Saturday, August 29, 2020

Do The Police Need Retrained?

      Any sane individual knows that Jacob Blake and George Floyd were not angels. They had criminal records. They were breaking the law.  
      But could the police have subdued George Floyd without kneeling on his neck for eight minutes?  Could they have subdued and arrested Jacob Blake and put him into custody without shooting him in the back seven times?  
      Speaking for myself, I want the bad guys caught. I want them arrested and put in jail, especially if they commit heinous and evil crimes, especially against women and children.  But I would think that the police would remember that they are but the first step of the justice system. Not the first, middle and last step of the justice system.  
       As I’ve said, this is not Megacity One and the police are not Judge Dredd. Google it if you don’t know who Judge Dredd was. (And no, I'm not talking about the bad 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie.😜)
       Their job is to catch the bad guys and deliver them into custody. Preferably in a condition so they can have their day in court.  Most cops out here just want to do their jobs and go home to their families. But do they need to shoot a man seven times, in essence, empty their clip to subdue them? Do they need to kneel on a man’s neck for eight minutes?  Why does it take six cops to bring down a man for selling loose cigarettes?
        I mean if the cops had just arrested these two and figured out how to subdue them without crippling and killing them, most folks wouldn’t have paid it any mind.  But why did these cops go straight for their guns and chokeholds bypassing more humane methods?  
        Was it in their mentality? Did their sense of survival override their training?  Did the adrenaline rush shut down their instinct? Or was their training just deficient? 
         I’m not a cop, and I know the majority of cops can go their whole career without pulling their gun.  And speaking for myself, there are some bad people out here doing evil things, but the greater punishment is for them to sit in jail, rotting away and ruminating on their crimes. #JustSayin

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Finding a Way Thru Covid.

      Honestly, I'm starting to think that we'll never completely get rid of this Covid bug. Eventually a vaccine will be developed (And Big Pharma will charge up the butt for it, citing "research and testing" costs 😆). 
       It may take a year or two for it to come out. But until it does, I think we'll be masking and doing the 'six foot' shuffle for a while. Definitely for the remainder of 2020. 
        Businesses will continue to suffer, the economy will undergo more fits and starts and we're going to have to find new and exciting ways of living, playing, and working. But give us humans credit, we are supremely adaptable critters.  We'll grumble, complain and bitch, but we will eventually get the collective brain matter together and muddle through.  
        Things will change and have already changed. Some things we'll have to let go, others we'll have to pick up and move forward. But while the interim seems like a royal pain in the ass,  if we pull together in the same direction, more or less, we might find a way thru all this.  
         Or the whole mess might collapse in on itself and take us with it.  It's up to us to choose which option we want to take.  #JustSayin

Monday, August 03, 2020

Looking At My 20's Through 57 Year Old Eyes...

      Question to my FB peeps. Honest answer, kids. How many of you think I spend waaay too much time living in my past?  Especially the six years in the 80's that I was in the Navy.

     How many of you say to yourselves "Damn, I wish Pierre would stop his incessant obsession with stuff that happened 40 years ago. Those days are long over! Water under the bridge! Get with today's world! He's more than the Navy! He's grown beyond it! Leave it in the past. Bury and don't dig it up again!"  Or has he? Has he grown beyond it?

      Please, give me honest, frank opinion. 

      My justification. Those years, frankly, were (outside of years in college in the '90's), the best years of my life.  Since then, I've never gone so far, experienced so much, learned so much about myself as I did during those times. 
      And in retrospect, when I look at that 18-24 year old times with 57 year old eyes, I realize that I f****d up those opportunities I had. I could have gone much further. I made so many stupid decisions. I did good, I had fun. I worked my ass off. I'm proud of what I did.  And I saw things a lot of people would have never seen. 
       But I could have gone further, seen more, did more. Outside of my college years, my life this far has largely been routine. Work, eat, sleep, exist, repeat. 
        I've got friends on teh Facebook who've made something of their lives. And are still doing so. To them, their 20's were a mere chapter of their lives. My 20's were the whole  damn book. Seems like everything beyond the years of '80-86 and '92-00 was just a muddled mess. 14 years of excitement and accomplishments amidst 43 years of...blah!!!  Aaaanyway, tell me what you think and be honest.  
        Brutally, if you must.

