid that lives downstairs will be in my kitchen bitching about my lack of housekeeping skills. Most of the time she does this while she’s got the stove simmering something tasty and she’s taken it upon herself to clean up after me. A hug and a little cash always seems to be about right.

I don’t want the world in which she wears an apron and dutifully greets me at the door with a cigar, a drink and the newspaper. I like it that she scolds me for the way I keep my house and messes up the presets on my TV. A world in which salt has lost its taste isn’t one I would live in. I’m not immune to misery. Those that know me have watched me climb out of the mess I got myself into 15 years ago. I’m a better man today now that the task has changed to thrive from survive.

See, a couple doors down from my walk-up is a dirty, lowdown bar where it’s even odds that they serve you or mug you. Your chances are better if you live nearby and have been there before. The band plays acoustic, with some banjo, steel guitar, trap drums and a blind-guy who looks like he’s a thousand years old and plays clarinet. A short walk a couple blocks is a late-night Chinese American place. It’s a place where a lot of us end up in the short months before we move to 6th & Green. It isn’t all bad though. Some of us move on to better neighborhoods with fond memories of hangovers and stories that penetrate the fog of last night.

That college kid is 6 months clean from heroine. She’s a regular at the bar. The guys tried to mug her and she emptied the place. She was fine, hot for more. The guys, though, not so much. The cops arrested a couple guys for drunk in public and made them sober up at City Jail. She got a lecture about reasonable force. It’s all hugs and smiles now.

This is the thing, living where I do. Nobody is shocked at the existence of the blues. We live on, do the needful and some of us thrive. Our faith in an absurd, martyred carpenter gets us through. For as many sad songs there are songs of praise and ridiculous things like Todd White. Jesus told us we’d always have the poor with us. By inference, I say we’ll always have the blues. The Devil’s FunHouse is as much a part of this world as heaven. Cray cray is part of His creation. He is absurd. That said, it is how we choose to live and love that matters.

I’ll end on this: there are things that give me comfort. I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis’, “The Problem of Pain”. I’m a fan of Phillip Yancey. I haven’t read his “Where is God When it Hurts?” I trust Yancey enough to recommend him without having read “Where is God When it Hurts?” Of Lewis, the thing that I repeated ceaselessly was his insistence that God can’t do the self-contradictory. He can’t at once provide perfect safety and perfect freedom. Some degree of safety will limit freedom and more freedom will reduce safety. God made a world in which free will exists. The same baseball bat that can be used for a game can also be used to kill somebody. We should not fault the bat nor the God that made a world in which both things are possible. We should look within to where we are broken and tempted to use a baseball bat to injure.

Something else, there is beauty. Even on my street the busker who sings a catalog of b-side ’90’s almost famous mix-tapes accompanying herself with a kiddie synthesizer has her moments of transcendence. There are inexplicable acts of kindness and grace. As infinite are the slights and grievances also infinite are the reconciliations and healing. The sun will come out tomorrow . . . (Yes, ‘Annie’). I said I’d fail you with the question of why there is suffering and I have. I’ve kept my promise. This is an old and oft asked question. Any answer I have will be insufficient. What is sufficient is faith in an absurd event in history when God made himself flesh and died on a cross to be resurrected three days later. Nothing else worked, nothing else is enough. God died and rose again. Hallelujah and Amen!

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Educating Alan–Absurdism

You don’t matter. The universe, the world is a thing, unthinking, uncaring, available for ill will as well as beauty. The trees don’t care how you feel. The wind blows where it will. Whether you are addicted or some span of time clean and sober–the songbirds don’t care. They have their own problems to worry about.

St-Benedict-Dashboard-Crucifix2. it means nothing. There is no meaning to life. 42 is just a number. Your life doesn’t mean anything. Get used to this. That bunch of paint splotches on a canvas lovingly framed and hung in the modern art gallery of VMFA is . . . a bunch of paint splotches on a canvas. There is no homage to early Cheval. It does not quote Camus in its use of color. Stop saying that it is resonant with Chet Baker’s vocal pieces. The artist got lucky in convincing the VMFA to accept it as a piece worth recognition. Nothing means anything. It is all meaningless. So, enough with the “I taste hints of fair trade peppercorns and artisanal cork.” Need a source? Go read Ecclesiastes again.

