Was Jesus a Failure?

Dec27th-SHOPSHOPSHOP1

It’s Christmas time again and everywhere we look we see violence and mayhem, greed and avarice, poverty and hunger.  Mankind’s inhumanity to others and a total disregard for the welfare of the earth dominate the news every day.  Watching the hearings concerning Trumps impeachment has been the low point of the year for me.  Rhetoric, obfuscation, innuendos and fabrications dominate instead of truth, logic and evidence.  Christmas is a cruel joke only made worse by the amount of crass commercialism that is exhorted in the name of Jesus Christ.

3650584-satan-editorial

Satan sat on his throne listening to my above missive and thinking “Ha, Christ was a failure and I have won another soul.  Do you hear me God?  You sent Moses with a message.  You sent Noah with a message.  You sent dozens of your prophets with a message.  You sent your only son to carry the same message and no one really gives a dam.  There is not one Christian on earth who loves everyone.  Every single Christian hates someone else.  Catholics hate Jews.  Protestants hate Catholics.  Evangelicals hate non-evangelicals.  The right wing hates the left.  The left hates the right.  Rural Americans despise urban Americans.  The rich hate the poor and the poor hate the rich.”

God heard Satan and simply said to him “You are wrong.  There is much love and compassion for others in the human race.”

“Yes”, said Satan, “for members of their own tribes.  For people who look like them, talk like them, live like them, think like them, but for others there is only hate.  I challenge you to find ten Christians who do not hate someone else.”

God replied: “Will you leave humans alone this Christmas if I can find ten good Christians?”

Satan_before_the_Lord

Satan confidently answered, “Of course, but only if you agree on a limit of ten days to find your ten good Christians.  That way, I will still have time to ruin Christmas for as many families as I can if you do not find them.”

“Agreed” said God

Two days went by and God could not find ten good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  Satan laughed, “I told you so.”  God then requested that he be allowed to find only five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  So confident was Satan that he readily agreed to this change.

Two more days went by and God could not find five good Christians who did not hate anyone else.  God was getting desperate.  “What” he asked Satan, “if I could find just one good Christian who did not hate anyone else?  Would you concede that Jesus was not a failure?”

“Okay, I am so confident that there is not one good Christian on Earth who does not hate someone else that I will give you this last chance.  But on one condition” said Satan.  “My condition is that you will get two more days to find your good Christian but if you do, then I get four days to test your Christian to see if they really are a non-hater.”

God accepted Satan’s conditions and went in search of a single Christian somewhere on the face of the earth who did not hate someone else.  God had to expand his search beyond America but in less than two days, God thought he had found his loving non-hating Christian.  It was a young girl in India.  Her name was Aindrila.  Aindrila was eight years old.  She lived with her mother, father and her pet cat in a little village in Mizoram, India.

Every night when Aindrila went to bed she prayed for all the people in the world.  14159276-cute-little-indian-girl-in-a-greeting-pose-isolated-white-background

“Now I lay me down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul will keep.  Please watch over my mother and father, all the people in India and all the people in the world.  Please help everyone who needs help and keep everyone safe.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul he will take.  Amen.”

God presented his good non-hating Christian to Satan, but Satan only laughed. “We will see.  I have four days to test if your so-called good Christian really is so good.”

The next day, Satan sent two young teenagers to Aindrila’s house to torture and kill her cat.  When Aindrila found the dead body of her cat, she cried for several hours.  That night when she went to bed, she prayed much as before except she added a verse:

“Please God watch over the boys who did this to my cat and help them to see the error of their ways.  Amen.”

Satan was somewhat chagrined, but he decided to up the ante.  The next day, he put a hole in the path of Aindrila as she walked to school.  Aindrila fell in the hole and broke her leg.  It was a very bad break and Aindrila was taken to the local hospital.  They fixed the break but told Aindrila that she might have to walk with a limp because of the injury.  Again, that night, Aindrila went to bed and added the following verse to her nightly prayers.

“God, thank you for sending me such good health care and bless the people who fixed my leg the best they could.  Please watch over them and take good care of them.  Amen.”

Now Satan was very angry.  “OK God, you asked for this fight and you are going to get it.  We will see if your good Christian is really good or not.”

The next day, Aindrila’s parents were going to work on their usual bus ride.  Satan saw to it that a drunk driver smashed into the bus killing only Aindrila’s parents.  No one else on the bus was injured.  Satan laughed and laughed.  “This should do it”, he thought.

god and satan

Somewhat later that day, the local constable along with a social worker came to find Aindrila at home.  When Aindrila answered the door, they told her that both her parents had been killed by a drunk driver that morning.  They were very sorry for her loss, but she would have to come with them.  Because she had no other relatives, they were going to take her to live at the local orphanage.  She would have to stay there until she was eighteen or someone wanted to adopt her.  They thought this would be rather unlikely though.

