Thursday, July 11, 2013

Midwestern Low Pressure Front?

So, what has been happening?
Got another rejection letter.  Really trying to not take them seriously.  But they hurt.
No more happy drugs.  No doctor = No rx.
Kidney stone passed!  Yeah!  Over $2600 for an ER visit for pain meds.  (See previous comment.)  Not sure how to pay it.
Went home for a party.  I have a bunch of Teaparty crazies in my family.  It is easy to tell people that they just need to "buck up" when you and your kids are driving Porsche Carerras and you made your money by hiring people at minimum wage.
Trying to figure how to psychically heal but not doing so well.
Really looking for a way to disappear.

Humm...  I still have Nik. (or Nic, or Nick, or Nich, or whatever the hell I have dubbed him here.)
It has not been too hot.
My mom is doing better.
At least without the happy drugs I am able to have respectable orgasms.  I guess if we take the fake endorphins out of the system, the body has to work harder to make its own.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Feeling of Futility

I think that is what I am feeling:  Futility.  I don't think it is depression, as I had previously thought.  I look at the world and think, "Why bother."  Welcome Learned Helplessness!

It has settled into my head that no matter what I do, my situation is not going to change.  Up-date the resume.  Apply.  Pray. "Keep that chin up!" Think positive thoughts.  It all appears to be pure futility.

It is easy to look in from outside and tell me to keep going.  It is easy to say that I have to keep applying.  But I sit here and try to figure why I should even bother.  In the end, it will be all for naught.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Too Flawed to Function

Yes, I  am having a "Too Flawed to Function" kind of day.  I feel as if anything I touch will break.  (Thank you Dad for that one.)  I feel totally lost in my head.  I probably need to do something physical; get out of my head.

Whenever I think of something, I begin to contemplate the costs.  At $4/gallon for gas, travel is out.  Getting lost in the woods is difficult in the city.  I see Nik doing things around the house and feel guilty; I should have though of doing those things.  My general demeanor is that I am a waste of skin, space, food, air.

I know that most of this is crazy talk.  But it doesn't seem to help much.

The desire is not so much to die as it is to just remove myself from the time line.  I don't want to upset people.  I know people care about me.  But I see myself as holding people, especially Nik, back.  I feel very much like a taker without adding anything to the system.

I got another bill from the Hospital.  We are approaching $2500 for the kidney stone that is still there.

I hate feeling guilty for having health issues.  Maybe I am subconsciously attempting suicide by heart-attack.

Just how to stop causing pain to those who care about me.

I am turning off comments because I really do not want this to look like some pathetic plea for attention.  I just want to know that someone out there (even if it is only imaginary) heart this.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thoughts on Pride Weekend

Me at Pride!  (I am the second from the left!)

Went to Pride this weekend.  Actually, it felt like I lived at Pride this weekend!  (I was there from before the gates opened until almost closed, daily.) And being there as a person of faith had its positive aspects and its negative.  I will say that I think the positive aspects greatly outweighed the negative.  

One of the things that I love about Pride is the attitude of acceptance that is found.  Me, a dumpy bear can stand next to some hot guys in underwear and have my picture taken.  (Or, to quote from "Hello Dolly," "Have our picture took.")  But it was not just the hot guys in underwear, it was the people who were in drag (both male and female) or the ones who just felt the freedom to cross-dress if they wanted to.  It was the people feeling safe enough and open enough to say, "I am rare and precious and deserve to be valued just like a gem or work of art."  It was just a lot of fun.

It was also people of faith being present with the Atheists.  It was being able to have a conversation that says something more than, "God hates you and you are damned."  It was a situation where (aspects of) the Church were able to affirm that we come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and predilections, but God still loves us!  I wish we could get this more in our congregations; I think this is what Christ would have us do.

I have been careful not to post the above photo on Facebook for fear of some of my more "Churchy" friends being offended.  I would like to think that they would be offended by my obvious disregard for the sin of gluttony, but the offense would more likely be to the protruding body parts of my associates.  This is sad.  It shows that double standards still exist in society.  If I were standing among three bikini-clad ladies, some eyebrows may be raised, but not much more.  But because we are dealing with the male physique, we need to be offended.  Humm....

What I found negative was the lack of presence by some major main-line denominations.  For all the talk of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America being open and accepting, there was no presence.  Amid the Metropolitan Community Church presences, there was United Church of Christ, Methodists, CATHOLICS!!, Unitarians, and Non-Denominationals, TEC and ELCA were not there.  Considering they have both been making strides toward acceptance (especially TEC with its acceptance of trans people in the role of ordained clergy) it would seem that their presence at Pride would be a no brainer. That no church was present from either denomination was inexcusable.

Also what was missing was a faith presence from the traditionally African-American churches.  The number of (forgive me, I will use the term "Black" because it is easier to type!) black folks at Pride was wonderful!  But if any of these people were looking for someone who looked like them among the affirming community, they would have had a futile search.

While I found things to be excited about in the faith communities present, I also see that an opportunity to reach out was wasted.

Not to end this on a bummer, I was so happy to see that the screaming Bible-thumpers were not present.  I was also happy to see the the "I'm Sorry" folks were there.  (If you are not familiar with the "I'm Sorry" folks, they present a counter to the screamers, apologizing for the pain that has been inflicted in the name of Christianity.)

All in all, it was a good thing.  I just wish more straight people could see all these "scary" gay people just having some fun.  I also wish they could let their defenses down long enough to dance in the sun, appreciate the artistry of a Drag King or Queen, cheer the freedom to allow one's actual self to shine through, and to be outrageous for no other reason than to be outrageous!  We really need to do that more often!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Funeral Postmortem

Sorry it has been a while.

It has been almost two months since my dad died.

I really don't know what to think about the whole situation.  I know that I should give people a break at times like this, but I also know that people tend to let their true feelings slip when they don't have the energy to "play nice."

What I find really sad is that it would appear that my family, both close and more extended, are of the assumption that I never consider anyone else in my actions.  That anything that I do is for a selfish intent.  I was told that I put things on Facebook so I could get people to feel sorry for me.  I asked for prayers because I was uncaring.  It was  not considered that I was a clergy person asking for some assistance.  No, I was bad.

