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Posts Tagged ‘religion’

The family is on a no-tech holiday, more on that later. As a result, the blog will be back next week. Here is what I have planned for the future: My No Tech Vacation, Emotion vs Logic: Battle of the Titans, and a multi part series on Wisconsin. So, stay tuned. In the mean time, here is a quote that I like:

“I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious views of anyone.” – Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

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So, my father died yesterday.  People die everyday and as I have mentioned before, it is not death, but the dying that is difficult.  But my dad’s death was planned, and that has got to be a special kind of hell.  There are so many ways to die:  People die of cancer, heart attacks car accident, embolism, aneurism, freak acts of nature or the best way of dying of all time, while sleeping.  But what do you do when you must make a decision about death?

My father was a retired minister.  As a matter of fact, I flew from Wisconsin to California to attend his retirement party.  To give you a sense of who my father was, his retirement party was a roast.  To this day, and I am sure my sister would agree, we did not roast him nearly enough.  We all tended on the kind side rather than the roast side, but I guess that is OK.  I think people had a hard time roasting a minster.  Oh well, people may not have understood that my father was not that kind of minster.  In my opinion, he was the best kind.  You can be a christian and still be fun and not take things so seriously.

Speaking of Christianity; here is the worse story of yesterday.  Someone texted my sister to ask if my father was a christian.  Message to all you so-called-christians:  The time of death is not the time to try to ‘save’ someone’s soul.  When Christ visited Lazarus, who was dead, you know what he did not do?  He did not check to see if he was worthy of his time.  He did not ask stupid questions.  He did not make sure that the family believed everything that he believed.  He did not confirm that Lazarus was a good man.  When he was finally with the grieving family, do you know what he did?  Jesus wept.  If you wear a WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelet or have a bumper sticker saying the same thing, I implore you, I beg you, read the Bible so that you know what Jesus would actually do, because based on your actions, you clearly don’t know.  But I digress.

I called my father on Father’s Day, but he didn’t answer.  We had been playing phone tag for about two weeks.  I was calling for two reasons:  One, to ask about the restaurant that he and his wife had newly opened and two, to get him to send golf clubs that he had promised to send me.  On Father’s Day, he was flown to a hospital in Palm Springs because of kidney failure.  He has been in the hospital since Father’s Day, and as you probably know already, he never left.  Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the worse roller coaster ride ever.  Kidney failure is bad (50% survival rate), but not the worse, several trips to a dialysis center and you can live without kidneys.  However, his lungs became problematic and they had to intubate him, hooking him up to a breathing machine.  His lungs did not fail, they were just having problems.  Figure out the problem, get him off the machine.  The problem was blood clots (pulmonary embolism survival rate 30%).  As the nurse said, most people die from the amount of clots seen in his lungs.  OK, my dad is clearly tough, place a blood filter to prevent blood clots from reaching the heart and lungs, and get him on blood thinners (anti-coagulants), problem solved.  He began to bleed.  Quick medical lesson:  The clotting function of your blood is very important.  If you get a paper cut, the act of clotting stops the bleeding.  If your blood does not clot, or if you are on anti-coagulants, you get a paper cut and it may bleed forever.  My father has emergency surgery to find the bleeding and stop it.  The doctor tells my brother and mom he has a 30% chance of surviving the surgery.  He survives the surgery.  As stated before, my father was tough.  However, he must be taken off the anti-coagulants.  It was on that day that I lost hope.  You see, the down side to having knowledge is sometimes you get to figure out the ending before others.  It can ruin movies, which is why I must check my brain at the door to enjoy most films.  In my mind, the blood clots were the key to his survival.  If we got rid of the clots, maybe we could get him off that blasted machine and get that tube out of his throat, which he hated.  But the doctor did not want to give up (for good or bad).  My father also had an infection.  The doctor hoped if he could get rid of the infection, things would improve.  No problem, antibiotics.  They did not work.  Oh yeah, I forgot, my father could not maintain his blood pressure.  He was on pressors.  Pressors (norepinephrine) elevate the blood pressure.  Without the pressors, my dad’s blood pressure would plummet.  On the morning of July 9, the doctor, the wife, and the son (me) called it.  There was nothing more that could be done and we began the process of calling the family to see my father for the last time, because the next day he would be taken off of machines and medications.

I describe this to you because everything my father had was fixable.  Each ailment had a solution.  This was not cancer.  So the question was for a long time, at least in my mind, “How long are we going to do this?”  What is the acceptable amount of time to throw medicine and machines at a medical problem?  It was horrible.  Then, finally, when the decision was made, we had to plan his death.  How do you plan someone’s death?  How do you plan your father’s death?  Your husband’s death?  For right or wrong, I made it my responsibility to make sure that my father’s death was going to go as planned.  Nice and easy.

