5 Reminders That There Are A Lot of Good Cops Out There

The more things change, the more things stay the same....

The more things change, the more things stay the same….

There are plenty of things to be critical of about what is happening in Ferguson, MO right now…. Too many things to count. The thought of trying to to point out all of the messed up things about that situation makes me feel incredibly overwhelmed, but mostly just sad. I cannot tell you how tired I am of white America looking for the reason–even expecting the reason–for why YET ANOTHER young black man has been gunned down and killed (for a really insightful take on this issue, you should read my friend’s blog HERE). And then, when they find a reason (like finding out that Trayvon Martin had smoked pot before), there’s this disturbing sigh of relief…. Like, “THERE is is…. That’s why he got gunned down.” I don’t know if Michael Brown stole some Swisher Sweets from a convenience store or not, but even if he did, stealing cigarettes is not a reason to get killed. The militarization of our police force has got to stop. The filling of our prisons with young black men who are convicted of non-violent crimes has got to stop. The profiling of African Americans, and the “What did you say to me, boy?” way of dealing with black youth by some people in law enforcement has GOT TO STOP.

But here’s an important thing to remember: Most police officers are really good people who really are doing their jobs the right way. The police motto is “To Protect and Serve.” There are all kinds of police officers out there who are doing just that. They are building relationships with communities, and they are building trust with people…. Without tear gas or rubber bullets (which are at least better than real bullets) or riot gear. It is easy for us to focus our attention on images of brutality, but that is not the norm. Here are a few reminders that there are so many police officers out there who are making good decisions and preserving the peace…. All while sometimes putting themselves in harm’s way:

HERE IS AN OFFICER LOSING A DANCE OFF…. BADLY

HERE IS AN OFFICER BUYING A HOMELESS MAN A PAIR OF SHOES

odd_shoes_homeless

From a Facebook comment: “in a time when our hearts are in despair and we are bombarded with bad news, it is the human spirit and acts of kindness who really define who we are. God bless!”

HERE IS AN OFFICER WHO WAS CAUGHT BUYING A KID SOME FOOD, JUST BEFORE HE WAS SHOT AND KILLED MINUTES LATER

HERE IS AN OFFICER HIGH-FIVING A WOMAN DOING A BEER BONG

AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, HERE IS AN OFFICER WHO KEEPS HIS GUN IN HIS HOLSTER, WHO ENDS UP BEING HELPED BY A HOMELESS MAN

Where institutionalized racism and prejudice and injustice are present in communities, we all need to come together and call it what it is. We need to stand together–whatever we look like, and wherever we come from–and loudly proclaim that it is not okay. I believe that the folks in Ferguson have every right to be angry. And a case could be made that they have every right to hit back. But just like Martin Luther King, Jr. said before a protest in Alabama, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.” This is the path to peace. And, more importantly, it’s the path to reconciliation. God, where we see videos of angry black youth looting stores and lighting fires and we think, “They’re all like that”–FORGIVE US! And God, where we see videos of police officers using intimidation and excessive force and we think, “They’re all like that”–FORGIVE US! For every time we look at the actions of a few–whether the thing that makes them different is a color or a nationality of a religion–and we think to ourselves, “They’re all like that,” God, forgive us! And change our hearts…. Beloved, let us love one another!

Posted in 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Oh Captain, My Captain!

We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we're members of the human race…

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we’re members of the human race…

I remember that night like it was yesterday…. I was old enough for a moped, but not old enough for a car. I and some friends went to see a movie downtown in the little Michigan tourist town I grew up in. It only had one screen–one of those hundred year old theaters that got transformed into a place to watch movies–and, for some reason, that night the line to get in was around the corner. We found some seats before they were all taken. The air was electric…. And from the very beginning to the very end, the movie Dead Poets Society spoke to me like no movie had ever spoken to me before.

Tears.

Tears.

I haven’t been walking around thinking, “Man, Robin Williams really means a lot to me.” Not until this afternoon, that is. All of a sudden, Facebook is filled up with remembrances and quotes and pictures and clips from movies, and my eyes are filled up with tears. I grew up laughing with Mork & Mindy. I watched Good Morning Vietnam on HBO by myself as a kid, and I learned about speaking the truth when it is hard. Oh Awakenings…. Oh Hook…. Oh Aladdin‘s Genie…. You taught me lessons about what it means to be human. I think Birdcage might have been the first gay couple I had seen in a movie and genuinely LIKED. I felt my theology being stretched in What Dreams May Come, and as you said those words–“It’s not your fault”–over and over in Good Will Hunting, I felt like you were saying them to me. And a part of me believed you….

It's not my fault....

It’s not my fault….

But nothing compares to what happened that day, in the old Grand Movie Theater, as we watched Dead Poets Society. It was like we had all been hungry, but we didn’t know what for. But we had been waiting for it. Waiting for you to whisper, “Carpe…. Hear it? Carpe…. Carpe diem…. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” There was a poet in me too, Captain! I wanted to Sound my Barbaric YAWP over the Rooftops of the World! I was inspired! I wanted to suck the marrow! I was a ROMANTIC…. I finally had a word for it.

Those word spoke to me, and changed something in me. But something happened that day that I doubt I will ever see again in my life. Most of the way through the film, after Neil dies and the school is looking for a scapegoat, the boys get together and that stupid, red-headed kid says he finked on Mr. Keating. He says, “If you guys are smart, you’ll do exactly like I did.” And at that moment when the words “Let Keating fry” were met by Charlie’s fist, I cheered. I YAWPED in celebration, and I lept out of my seat onto my feet… hands in the air. Seconds later, I remembered where I was, and for a moment I was embarrassed for standing up and cheering in a movie theater…. Until I looked around, and I saw at least half of the people in that theater on their feet with me. Cheering. I still get goosebumps thinking about it today: The better part of an audience, leaping to their feet at the same time, enraged and inspired…. It’ll never happen again.

And as that movie ended, I wished I could have stood on those desks with those other boys–actors and strangers who, after just two hours, felt like my brothers–and told you Robin Williams/Mr. Keating/father-figure that what just took place meant something to me. Something beyond simply enjoying a movie. Something that would fan the flame of a song writer in me. A lover. A poet. A romantic. Something that would send me toward an English Major in college. Something that still inspires me as I write this here tonight. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” I often feel that way…. But I still hear those words you said to those boys–my brothers: “Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” I’m still trying.

Thank you, Robin Williams for your life. The powerful play goes on, and you have contributed a verse…. May you finally know peace. And rest.

Posted in 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

The Man Who Blessed The Bombs

When the United States dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 69 years ago, a priest named Father George Zabelka was the man who blessed the bombers. Through a relationship with Martin Luther King Jr, he came to realize that the “necessary killing” of war to which he had given his support was  completely incompatible with Christianity. Today there are military conflicts in Syria and Iraq and Gaza that the people in power can imagine no way out of other than more bullets and bombs and bloodshed, and once again, the Church is largely putting their support behind this plan of killing our enemies. The Biblical scholar John L. McKenzie said, “If we cannot know from the New Testament that Jesus absolutely rejected violence, we can know nothing of his teaching or message. It is the clearest of teachings.” This is still true today…. Martin Luther King learned it, George Zabelka learned it, and we need to learn it too. The following is a speech that Zebelka gave at the 40th anniversary of the bombings. I beg you to read it and let its truth wash over you (I have put some of the passages in bold print):

This is not what peace looks like.

