Bat Out of Hell

Life is strange sometimes. Okay, life itself might not be strange, but the stuff that happens certainly can be. It’s also possible the stuff that happens after you’re no longer living could be equally strange, but no one has ever documented it.

If the concepts of reincarnation are true, then we strive to improve on our past performances until we achieve enlightenment and no longer need to improve on anything. In that case, I’d expect a fair amount of the afterlife would involve having to read How Not to Fuck Up Your Next Life–for Dummies.

* * * *

As you’ve probably guessed by now, we survived Holy Week.

According to the Bible, Jesus entered Jerusalem as a hero on Palm Sunday, and five days later the same people who had cheered for him were demanding his death.

No one has ever had such a precipitous fall from grace, except maybe Howard Dean…

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Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

The timeline is so improbable that it would almost have to be classified as one of Jesus’ miracles, and possibly his greatest. Or his worst, depending on your point of view.

It never made any sense to me. The only explanation that makes sense is that the actual events took longer than a week to unfold. Probably several months. Then everything makes sense, especially the conversations between Pontius Pilate and Jesus.

I’m not sure if Pilate hated the Jews, but he certainly wasn’t the most sympathetic Roman prefect of Judea. On at least two occasions he appeared to go out of his way to antagonize the Jews, and was eventually removed from office for dealing with his subjects too harshly. The fact that he would’ve had any hesitation at all about killing Jesus is another miracle.

And yet, in all four of the Gospels, he clearly doesn’t want to execute Jesus. A timeline of several months would, at the very least, give Pilate the opportunity to meet with Jesus more than once, probably after he had Jesus imprisoned. By all accounts, Jesus was a very charismatic guy. It’s not inconceivable that Pilate found himself liking the preacher from Galilee. So much so that by the time this scenario had reached its climax, Jesus had become the only Jew Pilate didn’t want to kill.

Yeah, I know. It’s all speculation.

Some of you might say, You know, for a guy who claims to be a Christian, you spend a lots of time questioning everything you’re supposed to believe.

Yeah, I do. But then, I used to believe in American democracy, too.

* * * *

The cicadas have started singing their strident songs. In the Lakeside Area, cicadas are called chicharros (waterbirds) because the rains generally start a few weeks after they start singing. And I found a tree frog on the patio last night. Another sign of the rainy season.

The rains will be nice. They’ll knock all of the dust and pollen out of the air, and that should lessen our allergy symptoms. Maybe.

But it will also make the velcro grass grow thicker at the golf course, and that’s not good for my score.

* * * *

A lots of people that retire here do a lots of research about the Lakeside Area before they uproot and relocate. The good thing is that there’s a plethora of information available on the Interweb. I’m going to guess that most of the articles accentuate the positive. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t read any of them.

I doubt there are many articles that mention the flying buffalo ants. And I know there aren’t any articles about the flying scorpion spiders. Another thing you won’t find much information about are the bats.

The Spanish word for bat is murciélago. There are a lots of bats in Mexico. I won’t go so far to say that I’m afraid of bats, but they do kind of give me the willies. The little flying mice bats that eat insects aren’t so bad. It’s the larger, flying rat bats that eat fruit that freak me the fuck out.

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Admit it. You thought I was was making this up, didn’t you.

Oddly enough, the most common fruit bat in Mexico is the Jamaican Fruit Bat. We had encountered these bats at our first house. They drank all of the nectar out of Lea’s hummingbird feeders. Retrieving her feeders with a herd of flying bats swooping around my head wasn’t a pleasant experience.

When a fruit bat finds a ripe and desirable fruit, it swoops in and plucks it from the tree, then it flies to a temporary dining roost to eat.

There is at least one desirable fruit tree growing on the hillside of the golf course just below our backyard, and there’s also a very desirable temporary dining roost near that tree. That place is our spacious patio. At night, our spacious patio probably looks just like a cave, which is no doubt very inviting to a hungry bat.

Bats are voracious eaters, so our patio floor looked like unto a disaster area in the mornings when we first moved here. Little Known Fact About Fruit Bats: they can digest an entire meal in about fifteen minutes. Any guesses about what else bats are really good at?

Yep. They shit like there’s no tomorrow.

Bat shit is slang for someone one step beyond totally crazy. Guano is the technical term for bat excrement, which is highly desirable as a fertilizer. If the bats only shit  in our yard, I’d probably love them. But they’ve been shitting on our patio walls, and I really don’t love that.

Our walls are white. Well, they were white. Now they’re white with greenish brown streaks and spots, or white with pink streaks and spots. It’s not a great color combination.

I don’t know how long the bats have been using our patio as a restaurant/restroom, but it’s clearly been going on for a while. I tried washing the walls. Guano is some tenacious shit. It doesn’t wash off easily, and some of it doesn’t wash off at all.

I have no intention of trying to kill all of the fruit bats in the Lakeside Area, though that would certainly solve the problem of them crapping in our patio. And that’s the first step I encountered in trying to solve this problem. Cleaning the walls doesn’t accomplish anything if the bats just come back and crap on the walls again.

So, how does one get rid of bats without killing them? No one seemed to know. We did have an exterminator come over and spray the patio with something non-lethal, but noxious to bats. It didn’t work. I set up a sonic blaster device. It was supposed to emit frequencies the bats wouldn’t like and they’d stop dining in our patio. That didn’t work either.

We usually go to bed around 10:00 PM, give or take. There are no bats on the patio when we call it a day. Lea sometimes has trouble sleeping. On those occasions she likes to sit out on the patio, except the fucking bats freaked her out, too. It seemed that peak dining hours for bats were between midnight and 2:00 AM. I usually don’t have any trouble sleeping, but I’ve been on the patio at 3:00 AM, and there were no bats.

It might have been a month ago, maybe. Lea went to bed, but I stayed up. I was probably writing one of my blog posts…  At any rate, I finished some time around midnight, and I went to check on the world before I went to bed. And there were no bats on the patio. Not even one.

Hmm. Why do you suppose that is? I wondered. And then it occurred to me that the lights in the living room were still on, and maybe that’s why there were no bats…

We’ve been leaving some of living room lights on at night for the past couple of weeks. No bats! They’re apparently very sensitive to light. It makes sense. The fruit they eat doesn’t look that appetizing to me, and the bats themselves are butt-ugly. Darkness is their only friend.

Having accidentally figured out how to discourage the bats, the only thing that remained was getting rid of the Technicolor® walls of our patio. Simple! I’ll get some white paint. But there’s something like unto three hundred shades of white. Not so simple.

In the States, you can bring in a color sample and it can be computer matched. In Mexico, you can guess which shade is the closest and hope you’re not too wrong. I suck at this kind of thing, but Lea is a supermodel, and she is spooky.

She picked out a shade that wasn’t exactly the same as the paint on our walls, but it’s so close that you barely notice the difference. Most of the guano stains have disappeared, but some of them are still visible after three coats of paint. If only our walls weren’t white…

I told you that shit was tenacious.

* * * *

There’s one other bat in Mexico.  El Pinche Murciélago Gigante! That’s right, Cupcake. The Fucking Giant Bat of Mexico. They probably live in the Lakeside Area. There’s some really big caves here.

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You thought I was making this up too, didn’t you.

The Giant Bat is probably about the size of a Labrador. Maybe larger. Some of them have interbred with chupacabras, resulting in something like unto the closest thing to an actual vampire you’d ever want to meet. Not the cute vampires from Hollywood that make women cream their jeans. These are savage bloodthirsty monsters that will make you shit your pants.

As for what it eats, I’m guessing it eats anything it wants. Cats, dogs, kids. Volkswagen Beetles. And they’re particularly fond of tourists. If we can tell who the tourists are, there’s no reason to think the bats can’t.

So, just remember that the next time you’re planning a vacation to Lake Chapala. It could be the last vacation you ever take.

The Glamorous Life

It’s been a quiet week here in the Lakeside Area. Most of the weeks are quiet here. It’s kind of a bucolic place. That’s probably why so many people decide to retire here. However, it is Mexico. And it comes to celebrating just about anything, the locals don’t take a backseat to anyone.

Holy Week, Semana Santa, is coming up. Ajijic hosts a passion play every year. I hear it’s very good. You could check it out if you’re interested. Just in cases you don’t know what a passion play is, it’s a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering, death, and resurrection. It’s a very Catholic tradition. Mexico is a very Catholic country.

During Holy Week, the Lakeside Area is going to be packed with tapatios, pilgrims, and tourists, which is why I’ll be at home. There’ll be the passion play, and bands playing at the bars and los eventos, and the eruption of cohetes will fill the air.

Tapatío, in general terms, is a colloquial Mexican term for someone from Guadalajara. In more specific Lakeside terms, it’s someone from Guadalajara who comes down here to escape from the Big City for the weekend.

We used to do something similar when lived in the States. When we lived in Minneapolis, we’d go up to the North Shore. It’s still my favorite place on Earth. When we lived in Phoenix, we’d go up into the mountains to Prescott or Payson.