Most of us will die unremarkable. After our funeral we become story. Even that story fades over time as those who knew us carry on. Some years hence our epitaph becomes a quant few words written in stone now eroded and illegible from the moss making its home on our grave. Seasons pass, the stone falls, slowly losing the fight with the grasses and wild-flowers to itself be buried. Our immortal story mortal and hence forgotten.

How much do you remember of Thomas R. Marshall? Who is Champ Clark? What were the dominant headlines when these men served our country? Can’t remember? Neither can I. I had to look them up. Even these men, who were notable in their day, are whispers in the minds of our grandparents. They mattered to some in their day. Now? Not so much. The same top-10 evils they got elected to fix still stumble about the halls of government only now these evils are ever more drunk on our tax dollars. “Plus les choses changent, plus elles restent les mêmes.

This is what Wikipedia says about absurdism: “In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (1) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (2) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”.[1] The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneous.”

So, what’s the point? Why not just shovel out a six foot hole, eat the earthworms uncovered in the digging, and resume room temperature. If life has no meaning why bother living? Roses. Roses are a reason to live. And chicken soup. The kind of chicken soup you get from making it yourself. Oh, and chocolate.

A man alone is insignificant. We are not alone. God observed Adam living alone and quickly decided he needed a helpmate. We are made better in the natural tensions in relationships. We  matter as one element of a larger whole called community.

We seek value and meaning and fail. The wind still blows where it will. Brer rabbit still becomes dinner for the fox. Wisdom begins in death to that which keeps us from God. We must die to this world to gain life in the resurrection kingdom. Our God, our Christ, is absurd. This popular saying, “god is love”, is nuts. God is love? Ok. Meaning? Does God even exist? Can you prove he exists? If God is love and he does not exist, does love exist? Who even cares?

Ok, enough of that. I got tired of therapy because it started to feel like I was one of those stuffed animals on display in the dioramas you find in Cabela’s. I was a side-show exhibit performing for the benefit of the therapist. I can’t sustain a down-in-the mouth, nihilist rant for long before my urge to start preaching about Jesus being our hope and savior becomes overwhelming. No, you are safe. I’ll check the impulse. Click here if you want that.

I’ve always rested on hope. I have faith in hope. That’s what gets me up in the morning, keeps me going in times like these when my only income is a stipend paid to me by the Virginia Employment Commission. I lean on Christ because it is He that has taught me a way which remains the one thing I can do and stay out of jail.

Everything about being Christian is absurd. I like this quote from the web site Rogue Theologians, “In both cases, the Absurd can be understood as a determined desire to move forward in the face of futility. This, I think, is the core notion of the Absurd. It is defiance of futility and defiance of despair (even while despairing)”. The whole essay is worth a read. More from the same essay: “For Kierkegaard, the Absurd is taking the Truth as it is even when reason, logic, rationality, and all such human things resist Truth. For Kierkegaard, faith is an absurdity that makes a human being capable of being authentically him or herself before God.”

Sorry, I couldn’t resist: this is meaningful to me: that God is love and love is a verb, thus God is also a verb. God isn’t a meaningless thing found in the depths of hell. Heaven is life, God is life, so heaven and god are thrumming, thriving, doing and living the love that is their core identity. I seek to emulate Jesus to the best of my ability. This means my task is to emulate, to embody love as a verb, Jesus as a verb. It doesn’t matter whether my labor means anything. My obligation to embody love as a verb doesn’t change because I’ll die forgotten soon enough. My work is to do what He called me to do and let Him worry about the rest. Absurd? Probably. I’m still on it.

 

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Gifts

First Posted 19-Jul-2014

Yeah, I know. It works better if we who have done something can still be painted as unrepentant. It helps the victim thing. We are not static. Most of us who have a past that is apology worthy are not only the things for which we have regret. We are that, that which causes us to have to answer for our past behavior. We are more, though. We also have gifts. It’s easy to get stuck on battling against that which we do not want and forget to forge ahead in the endeavor to give life to what we want.

Spiritual-Gifts-LogoThis can be hard to hear for those we injured. There is a tomorrow for perpetrator and victim alike. The fight to a draw with what we fear is seductive. It can consume us. Locking ourselves to the moments when we sinned traps us in slavery to the pain of those moments. Part of gaining freedom is to forgive, sure. Another part is finding a new life with the fading reflection of what we did that causes regret.

