Archives For About Life

Things I have learned through my sixty odd years of life..

2014-07-15_16-07-58This is a continuation of last Friday’s post about why I blog and why I have been around longer than many of my blogging friends.

The above title with a slight modification is from a song from Carly Simon in the early seventies.  I am not really taunting you here it is just that like so many of my blogging buddies have been doing lately I sometimes wonder if I should go on with this blog or just hang it up? Last Friday I mentioned some of the reasons that I blog.  I thought I would finish the thought with this post.

It comes down to the basic question “Why do I blog??”

  • Do I do it for fame or fortune?
  • Do I do it because of an inflated ego?
  • Do I have just too much time on my hands?
  • Do I do it because I am always right and need others to know that fact?

I can emphatically answer NO to all of these thoughts. I have been offered some monetary gain by allowing advertising on this blog but have reject that as I might feel restricted in what I say. Most of my life I have suffered from an inferiority complex that my father, rest his soul, probably inadvertently taught me. My ego was thoroughly bruised by those years. Too much time? I can’t seem to get everything done on my to-do lists for any given day so that is not the reason.  Because I am always right (Ha). I don’t know many answers but I do have a lot of questions. Nope, don’t blog because of any of those reasons….

When it comes down to the root reason I blog it is just who I am at this point in my life.  I am a person who is full of questions.  I am a person who instinctively doesn’t go with the crowd but instead seek an alternative paths. I also blog in order to get all these things out of my head. :)  If I don’t do something with them all the unanswered questions would probably drive me crazy…

For a good part of my life I saw myself as a guy who thinks about things when others just take them for granted. It made me weird and sometimes less than sociable. In my old age I have come to discover that these characteristics are actually of some benefit.

No, I don’t have all the answers but that is OK. Sometimes I just get it wrong and have to learn otherwise and that is OK too. The root reason for  why I blog is probably more for me than for you my loyal readers. It keeps me sane… ;) More thoughts on that next Friday….

This Sunday post is going to take a personal drift.  Some of my antagonists over the years say that I have a smug attitude about Christianity and that I proclaim to be the only one who has all the answers. I hope these views are an exception rather than a rule for most who read my Sunday posts. But just in case I want to tell you what I think about that view of my words.

First of all it hurts me that anyone would take that as my message about being a follower of Christ. If you are one to have that opinion I would encourage you to look at my 5+ years worth of posts over at RedLetterLiving.  It should be clear from those posts that I don’t think I have all the answers. As a matter of fact I’m not even sure I have any answers but just have many unanswered questions that just don’t seem to be answerable by current day religious establishments.

I approach my spirituality with my intellect fully in-tact. That is I don’t just take what some say is the truth as the truth. I check out other opinions. I am not seminary trained but only self-educated. In some ways that is an advantage but in other I probably don’t know what I don’t know about many theological issues.

When I talk about spiritual issues here I am not trying to convince anyone that I am correct and I certainly not trying to convince anyone they are wrong.  We all are seeking the same thing via our spiritual search. Some take different paths and that is OK. I am not trying to force anyone down my path. I am just offering my current view on spiritual matters and yes that view has evolved over the years.

I was a serious student of theology for about a dozen years and at the end of that period I became convinced that for the most part “Theology is a crock”. Most of the theologians of our time don’t have anymore of an idea of these things than any of us do. They either parrot what they have been told or go off on a tangent, but not too much of a tangent for fear of being called a heretic. I know no more than anyone else about the true image of God. I can, only like them, speculate what I imagine it to be.

But because I often speculate in a different mode than many I sometimes raise eyebrows. I don’t want anyone who reads my Sunday posts to think that I am trying to convince you that I got it figured out because I am sure that like everyone else I don’t. During my studies I have found three authors that I am most aligned with. They shape many of my feelings about these issues. They are Philip Gulley, Shane Claiborne, and Greg Boyd.  If you feel like it check them out. While I don’t try to convince others that I have it right I do try to convince everyone to take it upon themselves to learn as much about God as they can. If you do I pray that you will then love him as I do. And that is why I post here on Sundays.

1. When he got tired of her outbursts.

2. When the trust was gone.

3. When his wife became a glorified roommate.

4. When the math didn’t add up.

5. When he was suffering from depression and she laughed it off.

6. When he realized she didn’t believe in his dreams.

7. When he disagreed with her on how they’d raise their future children.

8. When he became indifferent to the cheating.

9. When he decided to put his daughter first.

10. When he realized that having hobbies of his own was off-limits.

11. When he had the commute from hell and she didn’t care.

SOURCE:  11 Reasons Men Leave Their Marriages.

