And The World Will Know You… And Regret It.

July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I was talking with my wife this past Sunday at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. It was brunch and we couldn’t help but notice how calm and pleasant the atmosphere was and how happy and in good spirits the waiters seemed to be. It’s because churches have not let out yet. It is common knowledge in the restaurant business that church folks are rudest, most demanding, and impatient kinds of folks to deal with. (not to mention bad tippers) If you have ever worked as a waiter in college or at a coffee shop you will know what I am talking about.

My wife tells me how she used to work at Pappa Johns in high school. She said that they used to get calls from a mega-church in the South Asheville area, Biltmore Baptist, asking them to cut the pizzas that they ordered into thirteen slices (the usually come in ten). They were trying to turn a profit off of the pizzas by charging three dollars for a miniaturized slice. When the managers at Pappa Johns refused saying that it was unethical and against their policy, the church officials threatened to verbally defame them to the entire congregation and hence potentially put them out of business. The managers ended up cutting the pizza for them. These same church officials even threatened the owners of a small Italian restaurant when they came one Sunday and their usual table was taken. They told the manager to move the family with seven kids to move to different tables, which they did due to fear of the churches influence. I only know this because the family that they told to move are some close friends ours. I guess the church officials fat asses couldn’t be supported by any other table that the restaurant owned…

I used to feel certain degree of respect for these types of churches given the massive undertaking involved in running a mega-corporation. Too many times young churches are done incompetently being that the pastor is young enough to actually believe what he is preaching and is therefore disadvantaged by being divorced from reality. He makes dumb decisions and alienates people due to the sincerity of this beliefs. An experienced pastor is either the master of compartmentalizing or he does not really buy what he is saying and has learned how to put on a good show. (most pastors realize what I have been saying on this blog a few years into the ministry but are too lazy or embarrassed to learn a different trade) At least the experienced and doubting pastor can function in reality. But now I have lost that respect I once have felt towards the competent mega-church officials who are, at least, good at running a business. But what good is it to be competent at the “ministry” if you loose your competency at being a decent human being?

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Blocked Chokuras

January 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I think my purpose is.  A part of me feels annoyed about this.  There is this crazy notion in the back of every 29 year olds mind that tells them that they should have figured this out already.  That they are something less than their peers if they linger in doubt about that particular subject at this age.  That is natural, but it’s also wrong too.   I’m starting to think that if you blame yourself for asking bigger questions then you are by definition NOT an honest person, and you might probably need a nice swift kick in the ass.

Not to be too hard on these folks, I am one of them, but it is something that can block you from growing emotionally, psychologically, or even spiritually I believe.  If you settle for you plight just out of sheer impassivity, then well, that is kinda sad.  Don’t surprised if everything starts to bore you at this point if you ever as unfortunately to find yourself there.  If something isn’t growing or is being revitalized, it is by definition dying.  I know this may sound morbid but that is exactly my point.

Never stop growing, never stop doubting if you must.  Doubt your doubts especially.  Life is precious and a gift despite what you may believe, even if it is hard and you find yourself entering the game late.  I love all of you know who read this and know what I am talking about.  Please never give up on your purpose, for it is a very slow death if you do.

Souls of Whom We Are Not Deserving

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

I heard a lot of talk lately about the president.  About how he’s not doing his job and about how his policies aren’t working.  I honestly feel a little surprised every time I hear these sort of things come out of people’s mouths.  Maybe it’s because I want to think the best of people if I can help it, but anyone who is that short-sighted is disappointing to me.  I guess that’s why I’ve disappointed in America as a nation for its serious lack of self-reflection.

Why is it that anyone thinks that the Republican Party cares about them?  Does anyone really think that Republicans believed that by turning a blind eye to almost all regulation on corporations of the WTO, that they were doing us a favor?  Do we really believe that corporations, if left to their own, would care about investing in this country?  Do we really believe that corporations care about effect of outsourcing on the middle class?  Do we really think that it is a coincidence that as soon as Obama was confirmed president-elect, and started threatening government regulation, that gas prices dropped all around the country about a dollar?  Do we think that Bushes ties to oil had no bearing on his policies as president?  Is it possible that the Republican party might not have calculated the effect of uncontrolled fuel prices on shipping costs for the entire US economy?  Is is entirely possible that the streamlining of corporations might be directly related to this?  Do we really believe that corporations really just want to pay people a decent wage but can’t?  Has that been your experience?  Is it possible  that Republican Party might stand something to gain something by the weakening of the middle class?  Would Republicans have done something by now about abortion in the last 16 years of power if really believed it was a such a moral issue?  It is possible that abortion may actually be the bread and butter of the Republican party being that the majority of abortions are by teenage mothers for can’t afford to take care of their babies, and would therefore be state-aid candidates?  Or do we really think that career politicians mean every word that they say?