This is not what peace looks like.

The destruction of civilians in war was always forbidden by the Church, and if a soldier came to me and asked if he could put a bullet through a child’s head, I would have told him, absolutely not. That would be mortally sinful.  But in 1945 Tinian Island was the largest airfield in the world. Three planes a minute could take off from it around the clock. Many of these planes went to Japan with the express purpose of killing not one child or one civilian but of slaughtering hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of children and civilians – and I said nothing.

As a Catholic chaplain I watched as the Boxcar, piloted by a good Irish Catholic pilot, dropped the bomb on Urakami Cathedral in Nagasaki, the center of Catholicism in Japan. I never preached a single sermon against killing civilians to the men who were doing it… It never entered my mind to protest publicly the consequences of these massive air raids. I was told it was necessary – told openly by the military and told implicitly by my Church’s leadership.

I worked with Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Civil Rights struggle in Flint, Michigan. His example and his words of nonviolent action, choosing love instead of hate, truth instead of lies, and nonviolence instead of violence stirred me deeply. This brought me face to face with pacifism – active nonviolent resistance to evil. I recall his words after he was jailed in Montgomery, and this blew my mind. He said, “Blood may flow in the streets of Montgomery before we gain our freedom, but it must be our blood that flows, and not that of the white man. We must not harm a single hair on the head of our white brothers.”

Prophet.

Prophet.

I struggled. I argued. But yes, there it was in the Sermon on the Mount, very clear: “Love your enemies. Return good for evil.” I went through a crisis of faith. Either accept what Christ said, as unpassable and silly as it may seem, or deny him completely. For the last 1700 years the Church has not only been making war respectable: it has been inducing people to believe it is an honorable profession, an honorable Christian profession. This is not true. We have been brainwashed. This is a lie.

War is now, always has been, and always will be bad, bad news. I was there. I saw real war. Those who have seen real war will bear me out. I assure you, it is not of Christ. It is not Christ’s way. There is no way to conduct real war in conformity with the teachings of Jesus.

The ethics of mass butchery cannot be found in the teachings of Jesus. In Just War ethics, Jesus Christ, who is supposed to be all in the Christian life, is irrelevant. He might as well never have existed. In Just War ethics, no appeal is made to him or his teaching, because no appeal can be made to him or his teaching, for neither he nor his teaching gives standards for Christians to follow in order to determine what level of slaughter is acceptable.

So the world is watching today. Ethical hairsplitting over the morality of various types of instruments and structures of mass slaughter is not what the world needs from the Church, although it is what the world has come to expect from the followers of Christ. What the world needs is a grouping of Christians that will stand up and pay up with Jesus Christ. What the world needs is Christians who, in language that the simplest soul could understand, will proclaim: the follower of Christ cannot participate in mass slaughter. He or she must love as Christ loved, live as Christ lived, and, if necessary, die as Christ died, loving ones enemies.

This is George. He died in 1992 but the truth of his words lives on.

This is George. He died in 1992 but the truth of his words lives on.

For the 300 years immediately following Jesus’ resurrection, the Church universally saw Christ and his teaching as nonviolent. Remember that the Church taught this ethic in the face of at least three serious attempts by the state to liquidate her. It was subject to horrendous and ongoing torture and death. If ever there was an occasion for justified retaliation and defensive slaughter, whether in form of a just war or a just revolution, this was it. The economic and political elite of the Roman state and their military had turned the citizens of the state against Christians and were embarked on a murderous public policy of exterminating the Christian community. Yet the Church, in the face of the heinous crimes committed against her members, insisted without reservation that when Christ disarmed Peter he disarmed all Christians.

Christians continued to believe that Christ was, to use the words of an ancient liturgy, their fortress, their refuge, and their strength, and that if Christ was all they needed for security and defense, then Christ was all they should have. Indeed, this was a new security ethic. Christians understood that if they would only follow Christ and his teaching, they couldn’t fail. When opportunities were given for Christians to appease the state by joining the fighting Roman army, these opportunities were rejected, because the early Church saw a complete and an obvious incompatibility between loving as Christ loved and killing. It was Christ, not Mars, who gave security and peace.

Today the world is on the brink of ruin because the Church refuses to be the Church, because we Christians have been deceiving ourselves and the non-Christian world about the truth of Christ. There is no way to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. It is a lie to say that the spirit that moves the trigger of a flamethrower is the Holy Spirit. It is a lie to say that learning to kill is learning to be Christ-like. It is a lie to say that learning to drive a bayonet into the heart of another is motivated from having put on the mind of Christ. Militarized Christianity is a lie. It is radically out of conformity with the teaching, life, and spirit of Jesus.

Symbolism

Symbolism.

Now, brothers and sisters, on the anniversary of this terrible atrocity carried out by Christians, I must be the first to say that I made a terrible mistake. I was had by the father of lies. I participated in the big ecumenical lie of the Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches. I wore the uniform. I was part of the system. When I said Mass over there I put on those beautiful vestments over my uniform. (When Father Dave Becker left the Trident submarine base in 1982 and resigned as Catholic chaplain there, he said, “Every time I went to Mass in my uniform and put the vestments on over my uniform, I couldn’t help but think of the words of Christ applying to me: Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”)

As an Air Force chaplain I painted a machine gun in the loving hands of the nonviolent Jesus, and then handed this perverse picture to the world as truth. I sang “Praise the Lord” and passed the ammunition. As Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group, I was the final channel that communicated this fraudulent image of Christ to the crews of the Enola Gay and the Boxcar.

All I can say today is that I was wrong. Christ would not be the instrument to unleash such horror on his people. Therefore no follower of Christ can legitimately unleash the horror of war on God’s people. Excuses and self-justifying explanations are without merit. All I can say is: I was wrong! But, if this is all I can say, this I must do, feeble as it is. For to do otherwise would be to bypass the first and absolutely essential step in the process of repentance and reconciliation: admission of error, admission of guilt.

There have been many reports of beheadings in the middle east today. Please remember that killing people because "God thinks you should" is the cause of this. Whether is is by bullet, bomb, or sword, religious fundamentalism mixed with nationalism results in dead kids. God Help us.

There have been many reports of beheadings in the middle east today. Please remember that killing people because “God thinks you should” is the cause of this. Whether is is by bullet, bomb, or sword, religious fundamentalism mixed with nationalism results in dead kids. God Help us.

I asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas (the Japanese survivors of the atomic bombings) in Japan last year, in a pilgrimage that I made with a group from Tokyo to Hiroshima. I fell on my face there at the peace shrine after offering flowers, and I prayed for forgiveness – for myself, for my country, for my Church. Both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. This year in Toronto, I again asked forgiveness from the Hibakushas present. I asked forgiveness, and they asked forgiveness for Pearl Harbor and some of the horrible deeds of the Japanese military, and there were some, and I knew of them. We embraced. We cried. Tears flowed. That is the first step of reconciliation – admission of guilt and forgiveness. Pray to God that others will find this way to peace.