All marriages have rocky points sometime during their duration. The ability to step back and rationally review the reasons behind those points is what saves some but may also condemn others. I personally believe included in the list above are some of the major reasons marriages end up on the ash heap. As the source indicates this list  is from men who have recently divorced their wives. It comes from a much wider compilation of reasons but is probably among the top ones.

I, for one, take my vows very seriously in both my marriage and other situations in my life.  I want my word to be my word.  I let my yes be yes. If I say I will be there at a certain time I make every effort to do just that. If I say until death do us part I mean it. Does that mean I am staying in a loveless marriage? Absolutely not!! On most planes my wife loves me very much and I love her. But there are certain things, some included on the list above, that make our marriage less than perfect.  But whose marriage is perfect anyway?

I am convinced that the premise of the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” is a valid one.  There are very distinct differences between the sexes such that women sometimes just don’t get it when a man is distressed about some issues. Of course the same goes for the other way around.

They say opposites attract and there is certainly some of that in my marriage. Sometimes I think we disagree on more than we agree. Without a successful means of conflict resolution marriages of opposites are very challenging.

My wife and I have had our “disagreements” about some items on the above list. It is hard for me to understand the reasons behind her seemingly not being able to understand some on these issues. I think it is a Mars/Venus thing. I recently got a fresh copy of Mars/Venus and will likely use it as a source for some future posts in this area.

 

2014-09-04_19-56-10“Now, just suppose, for a change they preach to you about the Lord and not about the other fellow’s church, for every religion is good. There is none of it bad.  We are all trying to arrive at the same place according to our own conscience and teachings. It don’t matter which road you take.” – Will Rogers March 11, 1923

Since Will Rogers is a hero of mine, of course I get a daily dose of his Facebook page. Here is one that strikes me as typical of his wisdom. Will was not particularly a religious person, his mom wanted him to be a Methodist minister but as he said he slipped and became an entertainer instead. He wasn’t much of a church goer but he didn’t put down except maybe on a few rare slips those who were.

Religious establishments, or at least the ones I know much about,  seem to go to an extreme to pronounce that the god of Allah is not the same as the Christian god. Each different group of religious people seems to insist that their god is the true one and everyone else is praying to a pagan one. After ten years of theological self-study I kind of think that Will got it about right almost a hundred years ago. Of course the religious pundits of today say otherwise.

We all latch onto one version of God and therefore proclaim that one the true god. Then we proceed to fashion words based on what we want from our particular god. For many Muslims that includes going to prayer five times a day and always praying toward Mecca. It is also about praising Allah and keeping others away from him.  For Some Jews it is about obeying thousands of different rules and eating only very strictly prepared foods. They think that is what their god demands of them.  Many of us Christians believe in a something-for-nothing god who only thinks of us a poor miserable human beings but will take us to heaven anyway provided we say the right words and believe what we are told. For them nothing else is required. And then there are other Christians who believe the exact opposite.  Got to love us Christians as we are all over the map on just what God wants from us.

We all spend way too much time convincing ourselves that “our “version of God is the only true one. We pick and choose various words from our particular religious documents to back up that feeling while ignoring everything else that doesn’t align with our chosen beliefs. We ALL do this to one level or another.

But in the end there has to be only one God in the universe and I kind of think she is almost laughing at our absurd efforts to split her into so many different parts. But she is probably also crying because of the same thing. As Will says all religions are good at some level but they all got it wrong at others. The sooner we all realize that the sooner we can quit fighting and killing each other to defend our version of God against their version.

Enough said…

Of course the physics of a shadow make it impossible to get away from but in a more philosophical sense the title above means we must live with the consequences of our actions. Your past is what has made you what you are. There is no escaping it.

We can pretend our shadow isn’t there but it never leaves us. It tends to taint our joys as well as heighten them. One of the detrimental things I see happening in our country today is that so many want to cast off the responsibility for their actions. They want to have fun and forget about everything else. At times I admit that I am one of them. The news around the world and especially within the Washington beltway is just too dark for many of us. But, like the old saying “we get what we pay for” our current crop of leaders is a result of our past decisions. We chose, and continue to choose, those who control the country’s purse strings in the same nonsensical way.  They are as much a shadow of our complacency as anything else.

When all the investment bankers got into so much trouble with their derivatives they counted on our government to bail them out and that is just what they did. If they had to live with the consequences of their actions they certainly would not have gotten their million dollar bonus three years or sooner after the meltdown. Not one of those responsible for the near financial meltdown was held accountable. They seemed to have escaped their shadow of those irresponsible acts.

