Category: Faith & Doubt


img_0014By simply turning on the news, one can hear Donald Trump talk about our great country.

“At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction, that a nation exists to serve its citizens. Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands of righteous people and a righteous public.”

If the last ten to twelve days represent our future, have we become a nation that serves its citizens? Are we righteous? And are we lifting up and enhancing schools?

Today, the U.S. “put Iran on notice,” whatever that means. I mean, you Iranians are on notice. Uh, ok. Today’s statement was in response to an Iran missile launch. However, we never laid out exactly what “notice” meant.

Buddhists notice during meditation. But I’m positive this is not the Buddhist version of “notice.” In a broader sense, are we going to take out a big stick and kick ass? Or are we going to just notice. “Ok. Kill as many as you want, but damn it, we’re going to notice.

We’ve also effectively singled out the Muslim faith for the entirety of atrocities committed on U.S. soil. Damn it, Muslims are responsible. The text of Trump’s original executive order noted the “crucial role” the visa-issuance process plays in “detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.” Fear mongers often raise 9/11 to justify travel ban actions some 17 years later. However, if the public ever performed even some negligible research, they’ve might have found none of the countries impacted by the current administration travel ban was home to any hijackers from the 9/11 attacks. Those 19 came from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Egypt.

For those in the Bible Belt, do you seriously believe that an overseas terrorist is coming to a cornfield near you to detonate a couple hundred feet of corn via suicide bombing? Are you sure a terrorist will set off a shoe bomb as your family participates in a hayride on the Fourth of July? Oops, maybe they’ll blow up a pumpkin durning the fall harvest festival. Wait, that would be cool! Right? Pumpkin detonation is cool.

The coup de grace, has to be today’s speech with Black History Month participants.

We’re going to need better schools, and we need them soon. We need more jobs, we need better wages — a lot better wages. We’re going to work very hard on the inner city. Ben is going to be doing that big league. It’s one of his big things that we’re going to be looking at.

We need safer communities, and we’re going to do that with law enforcement. We’re going to make it safe. We’re going to make it much better than it is right now. Right now it’s terrible, and I saw you talking about it the other night, Paris, on something else that was really — you did a fantastic job the other night on a very unrelated show. I’m ready to do my part — it’s the only time I can see him. I’m ready to do my part, and I will say this: We’re going to work together.

Ramble. Ramble.

To align my thought of today’s speech with Black History Month participants, I am reminded of a cartoon seen some 20 years ago in the New Yorker about God talking to his Son. In the cartoon, God said, “Now tell me again. What did you you tell them?

I ponder this cartoon as I think of our current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current nominee for Secretary of Education. Both are complete “dipsticks.” “Surely Mr. President, what are you telling me? This is the best we have?

Other stupid time-wasting executive orders included a plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days, lengthen ban for administrative staff working as lobbyist, authorization of U.S./Mexican Border Wall (otherwise known as the Great Rio Wall), a couple of oil pipelines, abortion ban, U.S. government hiring freeze (unless it’s your son-in-law) and repealing Obamacare.

So for the rest of us, there has been no discussion about bringing jobs to mid-America. No plans for infrastructure repair, healthcare for the poor or how to ensure students in middle America are just as competitive as those in the Ivy League.

We are a great country already, but for the past twenty years, solutions are few. And so far, we’re looking very unrighteousness and significantly shallow.

But look on the bright side, we’re protected from suicide pumpkin bombers.

tariffPresident Donald Trump gathered the CEOs of several top US companies at the White House this past Monday and put them on notice: Move your manufacturing operations overseas and you’ll face a “substantial border tax.”

If you go to another country … we are going to be imposing a very major border tax on the product when it comes in, which I think is fair,” Trump said. “All you have to do is stay. Don’t leave. Don’t fire your people.”

Trump’s notice inspired deeper thought. The biggest of which, is that if tariffs apply to manufacturing products like automobiles and air conditioners, does it apply to other imports such as food and clothing?

