5 months. That's how long it's been since I've written anything? Dude.... And no one missed my rantings and ramblings?
I have been busy. Lots of stuff for my church. First there was Missions Sunday, of which I am the missions chair and had to do some work for that. Then we started doing video announcements and that's taken a lot of my time and creative energy. I am getting pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. I'm not actually IN the videos, I just make them up.
But today I find myself with some time to write. So what should I write about?
I honestly don't know. There's been a lot going on in the news, but honestly haven't been all wrapped up in it. Yes, I'm concerned about the gun control issues and how congress was basically bought off by the NRA, I am concerned about the things coming out of the white house and what the President may or may not have had a part in, but no so concerned that it's worth talking about right now.
So what is important to me right now? I don't know. I'm tired. Just really really tired. As much as I've enjoyed having something to keep me busy, it hasn't really distracted me from the stress that is swarming about me. My wife had a horrible experience with someone that took it upon themselves to sabotage her career and indirectly our family's livelihood. As a result we are crashing and burning badly. Our cupboards and fridge are empty, the gastank is drained, and the electricity is about to be shut off.
When I stop to think about it, I start to freak out. We've been down and out before, but this is about as down and out as we can get. We might have been able to live through the summer, but going into the fall and trying to survive through another whole semester of school... I don't know how we're going to do it.
I wish I could work. I mean do regular work. I do a lot for the church, but they are very understanding of when my head pain blows up for 6 week and I can't do anything. Most people that provide a paycheck are not very forgiving of people that would need tons of time off without notice. Alas I'm stuck.
Fortunately, I do get Social Security. There are many people that point and laugh and accuse and blame and... whatever. And I hate it. But the truth is, that program exists for this purpose, to help people like me that are unable to work. So hate me. Blame me for the freaking national debt, I don't care. I have a family that needs help, I paid into the program for more than 25 years and I am grateful that it exists. It's not like I'm freaking sitting around ripping off the government....
I'm ranting. But seriously, I really tried or getting blamed, directly or indirectly, for the national debt.
I don't really know. I'm tired. Really freaking tired. Tired and more tired. I'm just drained by the chaos. I don't know how to stop the chaos. I don't know how to get our heads above water. Even my wife has just disappeared into her online games. We barely talk, let alone spend any time together. We just sink further and further into the mire.
5 months. That's how long it's been since I've written anything? Dude.... And no one missed my rantings and ramblings?
I am uninspired today. I have the urge to write and create and add something to the world, but I can't find a place to start, so I'll just do a brain dump and see if I can produce something coherent.
There's a lot of talk, a lot of ranting and raging and fear and animosity on the issue of gun control. So many are afraid that the government will do something drastic to take away second amendment rights. Others are afraid that so many are irresponsible with their legally owned fire arms and they are ending up in the hands of those that will hurt and kill.
I hate guns. Hate them. I don't understand the gun culture. I don't 'get' those that collect and hoard guns and ammo. And I absolutely don't get the statement "from my cold dead hands". I hate guns. If I ruled the world I would take them all and drop them in the bottom of the ocean. Pile them all up and burn them. Get rid of them all. I hate guns.
But I live in reality. I won't be the leader of the world. And people have guns and will always have guns. I have to accept that the second amendment has been interpreted the way it is and there are millions of guns out there and millions more sold every day. In spite of whatever government rules are made, people will have guns.
And people will continue to be killed by guns.
In spite of my feelings, the world is what it is. What I don't get is the ranting and hyperbole over the issue. Some are so convinced that Obama is going to take away their guns.
They don't live in reality. Even if Obama were to declare that he is introducing legislation to do away with all guns (like Australia did not so long ago), it would never become law. Ever. Why?
Even if there wasn't such a thing as the NRA, there are enough congressmen that live in the real world. Guns aren't going anywhere.
So what can we do?