I’m sure that they are all just trying to do ‘Gods will’ and can’t because of all us who disagree are just plain evil…

Hell

September 26, 2010 § 1 Comment

I used to be the kind of person that believed that hell was a place of torment for people who didn’t believe what I did.  I believed that we all deserved to go there because we were all terrible people.  I believed that God hated people unless they believed in Jesus, and that he would want to torture them for them forever for not choosing to take part in his ultimatum.  I see now that I believed these things out of fear.

Milton once bragged that he could change the course of history by saying that people would take his words or fiction for Truth.  Unfortunately for us all he was right…  He created a cartoonish place of torment called it Paradise Lost.  For Hundreds of years after his sick prank on human-kind people were still giving their hard-earned money to get their dead relatives out of purgatory, torturing their backs with flesh-peeling whips, and burning innocent people alive to distance themselves from an imaginary place created out of the sick mind of a true narcissist.

My friend lately told me that he felt sorry for me.  He feels sorry that I am happy because he believes that my happiness is leading me to hell.  I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by the irony of the situation.  It’s ironic because I feel like he wasting his life.  Hell is described in the original hebrew primarily as a place of rot, waste, and denigration.

This makes me wish he know more about the Bible. There is no single word in the original manuscripts of the Bible for the concept of ‘hell.’  In fact there are three, and they all have very distinct and different connotations.  The oldest word is Sheol which literally means “black pit” and it was used to describe death as a whole.  In fact prophets and righteous men of the old testament are described as being there.  (Aron being summoned by a witch as requested by kind Solomon) The second is Hades which comes from Greek mythology which bears little resemblance to that of Milton’s paradise lost. (though some believe it was his inspiration)  The third is Gehenna, which was the site of an old Hebrew garbage dump outside Jerusalem’s walls.  It was a place where old food, furniture, and excrement was tossed.  It also was the site of a pointless bloodbath where soldiers lost their lives over an unjust war.  Gehenna is  a symbol of waisted potential, meaninglessness, denigration, and decay.  It is symbolic because that is the way Jesus refers to the word in his parable Lazarus And The RIch Man.  This obvious allegory is about waisted potential, confused identity, and a hardened mind-set.

Someone who lives their life just to get a ticket into heaven, at all cost of joy, happiness, and experience, to me is not a sincere person.  That to me is the kind of life that Jesus describes in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  Hell, if it exists at all, exists here on earth when we waste our lives living out of fear, unable to grasp onto the gift that we’ve been given.  Those people are the ones who deserve our sorrow, not the other way around.

A Sigh Of Relief

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

My dad made it back from India today and I’m relieved to say the least.  I had spent the entire weekend worrying about him and his safety.  He had gone with several members of his church on a medical mission trip to Calcutta and to a village near the jungle of Bengal.  The reason for my worrying was a terrible nightmare that I had.

My father and I didn’t have the best of exchanges before he made left, I won’t get into the details of it out of respect for him but I we both were pretty hurt when he left.  Things were said that never should be.  I was angry with him for leaving the country to go to such a dangerous place with our relationship being so injured.  I didn’t want the words that we had spoken to be the last that we would ever say to each other.

On the morning of my birthday was when I had my nightmare.  I was standing over my dads hospital bed and he was badly injured and almost not even recognizable.  The image was disturbing but for some reason I was more heartbroken than mortified in my dream.  When I woke I said nothing of it to Maranda my wife, figuring that it was just a bad dream.  Then later in the day I get a call from a switchboard in Oklahoma; it’s my father.  He had called me to wish me a happy birthday and say that he loved me.  I was just glade to hear that he was okay.  I forgot all my anger and I was just glade to be hearing his voice.  He did however tell me about how dangerous the area had been getting.  He said that because of the publicity that the National Burn a Koran day had gotten, extremists in the area were riled-up and had shot and killed to tourists in the area.  He had also told me that where they had been doing a conference there was protest outside and that someone had thrown a brick through a window.

Maranda looked about as concerned as I was being that she too had a dream that dad was in trouble that night as well.  When she told me this I was quite scared, thinking it all could be just one big coincidence, but frightened that it might not be.  I tried to urge my dad to come home earlier but he said that they couldn’t do that being that they’re tickets were set.  When we got off I wanted to call him back to try to urge him to come home again but I couldn’t because I didn’t have his number.  I’ve never been so worried in my life.  Two long days later he arrives back in the US and I am relieved.  There may have been no point whatsoever to my dream, the coincidence and all that, but I can safely say that I don’t really care if there is a point to any of it at all; I’m just glade I got my father back.

Scott Pilgrim! Amongst Other Things..

