Churchill’s Dog

You using that leg?

You using that leg?

“That terrible mood of depression of whether it’s any good or not is what is known as The Artist’s Reward.” –Ernest Hemingway

Churchill’s “Black Dog” is sniffing around my leg again. He’s not hanging around to hump it or piss on it. He’s waiting for me to be done using it. Then, he’ll pick it dry and clear the bone of marrow. Who knows what next, but my liver is well preserved so–if he’s smart–he’ll go for the heart. It’s not getting any softer, dog.
In the past, I would’ve kept this a secret for a while. On account of my shame. I’d have driven myself crazy imagining people drawing a corollary, or even worse, the direct cause of my depression being my recent religious conversion to: godless heretical heathen, or–what I call: reasonable seeker (6 of one and all that rot). I spent the bulk of my thirties both worshiping the son of god and being profoundly depressed. I medicated with prayer, pills, and lots of sweet, sweet booze. Nothing worked. And maybe the cocktail was to blame. But I’ve neither the time nor patience for armchair shrinkery. I probably have the time. But: time sans patience is a cruel trick.
It’s been a while since the dog has tracked me so tenaciously. I’m still mourning the loss of Kauai in a strange way. I don’t harbor the delusion that I could get back what I had when last there. But I haven’t felt “at home” since I got back to The Evergreen State. We were squatting at a friend’s old house and now we are house-sitting for another friend until this spring upcoming. The house is beautiful and I’ve always felt comfortable here, but it’s weirdly unsettling. Like playing house–with hubris. I have a new job. I think I can say without fear of hyperbole: I fucking hate it. And mayhaps that’s the crux of it all. With one caveat, I fear leaving this job will give me no reason to get up…no goal to employ the “one foot in front of the other” trudgery which is a wickedly effective salve to the soul. I’m too close to chance it.
The job is as Sisyphean as any I’ve had. I run a front-end loader around a rock quarry, digging out of various piles of rock. I then take those scoops of rock up a hill and dump them into a feeder that services a rock crusher. I am literally pushing rocks up a hill. I will grant you: it isn’t the same rock over and over again. But in a freezing December down pour when the entire quarry turns slick and purple–like animal husbandry–it is impossible to distinguish one rock from the other. At least from where I sit.
Worse still, is the complete lack of imagination shared by almost every one of my colleagues. Good conversation is a welcomed oasis. But it is every bit as deep and engaging as a mirage. I am a pretentious asshole. I own that part without loss of sleep (usually). I whittle the hours of my life there listening to podcasts and engaging in tumultuous inner-dialogue.
I work really hard to not carry that frustration home with me. But it is impossible. On good days I’m disengaged from the rest of the house. But on days when I am engaged I vacillate wildly between lashings-out and sullen apologies. And none of it feels real. It is all forgotten by the next morning. I wake up with a vague sense of failure behind me and more rocks and hills in front. Kristy has been my hero through it all. I nearly lost her.
I had come to fear that our trust was beyond repair. I was wrong. A definitive stance on such a topic when both bodies are breathing and willing is almost always: premature. But I’m no marriage counselor…you do what you like. I had a couple of friends do their best to help through that situation. I appreciated their help, but–in the end–I had to weigh the loss. There is no easy way to sum up twenty plus years of life. It becomes a gut thing at that point. Thank god for small miracles. Whatever that means.
I can say that there was one standout text that I received during that time. That time when I was scared and confused about what the right decision was for the future of myself and my family, whom I love. And I am aware that there are those among you who feel as strongly as anything that there is no confusion to be had in the face of such a decision, to you I say: I envy your self-assurance…I’ve never had it. But this text was as succinct as it was dismissive. It read: “I heard the news; disappointed man”. That may not be an exact quote, but it contains the exact sentiments from the text which originated 2-sometimes-3 time zones west of Bremerton. One: the qualification of “the news”, he hadn’t heard it from me, I’m not sure how many sources he’d consulted, but–nevertheless– it was “the news”. And Two: disappointment, the bastard-child of outright condemnation. The term: “disappointed” carries not the authority of its unavailable father, but it knows how to appease its father without over-stepping its bounds. “I lack the authority to condemn you, but good luck trying to parse the difference within the distinction, asshole”. Message received.
I had hoped to end this post with an heroic assertion: “Fuck it, I’m quitting my job!”…that’s not happening. As I write these final words, it is 8pm on a Sunday night and I’m staring down the barrel of a dismal, albeit short, but dismal week…shortish: half- day on Wednesday–that’s Christmas Eve. Santa’s Birthday I get off, that’s Thursday. But then I work all day Friday and 6hrs on Saturday. So–yeah–shit-storm week. With no end in sight. But, after talking to my friend Matt, I realized that my job is not the problem. It is not the solution. But neither is quitting said. The problem is adjustment…I’m not adjusting well, and quitting my job would be useless and reactionary. I have no problem with being reactionary. But I despise being useless.
And to the dog: find another leg, motherfucker. I’m still using this one…