I'm all for stronger enforcement of background checks. I'm all for ongoing training of teenagers and others to teach them how to handle a gun properly. I think maybe we should even require testing, like we do to get a driver's license, before you can own a gun.
I do not, however, think we should take away guns. I think the current position presented by Joe Biden, to outlaw assault rifles and large ammo clips, is wrong and will not work.
What needs to be addressed is the issue of handguns. 6000+ people died from handgun use, most from gang-related or drug-related activity. We need to put our efforts into giving our young people opportunities to make a life and living inside the law instead of outside it.
First step? Legalize the production and use of marijuana. Make it an industry. Including all the possible uses of the rest of the plants. Produce marijuana cigarettes with filters and packaging and warning labels. That will put an end to the illegal industry and maybe those who have become experts at producing these plants will finally have status and purpose. Will that end drug trafficking and gang activity? No. But it will certainly put a huge dent in it.
Second,. give people dignity. Pay people a wage that gives them a reason to work. Pay people for 40 hours of work in a way that lets them live the other 128 hours of their week without worrying about the rent, the groceries, or the electric bill. Give these young people jobs that pay better than selling meth on the corner.
Lastly, stop marketing fear. I know this won't really happen, but I'm in dreamland here, so here me out. Stop Fox and MSNBC and CNN and all the others from turning every little tiny story into something to panic about. Stop turning the 'big' stories into media circuses. Shut them down. Turn them off. And instead of fear and panic, lets talk about peace and love and the GOOD things in this world. There is more to love in your fellow man than there is to fear. There is more to care about in your neighbor than to fear that they are bad people.
Yes, I'm dreaming, I know none of this will ever happen. But neither will guns go away.
So there's that.
I've been really out of whack lately. My health has been terrible, headaches every day, depression, weakness, fogginess in the head. I'm still having that fogginess, thus the lack in clarity to find something to do or say. I question almost every day why I'm here if my purpose is only to suffer. Why do I have to deal with this? Why has God allowed this to happen? What is wrong with me that this is my life?
The answer? God has not allowed this. There is nothing wrong with me. And there is no why. Life is what it is. There are no cards that have been dealt, where someone has a better hand than mine. There is no favoritism in the universe. Life is.
The question I should be asking is what am I doing to deserve the air in my lungs? What am I doing to bring beauty and peace to the world? Even if I am having a bad day, what am I contributing to the universe that is worth the price of the blood in my veins?
I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. I need to quit having my happiness depend on my wife or my children and I need to create my own purpose and happiness.
I need to find my 'vocation'. The thing that I can do to give something to the world. Paid or not.
But what? What can I do? What should I do? I don't know yet. But I'm going to find it. I'm going to start trying, working, stretching, testing, figuring out. Where to start? Maybe right here. Writing. It's somewhere to start anyway.
Everyone needs purpose. When the current recession hit hard and a lot of people went out of work, thousands of people applied for disability because of depression. Some might say many were faking it because they wanted to sponge off the government, but I think most were sincerely depressed, dangerously so. Why? They had lost their purpose. They had lost the meaning in their life. Especially men.
No mater what comes first in a man's life, whether that be religion or marriage or family, above all that is their vocation. The thing the DO that allows them to put religion or marriage or family first. The thing that allows them to give and provide and do things for the people that matter. If you rip that way from a man, he has lost everything.
I have lost that. I need to find it. I've done nothing for a while but wait. Wait to get better, maybe. Wait for my wife to help me, possibly. Wait for my kids to give a crap about anything. For my church to act like I'm important to them. I don't know. But now I don't care anymore. I'm going forward. I'm going to find my own way forward and if anyone else wants to come along, great. But I"m not waiting anymore.
Enough ranting for today.
New year. So excited. Woo.
Is it possible to be burned out when you don't do anything? I went through burnout a few times in my working career, mostly working for bosses that didn't give a crap about the people that worked for them. I kind of feel that way now, even though I'm not working. Tired, frustrated, depressed, no joy in anything.