China — by far America’s biggest source of clothing — accounted for 37 cents of every dollar’s worth of clothes imported, thereby sucking up the top spot with 37% of all clothing imports. Bangladesh was number 2, accounting for 5.8 percent of all U.S. clothing imports.

The food category is a little different. As the U.S. population has grown in both size and ethnic diversity, the volume and variety of food consumed and imported in the United States has increased correspondingly. American consumers prefer an increasingly wider selection of food products, such as tropical fruits and vegetables, premium coffee, and a greater variety of wines, beers, cheese, grain products, and preserved meats. In 2013, U.S. food consumption totaled 635 billion pounds, or more than 2,000 pounds per capita. Of this amount, imports accounted for 19 percent (123 billion pounds), or 390 pounds per capita.

So how would tariffs impact the clothing and food? A 35 percent tax on imported goods certainly would turn up the heat. It may also give pause to companies deciding where to produce their wares. But if tariffs are implemented, would they work? And what about the unintended consequences?

Concerns vary. Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citi, wrote to clients stating new protectionist trade policies might spark a global trade war, “which could easily trigger a global recession.” Deutsche Bank also weighed-in.  The Deutschland opined team that negative risks of a potential trade agenda were “the biggest threat and a possible protectionist turn, which could depress global trade and even trigger trade wars.”

While both Trump and Hillary Clinton zeroed in on worker anxieties over job losses, it’s important to note that at least some American job losses were not due to trade. Losses were due to automation. And crucially, automation not only hits manufacturing, but also affects jobs that require advanced degrees, such as neuroradiology.

Protectionism policies Neglect the concept of “dependent origination,” that nothing exists in isolation, Life cannot be independent of other life. The Japanese term for dependent origination is engi, literally meaning “arising in relation.” In other words, our existence only occurs because of our relationship with other beings. Everything in the world comes into existence in response to causes and conditions. Nothing can exist in absolute independence of other things or arise of its own accord.

We must remember that, if we as a society, choose “protectionism” as the rule of life, we’re most likely to implode. Interdependence is the rule life, whether country or state, business to business, family or friends. You hit one (meaning tariff one) there’s usually an equal and opposite reaction.

img_0009Author J. Gresham Machen once wrote “The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God.” In fact, grace is the most important concept in Christianity and the world. It is most clearly expressed by God’s promises, as revealed in Scripture and embodied in Jesus Christ. Grace is the love shown to the unlovely; the peace of God given to the restless; the unmerited favor of God. It is this type of grace we are called, by God, to provide others, just as God provides to us.

This form of grace – this form of love – is the first thought crossing my mind after hearing of Chelsea Manning’s commutation. As you may recall, Ms. Manning is in the seventh year of a thirty-five year prison sentence for leaking classified military data to Wikileaks. In this essay I will neither review nor comment on either the nature of the crime nor the prison sentence. Rather, I simply choose to focus upon the President’s act of grace.

In truth, I have no idea why President Obama commuted Ms. Manning. Suffice it to say, there are probably many who are equally deserving. And I respect and honor all the effort and love for those who fight on their behalf.

There are many who claim the disclosure of documents was brutal, that many were impacted by the breach. And therefore, Manning is unworthy of such grace. Others will claim American taxpayers should not pay for Manning’s gender identity and counseling. I sympathize with such thoughts. Then again, as a taxpayer, I did not want to pay for the Iraq war and I certainly did not want to pay for the military effort in Afghanistan as well. As such, every taxpayer in America sucked it up and paid the price. I also did not enjoy reading, seeing and hearing of American soldiers committing horrendous acts of brutality either. Yet many remain at large, free from prosecution.

Strictly speaking, the blessings of everyday grace does not appear to descend from a Supreme Being or deity. Rather, grace comes from the normal interaction of people meeting people, by enlightened travelers who go forth, interact, forgive and love daily.

