Tuesday Toaster (Week Four)

This week’s Tuesday Toaster is short because I’m sick. I’ll try to post again at the end of the week if I can get over this cold/sinus thing soon. Okay, bye.

***

Week Four Preview

Krunk Smurfs (2-1, 1844) vs. Blue Springs Inoculators (3-0, 1576.5)

 

It’s The League’s best team against the team with the best record.

Jason is finding dominance in a pitching staff that is blowing everyone else out of the water and supplementing it with an offense that is ranked in the top half of The League.

JASON’S pitching: 1.136 WHIP (1st), 7.8 K/9 (3rd), 2.7 K/BB (1st), 2.93 ERA (1st), 134 ERA+ (1st)

Not shabby.

Ben’s team on the other hand is doing some weird reverse that he cannot tell whether it is good or bad.

OBP SLG OPS K/9 K/BB ERA
Week 1 .432 .552 .984 5.5 2.34 4.14
Week 2 .332 .416 .748 6.4 1.92 3.97
Week 3 .308 .351 .659 7.1 2.06 3.45

So the pitching numbers are steadily improving while the hitting numbers are plummeting. Sweet.

Some of this is brought on by the injuries to Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison, both are expected back this week (Longoria) and next (Morrison). Still, it is a very disturbing trend for Ben.

We’ll check back in a few weeks after Longoria, Morrison and Greinke return from the DL.

Prediction: Jason over Ben by lots of points.

 

Flying Monkeys (2-1, 1519) vs. Polk County Homer-Hulks (1-2, 1565)

 

Only Jason has put up more points the last two weeks than Jeff the Elder, who has done it with a huge offensive (Week 2, 316.5 FP) and a huge pitching week (Week 3, 322 FP).

He’ll have to be balanced the week to win the War of the Jeff’s if Kimball wants to overtake Weseloh. Weseloh’s team is just destroying the ball hitting .306/.369/.528 with 19 homers, 81 RBI and 71 runs scored the last two weeks. That works out.

Prediction: Jeff over Jeff by 47.5 points.

 

The Zou (1-2, 1642.5) vs. I’m Bill James, Bitch (2-1, 1476.5)

 

There is no way Erik loses this matchup. None.

Prediction: Erik over Andrew by half-a-million points.

 

San Antonio Pujols’ (1-2, 1226) vs. Viva El Birdos (0-3, 1434)

Tony had a solid performance last week and took his first victory of the year. He’ll look to keep it going against Adam who is the epitome of struggling at the moment.

After a stunning week one, Adam has gotten hammered in weeks two and three. He hasn’t gotten hammered by his opponent so much as he has gotten hammered by himself, scoring the fewest fantasy points since week one.

Most of the blame belongs to Adam’s pitching staff, which ranks in the bottom three of K/9, K/BB and ERA. In fact, in the last two weeks his pitching staff has combined for a 1.41 WHIP, 2.04 K/BB, 6.7 K/9 and a sparkling 4.79 ERA. Not what you’re looking for is it? Throw in an average (at best) offense that has slugged .386 and .414 the last two week and you’ve got yourself one terrible team. Hooray for you, Adam!

Prediction: Tony over Adam by 4.5 points.

Rolorado Cockies (1-2, 1425.5) vs. Duh Winning! (2-1, 1638.5)

 

Kyle’s team is definitely built on offense, and when that fails, so does he. Last week Kyle hit .200/.289/.420 and struck out half-a-million times. That plus a 4.06 ERA did him in – though he did still score 449 fantasy points.

Joel’s team just sucks. I don’t know what else to say about that.

Prediction: Kyle’s should rebound this week with an easy win over Joel – and this time I’m not trying to reverse-jinx Kyle. Victory for Kyle by 213 points.

***

Power Rankings

1. (Up 3) Jason

Since two of the three undefeated teams from last week lost, it was predictable there would be some shake up at the top. Jason leaps to number one simply on pure domination of the first three weeks. You want a number for the week? How about this one: .816.

What’s that? Yeah, that would be the WHIP for Jason’s pitching staff last week. Half the league hasn’t had a week where they had an OPS of .816, let alone a WHIP of under 1. Unreal.

2. (Same) Kyle

If Kyle had won last week, he would have been number one and Jason would have been number two. Too bad I jinxed him. Shucks.

Kyle’s team hit 14 home runs, just seven less than what Tony has hit all season and 10 less than what Erik and Andrew have hit all season. There is no meaning in this stat other than to say Tony, Erik and Andrew suck.

3. (Down 2) Weseloh

One big week from Weseloh – particularly one over Jeff the Elder – could vault him back to number one. He is still my pick to win The League, but he’s going to have to start thinking of ways to take care of his pitching staff, which currently holds The League second worst ERA (4.34).

4. (Down 1) Ben

Ben has been lucky the first three weeks. Are you happy now, Andrew?

There is a lot to like about Ben’s team if you operate under the impression his team is going to pull out of the offensive funk they are on now. The pitching looks to have stabilized and should be solid for most of the season, and will be bolstered by the return of Greinke next week. It will be interesting to see what kind of early impact Longoria and Morrison’s return have on the offense.

5. (Same) Erik

Fix your offense and you’ll run away with The League. Of course, that is easier said than done.

Erik (and Tony’s) offense is so bad The League average OPS is .780. Why is that so bad? Well, if you have a .780 OPS, you’d be tied for 7th in The League in OPS. That’s 8th out of 10. Eighth. Good Deity…

6. (Same) Kimball

Kimball is going to rocket up this list if he beats Weseloh this week. The more I look at his team, the more I’m scared shitless.

7. (Up 2) Andrew

Andrew, by far and away, has been the luckiest player so far this season. No need for explanation.

8. (Up 2) Tony

Tony’s roster needs a lot of help, but at least he has some pieces to maneuver to get the power hitters and pitchers he needs to get back on track.

