Sunday, May 24, 2020

A Church Is Not A Building.

     A church is not a building, a church is the people who worship in that building. It's a community.  The building is secondary to the community that worships in it. 
     A building is temporary.  A building is fleeting.  It can beautiful, but it can fade away.  The building burns down, is destroyed or is closed, the people either rebuild, find another building or share the building with another congregation.  A strong church community will outlast any building it's housed in. Jesus never placed much emphasis on buildings. He knew they were temporary. Like all things constructed by finite man, buildings would ultimately fall.            He cautioned his followers to not be concerned with earthly treasures. But to lay up for themselves incorruptible treasures in heaven.  Where moths cannot corrupt and thieves cannot break through and steal. 
      Last I remember the New Testament, Jesus preached wherever there were people willing to listen to his message. His disciples preached wherever they could find a place where people could gather.  Could have been in a house, a spare room, an open field.          "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there also will I be."  
      These days in a world plagued with a pandemic,  those two or three could be gathered together in Jesus' name in a video conferencing situation.  As long as they are gathered together in one accord and in Jesus' name, he promised us that there also he shall be. It would be better if we were all physically together in community, but the spirit of God is still present if we are miles apart in our own homes. This is the situation we find ourselves in today, but God is still God, even through a pandemic.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

How Not To Get A College Degree 20 Years Revisited.

     Shout out to the lovely and talented Madelaine Berg aka Madwoman. She and I walked across the Sewall Center stage 20 years ago this week to graduate from what was Robert Morris College to earn our bachelor's degrees. I
      If I'm not mistaken, Madwoman's degree was in Hospitality and mine was in Sports Management. Unlike me, Madwoman actually used her sheepskin while mine sits in a picture frame and looks at me tauntingly.  My route to undergraduate "success" took eight years and I called it "The Relentless Pursuit of Higher Education" A treatise of questionable worth about how "not" to get a college education. 
      In short, I spent 3 years at CCAC from 1992-95 getting my associates with no plan about whether I was going to transfer or where. I basically flew by the seat of my pants. And did not bother taking advantage of academic advising, because I had no clue of what the hell I was doing.  I only got into Robert Morris because at the time, they were very good at accepting CCAC's credits. And my associate degree wasn't even designed to transfer. 
      Pretty safe to say that that plan would NOT work at today's RMU.  You would think that someone who entered college in his thirties would have a clue. Wrong!! I was dumber than dirt. Still am at 57.  But I now am in possession of a bachelor's degree that is all but useless. 
       But, suffice it to say, I had a lot of fun getting it. Between all the commendations I earned at CCAC and the hijinks and hell I raised in both my Phi Theta Kappa chapter at CCAC  and my Phi Beta Lambda crew at Robert Morris, I had fun, learned a lot about myself and ultimately the degrees did serve me well in that I learned how to write gud!!! 
      Still doing the same work I was doing before I started college. But I learned a little about leadership in running my PTK chapter and I got a little hardware too.  If I had it to do over again, I would do it again, but I'd talk to some advisors this time around. 
       I'll end on this note. Students thinking about college. Don't do it by yourself. Talk to advisors. Plan your schedule and classes intelligently. Don't think you know it all, because, trust me, you don't.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Protest If You Want, But...