The holidays were just kind of... meh. No excitement, no joy, just a feeling of 'this is something we have to do'. And we did. And now it's over and we're kind of glad to have it over. And we're still tired.
What am I missing? What did I miss? How did something I normally enjoy so much turn into such a drag? I mean it was even my grand-daughter's first Christmas and all I felt was .... meh. I even got some really neato gifts and all I feel is .... meh.
What will 2013 bring? I don't know. Am I excited about it? No. Just.... meh.
So bring it on 2013. I'm all meh about you.
The world is a sad place again this Christmas. Or at least there isn't much joy to go around. Children murdered in the US, civil war in Syria, protests in Egypt (again), Israel flexing its muscle... not to mention Mali, New Delhi, North Korea... Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men - men aren't very good at it.
And here in America, on the Internet, we debate. I am the worst offender. Everything sets me off. Gun control? I am so there with fists raised ready to throw virtual punches. War on Christmas? Heck yea, let's rumble! Fiscal cliff? Let me tell you how wrong you are about everything you know about that!
Why do I do this to myself? Is it because I feel kind of helpless most days, struggling with physical pain and crippling headaches I feel like I don't matter anymore? So I make myself matter by being loud and confrontational?
Or maybe I'm just an asshole.
And that's really the opposite of what I need to be. I call myself Christian because of what I believe. If I really believe it, then I need to be better. I need to be salt and light, not angry and bitter. I need to be love and light, not sarcastic and vile.
Which begs the question, do I really believe what I claim to believe?
My journey of faith is different than most others. While many become Christian through a spiritual transition, my faith is based on a study of history and archaeology and ancient writings. The things I believe about the Bible would be much in opposition to the beliefs of most other Christians. And while I certainly believe in Jesus as the Son of God and the accuracy of the gospels, I do not feel that a completely literal interpretation of every single word in the Bible is how we are supposed to read it. God gave us brains, he wants us to use them and not just point at something and say "Yep, that's God, everything else is wrong". The debates over evolution/creation, when life begins, all that stuff, I don't think that's how we're supposed to "use" the Biblical text. Is it true and accurate and the Word of God? Sure. But it's not all history. Are the poems of Robert Frost true and accurate and the word of Robert Frost? Sure, but it doesn't mean that every word in them actually happened.
But I digress. We can debate Biblical authenticity and hermeneutics another day. My point is, from some people's perspective, I'm not a very good Christian. And maybe my confrontational nature has done more disservice to my friends than good. And maybe I'm not being confrontational enough in some areas.
I believe in God, I believe in 'Heaven' and eternal life (though the nature of such and the exact nature of life after death, we can discuss at another time). I believe in a "hell" (though the nature of such and the question of 'eternal torment', we can discuss at another time). As such I do wish that all my friends believed as I do and would be with me in eternity.
But I also know that most of my friends have looked at the same historical and archaeological evidence as me but have come to a different conclusion. Others look at those who claim to follow God and have determined if THAT is who God is, they want no part in it. It makes me sad. But if I truly love and respect my friends, is it better or worse to engage in endless discussion that isn't going to lead either of us to change our minds or is it better to just love and respect them?
That brings me back to the debate question. This time of year, even though there are more important things in the world to discuss, the 'war on Christmas' always comes up. Was Jesus really born in a manger? Was she really a virgin? Was it December 25th? Shepherds? Angels? Wisemen? All that stuff? And is it really a 'war on Christmas' to argue against it?
A lot of arguments I've heard from atheists is that much of Jesus' story parallels that of other 'gods'. We'll save the discussion of Jesus death and resurrection as compared to other stories later and just talk about the birth story. First, the virgin question. Was Horus the Egyptian sun god born of a virgin? Well, first of all there's no evidence of that belief until well after the birth of Christ, but even if there were, so what? What about Buddha? Buddha's mother was married for 20 years before the Buddha came from her side (possibly a primitive c-section?) So doubtful. But even if he was, so what? Who copied who? Was Jesus the original "born from a virgin" or was that a tenant of other religions before? If the latter, so what?