This is not for those who are still unrepentant. There are folk who remain a problem until they become a regrettable corpse to be cremated with tax dollars and buried in a public graveyard. I can’t do anything with those folk. Hopefully, their ugly behavior will come to the attention of law enforcement and they’ll suffer appropriate consequences.

This is for those who have repented and are trying to live in the aftermath. So, what to do? Stay locked on to the acts that give us a reason to repent? Focus our energies on therapy and medication to cure someone from a diagnosis based on those regrettable moments? At least for me, it became a self-perpetuating tornado of weird that kept alive the very thing that needed to die and be healed so that I could live today and into forever tomorrow. Instead, confess, repent, and in this step, start figuring out gifts that will support a vision and mission for the rest of your life. And, yes, giving your life to Christ can be part of this.

I’m going to catch flack from some folk for this paragraph. For them, the first, and most crucial step, is confessing faith in Christ. They take it on faith that just that alone is enough. It isn’t. It is important and I do believe that for me, without Christ, things would not be going so well. I know too many, some of them confessed Christians, who still sin (Pastor Weenie!), who still act out, though they grew up in the church, know the right thing to do, and have answered the altar call more than once. The fulfillment of a confession of faith comes in the days following as we live out our professed surrender to Christ.

I’ve also met folk who, fresh out of prison or jail, know what they don’t want. They have no vision, mission or sense of their gifts. They are very clear on what they don’t want. This is a problem. Left alone, with only a fear of unwanted consequences, their risk of recidivism is high. They need a mission, something to live for. And sorry, just saying that he or she is living for Cheeeezus isn’t enough. St. Paul said those that don’t work won’t eat. We need to find work for ourselves. I’ve said enough about my major malfunctions. Now the hard part, to assess my gifts and publish a mission & vision for myself. Through therapy and the narrative I tell about my family, I’ve become very good at moaning about my sins. I’m not as good at celebrating my gifts. This will be hard. It is needed, though. Just sweating to prevent that which I do not want is not enough. There has to be something I want that gives purpose to my life. As I discover it I’ll post it here. Stay tuned.

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Satan is a Badass

First Posted 09-Sep-2014

I first wrote this in October of 2009. It is quoted below from my Note on Facebook.

I’m a Christian. To say that I love evil is blasphemy, no? I’m supposed to say I love Jesus with all my heart, soul and being to the end of my days. I’m supposed to say I’m on fire for Jesus. What’s this crap about loving evil?

Jesus and the DevilI’ve lived my share of blues. By my count, I’ve been round the wheel of success & failure four times. I never got the good union job my Dad wanted me to get, the wife & rugrats that often come along as well, the mortgage, the car payment(s), the rat race to consume the latest, most fashionable, coolest crap in the stores, the election as an elder in my church, blah, blah, blah. I’ve been the reason my Dad has to apologize at family parties because I’m in one other tough spot, maybe homeless again, perhaps far too close to jail for family comfort, usually broke, and on again about how I’m going to write this book, be on Oprah and never have a care in my life again.

I’m also a Christian and I do love Jesus. Satan, though, if you’ve ever eaten in his pub, serves a pretty good fish & chips and his beer isn’t half bad. I kinda like the guy. And I’m not sure that feeling sorry for myself because I don’t drive a 7 series beemer, have a blonde babe for a wife after divorcing my high school sweetheart, etc, is a good thing. My blues have become my life’s story and while it isn’t the story my Dad wanted to tell, it’s been pretty cool.

So, why do I love evil? No, not because I’m Christian and Jesus tells us to love our enemies. That bit of eschatology is too trite, too easy. I love Satan because he’s what keeps me honest. If I have a flaw, a temptation, a place where my faith is weak, he’ll exploit it and in so doing, show it to me. Evil, negativity exposes the sin I have to repent. He helps me come closer to Jesus by showing me where I am not yet fully confessed before Christ. I may have the author of the quote wrong, I remember these words as belonging to Joyce Hugget, “Conflict exposes specific sin.” Satan helps me grow closer to Christ by exposing and exploiting sin. He becomes an angel who helps me see myself honestly.

Of course, you can take this in a way that means being totally wasted, naked, totally debauched, is a good thing. Nope. You don’t get a pass for defying the law because I write here that evil is some sort of path to nirvana. You still have to behave. It still matters that you agreed to be a disciple of Christ. That agreement, that promise, still means something and limits your behavior. Besides, for every rising knocker there is a morning after, when consequences have a reliably frustrating way of invading your life.

