Friday, April 29, 2016

The Mandela Effect

Are you familiar with the Mandela Effect? "The Mandela effect is a theory put forth by writer and paranormal consultant, Fiona Broome that shared false memories are in fact glimpses into parallel worlds with different timelines."

The name for the effect comes from a false, shared memory that many people have of Nelson Mandela dying in prison rather than eventually being released to become the leader of South Africa. This is not one of my false memories, but I think I do have them and I believe, in some cases, they are shared by others.  Do you remember when you were a kid reading the children's books about The Berenstein Bears?

Apparently they have always been the Berenstain Bears.

I know. I was shocked when I heard this and I swore that somewhere I actually had one of these books with "my" spelling on the cover. I am still not convinced that it was not once The Berenstein Bears. I am almost sure there has been some kind of glitch in the matrix that has caused this.

There are a number of things like this that groups of people recall differently than others. It makes me think of Winston Smith in 1984 and the changing "reality" in his world. "We have always been at war with East Asia" or "we have never been at war with East Asia". In the book, Winston works for the Ministry of Truth, altering official history and media reports to reflect the needs of Big Brother to maintain control.

As I said, there are many other things like the spelling of Reba McEntire's name. Didn't she used to be Reba McIntyre?

I was also one that thought Billy Graham and Muhammad Ali were dead. I, of course stand corrected. I know that both are alive and not so well...unless they aren't.

So what would cause this if, in fact it was true?

Some have suggested that sometimes parallel universes brush up against each other and histories get changed in both realities. Others have suggested that the work being done by CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire or  The European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland is bringing together alternate realities in unusual ways as they experiment with finding other dimensions, opening time portals and playing with the fabric of the universe. If you think I'm kidding about CERN, you need to do an internet search. Learn about what they are doing, It's some pretty weird stuff.  

Beyond that, I suppose that those in charge of world affairs could be altering our reality as needed or they could be doing it just to see if it can be done.

I don't know. I have always been one that thought seeing is believing and that our reality is rock solid and immutable. What if it's not? What if the nature of reality and history changes as time passes? Or what if what we perceive as reality is nothing more than a complex computer program projected on our conscious minds or that we do not exist in the physical sense at all except in the mind of God?

This is where science, theology and the paranormal come together in very uncomfortable ways for everyone concerned. If the human race does have a collective consciousness and it remembers, I think we will one day figure all this out.

Right now though, I still think it's "Berenstein".

Ghog Out    


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

On Being Pursued

I have never been, in all my life, someone that reaches out to others. I have, to some minds, been downright unfriendly. I am not sure why this is. I would say I am not unfriendly. I am maybe unresponsive. For whatever the reason, I always assumed that people could care less what I think or feel and that any input I might offer would be irrelevant. I never thought about myself as being necessary or important to the lives of people around me, even family members to a certain extent.

Barbara Streisand used to sing about people who need people back in the 70's. I hated that song, mostly because I could not imagine needing people. I was accomplished at seeing to my own needs and the involvement of others in my life seemed to always complicate my agenda, so I would steer clear of anything but surface relationships. This worked for a very long time off and on in my life, but there were and are others that would not and will not let me get away with this. I write this today in praise of those people, my close friends, both in my time of need and in good times as well. You have added complexity to my life, taught me relationship skills and even how to love. I am a bit Aspie like from time to time and you have all stayed with me despite my cranky demeanor. I love you all.

My first friend was Kelly Dean Jones. We were both three years old when we met. I have written about him before. We did many things together including trying to kill each other. Had some considerable fun in the sand pile as well as breaking into a church building. We had little in the way of life experience to discuss, but we experienced the full range of childhood emotions with each other. Kelly, I don't know where you are, but I hope you are alive and well. You may not remember me, but I remember you.

I had many other more shallow friendships throughout childhood, but I never really got close to anyone again until high school. Brian, who I have discussed before here, became my good friend through many years even beyond high school. He pursued me as a friend when I was not in a place to appreciate what it meant to be a friend. He seemed to sense that I needed someone even when I did not. He pushed. He was not afraid of me as many were at the time. Eventually we shared every secret two young men can have. We had a lot of fun too. Brian, I know you can't hear me, but I do think about you from time to time, especially when I hear Elton or Billy. You had a major influence on my musical tastes. Thanks man! are a frequent visitor here and have been my perennial friend since church youth group. I walked away from you once. I am sorry I ever did that. In case I never apologized, I am sorry. You have tolerated much by tolerating me. I am a better man for having known you. I especially have enjoyed disagreeing with you. Thankfully we can agree to disagree and still love each other. Thanks for pursuing me in times when I tried to hide...from everyone. I love you.

Deborah, ours has been a roller coaster. You will probably hate this, but you were always like the wife I never had. I know we are divorced now ;^) but we are better apart I think than together. We have strong personalities and opinions of equal and opposite strength. Clash was inevitable. Even so, you have had a major influence on my life and you have made me see the other side of things even if I would not change my mind. You were always there when I needed to vent about my secrets. I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I do still love you, but I do not want to fight with you..though we did even that well together. I will never forget you, barring Alzheimer's or amnesia!

Robert...we shared many things in the short time we had together including each other. I blame you for our brief friendship. You pursued me with the literal passion of a man in need. We were not exactly walking by the Spirit in those days. I regret, in some respects, not telling you 'no' and at other times, I do not regret it nearly enough. We should have left it alone, but we did not. Even so, my experience with you was enlightening to say the least. I am glad to have known you. Hope you are well. are different than all the others. I know you know that. You were the first straight man to pursue me. I am not sure why you bothered or where you thought it was going or maybe you just did not want to go fishing by yourself, but you have ministered to me in ways that no one else has done. I think, I know that one on one ministry is your gift. I hope you will continue to do that even as your career transitions from professional ministry to teaching. God has blessed you with an ease of mind and an ability communicate what needs to said to the people in your care. I praise the Lord for your presence in my life. I hope that you and my new friend Steve will stand side by side one day and lower my ashes into the appropriate hole at Rising Sun Cemetery. I am proud to have known you. I miss you man!

Steve..I do not know why, but you made your presence immediately known in my life when you arrived at church. You were up and in my face regularly even as I pushed you away. You too are gifted in one on one encounters and ministry and I am thankful for it. You sensed that I was about to explode and you helped me release the energy in a nondestructive way. I continue to give thanks for that. You are surprisingly and unexpectedly sensitive to others. Maybe the Spirit is keeping you informed or maybe it's just a gift. Thanks for being in my life. I hoped to enjoy your input for years to come.    

And Lord, I would be remiss if I did not put you out here. You have rigorously pursued me throughout my life. I don't know why you love me, but I know you do. You know me better than all these. You know things about me that none of these other know and even so, you still love me. Jesus, I pray that you continue to pursue me as you have. You are my very best friend and so I really think we should meet in person some day :^) I look forward to Forever with You. Thanks also putting all these wonderful people in my life. I have needed and under-appreciated everyone of them. I will try and stop that first part.

I love all of you. Thanks...what else can I say? Thanks.

Monday, April 25, 2016

News From Flathead County

The Police Blotter column from the Flathead County Beacon in Kalispell, Montana is always entertaining. My favorite 'report' is in bold italics.

Unwanted Visitor

9:25 a.m. A local woman saw someone in a beat-up Gremlin drive down a swampy road near the river. The Gremlin, she felt, was cause for concern.
11:28 a.m. A Kila woman reported that employees of the Internal Revenue Service were at her house harassing her for money.
12:21 p.m. A black lab in Evergreen jumped a tall fence and ran behind the Town Pump.
2:43 p.m. Someone from a Kalispell business complained that customers keep driving over their rock displays.
3:02 p.m. A Whitefish resident claimed that her neighbor was in his driveway shooting at old appliances with his shotgun. The caller worried about passers by and wayward bird shot.
6:01 p.m. A Whitefish woman reported that a shepherd wearing a bandana frequently visits her at home and she’s tired of it.
7:04 p.m. A man with brown hair ran a stop sign on Lion Mountain Road.

Having shepherds visit is daunting enough. When they have headgear, it's intimidating. And what are the sheep doing while this guy is at her house? Are they in the yard? Hard to say. Shepherding can be lonely business, but I'm sure they explained that at the job interview.