Too many people get into financial problems today by over extending themselves with debt. They just don’t seem to be able to understand that buying things on credit leave you with a long and heavy shadow that will eventually drag you into the sewer if you don’t face it.

Metaphorically the only way to get rid of your shadow is to start running in the dark but then you are constantly bumping into things and quickly lose your path.

On a much lighter side I have a constant shadow that follows me around my homestead. It doesn’t matter if it is sunny or cloudy or inside our out, my shadow is always there. And I kind of like it that way. I can depend on my shadow to always be there and that is kind of nice. For those of you who haven’t already figured it out here is a picture of my shadow.

My Shadow

I Read…..

September 2, 2014

readingReading the written word is a very important thing for all of us but especially so for me.  For some reason I have been thinking about just how much I personally read. Being deaf hearing the spoken word is no longer possible so with that sense gone reading has become my primary method of knowing what is happening in the world around me.

My computer and the Internet are a vital part of my life. But then again they have been since their invention three decades ago. I spend between a half and a full hour each morning reading about what happened in the world lately. One nice thing about the Internet is that I can quickly browse a large number of articles and only spend the time to thoroughly read the few that I select. When I was growing up we never had the money to afford a set of encyclopedias. But now Wikipedia is just a click away for all my questions. I read things there very frequently.

There is no such thing as closed-captioned radio so that venue is worthless to me. For that matter I really don’t know how much about how radio is used since the invention of iPods and such. Maybe no one listens to it anymore. But I do know that some of the radical hot heads such as Rush are on the radio? Maybe that is the venue now? If so then I wish it would just go away.

When I sit down to watch my favorite TV programs it is still about reading. I thank heavens for closed-captioning but my eyes do get a little tired of trying to read the captions and watch all the action at the same time.  TV is as much about reading as most other media is for me.

Then there are books and magazines which I continue to consume on a daily basis. I even subscribe to a few of the hard copy versions. The one problem I have with reading is that the letters are getting smaller and smaller. Or maybe it is my eyes are getting older and older. I don’t know which?

Reading is who I am and what I am about. Like my hero Will Rogers about everything I know about the world I get from reading….

2014-08-05_08-53-25

“In Revelation, Jesus is a pride fighter with a tattoo down his leg, a sword in his hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” – Mark Driscoll

Being that I am now a big fan of streaming video I get advertisements such as the picture above on a regular basis. When I first looked at the picture the resemblance between the person in the picture and the traditional western depiction of Jesus slammed me. Then I thought of the quote I used earlier from Mark Driscoll (also above).

Here is a little bit of what Wikipedia says about Mr. Driscoll and his congregation.

Mark A. Driscoll (born October 11, 1970) is an evangelical Christian pastor and author, and current preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, a megachurch in Seattle, Washington. In 1996, Driscoll co-founded Mars Hill Church, which as of 2014 has grown to 14,000 members in five states and fifteen locations…

On March 29, 2014, four former Mars Hill elders including Kyle Firstenberg, Dave Kraft, and co-founder Lief Moi created a blog titled “Repentant Pastor” and posted online “confessions and apologies” related to their leadership roles in Mars Hill. In a joint statement, they wrote, “we recognize and confess that Mars Hill has hurt many people within the Mars Hill community, as well as those outside the community….” Salon summarized the statements, writing that the former leaders emphasized their failures to “rein Driscoll in” and their complicity with Driscoll’s “autocratic” management style. Firstenberg wrote that while the church appeared to flourish, employees lived in constant stress, and “success was to be attained regardless of human and moral cost.” Lief Moi described his own behavior at Mars Hill as “driven by narcissism and anti-social tendencies.”

SOURCE: Mark Driscoll pastor – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

It seems that Mr. Driscoll is in trouble with the leaders of his church for some crude things he has been saying and doing.  To me it appears that he is simply a case of a guy with too much testosterone even for an American which is a lot.

2014-08-11_08-25-37One of the surest ways to get smarter is to surround yourself with those who are more intelligent than you and to insist on regularly stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. If you’re just too smart for your current gig, that’s just not going to happen

SOURCE: 3 Signs You’re Too Smart for Your Job – Yahoo Small Business Advisor.

Another way of saying the above is that if you are not stimulated by what you do for a living then you should be looking elsewhere. But of course in our current economy where so many people are underemployed being too smart for the job is too often the case.  I hope the lessons like this article show is being taught to our young people in high school.  But stretching your comfort zone is something that all of us should do. It shouldn’t be limited by age.

