Tag Archive: Faith


The Hope in Death

Hope in death

Our hope in life beyond death is a hope made possible, not by some general sentimental belief in life after death, but by our participation in the life of Christ.

~ Stanley Hauerwas ~

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Perform a quick Google search for “hope in death” and you’re likely receive a litany of Bible verses that believers in Jesus have hope beyond physical death. These verses may be wonderful for the average run of the mill believer, but do they apply to those who’ve lost a loved one to violent? In a sea of which few have traveled, finding peace in Christ’s death is hard to align.

Several years ago, a Pastor proclaimed Christ knows your pain. Knows? Christ knows my pain? The sarcastic part of me notes Christ never died via an AK-47 in the hands of a minor not old enough to buy a beer. Had the same teen had the beer, maybe all the subsequent pain could have been avoided. Then again, probably not. Christ never had a limb amputated, never processed of lingering mental and physical therapy required to simply get out of bed and face the world.

In times of tragedy, Buddhism is no different. For Buddhists, there’s a spin that death is part of our natural life-cycle. Many die alone. Oftentimes family members never got to say goodbye, or communicate one last time how much they were loved. Victims of mass shootings experience similar thoughts. In sudden death, trusting in some sort of universal design, we hope our loved one’s spirit remains safe and in the care of higher beings.

So, where’s the hope?

If we really loved these people, then we must try to fulfill their wishes. That’s the proper way to approach it. You see, the best way to keep a memory of that person, the best remembrance, is to see if you can carry on the wishes of that person. Their wish is for us to live.

Christ stated he is with us always, even unto the end (Matthew 28:20). But I offer an alternate meaning. It is through our faith of life that we crush the hatred of death.  Live a life focused on making others proud. And in doing so, moving through the grieving process and, through our faith in living, and the love of family and friends can we begin to heal and move forward. In doing so, many will find their loved ones in many places and ways throughout the day and evening.

You will find your loved ones in a touch on the arm; a dream; a coin appearing in one’s path or a butterfly twirling about. The signs and symbols will be unique to each of us and remind us our loved ones are near. These signs remind us of the unbroken bond that we will always hold. And like Christ, they will be with us always, even unto the end.

Living life fully enriches faith, family and friends. “Living” is very Buddhist, very Christian and crushes death’s hand.

Dear L&H:

Thank you for crossing my blog and making the choice to write me a wonderful personal note. According to your email, you were hoping for a Valentine’s Day message. Well, blew it. Missed it. Sorry.

On a personal note, like many, I struggled with a burdened heart. As Christians know, Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day for peace. Yet, none of us received peace. In the wake of Florida’s shooting, I would not expect any major legislative progress. As many know, Congress has been largely ineffective in passing any meaningful legislation since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting where 20 young children and six adult staff members lost their lives.

February 9th, I wrote an email to a personal friend that pondered a lunch conversation driving back home. I reflected on not only our conversation, but the musings of author Kate Bowler, as she progressed through her cancer diagnosis. Trust me, I will tie these together.

So, I can relate to Bowler’s comments:

“…. a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.”

“I’d love to hear it,” my husband said.

“Pardon?” she said, startled.

“I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.

I know there’s some idiot out there, who responded to the Florida victims with trite, “It’s part of a larger plan.”

For you L&H, I’ll update parts of my friend’s email. i believe the message is timely.  In times of tribulation, many of us have received comments from the well intentioned, some are bizarre, others rude. I include some comments as well as my immediate inner thought response (outlined in parentheses).

  • “It’ll be okay, I just know it.” (Really? That’s great. Tell me how you know?)
  • “Someday this will all be behind you.” (Nope. For many, this event will always be in the forefront.)
  • “Don’t worry, things will get better.” (This does not get better).
  • “So when will you be all better?” (Hmm, like I said, does not get better.)
  • “Live in the moment.” “Be strong.” “Fight hard.” “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t give up.” “Attitude is everything.” (I will remember this when I can barely breathe.)
  • “We’ll pray for a miracle.” (God has risen only two people from the dead. I don’t see it happening in Florida.)
  • “Could be worse.” (Just did. Listening to you confirms it just got worse.)

And the coup de gras of all statements:

  • Everything happens for a reason.”
  • It’s all part of a larger plan.”

To this, I remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.

I sympathize with all the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims and seriously injured. For them everything’s on the hook.