The Clobber Passages

Yesterday in adult Sunday school we continued our discussion of the book, "Messy Grace", by Caleb Kaltenbach. We were in chapter 6, entitled, "No Compromise". Up to this point, Caleb has discussed the need for Christians to behave with grace and love toward members of the LGBT community, building relationships with them and creating peaceful discussion. In chapter 6 Caleb outlines the truth of the scriptures regarding same sex sexual activity and God's will in this regard.

In the chapter, Caleb comes up with an almost systematic approach in two parts. First he establishes what God intended for humanity and how this divine intention seems to be universal throughout scripture - that men and women are to marry, to become one flesh in lifetime commitment to each other. It is in the creation account, Jesus affirms this and Paul continues the pattern in the Church Age. For background see the following:

Genesis 2:20-24
Matthew 19:4-6
Ephesians 5:21-33

Then, after establishing what God intended for humanity in terms of sex and family life, Caleb searches the scriptures for the things that ought not be done in human sexuality, what is sin and in opposition to God's will. Some gay Christians have referred to these as the "clobber passages" because they are used by straight Christians to hammer the LGBT community as well as gay Christians into submission. Generally, this approach will fail because the scriptures get used as clubs out of context and with no love, no relationship building and against people rather than behavior.

They are however, still God's truth. If you are a believer, it does not matter what your inclinations are sexually, what you or I think about them or even what the world thinks about them. The only thing that matters is what God thinks and His will about these things is consistent throughout scripture.
Here are a few of those passages.

Leviticus 18:22
Leviticus 20:13
Deuteronomy 22:5
Romans 1:24-27 
I Corinthians 6:9-11
I Timothy 1:8-11

Many will say that the Old Testament passages do not apply because we Christians do not live under the law. Others will say that the 'no homo' thing was Paul's problem and that Jesus never spoke to it.

Neither of these objections pass my smell test and I will tell you why. First, much of what was the law has in fact been passed to us as Christians. What has not been passed is the condemnation from failing to keep it. The New Testament is clear on what these things are. One of them is a prohibition on homosexual behavior. We cannot sin the more that grace may abound however. We have an obligation to walk in the way of the Spirit and sexual immorality is not the direction in which the Spirit walks. If you are a believer, you have an obligation to do these things. If you are not a believer, I will not judge you for what you do. That will be up to the Lord.

Secondly, Jesus did not speak directly to the issue of homosexuality because is was not a major problem in Judea and among the Jews of His time. They knew from the law that such practices were opposed to God's will. He did speak about marriage though, affirming Gods original intent and how anything outside of that paradigm was sexual immorality.

It is Truth.

Truth can separate people or unite them or allow them to coexist in peace despite disagreement over God's Truth.

God wants everyone to know His Truth. He also loves everyone and pursues them as one would pursue a lost child. He wants ALL of US to be in His Family. What believers need to recognize is that we cannot marginalize people with this Truth. Instead, it needs to be used in a way that will help those far from God come to embrace Him and His Truth as we do. We must not clobber them.

Jesus loved. He built relationships. He spent His time here with the worst of us and He stilled loved us enough to do for us what we could not do for ourselves - become righteous before God. All of us have sinned and have fallen short of His glory. We need to recognize this so we can ALL approach the throne of grace humbly and together and share that gift with others that do not presently have that privilege.

It's true that the Bible is the sword of the Spirit used to combat evil and convict us of sin, but is can also be used as a shepherd's crook to gently lead errant sheep and train them to walk in the way of their Master. Clobbering sheep is counterproductive.

Grace and truth people. Live in the tension between them and let the Lord take the sheep as they come into the fold.

I love y'all. Hope to see you in church.          

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It Went Well

It's always nice to have family support when life is in flux. I would like to thank my aunt and uncle for their wise words and kind support yesterday as we had coffee in the off season...not Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It was good to see them. Thanks for coming. We should, as they say, do this more often. Maybe we will. Thanks Again....I love you...Ghog Out! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Coffee With Uncle Dick

I'm supposed to have coffee with my Dad's brother this morning. I hope he's able to get here. We need to talk about Dad. Uncle Dick got to talk to Dad during one of his sun downing episodes yesterday. He was going to pick up Dad and go to a funeral visitation. There was all kinds of confusion. It's typical for me; like herding cats, but I think it was a new experience for my uncle.

I will let you know how the discussion goes. I think we have a framework established now. You know, you can share with other people how it is, but until you actually experience it, you don't know.

Dad is good in the morning for the most part. Minor confusion and forgetfulness at best. Caffeine seems to help. Around 4:30 PM though, things begin to change. He thinks the people on TV are talking to him. He sometimes thinks they are in the house. He forgets who is alive and who is dead. By the time I get home at 8 PM he's not even sure who I am. Sometimes he thinks I'm my uncle. Sometimes he thinks I am Grandpa - his dad. That last one gives me some extra authority even though Grandpa has been dead for 16 years.

Last night I came home and he was in the kitchen trying to call someone on the kitchen phone. He said, "where have you been?", so I assume he was trying to call me. I am not sure he was going to get me though, because he appeared to be looking up my uncle's phone number. This was also a night when he had cleared off his coffee table by his chair and put all the items in the back of the Highlander. These items included a telephone, the remote controls to his TV and cable box, several large farmer handkerchiefs and a band-aid box full of q-tips. I always ask him where he put his remote controls before I get them out of the Toyota because I want to see if he remembers. I usually ask him if he has figured out why he does that too. The inevitable answer is that he wanted it off his table and he wanted to put them in a place that he would remember. That last one failed spectacularly as usual.

He has other delusions too. He thinks that every car that passes out on the road is been repainted at an unknown body shop in Pleasant Hill. He takes out the garbage on the wrong day in the middle of the night. I could go on. He can, however, still mow the lawn.

His reasoning, his logic and even his ability to communicate effectively are leaving him at a very rapid rate. He cannot seem to put into words what he wants to say. I think eventually he will go silent.

When we were at the doctor on the 11th, I asked for a referral to a neurologist since Dad's neurologist retired. Dr Smith has set us up with the neurology clinic at Methodist hospital in July. It's the earliest we could get in. I want to get Dad evaluated to see where he is at in the 7 stages. I also want someone to officially pull his drivers license.

While we were with Dr Smith, who is an internal medicine specialist, he gave Dad a verbal test for his memory. I have seen this done before with Dad. He did not do well in the past, but on the 11th, it was a disaster. Dad did not know the year, the month, or day of the week. He did not know who was president. He said he knew it was not Truman. He did not know who our governor was. He could not give the sum of 75 and 24. The only thing he did well was subtract by 3's. Eventually that wore him out though and so he gave up. He quit.

I have tried to tell the doctor about all the odd behavior in the past, but it's difficult with Dad in the examination room. This time though, I pushed forward and did it. Dad had some anger, shame and embarrassment about it. He was mad at me for talking about it, but the memory of that did not last long. If you have Alzheimer's, it's difficult to hold a grudge. He has always been in denial about his Alzheimer's. What he was 20 years ago and what he is now is difficult to mesh together. If you had not seen him in awhile, you would wonder if he is the same man.

But he's still my Dad...and I still love him. This would be easier if I didn't, but I do.

So anyway, wish me luck in my discussion with Uncle Dick. I hope to get him firmly in my court regarding Dad's future. I think the summer may be rough.           

Thursday, April 21, 2016

An Apology

I sometimes have to apologize for shooting off my mouth in places where it actually gets heard. It's a good thing that I am not a diplomat. There would be war. I will have to say that I never thought I would be 'heard' here. Frankly, there are few that read this drivel, especially when I go all narcissistic. TDGH is a place where I publish my thoughts. It's like putting one's journal or diary out there for everyone to read. The Lord said that what's inside a man is what makes him unclean. What's in the heart sometimes ends up on the tongue, or in my case, on the pages of this blog. In my defense, I do learn from what I write, but I also get a cheap thrill from speculation about people, places and things of which I know NOTHING about. This is probably not good. It's a case of oversharing at best and completely defamatory at worst. If you have been a victim of my thought processes and my writing and my venting of opinion, I am sorry and I apologize to you right here and now. Just know that no one really reads his stuff with the exception of a handful of people that either care about me or like to laugh at me as I push my way through this life.  

Anyhow, what follows here is assumption on my part, sprinkled with guilt and some fair amount of regret, sorrow and repentance. Do with it what you will and if it does not apply to you, please feel free to move on.

