My Struggle with the Brussels Terrorist Attack

While you read my writings, keep in mind one thing – I’m only 35 years old, 36 in a month. Nearly middle-aged, but not nearly mature enough, in my opinion, to be disseminating thoughts and convictions that are set in stone or immovable. I started late to the game, being an uber-religious, dogmatic fundamentalist until the age of about 25. Then, it took me another 5 years to really walk myself out of the fixation on reconciling all of my beliefs via Biblical apologetics, jumping through spaghettified hoops, just to get to where I knew was right and correct, and yet was barred from being so, due to the unreasonable religious logic – arguably an oxymoron.

My chief concern here is the loss of life. The loss of innocent life. I pin the conduit for the Brussels senseless murders on the interpretation of Islam that these terrorists are espousing, whether devout or opportunistic. But we cannot forget that this happens nearly every day in other countries, not primarily peopled with humans of European descent.

As Americans, we watch as Paris falls prey to ISIS attacks, then we ignore the attacks in Turkey a few days ago. We watch as Brussels is buried in fear, with scores dead and many more injured, yet we explain away the systematic killing of black and brown people on our own streets, by those who are supposed to serve and protect. We blame religion, poverty, lack of work ethic, apathy, and then return to our privileged lives.

We watch as our fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, enemies all, go into the hospital, waging a war against cancer or worse, fighting to keep their heads above water with respect to mental health. We watch them go bankrupt, one catastrophic medical condition wiping out the seeds of wealth, hurting future generations. We call those who balk at that prospect “freeloaders,” “lazy,” and “Socialists.” We ignore the human condition. The needs of our fellow humanity.

I hate religion with a seething white hot rage, not because I think I’m right, but because it is the easiest conduit for abusing our fellow humans beings, even to the point of death. I hear and understand the arguments of religion not being the reason for human suffering, but rather human culture, which has retrofitted religion to bring about the suffering of others, while the privileged go about their own business, shrugging their shoulders, even praising the status quo.

Even so, if we completely eradicated religion from the bowels of humanity, I am convinced my ire would be forced to seek out a new culprit. We as humans, would replace religion’s capacity to bring about suffering with some other cultural phenomenon.

So I sit here, watching people scream about Islam and Muslims all around me. Then others defending Islam and Muslims. I agree with those who blame Islam and Muslims, insomuch as it is easy to interpret what you want out of it, much like Christianity, to convince yourself that your infliction of death or hatred is righteous and warranted. But I also disagree with them vehemently, choosing to side with those who defend Islam and Muslims, knowing full well that humans can cull the bad from the good, and choose to live in peace. And millions upon millions of Muslims, even devout followers of one of the great (in numbers and cultural history) faiths of this world, Islam, do just that.

And so I weep for those who have lost family and friends in Brussels and for those who actually lost their lives or limbs. But I cannot focus on Brussels as being a titular moment in the narrative of humanity’s blight – our penchant for hatred of one another.

Just Another Run-of-the-Mill Morning

A boat with wheels rolled up to my group, blocking our path. We raised our guns, which looked more like bad-ass potato launchers, than anything that could shoot to kill. There were six people in this boat, the dust from their screeching halt wafting over all of us.

It was the end of the world. Some plague had killed off the entire human species, except, in the last few days, after being chased from our compound by other humans, we were meeting more groups of humans all over the place. The world was getting smaller and smaller, sometimes dangerous, most of the time, weird as hell.

“Let’s take a vote. Should we kill them or not,” the beady-eyed gentleman, who appeared to be the mouthpiece of the group said, around a toothpick he was moving side to side with his tongue.

A little boy, not more than five-years-old, spoke up, looking straight at me, “I like him. I don’t want them killed.”

“Neither do I. We can’t be killing people. We need to work together,” an old man, missing half his teeth, grumbled, in a cowed sort of way.

One by one, the remaining members of the wheeled boat group voted down a sacrifice of my people, then hopped out of the boat and began hanging out with us.

My alarm went off. I woke up.

It was 5AM. Monday. I didn’t want to get up. So, I scrolled through news, drifted off, looked at my Incongruous Circumspection (this blog) Site Stats, drifted off, checked the time, drifted off, wished a few people good morning, then finally my bedroom door opened.

“Daddy, can you drive us to school?”

It was Renaya (13). She does this every single morning. Asks me if I can drive them to school, at 7:00 AM, knowing that I can’t say no, being that school starts at 7:25 AM, the two older girls eat breakfast there, and it’s a 1.3 mile walk.

“Do I have a choice?”

“Um….no.”

The ritual completed, she closed the door, I rolled out, threw on some clothes, and drove them to school.

Arriving back home, I made a pot of coffee, took care of some work-related needs, then proceeded to wake the other kids. Fred (11) went straight to his iPad where he would sit until five-minutes before we had to leave. The other three little ones woke up, looked at me, then rolled over and went back to sleep.

I took care of a few more things.

Needing to leave with the kids at 8:30 AM, I looked at the clock. 8:14 AM.

Crap! I jumped up from my office desk, flying throughout the house, “KIDS! YOU HAVE 16 MINUTES! GET UP!!!”

Immediate panic ensued. This was manifested by everyone beginning to cry at the same time, and coming into my bedroom, crawling into Mommy’s arms, to be cuddled. I shrugged, and lied to myself that I could sit down for a few minutes. I sat down, then popped right back up.

Felicity (8), a perfect student, in every gifted and talented, advanced placement class the school could throw at her, was beginning to panic. She had a homework problem that she hadn’t finished the night before. It was the following math problem:

Use simple math operations to get the solution, 24, using each of the following four numbers, only once: 2, 11, 20, and 24.

I tried for a few seconds, then updated my Facebook status, asking all my friends to help. In the meantime, Felicity had taken the lack of urgency by all the other kids upon herself, escalating her anxiety. She being the sweetest kid alive, I heard her begin to weep, thinking the world was about to end. My anxiety escalated, working my adrenaline into a frenzy. I swore at the dog for getting in my way, she looked at me like I was an asshole – and stayed put. Running around her, I audibly grabbed one kid at a time, getting them ready. Felicity’s anxiety escalated further. Mine went up faster, wanting to make her happy. Fred (11) sat down on the master bathtub, not fully dressed, not packed for school, shoes scattered somewhere in the house, and cried. Felicity became even more anxious.

Then a dear friend of mine posted the answer to Felicity’s math problem on Facebook. I wrote it on Felicity’s homework paper, her anxiety evaporated, mine followed suit, I got the last items ready for the kids, and Mommy took them off to school.

And then I drank some coffee.

Letters From Mama: God Will Not Bless Your Marriage

Now, I will introduce you to one of my most popular series on my old blog, off in that dusty corner of the internet.

I grew up in an abusive environment, learning to cope quite well until I was 19 years old. At that point in my life, the heat got too hot and I was ready to be free. I left and went to live with my dad to get on my feet and expose myself to the real world in full color, rather than a world through sheltered and well defined, paranoiac lenses. My freedom came with many bumps in the road as I discovered that I was truly lazy when I wasn’t being yelled at to accomplish a task. I needed to mature…grow up. Life moved very fast and I needed to jump in and roll with it.

One day, I went on a weekend trip to Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota and met a girl. She was struggling to set up her tent and I squirted over to help her. The rest was history. We fell in love, I proposed less than two months later, and we were married a year to the day we met.

Let’s back up to July 17, 2001 – the day the love of my life and I decided on the date of the wedding. My mother, who henceforth will be referred to as “Mama,” sent me a letter. I had left her world nearly two years prior and she would leave no stone un-turned trying to get me back. Using religion and false warmth was her favorite tactic.

Dear Joseph,

I had been going by “Joe” for years. Ever since I left her home, I never went by my full name. She knew this and used my full name at every opportunity.

Forgive me; all the issues I obtained for you of This Old House, I’d thought I was giving you the most precious gift; I looked through the last one I’d gotten, and found I’d been giving you a magazine that had liquor, smoking, and more and more sensuality being slipped in. I am so sorry. I trust that my prayers for you had kept your discernment muscle strong.

First of all, I knew when Mama started out with an apology that she wanted something. She was never wrong. Additionally, she was reading my mail. But it wasn’t just my mail. She had ordered a subscription to This Old House for me, then had it delivered to her house, so I would have to come and pick it up, more than likely even be required to live there again. Get used to this type of manipulation.

Finally, my father had smoked for many years. Who did I go to heal with when I “escaped” her home? My father’s house. She knew full well what she was doing in writing this. And, to set the record straight, I love women and liquor (some liquor, anyway).

Joseph, my precious son, I have been young, and now I am old(er). All of my discipling (sic) since I have been saved has been right down this line – relationships and how God allows them to work or not work. HE DOES NOT ALLOW IT TO WORK IF YOUR PARENTS HAVE NOT GIVEN THEIR BLESSING.

My mother has actually been up on Mount Sinai and spoken to God herself. Moses had nothing on her. Moreover, she was thorough in her research before she wrote this letter, insomuch that she interviewed several billion couples that had tied the knot and believed in her god. Every couple that told her their relationship was perfect also let her know that they had received a full blessing from both sets of parents. Those couples that had eloped or had gotten hitched where at least one parent’s consent was not solidified, had either gotten divorced, murdered each other, or became gay.

Please do not set yourself up for misery, Joseph. Please wait until Papa releases you, deeming you fully mature in his eyes.

Now that went a bit too far. Mama had refused to have a relationship with my dad (Papa) since the divorce in 1987, unless he met her every demand. How did she know what his desires for my life were? Not to mention, he did exactly as a father should – gave me great counsel and kicked me off the branch, believing I could fly. He was a good dad.

I love you so much, and I would take the anguish you are going to go through, upon myself if God would let me. He cannot contradict Himself, Joseph.

Unfortunately for Mama, nowhere in the Bible does it say that a man or woman needs their parents permission to marry someone else. Sure, there are descriptions of marriages where the father chose the bride for his son. Also, the Benjamites lost a ton of womenfolk in a war that God brought upon them, so the dudes ran to another tribe and kidnapped some women for wives – also sanctioned by God. Hosea went and bought a prostitute as a wife – also sanctioned by God. David had wives and not ONCE did he ask his dad’s permission in the text and yet he was considered a man after God’s own heart. Her assertion was pure poppycock.

Also, “God never contradicts himself”? Right…apparently, the world’s most godly woman has never read the Bible.

Please ponder Hebrews 13:8.

Hebrews 13:8 says:

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

It’s funny she uses this verse. Verse 7 would have worked toward her point much better:

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

And finally, the salutation:

In tears of anguish for your sake, yet, even so He gives me John 14:27, “If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Mama XO

My Mama is a trip. I’ll post more letters in the future.

Sunday Church Series: I Need Your Sunday Non-Church Stories

This is the beginning of a weekly post where I ask my readers to comment on what they did today, in lieu of worshiping a non-existent, supernatural being. Or, maybe you did go to church. Doesn’t matter. I will choose one story and highlight it in a post titled “Church Story of the Day” or something like that.

Write your stories in the comments at Sunday Non-Church Stories: March 20, 2016.

I’ll need to follow up with you via email to maybe gather pictures and other clarifications, so make sure your email is correct. Set your spam filters to accept email from crackedcornjimmy@gmail.com.

Have fun!

 

I’m sorry, readers. I have failed you.

was going to write a rebuttal to Matt Walsh’s “Dear Men, Abortion Is Not A Women’s Issue. We Have A Duty To Get Involved.” post, but I just couldn’t.

The second paragraph:

I am a man with an opinion about abortion. Even more shocking, I did not consult with the Feminist High Council before formulating my opinions. I did not check the rule book to make sure my man-opinions are within the spectrum of approved perspectives for someone of my anatomical persuasion. I did not fill out the forms requesting permission to publicly voice my unsanctioned beliefs, nor did I review the guidelines to determine the manner and extent to which they can be voiced.

I just can’t get past that bullshit. The condescension is too much.

Matt Walsh is not a good person.

God’s Chosen People? The Useful Lie of the Christian Zionist Movement

I received a dire plea in the mail from Mike Evans’ organization, The Jerusalem Prayer Team. In that money begging mailer, Mike asked for donations of $30 – $100 or more. The $30 level would give you the ‘Bible Promise Box,’ a relic of the 1980’s, where you picked out a card for every day of the year, and the contents of that card would be a Bible verse, promising you goats and land or something. The $100 level would give you a book, written by Evans.

Evans is a master of hyperbolic and overly-simplistic fearmongering.

Today, Israel stands squarely in the crosshairs of evil and determined enemies want nothing more than to finish the job Hitler started more than seven decades ago.