Thank God that I’m able to stand here today and speak out against war, all war. The prophets of the Old Testament spoke out against all false gods of gold, silver, and metal. Today we are worshipping the gods of metal, the bomb. We are putting our trust in physical power, militarism, and nationalism. The bomb, not God, is our security and our strength. The prophets of the Old Testament said simply: Do not put your trust in chariots and weapons, but put your trust in God. Their message was simple, and so is mine.

We must all become prophets. I really mean that. We must all do something for peace. We must stop this insanity of worshipping the gods of metal. We must take a stand against evil and idolatry. This is our destiny at the most critical time of human history. But it’s also the greatest opportunity ever offered to any group of people in the history of our world – to save our world from complete annihilation.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

God Loves Hamas

I realize that even reading those three words is deeply offensive to so many people. I just googled the words “God loves Hamas,” and there were only six results. Six. On the entire internet. So I’m aware that it’s not a very popular sentiment. But before you skip ahead to the comments section and write with all the righteous anger inside of you, please do me a favor and read what I’ve written. It is short…

Different madmen....

Different madmen….

First, a parable: Imagine that a group of madmen runs into a school and starts shooting at police from the windows of the school–still filled with children. Then the police, aware of all the children in that school, decide to shell the school in an attempt to kill the madmen…. killing 16 civilians–mostly women and children–and wounding scores of others. Who is to blame for the deaths? Are the madmen to blame, or are the police?

The answer is yes. Yes, the madmen are to blame. Yes, the police are to blame. Yes.

And with the violence in Palestine, with these military attacks and the death, destruction, and humanitarian crisis that naturally follows, the world argues over whose “fault” it is. “They took our land!” “They struck first!” “They are oppressing us!” “They want us dead!” “WE ARE IN THE RIGHT!” But the fault in Gaza is not with one side or the other side…. The fault is in the very concept of sides. It is in the concept of revenge. It is in the concept of meeting violence with violence. It is in the very idea that those on the other side are so far beyond redemption that they don’t deserve to live. The great tragedy of war is not how many people die. The greater tragedy is how many people are willing to kill. We all die someday….

“...I believe in a God of scandalous grace. I have pledged allegiance to a King who loved evildoers so much he died for them, teaching us that there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for.” ~ Shane Claiborne, one of my heroes.

“…I believe in a God of scandalous grace. I have pledged allegiance to a King who loved evildoers so much he died for them, teaching us that there is something worth dying for but nothing worth killing for.” ~ Shane Claiborne, one of my heroes.

One side screams “HUMAN SHIELDS!” The other side rattles off statistics. Over 1800 dead, 400 dead kids, almost 250 dead women…. But even distinguishing these statistics is such a messed up, “seeing things the way the world sees them” way of looking at things. As if all the men who died had it coming. The world makes distinctions between killing the “guilty” and killing the innocent, but young or old, man or woman, they all leave behind people who love them. And without an intentional break in the cycle of violence, the ones left behind end up building on the hate that look the life of their loved one until it leads to even more suffering and death. And on and on and on….

But Jesus looked at a crowd of people and said, “You have heard it said….” And just like that crowd, we “hear it said” all the time. We hear it said every time Christians make a case for carrying around very effective killing tools just in case. We hear it said when Tennessee passes a law making the electric chair legal again, just in case we run out of the chemicals we need to kill people for killing people. We hear it said when pro-Israel and pro-Gaza people both make a case for why the other side deserves to die. We “have heard it said” every day. However, there is one who says, “But I tell you… Do not resist… Turn… Hand over… Go with them… Give… Love….” Imagine if the church started acting like Jesus actually meant that stuff. The spirit of the world cries out for vengeance, but the Spirit of God cries out for mercy.

"O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

“O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

And when the world sees that mercy in action, it recognizes it as something holy. Something special. Something beyond us. Our humanity recoils as we watch people demand blood for blood, but when we witness a broken person forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it, something deep in us resonates with the Spirit of God. The world has no choice but to see Jesus when they see his followers loving the seemingly unlovable. When we see the Pope washing feet of prisoners, we see Jesus. When we see a man fighting to save the life of the woman who murdered his grandmother, we see Jesus. We are called to love our enemies. Why? Because God loves them, and we are called to be like God. Even Fred Phelps? Especially Fred Phelps. Even the Boston Bombers? Especially the Boston Bombers. And this is why I love Palestine. And this is why I love Israel. And this is why I even love Hamas. Because I believe that God Loves Hamas. Just like God loved Assyria when he sent Jonah to Nineveh. God love us–ALL OF US–and he really wants us to learn how to love each other.

What hope does a child have when all he's ever been taught is hate?

What hope does a child have when all he’s ever been taught is hate?

Many of us would love to have a God who hates the same people we hate, but that’s not what we have. It’s easy to look at our enemies and decide they are just evil–and there might be some truly evil folks out there–but I believe that for the most part, people aren’t evil. Actions are evil. People are just deceived. What would happen if instead of thinking of people as evil, we thought of them as people who have believed a lie? How would that change how we treated them? Jesus referred to himself as “The Truth.” We do not spread The Truth by killing the people who have believed a lie. The world takes the side of Israel or the world takes the side of Gaza, but the Church is not the world. The Church has a Third Way. Our place is not to decide which side is more justified in killing the other–Our place is to work to end suffering, and to call humanity back to its senses. And this is important: Our place is not to simply stay out of it either–Even when we say nothing, our silence speaks very loudly. Oh Church–Let us bravely and lovingly proclaim this third way to a world who desperately needs to hear it!

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

The 10 Best Things About Having A Wife

Twelve years is a long time. I’m no marriage rookie–I KNOW THINGS! More things than I knew twelve years ago–That’s for sure. I’ve been married for almost a third of my life, so I’m sharing with you some of the things I’ve learned. And yes, I realize that some of the things on this list I’ve compiled could be true for a girlfriend, or ANY woman for that matter.  But there is just something different about a woman who loves you enough to say forever, and back it up–It changes things. There are all kinds of good things about having a wife….I don’t have time to list them all, but here are some of my favorites:

I make this same face when I get scratchy.

I make this same face when I get scratchy.

FINGERNAILS–There are some problems that can only be solved by my wife scratching my back while we lay in bed. In our house, we call it “scratchy.” As in, “Can you give me some scratchy?” My nails are nearly nonexistent, so I am usually asked for some “rubby,” but sometimes scratchy fixes things that rubby can’t fix (Upon further consultation with my wife, I have been informed that I am the only one who calls it “rubby.” She just says, “Will you rub my back?” Now that I think about it, that sounds right….). I think the peace that it brings is some sort of evolutionary echo of having another ape sit behind you and pick the ticks off your hairy back. Either way, scratchy soothes the savage beast.

REMEMBERING PEOPLE’S NAMES–I am terrible with names. For some reason, I don’t remember people’s names, but instead I somehow visualize how many letters they have in their name and guess names with the same amount of letters. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen someone (whose name I knew I was supposed to know) and snuck away into a bathroom to call my wife so she can tell me what the person’s name is. But it’s not just when I’m on my own that she helps me. When she’s at her best she will sense that I have once again forgotten a person’s name (to whom I should be introducing her) and she will instinctively offer her name in a way that forces them to say theirs. Life saver.

"Let's hear it for boobs!"

“Let’s hear it for boobs!”

