Monthly Archives: November 2016

When you can’t run…

A year ago this week, my life took a giant step back from the brink that was 2015. There were some issues with health insurance that were potentially financially devastating–in particular with my son in his senior year of high school. The day before Thanksgiving, they were resolved in our favor.

There were still a lot of bumps after that, but none of them seemed to be worth shaking my life apart over.

At this point, I must take a small sideways step. Your cross, whatever it is, is hard. It’s not a competition. If it’s hard for you, then it’s hard. This was hard for me, though you may be going through worse now. 

It’s not enough to be thankful when your this year isn’t a shitpile like last year was. (Yeah, vulgarity…trust me, if anything, it’s understated.)

Anyone with a soul is thankful when things get better. That’s the baseline. A better question is what did you learn from it all? Everyone has Years from Hell™. They’re typically followed by a figuring out of what comes next.

That figuring-out can take a long time. And the trip back can be uneven. For instance, I can work and function without problem, but after a good start, I had to stop working out. Working out is a tonic for me. There are still bumps after the major bumps end.

So what did I learn in the past year? Some of the answers are obvious; some, not so much.

  • I learned that not every day is a gift from God, and that’s okay. God, if you believe in him, probably understands that some days are literally Hellish. I don’t think Jesus was looking at the bright side and saying thank you while he was being tortured to death. Some things you just get through.
  • Some days are gifts from God, and they aren’t just the mountaintop days. Working out is a major contributor to my wellness in almost every way. I can do it again, in the way I need to. And for that, I’m once again grateful.
  • Hell is a place where you don’t need any help. Because being self-sufficient is bullcrap. This isn’t a political ‘You didn’t do that’ statement. It’s broader than that. The lone wolf is an idiot. You cannot do it alone. Check your ego and let people help.
  • The biggest idol many people create looks back at them in the mirror. This isn’t narcisism. It’s more insidious than that. It’s this nagging expectation that (a) perfect is attainable and (2) that we’re responsible for it. Good enough is good enough. Aiming for perfection makes you bitter and lonely. To quote the great Bob Newhart, “Stop it!”

  • Unless you are literally saving babies or stopping nuclear war from happening, you aren’t. In most cases, your hell scenario is far bigger in your head than it is in reality.
  • Look at your track record. You aren’t perfect. You’re flawed and there are things you’ve done and thought that make you happy no one can read minds. But here you are. You aren’t starving or universally hated. If you weren’t you, you’d probably have some respect for yourself.
  • For most people there is more good than bad, even if the good is a pain ass to maintain. Maybe not all of it isn’t worth maintaining.
  • Nothing is forever. That one statement helped me on the worst days, days when I couldn’t conceive of the concept of something being better. But it’s true.
  • Firefly is brilliant. “If you can run, you crawl, and if you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.” Because we’re all here in this together and everyone needs carrying sometimes.

It’s a long list, and there’s some overlap. But it’s my list and it’s what I’m working with.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. On Monday, February 16, 2015, my oddysey began when I tried to do an easy workout and almost threw up. Tomorrow is Monday. Tomorrow I’m doing that same workout. History may repeat.

If it does, that will suck. I won’t pretend to be thankful for it. I’ll stop pretending that what I do is earth-shattering. Almost nothing I do is life-or-death; there’s a freedom in that.

I’ll remember once again that nothing is forever. And if I can’t run, I’ll crawl. And if I can’t crawl–if I can’t do that–I’ll find someone to carry me. Because I know someone will for a time.

 

Advertisements

Christian blogging mom announces she is (gasp!) lesbian!

St. Peter: Name?

Dead person: Really? You don’t know? This is heaven.

St. Peter: Well, not really. Heaven is over there. This is the entry exam. So tell me…why should I let you in.

Dead person: I know I’m flawed, but I accepted Jesus and really that was the beginning of what changed me. After understanding and accepting God’s love for me, I was better able to love others, and I did that the best I could. I’m not Mother Teresa, but I changed my life a lot and used that experience to love others. I owe it all to Jesus.

St. Peter: Very good my child.

Dead person: Also, I was a lesbian so I–

Buzzer goes off, person goes straight to hell. HELL, I SAY!!!!!! And God, who so loved that world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall be saved, who sent his son not to condemn the world, but to save the world, that God, smiled at the lesbian’s eternal damnation. 

