Ble$$ed A$$urance

The joke's on who?

The joke’s on who?

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

When I was a kid my family was poor.  It wasn’t as though we were impoverished; we had everything we needed.  But it was clear that we couldn’t have everything the other kids had and that the things we needed came at a cost that caused my folks more stress than other kids’ folks.  I recall asking for many things as a kid, things I saw on the store-shelf, on the T.V., or things my friends had.  They were things that I felt I needed and the answer to the requests can be largely summed up with the phrase: “No, we don’t have enough money.”  As a result of that phrase I learned to have a disdain for my position in life.  I learned that my economic station was at fault for my lack of satisfaction.  This attitude has served well its purpose.  The pervasive belief that there are the “haves” and the “have-nots” and it is a noble thing to try and pass from the post of the have-nots to the glorious company of the haves, is the perfect ethos for a society built upon the premise that unfettered consumerism is the key to capitalist success.  So, I learned to have a hatred for poverty; not just my own–everyone who failed to measure up to the ideal was cannon fodder for my scorn.  All the while consumerism sat in the corner laughing at the wrestling match that ensued: me vs. the red herring.

This outlook followed me into young adulthood.  I graduated from High-School.  I got a job at a Landscaping outfit.  I got my own apartment.  I got married.  And thus started my own spin at life–my shot at the brass ring.  My wife and I both had jobs and, while we were not rich, we were nearly financially independent…provided our cars didn’t break down and we remained reasonably healthy.  I had enough money to put all the things within reach that I’d asked for as a kid.  Things like: candy, and soda, and the occasional record.  My wife, Kristy, can attest to the embarrassing “candy drawer” that I kept in our kitchen which was so full it presented us with a horrible ant problem one summer.  While little things like ant problems caused by an over-abundance of sweets gave me cause for embarrassment, they did not shake my belief that money was the road to happiness and happiness was marked by the assurance that I was becoming increasingly economically autonomous.  Blessed assurance.

So I put my head down and followed the rules and after a while I realized something.  The satisfaction that I sought wasn’t found in things.  I know…gasp…imagine!  This story is as old as time and, to that end, the responses are summed up by two different camps: the sympathetic-bored and the dubious-bored.  The sympathetic-bored nod with a sigh and say: “Yeah, life’s a bitch.”.  While the dubious-bored knowingly and despondently shake their heads and think: “Maybe you’re doing it wrong.”.  The response is never: let’s change the system.  It is never: let’s diffuse the control that stuff enjoys over us.

In my last post I included a quote from Noam Chomsky (one of my favorite thinkers and my very favorite anarchist) that dealt with the idea that a smart way to maintain control over a people, without disturbing their perceived freedom of expression, is to control the parameters around the expression.  If the stage is provided with the appropriate props then the conversation, though varied, will always be about those props.  The actors are satisfied with their freedom to create and the director is satisfied with his ability to control the creation.  Win. Win.  As long as I’ve been alive, and as far back as I am able to research, the debate over socio-economic ideology has been shaded by four colored pencils: Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism, and Communism.  The colors of those four pencils being: gray.  I’ve written before about my belief that there is no appreciable difference between Capitalism and Communism, and I believe that is true.  All four of these “isms” are separate fingers on the same fist the thumb of which is: control.  Humanity has long understood that the opposable thumb is the mechanism for control, it is useful for grasping rocks and sticks, spears and guns.  It is not particularly useful for grasping thoughts.

But that is beside the point.

My point is that all four of them are only debates about the best method where-by a society exploits resources and splits the spoils.  It is a debate, at its core, about the most justifiable way to divvy up power.

I’m grown up now…I have two little girls who ask for stuff and when they do my answer is exactly the same: “We don’t have enough money.” it is my knee-jerk response, as Pavlovian as any.  Or at least it was until the day my daughter LuLu responded with: “I can’t wait until we’re rich and we have enough money to buy anything we want.”.  It was like a punch in the gut.  I told her that I was sorry but she belongs to a family where that will never happen.  I told her that we believed money and resources were not tools for getting whatever we want.  I told her they were supposed to be used to help others.  I told her that no matter how much money we have our lives will be much the same as they are now.  She seemed disappointed, and I hate to see her disappointed.  But my job is to try and teach her wisdom.  I think I did that.

This isn’t a post about a utopian construct.  I am not naive.  It isn’t a post about my making a moral judgment about your life.  I’m a blogger.  It would be impossible for one to overestimate my level of self-absorption.  I do, however, think that those of us who enjoy a certain amount of wealth should give our motives a think.  If not for the poor, then at least for our own sanity.  Rash consumerism is not good for the human psyche.  As a Christian the thought of my motives should always be top of mind as I contemplate how my actions show that I indeed love God and people.  I struggle to reconcile the fact that similar families in similar circumstance would have some disparity between them that one would need $20,000 to be comfortable for a year and another $50,000 and another $90,000.  The numbers themselves are arbitrary, but the chasm between them causes me concern.  Is the extra $70,000 helping the family have a more joyful life?  Or is it being used to mindlessly fill the void?  It’s worth the time to determine if the blessings from above are given us to cling or kindle change…

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Mississippi is Burning ) Still

The Original Theocratic Gangsta...

