A Series of Random Thoughts
I rarely, if ever, comment on current events in the media that relate to politics or religion. But I’m about to make a fool of myself and say something related to both of those. I’m a novice in my preaching, but that’ll be addressed in what I’m about to say, too.
So, today on Facebook, one of my friends posted a simple update: “Romans 1:18-22,” to which a couple of comments followed it up stating how that was a very deep chapter, but despite what it says folks just wouldn’t recognize it. I went and look it up and did a little research on it myself, and while that particular verse is the one we Christians like to thump at everyone often enough, I don’t think we understand the context that it’s presented in.
The tricky thing about Bible verses is, you have to read what comes before and after what you want to quote to make sure it means what you think it means. That Romans 1:18-22 that “we” like to quote is the foundation for what follows in 2:1-5.
Many of us just don’t understand The Bible as we should (I’m very guilty of this and what I’m about to say, sadly), which makes us look like fools when we try to quote it or rant on something we think we understand. Truth is, sometimes I think we just like to look important, like we’re really preaching it when in fact we need to listen more and speak less.
But read it for yourself and take what I wrote with a grain of salt because as I said, I need to learn to listen more than I speak.
Taken from The Bible (New International Version):
God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
God’s Righteous Judgment
2 You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. 2 Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. 3 So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What is the one thing you hope you leave behind when you’re gone? What do you want people to remember you for? I’m not talking about the world, but you friends, family and even coworkers. When they remember your life, what is the first thing you hope they mention?
A week or so ago, one of my favorite podcasts came to an end. They’d mentioned it jokingly a time or two, then it was never talked about again. Then, just as episode 200 loomed into view, talk resumed on ending the show on the grand 200th episode. And so, The 40Cast came to an end with it’s release into the wild on July 5th, 2014. Vic, Matt, Denny, Eric and Keith shared one last round of memories on how they came to the show, what they remembered and appreciated most, and then bid us, the listeners, a fond farewell.
I won’t lie. Aside from my family, a few friends and co-workers, I don’t have time for much socializing. We get together with family and go out to eat, or we’ll see a movie with friends or celebrate a birthday or holiday. But mainly, I’m at home with my wife and sons or at work earning a dollar. So, to me, these podcasters that open up to us weekly/bi-weekly, and share their moments with us – with me – are just as much a part of my everyday life as anyone or anything else. I look forward to hearing them in my headphones each week, listening to their takes on movies, shows or games. Sharing a laugh at something funny that they experienced or read about. They’re my digital friends, as sad as some people might find that. And to elevate it one more step higher, they’re the modern day celebrities of our digital culture.
Maybe that’s putting it a little too deep, but they go out there, put themselves on the air for our entertainment and/or education. People, like myself, come to trust their opinions, accept their views and socialize with them thanks to sites like Twitter or Facebook or blogging sites. It may not be skin-on-skin, face-to-face contact, but it’s the digital 21st century equivalent of rubbing elbows with famous folks. Folks that hundred, if not thousands, of people listen to. To elevate them to that level is … well … it may be our own faults, and our own undoings.
We, as listeners, may forget that these guys and gals are just regular folks like ourselves. They’re doing something they love, something they enjoy, and it’s a hobby for most. The majority aren’t getting paid for recording these shows, unless they’re trying to make a career out of it like the folks over at Major Spoilers, who last year turned their company into an LLC. Or Scott Johnson and his My Extra Life / Frogpants Network of shows and talent. The other guys, The 40Cast’s, the Everyday Gamers, Gamer Husbands, etc – they’re us. They’re doing this to have fun and share their love of the medium. They may not even consider the fact that folks will truly be upset when they decide to end a show or move on to other things. All they can think about – as they have every right to – is what’s best for them and what their lives require at that given moment.
Me? I’d love to podcast one day. Not the little 30 minute shorts I put out on rare occasions when I have the time, but an actual show with co-hosts, guests, actual topics of conversation and broadcast on multiple platforms/sites for distribution. Not to make money or become famous, but because I’d love to give back to the community. I’d love to interact on a broader level with folks who would be willing to tune in weekly and hear my thoughts and be willing to share theirs with me. We’re a unique generation. We’re the pioneers of this medium. It’s on the shoulders of those out there right now to pave the way for the future generations of podcasters or vlogs, or blogs, or whatever. We were there at ground zero and have set standards and goals for others to learn, reach for and surpass.
