Category: Life Lessons


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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Some Missourians claim that after departing the state for better waters, one eventually returns ‘Home’ to the ‘Show Me State.’ (We’ll ignore the fact that Missouri’s statehood originated from the 1820 Missouri Compromise that allowed slavery.) After listening to friends describe the wonders of their home state, I neither lingered nor mixed words. “Well, St. Louis has an arch and a muddy river.” What originated as a ‘do the one-year of hell and get promoted’ turned into ten-years. However, one form of Missouri entertainment remains unique: Politics.

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Many moments in professional sports bear witness to the “F**k you. It’s about me, dipstick.” Last week ten members of the Kansas City Royals could not make the trip to Canada. Why? Well, they have not completed Canadian vaccination requirements. This week, three members of the St. Louis Cardinals bowed out of the team’s upcoming Toronto games for the same reason. Most either claimed “Personal choice” or something to the effect of “I made a decision that’s best for my family.”

Congratulations assholes! You are the epitome that shows formal education gets drained somewhere in-between long hours of training and boring cross-country flights. As noted in countless reports, COVID-19 vaccine risk is negligible and keeping yourself vaccinated (plus booster) is the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID. But none of that matters, as life is about personal choice.

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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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COVID Strikes Back

I once wrote that COVID would get me. And throughout the past several years, I have been thoroughly surprised that COVID has not infected me. Unfortunately, that no longer is the case. After two Pfizer vaccines and two additional booster shots, COVID decided to knock upon my door. My experience is not unlike others. I will summarize my experience using Martha Snell Nicholson’s poem Guests snippet.

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The last time this blog discussed weapons or guns was in August 2019 and December 2021, though the December 2021 blog was about an idiotic Republican political ad. The idea of purchasing any weapon was to feel safer. Then, in August 2019, I realized how idyllic and self-delusional I had become. I wasn’t warped by NRA, by some fancy salesman, by the notion of the second amendment. Instead, I had been distorted by a belief that a weapon would make me safer. I learned the rhythm of handguns and the addictive thrill of their multi-sensory intensity. And for the first time since my military days, I once again became a threat — to myself.

The Gun Violence Archive defines mass shootings as “four or more people shot and or killed in a single incident, at the same general time/location not including the shooter.” So, I want to congratulate America. According to the Gun Violence Archive, 224 U.S. mass shootings and over 17,000 Gun-related deaths since January 1, 2022. Of course, it takes work to be this bad. But, as it turns out, America is exceptional. 

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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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