I do suffer for the choices I’ve made in life. Perhaps more than I signed up for. Oh well. I’d still live it the same way again given the chance. I got to see Bobby McFerrin live in San Francisco. I’ve been to a Dead show when Gerry was alive. I’ve had tea on a mountaintop in Taiwan. I’ve got a teenage son who is (IMHO) the world’s greatest kid. There is more. I hope you get the idea. I also am so happy to be who I am and writing this on my friend’s laptop in a motel room in Richmond’s West End while watching cable tv. I’ve come to that place were for the most part all Satan can do is help me be a stronger Christian.

I hear that as well, that these words come across as pompous, arrogant poo, stinking, fresh, huge, elephant dung with a side of cul puant. I’m not some superhuman, invincible saint. I screw up, sometimes daily, and have to yet again bring to God in confession something I have to apologize for. It’s ok, because I still believe that I am a confessed, saved disciple of Christ and that in the end failure and strife are what forge me into a stronger man.

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Hard Times and Trouble

First Posted 06-Aug-2015

I don’t want to be right about this. I want to be wrong. I want to be the idiot prophet who proclaims doom on a sign while walking down Market Street in San Francisco and becomes a photo-op. That way, what I fear, won’t happen. I’ll just worry as I do and find out my worries are baseless. Maybe things will work out as they have for 30 years.

Dandelion_sunMaybe I’ve read too many dystopian novels lately. The ones where the book starts after the apocalypse and the story is what happens after the world has gone to shit. I’ve seen my own life go to shit at least four times. And four times I’ve come back to something different, more stable than the last time. I’m in an up cycle lately, with a job that pays double what I am used to making, a car (ok, it needs work to be legal but it’s paid for), a leased house and a few toys. I’m missing a partner to enjoy this with but hope springs eternal.

There is no connection between my boom & bust cycles and the ill winds blowing through Washington D.C. The direction of my life says as much about what’s going on there as good old sheep ankle bones. So, fearing that we are hosed because of the idiocy currently playing out before us with our nation’s leaders as players in the farce, is perhaps emotionally comforting but no less rational than declaring things will work out just as they always have.

Afraid I am. Our government is its own tail eating snake. It exists for itself. Only by coincidence does it do anything to improve or damage our lives. It does seem, though, that its reaction to a growing awareness of its irrelevance is to increase its bullying and intrusion into our lives in random ways so we’ll be forced to pay attention. I am afraid our own government has become an enemy of those it purports to lead. Quoting Rustler:

“To start, there is some good news. The current system and its institutions, everything that has been coopted by the left, and that we have lost to them,  will collapse under their own weight anyway, and sooner than you might think. They are, to borrow a wonderful word that the environmentalist left taught me, unsustainable. There are many reasons for that, which include massive debt and other structural economic problems, imperial overreach, moral bankruptcy, resource depletion (and here I mean more than energy, look at California’s recent problems with not having enough water to go around), looming demographic crisis, loss of legitimacy and public trust, problems so numerous and complex that going into all of them in any detail would take me far beyond the scope of this essay. Suffice it to say that all of the institutions that make up the Establishment as it is presently constituted are living on borrowed time: they’re going to disintegrate, and it is probably for the best that the left will end up holding the bag when they do.”

 

It’s a stretch to say that the recent spotlight given to cops shooting unarmed civilians is connected to this. There is a fuzzy and irrational connection in my mind. Cops feeling afraid and thrown under the bus reacting to this additional stressor by pulling the trigger quicker than they might if they didn’t feel a general malaise and fear from the public and their superiors. Citizens being generally annoyed with the government and cops by inference quicker to escalate their encounters with police. All conjecture, sure, and probably without merit, but the thought is there.

I’d like to say I have some piece of pithy advice, some hope, something we can do about this. I don’t. Knowing that peril looms and it’s eye is centered over D.C. has me listening to Dave Ramsey’s, “Total Financial Makeover” and deciding it’s a bad time to be proud of asceticism. When the stock market collapsed in 1929 there were those who had enough wealth that they could invest in a down market and thrive while those forced to beg for pennies from Uncle Sam suffered. It’s time to get my fiscal house in order and make sure that if my fears come true, I’ll be among those who can invest rather than count the number of pocket lint fibers in Uncle Sam’s threadbare satin striped suit hoping to find something of value.

Featured Image Credit: The End of the World by Christophe Dessaigne

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