Podcasts are my form of release, a way to relax and catch up with old friends that I may never meet. But they’re also our way of preserving the moments we live in for those further down the line to listen to and look back on. We’re pioneers, we’re celebrities, we’re all a close-knit community of strangers who are also good friends. We’re are listeners and podcasters. But most of all, we’re all people just trying to get by and make ends meet and live life as best we can.
To the fellows of The 40Cast, I bid you a good night. Thanks for 200 awesome episodes and I wish you all the best. And as for the efforts of Eric, Matt and Keith on putting together another podcast, I have nothing but faith in you, fellows. I’ll be watching for it and ready to join in and listen once again. But for now, take a break, guys. You all deserve it!
* I’m in a mood to ramble about some real life current events – something I don’t normally like to do because I lack the skill to properly express myself in a rational and intelligent way. But, here it is, take it for what it’s worth. My early Christmas Eve thoughts after reading the news headlines this morning. *
Too many shootings around the U.S. Or, rather, too many suddenly being brought to the front page of the news sites due to the Sandy Hook Elem. drama. This morning it was reported that firefighters, responding to a blaze, were opened fire upon – 4 wounded, 2 dead – before finally getting to the fire, which by that time had consumed three houses in New York.
The conspiracy side of my brain says this would be the perfect route for “terrorists” to take to disarm us. Ramp up the shootings across the nation to aide in the push to rid/control firearms, that way, when the average citizen is no longer packing the heat and able to defend themselves, they move in with larger forces and begin taking over.
The more disturbing theory cooked up by my brain says that there are just a bunch of idiots in the world. Specifically, there are those that think this type of gun violence is a means to an end – in other words, they don’t want to shoot anyone, but if people dying will push a bill through to take guns out of innocent folks hands, then so be it. They’ll risk themselves for the “greater good” of the world and take on the roll of a shooter just to get a point across. This may seem a bit more extreme than the idea of terrorists, but folks aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders these days, if you know what I mean.
In reality, I suppose I could consider the fact that, 1) our fine news outlets are going to bring us the most disturbing news that will depress and anger us. This is especially true if it pushes a bigger story or fuels the needs of their agenda. 2) There are disturbed, wicked individuals in our world that may come to the conclusion that this is what they are destined for. To take as many other people out before going out themselves.
Of course, there is a sicker possibility – the talk of folks wanting to “top” the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. I understand that this wasn’t exactly an elementary school that someone walked in to, but the story of firefighters responding to a fire – the fire spreading due to gunfire, firefighters being wounded and killed while the fire rages out of control – I can see this as being a scene of someone trying to create an even larger drama than what we witnessed a couple of Fridays ago. I mean, some sicko is sitting around thinking, “Yeah, 20 kids were shot multiple times, point blank … a couple teachers … but there was no real property damage. What could I do? Make it bigger … set a real fire under the media – yeah, fire! Firemen rushing in to hose down a fire, but unable to do so because a maniac is slinging bullets their way. The fire grows, the fireman are in a panic, people are running and screaming … I’ll be famous!”
No matter the rationale behind these idiots, one thing is certain in my mind. If things were ran my way, I’d do everything in my power to
try and take these guys alive. I would want them alive so that they could be put on public display – televised free for the world to see, son. Are you with me? And, for example, the parents and families of the Sandy Hook children – or even the families of these two slain firefighters, would be allowed to exact their brand of justice on these folks. If you want to make an example of someone like this, if you want to give the next one something to think about, then put these slimebags on display and let everyone see them tortured for their actions. I know the whole “eye for an eye” thing gets blown out of proportion, but in our pansy-assed society of not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable or have them face any strict discipline, I think something like this – while barbaric and cruel – would certainly make some folks think twice. For the sick and twisted minds, all they really get to see is the sensational stories the media brings them. The crying families, the distraught neighbors. But you throw the perpetrator into the public spotlight, alive and kicking and screaming while he/she is sentenced to suffer the same fates as their victims, I guarantee you’ll reform a person or two.
I suppose we could ban the guns, the automatic assault weapons, semi-automatic, regular firearms that everyday citizens keep in their homes for protection. But all that would do is take away that “average citizens” method of defending their family and home. The gun argument is a messy one because no one wants to look at the broader issues. Yes, the mental health aspect, but also the fact that you can not stop a crazy/evil/unstable person from doing what they want to do. If someone wants to shoot up a school, then they will do it no matter what kind of laws are in place. If someone wants to buy fertilizer to make bombs and blow up a federal building, they will do it, no matter the restriction put on the purchase of that product. If someone wants to take a car and start mowing down pedestrians on a busy sidewalk, no one will stop them until dozens of people have lost their lives. Taking the guns out of the law-abiding citizens hands will do nothing to curb the violent members of our society from committing crimes and killing innocents.