It’s weird to wake up on the day you know your dad’s going to die.  It would probably be worse if you were aware of your own death date, which I am sure has happened, but I woke up with the burden of responsibility of someone else’s death and unbeknownst to me, it made me extremely angry.  If you interacted with me, you would not have known how angry I was, and I did not know that I was angry.  But I soon left no doubt that I was angry.

To enter the ICU, you need a badge.  It’s a paper badge that sticks to your shirt.  You need a new one everyday.  You gave the security guard at the main lobby of the hospital your badge from the previous day and they printed you a new one.  I forgot mine, so I handed the security guard my driver’s license so he could print me a new one.  Also at the front desk was a hospital volunteer, a candy striper.  She was 75 years old if she was a day.  She proceeded to tell me how the correct procedure is to hand in your previous badge in order to get your new one.  I proceeded to tear her a new one and in no uncertain terms informed her that today was my father’s death day.  Now, my sister was with me.  My sister is a loud, in-your-face black woman.  She calls herself the truth whisperer.  Her blog is The Truth Whisperer.  She silently gave me my space.  I was angry.  Next, we visited my father.  In order to enter the actual ICU either a security guard or a candy striper must use their key card to open the doors.  So, there is a desk at the entrance of the ICU.  My sister and I were with my father briefly.  We just wanted to sit with him a while.  As we walked out, one of the volunteers said in an attempt at humor, “Just a short visit huh?  You weren’t in there very long.”  My sister, The Truth Whisperer, walked by silently to our private family room (reserved for such occasions).  I, on the other hand, proceeded to rip into the group of volunteers at the desk.  I informed them that today was my father’s death day and they needed to be more appropriate with visitors to the IC freakin’ U.  Did I mention I was angry?  I will say this though, all the volunteers were quiet for the rest of the day.

All the family had arrived and it was time.  I addressed the crowd of family and friends.  I explained how the process would take place.  We prayed.  We walked into the room.  We sang a hymn and then I got the nurse.  I won’t go into the details of this part, but this is when I got angry and stayed angry for a while.  It involved the nurse leaving out a drug that I thought was necessary.  It was a drug that I should have made sure was there in the first place.  After heated discussions with several nurses, culminating in a phone call to my father’s doctor, the desired drug was finally administered.  People stayed with my dad, and I chose to leave, because I did not want to watch my father die and I was surprised so many people did.  I also left because I was angry.  I was angry at the situation, angry at the nurses, but mostly angry at myself because I failed in making sure that things went exactly as planned on my father’s death day (By the way, I realize this is the worse expression ever, and I can’t stop using it).  It was like I was an obsessive wedding planner worrying about every little detail and freaking out when any little thing went wrong.  I went outside in the 118 degree weather to ‘cool’ off.  I have no idea why people live in Palm Springs during the summer.  I finally went back to my father’s room to make sure that everyone was doing their job and that he was comfortable.  Literally, while talking to the nurses and making sure all was as it should be, he died.  I think I breathed for the first time.

Everyone handles death differently.  It’s hard, especially when it is someone you love.  I apparently get angry and tell everyone that it is Death Day.  No matter how you deal with it, it is important to understand that death is part of life.  Try to focus on the person’s life rather than their death.  My brothers and I are going golfing on Saturday.  I am certain that my father would have wanted that.  I am also certain that he would want me to play with his full set of clubs.  I can’t imagine that my readers have enjoyed these last few blogs, but I hope reading them has made you think about the importance of your own loved ones.  Hug your family.  Say “I love you” to your family and friends.  We are all here for a relatively short time, so cherish it.  Those issues and squabbles you are holding on to simply are not worth it.  And if you feel the need to judge or evangelize during times of death, just remember one thing: What Would Jesus Do?  Jesus wept and so do I.  Thank you for reading.

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My father, Ronald Woods, died Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 5:00 pm.  He was 76.  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, the following blog is emotional diarrhea.  I suggest that you do not read it.  I apologize.

I am not struggling with death, I am struggling with dying.  For the last 24 hours I have been thinking about how I want to die.  How do you want to die?  Or a better question:  How do you want to live?  You see, my father is not dead.  I can’t even say that he is dying, but he is alive.  I should be happy that he is alive, but I am not.  I want him to be living.  I have never understood the difference between being alive and living more than I do right now.  It is amazing how unprepared I am for this situation.  Why am I so unprepared for this?

