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May 11th, 2013

Phoenix Poetry…

About a year ago I was taking a literature class with the University of Phoenix. It was total horse shit. One of my assignments was to write a free verse poem about who I am. Under the influence of Maker’s Mark and the Country music supergroup, The Highwaymen, I wrote this terrible piece of blasphemy.


“I AM”

The prophets said my parents were Adam

and Eve.

A man made of mud

pies and a woman made from

a pilfered rib.

 

The biologists said my father was a primate

and my mother was a protozoan

(a paramecium, perhaps).

 

The Bodhisattva

said Selfish

Desire and Longing

were my

mother and father.

I am their Son, Suffering.

 

The Earth said she was my mother.

She and my father, Time, conceived me

in their imaginations

when they were both too young to be

parents. Luckily, I sprang

from the mud a full-grown man.

Am I Adam?

With his duty done, Time marched on

leaving Mother Earth a single parent.

 

The truth is,

I AM

none of these things.

I AM

neither mud nor monkey.

I AM

not a latchkey kid suffering from the desire to know my father, while my mother spins aimlessly through the cosmos.

 

I AM

the cosmos.

I AM

stardust

I AM

matter and energy

never being created nor destroyed

only changed.

 

I was not imagined by the world, I imagined her.

I AM

not the son of Time

I AM

TIMELESS.

I’ll always be around.

August 2nd, 2012

Why Your Opinion on the Gay Marriage Issue is Stupid

In the interest of full disclosure, I want to make it very clear that I am getting married in less than two months. I can legally do that in the State of Tennessee on the same day that I apply for a marriage license. An ordained minister who I have never met will perform the ceremony. What kind of ordination does he have? I do not know. Perhaps he is like the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. In other words, maybe he is ordained in ignorance and a minister of vile hatred and stupidity. He doesn’t know what my fiancée or I believe about marriage, and we don’t know what he believes. It doesn’t really matter; in the State of Tennessee anyone “charged with the care of souls” can perform weddings. They even let Non-Christian religious leaders perform weddings. Can you believe that?

Anyway, I’m not writing this about my impending nuptials. That is a matter of deep personal commitment between my fiancée and me and is absolutely no business of yours. That is unless, of course, I invite you to the wedding to celebrate with us…or if my fiancée is really a fiancé (she is not). Apparently, many people in our free society seem to think it’s OK to mind other peoples’ business when they live in a way that is different from their own personal convictions. That is what I am writing about.

 The whole issue of “gay marriage” is getting out of hand. I don’t care which side of the fence you are on, you’re wrong.

 Christians (or any other religious group) have no right to harp on the “defense of marriage” or the “traditional family.” It’s bullshit. Traditional families went extinct (thankfully) a long time ago. Traditional families in history were usually formed due to reasons of finance, politics, to solidify ownership of land and resources, or some other necessity. They were often arranged or performed under duress and many a fair maiden’s hand was given in marriage against her will. Traditional marriage has made a mockery out of its supposed intended religious purpose for centuries. Why would Christians want to defend that?

 The bottom line is that traditional families are horseshit. Families are people we freely associate with. They are people that we love and value because of a shared culture, heritage, values set and yes, sometimes, shared DNA. I realize I’m making a broad sweeping statement here without any evidence or research, but why should I be any different than the other people in this argument?

 On the opposite side of the spectrum, homosexuals and their supporters have no right to clamor for equal marriage rights. They ALREADY have equal marriage rights. An openly homosexual man or woman can still legally get married to a member of the opposite sex in ANY STATE IN THIS COUNTRY. They have the same fucking rights as any other person. Straight people cannot marry members of the same gender either. The rights and privileges are the same…no matter what your sexual orientation. Now, before you start rolling your eyes, hear me out. The issue isn’t restricted rights. The issue is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of marriage in this country.

 Assuming for a minute that the argument I made above about traditional marriage is bullshit (it’s not), we have to wonder what marriage’s purpose is and where it came from. In its most basic form, marriage is a holy sacrament of the Church. It is an earthly representation of the relationship between God and his creation. The way that a man and a woman join to become one is the same way God will someday join with his creation for eternity.