Or not.

I don’t know Glennon Doyle Melton from Adam. But she’s a Christian mom blogger, which is apparently a thing. She divorced her husband of 14 years last year and now she’s in a relationship with lesbian (!) former soccer star Abby Wambach. Melton is well-known among her readers for being honest about her “struggling marriage, her addiction, and her eating disorder.” Wambach, too, has struggled with addiction, a dissolved marriage, and other issues. She lost many of her endorsements after a DUI in April.

Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle Melton. Probably practicing a lesbian recruitment song. By Melissa Ethridge.

Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle Melton. Probably practicing a lesbian recruitment song. By Melissa Ethridge.

The article I linked to doesn’t say whether Melton and Wambach have gotten hate mail for daring to find solace in the arms of a woman, rather than a man. They probably have received some because there are schmucks everywhere.

But ultimately, if they can find solace and sobriety with each other, what does it matter whether one of them can pee standing up?

Would it be better for Melton’s kids if she and dad were happily married? Yeah, it probably would. But would it be significantly different if she were dating a male soccer star instead of Abby Wambach? Probably not.

Things like addiction and mental illness place marriages under heavy strain. Sometimes they don’t make it. Maybe Melton and her husband worked at it. Maybe they didn’t. But the fact that her rebound relationship is another woman seems immaterial.

As I read the New Testament, I don’t see Jesus condemning love. And if he didn’t condemn the whore who was about to be stoned to death, why would he condemn a woman who feels completion with another woman? (Or, for that matter, a man who feels completion with another man.) If, in each other’s company, they find the peace they need to truly love their neighbors as themselves, isn’t that what God requires?

In other words, is the scenario above really realistic?

I suspect God cares more about the net effect of our lives on others more than he cares about the sex of the person in whose arms we find solace. I’ll take my chances being wrong on that.

 

 


That’s the sound of the men working on the blame ga-a-ame…

As I’ve relayed bofore. the very first post I saw on Facebook the day after Donald Trump’s victory was a link to an article that blamed Gary Johnson voters–of which I am one–for the Trump win.

That’s among the differences between Democrats and Republicans. When Republicans blow an election, they look inside for blame to the point where they eat their young. Democrats tend to look everyplace but in the mirror.

The Johnson analysis is a wonderful example. It’s foolish to believe that all or even a majority of the Gary Johnson vote would otherwise have gone to Secretary Clinton. It’s the height of arrogance to presume she was entitled to those votes.

Yeah, when you blow an election, there’s going to be fallout. But Gary Johnson didn’t cost Hillary the election. And she didn’t lose because America is a fetid, racist cesspool. She lost states that Democrats often carry, because she lost some votes and because a lot of Democrats stayed home.

In other words, she lost because her vision wasn’t compelling enough to garner the votes required for her to win.

Period.

Hillary Clinton had problems with the left wing of the Democratic Party, who considered her to be too corporate to get excited about. She also struggled with people who aren’t racist, but who saw in Donald Trump the only guy who listened to them and talked to them.

Trump did well in the rust belt because the workers there believed what he said to them. It wasn’t about the blacks and the gays; it was about bringing back the world in which they had some economic power.

In short, Hillary lost because of Hillary. She lost because Donald Trump, as awful as some of the things he said were, did a better job connecting with people.

The Democrats are almost certainly set for major gains in 2018. And right now, I wouldn’t bet on Donald Trump even running in 2020.

But for now, some soul-searching is in order and some of the souls being searched should be their own.


I lied.

Actually, it wasn’t a lie. I meant it when I said it. No more politics. But in what passes for politics today, if you disagree with someone and they play Powerball and the numbers don’t hit, they lied on their Powerball ticket.

Hi, my name is Chris and I’m a liar.

I also voted for Gary Johnson. The very first post-mortem I saw Wednesday morning–the very, very first–said that this election was my fault because I took a vote that should’ve been Secretary Clinton’s away from her.

Ha! Ha! Very funny! I suppose that's some kind of Trump joke. (Yeah, actually it is.)

Ha! Ha! Very funny! I suppose that’s some kind of Trump joke. (Yeah, actually it is.)

Except I was never going to vote for Secretary Clinton. Not because of hated or misogyny or homophobia or Islamophobia. Not because I’m a moron. Because I disagree with her policies.