On February 9th and later on March 2nd I wrote blog posts which might be seen as gossipy, critical and unkind. The 2/9 post was entitled, "Two Preachers, Two Laptops and a Cup of Coffee". I was eavesdropping on conversations of a couple of local pastors and commenting about their discussion. First, I apologize for eavesdropping. It's a horrible practice. I am usually way too good at blocking out the real world. I should have been doing it on the day in question. If anything I wrote was particularly offensive, I am sorry.

The March post "The Reluctant Host" was a similar situation. It involved more pastors and I singled one out that I had judged. I know. Who am I to judge another man's servant right? But I did it anyway and I am sorry. So if you are the one I described as the fat, bearded one that I tagged with an unfortunate label, I am sorry. I had no right to make assumptions about who you are, especially since I do not even know you. It was a grievous sin. I am ashamed I did it and I repent of it. You are, no doubt, an honorable man, otherwise you would never have been placed in charge of a portion of His flock.

So why am I doing this? Well, I do have a conscience. It has been bothering me that I did these things. I have also sensed some bad feelings from the featured men in this group. It is certainly understandable. Beyond that, I think I got caught!

Many of us do not realize the full impact of our sin until we actually get caught. I noticed on either Monday or Tuesday that there was Facebook traffic pointed toward the blog and two specific posts were receiving attention. These would be the ones mentioned above. Getting caught helps push one  toward either digging their heels in or to repentance. I have chosen the latter. Brian, I am sorry. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

I do not know how you guys found my blog. I'm thinking it had to be a family member that passed on a link to one of you or maybe someone from my church. Whatever. You seem to have credited me with having the smarts to figure out what was going on so I could finally do the right thing. Thanks much. The Spirit continues to work. He has His hands full with me.

We live and least I do. Sometimes others get hurt in the process. Collateral damage is never good or excusable. I will endeavor to do better. Thanks for reading. The offending posts have been removed.     

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What does a Shepherd Do?

When you think about all the occupations available to someone in this world, being a shepherd probably does not top anyone's list. Even so, a casual look at a shepherd's life seems ideal in some respects. How hard can it be right?

Well, every indication suggests that it's one of the hardest jobs out there. Sheep are helpless, stupid and cantankerous all at once. They are much like people in this regard. Even the sharpest people require guidance from time to time. And so it goes with the shepherd. His duties are never ending and the work is hard because his charges are in need of him constantly. Seeing to the needs of the sheep, when done correctly, can even kill the shepherd.

The most important thing a shepherd does is feed and water his sheep. Finding proper pasture and water sources that are in accordance with the size of the flock is never ending. Without grass and water, your sheep will die.

Sheep also have to be groomed and sheared occasionally. They seem unable to do it themselves and so the shepherd will enlist others to help with this. It can be both tedious and profitable as well as stinky. Keeping a sheep clean and odor free is nearly impossible.

Delivering the lambs is another important shepherd duty. Sheep try to be good parents, but sometimes they fail. The shepherd has to help with this.

Sheep need to be lead too. If the shepherd does not lead, his flock will scatter or worse, the goats will take over and the flock will go where they were never intended to go. A shepherd worth his salt, will condition his flock to respond to his voice in obedience. He will lead from behind, admonishing errant sheep to keep them in the fold. 

Occasionally, a sheep will wander off. This is irritating, but the shepherd has to bring back the wanderer. Many sheep have a spirit of adventure. Others manage to get lost unintentionally. Circumstances can deceive.

Sheep also need protection. This can be dangerous for the shepherd. Predators enter the flock by night or slink in by day to help themselves. Lions, wolves and jackals pray upon an unwatched flock, but a good shepherd that keeps watch will perceive the presence of predators and drive them away or even kill them to protect his flock.

If you want to be a shepherd, there will be no holidays. The pay is low and the benefits are nonexistent.

There is only one real reason to do it. You just have to love sheep.   

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Sermon of Offense

I keep thinking about the sermon on Sunday. It's kind of lodged in my brain like a sliver of glass, piercing the meninges and irritating my cranial cap. Or maybe it was more like this - the normally placid waters of my soul have been disturbed to tsunami levels. It's not so much that the sermon offended me. It's more like it made me think and that's a terrible thing to do to someone that's trying to sleep between classes. Maybe I did not understand it as it was meant to be understood, or worse, maybe I did understand it and that's why it's eating away at me.

We are at the start of a sermon series from Colossians. The preacher was talking about sin. He said something about how it's possible to get close to perfection, eliminating sin from our lives and he also said that Christians spend way too much time worrying about sin and it's why we never get to the point actually of doing ministry.

Maybe I was not listening properly, but these ideas seem contradictory to me and maybe wrong. Or maybe I am in denial.

First, I do not believe it's possible to not sin. We are a sinful race with bodies broken by the selfish  desires of sin. I do think that the Spirit helps the believer to say 'no' to sin. We become less self destructive because of His presence in our bodies. Not to put too fine a point on it, but He helps us manage what once ran riot in our bodies and in our minds. We will, however, never be sin free, at least not until we are dead.

Sin management is something that Christians do. I will not say that it's the correct way to live, but it's what we do to stay out of deeper troubles. If we can minimize the effects of sin in our lives, we feel like we have achieved something. We feel better about ourselves and even though we still sin, we feel good when we approach God for some discussion.

There is also what goes on in the mind. I will speak only for myself here, but my mind is not always under the Spirit's control. Sometimes it's not even under my control. My mind and my moods are all over the place and I am finding, especially now, that I am having problems with desire. When I was freed from the burden of my secret awhile back, it set some other things loose that would probably be better left in the cage of my heart.  Spiritual freedom is a two edged sword. The more involved one becomes with people in terms of ministry and being ministered to, the more one has opportunity for sin. That sounds awful, but it's true. I knew this would happen if I began reaching out to people and making friendships. It's why I've spent so much of my life withdrawn from others. Desire creeps in when I let people into my life.

I have a fear of losing control of the monster that has lived in me since I was 12. It would be easy for me to say that I will let the Lord handle it and plow forward with abandon into some kind ministry or whatever I am lead to, but I am afraid. It's risky living.

What if I lose control? What if I fail to let God control things? I do not have a good record here. I'm a man with weak knees and a stubborn spirit.

Therein lies the problem.

Risk is something I'm not good at. Even so, I will have to risk and I will have to trust God in faith if I am to be loved and love others as He would have it be.

I still have walls. I seem to be using them now for a different purpose; to keep me in. They need to come down I suppose.

Just thinking out loud here people. If you have a different perspective, I will be glad to listen. I'm not sure I have a ministry beyond what I am doing now anyway. I enjoy teaching. I am as transparent as I can possibly be without offending people (;^))))) I will try harder, but I don't think I will ever be sin free. Sorry. Going from a closet case to an uncaged man is difficult. One does not always know the bounds of appropriate social behavior and so I do nothing.  

Monday, April 18, 2016

80 Years Old Today

On April 18th, 1936, Dennis Lynn Brady was born to Lloyd and Pauline Brady. He would eventually become my father.  Today he is 80 years old.

The world was in a precarious place in that time. The nation was still trying to recover from a depression that seemed to drag on and on. Fascist powers were on the rise in Europe and the Japanese empire was beginning to wage war against her neighbors. It was a very uncertain time to be alive. There was not much hope for future generations. By September of 1939, Germany had invaded Poland and this spark ignited the greatest conflagration the world has ever seen, making the 20th century the bloodiest in human history.

It was into this world that my father was born, in a place far removed from the violence, in a land called Iowa. Agriculture was the business to be in if you lived in Iowa. Lloyd and Pauline were tenant farmers and so my Dad and his brother worked on the farmstead as they grew up, sheltered from the troubles of a world ablaze in war. Even so the work was hard and it served to toughen Dad in ways that can be seen to this day.

Except for what he talks about, his early years are a bit of a mystery to me. Dad lost a fingertip in a pump jack of a windmill when he was 3. He developed grand mal epilepsy some time later, possibly in his teen years from a brain injury incurred earlier that was the result of a fall into a concrete cellar entrance. He spent most of his life taking phenobarbital and dilantin to curb the seizures. The drugs seemed to work. The seizures were few and far between. I can remember his last one in 1968. He was stressed. He had just moved into management at his place of work. He was also in the middle of remodeling a house that he and Mom had just purchased. It was the reason we were living with my other grandparents, Charles and Dorthy Meacham. Dad fell to the floor seizing while getting ready for work. He had been shaving. It was early in the morning. The bathroom he was in was small and he could have been severely injured when he went down by the porcelain fixtures, but he was not. He did spend the day rest of the day off from work and with his parents.

