Jesus: All-Round Good Guy

I’m not a theologian. I’ve read the Bible, but much like Karl in Sling Blade, I understand parts of it but not all of it. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading the Bible. It is full of sex, violence and scandal–and that’s just the Old Testament. The New Testament is the cornerstone, of course, of Christianity. It’s not nearly as saucy as the Old Testament. It does, however, tell the story of Jesus, the key figure in the Christian world.

Most folks know the story of Jesus. He was born to a virgin in a manger. He is the son of the one, true Living God. He was sent to Earth to die for our sins. He did just that, being crucified, of all things. His sacrifice bore all the sins of mankind. Three days after he died (wink, wink), he arose from the dead, thereby fulfilling the promise that he would not die. That’s pretty close to accurate.

Before reading further, you should know a couple of things. One, you’re not going to see a bunch citations to scripture. This ain’t Sunday School. Plus, I don’t research much for this silly blog. This is no pedantic discourse on historical Jesus. I’m going from memory, which may be inaccurate, but I’m sure you’ve heard just as reckless preaching from the pulpit. Second, I’m not a fan of “oral histories” when it comes to religion. There’s too much room for mistakes and outright lies. I don’t believe the oral history of my own life. So, all you’ll see here is stuff I remember from the Bible and my own rank speculation.

I’m not so much interested in Jesus as God or even a god. That’s a religious thing. If you believe that, you have taken it on faith, like all religions. You don’t need to be sold on it. If you don’t believe, no amount of persuasion on my part will affect you, especially since I would probably make little sense and only end up arguing with myself about it.

My interest is more in Jesus the man. After all, he was a man, in addition to be the son of God and God himself. From this point forward, I shall try to avoid discussion of The Holy Trinity, as it only confuses me. But, what of Jesus the man? What kind of guy was he?

First off, it’s unlikely that he wa  6′ 2″ with flowing sandy blonde hair and a perfectly shaped nose. He was a Jewish man. He probably wasn’t a foot taller than everyone else or look like Barry Gibb.  According to science, he probably looked like this:

jesus

Since the Bible doesn’t describe his appearance, he can look like anything we want, but we should try to be a slightly realistic.

Back then, I guess, people didn’t have last names, but we call him Jesus Christ or, sometimes Jesus H. Christ. I’m pretty sure Christ wasn’t his last name. No one called his step-dad “Joseph Christ.” Of course, Judas was Judas Iscariot. I can’t really reach a conclusion on this one.

Jesus's monogram has caused centuries of debate about what the "H" stands for.

Jesus’s monogram has caused centuries of debate about what the “H” stands for.

REGULAR GUY

We don’t know much about Jesus the child. The sketchy narrative breaks when he’s a preteen and picks up when he’s in his 30’s. What did he do during that time? He could have been a slacker for all I know. If he was, you can be sure he told someone not to write that part down.

He seems like a regular guy. He was a carpenter, which is a regular guy job. There aren’t any details about what kind of carpentry he did, but it was probably the normal stuff for the times–barns, mangers (how ironic), yokes, maybe houses. Who knows? He may have even made crosses for crucifixions.

30 years old was probably pretty old in those days.  Whether it was because of poor health care or more accurate record keeping, we were no longer in the times of people living to be 900 years old.  I’m guessing that Jesus was middle aged.

When the story picks back up, he’s ready for business. The Sermon on the Mount is some of the best preaching you’ll ever hear. I picture it as being quite the scene, with the turnout being mostly the sick and demon-possessed. The sick people probably had leprosy and wore those big leper bells around their necks to warn people when they were approaching. The possessed were just plain insane. Jesus didn’t care. He hung out with them anyway. He even healed them. Good guy.

People were probably leery of Jesus at first. First, the son of God thing was probably off-putting. Imagine if the guy who built your house went around claiming to be the Messiah. Second, even those who believed he was the son of God were probably a little rattled. Up until that point, God was a vengeful cuss who destroyed entire countries, turned people into salt, slew children and even wiped out mankind–all because he had a Byzantine set of rules no one could follow. His son might be a bit edgy. Can’t you just see someone meeting him for the first time?:

Son of God. No foolin’? I’m sure you know about that pork chop I ate last week. I don’t know what I was thinking. Haha. Anyway, could you see your way clear to pass on the smiting just this once?

Imagine the surprise when Jesus said it was no big deal.

TEACHER

It didn’t take him long to collect followers, the so-called Disciples. They were a motley crew and seemed to bitch and moan a lot. Jesus had to be a patient dude to keep from blowing up at them. The first time someone doubted that I could walk on water, he would be walking–right out of the inner circle. “Oh, you can’t feed all these people with a loaf bread and fish.” “Oh, really? Who’s the son of God, you moron?” Jesus did none of that. Nor did he ever rub their noses in it like I would have. I would have been all: “Looks like everyone else is eating, what are you gonna do now, smart ass?” Even after he came back to life, he dealt with this stuff: “Hey, Doubting Thomas, what do these look like–callouses?” Not Jesus. He was a patient man. Good guy.

Even if you don’t believe Jesus was real, he was still a good guy, even as a literary figure. Consider the things he said:

  • Love your enemies. Any tool can love his friends.
  • If someone asks you for something, give it to him. Then, give him more of your stuff.
  • If someone slaps your face, tell him to do it again. This isn’t to prove that you’re a badass. It’s just to let him do it.
  • Don’t worry about the splinter in your friend’s eye when you’ve got a plank in yours. In other words, stay on your side of the street and deal with your own crap.
  • Quit bitching about the government. Give them what they want, and give God what he wants.
  • Don’t judge anyone. Ever. End of discussion.
  • The humble, the meek, the pacifists, the downtrodden–these are my kind of people.

This is just a small sampling of the man’s wisdom. The funny thing is that even though he’s had billions of followers, I’ve never met even one who does any of what he suggests.

Just as impressive as what he said is what he didn’t say. Here is some of that:

  • It’s okay to hate people, especially if they look different from you or don’t believe I’m the son of God.
  • Go forth and kill people in my name.
  • I really hope the folks who preach this gospel all get rich.
  • Give me money to show that you believe in me.
  • Arrogant, self-righteous jackasses are really cool.
  • C’mon boys! Let’s go protest a funeral.
  • Some day there will be a land called America. It will be my favorite place on Earth.
  • You know what I like? War.
  • If people are poor or starving it’s because they deserve it. They’re probably lazy.
  • I hate foreigners.
  • When you pray, be sure to ask for things. Money is always good. Oh, and ball games–I’m a big sports fan.

Jesus was a positive, upbeat guy, even in the face of what he had to know was going to be a bad, bad ending for him. If it had been me, I’d probably have said: “Look. After they crucify me, you dudes kill every last one of those bastards. I’ll be back in three days, and I expect to see some carnage.” Not Jesus. He tried to stay positive. Good guy.

HOLY MAN

Two stories demonstrate that Jesus, Godliness notwithstanding, was a good guy. Remember Lazarus? He was a good friend of Jesus’s. Maybe Lazarus bought a yoke or something from Jesus. Lazarus died, and his family asked Jesus to resurrect him. Now, you could tell Jesus didn’t want to do it, and I can understand. He performed miracles to make a point, not just to do it. He might have thought this would set a bad precedent. Anyway, he got nagged into it. Lazarus had been dead awhile and was pretty rank. I’m sure Jesus thought: “Man, what have I gotten myself into? Damn, he’s funky.” He did it anyway. Boom! Welcome back, Lazarus. Jesus just did it to be nice.