It’s a fact that you can disagree with someone without hating them for no reason other than their skin color or ability to make babies. Even if you’re a white Christian male.

I’ve covered this before, but I believe that abortion will never go away because of laws, but it should be safe and rare. I know, I might as well be a villain in a Margaret Atwood novel. Or, you know, former President Bill Clinton, that reactionary bastard.

Check it. When I wear this outfit and crop the picture just right, I look like the captain of the Enterprise

Check it. When I wear this outfit and crop the picture just right, I look like the captain of the Enterprise

I believe in immigration control. If Mexico can control its southern border, so should we. We should also find a workable solution to make sure migrant farm workers are treated better and that their children have better educational opportunities, given the transitory nature of their lives.

I believe in the First Amendment. That means this is not a Christian nation. It’s a free nation. If you want to practice Catholicism, Methodism, Islam, Judaism, atheism, or any other ism, this is your place. You can do what you want, but you can’t compel me. I also believe there are far bigger things to get worked up about than a paper coffee cup (maybe like the taste of the crap coffee inside it, for one thing).

That said, I also believe that there are a lot of people using a specific religion to convince people to kill other people who aren’t part of that religion.

I believe in the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, and the Atlanta Braves. I believe that Colin Kaepernick can do whatever the hell he wants during the anthem and that NFL fans can boo him for it, if they choose. I believe if Roger Goodell were competent, he’d have applied the Goodell rule (if one person is offended, we have to have the conversation…) to Ray Rice before he was forced to.

I believe it’s an abomination to pay taxes so we can entice companies to move jobs overseas. I believe no company should be too big to fail. I believe in care for veterans and that Congress should follow the same laws we do.

I believe that ideally, health care should exist in a free market and that was we had before the ACA wasn’t that. That said, if you want to see amazing innovation and economic growth, find a way to untie health care from jobs with big companies.

While I believe that the First Amendment guarantees religious freedom, but that Jesus had some pretty good ideas about how to treat people, even if they wear a Trump hat or post on Democratic Underground.

I believe in long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three da…oops, wrong list of beliefs.

And I belive that most people can live with, if not agree with most of those beliefs. That we seem to be driven apart in spite of the fact that most of us, when we aren’t holding up political signs, are decent, rational people, makes me wonder about the people doing the dividing.

So I’m a liar. And probably I’m a hypocrite. And a million other crappy things.

So be it.

I checked with your spouse and you aren’t much better.


Awesome. Now we’re hacking political sites.

The people at Democratic Underground would probably at least figuratively burn me at the stake if they knew of me. I am, after all, politically unlike them (more on that in a future post). DU, as they call it, is a place where reasonable, rational, progressives can go without having to deal with the freakin morons who don’t agree with them politically. I started going there several years ago, looking to find places that have opinions I disagree with, just so I don’t live in an echo chamber.

DU was hacked on Tuesday, badly enough that they’re still down more than two days later. According to the statement on the website, they believe it was a Trump supporter. I don’t know specifically why they think that. Maybe the hacker left a message. Maybe a footprint. I don’t know.

du-hack

I do know that they generate revenue from the site and that servers and ISPs aren’t free. I have no idea how much they clear after expenses, but I don’t imagine anyone’s living large off it.

The hacker has caused a long-term outage and has also gotten membership information about the site’s users. If you’re prompted to say that they should have better security, that misses the point. If I leave my wallet in the back seat of my car, you’re still a thief if you take it. Given the content of the site, if the security were lax, it would’ve been hacked a zillion times by now.

I also know that Voltaire once said “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.” Cool guy, that Voltaire.

I don’t care what you have to say–within reason. I don’t care if you wanted to feel the Bern, or vote for Cruz. I don’t care if you think every Republican is a racist, misogynist schmuck or if every Democrat is a Shariah-loving pinko maggot. The market of ideas should judge that, not some set of hackers aiming to silence people they disagree with.

A friend of mine–a different friend from yesterday–went to a Trump rally earlier this year, and stood quietly in the back, holding a sign that said “Stop the hate.” For this, she was threatened with arrest.

To be fair, Trump supporters aren’t the only people to do it. How about the constant demand for “safe spaces” on college campuses? How about the egging of the woman at the Trump rally earlier this year? I’m sure you have examples of your own, most likely perpetrated by them.

Both sides do it. Both sides think the other side is worse.