Pacifism: My Passing Fancy

"Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day" --Headline: The Onion

“Kitten Thinks Of Nothing But Murder All Day” –Headline: The Onion

“From pacifist to terrorist, each person condemns violence–and then adds one cherished case in which it may be justified.” –Gloria Steinem

I’m a bit of a pacifist.  I can admit it.  I say I’m a bit of a pacifist because I still deal with really violent thoughts–with almost no provocation–most of the time.  The other day my family and I were sitting in a restaurant, enjoying our respective meals, when this man and his mother walk in (at least I hope it was his mother, she could’ve been a Cougar who was misinformed about the proper shelf-life of said behavior, but I digress, the “mother” wasn’t the issue, the man was).  He was a ruddy and rotund man with the fashion sense of an irony-impaired Bruce Vilanch.  But–beyond that–he walked with a swagger…the kind of swagger you might expect from a hunter who just dropped an animal large enough to feed his whole community.  This guy’s accomplishment was finding a well-promoted dining establishment.  He was so fucking proud of himself for conquering a task that could be achieved by a 5 year old with a smart phone.

I wanted to punch him as soon as I saw him…I mean really punch him…like when you think about punching someone, but instead of a solid punch after which the guy (or lady; I’m not sexist…ladies?) falls to the floor and stays there, this punch (the hypothetical punch I’m imagining in this moment) goes right through his skull…all the way through…entry wound…exit wound…the whole bit…and he’s just suspended there looking at me like: “What the fuck just happened?”  And I’m looking at him like: “I just happened…I’m what the fuck just happened…that’s me.”  Then I pull my fist back through and he just drops to the floor…and maybe seizes-out…I don’t know…the details get cloudy at this point…but in the end he’s lying on the restaurant floor with his brains marinating in a grayish-pink puddle.  I don’t know where that thinking originates…I don’t know why I was thinking that…but I do recognize, if I’m being honest, it is…decidedly…un-pacifistic…

Pacifism is not a popular life-choice…it makes people uncomfortable.  I have a friend who calls pacifism boring.  He’s, of course, right (they are rare moments, when Matt is wrong)…it is kind of boring…there is no conflict in pacifism…there is no hero’s journey in pacifism.  Nobody wants the Incredible Hulk to come out and give a quick lesson on resolving conflict with our words.  I guess the pacifist version of the Hulk is a calm and peaceful Bruce Banner, so yeah, case in point: boring!

The argument that I can’t understand–to be honest it makes me want to skull a body–is that pacifism is a utopian construct that’ll never work.  It is as popular as it is intellectually lazy, the sentiment: “Oh yeah let’s all get together and talk through our issues and get to understand one another and hug and it’ll all be okay.”  I’m not advocating unfettered hugging, but the rest is exactly what pacifists are asking we try.

All we are saying is give peace a chance (I borrowed that from somebody…either Jesus, or somebody bigger?).  Give it a chance.  Is that unreasonable?  Let’s get down to it.  We’ve tried the other way for thousands of years now…over and over again shedding blood over the most insignificant issues wrapped in the most manufactured minutia…so committed to the concept of force are we that in the U.S. we spent around half of a century in an arms race supposedly meant to aid in the peace process between two super-powers that actually nearly bankrupted one and left the other with such a hunger for war that it now goes out and manufactures reasons to pick a fight.  “Iraq aided Al Qaeda…no we meant they had terrible weapons with which they meant to harm the west…no what we meant was Saddam was an asshole.”

It’s true Saddam was an asshole, but who isn’t?

I can’t wait for the day when a President declares “open-season” on all of the asshole leaders in the world…then he (or she…ladies?) is sitting there, proud of the announcement they just made when, all of the sudden, a well-armed murder of troops storm the oval office and the president is like: “What the fuck guys, I didn’t mean all the assholes…I meant most of them.”  Then she (or he…fellas?) is carted off and hung…

Whatever–the point is: we’ve tried the non-pacifist way…we know it doesn’t work…it never has.

So why not give the other way a shot?  If it doesn’t work you guys can tell us: “We told you so!”

You guys love that shit…

On the Art of Survival: One Incompetent’s Opinion

and then they were gone...

and then they were gone…

“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival.” –Aristotle

Anybody seen these shows on T.V. that highlight end-times preppers?  I could never be a prepper, I don’t have the attention span survival requires.  I learned this sad fact while playing Call of Duty 8: Revenge of the Whistleblowers.  It’s a game where-in your character sits in a basement hacking NSA Agents’ twitter accounts pretending to be them and apologizing to their wives for made-up affairs…I know; it’s convoluted.  Anyhow I was sitting there playing about half-way through mission 3: “The Regression of the Phoenix” when I became very bored.  I wasn’t in to it.  It was too much.  And that’s me sitting in my comfortable living room, on a couch, beer within arm’s reach, a toilet just a pause click away, heat, electricity, every creature comfort imaginable.  I was out.  That’s when I thought to myself: “I’m just not cut out for this sort of thing”.  I was born to live in civilized environs.