At the core of our humanity, all of us want to believe and embrace grace. At the same time, at our most human level, none of us will never emit the powers of Christ. Yet Christ and left humanity with two of Christ’s most powerful weapons – love and grace. These weapons transcend every day smugness, anger and hatred and provides real grounds for human hope. Transcendent grace reaches beyond our limitations of human understanding and provides relief to those who suffer.

I believe this is the same form of grace Manning received.

We don’t have to assess evidence for worthiness. We don’t have to condemn the fallen. We don’t have to impose our own limited bias to a woman most have predetermined forever unworthy.

What’s honorable is that somewhere, somehow the President of The United States reached down to a very wounded soul and provided grace. It should be our hope that all of us receive this level of love.

img_0006At a rally in Wisconsin, Donald J. Trump stood in front of a line of Christmas trees and repeated a campaign-trail staple.

When I started 18 months ago, I told my first crowd in Wisconsin that we are going to come back here some day and we are going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said. “Merry Christmas. So, Merry Christmas everyone. Happy New Year, but Merry Christmas.”

Mr. Bill O’Reilly returned to the War on Christmas this year, but with a triumphant tone.

That culture war issue ignited and we won,” he recently said. “Donald Trump is on the case.”

Question please. “What war?

There is no evidence on any type of organized war on Christmas, it’s simply personal ignorance used as a “device” to ensure bias and innuendo remain artfully sculpted by equally bias. Christmas war allies noted the 2016 naughty list included Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Victoria’s Secret. Starbucks came under fire for seasonal cup designs that emphasized social harmony over Christmas greetings.

Bah humbug Trump would metaphorically say, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.”

Thank God for Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly claimed “The Donald” is on the case. So much so that he declared the war on Christmas officially over. ”We won,” O’Reilly claimed. After hearing that, I hurriedly rushed to the streets. Each corner brought a sense of excitement. “Celebrations Everyone.” “Celebrations,” I yelled. “The War on Christmas is over.”

Yet, not one corner yielded singing in the streets. There were no pictures of home bound sailors kissing women in New York’s Times Square. There were no pictures of Christmas War soldiers raising the U.S. flag, like that of Imo Jima. Did the Christmas war even have a flag? Sorry, I digress.

I FaceTime’d a friend in Finland. Surely, Finland will be celebrating? Surely? Right? “What the f…?” He said. “What? What war? Call me when you’re sober” Then I reached out to another friend in Norway. Christmas War? Nope. Nada. No celebrations. Nothing. Finally, I called the big man at the North Pole. Yes! As in the North Pole, Alaska (actually south of Fairbanks, AL). No war there either.

I perused the BBC, Yahoo, MSN, MSNBC and Associated Press (AP). No war. No war memorials to the lost and fallen, no one to lay an annual Christmas reef on the Tomb of The Unknown Christmas War Soldier Memorial and no evidence of any Christmas War veterans waiting in line at the Veterans Administration hoping to get aid for Christmas War PTSD.

Once Again, all of this begs the question, “What war?

Seriously, the only war won was where sensible men and women allowed ignorance an upper hand. As a Buddhist, I’ll take the harmony Starbucks offers. We need more of that.

imageLife offers a first-time and last-time for almost everything. Today I accomplished two: telling a friend my body was giving up. Telling someone I was dying was a first. And it’s the last first chance I will have to accomplish that. She was the first.

After running the conversation sequence through my mind, playing out all scenarios imagined, it is hard to predict how people will actually react. Generally, the people who love you will feel shocked and overwhelmed. Some people may try to be cheerful while pretending nothing is wrong. So while I hoped for a more realistic moment and opportunity to express my feelings, that did not happen.

I started the conversation by saying what a good friend she was. Having been through all the shit I gave these past ten years, I acknowledged her love and friendship. But my body was at a point where it had to let go of any lengthy time expectations.

Being a psychotherapist, she picked up on the hidden meaning and went straight into Kubler-Ross’ first stage of death, denial. “Nope not happening,” she said. “Miracles happen every day.

She’s right, miracles happen every day. Unfortunately, it’s going to be someone else’s miracle, not mine. I’ve lived nearly 36 years with a major diagnosis – longer than anyone expected – but miracle or not, my body is tired. It’s wearing out.

Having worked in hospitals these past 12 years, I’ve see death intimately. Most people die in hospitals and nursing homes, where they receive the extensive nursing and medical care. Their loved ones have less opportunity to be with them and often miss sharing their last moments. We’ve isolated the living from the dying; consequently, death has taken on added mystery and fear.

For me, I am at peace. As such, I believe it’s important to cultivate some form of positive, happy virtuous state of mind and abandon the non-virtuous, harmful, suffering states of mind. My death is definite, but its time remains a shadow. According, I will aspire to be ready by being mindful of the preciousness of life and the uncertainness of length. I will spend time with those who’ve loved me.

Regardless of my time, I don’t want to only love only those who’ve loved me.

I am stunned after writing that last sentence. Allow me to digress for a moment. Years ago, in some over-the-top self-improvement class, each participant was asked to write their mission statement on index card. Here’s what I wrote:

Paint each person met with beautiful brushstrokes of love.

While I did some of that, much of my life has been lived as a self-centered asshole. And inspite of being an asshole, I believe I know, with certainty, my after-life destination – albeit I have no clue what happens once there or how long I’ll be there (stage or phase). It’s neither perfectly bad nor perfectly beautiful. Its perfect for me.

I cannot possibly achieve the mission statement from years ago. But I do want everyone that I’ve angered, in any form, to let go and have the chance to live a happy and beautiful life. It’s miserable to wallow in life’s misery. Everyone has to find peace and move onward. I want everyone to become to special to another. Hopefully, each person can pay back my lack of love with love to one another.

To all I meet over the next few months, I will try and peacefully assist with the process of letting go. To help them move onward. Maybe, I can help a few that I’ve pissed off to live and move on As well.

Through God’s grace, there is no stage one for me. Rather I’ve learned death is not a be-all or end-all. I want people to embrace the fact that I have a deep sense of love for them and I want each of them to embrace the world beyond. The idea of just living as a physical presence is nonsense. That fell by the wayside when I realized that physically embodying one’s form is not the way to live.

I simply wish for each of you that correcting any of the wrongs brought unto to others is more important than being physically planted on earth.

PrayIn 1991, Barbara Poma’s older brother John died battling HIV. Twelve years later, Poma and her friend Ron Legler founded Pulse Orlando in memoriam to her brother and as a safe space supporting the LGBT community.

According to police, alleged shooter Omar Mateen opened fire early Sunday morning at Pulse. An officer working at the club initially responded, “engaging in a gun battle” before the suspect went back into the club, Authorities say that at least 50 people have been killed and at least 53 are injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Playwright Arthur Miller wrote “violence in our streets is the violence in our hearts.” So much so that violence by weapon has weaved so much into daily life we hardly notice. To add support, BradyCampaign.org notes on average, 31 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 151 are treated for some form of gun assault. Additionally, every day, on average, 55 people kill themselves with a firearm and 46 people are wounded or killed via a gun. In contrast, if 86 people were dying each day from the mosquito bred Zika Virus, there’d be holy hell on the streets of America.

Over the coming days, thousands will pay their respects, reefs laid, memorials held, tears shed and promises to remember will be made. Homage and prayers were offered by Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and many celebrities. Donald Trump? Well, Trump congratulated himself. But at the end of the day, even this shooting will have little positive impact for the Washington electorate to implement anything more than a few moments of silence.

The important part of Sunday remembrances came not from celebrities but rather from those who survived the shooting. Brothers, sisters and children were not overly idealized or enlarged in death beyond what they were in life. Each victim was remembered simply as a good and decent person, who saw wrong, tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it.