The other was in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew that some bad crap was coming down, so–like a lot of us would–he went off to pray. The gist of his prayer was: “Okay. I know I’m supposed to do this. I get it. But, IF by any chance you’d like to get me out of this, I’m cool with that, too. Of course, you’re the boss. If this is what you want, I’m all in. Just think about it.” What could be more human than that? He would do what he was supposed to do but was fine with getting out of it. What else would a good guy do?

Even his crucifixion shows what a good guy he was. He could have unleashed all manner of wrath. Remember–he’s God’s son, the same God that wreaked vengeful havoc throughout the Old Testament. Instead, he forgave his tormentors.

FAMILY MAN

Like any regular guy, Jesus had a family. Yes, he was the son of God, but Joseph was his step-dad. Joseph taught him carpentry. They probably argued about stuff like any family.

His brother James probably had it tough. At this point, some of you will get hair-lipped and scream: “THAT’S A LIE! JESUS DID NOT HAVE A BROTHER!” I say he did. Why? Because the Bible calls him James, brother of Jesus. That’s good enough for me. So, calm down.

My older brother was an excellent student and good kid. That can be tough to follow. Imagine poor James. Even when he was spreading the gospel, he probably heard about it:

MAN: What’s your name, friend?

JAMES: James…uh…James Christ.

MAN: Are you related to….?

JAMES: Yeah, he’s my brother.

MAN: Wow. He was, I mean is, a great guy.

JAMES: Yeah. We’re fond of him.

MAN: Look, we’re having a little get together later. You’re welcome to come by. Do you think….?

JAMES: Thanks. I’ll see what I can do, but He doesn’t just appear. But I’ll check.

No matter what a good job James did preaching, he was never going to measure up.

Mary was a typical mom, except for the virgin birth thing. Why did Jesus turn the water into wine? Because his mom told him to do it. Haven’t we all been there? My son is an excellent, self-taught piano player. His mother always wants him to play for her friends. He rarely does. It’s embarrassing. Jesus reacted the same way. He hadn’t even started performing miracles yet, but she was his mother. So, he did it. “Okay, Mom. Are you satisfied now?” Good guy and a good son, too.

LADIES MAN

Jesus hung out with women, too. I suspect women weren’t treated too well in ancient Judea. Jesus didn’t care. Mary Magdalene was right by his side until the end–and the beginning. He didn’t care. Now, I know a lot of you say Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Maybe so, but the Bible doesn’t say that. If she was, it wasn’t important enough to write down. If you feel better thinking she was a whore, good for you. I know this much: Jesus wouldn’t have cared. He liked the downtrodden. They were his peeps. He made no judgments. Good guy.

I don’t know if Jesus dated or had a wife. If he did, the Bible doesn’t talk about it. Then again, it doesn’t talk about any of the Disciples having wives (Okay, maybe it does, and I just don’t remember). Let’s face it. The Bible isn’t very kind to women, so they probably wouldn’t have included that anyway. It wouldn’t have been weird if he had a girlfriend or wife. In fact, it would have been weird if he hadn’t. I’d like to think he did. He was human, too.

SUMMARY

Even if you are a committed atheist, you must admit that Jesus was a fine fellow. If not atheist, maybe you’re just not a Christian. No one ever turned from Christianity because Jesus was a bad guy.  Hey, the Koran mentions Jesus frequently, maybe even more than it does Mohammed.

Jesus said that he’ll come back one of these days.  Maybe he’s your plumber.  It’s doubtful that he’s preaching on TV.  He’s probably just a regular guy–good guy but regular.  If he does come back, though, I’m pretty sure we’ll all try to kill him again.

So, there you have you it. Jesus the man. Good guy. Now, some of you may be poised over your keyboard ready to set me straight and accuse me of heresy and blasphemy. Before you do, ask yourself this: What would Jesus do? Good guy, that Jesus. He’d just like this post and move on.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Feel Lucky?

luck

Luck has a bad reputation. People don’t like it. They certainly don’t want to give it any credit. We don’t care for the randomness of it. If we’re just plain lucky, how do we take credit for our good fortune? It’s antithetical to our desire for praise.  Bad luck is just plain unfair, and no one likes that.

People talk a lot of about luck, because we don’t understand it.  Sure, it explains all the success of our enemies and all our own bad choices.  Beyond that, it baffles us.  Why me?  Why not me?

Webster’s Dictionary defines luck as a “force which brings good fortune or adversity.”  Carl Jung called it synchronicity which means “meaningful coincidence.”  Luck can be good or bad.  We can luck out.  We can have a run of bad luck.  We can get lucky.  We can run out of luck.  There are lucky dogs and ducks.

Luck seems inherently good, although there surely is bad luck, just like bad Karma.  If you wish me luck, I assume it’s the good kind, but I could be wrong about that.  If you run out of luck, it’s always the good kind.  We know that you never run out of bad luck.

Those of a religious bent prefer to call good luck a “blessing.”  We’re not lucky. We’re blessed. On its face, that’s a selfless view. All credit goes to God. Even that view, though, gives us just a wee bit of credit, doesn’t it? After all, aren’t we just a tad superior if God blesses us while others suffer innumerable hardships? Or, maybe we’re just lucky that God blesses us.  Regardless, blessings, it seems, are of the good luck variety.

What of those who aren’t so blessed? Sick children, poverty and lives of abuse aren’t blessings. No one suggests that God indiscriminately curses them. Is there some evil more powerful than God? That seems unlikely. Bad luck? Perhaps.

Religions discount luck.  It runs counter to the sovereignty of God.  I’m sure the Bible speaks poorly of luck, although I don’t know that for a fact.  Damn the luck, as they say.

We are so concerned about luck that we think we can bring it upon ourselves.  Four leaf clovers, pennies and horse shoes will draw good fortune.  Black cats, broken mirrors and umbrellas opened indoors can curse us.  7 is a lucky number.  13 is so bad that buildings won’t have a 13th floor, as if calling it the 14th floor changes its fundamental qualities.  We crossed our fingers for good luck.  All of this runs counter to the very essence of luck–randomness.  We so desperately want to gather the good and avoid the bad that we conveniently ignore that.

There are different kinds of luck, good and bad.  There’s dumb luck, like the time I found a $20 bill.  There it was, just sticking out from under my car tire.  Maybe it was a blessing, and God wanted me to do good with it. I don’t remember what I did with it.  I was in college at the time.  I probably bought some beer.

There’s the luck of the Irish, which may not be good luck at all. The Irish haven’t been all that lucky, historically. Maybe that’s why they think nattily dressed dwarves will lead them to pots of gold. That would certainly require some luck.  I asked an Irish guy once about the luck of his people.  His eyes welled with tears.  I just dropped it.

There’s beginner’s luck which explains why people far less experienced than us do better than we do at certain things we’re supposed to do well.

There’s hard luck.  Ever heard a hard luck story?  It’s never uplifting.  It usually ends with the teller asking for money.  You do that with me, and you’re out of luck.

Speaking of being out of luck, have you ever been shit out of luck?  That’s always bad.  Again, what the hell does it mean?  It may well mean that one has, in fact, defecated away one’s good fortune.  If so, I can see how that is bad.

So, is there luck or is it, as Branch Rickey said, the “residue of design?”  I don’t know what the hell he meant, but I take it to mean you have good luck when you’re just better than everyone else.  Conversely, if your design is poor, you’ll get a boatload of bad luck.  There is plenty of evidence of both in the world.