Who are these people that fetishize the breakdown of society?  What do they have against a heated Japanese toilet with sphincty-rinse?  Who are these people that jump to the idea of revolution at the mere utterance, a muttered utterance, a mutterance (that’s mine), of gun control.  When was the last time you used a gun for something important?  Because I use ice-cold beer and hot and cold running water every fucking day.  Think about what you are sacrificing.

So impatient am I with the concept of survival that I warn anyone who gets into a car with me, before we set out on the journey, that if there is even the slightest car accident and one of them dies, or is knocked unconscious, that I would begin eating them within 15 minutes–tops.  I’ve seen survival stories where people wait days before eating the dead among them.  What is the point?  You’re merely delaying the inevitable.  If we are in trouble and we’re unsure when rescue will arrive I know that I’ll be eating well…and I don’t mean your thigh or ass…I’m going sweet-breads.  For me it’s all about the heart and liver…maybe some brains.  15 minutes that’s my threshold…I don’t care if I hear sirens in the distance…they might not be coming for us…they might not even be real, for all I know they’re a product of my brand-new-concussion-reality that I just received as a gift from the dashboard.

I have a friend who is into this survivalist thing…I mean deep.  He has all of his stuff ready to rock…he has, what they call, a “bug-out” bag; which is a backpack loaded with the essential supplies needed to get to somewhere safe and plot your plan to free the lemmings from the surly shackles of tyranny.  I don’t know all of his plans…preppers are cagy.  But I was with him one time while he was making this bracelet…it was super-cool looking…it was made with braided cord like: three and half million feet of it.  He was braiding it by hand and I asked him about it and he told me it was a survival bracelet which is basically a really convenient way to carry a shit-ton of cord on your person.  It was clear from that encounter that I wasn’t built for survival…on a mental level.  He was sitting there making a bracelet for a pretend day that might never come, and he looked so happy.  He looked like a grandmother knitting a new hat for her granddaughter.  I mean, I think the inner-dialogue was different.  Where the grandmother might be thinking of cold days made cozy with the tender love of grandma’s hands, my buddy was probably thinking about choking out some zombified despot who had the misfortune of stumbling upon his forest-compound, and now my buddy thinks the zombie-wanderer is after his powdered eggs.

And that’s the rub isn’t it?  All these people who are preparing for the end of it look upon people, who haven’t gone to the same lengths of preparation as they have, with disdain.  They think things like: if you aren’t prepping, you’re already dead.  They justify abhorrent behavior, like killing people who have found their hide-out.  So if shit really does hit the fan even at a fraction of the velocity survivalists expect, the earth will be left to re-population by hyper-vigilant, hyper-paranoid assholes whose view of humanity is just a tad bit more hippy than Stalin’s.  I mean if you really want to see if survivalists could rebuild society, you need only put Alex Jones and Ann Coulter in charge of a compound with a population of about fifty like-minded people and see how that works out…I think that’s a very apt simulation…I’d love to see that…there is a reality program that I would feel comfortable calling: “Preppers”.  Just a cross-section of humanity calling each other sheeple and screaming at each other to “wake up” and “face reality”…I figure: “do the math” would be an oft used assholism in that show (this is a pitch by the by, I’m talking to you: Jeffrey Bewkes, and Leslie Moonves.  This is a CW vehicle, to be sure).

That just leaves me wondering: what’s the point?  You work your ass off to survive really horrible shit so that you can be stuck with a bunch of emotionally broken people for less than a generation before society implodes again…and the concentration of crazy is just going to become thicker and thicker…and the gestation period of chaos shorter and shorter.  I’ve seen the exponential rise of crazy on reality television…we all have.  I remember watching the first Real World on MTV and thinking how crazy it was to film the human equivalent of putting two small crabs into a Dixie-cup.  Fast-forward like ten, or so, years and you have Jersey-Shore which is nothing more than an exponential power-up of crazy version of the Real World…an explosion of lunacy that even the most jaded and cynical television exec would have to admit: “I did not see that coming”.

And that is us.

Just a bunch of human crabs stuck in this Dixie-cup fighting over beans and rice, becoming less and less human until our devolution becomes so complete that all that remains is a single-celled organism that splits and kills the other…just a lightning flash of life and death undetectable to the naked eye over and over into perpetuity.  What is the fucking point?