We were able to make it through the funeral, but things have not changed.  I have tried to contact my sister and she has never returned my calls. I just really want to tell her, "You know I will always love you, but let's just quit trying to pretend you like me.  I will quit trying to get you to like me and you can just avoid me."

I really do not want to go back "home" anymore.  I am tired of the bull.

Also, sorry for the downer.  I seem to write in my blog more when I am depressed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Eight Months Left.

A little Christmasy photo from my hometown.

Friday, April 12, 2013

I so co-dependent my family

I have heard it said that God gives us family so we can learn to deal with people we don't like.  I am believing this is true.  Right about now, I want to take my family and just tell them all to go to hell.

My Dad has been in frail condition for many years.  He has had four heart attacks, two open heart surgeries, and a host of other surgeries/illnesses.  He is also three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.

Nick and I were planning to visit my family this past week.  We were going to make a quick pass through since we would be near.  Just before we got there, my Dad fell and ended up in the hospital.  I posted a statement in Facebook asking for prayers.  Next thing I know, I am getting yelled at by my older sister about blabbing this to the whole world and I need to stop.  Seems she had not told her son that his grandfather was in the hospital and not doing so well.  Of course it was my fault that he read it first on FB.

Then my Dad was having more problems and I asked for prayers (making sure I blocked my nephew, his wife, and my sister).  The next day (today) my younger sister is yelling at me for making Mom upset because her sisters (my aunts) were calling wondering what was happening.  And again, it was my fault for asking for prayers.  "How dare you only think of yourself.  Can't you see how you are hurting mom?"

Of course, some of you may remember how I was going to "Kill Dad."  No matter what I did, I was going to "Kill Dad!"  Now I guess I am also going to "Kill Mom!"

I hate the double-bind:  I am accused of not doing anything because I live 500 miles away, but when I try to do something, I am accused of being selfish and uncaring.

I know that emotional cut-off is not a good thing, but I am also tired of being the dumping ground for my family's anxiety.  I am afraid for my Dad, but I am treated as if I only care about me.  I don't know if I can even talk to my Mom because of all the "harm" my sisters say I have done.  I just want to tell them to keep their drama to themselves.  I just want to say to my younger sister, "You have never liked me, why don't we just quite the charade?  You can just ignore me and I will quite trying to get you to like me.  It will just be better in the long run."

How to remove oneself from the situation without making the situation worse.

Every time I interact with my family, I get the feeling that they would rather not have me around.  And yet, when I make myself scarce, I am attacked for not caring.  Crazy making at it's finest!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Nine Months!

AKA ~ "Holy Horizontal Mambo Day"

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Poor Will Always be With You

John 12:1-8

There has been something that has really been driving me crazy as of late.  It seems that the new group to pick on is the poor.  I see petitions floating around talking about how all people who receive welfare should have to take drug tests.  Even when it is pointed out that the majority of people who take drugs are not on welfare, this has no impact.  Even when it is shown that it cost more to test people than what is saved by denying benefits to those who test positive, the excuse is that the tests just need to be made cheaper because we KNOW that THOSE people are on drugs.  Or when we come up with plans to help the unemployed, the response is that the people should just get off their duffs and get a job.  And I wonder why there is such a mean attitude to those who are in need.  The usual response is, “I work for my money, so should they!”
Yeah, the poor will always be with us.  And since they will always be with us, what is the use of doing anything to help them.  And besides, shouldn’t they be going out and helping themselves?  God helps those who help themselves!  (Actually, that is no from the Bible at all, it is from The Poor Richard’s Almanac.)
Still, in our gospel reading for today, we have Jesus saying these exact words, “you always have the poor with you…”  It sounds kind of like a slap in the face of Judas.  Judas was commenting on how the money for the perfume could have been spent to help the poor.  This sounds like a good thing, doesn’t it?  But then Jesus comes back with this smack:  You should spend the money on me (that would be Jesus) because those poor people will always be with you.  You can feed them tomorrow or whenever.  And I will grant you, Jesus’ words are a smack to Judas, but not for the reasons we normally assume.
Being a good Jewish boy, (and definitely before our age of distraction), Judas would have been familiar with the law.  He would have been familiar with what was written in Deuteronomy.  He would have known that what Jesus said was a reference to Deuteronomy 15.  And he would have known that his plan to steal the money had been recognized for what it was; not a plan to help the poor, but a plan to line his own pockets.
To understand this, we need to look at Deuteronomy 15.  Deuteronomy 15 DOES say that the poor will always be with us, but it is not a statement of resignation.  What it is, though, is an indictment on how we live.  The people are told that the land they will be given by God is a land of abundance.  And in the face of this abundance, there should be no hunger or poverty.  We are to be truly loving and generous. We are to share our God-give abundance and, as such, prevent poverty from ever entering the land.  But the quote says that the poor will always be with us.  Again, this is not that God makes poor people, but we are NOT be generous and loving.  We will NOT share the abundance we find.  We will keep the abundance for ourselves and come up with excuses as to why the others are lacking.  We are presented with a real possibility end hunger and poverty, but the statement of resignation is that we will continue to practice our selfish ways while shifting the blame to others.
And lest we think this is just some past thing, not something that applies to us today; since 2001, the US has spent more than $1.4 trillion dollars on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This could have bought groceries for 660 million people in the US for one year, not to mention what it could have done for those in other parts of the world.  Yes, at this rate, the poor will always be with us.
So when Judas says that the money for the perfume Mary is putting on Jesus’ feet could be given to the poor, Jesus’ response is a smack to Judas, saying, “It could help the poor, but you would never use it for that.”
It may seem weird that I would be talking to you here, this morning, in Statesalvania, State, about what is spent on war, but unless we talk about it, and do something about it, it is not going to change.  It is easy to say that we are too old to do anything, or that we are just one person.  But we don’t get off that easy.  The new pope, Pope Francis, is 77 years old.  The Catholic Church must assume that older folks are capable of something!  And what about Mother Teresa?  She was one person who made a lot of difference!  And Gandhi:  When he started he was both one person AND old!  We are capable of making a difference!  To say “we can’t” says more about our faith in God than in God’s ability in the world.
So Jesus is smacking Judas for trying to look all holy when, in fact, Jesus knew that Judas intended to keep money; but what are we to make of the “but you do not always have me” part?  I couldn’t find anything in the commentaries about this part, so I will venture a guess:  Even if we don’t want to help the people around us because God has blessed us so richly, we should be helping others because in doing so we worship Christ.
Christ is saying that it is okay for us to lavish affection onto Christ.  And that we in fact NEED to do this because Christ will not always be with us.  So, if we believe that Christ lives in each of us, because of our baptism, then we NEED to be lavishing affection upon each other because we do not know how long this person will be with us!  Instead of calling each other lazy or foolish, or prodigal (remember last week??!?), we should be looking for ways to show love, honor, and respect to all the people we meet.  Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all followed this?  Can you imagine what the world would be like if even a simple majority followed this?  What a different would we would have!
My challenge for you for the rest of Lent is to not look at the poor and needy as the takers of society, but to see the spark of Christ within them.  I challenge you to follow the example of Mary and lavish them with love and affection.  I challenge you to not think of it as giving to the poor but as worshiping our Savior.  Will this be easy?  No.  Will we want to do it?  I don’t know, quite possibly not.  But we are called to share the abundance we have been given, and we are called to do it while we still have Christ among us. 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