9. (Down 1) Joel

Joel is currently operating without a catcher after the injury to Joe Mauer. Joel cannot place Mauer on the DL because he has no DL spots to use because they are full. One of the DL spots is occupied by Adam Wainwright. I’ll move on…

10. (Down 3) Adam

Adam is here because he is the only winless team in The League through three weeks. He’ll jump Joel no matter what next week if Tony passes Joel into ninth place in total fantasy points. I have great faith that will happen.

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Oh, the Humanity!

“It is human nature: unless somebody can find a way to change human nature we will have another crisis.”

– Alan Greenspan on 2008 market crash

“[The studies] suggest that what we think of as free will is largely an illusion: much of the time, we are simply operating on automatic pilot, and the way we think and act – and how well we think and act in the spur of the moment – are a lot more susceptible to outside influences than we realize.”

– Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink”

Thought: money is not the root of all evil but, in fact, the root of all stupidity.

I have been wrapped up in all of the labor negotiation between the three major sports – National Football League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association – of late and have come to the conclusion that all three of them are going to end in tremendous disasters that will hurt their respective sports for the length of the contract. I figure if I set my expectations low, they can only be exceeded if not met.

Taking the side of the “worst possible scenario” is terrible for self-esteem, but never gives you the feeling of being letdown, so life is always full of positive surprises.

VET: Ben, I’ve got some bad news.

ME: Oh no…

VET: Your non-existent pet dog has died. I’m sorry for your loss.

ME: Oh. I was convinced you were going to tell me the whole world was going to explode into a ball of fire and cause all of us to endure prolonged painful deaths, but all you’re telling me is my non-existent pet dog died peacefully in his sleep? Hey, I’ll take that. Beers for everyone!

VET: [Disturbed silence.]

I’m sure there are better ways to view life, but I’m good with taking one of the bottom three choices. Again, it’s only “up” from there.

ANYWAY, the main hold up in all three of the negotiations – specifically the NFL – is the way money should be divided amongst players and owners. In the case of the NFL it is the division of over $9 BILLION.* I’m not going to dissect the whole thing, but I am going to say my biggest fear in all of these negotiations is that all hints of humanity and pragmatism will be lost as time ticks down to the deadline.

*Chump change.

I’ve come to the conclusion money – specifically large sums of it – causes people to either become a) stupid or b) filled with an uncontrollable desire to obtain as much money as possible.

Stupid is pretty easy to define. Think: Charlie Sheen. Or you can think of all those people with negative-70 IQs who win $5 trillion in the lottery and then blow it on chewing tobacco, Slim Jim sticks and banjo strings.

Option B, “filled with an uncontrollable desire to obtain as much money as possible,” is a bit more complicated than saying “Charlie Sheen.”

Everyone’s personal limit to how much money one can have before either options A or B happen is different. Based on my understanding of Warren Buffett’s childhood his threshold was exactly $0*, while other people seem to be immune to money altogether. My personal bank account suggests I’m more allergic to money than anything else (I don’t have any money). I read a study a few years ago suggesting the optimal income-to-happiness ratio is an annual salary of $60K, meaning that being able to pay your bills and live a comfortable life style is nice to a point, but somewhere after $60K one begins to feel the pressure to keep up with the Jones’.**

*By circumstance, “0” also happens to be the amount of knowledge I have about Warren Buffet’s childhood.

**What is it about the Jones Family that everyone wants to “keep up” with them? Will someone please exterminate the Jones Family so we can bring back reason and sanity to the economy, please? (And THAT’S how you solve the economic crisis ladies and gentlemen. Kill the Jones Family. Also, I am not an economist.)

At any rate, there seems to be this breaking-point with people where money becomes an entity that controls one’s brain and forgets about things like “kindness” and “decency” and the ability to “not live in a 400-room, 150-bathroom mansion.”

In the NFL negotiations, the players are arguing they need a larger portion of the revenue pot to pay for health care because studies are showing that the average football player who plays five years or more loses TWENTY YEARS off their life span, incur massive debt from medical bills, and have a hard time finding health care after their playing careers because, you know, the NFL doesn’t provide health care to most players after they leave the NFL.

NFL Players: We would like to have $5 Billion of the $9 Billion for the 1760-plus of us players so we can all go buy health insurance (and maybe a fancy car, too).

NFL Owners: No, you can’t have it because the 32 of us need $6 Billion of the $9 Billion because we just built all these multi-million dollar (and one one-billion-dollar) stadiums (many of which are tax-payer funded) that no one made us build (but we threatened to leave town if tax payers didn’t fork up millions in cash to build one) and we need the money to pay for our small portion.

NFL Players: But there would not be $9 Billion in revenue if we didn’t exist. And $5 billion divided per player equals $5.1 million per player and $4 billion per owner equals $125 million. You’re still making huge bank off of this.

NFL Owners: If you don’t give us 32 owners $7 billion we are going to lock you out and replace you with middle-aged midgets until you give us $8 billion.

NFL Players: Wait a minute that is not fair!

NFL Owners: Na-na na-na boo boo, stick your head in doo doo, give us $9 Billion.

You’d think, if humanity still existed, the owners would step back and say: “You know, $125 million over the 8-year length of the contract would mean $1 billion for each of us owners, more than the total estimated value of 30 of the 32 individual NFL franchises. If the players say an annual average of $5 million each will get them the health insurance they need, then I’ll take the half-a-billion dollar total 8-year loss and enjoy my filthy rich life into my nineties while they are looking for good undertaker at age 46. Hell, with the way the popularity of the game keeps increasing and the growing amounts of international monies we are seeing coming in, I may make that half-a-billion back anyway. Score!”

But no, it’s a big middle finger to the brain-damaged meatheads and a loud demand for more cash.

