RIP Rush – “He Made A Huge Difference”

I’ve always been a procrastinator, but this is different. I’ve been trying to find the words for several days, with little success. Just because you know something is happening in advance doesn’t mean it’s any easier when it actually happens. Such is the case with my man Rush Limbaugh, whose talent on loan from God was called on Ash Wednesday.

 

The Doctor of Democracy, our Maha Rushie, had been diagnosed with lung cancer a year ago, but continued with his radio show, albeit with frequent days off (I assume for treatment, appointments, etc). Then in October he made the devastating announcement that the treatments weren’t working. Around Christmastime he stated that doctors hadn’t expected him to be alive to see the holiday season so he was thankful for “extra innings”. His last radio broadcast came on February 2, and just over two weeks later he was gone.

 

I was introduced to Rush Limbaugh by my friend Greg in 1991, just in time for the 1992 election season. His books The Way Things Ought to Be (1992) and See, I Told You So (1993) were eye openers. I’ve seen Rush called many things this past week, but to my surprise I haven’t seen anyone refer to him the way I would…as a teacher. Everyone always likes to ask “Who was your favorite teacher??” or “Name a teacher who changed your life”, and of course most have atleast one from high school or college they hold in high regard, but my favorite teacher of all time just might be Rush Limbaugh. Certainly I learned more from him than what I rote memorized in high school, and I barely remember anything I heard in a college classroom (the social aspect of those years were much more meaningful to me, and I don’t feel bad about that).

 

Rush taught me about self-reliance. Rugged individualism. American exceptionalism. The brilliance of our Founding Fathers. He helped me understand media bias, and was a trailblazer in railing against political correctness. I learned more about economics from Rush Limbaugh than all the college professors I had combined. He had…unique…perspectives on race relations, feminism, environmentalism, and any other hot button issue one can imagine. His opinions angered a whole lot of people, but in my opinion he was usually spot on in his assessment. He had an uncanny ability to see thru the…ummm…poppycock…and tell us what was really going on. Hint: most of the time things aren’t what they seem…politicians lie, “journalists” lie, and all those celebrities who like to show off their alleged intellect usually have no idea what they’re talking about. That’s why so many of those kinds of people hated him…he understood their dishonesty, ignorance, & hypocrisy and wasn’t afraid to call them on it.

 

One of my father’s Dadisms has always been “I love you & will do anything I can to help you, but I will NOT defend you when you are wrong”. It is not my intention to put Rush Limbaugh on a pedestal. He had failures & made mistakes. He was married four times. He had a much publicized addiction to pain killers. He pushed the envelope on the radio and in doing so stepped over the line more than once. Sadly those shortcomings were constantly seized upon by those who disagreed with his sociopolitical opinions, and he was portrayed by some as an evil minion of Satan.

 

The odd thing is, those that know him best have always painted a far different picture. They will tell you that off the air he was shy, respectful, and quite generous. I never met Rush in person, but in listening to him I wasn’t offended or felt like he was all that shocking. Over the years I have found that many people who “hate” him never actually listened to his show. At best they may have heard a sound byte that left a bad impression, but if one is being intellectually honest we all know that the media often manipulates such things to further their chosen narrative. Rush Limbaugh became The Boogeyman who represented everything leftists despise about conservatism, and he willingly took the bullet. He always said that to really understand him you had to listen to the show consistently for a few weeks, and I found that to be true. He used humor like a surgeon wields a scalpel, and oftentimes intentionally tweaked the media just to get a reaction (and they rarely failed to live down to expectations).

 

Over the years I would occasionally play a game with myself. I’d hear a story, form an opinion, then try to think about it thru the prism of what Rush might say about it. Inevitably, once I was able to catch up with his show (made so much easier thru modern technology) I would realize that I had been on the right track with my thoughts, although he had an uncanny ability to point out things that I’d missed. The point though, is that thru the course of three decades I learned so much that I wouldn’t have if I’d never become a Dittohead. I suppose some will assume that makes me a misogynistic bigot, but when those accusations start flying I know immediately that I’m dealing with an uninformed ignoramus who never actually listened to the man I enjoyed & admired. I am in regular contact with people who spew obtuse MSNBC & CNN talking points almost daily, so I know the type. Thru trial & error and a lot of missteps along the way I’ve learned to accept those folks and appreciate their more positive contributions.

 

Sadly there are a fair number of people out there whose unhappiness & anger are too much to overlook. Such was the case in the immediate aftermath of Rush’s departure from this mortal coil. The comments on social media, while completely predictable, were no less infuriating. There have been liberals who passed (Supreme Court Justice RBG for example) and I never felt compelled to post something like “Thank God for cancer” or “Rest in Piss”, and that’s thanks to parents who raised me better. I guess everyone isn’t as fortunate as me. Isn’t it funny that “fact” checkers & community standards (whatever that is 🤷🏻‍♂️) are nowhere to be found in that scenario??

 

I listened to & read a lot of coverage of Rush’s death for a couple of days, with much of it being unsurprisingly disrespectful. However, one viewpoint in particular stood out. My apologies for not being able to give that person proper credit because I cannot remember who said it, but someone opined that Rush Limbaugh “made a huge difference”. One of the things he used to say when he was still the only game in town on conservative talk radio and The Internet was in its infancy is “I AM equal time”. I believe it was in response to certain entities calling for the return of The Fairness Doctrine (you might want to study it a bit…there will soon be a renewed push to revive it). Mr. Limbaugh was very clear in his opinion that the media, entertainment, public education, and other powerful parts of our daily lives have long been controlled by The Left and the populace indoctrinated without us even realizing it was happening. That indoctrination has only gotten more bold & pervasive, but many of us are no longer ignorant of it and occasionally even fight back. Rush Limbaugh deserves nearly all the credit for that. He almost singlehandedly saved talk radio, and in the process awakened millions of people to malevolent machinations that had been occurring for decades. Without Rush there is no Bush Dynasty, Fox News, Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, or Donald Trump. I shudder to think what Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, & a likely Hillary Clinton Administration would have done to our country if Rush hadn’t been around to hold their feet to the fire. Certainly our Supreme Court would look far different and be way more radical. The next wave of conservative pundits wouldn’t be enjoying the level of success they’ve achieved without Rush as a forefather. Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Candace Owens, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder, Tomi Lahren…they all owe him a significant debt of gratitude, and I think they know that. I’ll even go so far as to ponder what the 2020 Election might have looked like if Rush had been at full strength this past year, although I don’t think even he could’ve stopped the theft that occurred (that’s a rabbit hole I won’t dive into right now).

 

“He made a huge difference”. I don’t think I’m venturing too far out on a limb when I say that most of us would love to have that said about our life. I’ve had way too much time to think about my own legacy this past year, and without going too far astray I’ll just say that I don’t think I’ve made much of a difference to anyone or anything. When I am gone it will be as if I was never here. Rush Limbaugh?? Well, he is deeply missed already, but thankfully he spent thirty years changing the world three hours at a time.

 

What’s next?? I have no idea. No one can replace El Rushbo, America’s Truth Detector. I saw someone compare him to Johnny Carson, and that seems like an appropriate analogy. A bunch of late night hosts have come & gone since Carson left the stage, and while most have adequately entertained us none have equaled The King of Late Night. Such will be the case with conservative talk radio & punditry. There will be shows. Someone (probably multiple people) will even sit behind the golden EIB microphone for the foreseeable future, but there will never be another Rush Limbaugh…a teacher/entertainer/communicator who expertly balanced humor, wisdom, righteous indignation, mischievous rabblerousing, connecting with an audience, & accessible analysis of complex issues. And he made it look easy.

Thoughts & Prayers…Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this little ditty please take a moment to check it out…otherwise you’ll be hopelessly confused.

 

Okay, so…I don’t want to be one of those people who shriek “Do something!!” but offer no real solutions. Therefore, allow me to make a few suggestions.

 

One of the first rules of being in a supervisory position is “never ask subordinates to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself”. In that same vein, I humbly ask all of the social justice warriors in Hollywood, the music industry, & professional sports who love to use social media and the bully pulpit of television that is readily accessible to them to self-righteously preach about gun control to lead the way. Get rid of every firearm  in your possession. Dismiss every last armed security person you employ. Every. Single. One. You’ll just have to rely on the police like the common folks here in flyover country. And finally, pledge to never again write, produce, direct, or star in any TV show or movie that depicts even a single second of gun violence. It’s a little hypocritical to criticize The Second Amendment while simultaneously making movies with a higher body count than the mass shootings about which you are shedding crocodile tears. Eliminate all music, video games, computer software, or any other product that even mentions guns. These would be more significant contributions to society than the collective glitterati have made in the past half century.