Urban living certainly has its advantages. Jobs. Entertainment. Shopping malls. Fine dining. Paved roads. It also has it disadvantages. Air pollution. Traffic jams. Crime. Mostly, all of the other fucking people that also live there. The population of Guadalajara is around seven million people. If you lived there, you’d want to get the hell out of there, too.

* * * *

We go to Guadalajara every couple of months to shop at Costco. Or the high end malls. It’s an adventure every time, mostly because of the traffic. Guadalajara was a little town that became a huge city with little to no civic planning. If you live there, you’ll eventually learn your way around. If you don’t, you hire a driver, or you have to depend on GPS to get from Point A to Point B. You are not going to just drive around and hope you find what you’re looking for.

We’ve lived in big cities before. We’re not daunted by traffic. And we have a system. Lea drives and I navigate. I’m a better navigator than she is. And Lea loves to drive. She’d probably love it more if she still had her sportscar. But the roads here make a vehicle like that impractical. And you can’t load a lots of stuff into a 370z.

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Our current vehicle is a Buick Encore. I’ll probably keep it for a couple more years, then get an Audi Q3. I’ll have to get rid of my American plated car and buy a Mexican plated car at that time. The Audi Q3 isn’t a sportscar, but it’ll still be a lots fun for Lea to drive. And it has a great stereo system, which is the only thing I care about when it comes to cars.

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I actually bought a car once because of the stereo. I didn’t even take it for a test drive. I played with the radio for a couple of minutes without ever leaving the sales lot. I told the salesman to write it up, I’d take it.

“Don’t you want to take it for a test drive?” he asked, a bit dumbfounded.

“No. I want to drive it to work. Today. My shift starts at 3:00. You have two hours. You better get busy or you’re going to miss a sale.”

* * * *

I still have no idea what I’m going to write about. Maybe this will end up being a general update on our glamorous retirement lives…

We haven’t had to deal with any major issues at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa lately. Jaime says he’s still looking for a replacement faucet for the kitchen, but the longer this goes on the more I think he’s decided he’s decided he can live with our temporary faucet, too.

It’s not a big deal. We love it here. The most annoying thing about living here revolves around our satellite TV service and the download speed for our Interweb service.

As I’ve said before, we don’t actually watch a lots of TV, but we almost always have the TV on for background noise. Silence might be golden to some people, but it drives me crazy. After thirty years as a psych nurse, I’m accustomed to noise. The absence of noise disturbs me greatly.

Wow. I can’t believe I just said that. I don’t think I had realized how much I hate silence until now.

We have Shaw Direct for our satellite TV. Shaw is a Canadian company. We had next to no problems with them at our last house. Here, our satellite feed seems to be somewhat sketchy at times. Again, not a huge deal. I’ve become very skilled at rebooting our PVR box.

If there’s one thing that seems to drive all ex-pats crazy, it’s a slow Interweb connection. Hey, we’re spoiled. We didn’t have this issue before we moved here. There aren’t a lots of options when it comes to this suddenly vital service. Basically, you can go with Telmex® or Telecable®. Compared to speed-of-light fiber optic cable, they both suck. And neither of them seem to care.

Telmex® is essentially the Mexican version of the American communications giant, AT&T, before it was broken up into a bunch of smaller companies. Telmex® is a telecommunication monster down here. It owns eighty percent of the telephone lines in the country.

We had Telmex® service at our last house. I guess it was okay most of the time, though we consistently had issues whenever we wanted to stream movies through our KODI box.

We have Telecable® at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. I wasn’t enamored with our service when we first moved in. So I tried calling the office, and that’s when I discovered there isn’t an office phone. You actually can’t call the office unless you have the cellphone number of one of the service reps, and I doubt they give their numbers out to anyone.

On their website Telecable® lists two levels of service available in the Lakeside Area: 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps. So I went down to the office to talk to one of their service representatives about upgrading my package. That’s when I met Carmen and Marisol. And I wasn’t quite so pissed off anymore. Okay, they’re young, and beautiful. And they have really big eyes. And nice smiles.

Carmen said yes, I could upgrade my package, except for one small detail. They only offer 5 Mbps in the Lakeside Area. I’d have to live in Guadalajara to qualify for the 10 Mbps service.

There is a fiber optic cable company that is getting started in Lakeside. ILOX started running lines in specific areas late last year. I have no idea when there service will be available here. Maybe I’ll wander into their office one of these days, except I doubt their service reps will be as attractive as Carmen and Marisol…

Given the limitations of available Interweb service, and the sudden sketchiness of our satellite service, we talked to one of our friends, Donald Stordahl. Donald has a streaming TV service here in the Lakeside Area. We rented one of his boxes for a month, and then I remembered I already had two streaming devices, and they were already paid for. I hooked them up and gave Donald his box back.

And everything was great until I blew up my Amazon Firestick. I had tried to download the latest update, and after that it wouldn’t work. I have no idea what went wrong, I only knew that I felt like I accidentally hit that red LAUNCH button, and there was nothing I could do to stop the missiles.

Seeing how I couldn’t repair my Firestick, I decided to buy another one, you know, eventually. But then Donald bought a used Firestick and asked me if I wanted it, seeing how I had just destroyed mine. He seems to be a pretty savvy businessman, from my perspective.

My previous Firestick had been jailbroken. The one I bought from Donald wasn’t, so I channeled my inner Millennial, and went online to learn how to do stuff.

There are a lots of online tutorials about tweaking your Firestick. I didn’t have much confidence in my ability to do this, given that I’d just destroyed my last Firestick by trying to update it. But all you have to do is follow the step-by-step instructions, and I’ll be damned, it worked!

I’ll tell ya what, I was pretty goddamn proud of myself for a couple of days there. I successfully downloaded and installed the most recent KODI app, and the Mobdro app. Then I got my lovely supermodel wife addicted to Game of Thrones, and the rest is history.

* * * *

The final season of Game of Thrones airs this Sunday. Like every other fan, Lea and I have been speculating about who’s going to win the Great Game and sit on the Iron Throne. I don’t care who it is, just as long as it isn’t Cercei Lannister. She needs to got dead, soon.

Will the Golden Company help her maintain her grip on the reins of power, or will they break a contract for the first time ever and go fight against the Night King and his army from Hell? And how many of my favorite characters are going to get killed to death…

How are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen going to defeat an army of animated dead warriors, White Walkers, and a zombie dragon? And what will they do when they discover that they’re related? Will Jon freak out when he finds out he’s been having sex with his aunt?

Who will kill The Mountain? What the hell is a Three-eyed Raven, and what sort of spooky superpowers does Bran Stark really have?

The good news is we’ll all find out soon. Unfortunately, that’s also the bad news.

Questions of my Childhood

A friend of mine recently posted something on FB the other day that created quite a buzz on social media. This is his post, complete with typos, which I totally want to correct:

Honestly I HATE the phrase “its Gods will” or “God doesn’t make mistakes” and blah blah. If your God lets cancer hit kids as his will, I will take another God for 200 alex. And your God can gtfo. Your God sucks.

It’s been an interesting discussion. At last count, there were 95 comments, two from me. The obvious question here is, How can a loving God allow something as devastating as cancer destroy the life a child? 

It’s a question we all ask sooner or later. I think the first time I asked it was when Judy Kostelecky got dead from leukemia. I was seventeen when she died. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve asked that question through the years, and to quote the progressive rock group Kansas, the questions of my childhood weave a web of mystery.

Implied in the above question is, What did the child do to deserve that? When we all know of at least one person who more than deserves to be smitten with a double dose of pain and suffering, and that sonuvabitch is still running around without any penalty.

My good friend, Don Nelson, had the most beautiful answer to this mystifying question, God doesn’t want to hang out with assholes any more than we do. Why would He take them? Why wouldn’t He take someone perfect, like my son?

I doubt I would’ve been able to be as gracious as he was if our positions had been switched.

The fairness of life isn’t even a question worth debating. Life isn’t fair. Period. But which is the greater tragedy? A childhood cancer victim, or a mass shooting in a theater, or a nightclub, or a rock concert? Which of those sucks more, and what’s up with God? How can He allow any of those things to happen?

My pastor friends would probably say something like unto these tragedies are tests and challenges of our faith in God, and I’m going to have to agree with that. However, disease and tragedy are hardly recent phenomena. Ever heard of the Black Plague? The Spanish Influenza?  Or the AIDS epidemic? Anyone remember the Trail of Tears? Slavery? The Bataan Death March?

I learned about those things studying History. Seeing how I suck at predicting the future, I try not to forget the past. And I’m positive anyone that was touched by the above events found their faith tested to the breaking point and beyond.

Personally, I’m not outraged by those things, or the fact that God does nothing to prevent them. There are a few things God has done that have left me scratching what’s left of my hair. When the Hebrews first entered what they believed to be their Promised Land, God ordered His Chosen People to kill everyone already living in the area. Every man, woman, child–kill ’em all, I’ll sort them out. Even their animals.

That was totally fuckin’ cold, man.

Another one of topics that was brought to the floor on my friend’s post was free will, and do we, as human beings, actually have free will?