Aindrila was relocated at the orphanage where she seemed sad and despondent.  Nothing the kindly Sisters of Charity could say to her seemed to shake her out of her melancholy.  She cried until she went to bed that night.  Unlike previous nights, she went to bed without saying any prayers.

A few hours after Aindrila went to bed, she suddenly awoke.  It took her some time to orient to her new surroundings but once she did, she turned over to go back to sleep.  Suddenly, she thought “I have not said my prayers tonight.”  She climbed out of bed and said the following prayer:

“Dear God, thank you for the wonderful parents you gave me.  I know you took them away today, but I am sure that you had a good reason for doing so.  Thank you for finding a new home for me with these nice nuns.  Oh, and please help the man who killed my parents find a good life.   I forgive him for what he did and I hope you will too.  Amen.”

Satan listened to the little girl saying her prayers and conceded.  “Dam you God, you win.”

And God said “If there is only one person on earth who is not a hater then it was worth sending my son Jesus and Jesus was not a failure.

jesus

“Be the reason someone smiles.  Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”  ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

The Day I Joined the Air Force – Part Three, The End

In 1968, four years after I joined the Air Force, I received an Honorable Discharge and rejoined civilian life.  I had spent four years as a 30352 Aircraft Control & Warning Radar Technician.  It was my job to keep the radar running that was scanning the skies for any potential enemy aircraft.  In the sixties, with the Cold War raging this meant Russkies.  I had learned how to repair computerized surveillance systems, servo systems, power supplies, radar scopes, ECCM and ECM (Electronic Counter Measure and Electronic Counter Counter Measure) equipment.  It was technical work and in addition to 42 weeks technical school training, I had completed several correspondence courses to advance my knowledge while in the military.

1c8x1.jpg

During my Air Force career, I had received each of my stripes with minimum time in grade and was eligible for a P-4 reenlistment bonus which I declined.  I had earned a career as an electronic technician that enabled me to have numerous job offers with computer firms, telecommunication firms and other high tech companies.  I had more job offers than I knew what to do with.  I owed it all the third of my three life changing decisions.  Here is how the third decision transpired.

795px-Kessler_Main_Gate

After I completed my basic training at Lackland AFB, I was assigned to a technical training facility that was at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi.  I found the base to be everything I could want in terms housing, bars, night clubs, women and most importantly the ocean.  When I was not in training class, I would go to the beach, swim and try to meet young women.  I developed a tan that would be the envy of anyone.  Many of the local girls seemed to prefer going out with guys from the north much to the dismay and hostility of the local guys.  We were given cards that advised us on which clubs and bars to avoid.  Of course, these were the ones I preferred to go to.  I soon developed a bad drinking habit and spent too many weekends recovering from a hangover.  I was living the good life except for one “minor” hiccup.

I was a notoriously bad student in high school, and I continued to be the same at the airbase.  I hated school and did not want to be in training class.  I continually disrupted class, did not pay attention and gave the training instructor a hard time.  Somehow, rather stupidly I would later realize, I thought the Air Force would have some type of fighting unit.  I still wanted to fight in the ongoing Vietnam war and whether I died or not did not matter to me.  I wanted adventure and excitement and not a classroom with books, assignments, tests and studying.  Everything I hated about high school had now come back to inflict misery on my days.  Perhaps that is why I drank so heavily on the weekends.

Then one day, I received a notice from my training instructor.  He told me that I needed to report to the base commander.  He did not say why.  But I was told to go ASAP.  Now the airbase had almost 20,000 officers and enlisted men stationed there, and it was not every day that an Airman 3rd Class was told to report to the base commander.

a-modern-home-office-space-with-venetian-blind-covering-the-window-behind-a-black-desk-with-a-lamp-MFW5MD

I found my way to the base commander’s office and met his secretary.  She told me to take a seat and that Major General Romulus W. Puryear would see me shortly.  Apparently, he was expecting me.  After a brief wait, I was called in General Puryear’s office.  He was working at a large desk and without looking up, he told me to take a seat in front of him.  He had his back to a large window which looked out over the base.  I waited anxiously for what seemed like an hour before he finally looked at me.  When he did, he told me to look out the window.  “What do you see” he asked?

I replied, “I see two guys up on a scaffold painting the barracks.”