My feeling about these protestors hankering to reopen their state. If you're over 18, you're an adult and are responsible for your decisions.
     You want to roll the dice on your life that you'll survive this bug if you go out and gather in large groups, disregard social distancing, and pay no attention to what the experts are saying about how this bug spreads, go ahead. Knock yourself out. If your dumb ass dies due to your stupidity, you're a grown ass man or woman. Live or die with the consequences. 
     It's too bad this bug doesn't discriminate between those who are taking the advice and those who choose to put their head in the lion's mouth. This thing is going about willy-nilly grabbing anybody it wants. No one is immune. All you can do is minimize your exposure.
     But there are those who have to learn things the hard way I guess. I feel sorry for those who have to pay for the stupidity of those who choose to tempt fate. Those innocent family members who lose a loved one if they are infected by COVID-19 while doing this protest.
     It's a pain in the ass that we have to shut down the country until this thing runs its course.  Especially those who were made jobless. I lost my job for a month. Hated it. For those who are jobless for months, this is like slow torture. No one likes to go on unemployment. No one likes to rely on the government to throw them a bone. But until this bug goes away, unless you can find a gig that's functioning in this new world, that's all you can do.
     I like going to bookstores. I like having a beer or two at the Market District at Waterworks. I want to attend my church's services in person instead of via Zoom. I want to use the Riverhounds season tickets I paid $300 for to watch some sakkah. But that ain't happening for the foreseeable future. All we can do is figure out how to make due with what's available.  You can still go to restaurants, you just have to do take out. You can still put up the grill and barbecue, you just can't invite a bunch of people over. You can still watch TV, stream video, play video games. You can still walk your dog, have your kids play in the back yard.  This all has to be done with your family or a few trusted friends.
      Eventually this bug will go away. But it will go away quicker if we just keep doing what we're doing.  But humans in general and Americans in particular, are an impatient lot. We don't like being contained or told what to do. Which is why less than half of one percent of Americans join the military.  We want what we want, when we want and we're quick to wave the Constitution around when we don't get it.
Never mind that most Americans have never read the Constitution or knows what it means.  Or that non-citizens studying for the citizenship test know more about the damn thing than most native born Americans do. But we sure like quoting it.  But....I don't know. Let's just do what we have to do to get through this.  But do what you want. Just don't invite me to your funeral if you die whilst screaming for your 'freedom.'
      In the first part of my piece, my libertarian side popped up for a moment. Freedom does also mean allowing people to do things that can be bad for them but that freedom stops when it affects others. And that's where people lose the definition of freedom.  My freedom to swing my fist ends at your face. Your freedom to protest for the government to reopen your state stops when your family loses you because your disregard for social distancing and sheltering in place causes you to be infected by this bug and you end up hospitalized or dead.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Choose Wisely, America.

     Now that Bernie Sanders has cashed out, that leaves us with two old doddering fools with touchy-feely issues. As a service to my fellow 'Muricans, I and the rest of the gang at the Moonlight Scribbler Center for Political Excellence and Crab Shack have burned the midnight oil cogitating and concentrating, scheming and dreaming, thinking and drinking and after many minutes of perusing insanely complex mathematical models, copious shots of Fireball, and thousands of brain cells expended, we have, in a valiant effort to submit to you, the discerning voter, alternatives to the Trump/Biden choice that awaits us.

1. Bill the Cat from Bloom County fame: Multi- time Presidential candidate from the Meadow Party. Occasionally dead. Virtually indestructible. Known to ingest any number of dangerous substances. Limited vocabulary consisting of "Oop, Ack and Thbbft!" Had been known to date or have dalliances with Jeane Kirkpatrick and Queen Elizabeth and was drinking buddies with Garfield and Heathcliff. Once had Trump's brain implanted into him. And made better use of it than its current owner. 

2. Pinky and the Brain from Animaniacs: Two genetically enhanced mice. One is a genius, the other is insane. Which is which? Who knows? Their aims are simple: to take over the world. At least they're transparent. 

3. My best friend's adorable, but very dead Dachshund, Snickers: A local favorite.  As old in dog years as Biden or Trump but much smarter and less likely to put a paw in the wrong place. Mainly because One, he's dead and Two, his legs were only three inches long.  Very unlikely to screw up his Presidency because he's dead.  A most worthy candidate who'd be a credit to this country. Did I mention that he's dead. A factor that could weigh most heavily in his likability ratings. 

Finally, Any high functioning adult. 

Choose wisely, America. Our country's future depends on it.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

An Ancestral Oddball.