What about December 25th? Jesus can't be real because so many other gods were born on December 25th and Christians just copied that. To that one I say "uh.. no". There is much more Biblical and historical evidence to suggest that Jesus was born in just about any other season except winter. The shepherds are the biggest give-away. Bethlehem is geographically situated about half a mile above sea level in what is basically a desert (even allowing for climate change over the last 2000 years, it was still very desert like). At that elevation at that time of year sheep would not be in the fields, day or night. There would be nothing for them to eat, they would have been penned up. The Biblical account says the shepherds were "tending their flocks by night". This points, most likely, to a summer time event. The days would have been very hot and too dangerous to be in the sun all day. Nights would have been cooler and safer to be out doors.
But why December 25th? To be honest, Christians stole it from 'pagan' celebrations of the Winter solstice. It was a marketing technique. "Hey, pagans, look over here! We're having a winter party too, only we have Jesus!" The celebration of Christmas, or to be precise, the "Christ Mass", didn't really exist until hundreds of years after the original writing of the gospels. Was that bad? Yea, kinda.
Born in a manger? What the freak is a manger? Most representations of a manger are a feeding trough. A box on legs full of hay. The gospel account says he was "laid in a manger". The Greek word translated as 'manger' is also used in Luke 13:15 and translated as "stall". Was it a feeding trough or just a stall lined with hay? My opinion? Meh. So what? Not sure we can know nor do I think it really matters. The gospel message of salvation is not changed if it was a trough or a stall.
Wisemen? Again, meh. It doesn't matter if they were there at the manger or later when Jesus was a toddler. What were their names? Where were they from? Meh. Does it matter? No not really.
War on Christmas? Hardly. It's more of a war to defend things that have no basis in history.
So then what does matter? What about Christmas is important? Should we not celebrate it at all because it's at best a fake Christian holiday and at worst a pagan celebration (full of pagan symbols like trees with lights)?
What's important is what is important to you. Don't believe in Jesus? That's OK. Don't think we should observe it at all because of it's pagan origins? That's OK too. What's important to you? Friends? Family? Food? Gifts? Fuzzy feel good feelings? It's all good. It's all great. If it's important to you, it's good.
Regardless of your beliefs, or non-beliefs, Christmas can be an amazing and awesome day. Don't let anyone convince you that you "have to" celebrate this way or that way. Even if you think the religious part of it is all wrong, so what? Enjoy the secular side. Enjoy the day off from work and the opportunity to party.
I'm off on tangents all over the place. But that's OK, it's my blog, I get to write what I want.
So, debate and confrontation. I love it. Should I? No, probably not. There's not enough love going around in the world. There needs to be more unity and harmony, or at the very least tolerance. (PS. Tolerance is not the same as acceptance. I tolerate my hemorrhoids, that doesn't mean I accept their right to exist.) Peace on earth and goodwill toward men should begin with me. Do you see Christ in me when I talk to you?
Probably not because all I want to do is argue with you. And I'm sorry. To you, guy I offended when you brought up gun control, I'm sorry. I was not kind when I could have been. It was obviously a very hot issue for you and all I did was make you more mad.
The world is a sad, tragic place this season. There are hurting people everywhere. Instead of insisting on standing my ground, I instead need to reach out in love and help you out of your hurt.
Merry Christmas to you, dear reader. If I have been unkind to you, I am sorry. I hope you can forgive me and give me an opportunity to make amends. And if you don't believe in Christmas, I say Merry Christmas anyway because to me it's not about pushing my belief on you, it's about a day of peace and love and harmony and I hope you find that, regardless of how you spend your day.
My creative train has been derailed for a while, so I asked for inspiration. My lovely wife suggested I fantasize about what would be the best Christmas ever, anything goes. So here goes. Buckle up, this my get a little nuts.