 

On a more basic level let’s talk about school security. Now I haven’t been a high school student since the first George Bush was in the White House, and have only had reason to visit a public school a couple of times in the ensuing years, but I know that things are a little more secure these days. Theoretically no one can just waltz into a school and wander around. However, I think we can do better. I am employed at a mental health facility, and we contract a security firm. On each floor of our facility there is a security guard, and much of what that person does is monitor various cameras. No one enters or exits the premises without security knowing about it. Why shouldn’t schools have the same system?? I know that most high schools have a “resource officer” that actually lives on school grounds, and that is fantastic. But especially with larger schools it seems like one person isn’t enough. Furthermore, why should a person who has no business at the school even get within sight of the building?? Why not put a check-in gate on the driveway or access road leading to the school (assuming the campus has such a thing)?? No one that shouldn’t be there would get anywhere near the students. Perhaps such things exist in some locations, but they sure don’t seem to be the norm. These two reforms alone might have saved dozens of lives the past few years.

 

And now the big one…my grandest idea thus far. I am not a politician and have no plans to ever run for public office. It was something I pondered for a brief moment in time many years ago, but life has not led me in that direction. However, allow me to offer…free of charge to any legislator that wants to pick up the ball & run with it…the Child Safety Act (someone can even rename it to something more poetic if they wish). Here’s how it would work. You want to talk about “common sense gun reform”?? Okay…I am open-minded. Longer waiting periods?? More extensive background checks?? Stricter licensing procedures?? I’m no expert on any of those things but there is nothing wrong with an intelligent discussion. You want to raise the age requirement to legally purchase any gun to 21…or even older?? I think I’m okay with that. Anything short of a weapons ban or altering The Second Amendment is on the table. My fellow fantasy football league owners will tell you how much I like wheelin’ & dealin’, and since this issue is obviously much more important I am prepared to be flexible. Liberals & conservatives alike are rather passionate about all of this but definitely approach the topic with differing philosophies.  I think though that we can all agree that mass shootings are horrific. Any such loss of life…especially when we’re talking about kids…is sad, depressing, & unacceptable. If we can indeed “do something” then let’s make it happen.

 

Now, politicians like to talk about “bipartisanship” & “reaching across the aisle”. They have been known to negotiate quid pro quo deals, and regularly include items in bills that aren’t necessarily related to the main idea. However, in this case there is common ground. It really is about the children isn’t it?? If so, then let’s discuss the other half of the Child Safety Act…”common sense abortion reform”. There are waiting periods for buying a gun, so let’s have a practical waiting period for an abortion (24 hours is a joke). 10 days?? 30 days?? It’s worthy of a conversation. And during that waiting period how about mandated, fair & balanced, comprehensive counseling, information about alternatives like adoption, financial advice, health care assistance & instruction, and training on parenting skills. And I’m not just talking about pamphlets. If a person really wants that abortion why shouldn’t they be required to jump thru some hoops?? How about background checks?? A medical facility should know whether or not there is a legitimate reason for someone to get an abortion. Take a look at the woman’s family situation, finances, psychological profile, etc. Is the choice to abort one of convenience?? Gun control advocates like to ask “Why does a person need to own so many guns??” & “Why does a person need to own this or that type of gun??”. Okay…then I think it’s fair to ask a person “Why do you want to abort this baby??” & “Why are you opposed to putting the child up for adoption after it is born??”. Age restrictions?? Let’s discuss. It is important to clarify that we are not talking about repealing Roe v. Wade, just as gun control advocates indicate they do not seek to eliminate The Second Amendment (;-)), and obviously we are excluding any situation where the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life, but otherwise perhaps the “choice” shouldn’t be quite so easy. I realize that the framework for some of these limitations may be in place in some states, but it is hardly universal. Let’s make the legalities consistent. The simple fact is that the right to keep & bear arms is a Constitutional right dating back nearly two & a half centuries, whereas a woman’s “right to choose” is based on a court decision younger than I am. Nearly 350 people were victims of mass shootings in America in 2017. There are 500k-1 million abortions annually in the United States, depending on which source one chooses to believe. So if all of this really is about the children then y’all can’t have it both ways. A Constitutional right cannot be restricted or abolished while a fairly new “right” remains relatively unencumbered, especially given the stark contrast in numbers.

 

One final thing…..

God’s Word, in James 5:16, says that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Psalms 5:3 says “my voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord…in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up”. 1 John 14-15 says “this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us, and if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” God instructs us in Jeremiah 29:12 to “call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.” Philippians 4:6 says to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God”. We are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”. James 5:13 asks “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray”. Psalms 17:6 reassures that “I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God”. Psalms 102:17 says “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, and shall not despise their prayer”. In Romans 12:12 we are taught to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Psalms 145:18 says “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him”.  So if someone wants to pray for others…let them. Welcome it. And if you feel so inclined to pray for a person in need or a group of people you don’t know like the families of the victims at Stoneman Douglas High School then go right ahead. People like The View’s Joy Behar may think that Godly people are mentally ill, but we know that God is real and He hears our prayers. If you don’t happen to believe in God that is your right, and I respect it…so long as that respect is mutual.

 

I don’t have all of the answers. I wish I did. But I’m pretty sick & tired of people wanting to arrogantly toss aside our Constitution, and I’m really fed up with condescending attitudes about the power of prayer. One of the best things about America is each person’s freedom to believe or not believe in whatever they choose, especially when it comes to faith. We also have the freedom to disagree & debate when it comes to other issues. I am humbly suggesting that everyone engage in such discussions with compassion, consideration, & humility. That’s probably asking too much though.

Thoughts & Prayers

Back in 2006 thru the spring of 2008 I was sidelined with an ulcer on my tailbone during what I refer to as My Unfortunate Incarceration. I’ve alluded to it a few times here, so I’ll spare y’all a rehash. During that period…especially when I was homebound in my apartment for about a year…people would run into my father & sister and say “Tell Sam we’re praying for him!!”, and it would drive me absolutely nuts. I was quite lonely during that time, and I must admit that instead of drawing closer to God I became kind of angry at Him. I told my family that I wished those people would stop praying for a little while and instead pick up a phone to call me or drop by for a visit because I had plenty of free time. So…in an admittedly odd way…I understand where people are coming from when they criticize President Trump & others for expressing their sympathies either in a speech or press conference, or even on social media. I get it. It can sometimes feel like empty sentiment. “Thoughts & prayers” aren’t going to bring back those 17 students & teachers that were tragically murdered at a Florida high school, nor are they going to restore life to those killed in other mass shootings in recent years.

 

We’ve all been on both sides of this scenario at funerals. A loved one dies, family & friends gather, and folks say things to the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased like “My condolences” or “I’m sorry for your loss”. People say those things partially because social protocol dictates that is what they are supposed to say. Perhaps one would like to offer further comfort but just can’t find the words. Or maybe…just maybe…an individual really is aggrieved and truly sorry for that family’s loss. It may be unknown exactly what that person is truly feeling inside…and really, who are we to judge?? We also have no way of knowing how those words affect the grief-stricken family. Some may be soothed and find solace in such support, while others might consider it meaningless drivel. There is no way to really know that part of the equation either, but we offer our sympathies anyway.

 

It is human nature in times of tragedy to ask “What could have been done to prevent this from happening??”. In the aftermath of situations like what recently occurred in Parkland, FL people make a plea to “do something”. “Thoughts & prayers” aren’t enough for some…they demand tangible action, which is reasonable. However, there are a few issues that cannot be circumvented.

 

First of all, demands to “do something” in the wake of such unspeakable calamities are undeniably emotional, which I suppose makes sense. However, emotional decisions are rarely intelligent ones. In my experience whenever I rush into something without thinking it thru it usually ends up backfiring terribly, so I have had to learn to slow my roll. Now I know what you’re thinking…there have been more than enough mass shootings over a long enough period of time that some kind of action is overdue. Okay…I might not completely agree with that train of thought, but I get it. However, the past is the past. There is nothing anyone can do about perceived mistakes or failures after previous mass shootings, so let’s start fresh. I still believe it is proper to proceed with…if not caution, then wisdom.

 

Secondly, many of those who are demanding for Congress & other entities to “do something” lack specific suggestions, and some that do go further offer ideas that aren’t palatable to most Americans. Both sides of this coin are in abundance on television & social media, especially from self-absorbed & hypocritical celebrity types whose rambling adds nothing of substance to the conversation. Look, I don’t know the IQ of any given actor or athlete, and though their educational background is easily researched I’m not sure that means too much. I’ve known people who barely graduated high school who were profound thinkers and college graduates who are dumber than a box of rocks. However, the inescapable reality that such individuals refuse to accept is that we do not care about their “insight” on sociopolitical issues. My employer pays me to come to work and do a specific job. They wouldn’t be interested in me going around to other departments offering my opinion on the value of fellow employees or suggestions about how to streamline duties that I’ve never been trained to perform. I am expected to stay in my lane and that’s what I do. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have opinions, just that no one gives a damn about them…nor should they. Likewise, we want actors to entertain us in movies & TV shows, singers to write & sing great songs, and athletes to perform to the full extent of their abilities on the field/court/track. These folks do not help their cause when their emotional appeals are of the intellectually vacant & decidedly unspecific variety, and it really bites them in the rear when their ideas boil down to more gun laws and a thinly veiled desire for The Second Amendment to be modified or abolished.