BOOBS–Boobs are great. I mean, seriously…. What’s not to like? Not only are they fun and they look great, but if you have kids, you find out later that they come with the duel capabilities of keeping your kids alive while ALSO getting them to stop crying for a minute. Plus, do you have any idea how expensive formula is?!? It’s just a little bit more expensive than cocaine, so that means breast milk is liquid gold–I wrote a bit about it HERE. Anyway, boobs are magic. I’m a big fan.

KIDS–I know, I know…. You don’t need a wife to have a baby, but it sure makes thing a whole lot easier. I have three kids, and I cannot even imagine the shenanigans that would go down in this house if it wasn’t for my wife. We remind each other to breathe when those little people start losing their minds. Kids make everything in your life MORE–More fun, more frustrating, more full. And that “more” the kids bring magnifies all those things with your wife as well. Whether wives end up being moms or not, women just MAKE THE WORLD BETTER.

HARMONIZING TO MUSIC–I realize that this one doesn’t apply to everyone, but if you are lucky enough to find someone who can sing harmony, everything gets slightly better. Cleaning the kitchen with music on? Better. Singing in Church? Better. Road trips? Better. I really lucked out on this one, which is good…. We spend a lot of time in that minivan, and if she was tone-deaf I’d probably have to have the music up so loud that it would hurt the kids’ ears.

My wife is like this. Only cuter.

My wife is like this. Only cuter.

HANDLING THE TIMES WHEN LIFE SUCKS–There are times in every life when you just want to say “Screw it.” Times when you just want to move the TV into the bedroom, eat ice cream for lunch at three in the afternoon, and give up. Times you are sad enough that your beard becomes a mess of snot and tears and despair. I don’t know if we were meant to handle those sorts of times by ourselves–without the touch of a loved one’s hand–but I am so glad to have had someone there to tell me it’s going to be alright. Someone to tell me it’s alright that I’m laying down for two days. Someone to tell me it’s time to get up, and remind me why it’s worth it. And the cool thing is that you get to remind her why it’s worth it when she forgets too. We all forget every now and then….

YOU LIVE LONGER–Sure, it ups your chances for obesity, but all in all, it’s mostly good health effects. Having a wife helps you to have lower stress levels, and always having someone to be emotionally engaged with helps decrease your chance of dementia. You’re even less likely to die from cancer–Probably because your wife pestered you into going to the doctor to get that weird looking mole looked at. You know, the one that she always points out while she’s giving you scratchy….

SOMEONE TO TELL YOUR SECRETS–Just today, I told my wife something I have never told anyone else that is so embarrassing that she made a face like she just smelled a dirty diaper. Then she looks at me, while still making that same face, and says, “Yeah…. I wouldn’t ever tell anyone else that.” And then she still has to love you! It’s in the Bible.

She might give me advice like "Please don't wear that baby shirt to Church again." You can buy this at Aliexpress.com, by the way.

She might give me advice like “Please don’t wear that baby shirt to Church again.” You can buy this at Aliexpress.com, by the way.

FREE FASHION ADVICE–Whether you want it or not. Well…. You know what? I wouldn’t put this down as one of the “best” things. It’s kind of a give and take. And no one ever said you HAVE to take the advice. I can tell you this, though. I hate shopping, and since the wife has been around, I can’t tell you the last time I went shopping for clothes for myself. I just wear what’s in the closet until she convinces me to throw it away, and then she usually brings me something else to wear. So that’s something…. This must also contribute to the low stress health benefits.

FIGURING OUT WHO YOU ARE–I’m convinced this is the best part of having a wife. Being able to see yourself through her eyes is a path to enlightenment. Marriage is like a giant spotlight on all of your insecurities and your garbage. In the beginning, marriage is mostly just a carefree blur of sex and eating out and sex, but before long you realize that this person has some issues. But what is really cool is that during this sometimes volatile period where you try to inform your wife of the things she needs to work on, if you’re lucky (or even a little bit wise) you’ll see that most of the issues that bug you the most are your own. And then comes the real growth: Figuring out what a mess you are, finding peace with some things, and working to change the others.

So yeah. If you’re thinking about getting yourself a wife, I highly recommend it–It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Sorry, mine’s taken.

Posted in 3) Bathroom Humor, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The NFL’s Punishment For Knocking a Woman Unconscious Is The Same As Their Punishment For Smoking Weed

This picture represents everything that is right with Fantasy Football.

This picture represents everything that is right with Fantasy Football.

I love football. I love this time of year. The days are getting shorter, it’s not a blazing hot all the time, and soon, it will be time for another disappointing season of Fantasy Football. I know, I know–I am a dork, but I love it. I look forward to it all summer long. Because of Fantasy Football, I know entirely too much about the goings on of the NFL. And though there is usually not a whole lot going on in the world of professional football that would make its way to me writing about it here, I wanted to draw your attention to a couple of recent stories from the NFL that I think are worth talking about. The first is worth criticizing, and the second is worth celebrating. Let’s start with the criticism….

That's not grease under her eyes... Those are just good ol' fashioned black eyes.

That’s not grease under her eyes… Those are just good ol’ fashioned black eyes. NBD.

The NFL just announced that Ray Rice (you probably know him as an alumnus of my FF team “Balls Deep,” but he also is a running back for the Baltimore Ravens) will serve a 2-game suspension for knocking out his then fiancee/now wife during an argument in a casino. They actually got married the very next day. Usually they say to give it a good week after an incident of domestic assault before getting married, but I guess they went against conventional wisdom. Since the announcement of the 2-game suspension, the NFL has received quite a bit of criticism over the severity of the punishment handed down to one its players for beating up a woman on video, and then dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator. It does seem like the equivalent of a slap on the wrist, especially when you consider some of the suspensions players have gotten for other offenses.

For example, last year my team was kept out of the playoffs, partly due to a huge performance by wide receiver Josh Gordon. He was a little bit of a sleeper pick last year. Some people didn’t draft Josh Gordon early, because he was also serving a 2-game suspension as well. His was for smoking marijuana though. I suppose I can see how that would be at the same level as knocking out your fiancee…. Of course, that’s the same suspension Michael Vick got for killing a bunch of dogs. I guess he’s lucky he didn’t accidentally shoot himself in the leg with a gun–That earned Plaxico Burress a 4-game suspension! Though, football players do need their legs to run… They don’t need conscious fiancees. I mean, Albert Haynesworth received a 5-game suspension for stomping on another player during a game, and Jonathan Vilma was suspended for a WHOLE YEAR (16 games) for targeting players with hits. The NFL doesn’t like their athletes getting hurt. Violence against women, however, doesn’t seem to be high on their list of priorities. Please watch this amazing video of Keith Olbermann preaching the truth:

I guess the punishment fits the crime? So, if you’re keeping track at home, violence against women is about 50% as severe as accidentally shooting yourself in the leg, 40% as severe as kicking another player, or 12.5% as severe as trying to hit players so hard it injures them…. Or roughly the equivalent of killing a dog or smoking pot. In the NFL’s defense, Ray Rice IS a good player [sarcasm font]. Still, I’m a little bit pissed off at Ray Rice right now. I’m definitely not drafting him on my team this year…. Unless he’s still available in like the third round…. Or the second round if we’re doing a PPR league this. But yeah…. PISSED…. Maybe late first round in a PPR, I don’t know.