Pulse Orlando was about was Love.

And what set Pulse Orlando and victims apart from the hate was their depth of love – not only for each other but their community as well. It’s the same love Christ and Buddha offered. And that form of agape love can never be forced, even by a whacked out, mentally deranged idiot. Why? Because power never wins. A true God does not want subservience, but love. Pulse Orlando and all those LGBT rights activists chose the sometimes slow, hard way of agape love. It’s a conquest from within.

George McDonald captured both Christ and Buddha’s approach, “Instead of the crushing power of force; instead of destroying what we believe to be infidels, these victims encouraged making one another better people. (paraphrased)” Better citizens. They chose to love one another.

Victims in this shooting are voices speaking from heaven. Some will try to dismiss them but each victim is dazzling proof of love’s transfiguration. Each one is beautiful and may their voices roar to the power of love.

Life’s Cycle

LifecycleI faced my parents and friends with dignity. I looked into their heart, eyes that searched, worn faces and longing hope.

My body’s giving out. One day soon, I won’t be able to get around.”

Why?” my mother asked.

Why?” I sighed. “Well, life.  Like all things, life detonates.”

In a chapter titled “When the Air Hits Your Brain,” author Frank Vertosic wrote that life is encircled in a repetitive wheel of motion. We get up, Make the coffee. Head to work. Work. Head home. Exercise a little. Sleep. For most of us, our lives are trapped in orbits, with the grand pattern of life changing a little.

The late George Carlin said something to the effect, “Everybody needs 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work, 8 hours play and one good shit.” Brutally honest? Yes. But the circle of life is brutally honest.

Someday, our life, my life, your life, will detonate.  There will be an auto accident, brain hemorrhage, heart attack, tremor, a fall, allergic reaction. Cancer, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and others diseases will sweep into everyone’s life. All life’s mishaps are part of a larger biological process designed for one purpose: to kill. As with all living things, life becomes one problem after another. Prostate problems, Alzheimer’s, back problems, eye cataracts, degenerative arthritis and hardening of the arteries are nature’s way of recycling the world population. The list is endless.

At its core, our life, and its end, is a design feature. Just as a Buddhist recognizes the cycle of life our cars, computers or cell phones, we’re all built to die. All things experience birth, life, an autumn and a death. Each creation enjoys a finite number of days in the sun then make way for a newer set of the living. Nature respects and implements continuous turnover, interspersing mutations of good genes, keeping life flexible and lean. Our commission to keep and ensure this lifecycle moves forward.

Buddhist clergy remind followers about closeness of death, their own demise. Likewise, they want each of you to live. Accordingly, how do we live? It’s fairly simple, just behave in a manner which you believe is responsible, good and positive for yourself and towards others. This leads to calmness, happiness and an outlook which contributes to a calm and controlled mind.

Through this positive and compassionate outlook of life, always being aware of the impermanence of life and having a loving attitude towards all living things. Having lead a responsible and compassionate life and having no regrets enables us to surrender without struggle to the inevitable and in a state of grace which need not be as uncomfortable as we are led to believe.

After stating my peace, one family member muttered, “Well maybe God will heal you.” Doubtful. In my eighteen years of working in hospitals and the insurance arena, I have never seen Jesus come and remove someone’s tumor. The other resounding fact is that the wheel of humanity will turn just fine without me.

Neil Gaiman poetically noted that life was both sexually transmitted and terminal. At the time I read it, I thought it was funny as hell. Still do.

In time, my shoulders and arms will make frequent mistakes. The current half-hour needed each morning to move without pain will increase to an hour; then two, then three; to a half-day, to most of the day. Eventually, people will have to assist me. I probably won’t be able to write or even stay awake. Weakness becomes paralysis.

My end goal is simple. Should I even reach one person, what I want is for each generation to grow better than the last. Adapt, laugh, love and survive long enough to keep the wheel of life turning.