“Do you know what we call them”? he inquired

“Painters”, I said.

“No, we call them Protective Coating Specialists (PCS); and when they are done painting that side of the barracks, do you know what they do next?

“They paint the other side”, I responded.

“That’s right”, said the Commander, “and when they are done that side, what do you think they do next?”

“Paint a new barracks, I guess.”

350px-Keesler_WWII_Bks

“Wrong”, said the commander.  “It takes about six months to paint one side and, in a year, when they have finished the second side, the first side is starting to peel so they will go back to the first side and start painting all over again.  That’s what they will do for the next four years.”

“And” shouted the commander, “If you don’t get your ass back in that class and start paying attention, that is what you will be doing for the next four years as well.  Do you understand me?”

“But sir, I don’t like school and I wanted to be in a fighting unit”

“That is not one of your options.  You have a choice, School or PCS.  Dismissed Airman!”

Murphy_Dome_AFS_Alaska

It was a rather quick decision on my part but one that altered my life forever.  I choose to go back to class and pay attention.  I finished third in my class behind the squadron wimp, a guy named Sitters, whom many of the other guys picked on and a guy from North Carolina named Michael Atkins who sounded like he had marbles in his mouth when he spoke.  I had assumed Atkins was dumb, but he and I became good friends.  He was quite an intelligent guy.  Stereotypes based on accent were said to hurt President Lyndon B. Johnson and I know they hurt people like Mike.  Can we ever overcome the impact of nurture on our lives?  I guess it all comes down to the decisions we make.  After completing my technical training, I put in for Southeast Asia but instead I was sent on a remote assignment to Unalakleet Air Force Base in Alaska.  I never did get to see Vietnam.  Many people say that I was lucky.

The End.  

These are two of my squadron patches.  One for Unalakleet, Alaska and the other for Osceola, Wisconsin.  I tried twice to get sent to Southeast Asia but both times I got assigned to very very snowy climates.

250px-718th_Aircraft_Control_and_Warning_Squadron_-_emblem shields_OsceolaAFSWIRADSpatch

Can We Be Thankful This Year for What Really Matters?

banner_holidayHoliday time or Holy-Day time?  Each holiday season, I wonder what time people are really celebrating. Christmas becomes X-Mass.  Holy-days become holidays.  Days of remembrance become good days to host a backyard barbecue and Thanksgiving simply becomes the springboard to “the shopping season.”  The big kickoff being “Black Friday.”  Where is our soul? Where is the spirit in our natures?  Is time off meant to be simply another day to watch the “big game.” Are holy-days meant to be spent shopping? Is Black Friday now the most important day of the year? Is Santa Claus a Good Christian because he gives toys to tots?  Was that Jesus Christ’s message, to spend Christmas roasting chestnuts round an open fire singing Jingle Bell Rock?

1000x750-6holidays_grinch_tcm88-35406Please note, it is not my intention to sound like the Grinch or to “cast stones” at others. We all need time to relax and we all need time for fun and games. However, when do we say enough? What about the meaning of the time that we are granted? Do we simply see our time off as a holiday or do we embrace this gift of time to remember our dead, our veterans, our special leaders and those that helped pave the way for the lives we can live today. These “holidays” we are given each year, whether in remembrance of a religious or civic event should not pass by without our taking the time to remember what their true meaning is.

Thanksgiving in my opinion is meant as a time to remember the blessings that we have been given. Regardless of how much or how little we have, there is generally something we can be grateful for in our lives.

GW-IngratitudeI have so much but I am continually looking at people that are more successful, make more money, have more friends and are in better condition.  Yet once I pause for just a few seconds to reflect on my blessings, I realize that I have the greatest wife in the world and I am healthy and moderately well off.  I have six happy and wonderful grandchildren.  I have more friends than I have time to spend with.  In short, I have nothing to complain about. I have nothing to be selfish or greedy or jealous about.  I have been blessed with a wonderful life but I hardly ever stop to say “thank you God for what you have given me.”  I am usually too worried about what I have not been given.

Prayer-for-Thanksgiving-to-God-2

This Thanksgiving, take the time to say a prayer of thanks.  Ask all present to thank God or whomever or whatever you believe in for the gifts and the life you are living.  This year, I will also ask all present at my Thanksgiving table to take a minute to express what they are thankful for in their lives; then we will dive in on the turkey, stuffing, and dressing.

The true meaning of Thanksgiving lies in being grateful for what you have.

Time for Questions:

Do you know a prayer of thanks? What is your favorite prayer? Will you make time for a prayer of gratitude this Thanksgiving?