Friday, July 24, 2020

More Anthem Kerfuffle!

       People think the Republic is going to fall because athletes kneel at the National Anthem? If that's the case, this country is in  worse shape than we thought. Why do we need to play the anthem at every damn sporting event anyway? I don't need to be constantly reminded of where I live. I know where the hell I live.
        Hello! Six year Navy vet and 30 year blue cap member of the American Legion here!!!  I don't need it drummed into my head over and over ad nauseum. Just play the thing first game of the season, at the championship game and be done with it.  Or don't play it at all. I don't care!!!  I don't need the patriotic theater anyways!  And the country will survive! 

       Okay, tired cranky old veteran/squid rant incoming. Cover your eyes if you're not Interested. In the Navy, on every ship inport or on base, they would play the National Anthem every morning at Morning Colors at 8am (or 0800 for all you squids. If you're a Marine, that's when Mickey's little hand is on the eight and his big hand is on the twelve! 😆) 
      Basically an honor guard would raise the flag while 'To The Colors" and the National Anthem were played and the American flag was raised. Anyone outside had to stop what they were doing, stand at attention, face the flag or the music if there were no flag present and if in uniform, salute, or if in civvies, stand at attention and uncover and honor the flag. 

      I remember seeing people in uniform, enlisted and officers alike literally running into the nearest building when the music starts so they wouldn't have to be caught outside at attention and saluting for the five minutes it took to raise the flag. Familiarity breeds contempt.
      I've gone to sporting events and have seen people fidgeting, getting a beer, looking around, scratching themselves, checking their phones, going to the bathroom, yakking to their buddy during the Anthem, and many of these same people would kvetch up a storm if they saw an athlete kneel. Can't have your cake and eat it too, people. ☹️☹️☹️😠😠😠

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The End of the Great Experiment??

      If there's one painful lesson this COVID-19 bug is teaching us, it's that no matter how much blathering and bluster we spout about America being the greatest, the  richest, the most powerful, God's favored, and just simply the most awesomest country with which the Good Lord has ever chosen to bless this planet, as far as dealing with this COVID-19 problem goes? 

 We suck!

      Hospitals are still dealing with shortages of masks and other PPE's. Trump wants the schools open PDQ, and we have no idea how to balance the safety of students with the faculty and staff who support them. 
      States feeling public pressure to reopen their economies, do so, only to have to lock them down again when people decide to disregard the rules regarding social distancing and wearing masks citing a loss of freedom. 
      Questions abound about whether sports will be back and in what form. And whether we should even care.
      America has always been divided in one form or another since its founding. I mean we had a bunch of slaveholders write a founding document that proclaimed all men are created equal, except for the women they married and the slaves they held. Yet the recent protests and other unpleasantness has served to widen the divide. 
      Both sides of the political, racial and social spectrums are talking AT and PAST each other instead of TO each other. Doom and Gloom are trafficked far and wide on social media and in the news.  Our institutions are being pummeled by fear and mistrust. People are scared, tired, mad, and confused by the mixed messages they see and hear.  

      Could we be seeing the beginning of the end of the Great Experiment? #JustSayin

Monday, July 13, 2020

How God Talks To Me.

      You know, the capacity for humans to complain no matter the circumstances astounds me. 
       Case in point. My work schedule has changed a lot since this Covid-19 bug hit. I'm working double shifts, I'm not really a morning person, despite spending a large portion of my life getting up at 4:30 to spend 16 hour days cooking for a bunch of squids.  I have to get up 1.5 hrs before work to make sure I get my coffee and breakfast. It's a bit of a pain in the ass.
       My body has aches and pains galore. I'm still recovering from my recent hospital stay.   And I grumble inwardly when trudging to work. But then God has to put me in check sometimes. 