 At least that’s my understanding of the Christian idea of marriage.

 So, what’s my point? My point is, according to the Church, marriage is originally designed to serve a religious function. The Church belongs to God, and God created marriage to be a form of worship for believers and the Church. It is solely for those who wish to commune with God and his Church. It serves no secular purpose (my original argument makes clear that it mainly serves a secular purpose, but that argument is bullshit for the sake of this point, remember?).

  (All of you Christians clamoring against my point, just hold your tongues for a minute. I’m taking this somewhere.)

 Let’s assume my point about religious marriage is true. If it is true, then marriage belongs to the Church and the idea of a secular or civil marriage should not exist. I mean, civil marriages serve no purpose, so what’s the point? Marriage falls solely within the realm of the Church. Thanks to the First amendment to our Constitution, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This means Congress should not be dictating to the Church what marriage is.

It’s up to the Church to decide what is and is not allowable within the realm of marriage. This means it’s up to the Church to decide whether or not same-sex marriage should be granted the same standing as heterosexual marriage. If a Church decides that it is, then it should be allowed, no questions asked. If a Church decides that it isn’t, then find another Church. This point can also be made for polygamy. Who is the government to tell consenting adults how to live if the Church says it’s OK? That being said, Warren Jeffs is still a dickass.

However, recognizing that our society has a long-standing tradition of recognizing marriage as a legal contract outside the realm of the Church, then we have to reconsider who gets to decide what marriage is. If the law sees no difference between a Church marriage and a Civil marriage, then the Church doesn’t own marriage. Marriage is instead as I first described it. It is a means to enact a contract between individuals to secure property, finances, or other necessities. Love and affection may be a part of it, but that might not necessarily be the case. So, if this is true…and marriage inherently bestows certain legal rights and privileges to the couple, then the argument can be made that it belongs to the government…and not the Church. Since our government belongs to the people and not to God (he gets the Church…let’s not be greedy), then it’s up to the people to decide what marriage is.

Personally, I am of the opinion that marriage serves no civil purpose (or at least it shouldn’t). Yes, I believe marriage is a holy sacrament. It’s a commitment between a man and woman. It is a representation of a shared faith and a desired communion with God. Therefore, I shouldn’t need a license to get married. I just need a Church. As I established above, the minister who is performing my ceremony doesn’t know me. He won’t even meet me until 30 minutes before the ceremony. But in accordance with his conscience and the sacraments of his faith he has no problem joining my fiancée and me in the eyes of God and the world. Quite frankly it’s a sham. Even he recognizes that marriage is more of a secular device than it is a holy sacrament. Otherwise, he’d refuse to marry people unless he was sure they were going to protect the faith. He doesn’t give a shit…because he knows it belongs to the world…to the government and not to God.

So, why am I getting married in what is essentially a civil ceremony? Because I recognize that my opinion and religious ideology has no bearing on anyone outside of my own life. Whether or not I like it, God’s law doesn’t bind my marriage, but instead the laws of the State of Tennessee take precedence. If I were only taking God’s law into account for my wedding then the fiancée and I wouldn’t involve the government at all. It’s none of their business what we do. However, we recognize that to protect ourselves legally we have to go through the bullshit routine established by the people.

Ok, I said this wasn’t about my impending nuptials, and it’s not. I swear I have a point. However, before I make it, I have to direct your attention to a little document that we love to love called the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Continental Congress blessed us with a beautiful pipe dream in that document that goes something like this:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 Damn it. Even those guys were involving God in things…let’s take it a step back even further…in May of 1776, George Mason wrote:

 “That all men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural Rights… among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursueing [sic] and obtaining Happiness and Safety.”

 This predates the Declaration by at least two months, and it is well documented that the idea was not originally Jefferson’s. That’s not really relevant. The point is we as a society love to express how much we value the idea that ALL PEOPLE are born equally free (whether God has a hand in that or not is up to you to decide). We claim that EVERYONE should be afforded the opportunity to live in accordance with their own conscience without interference from the government or other people. NO ONE should be forced to live in a manner that is inconsistent with his or her own conscience (in so much as their actions do not infringe on the rights of others).