Life is just beginning.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  — Melody Beattie

 

The Day I Joined the Air Force – Part Two

RL06-04-2015-300x169

Our lives and destinies revolve around the choices and decisions that we make.  I had already made one of the three most important decisions that would change my life forever.  In Part 1, I described my decision to join the United States Air Force.  Some might argue, that it was fate that made my decision and that I really had no choice.  Others would argue, my decision was more reactive than proactive and thus was not really a choice.  I will not defend myself.  Like an artist who refuses to describe their painting, I will let you decide if I chose or did not choose in each of these decisions.

In Part 2, I will describe the second decision that changed my life.   But let’s go back to my plane trip first.

lackland tiUpon landing at Lackland AFB in Texas, I along with all the other new recruits was ushered off the plane where our T.I. or Training Instructor was waiting for us.  After telling us that we would address him as Sir, he ordered, screamed, yelled and instructed us until we were able to get into some type of formation.  You can imagine the chaos that ensued when a bunch of green rookie “boots” tried to form into a military squadron.  It was early morning and I was dead tired.  I had not been able to sleep at all on the plane.  I presume many of the other “boots” were similarly exhausted.  Nevertheless, it was going to be many hours before we would meet our cots and be able to get to sleep.  In the interim, we would march all over the base getting haircuts, clothes, food and taunts (known as Jody Calls in the military) from other squadrons that often went like this:

Rainbow, Rainbow, don’t be blue

Our recruiter screwed us too

Sound off – One Two,

Sound off – Three Four

new rainbows

The term “rainbows” was applied to new recruits who had not yet received their uniforms or haircuts and were marching in civilian clothes.  Our civilian “uniforms” made us stand out like sore thumbs, much to the delight of the more “advanced” squadrons.  Their pointing and taunts made us wonder what was in store for us.

Basic training lasted 12 weeks.  It did not take long for me to develop friendships with the same type of guys that I did in high school.  This was generally guys who had little or no respect for laws, traditions, rules or anything getting in the way of a good time.  Needless, to say, one would quickly realize that guys like this (myself included) would not be a good fit for the military.

maxresdefault

Hanging out with my new friends, I soon became involved in a few minor infractions which broke rules and traditions.  Air Force basic training had many rules and my motto had always been that: “rules are made to be broken.”  My friends agreed with this motto and it seemed like we were on a collision course with the military.  My one saving grace was that I did not really find the physical aspects of the military very difficult to deal with.  I had always been athletic and drills and PT (Physical Training) were easy for me.  I even found them kind of fun.  Nevertheless, I was not sure of many of the other restrictions that chafed at my sense of independence.

Then it happened.  One night after lights were out and I was sound asleep, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a voice saying, “Wake up, Wake up.”  I am a pretty light sleeper and I sat up and saw one of my three “good” buddies who was standing next to my cot.  Roger whispered, “get dressed, we are leaving.”  “Where are we going?” I asked.  He replied, “We are going to rob the BX (Base Exchange) and go to Mexico.  We can have a great time.”

A jumble of thoughts went through my head.   I had previously been arrested for breaking and entering.  The idea of getting away with a base robbery sounded like a stretch.  I was tired and it was late at night.  I responded with “Have a good time, I am going back to sleep.”  That was the end of that.  I did not see my three friends for another six or seven weeks.  I made the second major decision of my life, but I am still not sure what the deciding factors were.

Several weeks later, an officer requested that my T.I. send me to his office.  My T.I. told me to report to the JAG (Judge Advocate General) Corp office and to see Lieutenant Perry. I went to the JAG office and reported to the officer who requested to see me.  “Airman Persico,” he started.  “Do you know Roger” and he named the other two of my former friends.  “Yes, sir” I replied.  “Well, they have requested you as a character witness in their upcoming trial.  Seems like you were their only friend on base.  You are hereby ordered to report to this office in two weeks.  (I do not remember the date).  I am representing them at their court martial trial for theft and going AWOL (Absence without official leave).  Dismissed!”

Two weeks went by and I had a lot of time to think about what I was going to say.  I would wow the court with my elocution and polemics.  In no time at all, I would have the charges against my friends dismissed.  I was confident in my ability to persuade the court.  I left my barracks at the appointed time and found my way to the courtroom where the trial for my friends was being held.  I gave my name upon entering and took a seat that was assigned to me.  I was soon called to the stand and told to swear that I would tell the whole truth etc.