Yet, several days post incident, I believe there is a sense of hope. First, the real message is to focus on how you treat one another, how you treat yourself, the value of human life. Second, like students who power-packed a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, all of us need to make impassioned pleas for legislation to regulate guns. “We will be the last mass shooting,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez declared to wild cheers.

Emma Gonzalez is declaring that we must get angry. We need to be angry: angry at our lawmakers for doing so little to prevent these catastrophes; angry at our news and entertainment media for simultaneously feeding off these tragedies and fueling them with a steady stream of sensationalism and moral incoherence; angry at ourselves for perversely tolerating these things, and then forgetting them until the next round of violence.

As you know, I believe in many things. I believe in Emma Gonzalez. I believe you T&H. May you become the snapshot of change, archive each moment, and live it. And In all things, know that I have faith in you.

I just noticed my last post, A Recollection of Five Thanksgivings and Lessons Learned.  My last changes were edited at 9:16 AM Eastern. In turn, there are thanks which went unmentioned.

I am thankful for my family, for all they given, for all the effort in which they’ve loved me. Surely, there has been countless times I challenged them otherwise. If not for their love, I would not have overcome my own inadequacies and fallacies.

I am thankful to have been a child under my father’s home. By all accounts, his childhood was extremely difficult and nearly lost his mind. Yet he lived to prosper in his own way, married and gave birth to both me and my brother. I don’t believe I would have made it through my own challenges under another. Then again, maybe I was meant to have been born by him for that very reason.

I am thankful for friends who, regardless of my faith, prayed for my father. I remain quite unsure of prayer’s power, but I saw a sight of Christ never previously experienced. It was the truest form of agape prayer rarely seen, one that has shaken my soul and breathed a power of support I will need. To that experience, I thank my friends and Christ.

I am thankful for Apple FaceTime. Everyday, for the last five years, I was able to connect to my mother and father. Whether it was five minutes or hours, FaceTime provided moments I couldn’t otherwise experience. Just as the song Seasons of Love captured, our days were filled with daylights, sunsets, midnights, and cups of coffee; there were inches, there were miles, there was laughter, there was strife. There was hope, there was reconciliation, there was heart, but most of all, there was love. If not for Apple designers, technicians project managers and leaders managers, my father and I would not have gotten one more hour.

I say all these thanks for one more hour. For an hour after my last post, I potentially witnessed the last moments of my father’s life – via an iPad, through Apple FaceTime. Mid-sentence, my father straightened and fell over. At once, I became the ultimate Buddhist, a witness, a ghost who could see, but could not alter the events on screen. I could see my father and I witnessed the horror of my mother’s futile attempts to assist.

I am thankful for all the countless medical clinicians in a Tucson, AZ hospital who’ve cared for my mother and father. Tests remain – MRI’s, blood tests, physical assessment and so on. But these medical clinicians are direct hands of Christ, God, Buddha or whomever. They are God’s love, given to all.

After 86 years of life, I presume my father’s stroke prepares him for an exit from this life. As I await this final moment, I will no doubt give many more thanks to countless people that I should, but will never remember. I will thank them all for that extra hour.

If my father were able to speak here tonight, he would ask all of you to reach out, hug those you love and tell them how much them mean. So I will ask all you, for him. I know it’s late. But do it. You may get nary an hour more.

God, I am thankful for one more hour.

Bless you all.

On the eve of his Thanksgiving holiday departure, President Trump gave an accused pedophile in the Alabama Senatorial Candidate some huge support. And, in the early morning hours, on the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, with all that’s wrong in the world, Trump found time to disgrace the NFL, LaVar Ball, and retweeted a post from a London-based radio host “… If Hillary got my kid out of prison, as much as I hate the woman, I’d thank her corrupt ass.

No America, this is not your parent’s Grand Ol’ Party.  As CNN’s Chris Cillizza noted, the message from many establishment Republicans used to be that it wasn’t worth sacrificing moral principles solely to hold control of a single Senate seat. Today, the GOP nickname might become Grand Ol’ Pedophile’s.

So what happened? Where did moral integrity flee?

Rev. Ed Litton, senior pastor of the Redemption Church said “We can’t say, well, that doesn’t matter because some people in the other party do the same thing. These are serious allegations. And our faith, our worldview, demands that we take seriously the victimization of people.” However, all we’ve heard from many candidates and pundits is repeated vitriol toward anyone who professes serious conflict of interest against their candidate.

Trump’s business executive councils imploded because corporate CEOs realized it was ethically untenable to be associated with the president. However, we “the people” remain willing to accept the cup of bitterness offered by a demagogue.