You may not have given this much thought, but a lots of really smart people have pondered this question, going back to ancient Greece. Democritus, Aristotle, Epicurus and Socrates all wrote essays about the subject roughly 1600 years ago. The debate continues today.

You can look up what these guys had to say if you’re interested, but to me, this issue can be reduced to one thing.

Is God really All-knowing, or not. And if so, how does He do that?

* * * *

It’d be nice if I could settle this matter once and for all, but I doubt I’ll be able to pull that off. If I could settle the matter inside of my own head I’d be accomplishing something.

I am certainly not all knowing. As I once said, I don’t even know what I’m thinking half of the time, let alone what’s going on around me. However, there are a lots of highly intuitive people on this planet, and they can see things most ordinary people can’t.

Take, for example, the Psychic Network. Remember that? How did they not foresee that they were going to go bankrupt? Oh, yeah. That’s probably not a very good example, is it…

The idea of an All-knowing God is something I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around. The only way I can conceive this whole all knowing thing being remotely possible is if everything that will ever happen has already been predetermined. Otherwise there are just too many variables at play to possibly know everything that’s ever going to happen.

I would ask the Psychic Network for their input, if they hadn’t gone belly up.

I’ve discussed the concept of free will versus determinism with some of my pastor friends in Arizona. And just so there’s no confusion, they all believe that God is All-knowing, and they also believe in free will. They see no conflict with these two incongruent concepts. And I think they described their argument something like unto this:

Suppose you come to a fork in the road. You have a choice to make, which road to take. That’s free will. However, no matter which way you chose, God will know in advance because He knows all. I said if that were true, then our path has been predetermined, and they said, No, you still get to choose which way you’re going to go. 

Pastors are clearly big on faith, and I have no issue with that. Faith is their profession. But this is also a philosophical question, and not all of my pastor friends have a strong background in Philosophy. And this is the question:

If God knows everything you’re going to do in advance, is anything you do actually your choice? And if nothing you do is actually your choice, how can you have free will? Is free will a reality, or merely an illusion?

Just in cases you were wondering, The Impersonal Life states that free will is an illusion, and God determines all of our choices, even the bad ones.

If God is able to know all things even if everything isn’t predestined, this question, to me, becomes a matter of God’s relationship to Time. In order for God to be the entity that He claims to be, His relationship to Time has to be vastly different than ours. There are only a couple ways this could be possible.

Here on Earth we exist in something we call real time. Time is essentially a river flowing in one direction, and we are carried along on the prevailing current of Time. We live exclusively in the present, and there are no time outs in life. We can’t jump ahead to the future to see what’s going to happen, neither can we jump back to the past to change anything that’s already happened.

Please don’t ask if you can use the Time Machine.

Theoretically, I suppose God could exist outside of the TimeSpace Continuum, but I’m not sure that’s even theoretically possible. In this theoretical scenario, Time would no longer be a flowing river. Time would have to be frozen, more like unto a glacier, and as God traversed up and down the length of frozen Time, he could see past, present and future depending on his perspective. And, as I understand this, because everything is frozen in Time, everything that had happened, is happening right now, and is going to happen in the future would have to be predetermined.

I dislike this hypothesis simply because it makes God appear to be nothing more than a Netflix® viewer with Double Platinum Premium membership able to binge watch everything from the original Big Bang to the current Big Bang Theory, without having to interact with any of it, unless He yells at the TV like my dad used to do.

The other possibility is TimeSpace is part of the essential fabric of God, like blood is to humans. Everything in the universe would then be touched by God, and everything that happens would touch God. Free will could theoretically exist in this framework, and God being the highly intuitive entity that He is, He could possibly discern those events in the flow of Time.

I prefer the second explanation. The struggles and successes we endure and celebrate are somehow more intimately tied to our Creator, not that I see Him as an overly passionate parent. If He were, He might be more inclined to personally intervene to prevent at least some of these seemingly senseless tragedies from happening.

Alas, that doesn’t appear to part of God’s job description. God once had a lots to say about what He did for a living, but that was way back in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus stated he works, and his Father works, then implied that he and his Father were going to go on an extended vacation, and there’d probably by hell to pay when they got back. Whenever that might be…

At any rate, if that’s true, I’m sure there are going to be a lots more tragedies on the road ahead, and we’ll all be given ample opportunities to scratch our heads and wonder what the hell God is thinking, how can our loving God allow this to continue, and what kind of God is He anyway?

I AM that I AM.

That was God’s enigmatic response to Moses when Moses asked God for His name. The noted American pugilistic philosopher, Popeye the Sailorman said something very similar: I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.

I wonder if God likes spinach…

God is what He is, whatever He is. He’ll do what He wants, whenever He wants, and He’s not going to check with the focus groups or spin doctors first to see how popular His decision is going to be with the general public. As near as I can tell, human opinion has never been part of God’s decision making process.

And the bottom line is this: whether or not free will exists; whether we humans can choose our destinies or not, God’s Will cannot be denied. God’s Purpose is going to trump anything we can conceive every time.

You don’t have to like it, but you have to live with it.

Hmm…  Really not much of a mystery there after all.

The Kingdom of Heaven

It would appear God has my Muse by the short hairs. Maybe that means something. That would be nice. It’s not the most comfortable position for my Muse to be in, for sure. But, as in all things, it could be far worse, she could have a bad back…  On the bright side, once I get this out of my system, I’ll be freed to write about other things, unless God starts speaking to me.

Now that I think about that prospect, I’m not sure if I’m excited or terrified. I guess it would depend on what He has to say.

* * * *

Back when I was a psych nurse, I would occasionally engage my co-workers in religious discussions. As I said, I spent a lots of time thinking about the subject, and it was probably safer than talking about their tits.

Except with my ex-work wife, former Wonder Twin, Tara Grant Molden. She could talk about either subject with the same amount of ease. What a gal!

But one of my colleagues said something like unto this one day, “I go to church, but it’s a bunch of Biblical stuff, and who can understand that?” I know, right! And she was smart! Nice tits too, by the way. And one of the most confusing Biblical things was the Kingdom of Heaven.

When Jesus started his ministry, he did so by announcing, “The Kingdom of Heaven is upon you.” That’s what the Good News was. I guess it’s still the Good News.

Okay, class. What do you need to have a kingdom?

A king!

Yes. And what else?

A queen?

Maybe. What else?

A castle, with a throne?

Sure, why not. What else?

Um, subjects?

And that’s pretty much it. A kingdom is a group of people united under, and ruled by, a king. And that, was the purpose of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was sent by God to create a divine government.

Somehow, that message has been diluted down over the years, and I think we can thank the Romans for that. The early Christians certainly had to be careful not to step on the toes of the Romans, or Rome would have stomped back, with both feet.

The Roman emperors were, well, jealous of anyone trying to usurp their status and power. Some of them were actually paranoid about it. The last thing the emperor wanted was a rival to his throne, even if that rival was a dead guy who became a god.

So, Jesus the King, was replaced by Jesus the Savior, and only a few-ish early Christians became martyrs, instead of all of them. And even though Christianity no longer has to worry about getting exterminated the Roman Empire, that message persists to this day. Jesus is mostly viewed as a savior first, and a king second, if at all.

But let’s review God’s purpose–what does God want? As near as I’ve been able to tell, what God wants, He tends to get.

“I have sworn by my own name; I have spoken the truth, and I will never go back on my word: Every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess allegiance to me.”

That is the Book of Isaiah. This phrase is repeated and reaffirmed in the New Testament in Romans 14: 11. It is repeated again in Philippians, Chapter 2. 9, but this time, the focus is on Jesus. “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Think of any novel or movie that has a king in it. Whenever any of his subjects are brought before the king, they drop to one knee in respect/allegiance and say, “My Lord.”  

Let’s go back to the vision of John in the Book of Revelation. Jesus Christ is about to return. He rides a white horse. On his head are many crowns. On his robe is written King of all kings and Lord of all Lords. It doesn’t say Savior of all saviors or Redeemer of all redeemers or Deliverer of all deliverers.

King of all kings. Lord of all lords.

When he returns, he comes to reclaim his kingdom.

This, I think, is the message the Holy Spirit will deliver. This is why you must listen to him. The King is coming. Everyone knee shall bow, every tongue proclaim; Jesus Christ is my sovereign lord.

There’s a word for failure to obey a king. It’s called treason. And treason is punishable by death.

* * * *

Most of the pastors I knew back in Arizona loved to talk about God, and Jesus, and faith, and stuff. After all, it was their job. But there was one topic none of them were wild about discussing, and that was the End of Times.

The end of the world has been predicted countless times down through the centuries, and there’s one thing that all of the predictions have in common.

They’ve all been wrong.

So, my questions to the pastors about the end were mostly deflected or ignored, and that was probably a pretty smart thing for them to do. I sent several pastors copies of my theory about the Holy Spirit and his role at the End of Times. The most complementary thing I heard back from them was my ideas appeared to have a strong Biblical and Scriptural foundation, but none of them had ever seen or heard anything like my idea before.