Ahh Twitter, this is what you're good at.

Ahh Twitter, this is what you’re good at.

In more hopeful NFL news, former player David Tyree has had an amazing change of heart. You might remember him for making what could very well be the most amazing catch in the history of the NFL, when he caught a pass from Eli Manning on the top of his helmet during the game-winning drive in the Super Bowl between the Giants and the Patriots. Or you might also know him as a vocal opponent of equal rights for LGBT people. As a player and as a spokesperson for NOM (the National Organization For Marriage, who opposes same-sex marriage), David said he would trade his Super Bowl victory to keep gays from being allowed to marry. He was also a supporter of gay conversion therapy, and he said he “wouldn’t want his children to think gay people are normal.” Which is so very messed up.

One of the best catches ever! It's cool to see that an old dog can still learn a new trick... Especially when that trick is love.

One of the best catches ever! It’s cool to see that an old dog can still learn a new trick… Especially when that trick is love.

But now, in his new role as the New York Giants’ Director of Player Development, David says he would welcome any gay player onto the team. Some cynical folks out there might think he is just playing the PR game in his new position, but it looks like it’s legit. Here’s the thing that’s really cool (well, I think it’s really cool): He is crediting his new acceptance of the LGBT community to a deeper and continuing understanding of his Christian faith. He no longer approves of any sort of gay conversion therapy, and he is distancing himself from the anti-gay statements he made before. In an article for Sports Illustrated, Wade Davis (a former player who later came out as being gay, and now serves as the Executive Director of You Can Play), after conversations with David Tyree, quoted him as saying:

“Christianity teaches us love, compassion and respect for our fellow man, and it is in that light that I will continue to work with Wade and others to better serve the gay community. I would absolutely support any player on the Giants who identified as gay, in any way I could. And I will continue to stay in touch with Wade to ensure I am aware of the right ways to do that.”

This may not sound like complete acceptance and affirmation of folks who are gay, but you know what it is? It is a step in the right direction. I love it so much when people realize that the love and acceptance of our gay brothers and sisters does not come DESPITE our Christianity, but instead it comes AS A NATURAL RESULT OF our Christianity. The more we understand who Jesus is, the easier it is to love people who are different than us. So yeah, well done, David Tyree. Keep up the good work!

Scott Fujita, former NFL linebacker, telling it like it is.

Scott Fujita, former NFL linebacker, telling it like it is.

Now if the NFL can just get its head out of its ass with this messed up system of consequences that makes it so that a player is better off hitting a woman than he is hitting another player…. But either way, BRING ON FANTASY FOOTBALL!!! This year is finally going to be my year.

***I originally published this with the title “Some Criticism and Some Encouragement For The NFL.” Then I realized that no one was going to read it with that title…. And since I really wanted people to read this one, I redid it with a title that people will actually click on. If you are a subscriber and I faked you out, I apologize. I’ll try not to do that again. Thanks again for reading!

Posted in 4) All Of The Above, 5) Not Quite Sure | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel, Gaza, and The End of Taking Sides

Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” ~ MLK

Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord.” ~ Isaiah

No one’s got Christ more wrong than Christians.” ~ Tom Petty

LOUD NOISES!!!

LOUD NOISES!!!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably seen more than one person post something recently that explains who is ACTUALLY to blame for the current conflict in Israel and Palestine. And as the violence escalates (as violence always does), people take to Facebook and Twitter with renewed fervor to share slick PR and one-sided propaganda. This will not be one of those posts. I have no interest in adding to the noise of that never-ending argument. I could spend 1500 words trying to convince you of the complexity of the situation, but if you can’t already see how both sides could truly believe that they are on the “right” side, nothing I write here is going to convince you.

You’ve probably already seen the videos attempting to explain the reasons behind the fighting: Both the “Pro-Palestine” video (that makes no mention of the very real threat of groups dedicated to the eradication of the Jews) and the “Pro-Israel” video (that attempts to simplify the issue down to “One side wants the other dead”–A ridiculously broad brush). And then, like me, you’ve probably watched as the conversations that followed disintegrated before your eyes, and any hope of understanding was abandoned. On a side note, I believe that if you really want to understand the history behind the conflict in the Holy Land, the video below by Nina Paley is probably your best place to start. In addition, you can go to her website for an explanation about each of the characters in the video.

Beyond the history of Palestine and the continued conflict in the region, this latest violence erupted after Palestinian extremists kidnapped and murdered three Israeli boys. The people who did this horrible act probably wanted Israel to respond with an attack…. and Israel gave them exactly what they wanted, priming the pump of violence that would swell into even more hatred and revenge and death. As I’m writing this, the U.N. reports that so far there have been 635 people killed in Gaza, 4,040 wounded–with 70-80% of those casualties being civilians. For Israel, 25 soldiers and two civilians have been killed.

More slick PR... Is it possible that things are more complex than this?

More slick PR… Is it possible that things are more complex than this?

The thing is, even something like mentioning those asymmetrical statistics is often perceived by many people as being “anti-Israel.” For people who possess such crystal-clear certainty on this issue, even suggesting the possibility of complexity is perceived as declaring an alliance with the other side. Even something as simple as expressing empathy for the people who are trapped in Gaza makes many people feel compelled to recount a litany of things that Israel has done right compared with all the many evils Hamas has perpetrated. But in all of the posts I have seen detailing the many horrors happening in Gaza over the past few weeks, I have seen exactly ZERO PEOPLE say they think that Hamas is doing the right thing. Zero. However, if someone posts a story of four Palestinian kids getting killed on a beach by Israeli shelling, within moments there are comments insisting this tragedy must only be viewed through the lens of Hamas’  inhuman tactics. If we point out the suffering in Gaza, it must be “appropriately” framed by pointing out how the Palestinians are to blame.

I guess it's kind of a chicken/egg thing....

I guess it’s kind of a chicken/egg thing….

I suppose it helps to try to think about what it would be like in their shoes, but really I can’t even imagine what it must be like to live in that area right now. What do I know? Nothing. I don’t have any idea what it is like to be a Jew living in Israel…. Imagine living in an area where weddings are interrupted by sirens because a group of people wants you dead and fires indiscriminate rockets your way. No country in the world would allow rockets to keep being fired on them–no matter how impoverished the people are in that area, no matter how oppressed they are, no matter how much of a minority of the population is responsible for the rockets–without responding with military action. I get it.

Things might be a little harder in Gaza....

The guy in Tel Aviv is dressed to go out out to dinner later, and the guy in Gaza is dressed like he is dismantling a bomb…. Things might be a little harder in Gaza right now.

And I don’t have any idea what it is like being a Palestinian living in Gaza…. Imagine living in an area where shelling and air attacks in civilian areas have filled up the morgues and hospitals beyond capacity. I try to think about what it would be like in the U.S. if things went down like they did in Palestine. I mean, can you imagine? There are some people in this country who are ready to start shooting people and threatening to secede from the union over being told they can’t carry assault rifles into a Taco Bell. Can you imagine what kind of hell they would raise if they were told they had to pack up their things and give their house and their land away…. TO THE JEWS!?!? There are people buying hundred-round clips and getting neck tattoos that say “Live free or die” over something as simple as a modest income tax…. Imagine if people were forced to move out of their home. They would be firing every rocket they could find, and claiming that God is on their side as they did it. I get it.