"What do we want?" "PUNISHMENT!"

Ok, I tend to be a bit of a reductionist.  So, this will be reductionistic.

What I see is we in the US tend to really like punishment.  That seems to be the first tool we jump to.  People speeding?  Punish!  People misbehaving?  Punish!  People addicted to drugs?  Punish!  People doing things we don't like?  PUNISH!!!

At times, this seems to be the only tool in the toolbox!  No matter what, we need to jump to punishment.  And frankly, in my opinion, punishment is the most lazy way of dealing with anything.  All we have to do is look.  Does punishment stop speeding?  It slows people down when the cops are around.  And it slows some people down.  But it really seems to have minimal effect.

I know that speeding is just one example, but when we think about it, punishment really doesn't work.  When we punish children, all we end up teaching them is how to be more sneaky.

I learned that behavior is results driven.  We change behavior, not by punishing it, but by making it easier to get the desired result.  When we punish the behavior, we only stop the behavior while the punishing force it present.  But when we find ways to fulfill the needs that cause the behavior, we can make positive, durable change.

Another assumption of punishment is if we punish the behavior, people will just come up with alternate, positive, behaviors.

This just shows a lack of social awareness.  What might be an "appropriate" behavior in my community may be deemed "inappropriate" in another community.  To punish someone for something that we assume, "Everyone should know that," does not help the situation.  We need to look at ways to teach people to prosper.

I look at the vitriol I hear about people receiving welfare.  "They should get a job!"  Removing the welfare (punishing) will not teach the person to have better job-hunting skills.  The assumption is the person is lazy and we need to punish the person to make the person less lazy.  When I look at many of the GOP (Sorry, not meaning to attack) arguments, they have at their base the concept of punishment/reward.  "You are not doing the right thing, therefore you are being punished.  I am doing the right thing, therefore I am being rewarded."  The problem is that what is punished and what is rewarded has never been specified.

Kind of haphazard.  Sorry.  Just thoughts in process.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Base Assumptions

NOTE:  This post is going to contain a ton of glowing generalities.

I have come to a conclusion as to why it seems that the Democrats and the Republicans cannot agree on anything.  It is because of what base assumptions we make about human behavior.

It seems that every Republican I talk to uses, what for the longest time to be a Fox News talking point, the argument that we cannot tax the rich more because there will be a disincentive to make more money.

My usual response is that no matter what the tax bracket, there will always be rich people.  Just because they have to pay more taxes doesn't mean they are going to stop making money.

But then it dawned on me:  These people see money as the only reason people will do anything.  If you do not supply the monetary incentive, then you will not have people do anything.

What my base assumption is, is that if you can find the things people love to do and feel fulfilled in doing, then, as long as their base needs (and a few splurges!) are fulfilled, money isn't the main motivator.  I would rather do something that I love and not make as much money rather than be stuck in a job I hate just to have an expensive car.

I think when discussions happen, I come from the self-fulfillment end of the spectrum.  I just don't understand the (sociopathic?) quest to make more and more money.  I think when I get in discussions with these people,  we have trouble because we are not starting from the same point and we are pointing in different directions.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Greatest of These is Love Epiphany 4