 

Whenever this debate arises (which is admittedly all too often) I am amazed at the total lack of respect for America’s Founding Fathers. Some basketball player who has never even sniffed a college campus or a third rate actress whose talent plateaus with vagina jokes thinks they are smarter than John Adams?? Thomas Jefferson?? Benjamin Franklin?? Alexander Hamilton?? Seriously?!?!?? Get over yourselves!! The constant refrain goes something like this: “The Founding Fathers could not have foreseen AR-15s or other high powered rifles. They were talking about muskets.” Well okay…they couldn’t have fathomed television or The Internet either, but no one is talking about eradicating The First Amendment. I think we need to stop shortchanging the deep thought process of the tremendously intelligent men who helped birth this great nation. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It isn’t even about home invasion. Heck, if you really want to dig deep it isn’t even about guns. Allow me to refresh your memory. The Second Amendment states that “a well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” It’s about tyranny!! America exists because people successfully escaped a tyrannical government. The framers of The Constitution wanted to protect the citizenry from facing such oppression ever again, and one of the ways that is done is to limit governmental power. Sadly we live at a point in history when far too many are willing to give up control of nearly every aspect of their lives to the government, and once that Pandora’s Box is open it becomes difficult to regain lost freedom. At any rate, folks get caught up in the language of the amendment, opining that a “well-regulated militia” means that only the military should have guns, and “the security of a free state” is up to law enforcement & the military…but that is wrong. That last part is unmistakable…”the right of the people to keep & bear arms”. “The people” is you, me, and anyone else who chooses to be a responsible gun owner.

 

 

For the sake of readability let’s take a break and pick this discourse back up tomorrow.

Pondering The Good News: An Introduction

jumpI am usually not one to leap before looking, to venture out on a limb before pondering the consequences. However, after publicly stating my intention, way way way back at the beginning of 2012, to dive into The Bible book by book here at The Manofesto, I began to wonder what exactly I had gotten myself into.

 

I consider myself to be a pretty decent writer, but with no shortage of Bible studies, concordances, & A Bible studyanalyses of The Good Book out there…especially in The Information Age…what do I bring to the table that’s any better or different?? There is no way that I can even be in the same league as the God-inspired authors who wrote The Bible…men like Moses, Paul, & Peter. How do I approach the task??

 

procrastinateLike a true procrastinator I have spent several years pondering this idea. Have I come to any solid conclusions?? To be honest…no. But I know three things. I know that I learn best by doing. I know that this project will be beneficial…certainly to me, and hopefully to others. And I know that sometimes one just has to jump in with both feet and get started.

 

I have stated many times here & in speaking to people personally that, while I am a Christian, I am not a very mad-man-pulling-hair-outgood one. I fall victim to temptation more often than I care to admit. I don’t think I exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit consistently. I am far too cynical. I become frustrated too quickly & anger too easily. I am frequently distracted by meaningless trivialities. I make poor use of my time. Too often I allow fear, anxiety, & general neuroses to rule my life. I haven’t been “all in” on Jesus. Oh sure He’s a swell dude that did & said a lot of cool things…but do I sincerely trust Him?? On an intellectual level…yes. But down deep in my bones I know I’m not where I need to be.

 

bowlThis internal confrontation with my own shortcomings is nothing new and I have alluded to it before. However, events in the past few years have introduced a sense of urgency. My brother The Owl & I have often commiserated about mutual frustrations & disappointments. He & I have always thought of ourselves as inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys. It’s not that we are smarter than everyone else or the only two people to recognize the dark path our world has been traveling down, but we do tend to feel marginalized on many levels. We have observed things occurring in America that aren’t completely surprising, but that doesn’t make them any easier to comprehend or accept.

 

What has become clear is that there is only one answer. Again…intellectually I have always known this, but I have not fully embraced it on a solitudespiritual level. As pop culture, the news media, elected leaders, & commerce go full throttle down a road built on political correctness, sin, & misguided good intentions the wickedness becomes harder & harder to ignore. It has become pervasive in almost every facet of daily life. Ideally one would move to the wilderness like Thoreau and disengage from the chaos & madness, but unfortunately that isn’t a practical solution (or is it??).

 

bible11350One may not be able to completely separate from the aggravation & disillusionment, but we can choose that on which we focus. It is obvious to me that the only path is Jesus Christ. It is time to “put away childish things” and stop being lukewarm lest He vomit me out of His mouth. Most of that involves areas of my personal life that citizens of The Manoverse need not be concerned with and surely have no interest in, but it does mean that I want to follow thru on what I originally talked about doing a few years ago.

 

I will warn you ahead of time that we’ll be skipping around a lot. It is unlikely that I will start with Genesis and end bible3with Revelation. What can I say…I’m a non-linear, outside-the-box, avant-garde kinda cat. As usual I make no promises involving timetables or structure. I enjoy learning, but more importantly The Lord is gently persuading me that this is the next step in my growth process. It’s time to stop dipping my toe in the water and dive in. He won’t allow me to drown. It is time to block out the hatred, discord, & destruction. It is time to stop becoming frustrated with the darkness and find joy in the light. #JesusWins

Playing the Trump Card

trump3In the waning days of the 2016 Presidential Election I had a revelation. The news media was dutifully covering both campaigns, albeit with their less-subtle-than-ever-before left wing slant. There was Hillary Clinton on TV with Jay-Z. Hillary with Beyonce. Hillary with Miley Virus…uhhh…Cyrus. Hillary with Springsteen. Hillary with Katy Perry. And then there was Donald Trump…in front of massive crowds…just he & his peeps. That’s when it suddenly dawned on me…the point that most were completely missing. Trump didn’t need to be accompanied by a rock star. Trump IS the rock star.

 

I still had my concerns heading into election night. God has a sense of humor so He had arranged for me american-flag-1to be at work instead of home, a safe distance away from social media, an arena that has occasionally gotten me into hot water. Fortunately I was able watch the numbers slowly roll in on television. It was a fascinating exercise to channel surf and see just how incongruent the coverage was amongst the various outlets. They all seemed to have differing numbers. Some were VERY reluctant to call states in favor of Trump. But at the end of the day the result could no longer be denied. Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States.

 

reliefI found myself feeling…not excited, but more relieved about Trump’s victory. It’s no secret that I never thought he’d receive the Republican nomination. I was a Cruz supporter. As a professing Christian I cannot condone Mr. Trump’s general egotism, his alleged attitude toward & treatment of women, or some of the specific off-the-wall things that he has said. More importantly, I have not been completely convinced that he is on the same page with myself & fellow conservatives in regard to many of our deeply held core beliefs. Having said all that, the alternative was even less appealing. The Clinton family has been a cancer for America. Their level of dishonesty, thirst for political power, & alleged criminal behavior is much more bothersome to me than Trump trying to convince Billy Bush that he’s some kind of studly ladies’ man who can have any woman he wants at the snap of a finger like Fonzie. Trump is my Dad’s age. Sure all three of his wives have been significantly younger and extremely beautiful, but at some point that magic runs out no matter how rich & famous the old man is. Just ask Hugh Hefner. There came a time when it was no longer cool to worship at Hef’s feet in the grotto at the Playboy mansion…it evolved into being kind of sad & gross. Donald Trump is many things but stupid isn’t one of them. He is perfectly aware that Melania is better than anything he has a right to expect at this point. Everything else is meaningless talk. Classless?? Immature?? Offensive?? Okay, I’ll give you that. But don’t feed me a line of bull equating what he refers to as “locker room talk” with sexual assault or rape. It’s a false equivalency, more of the histrionic hyperbole thatbible11350 has become a defining liberal characteristic. And don’t believe any man who says that he has never engaged in such conversation because that is a flat out lie. Some may do it more, some less…but at one time or another every red-blooded American straight male has made lewd & lascivious comments about the fairer sex. You might not like it but that’s the truth. When pondering Donald Trump I can’t help but think of Israel’s King David, an adulterer & murderer that nevertheless was a man after God’s heart. I won’t pretend to know what is in Mr. Trump’s heart, but I do know that The Bible is full of far worse people who God found a way to use for His purposes.