I wonder if there are any “normal” Republicans anymore. If there are, they have a couple problems. First, they can’t displace Trump because they don’t have an alternative to Trump’s white grievance as a core message. Second, their stuck arguing against Obama policies, because arguing against the white grievance message would expose the failure to develop any meaningful policies to help anyone. Third, Obama is gone. So it’s easier to blame everything on Obama.

In June 2017, author MJ Lee wrote, “In recent history, presidents have turned to their faith in moments of crisis. Bill Clinton, a Baptist, called on the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the famed civil rights leader, to counsel his family in the fallout of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The night before he announced his resignation, Richard Nixon, a Quaker, is said to have gotten down on his knees to pray in the Lincoln Sitting Room of the White House, weeping.”

Unfortunately, faith seems to only play a role when speaking at evangelic conferences, breakfasts or dinners. As such, moral faith of current Congressional leadership seems awash in the same faith of those that killed Christ. Just as in days of old, our nation’s leadership has been tested daily and we’ve watch personal moral flee.

One time or another, all of us flees from moral integrity. Republicans, Democrats, Buddhists, Christians and atheists alike. However, if you’re called to be a leader, you are called to a level of moral integrity that prevents candidates like Roy Moore.

You Are Not Alone

Not AloneA client acquaintance of mine passed away this past Sunday.  While I did not know this person particularly well, I understand from other coworkers that this person may have ended his life.  Somehow, on a Sunny Sunday, this middle-aged person, two children and a good career passed away.

Those of us outside the family’s inner circle remain perplexed. And like armchair coroners, for better or for worse, many scalpel this person, slicing open their life, peeling the facade like an onion. Why?

For those like me, who experienced so few interactions, why must we strip this person’s dignity on the cold steel table of our imagination? We care so little for others that we walk past people, day-in, day-out, with nary a glance. Yet we presume to have the right to dissect the dead, to explore, to investigate, to simply satisfy curiosity.

Think I am wrong, then look no further than Prince. Not into Prince? How about Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley or Robin Williams?

We need to autopsy ourselves. If this acquaintance really did commit suicide then we need forgiveness – forgiveness for not saying hello, forgiveness for not being supportive and forgiveness for being so god damn arrogant. We need to understand that at the basic human level, pain often wins. We need to understand that when hope loses, faith does as well.

In reference to her husband’s death, Susan Schneider, Robin Williams’ widow said, she was beside herself in agony. She fought to the end, but didn’t know what she was fighting. Our battle is similar. When someone dies, we often don’t know why. In our angst, it’s even more important not to stop fighting for one another, living and loving – in life, love and pain.

As many of you know, I once considered suicide. Not because of the degrading physical pain I currently experience, but because of mental pain that incessantly encased me. Like many, I often thought there was no escape. But like many, I made it, just as many others made it. There is life beyond the pain.

So … if you’re contemplating suicide, my advice is go ahead and kill yourself. But don’t do it with a rope or a gun or a knife or a handful of pills. Do not end your life by destroying your body. Kill yourself by cutting off your former life and going in a completely new direction. Kill the old life by starting anew. Be someone different. Live, love and learn in ways never imagined.

Yeah, it wasn’t easy. And there were times I thought living to be impossible. Yet things changed and when they did, they really changed.

Lastly, if you feel alone you’re not. If need to talk to someone, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. They will fight for you. I will fight for you. Everyone one of us should fight for you.

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.

gods-calling-1200x800_cAlan Binder’s NY Times article Falwell and Graham Reinvent Their Fathers’ Legacies was an interesting read. Binder wrote that while Falwell and Graham, ponder the rewards and perils of creating identities apart from their fathers say there is no rivalry between them as they pursue different ways of engaging in politics.

Falwell endorsed Trump and Graham simply wants more Christians in office. Graham said, “I want to get Christians to run for office at every level. The Christian voice needs to be heard.”

That got me thinking. Why can’t Graham comprehend God is everywhere?

I mean think about it, God has been everywhere in this election has told almost every candidate to run. Need convincing? Here’s a quick rundown.

  • Scott Walker, the infamous Wisconsin Governor, was convinced God called him:

I needed to be certain that running was God’s calling — not just man’s calling. I am certain: This is God’s plan for me and I am humbled to be a candidate for President of the United States.

  • John Kasich wanted a message from God before becoming the 16th candidate to enter the GOP foray.