“Yes, I know. I’ve looked. I can’t find anything like it either.” was my response. And because it was something not seen or heard before, it was impossible for them to accept it as something that could be true.

I don’t choose to feel disappointed in them. I don’t know if my idea is correct. If I knew I was right about this, my reaction would probably be different.

So, I pray, and I think, and pray some more. And all I hear is a ringing noise in my left ear. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from God in my mind. And even if God did speak to me, that would hardly make my idea more acceptable to anyone else, even a pastor. Actually, especially a pastor.

They think they know more God than anyone.

* * * *

Jesus said, “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail.”

So, how does one get into the Kingdom of Heaven? How else? You have to work for it. Jesus explained it like this: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,  ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’

“And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’

“But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. 

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”

If I am nothing else, I am persistent. I’m not sure where it’s gotten me…

The most obvious question is, What am I supposed to ask for? Ask to be shown the Way. What am I supposed to seek? Seek the Truth. Well, why do I have to look? Because the Way and the Truth are hidden.

Jesus explained it this way: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.”

I’m not sure about the childlike part, but I have been described as ladylike. Maybe that will suffice.

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

“Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

And what did they hear? They heard his voice.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

The most beautiful illustration of this comes from the Gospel of John, of course.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

And that was the precise moment she realized who he was. It was the way he said her name. I love that story.

* * * *

Jesus knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. And sometime prior to the end, Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to gather the sheep that can hear his call. This idea came to me back in 2010. I was convinced at the time that the Holy Spirit would appear any minute! And, then he didn’t.

See? Not a prophet.

Nonetheless, I’m convinced he’ll show up someday. I hope I’ll be around to see it. And when he comes, he will gather together all of the sheep that hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, and they will come to him when he calls. And those people will be the first subjects in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So, how does one get into the Kingdom of Heaven? For that, I think you have to be able to hear the invitation.

Jesus used the parable of the Great Feast to explain: “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited.

“But they all refused to come. So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business.”

When the Holy Spirit comes, I think he will invite those with ears to hear to the mother of all wedding feasts—the marriage of Jesus Christ to his Church. You may be invited to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Clearly, you can choose not to attend. But not only will you be invited to the great feast that has been so long in preparing, you will have a seat of honor at the groom’s table.

You will be seated right next to the King. From where he sits, Jesus Christ can lean over, take you by the hand, look you in the eye and say, “Thank you for coming. It means a lot to me that you are here.”

Pretty cool, huh?

* * * *

Jesus warned us repeatedly, “I will come as unexpectedly as a thief.” I’ve talked to many people about this passage, including several pastors. Most people assume Jesus means he will come when we least expect it. That is true, but Jesus almost always has multiple meanings whenever he speaks. So let’s break this down.

What does a thief do?

Well, thieves steal stuff, is that it?

If everything on earth already belongs to God, why would he need to steal his own possessions? What do we own, what quality do we possess that God does not already have in abundance? Jesus probably didn’t mean this.

So, what does a thief look like?

Who knows? Don’t they wear a disguise?

Now you’re on to something.

Keep your eyes, and your mind, open. Listen. And try to be ready.

Truth in Advertising

It’s Day Two, post-therapeutic pummeling at the magic hands of Diamond Dave. Other than the stiffness and soreness associated with my therapy, I’m actually feeling better. It appears that the captain’s chair in the living room has been ruled in as the primary suspect for my back problem.

I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that this chapter is coming to a close, and they lived happily ever after…  That’s how a fairy tale ends, isn’t it?

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife thinks I need to stop writing about God and my delusions of becoming his prophet someday. There’s a part of me that would like to do that, too. I have a lots of stories that are ricocheting around inside of my head, clamoring to be written.

But I am a writer driven by my Muse; she more or less dictates what I write. And she wants this. We’ll see what she wants tomorrow…

I should preface my remarks by stating I am not a Biblical scholar. I’m a guy that has done an inordinate amount of reading about religions and gods and Popes and saints, mostly while I was busy sinning. I find the subject interesting, and while I read about many gods, my primary focus was on the Christian God. He’s the one I believe in.

I probably think more about this subject than I do anything else, including tits. Or food. I’ll probably have to turn in my Man Card. And my Guy Card. I probably wouldn’t be allowed into the He-man Woman Haters Club if the Little Rascals found out…

I claim to be a Christian, yet I doubt many things that other Christians hold to be the undisputed truth. And you might be tempted to ask this question:

Why do you suppose that is, Mark?

And that, is a very good question.

I know I’m not the only Christian that questions some of the things written in the Bible. A lots of Christians do. And religion, if nothing else, is mostly a matter of what one is willing to believe, and the amount of faith one is willing to invest into any given belief system.

What separates me from most Christians is this: When confronted by something in the Bible that is difficult to explain, my Christian friends will say, This demonstrates the awesome power of our God. And I say, Yeah, I don’t think that’s how God works. I see God as more of a scientist than a magician. Faith without science is, well, superstition. Science without faith is…statistics.

I have no doubt that God speaks through the writings in the Bible. There’s a powerful message inside of those pages. God clearly had a lots to say at one point in time. I choose to feel more than a little disappointed that He hasn’t had anything new to say for a couple thousand years.

From my point of view, if there was ever a time for God to step up and say something/anything, that time was last year. Maybe the year before…  And yet, He remains silent. To the best of my knowledge, we humans do not possess the ability to compel God to do anything.

I know a lots of people of much greater faith than I will probably ever possess. And they are very good people. I admire most of them. They read the Bible every day, and practice their faith, except when their football team is playing. Then all bets are off. Just win, baby. I used to be like that, but I’m a Vikings fan. There wasn’t much to cheer for after the first five games of the season.

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. It is said to be inspired by God, and I don’t doubt that at all. But it was written, and rewritten by men, and that is most likely where my doubts arise.

The ancient group of peoples that eventually identified themselves as the Hebrews didn’t have a written language when God first started interacting with them, and they didn’t write anything down for a very long time. They had an oral tradition, stories were told and passed down from generation to generation.

I am a storyteller. My friends and I used to share stories about our exploits, and those events rarely happened in a vacuum. So when Gary did something stupid, there were usually witnesses. Gary’s version of the story would differ from my brother Tom’s version of events. Or when Shorty did something stupid, Dan would have his version of Shorty’s escapade. So we would drink beer and smoke a joint, and listen to the various versions, but there was one common thread at the end. The best version always won.

And that’s probably how things worked back then, too. No, we don’t want to hear Uncle Shlomo’s version of the Great Flood. We want to hear Uncle Joel’s! His has all the animals, two by two!

So when the Hebrews started writing stuff down, they took the best versions available, and those were the stories that ended up in the Old Testament of the Bible. The first Bible wasn’t compiled until the 4th Century. There were a lots of religious writings floating around back then, but a group of men got together and decided what would be in the first Bible, and what wouldn’t.

There’s a truckload of apocryphal writings that didn’t make it into the Bible for a multitude of reasons, and some of that stuff is interesting as all get out. The Book of Amos is in the Bible, so is the Song of Solomon for that matter, whereas the Book of Enoch is not. Many of those rejected documents were burned by the Church, and we may never know what secrets or insights were destroyed for all time.

* * * *

The New Testament is the most recent addition to the Bible, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have better documentation of the books in it. Take, for instance, the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. No one knows who actually wrote the Gospels, but most experts would agree that the guys who they’re named for probably didn’t write them. Matthew and John were followers of Jesus, so they would have first-hand knowledge of Jesus and the things he said and did. Therefore, anything with their name on it would have more credibility than say, the Gospel of Bob.

Mark and Luke would have had to have gotten their knowledge secondhand at best. At worst, they made stuff up. And Luke appears to have had a real talent for the dramatic. Well, so does Matthew for that matter.

Mark’s Gospel was the first gospel written, probably about the time the Romans destroyed the Great Temple of God in Jerusalem in 70 AD. And that would mean it was published roughly two years after his death.

In addition, the earliest gospels were written in Greek. Any following versions in other languages would have to be translated, and then you have to consider the skill of the translator. Have you ever heard the term lost in translation? If not, you should probably get out more.

Jesus is commonly depicted as the son of a carpenter, right? But Judea during the time of Jesus was more or less a desert, and so, there weren’t a lots of trees to work with. The Greek word that was translated as carpenter, tekton, roughly means one who works with his hands.

There’s no doubt Jesus was a teacher, but a teacher, any teacher, can only teach what he or she knows. Jesus told a lots of parables when he was teaching, but none of them are about carpentry. You can check for yourself. A lots of them are about guys working in the fields. Jesus was more likely a day laborer in the fields and vineyards of the wealthy farm owners in Galilee.

I’ll admit it’s a small thing, and it may not be important. But if small details can be missed, so can others. And the Gospels are just about our only source of information about Jesus. Their significance cannot be overstated.

Aside from possible translation issues, Mark’s Gospel was edited at least twice, mostly because the original author didn’t say and they all lived happily ever after at the end. The original gospel ends with the women followers of Jesus finding the empty tomb, but they told no one what they discovered because they were too terrified. The End. Not exactly the ending you’re hoping for if someone is telling you a story about a guy that rose from the dead.