"Christmas eve! Christmas eve!" Micah was running through our luxurious hotel suite with his Mickey Mouse ears on sideways, wearing nothing else but his underpants. He was still learning to talk, so it came out as "Kwismas eeb! Kwismas eeb!" It was our fourth day of our two week Disney vacation, the day we all agreed would be completely laid back with as little walking as possible. The holiday would mean the parks would be packed anyway and we all wanted to so some shopping. The $750 million we had left of out lottery winnings after taxes wasn't going to spend itself.
"Kwismas eeb! Kwismas eeb!" The suite was actually 4 suites with adjoining rooms. The space was larger than his house, larger than 3 of his houses, at least until they signed on the new place when they got home later in the month.
A knock at the door. That would be our official Disney vacation wake up call. Grampy stumbled out of bed, his newly thin body, muscles rippling, gleamed majestically in the morning sunlight. Nana's early Christmas gift of fur-lined (fake fur, of course) boxer briefs accented his thin masculine frame.
The knock repeated. Grampy didn't bother with a robe, much the the dismay of his children and grand children, but he was proud he had lost 100 pounds. And why shouldn't he be? In his late 40s he was a total stud-muffin. They all wondered who it would be today, would it be Mickey? Goofy? Ariel the Mermaid?
Grampy threw the door open, inviting the character in without knowing who it was. He had forgotten that he had gotten to choose one of the wake up calls. From hidden speakers somewhere in the walls, the Star Wars theme suddenly started to play. Brandishing a blaster, Princess Leia, attired in her 'slave to Jabba the Hutt' costume, burst through the door, seemingly looking for Jabba's minions to blast. Seeing Grampy in his fur underwear, she assumed he was her hero. She rushed to his side, throwing her arms around him. The groans from the kids and grandkids were the exclamation point on Grampy's best wake up call ever.
After Princess Leia left, leaving the authentic blaster replica as a souvenir and a passionate kiss on the cheek for Grampy's memories, breakfast was delivered. Mountains of bacon, sausage, and pancakes. They didn't last long as the 20 or so people assembled set to devouring it. Grampy and Nana sat back and enjoyed the world's best coffee as their family milled about them.
Their shopping assistants arrived about half an hour later. The stretch limousines, 4 of them, waited for them just outside the hotel.
First stop, the newly opened FAO Schwartz, Orlando, to sign the ownership papers and confirm the delivery of 400 or so packages for the next morning. Then on to the custom electronics store to confirm the delivery of the 144 inch screen to their new vacation home in Hawaii.
Then it was lunch time. They had bought out The Mellow Mushroom for the best pizza in town and hired Aerosmith to play for their afternoon entertainment. Steven Tyler had invited his daughter Liv to join them. She was filming a new movie and came wearing a costume similar to that she wore in Lord of the Rings. Nana was not impressed with the attention Grampy gave her.
The afternoon was spent with George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg. Besides discussing their new movies, George also let them take turns flying his fully functional Millennium Falcon. The hyperdrive wasn't functioning properly, though, and they could only go once around Saturn's rings before having to come back.
For dinner they hired Gordon Ramsey to make steak. He was required by contract to refer to Grampy as "My Lord". The steak was amazing.
They spent the evening being entertained by holograms of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. As the little ones scampered off to bed, North Pole elves tucked them in with live re-enactments of "The Night Before Christmas".
Santa came at midnight. The grownups were all having the time of their life. Santa stayed for a while and had hot wings and champagne.
Disney Princesses and Princes woke them the next morning, all dressed in their very finest costumes. The huge mountain of presents took most of the day to open. The turkey dinner, provided by Martha Stewart, again addressing Grampy as "My Lord" arrived at noon.
As they flew home that evening in their private 747, with entertainment provided by Justin Beiber for the girls in one cabin and the cast of Star Trek in the other for the guys, they call declared it was the best Christmas ever.