In part I am angry at the church.  I have been to church most of my life.  My father is a pastor.  I have read the bible from beginning to end.  I believe, have faith in, trust and obey God.  I can think of the countless number of sermons I have heard regarding death and the afterlife, but not one of them ever addressed the fine line between life and death.  I have been thinking about Terri Schiavo.  Remember her?  She was big news for a while.  Terri Schiavo had a heart attack in 1990 and suffered severe brain damage.  For several years, doctors attempted to improve her brain function, but eventually she was diagnosed as being in a vegetative state.  In 1998, her husband petitioned to have her feeding tube removed.  Terri Schiavo’s parents attempted to block her husband’s petition.  It made national news.  Several politicians, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush got involved.  After years of court battles, people protesting in the streets, and massive news coverage, her feeding tube was finally removed in 2005.  Luckily, my situation is nowhere near the severity of that case, but all I can think of is how dare we get involved in that family’s business?  How dare we!  Why do we fight to keep people alive under any and all circumstances?  Is it the sanctity of life?  Is this what the Bible teaches?  Does a woman in a vegetative state in bed for well over a decade glorify God?  Were her parents just happy that she was alive?

I think people are afraid of death.  I don’t care if you are an atheist or a lifelong bible thumper, you are not likely to run in to death’s arms.  You will most likely go kicking and screaming.  Whether you are the atheist praying to the God that you don’t believe in as your plane is crashing to the ground or the believer that is praying to not be taken to that supposedly awesome place called heaven, no one wants to die.  As I stated in my last blog, I have no fear of my father’s death.  He will be going to a great place, but he is not in a great place right now.  How long should he remain in his current state?  How long would I want to remain in his current state?  The whole situation pisses me off.

In part, I am angry at science.  I know how the body works.  I know what every drug that is being pumped into my dad’s body is doing and what it is for.  I look at the blinking screens and can explain to you what each number means.  I also know that if it weren’t for science, he wouldn’t be alive right now.  I blame science for being in this current situation.  Before all of our medical technological advances, people died.  It was sad, but it was part of life.  Science teaches that if we can just figure everything out, we can cheat death.  Who would not be happy about this?  Babies are being born now that would have certainly died 10 years ago.  You can smoke and be 100 pounds over weight and be confident that there will be a drug that will allow you to continue to live in your “horrible life decisions” state.  Major disorders are being cured at the genetic level.  Our current generation believes that technology will fix everything, so why worry about your diet, exercise or health?  And why should they worry?  Technology is doing amazing things right now.  Eventually, no one will die.  Right?

I don’t know what the answers are to my situation or any other situation that involves death and dying.  I want him to be more than alive, I want him to live.  I wish I could talk to my father about this and discuss our current situation and ask him what he wants to do, but I can’t right now.  But one thing is for certain; I need to talk to my family about this; my wife, my mom, and eventually my kids because I would prefer to not be in this situation again.  I don’t want people fighting and trying to figure out what I would’ve wanted.  It is difficult to deal with the death and dying of a loved one.  Everyone is dealing with the issue in their own way and everyone is stressed and sad.  I don’t want my family fighting.  I don’t want my family to stop living while I am dying.  I want my family to bask in the knowledge of my love for them and trust that death will not be the end of me, but just the beginning.  I also want my family to focus on how awesome I was in life.  For all those reasons, you can let me go.  But if I am going to make sure that happens when the time comes, I am going to need to have the hard conversation about death.  If you are still reading, and if you haven’t already, maybe it is time for you to have the hard conversation now too.

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How do I want to die?  If all goes well, the earth will be attacked by aliens.  I will discover the weakness in the mother ship and everyone knows once the mother ship is destroyed, the remaining ships will follow.  Using a disguise of cabbage and cranberry juice poured over my body, I will sneak into the mother ship, killing at least 10 aliens with hand-to-hand combat, steal an alien weapon, grab the keys off a dead guard that I had to shoot, release the earth prisoners, which would include the President, hand the alien weapon to the President and explain to her how to get out of the ship safely, of course she will say, “What about you?”  I will say, “Mrs. President, it’s the 4th of July, and we haven’t had our fireworks yet.  It’s time for the big finale.”  I would then place my arm around her and give her a big kiss and say, “If you don’t mind, could you give that to my wife.”  The president and the other prisoners would run out of the ship.  I’d make it to the engineering room, overload the engines, find a button that will destroy the whole ship.  The alien commander bursts into the room, looks at me, I look back at him and say, “Yippy Ki Yay Motherfu…” -BOOM!!!  The whole world looks up and sees the explosions of all the ships and the Earth is saved.  The President says, “We owe our lives to that man.  We will honor him for years to come.  He was a father, husband, a great American, …” and then as a smile comes over her face, “and a great kisser.”  Pan out, show awesome alien ship explosions, cue 1812 overture and roll credits.  I’m just sayin’ …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love it when you stay to watch the credits and there is more movie.  Especially if after watching the credits it suggests a sequel.  For example, after I explode the mother ship, it turns out that by pushing the button, it automatically placed a force field around me.  I am encased in this bubble and I begin to float down to Earth.  I am shocked that I am still alive.  I start to laugh hysterically about how I just cheated death (This is important to any great movie.  Americans hate it when the hero doesn’t survive.  See blog above).  As I am floating down to earth, I stop laughing, quickly sober and realize, “Crap!  My wife is going to kill me because of that kiss!”  Continue credits.