All of Mark’s Gospel is included in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Those two gospels would embellish the story of Mark, and added a version Jesus’ divine birth, and more stories about his parables and healings. And that thing about his birth, well, Jesus was a king. Right?

In short, they are much better stories. And as a storyteller, I can assure you that’s all that matters. But as much as the more better gooder stories of Matthew and Luke are than Mark, they all pale in comparison to the Gospel of John.

You almost have to wonder if the other guys were in the same classroom as John after you read his story. It’s like comparing Dr Seuss or Nancy Drew to James Joyce.

John’s Gospel is believed to be the last of the gospels written, probably twenty or thirty years after the Gospel of Mark. All of the gospel writers had one similar objective–they wanted to convince their readers Jesus was the Son of God, and he was the Messiah. But the Jesus presented in Mark is vastly different than the Jesus presented in John.

Take a look at this scene when Jesus is arrested from Mark.

Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane on his knees, desperately praying to God for his life. He is deeply troubled and distressed. Judas shows up with a bunch of nameless guys holding swords and clubs. Judas kisses Jesus, Peter draws a sword, and chops off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus performs his last miracle, then rebukes the men sent to arrest him, and is arrested.

Thirty years later, John writes this:

Jesus is in the garden of Gethsemane, but he is not on his knees. He’s standing up, calmly. He is waiting. And it was night. Judas shows up with a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards. Jesus confonts the men sent to arrest him, and they fall to their knees. Peter chops off the ear of the high priest’s slave,  whose name is Malchus, and Jesus rebukes Peter for interfering in the job he was sent to do, and then he’s arrested.

When I was trying to become a rich and famous author, one of the questions I was most asked was, What sort of audience are you trying to target? And my response was, Um, I don’t know. The kind that would like to read my book, I guess…

But I’m going to guess the gospel writers had a better idea of who they were trying to target. The gospels were mostly written to convert Gentiles to the new religion, particularly Romans, because Rome controlled pretty much the entire area around the Mediterranean, which was the center of the Western World.

They weren’t written specifically to convert the Jews to this new religion, though no Christian would mind if that happened, but for the most part, the Jews didn’t want anything to do with this radical off shoot/sect of their religion. After his death at the hands of the Romans, the followers of Jesus, the Messiah tried to gain supremacy of the Jewish faith, but were ultimately rejected by the Jews because of a difference between reality and expectation.

The Messiah the majority of the Jews were looking for was a warrior that would free them from the oppressive rule of the Romans. They wanted a Jewish Alexander the Great, not the son of day laborer who talked about loving your fucking enemies, and giving away your earthly treasures. What kind of messiah did that?

Each successive version of the gospels made this new religion, Christianity, more and more separated from the religion that spawned it.

When Jesus is on trial, is it Pontius Pilate that wanted to kill him? No way! Pilate doesn’t want to have anything to do with this innocent man. In Matthew, Mark and Luke, it’s the high priests and a crowd of people that call for the death of Jesus. By the time of John’s Gospel, it’s the Jewish high priests and the Jews that are doing it.

In a previous post, I stated my position that Jesus committed a form of suicide by cop, and forced the Jews and Romans to execute him because that’s what God wanted him to do. And in doing so he served God perfectly, and man became God.

Jesus died his bloody death, but not to save us from our sins. He did so because it was what he had to do to become the King of Heaven and Earth.

For All Have Sinned

I was raised Catholic. I attended parochial schools most of my life. I was an altar boy. I went to Mass every Sunday. And as a result of my Catholic upbringing, I’ve been pretty sure of one thing.

I am going to Hell.

It used to scare the piss out of me, but it doesn’t make me lose any sleep nowadays. I’m not as evil as I once thought I was. And I’ve made a serious attempt to change my attitude and my behavior. I’m at peace with what I’ve become. I can only hope that God is good with that.

I don’t have a lots of options. If Satan is God’s prosecuting attorney, I’m sure he has an open and shut case against me. My best defense would be to plead for mercy, and hope God is as merciful as He claims to be.

I’m not a righteous man. I do not walk with God at all times. I cannot say I have a lots of faith. Most of the time I wonder what God is up to, and hope that He knows what He’s doing. I’m confident that God would have plenty of reasons to be disappointed in me if that’s what He chose to feel.

Based on what I learned in school, I am a sinner. And based on what I learned about sin, I’m evidently quite good at sinning. If lying were a sin, I might be more better gooder at sinning than I am at anything else.

A sin can be defined as any immoral act that can be viewed as a transgression against God. That covers a whole lots of territory. And anything with a definition that vague is going to be open to a wide variety of interpretation.

Something that I perceive as no big deal, like homosexuality, might bring out howls for eternal damnation by my neighbor. Someone else might look at dancing as the Gateway to Hell, whereas I think dancing is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, even if you do it naked in front of a bunch of people you don’t know.

Which of us is correct?

When Jesus spoke about sin, he didn’t seem to have any issues with homosexuality or dancing. He mostly spoke about loving wealth too much, and infidelity. And he often said, “Your sins are forgiven.” so he clearly didn’t need to got dead before anyone’s sins could be forgiven.

And while just what a sin is can be debatable, almost every Christian can agree that the wages of sin is death. It says so in the Bible, and most Christians tend to think if it’s in the Bible, it has to be true, whether they understand it or not.

I would like to point out that the only person in recorded history that didn’t sin also got dead, so I’m trying to think of anything where the wages aren’t death. And the only thing I can think of is death itself.

But, Jesus died for our sins!

Okay. What does that mean?

Um, that is one of the mysteries of our faith!

Great. We’re back to that.

It’s questions and answers like that that made me walk away from organized religion. And for those of you that don’t question these things and simply believe, I don’t know if I admire you, or feel sorry for you. I can only speak for myself. And for me, I have to a better answer.

Seeing how almost anything can be viewed as a sin, thankfully, there are a lots of ways to atone for one’s sins. When I went to confession, I had to say a lots of prayers as penance. Three thousand Our Fathers and another three thousand Hail Marys, something like that.

The Jews used to sacrifice animals at the Great Temple in Jerusalem. A whole lots of animals. The Jews were apparently quite good at sinning, too. And then the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 AD. I’m not sure what the Jews do now to atone for their sins, but I’m sure they haven’t stopped sinning.

I’ve often wondered if the Jews somehow were able to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem, would it once again be the House of God, and would He reside in it as He once did. And would the Jews resume animal sacrifice like they did in the olden days?

But, I digress…

And then Jesus came along and died for our sins, but that didn’t eradicate sin any more than the Great Flood eradicated evil. So, just what was God’s purpose in doing these acts that seemingly didn’t accomplish much of anything? Sin and sinners, evil and evildoers are not extinct, so what gives?

Christian theologians have argued that Jesus’ death on the cross purchased eternal life for those that believe in him.  I’m sure the Jews, and the Muslims, and the Hindus, and every non-Christian would beg to differ on that account. And for all I know right now, they could be correct. Nothing in regard to this has been proven.

From my point of view, there’s only one way that Jesus’ death could actually save us from our sins, and that would be if our sin was being separated from God.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus said that to his followers just before he died. I’m going to guess that just what Jesus meant by that has been widely debated, only because almost everything he said has been widely debated. But this is what it means to me.

Jesus was a man that became God. He was accepted into the Family of God based upon his perfect service to the Father. And because that door was opened for one of us, it can potentially be opened for all of us.

And perhaps that is God’s ultimate goal, a population of perfect people living in harmony for once, and forever. I’m guessing. It’s all I can do. I haven’t heard any voices in my head telling me this. I have been hearing a buzzing noise in my left ear, but it’s only tinnitus, and it’s probably from getting my jaw broken almost a year ago…

As near as I can tell, God is the only entity that has eternal life, unless Betty White or Keith Richards dies. And if you would like to join Jesus hanging out in Heaven with God and the angels, he’s the only way in.

Such a great privilege isn’t given away, it has to be earned. And the rite of passage to attain it is pretty much a bitch. Unless you happen to like being scorned, and mocked, and threatened, and beaten, and flogged, and crucified.

There probably aren’t a whole lots of people that would endorse those as some of their favorite things. And I’m not sure one has to endure all of those things in order to achieve this exalted status. There might be other ways, and then you have to wonder why Jesus did it the way he did.

So many questions, so few answers. And none of them are universally accepted as the Truth. If I hadn’t quit drinking, I’d probably have to get drunk.

The ultimate answer to my questions lay somewhere before me, and hopefully they’re somewhere along the path I’m on. I really don’t want to have to come to the realization that I’m just as lost now as I ever was. That, would totally suck.

But aside from loving stuff more than God, or being unfaithful to your spouse, there’s only one other thing that I know to be a sin.

Remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.

So, don’t do that.

The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me

Way back when I was young, I took a lots of strange paths while searching for the Truth. I discussed God and all things Divine with anyone who was willing to discuss these matters.

When I was in nursing school, I didn’t have to walk very far to meet some of these people. A few of them knocked on the door of my apartment.