Dad came of age in the 1950's. I am led to believe that it was the most glorious decade to be a young, white American. We had become defacto rulers of the world, having defeated the Axis powers in the second world war, closing with the first use of the atomic bomb. Even poor Americans seemed wealthy in that time. Everyone was reaping the benefits of our victory. The arsenal of democracy was becoming the greatest industrial power on earth. Houses were getting bigger. Cars were huge. Fuel and energy was cheap. Food was cheap. And the US dollar was worth about $1.20. Our national currency was actually based on the value of something - gold and silver - rather than the full faith and credit of the US government. It must have been an incredible time to be alive.

Somewhere during that time period, Dad met my mother. Their respective families attended the same church and so their meeting in the church setting was natural. Mom and Dad dated off and on for several years. Dad tells a story about how one Sunday night after services, he went out to his car to find my mother sitting in the passenger seat. He says she was 14 years old. Since there was 3 years between them, this would have made him 17. There are some that might have consider this scandalous today, but in 1954, not so much. They married on January 30, 1957. Dad was 20 and Mom was 17. Strangely (;^000 nine months later, I was born on September 18th of 1957. One might ask was it just coincidence or did something drive them to an early wedding? One might ask, but it would be rude at this point. Even so, when Mom graduated high school she was six months pregnant. The whole thing may have been a quiet scandal back in the Day. Whatever it was, I think it was meant to be. They loved each other more than life itself. You could see it, even when they would argue. It was a grand and glorious union that I was privileged to grow up with. It lasted until May 31, 2011, when Mom left this world to be with our Lord and our God, Jesus Christ. What was gain for her was loss for Dad and I. We both miss her very much.

When she passed, Dad was at least two years into an Alzheimer's diagnosis. He was dependent on her to keep the bills paid and to cook for him and take him to the doctor. I had to take over those duties when she departed. Dad and I have been together since that time and his condition continues to deteriorate. Even so, he still mows lawn. He has not forgotten how to do that. He loses the mower key and sometimes forgets to disengage the blades and set the brake, but he still loves to do it.

He spent his work life with the Anderson Erickson Dairy. It was the only real job outside of the farm that he ever had. There were a number of people in our family that worked there and it has become an Iowa institution over the years. He will still talk about it at length when given the opportunity. He loved working there and they did take very good care of him and our needs as a family. He finished his career there as a buyer.

In all, he has had a life that would be the envy of others throughout the world. He was a motor head. He liked cars and he knew how to work on them. In his youth, I am told, he would drag race his Fords. It was quite popular in the '50's and Dad was supposedly good at it. Early in his life, he enjoyed hunting and later he developed a love for fishing. It was this one that he and I held in common. It is what we would do when spending quality time together.

And now we are together again. He is well passed being able to fish. Arthritis and Alzheimer's has slowed his pace physically and mentally, but our present situation has also served to bring us closer. Dad and I have had a roller coaster relationship over the past 58 years, but we have been given this time together to work out the bumps. Since we are both Christians, this had been made easier by our faith and our Lord. I firmly believe that the Lord has given us this time.

I do not know that I will always be able to care for him as I do now. As he ages and his condition accelerates, I will not be able to leave him at home during the day. I think that soon, they will no longer let him drive, not that he goes anywhere more than 5 miles beyond the house. He is in the Lord's hands. I am just there to assist. I do hope though that the Lord will not let him die of Alzheimer's. It is a dreadful disease. I could go on, but I will not.

So Dad, I know you're not reading this, but happy birthday anyway. I think Mom would be pleased with both of us and how we have made things work. She would probably be PO'd because we are not taking better care of her house and gardens, but then again, maybe she would not care. She is in a much more upscale community today, probably getting it ready for us to join her.

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.                        

Friday, April 15, 2016

Reparative Therapy - Conversion Therapy - Ex-Gays and the Fraud of It All

Back in the Day when I tried it, they were calling it conversion therapy and there were several varieties of it. The 'science' was in its infancy.  Today it goes by the name "reparative therapy". It is a process of intensive counseling designed to program the 'gay' out of homosexual men and women. It is billed as a way to rid ones' self of same sex attractions, enabling the victim patient to lead a 'normal heterosexual life', whatever that is.

I will say this once and we will talk about it no more. And for my Christian friends at church, I know what you've been told about this process. This will give you another perspective from an experienced point of view.

Reparative therapy is a fraud. It does not work. It can be abusive and painful. It can leave the patient worse off than before treatment from a psychological point of view. It can lead to suicide in the young that are placed into these programs by well intentioned parents. It should never be an option except for someone that can make an informed decision - an adult - about whether to do it.

Even so, it is still trotted out as a viable treatment for homosexuality, despite the voluntary demise of major ex-gay organizations and admissions by leaders in this primarily Christian movement. In July of 2013, after 37 years of work, Exodus International shut down operations forever. It was the premiere ex-gay organization in the US and world. Alan Chambers, president of Exodus spoke about the reasons for their closure to CNN.

After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to "help" gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology.
"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change -- and they want to be heard," Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said Wednesday.
The announcement comes less than a day after Exodus issued a wide-ranging apology to the gay community for "years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole," a statement from the group says.
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus. "For quite some time, we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has "ongoing same-sex attractions."
"It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church's treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt," Chambers said. "Today it is as if I've just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church."
Then there is John Paulk. He was the poster boy for the ex-gay movement in the 1990's. He was chairman of the board at Exodus and he was also the manager for Focus on the Family's Homosexuality and Gender department. He wrote a book called, "Love Won Out" about how he and his formerly lesbian wife became ex-gay, started a family and were living a life of heterosexual bliss.
It was all a lie - at least for John. In 2003, John left the ex-gay movement. He eventually divorced his wife of 20 years and in 2013 he, along with his brethren from Exodus disavowed all their work in ex-gay ministries. Here is an excerpt from his 2013 public statement.   
For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for what's known as the "ex-gay movement," where we declared that sexual orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God, intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a Christian, my sexual orientation did not.

So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman for the "ex-gay movement." I began a new journey. In the decade since, my beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself "ex-gay" and I no longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact, it does great harm to many people.

I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the past, Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly, truly sorry for the pain I have caused.
From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people are loved by God.

What is my point? Reparative therapy and conversion therapy has been researched, tried and found wanting in both the religious and scientific community. It is time to let it die. It is pseudo science; it is not Christian. There is no love in it. The use of it is driven by hate and fear in a people that cannot accept that God makes some of His children gay. 

He does. And He loves us.  Get over it.

If you think otherwise, maybe it's time for you to repair your point of view. I know I have. 

Reparative therapy does not change sexual desire or same sex attraction. It can change behavior and enable some to engage in heterosexual sexuality, but the same sex attractions will never go away. It does not work. Those engaging in that kind of therapy need to know up front that they will always be who they are. It will not change. Sometime soon I will endeavor to show you why sexuality is hard wired into humans and why gay people are gay. No time today, but soon.

I can tell you this too. Reparative therapy did not work for me either. I have already discussed this and so I will not do so again, but know this. It does not work!    

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

We Get Letters

Here at the Daily Ground Hog, we get the occasional letter to the editor and these letters are taken as serious and insightful attempts to communicate on the important issues that are addressed in our regular blog posts. Far be it from us here at TDGH to silence any voice on any issue...and by 'us', I mean me. Please read the following gracious and kind letter received only today by a dear reader.


I was so happy to read about your testicles this morning!  I'm sitting here laughing and thinking of the stuff that people will say... "why does he write that stuff down.  Does he know that church people read his blog".  

Some of us just say, as we have for 50 years, Jeff, Jeff, Jeff...we love you matter what!  Just write what you want.  As my Bob said about something a while back, "No one has to read what he writes".

Love you much
Your Aunt Fran
We would be remiss if we did not reply in kind to this missive.

Dear Reader 

I mean, 

Dear Aunt Fran

Thank you so much for your email today. I am glad you enjoyed reading about my testicles in my "Distinguished" blog post. There were, however, other things in there, but I suppose reading about your nephews' testicles can be a startler.  They have changed a bit since my diaper days.