Rickey was right, to some extent.  Post-it notes were developed because a strong adhesive turned out to be weak. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin by accident.  These folks were, however, working on something at the time.  It’s not like Fleming just let some bread go bad and then cured an infection by eating it on a dare.

Certainly, if you win the Powerball, there’s an element of luck. Consider than twelve men have walked on the moon. Ten are still living. That’s one out of every 30 million Americans. Your lottery odds are one in a 150 million. Luck.

What if, as Warren Buffett describes it, you win the “sperm lottery,” and you are born into great wealth? You’re lucky, at least when it comes to money. One of your ancestors may have been, too, or he or she may well have earned every penny you have. You, on the other hand, lucked out.

Grover Cleveland Alexander once said “I’d rather be lucky than good.”  Alexander was a Major League Baseball pitcher in the early 20th century. He was a great pitcher. He won 373 games. He gave luck its due.  If I were him, I would have taken all the credit myself.

Tennessee Williams said “Luck is believing you’re lucky.”  That makes no sense, but Williams choked to death on the lid of an eye drop bottle.  That’s some hard, bad luck.

Lou Gehrig, another great baseball player, once said “I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.”  He said this on Lou Gehrig Day, held in his honor because he had ALS, a disease so rare that they named it after him:  Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  If that’s good luck, no thank you.

Why do we call people lucky dogs? I think that’s because dogs used to be, well, treated like dogs. That was bad at one time, before we had dogs sleep in our beds and eat at our tables. I’m guessing that a dog who lived with people was just damned lucky.  Mr. Rickey’s theory doesn’t apply to dogs, I guess.

Having a stroke is really bad, unless it’s a stroke of luck.  Then, it’s really good.  You want that stroke.  A real stroke is not a stroke of luck, unless you mean bad luck.  Surviving the stroke could be a stroke of good luck.  See how random it is?

I’ve had my share of good luck, and I’d like to take credit for all of it.  Honestly, I can’t.  Some of it just happened.  Plus, if I take credit for the good, I have to take the blame for the bad, and that’s just not my style.

I don’t suggest you live your life hoping for good luck.  It’s random, after all.  Otherwise, it wouldn’t be luck.  I guess we just have to do whatever we do and take the good with the bad.  Good luck with that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

How Evil or Not Is Our President?

I’ve watched a little of the History Channel series on the Bible.  A lot of folks are bothered by the violence in it.  I assume those people haven’t actually read the Bible, the Old Testament in particular.  There is incest, forced slavery, rape, murder of every description and even genocide.  It’s tough stuff.  A lot of folks who want to ban other books because of the Bible would probably want to ban the Bible itself if they ever read it.

Some are upset by the portrayal of Satan.  Why?  He looks like our president. Really, he does (the TV Satan, that is).  It’s supposed to be a coincidence, and maybe it is.  It does, however, raise the question of whether Obama is, in fact, Satan or just really evil.  My conservative friends think so.  My liberal friends think quite the opposite, of course.  The hard right (rock-ribbed Republicans, as my Dad would have said) reject everything Obama says or does as wrong-headed and Socialist.  The Left accepts everything he says or does as being brilliant and enlightened.  In other words, he’s the Democrat version of George W. Bush.

satan

I don’t know much about Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or whatever you call him.  The Bible doesn’t talk that much about him, either.  All this stuff about him being the proudest angel and falling from grace, etc., isn’t in the Bible.  Regardless, I know he’s bad news.  He tempts us with all kinds of evil.  I can’t endorse that behavior, although I have to admit that I’ve enjoyed a few of his temptations.  He’s also the overlord of Hell, which is bad in all possible ways with its lakes of fire, weeping and wailing and the obligatory gnashing of teeth.

So, why the Hell does the President look so much like Satan?  There really can’t be a good explanation, UNLESS–you got it–he IS Satan.  Okay, I know that’s a stretch.  What if he’s just the Anti-Christ?  The evidence is disturbing to say the least:

  • The Westboro Baptist Church thinks he’s the Anti-Christ.  That’s a credible source for theological truths.  They also think the U.S. Army is dominated by homosexuals.
  • The Obamacare microchip implants are certainly a bad sign.  The Mark of the Beast.
  • The name “Barack” has 6 letters, as in 6-6-6.  How convenient.
  • He’s black.  The History Channel has proven that Satan is, too.  Plus, Satan is always called things like the “Dark One.”
  • As we all know from the film Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas was black.  Coincidence?
  • Although the Bible says nothing about the age of the Anti-Christ, isn’t there at least a decent chance he would be about Obama’s age?
  • It is well-known that the Anti-Christ will be a charismatic figure, much like–you guessed it!–Obama.
  • Revelation 13:5-8 says the Anti-Christ will rule for 42 months.  That’s fairly close to one term of Obama’s presidency.
  • There’s even a website that questions whether he’s the Anti-Christ.  If he weren’t, why would someone go to all that trouble?
  • Michael Savage says Obama is “the most evil” President ever.  That’s good enough for me.
  • This passage from Revelation 13 succinctly describes Obama:
    • [1] And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.
      [2] And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.
      [3] And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
      [4] And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?
      [5] And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
      [6] And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
      [7] And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
      [8] And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world

    They might as well put a photo of Obama next to this passage.  Sixty or seventy years ago, a lot of churches thought the Papacy was the Anti-Christ.  Don’t they look silly now?

Those of you with a  conservative bent are probably smiling.  Maybe you’re thinking:  “He can’t be serious, but, you know, all that makes sense.”  If you’re over there on the Left, you may be angry, thinking:  “Another right-wing Nazi making fun of the greatest President ever.”  If you’re really far Left, you’re probably an atheist anyway and just generally offended by anything hinting at religion.  You don’t have faith in anything, except the Government, that is (that’s big G Government, just like big G God).  Oddly enough, atheists now worship a man who has been a Christian his entire adult life.

All this naturally leads to my next line of inquiry.  If we dismiss Obama as Satan or even the Anti-Christ, what if my friends on the Left are correct and he is a great man–the greatest man?  Consider:

  • We know nothing of Jesus’s teen or young adult years.  The same can be said of Obama whose formative years remain shrouded in mystery.
  • Some people think Jesus looked like this:
jesus

The resemblance is uncanny.

  • Jesus was black.  Okay, I have no direct or indirect proof of this, but isn’t it at least possible?  The Bible doesn’t say he wasn’t black.  Don’t you find that suspicious?  I do.  Besides, look at his picture!
  • Like Jesus, Obama has fed the multitudes.  In Obama’s case, it’s with food stamps, but the effect is similar.
  • Obama made Chris Matthews’ leg tingle.  That has to be some kind of miracle.
  • Louis Farrakhan once said of Obama “The Messiah is speaking.”  He never says anything nutty.
  • Speaking of miracles, Obama got a black man elected President of the United States–TWICE!
  • Jesus and Obama are both excellent public speakers.
  • Both were carpenters.  I’m little thin on facts to support this one, but it hasn’t been dis-proven to my satisfaction.
  • We all know that Jesus was born of a virgin mother, but what of Obama?  What do we know of his so-called “father?”  Not much.  Did he even exist?  If not, why not?
  • I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t have a birth certificate, either.
  • One can persuasively argue that Jesus, too, was a community organizer.  He organized an entire religion!
  • Jesus’s followers were the meek, the downtrodden, the poor in spirit.  Isn’t this exactly what folks on the Right say of Obama’s supporters?