Did I mention all of the NFL owners are already independently wealthy individuals outside of football? No? Yeah, they’re all already billionaires.

Now let’s get this straight: There is nothing “evil” any of these players or owners are doing. All of this is very legal negotiation for very rich men to continue their individual desires to become even richer very rich men.

The problem isn’t money, and it never is. The problem has always been people’s inability to raise their head 90-degrees and see past the gobs of green cash to look at the human being sitting in front of them. You could replace money with a lot of things, I suppose, but it does seem like money is the hardest of all to detach your eyeballs and heart from, doesn’t it? Pretty impressive for an inanimate object.

Maybe if we all wore neck braces to negotiation meetings where cash was involved we could restore humanity to the economic process.

I have very low expectations.

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Vessel meets Dark and Light

The following is a conversation made up of song lyrics from Mumford and Sons, Sia, and Coldplay. I rewrote some of it to make the conversation flow and for the story to make a little more sense, but this is mostly the lyrics you’d find in the songs (but taken insanely out of context). This post probably won’t make sense the first time you read it – the structure is very confusing – but hopefully you’ll be able to catch on soon.

Songs Used (But Not Necessarily In This Order)

Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More; The Cave; Thistle and Weeds; Little Lion Man; I Gave You All; After the Storm

Coldplay: Politik

Sia: Lullaby

*********************************************************************************

 

(Vessel)                                                          (Dark)                                                          (Light)

Son,

Don’t wish upon a star…

…Just do my work,

Don’t go too far.

Son,

Don’t wish upon a star,

Lose the map…

…Here, I are.

Son,

Don’t hope upon a wave…

…It’s a dying wish

Before the grave.

Son,

Don’t hope upon a wave…

…For the souls

I will fail to save.

Son,

Send your questions to the wind…

…Because it’s hard to know if

I’ll begin.

Son,

Send your questions to the wind…

…Wait alone

Without a friend.

Son,

Place your life into a book,

Put in everything you ever took.

I’ll

Burn the pages,

Let them cook.

You may stand tall but

You will fall and

Fail to break the spell of a

Life spent trying to do well.

You could stand tall,

Son…

…but I will fall and

break the spell of a

life spent

trying to do well.

 

Son,

Don’t wish upon a star.

 

*****

*****

*****

 

You ripped life from my hands,

You swore it was all gone.

You ripped out all I had

Just to say that You’d won.

Well, now You’ve won.

You’ve won!

But I gave you all.

I gave you all…

Weep for yourself,

Son,

You’ll never be what is in your heart.

Weep for yourself,

Son,

You’re not as brave as you were at the start.

Rate yourself and rake yourself,

Take all the courage you have left and

Waste it on fixing all the problems

You’ve found in your head.

Tremble for yourself,

Son,

You’ve seen this all before.

Tremble for yourself,

Son,

You’ll never settle any of your scores.

Your grace is wasted in your face,

Your boldness stands alone among the wreck.

It’s not your fault,

But mine.

And it was your

Heart on the line.

I really fucked it up this time,

Didn’t I?

Spare me your judgments

And spare me your dreams

‘Cause recently mine have been

Tearing my seams.

I sit alone in this winter clarity and

It clouds my mind.

Alone in the wind and the rain

He left you.

It’s getting dark,

Too dark to see.

I’m on my knees –

And your faith is in shreds,

It seems.

I was corrupted by

The simple sniff of life,

One unknown.

Even I have felt much

More love than He’s shown.

I’m on my knees –

And the water creeps to your chest.

Plant your hope

With good seeds.

Cover yourself with

Thistle and Weeds.

The rain,

It comes

Down on me…

Look over your hills

And be still.

The sky above,

He shoots to kill.

Rain…

But I will hold on!

Hold on to hope.

(Laughter.)

I begged you

To hear me,

There’s more to this bag of

Flesh and Bones.

Let the dead

Bury the dead,

They will come out

In droves.

So take the spade

From his hands

And fill in the holes

You’ve made!

Plant your hope

With good seeds.

Cover yourself with

Thistle and Weeds.

The rain drowns me.

I want to

Run from this

Darkness.

Night has always

Pushed up day.

You must know

Life to see decay.

But I won’t rot.

Not this mind,

Not this heart.

I won’t rot!

Then let me take

You by the hand,

Son.

Lets stand tall and remember

The land you lived for.

He’ll say there’s a time

Without tears.

But His love will

Break your heart,

Heighten your fears.

Climb His hill with

Fear in your heart and

Doubt in your mind.

You can cling to what you think you know,

Son,

But I saw what was true.

But that’s why I hold on.

If not, I will die alone

And be left there.

So I might as well

Go.

Death is just so full,

And my life so small.

I’m scared of what is behind

And what is before.

I warn you,

Son,

He’ll say there’s a time without tears.

But love will break your heart,

Heighten your fears.

Climb His hill and

You will find.

Fear in your heart,

Doubt in your mind.

There will come a time with

No more tears.

And love will not break your heart,

But dismiss your fears.

Get over this hill and

See what you find here.

Walk, and find

Grace in your heart and

You’ll sigh no more.

Walk with

One foot in the sea and

One on shore.

My heart is never sure,

I know you.

I know you.

His love will betray you,

Dismay and enslave you.

It will set you free.

Be more like the man

You were made to be.

There is a design,

An alignment against you.

My heart you see –

The beauty of love –

It won’t be.

How fickle my heart and

Woozy my eyes.

I struggle know

Truth from Lies.

And now…

My heart tumbles on things I don’t know.

This weakness, I feel,

Will finally show.

Lend me your hand,

We’ll conquer them all.

But lend Him your heart and

He’ll just let you fall.

Lend me your eyes and

I’ll change what you see.

But your soul

He won’t take for free.

Just give me

Love over

This…

I can’t promise you I won’t

Let you down.