I have a fair amount of friends who are atheists.  This saddens me.  Something that is such a large part of my life cannot be shared with them.  We are kind to each other, and we can get together and laugh, but there is still a part that keeps us apart.  What is especially interesting is that many of these people were raised within “churched” families.  It is only within recent years that they have moved away from the church.
When I ask them why they left the church, almost invariably, I get the same answer:  The people they find in churches are hypocrites.  My friends say that they hear all this talk about God and love but what they see is hate and judgment.  Christians talk the “God is Good” line, but then these same people are out slamming others and judging them.  So often, it is this discrepancy between what is heard about Christianity and what is seen that sends people running for the hills.  And as a Christian, I find this sad.
In today’s epistle reading we have what is commonly referred to as “The Love Chapter.”  If you have been to a Christian wedding you have certainly heard it.  Even people who may have little backing in the Bible have heard this chapter.  And to tell the truth, it really is a great chapter!  I don’t think I know anyone who can listen to this chapter and not get just a little wispy.  We listen to it and think, “Yes, this would be great!”  We listen to it and imagine ourselves surrounded by patience and kindness.  We listen to it and imagine a world without arrogance, boastfulness, or resentfulness.  We read this chapter and long for a world filled with love.
Am I wrong in saying that we all want a world like this?
But then what happens?  Well, life happens. We go out and find that the world can be quite boastful and arrogant.  We go out and find that people are often very rude.  We watch TV and see nothing that smacks of kindness or patience.  We feel like we are being duped, gypped, played.  And, quite frankly, we don’t like it!
So how do we usually react when we are confronted with the unloving nature of the world?  Do we go out and redouble our efforts to spread love in the world?  Do we make extra efforts to show the world that Christianity is more than just a excuse to look upon others with disdain?  Do we look to brighten our place in the world or do we decide to give back as “good” as we have gotten?
I will admit that I would love to stand here and tell you all how virtuous and upstanding I am and that I always send warm, loving thoughts to who are not necessarily too kind to me.  I would love to, but I can’t.  I get angry.  I get frustrated.  I feel hurt.  And feeling hurt, I want to spread that hurt to the world.  For what it is worth:  I am not a saint, at least not in the traditional understanding.
So what are we supposed to do with this?  Are we just supposed to be all wispy, realizing the world the Love Chapter presents will never happen?  I guess we could.  Are we supposed to reject the Church (with a capital “C”) figuring that it is filled with people who are just looking to make their own lives better while inflicting judgment and hatred on the rest of the world?  Some have done that.  Or are we just give up on any kind of God because it appears to be just a bunch of lies?  That option just sounds too sad to contemplate!
This is where I get frustrated with all this God-stuff.  I want some cut and dried answers!  I want to be able to tell you all to just do this, that, and the other thing, and everything will be wonderful.  But I can’t!  And it makes me frustrated.
Perhaps we can get a little more insight from a part of the reading that is often ignored.  Toward the end of the reading we have these somewhat strange statements:  “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.”  When we look at the behavior of so many people, doesn’t if feel like we are looking at children in adult suits?  Often when I step back and look at my own behavior, I am embarrassed as to how childish I can be.  I am not the paragon of maturity I would like to be; I am often a hurt child just wanting to be loved.  Whether we want to admit or not, we often have these moments of feeling like children, and I think it is just this child that The Love Chapter speaks to.
Our “Inner Child,” to use the old pop-psych term, wants there to be patience, kindness, and truth in the world.  We want to know that all things are possible and that all hopes can still occur.  We want to have the reassurance that those who love us will not abandon us. This is what we want, and The Love Chapter reignites that hope in our soul.  But then this nasty, evil sentence occurs:  “…when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.”  This is the harsh recognition that the world with “Santa God” is not out there.  There will be people who are not patient.  There will be people who are not kind.  There will people who will be arrogant.  And there will be people who will be rude.  And quite often, those people will be US!
Man!  I am depressing myself!
It sounds as if we are stuck here in a world that is just plain nasty.  And if the chapter were to end here, it would be just plain nasty.  But the chapter DOES NOT end here, it continues with a promise.  We are reminded that we only see things in part; that we cannot see things fully. 
This reminder should give us all hope.  What we see is not all there is; there is something more!  We should remember that the world is not for us to control, that God is the one that leads and provides.  And even thought things may appear troubling, we are only seeing part.  That there is more going on and that we need to have faith in God to see to our needs.
However we are not left unarmed:  We have faith, hope, and love.  We are called to be those things that we want to see in the world.  We are called to be patient and kind.  When we see arrogance or rudeness, we are to respond in truth and tolerance.  We are to be understanding and accepting.  We are called to be the voice of love to the world.  We are called to be the adults in the situation.  We are called to be responsible and rational.  We are called to heal the sense of isolation and exclusion that current Christianity seems to be unloading onto our world.  It is our calling to become the change we want to see in the world.
Does this mean we will never get angry?  No.  Does this mean we will never be irrational?  No.  Does this mean we have to be perfect?  No.  What this does mean, thought is that we work on being the loving people we would like others to be.  That we work on showing tolerance to others as we would like to have others show tolerance to us.  That we work on wishing the best for the OTHER just as we would like to have the best for ourselves.  This is stuff that requires work!  Those who have been in relationships know this, love does not just happen, it requires work!  And if we want to spread love in the world, that requires work too!
The Love Chapter does make us feel all wispy inside, and although we probably will never get to such a world drenched in love, I do believe we can move in that direction.  We can choose to respond in love instead of react in anger.  We can choose to respond in love instead of snapping back in hurt.  We can choose to respond in love instead of seeking to avenge our fear and hurt.  We can choose to be the loving heart of God to those who need to feel patience, kindness, and understanding.
Is this easy? No…But that does not mean we shouldn’t try.  I will end with a little story:  A former congregant of mine was telling about being cut off by a person pulling out of a parking lot.  The congregant was about to let fly with a “one finger salute” when he stopped and though:  “God loves this guy too.”  Did the reaction of the congregant help things?  I don’t know.  But I do know that the congregant did not add to the hate in the world.  Our first response is to return hate for hate, but Christ asks more of us.  Christ asks us to return love for hate, just as Christ showed love to a world that was focusing all its hate upon him.
“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Friday, January 25, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I really don't know what to write about today.

Things are going well.  Off to Canada later today.  We have to bundle up because you know, it is ALWAYS  colder in Canada!  Granted, it is just across the river from Detroit, but in the process of crossing the river, the temperature drops.

What?  Oh!  That is Celsius!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Getting Off the (Not So) Merry-Go-Round

This could probably be classified as a first-world-problem.

When I look at the situation of my life, I divide them into three categories:  Things I can change; Things I can live with; Things I need to escape.  More and more I find the world to fall into the third category.  I find that trying to change things has become overwhelming.  I find that so many of the things I see I am not willing to live with.  So that leaves finding some way to get away from them; thus trying to get off the Not-So-Merry-Go-Round.

Perhaps I am trying to deny the "No matter where you go, there you are" truism.  I have the hope that fleeing the (perceived) idiots of the world will make life better.  Why should I wait to be a dirty-old man to become a beach bum, why can't I do that now?  Of course, I am speaking of a beach in a warm local!  But really, if life is sucking this much, it would seem to be time for a major change.

Don't know how this is going to look, but (at least for this afternoon) I have the resolution to make it happen.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guns and Systems Theory

I have probably taken too many classes in Systems Theory, but when I look at the gun debate, I get the feeling something else is going on out there.

One of the big about Systems is to look for reactions that are out of "character" for the situations.  An example may be wishing someone a "Good Morning," and getting told that I just need to shut up and go back into my office.  (Yes, this did happen.  And no, it was not a joke.)  I told the person that I didn't know who she was angry with, but it's not me and I do not want to be the focus of her anger.  She did apologize and told me that she was upset with her husband.  The out of character reaction is a means of reducing stress and anxiety, but it is not directed in a place where it can do any good.