Have you ever wondered why people get squeamish when discussing reproductive organs of the human body? It seems odd since everyone has one variety or another. Did you know that nearly 50% of the people that inhabit our planet actually have at least one testicle? That's correct. Fortunately, I have two. I suppose I could be a donor for the oneseys out there. Actually, I'm not using either one of them as I pointed out, so if you know someone in need, they can call.
Back to the issue at hand though. Don't you think we should all be able to discuss these practical matters without embarrassment and in full confidence? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with testicles, especially when used properly, and even though many people find the discussion of testicles to be humorous, they are really no laughing matter, especially when they are just in the way.
Beyond all that, church people have testicles too or at least some of them do. I know that it may not seem like it sometimes, but trust me, they do. Someone at our church must surely have a set because they continue to allow me to attend despite blog posts about testicles and such. This speaks well of them in that they are not easily cowed by a frank discussion about said testicles.     

Thank You for continuing to love me despite the subject matter here at TDGH. We also hope you will continue to read and critique as you see fit. Tell Uncle Bob I said 'Hi'. I'm sure now that he knows we have no fear here at TDGH, he will want to read too.

Try to have a better Thursday. See you at church. I love you.




As we all grow older, our physical appearance changes. Some of us become "distinguished". I love that one. I recently had an encounter with someone from Cedar Rapids that had not seen me since 2004. He went back and reported that I looked "distinguished". I'm never sure what that means, but I chose to view it in a positive light.

When I look in the mirror in the morning just prior to my shower, what I see is a candle that seems to be melting at an ever increasing rate. As we age, our shape changes. Elasticity is lost. Things that were once tight, stiff or firm become bouncy or jiggly at best and saggy at worst. Pecs become moobs. Six packs become kegs. And for whatever reason, my testicles seem to drop lower and lower every year. I swear they are getting bigger too. I have to be careful when I sit. They get in the way. I guess I could follow the example of Origen of Alexandria and just have them removed. It's not like they serve any purpose in my life. What do I need all that testosterone for anyhow?

I could lose some weight and try to fight the melting candle effect, but I think at this point, nothing would tighten up. I would resemble a stick inside a empty white garbage bag. I suppose I might be healthier, but who knows? It might make things like arthritis worse. Perhaps a life of sedentary slothfulness would make for a good finish. Then again, if I took a page from Origens' handbook, perhaps I would become more useful. Who is to say?  

I just kind of dread that "going to seed" factor. The dying flower in autumn. I don't want to become brittle and crumbly like vegetation after the first frost. I suppose it's inevitable though. Have you seen David Letterman lately? Talk about going to seed! He looks a little like Wishbone from Rawhide.

See what I mean? This is what happens. This is a prime example of "going to seed". It even happens to celebrities. And now it's happening to me. The worst part is that I really don't care all that much. I seem to be content in my downward slide into a congealed puddle of wax. I wonder how much longer I will look distinguished and at what point I will just seem extinguished. I'm sure no one will tell me. I will just be considered spry or some other term you youngsters have for old codgers like me. Here's to getting old. There's only one other alternative.

Inflamation, Pain, Opioid Meds and More Natural Forms of Relief

Since 1980, when the government put down recommendations for what we should and should not eat, Americans that adopted these guidelines have become progressively more obese. BMI's of 35 are not uncommon. In 1950, 12% of Americans were obese. In 1980 15 %, of Americans were obese. By 2000, that number had increased to 35%. Today,  for Americans over 20 years old that number is at 68%.  Stiff, arthritic joints worn down by excessive body weight have become major medical issues. Inflammation in arteries and organs cause everything from heart disease to cancer. These problems are all directly related to the US government dietary guidelines issued in 1980.

They told us to avoid saturated fat, eat margarine, cut the red meat, and consume grain products and fruit and vegetable juices. This has been nothing short of disastrous for the American public. The trans fats and fructose are the biggest culprits along with processed grains.

It's hard to avoid these things and it's even harder to avoid the pain that comes with the arthritis and inflammation, heart disease and cancers that results from this kind of government sponsored diet. And again, it's government regulation that determines what is legal in terms of pain relief for these ailments. Our government makes all kinds of opioids for pain relief legal for prescription. These are among the most addictive substances known and yet the government would prefer that we use these to more natural, nonaddictive remedies for pain. "Opioid drugs like Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, codeine, and Fentora are perfectly legal despite being molecularly very similar to heroin, with a high risk for addiction."

It all smells like a conspiracy to me. You know what I am talking about. A citizenry weakened and crippled by a government sponsored bad diet and then medicated with government approved,   addictive drugs cannot actively resist or move to change that government.

Beyond that, nonaddictive, nonlethal, pain killing, cancer arresting, natural botanical medications like marijuana and cannabis oil are regulated as schedule one illegal narcotics by the federal government. This is ridiculous. It is criminal in itself. It is wrong on so many levels.

Consider that if cannabis were completely legal, it would put much of organized crime out of business. It would lower the nonviolent prison population. And it would stop addiction to the more dangerous, legal drugs mentioned above. So why does this not happen?

The pharmaceutical companies cannot patent a natural plant. There is no money in it for them. They are also the ones that run the FDA. It's like an interlocking directorate. Pharma company employees regularly take turns working for the FDA. It's like a circle of self congratulating academics approving each others' work to gain recognition and wealth. There is also the prison employment factor. Federal and state governments are heavily invested in the operation of penitentiaries and correctional facilities. If we have large prison populations, there will be more government jobs available. The United States has more people in prison than any other nation as a percentage of the overall population. What's that about? Money. Many industries serve the prison industry. It's big business.

These are just some of the reasons we see active resistance by the powers that be to things like marijuana. This is slowly changing state by state, but we need the feds to bend to these changes. It can start with taking cannabis off of schedule one. It should not be classified with addictive controlled substances like heroin. Marijuana is not addictive and it is impossible to overdose.

I invite you to do some research. You will find that cannabis and cannabis oil is being used for many things - fighting inflammation, treating nausea from chemo, fighting cancer itself (especially prostate cancer), and general pain relief. There are even varieties that contain lower amounts of THC that allow for treatment of whatever without the major buzz. It is medicine as God intended it. He created it. It should be used. The plant can also be used to make paper, rope, clothes and many other things. George Washington even grew it on his plantation in Virginia at Mt Vernon. That's good enough for me.

Just give cannabis another look. It should be legal for medical uses alone. So what if it gets used recreationally. It is less dangerous than that other popular and legal drug, alcohol, and it is less toxic. Actually, it is not toxic at all.

This is my opinion. I was a user in the late 70's and early 80's. At that time, for me it was an anti- depressant and it worked quite well. I am convinced that it probably saved my life because it drove away the suicidal urges that I was experiencing. It made me more fun in some ways too.

These days, my drug of choice is caffeine, another of God's natural, mood enhancing, thought focusing and harmless medications. Even so, if I became sick, I think I would turn back to this plant of my youth for relief and maybe a cure.

There is nothing wrong with it people! We have been lied to for decades by our government about many things. This is one of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Lies

An elder in my church talked about lying during his communion meditation on Sunday. It got me to thinking about the whole issue of lying and how we use lies for protection, self aggrandizement and manipulation of our life situations. Lies are a ubiquitous part of our lives. We tell lies, we believe our own lies, we pass them on to the next generation. We even create our own lies about who we are in this world to fit whatever the collective consciousness of our local subcultures require.

It's interesting the lengths we will go to when we want to fit the model of our subculture. We will construct whatever "reality" is needed to make our lives work, even though that construction is based on lies. Some of this comes from who we are down deep inside. We examine who we really are. We see that it does not match the meme of the culture or subculture we were born into and so we adapt...with lies. We will construct stories, justifications, religious requirements and moralities to make this happen.

I have spent decades of my life trying to deceive everyone about who I am. The direct lie was never my approach. My methodology has always been deception through activities that make the real truth invisible and impossible to believe if discovered. I have used body language, voice inflection and physical control of my body to promote an image that was never the real me. For the most part I was/am successful. The only people that have figured out my real truth, my reality, without me actually telling them have been those that are engaged in the similar deceptions for whatever reason they might have.  It seems that liars and deceivers recognize their own kind. We know purposeful manipulation and distraction when we see it in others. Sometimes that works to the advantage of the liars and they/we will work together to keep the mythos alive for mutual protection.