       He says, "Hey dumbass! You know how many people lost their jobs when their business shut down?  You know how many people had to go on unemployment?  You know how many people have to put their lives back together after this thing hit?  Do you know why I put it into your head not to have kids? Not to have a significant other?  You have it sooo damn good right now!  
      You lost your Theater Square site. BFD!  But you're now working security at UPMC. You're getting OVERTIME! You're working more hours now than you were at the beginning of the year! Your paychecks are BOOMING right now!  I'm keeping your ungrateful ass out of the hospital!  You could have had a bigger stroke than you did and be totally useless to yourself! 

      That's the way God occasionally talks to me, like an 80's RTC Great Mistakes company commander (Back in those days, they could cuss.) In a way that I can understand.  And he's right. I have it pretty damn good compared to others. It's not the ideal situation, the ideal life, but it works, for me, that is. Take whatever moral you choose out of this.

Friday, July 03, 2020

Lift Every Voice and Sing

      The NFL proposing to have "Lift Every Voice and Sing" played before Week 1 games, the headlines the media is throwing out there for the story is clickbait.  Lift Every Voice and Sing(LEVAS) is commonly referred to as the Black National Anthem.
      It, of course, does not have the same standing as the Star Spangled Banner(SSB), which is the official national anthem of the USA. However, many black folks, myself included, feel strongly enough about the words in LEVAS to treat it as our National Anthem, even to the extent of standing while it's played.  And instead of singing only the first verse of the SSB, Black folks sing all the verses of LEVAS. Because all the verses carry significant meaning to black people.  
       It is a song that describes black folks struggle and fight to be considered relevant in this country. It offers us hope. It praises the God who sustained us, and kept us fighting whether being enslaved, hung by a noose or being told that we must use separate facilities, or when police continue to abuse their authority and kill those they arrest. It is a powerful song that never fails to inspire. More white folks ought to listen to it. 
       In actuality, this scheme by the NFL, while well intentioned, is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on an amputation.  It's a feel good effort to act "woke." And I'm sure the NFL will find a way to make money off the whole thing.  
       But this is one small step. Among many. But, as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with ONE SMALL STEP. We have come a long way, but we still have far to go. 

      All sides to look deep into their hearts. That includes black folks as well. How can we demand respect from everyone when we won't demand respect from ourselves?  
      How can we demand that police stop killing us, when we are still shooting each other over drugs, turf, and women?  How can we get out of our ghettos when the only ways out we offer our children is either as an entertainer or an athlete?
      Why are there more black men in jail than in college?
      Why are there so many black folks using smartphones and so few helping to design them?   I don't know. I'm but one voice and I don't know the answers.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Juneteenth and Other Overlooked Tidbits of American History.

     I have to admit. Despite going to what many people considered a good high school (1970's Bill Fisher era Allderdice) I don't remember hearing about Juneteenth.  
     As an aside, I don't think high school taught me much of anything, in truth. I regarded it as somewhat of a black hole.  Despite The 'Dice's reputation, academic and otherwise at the time, it didn't seem to serve me well. I ended up in the lower half of my graduating class. Whether it was the school's fault or my fault may be up for debate. Probably a little of both. 
      But aaanyway, I don't remember Juneteenth being part of my American history class. It's sad that such an important date in history, like so much of black history, doesn't get taught in our schools. We read about slavery, and how it is eradicated. Don't remember being taught much about Jim Crow, we read about Martin Luther King and the high points of the Civil Rights Movement, and after he was assassinated...bupkes. 
       Admittedly, this was 40 plus years ago and while my long term memory is pretty good, my high school years were more memorable about what happened outside the classroom as opposed to inside them. 
        But like it or not, black history is American history.  And it deserves more exposure to our youth than just a rehash of the high points. They need to know about what set up the high points. 
        But there is so much history of all the peoples that make up this country that is a part of American history and that deserves to be told, and only so much can be crammed into 180 school days. How do you fit it in?  How do you make sure that no people's history gets short shrift. I don't know.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Defund The Police?

With the death of George Floyd still fresh in the country's psyche, a call has gone out to "Defund The Police."  Some look at that phrase as a way to reallocate funding municipalities use for the police towards the communities they serve. Others think the phrase means to abolish the police altogether.