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So, I am on a journey half way across the country to see my father, who is gravely ill.  He is currently being kept alive by chemicals and machines and it is likely that my trip will not end well and it is very hard on me.  However, I am struck with thoughts that are going through my mind as I drive across this great land of ours.  More specifically, I am struck by the thoughts that are NOT going through my mind.  My dad is going to die and that is a sad fact.  Whether today, tomorrow, or by some miracle years from now, one fact remains:  He is going to die.  And I am surprised, no shocked at how confident I am of where he is going upon his death.  This is not a sermon, nor some sort of trick to convince my readers to believe in God and Heaven, but a confession of my true feelings.  It is not his end that my mind is focused on, but his whole story.  It is like a book or video game I wish would not end, because I feel like I am just getting into it.

In times of death, we obviously focus on death.  For many people, death drives their lives.  You may even know people who are religious and all they can talk about is what happens when we die.  It is kind of like Jurassic Park III.  I hated that movie.  However, when I really examine my movie watching experience; in retrospect, I was enjoying the movie until the end.  The ending was so bad, it is all I can remember from that movie.  We can be so focused on the end, it can ruin the beginning and middle.  If you want me or anyone else to believe in God, don’t talk about heaven or hell, just show me a story worth reading.  I think my father had a story worth reading.

My father used to smoke.  I must have been around 10 or 11 when  I asked him, “Why don’t you smoke anymore?”  He said he prayed about it and God took it away.  End of story.  After my parents divorced, he would pick me up on the weekends.  Sometimes he had to work on the weekends.  He was a bus driver.  He still picked me up, and I would ride with him on the bus all day.  It was during these trips that I learned to give up my seats for the elderly and those with physical needs.  I saw him talk to everyone, often bringing up God in conversation in the same matter of fact tone as the story of him giving up smoking.

My father also use to annoy the hell out of me.  As soon I learned to drive I made sure that I never visited him without my car just in case I needed to make a quick getaway.  He was the king of unasked for sermons, advice, lectures, stories, teachings, “you know what your problem is”isms.  It got old.  My father could also say some pretty racist things, at least in my opinion.  At some point, I learned stories of how people, specifically white people would treat him growing up.  Now I am amazed that he talked to white people at all.

I loved family vacations.  Family vacations taught me to be aware of my surroundings.  My father would ask me what a sign would say as we drove.  He would do this with little time, so I had to read fast to complete his challenge.  Eventually, I learned that if I read and memorized every sign that we passed, I would always be able to get the sign questions correct.  It is amazing how many stories like that are running through my head:  Driving across country; turning a one-story house to a two-story house;  trips to “see a man about a dog or horse”, a phrase that I still do not understand; showing up unannounced at my house; lecture after lecture about every subject under the sun; mini-sermons; and more mini-sermons.  It has been a neat story, a story I wish would not end, at least not right now.

I will see my father tomorrow.  The end of his story is likely to be sad, but unlike Jurassic Park III, it is not the end that I will remember most, but the beginning.  It is not the end of my father that has made me who I am today, but all the other parts of the story.  You see, I am not on this journey alone.  My son is with me now.  I am sure I annoy my son at times too, but when I think of my story, I think of my dad’s story.  His story has led to my story.  It is not the end.  Think of it more as a sequel.  Thanks Ron.

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On this trip I have learned that my son is really into Sponge Bob.  As we stopped at a rest stop to have lunch, he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   He asked me, “Where does jelly come from?”  I told him I am not exactly sure, but I am sure it involves mashing up fruit and adding sugar.  He was visibly shocked by my answer.  So, I asked him where did he think it came from?  He said, “From squeezing jellies from the ocean.”  I couldn’t help but laugh and luckily he laughed too.  I told him he was watching too much Sponge Bob.  I’m just sayin’ …

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—This blog is dedicated to the newlyweds, Rob and Rick.  Thanks for letting me publish this blog.—

So, as I mentioned in my last blog, I was at a wedding in New York.  My buddy, Rob got married to his long time partner, Rick.  It was my first gay wedding.  I thought about hiding that fact till the end of the blog and even giving the blog a different title.  I would have started the blog talking about my friend’s wedding, describing all the details of the ceremony, and then ending with, oh by the way, the wedding had two grooms.  I had it all mapped out, and of course it was brilliant.  However, I have decided to go a different direction.  I don’t want to bury the headline, but lead off with it, and talk about issue head on.