Before you condemn me to the Lake of Fire, I am not suggesting that Obama is the Messiah or even a Messianic figure.  I only ask the questions that others fear.  Not surprisingly, I have no answers.

As with any serious theological debate, there are countervailing arguments.  If he were God or something similar, it’s hard to understand why Rand Paul wasn’t smited during his recent filibuster. If he were Satan or one of his minions, one would think he would try to woo the religious Right instead of constantly enraging them.  We can’t allow such obvious inconsistencies to derail our reckless speculation.

The Bible is thin on details describing Satan.  I’ll admit that Revelation contains an excellent description of the Anti-Christ what with the two heads and whatnot.   Although the Bible makes it clear that Jesus will return, it is equally explicit that we don’t know when or where.  Using those criteria, it is impossible to eliminate Obama.  Thus, we may never know the answer until it’s too late.

If Obama is Satan, then where does that leave Dick Cheney?  If Obama is the Messiah, then why is he a Muslim?  If he is just a man, why do we have all these questions, none of which are subject to adequate answers?  Have I written this under Satan’s spell or by divine inspiration?  Where does Glenn Beck fit in to all of this?  Why does Rachel Maddow look like a dude? We may never know the answers to these and other questions.

So, where are we?  I don’t know.  Maybe Obama is an Ivy League-educated ideologue who surrounds himself with like-minded people–a decent family man with whom a lot of people (myself included) vehemently disagree on some issues.  The Liberal George W. Bush.  NOW, I’m talking crazy.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

The Ultimate Facebook User’s Guide

It’s 2013, and I guess everyone on Earth is on Facebook now–maybe not everyone but a lot of people for sure. I first joined Facebook in 2008 as a way to snoop on my kids. That didn’t last long as I became intrigued, then fascinated and then addicted to its wonders.

In 2008, most people were playing games on Facebook.  Mafia Wars dominated as your FB friends asked you to join their “mafia.” I never did. That gave way to Farmville, and Facebookers became virtual Oliver Wendall Douglases. They needed help building fences and barns and rounding up animals. It was like everyone was Amish after they logged on. Then came Words With Friends, CityVille, Poker and many more games. Now, there is a Farmville 2. We’ve come full circle.

A lot of people who know me well are surprised that I like Facebook. I’m not the most social person. In fact, I’m an intensely private person. Why do I like FB? First, I’ve caught up with dozens of people I would never have heard from again nor made any effort to do so. I know about their families and lives now. Second, I would never have contact with most of these folks otherwise. I don’t do a good job of keeping track of folks. FB fixed that. Third, it helps me to hear opinions of others and the good and bad in other folks’ lives. It’s good to be plugged into to the human race, even if it’s just by a PC or smart phone.  Finally, it’s a way to interact with people without really having to fool with them. Perfect for me.

Even people who aren’t on Facebook know about it. They have co-workers, friends and family on FB. They’ll look at others’ pages and secretly pine to belong. Why don’t they? Usually, these folks are men who have deemed themselves either too busy or cool to be bothered with it. They’ll say things like “I’d never do that. I don’t have the time.” Translation: “I’m more important you are. Blah, blah, blah.” These are the same people who will join LinkedIn and make 2,000 connections, because they think it’s important. Look, I know housewives, doctors, lawyers, teachers, kids, CEOs, factory workers, journalists, accountants and unemployed folks on FB. You ain’t that important. Of course, there are the Luddites of the world for whom the whole thing is overwhelming. These are the folks still trying to figure out if they should get into texting. Don’t let any of these killjoys drag you down. If you want to live in the FB world, join us.

If you’ve never been on FB or if you are but you only log on every few weeks or months, there are some basic rules or guidelines which will help you enjoy the experience.

NO ONE LIKES A CREEPER

Imagine if your next door neighbor rarely left his house and, when he did, he didn’t speak to you. Yet, he would read your mail and stare in your windows. Sometimes, he would just stand in your yard. Even if you thought he was harmless, you’d get tired of this behavior. FB works the same way.

Don’t just go on FB to creep on other people. We’re not a shy lot, but we like some interaction. I’m not saying you have to post something every time you log on, but you can “like” a status or even comment on one sometimes. We won’t think less of you. In fact, we might “like” you right back. Even if we don’t, we’re unlikely to say anything. There is no “dislike” button.  You might even get “poked.”

When you creep, I call it going Rondo:

Creepers are scary.  Don't be scary.

Don’t go all Rondo on your friends.

Naturally, you might wonder: “If I post something, what should it be?”

WHAT SHOULD I SAY?

The good news is that there really are no rules beyond a certain unspoken PG-13 standard. Posters fall into several categories:

The Lamenter: This is a person for whom the world is a difficult and troubled place. He or she is ill, has ill family members, job and money woes and usually doesn’t sleep well. We on FB like these folks. They’re part of our virtual family. Plus, they make us feel a little better about ourselves.  Vent all you want. We won’t judge you and, if we do, we’ll probably do it quietly.

The Prayer Warrior: This person is seeking or sending prayers for many things: the country, sick children, sick adults, the dead, the living and the unborn. He or she will post Bible verses and inspirational quotes from a variety of sources. If you have a problem, these folks will step up.  Most people are like I am–we’ll take prayers where we can get them.  It can’t hurt.

The Politico: This man or woman occupies either the far left or right of the political spectrum. He will post a long string of gifs and memes assailing his political opponents. Some of these will even be factually accurate. Many will be libelous. He also likes to quote people like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, and Ronald Reagan. Oddly enough, these sources are quoted equally by both sides. You, too, can join in. Now, please understand that none of us change our opinions based on your posts, but we will be entertained, at least to some extent. If we’re not, we can always block you. You’ll never know.

Just like at the Thanksgiving dinner table or your local bar, droning on about politics will eventually offend someone.  The good news about FB is that you can just log off and let other vent at you.

Sports Guy: Based on his posts, he lives for sports, not playing them but watching other people play them. If “his” team wins, he will gloat and insult other teams and their fans, not just the one “his” team beat, either. His very worth as a human being is tied to whether a team of people he doesn’t know beats another team of people he doesn’t know. These victories fill him with joy and make him superior to fans of other teams. He won’t post about anything else. The flip side is that when his team loses, his posts become disturbing and deranged. He is a lesser person, and he knows it.

The Worker: This guy uses FB to promote his job, whatever it might be. He’s usually selling something. That’s cool. I might want to buy whatever it is he sells someday. I’d rather buy from a virtual friend than a total stranger.

Music Man: This guys rarely posts, and it’s almost always music videos. Why? I don’t know. I’ll check one out every now and then. It’s harmless.

Animal Farmers: These are folks who like animals. Well, maybe they love animals. Almost all their posts are about animals. There is an endless supply of comical photos of dogs and cats on the Internet. All of them have been posted on FB. If, like me, you don’t find animals particularly entertaining, you can scroll through these posts. Besides, if you don’t love animals these folks probably aren’t targeting you anyway.

Crusaders: These folks are against bad stuff. Oddly, the bad stuff they are against is the kind of stuff everyone is against. They want you to “like” their posts if you’re against such things as child abuse, cancer, child pornography, violence against women and animal abuse. These are good things to be against. Post all you want about them but don’t expect any spirited debates.

Family Affair: These folks post only about their families, usually their kids. Their kids are uniformly wonderful and blessings from God. We all like to hear about kids, so join in. One word of advice–don’t get too real. If your kid caught the basement on fire with his meth lab or got stabbed by a hooker, you probably should keep that to yourself, unless you need prayers.