I have been trying to get out of lying mode and this with some success. What I find is that I now have a low tolerance for others that are engaged in it. I just want to rip away the lying veneers that layer their lives and force them to show their cards. I am so tired of deception. I was never intended to be a magician, distracting people with sleight of hand and well placed words. People, especially those in places of leadership, need to know this about me. I am changing and there may be some collateral damage in the process. If your life is a tissue of lies and you interact with me or try to control or manipulate me for your own purposes, it will end badly. I am in a place now where I can no longer be embarrassed. I will cop to anything that I have done in a very public way if the accusation is righteous and true. I am not without sin even now. The difference is that I know this and, while I might have some guilt, shame and fear (of rejection) over it, I will spill it if it's true. So public accusation to distract others from your lies and veiled attempts at deception will not deter me from ripping off your layers of paint to get to your real colors. Bring it. I am ready.     

Then again....maybe this is all a deception to manipulate others and shift the fear. You just have to know how to work the system. Don't be tricked.  (;^))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Cart Before The Horse

We Christians are a weird people. Seriously. I know we are supposed to be peculiar, that we are to be the light and salt of the world, to be different from what passes as the world culture at large, but how is it that we are supposed to do that?

So many times and in so many ways we are willing to stand in public places and rail against sin and opposition to God, but we never address the real issues; the things that concerned Christ who is our Savior. You remember Him; the one that told us to go out into the world and build relationships with people to show them who He is - ya, that Jesus, God's Son (sarcasm is an old habit that refuses to die).

It seems that we spend way too much time telling everyone about the things we are against, the things we consider sinful and unrighteous; things that are in opposition to God's will.

Is this not getting the cart before the horse?

Again, seriously, if we want to win people to Christ, should we be beating them over the head with their sins, trying to pass laws to deny them this or that? Would it not be better to get to know them and show them Jesus through the way we live and treat them?

People outside the faith are not our enemies. They are our mission. If we hope to win them, we will not do it through public campaigns against abortion or gay marriage. We will do it by recognizing the things we have in common. We will do it through serving them and loving them even though or when they disagree with us.

And even if they should act like our enemies and treat us as such, how did Jesus say we should treat our enemies? Please see Matthew 5 - The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus says to love them, to give to them, to go the extra mile for them. No where does he say to enter into public debate with them.

The apostle Paul, who was quite righteous on his own and urged the same from other believers, never viewed his Gentile audiences as enemies though they were sinners in every sense of the word. They were His mission field and he went to great lengths to find common ground with them in the hope of building relationships and winning some for Christ. Check out Acts 17 and I Corinthians 9 for his philosophy of the mission field.

So Christian, if you want proper horse placement with regard to your cart, start with befriending the sinner and building relationship. If they come to faith, let Jesus deal with sin. Then you can both work together with Jesus to keep each other accountable and grow in you faith.

We were once all enemies of Christ. He offered us friendship and salvation through service to us. We are commanded to do the same for others whoever they may be. Now hitch up the horse correctly.

I think I'm done now.      

Psychosis, Neurosis, Brain Chemistry and Sin

It does not seem like those four things should go together, but I believe that at least sometimes they do. The spiritual nature of humanity and the chemical nature of the human body come together in strange ways in our brains. Our spirits use the resources of our bodies to move and act in the physical world. We are all connecting points between the spiritual side of creation and the physical side. You could say that we are all physical portals to the spiritual world. As I said, this all happens in our brains. As to where in the brain this happens is up for debate. Many have suggested the pineal gland is the seat of our souls. This may be true. I do not know.

It all sounds kind of 'new age', but really it's not. It's a notion that is as old as human history. When the Lord God created humans, He breathed life into their bodies. It's interesting that the Hebrew for 'breath' and 'spirit' are the self same. 'Ruah' can be translated three ways; as spirit, breath or even wind. The notion that the breathe of God imparts spirit and animation to a physical object is called life. Biological life is amazing, but a sentient physical and spiritual being is a work of art; something that could only exist at the behest of a benevolent Creator.

We are such beings. As David said, we are fearfully and wonderfully made - the work of His hands.

That being said, the wonder of it became confused and for some of us, it was lost. Since the beginning, we have made bad choices. Some have been spectacularly bad choices. 'Bad choices' is the politically correct name for sin if you were wondering what I meant. As I have instructed before, sin is anything contrary to the will of God. When we act in these biological and spiritual bodies that we own in a way contrary to God's will, it effects everything. Our bodies become corrupted. Our environments become corrupted. God's plan for His creations goes askew.

The immediate result for us is that the mechanisms of our bodies that were so perfectly created do not function as they were intended. The chemical and physical processes of our bodies break down. Death is the ultimate result of this, but during our time of life, things do not always go well for us to one degree or another. We struggle. Clear and spiritual thinking becomes clouded and the 'bad choices' continue because of it. I also believe that this propensity toward sin and bad choices is heritable. No one can live now and not sin in some way. It is impossible. And it is all because our spirits and our bodies no longer mesh properly.

The result and cause of the miseries we endure is bad brain and body chemistry. Some of us endure or struggle with this to such a degree that we become psychotic. Our brains simply will not process our realities properly. Psychoses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or clinical depression have their roots in bad brain chemistry. These things also come through the corruption of all flesh which is the result of sin; bad spiritual genetics. They can also be exacerbated by our own sin and by spiritual forces that most of us are unaware of, but exist in the same time and dimension that we exist in.

Some of us are merely neurotic. We are not mentally ill in the classic sense of it, but we do endure the nagging problems of things like nonclinical depression, habitual lying, anger, malice and the list goes on. Brain chemistry can be at the root of these things too, but there are many things that stir that chemical soup and sin and guilt are two of them.

Modern psychology refuses to recognize the sin factor in their processes of treating mental illness and their pursuit of mental health. It is unfortunate. Wholeness comes we we are well both physically and spiritually, when soul and mind are in lockstep.

In my life, I have not met many people that enjoyed this level of mental and spiritual health. The ones I have known, were/are incredible people. The clarity of their minds and the purity of their spirits have inspired me and when I find them, I pursue them as friends hoping that some of it will rub off.
It's funny, but truth be told, these people are not really normal if you define normal as what most of us are. The definition of normal is always in flux as society changes and evolves, but the people I am thinking of do not. They are stable rocks in a sea of change. Thanks to y'all for providing something that the rest of us can cling to as the tide of the world tries to pull us out to sea. Escaping the undertow has been my goal for most of my life. I am now working on getting to shore. I'm almost there. My clarity improves daily. I hope this made some sense. It made sense to me.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Monument

In a text conversation yesterday with my old fishing buddy, Eric, I said that this blog was a monument to my own narcissism. He thought that was hilarious, and at the risk of putting words in your mouth buddy, I think you were laughing because you knew the truth of it.  

I do tend to be overly focused on my own issues as evidenced by my recent posts. I would like to think I put all this stuff out there to help others in my situation, but that would be only partially true at best. For good or ill, I do this because I have been so damn silent, denying everything, even to myself for so long. I have experienced nothing short of a controlled explosion of my psyche. And by "controlled" I mean that I hope that any damage to anyone or anything was minimal and that we can use it as an opportunity to remodel.

Beyond all that, I am at an age where I want to leave some kind of record of my existence. I will not live forever in my present form (thankfully). Someday I will separate from this old body and move on and since I believe my life experience may have some value to others, I want it to live on after I am gone. Given that the internet is a forever type place, a blog that is only about the things that I think seemed to be a logical way to do that.

An ancient and loyal friend commented on a previous post today (Robert) that I may be oversharing. Could be...could be. I will have to deal with that and continue to evolve accordingly. If this soul bleeding is bothering people, I apologize to you whoever you might be. We should talk about it if that is where you are with me.

I feel kind of light and airy this morning. I'm feeling the love out there - in here. I was sitting at Caribou this morning reading and writing and someone from church was here with her daughter. She walked up to me to say "Hi" and shook my hand and after a few kind words, she departed.

I really have to get out more and get to know y'all better. I might actually be a celebrity at church and not even know it. If you know me or know of me, I invite you to walk up and push my buttons. If I seem uncomfortable, that's OK. I was born uncomfortable. At church, we are always talking about getting out of our comfort zones. It's easy for me. I am always uncomfortable.

I am so funny.        

And please stop by the blog if you are in the mood. You can view the progress of my monument. If you have any suggestions, they will be taken into account. Just remember, this one is all about least for now, but I will try to grow and move beyond that.

That's what all us narcissists say.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Learning To Love

This is a lifetime process for some of us. I know there are those of you that have always worn your lives on your sleeves. You've never had secrets. You've never had to fear reaching out to people or worry about getting too close to them because they might find out A or B about you and not love you anymore.