FI_CourtroomAFJAGS

An officer, I would never know if he was the defense or prosecuting attorney asked me my name and if I had any knowledge of the three men on trial.  I replied that I did and then I started in on my rehearsed defense.  I was quickly told to be quiet and to only answer a question when asked or I would be held in contempt and find myself in the brig along with my three buddies.  My questioning went on for five minutes or so and it seemed like everything I said only dug a deeper hole for the defendants.  When they were through with my testimony, I was dismissed and told to report back to my squadron.  I felt like a total failure.

awol2

My friends all received time in jail and a dishonorable discharge.

I soon left Lackland AFB for my training assignment in Biloxi, Mississippi AFB as a Radar Technician.  I would never see or hear from my former friends again.  I often think back upon the decision that I made and the impact that a different choice would have had on my life.   Did I make a choice or was it destiny?

In Part 3, I will describe the third of my 3 most important life decisions and the impact that it has had on my life.

“We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”  — Ken Levine

 

 

 

 

The Day I Joined the Air Force – Part One

download

There is a prelude to this story.  I grew up with a father who was abusive.  He was six feet four inches tall and weighed 210 lbs.  I was five foot eight inches tall and weighed 145 lbs.  He had been a professional boxer with 21 wins and two losses.  I lived in fear of him for many years.  During high school, I seldom dated.  I never went to a single high school dance or prom.  Shortly after the end of my high school years in 1964, I finally found a girl whom I liked.  She also seemed to like me.  We dated a few times and I planned a Saturday night out with her.  I had my own car and had funded my own expenses ever since I was sixteen.  I had just turned 18 in the September of 1964.

I arrived home late Saturday afternoon.  It was the first week of October (the day of my planned date) and my father was sitting at the dining room table with a couple of friends.  He said he needed a fourth for a game of pinochle.  I did not want to play since my father hated to lose and I knew he would blame me if we did.  Nevertheless, my father demanded that I be his partner and so I sat down with his two friends for a few games.  Sure enough, we lost the first game and my father started to complain about my play and that I had really screwed up the plays.  We started the second game and he started right in again complaining about my play.  I finally had enough of his berating me and I simply said, “I quit.”  He blew his usual fuse and told me that I was grounded and that I should go to my room.

I went up to bed and woke up about 2 AM in the morning.  I don’t think I ever went to sleep.  I packed a few things in a bag and climbed out my bedroom window.  I went over to a friend’s house and knocked on the door.  Bobby Fandetti (AKA Rock) came to the door.  He was surprised but he let me in.  I told him that I needed a place to stay for the night.  He said fine and that I could sleep on the couch.

The next morning, I told Bob I was going down to military row (where all the military recruiters had their office) and that I was going to join the military.  Bob gave me a ride and I made him promise not to tell anyone where I had gone or that I had stayed the night with him.

I knew I had no chance of getting into any college.  I had poor grades and no money.  I had two arrests.  The first for breaking and entry (a stupid robbery with six other guys from my corner) and the second for a fight leading to an assault and battery charge.  Fortunately, both offenses were sealed since they had occurred before I turned eighteen.

Upon getting down to Providence, Bob dropped me off and left.  I had twenty dollars with me and a few clothes.  I walked down the block looking in the various military recruitment centers.  The recruiters were desperate and would have taken a warm body since the Vietnam war was in full swing.  I started looking at the various uniforms in the windows.  My biggest criteria concerned in which uniform would I have the best chance of getting laid.

marines

I did not like the Marine uniforms.  They seemed too gaudy.  Navy was out since their uniforms looked silly to me.  They were bell bottoms before bell bottoms became in.  The Army uniforms seemed too drab.  Green was never my favorite color.  Then I saw the Air Force uniforms.  They reminded me of my high school colors which were blue and gray. It was an immediate hit.  I could see myself scoring lots of babes in this cool uniform.

navy

At the time this all occurred, my father was an American Legion Post commander.  He was a decorated and disabled WW II veteran.  He saw service in Patton’s Third Army as a tank guard.  He won a Purple Heart for his combat injuries.  My father hated communists and had drilled me with the evilness of communists.  My motto when I went into the military was “Kill a commie for Christ.”

army uniform

The recruiter did all he could to make my day.  He was friendly and helpful and gave me a coke and some snacks.  I had to take a test called ASVAB that he said would determine which job I got.  I did not really care which job since I thought that I could get into some combat group and go to Vietnam to kill some “commie gooks.”  I got an AFSC or Air Force Service Code as a Nuclear Weapons Specialist.  For some reason, this was later changed to a 30352 code as an AC&W Radar Technician and I was switched from going to military training in Chanute, Kansas to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi.  But first, every Air Force recruit had to go to basic training at Lackland AFB just outside San Antonio, Texas.

