2014-04-09_18-54-55After spending $43 million on residential renovations, German bishop Monsignor Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was suspended. On Wednesday, Pope Francis accepted the bishop’s resignation….

Francis has called on his priests and bishops to be models of sobriety in a church that “is poor and is for the poor.”

SOURCE:  Why Pope Francis accepted the ‘Bishop of Bling’ resignation – CSMonitor.com.

I continue to be amazed by the words and actions of Pope Francis. He seems to be very serious in making the church into the vision of its founder.  The source article is about how he “accepted” the resignation of a German Bishop who was lavishly spending money of his residence including a $20,000 bath tub!  That item seemed to be the breaking point even for the bishop’s flock, if bishops in fact have flocks.

From this and other posts about the Pope, it seems he is really shaking up things in Vatican City as well as throughout the world. His comment that the church “is poor and is for the poor” is almost earth shaking in it simplicity and its fundamental turn from its past. One of the things I seem to criticize the most about religious institutions is how much they spend on lavish cathedrals and such. That seems to be very contradicted by Jesus and even the early Christian community. Stating that the church should be poor is radical concept indeed for those folks in Rome. I hope some of it sticks into their mental attitudes. I don’t think God really cares whether we take communion in a fancy silver goblet or a simple clay one.

I wonder what all those cardinals are now thinking that voted to make Pope Francis their pope? Are they saying “we have created a monster” or are they saying “it’s about time”. I hope it is the latter….

2014-04-02_16-28-12This is the third and final post on this mini-serious, or maybe not even that,  on getting older. The first post was about my depression when I compared my aging life with some of the other bloggers that I read.  The second one was about the reality TV shows called “Porter Ridge” and “Duck Dynasty”. This one will close the door on those two seemingly unrelated topics.

I have come to a fundamental conclusion as to why the previously mentioned two shows, and others like them, are so popular. That is the fact that all of us need someone we can look down on. We need to know that our lives are not as bad as others. We simply cannot be the bottom of the barrel of life. These types of feelings seem to be human nature. We can’t be the only ones who are suffering while everyone else has it so good. That thought is just too depressing for most of us to handle. By watching “Porter Ridge”  and other such shows we can roll our eyes at those folks who are worse off at least mentally, than we are. Those yokels who couldn’t recognize the good wine from the dregs that they are swimming around in.

Several of the “happy blogs” that I have been reading are now talking about maybe getting away from blogging as it seems to have run its course with them. Maybe there are just too many happy blogs around so they end up competing with each other. Several of these bloggers talk about moving on to other topics. I have done the same except it was at the other end of the spectrum. But then again there doesn’t seem to be much competition in the “my body is falling apart” blogs.

Maybe that is what my blog should morph into if I get tired of my current venue. Maybe it should be a retirement blog more to show others just how good they have it compared to me. It would serve a purpose; it would fill a niche and maybe even get many more views than it currently does. I am a believer that God put each one of us on this earth for a purpose. Maybe my purpose is to be the example of how “not” to live in retirement.  Maybe I should be the one that people can roll their eyes at and think “at least my retirement years are better than that guy has it!!”

OK, enough of this silliness. I will try to get back to something a little more sane tomorrow but no promises…..

Reality TV???

April 8, 2014 — 1 Comment

It might not seem like it but this is a continuation of my story about the joys of getting old.  :)

I have to admit that I live in the same county in Indiana that the folks of “Porter Ridge” do. Here is how Variety describes that TV show:

2014-04-02_12-01-43Gurney Productions, the shingle behind A&E’s hit series “Duck Dynasty,” has lined up redneck fare at Discovery Channel with reality show “Porter Ridge.”

Docu-comedy centers on an isolated community in Indiana with a colorful cast of rural characters, including Jeff “The Bear Man,” who has a backyard full of bears, country calendar model Kayla, local garbage man and Elvis-lookalike “Elvis Larry,” and Terry Porter, CEO of an auto junkyard.

