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.

From the Odds and Ends Department

Have you ever watched something on TV, or read something, and thought, Man, I could do so much better than that! You might even be thinking that right now…  Especially if you’ve read more than one of my blog posts.

I mean, all this guy writes about is getting wasted, his slutty girlfriends, and how all of his relationships fell apart! There was that story about his nympho Russian girlfriend, Ivana Sukyurkokov. And his heartbroken Chinese girlfriend, Wat Wen Wong. Jeez, his blog is dumber than putting wheels on a ball! I liked him more when he wrote about crazy people!

And I hear you. Before I started writing my blog, I thought bloggers were people who needed to get a fucking life, man. They were probably people who thought Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian were the epitome of American society and they all wanted to be Paris-ites, or biffles, or twat waffles with them or something.

I’ve started reading some of the blogs that are out there on the Interweb, and I was wrong about bloggers. Most of them appear to have lives.

Except me.

I’m retired. If I were to write about my day-to-day life now, my blog would consist of restaurant reviews in the Lakeside area, and stories about how much I love my Sleep Number bed®.

And to be honest, I probably liked me more when I was writing about crazy people, too. But those stories are relatively easy to write, and like everything else in life, it’s only when you step outside of your comfort zone that anything meaningful happens. It’s the stories I didn’t want to write that taught me the most about myself. It was the stories that hurt like hell that showed me how far I’ve come.

And how far I still have to go.

And the other thing about writing about my nursing career is not every person I cared for resulted in a story worth telling.  Knife wielding homicidal maniacs were the exception, not the rule, thank God. Most of my patients were never a problem, unlike medical dramas on TV. I’d probably hate being a TV nurse, unless my work partner was the hot nurse with the big tits…

The majority of my nursing career was pretty ho-hum. Mischief was managed. Shit got done. No one died. And that was that. But there were a lots of snippets and moments and oneliners, and if I could patchwork a lots of them together, I might be able to spin a tale or two…

* * * *

I’ve discovered that time management is still necessary once you retire. I certainly have more time to do things I enjoy now, like reading. And because other bloggers sometimes read my posts, I feel a certain obligation to read some of their posts, too. My favorite blogger is a young woman in New York who writes about her struggle to overcome her eating disorder. Her blog is called Beauty Beyond Bones. And while I love her now, I probably would’ve hated her as a patient.

Back when I was a psych nurse in Arizona, there were a couple of eating disorder treatment facilities in the little town of Wickenburg, about thirty miles northwest of Surprise. Remuda Ranch and Rosewood Ranch. She’s never come out and said if she was a patient at either of them, but I’m going to guess she was at Remuda. I hope she doesn’t mind me saying that. I interviewed at both facilities, but decided not to take a position at either one of them. I absolutely sucked at working with eating disorder patients.

Remuda is a Christian based treatment facility. One of the questions they asked me in the interview was did I think the Bible was the sole source of truth. I said no, it wasn’t, and I wasn’t even sure all of the things written in the Bible were true. After my interview, they told me I wasn’t Christian enough to meet their criteria. I told them that was okay. They weren’t the first Christians to tell me that.

A few weeks later they called me back and told me that they had changed their mind about me, and asked if I was still interested in working there. I wanted to say something like, God, you guys must be fucking desperate! But instead I thanked them for thinking of me, and told them I had found another position and I wasn’t available anymore.

Well, it was the truth…

Like most every psychological/psychiatric disorder, eating disorders are caused by a multitude of complex factors, and as with every psychological/psychiatric disorder–except dementia–the successful treatment of anorexia or bulimia depends completely on the patient. If they don’t want to change their behavior, there ain’t nothin’ anyone can do for them once they’re discharged from the hospital.

It’s like alcoholism or drug addiction, only worse. Just as the drinking and chemical use are usually a symptom of a deeper, darker pathology, eating disorders are about far more than food.

Eating disorders are incredibly difficult to treat, mostly because eating disorder patients are the spawn of Satan. I mean that in a Christian way. They are sneakier than a ninja. They can vomit silently so they can purge without anyone knowing. They stockpile food so they can binge feed when no one is looking. And if their lips are moving, they’re probably lying.

The other thing I remember most clearly about most of these women, and they were all females, is the majority of them were gorgeous. And that is truly one of the great mysteries that used to keep me awake at night when I was learning how to be a psych nurse. How could someone so beautiful be so fucking miserable?

One of my first posts was about one of my patients at the MVAMC. I called him the Piano Man because he liked to play the piano. About the time he walked onto the unit for one of his many admissions, we had just discharged a gal with anorexia. She had been on our unit for a couple of weeks, and none of the staff were sad to see her go.