Two young Mormon female missionaries knocked on my door and asked if they could talk to me about their religion. One of them said something like, “Our founder, Joseph Smith, started our religion because God talked to him!”

“If God talked to me, I’d start my own religion, too.” I replied.

“Oh!” they giggled, and looked at each other. “We never thought of that!” I asked them to come back after they had a better idea of what they were doing. I never saw either of them again.

The second such experience I had was with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the young blonde haired woman at my door had the most beautiful big blue…eyes… I had seen in awhile. She was also wearing a lovely light blue sweater. I was pretty sure I heard the voice of God when I saw her.

I was pretty serious about becoming a Jehovah’s Witness for about a year. But once I realized I was never going to make it to the Promised Land with the blue eyed blonde, I went back to being an hopeless sinner.

It wasn’t until we moved to Arizona that I found more discussion partners, and those all came courtesy of the church we were attending. The non-denominational Christian churches we attended back then were big into something called Small Groups.

These groups usually met once a week, and we discussed a lots of topics, and the discussion one night was about the Holy Spirit. I had been doing a lots of reading about the Holy Spirit, mostly because I had no idea who or what the Holy Spirit really was, so at the end of the discussion, I asked this question, “Can anyone tell me what the true purpose of the Holy Spirit is?”

And, no one could. So I said, “Okay. I’ll write something up and email it to you.”

That was when I discovered the limitations of organized religion. Religion is great, as long as you think the same things that everyone else in your religion believes. Creative thinking is not greatly appreciated in religion, and new ideas about God are practically viewed as heresy. Even today.

And that’s what happened to me. No one in my group wanted to discuss my treatise on the Holy Spirit. One of my group members even walked out of the room when I tried to get my group to discuss it. He was also the pastor of the church, so…

* * * *

At any rate, this is what I wrote:

It starts in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24: As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

I submit for your consideration one obvious fact. All of the pre-conditions Jesus stated have been met. Every one of them. False prophets, wars, famines, earthquakes. The first sign of the end of times is false prophets. However, if there are going to be many false prophets, there has to be at least one true prophet.

I kind of figure that God is not going to throw his children to the wolves.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd; he protects his sheep. Jesus tells his followers he will send someone before his return in John, Chapter 13: “I tell you the truth, anyone who welcomes my messenger is welcoming me, and anyone who welcomes me is welcoming the Father who sent me.”

Okay. Simple enough so far. One of the things I learned when I rejoined the church is Scripture needs to be seen in the context in which it is written. John, Chapter 13 is the story of the Last Supper. Just before Jesus says this, he tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. And just after Jesus says this, he tells his disciples that one of them will betray him.

This line has no relevance to what happened before, nor what happened after. The only thing John didn’t do was put it in neon lights.

That’s what I see when I read this line, but I appear to be the only person that can see it. I’m like a dog that can see the colors of the rainbow, but dogs can’t see color. As my wife and most people I’ve discussed this with have been quick to point out, I am not a learned Bible scholar. I’m a drug addict alcoholic who thinks he’s seen something that no one else has.

And then he tells his followers who his messenger will be in John, Chapter 14: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him.”

God will send the Holy Spirit into the world in much the same manner that the Father sent the Son. John, Chapter 1: The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him.

When the end times begin, the Holy Spirit will make his appearance, but because no one on earth is looking for him, not many will recognize him when he comes. Let me ask you this, have you been looking forward to the coming of the Holy Spirit with eagerness and expectation?

Of course not. You didn’t know he was coming. You’ve been looking forward to the second coming of Christ, not the first appearance of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will have a mission. Jesus continues in John, Chapter 14: “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” And in John, Chapter 15: “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. “

Before Jesus began his ministry on earth, a man named John the Baptist appeared in the Judean desert saying, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The Holy Spirit will have much the same mission of John the Baptist.

Jesus explains this in John, Chapter 16: And when he [The Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. But wait, there’s more: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”

There’s a Biblical word for foretelling the future: Prophecy. And if I ever become a prophet, it will be because of this.

In summary, at the beginning of the end of this age, to counter all the false prophets that will appear, one true prophet will come. He will testify about Jesus, lead into all truth, and he will reveal the future.

That, my friends, is the true purpose of the Holy Spirit. But here’s another thing about the Holy Spirit you didn’t know. He actually appears in the Bible as a person.

It happens in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 1.

10 It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast… When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.

The Son of Man was the title Jesus used to describe himself. John, the disciple of Jesus, probably knew Jesus in every stage of his development. They most likely grew up in the same area; they probably played together as children. John was one of his followers. John was present at the Transfiguration. John saw Jesus after his resurrection. If there was one person that would recognize Jesus, that person was John. Yet John doesn’t say it was Jesus that appeared to him. He says someone that looked like Jesus appeared to him.

That someone was the Holy Spirit. As near as I can tell, I’m the only person that sees this, too.

John gives us a description of what Jesus will look like when he returns in Revelation, Chapter 19: Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True…  His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God…  On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

John also describes the person that appeared to him, someone like the Son of Man: He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

Similar, but different.

The person standing in front of John speaks to him. “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

But, isn’t Jesus is the First and the Last. He died, but lives forever and ever. Why would the Holy Spirit say that?

“He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard.” Jesus didn’t come to testify about himself. He came to testify about the Father. The Holy Spirit will not come to testify about himself. He will come to testify about Jesus. He will say exactly what Jesus tells him to say.

Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus tells John he has seven messages for seven churches. And at the end of each message to each church is a separate message: “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.”

Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is telling us this: one is coming before me, and you must listen to him. If you do, you will be victorious. And I will give you some pretty impressive gifts.

“Vanna, show them what they’ve won.”

Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

Didn’t we hear that before? Oh yeah, when Jesus returns, he will have a new name too.

To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, to them I will give authority over all the nations. They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

All right, go ahead and say it. “Well, that’s very… interesting.”

I think it is. For most of you, if not all of you, this will be difficult to accept because you were never taught to believe it. And when it comes to God, what we believe dies ten minutes after we do. But the truth remains the truth, whether you believe it or not.

“Okay, I’ll believe it when I see it.”

No. You won’t.

If you can’t hear this truth, it isn’t going to make any difference what you see. You still won’t believe.

* * * *

And that, is my incredible revelation about the Holy Spirit and the End of Days. As usual, I have no proof of any of this. And while I can assure you I am not lying to you when I say I believe this to be true, I think it’s also safe to say I made all of this up. And by that I mean this is all my idea. This is not something I read in another book and decided to incorporate it into my belief system.

This, belongs to me.

As usual, you don’t have to believe any of this. I won’t do anything with garden hoses to you if you don’t. But if what I say is true, I’m the only person you’re going to hear it from. And this could be important. But only if I’m right. And as you should know by now, I am not a learned Bible scholar.

I have no idea how to prove if I’m correct.

And then there’s the flip side. What if I’m wrong? Then it would be better if I had never been born, and in this matter, this is one area where I would never intentionally deceive anyone.

So, am I a true prophet, or a false prophet? There’s a very simple test..

A Few Heretical Thoughts on Jesus

You may have noticed that I my thoughts about God are, perhaps, a bit different than yours.

Well, I did do a lots of drugs back in the 70’s.

I was raised in the Catholic faith. And then I decided I needed a better answer than, My son, that is one of the mysteries of our faith. So I decided to do my own research in my search for God and the Truth.

As a Christian, any search for God has to include Jesus Christ. None of us Christians would be Christians if not for him. Even if I were not a Christian, Jesus casts a pretty long shadow. The impact he made on the world is impossible to deny.

One of the first discoveries I made was Jesus didn’t have much of anything to do with the creation of the religion named after him. That mostly falls on a couple of guys that never met Jesus: one was a Roman Jew named Saul, later named Paul, who wanted to kill every Christian he saw. And the other was a pagan Roman emperor named Constantine, who wanted to kill his rivals for the throne of Rome.

If not for the efforts of those two men, there probably wouldn’t be any Christians today. At the very least, Christianity would be one of those kooky little religions that you might hear about on a National Geographic special on TV, instead of being the largest religion in the world.

It’s debatable whether or not Jesus had any idea of the impact his life would make on the world while he was alive. He didn’t set out to create a new religion when he started his ministry. All he wanted to do was reform an old religion: Judaism.

It’s hard to find any information about Jesus outside of the Bible. The only documentation about him or his life that we know of exists exclusively in the New Testament.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I love John’s Gospel. It’s so beautifully written. Jesus is often referred to as the Word of God, as well as a multitude of other names and titles.

The first Christian documents were written in Greek, and the Greek word for Word is Logos. It’s an interesting word, and it has at least five different meanings. But the best definition of it is purpose.

Many people have interpreted John’s Gospel to mean that Jesus–the Word–was God, and that he came down to earth from Heaven and took on human form to save us from our sins. But substitute the word purpose in the opening sentence of John’s Gospel.

It still makes sense.

And who else, if anyone, embodied God’s purpose more than Jesus? Go ahead, I’ll wait…  As near as I can tell, Jesus is the only human that hasn’t given God a reason to choose to be disappointed in him.