As it was my first gay wedding, I wondered what would be different about it.  For example, will one groom wait at the front of the church, while the other one walked down the aisle?  If so, would the music begin and everyone stand up as the groom entered the church?  Would it be at a church? Would both grooms look alike, or would one stand out as different?  What would the pronouncement be?  Man and man?  Husband and husband?  Or just married?  What would the official and law binding statement be? (I did not learn the answer to this question until the next day)  And what would the reception be like?  I assumed there would be dancing.  I wouldn’t think two gay men could get married without dancing.  Regardless of your opinion about this subject, THAT would be wrong.  Would there be any flamboyantly gay men there?  Would there be at least one black gay guy?  Hopefully his name would be Longinus or DeVon, spelled DEE-VAWN.  And would I be disappointed if there weren’t at least one flamboyant gay person there?  Would there be a first dance?  And who gives away the groom?  Yes, I had a lot of questions, and every single one of them was answered.  First, a little background:

I met Rob in graduate school at the University of Kansas.  I knew him before he came out as a homosexual.  I was even aware of a few dates he went on with women.  I later learned that he was still in his “discovery” phase of knowing himself.  I would not say that I knew him well, during this phase.  Quite frankly, I don’t feel we truly became friends until he came out to me.  We were having lunch together, and he told met that he needed to tell me a story.  I don’t remember the story, not even a little bit, but I do remember that in order for the story to make sense, Rob had to be gay.  I also remember asking him why did he decide to tell me that he was gay.  And his response was, that fact was crucial to the story.  I said OK.  In my opinion, that was the first day of our friendship.  Since then, we have travelled across country together, we have camped together, we have roomed together at conferences, and we have made an effort to spend time together almost every year.  Leah and I have visited him and Rick in New York and it is an honor and a joy to be his friend.  So, last year, when he described his proposal to Rick and the upcoming wedding, there was no doubt in my mind that I (and if possible, Leah) would be there.  Unfortunately, Leah could not make it.  I am sure we will visit them later, as I am a much bigger fan of New York than I have ever been (more on this later).

Prior to leaving for the wedding, Leah had an interaction with a friend that surprised me.  Her friend made it clear that she was clearly against gay marriage.  She is religious, and knew that we are Christians and assumed that we would not attend the wedding.  Leah of course informed her that I was, and she would too if we could have worked it out.  Apparently, it turned into a heated discussion.  So much so they had to talk it out the next day to make sure that their friendship was not destroyed.  Luckily, it had not been.  But they clearly had run into the first topic where they must agree to disagree.  This concept of God and gay marriage fascinates me and lead to my biggest surprise about my friend’s wedding.

The wedding was surprisingly traditional.  It was held in a beautiful church.  The Episcopal priest did an excellent job.  Rob and Rick walked in together with their mothers.  That was the burning question on my mind at the start of the service.  Rick had purple shoes, which was really the only unique difference between the two.  I will say the shoes were fabulous.  I loved them.  Hymns were sung, prayers were given, and we received a short homily (sermon).  God was clearly invited to bless this union.  And this fascinated me.  Would anyone have been surprised if God was left out of this service?  You would not have to search long to find people who believe in God working very hard to prevent such unions.  It is a subject of great political debate.  Many people have held signs, protested, and fought to make it illegal for gay couples to get married legally.  And in most cases, the argument has been God’s decree that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman.  And yet, there I was, watching a man and a man get married, legally, with what I can only assume was no accident, a traditional, God-invited wedding.  Two people who could have actively rejected God and all He had to offer, actually inviting him to be present.

The subject of God even came up in the car as we drove to the reception.  It made me wonder if God was discussed in other cars as well.  It also made me wonder, what was a more positive message of God’s love, this wedding with two grooms, or the protests and opposition preached in churches across the land against gay marriage?