After we got the Piano Man admitted, he sat down at the piano and started playing, and the piano sounded like a wounded moose. We opened the top to find the eating disorder girl had hid enough food inside of the piano to feed Hannibal’s entire army when he crossed the Alps to attack Rome. Including the elephants.

For someone who has never worked in a psychiatric setting, it would be easy to say that we, as staff members, totally sucked at our job, and I really don’t have much of anything to say in our defense. We were hardly specialists at treating eating disorders, and the fact we were so happy to see that particular patient leave speaks volumes to the level of struggle we all had with her.

* * * *

To be sure, it’s very easy to be an armchair quarterback or a wheelchair general, and criticize someone doing a job you’ve never attempted. And when you’re in a service oriented occupation like Nursing, you are never going to be able to make everybody happy. No one is that good, and people can be incredibly demanding/entitled. And it is generally the people who were making the least positive contribution to anything who were the most demanding and entitled.

You guys have to be the worst fucking nurses I’ve ever seen! I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one. And it was usually a guy that you and your team had spent a month busting your asses trying to arrange housing and follow up for, who had been discharged from your unit forty-eight hours earlier, and was already back because he chose to drink as much alcohol and smoke as much meth as he possibly could before he came crawling back to the hospital.

Most of the time it’s better to just agree with someone like that, and walk away. But there were times when I couldn’t.

“Maybe you should get out more…  That means a lots coming from you…”

I said something like unto that to one of my unhappy frequent flyer guys at the MVAMC who probably spent as much time in the hospital as I did. His name was Ray. I’m going to guess that the total bill for the many, many times we detoxed him off of alcohol, sobered him up and set him up to succeed was in excess of one million dollars, and he had this response, “You used to be a good guy, but you need a new job. You’ve been inpatient too long.”

“So have you.” I replied.

He froze to death one cold December night in Minneapolis. He had gotten drunk and was walking to the hospital so he could be admitted again. His body was found propped up against a tree across the street from the hospital in the morning. He had stopped to rest before making his final stumbling trek to the ED, and had fallen asleep.

You meet a lots of guys like unto that when you’re a psych nurse. There was Charles. He was another MVAMC guy who spent an inordinate amount of time getting drunker than fifty guys combined, and the rest of his time detoxing on my unit.

We had safely detoxed Charles for the umpteenth time, and discharged him at 9:00 AM on a Friday morning. At 2:30 PM that same day, I answered the phone. It was Charles.

“Hey, I don’t think this discharge thing is going to work, man. I’ve been out of the hospital for about six hours, and I’m pretty fuckin’ wasted, man.” he slurred.

“Hey, Charles. Has it ever occurred to you that you need to quit drinking?” I decided to ask. There was a long silence, and then Charles said this,

“Is there anyone else there I can talk to?”

For one of the few times in my life, I had no response. I handed the phone to one of my co-workers. Charles would also die to death as a result of his alcohol abuse.

Sometimes the disease wins.

* * * *

You never know what you’ll see or hear as a psych nurse, and there’s a reason for that. People are capable of an infinite amount of kooky stuff, not that you have to be a psych nurse to experience the full spectrum of kookiness available out there.

All you really need to see that is a family.

But one thing you may not experience unless you’re a psych nurse is the dreaded Dissociative Identity Disorder, or more commonly, Multiple Personality Disorder. In my thirty year career, I met a lots of people who claimed to have multiple personalities, but none of them ever seemed to be legitimate to me, or anyone else I worked with.

Multiple Personality Disorder was virtually unheard of until the 1970’s. That’s when the book Sybil was published, 1973 to be exact. Three years later, the TV movie of the same name was broadcast on NBC, starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward, and like magic, suddenly everyone had multiple personalities.

For my money, all of the people I met who claimed to have multiple personalities were just assholes looking for an easy excuse for their behavior.

* * * *

I was working nights at the MVAMC fairly early in my career. I was the Med nurse that night, so anyone needing any medications had to see me. Enter Sam. It was around 2:00 AM. We had detoxed Sam off of alcohol with a Valium protocol. Once someone had been safely detoxed, the protocol was discontinued.

Sam had been off the protocol for a day or two, but he wanted more Valium. I explained to him how the protocol worked, and Sam had a five star meltdown. He screamed at me, waking up everyone on the unit. One of the other nurses called the POD and got a one time order of Valium for Sam, and he went back to bed.

At 6:00 AM, Sam came up to the nursing station to get his morning meds. He was quite pleasant, and I remarked that he was much nicer than he had been at 2:00 AM.

“Oh, that. That wasn’t me. That was Samuel.”

“No kidding. He looks just like you.” I said.