air force

However, I was not in the military yet.  I had a bunch of papers to sign and then they sent me by car to an induction center where many other branches of the military also went.  At this center I was going to get a physical.  I remember fifty or more guys all in this big hall and all of us told to strip naked.  A few physicians then went around checking everybody out with a stethoscope.  Guys with obvious impairments were told to get dressed and go home.  Finally, about a half of the original guys were still there.  We were told to put our civvies back on and then we would be sworn in.  We went into another room, where we repeated some oaths and the Pledge of Allegiance.  We were now in the United States Military.

swearing in

I was then sent by commercial bus from Providence to New Jersey.  From the bus terminal I got a ride to the Newark Airport.  At the airport, I somehow (I do not remember how) met some other Air Force recruits.  We had all been given vouchers for ten dollars or so for meals while waiting for our flight to Texas.  We decided to go to a café at the airport for supper.   When we got seated the waitress came around with a menu.  We told her that we had these meal vouchers.  As we ordered. it appeared that even if the price of a meal was less than our vouchers, there were items that we (for unknown reasons) could not purchase with our vouchers.  I got pissed, since I felt we were being ripped off.  I gave my voucher away and left.

I had my twenty dollars and I went in search of another dinner venue.  The airport had this upscale dining area and I went in and seated myself down.  I was surprised that I was the only diner in the room at the time.  The waiter came and he gave me a menu.  On it was a boiled lobster dinner for $18.99.  I thought “Hell, I am going out in style.”  I had never had a boiled lobster dinner in a restaurant although I had caught and eaten many lobsters in Rhode Island.

boiled-lobster-dinner-CNH3FH

The lobster came and I put a bib around my neck and proceeded to eat the lobster.  I was quite adept at cracking lobster shells (having lived in R.I. from my 11th to 18th year of life).  After I was finished with dinner, I noticed a bowl with water and a lemon floating on it.  I was staring at the bowl thinking it might be some weird soup.  The waiter noticed my gaze and came over and very quietly asked me if I knew what it was for.  I said no and he told me that it was to wash my fingers in.  I will never forget his kindness for not embarrassing me or my own lack of knowledge of good etiquette.  This would come back many times to embarrass me in my later years even after I had obtained my Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota.

I then rejoined the other recruits and we waited rather silently for the plane that would take us to our new lives.

To Be Continued:

Sinner Man, Sinner Woman, Are You a Sinner?

original sin

Sin has a special place in Christian society.  According to orthodox Christians, we are all sinners.   Most Christians upon hearing this will simply nod their head and agree.  The Catholic Church has two types of sin.  One is mortal sin.  This will get you a place in hell if not confessed before you die.  The other is called venial sin.  A venial sin gives you a place in Purgatory where you fry only for a little while until the sin is expurgated.  Then you can move on to heaven having been cleansed of “sinful” behavior.  Somewhat recently, the Catholic Church got rid of the idea of Purgatory.  It is either heaven or hell these days.

Now if you are of a more secular bent, you may dismiss the idea of sin.  In fact, you may be offended by the idea.  For myself as an atheist, I accept that the idea of sin holds some validity in the sense that some behaviors are so egregious they need strong condemnation.  The Ten Commandments depict several such behaviors that are evil enough to have been banned or outlawed in many societies.  Principally among these are murder, robber and adultery.  Even so, these behaviors are far from uncommon throughout the world.

seven deadly sins

Most of us have no doubt heard of the “seven deadly sins.”  The “seven deadly sins” were originally based on a list of eight principal vices.  This list was developed by the mystic Evagrius Ponticus in the fourth century CE.  In the sixth century, Pope Gregory I changed the list of eight vices into the list of seven deadly, or cardinal, sins of Roman Catholic theology.  This list includes pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth.  The only problem with this list is that you would look long and hard before you would find anyone who did not harbor at least one of these “sins.”  I suspect most of us are guilty of all of them at one time or another.  If sin is so common what good does it do to punish people with threats of hell and perdition?

When some behavior becomes normal, can it still be a sin?  Will most Americans go to hell for being greedy?  You are liable to say “no, surely not!”  There is no law against greed, gluttony or pride.  I am no sinner because I lust after the beautiful babe in the skintight yoga pants

Thus, it would be easy to argue that Pope Gregory 1 went overboard with his definition of these seven behaviors as sinful.  If these are not sins, should they even rank as vices?  What if greed were regarded as a vice, what would that say about modern American society?