I’m a bit of a prepper myself.  I have my bug-out plan.  Currently, I’m testing various syrups to see which flavor is most compatible with the barrel of a pistol.  Because, even though I know I’ll only have the gun in my mouth for the blink-of-an-eye period one needs to squeeze the trigger to its perch, I do not like the taste of metal.  Plus: I have a strong gag reflex.  It is my strongest characteristic.  Like I said, I’m just not cut out for that sort of thing…

I’m too soft…

Oh Evangelicalism, Melt Down Your Golden Calves: and Feed The Homeless

not like this

not like this

“So I said, ‘Who has gold?’ And they took off their jewelry and gave it to me. I threw it in the fire and out came this calf.” –AAron (Exodus)

I recently found myself in hot water (again) on account of the fact that I made some comments in a comment-thread on a public forum…I won’t give out the name of the forum, but it starts with Face and ends in tears…

This happens to me from time to time, a fact which might lead some of you to think: “Why do you even engage?”  I do it because I like the exchange…I like the back and forth, I only find out afterward that some folks don’t…but maybe you’re right.

This particular exchange was predicated on the sharing of a link, the clicking of which sent one to this blog post, written by a pastor named Mark Barrett.  Pastors’ blogs, with a few rare exceptions needed to prove the rule, are the internet’s version of car-seat instructions: generally filled with what most similarly-minded folks would consider common-sense; but, “hey I have a computer and a little free-time, so…why not?”

I’ll leave you to determine whether or not Pastor Barrett’s “review” holds water.  But it straight-up pissed me off on a visceral level.  Now I’m not saying that this post was the most misogynistic, condescending  writing I’ve ever had the misfortune of receiving from the mind of a conservative evangelical.  But, what I am saying is–that when I read a paragraph that includes ideas like: ” What became apparent to me very quickly was that this book is written primarily for women. That was clear by the emotionally-charged language and the overzealous and abundant use of adjectives.”–I am not inclined to slow-clap and say: “Good point, Archie, but while you were running your Pork-hole, Edith forgot to make us coffee, so should I bitch-slap her, or are you gonna regulate this situation?”

And while I was dubious about the good pastor’s intentions, and–eventually–his intellect (I believe my exact phrasing was: ” Oh I just realized that Pastor Barrett’s first language might not have been English…I’m an asshole, but even I don’t punch kids in wheelchairs…at least I haven’t in the last three weeks.”), this was not the main issue.

Nor was the most important issue: the backseat brazier-fumbling of a pastor trying his level-best to “protect” “his” “flock” from “dangerous” ideas…an over-reach that is visited upon congregants who seem all too readily available for emotional manipulation, the reasons for which I can understand, but have little patience.  I am no fighter…I did a little fighting in school; generally with poor showings, and (almost) always in defense of myself, or others, against bullies.  I’m not a big fan of bullies, and while I am physically diminutive, I can be a bad-ass muther-fucker on the page (to adopt the nomenclature of: “the kids”) these two facts about me earned Pastor Barrett the following list of questions in the comments’ section of his blog (they’re still awaiting “moderation”; his, not mine):  (Note: These were not the comments written in the comments’ thread of the Facebook post.)

Pastor Barrett, are women allowed to speak and have their heads uncovered in your church? (this one was just a light-hearted joke…a left jab in a sparring match…a test of just how literally he interprets Paul [the late apostle; both to the party, and in life])

Also, what is it about the human vagina, in your opinion*, that makes one unable to write without extraneous use of emotion and/or adjectives? (like I said: his insensitive words about female writers and readers pissed me off a bit)*the phrase: “in your opinion” was not in the original question, it was what I meant, but I didn’t catch its omission until after I’d clicked “submit”

Additionally*, is it your position that the author of Hebrews was trying to convey the idea that there is no other revelation aside from that of Christ? (the context of his paragraph seemed to be using Hebrews 1:1-2 as the proof-text for his idea that God is no longer in the business of handing out “revelation”…now, you can believe what you’d like about God’s involvement with ongoing revelation to man, but don’t drag the writer of Hebrews into it…this text was clearly meant to include Christ in the pantheon of former revelators…it is the acme of eisegetical-assholery to impose a message of finality with it.)* the word “additionally” was actually “also” in the original phrasing

Finally, if one were to pray for discernment, and–hypothetically–received said discernment, what–if not revelation–would one call said discernment? (splitting hairs?  maybe. valid points sometimes do that.)

The worst part was that: nobody spoke to the questions I raised about Pastor Barrett’s wisdom.  I was accused by a woman (w/ an unhealthy reliance on emoticons) of not being a Christian…or at least not a Bible-believing Christian (a distinction that is absolutely as manipulative as it sounds).  I was accused, via text, by a dear friend, of hi-jacking another dear friend’s ( and first dear friend’s wife) Facebook post (a charge that I still cannot comprehend…this wasn’t locked away in some armored-car from which I–a masked bandit–extracted it, on a cold and darkened stretch of hi-way, and exploited it for my own pleasure; it was a shared link on a social-media site upon which I commented).  Then, after everyone took their shots at what I had to say, again never calling into question the veracity of my claims only the audacity of my actions; the whole thing was erased.