 

map-crimeThe aftermath of the election has been concurrently fascinating & disheartening. If you look at the electoral map it immediately becomes obvious that the only reason the results were even remotely close is because Mrs. Clinton predictably won in large cities like New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia, & Chicago, as well as the biggest part of California. Funnily enough if you look at a map of high crime areas in America it almost overlaps exactly with the electoral map, meaning the Democrats have the amoral thug demographic all sewn up. Of course most of us already understood that, and it has been proven by pathetic attempts at “protesting” by whiny assclowns upset at the result. Yet I’M deplorable?? Social media isn’t any better, with all kinds of negative reaction ranging from sadness, heartbreak, & disbelief to righteous indignation, anger, & calls for assassination (and by the way…those idiots need to be prosecuted). I have been particularly perplexed by those exhibiting some level of fear. Really?? What exactly are people afraid of?? If you’ve done nothing wrong there is no cause for concern. So you’re a Muslim. Okay…as long as you aren’t involved with ISIS or any other terror activity (a 50/50 proposition at best) you’ll be fine. Women?? Don’t worry…you’re still going to be allowed to murder babies at will for the foreseeable future. Roe v. Wade has endured Presidents & Congresses of both parties for over four decades. No matter how one may personally feel about the issue the fact is that the law isn’t going away anytime soon. Immigrants?? Well, as long as you are here legally there is no listencause for concern. If you are here illegally I’m not sure what to tell you…maybe you should worry, but don’t look for much sympathy. The “LGBT community”?? This one is especially perplexing. Donald Trump expressed tremendous respect for such individuals during the campaign. He even said that he thought everyone should be able to use whichever bathroom they want. He has conveyed no ambition to reverse laws legalizing same sex marriage. At one point I even thought his opinions on these issues might cost him the nomination. So what exactly are gay folks afraid of?? I suspect you’ll have no better friend in Washington DC than Donald Trump.

 

cyrusMuch of this melodrama has been promoted & perpetrated by actors, singers, & athletes who are under the mistaken impression that we give a damn what they think. Let’s be clear about one thing in case anyone hasn’t figured it out yet…just because a person is exceptionally talented at singing, acting, or playing with balls does NOT make them an intelligent person whose sociopolitical opinions actually matter, and a huge takeaway from this election is that the views of such people are NOT representative of the vast majority of America. Do celebrity types have a right to an opinion?? Of course. But I think it’s really ironic that conservatives & Christians are constantly accused of shoving our beliefs down others’ throats while the rich & famous get a free pass on using the bully pulpit of fame to propagate a false notion that their dogma of deviance is normal. This election was not only a rejection of President Obama’s “hope & change” and “fundamental transformation” of America, it was a huge flip of the bird to Rosie O’Donnell, Michael Moore, Cher, Amy Schumer, Stephen Colbert, Chelsea Handler, Barbara Streisand, Madonna, George Lopez, et al. Before the election my friend Slack, the rare raging liberal that I can actually deniro2tolerate, posted a thoughtful Facebook status about the lifelong friendship between actors Jimmy Stewart, a diehard Republican, and Henry Fonda, a staunch Democrat. The problem with that comparison is that Hollywood lacks the elegance today that it had back when those gentlemen graced the silver screen. Perhaps that perception of old Hollywood was all smoke & mirrors, and it is undeniable that 24/7/365 television coverage as well as The Internet exposes & magnifies people beyond the boundaries of their profession, but when one sees actors preach the virtue of gun control then star in movies full of violence, or singers criticize Mr. Trump for demeaning women then get up on a concert stage half naked and demean themselves…well, it’s really difficult to take anything they say seriously. Voters tend to frown on hypocrisy.

 

If Democrats want someone to blame for this crushing defeat they need to look no further than the nearest mirror. To be fair the cult of mirrorpersonality worked out well for them the last two elections. Barack Obama was elected twice mostly because of the color of his skin. Liberals decided that it was time for America to elect our first black President and luckily Obama is charismatic and can deliver a hell of a speech (as long as his teleprompter is functioning properly), which was a marked improvement over Jesse Jackson back in the 80’s, and so the young Senator from Illinois was anointed. They believed that same thought process would allow Hillary Clinton to shatter the vaunted glass ceiling and become America’s first female President, but a funny thing happened on the way to the White House. First of all, Clinton lacks the magnetism possessed by both her husband Slick Willie and Obama. She is about as appealing as Kathy Bates in Misery. Secondly, while Obama’s negligible track record concerned some people eight years ago it also meant that he had few skeletons in his closet and the ones he did have weren’t pounced on by anyone lest they be labeled as racist. Conversely, Mrs. Clinton has been in the public eye for decades…First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State. She tried to hide her history of lies & deceit, and Lord knows the media did its best to give her cover, but the pungent stench of corruption made her an undesirable candidate. Plus, it turns out that she received millions less votes from black folks than Obama, which proves that race is more meaningful than ideology to a big chunk of the electorate…just not the ones you’d assume if you buy into the media’s false portrayal of Republicans as racists.

 

cnnAhhhhh yes…the media. Mrs. Clinton probably needs to assign part of the blame for her demise to her friends at many of the major newspapers as well as most of the talking heads on broadcast & cable news. They’ve always exhibited left wing bias, but it used to be so subtle that one really had to pay attention to catch it. Now?? Heck, Helen Keller could’ve felt the prejudice shown in this election cycle. These people pulled off the impossible…they made Donald Trump an underdog for whom people were feeling sympathy!! That’s quite the parlor trick. Their once understated leftist slant has evolved into outright lying & subterfuge, but since the rise of “new media” like conservative talk radio & The Internet they no longer have free rein. The truth…if I may borrow a phrase…is out there for anyone willing to seek it, and the result is a significant paradigm shift. Oh sure there will always be willful ignorance…people whose sole focus is their kids’ soccer game, where they can score their next fix of booze & nicotine, or who received roses on The Bachelor last night. But when elections are decided by razor thin margins the role of the media definitely has an impact, and in 2016 many folks had enough of the dishonesty exhibited on TV & in the papers.

 

So now we look forward to the next four years of the Trump Administration. I scoff at those who act like this is The End. Personally I have constrather modest expectations. I suspect he will surround himself with tremendously smart & capable people. He has already backpedaled on getting rid of ObamaCare, which I find intriguing. How has a law that has only been in effect a couple of years become so indispensable that many believe it’d be nearly impossible to repeal?? Abortion & gay marriage aren’t going away, but then again neither is the right to keep & bear arms. We know that the new President already has a Supreme Court appointment to make, and with a Republican majority in both the House & Senate one can be hopeful that the nominee will be a right-leaning jurist who respects The Constitution. Trump may even get an opportunity to make a few more Court appointments in the next 4-8 years. He is undeniably unproven in the area of foreign policy, so who he chooses for his cabinet and as advisors will be very important. Obviously he doesn’t come across as a particularly spiritual man, but I do hope that the issue of religious freedom is addressed. Where Trump will either earn his keep or insure a one term presidency is economics & job growth. It is likely that he will approach things in a completely different manner than your typical bureaucrat. Will that be a good thing?? We’ll see.

 

relaxLook, all I am saying is calm down…it’s going to be alright. I am cautiously optimistic. You can be upset that your candidate didn’t win. You can ridicule a President-elect whose politically incorrect pomposity has caused eyebrows to raise. But if you are shaking in fear or rioting in the streets you really need to grow up & seek professional help. Or better yet, how about paying attention and seeking the truth rather than giving any credence to what a bunch of vile, out-of-touch celebrities think. It’s a new dawn…a new day…and we should all be feeling…okay.

Rules of Adulthood

thinkAn old schoolmate of mine recently posted an article about rules of adulthood that everyone needs to know. It was specifically targeted toward men, but in looking over the list I think it contains a lot of good advice for everyone. So I thought it might be fun to review each item here and add my own pithy comments. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t understand something, ask before it’s too late.

No one wants to look stupid, but it’s okay not to know everything. There is nothing wrong with getting clarification on something or asking for guidance. It’s far wiser to honestly say “I don’t know” instead of faking your way thru something until you get caught…and you WILL get caught.

 

Quit multi-tasking.

Ehhh…I’m not sure about that. I mean I get it. Sometimes we need to focus on something exclusively and get it done. “Busyness” is a social mtaskconvention designed to make people look more important than they are. But sometimes it is necessary to multitask.

 

Be less judgmental.

I’m mostly on board, although it is occasionally necessary to call people out on their BS.

 

Staying angry or holding a grudge is almost always a waste of energy.

Thankfully I’ve always been like my father – unable to remain angry with anyone for long. Except the Atlanta Braves & New England Patriots. I still hate those bastards.

 

Eat better, exercise regularly, sleep more.

I’d be so much better off if I’d follow that advice. Most of us probably would.sleep3

 

Go outside every day.

Sadly I don’t do that. Especially in the winter I tend to hibernate as much as possible because I do NOT like cold & snow. I’m pretty sure I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. But even in warmer autumn-park-sunshine-1600x1200weather I too often stay holed up in The Bachelor Palace reading a book & hanging out with Rocco. It’s not that I’m antisocial, it’s just that stupid people annoy me.

 

Use your minutes mindfully. The average male gets 37,843,200 total minutes in his lifetime. Do you really want to spend them on Snapchat?