They also will ask you to “like” or “share” posts that say things like:

If your mother is a saint, your best friend and greatest person who ever lived, share this status.

They never post things like this:

If your mother was a crack whore who brought home a new “daddy” every week and burned down your trailer while smoking, share this status.

So, if, as is the case with too many folks, your parents or siblings were or are vile monsters, you probably shouldn’t post anything about them.

Tin Foil Hatters: They like to post links to various conspiracies, usually involving President Obama. Such things as implanted computer chips, Kenyan birth certificates and Muslim wedding bands are frequent topics. They never check Snopes.com, and if you tell them to do so, they’ll tell you that George Soros owns Snopes. You, then, will become part of the conspiracy. Try to not to become one of these folks. Then again, if you’re so inclined, the fact that I suggest you not do so will only strengthen your resolve to do so. The good news is that FB gives you a platform. If you carry on like that at work, you’ll probably have to see a doctor.   On FB, we just scroll by you like people on the street probably do.

These folks also tend to think Facebook is evil. It’s sharing your profile and personal information and photos. It’s signing you up in Al-Qaeda. It’s garnishing your wages. They never explain why they want to be on Facebook, but they love to warn you about it.

Suckers: Facebook is a hoaxer’s playground. Folks on FB will believe anything. Follow the same rules you follow in real life. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. For example, Bill Gates, despite his vast fortune and philanthropy, is NOT giving away $5000 if you share a picture of him, even this one:

bill-gates-5000-hoax

Also, no one won the PowerBall and wants to give you a million or even a thousand bucks. No beautiful women want to be your FB friends.  If it doesn’t happen in real life, it won’t on FB, either.

Newsies:  These posters assume that none of us watch or read any news, so they post links to news stories.  Some are also Politicos, and their posts only reflect their personal views.  Just like with music videos, it’s all pretty benign.  Who knows? We might even learn something from you.

Posting Tourette’s: This is me–a person who just posts various and sundry things that pop into his head. We can’t control it.  It just happens.  It’s almost like we’ve allowed FB to replace actually thought. Think it–post it is our mantra. We’ll post anything–family photos, videos, gifs, memes, jokes, rants, links. We’ll tell you about last night’s dream, our meals, illnesses and travel plans. We’ll complain about work and our families. We’ll brag and moan about things. In short, we combine all the best and worst of the other posters into one, manic posting monster. We post so often that if you were to read all our posts in sequence you’d be privy to the inner workings of our minds. We’ll wear you out on any given day, but we tend to be entertaining–or annoying. But, we’re never boring.

WHAT SHOULDN’T I SAY?

Facebook is a free speech zone, but all freedoms carry with them responsibilities. There are, of course, things you shouldn’t do:

Keep it clean: This should go without saying, but keep it clean, folks. Foul language, nudity (especially your own) and links to pornography are all beyond the pale. Hey, I’ve got no problem with any of that, but there are plenty of Internet forums out there for that stuff. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Good taste: I am vehemently against child abuse. Honestly, I don’t anyone who isn’t. But, on the off-chance that you have FB friends who need persuading, photos of beat up or dead children won’t help. And they gross out the rest of us. Same goes for dogs that have been abused and killed. We know that’s bad.

It’s Not All About Politics: If you’re a Politico, that’s fine, but remember: Not everything is about politics. Don’t screw up someone’s post by trying to twist into a political statement. Example:

Post: We just had a great dinner-Steak on the grill, green beans, mashed potatoes and homemade yeast rolls! Thanks to my beautiful wife!

Politico’s Comment: Be thankful that Michelle Obummer isn’t your wife! She’d have you eating sprouts!

The Politico has now invited others of his or her ilk to make similar comments and hijack your wall. Bad form.

No Jesus Jukes: The Prayer Warriors will do the same thing with the infamous “Jesus Juke.” It goes like this:

Post: We had a great time at the game! 23,000 people rocked the place!

Comment: I wonder how many people would show up if Jesus was there and no game.

Your well-meaning friend has just brought you down and made you feel evil for enjoying the game. Don’t do that.

SPELING

You may be like me and be a spellcheck illiterate. Years of word processing have eroded my spelling skills. I am far-removed from the brash young lad who finished second in the Loyall Junior High Spelling Bee in 1976. Facebook won’t help you.

Its and it’s have different meanings. Same with there, they’re and their. To, two and too are not the same. Facebook won’t help with these issues. You have to step up and take responsibility.

THE UNFRIENDLY

There may be occasions when you must unfriend someone or, God forbid, you are unfriended. It’s happened to me. Yes, me. A girl I dated in college unfriended me. I think it’s because it took just a few months for her to remember that she hated me.

Unfriending is a drastic step. It is the Internet equivalent of a slap in the face. You aren’t even worthy of being a pretend friend. Think about that. In real life, of course, we unfriend people all the time. We just quit talking to them. If it required some affirmative act, we’d be less likely to do it.

Now, Facebook won’t tell you that you’ve been unfriended. You have to be paranoid enough to notice. Let’s just say that some of us notice these things. And we don’t like it.

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Post a few pictures of yourself. Maybe we haven’t seen you in years. We’re curious. “But,” you say, “I’m not a handsome person. It shames me.” Relax, my ghoulish friend. Most of us are quite unattractive, especially those of us with a few years on us. We’ve gone bald (mostly men), gained weight, grayed, sagged and generally decayed. It’s okay.

I’m a good example. I was never what you’d call a handsome man. Now, my hair is gray and I have numerous wrinkles. Yet, I’ll post many photos of myself. Why? Well, for one thing, I’m a narcissist. Two, I’m not bald. See? You look better than someone–hopefully.

Perhaps you’ve improved with age, which happens. If so, by all means, post photos. Of course, if you really have improved, I don’t have to tell you to post photos.

One thing to watch is posting pictures of other people. They might not like it. For instance, I posted this photo of my wife:

catwoman

This made her angry because–she claimed–the lighting made her look pale. I should have cleared this with her first.

Please feel free to post as many photos of your kids and grand kids as you wish. God knows I do. They’re yours, and you should be proud of them. Even if they’re as homely as sin, we’ll still “like” them. Same goes for your pets. I have two rabbits and don’t hesitate to post about them, even though they are boring, do-nothing pets.  Yet, people always “like” them.  Go figure.

CONCLUSION

Come join us!  If you’re already on board, get in the deep end of the pool!  Join for real, too. Do not share your Facebook page with your spouse.  This will only show that you have trust issues, and we want to trust you.

It’s out there waiting for you, and there’s no time like the present.  In fact, I’m linking this post to Facebook as soon as it’s published.

You can even send me a friend request, and I’ll probably accept it.  I’m waiting.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Papal Bull: A Modest Proposal

Pope Benedict XVI recently gave his two weeks’ notice.  He’s resigning.  I didn’t know the Pope could do that, but he can.  After all, he’s the Pope.  His real Pope name is Papa Benedictus Sextus Decimus, which is a bery cool name, indeed–much cooler than his real real name, Joseph Ratzinger.   

Now, there will be a new Pope.  Who will it be?  I know there’s an election and something to do with smoke being released when it’s over.  It’s not like the Dalai Lama where they go find some kid and name him Pope.  It’s also not like royalty–the celibacy thing prevents that from being effective.

My friend, Larry, suggested that I throw my hat in the ring (it’s a regular hat, not a big Pope hat–not yet).  I’m not Catholic which could be problematic.  Larry may or may not be Catholic, but his idea intrigued me.  Having failed in my quest to become football coach at the University of Kentucky, why not shoot for Pope now?