“A worldwide survey found that majorities of people in the U.K., Canada, Spain and Australia think of Americans as violent, greedy and arrogant…The poll, conducted by the Pew Research Center, found that a median of 54 percent of people in countries surveyed associated the negative trait of arrogance with Americans. Fifty-two percent associate greed, and 48 percent say Americans are violent. — The world thinks Americans are violent, greedy, arrogant — and Americans agree  — Teresa Welsh (2016)

I could make a case that each of these seven vices or sins is simply a normal manifestation of human behavior.  Any one of them can be taken to extremes and become dysfunctional but where is the line drawn between normal pride and excessive pride, where is the line drawn between envy and desire and who draws the lines?  My argument is that calling these seven characteristics as vices is almost as extreme as calling them sins.

Does this mean that all of us are perfect?  Can any of us be as pure at heart as Sir Galahad?  Very unlikely, I would think.  So, if we are not sinful or full of vices, then what are we?

I like the word flawed.  Vocabulary.com defines flawed as:

“Flawed objects have some kind of imperfection — a dent or a blemish.  No one’s perfect, so everyone is flawed in some way, but when this word describes a person it often means ‘weak in character.’  A Shakespearian flawed hero has some flaw or foible that will ultimately be his undoing: in other words, a fatal flaw.”

I do not accept that we are all sinful.  I do believe that we are all flawed.  However, I also reject the idea that it means we are weak in character.  Many common run of the mill flaws are more lapses in judgement than they are permanent attributes.  My own definition of a flawed person is “someone who has a behavior that often causes either discomfort to the individual or to those who interact with the individual.”

original-1328023-1There are things that bother other people which may not be flaws at all.  In fact, some so called flaws demonstrate individuals who are marching to a different drummer or who are defying conventional social norms.  To defy anti-Semitism in Germany during the early 20th century would have been considered a character flaw.  To be an abolitionist in the South prior to the Civil War would have led to persecution by your fellow citizens.  Who today would consider these character flaws?  History will often show that a “flawed” individual was a hero or heroine rather than someone with a character defect.

No doubt, some flaws are more serious than others.  Some can be “fatal flaws” depending on the culture and specific context.  Today sexism is widely regarded as being a very serious flaw.  To be accused of sexism can mean the end of a career or worse depending on the infraction.  Witness the number of recent trials for those guilty of sexism.  And of course, it is not only men who succumb to the lure of sex and power but women as well as evidenced by the recent debacle that ensnared former Representative Katie Hill.  No one should be surprised though to know that there are still those who harbor anti-Semitic, sexist or racist sentiments and many who regard these behaviors as normal.

narcissists-deny-flaws-in-themselves

But sin including the concept of “Original Sin” is something that excuses the participant.  If you sin, you can simply confess to god or your local pastor and be forgiven.  If you believe that we are all sinners, when do you stop sinning?  A flaw does not give you the excuse that a sin does.  Saying “we are all sinners” is like saying “we are all racists.”  Even if it were true, so what?  What are you going to do about being a racist?  Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.”  He did not say “go sin and come back again and be forgiven.”

A flaw must be addressed in a different way.  A flaw is something that must be acknowledged and not simply forgiven.  A flaw is something that you must work on.  If you are lazy or greedy, you can through diligence and discipline become “unlazy and ungreedy.”  History is full of examples of people with “flaws” who overcame them and went on to valued exemplary lives.

opportunity

A flaw does not imply any inherent ineradicable weakness.  There is no evidence that people have a DNA gene for the seven vices/sins.  A flaw gives you a choice.  Live with it and deal with the consequences or manage it and improve your character.

“When I pass, speak freely of my shortcomings and my flaws. Learn from them, for I’ll have no ego to injure.”  — Aaron McGruder

 

 

 

The 58th Running of the Greatest Race in America

124_2018_b3-tyrrell8201_c0-499-1800-1548_s885x516

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are glad to see you here today for the 58th running of the Democratic Presidential Primaries presented by corporate donors and major international lobbyists.  We have a formidable field gathered this year for what portends to be one of the greatest showdowns of all time.  The winner of this race will go on to face the unbeaten stallion “Liar in Chief” in a match race of two miles on November 3, 2020.

democratic-primary

We are showing the largest assembly of competitors in the history of this race.  We have almost two dozen contenders for this high-stakes contest.  The stakes are high since only one horse will go on to face “The Liar in Chief.”  The odds-on favorites for this elimination race are currently Crazy Bernie, Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe but dark horses abound in this field of twenty-five hot-blooded contestants.  There are several bad actors who just might throw the leaders off their pace.  Each of these runners has a history of agility, speed and spirit.  There are only one or two maidens in the field.  At this time, no contestant can conclusively be ruled out, but you can look at the following chart to see the odds given by the bookmakers.  Racing forms are also available for those of you who want more history on each horse.

odds

Today’s race is a 1 ¾ mile flat oval.  The track today is dry and fast with an even surface.  This track tends to favor horses with more stamina and endurance.  It is a beautiful day here with an expected high of 80 degrees and sunny skies.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise as the famous Darth Vader Group sings our national anthem.