For those of you too lazy to click on the source I am going to give the three reasons here (or maybe I am too lazy to give you my own words ;) )

1. Problem, what problem?

Doing the same thing over and over again in the exact same way never taught anyone anything. If your co-workers are interested only in repeatedly treading the same well worn paths, then it’s unlikely you’ll start expanding your skills anytime soon, according to Ryan. “Your co-workers may be the nicest people on earth, but if they don’t understand what you’re talking about when you lay out frame-shifting ideas or if they can’t hold a conversation about anything except the way they’ve always done things, you’re in the wrong place,” she writes.

2. No one is mentor material.

It bears repeating: Hanging out with smart folks makes you smarter. If you look around and don’t see anyone you really want to learn from at your current place of employment, that’s a huge red flag. Ask yourself: “Whom do I spar with? Who stimulates me mentally at work? Whom do I look up to and learn from?” If the answer is, “No one,” it’s time to start plotting your escape, Ryan suggests.

3. No vision at the top.

It’s hard to progress if you have no idea what you’re working toward, and, unless you’re very far advanced in your career, that vision for your team, department, or company should come from the top. If instead you’re getting radio silence about where the organization is headed, then the scope for meaningful contribution is severely limited. “You can’t grow your flame working for someone who has no idea what a vision is or where to get one. You have to learn from your boss,” warns Ryan.

Just a few final thoughts here. Henry Ford’s assembly line created mass production but it also created a couple of generations of human robots. I was stuck in that mode for a few summers during college and the work was simply stifling to me. I was glad to leave it behind. The three problems above should also apply to our personal lives outside the workplace. If we followed them they would make us all better and more productive citizens.

2014-08-24_13-14-19The white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of other races by 2042, eight years sooner than previously projected by the Census Bureau.

SOURCE: U.S. White Population Will Be Minority by 2042, Government Says – Bloomberg.

The year 2042 strikes abject fear into some of us. Particularly those who are associated with groups with three letters in the title. That is the year that people of color will outnumber whites in the United States. Why is it that so many are so afraid of being a minority?

For twenty-five years now I have been in a pretty small minority. Only about 1% of the U.S. population is deaf and I am one of them. I go through months at a time without ever seeing another deaf person but I live with the consequences of being deaf every single day. Before I became a member of this somewhat exclusive minority I to had an abject fear of it. But it turns out that being a minority is not as bad as I imagined. It is not great but not totally bad either.

So, why do so many fear going from 51% to 49%? What is it about that number that get to us? Of course a big part of that is the perceived loss of power. They would no longer be masters of our own fate. It’s nice to be the guy in control of things. To turn that over in any degree is a scary thing. What if “they” decide to do it differently than I want?

But then again most of us are in a minority now in one regard or another. Being a progressive in Indiana puts me in a distinct minority. I loathe many of the things that my governor does; he just seems to be a guy without much compassion for others, especially those much different from him.  But my life for the most part goes on despite being a minority in several different areas. Sharing power is not at bad as many imagine.

We may come to the point where no political party will have a majority status and will therefore be forced to form a coalition government made up of different minorities. But then again that is pretty much what at least the Democratic party is now. There are those Democrats who want abortion on demand and those who would like to see it go away entirely. There are those who just want government out of their lives and then there are those who think government is shirking its responsibility of doing the people’s business.

All I can say to all those out there who are in abject fear of becoming a minority is that it is not as bad as you imagine. Spreading the power around is enabling, not disabling, as a country as well as on a personal level. Try it out , you might like it.

For Too Many….

August 24, 2014

NYC - Wrapup (6)

For far too many of us the image of being religious is the above.  This picture was taken on a busy Saturday night in Times Square NYC recently. Too many look at religion as some grim-faced old man telling us that we need to quit having any fun and get ready for the wrath of God. They didn’t take this old guy seriously anymore than take most current religious establishments seriously.

In some ways religion has earned this moniker. Too many  spend too much time worrying about God’s wrath rather than focusing on his love. Too many worry about the afterlife than they do living out God’s command to be our brother’s keeper.  Too many young people are just turned off by the religion of past generations.  They think their lives here on earth are what matter. In some ways I agree with them but in other ways not.  As is typical of many things moderation is the best choice. A little of everything on your plate gives you the most fruitful life.

The guy in the image above and so many like him are doing more harm than good by showing an image of God that is primarily man-made and for the most part disgusting. If God so loved the world why would he condemn most of us to an eternal agony as this grumpy old man preaches?