Really? First of all, the reasons Hitler hated the Jews were much different than the reasons the Middle East is a religious and cultural powder keg. To compare the two as substantively similar is to be intellectually dishonest. The only similarity is that the focus of ire is the Jewish people. Even that is a simplification. In many ways, the conflict over Israel, and Jerusalem specifically, has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with the historical bitterness of both sides, the representative Israeli government having committed the majority of the atrocities against the Palestinian people, as well as those surrounding their borders. The co-opting of the Jewish religion to bolster their rights to the land is simply the most effective conduit for convincing their citizenry and the nation’s allies that their actions are not only proper, but have an holy implication. Thus, to come against the Israeli government is synonymous with rejection or hatred of the Jewish god, and by default, the Christian god.

And that’s where the Christian Zionist movement plays their pretentious hand. They feign love for the Jewish people, claiming God chose them as his own in the Old Testament, which is true, and then turn around and use the money their supporters give them to bolster both the protection of Christian holy sites (including the whole of Jerusalem), as well as working to “save” the Jewish people, introducing them to the Christian god and his son, Jesus Christ.

In truth, according to the Christian Zionist movement, as well as the message of Christianity itself, God’s Chosen People are still going to hell. Unless, of course, they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. That kind of makes being “chosen” not all that choice, doesn’t it?

Evans continues, attempting to convince his readers (those with open checkbooks) that Palestine is an illegitimate idea:

There has never been a nation of Palestine. The territory claimed for the Palestinian state was governed by Egypt and Jordan prior to the Six Day War in 1967.

This is a terrible argument, obvious on its face, and yet Evans followers, and many Christians who adhere to the religious theology of politicians like Ted Cruz, eat it up. The fact is, nation borders are constantly changing. If we want the most poignant example, we can point to the very country that Evans is a citizen of – The United States. Imagine if any number of indigenous peoples from the Americas had used that line. The reality is, the same Christians who claim that Israel was given its sliver of land by God, would crucify any Native American for claiming the same.

But Evans doesn’t stop there. Informing his readers of his awful reading of history is only the beginning.

The driving force behind the plan to divide Jerusalem is in direct contradiction of Bible prophecy and is the same anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, Evans doesn’t quote the prophecy he is referring to, here, but the setup is hilarious. If you carry out this statement to its warned conclusion, he is setting up a failure of Biblical prophecy. If Jerusalem is divided, the Bible is proven to be false, the unquoted prophecy having failed. As you can imagine, this cannot be allowed to happen. You need to send money now and lift up your voice in prayer to…beg God to not allow something to happen that will prove him to be..er…false. Kind of an impotent god, if you ask me.

My favorite quote about God’s impotence over his own piece of infertile desert is from Pat Robertson:

[Israel] is God’s outpost, and it would be, in a sense, a black eye against Him if his plans were frustrated by human beings. And He will not let people frustrate His plan.

Another interesting note here is that the majority of Jewish people do not live in Israel. They are scattered all over the world, the greatest concentration of them living in the United States. If, as Christians love to claim, God cares about the heart, and not about material things, why would a large contingent of Jewish people, safe in their homes, away from the Middle East conflict, not be a better outcome than forcing an artificial border to exist against inhabitants of land, stolen from under their feet? Aside from that, wouldn’t any peaceful resolution be preferable to a continued insolent declaration of ancient religious rights to a patch of earth? To argue otherwise is to claim that the Christian god is petty, interested more in what he claims is true, than true peace and prosperity of the human race.

But that makes perfect sense in today’s religious and political climate. Perceived absolute rights trump any whisper of compromise. Compromise shows you are weak and un-principled, while treating your enemies with disdain, even killing them, is holy and righteous.

Evans continues:

Genesis 12:3 clearly tells us that God will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.

Obviously, Evans wants his readers to conclude that the word “Israel” is referring to the nation of Israel, rather than the people who were descendants of Abraham and Isaac (not to be confused with the descendants of Abraham and Ishmael). Also, to bless Israel is to disallow any peace process except that which is perceived to be in direct agreement with what the god of the Bible would have dictated. And, to curse Israel would be to give into any demands from their enemies, no matter how small.