The “Call to Post” and “Riders Up” have been sounded and the horses are now beginning to head to the starting gates.  In addition, to the large field you will notice as they parade by the stands that we have more diversity of saddle cloth colors here than we have ever seen before.  We have browns, blacks, pinks, blue, green, khaki, rainbow, yellow and lots of whites but still reds.  Speculation exists that Pocahontas is part red but others dispute this claim.

OOKOTV5EJZBKVMSVHZMUFOYU6U

Crazy Bernie is loading in post position 12.  Pocahontas is in post position 4 and Sleepy Joe has loaded with the inside track in post position 1.  Sleepy Joe is considered a Frontrunner so post position 1 will play to his strengths.  Crazy Bernie is considered a Closer who likes to let the other horses get out in front and then sneak up when the time is right, so position 12 will play to his strengths.  Pocahontas and the other mares in the race are mostly filling the inside positions as many still see their strengths as pushing the stronger stallions.

“Race Fans:  The 58th Democratic Primary.  They are in the gate and they are off.”

A great start.  Very Nasty, Pocahontas and Snowwoman all flashing early speed coming out of the inside.  Pocahontas in the lead and clearly setting the pace as they make this long and dramatic run to the Clubhouse Turn.

At the first turn, its Pocahontas, Very Nasty and Snowwoman followed by Allred E. Neumann, A Flake and A Horrible Mayor.  Twelve lengths off the lead and coming on the inside is Sleepy Joe and off the pace is Crazy Bernie trailing the pack.

Racing for the far turn is Pocahontas, Snowwoman and Very Nasty.  Very Nasty now dropping back.  Very Nasty now trails by six lengths.  As they round the turn, sixteen candidates are effectively out of this race.  It’s clear that they underestimated the strength and stamina that this race would take.

horse-race-720x480

Coming up strong on the backstretch is Sleepy Joe.  Sleepy Joe has passed Very Nasty.  Sleepy Joe is trailing Pocahontas by three lengths.  Snowwoman has gone to the outside but is losing her speed.  With 1/8 mile to go, it is Pocahontas, Sleepy Joe and Very Nasty.

Now with a strong move coming up on the inside is Crazy Bernie.  Crazy Bernie is making a bold run up the rail.  Crazy Bernie has passed Very Nasty and is now following Pocahontas and Sleepy Joe.  Very Nasty is falling back.  Snowwoman and Very Nasty trail by fourteen lengths.

democratic_derby

As we near the finish line, Sleepy Joe is losing the pace.  Looks like it’s going to be a race between Crazy Bernie and Pocahontas.  Crazy Bernie and Pocahontas are running neck and neck.  With only fifty yards to go, it is Pocahontas and Crazy Bernie.  Ladies and Gentlemen, it is going to be a photo finish.  But wait!  Pocahontas appears to be pulling up.  She is pulling up!  She has let Crazy Bernie take the lead.

It’s Crazy Bernie in first, Pocahontas in second followed by Sleepy Joe at the finish line in this 58th Presidential Primary.

Wow, what a race.  There are going to be a lot of questions at the Pocahontas Stables after this race.  Why did she pull up?  Did Pocahontas come out too soon?  Can a mare really handle the heat?

Stay Tuned for the match race between two old stallions for the President of America Sweepstakes.  Winner takes all in thirteen more months.

Writers Note:  

My skepticism and humor may be lost to some people.  The “nicknames” for the horses are names that our esteemed leader has bestowed on some of the Democratic candidates.  Since race horses generally have interesting names, I chose to use his “nicknames” rather than the actual names of the candidates.  If you are offended by my brand of humor, well just delete me from your blog list and accept my humble apologies.  Brands of humor can be like fish.  Not every fish is everyone’s delight. 

The main point of this blog is (in my mind anyway), the way this whole primary thing seems like a race rather than a process to select the best candidate.  It is orchestrated for TV to sell ads more than to inform the American public.  If you think these debates are informative, than I am happy for you.  I think the entire process is a waste of money and an ineffective way to select someone to run for the Presidency of the United States of America. 

 

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: