Category: Faith & Doubt


Finding gratefulness can be damn tricky. The thought comes not from despair or from some illusionary dream busted from a lack of effort. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that one should cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes and give thanks continuously for all things that contributed to your advancement. Phooey to that. Several weeks past cold-turkey of pain medications, listening to persistent tinnitus, and walking like an extra on the set of some zombie episode leaves me sick of it all.

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Ménière’s Disease

“Well,” said the audiologist. “Ménière’s Disease will not kill you, but it will suck. Elderly MD patients tend to have a higher prevalence of Tumarkin attacks (when a person falls to the ground with no warning). Phrased as ‘drop attacks,’ they seem to come out of the blue and do not affect everyone. Ménière’s Disease victims usually exhibit faster development of hearing loss and vertigo spells in your age bracket. However, you’ll remain awake during the attack and will not lose consciousness. You will experience neither a heart attack nor stroke, but everything will be a bitch.”

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Some are criticized for lack of forthright principles or are looked upon with scornful eyes as  we compromise some political position. However, many engage in the fine art of conciliating, balancing, and interpreting facets of opinion. We mentally thread the needle, balance the justification, and mold the means to justify the ends. I did it. I’m sure many do it today. And damn, we are not profiles of courage.

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During the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Florida, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene argued that Christian Nationalism is a good thing. “That’s (Christian Nationalism) not a bad word. That’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with leading with your faith. If we do not live our lives and vote like nationalists—caring about our country, putting our country first, and wanting that to be the focus of our federal government—if we do not lead that way, then we will not be able to fix it.” Christian Nationalism is a political ideology and cultural framework that merges Christian and American identities. Unfortunately, the ideology distorts both Christian faith and America’s promise of religious freedom.

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Searching for Meaning

Grief is universal. Everyone encounters some form of depression at some point in suffering. That moment (or moments) may occur after the Death of a loved one, job loss, strained relationship, or any other traumatic experience. For example, when called by a physician to discuss test results, you could be elated one moment or spiral into massive despair another. Just as no two experiences are similar, depression is personal. My experience was not very neat and indeed followed no rules or schedule. 

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The abortion debate has been presented as a battle between religious faith versus personal freedom, where people argue their values, usually via screaming. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, several glib ‘right-to-life‘ speakers on MSNBC stated ‘God’s power’ had come forth. Yet, just as expected, upon waking this morning, God sent no angels, no great trumpet sounds screeched throughout the sky, and God’s elect had not gathered from across the world. The Lord did not descend from heaven, people did not rise from the dead, and no one was caught in the clouds (at least that I could see). 

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Setbacks

Setbacks are hard. Post-COVID has been annoying, with one day being good and the next being bad. For instance, Sunday was great. I experienced a bountiful amount energy I hadn’t had for weeks. Mentally, I was clear. And lastly, I experienced little to no residual pain. In fact, I was damn well ready to call COVID a day, “I am so done with this. Good riddance.” Then Tuesday arrived.

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When COVID struck, marking the calendar and tracking symptoms, fever, and oxygen levels were critical. On day 1, COVID presented me with only a hoarse voice and scratchy throat. On days 2 and 3, COVID struck back by battering my body with severe muscle aches, joint pains, and abdominal pain, which no medication could counter. No position was comfortable. Sitting, standing, or lying brought no relief to the constant pain. It was debilitating as extreme fatigue gifted more fatigue.

Most patients recover in about a week. However, around day 5, a significant minority of patients enter “a very nasty second wave” of illness. Upon waking on day 5, my lungs felt extremely heavy, and my voice was hoarse. Being overweight and having left ventricular hypertrophy (thickened heart), Parkinson’s, and tumor surgery (pre-COVID), I intuitively knew underlying conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes, could significantly impact the body’s inability to overcome COVID. Still, by the end of day 5, I felt better. Internally though, I keep debating whether COVID is over.

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The Tampa Bay Rays, like many companies, are promoting LGBTQ+ pride during the month of June. Not everyone on the roster wants to, though. According to several news reports, several Tampa Bay pitchers were among players who removed the LGBTQ+ pride patch from their uniforms. Post-game, one player made a summary statement.

… we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here. But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage.

What? Faith? To that, I respond, “Bullhockey.”

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Throughout my years of wandering the hospital as an unknown IT guy, elders would strike up conversations. In nearly identical ways, each lived with loss and disability, yet they remain undefined by them. Almost to a person, they awoke each morning, serenaded the day, ate breakfast, and set out to seize the day or ‘get in trouble’ as one nurse phrased it. Sure, their knees hurt, and some couldn’t perform exercises like they used to. But, old age did not hit them suddenly. Instead, they got used to it, one day at a time. 

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