I think the slogan "Defund the Police" is inaccurate. I don't believe the term means to abolish the police.  While the ranks of the police are full of individuals who do not deserve the badge, the majority of police try to do damn near impossible jobs honorably.  And the presence of rogue officers makes that job even more difficult. 

 One thing I wonder is that there are calls police receive and respond to that they do not really need to respond to. Why does a cop need to respond to a complaint about a homeless person being where they shouldn't be? Why does a cop have to respond to a call about an illegal street vendor? Why does a cop need to respond to somebody selling loose cigarettes?  Why does a cop need to respond to a dispute between neighbors?  Why does a cop need to respond to a shoplifter? 

There are many situations where police are dispatched where their presence is not really needed.  Robberies, yes. Domestics, yes. Shootings, yes. A situation where violence, especially where weapons could possibly be involved, fine.  But if the matter can be peaceably settled without the use of weapons, why involve the police?  I would think that a cop would prefer to be handling a life-threatening situation or catching bad guys than rousting homeless people or ticketing a street vendor who doesn't have a vendors license. 

I think that defunding the police might mean taking some of the money municipalities used to operating the police and using it to create a community advocacy program that trains people in de-escalation and handling issues that require assistance from trained professionals but not from the police. By all means, if a trained community advocate has a problem that requires the police to make a show of force, maybe the person they're trying to help gets combative or shows a weapon, by all means the police must be summoned, and a quick response is needed to prevent loss of life.  But why not free the police from routine issues so they can concentrate on doing what they are trained to do.

I may be wrong. I'm not a cop.  But put in your feedback.

Monday, June 01, 2020

Uncle P's Thoughts--Police and Protests

     Another thing. Please don't assume that because I'm black, I have inbred animosity towards the police. There are plenty of black folks who don't like the police, who flat out hate the police.         For a multitude of reasons.  Police for decades have been used by racist administrations at the state, county and local levels to enforce racist rules, laws and mores meant to harm black people. They have been used to deny black people justice, they have been used to persecute, torture, lynch and kill black people. They have been used to keep black people down and to deny them their rights.  Try and find at least one black person, who hasn't either been harassed, falsely accused, falsely arrested by police, or hasn't had a relative, acquaintance or loved one who hasn't been subject to unjust policing.
       But unless we choose to employ vigilantism to protect our neighborhoods, the police are what we have.  I am privileged in that I haven't had issues with police. I have never been stopped, harassed, or hassled by police.
       I am a security guard. I am the eyes and ears of the police, fire departments, and paramedics for the places I'm assigned to work. Police can't be everywhere. If something happens at one of my job sites, my job is to alert the first responders, and inform them as to what happened. My job is to give them the who, what, when, where, and how of an incident and leave it to them to figure out the why. It is important to me that I give them proper information so they can do their job. The client who contracts my guard agency to protect their property expects that, as do the first responders whom I contact.  When I talk to them I have to do so respectfully, professionally and with courtesy.  I give them the information they need and keep it moving.  It doesn't happen often that I have to deal with cops, but when I do, I have to give them what they need to do their job, and by doing so, I'm doing my job. 
     I am angered when I see police misuse their authority. I am angered when I see them abuse suspects and kill those whom they are responsible for bringing to justice. Cops are the tip of the spear, not the whole spear. Their job is to protect the community, enforce the law, catch the criminals and bring them to justice. They aren't judge, jury, and executioner. They aren't Judge Dredd and this isn't Mega City One. 
       I have nothing but respect for police. They have to deal with a lot of unpleasant characters. Human beings at their worst.  They are given great power and concomitant great responsibility.  But, they are human. They have to guard against becoming that which they protect us from. They can't let the badge go to their heads.  It's a job I couldn't do. I neither hate police, nor do I suck up to them. I see them for what they are and the job they are called to do. I congratulate them when they do the right thing and condemn them when they don't.  They are us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. 

 RoboCop doesn't exist except in the movies .

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.