I’ve never been on Snapchat, but we could all probably stand to make better use of time. On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that chillin’ out and enjoying some frivolous fun is wrong. Perhaps those than enjoy Snapchat or whatever else don’t consider it a waste of time at all.

 

Deal with uncomfortable situations sooner rather than later.

Easier said than done, but great advice. Face things. You’ll feel better afterward.

 

Your home is your castle. Keep your castle clean.

I’m not going to tell you that my humble abode would pass a white glove test 365 days a year, but in comparison to some homes I’ve been in I feel cleanpretty good about my place. Some people live like pigs. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” isn’t in the Bible, but it’s a good maxim to adhere to.

 

It’s okay to go to dinner or the movies by yourself.

YES!! I’m single. I spend a lot of time alone and I’m perfectly okay with that. There’s nothing wrong with spending time with yourself. Hey, you dinnernever know when you might get an opportunity to flirt with a cute waitress.

 

If it takes two minutes or less do it now.

I’m a procrastinator. I’ve been meaning to do something about that for years.

 

Pick up a book every once in a while.

Well, as my friend The Owl might say, I live in a freakin’ library. I love to read, although I do too often get sidetracked by other things.read

 

Learn to give thoughtful gifts.

I can’t pinpoint an exact moment in time, but at some point in my life I began to enjoy watching other people open their Christmas gifts more than I like opening my own. It really is better to give than receive, and the thought really does count. People can usually tell if you actually put some serious contemplation into what you bought them or if you just picked up something cheap at the last minute, and they WILL appreciate the former much more than the latter.

 

Set goals. Write them down. Track your progress. Adjust accordingly.

Fantastic advice in theory, but I’m not sure how many people really do it in real life.

 

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Build beneficial habits.

Good habits > Bad habits

 

Everything you do makes an impression.

You never know who is watching.

 

Gratitude is a powerful response to most situations in life.

Gratitude is learned. Sometimes you have to experience valleys to really appreciate the good things.gratitude

 

Don’t aim for perfection at the expense of beginning. You’ll never complete a novel if you’re afraid to write the first word.

Ain’t that the truth!! The longest journey begins with the first step.

 

Don’t expect closure. It’s an added bonus.

There’s a great episode of The Big Bang Theory where Amy Farrah Fowler calls Sheldon Cooper out on his obsessive need for closure. However, the fact is that we don’t always get it. Sometimes we are left wondering. Deal with it and move on.

 

Know at least one good joke.

Or several. Having a good sense of humor is a fantastic trait.party

 

Pick up the tab when it’s your turn.

Don’t be a cheapskate. No one likes a cheapskate.

 

Take more chances.

A wise man once told me that a ship is safest in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. Sadly this is advice that I have not followed in my out-on-a-limb1life. I have been too scared to really venture out on a limb, and to some degree it has ruined my life.

 

Put your phone away. Be present in your conversations (and everything else you do).

Technology rocks, but I do think it can have a negative effect on how we interact with people. Perhaps it’s a Pandora’s Box and we’ll never be as good as we once were at interpersonal relationships.

 

Maintain and cherish your friendships. Good ones are harder to come by the older you get.

My father has always told me that if you can hold up one finger and say you have that many TRUE friends you are a very blessed. I’m glad to say bowlthat I think I have a few, and I do appreciate them very much.

 

Be nice for no reason.

Yep. It’s a lot more fun being nice when you possibly can.

 

Living in the moment and planning for the future are not mutually exclusive.

Truth. Both are important.

 

Know when to leave.

It’s an art form.guy-waving-bye-md

 

Wear the right amount of cologne.

A little goes along way, assuming you are using a good fragrance. Don’t be cheap, but neither do you need to spend hundreds of colognedollars.

 

Don’t take credit for work you didn’t do.

It’s called honor & integrity. Extremely important.

 

Don’t fight or break up via email, text, or social media.

Do people really do that?? Really?? How rude!!

Talk to people who are different from you.

Hey, you might actually meet some cool people and learn a few things. It’s a win/win.different

 

You can never change another person, only support them when they’re ready to change themselves.

YES!! This includes changing their minds. Don’t beat your head against a brick wall. Just do your thing and lead by example. They’ll figure it out…or they won’t.

 

It’s ok to ask for directions.

Or you could waste valuable time going in circles. Your call. GPS makes things so much easier.directions

 

If you never fail, you’re not trying hard enough or taking big enough risks.

Take a chance. Roll the dice. You’ll crash & burn sometimes, but even then you’ll learn something.

 

Measure yourself only against the person you used to be.

My father says that if you are a better person today than you were yesterday, and improve tomorrow over today, then you’ve done well. We spend too much time comparing ourselves to neighbors, family members, old classmates, & idiotic celebrities. Just stop. Who the hell are these people that think the Kardashians are role models?? That’s….I don’t even know. I have no words.

 

Give every job your all, even if you think it’s insignificant. There’s no point in doing something if you won’t do it well.

Do it for your own self-respect. Do it for The Lord.

 

Restock the fridge and household supplies before they run out.

I love shopping. I hate running out of milk & trash bags. Go to the store. Just do it.grocery

 

Refuse to let your imagination die.

Imagination rocks!! Never let go of childlike wonder. We get too caught up in the foolishness & antagonism of the world, and imaginationsometimes it is unavoidable…but avoid it as much as possible. Read a book. Play an instrument. Watch a movie. Spend time with your kids. Learn to cook or paint. Have some fun.

 

You are who you hang out with. Surround yourself with people who inspire you and help you grow.

You’ve heard that old saying “you are what you eat”, right?? Same thing. You can’t hang out with hoodlums, jerks, & morons and expect to be successful or happy. Have you ever noticed that when someone gets in trouble inevitably someone will say that they “got in with the wrong crowd”?? I’m all for personal responsibility, but there is a lot of truth in the idea that others can drag a person down.

Appreciate your family and friends. There’s no telling how much time you have left with them.

This especially true with parents & grandparents. I’m 44 years old and all my grandparents are gone. I lost my mother when I was 27. I’d give gpanything to have some more time with them. Life is short.

 

Strive for balance in all that you do…work & play, activity & relaxation, significant others & friends, etc.

Balance is good. All work & no play makes one very dull, right?? And all play with no work can make one lazy and possibly homeless.

 

Celebrate every success, even (and especially) the small ones.

But don’t get too carried away. Make those celebrations special.

 

Enjoy the company of old people. They have stories to share and lessons to teach.

Talk to old people…they’re pretty cool. Video them. Take pictures. Make memories. You’ll be glad you did someday.oldpeople

 

Admit when you’re wrong.

‘Tis a hard lesson to learn, but if you’re the kind of person that can never admit when you are wrong people WILL notice and they’ll think less of you.

 

Forgive yourself for your mistakes. Dwelling doesn’t make them better, and they’re almost never as bad as you think they are.

Newsflash: You’re not perfect. No, really…you aren’t. Don’t worry, neither am I or anyone else. It’s alright…you’ll live.

 

Be kind to everyone.

Pretty much the same as being nice, but worth mentioning twice.

 

Be especially kind to bartenders, baristas, taxi drivers, janitors, & anyone else who is often looked over.

They are often viewed as “the little people”. However, just because someone isn’t wearing a suit and doesn’t earn a six figure salary doesn’t janitor2mean you shouldn’t treat them with kindness. They work hard for the money…so hard for it honey…so you better treat them right.

 

The more you talk about yourself the less great you seem.

If you’re really awesome people will figure it out just by you being you. Don’t try so hard.

 

If you give your word keep it.

Your word is your bond. Honor. Integrity. Remember those??

 

Know your way around a kitchen.

FYI…women think guys that can cook are sexy. And ladies, we know it’s not the old days anymore. We don’t expect you to stay in the kitchen couple-sharing-time-togetherbarefoot & pregnant. But we do enjoy a nice home cooked meal. Hey, here’s an idea…everybody learn to cook and you can enjoy doing it together.

 

Work hard, but don’t let work become your sole purpose for living.

Most people have to work for a living. However, don’t let your job take over your life. Do your best, then go home and live a little.

 

Do what you naturally love to do rather than what you think you should enjoy doing.

This is especially important on the job. Don’t choose a career based on the money you can make then be miserable for 50 years. Too many people hate their lives because they’ve been cornered into doing what they have to do to put food on the table. It’s the survival instinct. Figure out what you’re passionate about before it’s too late.

 

In general, steer clear of shoulds as much as possible. Live the life that’s true to you, not the one you think is expected of you by others.

Screw societal expectations!! And don’t let your parents or anyone else guide you down a path that YOU wouldn’t choose. It’s your life…no one else’s.

 

Never use the excuse that it’s too late to change.

Ehhhh…I’m not sure I buy the ol’ “it’s never too late” thing. Sometimes it is in fact too late. You can’t hop in a time machine and change poor decisions of the past. Most people that say they have no regrets are lying. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy the rest of your life. Move forward. Make new choices. Make better decisions. Learn from your mistakes.