This might be a bit of an over-simplification as well. But still.

This might be a bit of an over-simplification as well.   But still….

But really this is neither here nor there…. I am not on the side of Gaza and I am not on the side of Israel. I am on the side of recognizing the image of God in all people. I am on the side of loving our enemies. I am on the side of forgiveness and mercy. I am on the side of alleviating suffering, regardless of who’s to blame or where it is on the map. I believe this is our best response as humans, but this has to be your response if you are walking around calling yourself a Christian. As followers of Jesus and as humans, our compassion for suffering people is not determined by borders or nationality. The world focuses on fault, on who started it, on who’s to blame…. But the kingdom of God is different. The focus is not on responsibility, but on reconciliation. Not on accountability, but on empathy. Not on culpability, but on on compassion. Not on fault, but on friendship. Not on liability, but on love.

That Einstein guy was pretty smart.

That Einstein guy was pretty smart.

And I get that using Jesus to solve a problem between Jews and Muslims smacks of a western superiority complex, but here’s the thing: If you want to leave Jesus out of it, feel free. Christianity does not have a patent on nonviolence. Gandhi did just fine without Jesus. How hard is it to see? The strategy of More Violence as a response to More Violence is not working! And I understand that nonviolence can be a hard sell if people are shooting rockets at you or if your family just got killed in an air strike, but most of the people I see doing the arguing are sitting on couches. We are far from the fighting, and yet so many of us cannot even bring ourselves to acknowledge the complexity of the situation. What hope is there for people who are living in the midst of all this fear and hatred and war if we–living safely on the other side of the world and sacrificing little or nothing–cannot even IMAGINE that love might be an effective response to hate? And instead of using our words to make a moral or pragmatic case for nonviolence, we use them to argue with each other–safe in our houses–over which side is LESS wrong. But both sides are wrong and both sides are right…. To what degree depends on what group you’re in.

The choice to not hit back can change the world.

The choice to not hit back can change the world.

Both sides claim that the laying down of arms would certainly result in in their people’s demise, but this both dehumanizes the the other side and it drastically underestimates the powerful witness of an active nonviolence rooted in love. And really, it belies the spirit of God in all of us that cries out for justice and immediate action when we see images of little girls tumbling down the streets at the end of fires hoses, and men with badges turning loose dogs on young men who are doing nothing but standing on a sidewalk. Our stomachs turn, and both our humanity and our divinity well up inside of us. It is a bleak view of humanity that cannot imagine way out of this other than more violence, but it is an even bleaker view of Jesus Christ. The voice of God cries out for us to love our neighbor, but any mention of “loving one’s enemies” is met with reason after reason why THIS particular enemy is not deserving of love.

There IS an alternative. And that alternative is love.

Jasmin is Israeli, Osama is Palestinian. There IS an alternative. And that alternative is love. From #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies

Everyone’s taking sides…. Well, if following Jesus has anything to do with taking sides, it is about taking the side of love over hate, of mercy over judgment, of peace over war, of humility over certainty, and of hope over fear.  And just like Martin Luther King, Jr. said in the quote at the top, the rejection of revenge, aggression, and retaliation is the way out of this. But again, this nonviolence does not necessarily have to go hand in hand with the name of Jesus. Anyone can claim the name of Jesus…. The Nazis claimed that name. Given the choice between the name of Jesus and the spirit of Jesus, I’ll take the spirit every time. I feel like I have more in common with a Jew or a Muslim who is working toward reconciliation and understanding and an end to the violence than I have in common with a Christian making a case for why Gaza deserved to be attacked, or why the deaths of the 132 Palestinian CHILDREN who died over the past two weeks were actually Hamas’ fault. Just like in the parable, sometimes the Samaritan gets it better than the priest or the levite. Christianity is not going to solve this…. Love is going to solve this problem.

There is hope.

There is hope.

I want to leave you with a couple glimmers of hope courtesy of the good people of Israel and Palestine…. Please, please check them out: The first is the story of Robi Damelin and Ali Abu Awaad. Robi’s son was killed by a Palestinian sniper, and Ali’s older brother was killed by an Israeli soldier. Their story of reconciliation and understanding in the face of tragedy is a story that has the power to break the cycle of violence. You can also read Robi’s powerful letter to the family of the sniper who killed her son David. And lastly, if you haven’t checked out the Twitter hashtag #JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies yet, you really should. It’s inspiring and hopeful, and I think we can all use as much of that as possible right now. No matter your faith or lack thereof, let us continue to work at facilitating rational and loving discourse. And most of all, let us work together to alleviate suffering and end violence wherever we find it. Peace.

Posted in 1) Jesus, 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 37 Comments

Before You Start Arguing About Hobby Lobby….

…. Please consider a few things.

Q: Know what happens when fewer women have access to birth control? A: The number of unwanted pregnancies goes up. And guess what happens when there are more unwanted pregnancies…. You guessed it–More abortions. So there’s something to think about….

"The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield." ~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.” ~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

You know what? The family who runs Hobby Lobby is probably really nice. I’ve never met them, but I’d be willing to bet that if my wife and I ate dinner at their house, at the end of the night we’d would walk out the giant front door, get our minivan from the valet, and while we were driving home we’d talk about what nice people they were (right after we’d gotten done talking about how ridiculously huge their house was). And you know what? The same is probably true for most of the people who are defending and celebrating today’s SCOTUS decision–If you ate at their house, you would probably like them…. As long as the conversation stayed away from politics, that is.

I have been to Hobby Lobby. The only thing in the store I have any interest in buying is the candy by the checkout lane. It is aisle after aisle of crap....

I have been to Hobby Lobby. The only thing in the store I had any interest in was the candy by the checkout lane. It is aisle after aisle of crap….

On that same note, David Green (Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO) gives away A LOT of money–Almost half of Hobby Lobby’s profits, by some estimations. He gave $10 million to Liberty University and $70 million to Oral Roberts University. You may not think too highly of these colleges and the message they are trying to spread in the world, but here’s the thing: A lot of people DO think highly of them. And even though these people have a drastically different idea than I do of what it means to be “Christian,” I believe they are crazy about Jesus. And they are doing the best with the information they have. Not only that, but Hobby Lobby pays their full time employees at least $14/hour (with benefits), and their part time people get a minimum of $9.50. It may not be enough to live on, but it IS above average. That’s a something, I guess….

Regardless of how well-meaning the Green family is, there really is a whole lot to be critical of in this situation. Hobby Lobby claimed that they brought this lawsuit because being forced to cover birth control–specifically PlanB (the “morning after pill”) and IUD’s–forces them to go against a deep religious conviction. However, their company-sponsored 401(k) invests in many companies that make a very good profit by making IUD’s and PlanB (you can read all about those HERE). This has all the integrity and sense of throwing a Beer-Fest as a fundraiser for Alcoholics Anonymous…. Not only that, but Hobby Lobby’s insurance covered PlanB for years, but they only took it off the plan after ObamaCare mandated its coverage. Leading one (this one, at least) to believe that this lawsuit was more about politics than it was about religious conviction.

"Aw man, today's prison activity is Arts & Crafts AGAIN?!? Are we EVER going to get to go swimming?"