I can’t promise you I will be

The only one around…

…When your hope

Falls down.

I can’t take the burden of

Both of you.

It is all so fast,

Casting a spell

I cannot break.

But this life means

Less without

Light running through

The trees.

At every turn the

Water will run away from

Me and never

Fill the hole where I

Despair.

But…

What if I’m wrong?

What if I’m wrong…

Hold on to what you

Believe –

In the light –

When Darkness has

Robbed you of all your sight.

Hold on to

Hope.

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Mr. Wildcat

Today, I had the dubious honor of getting the shit kicked out of me by rambunctious toddlers and their siblings while dressed as the Blue Springs High School mascot – a “Wildcat” – at a school function. It is the closest I’ve come to death since that one time I almost drowned on a float trip with a drunken Ogre. The day itself had been long; lots of chasing autistic kids, getting punched in the nuts by the bipolar kid, reasoning with a kid who was convinced he was a firetruck and a failed attempt at explaining what an iPod Touch is to a colleague.* My body was done and my brain was tired of explaining unexplainable things. I wanted to go home. Alas, all my future held was a furry costume and an open invitation to get kicked in the nuts – again.

*But I did get to steal a co-worker’s iPhone and use it to post updates on her Facebook site that she had a problem with excessive farting. I also changed her computer wallpaper to say in big bold letters “POOPY”. I have the brain of a seven-year-old.

The two hours I spent wondering – I could not see anything – and getting attacked by small and medium sized humans was among the most challenging things I’ve done. There is no talking so you can’t explain to the three year old kid you see every day that’s it’s me dressed up in a creepy cat costume, and there is physical limits as to what one can actually do in a suit that was designed and used as a torture device by ancient Romans (Or the Greeks, I can’t remember which). The situation dictates that you can say nothing and do nothing as the three-year-old autistic kid freaks out and launches a blunt object at your genitals. Who is giving these autistic kids blunt objects anyway? So frustrating, and even more painful.

Anyway, I was hot and sweaty; I was battered, beaten, bruised and ball-busted; I was conquered, cowed and crushed; I was thwarted and trounced; I was vanquished and mastered. In short, I was the Royals’ bullpen. And, for the most part, I am used to this, because 99-percent of my work day – day after day after day after day – leaves you feeling like someone just shoved a cylinder block down your throat and mocked your condition until said cylinder block finally exits Uranus – er – your anus. This is normal, metaphorically speaking.

Yet I come back day after day after day after day.

A friend asked me why I work at LTEC and I gave a generic answer, one that I so completely didn’t believe in that I’ve forgotten what it was I said. Upon more thinking, and more cylinder block shoving, I have come up with what I think to be more truthful.

I do this job, this working with kids job, not because I love it (I don’t), or need it (I don’t), or feel some sense of reward from it (I don’t). I do this job because I want to give something – somewhere in the troubled, tortured, tormented brains and lives of these kids I work with – something of a sliver of happiness… of life… of peace… something these kids can run away and hide in whenever the darkness in their life become too much.

And I’ll have a blunt object thrown at my groin while dressed in a Chinese torture suit in order to create that “something” in a child, because it is worth more to me than anything else another job could offer me.

My groin, however, disagrees. I understand the argument.

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Four Corners

This is a 5,000 fictional piece that has been running around in my head, preventing me from getting more important things accomplished. I have been stubbornly shoving it away so I could focus on other things, but it was too prominent for me to ignore so I wrote it down and decided to post it here.

Read this with the following things in mind: All of this is fictional – and while I am sure there is some truth to it somewhere as it relates to my life, it is purely incidental – and should be treated as such: fiction. Also, this is predominately about religion, so should you not care for that sort of thing, you should probably run away very fast. Finally, this, like everything I post here, is a very rough first draft so I apologize for the parts where this rambles or gets confusing and repetitive.

It is probably best, should you decided for some unknown reason to read all 5000 words, you  print this off and read it on the toilet or something.

***

Once there was a street – a street like many streets – with a many business in uniform brick exterior display, made different only by their labeling signs and the pictures in the windows displaying the building’s interior – none of which were the same.

One of these buildings, a local coffee shop, contained four customers, drinking the contents their individual cups. One cup, a black original Folders brew, sat in front of a man in his early thirties with exterior looks of a person born six decades too late. Another cup, a mild coffee with cream, sugar and honey, belonged to a woman who married to the man with the black original Folders coffee and whose good looks were masked by an obvious attempt to look plain. A third cup, a sweetened iced team with lemon and an extra glass of ice, set to the side of a fifty-year-old man who had a naïve smile and the physical ware of stress in his eyes, face and body. The final cup, a hazelnut coffee with an excessive amount of sugar, honey and cream that almost canceled the taste of the hazelnut coffee itself, rested in the hands of the son of the man with the iced tea.

The four spoke with ease about whimsical things, aided by the warmth and privacy of the empty coffee shop and the protection from the silent rage of the winter cold. Confidence grew within the four and whimsical conversation progressed to topics of substance.

“In all your travels,” the son asked, “where is the saddest place you have ever been?”

“Cuba, no question,” the woman said as her husband nodded with approval. “The poverty there, and the lack of freedom, it is so sad. There is no hope for that country until Castro and his brother die.”

“Castro has a blog, you know,” the son replied, provoking a surprised laughter from the woman and her husband. “It’s interesting, he is a big fan of Obama.”

“Of course he is,” the woman exclaimed. “He has to be.”

“What do you mean?” the son said.

“Read the Bible, it’s all in there,” the woman responded.

“I don’t know,” unease fell on the son. “I support Obama, I like what he’s trying to do.”

“You must be kidding,” the husband said. “Socialism is evil. All it brings is poverty and sin.”

“I agree,” said the father. “Communism.”

“Socialism, communism, they are the same thing,” said the husband. “They bring the same evil to its people.”