An evangelical pastor spoke, a dissenter of said pastor’s ideas commented, said commenter was reprimanded, then the whole ugly business was scrubbed from the record.  I apologized to my friends for causing them frustration (I guess that’s the best way to put it), I didn’t mean for anyone to get upset…Hell, I didn’t expect that anyone would get upset.  I couldn’t apologize for my actual actions, I didn’t (and still don’t) think I’d done anything wrong.  Mayhaps that’s a bit obtuse; but that’s all it is…and I’m confident that that sin is forgivable.

One afternoon, after spending a bit of time talking to God–who was costumed as an inconsumable brush-fire, Moses came down to where the rest of his peeps had been awaiting his news.  They’d somehow fashioned an idol out of gold.  Moses, having laid eyes upon said idol, lost his shit.  There was a time when these types of idols were shaped like: (and I’m just spit-balling here) baby cows and the like.

Now we have taken to shaping them like: portly, bearded, bespectacled, balding, sometimes-all-of-the-above men–who boast larger libraries than literary sense…

The Loudest Quiet Week Ever: Hyperbole is Overrated

Getting in to Halloween Mode

Getting in to Halloween Mode

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” –Albert Einstein 

I know, you’re disappointed…I get it.  I’ve been lazy.  I’ve been distracted.  I haven’t felt like staring down the barrel of a loaded blinking cursor.  Call me a coward…but do it under your breath, when I’m not looking.  I’m a sensitive coward.

The house almost sold, but there arose a hang-up when it was discovered that the buyers wanted our house airlifted from the property and a new one put in its place.  Or maybe they were hoping for some sort of time-machine clause–upon closing–where-in they would be transported back to when the house was new.  It’s hard to say.  We are taking a little break from the real-estate game.

I didn’t spend any time on my Tumblr either.  I had a couple of ideas.  I was working through how to implement the sets, but I never got to a place where I liked what was happening.  It’s hard to build dentist chairs for “Littlest Pet Shop” figures (for some of you that was a spoiler).  So I didn’t shoot it.

I’ve been working a lot (sort of) on an important post.  It hasn’t been an easy one.  Whereas, generally, I can write one of my posts (roughly 1000 words) in 3hours (give or take; plus some light editing), this one has less than 500 words and has taken me a few months.  It feigns weakness and, when I move in to attack, it knocks me around.  This usually results in my staring out of the window for hours.  I’m hoping to finish it for my 100 post.  But, in all reality, that is some trite bullshit.  It’ll be done when it wants to be…I’ve very little say in this one.

It would be easy for me to say that these are dark times.  There are many reasons why it feels that way.  Not just for me personally, but everybody is starting to get froggy…jumping at the first sign of unrest.  They say that Homeland Security is vamping up for an impending escalation in civil turbulence.  I suppose this would make me more nervous if Homeland Security had any evidence for their own competence.  But they, like “No Child Left Behind” and many more Bush-era programs, are…clownish.  And, like all clowns, they lack self-awareness.  Hey clowns: people are not cheered up by leering joy-feigning adult humans in white-face.  Exceptions to that are made for the sake of irony, but for the most part…it’s a pass.  Dark times?  Maybe.  But they could be darker.  When one needs candles one does not use the last moments of the candle currently in use to complain about its dimness.  One looks for another candle.  Chances are, they’re in the last place you used them, next to your rig…this analogy has lost its effectiveness and is taking on a darkness all its own…let’s move on.

I tend to get itchy when I spend a week away from tossing words together to make myself feel important.  But I also feel good to be free from some of my more narcissistic pursuits.  I’m hoping to be back on track in the coming week…we’ll see–things are a little quiet around here and it is starting to make me deaf…

Quiet Jesus Lives to Fight Another Day: A Tumblr Post

Whom Shall I Crucify?

Whom Shall I Crucify?

“But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. Pilate asked the crowd again, ‘Which of these two men do you want me to set free?'” –Matt. 27:20-21

Originally I planned on calling this post: “Rome Wasn’t Built with Good Intentions”.  My friend Phil Burgess posted that gem on The Face.  He first posted: “The Road to Hell Wasn’t Paved in a Day”.  I found that line relatively humorous…but the Rome line…genius.  I had a pretty busy week so I never got around to asking permission to use it.  But the sentiment is apt for this post.

The crucifixion of Jesus was not the most violent thing that Rome did to Christianity.

That came much later under the reign of Constantine.  The greatest violence Rome did to Christianity was co-opting it as the state religion.  Constantine then parlayed that move into a bloody war that, in all reality, never ended.  This Tumblr post deals with the Jesus who caused a revolution, and the cradle of western thought who wouldn’t rest until it was quashed or rendered ineffective.

That western machine is still at it to this day.