It’s at this point that I feel it is imperative for me to point out that this liberty that I describe is especially precious to those of us who have some sort of faith. We recognize that persecution for our beliefs is a way of life (whether you’re a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Pastafarian, or whatever…someone wants to deny you access to worship freely). The freedom to worship in accordance with your conscience is paramount to liberty. However, the only way to protect this freedom is to allow others to disagree with you peacefully and live in accordance with their own ideas.

 So my question is this: if as a nation and as a society we believe that everyone should be free and equal, then why do we have laws (or seek to make laws) that make it impossible for other people to live in accordance with their own consciences and values?

How can the Church justify getting involved in the secular government in order to deny someone the right to establish his or her own model of what a family is?

How can people outside of the Church justify trying to force the Church into accepting ideas that are incompatible with Church doctrine?

How can the Church try to legislate morality for a secular world? Why does the Church try to break through the boundaries of the separation of Church and State, when it’s that very separation that protects their beliefs from an intolerant secular majority?

Why do homosexuals want “marriage equality” (though, they already have it), when marriage is an irrelevant relic from an intolerant Church?

The answer is simple. Marriage shouldn’t be within the realm of government at all. It should be up to the churches to decide what marriage is. If homosexuals want marriage, then they need to take it up with the Church or start their own church. It’s that simple. The government should stay out of it.

The government SHOULD no longer recognize ANY marriage. Heterosexual, homosexual, polygamous, whatever…none of them SHOULD be afforded any recognition by the States. They SHOULD serve no purpose outside of the liturgy of the Church. This is my opinion. This is what I believe.

HOWEVER, since marriages ARE recognized by the States…and marriages DO serve purposes in society outside the realm of the religion, then there should be no restrictions on who can marry. Passing laws that restrict marriages to only heterosexual couples defies the very fabric of what we as a society believe. It defies our society’s core value that ALL men are born free and equal. Even if the Church disagrees, the Church’s very survival depends on allowing others to live in a way that the Church perceives as sinful or wrong.

So, there it is, folks. I disagree with passing laws recognizing same-sex marriages. Coincidentally, I’m against laws recognizing heterosexual marriages, too. In my opinion, these laws violate the First Amendment because they respect the establishment of religion and they prevent the free-practice thereof. However, since laws recognizing heterosexual marriages already exist, then in the name of liberty we either have to abolish those laws, or pass laws evening the score for those among us who are not heterosexual. For the sake of liberty, it’s the right thing to do.

P.S.- For all of those people out there who are calling people bigots for holding true to their convictions, remember this…As long as I do not try to force you to accept my position, then just because what I believe offends you doesn’t make me a bigot. It makes you a thin-skinned butt plug.

August 24th, 2011

Do What You Do and Do It Well…

Whatever happened to the notion that the quality of your work speaks more about your value to society that the quantity of your pay? Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of instances of people displaying the attitude that just because their job pays very little, is considered “unimportant,” or just all-around sucks, that it entitles them to perform poorly.

Here’s an example. Recently, I was in another state for work. I was taking a tour of a state “facility” with state employees, and one of the top people involved said, “State employees work like they get paid…VERY LITTLE. I’m a state employee, y’all.” I was appalled by the attitude that he was entitled to do less because he felt like he got paid less than he deserved. This was a man who presumably had YEARS of professional experience. I wonder how he ever made it past being an entry-level employee with that kind of attitude.

I’m not saying that everyone should have the “above and beyond” attitude towards everything they do. Quite frankly, that isn’t always necessary and can be detrimental sometimes (not to mention annoying as fuck). However, an employee should always be able to meet the minimum expectations of a job without regard to their personal or financial dissatisfaction with the job itself.

What I find truly alarming about this attitude is that it’s most prevalent in the jobs that just about anyone (or perhaps a machine) can do.