When I look at the question of gun control, I see a "shut up and go back into your office" reaction.  People screaming, people calling others "stupid."  (Yes, I have had a good friend, like "best-man-in-wedding" good friend, call me stupid.) People not listening to each other.  People are not talking about what is really bothering them, so we will go nowhere.

This is not going to be popular with some, but I still think this goes down to race.  We don't want to claim our racism, so it gets pushed down and erupts elsewhere.  There are still people who are not pleased we have a president who has darker skin than them.  We still have people who need to hold their white supremacy as a justification for their being.  If you ask these people, they will probably tell you that "it has nothing to do with race," but they would be lying.

I have prejudice.  I was raised in an almost totally white community.  Watching the news, black men are scary!  But also, I know that this is an over-generalization.  And I am working to increase my knowledge and trying to move forward.  But it took facing the ugly truth that "I AM PREJUDICED!"

There is a great page presented by Harvard that can help understand your implicit prejudices.  We all have them and in learning about them, we can start to address them and not let them infect our daily lives.

Harvard Project Implicit

This is not a place to argue Gun Policy.  Gun policy comments will be removed.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Back with the Reprieve

Again, doing much better today.  Spent yesterday with Nik, out and about.  Even though it was cold, we were by the water most of the day and ate lunch spying on the Canadians.  (The restaurant was across the St. Claire River from Canada.)  I hope the added sunshine helped.

I want to revisit something with depression:  I know most people, guys especially, want to jump in and start making comments on how to "fix" the situation.  If I can say anything, DON'T DO IT!  At least for me, when I feel depressed I am already thinking I am damaged beyond fixing, and the suggestions generally serve more to reinforce the FACT that I am damaged than to ease it.

An Example:  I was talking to a Bible study a while ago, and we got on the subject of depression.  One woman said, "I would tell the person to just give it all to God!"  (She was one of these overly perky people.) I just shook my head.  She continued:  "I would tell the person that Jesus loved them and wouldn't give them anything that they couldn't handle!"

I then explained what "someone" who was depressed might hear those statements.  I said that the person, if the person is a person of faith, probably HAS already given it all to God.  The person has probably been praying earnestly that God intercede but has not seen any evidence of  intervention.  So now, the person is hearing confirmation that God does not hear their prayers.  I then explained that the "Jesus won't give you more than you can handle" will also fall flat.  If God is not listening to prayers, Jesus obviously does not care. If Jesus does not care, then Jesus cannot be counted upon to make sure things did not go beyond someone's ability to handle them.

Yes, the woman was trying to help, but without an understanding of the illogical thought process of the depressed person, it just makes things worse.

I would explain that the first thing to do is to acknowledge the feelings of the person.  Acknowledge that the person is feeling overwhelmed.  "But won't that just feed into the person's illness?"  No, it will allow the person to know that you are hearing what they are saying.  It allows the person to know that you are not going to contribute to their problems.  Acknowledging the way the person is feeling allows the person to not feel blamed.  (Blame as in, "This is my fault because I do not love Jesus enough" or whatever.  Blame or trying to fix is not useful at this point.  Actually, blame is never a good thing.)

Next thing is to try to break into the behavior pattern and send it into a different direction.  This is not to tell the person that what he or she is feeling is bad, but to add something to it.  If possible, go walking with the person, get a cup of coffee, something.  Find a way to interfere with the behavior pattern.  At least for me, depression is like a deeply rutted path; it is almost easier to stay in the ruts rather than get out of them.  The ruts allow the person to travel without using a lot of energy. Unfortunately, the ruts will always lead to the same place.  So although it is easier, it is still a bad path.  Getting out of the rut takes some help.  Yesterday, like I said, Nik and I went out walking along the river, antique shopping, having lunch along the river.  Making fun of the Canadians!  (You know, it is 20 degrees colder on the other side of the river.)  And being able to talk.  I was able to tell Nik my fears that my depressed feelings were weighing on him.  He assured me that he was in it for the long haul and that I do not need to worry about him kicking me to the curb.  That reassurance helped to free-up some of my energy so that I could start to work on changing my outlook.

The best thing to do is to just listen and reassure; there is no need to try to fix it.  If you win the person's trust, you will have an opportunity to help, but until then, you are not the person's therapist, just be the person's friend.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Continued Thoughts

Well the reprieve of yesterday seems to have expired.

One of the functioning problems that I find is that I usually like a certain level of background stimulation in my life.  But when I get into funks like this, finding that level is tricky:  I can very  quickly move from optimal level to overstimulated in a very short time.  And the only way I can describe this is to say that the over-stimulation is painful.

Again, at this point, the either/or thinking takes over.  "What if I had a job and had to work?"  "Would I be able to work in the public sphere?"  It is hard to even work on glass, with the litany of "failure," and "you can't do anything right," coursing over my cortex.

So, today becomes a day of doing things to keep moving.  I have some parts of glass that need to be cut, this shouldn't be too difficult.  I have a project that needs to be foiled, that will probably wait.  This may sound counter-intuitive, but the pieces that need to be cut are very large and the pieces that need to be taped are very small.  I don't think I have the wherewithal to deal with the little pieces today.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life Continues

I am in a much better state today.  That is a good thing!

Another of the problems of depression is that I tend to heap more and more pressure upon myself.  I feel horrible, but I don't want to ruin Nik's day.  I don't want people to ask, "What's wrong?"  I don't want to be any trouble.  Contrary to what some may say -- that it is all for attention -- when I am depressed, I DON'T want to be the center of attention.

This means summoning up the energy to "act normal" around Nik.  This means finding the proper level of social interactions.  (Too little will incite the "Is there anything wrong?" question, too much will become annoying.)  Often it means avoiding people, period.  When I have to be around people, I do my best to be in and out as fast as possible.

I'm guessing that depression is not really attractive.  I don't "hide" it from Nik, but I also don't give him "both barrels."  I don't want to be a downer for him, but I find it so tiring to yank myself up.