I will tell you up front that I have never watched either “Porter Ridge” or “Duck Dynasty” so I am only going on first impressions and word-of-mouth. It is evidently about a bunch of seemingly simple-minded uneducated, you might even say ignorant, folks prancing around half-naked doing and saying some pretty stupid things.  I have never been to Country Auto Parts, as shown in the picture so I can’t verify if they actually live like they are presented on TV.  This being a supposedly docu-comedy  I question whether it is in any sense a reality? I kind of suspect people like the Porters, at least a toned down version, might not be terribly uncommon in that part of my county but they are very much different from the folks I daily rub elbows with.

The only exposure I have had to the “Duck Dynasty” folks is from all the racist comments that recently came out of their patriarch’s mouth. It was embarrassing to even read the full comments he made. It got the show in trouble for a while but I guess the evangelicals came in and rescued them. It looks like I guess the “Porter Ridge” clan didn’t live up to the “Duck Dynasty” folks as it was cancelled after only a year.

These two shows are part of the latest genre of “reality” TV but I really question that word as being anything accurate. I understand that reality TV has its dedicated fan base, who probably never miss an episode. I am just not one of those. They are not my thing. I kind of like to imagine that we human beings lead more noble lives or at least we all try to.

You are probably questioning how this post has anything to do with getting old and particularly my previous post. Hang on, I am about to tell you. But I will leave that for tomorrow’s post. :)

Following up on the “Pity Party” post of Friday, this is the first of a series of three posts that will have some reality but also some tongue-in-cheek stuff so don’t get too concerned that I am ready to bite a bullet or anything like that.  :)

Now that Spring is here I hope I will soon be coming out of my usual winter doldrums. The six months between November and April are just not in any way, shape, or form my favorite months. They are for the most part spent locked up in the house waiting out the next cold spell and snow/ice storm.  My emotional level drains out of me during this time  and I pray that at least a little of it is still salvageable when Spring finally arrives. This winter has been much more difficult than most.

I must admit that during this season I often get depressed when I read some of the blogs I frequent related to senior living.

  • 2014-04-02_11-34-20Here I am cabin bound with a wife that simply loves the condition I loathe.  There is just no possibility of foregoing the winter months in favor of a warmer climate.
  • Here I am with a body that continues to degrade on an almost daily basis. My knees and back have been disaster areas for several years and now my hips are going.
  • Here I am facing the fact that I simply can’t do some of the simple things that I easily accomplished just a few years ago.
  • Here I am not being able to taste some of the things that I used to love and am told that diabetes is probably on the horizon.

And then I read about how my fellow bloggers

  • 2014-04-02_11-35-36are using their frequent flyer miles to run off to this or that Caribbean island for a quick vacation.
  • are jumping in the RV and go to a national park for a twenty-mile hike.
  • are off to their favorite restaurant for that $100 meal.
  • are having a great time in their favorite snow bird location.

So here I am having the ultimate pity party. I guess I should to be inspired by all those leading the “great life” or at least happy for them.  But their stories actually make my life seem even worse than it is. This is kind of like all the stories you see on TV where someone, against all odds survived where most perish. They are inspiring but don’t make that other 99% who didn’t have the same outcome feel any better.

Maybe I should be on the lookout for some new blogs about people who are actually getting old as they are getting old. But who wants to read on a daily basis someone who is struggling in their final years. I suspect that even if those blogs do exist they are short-lived. No one wants to read about those types of lives.  But, then again maybe they do?  That will be the topic of tomorrow’s post.

 

2014-04-03_13-58-04Here’s one person’s attempt to summarize the Gospel in a single sentence. It’s by Bruxy Cavey, the teaching pastor at The Meeting House. He says “The Gospel is the good news that God comes to us through Jesus to show us his love, save us from sin, set up his kingdom and shut down religion.” Just thirty words, but I think he does a great job of getting to the heart of what Jesus’ message is all about.

SOURCE:  The Gospel According To Who? | Stephen Jarnick | Red Letter Christians.

If you are interesting the the things behind these words check out his book entitled: The End of Religion

Getting Into Things….