The son remained silent and the woman never took her eyes too far away from him.

“The Bible tells of all these things,” the woman said. “How could you support such things?”

“Well,” the son hesitated, for he knew this discussion was about to turn down a path that would put him against the majority of the table. In his foolish youthful confidence he answered, “I have issues with the Bible.”

The trial began.

“No,” the woman said with genuine surprise. “What do you mean you have issues?”

“There should be no issue,” the husband said. “The Bible is the infallible word of God. To take issue with it is to say it is in no way the word of God.”

“I would disagree with that premise,” the son said. “I believe the Bible to contain truth and life, but I do not believe every word in that book to be complete truth. Not when humans are responsible for its care.”

“You do not believe that God has preserved and protected His Word beyond the boundaries of human error, language and sin?” said the husband.

“Uh, no,” the son said, unable to sort out the different presumptions made in such a question. “I know for certain there are verses – passages even – that have been added and subtracted from the Bible. I know that the Bible itself discusses the problem in Revelations of people who have manipulated and changed writings in earlier books. And I believe that saying the Bible is infallible is to make it deified, making it an idol and not a tool for guidance towards a relationship with God.”

“The Bible must be viewed as infallible or else there is no way a person can have a relationship with God.” The woman and father nodded in agreement. “The Bible is the complete revelation of God and the basis of all understanding. To not take the Bible literally is to say God is a liar. You cannot pick and choose what is literal and what is not. To say, for example, that the world was not created in seven days is to say God is a liar and God is not a liar. Everything must be taken literally.”

“Uh,” the foolishness of the son grew, “I do not believe the world was created in seven days. Not to say God couldn’t or didn’t create the world, but even the Jews do not believe the world to be created in seven days. It is believe Genesis chapter one is a song sang by Jews during slavery as some sort of praise or something. No one knows for certain how the world was made and I don’t see why it matters.”

The husband hung his head and shook it in disapproval. A response was building in him, but his wife spoke first.

“How can you believe such things? How have you come to this conclusion? You cannot trust everyone you talk to.”

“I don’t trust anyone. It’s most, if not all, of the reason why I do not view the Bible to be infallible. Human’s know best how to screw things up and the evidence of man’s tampering with the Bible is as bold as your husband’s coffee.” The husband hid his smile, not wanting the son to think he approved of the joke. “It does not mean, again, that I don’t think there is life or truth in the Bible, or that it doesn’t have great value. The Bible says ‘In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.’ The word of God is not this book, it is God himself – and when God speaks to you He is speaking the word, His word. And that word, the word He gives to you has no language boundaries or influence from other people or can be misinterpreted. That word is pure and infallible. That is the word I listen to.”

“But how do you know you are not listening to the anti-Christ or an evil spirit?” the woman said.

“That’s where the Bible comes in. I can use the Bible as a tool to help decipher or explain things. I can also look to nature to find confirmation or even look to stars. The Bible does say something about how you can find God’s name in the stars does it not? God is everywhere, He can speak to me through anything.”

“No He cannot,” the husband said. “God only speaks through the Bible, it is his complete revelation, there is nothing else to be said by God. The New Testament states there is no more need for visions and prophets and things of the like because we now have His word – His complete word. Anything else is of false prophets and of Satan. Satan is the master of confusion and he has confused your mind.”

“Confused my mind?” said the son.

“You have over analyzed everything,” said the wife.

“The Word of God and His message is simple, it is not complicated,” said the husband. “There is no need to analyze.”

“We are to be as children and take everything in the Bible with blind faith,” said the woman. “How can you deal with so much confusion in your life? Do you even know where you’ll go when you die?”

“I have no clue where I go when I die,” said the son. “And, really, I don’t care where I go.”

“Have can you live like that, with such uncertainty?” said the woman. “How can you live without knowing where you go when you die, without peace in your life?”

“I have great peace in my life,” the son said. “God and I are working on other things, and death is not something I am interested at the moment. I have peace in knowing God will take care of me one way or the other.”

“So where do you think you go? Do you think there is a hell?” the woman said.

“I don’t know where I go. I know my spirit is going somewhere, but I have no clue where. I don’t know if there is a heaven or hell or whatever. I think there is something, I think my spirit goes somewhere, but I don’t know where and I don’t care where at the moment. It does not matter to me.”

“I think you are lying to yourself,” said the father. “You have over-analyzed everything and are lying to yourself that you have peace. You cannot have true peace, a peace that surpasses all understanding. Your soul is in turmoil and searching for truth.”

The son was too angry to respond.

“He’s right, you don’t have peace. You can only have true peace through the Word of God. Peace through believing His word and fulfilling the great commission. There is no way you can have peace.”

How could you possibly ever know the inner-workings of my soul, the son thought, but he was too angry to speak.

“What would you tell a person,” the woman began, “a person who did not believe in any god or have any thoughts about god?”

“A lost person,” the husband clarified.

“Yes, a lost person, what would you tell them?”

The son, calmer now, thought to himself for a few moments. “I would tell them I believe in God and that God wants to have a relationship with everyone.”

“And that is all you would tell them?” the woman said.

“It depends on what the person said next, but I guess it would end with me suggesting the person read the Bible and if they sought after God, he would find you.”

“That is all?” the woman said. “You would not feel the need to tell them anymore?”

“No, it is not about me, it is about them,” said the son.

“That is not what the Bible says to do,” said the husband. “Tell me, how do you know there is a God?”

“I grew up in a home that believed in God,” said the son.

“Exactly, someone had to tell you of God and Jesus and the way to salvation. Someone had to tell you that you were a sinner and your penalty is death and hell. Someone had to tell you God sent Jesus, his only son, to come and die on the cross to pay that penalty for your sins so you may have communion with God and fulfill his purpose. Faith comes through hearing, remember, and hearing by the Word of God.”

