Thursday, September 28

End of the Road?

Today is the end of a journey that started on August 8 last year - the JDA/Mervyns project. The time was exactly seven months after the end of my marriage, and I was still in the just-slightly-better-than-catatonic stage. The demands of the project were rigorous: travel every week for over a year, fly out early Monday morning, fly back late Thursday night. But I needed it. I needed something that was as absorbing and as demanding as this project to get me through the coming months.

Divorce, by the way, is the most fun you can have short of self-flaggelation. Inexpressible pain wrapped around loss, confusion, grief, fear, anger, hopelessness and ultimately, acceptance. I had everything I loved wrenched from me and had to start a brand new life, pretty much from scratch. The only constant was my job, and I think it went a long way towards helping me maintain my somewhat-tenuous hold on sanity during those days.

I've recovered a lot in the 14 months since the project started, and have actually reached the point where I am ready to move on. I have a new life - not the life I dreamed of, but a life for which I am grateful nonetheless. I survived the worst I could imagine and am now full of hope for the future.

Hope, by the way, is something I could not begin to conceive I might have 14 months ago. But time heals all wounds, and also - apparently - wounds all heels.

I don't know what comes next, but I do know that it is time to steer my own boat. The world looks so much different through these eyes. Not bad, just different.

I can hardly wait to see what comes next....

Wednesday, September 27

Random Shots

In spite of my utter lack of campaigning, I still managed to garner sufficient votes in the September 12 primary to make it onto the ballot for the general election in November. I suspect vote fraud...

What am I running for? Would you believe the Arizona House of Representatives? (Yeah, me neither...)

I ordered a pile of stuff from The Teaching Company last week and am eager to commence my long-neglected liberal arts education. Having said that, I am also very aware that an awful lot of intellectual activity is little more than mental masturbation.

I shall try to avoid such self-abuse.

I finish the Mervyns project this week. 14 consecutive months on the road. Over 200,000 Marriott points. 4 free round-trip tickets on Southwest. Executive Elite status at National.


I filled out one of my candidate surveys and indicated that one of my priorities was the enforcement of property rights by changing the police culture from "crime-solving" to "crime prevention".

Here's an example of one Florida community that is actually doing that.

Animal rights advocacy would be more aptly named "idiocy". I question whether these people are capable of rational thought, and I fear they are not to be trusted with anything more dangerous than a plastic spoon. Here's more proof.

Pray to God that they don't decide that your children need to be "rescued" some day.

Tuesday, September 19

Do you know what today is?

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Why live your life in the fear of some Victorian prude clucking her tongue at you in disapproval, when you can be a pirate instead?

Monday, September 18

Holiness, Happiness and "Bowing the Knee"

Inspired by anonymous commenters...

As best as I can figure, we humans have two possible ways of relating to God:

1. A business relationship
2. A family relationship

A family relationship is based upon the the nature of the persons in the relationship. A business relationship is based upon the quality of the transactions between the parties, without regard to the nature of the persons on either side of the transaction.

As I understand it, God intends a family relationship with people, but people seem to prefer a business relationship with God. Why? I think it has to do with pride and control. In a business relationship, we can maintain both our pride and our sense of control, but in a family relationship, there is no place for pride or control.

If the nature of our relationship with Him is transactional - in other words, a business relationship - then we can maintain control of the relationship by trading value for value with Him; our inate inferiority to Him is a non-issue in the relationship as long as our transactions are evenly balanced.

But if the nature of our relationship to Him is familial, then the difference between Him and us is fundamental to our relationship; His superiority to us in every way puts Him in complete control of the relationship. He is forever Father and we are forever children.

In a business relationship, whatever inequalities may exist between "buyer" and "seller" are immaterial, as long as each party trades value for value. In a family relationship, the weaker party is dependent upon the stronger; the child is dependent upon the parent.

A business relationship evens the playing field between both parties in the transaction, a familial relationship highlights the inequalities between the parties. A business relationship is maintained by the fidelity of both parties to the standard of "value for value". A familial relationship is sustained by love.

In a business relationship, as soon as one party ceases to offer value for value, the relationship is over. In a familial relationship, no action or lack of action can change the fundamental reality of shared blood, shared bone, shared flesh.

In general, people don't like having their inferiority and dependence spotlighted. That's why they prefer a business relationship with God. And that's why every religion in the world exists - to manage and control the relationship with God

In my experience, most Christians operate a business relationship with God. Though they may protest, their language betrays their core beliefs about the relationship. For example, here's a quote from an anonymous commenter:

You could become a great man if you would bow your knee and yield to the One who made you - because after your short years here you will face Him. Fall on the Rock before the Rock falls on you.