“Aw man, today’s prison activity is Arts & Crafts AGAIN?!? Are we EVER going to get to go swimming?”

In addition to this glaring piece of hypocrisy, Hobby Lobby gets most of its dirt-cheap inventory from China. They won’t sell shot glasses at their stores (because drinking is bad), but they will sell crappy trinkets made by people who are paid next-to-nothing and forced into horrific workplace conditions. And doing business with China pumps money into a country that that actively fights AGAINST religious freedom while forcing many of its women to have abortions. Again, this has all the integrity and sense of throwing a gala to raise money to fight slavery while buying all the discount party decorations from a country whose economy relies on slave labor. The way that Hobby Lobby makes their profits really is gross, and if they are going to play the whole “We’re a Christian Company” card, the Church should be the first ones calling them on their BS.

I've decided that because of my religious convictions about war, I'm not going to need to pay that portion of my taxes anymore. What's that? It doesn't work that way? Hmm....

I’ve decided that because of my religious convictions about war, I won’t be paying that portion of my taxes anymore. What’s that? It doesn’t work that way? Oh….

But it’s not. Much of the Church is celebrating what it thinks is a win for “religious liberty.” Well, this isn’t a win for religious liberty. It’s a win for corporations. This is the same Supreme Court that ruled in favor of corporations giving as much money as they wanted to political candidates and SuperPACs because they called it “free speech.” Now, they are paving a legal path to allow for-profit corporations to deny healthcare coverage to it’s employees because of “religious convictions.” Maybe a company doesn’t think women should be having sex out of wedlock, and they don’t think they should have to cover the costs of a bastard pregnancy. Maybe the company owners are religiously opposed to vaccines. There are all kinds of scenarios where business owners with religions other than Christianity might be able to refuse paying for care of procedures it says go against the owner’s “religious convictions.”

Great, now my wife is going to have to shop at Michael's to buy all the crap we don't need or have room for.

Great, now my wife is going to have to shop at Michael’s for all the crap we don’t need or have room for.

If you’re like me, you probably see all of this happening and it makes you feel powerless. And now, everyone is fighting with each other on social media again, and more and more people just get more cynical and withdrawn, and our country has yet another reason to be even more divided…. But here’s what I think: This Supreme Court decision is not a defeat. It is a reminder. It is a reminder that our votes matter. All five of the republican-appointed justices voted in favor of this decision, and all of the democratic-appointed justices voted against it. There are all kinds of good reasons to be a republican, but this group of five conservative justices are so pro-business rights that they don’t seem to care that is hurting our HUMAN rights. If a for-profit company is religiously opposed to homosexuality, can they choose to not offer benefits to same-sex partners in states that have decided their marriages just as valid?

We cannot let disappointments like this one make us cynical. This Hobby Lobby decision is not about right vs. left. The fight is not between right and left or republican and democrat…. The fight has always been between the ones who are being oppressed and the ones who have their foot on our necks. Republicans and democrats alike should be alarmed at the possible scope of a decision like this one. Tea Party groups have figured out that if they mobilize a relatively small group of people during primaries, they can manage to get some of their candidates elected–folks with extreme ideologies–BUSINESS RIGHTS OVER HUMAN RIGHTS. But WE are the ones who make the rules of how things work. We can either keep making rules that allow the business owners to amass incredible wealth (while using that wealth to pass legislation making themselves even more wealthy), or we can make rules that focus on Workers Rights–Rules that don’t just enrich a few on the backs of the many.

I think I've got a solution: Go to Hobby Lobby, buy a bunch of yarn, and crochet your own condoms. As far as I know, a man has never gotten a woman pregnant while wearing a crocheted condom.... Then there'll be no need for birth control!

I think I’ve got a solution: Go to Hobby Lobby, buy a bunch of yarn, and crochet your own condoms. As far as I know, a man has never gotten a woman pregnant while wearing a crocheted condom…. Then there’ll be no need for birth control!

So here’s what you need to do: VOTE! Do not let this sort of awfulness convince you that nothing can be done. That is exactly the sort of thing the people with all the power WANT us to think. There is a midterm election coming up in just a few short months. If we let a bunch of crazy people get elected who are hell-bent on bringing any government process to a halt, it’s going to get harder and harder to fix this stuff. I believe that there is something spiritual and Godly about working together to end oppression in all its forms, and economic oppression is a very real thing. The government is NOT the answer to all our problems, but sometimes there are governmental systems that need to be changed in order to make justice possible. Before we can get back to working out the subtle differences between political right and left, we have to recognize and repair a system that led to the greatest economic inequality this nation has ever seen. Oh please vote…. Things are not hopeless!

Posted in 2) Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 178 Comments

30 Euphemisms For Sex or Using the Bathroom

Sometimes, when I write, I can get into a funk. Hey, that’s a good one!

“Getting Into A Funk”

A genius in Portland changed a bunch of stop signs. And made the world a happier place.

A genius in Portland “vandalized” a bunch of stop signs…. And made the world a happier place.

You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything for about three weeks…. I’ve tried, but my heart wasn’t in it. I kept on writing about stuff like Gun Violence, Why People Think We Need Hell, and Being Afraid to Let My Kids Go For A Walk–Things that were on my heart, but NONE of which I actually felt like writing…. probably because they were making me sad. So instead I thought I’d try some long neglected Bathroom Humor in an attempt to “cleanse my palate,” so to speak…. Which, coincidentally, brings me to another euphemism (they’re everywhere):

“Cleansing Your Palate”

My wife is classier than this.

My wife is classier than this.

Before I continue, it should be noted that by publishing this, I am going against my wife’s better judgment (another good one!) Her exact words were: “I am not okay with this. And I won’t be sharing it.” And my blogs don’t do near as well when she doesn’t share them. So that means if this makes you laugh or smile or cringe, you should do three things: First of all, don’t hold it against my wife (!), because she is a classy, classy lady. Anyone who says that she came up with a few of these herself is a dirty liar. Secondly, if you have another euphemism that you would like to share in the comments section, please do. I’d like for this post to become the internet’s preeminent site for sex and bathroom-related euphemisms. Third, share it. The number of people reading this one is going to be way down with her boycotting the blog. Let’s get started. In no particular order….

It's impossible to talk to this man about purchasing his mule without giggling.

It’s impossible to talk to this man about purchasing his mule without giggling.

“Boycotting The Blog” 

“Working Off Some Carbs”

“Seeing A Man About A Mule”

“Getting It Out Of Your System”

“Having A Movement”

“Dropping The Kids Off At The Babysitter’s”

“Laying Some Pipe”

“Having Some Alone Time”

“Letting Off Some Steam”

I push this bottom as often as possible.

I push this bottom as often as possible.

“Releasing The Hounds”

“Fooling Around”

“Watching An Episode of Happy Days”

“Taking A Steve Doocy”

“Appealing To Congress”

“Hitting A Home Run”

Hes was asking for it.

Hes was asking for it.

“Punching Seth Rogan In The Face”

“Testing The Suspension”

“Doing The Nasty”

“Code Brown”

“Sitting Down On The Job”

“Getting A Briefing At The Oval Office”

“Making A Buckeye”

“Flying Coach”

“Deleting Ann Coulter’s Tweets”

She is not a horrible person--She's "Character Deficient."