01-gorilla-harambe-deathDebate has raged over the death of Harambe the gorilla. As you have heard, Harambe was shot and killed to protect toddler who slipped through the railing and plummeted more than 10 feet into the exhibit’s moat. While animal experts and activists believe the Cincinnati Zoo was right to fatally shoot Harambe, that alone did not offset the public scrutiny of the parents.

Critics felt the zoo should have done more before killing Harambe and many urged authorities to hold the boy’s parents criminally responsible, with an online petition called “Justice for Harambe” had more than 330,000 signatures Tuesday.

In truth, I believe zoo officials had to a make a critical, probably correct, but politically incorrect decision. And I honor them for that decision.

Whether the toddler’s parents are charged or not isn’t my issue. What bothers me is the 32-year-old Cincinnati mother’s now-deleted Facebook post, thanking the zoo for making the difficult decision to shoot the gorilla to save her son. The post, in part, quotes, “God protected my child until the authorities were able to get him.” Further, “Thank you to everyone that helped me and my son today and most importantly God for being the awesome God that He is.”

What bothers me is our society’s overuse of God’s intervention toward the good while not acknowledging the reverse. In other words, if God positively impacted events and protected this child from Harambe, then does He not stand passively aside while countless other children perished? Why did God protect this child and not others?

For instance, several days ago a north Texas man shot and killed his 3-year-old stepson, Dominic Tra’Juan Castro, because he was upset the child was jumping on the bed. In what authorities called a tragic accident, a 2-year-old girl was found dead inside her mother’s car at a Mississippi daycare. The mother thought she had taken her child to daycare before going to work. Also, a 9-year-old boy died after being shot in the head near Indianapolis. Police say the shooting occurred Friday afternoon at an apartment complex in the community.

So was God there or not there to protect these children? While the list of children hurt or killed remains endless, we are quick to praise God for apparent miracles while simultaneously remaining silent for His lack of accountability. We cannot experience God one way. To do so is an affront to those who’ve suffered tremendous agony.

Final food for thought – if God was so heavily involved with protecting the child, why’d Harambe have to die? Couldn’t both have been saved?

Paraphrasing from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s logic after 9/11, if you’re going to tell me about how God protected your child, you better also be able to explain how God did not protect other children.  The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried a child and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to allow the death of their child. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their family should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without their son or daughter. If you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

Personally, the child is alive because of quick acting dedicated zoo staff. Nothing more, nothing less.

ascension-dayThe Easter sun rises through my patio window. Another Easter, another year of challenges – another year remembering could haves, should haves, and would haves. Over the years, I’ve experienced several hard transitions between Good Friday and Easter. Each year I vow otherwise, but like many, I spent Easter reminiscing, not so much on loves and past dreams but more so on what went wrong.

Easter 1984 I was informed I had a major disease. I would live maybe 20, 25 years if going downhill with the wind behind me. Now, I’m 56. Go figure?

Good Friday 2010 I was fired by telephone and lost the love of my live. Both walked out the door on Good Friday and never looked back. Six years later, I have received none of the forgiveness requested.

Easter 2016 brought another round. Like an old food item, doctors gave me an expiration date. Doctors informed my body is expiring, slowly. I linger, not so much in pain, but prolongation and loneliness. I vowed never to be the guy who ingested six medications. Yet here I am. Major illness and cervical injuries to the C4 and C5 vertebrae leaves walking nearly impossible. Medications control everything from dysphagia, cardiac problems, high-blood pressure, chest pain, paraplegia and vertigo from inadequate blood flow.

In life, the body doesn’t always follow best-laid plans. Having made my living in hospitals since 2008, the variance between living fully and tragically collided daily. One day, you’re full of life. The next day, you must learn a new normal, one requiring every ounce of soul. And that newer pathway often leads to mental decline and frailty. Yes there are some joys, but for most, the declining body saps of everything.

Bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel noted that living too long is a loss. His picture of living past 75 wasn’t pretty – no skydiving, no horseback riding and endless commercials reinforce cholesterol medications and Viagra cannot rejuvenate youth.

I cannot even envision 75. At 56, I don’t ask for anything but dignity. I’ve put aside any desire to live longer. None can cure aging. Still, for the time remaining, I want to live in the real world, to accept the year head on, valuing those around me. I want to love once more, lie in someone arms and embrace the sweet nectar of romance. I want to experience a level of agape love never received. Can one live in love? It seems simple? Maybe too simple? Maybe not.

I understand Easter’s hope in ways many never will. It’s not about an Easter Bunny, coloring eggs or finding chocolate. In the late stage of life, we become housed and nurtured by those around us – a prisoner within a prison. Thus Easter’s real hope is prison’s destruction. Revering God’s ability to overcome fear and human boundary, leaving any willing to mercifully love God who will overcome breathing difficulties, aches, pains and of course death itself. That my friends is what Easter’s all about.

Live in love and experience the real beauty of God.

the alleyFor the last several posts, I’ve taken a broad, sometimes sarcastic swipe at politician’s who’ve claimed that God has called them to run for office. As such, a reader wrote a private email requesting my thoughts of what true servant leadership should be.

To preface, I found many people who feel the large gap between what they expect from their Christian candidates and what’s received. We’re fed a steady diet of Biblical principles, heart-felt conversational stories, endless legalistic Biblical push button rules that secularize and polarize, while promising to return the country to the state that God loves. In reality, the candidates never had a deep God-centered relationship Him, never felt Him or experienced the kind of agape love Christ exhibited.

While Donald Trump claims to have never been called by God, he labeled Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) as “not a war hero;” that Bush didn’t have the IQ [to be president]; that Bush has to like the Mexican Illegals because of his wife; that if Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?; that Lindsey Graham was a total lightweight.

As for Mexican citizens, Trump noted “They’re sending people that have lots of drugs, crime are rapists and some, he assumed, are good people.” And of course Muslims and Mexicans won’t be allowed into the United States.

Ted Cruz finally disavowed merchandise designed by the overtly racist artist Sabo. Cruz’s campaign pulled the designs, once featured on posters, buttons, and t-shirts, not long after an online liberal talk show, The Young Turks, aired a segment calling accusing Sabo of being a racist. Sabo publicly disparaged “blacks,” “New Mexicans (residents from New Mexico),” Syrians and repeatedly made reference to harming President Obama. Cruz campaign also suggested GOP candidate Ben Carson might be leaving the presidential race, drawing the lasting ire of the neurosurgeon.

Rubio has his own issues. He stated President Obama has no class. News media widely reported the senator’s “imprudent” financial decisions over 15 years, including his “penchant to spend heavily on luxury items” like an $80,000 speedboat; his “inattentive accounting” with local government fees; his “unwise” decision to liquidate a retirement account; and his questionable move to use a Republican credit card for personal expenses. His Tallahassee home nearly ended in foreclosure before finally being sold.

The coup de gras went to Ben Carson. Citing Obama’s time spent in Indonesia as a child, Carson said it is “a stretch” for Obama to say he identifies with the experience of African-Americans growing up in the United States. “He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” Carson said. If I summarize Carson correctly, Obama isn’t black enough.

From my perspective, the God of faith and agape love got lost? Or if this is there God, then I would not want to be in their version of heaven.

In his song Take Me Top The Alley, Gregory Porter embraces the beauty every one should demonstrate. Take Me To The Alley reflects what Christ does upon His return.

They will be surprised

When they hear Him (Christ) say

Take me to the alley

Take me to the afflicted ones

Take me to the lonely ones

That somehow lost their way

Let them hear me say

I am your friend

Come to my table

Rest here in my arms

You have party

Rest here, rest here

Take me to the alley

I want a candidate to Take Me To The Alley. Together, let’s find those who feel alone and convince them they’re not.

Take me to the alley.

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