 

You’ll be a lot happier if you stop convincing yourself that happiness will come when you finally get this job or that car. Find joy in what and who you have now.

Enjoy simple pleasures. They’re all around you every day.joy

 

Let the cheers speak louder than the boos. Focus on your supporters, not your detractors.

Another Newsflash: Not everyone is going to like you. It’s okay. There are plenty of people who do. Unless you’re a complete tool. Then it might be time to look in the mirror.

 

No one notices your imperfections as much as you do.

Truth. Most people are harder on themselves than anyone else is on them. Except narcissists. They think they rock.

 

If you have something nice to say, say it. There are far too few compliments and “thank yous” in the world.

Always say “please” and “thank you”. Show some class.hug2

 

Keep your legacy in mind. Know the man you want to be remembered as and aim to be him every day.

I’ve really been pondering legacy the last couple of years, especially since my old friend Rob passed away awhile back. Everyone leaves a legacy. For most people it’s not going to be fame or fortune. But if you are a good person who does good things and treats people well there will be stories told about you when you’re gone. Good stories. And that’s pretty cool.

Passion Diminished

The word passion is derived from the Latin passio and the Greek pathema, both of which mean suffering or enduring. Today this meaning is most closely associated with what Jesus Christ went thru in the last hours of His earthly life.

 

Modern usage of the word passion is more commonly connected to other definitions… ardent affection, a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept, and of course sexual desire. It is the first two definitions that have been on my mind lately, especially as they are connected to the Latin & Greek terminology.

 

ponderThe question that I have been pondering is this: Is anyone truly passionate about anything anymore?? It seems to me that most of us have subjects that pique our interest, activities that we enjoy, & stuff that we get involved in for one reason or another…but are we really passionate about any of it?? Nelson Mandela once said that “there is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”, yet that is exactly what most of us do…we play small and settle.

 

This train of thought began, in part, with a conversation I had with The Owl. We were lamenting the lostbowl art of customer service. We are both old enough (especially him) to remember the days when one could go into a clothing, music, shoe, electronics, or any other kind of store and find genuinely helpful salespeople, the kind of folks who had been doing the gig for a long time and really knew their stuff. They were passionate about their work and cared about doing it the right way. Oh sure they wanted to make a sale and earn extra cash, but it seemed to be understood that the two things weren’t mutually exclusive. As a matter of fact, back then it felt like everyone knew that being honest, respectful, knowledgeable, & diligent is what would clinch the sale. I am sure that kind of service is available today, but it is certainly rarer than it used to be. Such jobs are looked down upon now. They are viewed as stepping stones to something better. Few employees are passionate about the products they produce/sell or the companies for which they work. It’s just a job, a necessary evil to be able to pay bills & put food on the table.

 

bbeeBut this lack of passion isn’t just reserved for the 40 hours/week that we are on the job. It permeates almost every aspect of our lives. We are overwhelmed by sensory overload. There are so many choices at our fingertips that we go from one thing to another, like a bumblebee gathering nectar & pollen, darting from flower to flower, never staying in one place or focused on one thing for too long. We are always in a hurry and have such a diminished attention span that we don’t take time to embrace excellence or let our passion ripen. We have developed faster & cheaper ways to do just about everything, but quality suffers because craftsmanship has become all too uncommon.

 

passionWatch a ball game. Go to a concert. Check out a museum. Read a book. Go see a theater production. What do all of those things have in common?? Passion. Excellence. Hard work. Effort. One doesn’t make it to the NFL or NBA, get a book published, become part of an orchestra, or star in a play, movie, or television show without all of those things. Certainly natural talent plays a part, but the finished products that you & I enjoy are the result of a lot of blood, sweat, & tears and countless hours of training & preparation. Yet the people that do those things at a high level make up a fractional percentage of the population. Most of the rest of us just try to get thru our day with as little stress as possible and without putting forth any more effort than necessary. And when we are forced to work hard we usually don’t feel good about it because we really don’t enjoy what we are doing. We feel obligated to serve on the committee. Parents feel like they have to involve their kids in every extracurricular activity available. Folks begrudgingly volunteer for the hot dog sale, book drive, or brainstorming meeting. We show up because we like the people and believe in the organization & its mission, but also because we’ve been taught that it’s the right thing to do, we don’t want anyone to dislike or be disappointed in us, and simply because we don’t know how to say no even when that is exactly what we would prefer to do. I’m not saying these are horrible reasons to be involved in something or that anyone has bad apathyintentions. I am only suggesting that those reasons/excuses don’t mean a person is passionate about their involvement and in the long run it shows. Most everyone has a job and atleast one hobby…but in my experience few people nowadays have a true passion. On the rare occasion that those things intersect it is obvious and the outcome is beautiful. Harriet Tubman observed that “every great dream begins with a dreamer”. Perhaps that is part of the issue. We have become far too pragmatic. We play it safe. We don’t take chances. To call someone a dreamer is at best dismissive and possibly even an insult.

 

lukewarmSadly this issue infiltrates our churches and the spiritual realm. Sunday mornings are oftentimes just a social outing where we get to drink coffee and hang out with friends. That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with good coffee or great fellowship, but how can we say we have a relationship with a God & Savior that we only interact with a couple of hours per week and even that time lacks passion?? The meme you are seeing on the left is something that I ran across a few weeks ago and it’s been gnawing at me ever since. Those words are probably responsible for this discourse as much or more than my conversation with The Owl. None of us want to spend eternity in Hell so we seek salvation, but salvation should be as much about living our earthly lives in relationship with God as it is spending eternity with Him. We rob ourselves of years of joy by continuing to wallow in sin and paying lip service to God, playing “church” on Sunday but doing whatever feels good or seems cool & hip the other 6 ½ days of the week. God tells us in Revelation that “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” The third chapter of 2 Timothy talks about “having a form of godliness but denying its power”, which I believe is a perfect definition of religion in America.

 

Part of the reason why we lack devotion is because we prefer to avoid suffering, thus the two meanings of passion concurrently toe-in-the-wateroverlap and diverge. Not only do we not have the dedication to put in the work required to attain excellence, we are uncomfortable with the idea of suffering, whatever that may entail. It is much easier to just dip our toe in the water than to dive in and fully immerse ourselves.

 

I do not say these things to pass judgement. I am as guilty as anyone for lacking passion in my life. Neither do I offer solutions because a) I’m not that smart and b) I’m not sure there is one pithy, one-size-fits-all answer for everyone. These are just things that I have observed, and the first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one.

The Undeniable Appeal of Donald Trump – Part Deux

I was wrong.

 

Head-ScratcherExactly one year…to the day…that I wrote “Have no fear Trump haters…he won’t be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Republicans will choose someone much safer & more prosaic. Your nightmare will be over soon enough” Donald J. Trump officially received the Republican nomination.

 

Wait!! There’s more!!

 

In that presentation a year ago I also said that “Trump’s lack of finesse and bull-in-a-china shop mentality is unlikely to inspire Facepalm computermuch confidence and negatively impacts his viability as a contender” and “since it is doubtful that he will get the nomination the more likely scenario is that, at some point, he bows out and goes back to doing whatever he was doing before with barely a scratch to anything, especially his ego & his bank account”. My career as a political pundit looks to be on the brink of collapse, although, to be fair, I still have as much credibility as just about anyone at MSNBC or CNN.

 

I completely underestimated the anger & anxiety of the American people. I misjudged their resolve to venture outside the box and really challenge the status quo. I didn’t give enough credit to Mr. Trump’s determination or his political prowess. I applied the normal rules to a game that…atleast in this instance…has totally changed.

 

trump3So now here we are. It’s Trump vs. Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. For me it’s kind of like a baseball game featuring the Cubs vs. the Cardinals or a football game pitting Virginia Tech against Florida State. My team isn’t directly involved, but the outcome has consequences, therefore I am concurrently disinterested yet have to pay attention. I haven’t watched hardly any of the Republican National Convention. I am aware of the kerfuffle about Mrs. Trump’s speech and won’t attempt to defend it. Sure others have cribbed from peoples’ speeches before…it seems to be surprisingly common…but the fact is that Melania Trump should have never been put in that position in the first place. We vote for candidates, not their spouses, children, or any other family members. We all know that most public figures have speechwriters, and the people involved in writing for Mrs. Trump were lazy & careless. That being said the issue shouldn’t…and probably won’t…matter to anyone with an ounce of common sense. I also went back and watched the Ted Cruz speech that has been the subject of much vitriol. Personally I don’t see the big deal. He hillarycongratulated Trump for winning the nomination. He urged voters to participate in the process and vote for candidates who will uphold The Constitution, and we all know that ISN’T Hillary Clinton. Lest we forget, Donald Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and insinuated that his father may have been involved in the JFK assassination. Senator Cruz appears to be a bit angry about that, and who could blame him?? Atleast he showed up at the convention, which is more than can be said for John Kasich, Jeb Bush, & a bunch of other GOP old schoolers.