April 5, 2014 — 2 Comments

2014-02-25_09-41-58“Plans get you into things but you got to work your way out.” – Will Rogers, 25 June 1931

For me “getting into things” is the most difficult part of a new project. Writing a post for this blog starts out with an idea or quote and then progresses from there. So I don’t take Will’s quote here as getting into trouble as many probably do but instead just getting started. But I do agree with him that working your way out is well, work.

2014-04-03_13-47-55Early biographers, informed by Lincoln’s former Springfield law partner William Herndon, wrote first takes of the president that would be unrecognizable to the heroic image that Americans know today from books like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals and Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning performance.

And the public made Josiah Holland’s Life of Lincoln, which erroneously portrayed the president who was gunned down on Good Friday as “an eminently Christian president,” an instant best seller. Other early depictions portray Lincoln as bumbling and deeply flawed.

With his new dual biography, Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image, Joshua Zeitz explains how the two men who served as Lincoln’s secretaries shaped the perception Americans have of the 16th president.

SOURCE: Men behind Lincoln made the legend we know today.

Being a lifelong U.S. History reader I am very aware of how our heroes are portrayed.

I have read William Herndon’s Lincoln and it is indeed very different from many that came after. It painted Lincoln as a somewhat ordinary man with his own likes and jealousies. I look forward to reading this latest account in Lincoln’s Boys.

I can see similarities between this constant revision of our heroes even in our bibles. It is kind of like the Gospel accounts of Jesus. The first account was Mark and he didn’t mention much about Jesus’ miracles or had any insight into his early life. He just stayed on what he knew or was told to him (whoever Mark was). When the other gospels came out years later they were flooded with miracles and such. The authors seemed to want to make sure that everyone would know that Jesus was the Messiah so they added, factually or not, a myriad of miracles and new quotes.

People tend to remake their idols into what they want to believe about them. I greatly admired the person of George Washington. He was exactly what was needed as our first president. We all know of the story of chopping down the cherry tree which is now widely acknowledged at a total myth. We do this sort of thing to all our heroes. We invent things to highlight their best sides and tend to bury as deeply as possible their darker sides.

Of course we all now know that most if not all our heroes have a darker side, but don’t we all?

Henry Ford, who basically created the middle class in the U.S. was one of the most important men of the 20th century. He was also an avowed anti-Semite and to some degree a racist.

Thomas Jefferson created our most valuable national document. He was a slave owner and frequently bedded his  slaves while at the same time declared all men equal.

Mark Twain was considered America’s first great author and humorist. He also became an extreme pessimist in his later years. He could see not good or humor in life. Many of his words from that period were very spiteful, depressing and uncivil.

Everyone has skeletons in their closets, even our heroes. As long as we recognize that fact there is nothing wrong with looking up to and even trying to emulate some of the qualities our personal heroes. But, don’t be totally disappointed with you find a skeleton along the way.

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The Pity Party…

April 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

GloomAll of us have all been through some traumatic times in our lives. Some of us much more than others. It could be a health event, maybe a divorce, or a death of a friend or family member. One outcome that is almost assured from these events is a pity party. That is we question “why us?” or maybe “why did God do this to me?” I think having pity, even on ourselves, is just human nature. It is the extent of the pity that separates us. Do we get over it and face our new life challenges or do we wallow in it for weeks, months, or even a lifetime?

Everyone is different. We react to trauma in different ways.

When you have a pity party it is almost always means you are stuck in one place. You are fixated on that traumatic event. You can’t let go of it. It consumes your thinking and often your very being.

In order to break the pity party you got to get out there. You got to do something instead of wallowing in your pity. As shown in abbreviated version from Wikipedia there is a well know pattern to our grief/pity called the The Kübler-Ross model, or the five stages of grief

1.  Denial — As the reality of loss is hard to face, one of the first reactions to follow the loss is Denial. What this means is that the person is trying to shut out the reality or magnitude of their situation, and begin to develop a false, preferable reality.

2.  Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. .

3.  Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for a few more years.”; “I will give my life savings if…”

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow undo or avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

4.  Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Things begin to lose meaning to the griever. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and sullen.

5.  Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with their mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event.

Don’t get stuck at level 4. It makes for a very miserable life if you do…..

A Peaceful People….

April 2, 2014

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From my Facebook Link….