So, on top of feeling like hell, I begin to feel guilty because I am not the perky partner that I think I sould be.  I love having Nik around, but I feel like I am being a weight around his neck.  So this just adds to the feelings of futility and brokeness.

Again, I think many people assume that depressed people are doing it because they want attention.  In my case, that is often the farthest from the truth.  I don't want to be around people because they take too much energy and I don't want to be the cause of their having a bad time.  I look at that last sentence and realize that I am not responsible for others feelings, but when I am depressed, that doesn't matter. 

What also is lacking is nuanced decision making.  When I am depressed, things are pretty black and white.  This causes problems because anything that happens takes on an added immediacy:  My attitude is going to ruin everyone's day.  My depression is going to make Nik kick me out.  There is no shades of gray here, everything becomes either/or.  Also, things take on "Forever" status, as in, "This is NEVER going to change.  These problems will be here FOREVER."  Logic does not work well with this.  I generally know enough to know that I am amplifying the problems and can keep myself from doing anything stupid.  Nik knows enough to say that I am "awfulizing."  This helps to get me past the crisis.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


NOTE:  I am not sure why I am writing this.  A part of me, I am sure, IS hoping someone can take away the pain.  Another part, thought, is hoping that people will see that depression is more than "just feeling really sad."  My hope is that we might be able to learn that depression is more than just a "moral flaw" or being "lazy and immature."  It is more than "just wanting attention."  My hope is that someone may learn something that will help another as that person struggles.

I am turning off comments.  Not looking to be a drama queen or anything.  Recording my feelings and not wanting any drama.

It is an interesting place to be in life.  As I said before, I am tired of living, but not quite ready to die.  (I have been told that I have enough "ego strength" to get through most situations, I guess I am relying on that.)  The feeling of just drifting is disconcerting.

The facts:  I am not stupid.  I often take things too personally.  I believe that people can make a difference.  I want to believe that people will make the right choice.  (I believe that the "right" choice is the choice I would make!)  I believe we are capable of moving beyond our desire to get "my fair share" and can look at the bigger picture.

I also grew up with a perfectionist father.  He was constantly in search of the "perfect."  Of course, no one ever lives up to perfect.  But in my head, "be perfect" equals "gets dad's love."  So I have "inherited" his perfectionism, and this perfectionism often takes on the immediacy of a small panicked child searching for his parent.

When confronted with inability to reach perfection, this panic become hopelessness and depression.  The world  looks bleak.  The concept of doing anything becomes a losing prospect because it will never be perfect, let alone "good enough."  According to my thought process, I should not try to do anything because there is probably another person that can do it better, and if I am in the situation, I am preventing the more qualified person from fixing everything.

The logical adult knows that this whole thought process is really quite insane; but the panicked child is running around, faster and faster, trying to find dad and getting more an more depressed.  And every rejection just goes to verify that I will never be good enough.

One of my fantasies is to be able to remove myself from the world, kind of like George Bailey.  However, in my scenario, everyone does better without me.  (This would be expected since I "cannot do anything right."  Therefore, if I were not present, then things would be better all around.)  This is not said as a plea for pity, but as a statement of "perceived" fact.  The logic:  I cannot do anything right so if I were not here, I would not be able to ruin things.  I know people care about me and love me, so this makes the removal of myself difficult.  I do not want to inflict pain on these people I love, and I know these people would be hurt if I left (no, "Oh!  Woe is me!"  I know people care about me) but there is definitely a part that wants to tell these people that they WOULD be better off without me.

I guess this could sound like grandiosity.  But isn't the whole George Bailey thing a bit grandiose?  I don't have the chutzpah to think that my life has a whole lot of pull in the grand scheme of things.  I just know that I do not want to hurt those who love me.  THAT is what keeps me going.

On a purely cognitive level, I know that  what I am feeling is irrational, but are those deep seated, childhood-based fears ever rational?

Friday, January 11, 2013


I am becoming more and more of the thought that the would is going crazy and I just want to be rid of it.  I want to move away and just let the idiots be idiots.  Maybe I am overreacting to things but hey, this is me we are talking about.

Lately I am tired of living but afraid of dying.  Don't know how to really deal with this.  I "joke" about finding an ice flow somewhere.  Don't know what that will accomplish.

I just want to get away from all the crazy in the world.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts on Church Growth

I have been reading a lot of church profiles lately.  A church profile is the information a church puts together to "sell" itself to potential clergy.

What I find is that a lot of churches are looking for ways to grow their congregation.  This is justified if we look at the way congregational numbers continue to drop.  We may see some growth in the mega-churches, but even that trend seems to be waning.  So with so many people lamenting the lack of church growth, and not having a huge die-off in potential church attenders, we must be doing something wrong in how we are the church to the world.

I think most people who say that they want to "grow the church" are looking for some technique that will bring people "in the doors."  Frankly, I think this is totally wrong.  When we get to thoughts like this, we become a commodity, just like anything else in society.  When we try to come up with a technique to lure people in, we are saying more about our faith than we are saying about the changes in society.

Growing a vibrant has to do with the congregations understanding of just what it means to be a congregation.  How is a congregation different than The Rotary, or The Junior League?  If people are looking for community, they can find it with the little league parents or with the dance moms; why do they need to come to church?  If we cannot come up with a convincing answer for ourselves, we will never come up with a convincing answer for someone else.

Often, I think congregations become just that, a way to socialize.  Not that finding a group with whom to socialize is bad!  But when your whole focus is on prying into all the "good gossip" of a particular group, well, there are some problems.  If we cannot see how congregational affiliation changes our life, then we cannot advocating for it changing others' lives.  If we do not feel that it has been a blessing to us, we will not want to share that blessing to others.  To me, it sounds simple.  But I would think to others, this is not a path of thought that has been much traveled.

I think to "grow the church" we need to "grow the faith of those present."  When evangelism become something that we just can't help but do, then we are on our way.  We do this all the time!  "Oh!  You HAVE to see Lincoln!  It is just the BEST movie!"  "The BEST beaches are found on the Jersey coast!  You need to plan a vacation there!"  We do it all the time, why don't we do it with our faith?  Are we less excited about our faith than the latest blockbuster movie?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Do the Crazy Know They Are Crazy?