From Constantine to Cruz, beware those in power who claim to be motivated by Christ…disappointment bobs in their wake…

On a lighter note, click here to see my latest Tumblr post…

Three Reasons Why Blogging in Lists is Hacky

Senior Cracked Editor: "8 reasons why Will Smith is against legalizing weed!  Print it!"

Senior Cracked Editor: “8 reasons why Will Smith is against legalizing weed! Print it!”

“Mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process.”–Thurgood Marshall

There is a disturbing trend in western culture.  It is the information-conveyance equivalent of mechanically-separated meats.  I am talking about the “list” format: the act of turning information into an easily digestible paste.  Though I tire easily of “dumbing-down of humanity” rhetoric, consuming information through lists does make people dumber.  Worse, it’s becoming a staple of communication.  Found in everything from self-help books, sermon-series, and even the most noble of correspondence: the internet web-log–the list format seems to be here to stay…at least until some easier way of staying “informed” comes available.  Twitter?

I had no problem with this trend when it was relegated to sites who, fueled by either a sense of necessity or irony, built their reputation on hackery.  Some sites even made good use of the format by employing it to veil the unearthing of deeper social commentary.  Cracked.com, I’m looking at you…but those were the salad days of socially-conscious trivial pursuits…they’re gone now, aren’t they Cracked.  But now that sites to which I once turned for inspirational prose– like: Thought Catalog–are using this trope, the entire interweb is turning into content that looks as though it was cut and pasted from a reddit comments thread.  Shitty behavior, interweb, shitty behavior.  So now, without further word-count padding, three reasons why blogging in lists is hacky:

1) The Reasons for “Something Being Something” is a Number Much Higher Than These Lists Let On.

I’m not going to bog this post down with dry scientific facts followed by long bibliographical evidence to prove my point.  Why?  Well that’s just not the way we do things here at the Guild.  Plus, you are a well-informed reader, a person of the world who would be insulted by any attempt at pandering.  And rightfully so.  The fact is, science has shown time and time again that 98% of all lists that highlight “why something is a certain way” should have a count of: 346 reasons.  Now I’m not suggesting that everyone begin making their blog posts long enough to accommodate this well-documented number.  That would be insane.  I am suggesting that almost any blog that has not logged in around 150 reasons for “something being someway” have barely scratched the surface of their topic.  It’s akin to performing open-heart surgery having only read the directions on the back of a low-dose aspirin bottle.  Am I suggesting that the bulk of bloggers are irresponsible?   If the child-proof cap fits…click, click, click–cuss, cuss, cuss–then get a hammer.

2)  Most of These Lists Use A Trick favored by the Hair-Band Music Industry Known as: “More Filler Than Killer”.

This, of course, is problematic for a couple of reasons.  The first being: we are busy people–evolution, through the mechanism of natural selection (and 24hr. news-cycles), has shrunken the part of the human brain that was once tolerant of “filler”.  This is not 1983 when, droves of people in the throes of a coke-binge, would run out to their respective Pontiac Fieros, squeal and swerve down to the local Tower Records (Google it), and hand over 10 sweaty American dollars in exchange for the latest Quiet Riot cassette tape in an attempt to control their loin-deep hunger for Slade covers.  No, this is 2000something (I’m told).  We have YouTube, and an insatiable need for “killer”.   

The second is more existential, at least for me.  You might find yourself thinking (and rightly so): “pats0, how could it both be true that most blog-lists are more filler than killer, and most bloggers neglect to include the bulk of reasons for why “something is how it is”–as you intelligently, nay, heroically pointed out?  To which I would respond: “Good question; when was the last time someone pointed out that you are smart and that your hair looks beautiful in the screen-light of your chosen reading device, sir?”  That usually works.  So let us move now to reason three–the most reasonable point to which folks point when looking for reasons…

3)  Most of The Killer Reasons Given by the Majority of Bloggers aren’t Even Apropos of the Alleged Heading and are Only Interesting Because They’ve Been Massaged with Hyperbolic Speculation.

I know this must seem like an exaggeration.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  Like when John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan.  We all assumed it was because Hinckley had it out for confused American heroes.  Turns out it was done in order to push anti-American assault-weapons bans that would eventually be over-turned by the son of the, then, Vice-President.  This was meant to polarize politics severely enough to render the constitution a useless document.  That, in turn, would lead to the replacement of the constitution with the by-laws adopted by Yale’s secret society: Skull and Bones.  A society whose alumni include: both aforementioned Bushes, 85% of the most influential members of The Bilderberg Group, Every Shift-Manager of Chic-Fil-A, and Osama Bin Laden’s great-grandfather who, it is said, proposed to Alex Jones’ great-great-grandmother who was the acting faculty-liaison at a bloodletting ceremony in the light of a Connecticut full-moon 30 feet below the Quad of the New Haven campus.  Hinckley, you nefarious son-of-a-bitch.

