Jesus Has Left the Building. Or has he?

“Put Jesus Back In Our Schools!”  “Type Amen if you agree”  “Put God Back in the White House!”  “Share if you agree”   “Let’s Put God Back in America!”

Just so there’s no confusion,  Jesus actually is my bro.  I’m a Jesus follower,  a J-Babe.  But unicorns will  have to do The Running Man before I “like”, share or Amen these  rallying cries.  I don’t share a lot of things posted by other people anyway, but when I do it’s usually something that really moves me;  piglets dressed in pumpkin outfits,  chihuahuas eating popcorn, cookie recipes that my friends might want to bake for me.

So, you ask,  if I love me some Jesus, why won’t I support this stuff?

Basically the implications and facts of these memes are cloudy.  I’d like more information concerning the date when you think Jesus and God were actually in our schools, our government, our country.   Was it 1962?  Was Jesus in our schools prior to 1962?   But then on that date he knocked over the game board, took his toys and went home?

A few issues with the 1962 theory.

  • First, it assumes that Jesus and God literally left the building when the Supreme Court decided it was unfair of our government to force Jewish kids to pray in a school-wide, government-approved Christian prayer led by a faculty member.  In effect, it says that the faith of students and of faculty in our schools is so weak and so delicate that they can’t maintain a relationship with God unless our government is there to stand over them and insist that they participate in a group prayer.  I actually believe there are many teachers and students who still spend time in prayer for their schools, for each other, and for our country.  See, neither Jesus  nor our constitution sanctions a mandatory school-wide prayer.   The Christian faith is offered as a gift that we may choose to accept.  It is not the strong arm of the law forcing everyone in our society to believe and behave as we have deemed appropriate.
  • Second,  the 1962 theory assumes that prior to that date we lived in a Utopian society where everyone was treated fairly, we skipped to school, and no one was picked last for dodgeball.  The reality is that prior to the 1962 decision, there were still school bullies, there were children being molested by adults and the truth was being swept under the rug, women were abused by their husbands, black people were discriminated against and physically tortured,  Presidents were assassinated, Presidents were having affairs, Jewish people were mistreated, innocent Japanese citizens were sent to internment camps.  This list can go on forever.  And one can only assume that people who believe in this 1962 theory have become too comfortable being the caucasian, heterosexual, Christian majority and can’t or won’t look outside their own bubble to care about people who are different.  Which is the antithesis of Jesus, his mission and teachings.
  • And finally, the 1962 theory seems to be a defensive position.  It’s a way for people to deflect blame by pinpointing that thing or that moment in time that caused things to go wrong in our schools, our country and in our own homes.   “My 12-year-old is sneaking out to smoke pot because mandatory school-wide prayer was removed”.  “My daughter texted nude photos to a group of teenage boys because mandatory school-wide prayer was removed”.  “My adult child left the church because mandatory school-wide prayer was removed”.   Compulsory prayer in schools is simply not going to fix your problems.

Look,  Jesus didn’t abandon our schools in 1962.   He simply stepped back and asked us to take responsibility for our own prayer life and to respect others who believe and live differently.   If we can’t do that on our own without government dictates, then, as a country we have a heart problem.  And that’s much harder to solve.

Mic dropped!

 

 

 

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Love’s a Gas, Part 1

Usually the only people you’ll find that aren’t squirming in the waiting room seats of a doctor’s office are women.  By the time we can finally claim the title of “woman” we’ve been violated, poked, and prodded so many times by strange men in lab coats and hospital scrubs that we look forward to a beer, a cigarette and a little cuddle time when it’s over.

On this particular day I had my protein bar, coffee and Ipad in hand, looking forward to relaxing while I waited until 11:00 for my 10:00 appointment.   I absentmindedly plopped down on the seat closest to the registration desk to update my paperwork, letting my coffee cool, when an elderly couple walked in the door.  They were so adorable in that way that 92-year-old couples have of being absolutely mindless of fashion, formalities, and voice control.  They sported fanny packs, practical sneakers and matching khaki slacks.  And they spoke to each other in conspiratorial voices, occasionally giving me the stink-eye, unaware that at a certain decibel level, the secret’s out of the bag.

They shuffled along their way to the registration desk coming to a halt no more than 18″ from me.   I returned my attention to my medical history.  Heart disease.  No.  High blood pressure.  No.  Hemorrhoids.  You tell me.  And then abruptly there came a timid squeal followed by a puff of air that blew gently against my bangs.  I straightened my hair thinking maybe the A/C fan had switched on.  A few short seconds later I heard another squeal, slightly angrier this time, and again, that mysterious puff to my face.  Maybe there was trouble with the fan?  Maybe I imagined it.

The happy couple finished their business at the desk and turned to start their long journey to the chairs by the door.  And then things got weird.   Weird because the ole guy’s butt  insulted me.  He let go a turd tremor right in my face!  It was loud and it was authoritative.  I actually saw the coffee in my cup tremble and questioned if it was safe to drink at this point.  The air encircling my head got all warm and stuffy and then a strong odor singed the hairs in my nose.  The noxious substance seemed to trickle into my throat and I tasted something akin to lye soap.

I tried to keep it together and be respectful.  Apparently I was the only one who seemed to notice anything out of the ordinary.  So I  brought my hands to my face in prayer formation, squeezing my nose between them and clenching my eyes closed.  I did actually ask our Lord for composure and a quick end to my suffering.

Shortly thereafter I stood to return my paperwork.  Growling Butt and his wife, Head in Sand, were hot on my heels as I sat back down.  And would you believe that stinker blew another anal exhale right as he passed me?!?  I steeled myself against the onslaught of the bubbler heading my way.  I tried holding my breath, but I’ll never make it as a free diver.  My eyes watered when I inhaled and I would have sold my grandma for a tongue scraper right then.  What in the world had these people eaten for lunch?!?  And still no reaction from the happy couple.

Upon my recovery, it was all I could do to stifle hysterical laughter that was begging for escape.  Yeah, I admit it.  I’m still childish enough to think farts are hilarious, even when I’m the one bushwacked.   And I realized at that moment how I envied that couple.  They had been blessed to grow old together.  They had reached a point in life that, as a younger person, I had yet to experience.  They had achieved such bliss and confidence that it didn’t matter if they wore fanny packs or farted, quite loudly, in the faces of innocent bystanders. They had earned the right to love unconditionally and unapologetically.

The nurse called my name and I stood up to follow her down the long corridor, tossing my full coffee cup in the trash.   I smiled at Growling Butt and Head in Sand, hoping for just a tiny bit of their magic as I headed toward my gastroenterologist and the physical boundaries we were both about to violate.   And I thought to myself, “What in the world did I eat for lunch?”

 

Life Lived Large: The Legacy of Danny Ray

I will apologize up front because this post is not going to be grammatically correct, my words will not be eloquent, and my spelling will probably suck.  This is a story I need to tell straight from the heart.

There are times when I’d like to kick Life right in the groin.  I want to be Ralphie and finally have my go at Scott Farkus, fists swinging and foul words erupting in a shit storm of rage.  In fact, I want to make up new foul words so bad they’ll go viral in trashy internet memes.  And then I want a do-over.

In Junior High School I was a typical misfit kid.  I wasn’t the popular girl and I wasn’t an outcast, but I fell in that enormous chasm of kids in the middle,  just trying to figure out who I was and how to fit in.  But I was blissfully unaware of being average because I had a group of spirited friends who valued outrageous fun over social status.  We loved an adventure that would be funnier every time we told the story.  We had each other’s backs and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

There was Suzi who was opinionated and hilarious and a natural born leader.  When she said “jump” we jumped, knowing she may lead us to the precipice, but aware that life would be experienced in a big way in her presence.   Then there was Kim.  Kim was refined and rational, the one we could count on to keep us all from getting into too much trouble.   But she also laughed easily and often, and she fully encouraged and enjoyed our exploits.  In later years Hugo would join our band of merry people.  He was the pretty boy and as much as we loved looking at him, we loved his ornery spirit even more.

But the glue that held us all together was Danny Ray.  He was an enormous personality, someone who commanded a room when he walked in the door.  He was probably the first gay friend any of us had, but back then I don’t even know if we really comprehended what it meant to be gay and it didn’t matter.  Danny never pulled a punch.  He wasn’t shy about telling you like it was, but he had no malice, and in the next minute he’d “laugh at the leap” and it would be forgotten in a riotous fit of laughter.  When we were with Danny, we were carefree and we were happy and we all felt like we were the most important people in his life.

On March 2, 2016 Danny Ray passed away unexpectedly.  Through all of his years he always pursued his love for acting and directing.  His career eventually led him to Marshall University where he became a faculty member at our alma mater, coached the debate team, and became a revered member of our community as he shared his passion with so many others.

In 1990 Danny’s absence from our 10-year high school reunion left a void for all of us.  He had been trying to make it in acting in New York and the rumor circulating was that he didn’t want to come to the reunion because he wanted to be able to return as a successful actor.  This past week, I read innumerable memorials to him.  People from high school remembered the things he had done for them, referred to him lovingly as a dear friend.  His co-workers devastated by the loss.  The students and fellow actors lost without his joyful presence and mentorship.  The articles in The Herald Dispatch attesting to the loss of a great man.  The West Virginia Building in downtown Huntington, WV lit up with green lights in honor of him.

Danny was never meant to be a famous actor in New York.  His life was bigger than that.  I was in awe of  the number of people he touched, the young people he groomed for great futures, those who credit him with their successes, and those who simply loved being in his presence.  You see, back in Junior High and High School, he made our little group of friends feel like we were the most important people in his life.   But he did that same thing for everyone whose lives were fortunate enough to be touched by him.  Danny Ray was an icon.  He was larger than life and he made all of our lives larger by association.  He filled our hearts with laughter.  He made a difference in our world.

I lost touch with him over the years  and I have come to realize just how much I missed by letting life get in the way.   I have so many stories to tell and so many more that I’ve forgotten over the years because of that distance.  Without that ongoing contact with the important people in our lives we begin to forget what they meant to us and how their friendship shaped the people we are today.  I’m grateful for Facebook because I’ve been able to reconnect with Danny and Kim and Suzi, but the truth lies in the people whose lives they have touched. Danny will always be a part of me and I am so proud of him.

Suzi and I started work together at the Burger Chef when we were 15 years old and those were some of the most fun days of my life.  She was promoted to management in the company at a very young age, and then became an entrepreneur when she opened her own chain of fast food restaurants.  Today she is a very accomplished professional in a government agency.  No one who knows Suzi is surprised by her accomplishments.  She is a part of me and I am so proud of her.

Kim is an accountant now.  She raised 2 daughters and now has a grandson and is an amazing mother, wife and daughter/daughter-in-law who sets the bar for what it means to be family.   She and her husband give of their time  to students, acting as mentors in my home town community and changing lives for the better.  She is a part of me I am so proud of her.

 

 

 

Going To The Post Office Sucks

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There were 15 people ahead of me at the post office.  That equals something like 6 switchbacks in the Space Mountain line.  I joined the herd to wait it out, checking the weather on my iPhone and deleting spam to kill time. After a while I … Continue reading

Coca-Cola: The International Language

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If I could use only one word to describe the mental giants who are arguing the patriotism of Coca Cola’s recent “America The Beautiful” commercial I would pick the word obtuse.  Or maybe uninformed.  I also like nonconversant, boorish and … Continue reading