Killing in the name of…

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”  –Noam Chomsky

Mississippi just ratified the 13th amendment.  You did not just wake up on the business end of a time-warp where-in society is 140 years-ish slow to the party but you still have internet access.  No, that explanation would make more sense than the fact that the great state of Mississippi just got around to ratifying one of our country’s most important amendments last month.  I imagine the scenario played itself out thusly:  One of Mississippi’s more progressive state legislators walks into a movie theater to watch the film Lincoln (we know he’s a progressive because he goes into the theater rather than standing out front protesting the film as a Zionist propaganda tirade–because, you know, Hollywood).  While in the throes of discovering an historical event that didn’t get a lot of press in his neck of the woods, he thinks to himself, “Why does it feel like I’ve forgotten to do something?  I turned off the stove, and unplugged the iron.  I set the alarm, and locked the door of my house before I left.  I put my credit-card and wallet away after buying popcorn and soda-pop” (I think they say soda-pop; I really don’t know).  “I said ‘Please and Thank You’ to the lady at the counte…Ah Shit!  I forgot to make slavery illegal!”.  Next thing you know an emergency meeting is called and when said progressive takes the floor to address his fellow legislators he begins with: “You guys are never going to believe what we forgot to do”.

This story got me thinking about how we as a society have defined the terms “polite society” and, inversely, “subversives” historically, how those definitions inform our attitudes about those terms today, and to what extent our views of these terms have done violence to our fellow person.  The fear of being seen as a “subversive” and the longing to be a part of “polite society” is not a uniquely American phenomenon.  History is rife with societies and the participants there-in choosing to treat their fellow citizens poorly because it was easier–because they feared the retribution of the majority.  Christianity has long called this fear “the fear of man”, and it is not known as being particularly virtuous.  At least, in word it isn’t.

There were three (3) types of Christians who observed the Crusades.  There were those who agreed with the status-quo.  There were those who were indifferent to the status-quo.  And there were those who fought against the status-quo.  Only one of those groups were viewed as subversives…

There were three (3) types of Christians in Hitler’s Germany.  There were those who agreed with the status-quo.  There were those who were indifferent to the status-quo.  And there were those who fought against the status-quo.  Only one of those groups were viewed as subversives…

There were three (3) types of Christians who endured the internment of Japanese-Americans during the 2nd World War.  There were those who agreed with the status-quo.  There were those who were indifferent to the status-quo.  And there were those who fought against the status-quo.  Only one of those groups were viewed as subversives…

There were three (3) types of Christians who witnessed the entirety of Imperialism.  There were those who agreed with the status-quo.  There were those who were indifferent to the status-quo.  And there were those who fought against the status-quo.  Only one of those groups were viewed as subversives…

There were three (3) types of Christians who observed the Civil Rights’ Movement.  There were those who agreed with the status-quo.  There were those who were indifferent to the status-quo.  And there were those who fought against the status-quo.  Only one of those groups were viewed as subversives…

The list of terrible things which Christians have been and continue to be involved, indifferent, or actively against is a long one.  And, of course, Christians are not the only people-group who have made poor decisions in the midst of the suffering of humankind.  Maybe one day I’ll write one about people involved with Judaism, or maybe folks devoted to Islam…CPAC 2013 just happened so YouTube is full of videos featuring crazy people decrying the evils of Islam, so I’m confident I’ve plenty of material from which to draw…Donald Trump was one of the speakers, so I’m confident it could be a funny post…we’ll see.

There were three (3) types of Christians who sat on the Mississippi legislature for the last 140 plus years.  Actually, there seems to have been only two (2).  None of them were viewed as subversives…

As an American Christian, it pains me to see my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ making choices that perpetuate the suffering of humanity because it aligns itself more comfortably with some type of traditional nationalist ideology.  I know that’s a vague statement that could cover any number of choices people make every day.  I want it to be vague.  If I point to a specific issue, the focus will be shifted to said issue exclusively.  Instead, I think it’s more important to think broadly about our responsibility for the treatment of people as charged by Christ when he said that we should love our neighbors.  “Who is our neighbor?”, came the question from the disciples.  The subtext then being: “Please, anyone but those filthy Samaritans.”  Nearly two-thousand years later, the subtext has changed but the sentiment has not.

I recently heard a lady tell a joke on Netflix’s original series, House of Cards.  A girl from Connecticut and a girl from Georgia were set to be room-mates in the same college and it came to pass that when the  girl from Georgia entered the dorm-room, the girl from Connecticut was already inside hanging drapes with her friends.  “Where y’all from?”, asked the girl from Georgia.  “We’re from a place where one doesn’t end her sentences with prepositions”, replied the girl from Connecticut.  “Where y’all from, cunts?”, came the girl from Georgia’s response.  I know; it’s a crass joke…

FAQ Pt. 1 Yoga and Coffee

Have you ever had a friend who was more photogenic than yourself...Pink Jesus is that friend to me...