I don’t know what the qualifications are to be Pope.  Catholicism on at least some level may be a prerequisite. Maybe it’s like the U.S. Supreme Court–you don’t have to be a judge or a lawyer, but it helps.  I also don’t know how you get on the ballot.  So, let’s just treat this as my registering to run for office.  So, here we go.

As full disclosure, I’m married and have three children.  I don’t think this disqualifies me.  Some old-time Popes were married and had children before they became Pope, just like me.  My wife would be a fine Popess or Vatican First Lady or whatever.  My kids might be a bit unruly for the Holy See, but–hey–Lucretia Borgia was a murderer and her Dad was the Pope.  Mine aren’t likely to be that bad.

I don’t have time to become Catholic.  I know people who have converted to Catholicism, and it is a long process requiring counseling, classes and study–even prayerful reflection.  It’s harder than becoming a Shriner.  I’m a busy man, and I simply don’t have time for that.  This will be especially true when I win the election and am burdened with Poping duties.

I also want a really cool Pope name.  There has already been a Pope Hilarius (a funny, funny guy, by the way).  Of course, they was Pope Simplicius (also known as The Dim Wit Pope); and Pope Hyginus, the cleanest Pope. Linus, Liberius, Sixtus, Boniface, Innocent, Urban, Felix (huh?), Stephen, Julius, Eugene, Nicholas, Leo, Pius and many other Pope names are available.  There has never been a Pope Todd or Kevin or Earl.  My name is John, possibly the most popular Pope name, but I don’t want all those Roman numerals after my name.  I’m the Pope, not the Super Bowl.  Besides, there have been so many Pope Johns, that they’ve lost track of them.  I don’t want my number all messed up.  Plus, there’s already a Papa John.  I don’t want folks calling the Vatican wanting pizza. If elected, I’ll hold a contest via Twitter and Facebook.  NAME THE NEW POPE!  My personal choice is Sexius Beastus Superius, but I’ll let the people decide.

I’ll rock the Pope Holy garments.  I know the Pope wears an alb, because I have two friends who are Catholic deacons, and they wear albs.  My alb will be more like a bathrobe but encrusted with jewels.  Think Ric Flair but with overtly religious overtones.  I’m not wild about the dress the Pope wears or the red shoes, but I can take those on rare, formal occasions.

riclfair

Nature Boy Ric Flair modeling one of my choices for Popely garb

I will tone down the hat.  Okay, I’m sure the hat has a holy significance, just like the staff or cane he carries.  But, I’m a baseball cap kind of guy.  The hounds-tooth hat, fedora, bowler or derby don’t look right on me.  The Pope Hat would be particular difficult for me.  I also favor wife beater t-shirts and sweat pants.  I’m sure those can be modified to a more dignified look for the papacy.

pope

My Pope Hat

I want the Pope car, the famed Popemobile.  I know that the Vatican doesn’t like it being called that, but I love it. I’ll have a fleet of Popemobiles, Popecycles, Popeboats, Popecoptors, Poperockets, Pope Jet Packs and Pope Hovercrafts.  You’ll know me when I show up–in style.

I’ll have a steep learning curve what with my almost total ignorance of Catholicism.  I assume that the Vatican–like any government–has a staff of long-time civil servants who can show me the ropes.  How hard could it be, really?  Get me an alb and a sensible hat, and I can fake my way through it until I get the hang of it.

Once elected, I will embark on the most ambitious Popely agenda ever.  Among my many reforms will be the following:

  • No more Latin.  We’re going all English all the time.  I’m almost certain that God speaks English.  Why shouldn’t we?
  • The vows of poverty and chastity are going to have to go, at least for the Pope.  As the first Protestant Pope (as far as I know), I can’t be expected to get bogged down in all that minutia.  That’s for Catholics.
  • We’re going to simplify all the kneeling and chanting.  As a non-Catholic, I’ve found myself baffled to the point of delirium attending Catholic church services of any sort.  Kneel, say something, repeat this or that, etc.  It’s exhausting.  We’ll install light-up signs like in TV studios that will tell everyone what to do and when to do it. Problem solved.
  • There’ll be no more indulgences.  You step out of line, and that’s it.  I’m not running a loose ship.
  • I’ll immediately issue a papal bull putting an end to this University of Notre Dame nonsense.  One of my first acts will be to read off a list of all the Catholic universities in the United States and show their overall sub-par performance in athletics.  If that doesn’t work, I will simply display a huge photo of Digger Phelps with the caption:  IF GOD FAVORS YOUR SCHOOL, EXPLAIN THIS!
  • I will officially declare that any comical photos of empty dresses, chairs, etc., describing Manti Te’o’s girlfriend to be mortal sins.  It was funny at first, but it’s grown tiresome.
  • Wilt Chamberlain’s former home in Bel Air will become “Vatican West,” because…well…it’s cool and so was Wilt.  It will also be known as the Wilt House.
wilthouse

Vatican West

  • I’ll re-institute the Crusades.  At first, we’ll start small, terrorizing the Italian countryside.  If that goes well, we’ll branch out.  Perhaps we can go somewhere like New Guinea and give everyone a deadly strain of the flu.

You’re probably wondering why I want to be Pope.  First, have you seen where the Pope lives?

vatican

The Pope’s turf. Not too shabby.

Next, the Pope is just generally well thought of by folks.  Okay, there was that one nut job who shot John Paul II, but think about this:  He was shot 5 or 6 times and lived!  Even Stallone couldn’t do that.  There’s something to this Pope thing.

I also like the idea of papal infallibility.  That would be a big confidence-booster for me.

According to some really sketchy research I’ve done, the official title is cool:  Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.  (Okay, the “Primate” thing isn’t so cool, but I guess it’s accurate.  As far as I know, all the Popes have been primates).

Finally, it would have to boost my standing with God.  Now, the Pope isn’t a god, like the Dalai Lama or the last Emperor of China or Emperor Hirohito of Japan, but he’s pretty important.  Given my many past transgressions, that has to help.  It certainly can’t hurt.

Will I be a good Pope?  It’s doubtful.  But, I certainly won’t be the worst Pope ever.  Come on, there have been so many Popes, at least one or two had to be terrible.  Surely, there was a Franklin Pierce or Andrew Johnson among them.  Now that I know I can resign, that takes some of the pressure away.  Worst case scenario, I’ll be the Richard Nixon of Pontiffs.

If I can’t be Pope, I can be Antipope.  There hasn’t been an Antipope in at least a few hundred years.  As Antipope, I could claim to be Pope but not really be.  I can even appoint Cardinals who will be called Quasi-Cardinals and Cardinal-Nephews or Quasi-Cardinal Nephews.  I have cousins who might like that.

Oh, there will be some rough days ahead for the Church.  I might cause a schism, maybe several.  My tendency to addresses my audience as “You miserable bastards” will take some getting used to.  But, I’ll do the best I know how, which is probably what every Pope does anyway.  Remember:  “No Pope, no hope.”  I’ll be better than nothing.  Or not.  At least I’ll make the next Pope look good.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Cheerleader God

raylewis

Ray Lewis shows God His Lombardi Trophy

I’m a big sports fan. Huge, actually. I’ve ruined substantial chunks of my life grieving over sporting events in which I had no stake other than as a fan. None of the players or coaches knew me nor did they care one way or the other about how their pitiable performances affected me. Nevertheless, though, I grieved.