There is no right solution. But if we started on people when they were young, quit pampering them and treating them like they are special, unique creatures that deserve everything the world has to offer – maybe then they would grow up and have realistic expectations. The world is about feeling all warm and special, it isn’t about no one never losing because we are all winners. It’s about getting out there, working for what you have and competing to succeed. We’re raising a nation full of wusses and when something isn’t right in their pampered little mind, they retaliate. But that’s just my opinion on one of the reasons people come to this point of violence. They snap because they were never taught to handle their feelings if they moved beyond a breaking point. You can’t just snap at the least little thing in a world as harsh as ours.
Hate these words or agree with them, I don’t care. I’m one person, my words carry no weight or power. Not to retreat to a fantasy world, but by golly, if a world ever needed hero’s or a special brand of justice to stop these horrific crimes from happening, we need one now.
This is an interesting blogging prompt. When was the last time you felt really, truly lonely? Well, it’s interesting for me, at any rate. You see, I have this good old friend that visits me every night. I like to call him Insomnia (hence, my screen name.) Insomnia and I sit and talk every night, but it isn’t the same as when I sit and have a conversation with someone else. Heck, even folks I’m really not that fond of are more entertaining and sometimes preferable to this guy.
So, really, when was the last time I felt lonely? For me, the answer that comes to mind is: every night as I sit in the dark alone, bathed in the glow of the computer monitor. It’s just me in my chair, typing on a keyboard, clicking a mouse button and listening to the sounds of a quiet, dark house on a quiet and dark street in a quiet and dark neighborhood. Me. Alone. Seriously.
It’s a feeling I get. It starts in the pit of my stomach and moves out in a radial pattern that slowly consumes my entire body. My head is the last to be covered, and I go kind of numb and the silence grows even quieter than normal. Pin drops would be cymbals crashing. A sickening feeling in my gut, an emptiness in my heart, a numb, tingling feeling in the rest of my body. Even though I’m not physically alone. I’m just the only one awake.
Every night that I sit alone at my table, or watching television, or laying in bed reading, or even just laying there in the dark staring at the ceiling, I feel utterly alone. And the odd thing is, it isn’t like I crave social interactions. There are times when all I want is to be alone. I can not stand groups larger than two or three. I do not like listening to others chatter on about things I have no interest in – and sometimes, even the things I am interested in.
But I’m not really answering the question for this post, am I? My brain wants to answer it, but instead my fingertips are skirting around the issue, jumping around it and avoiding the meat of the matter. I’m not sure if I can say exactly WHEN I feel lonely, considering there are time when, even in company of others, I feel lonely. Confusing? Doesn’t make sense? Yeah, I can see where it might sound a little wonky. We’ve come this far, though, I might as well see what else I’ve got to meander on down the road with. You can come if you want to.
There are two other people in the house with me, both asleep and lost in their own dreams. Worn out from their daily activities from mid-afternoon to the wee hours of the morning. They move about and exist while I am away at work, earning my keep. When I return, it’s in the A.M. My dog – I love my dog – greets me at the fence. I’ll pat his head and scratch his back, behind the ears, give him a few comforting words assuring that his master hadn’t abandoned him. My dog, the only soul awake and excited to see me as I pull into the drive, walk into the house and plop myself down for several hours and share a soda with that other guy I mentioned. Insomnia.
I do sleep. If I’m lucky, I’ll get at least 5 hours a night/morning/day. Usually asleep by 5 if I can manage it, no later than 6. As soon as 10AM rolls around, though, I’m back up and at ’em. Life goes on, you know, and time waits for no man. Right now, as a matter of fact, my son is snoring softly from his bed. The Wife has drifted off on the couch while watching television. And I’m right here. We have to be up and off on a trip early this morning. I’ve already tried to lay down and get some rest, but it eludes me.
Maybe one day we will reach some kind of agreement. I can break off my relationship with You-Know-Who and all will be well with the world. Until then, I’m just an insomniac, alone in the dark and waiting for sleep to claim me for a few more hours of rest.