      A few posts back, I said I was an ancestral oddball. Explanation follows.  All my siblings and I were born to the same mother, but different father's.
       My mother had five kids. Four boys, one girl.  I am the outlier. Typical if you know me. I never make things easy. I was born to a different father than my siblings. He died a number of years ago. I don't remember when.  I never met the relatives on his side. All I knew was him. Never knew his parents or any other members of his family. 
       I suspect this is where I got the 20 odd percent of British/Irish according to 23 and me. So I guess I got the biracial thing going. My mother, father and all my siblings died within the last 35 years.          I never really knew the father of my siblings. I never really knew his parents or grandparents. My mother mentioned them when I was growing up. But they all died before I came into age. I don't know about where my siblings kids are, or whether they're still alive. I lost touch with that side of the family when my last brother died about ten years ago.  
        And I'm not really interested in tracking them down, if they're still alive. For all intents and purposes, I'm it.  The last apple on my family's branch of the tree. Once I'm gone, that's it.
         I've got nobody, as far as I know. All I have is myself. It's kind of scary.  But it is what it is.  
         Why am I sharing this on Facebook?  I live a fairly open life here. There are very few secrets in me. I keep those close to the vest, but the rest? I put it out there for all to see.  My mixed up life. For what it's worth. Which ain't much.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Conversation With God...

A conversation between me and God shortly after I arrive in Heaven.

God: Okay, Pierre. Here's the deal. You accepted Jesus my son as your personal saviour. That gets you in. The bad news is that we haven't figured out where to put you.

Me: Okay.

God: You met the minimum requirements. But you haven't done anything else.  You don't evangelize, you don't witness, you haven't brought one soul into the kingdom.  You got in by the skin of your teeth. You don't even pass out tracts.

Me: Have you ever seen Chick Tracts, Lord? 

God: Okay, point taken.  I know you like to sing so we'll put you in the Heavenly choir. For once you won't be the only tenor in the section. 

Me: Cool! 

God: Now, for where you're gonna live. Obviously, we're not putting you in the high rent district. You won't be hanging with me, or Jesus. The Holy Spirit gets around a lot so you'll get to rub shoulders with him. But all the good digs will be taken by Mary, Joseph, the Disciples, Paul, the Old Testament Patriarchs. That bunch.  You won't be there. Besides, they aren't the most exciting crowd. Important, but not exciting.  So I guess we'll put you in the Heavenly Ghetto. 

Me: From what I hear the Ghetto of Heaven is infinitely better than the finest gated community on Earth. 

God: It is, but that's where all the praise singers will live. 

Me: You mean I have to listen to praise music for eternity? 

God: Either that or the campus where all the musicians who performed all that awful Contemporary Christian Music of the  70's and 80's will live.  Your choice.  It could be worse. You could be stuck where all the televangelists live. 

Me: Yech! Unless I get to smack the televangelist that convinced me to toss my ELO collection, I want nothing to do with those Brylcreem prophets!  I guess I'll take the bad CCM. At least some of them rocked. The lyrics were crap but it had a beat. Petra won't be there will they? 

God: You chucked away a perfectly good ELO collection because some idiot televangelist told you they were of the devil? Oh, he's getting a Heavenly Wedgie for that one!  I love ELO!!  Are you kidding? Petra's the house band! Especially with Greg X. Volz as the lead singer!  I rock to those boys!! Good choice in your choice of residence. I'm not looking forward to being praised 24/7/eternity. But them's the rules.  Welcome aboard and get your robe, and other goodies over at Processing.

Me: One more question, Lord. What about beer?

God: What about it?

Me: Is Heaven going to be a dry Paradise?
God: Oh, no. You know how boring this place would be if we didn't have good beer? In your case, all the Bourbon barrel Imperial coffee stout you can drink!!

Me: Yeeeah boyee! 

God Don't do that again!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Trying To Figure Shit Out.