You know who else is a big sports fan? God. That’s right. Capital “G” God. The Big Guy. The Alpha and Omega. The Big I AM. How do I know that about the unknowable? Athletes have told me. Repeatedly.

Ray Lewis says so. God glorified him (or vice versa–sometimes it’s hard to follow Ray) with a Super Bowl win. After the Ravens’ win, Ray said “It’s simple: When God is for you, who can be against you?” That is pretty simple. God is all-powerful, all-knowing and omnipotent. If He’s for you, who CAN be against you? Well, a lot of people, really. The other team, for instance. Their fans. Maybe people who just generally hate your team or you personally. Atheists, too.

Ray’s simple observation begs many questions, of course:

  • Was God against Colin Kaepernick?
  • Was God for John, but not Jim, Harbaugh? If so, why?
  • What did God think of Beyonce?
  • How about the guy in the suit that John Harbaugh screamed at? What sin did he commit?
  • What was God’s deal with the Harbaugh parents? For or against?
  • Why didn’t God see that holding call on Crabtree? Or did He see it but smite the officials with blindness, because he was for Ray?
  • Is possible that God was on the side of Michael Oher, the guy from the movie The Blind Side, and Ray just benefited from it?
  • Why did God turn out the lights in the second half?
  • What kind of God would allow Destiny’s Child to reunite?

If it were just Ray, it wouldn’t be that big a deal. Other athletes are just as bad–or maybe it’s good. Boxers praise God–right after they beat the holy crap out of someone. “Thank you, God, for giving me the strength to inflict permanent brain damage on this other child of yours.” Basketball players do it. Baseball players. Everyone who wins has God on his or her side. Some invoke Jesus, which is really the same thing except with a decidedly Christian take.

That’s right. God picks sides. He’s picked the World Series, Super Bowls, NCAA Championships, fights–you name it. There isn’t enough hard drive in the Cloud to list all the athletes that have credited God for their wins. God plays favorites. No doubt. God is definitely a Calvinist when it comes to sports.

The uncomfortable flip side of this is that God clearly dislikes certain teams and athletes, too, not to mention their fans (like me). This is rarely acknowledged, with one notable exception. Former University of Kentucky football player Stevie Johnson is now a star wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills. A couple of years ago, he dropped a potential game-winning touchdown pass. Just dropped it. Stevie saw the hand of God in it.

twitter

Stevie Johnson’s ill-tempered tweet reflected a lot of fans’ thoughts.

Predictably, Stevie took a lot of heat for this. But, if you are a sports fan, haven’t you at least thought this before? Sure you have. Of course, I remember Stevie catching a touchdown pass to beat the University of Louisville. An act of God, for sure.

I’ll confess that I’ve prayed to God about sports. “Oh, mighty God, PLEASE let this free throw drop!!!” Of course, this type of prayer is fruitless, but I’ve done it. My life as a sports fan has proven and disproven the existence of God many times:

  • Jim O’Brien hits a last-minute field goal. Colts beat the Cowboys in the Super Bowl. No God.
  • Roger Staubach hits Drew Pearson with the original “Hail Mary” pass in the 1975 NFC Playoffs. God lives!
  • UCLA beats Kentucky for the 1975 NCAA Basketball Championship. No God.
  • Six months later, the Reds rally from 3 down to win the 7th game of the World Series. Big God!
  • Jackie Smith drops a touchdown pass against the Steelers. Cowboys lose the Super Bowl. No God.
  • Kentucky wins the 1978, 1996, 1998 and 2012 NCAA basketball championships. Big, big, big, big GOD!!
  • Christian Laettner hits a three to beat Kentucky at the buzzer in the 1992 NCAA Regional Finals. There is a God, and He hates me.
  • Billy Gillispie is hired as Kentucky’s basketball coach. God hates Kentucky.
  • John Calipari is hired as Kentucky’s basketball coach. God actually loves Kentucky but has a twisted sense humor (see Gillispie, Billy).
  • University of Kentucky Football: No God or at least not one that will let us be great at two sports.
Christian_laettner_1992

I, for one, refuse to blame God for this.

For brevity’s sake, I won’t list the other 200-300 examples. One can readily see that I have struggled to see God’s handiwork in my life as a fan. For others, look no further than this year’s NCAA Football Championship. Notre Dame has Touchdown Jesus, but Alabama whipped them like Samson breaking bad on a bunch of Philistines.

The problem is that for each instance in which I have been crushed by a sporting event, others have felt an equal and opposite reaction. Call it Newton’s Law of God In Sports. He loves one team and hates the other. Okay, maybe He doesn’t hate them. Only if you’re a member of the Westboro Baptist Church do you embrace the hating God. But, at the very least, He’s cruelly indifferent to the other team and its fans.

How does this happen? Do the other fans pray better? Are the players better people? If so, what can I do to help my team? If more of our fans pray will that tip the scales? Or is the quality of the prayers, rather than the quantity, that matters most? It’s hard to say, really.

What about Tim Tebow? By all accounts, he’s a fine young man, sincere in his faith and an all around good guy. He played quarterback for the Denver Broncos in 2011 and won a bunch of games. Now, truth be told, he didn’t play particularly well, completing less than 50% of his passes. Yet, he won or, more accurately, his team won. Many folks attributed this to God. Tebow is a Christian, and God wins games for him. Many of my devoutly Christian friends manically cheered for him, as though he was the first Christian to ever play in the NFL (I don’t think he is, by the way). Then Tebow got traded to the Jets, because the Broncos preferred Peyton Manning at quarterback. Tebow barely played for the Jets and did nothing to help them win–to the extent the Jets did win. Did God turn his back on Tebow? Doubtful. Tebow just ended up on a team that didn’t want to play him. Like Tebow, Danny Wuerffel was also a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback from the University of Florida and a devout Christian. He had no success in the NFL. Why? Because that’s sports, not God.

Now, you’re thinking: “What’s your point?” Here it is: God isn’t picking games. If he did, the parochial schools would never lose, and Bob Knight would have never won a game. God is God, which is a good thing, but one can only hope that He is occupied with more important things than Ray Lewis’s retirement and my desire to see a teenaged college student make a free throw.

I won’t even belabor the obvious such as the horrific injuries–and even death–suffered by athletes. If you’re a sports fan, you can think of an almost endless list of vile humans who have excelled in sports. What about cities like Chicago and Cleveland? What are they–the Sodom and Gomorrah of sports? If God is picking sides, surely he could cut them a break.

So, the next time you think God has picked your team or favorite player, remember that just means He’s back handing someone else. Eventually, He’ll show you the hands, too. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with praising God. Some believe that He demands it. It’s just that suggesting He won a game makes as much sense as crediting the military for it. After all, we should be thankful for our soldiers, too, but let’s be reasonable.

Okay, now God, UCLA has 11 NCAA basketball titles, and Kentucky has 8. Do you think you could see your way clear to…..never mind.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Five Issues I Don’t Care About (Maybe)

We’re less than two weeks from the Presidential Election. Regardless of the outcome, it’s the end of the Republic. At least that’s the consensus on social media. That’s unfortunate.

People on social media have many, many important things to say about the upcoming election.  Some folks post dozens of times a day about it.  I don’t mind. Just because I don’t do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.  I’ve watched every episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.  Last night, I watched a full hour of Call of the Wildman.  I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, but it’s okay for me.

 I can read those political posts or ignore them, just like I do posts about kids or dogs or people with awful diseases.  Social media is the ultimate free speech zone.  The best thing about all of it is that it makes me think about the issues that matter most–or least–to me.