The mayor was at the wedding, which I thought was odd.  Later, I discovered that it was he that pronounced them legally married in the state of New York.  I think this had more to do with the church, but I am not exactly sure.  I meant to ask, but never got around to it.  (After Rob read this blog, he offered to tell me, but I have not talked with him other than texts prior to publishing this blog.  Sorry, it will have to remain a mystery to my readers until I call Rob) Possibly the Episcopal Church has not resolved their guidelines for gay marriage considering the new state law.  Oh, by the way, I am almost forgot; the mayor was wearing a kilt.  The church was called the Episcopal Church of St. Mary in the Highlands, which made me wonder if the whole town had major connections to the Church of England.  It does.  I also wondered if the mayor was wearing a kilt traditionally, i.e., going commando.  What I could say about a kilt, going commando and a gay wedding is just too much, so I will stop here.

After the service, we headed to the reception location.  It was at a very nice old house/inn.  Appetizers were ready immediately, which was nice, but almost too much food.  I had to monitor myself, as I would not have been hungry for dinner.  Also, the two best words in any wedding, “open bar”.  Dinner was nice, and it was fun to see friends that I have not seen since getting my PhD.  Also, there was a lot of dancing.  And of course, the required playing of “It’s Raining Men”.  Quite frankly, I would have been disappointed if I did not hear this song.  the funny thing is, this is the only song that guys did not jump on the dance floor first.  As a matter of fact, no one moved until a bunch of women jumped on to the dance floor and started dancing.  It was almost if the gay men in the audience felt that they did not want to be a stereotype.  I think it would be like me going to a buffet and avoiding the fried chicken until last.  It’s not that I don’t love fried chicken, I just don’t want to appear to be a stereotype.  And I certainly would not put watermelon and fried chicken on my plate at the same time.

There was only one flamboyantly gay person at the wedding, at least in my opinion.  He reminded me of Cam on Modern family or Nathan Lane’s character in The Birdcage.  No black gay guys (sad clown) and I don’t know if anyone was named Longinus.  The dancing was great, and quite frankly, the most dramatic dancer was the DJ.  An odd fellow, who was having a lot of fun, perhaps too much fun.  He clearly was dancing to the beat in his own head.  It brought me joy.

No throwing of bouquet or garter.  The group was divided into single men and women and the grooms threw books.  Not the best idea.  One woman got smacked in the head with a book.  I thought it was funny, but I also thought, this is why the traditional throwing of the book will never take off.

All in all, a great wedding.  I wish the best of luck to Rick and Rob.  I love you guys and may God Bless your marriage.  People may have a problem with this last statement, but that is their problem, not yours.  I also learned a very important lesson:  When I think about how people discuss homosexuals in politics and religion, it makes me understand why so many people are against the church.  After the wedding, it got me thinking, maybe a lot of people are rejecting God’s people and not God.

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I spent a little bit of time exploring upstate New York.  Not really exploring as much as taking the long way back to the airport.  Here is what I learned:  New York is GORGEOUS!  I mean BEAUTIFUL.  I have been to New York several times, but never out of the city.  I had no idea.  This may be the most beautiful state I have ever seen.  This may be the biggest secret in the United States.  And I just told you.  I’m just sayin …

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This is Yul Brynner in the Ten Commandments. What?!?

So, before you get offended by the title, I must say that this is an often misquoted line from The Ten Commandments.  I try really hard to make sure that everything that I write about in my blog is true (Take a lesson from me Fox News).  So, I was about to talk about this quote as being from the movie, The Ten Commandments, but after some brief research (approximately 30 minutes, yeah that’s right.  Now you know why if I am busy I don’t blog), I discovered that this line was made popular by Billy Crystal.  I always assumed he was quoting the movie.  I know he was doing Yul Brynner doing a Bible character, but I thought the line was a parody of a true line from the movie.  Oh well.  It makes me wonder what else Wikipedia has lied to me about (don’t get me started).

Alright, back to the blog.  I have blog ADD or ADHD or whatever the heck they are calling it these days.  Oh look, a bird is outside.  How pretty.  Anyway, just to be clear, I am NOT a Tim Tebow fan.  I think he is anywhere from a horrible to a mediocre quarterback.  As a matter of fact, I think he is improving to be a mediocre quarterback.  So, why the hype?  You can’t turn on any sports channel without hearing significant talk about this man.  What is up with that?  Well let me tell you, it is for one reason, and one reason only:  He is an in-your-face, kneeling and praying, God-loving Christian.  And just to make things clear, I am not writing that as a good thing.

Once again, cards on the table, I am a Christian.  I take my beliefs very seriously, but I am no Tebow.  Also, I must say that I do NOT blame Tebow for the persona that has been created.  I don’t know the guy, but I get a real sense that this is who he actually is, cameras or no cameras.  So, I blame the media, and I blame the thousands, maybe millions of fans that are looking for a Christian Hero.  Again, I do not write this as a good thing.  This is something that people do, they need a symbol, hero, and/or leader of their own personal cause.  I live in Wisconsin, and no one knows this more than Packers fans.  Do you remember a guy by the name of Brett Favre?  He is like a fallen angel around here, and Rodgers is the risen lord.  It’s crazy!  So, maybe this blog is not about Tebow, but about the phenomenon of Tebow.  Why do people crave a representative for their own beliefs.  Why is it so important to show the world proof that you are “Right”?