Anymore, when I see the stupidity, evil and corruptive shenanigans that occur in the name of organized religion, Sometimes I have to wonder. 
      Did God make us in His image? Or did we make God in our image? I mean, there's a lot being done right in organized religion. The homeless are bring helped. The hungry are being fed, It does bring peace to countless people's lives. Faith has its place.  
      But there's a lot of stuff being done wrong too. The most vulnerable of us are being violated by people who are supposed to be in a position of trust. And those who are supposed to supervise them try to cover their asses by sweeping it under the rug. 
      There's thievery, there's squabbling and power grabs. Those in power abuse that power for their enrichment. Or to subjugate the powerless. People are mixing politics with faith. People making a buck off God's expense. God's words are being twisted to accommodate agendas. God's words being used to excuse all manners of evil. 
      And trust me, there are plenty of those who express no belief in God capable of both great deeds and evil ones too. No one corners the market on either good or bad. We're all capable on f*****g up on a biblical scale.  
       I don't know where I'm going with this. It just popped up into my head and wouldn't leave until I put it out there.  Kinda like verbal constipation.  That's how my blog works. A lot of the longer rants posted here end up there. Ex-Lax for my mind, as it were.   Shameless plug. 😀

       But people are starting to be turned off to organized religion. It's not satisfying people's needs anymore.  More and more are no longer identifying with a particular religion, or they choose to pursue spirituality outside the walls of a church. My feeling? I identify as Christian of the Episcopal persuasion. I don't witness, or pass out tracts.  I don't evangelize. I accept people as they are, where they are. I don't always succeed. I'm trying to figure out my situation before trying to sell others on a cure. We all have to figure out what gets us through the long night. It's different for all of us.  We all gotta figure this stuff out for ourselves. I'm trying to do the best I can with what I got. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. But I try. And that is my parting word to you. You may get it right. You may blow it all to pieces. But you still gotta try. 


Friday, January 03, 2020

Christianity Done Messed Uncle P's Head Up!

I was raised in the church. Raised Baptist. Did the whole Sunday school/Easter/Christmas pageant thing. Sung in the choir, served as a youth usher. Got saved at 13. The whole schlemiel. 
     Then I went into the service, fell off the church radar until 1983 when I found a cool Christian servicemen's center and church in Alameda, CA. It rekindled my faith somewhat. Got into a lot of prophecy/End Times stuff. Read a lot of Hal Lindsay, Revelation/Daniel stuff. 
      Got so bad that some televangelist convinced me that rock and roll was of the devil and I threw away my entire ELO collection. D'OH!!!  The whole backmasking fiasco. I only listened to contemporary Christian music. And a lot of that music SUCKED big time. It REEKED! Just listening to that pap would give you diabetes. 
       Then I got out of the service and went back to the Baptist life until 1993, even got rebaptized because I felt that my first baptism and 'getting saved' was purely to please my parents. 
        Then God gave me a vision of my current church.  A small Episcopal Church in Homewood. I went there and I've been there ever since 26 years later.  I love that church. I feel like I can contribute. 
         But as I've grown older, my approach to Christianity has changed. I'm no longer an Evangelical. Evangelism is too much like selling something. And I HATE selling things. I got tired of the legalistic, punitive Christianity the Fundagelicals were pushing.  I no longer believe in biblical inerrancy. If the Bible was inerrant, why are there so many versions? Why were there so many additions, subtractions? Why do certain denominations recognize the Apocrypha and others don't?  Why do so many denominations twist the Scriptures to fit their agenda? 
         Anymore, I'm starting to veer towards a more Universalist approach. I can't really put my head around a loving God sentencing millions of people to eternal hell because they don't follow the script.    
         Try as they can, the church is not going to be able to preach the Gospel to every man, woman and child on the planet. There will always be those folks who live in too remote locations for missionaries to get to. Why should they suffer an eternal punishment for a circumstance not of their own making?  I don't know.  I'm not sure what to think anymore.