But whether it is hacking, bullying, egging, or any other type of aggressive behavior intended to squelch free speech, it is antithetical to what we stand for. If we lose our freedom of expression, we lose it all.

Whoever is responsible for the hacking of DU should be caught. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If it was part of a bigger effort, the people behind that effort must be prosecuted vigorously.

Our ability to function as a free society demands nothing less.


Anger over the election is reasonable

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today that she goes to conventions and shows where attendees dress up as characters—it’s called cosplay. And as a heterosexual guy, I can tell you–it’s sexy. The attendees are mostly male and some of them feel that if you’re a woman and you dress up in a costume for a convention, that means you’re fair game. My friend said that if you’re a woman and you go, you expect it.

She said it’s so bad they some of the shows include big signs that say cosplay isn’t consent.

Think about that for a minute. The sign can be translated to just because I’m wearing a costume doesn’t mean I’m your sex toy.

I’ve thought a lot about her post today, one day into the Trump era. And I’ve thought about the anger involving the election results.

To be fair, the language has gotten very coarse in this particular debate. But to be fair, a good deal of that coarseness is because of the words selected by candidate Trump. He’s the one who used coarse term for women’s genitalia. He’s the one who used words like pig in response to women.

So if I’m a woman who’s been groped or maybe worse at a convention simply because I’m wearing a costume, how am I supposed to feel about that? If I’m a woman just starting a professional career, how am I supposed to feel?

Yes, some of the women who’ve decided Trump is Satan incarnate would’ve decided that about Jesus himself, if Jesus were the Republican nominee.

Satan wasn’t much of a hitter toward the end of his career.

But some of them—a lot of them—are women who have to worry about being able to simply go to a convention without some guy thinking of them as a Kleenex with legs, but no brain and certainly no soul. A lot of them are understandably disillusioned and angry.

If you’re an American, then Donald J. Trump is your President-elect today. You have to accept that. Period. You live here. We elected him.

And if you’re a Christian, Scripture is pretty clear that you have to pray for him as a leader. The same way those of us who’re right-leaning have been supposed to pray for President Obama. (I suspect there might be a line St. Peter has to deal with as a result of that requirement.)

really-st-peter

Really? You’re making me do THIS?

But you don’t have to like that he’s President. You don’t have to put a smile on your face because the election is over. You get to be concerned. You get to be frustrated. And you get to be angry.

Because honestly, if President-elect Trump’s view of people like my friend and my daughter is that they are objects to be grabbed by the genitalia, there’s not much difference between that and the attitude that makes cosplay is not consent signs a thing.


Obeying the voices

“I saw my dad before I came here. He said the voices were gone. He said he finally just did what they told him to do.” — Kevin Garvey, The Leftovers.

Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his dad (Scott Glenn) in The Leftovers.

Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his dad (Scott Glenn) in The Leftovers.

I’m going through a devotional about joy right now. As a lifelong Jets fan, I could use a little joy in my life.

But I’m not digging the approach. The way to find joy is to be joyful. It’s as simple as that.

And silly me, I’ve been trying and failing at that for an awful long time. That must make me a special kind of an idiot.

So let’s put the depression in the place of Kevin Garvey’s voices. For years, I’ve been fighting the voices, assuming that depression was an anomaly, something to be fought against and hopefully defeated. Something wrong with the way that I live. With me.

And then I rewatched The Leftovers and saw that quote. And I wondered. What if I accepted that depression will always be part of my life? What if I accepted that this wasn’t something wrong with me, or with life? What if I just accepted that this was the thorn in my side and that God’s grace is sufficient for me?

What if I finally just did what the voices told me to do?

To be clear, there are no actual voices. I’m speaking metaphorically. But I’ve been losing this battle for a long time. And every single time I go into the ditch, eventually I come back out. It’s never fun while I’m there, but it’s never forever.

And if I think about one of the most famous Bible passages ever–even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I’m not alone. I have a guy for that.

So now, after all these years, it finally dawns on me to try something new. To stop assuming that life is wrong. That I’m wrong. To stop expecting perfection and start embracing reality.

To finally just start doing what the voices tell me to do.

I won’t say I’m looking forward to it, but my faith says that I have to carry my cross. If I can do that in a way that makes others’ crosses a little lighter, then at least there’s something good in it.

It’s not pointless.