Jesus did everything that God asked him to do, and he executed God’s purpose perfectly. Not only did Jesus hit a home run, he pitched a no-hitter in the process.

I sincerely doubt that Jesus was hanging out with God in Heaven before he was born here on earth. Jesus was a man, he was just as human as you are. Look at the the way he described himself to his followers. The Son of Man. But I want to take that one step further. Jesus wasn’t just a man, Jesus was a guy! Look at the people he hung out with. Fishermen. Misfits. Drunks. Prostitutes. Outcasts. Losers.

Only a guy would hang out with a squad like that.

In a previous post, I made the assertion that God is probably capable of lying. And even if He isn’t, I know for a fact that men are. I find the fanciful stories about the birth of Jesus hard to believe. According to one of my former pastors, there are 365 Biblical prophecies about the Messiah, and Jesus fulfilled them all. But Jesus never claimed he was the fulfillment of all of the prophecies.

His followers did.

Jesus wasn’t the only guy that ever claimed to be the Messiah. There were hundreds of guys that made that claim, and some of them even lived at the same time as Jesus. Most every Jew that ever lived knew about Messianic prophecy. All you had to do was take a prophecy or two, and show how it related to you. If anyone besides your mother believed you, you were a messiah.

And that’s probably what the guys that wrote the Gospels did, except they didn’t take a couple of prophecies, they took them all.

Granted, they had compelling reasons to do so. After the destruction of the Great Temple of God in Jerusalem, there was a power vacuum in the Jewish world. The Temple priests had been at the top of the hierarchy, but without a Temple, there didn’t need to be anymore Temple priests. The followers of Jesus were fighting for the supremacy of the Jewish faith.

It was a battle they would ultimately lose, but while they were in the fight, they fought with any weapon they could get their hands on, and what better weapon can you wield in a religious war than an honest to God Messiah?

What separates Jesus from the poser messiahs are two things: he was an enigmatic teacher, and he could perform miracles. And even in those departments, Jesus wasn’t unique. He wasn’t the only holy man/teacher in the country, nor was he even the only miracle worker.

I encourage you to check this out yourself if you find yourself scratching your head while you read this. I’m quite an accomplished stretcher of the truth. And I have flat out lied about many things in my life. I could be making all this shit up. You can never tell with me…

There’s really only one thing that made Jesus the International Man of Mystery and Wonder that he is today, and that one thing is his resurrection.

The fact that Jesus was crucified isn’t even unique. The Romans crucified hundreds of thousands of people during the time their empire existed. It was one of Rome’s favorite ways of sending a message to their least favorite people. I could probably write a book about the crucifixion, but if you want to read about it, read John’s Gospel. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I’ve read John’s Gospel more than any other book in the Bible. It really is the greatest story ever told.

Judea during the time of Jesus was a Roman territory with several distinct regions. Each of these regions had a different Roman governor. Jesus spent the three years of his ministry traveling around the country to spread his message–there was no social media back then–and to also stay one step ahead of the Romans.

It didn’t take any special prophetic talent to predict what would happen to you if you pissed off the Romans, and if there was one thing that Jesus accurately predicted, it was the fact that he was going to be killed.

Jesus spent his entire ministry trying to avoid getting killed to death, until the last week of his life. Then he did everything he could to make sure he didn’t leave Jerusalem alive. There’s the whole Who really killed Jesus thing. Was it the Jews? Was it the Romans? I think Jesus made both groups kill him, and in that sense, Jesus committed a form of suicide by cop.

Jesus was, if nothing else, a very charismatic and persuasive guy. His arguments pretty much made anyone that had a question or a bone to pick with him shut their mouths, tuck their tails between their legs and run for cover.

But what did he say when he was on trial for his life?

Not much of anything. And none of the few words he spoke were denials of the crimes he was charged with.

Even if Jesus had presented any sort of defense of his actions, it’s doubtful it would’ve made much difference to Pontius Pilate and it’s also doubtful Jesus actually appeared before Pilate. Little Known Factoid about Pilate: the Romans actually removed him from power in Judea for being too cruel.

That’s like unto being expelled from the Nazi party for being too anti-Semitic. Pontius Pilate wouldn’t have needed a reason to kill Jesus. And that whole washing his hands thing? Hollywood couldn’t have scripted that scene better if they tried.

Jesus’ lack of a defense was essentially a triple-dog dare to the Jewish and Roman officials. His first dare was the cleansing of the Temple. And his double-dog dare was his preaching in the Temple in the days just prior to his execution.

Never dare a Roman to do anything. They’ll do it. Twice. Jesus was executed, just like he planned, and then came the reason Jesus is still relevant today.

He rose from the dead.

If that is something that didn’t actually happen, then we Christians are the most pathetic people that ever lived. We are the punchline in the most hideous practical joke ever unleashed on this planet. And if that is the case, someone needs to shove a garden hose down God’s dick.

But for me, the resurrection has to be real. Everything I believe about my God and my place in His world revolves around the fact that Jesus is God. And for me, he became God after his resurrection. God adopted Jesus into his family. That’s like being adopted into the House of Windsor, only better.

And because of that, all of us have the opportunity for a new life. It’s a good thing. My old life was pretty much a disaster. And because Jesus became the adopted Son of God, there now exists the possibility that you could be adopted by God, too.

And that, is pretty damn mind boggling when you think about it.

I’m clearly not your average Christian. I don’t believe everything in the Bible is true. I don’t believe God is as All-anything as He claims to be. And I don’t believe Jesus was always a God.

But the things I don’t believe in no way diminishes or detracts from the things I do believe. That God is great. God is good. And his purpose is ultimatey designed for our benefit. And, I believe that Jesus Christ is the King of Heaven and Earth. That’s really all that matters.

The rest of that stuff. That’s a bunch of stuff for people to argue about.

Another Brief Treatise on God

I’m trying to figure out what to write about today. I’ve had a few ideas floating around, but none of them have crystallized into much of anything.

I think God may win. Big surprise there, right?

One of the ideas I heard about God when I decided I needed to get to know more about Him was that God was in the Creation Business. And that might have been true. Once.

It’s called the Big Bang, not the Big Bangs.

And I don’t know if God actually had anything to do with the Big Bang, or if He just happened to be in the neighborhood when all the fireworks went off and He decided to take credit for it. After all, He does call Himself the Creator.

I see God working in the Recycling Business. He invented the most successful energy recycling program, ever. None of us would be here now if God hadn’t started recycling the energy of dying stars roughly fourteen billion years ago.

You talk about a long term plan…

The fact that God works s-l-o-w-l-y tells me that God is not a proponent of the Theory of Evolution. He’s a proponent of the Law of Evolution. And if it’s a Law, there’s a mathematical formula for it.

Take, for example, humans. If it weren’t for a few tweaks in our DNA profile, we’d all be a bunch of talking bananas.

If God did in fact set off the Big Bang, He is the greatest mathematician, ever. And if that is true, then mathematics is the true language of God. You were right, Frank Herbert!

One of my patients at Del E Webb Medical Center was a semi-famous math genius guy who had helped figure out some vague formula about something or other. I looked him up on the Interweb. He really was semi-famous.

One of the things he told me was the word mathematics was a Greek word that meant knowable things. I’ve never been very good at math. I was actually kicked out of one my math classes in high school.

“Yeah. I would’ve chosen a different word for it.” was my response.

It would appear that mathematics, not love, is what really makes the world go round. And God probably didn’t even need a slide ruler to figure that out.

* * * *

Philosophers and theologians and whole lots of really smart people have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out just who and what God is. One of the worship leaders at the church I used to attend was fond of saying that God was incomprehensible. And that is simply unacceptable to me.

Hey, if math is knowable…

I’ll tell you what’s incomprehensible about God. The Trinity. No one can understand it, though there have been plenty of attempts to try to explain it. The whole Holy Trinity thing is a human construct. Some guy named Tertullian came up with the idea, way back in the 3rd Century. Eighteen centuries later, it doesn’t make anymore sense now than it did then.

One goofy explanation I read went something like this: I am a man. But I am a father, and an uncle and a brother. So in that sense, I can be viewed as a trinity of some sort.

However, all of those aspects of me clearly inhabit the same body, but in God’s Trinity–Father, Son and Holy Spirit– are three very distinct and separate entities. Jesus said he was sent by the Father. He never claimed to be the Father. Nor did he claim to be the Holy Spirit. He said he would send the Holy Spirit.

I’ll have more to say about that, but not today. Today, I would like to take a moment to try to blow this whole Trinity thing up, once and for all.

When questioned about the Last Day, Jesus said this: “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”

If Jesus and the Father were truly one, they would both know the same things.

Boom! Mic drop.

The flip side of this is if Jesus and the Father are one, and they both know the same things, then Jesus lied when he said he didn’t know the day or the hour that the world would end.

That’s how I see that.

There is another telling thing about God. “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.”

God clearly isn’t much impressed with us. That’s like when someone breaks up you, and they say, It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s you. It is all you.