 

aflagAs for Trump himself, his most appealing quality is that he is not Hillary Clinton. My friend Slack has been invited to be a guest blogger here at The Manofesto, and if my intel is correct he will be explaining why the prospect of a Trump presidency scares the bejeesus out of him and why he thinks Clinton is the better choice. You probably won’t be shocked to know that I see things completely different. I don’t like everything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth, and I am pretty sure that some of his views on social issues don’t jive with my own. However I do believe three things about Mr. Trump: a) he is knowledgeable about business practices & job creation, b) he will surround himself with a top Constitution 001flight team of experts on every subject and allow them enough autonomy to make good decisions, & c) the social issues he & I may disagree about are way down on his priority list…maybe not even on his priority list. Unlike our current President I don’t think Trump is on a mission to “fundamentally transform” an America that he loathes on some primordial level. My vibe is that Trump simply thinks we can do better and truly believes he can help.

 

gavelFor me this election comes down to one very important topic…The Supreme Court. The next President will likely be tasked with nominating up to 3 or 4 new justices given the advanced age of some of the current occupants of those seats. I do not want that kind of power in the hands of Hillary Clinton. I don’t trust her. I don’t trust her judgment. A Supreme Court molded by that woman might very well be the death knell for the United States that we all know & love. Barack Obama has given The Constitution a rather fierce thrashing the past several years, but a Clinton-shaped Court would negatively restructure the country for the next couple of generations…perhaps forever. I am willing to take a leap of faith that Mr. Trump would be far more reasonable in his selections and be given a nudge in the right direction by his advisers to choose justices that have a robust admiration for The Constitution instead of trying to ignore or even altogether rewrite the document. Is it a gamble?? Yes. Is it appropriate to reduce a Presidential election to one issue?? In this circumstance I believe it is.

 

I’m not usually a fan of the “lesser-of-two-evils” narrative. I’d like to think that we could do better. I probably have an overly whromantic view of history, putting men like George Washington, John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, & John F. Kennedy on a pedestal they may not completely deserve. I wish that we had the choice of a highly respected statesman whose wisdom was undisputable and integrity above reproach, but my grandmother used to say wish in one hand and…do something else…in the other and see which one gets filled first. The bottom line is this – in January of next year a new person will be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. That person will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. I think the choice is obvious. Your mileage may vary.

Thou Shalt: A Brief Refresher

bowlIt isn’t unusual for my friend The Owl & I to engage in thoughtful & lengthy discussions about sociopolitical issues and/or religion. That’s just how we roll. Recently the subject matter was The Ten Commandments, and we were both dismayed when we could only come up with eight off the cuff. Like many others we fancy ourselves to be men of faith but too often come up short, falling prey to the frustrations & distractions of the world. However, unlike (sadly) too many we are unhappy with that inadequacy and seek a meaningful relationship with Jesus. It isn’t enough to pay lip service to The Almighty, lazily go thru the motions for a couple of hours on Sunday morning while sinning freely 6 ½ days/week, & use an old dusty Bible for a paper weight. So if we are going to try to emulate Christ and live the life God desires for us to live it would seem fairly essential to know what the His Word says. I understand that rote memorization of Scripture isn’t necessarily a hallmark of genuine faith, but shouldn’t broad familiarity/knowledge/awareness of what’s inside that dusty Bible be important not so that we can impress anyone with knowledge but rather so that we can have that aforementioned meaningful relationship?? Ponder your friends, family, and significant other. You know them, right?? You know what they think, believe, & deem important in life. You know their birthday, where they grew up, what colors they like, what they studied in school, which sports teams they root for, what their favorite foods are, & what kind of TV, books, movies, or music they enjoy. That’s all part of a relationship. If you want a relationship with God it might be a good idea to learn His ways. To that end let’s talk about those Ten Commandments.

 

First of all, it should be noted that these commandments (also called The Decalogue by some) can be found in two places in the Bible: Exodus 20:1–17 and Glasses on Open BibleDeuteronomy 5:4–21. They were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, inscribed on two stone tablets. When Moses came down from the mountain after 40 days & nights he saw his people partying like it was 1999 (BC obviously), so he got ticked off and broke the tablets. No worries though…God wrote him a new copy because God’s an awesome Dude.

 

10Unlike the ceremonial and sacrificial laws of the Old Testament these commandments are still applicable. These commandments represent God’s eternal standard of right vs. wrong. They represent vital obligations to society. They represent behavioral benchmarks. We have volumes of verbose laws at all levels these days, governing everything from taxes to intake of food & beverages to how much noise we’re allowed to make in the neighborhood late at night, and I would never suggest that all of those laws are irrelevant. However I believe that many of the problems we face on a daily basis could be considerably minimized if we’d just adhere to the foundation laid out by God. What follows is by no means meant to be a comprehensive, in-depth examination of The Ten Commandments. It is simply a little reminder of what they are, what they mean, & why they’re so important. Let’s take a look:

 

 

 

1          I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.

It’s all about priorities. God wants to be THE priority in our lives. We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things…but…do we?? What are priority1“other gods”?? Nothing in all of Creation should be held up as a god – not the stars, sun, moon, planets, anything in Nature, nor any other spirit, statues, bones, relics, money, fame, sex, or any intellectual or philosophical concepts. I don’t think there are very many people out there melting down gold and making it into idols that they worship or pray to, but I know there are lots & lots for whom God is way down on the ol’ priority list. Jobs, family, entertainment, alcohol & drugs…we have no shortage of options to distract us. I’m not suggesting that anyone should ignore their family or that it’s not okay to have some good clean fun on occasion, but God needs to come first.

 

 

2          You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them nor serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.

Remember those golden idols I referred to?? Well, people actually used to do that sort of thing. I don’t know…maybe there are places where they still worshipdo. However, idolatry is a big no-no. A graven image is an idol carved from stone or wood, a material effigy that is worshipped…but let’s dig deeper. An idol can be anything we depend upon to meet needs of the heart like love, security, worth, or significance. When we seek to find identity & security in something besides God we have made it an idol. What are you addicted to?? What do you need to get thru the day?? What pursuits do you enjoy and why?? It could be something as simple and seemingly harmless as shopping or eating…or much more sinister things like gambling or pornography. Yet anything that you become a servant to and that pushes God down further on that priority list could be a culprit.

 

 

3          You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

It’s about respect. God’s name is holy. Using the power of His name without submitting to Him or having a trusting relationship with Him is wrong. mouthWe should never use God’s name to curse, deceive, or condemn anyone. Rather we should call upon Him in times trouble and use His holy name in prayer, praise, and giving thanks. Sadly…in large part due to flippant usage in modern entertainment…the perception of this particular commandment has become watered down and overlooked. I think there is an attitude of “If cussing is the worst thing a person does then they’re probably an okay person”. God just might disagree with that assessment.

 

 

4          Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son or daughter, your servants, your cattle, nor any stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

One word comes to mind…worship. It is God who supplies our needs, and if God rested after His labors why do we think we can outdo God?? When Isabbath was a kid we had something called blue laws, which basically meant that almost all businesses were closed on Sunday. That all started to change during my formative years, and now blue laws are mostly viewed as a quaint artifact of the past…but is that okay?? It is important that we consciously set aside one day each week for worshipful rest to remind ourselves to whom our time…our life…belongs. And no…spending a day off from your job running around like a headless chicken doesn’t count. That kind of day isn’t about God…it’s about you, your wants, your desires, your interests, & your ego. Refer back to the first two commandments.

 

 

5          Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

I’ve always been taught & believed wholeheartedly that nothing on Earth is more important than family. We need to recognize that someone else gave parentsus life and took care of us when weren’t capable of taking care of ourselves. Parents have been entrusted by God to be our guardians & teachers from the day we were born. We are to serve, love, & obey them and hold them in the highest esteem. I am well aware that some aren’t blessed with great parents and I’m not sure what to say about that except that it is likely that in that type of situation someone else…a grandparent, another relative, a neighbor, or some type of guardian…took care of you as a child. Honor that. The time comes for most of us when our parents are no longer around, and then there isn’t a day that goes by that they aren’t missed.

 

 

6          You shall not kill.

The Hebrew word ratsach means “to murder or slay”. It specifically refers to the premeditated murder of one person by another.  Sadly we don’t seem killto appreciate the sanctity of life as much these days as in previous generations. We are to cherish all life and recognize it as part of God’s Creation.

 

 

7          You shall not commit adultery.

There’s no way to have accurate statistics, but I’d be surprised if this isn’t the most broken commandment, the one that many people are far too marriagewilling to overlook & ignore. If it feels good do it, right?? We give lip service to the sanctity (aka holiness) of marriage, but genuine respect for that particular bond seems to be at an all-time low. Adultery is any sexual act committed by a married person outside of that marriage. We are not to do anything that would lead a person to break the sacred union of marriage, but unfortunately it is all too common. And I won’t even get started on fornication, which is a whole other ballgame.