I have been wondering about this for a while.  Sometimes I look at what is going on around me and I just have to shake my head.  I see what is happening in the world and get, well, not necessarily scare.

I do NOT want to live in a country where everyone has/needs a gun.  This concept is just crazy to me.  And what freaks me out more is that people who I trust and respect are all gung-ho about guns.  But it just sounds like total idiocy.  We are supposed to feel safer with MORE guns around?  And it doesn't look like it is going to end.  I do not want to live in a country where people are always so afraid that we need to be jumping at every movement.  

People say, "USA: love it or leave it."  Do you know how hard it is to leave it?  I can almost see Canada from my house, and I can drive there.  But to stay there is much more difficult.  I don't love the US anymore. I am ashamed of our country.  I am ashamed of the bullying that occurs on so may levels.  We have become a country where all we do is attack each other.

Am I crazy in wanting to leave?  Am I crazy in seeing our country going down a path that leads to places even more frightening?  I feel at a loss to do anything.

No, you are not going to convince me that more guns are ok.  Don't even try.  Comments that go in that direction will be removed.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


In my opinion, the one point that should be DRILLED into people's' heads is the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).  What the FAE says is that we attribute situational causes to our behavior while attributing dispositional causes to others behavior.  Perhaps an example would help:  I cut people off in traffic because I am late and need to get to my appointment.  You cut people off in traffic because you are a self-serving, self-engaged, Republican idiot.

Why this should be drilled into people's heads is because it IS fundamental.  We all do it, and we do it without even thinking about it.  But, it is also an ERROR!  And being an error, it gets in the way of being kind.  Look at how many attribution errors are made:  gays are unethical, Republicans are idiots, Baptists are  self-righteous pharisees, Muslims are bellicose freaks...  When we want to categorize any group of people, we start making attribution errors.

Even when we deal with single people we do this.  I may be feeling ill and am being quiet, but others may think I am being either shy, aloof, or judgmental.  The judgment of others has not basis in reality, but they assume it to be true.  And it often becomes the basis with which future interactions are framed.

How many arguments could be saved if we give the person the benefit of a doubt?  How many marriages could be saved?

I was just thinking:  When we are making FAE's about the other person, they are making FAE's about us!  How many conflicts are based solely on bad assumptions?

Monday, January 07, 2013

A country of Children

I so want to be a humanist.  I so want believe that people will do the good thing if only given the opportunity.  I SOOOOO want to believe that.  But, frankly, life does everything in its power to make me believe otherwise.

Would good humans allow their neighbors to go hungry?  Would good humans twist facts and take advantage of their neighbors weaknesses?   Would good humans say, "Do your job and don't complain or you'll be fired"?  I don't think so.

Supposedly, good humans not only look out for themselves, but also look out for others.  Supposedly good humans may give up some self-fulfillment in order to provide some fulfillment for others.  Supposedly good humans look beyond their own self-interest to the interest of those in their community.  The Humanists would say that just given enough time, humans would reach this point.

How long do we have to wait?  Humans have been around for 6,000 years! (Oops!) Humans have been around for millions of years.  You would think that we could finally reach that pinnacle.  But we haven't.  And quite sadly, I don't know if we ever will.  Too many people are too worried about their own preservation than to consider the preservation, let alone fulfillment, of those around them.

All that I seem to hear in the news is, "I want to have MY rights" or "I want to make sure that I am safe."  No thought about how WE can work together.  No thought about how good humans should work together.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Epiphany or Who were those Kings anyway?

Ah, Epiphany!  I remember as a kid singing the song about the Kings of Orien Tar.  Now, I didn’t know what Orien Tar was, I guessed it was kind of like Dubuque Steel or something.  And the part that really confused me was why these three kings would try to smoke a rubber cigar; totally confused me.  But I guessed if you were silly enough to try to smoke a rubber cigar, when it explodes you shouldn’t be too surprised.
But seriously, like many of you, I grew up with the tale of the three kings who would march around the living room to eventually show up at the stable just in time for us to take the Christmas tree down.  Never quite sure why they were there or why they were late to the party.  All I knew is these were kings and they brought some expensive gifts with them.
Well, as I grew, (and went to seminary!) I learned more about these kings.  I learned that they probably weren’t kings at all and we really don’t know how many of them there were.  We know that they are referred to as “Magi” which would lead us to believe that they were men of learning and highly respected.  We are told that they were Astrologers, which had a very different meaning in Biblical times than it does now.  Astrologers were the scientist of the times.  They were the ones who would do the experiments and seek to find the truth.  We also should remember that the Magi were probably Zoroastrians, a popular religion of the time, but definitely NOT Jewish.
So we have these odd men, these men from another county, and another religion, coming to seek Jesus.  We have these scientists traveling to find Jesus.  I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Magi were scientists, or that they were from another religion.  It shows us just how far reaching the message of Jesus is. This message reaches from the lowest of the shepherds to the learned and elite of other faith traditions.  With the Magi, we are shown that Christ’s message is not just for the “in group,” but for the whole world!  What we learn is that God is not going to settle for just the “tried and true” methods of spreading the message; God is going to use the unexpected, the absurd, and the preposterous.  God is going to send the message out in those forms where it will reach the people who need to hear.  We see the fulfillment of the spread of this message through these scientists of all people!  Often the religious people of today would have us believe that the scientific community is trying to destroy God, but God, in the people of the Magi, is showing us that science is not something to be feared, but is also a valid way to spread the message.
I find myself being pulled by God to seek out new ways to spread the message, and from talking with many of you here; I feel that God is moving you in the same direction.  We need to remember that one of the “locals” of the story, King Herod, was frightened by the message and the Magi.  He was afraid of what might be happening and that he may lose his power in the process.  Instead of embracing the message, Herod seeks to kill the massage.  (Quite literally!)  But even this one man’s powerful fear and powerful means of stopping the message would not stop the light of Christ from coming into the world.  The message of Christ will be spread, but will we be part of the process, or will we stand in its way?
The Epiphany can make us shudder in fear.  Our familiar and comfortable ways of experiencing the message of Christ may be getting yanked in all kinds of directions.  We may find those seeking the truth may not look like us, may not act like us, and may not even come from the same faith traditions as us.  People may be coming to seek Christ in the most unconventional of places.  But we need not fear these people.  They may seem alien to us as I am sure the Magi seemed to Mary and Joseph, but they come seeking the same Christ as we seek.  We don’t need to hide away from these people, we need to prepare ourselves for these seekers.  The question becomes:  When we meet these travelers, how are we going to respond? 
The Magi did not find Jesus by going to church and participating in Bible studies.  Now, granted, these are the “old faithful” ways that people come to faith, but these are not the only ways.  The Magi were looking to the skies and studying their maps.  They were using their God-given gifts and talents and stumbled upon this truth they needed to explore!  They probably did not think, “Humm, we need to go to Church.”  They were probably thinking that there was something more out there and they needed to find it!  When we stick to our cherished old ways of presenting God to the world, we may miss those who are staring up at the sky to find Christ.  We may miss those who do not follow the rules as we learned them.  We may miss the people who would never think of looking inside of a building.  And when we miss these people, not only do we miss the opportunity to share Christ’s love with them, but we also miss the truth that God has imparted to them.  When we miss the stranger, our life is lacking because of it.
I am sad because it seems that many branches of Christianity are turning away the Magi of today.  They respond as King Herod to the message these scientists bring.  It is as if anything that may seem to contradict the Bible is tossed aside.  If we do not like the message, we get rid of the messengers.  But we can see that God is so much bigger than that.  God did not run from the message of the Magi, but incorporated their truth into the greater truth that is for us all.  We do not need to fear the people looking into the sky but look up with them to see what we have been missing.
It is especially wonderful that we welcome three new people into the family of Christ on this day!  These children will see things that we could never even dream of!  These children will communicate in ways that are only science fiction right now.  A whole world of wonder stands before them.  My prayer is that church embraces these new ways of seeing, of doing, of being!  That we do not fear the message as Herod feared, but look to these travelers to teach us the things that have been imparted to them.  I also pray that we have the courage to share our truths with them; to pass our faith onto them and provide them with a care and guidance. And I finally pray that we have the faith to allow God to work in ways that may make us shudder in fear, but also may make us cry out in praise.
We have been greatly gifted by God.  We have our families, our church family, our newest members to our church family, and a community of people seeking truth.  We need to remember that God is going to call all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds and that we need not fear this.  God can bring all kinds of people together to learn and to find support.  And like Mary and Joseph, we can accept and cherish their gifts, or like Herod, we can lash out in fear.