Unlike many people, I do not have a problem with people sharing their faith.  However, here are a few rules that I devised for sharing one’s faith:

1.  The listener should have a choice.  This could easily be my only rule.  I feel like I should be able to watch a football game without someone giving me their opinion about how I should be.  Again, I don’t think Tebow is intending to do this, but I do believe as the media discuss his actions it becomes so in the face that it is annoying.  You love God.  We get it.  If I thought his actions were actually encouraging others to love God, I think I would be for it.  Unfortunately, I think it hardens those that do not believe in God and I think it gives believers a holier than thou attitude, an attitude that I personally wish would die.

2.  Once the listener has made their choice, respect it.  Here is one of my biggest pet peeves:  Two people walk up to my door.  “Hello sir, have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour?”  “Why yes, yes I have.”  I reply.  And then they proceed to convince me to go to their church and believe their beliefs.  Uh Hello?  McFly?  Did you not hear me?  We are on the same team?  But it is clear to me by the way they talk to me, that we are not, we are not on the same team.

3.  Have a relationship with the person you are sharing your faith.  Why would a stranger listen to anything I had to say?  Why would they believe my word over a friend’s?  As a matter of fact, this is biblical, but I won’t go into it now.

Every time. What happened to praying in a closet?

4.  Keep it Real.  I don’t know Tebow and as I stated above he may be genuine.  If he is genuine, then we will never hang out, but if he is not, then I hope he reads this blog and takes it down a notch.

I predicted a big victory for the Patriots over the Broncos and I got it.  Was it Tebow’s fault that they lost?  No.  Did he play decently?  Yes.  Is he still a mediocre QB at best?  You got that right.  Did Jesus help him win all those games this year?  Maybe.  Surprised?  Regardless of whether or not you believe Jesus is on Tebow’s side, it doesn’t matter.  If He is on his side, He is on his side regardless of what you believe.  So, chill out.  Saturday Night Live did a skit on Tebow and people lost their freakin’ minds.  Guess what?  It was funny.  Don’t be offended.  Let your God be the same God regardless of what other people say or do.

I actually don’t have a problem with the concept that God has had a hand in this Tebow business.  He should never have been a first round pick.  Quite frankly, he should never have won at least three of the games that the team did win this season. Tebow has made a lot of money and he is getting a lot of press, and as a result, God is getting a lot of press.  Maybe that is what He wants.  Or maybe God wants Tebow to be rich and famous, so he can build a $3 million hospital in the Philippines.  Who knows?  But I am confident in one thing, you don’t need a Tebow to believe in God.  So, maybe my message is to you, Tebow fan … take it down a notch.

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Can you imagine what it would be like to make a statement and have everyone believe it to be true?  Think about it.  Google my title.  You will find it quoted as from The Ten Commandments.  As a matter of fact, you will have more difficulty finding a website that does NOT say it comes from that movie.  Crazy huh?  Well anyway, I got to go exercise my right eye, it is getting kind of weak.  I read with my left eye covered for an hour and it will be all better.  It makes sense, because I am right-handed.  I need to do this anyway, as one always remembers what they read better when they read with only their dominant eye.  I’m just sayin’ …

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If you read my first post, you will know that this blog is for entertainment purposes only.  However, the following post is surprisingly serious. 

So, one day on my way home I saw a very large electronic sign flashing “God Bless America”.  I have decided that I am sick of this saying.  First of all let me state for the record that I am a Christian, but I am definitely not the same Christian I was in college (details for a later blog).  For some of you reading this, the word Christian will either conjure up bad or good feelings.  For me, being a Christian does not give me the magic formula on who and who is not going to heaven or hell.  I realize that for many it does and for good reason.  If you believe in the Bible, and I do, it seems quite clear on what one must do to enter heaven.  But another thing that is quite clear to me is that I am not the one that decides who gets in and who does not.  It is also very clear to me that many may receive last-minute reprieves (see thief on the cross). 