“I don’t necessarily disagree with that, but I disagree that it is a requirement I tell them,” said the son. “People need to come to a conclusion on their own about their status as a sinner and recognize their need for God. There are plenty of people who ‘got saved’ because they fear hell, but have no idea about who God is or Jesus or their status as a ‘sinner’, whatever that is, but went with whatever someone told them because that was what they were supposed to do. They understand nothing.”

The husband continued. “This is the great commission, to tell all the good news of Christ. I would be embarrassed and ashamed should I have encountered someone where I did not share with them the good news. I would be embarrassed to stand before God and tell him that I did not believe that he created the world in seven days. I would be embarrassed before God to have friends and family who were destined for hell and I had not conveyed to them the gift of God. I am not ashamed in what I believe.”

The father hummed in approval.

“Do you not know what sin is?” the woman said, changing the subject.

“Let me tell you what sin is: Sin is whatever does not bring glory to God,” said the husband.

“I don’t agree with that. There is a lot of bad things or ‘sin’ that has brought glory to God,” the son said. “Didn’t God bless the woman, Rahab I think, who lied to save the two Jewish spies?”

“Let me clarify: Sin is what disconnects us from God,” said the husband. “God cannot hear a lost person because of sin.”

I wouldn’t disagree with your definition of sin, but what is it that disconnects us from God, the son thought but he did not speak it for his mind and spirit were in a rush.

“The first sin happened when Lucifer wanted to be God and take him over,” the husband continued. “Lucifer was cast from heaven. Later God created the world in seven days and in the process made Adam, and later, Eve, and Adam and Eve were perfect in the eyes of God. They were perfect until they disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of Life. They ate because they were tempted by the devil who inhabited a serpent. Their sin caused God to caste them from the garden and from then on sin was passed down through male blood line. Consider my son, I did not have to teach him how to sin and disobey because he knew how to do that naturally: he received it through my bloodline. This is why Jesus was without sin because he was born of God, who is incapable of sin. It is our sin, our selfishness, that prevents us from having communion with God.”

“But could it not be that we misunderstand those actions, the selfishness you refer too, because of the way God created us?” said the son. “A teenager’s brain is incapable of thinking outside itself. It is part of the natural progression and development of the brain. A two-year-old child cannot understand right from wrong or the levels of its discernment until it is taught to him and or experienced.”

“And do you know why that is?” the husband said. “Why the brain is incapable and selfish? Sin.”

The son was unable to hide his frustration with this statement, but wise enough to not say anything else so as to let his feelings grow into something worse.

“I do not understand how someone so smart cannot understand the simple message that is in the Bible,” said the woman. “Why can you not believe this is true?”

“I do not disregard everything in the Bible,” the son said. “But I do not read the Bible with the same literal interpretation as you do. I do not understand how this is so surprising to you. Billions of people have read the Bible and have walked away with even more interpretations of it, all of it containing some level of truth. Have you not read a passage one day, walked away from it, and then come back to the same passage and gotten something completely different from it?”

“But that does not mean it wasn’t there in the first place,” the husband said.

“I don’t disagree with that, but I think is shows that things in the Bible, its truth, can have layers of meaning and purposes. That not everything the Bible has one literal meaning,” said the son.

“You are overanalyzing again,” said the father. “You are searching for a truth that does not put you at risk.”

The son could not understand this conclusion.

“Look, people say we, Christians, are judgmental and not tolerant, but it is not us, it is the Word of God,” said the husband. “This is God’s judgment, not ours. He has laid out for us what is right and wrong and what different things look like, such as peace and sin. And when someone says something against the Word of God we merely point it out.”

“I don’t understand,” said the son. “I don’t think I have said anything that goes against the Bible. I have said there is a God, which we all agree on. I have said that He wants a relationship with us, which we all agree on. And I have said that Jesus, the son of God, is the necessary mechanism for us to have a relationship with God – without Jesus a relationship is impossible. I don’t understand how this means I am incapable of peace or know truth.”

“It is because you don’t view the Word of God as infallible,” said the husband.

“I do!” said the son, his frustration palpable. “But I do not believe the Bible to be infallible. Remember that whole deal about ‘the Word is God?’”

“I think,” the father began and the son sensed his father was aiming for something personal, “you should explain to them what’s been going on in your life the past, oh, five years.”

“Curious number,” said the son.

The son and the father had been at odds with each other about many things, mostly spiritual, since the son arrived back from college. The divide was more than a misunderstanding, it was personal and real and rooted deep inside of each of them. It had come to a point where there was an unstated truce between them to not discuss these things anymore, for there was nothing else to be said.

In this setting, however, the game had changed, and changed in favor of the father. He had numbers and what he believed to be the high ground. His son was the perceived “lost” one, the one who had been confused be the devil and swayed by false prophets. Here the father knew he could take a stand and the son recognized it.

The son also knew something else: He could not stop the attack that was going to come against him, for he knew his father knew his weakness. Engrained in the son was a desire to do good, to obey, and it was something his father took advantage of a great deal in the son’s childhood. The son knew he could not shy away from his father’s command, and, in his youth, the son did his best to answer in full obedience but also in such a way as to protect himself from what he knew was to come.

“Before I left for college I believed in everything you have stated here tonight and more,” the son said. “I believed in a pure version of the Bible, on greater than some of the other English translations out there. I believed in the divisiveness of heaven and hell, good and evil, God and Satan. I believed in the second coming of Christ and the millennial reign. I believed everything and I knew everything.