Implicit in this comment is the belief that God is Gonna Get You! You're gonna PAY!

Oddly, people seem to like this message. Do good, and all will be well with you. Do bad, and He will come down on you like a ton of bricks. In fact, the reason you are not getting blessed by God is that you are not making the payments God demands in exchange for His blessings.

An appealing message - but it's not the Gospel.

Here's another example:

From where does the idea come that God's will is for any of us to be happy? He wants us to be holy. Happiness can be a byproduct of holiness, but holiness will not come as a result of seeking happiness.

Apparently, in this commenter's religion, God doesn't value Happiness, but does value Holiness. Therefore, He'll trade us something of lesser value to Him - Happiness - if we will pay Him something of lesser value to us - Holiness. In other words, the reason you are not Happy is because you have not paid the price that God puts on Happiness. Happy people have paid the price; UnHappy people have not.

This position appeals to our sense of pride and control, and we jump up and applaud wildly: Yes! Yes! Preach it!

But it's not the Gospel.

This is how religion operates, and it is why the early Christians were so frequently ignored, marginalized or martyred. Their message was simple...God is out of the accounting business - permanently. From now on, God is gonna think of you as His own child, not as a servant. ...but it thoroughly destroyed the very premises of religion. It really pissed-off the religious people, (and make no mistake - everyone is religious), so they tried to silence and/or kill those foolish believers who were spreading it.

What's the point of following rules and sacrificing animals and paying tithes and doing deeds of penance if God doesn't value all my hard work? I pour an awful lot of effort into proving to God that I am good enough and holy enough and righteous enough and committed enough and serious enough, and then these yahoos come along and say that God simply isn't interested in what I am trying to pay?

This Gospel of the Kingdom, carried by early believers to the uttermost parts of the earth, proclaimed that God had decided to throw open the Divine Party to anyone who wanted to come in and partake of it. He was giving away the riches of His table - for free. All you had to do was take Him at His word. All you had to do was show up. (See, for example, the parables of the Great Banquet, the Prodigal, the Pharisee and the Publican, the Talents.)

For some reason, the religious folks thought this was Bad News, and they've spent the last 2000 years trying to convince everyone that God Still Demands Payment! The only reason I can imagine for such foolishness is because most people were (and are) addicted to their own sense of worthiness and control vis-a-vis God. They want a business relationship with God, not a family relationship.

Oh, and they also realize that people who are no longer living in fear can be awfully hard to control.

Me? I'm completely convinced that I have absolutely nothing of value to offer God. Therefore, a business relationship with Him is not even a remote possibility for me. If I have any chance at all of being in a relationship with God, it's gonna hafta be because He Loves Me.

You know - as if I were His own child or something...

Wednesday, September 13

Dreck and Piddle

If writing is God's way of showing me how sloppy my thinking is, then what in the world does it say about my thinking when I don't write? I suspect it says exactly what you would think it says - that by not writing I have ceased thinking.

I wrote for years. Years and years and years. Reams and reams of dreck and piddle. And what did it get me?


So I quit writing. And now when I do write, perhaps it will still be dreck and piddle, but at least I am not attaching any salvific attributes to the act itself.

I subscirbe to an newsletter called Monday Morning Memo - highly recommended by the way - that is the marketing piece for a man who calls himself the Wizard of Ads. (No links provided - feel free to google it yourself.) I recall a piece he sent out a while back that was a eulogy for his father. Lemme see if I can find it....

Yep - here it is. (You're welcome.)

Anyway, as I read it, and read the tombstone, and imagined the man about whom that eulogy was written, I thought to myself, "wow - he lived a life, didn't he?" And I realized that I am living a life, too. Not exactly the life I wanted, but closer now than I was before.

Conscience makes cowards of us all. I believe that was Hamlet, a coward if ever there was one. It was that quote that came to me when I made a choice that my background and culture told me I should regret, but which hindsight tells me set me free finally to be who I wanted to be and to live the life I wanted to live.

Fear has kept me bound for a very long time, but I have slowly and certainly begun to shake it's gnarly bonds. Each day gets me closer to living the life I have imagined; each day leads to me to stare my fear full in the face and say "what the hell..."

No one gets out alive. Hamlet eventually learned that. I do not intend to die young, but neither do I intend to die without living. I have finally - finally - started to live. And I'll be damned if I am going to give it all up for some bastardized version of puritanical morality masquerading as "What God Wants...."

No one but me knows what this means, but everyone can benefit by clicking on the link referenced above.