I live in Kentucky, where we have no say in the Presidential election.  By the time we have our primaries, both major parties have chosen their nominees.  In the general election, no one seems to care about our paltry eight (or whatever pitiful number it is) electoral votes.  I don’t think President Obama could find Kentucky on a map.  Mitt Romney has been here, but that was only to raise money.  So, my vote may not count, but I don’t really care.

I’m not a political animal, but I do vote. I’m fairly well-informed on the issues that matter to me. Those, of course, are the important issues of the day.

I’m concerned about the nation’s debt. Personally, I’ve never had debt problems. I live within my means and don’t borrow money. I would be a poor legislator.

I don’t like our country becoming a territory of the Chinese government. We owe them money, and they make all our stuff. Okay, not all of it, but a hell of a lot. They also control the minerals we need to make things like computers. Seems like a bad deal.

I don’t like our dependence on the Middle East for oil. Until we started sucking at their collective petrol teat, these countries were irrelevant. They’ve had us by the short hairs now for 40 years.

I’m also an unabashed supporter of the U.S. coal industry. The hate of coal is so virulent that we even have people who protest the exporting of coal. If you’re anti-coal, you don’t get my vote. Pretty simple.

There are also many, many issues which don’t move the needle for me. Now, understand that doesn’t mean they aren’t important nor does it mean that they shouldn’t be important to YOU. But this post is about ME. If that bothers you, try not to be so self-centered.

So, what DOESN’T matter to me? The list is almost endless. For brevity’s sake, I’ve distilled the list to the five issues which matter the least:

RELIGION:  Specifically, anyone else’s religion.  Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  Some people say the LDS church is a cult, although Billy Graham doesn’t list it as one anymore.  I suppose that’s progress.  My grandparents were Mormons.  So are a lot of my relatives.  I like Mormons.  That said, I’m not a Mormon, and I don’t really care if Romney is one. One caveat to this is if you don’t like him because he’s a Mormon.  Then, it matters but only in a contrarian kind of way.

So, I don’t care about a politician’s religion.  Okay, if someone were an avowed Satanist, I might care about that.  Obama is a Christian.  Good for him.  I don’t care.  Some people say he’s a Muslim.  If he were, it wouldn’t mean anything to me, either.

Now, if you insist that I believe your religion, I probably will care about that.  I wouldn’t vote for anyone who demanded that I believe as he or she does.  As Thomas Jefferson noted, whatever you believe won’t break my leg or pick my pocket.  I would note, however, that you might use it as an excuse to do both.

Now that I think about it, maybe religion does matter, at least to the extent that you try to shove it down my throat. Or break my leg. Hmmm.

PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST:  Here are some sample headlines I intend to trademark:

  • MARKETPLACE BOMB KILLS [fill in number]
  • SUICIDE BOMBER KILLS [fill in number]
  • UNREST REPORTED IN [fill in name of Middle Eastern country]
  • [fill in name of Middle Eastern country] THREATENS ISRAEL
  • ISRAEL VOWS RETALIATION AGAINST [fill in name of Middle Eastern country]
  • FERRY SINKS, KILLING [fill in number]

If I got a nickel every time a variation of these is printed, I’d retire in six months.  Any of these could have been a headline any day in the last 40 years.  Okay, maybe not the ferry thing, but have you ever noticed how many ferries sink in other countries?  I don’t know if it happens in the Middle East, but it seems like it would.

Here’s a pointer for anyone running for office:  THESE PEOPLE DON’T GET ALONG WELL!  They don’t geehaw, as some say.  They aren’t ever going to get along.  Ever.  Anwar Sadat tried to make them get along better.  What did he get?  The Nobel Peace Prize and shot to death.  There’s a lesson in that.

Here is what I want to hear a future president say:

Today, I’m pleased to announce that the U.S. has imported its last barrel of oil.  To our friends in the Middle East, I say, on behalf of all Americans:  You can kiss our red, white and blue ass from now on!

It’s possible that I might care about this if there were a candidate who said that he or she didn’t give a damn about it.  Then, you’d have my attention.  So, I guess I care about it to the extent that I want a candidate who also doesn’t care about it.

IMMIGRATION

Bitching and moaning about immigrants is as American as apple pie.  My German ancestors were despised in Pennsylvania.  The Irish were hated in New York.  Jews were despised for decades.  Italians?  You bet.  Vietnamese?  Bingo. Japanese?  Hell, we put them in concentration camps–and they were U.S. citizens!  We’ve even been prejudiced against Africans, and we FORCED their ancestors to come here.

Now, people piss in their beers about Hispanics.  Quit acting like it’s because of illegal immigration.  Our history shows that we don’t like immigration, period–legal or not.  Hispanic folks have the added disadvantage of looking different.  We don’t like people who don’t look like us, whatever it is “we” think we look like.

We’re all immigrants, except the Indians, who aren’t really Indians at all.  I’ll grant you that our borders shouldn’t be sieves.  That said, I don’t care how many Hispanic or other folks are in our country.  They’re here, and we don’t have any way to deport all the folks here illegally.  Quit pretending like we do.

Wow. I got pretty fired up.  I think I do care about it.  Weird.

JOBS

I need to explain this one.  I do, of course, care about unemployment.  It’s just that no politician can convince me that he or she will create jobs.  How, exactly?  The government has to spend huge amounts of money to actually hire people.  We need to spend less money, not more.

Even the most conservative politicians will call themselves as job creators, usually by pointing to some success in the business world.  What exactly are you planning to do–hire all the unemployed people?

Now, if you have a plan to strengthen our private economy, I’m all ears.  I may not be persuaded, but I might at least listen.

Now, that I think about it, I’ve always had a job.  Maybe I’m not the best person to weigh in on this one.  Of course, I’m not concerned about it.  I better reserve judgment.  Depending on the outcome of the election, I guess it could be an issue for me.

TAXES

Okay, I pay a lot of taxes and don’t want to pay more.  I do, however, understand that there could be times when tax increases are needed.  My problem is that my taxes are increased by a government that never decreases its spending.  It’s like loaning money to your drunk brother-in-law who will pay you back when he gets a job.  Of course, he won’t get a job because he’s drunk and keeps spending your money.  As long as he gets your money, why get a job?

I don’t believe any politician who says that he or she will never raise taxes.  Mitt Romney says that he wouldn’t increase taxes even if it resulted in a tenfold benefit to the government.  That’s hard to believe.  In fact, it’s impossible to believe.

I’m also dubious of politicians who increase spending and then make the case for higher taxes (see Obama, Barack).  If you decreased spending and then needed more revenue, maybe I’d be persuaded.  If you spend more, I would expect you to need more cash.  Try spending less and then check back with me.  Have you ever asked your boss for a raise because you owed a bunch of money to people?  Try it.

The fundamental problem is that the subject of taxes is fertile ground for lying.  No one ever won an election on the platform of “Vote for Me.  I’ll Tax The Hell Out of You.”  Whatever you say about it, you might be lying.  If you say you’re going to raise MY taxes, that’s probably not a lie, but–like any right thinking America–I can’t support that radical agenda.

Now, if you’ll cut my taxes, I’m down with that.  Now that I think about it, I’m against raising my taxes and all for lowering my taxes.  I guess I do care about it, at least in a completely self-absorbed sort of way.

So, there they are.  Things don’t matter to me, but maybe do now, upon further reflection.  I hope this is helpful to you when you vote on November 6.  If not, I don’t care.  I think.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012