Well, I have experienced all of this.

Turns out that most people are not that uptight about the secrets of others. Normal folks have issues in their families and they try to deal with them as best they can given their circumstances. The fear and shame factor only seems to effect a certain few.

I grew up in a time and with people for whom embarrassment and shame was a major issue in how we conducted our lives. We did not talk about personal problems or family issues because no one could see the elephant in the room, and even if they could see it, no one would talk about it or acknowledge it. Like the English, everyone was expected to keep a stiff upper lip and do nothing that might in some way make the family look bad or imperfect. Keeping up appearances was more important than fixing the rot inside the woodwork.

When life is this way it becomes impossible for us to learn to love correctly and in a way that is Christ-like. We do not build relationships or close friendships because we do not trust others with our junk. The result is that life becomes a hollow shell or worse, you begin to lead two lives; one public and one private and hopefully unexposable and maybe even disposable as the need arises.

I cannot live this way. I have only ever been able to live one life and I have lived it in a very closed off and private manner because I did not feel comfortable being who I am with people I love. The fear of rejection has always been in the background, looming like a monster waiting to envelope me. I got so I would rather be alone and lonely than be with people because I was so paranoid about the junk in my life that I really had no answer for.

This is why I have been in the process of putting my life out on the table for everyone to see. This is why I have written about passed friends and experiences I have had. Getting the secrets out makes all the junk seem minuscule. What I am finding is that I am not alone in my struggle and this is what I was hoping for. Most people have junk. It may not be like mine, but it is junk nonetheless. If we talk to each other about it, empathy develops, love and understanding happens and all the nasty, self loathing and fear begins to disappears. Love floats to the top and everyone can cling to it until they get to shore.

My life is so much better since I have done this and I intend to continue to do this until everyone around me ceases to be uncomfortable about their personal issues, no matter what they may be.

I know this bothers some of you. I know some of you were probably upset with my post from Sunday about Robert. Get over yourselves already. All of that happened 35+ years ago. Until I wrote it, there were like only 5 people that knew about it. It was junk that needed to be unloaded. It had to be done. I would invite you to do the same. If you want to say it to me, I am ready to listen. I will probably not have an answer for you, but I will listen, I will empathize and I will pray for you. I am no longer afraid of the junk. I've got some more myself. Maybe we could share.

Time to clean up the yard and replace the rotting woodwork. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


In the summer of 1975, I went to the Cincinnati Bible College. I went there right out of high school. I took some summer school courses to see how I would handle Bible college and to see if there was anything that I felt a calling to do. That's what I kept telling myself, and I did develop an interest in Old Testament history. I was hooked on the Old Covenant and wondering if I might really be Jewish :^)  It was all just a distraction though.

What I really wanted was help, love and God to speak to me. I had been praying since I was 12 that He would make me anything but what I was - what I am, and I wanted guidance from someone - anyone - to help me. I knew who Jesus was. I knew who God was. I prayed to them all the time; but I really did not know who they were in the deeper sense of it, what it meant to be saved or how His grace had made everything I was worried about unimportant. I was deeply confused.

I had been a Christian since I was 14 years old. I remember thinking at the time, "what have I gotten myself into" and there was really no joy in my conversion other than salvation from the fires of Hell. Some of this was due to my own ignorance, but I was certain that I would never make it as a Christian if God did not cure my same sex attractions. I could not understand how He could let one of His own suffer through such desires and not help. It was making me progressively more angry as each day went by. I began asking the question that Paul says we are not supposed to ask in Romans 9;

"who are you oh man who answers back to God; does the thing molded say to the molder, 'why did you make me this way'"

In the fall of 1975, I got a roommate. His name was Ken. He was from Cleveland and he was not like any way. He was not like anybody at the school. He was a Catholic. He was a Charismatic. And he was very laid back. He worried about nothing. We were polar opposites. It drove me up a wall.

So I stressed about that. I stressed about being gay. I stressed about my studies and I was gradually freaking out about the intensity of my desires. I was not well. This went on until the fall semester of my sophomore year, 1976. That's the year I quit and transferred to Abilene Christian University. January of 1977. It was my intention to go there, take advantage of their free counseling program and get a liberal arts degree in political science and I did all these things. I was hoping that their counseling program could fix me - make me straight, or at least help me understand how to deal with this desire.

They tested me. They gave me a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). They dissected my psyche with every blunt testing instrument available at the time. They determined I was deeply depressed, a bit angry (understatement) and borderline suicidal. I was all those things, but I was dealing with it very well. I refused the meds that they wanted to prescribe because it would have taken parental consent and I did not want to drag Dennis and Laurie into this for reasons I will not elaborate on now.

I immediately went into counseling. I told them what was at the center of my depression - that I has gay - and they immediately set me up with someone doing research in conversion therapy. This kind of thing was in it's infancy in the 70's and this particular doctor was using something called Visual Imagery. It involved the use of hypnosis, biofeedback and what amounted to soft core porn to try turning me from the dark side if I might be so bold.

It did not work. I did this through the spring and fall of 1977 with no real results. It did not help that I did not trust my doctor. I had a sense that he was a pervert in his own right. I was never sure what variety or even if its was true, but he kind of freaked me out. In retrospect, I think I would have been better off with a woman as my counselor, but even with that, I do not think it would have worked.

So I quit.

By that time, I was still angry at God, but I had discovered a way to calm myself and adapt. I continued the biofeedback on my own and then there was the pot that I had discovered in the summer of 1977 with the help of my friend Brian. It all worked to relieve the suicidal tendencies and depression.

I had a small group of friends. We were stoners for the most part, though we were not beyond the occasional enjoyment of beer. As for classes, I was doing well. No worries there.

However, there was a difference. I was not dating anyone (of course) and I did not want to. What was the point? I liked women and enjoyed their company as friends, but I would certainly never be able to marry one. The idea of straight sex put me off. It seemed unnatural if I am completely honest about it. Faking it seemed out of the question.

People wondered about me in that regard I am sure, but no one ever said anything to me. Maybe it was because I could be intimidating in a serious discussion or maybe it was because it never occurred to my friends that I could be anything but straight. It just never came up in, an out loud type way.

I plowed through the spring and summer of 1978 in a self induced fog. When the fall semester came around, my group of friends sort of began changing. New people entered the picture that I did not know. One of them was someone that lived down the hall from me in off campus housing. I began seeing him regularly everywhere I went and it seemed odd. He would turn up in the library restroom when I went in to take a leak. He would show up at my table at lunch. He was regularly with my group of friends even though we did not know each other that well. It was like having a stalker.

His name was Robert and we became 'very close friends' for almost a year and a half.

It started like this. I had a habit of taking in a couple of early classes and then going out for a jog while everyone else went to chapel. Running helped me with the depression (endorphins). It gave me some good exercise and it got me in the best physical condition of my life. After my run, I would return to my dorm and take a shower. This was off campus housing. My room had it's own shower and I did not have a roommate. It was bliss for so many reasons.  Lunch would always follow.

Anyway, one day my stalker tracked me back to my room. As I was exiting the shower, there was a knock on the door and I answered. I was standing there in nothing but a towel, still a bit wet. I opened the door and there was Robert. He was grinning from ear to ear. He looked me up and down. I felt like some kind of sandwich. I was obviously what was for lunch. He pushed me back into the room, closed and locked the door behind us, then he grabbed me and kissed me for what seemed like a century. His clothes came off. The towel came off. We wrestled and it went on from there.

This is the point where, in the old movies you would get fireworks or the train/tunnel scene. You know what I'm talking about. I will not tell you which one of us was the pitcher or the catcher. I will tell you that we were both capable in any position we chose to play. Sometimes it was a matter of who won the wrestling match, but I digress.
Two men in 1978 would probably not spend much time courting. We could do things together socially and in public without raising suspicion as long as we avoided physical contact, but in 1978, two men were not supposed to be too affectionate with each other. It was worse than inappropriate.

I do not think that we were ever in love in the classic sense. We never moved in together or made any serious commitment, but we did enjoy our relationship and each others company. Everything was good for the most part. As time went on though, it became a relationship of convenience.  

Robert and I did not have much in common. He was a sociology major. He was African American, about 5'10" and built like a wrestler. You could bounce a quarter off his butt. It was a beautiful thing and I did that once. Physically, he was very well equipped and in excellent condition. Very low body fat. He was beautiful, but he was also kind of stupid. This always worked to my advantage, but he would get even with me. He was bisexual. He would date women to piss me off and also expand his own horizons.