Friday, January 04, 2013

A Belief That Gets Me In Trouble

I seriously believe in the adage, "Be the change you want to see."  And, unfortunately, this belief has gotten me into some trouble.  I will pick up cigarette butts that people have thrown down and hand them back to the people.  I have pointed out to people that the spot outside the mall, that they happen to be parked in, is a No Parking Zone.

I question why people should think that these rules do not apply to them.

This adage also tends to put a lot of pressure on me.  I have trouble going with the flow if I see something that I feel is wrong.  I think  sometimes we have the problems that we have because we don't want to get involved.  But if we just let things go, aren't we tacitly approving of it?  I don't know if the people in the no parking zone will never park there again, but I hope that they will think about it before they do.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Thoughts on Marriage Equality

Nik and I celebrated out First Wedding Anniversary yesterday.  We have been together for seven years, but we have only been legally married for one.  And from what I can tell, we have not destroyed a single heterosexual (or homosexual) marriage in the process.

This whole thing reminds me of bullying.  "We have it and we are not going to let you have it."  It reminds me of the "prestige" car effect:  We have a Cadillac, that makes us better than you!  Oh no, you can now afford a Cadillac!!  We have a Lexus, that makes us better than you!  The people complained because "teh gays" were just horny hormone bags, they really didn't want to do anything other than have sex.  But now "teh gays" want to settle down and have families.  "Oh no!  They are not just horny hormone bags!"  That would put "teh gays" on the same level as anyone else and we can't have that.  (Oh no, they want our Lexusi!)

Actually, what we considered our anniversary is actually more Biblical than most.  If we consider consummation the marker of marriage, our old date is much more Biblical.  But most usually don't want to think about that.  Lacking a formal way of recognition, we look for other ways to celebrate our bonds.  It might be Biblical, it may be when we move in together, it may be when we get our first lease.  That society is reluctant to provide a formal recognition is sad.  It reminds me of slaves jumping the broom; since those in power would not provide a recognized rite, the people came up with their own.
Again, the complaint was that gay people could not form bonds.  And when that is shown to be wrong, then we need to come up with something so we can keep thinking of LGBT people as "them."  It is so much easier to be cruel to a "them" than to  soften our hearts and think of those who might be different as "us."

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Finding a Job

I need to find a job, but is right after Christmas the opportune time to look?  How to turn this into an opportunity.

Part of the problem is dealing with seasonal affective disorder and the frustration of not being able to find a congregation.  The inertia can become deadening.  (Part of the reason for doing these blogs, to start a pattern of accomplishments.)  For how much I question ever going back to the church, that is where my heart lies.

The demons in my head are constantly talking to me.  It takes a lot of energy to silence the litany of "You do everything wrong."  The amount of energy to look for the places where I have done things correctly can become tiring.  I know that I do not do everything wrong, but those deep planted comments have a way of taking root.  Maybe some light therapy will help!

Started  putting away the Christmas stuff for this past season.  Not as sad as in the past.  I guess, even with its financial lacks and all, this year was pretty good.  I guess I was not expecting a Christmas Miracle, so I was not upset when it didn't happen.  But not expecting a miracle allowed me to enjoy the Christmas that I had.

I have some stained glass work to keep me going too.  So if I can overcome the inertia, I have things that I can do.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Self-Imposed Challenge

I am going to try something this year.  It may be just a self-indulgence, but I hope it is something more.  I am going to try to blog something everyday.

I need to establish some form of discipline.  My cousin wrote hikus during December.  I am not that creative.  But maybe I can play with some thoughts here.  No guarantee these post will be worth reading, but I shall give it a shot.