So that just proves: things aren’t always what they seem.  The verifiably scientific facts don’t lie: Hyperbole informs EVERYTHING!  Even the thing you’re thinking right now: “This seems like an exaggeration.”  Does it?  Or has your own propensity toward blowing things out of proportion been so over-developed that small things become big, and smaller things become more bigger, over-lapping in to perpetuity, like an ill-advised Groundhog Day sequel–Groundhog Day 2: Ground Hogger?  That well never runs dry…

I’m aware that there are parts of this blog that seem problematic.  This will naturally lead you to the conclusion that I am contradicting myself here.  That is your right.  But it is my right as a writer to ask you to kindly leave my blog now…(first, be a dear and click the “like” button).  Now leave…but come back for the next post…you’re going to “like” that one too…I have 150 reasons why, but you’re not supposed to be here right now so what’s the point?

Mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thurgoodma115749.html#edvBBCpxGPQy5DfR.99
Mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thurgoodma115749.html#edvBBCpxGPQy5DfR.99
Mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thurgoodma115749.html#edvBBCpxGPQy5DfR.99
Mere access to the courthouse doors does not by itself assure a proper functioning of the adversary process.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thurgoodma115749.html#edvBBCpxGPQy5DfR.99

Who I Am is Who I am or What?

Honesty...

Honesty…

“I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.” –Tom Waits

I’m not sure what to say…I’m writing because I know if I don’t it might be awhile before I do again.  That’s the way I roll.  Laziness is the “resting-face” of my behavior.  I’m okay with that.  I’m 40 years old and I’m starting to be comfortable with who I am.  I know; better late than never.  Not: “I’m more good than bad–so–I can’t be all that bad” comfortable.  More like: “good and bad aren’t really quantifiable, but I’m not embarrassed by either–I’m only sorry for the people I’ve hurt” comfortable.  I don’t want to hurt people.  I don’t really want to not not hurt people either…least-wise not efficaciously.

Truth is, in some cases I do want to do things that might hurt people.

My plan for this post was to draw parallels between The Bible’s Jonah and the weirdo Gastonguay family of Arizona.  Have you heard of these folks?  They were really tired of–what they viewed as–an overstretch, by the federal U.S. government, into their religious liberties.  I know, shocking…generally folks from that region are so level-headed…

They decided the only answer was to board a small sailing vessel and head toward an island in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Hawai’i and Australia.  Easy-peezy, as they say.  With an 8 month old.  Less easy-peezy.  And no real plan on how to accomplish this task.  God-mode (hehehe: Doom references).  They said that they’d: “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us [them]” (I’m pretty sure that they didn’t all decide that)…

They got lost at sea on a boat that was badly beaten, and nearly sunk, by the storms they’d endured(a biblical-plague number)–until some Venezuelans rescued them.  Long story short, God led them right back to Arizona with no boat and a $20,000 debt for “travel” costs; which I’m confident they’ll pay because if there’s one thing I know about political conservatives it’s that they always take responsibility for their actions…

They’re planning on leaving again…

Which means they’re just a little more obtuse than Jonah who got the point after being puked up on a shore having spent, somewhere in the neighborhood of, 72 hours in the stomach of a giant whale.  Note: If the thought–“It wasn’t a giant whale, it was a big fish”–just crossed your mind, you should realize that that distinction does not make the story sound less crazy.

Are we clear, literalists?

Aces.

That was my story–poking fun at Arizonan Tea-Party Conservative Evangelicals.  Like punching someone in the dark.

But then I realized doing that would probably lead me to areas of my mind where hurtful things are stored.  So I decided not to do that.  In that spirit: please disregard the bulk of the preceding paragraphs.

I have my own issues with hearing the call of God…whatever that means.

My friend Matt once told me that I was a “yes” guy.  He went on to explain that “yes” people say yes to things unless there is an obvious reason to say no.  As opposed to “no” people whose “resting-face” answer is no, provided no compelling reason to say yes arises.  I’m not sure if that is true about me.  I know I felt a certain sense of pride when he said that.  So it’s safe to say: I wish it were true.

Maybe that’s just the way God talks to me.  Maybe God just throws shit my way, knowing that I always say yes.

I’ve learned over the years that the more I learn about the world and people and God, the less I know about all of them.

I’ve also learned that knowing less isn’t such a big deal.  The “knowing” is an artifice to which I’ve grown accustomed, it is nice to look at, but it offers no sheer-strength.  It just sits there, hanging off of life, waiting for an earthquake to unleash its potential as a person-crushing pile of rubble…

An Open Letter to Christian Churches

your pride was less annoying when it came with a sense of style...

your pride was less annoying when it came with a sense of style…

“My parents are very religious…very pro-Iraq-conflict…’Cause that’s what Jesus would do; smoke them out of their holes like the gentle carpenter, oh he only turns the other cheek to grab another can of whoop-ass…” –Maria Bamford

Dear Christian Churches:

Hey folks, I know it’s been a tough season.  Money has been tight.  Formerly needy people are finding new ways of comforting themselves.  Crazy fringe groups like: Greater Ministries International, the Westborough Baptists, Focus on the Family, CBN, and the GOP, have co-opted our message and distorted it to the point of being unrecognizable.  People are buying in like crazy.  People are like crazy.  People are crazy.  People be cray-cray.  It’s been tough.