Have you ever had a friend who was more photogenic than yourself…Pink Jesus is that friend to me…

“The key is to get to know people and trust them to be who they are. Instead, we trust people to be who we want them to be- and when they’re not, we cry.” –David Duchovny

As a dirt-bag blogger with an unpopular view of reality, and a penchant for epic goat-trailed rants one might think I spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hate e-mails and explaining myself in light of misunderstandings people have adopted about me based upon my inarticulate writing style.  One would be wrong.  People are actually quite nice to me.  I’m thankful for that.  And, seriously, an inarticulate writing style?  You’ve gone too far with that one amorphous-internet-commenting-beings trapped in my head.  There are quite a few questions that I get asked on a regular basis by blog-spammers from the comfort of their cubicles in exotic locales.  This post’s intention is to help clear up some of the confusion.

It’s really a nice and useful piece of information. I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.  Are you interested in more traffic to on your website?

Good question, Lit Parapluie; the answer is as complex as it is long.  No.  I’m not terribly interested in that.  I am quite pleased with my readers and look forward to the rate of growth to continue as I’ve experienced.  I have no use for SEO language.  I find it disingenuous.  Please leave me alone and lose 50lbs. in two weeks, following these three easy steps!

What does your morning regimen look like before you settle in and write?

Great question, I can only assume that this was not sent by a spammer.  Rather, this seems to be the question of a young hungry writer looking to climb the ladder to blogosphere mediocrity.  I’m always willing to help with this.  I think my morning starts out like most writers’;  I wake up, slam a pot of coffee, slip into my yoga outfit, and do an hour of hot-yoga in a closet next to my desk where I have an “As Seen on T.V.” Heat Dish plugged into an over-exerted wall outlet.  After that it’s off to the bathroom to make.  Generally, while in there, I hone my Sudoku skills.  Then I sort through all of the would-be distractions found on the internet…like e-mail, Facebook, twitter, and M.I.A. videos.  After the last M.I.A. video (usually Paper Planes, for the millionth and one time, if  I’m being honest…wink), I start to write using outlines that I’ve been working through.

Why does it take you so long to release new posts?

Did you not read the previous answer?  That much yoga and coffee is not a cocktail that encourages normal-sized poops.  I mean I’m in there for like one and a half Sudoku puzzles, or two hours in your time.  By the time I get through this regimen, I’m lucky to have time to eat a rack of lamb and peanut butter toast lunch and settle in for the People’s Court…I love Harvey Levin; he’s so snarky…but in a masculine way.  I get some writing done during commercial breaks, if I’m not too busy refilling my glass with Peppermint Schnapps and O.J. on the rocks…which is my favorite drink…It gives you the sensation of drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth.  All.  Day.  Long.

Who is your favorite Band, and what is your favorite dictator?

Great question!  My favorite band is, of course, The Beatles.  I would elaborate on that answer, but it’s self-explanatory, and any attempt to do so would be nothing more than a naked attempt at padding my word-count for this post, something to which I am morally opposed, that and run-on sentences.  And sentence fragments.  As for my favorite dictator, being an history buff there are many dictators for whom I’ve formed an affinity, but my favorite is probably, King Nebuchadnezzar because he wasn’t afraid to get crazy.  Either him or Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

What do you listen to while you are writing?

Oh, so many things.  I’m glad you asked this question!  It is possibly the most important part of my process.  There is a leaky faucet in the bathroom next to the room where-in I write.  So, as you can imagine, I listen to a lot of water dripping.  This is appropriate as it literally drowns out the voices in my head to which I also listen…but not if I can help it.  They generally try to interest me in setting various fires around town, or get to work on my “Enemies” list, because–as they say–“Enemies” lists don’t work on themselves…Hell, even Nixon knew that…or they sing “Fatty, Fatty, Two-by-Four” in disturbing off-key choir voices.  You know, the normal stuff.  It’s like the old adage goes, “You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick what the voices in your head are going to say next.”  So true.

Do you believe in “Absolute Truth”?

Wow!  Where did that come from?  Spammers!  I do believe that absolute truth is real.  I believe absolute truth is a lot like Bigfoot; more people claim to have encountered it than those who actually have.

Do you think Captain America was a card-carrying Communist?

No, but I do have my suspicions about the Hulk.  Well, actually, Dr. Banner (scientist, duh).  The Hulk is all-American.

If you could have dinner with three of your heroes, who would they be?

Well, Jesus Christ is an obvious choice we could talk about love and loss…what happened to Him after His ascension…who was most shocked by their misconceptions about God after having met Him face to face…plus, the added bonus, a blogger’s budget is not conducive to the purchase of much wine, but we can afford all the water we want…Next would be Gandhi, because more Lobster for me…and finally, I’d round that table out with the ghost on the box of Boo-Berry cereal, because I’ve oft times found myself wondering if he takes seriously his position as a role-model for today’s youth…my notion is: he totally does.

So, wow, great questions!  I hope that my answers were satisfactory.  Keep these questions coming…let’s do this again!  I had a great time and I think we all learned a little something today.  And I am of the opinion that learning things is a great antidote for not knowing stuff.  Are we going to save the world through this back and forth?  I’m not a betting man but, if I were, I’d play the lottery.  Send your questions to my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pats0