One of my favorite Christian authors is C.S. Lewis.  He wrote the 7-book series The Chronicles of Narnia.  They made two movies from this series “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian”.  In the final book, “The Last Battle”, three of the four kings, Peter, Edmund and Lucy are in the New Narnia (essentially C.S. Lewis’ heaven for the Narnia world).  Susan is not there because she no longer believes in Aslan (the Jesus/God character) and the times she spent Narnia.  But there is a person who is there, and it surprised me when I first read it as a kid and it is my favorite section of any religious type book.  A believer of Tash (the book’s representation of the Devil) was in the New Narnia (Heaven).  What?!?  Here is an excerpt:

—But the Glorious One [Aslan] bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me. Then by reasons of my great desire for wisdom and understanding, I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, though knowest how much I understand.–

I love this.  It also suggests that there are people who do evil things in the name of God and will NOT be in heaven.  It also suggests that God reads the heart.  This is a very comforting and hopeful belief to me because about 50% of my friends, very good friends are non-Christians.  Now, if you are reading this and you consider yourself a Christian and you do NOT have non-Christian friends, think about that … seriously.  Think about the fact that you do not have a diversity of friends and ask yourself “What would Jesus do?” (Another saying I detest, but I digress).

Although I have been highly disappointed with churches and many church people, I am not throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am far from being a saint, but that is one key difference I have made about my faith.  I am not a saint, and trying to hide the fact or act like I am better than anyone only makes me worse.  And this may be the main reason I do not believe I know who is getting in and who is not.  If your ability to get into heaven is depended on me or any other Christian, than that system sucks!  Because a lot of Christians suck.  It would be like if I gave my three-year old son a message to give my neighbor that a criminal is about to break into his house and kill him.  If you are a Christian and you want others to be a part of it as well, be better.  Hence, why I hate “God Bless America!”

Here’s the thing: Why would you ever say God Bless America?  What is the point?  Are you trying to separate the U.S. from others that may or may not receive God’s blessings?  Are you requesting special treatment for our country?  Have we done anything as a country to deserve God’s blessings?  Or is this truly a prayer that God make us happy?

First of all, what is a blessing?  Now, depending on the source, you will find different answers.  For example, a popular Christian website states “In short, all of God’s goodness and promises are blessings. When we do not see those things happening, we must seek to find the cause.”  The problem I have with this is the idea that if your life is going well or if good things are happening then you are being blessed by God.  The alternative is that you are being “cursed” and the website actually uses this word.  This is ridiculous.  I believe this is a popular belief and it is why many of my friends are turned off by Christianity.

All actions have consequences.  Whether you are a Christian or not, believe that statement.  Your life may suck because you make bad choices.  Don’t blame God.  And quite frankly, if you are having troubles in your life it is often those difficult times that bring you to an ultimately better place in your life.  You have no idea what a blessing might be in your life, the question is, how are you handling your own trials and tribulations?  I have both personal and family stories that would lead me to believe that we were cursed.  However, many of those events turned out to be blessings.  If curses exist, they exist for everyone, in the form of actions having consequences.

I looked up the word, blessed in Greek.  The word often used in the Bible is “eulogeo”.  I believe this is where we get our word eulogy. Here is a list I found on how the word has been used in the Bible: to praise, to invoke blessings, to consecrate a thing with solemn prayers such as to ask God’s blessing on a thing, pray God to bless it to one’s use, or pronounce a consecratory blessing on.  Finally, it is God causing one to prosper, to make happy, or to bestow blessings on.  To be favoured by God, blessed.

Obviously, “God Bless America” falls in that last line in which we ask God to favor us and make us happy.  But wouldn’t we want this for everyone, or just the people we believe are special?  I pray that God blesses ALL of my friends and even a few of my enemies.  What would the world be like if everyone was happy?  What would the world be like if we did not ostracize groups of people for not believing as we do?  Would more people want to be part of a group that welcomes and loves, or would they more likely shy away from a group that separates and hates those that “don’t belong”?  There are a lot of people in my life that have beliefs that I do not agree with, but I hope and pray that they have never felt ostracized, belittled, or treated in a negative way because I believed differently.  Does this mean that everyone is correct in whatever they believe?  I never said that, but I will say, I can disagree with you without taking away your rights, treating you poorly, and attempting to separate you in a negative manner.

I hope that God blesses America, but I also hope God blesses France, Ethiopia, Australia, Turkey, and even Iraq.  Does everyone believe in God, no, but if they had to depend on you for their belief, how do you think that would go?  Or do they even know you, because you can’t afford to hang with the non-believers, which is pretty much all Jesus did.

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At Church, a friend of mine was talking to my wife.  While she was talking to her she had her hands on her tummy (my wife as of this post is still pregnant, a week over due and huge).  As they were talking to each other she kept her hands on her tummy and was lightly rubbing it the entire time.  I am watching this and thinking “Should I be paying for this?”  Nice inappropriate way to end this post, huh?  Or very appropriate?  I’m just sayin …

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