This hasn’t been true for all of us.  For some, times are good.  For some, the walls and doors of their buildings can barely contain the number of devoted followers who joyfully rush to their respective over-stuffed houses of worship and make it rain.  Every.  Chance.  They.  Get.  The coffers are full.  Their problem is different.  Their question is: Do we create more worship services, or move to a different space?  That is the purpose of this letter.

Please stop erecting new church buildings.

You suck at it.  There was a time when we, as a faith, killed it when it came to architecture.  Most of the great artists and trades-people were on board with our mission (not by choice, but seriously, to-may-toe_to-mah-toe).  As a result, there exist beautiful structures that double as grand examples of devoted worship.  That is not the case anymore.  Like the great sage Glenn Frye (actually it was Don Henley–kindly pointed out by Jill in the comments) once said: “…those days are gone forever, we should just let ’em go”.  These days, churches are more apt to drive through the town in which they’re called to serve, passing every abandoned commercial shit-box, to find a fresh plot of land, and build their own ply-wood and glass shit-box.  Not cool guys.  Not cool.

Every single one of these boxes will one day be shuttered.  Then what?  Nothing, nobody wants that building.  It becomes an ugly and hollow visage of its former mediocrity.  If it is small enough, one might be able to find a non-profit thrift-store or crisis-pregnancy center (both seem to have a similar distrust for aesthetic) to fill the void between the walls; for a season.  But, for the most part, it just sits there in a state of perpetual decay until–one day–it catches fire or is torn down by the city for safety reasons.  A testimony for all to witness.

I remember being involved with such a situation when the church I was attending left the Seventh-Day Adventist building in which they were meeting to build a monstrosity in the woods…next to a golf-course community.  The church, which I’ll call: Christ the Rock Community Church, left the building we were occupying because we were asked to leave by the Adventists.  It wasn’t really anyone’s fault.  It was the result of two differing Christian worldviews that could not find common ground anymore.  So maybe it was everyone’s fault.  These things can be tricky.  But, at a time when we were looking to find a new place to call home, Wal-Mart had successfully won the battle against the local (pro-living-wage) K-Mart (yet another evidence that free-market economics lack perspective).  The former K-Mart building was vacant and available.  It would’ve served as a great building.  The reason given for not utilizing that building was: cost…not that the money wasn’t there, it would’ve cost more to renovate than to build a new building.  We know now that this was a result of heavily manipulated stressors on real-estate and building supplies; things over which the average church community has no control.

But that’s my point, it’s the short-sightedness of  building funds that stifle us.  Even if the cost was legitimately more burdensome, imagine the testimony to the surrounding community that a vacant eye-sore could be made into something useful.  This would effectively transform a building fund into a general ministries or missionary fund.  A bargain at twice the price.  Re-purposed buildings are physical examples of redemption to a community.  They are examples of the gospel…a gospel of second chances.  In this transubstantiation, commonplace brick and mortar become the words of God–just as ink and paper, or the actions of the devoted, do.

The other beautiful thing that happens when you re-purpose a building is that nothing is lost.  When the community moves on, the building is every bit as useful as it was when they got there.  Unlike the ply-wood shit-boxes in the forest, commercial properties remain commercial properties to be filled or torn down as the land-owners and surrounding community see fit.  There is a stasis achieved that is bigger and more stable than the whims of a church board in crisis.

Or don’t have a building.  If you’ve money, find a place that you can use and disperse the money into the economy by supporting the school, or grange, or community center in which you meet.  It offers you less autonomy, but it is in the wrestling…the negotiation…the forced contact with those in charge that we are forced out of our western passive-aggressive monastic state.  A church building should be a conduit for contact with the surrounding community.  Not a sanctuary from it…not a strong-tower.

It’s time to re-think this form of consumerist philosophy.  It is time to disconnect our sense of worth from property.  What would Jesus do?  I don’t know.  I never got the vibe that he was in to property rights…he seemed indifferent toward property.  There was a time when church buildings were works of art…so much so that when they were of no use to the church community that once filled their voids, they became useful to the community at large.  They were made into pubs or libraries or personal dwellings…all of which are more akin to first century churches than the mega-box churches of western white-washed suburbia that we see today.  Re-purposed commercial buildings are not only more centrally-located to the community, they’re also (when used with proper hospitality) a gift to the people in the community.  A gift for which it is hard to be compensated.  In a consumerist society, that is a rare gift.  And it is an important gift, if for no other reason than to keep the giver honest…