“… what does the Lord want me to do with my life? You know, he puts us on Earth, all of us on Earth, to achieve certain purposes, and I’m trying to determine if this is what the Lord wants, and I’m not going to figure that out laying in bed hoping lightning strikes, so I’m out there one foot in front of another. We’ll see what happens.”

  • Ben Carson’s belief was that God would make it clear if that’s something he was supposed to do. Carson also told Fox News last August:

“… that he would run “if God grabbed him by the collar and asked him to run.” 

  • Rick Perry wife’s likened him to Moses, describing his decision to run as heeding signs from above.

“He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president,” she explained. “He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush, but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’”

Later, Perry told CNN, “I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”

  • Rick Santorum family had a divine understanding of what compelled his presidential ambitions.

“… defending God’s truth …” and “… it really boils down to God’s will. What is it that God wants? We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants.”

  • Mike Huckabee asked his audience that he couldn’t think of a worse place in the world to be than in the Oval Office without God’s hand upon him. He’d rather not get near the place, but if that’s a (God’s) purpose, so be it.”

During the 2011/2012 GOP Presidential race, God told Rick Santorum (again), Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain (the same Cain who infamously quoted as being a brother (to the Koch brothers) from another mother, to run as well.

I am amazed the same God reached out Falwell, Graham and all these candidates. The ironic theme running through every message is that it’s from the same God.  You’d think all the candidates would compare notes. ” What? God told you to run too?” But while they’re somehow qualified to run the country, they can’t figure out how bizarre it is for God to have called everyone.

That means either God is extremely confused or has a huge a problem with commitment. I mean this is the same God that parted water, turned water into wine, had His Son killed, raised and then left for vacation. He could have selected any one for president, but each either failed or will fail. So what does this mean for God and for the candidates that claim to be doing his work in running for president? I sort of expect God to call and say, “Sorry, My bad!

At the end of the day, God is either a particularly cruel practical joker, He never really endorsed any of them or most Americans don’t give a crap. The first would be hilarious but the third is most likely.

There is no universal agreement among Buddhists about the right solutions to political issues or even how to prioritize them. There can be agreement, however, about trying to not make one’s political actions the product of greed, aversion, or delusion, and about acting mindfully and employing right speech, etc. That’s where many politicians fall short of God’s calling.

hooksAs many readers know, I’ve been absent for many months. Much of my time away has been due to a series of medical issues, high-blood pressure and heart problems. Then something new, cervical spondylosis, commonly called arthritis of the neck. Although many people with cervical spondylosis experience no noticeable symptoms that was not true the case for me.

So I read Kate Bowler’s column in the New York Time’s SundayReview with great interest. Writing of her struggles, she wrote of her Stage 4 stomach cancer diagnosis, heart and back and forth issues of religion, specifically prosperity gospel.

As many know, prosperity gospel belief’s center upon God providing material prosperity for those he favors. The idea goes both ways: materially successful people achieve such success because they’re favored by God and, at the same time, people who are favored by God will eventually be materially successful. In other words, godliness causes material prosperity.

Just to get this out of the way, to me, buying into the prosperity gospel message is like eating a week old banana – we all say we love it, but in reality, it’s shit. If the message of prosperity gospel were true, every single person of faith would bathe in material wealth. Additionally, it implies a nonsensical quid pro quo. The entire idea of a prosperity gospel is based on direct reciprocity – meaning if you believe in God, you will be given wealth.

So my question is as follows: how many prosperity gospel minded believers succumbed to cancer? More than likely, a whole lot. To phrase it another way, the late radio show host Bob Collins (WGN 720) once said, “In the end, something’s going to get you.” Prosperity gospel nor regular gospel will prevent one from cancer, car accidents, or any other malady. Death happens. That’s life.

So I can relate to Ms. Bowler’s comments:

It is the reason a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.

“I’d love to hear it,” my husband said.

“Pardon?” she said, startled.

“I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.

While keeping Ms. Bowler’s comments in the forefront, technically speaking, I understand my problems are no where near the breath of difficulty others have. But I cannot tell you the number of people who’ve offered me simplistic medical advice:

  • A new bed:
  • Eat a plant-based diet;
  • Quit my job and enjoy life;
  • Move to the southwest;
  • Natural medicine;
  • Participate in Reiki healing; and
  • Align my spine.

I’ve received many comments from the well intentioned, some are bizarre, others rude.