This is the statement that made me think God just might be a little crazy. After all, who do you know that doesn’t think like you do? Besides your husband. Or your wife. Or your parents. Or your kids.

Crazy people, right?

I mean, we’re both totally sane, right?

You know what? Forget that.

* * * *

Moving right along.

The first recorded name of God in the Bible is Elohim. It’s an Hebrew word, which makes a lots of sense because they were God’s Chosen People. But Elohim is a plural, and a plural is more than one, no matter which language you speak.

The Trinity isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Bible. You can look it up if you like. But the Seven Spirits of God are mentioned in a couple of places in the Bible, and I think that’s beyond significant. Seven is God’s perfect number. What if God isn’t one, or even three, distinct personalities, but seven?

That’s just something for you to think about. Like almost everything about God, I can’t offer much proof of anything about Him. And you should remember that I don’t claim to be a prophet. That, is something I can prove.

* * * *

When Lea and I moved to Arizona, we encountered more than a few obstacles in our path, and we struggled to find our way. My lovely supermodel wife suggested we start going to church. At the time, if she had suggested we start robbing banks, I probably would’ve agreed with her. So going to church? Yeah, I could do that. If nothing else, it’s a whole lots easier than robbing a bank.

As a result of Lea’s decision, I got to know a few of our pastors, and that gave me an opportunity to bounce some of my questions about God off of these knowledgeable men of God.

Can God ever be surprised?

No. That was their response. Because God is all-knowing. But, He can be disappointed.

No, He can’t. That was my response. And here’s why.

The pastors I talked to were quick to point out the human tendency to, for lack of a better term, fuck things up. And when we choose to do stuff like that, we disappoint God every time. And no one really wants to disappoint God, do they?

Okay. Suppose you have a roommate. And your roommate has been stealing money from you, and you already know this. So you decide to test your roommate, and you leave $100 on the kitchen counter, right out there in plain view. And then you go to work. Or the gym. Or something.

You know that money is going to be gone when you get back, and when you return, the $100 is gone. And you think, Oh, I’m so disappointed!

Disappointment, at its most fundamental level is an emotional response. And that makes it a choice.

In the situation above, you have prior knowledge of the end result, so you cannot be surprised that your money disappeared, nor can you be disappointed. The outcome can’t make you disappointed.

It makes you a goddamn idiotface moronhead for thinking you could trust a thief, but you have to choose to be disappointed.

I rather doubt that God makes many decisions based on emotions. If He did, we humans, all of us, would’ve been killed to death by God a long, long time ago.

If God truly is All-knowing, the last thing He could ever say is, I didn’t see that coming! Nothing could ever surprise him. Nothing could really be all that disappointing to Him. After all, He already knew that Han Solo was going to die before Episode VII: The Force Awakens was even made.

There’s a part of me that hopes God isn’t All-knowing. I would think that that kind of knowledge would make life very boring.

And boring, well, there’s nothing worse than a totally boring life.

Who’s Who

I don’t know if this has ever occurred to you or not, but sanity is kind of a one trick pony. I mean, all you get is rational thought and linear thinking. Insanity, on the other runs the gamut from abstract to zany.

This has nothing to do with this story, though it might be a topic for later discussion, but I have probably been certifiably crazy more than once in my life. I know my wife thinks so. I told her my life’s ambition was to become a prophet. She still doesn’t know what to think about that, and I divulged that factoid to her about fifteen years ago.

As much as I’d like this installment to be all about me, it’s not. It’s about the incredibly famous people I’ve met as a psych nurse. So let’s take a stroll down the Hall of Fame, shall we?

Jesus Christ. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve met Jesus. A dozen times or more, easily, and I ran into him at every hospital I’ve ever worked or trained at. The most interesting thing about Jesus–he never looked the same twice. Jesus was a young fat long haired white guy. A young tall skinny long haired white guy at least three times, if not more. A young skinny gay guy with a crewcut. An older, much heavier gay guy with an Elvis kind of hairstyle, except he had red hair. A fat Hispanic guy. A couple of different fat black guys. An old, generally crabby, white guy–one, two, three times.

Jesus–in the Bible–is my favorite guy, all time, hands down. Jesus–as a psych patient–was nothing like he was portrayed in the Bible. First, and foremost, he could no longer heal. Jesus, in his many manifestations as a psych patient, couldn’t fix a hangnail–forget about doing anything useful, like casting out demons or raising people from the dead. Secondly, Jesus the psych patient had nothing new to say about God, or the Kingdom of Heaven, or whom the blessed really were, or what we could expect when The End finally came.

One of the psycho Jesuses I met during my career was a guy named Ed. He was one of our frequent flyers at the MVAMC. One day Ed said this,”You know, I think I’m getting better. I used to think I was Jesus Christ, but now I know I’m John the Baptist.”

“You remember how John died, don’t you? I asked, after I stopped laughing.

“Yeah, and I think I’d rather have my head chopped off than get nailed to a cross.” It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.

I’ve met God the Father twice, both times at the MVAMC. He was really tall, both times. Once he was middle aged. Once he was in his seventies. He was mostly calm, with moments of explosiveness in both of his incarnations. Papa God was mostly an entertaining psychiatric deity. And, if I remember correctly, he kinda liked his women with a little meat on their bones, if you know what I mean.

I met the Holy Spirit but once. He was the last of the Holy Trinity I’d meet, and I had almost given up hope of ever meeting him. El Espíritu Santo was an Hispanic guy who was hurriedly admitted to my unit at Aurora one Saturday morning. The Admissions staff was afraid he was going to kill them, so they rushed him to my unit first, and left all that pesky paperwork to be figured out later.

The Holy Spirit was a hot mess at first, but he settled down and became quite cooperative after a double dose of Zyprexa Zydis and a couple hours of answering my questions, and I had a lot of them. I asked every divine avatar I met these questions. How did that whole Triune God thing work anyway? How, exactly, were we created in the image of God. Did God have a physical body? What did He look like? How many angels, exactly, could dance on the head of a pin? Where was Heaven, and did Elijah have anything he wanted to say to his friends or family? I’m pretty sure those guys regretted being admitted to my unit, and most of them stopped saying anything about being any kind of god whenever I was around.

The only other deity I’ve met was Mars, the Roman God of War. He was a patient at the Minnesota State Hospital. He only identified himself to me as Mars once, and he couldn’t speak Latin. However, I took him seriously enough that I had to think myself invisible in order to survive.

That’s a scene from a cop movie that I can’t remember the name of, but this cop survives a mass shooting by a psychopathic maniac by thinking himself invisible in front of said psychopath–so nothing emanating from him was threatening or even challenging to anyone around him. And that’s what I did when I was cornered in the day room by the God of War in the dead of night. I’ve only had to resort to that defense a couple of times in my career, but it worked every time I employed it. You have to be able to think fast when you’re a psych nurse.

Moving right along down the Hall of Fame. Next stop, heads of state. Napoleon Bonaparte. Contrary to historical fact, the Little Corporal stood about six feet tall. The Czar of All the Russias was also quite tall. They were both my patients at the MVAMC. Napoleon spoke even less French than I did, but he did walk around with one hand inside his shirt, like people did when they posed for pictures during the Napoleonic era. The Czar of All the Russias called his mom frequently and asked her for permission to have people he didn’t like killed, like, for instance, his doctor.

“Mom, I don’t like this guy! He wants me to take meds, and–and I want to have him killed! Oh…o-okay, Mom. I’ll take the meds. Yes, Mom. And I’ll say I’m sorry. Yes, mom. O-okay. I love you too, Mom. Bye.”

I liked that guy. He probably would’ve made a great Czar. His mother certainly would’ve made a great Grand Duchess.

The King. Elvis’ real name was David Johnson. He was another patient at the MVAMC. This might be a HIPAA violation, but good luck tracking down which David Johnson I’m referring to. In Minnesota. Land of 10,000,000 Johnsons. DJ wasn’t just another Elvis impersonator, though it wouldn’t be inconceivable to think of him like that. DJ really thought he was Elvis. I’ll tell you what, karaoke was never the same after Elvis performed.

The Lizard King. Oddly, the guy that claimed he was Jim Morrison didn’t know that was one of his nicknames. How he ever pulled that identity out of his ass I’ll never know. He was a chubby black guy at St Luke’s that couldn’t tell you one single song The Doors sang, but he did know the lyrics to a lots of rap and hip hop songs. His real name was Morgan, and he was, without a doubt, one of the craziest motherfuckers I’ve ever known. Along with being the front man for rock band from the 1960’s, and Jesus Christ, he was also another one of the richest men on the planet guys. I’ve met that guy a lots of times too, now that I think about it.

Morgan liked me, so he gave me $300 million. Computer transfer. It should be on my next bank statement. Morgan was always asking me to bring him in a pack of cigarettes. After all, he had given me $300 mil. So, one day I bought him a pack of smokes and gave them to him at work.

“Wow, thanks, man. How much does a pack of cigarettes cost now?”

“Three hundred million dollars. We’re even now, okay.”

You have to be able to think fast when you’re a psych nurse. It could save your life. Or possibly your bank account.