 

 

8          You shall not steal.

Ownership is a sacred boundary. Stealing is dishonest & treacherous conduct that shows great disrespect and a lack of love toward fellow human thiefbeings. It disturbs societal stability and the results are feelings of fear, insecurity, & desire for revenge.

 

 

9          You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Lying and dishonesty pervert & corrupt hearts and are abominations to a God of truth. He wants us to learn to hate lying gossip& dishonesty and to love truth. We are not to deceitfully betray, slander, or defame our neighbors, but defend & speak well of them. A person’s reputation is an extension of themselves and we should not violate it for our own selfish gain. Integrity is not for oneself, but for the sake of others, so that they may live in security, knowing that we will treasure their reputation above our own.

 

 

10        You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, wife, servants, ox, donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Covet means to long for something that belongs to another person. And yes, the word neighbor means everybody…not just the few people that may covetlive beside of you or across the street. If we claim to be in relationship with God we must see people in the same way He does. Their lives are not ours to take for our purposes. In modern times we probably don’t covet anyone’s livestock, but we may be envious of their car, job, or general lifestyle. Yet the Bible emphasizes multiple times that we aren’t supposed to focus on worldly possessions. Look back up to those first couple of commandments. God wants to be the center of our lives, and if we’re too busy keeping up with the Joneses or loathing them because they have cool stuff that we can’t afford then we’re not living for Him.

 

Requiem for Orlando

I’ve never been to Florida. However, I do know that it contains the alleged Happiest Place on Earth…Disney World in Orlando. flLately though things have been decidedly unhappy in Orlando. Singer Christina Grimmie was shot to death at a meet & greet after a concert. I hadn’t previously heard of Ms. Grimmie because I don’t watch The Voice, but I must say she seems to have been amazingly talented and her murder is exceptionally tragic. At Disney World itself a toddler was mauled by an alligator, creatures that I understand are abundant in Florida though this type of incident is mercifully rare. I feel confident in speaking for The Manoverse by saying that we’re all praying for the child’s parents. I can’t even wrap my head around the immense heartbreak. And of course, as we all know by now, just 15 miles down the road from Disney at a night club called Pulse, the alleged deadliest mass shooting in United States history recently took place. It is this last situation about which I feel compelled to opine.

 

I have been making a concerted effort to dial back my sometimes overzealous passion, often resisting the urge to make even seemingly innocuous comments about divisive issues on social media and elsewhere. I try to atleast let a situation simmer and contemplate my thoughts before going off on some kind of ill-prepared emotional rant. And so I have delayed discourse on the Orlando tragedy until more information emerged and tempers (including my own) calmed a bit.

 

There is no need to recount the circumstances of what happened at Pulse. Unless one has been completely off the grid you are aware of the basic details. Approximately 50 people are dead and 50+ more were injured. However, a few things need to be said about the aftermath.

 

debateFirst of all, I am a bit perplexed by those who whine & complain about the situation being “politicized”. Let’s be real here folks…it is a mass shooting by a radical Muslim sympathizer in a gay nightclub. That’s a hot button trifecta, akin to an abortion in a black church performed by a white “transgender” person while smoking cigarettes and preaching about climate change. With 24/7 news channels & social media there is no way an event like this doesn’t become a topic of debate. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be sensitive to the victims & their families or lament the kinder, gentler America of our idyllic memories, but quarreling about these issues is kind of what we do now. It’s your choice whether or not to engage or even pay any attention to the noise at all, but don’t be overly naïve or idealistic.

 

Secondly…as if we didn’t already know this…our so-called leaders haven’t come off looking particularly impressive. President Obama can barely contain his contempt for the nation he is supposed to be leading. Donald Trump can’t say a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g without getting blasted with criticism from all sides because he has this way of ticking people off even when he might actually have an occasional valid point. Hilary Clinton & Bernie Sanders are cartoon characters at this stage. None of us were alive in the days of Washington, Adams, Lincoln, or Teddy Roosevelt, but I have to assume that the level of statesmanship & wisdom back then far exceeded what seems to be available to us now. Even George W. trump3Bush, who was & is unmercifully mocked, disparaged, & disrespected by many, united the nation all too briefly after 9/11. W. seems like the love child of Confucius, Gandhi, & Winston Churchill in comparison to the buffoons in charge nowadays. It saddens me that we can’t do better.

 

Predictably the outrage has resulted in demands for more gun control. Rolling Stone magazine has called for an outright repeal constof the 2nd Amendment. Noted assclown Piers Morgan exhibited his typical fury. Empty-headed celebrities have chimed in with idiotic statements on social media. I have had to limit my exposure because I have an upcoming doctor’s appointment and I don’t want him to increase my blood pressure meds.

 

Here are some points that are interesting to me:

  • When a white man shot a bunch of black folks in a South Carolina church a year ago the outrage resulted in a backlash against the Confederate battle flag, the disappearance of The Dukes of Hazzard repeats from television, & monuments honoring Confederate soldiers that have been dead for two centuries being destroyed. But now a Muslim has committed mass murder (again) and we are berated with the familiar “Islam is a peaceful religion” poppycock that is demonstrably false.
  • People really like to throw around the term “hate” in 21st century America. Their definition of hatred is anyone who disagrees with a lifestyle or sociopolitical viewpoint. Bible believing Christians don’t condone homosexuality and therefore choose not to participate in same sex marriages by making a cake, etc. Muslims too disagree with homosexuality. They kill gay people, as we witnessed in Orlando. See the difference??
  • When I was a kid in the mid-80’s the speed limit on the interstate was 55 mph. Now the speed limits are in the 65-75 mph range and the annual traffic accident death toll has risen accordingly. Approximately 700k abortions are performed each year in America. Hardly anyone is clamoring to lower the speed limit and there are those who fervently advocate for “a woman’s right to choose”, yet a shocking amount of people are willing to give up their Constitutional right to bear arms due to their anger over gun violence. The incongruity is mind boggling.
  • The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791. The AR-15, a weapon commonly demonized in gun control debates, went to market in the early 1960’s. Yet over half of the 30 deadliest mass shootings in the United States dating back to 1949 have occurred in the past decade. What has changed in these ten years?? Not the guns. Laws have only become more numerous & increasingly astringent. Perhaps we should look inward. Maybe it is the general mentality & mood of the populace that has become more unhinged. Might we consider addressing the source of the ailment instead of putting a patch on the symptoms??
  • Any alleged “Christian” who says that the “LGBT community” deserves what happened at Pulse doesn’t know what they’re talking about and they certainly don’t attend a church I’d want to visit.
  • The idea that The Founding Fathers perceived the right to bear arms as owning a musket and that somehow invalidates the concept is absurd. The framers of The Constitution were all too familiar with government oppression. The United States was founded on the radical concepts of liberty & democracy and the principles advocated within our foundational documents reflect that. It’s not about this gun vs. that gun. It is way bigger than anything so prosaic, and those who are encouraging the rise of tyranny and a decline in freedom completely miss the point and are falling into exactly the kind of trap the Founders were trying to avoid. Modern freedom of the press involves mass media that those gentlemen couldn’t have conceived of in their wildest dreams, but oddly enough I don’t hear anyone insisting on eliminating that particular amendment.
  • Obama can kvetch all he wants to about the folly of semantics, but the fact is that the Orlando shooter had pledged loyalty to ISIS and was said to be shouting “Allahu Akbar” as he was killing people. He may have also been a self-loathing gay man but I’m not sure what relevance that may have. It is also factual to say that multiple acts of horrific violence, including the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, The Beltway Sniper shootings in 2002, the London subway bombing in 2005, the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, and of course the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center & The Pentagon were all committed by Muslim terrorists. It may seem insignificant to some, but the people of the United States of America want…need…to hear their President acknowledge this instead of trying to do a soft sell about the so-called “religion of peace”. Why is Islam in general given a pass when an alleged lone wolf radical does something bad, but all gun owners have to pay for the sins of the few?? Surely the double standard is obvious.

 

contemplationLook, I don’t have the answers. I’m just a humble Potentate of Profundity living a quiet life in Appalachia. Nothing anyone says or does is going to bring those patrons of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL back from the dead or make the injured ones whole again. I understand the desire to “do something”. Aspiring to prevent similar catastrophes in the future is admirable. That being said, I am genuinely apprehensive about the capabilities of many currently in positions to affect change. I have little confidence in their capacity for prudent decision making. I sense that a well-meaning, fed up, fearful, & ill-informed public can be too easily led down the wrong path. America is faced with a real life Kobayashi Maru. Would it be cheating to reprogram our hearts & minds toward kindness, civility, & acknowledgement of true evil…or might it just be the only way to legitimately save countless lives??