She is not a horrible person–She’s “Character Deficient.”

“Getting It On”

“Plowing The Fields”

“Making A Baby”

And there you have it. This list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, so if you like to add one to the comments section, feel free. Remember that euphemisms are supposed to be milder, indirect versions of stuff that is too harsh or embarrassing…. So let’s keep it PG-13. Sometimes I just need to do stuff like this to stay sane. Also, if you’re offended by any of these I’m sorry. Let this be a lesson to you…. It’s probably going to happen again. CHEERS!

Posted in 3) Bathroom Humor | 13 Comments

What Christians Need To Know About Tipping

I am not LIFE.... If I hand you lemons, you do NOT make lemonade!

I am not LIFE…. If I hand you lemons, you do NOT make lemonade!

There are some people who you know are going to be bad tippers just by looking at them. I’ve had a job as a server for a long time now, and sometimes you can just tell. For example…. If you ask how much a soda costs, things do not look good. If you ask for a “bowl of lemons” for your water and then ask for some Splenda, I plan on being disappointed. If you say anything at all about “being a good tipper,” chances are you’re not. If you happen to be wearing camouflage or anything bearing the likeness of a person on Duck Dynasty, I will be pleasantly surprised if I get 10%. And sure, I can always be surprised by folks, but years of experience has conditioned me to lower my expectations as to how much money I’m going to make with certain folks. And one group that is very consistently cheap with their gratuity is people who pray before they eat.

Christians, before-meal-prayers, camouflage clothes.... It's the perfect storm.

Christians, before-meal-prayers, camouflage clothes…. It’s the perfect storm.

If I see someone praying before their meal, I immediately lower my expectations for their tip by about 5-10%. Now, it must be said that some of the most generous people I know are Christians. I’ve had Christians leave me amazingly generous tips before. I’ve watched Christians talk to someone who mentions needing a car, and they’ve said, “Here, have my car.” But for whatever reason, the folks who believe (for whatever reason) that Christians are supposed to pray and “bless the food” together before every meal–the ones who make the biggest spectacle out of their pre-meal prayer–they are notoriously terrible tippers. Ask any server, and they’ll tell you the same thing. And this is really frustrating to me, because I’M a Christian.

The only "fact" this shirt portrays is that I'm about to be disappointed....

The only “fact” is that I’m about to be disappointed.

Now, I’m the sort of guy who thinks EVERYONE should tip their servers well (I wrote a bit about that HERE), but if you are the sort of person who feels the need to pray before every meal, here’s what I need you to do: Take a good, hard look at yourself. If you are a cheap person, do the rest of us a favor and skip the prayer before the meal when you are eating out. Or, just don’t eat out anymore. I’d rather you stay home and pray over your Kraft Mac n’ Cheese than go out and make all Christians look bad. You might be asking yourself, “What does he mean by cheap?” Let me define “cheap.” You are cheap if…

  • If you have ever started a credit card tip with a decimal point. Maybe you planned on a $4 beer and instead it was $4.25 and you only have a $5 bill…. fine. Whatever. But if you are paying with a card, do it right. I don’t care if you split a pizza 6 ways and your tab is only $3.25…. If you leave .ANYTHING as a tip on a credit card, you are cheap.
  • If you pull out a calculator when trying to figure out what to leave. A lot of you will say that you are trying to make sure you leave enough. No. You’re not. You’re trying to make sure you don’t leave too MUCH. The only people who do this are bad tippers. Good tippers estimate, and then they err on the side of generosity. Sorry–You’re cheap.
  • If you think of 15% as a “good tip.” 15% is not a good tip. It’s a bad tip. If you saw your server pick his nose and eat his booger, then he got your order completely wrong, and because of his incompetence you missed the movie that you were planning on going to–THAT’s a 15% tip experience. $7.50 on a $50 tab is a slap in the face. What does the birdie say? (The birdie says “cheep.”)
  • If somewhere in your brain you feel like your being extra complimentary will make up for your impending shitty tip. You saying “Thank you SO much” three times (and writing it once next to the tip line) is not–I repeat NOT a tip. These are called “verbal tips,” and they are not going to help anyone pay their bills. Welcome to Cheapville…. Population YOU. And speaking of this, if you leave a crap tip and write “God Bless” or anything thereabouts that identifies you as a Christian, you are an awful, awful person. I’ve got news for you: If God is going to bless someone, it’s going to be through the people who love him. Writing “God Bless” next to a crap tip is like having a sandwich and praying for a homeless person to get some food… and then taking your sandwich home with you so you can eat it for lunch tomorrow.
  • If you feel the need to hide your receipt. Or fold it in half. Or strategically place the pen over the tip line. People who leave good tips don’t feel ashamed of letting other people see what they left. You, my friend, are cheap… but I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know. There are more ways to detect your own cheapness, but I’ll stop here…. For an AMAZING article on tipping, please click HERE. It’s awesome.
This fascinating "Tipping Spectrum" was featured on waitbutwhy.com's article on tipping. They sampled 1000 servers to compile this information. Click the link above the picture to read the article.

This fascinating “Tipping Spectrum” was featured on waitbutwhy.com’s article on tipping. They sampled 1000 servers to compile this information. Click the link above the picture to read the article.

Listen, when Jesus sat down for a meal with his disciples before he died, he took some bread and broke it and he took some wine and drank it, and he said, “When you do this, remember me.” I don’t believe he simply meant for that act only to be a remembrance in Church with little wafers and tiny cups of grape juice. When we sit down and eat with each other, those are holy times. If you’re going to pray before your meal, instead of recycling all of the same old things you always say when you pray before your meals, try this new prayer instead:

“God, help us to be examples of your extravagant love to a cynical world…. A world whose biggest barrier to loving Jesus seem to be the folks who claim to follow him and call themselves “Christians.” Where we are afraid of not having enough, God, please remind us of how much we have, how little we need, and how much you love us. Show me how–two weeks from now–an extra $5 on a tip will make absolutely no difference in my life, but it might be the sort of small act that encourages a stranger to give the faith they abandoned just one more chance. Help us to love people–Not just with our words, but with the things we do and the resources we’ve been given. AMEN!”

"Hey, Lama. How about a little something, you know... for the effort."

“Hey, Lama. How about a little something, you know… for the effort.”

Where I grew up, people didn’t go out to eat on Sundays because then it would force other people to WORK on Sundays (instead of “honoring it and keeping it holy”). If you’re not going to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy by NOT going out to eat, you had damn well better honor it and keep it holy by leaving your server a decent tip. This coming weekend, so many of you are going to go out to eat after Church. Guess what…. The servers who are bringing you your food? Many of them talk quite a bit about “wanting to start going to Church again,” but instead, they have to work Sunday lunches bringing you your stupid food. For so many people, this is a shift that is dreaded because of the notorious reputation of the after-Church crowd as tippers. This has got to change. Christians should be so generous that servers should be FIGHTING over those Sunday shifts!

So if you are one of those parties who holds hands, squeezes your eyelids together so tight, and prays loudly about “we just” this and “blessing” that and “Jesus’ name” this, you had better be ready to drop some extra cash on the table. Christians are not cheap. Christians are generous. Start acting like a Christian.

***For a really inspiring tipping story, you should read THIS***

Posted in 1) Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 32 Comments