“Then I went to college, a college that believed in the same things as I did with the same passion as I did, and in my first semester prospered. I was surrounded by like-minded people who blindly followed God to the ends of the earth. And then, in my second semester, I began to notice different things about the people I was surrounded by and I did not like what I saw. I saw hate – a passionate hatred of those, other Christians included, who did not see things the way they did. I saw inconsistencies in behavior between what they believed and what they practiced. I saw people who could not explain what they believed and why they believed it. At first I thought it was hypocrisy, but I realized one could not in good conscience do the opposite of something they do not fully understand or know. What I realized was these people did not have blind faith, but blind ignorance. And by the end of that semester I realized my own ignorance was no less than theirs.

“As I was reaching this conclusion I found out that my parents, the two most important people in shaping what I believed and knew, were getting a divorce because my mother was having an affair.

“As is natural, my whole system was shocked and questions filled my mind. When I went back to school the next semester I decided to disavow everything I believed and started over, beginning with the question: Is there a God, gods or nothing?

“I read everything that I had access to, sat in on different classes, went to different lectures, talked to people of different faiths and beliefs. I search as far as I considered necessary and I continue to do so some five or more years later. And through that whole process not once did God ever prevent or discourage me in my search. He was always there to be challenged and always responded in a clear and resounding way through my experiences, discussions and life in general. His voice and his message was always clear and simple to me when I chose to listen to it – which I admit I did not always do.

“Anyway, to sum this all up, I know three things to be true, all of which I stated here tonight: There is a God; God wants to have a relationship with me and everyone; And He sent Jesus to conquer the thing, the ‘sin’, that was preventing me and everyone else from having a relationship with God. These three truths are enough for me, more than I need. It has given me a peace that greatly exceeds anything I felt before I went to college. This is my foundation and how I came to it – so far at least.”

The table sat in a brief silence, each taking a sip of their drink at some point. The son, in his foolish youth, began to have a growing confidence that maybe he had finally communicated something they could all understand and agree upon.

This confidence was eviscerated when the husband began to speak. “You cannot trust man,” he began and the life seemed to fade from the son. “The message of God’s Word is simple: All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of that sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life with him in heaven. I can promise you this, God will return and he will reign again. And all those who have not chosen to accept his gift will know that he is God.”

As if on cue, the father turned to the son and began to speak. “Your mother has deceived you and has led you down a dangerous path.”

“What do you mean?” said the son. “I disagree with almost everything she believes in.”

“This may be so,” said the father. “But she has guided you towards a thinking that you can pick and choose what is true and what is not. You do not have peace, only the perception of it and that is partly because of your mother. You have over-analyzed things in coming to this conclusion. The Bible is the only answer. You live in fear. You fear failure, you fear not doing what is right. I have watched you your whole life struggle with this fear and watched you do your best to do what is good and right. When you were in high school, you were on your way to that peace. You were coming into your own and growing in the Lord. Now your confidence has been shaken because of the sin of your mother. The people around you have let you down – I have let you down. I am partially responsible for the problems in your life.” Tears began to swell in his eyes. The son tried to balance being consoling, as he believed his father’s reaction to be pure, but at the same time be protective of himself, for he did not trust all of his father’s intentions. Fighting through tears, the father continued. “If you only found someone that you could trust, someone that you could talk to, then you could continue down the road you were on in high school. You could do such great things, such great things, but you cannot come close without understand the truth God has given all of us.”

The husband began to talk, but the son was only pretending to listen. He was considering the things his father said and the truths he knew about himself. He knew what his father said, on certain levels, were true. He knew he lacked confidence in himself and he feared failure. He knew it was his nature to simplify things to such a degree that failure was not an option, that doing wrong could not happen. And he knew it was his nature to do what was right and he could always rely on that to prevent him from involving himself with people and things that could cause issue in his life. But he knew that what he feared more than anything else was life. He feared the pain it constantly brought him and the torment of not being able to enjoy anything, because joy only set himself up for a harder fall.

He knew these things to be true. But what his father – nor the husband and his wife – was that God had shown him something he could never explain, never verbalize. God showed him that He had come so that all may have life and have it to the full and God made it clear that the son would experience a full life. God made it clear He would take away his fears and heal his pain and that all the son needed to do was believe in Him to do these things, nothing else. God made it clear that nothing else matters, that there is no truth greater that the one that he has given – that He loves us unconditionally, and seeks to give us life.

And with the knowledge of what God promised him, a promise that met every test and complied with any theology, the son sat in polite silence for the rest of the evening drinking his coffee and nodding in understanding as the husband explained theology, the woman challenged his heart and his father tested his soul, and knew that nothing could disprove the truth of the son’s relationship with God.

The son was at peace.

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Jesus Freak

Everyone’s got to craw when you know that you’re up against a way, it’s about to fall.

– DC Talk “What if I Stumble”

***

To put in perspective how much I dislike Christian music, know that I wrote a near 600-word introduction to this post that was so filled with distain and anger that I felt it was too perverse for the internet.

Now, none of what I just wrote above is true, minus the hating Christian music part, but the point is still there: I cannot stand Christian music. I hate Christian music as much as I hate that Avatar won Best Picture at the Golden Globes; I hate Christian music as much as I hate the St. Louis Cardinals; I hate Christian music as much as I hate Twilight; I hate Christian music as much as Pat Robinson believes Haiti made a pact with the devil; I hate Christian music as much as Tiger Woods loves sex; I hate Christian music as much as, well, you get the point.

So when I quote something from a song made by a Christian band, know I must either be going insane or I’m getting desperate for ideas.

The other day I legally (for once) downloaded the tribute album to DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak” which they released when I was in fifth grade. At the time I was limited to Christian music and Disney soundtracks for musical enrichment because my parents were concerned about the influence “secular” music would have on me as a young child. As a result “Jesus Freak” was my favorite album of all-time up until I was in college.

I’m not joking; It’s all very sad.

Anyway, I was listening to this “tribute” album and I was made aware of a two of things: One, there is an overabundance of Christian themes in Christian music (another blog post); Two, there are some really interesting lines and concepts in DC Talk’s songs when you take them in and out of their intended context.