You’re a young kid with a shitty attitude? Guess what, you may hate your cashier job, but I bet you like getting paid, don’t you? Guess what else…I can replace your ass with a machine with the same personality, a better attitude, and that is never late. OR…I can replace you with a kid who really wants the job. OR…I can replace you with an older person who just wants an extra job and understands the value of a job well done (no matter how small the job). This brings me to my next point: Being a nice person and/or friendly to people while working doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have a shitty attitude. I have met plenty of people who are incredibly nice, perfectly polite, and generally liable, but are INEPT. Not being able to do your job correctly demonstrates one (or more) of the following things: 1) You’re not trained properly. 2) You’re an idiot or 3) You don’t take your job seriously. The first one can be fixed but the second one is, unfortunately, unfixable. However, the third item is the most alarming. Not taking your job seriously is the hallmark of the previously mentioned shitty attitude. Not taking the job seriously leads to poor performance, and all around makes you a lousy employee and demonstrates to the world that you don’t value the image that the world has of you.

I know I’m just complaining here, but I miss the work ethic that used to be so prevalent in the American psyche. I still believe that how we do something (anything) is more of an indication of WHO we as a person are, and not an indication of the importance or relevance of the activity that we’re doing.

Whatever it is that you choose to do…do it right.

June 19th, 2011

Daddy, What If…

I doubt any of my readers would disagree with the statement that the relationship between a child and parent is a very close and complex relationship. However, usually I hear people emphasize the special relationship that a son has with his mother, or the relationship that a daughter has with her father. There is no denying that the bond between mother and son and father and daughter are particularly unique, however, I think that the special relationship that a father and son have is often overlooked (I don’t know about mother/daughter relationships, because I’m not a woman).

From my mother, I learned a great deal about understanding how OTHER PEOPLE think and feel. Understanding other people is crucial to integrating into society, and I would have never made it very far in adulthood without the lessons I learned from her.

However, from my father, I learned to understand how the world works and I learned to understand myself. I learned how to think for myself, how to stand on my own two feet, how to be self-reliant, self-sufficient, and how to establish my own place in this world. I learned that if I cannot stand alone in this world, then I can never be there for anyone else. Without the lessons I learned from my father, I would have never made it to adulthood.

My father is one of the most determined, self-disciplined people on the planet. He knows how to rely on himself, and because of that, those of us lucky enough to call him “Dad” know we can rely on him. I can’t begin to list all of the amazing things my father has done for me in my life, so I’ll just say that I love my father very much and I appreciate everything that he has done and continues to do.

Here is a video of Shel Silverstein singing a song that he wrote about the special relationship between a father and son. Even though Shel is a little creepy, the song is terrific.

 

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!!

 

June 16th, 2011

Just As He Is…

I believe one of the most important things for a Christian (or anyone of faith) to do is to understand WHY they believe what they believe. The other night, a friend and I were discussing the nature of man’s relationship with God and the role that religion plays in that relationship. It was a very deep and philosophical conversation that encompassed a lot of ground. I told my friend how I spent a lot of years distilling my faith down to the most basic elements in order to fully understand the nature of divinity. Simply applying the question, “WHY?” to my faith has removed a lot of what I perceive as “impurities” from it. In my opinion, a good number of those impurities are the misconceptions that I believe Christians have about God and the “rules for holy living” that he has supposedly imposed on our lives. The freedom to think and act with a clear conscience that I gained from the distillation process, along with the understanding about myself and about God that I gained has given me tremendous peace of mind in recent years. My friend, on the other hand, said that she had never seriously bothered to question her beliefs. She just always accepted her faith as she was taught it by her parents and mentors. She was comfortable with the way her faith was, and was “good at following the rules.”

One of the most intriguing parts of the discussion came when she told me of a lesson she heard one time where the teacher basically said, “Some people do things because they love God, and others do things so God will love them.”

Even though the phrase “do things” doesn’t necessarily mean “follow rules,” that’s how I’m going to treat it for the sake of this article because that’s how it came across in my mind when she said it. Christians love to come up with little sayings like this that are pithy and simple, yet sound so profound. This little Christian Cliché hit a nerve with me. On the surface it makes a lot of sense, and I wondered if my friend, like so many Christians, sometimes feels like she falls into the wrong group more often than she’d like. I mean, as a guy who pretty much treats the “rules” like they don’t apply to me, I even wondered which side I was on (since, by many peoples’ standards, I’m still kind of rule follower).