But who gets cursed? Who gets blessed? If the United States hacks out a peace agreement that is palatable with the Christian Zionists, and is agreed upon by all the enemies of Israel, does the United States alone get the blessings of God? Or, do the nations that are against Israel, yet agreed to the purportedly Biblical peace accord, also receive part of that blessing? Alternatively, Hamas has openly declared “curses” upon Israel. The Palestinian people are being economically suppressed and systematically murdered by their human counterparts. Is this due to the cursing? Is the Christian (Jewish) god playing the hand of the Israeli government, forcing them to carry out atrocities against the Palestinian people?

Stepping away from Mike Evans’ mailer, when one views the true beliefs and goals of the Christian Zionist movement, you begin to see clearly that the Jewish people are merely pawns in their game, and calling them “God’s Chosen People” is, while correct, based on the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, is actually a self-serving lie.

Christians Zionists, Mike Evans being one of their chief mouthpieces, need the city of Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount, to be in the hands of their allies.

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. – 2 Thessalonians 2:2 – 4

How can the ‘son of perdition’ sit in the temple of God and declare himself to be God if the temple is currently an Islamic holy site? The temple must be rebuilt in order for this to happen. But, how can the temple be rebuilt if a peace accord splits the city of Jerusalem in half, the Old City, including the Temple Mount, then belonging to the Palestinians? If that happens, the current generation, and all generations in the foreseeable future will never usher in the second coming of Christ.

And true to form, Mike Evans mailer declares that the peace accord’s agreement would put the Temple Mount on the Palestinian side, should the nation of Israel be forced to create a Nation of Palestine.

The truth is, it doesn’t matter that the Jewish people are God’s Chosen People. To the Christian Zionists, Mike Evans included, that is nothing more than a call to battle, a veritable head-fake to the unsuspecting Christian. Calling them such is useful to the end goal of the Christian Zionist. Attribute to the ‘Chosen People’ the necessity of their God-given lands, convince the International community that Biblical borders should be the gerrymander of the peace accord, and you get Jesus coming back.

But in the end, at the Second Coming, Jesus only takes the Christian believers with him. The Jewish people, though called ‘Chosen’, end up in hell, having not really been chosen, choosing instead to reject the true teachings of the Messiah.

 

The True Effect of Donald Trump’s Wall

nm-riogrande_rongardnerAbout a month ago, I had the privilege of walking through the Generose Building at Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota. This is where they take care of patients with mood disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, as well as other minor to severe mental incapacities.

I was supposed to go to the third floor and visit a patient in the mood disorders wing, but took a wrong turn and walked into the ward for schizophrenic patients. I passed some windows to my left. Stopping for a moment, I looked through the panes of glass and gazed out over a large atrium space that spanned the entire three floors of the building. The roof was made entirely of an opaque glass that allowed a sort of filtered sunlight to make a valiant attempt at brightening the dirty green carpeting on the ground floor. Tables were scattered about the space, half-finished puzzles on every one of them. There wasn’t a fleck of dust throughout the entire space, and every chair was positioned perfectly. Nothing was out of place. Nothing was haphazard.

I would have been out of my mind with the artificiality of it all. The “almost sunlight” would have bothered me worse than a room with no windows. I turned to my companion, “If I was a patient here, I would break out of the joint and make my way to a beach, sitting there for days, listening to the water lap against the sand, watching the rest of humanity do their thing. That would be more healing for me.”

Humans need fresh air. They need a good dose of nature, every once in a while, to keep their sanity, no matter the measuring stick for normalcy. In the United States, since the inception of the National Parks by our bombastic and single-glassed President, Theodore Roosevelt, we began to care about preserving the natural wonders of this country.

Only, Donald Trump wants to destroy the beauty of one of the longest natural borders in the world with his Soviet wall. The Rio Grande is dry in places, muddy in others, and yet, in some areas, it is one of the most idyllic settings for sitting on the shore, feet in the water, listening to cattle lowing on a distant ranch.

Perfect for a man or woman, child or old person, dog or cat, and even the oft-ridiculed scorpion, to lap up the beauties of this world, refreshing their mind for another spell at life.

What is this white stuff on the ground?!

IMG_2740After being titillated with 80-degree weather last weekend, I woke up this morning to an inch of snow on the ground. As the voted-upon bearer of good news to the entire family, I rolled out of bed, went into Renaya’s (13) room, flung open the curtains and said through my laughs, “Look!”

Renaya groaned, “Daddy! I wanted to sleep in!!!”

Oops.