September 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Went to see Scott Pilgrim VS the World with Maranda last night at the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company and it was awesome.  Maranda had a good time too though when we first walked in I went to go to grab a beer and she wasn’t paying attention and put her arm on the shoulder of a guy with similar height and stature as me and told him that she was going to the bathroom.  He looked at her confused and said, “okay.”  She was so embarrassed and was all she could do was blush and say, “Oh my! you’re not my husband..”  I talked to the guy later and apologized telling him that my wife hits on everyone and that I can rarely take her out of the house.  He laughed and said “I just assumed she needed to tell somebody.”  The Beer there is pretty good but a little on the citrus side for my taste.  The seats are okay and the projector always cuts out within five minutes of the screening but they always fix it and it isn’t a problem.  I’m pretty sure it’s an unspoken tradition there.

The movie was great.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie so  oddly and simultaneously tongue in cheek yet relevant than Scott Pilgrim Verses the World.  I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the movie of Michael Cera’s career.  He’s perfectly matched to play this geeky-video game nerd who is young enough to have not given up on being in a band who meets this too cool for school, romantically pennant new girl who steals his attention early on in the movie.  Pilgrim has a gay room-mate whom he shares a bed with though he himself is not.  His room-mate has all sorts of one night stands over who freely offer him love advice along with is room-mate at very comically inopportune times.

The fight scenes are really what make this movie though.  If you were a child growing up in the 80’s whose parents jumped at the new idea to put new video game technology in front of your face to curb your hyperactivity; then Scott Pilgrim in the film for you!  Shot in a characteristically Speed Racer live anime sort of pace, cut scenes are fast but fluid.  When Scott faces off one of Ramona’s ex-lovers in each battle the tone changes to that of an arcade live-action video game.

Poking fun at everything from young hipster bands, Canada, to veganism, the film is not short on modern entertaining cultural commentaries.  It does a great job of comically overdramatising subconscious everyday melodrama in a way that enables the viewer to laugh and relate at the same time.  In short, if you could make your everyday boring day life into a manga strip with epic and convoluted battles scenes, you’d end up with something a whole lot of fun and nearly identical to Scott Pilgrim VS the World.

Eucatastrophe

September 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Eucatastrophe; it’s a word that Tolkien used to describe a phenomenon when all seemed to be at its darkest, and there seems to be no hope, something good happens against all odds and takes everyone by surprise thereby changing the course of history.  I had mine today.

I had a rough start to the day, Daisy woke Maranda and I up at 4am and refused to go back to bed despite all of our efforts to get her back to sleep.  I had to be up early too.  I needed to be up to deposit a check in order to have money for the weekend, we were dangerously low on cash and we needed to get groceries.  If I didn’t get this check deposited in time then we would be out of luck until Tuesday due to the banks highly inconvenient system of check processing.

So I rush to the bank minutes before work only to be told that they can’t deposit my check as cash, so I go to another check cashing facility and they can’t cash it either.  Finally I find a place to cash my check after three goes at it, now I am late for work though I had warned my supervisor that I might be.  My wife is stressed and worried because I told her I’d call her when I got this done, but I was running so late that I couldn’t call her and now I am late and I just forfeited my lunch break because of my tardiness.  I was tired, hungry, stressed, and sleep deprived.  It was going to be a rough day.

Then hours into a thankless job, one where everyone complains all day because it’s stressful- and promotions never happen, I get a call back about an interview.  The potential employer wanted me come in right after I’d be getting off work for an interview; I was not looking all that presentable.  Ducking in a dark corner and lowering my voice I knew I couldn’t delay this call.  I needed a shower, a shave, and I knew was not dressed for the occasion.  I tried to see if I could reschedule my interview, but the woman was insistent on having it today.  My luck couldn’t be any worse sometimes, and today was starting to feel a lot like a prank..  Then after a long tiring shift on my feet, I am driving and calling my wife in a rush to get directions to my interview.  I am exited and nervous and racing to get to other side of town;  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it.

When I got there I knew I wasn’t presentable, yet despite my repeated apologies for my appearance, everything went exceedingly well.  I had the interview and I got the job.  This job is great for me being that it means a few things, one of which is that I now don’t have to worry about balancing two part-time jobs and having to work odd hours and night shifts.  It means I’ll mean being able to work the regular 9-5, not having to be on my feet, I’ll get my own desk and personal space working in an office, and at almost 29 years old all of this is sounding really appealing.  The pay is not just good but great, and I’ll have full benefits which means I don’t have to worry about not being able to provide for my wife adequately so that she can stay home with our 3 month old daughter and we’ll  all have health care.  Everyone I met in the office is down to earth, friendly, and I can already tell that I’m going to love my new job.

It’s honestly still sinking in, I’m almost shocked because I think I had almost become accustomed to things going wrong all the time, but this time this is something very good, and it  is very real.  My birthday is coming up Sunday, I traditionally haven’t really cared for my birthdays being that I have not been very pleased with where I was at in life.  But now, at almost 29, I feel genuinely excited about celebrating another year to be alive.