Now, over the past few days I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. Today, I was listening to Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger album and there is an instrumental score of the old hymn “Just As I Am” in the middle of the album. When I heard it, my conversation with my friend flashed to the front of my mind.

The hymn teaches us that God accepts us and loves us “just as we are” and our own Bible portrays Jesus as keeping some pretty lousy company (shall we judge him by the company that he kept?). If you truly study the teachings of Christ, you find that Jesus wasn’t particularly interested in following rules. He was only interested in doing what was right. I mean, Abraham’s very demanding God only saw fit to make ten (10) rules in the first place and Jesus trimmed the fat on those and gave us a CliffsNotes version that only consisted of TWO. One was to love God and the other was to love everyone else. So, if righteousness is really as simple as Jesus said it is, then where did all of these “rules” that good Christians follow come from?

As I mentioned earlier, I believe that Christian theology has “given birth” to many misconceptions about God and his “rules.” After years of introspection and close examination, I strongly suspect that these “births” are the product of artificial insemination. For various reasons, man has added things to a simple theology until it has evolved into an unmanageable beast. I’m sure that in many cases the “rules” were added to help the faithful better understand specific scenarios that may not seem to fit into one of the two rules. Like children pester their parents in an attempt to understand new things, we have continued to ask God, “But why?” Since man has a habit of directing their questions to God through middle men, the answers sometimes have come back less than clear. The “holy men” that Christians have gone to over the centuries for answers didn’t know any more than anyone else. So, they decided to just make shit up.

This all makes me wonder…if God is willing to accept us as we are, then why have we been so reluctant to accept him as he is? Why have we, as a faith, been unwilling to accept that our magnificent God is magnificent in his simplicity? Instead, we have made him mysterious and complicated restricting our ability to understand him. As a result implementing restrictions upon ourselves in the form of “rules to make God love us.”

(You may notice a metallic sound in the background that sounds like it might be coming from my banjo, but a little quieter. I swear that’s not me totally screwing the pooch, it’s my clothes dryer in the background. On a totally unrelated note, my boobs look HUGE in this video)

While I was thinking about all of this tonight, I sat down and quickly plucked out the melody to the hymn that I mentioned. It took me about 30 seconds to figure out. Maybe when I have more time, I’ll actually get a version that isn’t just plunky notes.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take the concept expressed by the Christian Cliché that I mentioned earlier a bit further. So, check back in.

June 15th, 2011

I’m Exhausted…

My mind and body are spent. I think it has a lot to do with me not sleeping well lately.

I’m sitting here on the couch trying to watch the hockey game and think of something to write, but I keep falling asleep.

The hockey game reminded me, though, that I bought a partial season ticket package for next year’s hockey season. I’m very excited.

 

 

 

June 14th, 2011

Rolling Along…

Today is June 14th, Flag Day. It’s Flag Day because on June 14th, 1777 the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag of the United States. However, the flag has an older sibling born on the same day. Today is the 236th birthday of the United States Army.

Today as I remember my brothers and sisters in arms, I can’t help but wonder how we as a nation have allowed these men and women to fight and die to protect our liberties while allowing our government to rob us of those same liberties. The President (like presidents before him) seems to think that he has free reign to use the bravery and sacrifice of our service members around the world to enact his foreign policy in the name of “security.” The truth is, he’s just taking the easy way out because deployed soldiers work better than diplomats in this day and age. Meanwhile, our leaders, those shining lights on the Hill, continue to disregard their duties and get very little of value done while members from both sides point fingers at the other side while pretending to care about the greater good.

I know I’m not ranting about anything specific, but do I really need to? We all know what’s going on. It makes me angry, and it should anger you too.

However, in the meantime, join me in being thankful for those men and women who continue to do their duty while the people that lead them neglect theirs. AND THE ARMY GOES ROLLING ALONG….