Robert and I ended it in the spring of 1979 when I graduated. He had two more years left. He wanted to get married and have kids. As it turns out, he did. I caught up with him in, I think it was 2006. I was on Facebook for about 90 days and looked him up. He had a daughter by his first wife. He ended up divorced because of a man he was seeing on the side. He married again. There were no children this time, but again there was another man and another divorce. He married a third time to a woman that came with her own family. She was also disabled. I do not think their relationship had a sexual component, but I do know that he had yet another man on the side. Robert seems never to have been able to quell his desire for men.

Robert was also a deacon in his church.

Life on the down low. I am glad I chose not to put myself through that. I'm not sure it's any worse though, than loneliness in personal terms. And if you are wondering, my "mad at God" phase finally ended around 1994. Several things happened to me that could only be described as a personal divine intervention. A desire rose in heart to go home. I pursued that. I started praying and it happened. I got a job transfer and moved back to Iowa. My life immediately started improving. By 1998, I was back in church and teaching Sunday school. I still do not know why I am what I am, but I know God loves me and I have come to believe that He wanted me as I am, because He never did 'fix' me. This will be hard for some to accept. If you were me though, you would have too.

There were many things here that I have left out like how I ended up back in Cincinnati in grad school in 1980, how I dropped out and went to work and even who I worked for. That will have to be for another time. I will say this. There was never another in my life that I was sexually involved with. In May of 1979, I began a period of celibacy that has lasted until this very day. After that time, I began to withdraw from almost everything. Work became my therapy. I did not darken the door of a church again until about 1994.

My life has been weird. I have learned many things about myself and others. It's hard for many to understand how one seemingly immutable fact about one's self can change everything and how graceless Christians can be when they find out about it. Praise the Lord though, that has changed. For the first time in my life, I feel like the church has become a safe place and a refuge.

I am different too; resurrected in some way that I cannot explain. It's more than just a maturity that I was lacking. It seems like God has actually been listening to me and doing things I never dreamed He would do. Maybe I was just not paying attention.       

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mixed Messages

Just a passing observation or three here.

When people change, they take others on the ride with them...even if they don't want to go. Drunks join AA and start annoying their friends in new ways as they work the 12 steps. Former smokers become anti smoking zealots, making their smoking friends miserable. People that take up a faith become whatever they think their new faith requires and in the process disrupt the lives of those around them with their new found philosophies. They want everyone to enjoy the light of their truth.

Me? I just need enough light to avoid stubbing my toe on the way to the bathroom. And I've got a blog to annoy people with stuff that pops into my head.  I'm set. Can I get that light for you?


When people decide to make a change, it will always effect those around them in one way or another. Sometimes positive changes have positive effects. It can be good. Other times it is not. People in this process need to chill and offer the patience their friends gave them.

Another thought. What is the difference between justice and hate? Is it when justice becomes revenge?

God said, "Vengeance is Mine. I will repay." If we are created in God's image, then is an act of vengeance our way of being about our Father's business? Or is it just hate and revenge. I think God reserves real justice to Himself because only He knows the real truth of a given situation. Vengeance is the Lord's because only He can administer it fairly. Sometimes we just get tired of waiting for Him to act.

Why do I think about this stuff? It just gives me a headache. But you're glad I shared right? 

Are You Religious?

I hope not. I really do not like the words "religious" and "religion". They reek of superstition and the works of men designed to manipulate God. For example, "If I do this and this and this, God will do that" or the ever popular "I feel lead by (a circumstance or God) to do (whatever) or stop doing (whatever).

God is not a vending machine, a Ouija board or a pair of dice. Events of the day should not dictate some kind of ceremony. Simple prayer will do. Your answers may vary if you get one at all. Also, not praying may have yielded the same result. You may see the change you desired take place. You may not see that change or even the opposite result. It does not mean that God is or is not working. The important thing is to remain in communication with Him. Learn from whatever result comes and live accordingly. Above all, do not blame God for a lack of attentiveness or overreaction or anything else that may happen after your prayers. By this, I mean, saying this or that was His will. It may not have been.

Truly understanding God and how He works in our world requires minds much bigger than our own. Only Jesus ever truly knew His mind. We do not. We have insights from His Word, but that is the extent of it.

Someone says, "how can you stand such a dry faith?". It ain't dry Bubba. It is living and active. The fact that I do not use circumstance or feeling or an answering 8 Ball to dictate how I live out my faith, does not mean it's dry.

I have no doubt that spirits both good and bad are at work throughout the world. I can only see the result of their work. I cannot see them in action directly except through their human sponsors. The only influence I have is through prayer. God can do with my prayers what He wants. He is God after all. His picture is bigger than mine. He did bless me with 3.5 lb of brain. I suppose He expects me to use it and take responsibility when I do, not to act out of fleeting and self serving emotion that can mislead.

I know some of you think God is involved in the most minute details of you lives, shaping your reality to control it's outcome; that He uses circumstance and events to tell you what to do.

I think this is crazy. There is no proof of this. It is superstition. I know you believe it and you feel it, but how many times has it actually proven to be correct?

If God wants something to happen, it will. If He wants you to do something, it will be in the Bible. If you want to do something for God and there is nothing in scripture in opposition, then look to your reality and see if it's possible. It might well be God's Spirit leading you to do whatever. It might not be. It does not mean it is wrong or that God will not bless it. It just means you made a decision in faith to act. It may not go well. Be prepared for that. Above all, do not hold God responsible for failure. Many lives lead in faith end in tragedy and we do not understand why. In God's bigger picture it does not matter. If it brought Him glory, even for a moment, intention is everything. He will remember that.

Be faithful. Do not be religious. It's too dangerous.    

God's Specific Will For Your Life

A friend suggested the other day that I was uniquely placed to perform a certain function in God's church. This friend felt that it was my place and my calling. My response was, "If I am supposed to be doing this, why would God tell you about it and not me?"

My friend and I have not hashed this out yet and we may or may not do so. I overreacted to his presumption to volunteer me for this function and rightly apologized for it. I saw things in his motivations that were most likely not there. I am "gifted" with a conspiratorial view of reality. Perhaps that speaks way too much to my own motivations. Whatever. That's not what I want to talk about.

It is my thought that God has a general will for all of his people. It is laid out in scripture in the clearest possible terms. One of those "general will" things is finding something you are good at and doing it -  serving your church and others with whatever that is. I believe I have found this. I think it's teaching. I have been teaching adult classes in my church for over 17 years. I enjoy it. My students say they learn things and enjoy participating in my class. I think this is a good indicator that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. God did not tell me to do this. Someone handed me a teacher's lesson guide one Sunday and asked me to fill in for them and it went on from there. I stumbled into something that I could do, enjoyed doing and have continued to do for many years. To say that I know God wants me to do this specifically, that is teach, is a stretch. To say that he blesses me and fills me while I do it comes more from a feeling than any empirical knowledge of what He specifically wants from me. And that brings me to this.

The only way I would know specifically what God wants me to do is if He would say so directly to me. God has a general will for everyone who calls upon His Name and it is outlined in scripture. Everything else is just opinion...until God speaks.

In the Bible, God had a specific will and plan for many people. Among other reasons, this is why they are in the Bible. The thing that all of these people had in common was that God spoke in some way DIRECTLY to them. It was not a matter of divining circumstances or assuming a specialness not otherwise indicated and so taking on the mantle of a mission for God.  

God would call them in a very personal and "in person" way. The last people in history called directly by God to His specific will were the apostles. To my knowledge, no one has received a personal visitation or revelation toward specific service since that time.  

In our time, only God's general will applies. His Word has been laid down. We are free to choose and try things in service to Him and His people. If we find something we are good at, we should do it. Worrying and hand ringing about "does God want me to do this" or "is God calling me to do that" is just stupid, egotistical and prideful. God wants you to serve. Find a way. Refine it with His help. Get good at it and do it.

There is no specific will from God for your life or mine. If there were, God would be talking to us. Instead, He speaks to us through His Word. He calls all of us to serve in some way. Let's just do it.

Let me close with this. There are things that you know you will not be good at. Think about those things and try to avoid them. Do not insert yourself into situations that you know will not work to God's glory or the growth of others. Stick to what you know and what you know you can do for others. You will not then fail.