Let’s start with this line:

Everyone’s got to craw when you know that you’re up against a way, it’s about to fall. (repeat 2X)

Think about what the lines are saying. The world around you is crumbling, desperation has set in and running is not an option. It’s either crawl or get crushed. Think of some of the movies you’ve seen where a massive object is falling, people are on the ground and they are scrambling to get out of the way. The ones who try to get up to get out of the way always die or get crushed. Standing up takes too long and the ones who crawl desperately for safety are the ones who always have the best chance of living.*

*Explosions are a different situation, but the lyrics say nothing about an exploding wall, so let’s move on.

Anyway, there is a whole bunch of different ways you can go with this morbid image, many of which are religious, but I’m going to hold off on that one for a few days. Instead, I want to look at the human element of this one for a few hundred words.

It seems like, whether it’s a serious situation or not, we are fighting like mad to get out of the way of life’s collapsing walls; and we fight with the passion of someone desperate for survival to get out of the way. We fight, we crawl, we scrape and we claw. We knock people of the way and sacrifice things that are slowing us down as we rush to a point we’ve predetermined to be safe and stable. It is total chaos, a free for all in those times. These thoughts lead my imagination to the line in the song. Everyone’s got to crawl when they know that they’re up against a wall, it’s about to fall. I imagine the screaming – the rawness of their screams – as people are making desperate attempts to save themselves from doom. I think about what sounds people must have made and things they must have seen when the earthquakes in Hatti rattled, when the planes hit the towers in New York or when the first Katrina tidal wave hit New Orleans. This is the image and sound of a person trying to survive. What great fear there must have been at those places.

I’ve noticed I have had a lot of conversations with friends the last few weeks that have this tone of a desperate need to survive the “here and now” and they do this with a great passion to get to some kind of safe place in their life. There’s something desperate about life, about our constant need to survive and stabilize. Humans may be the only species who feel mortal danger without being in any danger at all. A relationship is lost due to an uncontrollable situation – survival mode. A person’s car breaks down – survival mode. A person is losing grip of future career goals – survival mode. A person’s DVR fails to record the second episode of LOST – survival mode. Who’s the advanced species now?

It would seem in times of personal mental crisis we convince ourselves that Simba is on our ass and is about to eat us for lunch. It’s hard, isn’t it, to calm one’s self and look at a situation objectively. I suggest that if we did, we would find most of the time Simba is not in fact on our ass, but instead that crazy monkey Rafiki chasing us with his stick and shouting some kind of odd wisdom about life.

We waste so much energy trying to survive we kill ourselves.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting great things and peace in one’s life; life and its fullness is a perfectly appropriate thing to want. And I am just as guilty, if not more so, of constantly being in survival mode. Hell, I spend seven hours a day at work in that mode. However, we need to realize most things we believe are going to crush us almost never materialize into actual distruction.

So lately, as I’ve listen to the walls falling around my friends and myself, I’ve begun to wonder, “Does anyone know how tall this wall even is? What’s it made of anyway? And what are we going to find on the other side of this wall when it does fall?”

Maybe the best thing in life is to let some walls fall on us, with the knowledge that there’s either nothing harmful about the wall or that there is no escaping it anyway. Yeah, some walls may hurt a little bit (or a lot), but we may find it’s no big deal just to stand up and walk away after the collapse. We must also note some of those thousand-foot walls are crushing us even if we have the crawling powers of Usain Bolt. So maybe just finding a smooth spot, bracing for the fall, letting the dust clear and re-evaluating the situation afterwards makes more sense than murdering the people in front of us that’s preventing our ill-fated escape.

It seems every person must come to a place in his or her life where one recognizes there will be only be one wall that hits you that you won’t overcome – and that wall is death. Until said killer wall does fall we ought to keep our screams to a minimum, because there is nothing preventing us from getting back up.

Then again maybe I’m wrong and I’m the stupid one that always gets crushed and dies all the time, I don’t know. Too many walls…

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Xanga Flashback: Oh this isn’t good…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a fantastic Xanga classic. This one is awful. Enjoy.

***

hi.  i have determined that walmart is the equivalent to city hall, the mall, a hospital, bar, grocery store, best buy, park, and lounge here in bolivar..land of many trees with people living in them and rusted trucks.  the center of life is walmart.  every night i end up at walmart to buy something and every night i see the same group of bolivarites standing next to their trucks, which are mostly rusted and covered in mud (this symbolizes high stature in bolivar), talking about important issues such as cows and drinking hard illegal drinks for those under 21 or Coors which also falls under the illegal dealie.  on a side note, i payed my first bill, a credit card bill, with a whinnie the pooh check.  the check was part of the introductory “lets make you buy special checks” thingy.  it added spice i guess.  i use the credit card to pay for gas and to build credit.  mr. hagarty said to build good credit so i am because he told me too and i do everything hagerty tells me.  credit cards are scarry.  they talk to you and tell you things like…ooooh…too scarry to type about.  on the other side note, my math class got cancelled today because the teacher was sick.  cancelled classes are great because you dont have to make them up and the profs are too lazzy to make anything up so they just skip that section and go on.  its nice.  except i payed $150 for that class which is kind of a bummer…oh well.  on a back note, my roomate got a girlfriend this week.  i morned for him.  it was weird because i walked in on him when he and his new girlfriend were making out…i ran away and everything was better.  on a front note, my stalker is still stalking me.  thats not a good thing.  she calls me all the time and talks about honeymoons and guys she has made out with…its scarry.  i run away but it doesnt make things better because she follows me because she is a crazy stalker.  on a sideways note, i saw an amish man in a grassy field hunting dear with his bare hands….thats a lie but it would be funny if i saw that.  that is all of my notes.  ok.

-bolivarite in training

Word of the Decade:  squeegie.

***

Delicious.

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