  • It’ll be okay, I just know it.” (Really? That’s great. Tell me how you know?)
  • Someday this will all be behind you.
  • Don’t worry, things will get better.” (Disk compression from cervical spondylosis does not get better. I can get spinal fusion, but the condition does not get better).
  • So when will you be all better?” (Disk compression from cervical spondylosis does not get better.)
  • When will your conditions be gone?” (When I die or until all the Southern Comfort in the bottle to my right is consumed … whichever occurs first.)
  • Live in the moment.” “Be strong.” “Fight hard.” “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t give up.” “Attitude is everything.” (I will remember this when I can barely move in the morning.)
  • We’ll pray for a miracle.” (Is spinal fusion considered a miracle?)
  • What’s your prognosis?” (Pretty fucked.)
  • Could be worse.” (Just did. Listening to you say that confirms it just got worse.)

And the coup de gras of all statements:

  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • It’s all part of a larger plan.”

To this, I remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”

You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.

It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.

In many ways I sympathize with Kate Bowler and for the seriously injured. For them everything’s on the hook.

PrayforBaltimore-copyChants of “no justice, no peace, no racist police” echoed through Baltimore streets Saturday in a march organizers dubbed as a “victory rally.” Pastor Michael Crawford homilized “Satan wants our city, and he can’t have it. We were born for this hour and we will fight this right away — on our knees.” Crawford further alluded to principalities and powers of darkness being everywhere, but God was greater.

The victory rally came amid a surreal week in “Charm City,” where Edgar Allen Poe eloquently wrote “There is no exquisite beauty…without some strangeness in the proportion.” Here’s a few of the bizarre I saw:

  • Rashid Wiggins sold $10 shirts with the slogan, with “I Matter.” Apparently $10 will ensure one matters;
  • Protesters charged police with “kidnapping” a prominent black community organizer. Never mind the fact the protester was arrested for violating curfew;
  • CNN’s Brooke Baldwin decided to blame the Baltimore riots on returning veterans;
  • Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox played in an empty stadium; and
  • The Ad Council used an ill-advised Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting a Caregiver Assistance program that included the background audio of a TV news anchor announcing:

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law….the President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm….authorities are working to contain the outbreak.”

I pondered this mess while watching a lone protester stand in front of the burned-out CVS with sign reading “God heard our prayers.”

Seriously? God heard our prayers?

Let’s highlight some of the insanity.

In Baltimore, police and civilian vehicles were destroyed, businesses looted, and as of this writing, fifteen officers injured.  In summary, Baltimore tallied:

  • 200 Arrests;
  • 15 Structural Fires;
  • 144 Vehicle Fires;
  • National Guard;
  • Curfew;
  • Citizens Attacked; and
  • Police Officers Indicted.

In the wake of Michael Brown, Ferguson recorded:

  • 80 arrests;
  • Over 100 gunshots;
  • 25 buildings burned and/or looted; and
  • Vandalized police cars in Ferguson, Missouri.

Oakland, California residents notched the following in marches for Michael Brown:

  • A looted Starbucks
  • Smart & Final had liquor cabinets pulled off
  • Chase Bank had two front doors smashed
  • Wells Fargo (targeted in previous Occupy and Trayvon Martin protests) experienced broken widows
  • 40 people arrested on charges ranging from assault on a police officer, to vandalism, burglary, public intoxication, and refusal to disperse
  • Officers pelted with rocks, bottles paint and fireworks.

But hey, God answered our prayers. It’s such a wonderful example of God’s intervention. Isn’t it?

I’m amazed how people attempt to find meaning in the absurdity. Truthfully, God answered nothing. The only principality was ignorance and intolerance. They were bred from our inhumanity – bred from deep within our soul.

If that CVS protester was right and God answered Baltimore’s prayer, then His message to those who lost a business was … what? To those who were attacked, did God ordain that?  Was God’s hand of justification empowered through a young prosecutor, the indicted officers or both? To those who lost jobs as a result of destruction, did God answer their prayers as well? I mean maybe they didn’t want to go to work that day. Did God get the prayer wrong, simply fuck up and make a mistake? “Oops, my bad,” God exclaimed.

A part of me wants to yell, “God answered Baltimore’s prayer, but Bosnia, Rwanda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hiroshima and Nazi death camps were God’s plan? How many people go to bed hungry every night? And now you’re praying for the ‘God of justice?

Borrowing from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, I openly ask anyone to tell me about God’s plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how His plan answered Baltimore, you better also be able to explain how the plan wiped out so many who had nothing to do with either Gray or the officers. The test has to do with going and saying it to the person whose business burnt down. Look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to wipe them out but justice was served. I don’t worship that God, but at least you have integrity.

News : NPR

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