Sam gave me, and anyone else willing to listen, a detailed description of his three personalities: Sam, Samuel and Sheryl. A line of patients had formed behind Sam. They were waiting to get their meds so they could go smoke. According to Sam, Samuel was the troublemaker. Sheryl was the lover, and Sam was the drunk. I listened to Sam, and gave him his meds.

“Well, the next time you talk to Samuel, give him a message.” I said. “If he ever talks to me like that again, I’m gonna punch you in the fuckin’ mouth.”

Sam’s jaw dropped. He turned to the guys standing behind him, “Did you hear that! He threatened me!”

“Hey! Take your goddamn meds and get the hell out of the way! And if you ever pull that shit again, if he doesn’t punch you in the fuckin’ mouth, I will.” one of the Nam vets growled.

Yeah, not one of my better moments, but Samuel never made another appearance.

* * * *

I think the last time I met anyone who claimed to have multiple personalities was at Aurora. I walked onto the Canyon Unit, and Nikki was on a 1:1. She was a frequent flyer, and I was usually her nurse.

A 1:1 is a special precaution, usually reserved for patients that are acutely suicidal. In essence, one staff person is assigned to one patient, and that patient is never more than an arm’s length away from the person assigned to watch over them.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but it’s rarely played out that way.

I went over to talk to Nikki. She had scratched her wrist with a plastic spoon on the evening shift. She didn’t even break the integrity of her skin, and her nurse had placed her on the 1:1.

I’m shaking my head while I write this. I don’t usually like to criticize the actions of other nurses, but that was a lazy-ass intervention. If the evening nurse had taken even five minutes to talk to Nikki, that ridiculous waste of manpower and resources wouldn’t have been needed. We barely had enough staff to cover the units, let alone have one staff assigned to watch someone for no good reason.

I asked Nikki to tell me what happened.

“I didn’t do anything! It was Alexandra!”

“And whom might that be?”

“She’s one of my three personalities! She–”

“Stop. Cut the crap, Nikki. You’re on a 1:1. You can’t smoke if you’re on a 1:1.” I said.

“But they let me smoke last night, and this morning!”

“I don’t care what they did last night. This is my unit, my rules. If I can’t trust you to be safe on the unit, I’m sure as hell not going to trust you to be safe off the unit, with a lit cigarette in your hand. What if you decide to burn yourself?”

“It wasn’t me! It was Alexandra!”

“I don’t care who did it. None of you get to smoke.”

“I’ll be safe, I promise! Please!!”

Less than five minutes. Mischief managed. And I never heard another word about Alexandra again. Ever.

* * * *

There was a fairly consistent response whenever I told someone that I had just met that I was a psychiatric nurse. Their eyes would widen, and they would say something like unto, “I bet you’ve seen it all, huh.”

I would reply, “No. I’ve seen a lots of strange stuff, but the kookiness of humans is infinite.”

And that is the fucking truth.

Every time I thought I had seen it all, something I didn’t think was humanly possible walked through the door. I eventually made peace with the fact that I would never see it all, and I was okay with that. My two other personalities are still sulking about that a bit, but they’ll get over it.

Or I’ll punch them in the mouth.

Radar and The Cosmic Kid

I’ve mentioned the names of some of the guys I shared the Dental barracks with, way back when I was in the Army. It would seem my Muse, or Muses, have decided it’s time to elaborate on at least some of them.

Today’s Muse is probably Urania, but Thalia will certainly be whispering in my other ear.

* * * *

I arrived at Fort Sill in January of 1975. It was my permanent duty station according to the contract I’d signed with my recruiter, Sergeant First Class Robin Hood.

I’m not making that up.

When I arrived at Fort Sill, I had to be processed in because I was new to Army life, and the half a ton of paperwork the Army had already generated on me just wasn’t enough. I was delivered to the Main Processing Station. It was a huge building about the size of a football field with an huge office filled with desks and clerks and stuff. The rest of the building was bunks and latrines and stuff.

It was essentially a way station, like unto the Army’s version of Purgatory. Once all your paperwork was processed, a clerk from the MPS would contact your company, and someone would come pick you up so you could begin your Army career. It usually took two or three days.

I was at the MPS for a week. The clerk handling my paperwork was new to his position, and he forgot to call my company.

I didn’t mind hanging out at the MPS. I didn’t have much of anything to do except get cleaned up and dressed in the morning, and march to the nearest mess hall to eat with the rest of the guys being processed in. The rest of my day was free time, which I spent reading, or writing to Maureen.

I would’ve been happy to do that for the next two and an half years, but someone in the MPS finally asked what the hell I was still doing there and my company was notified that I had been processed, and someone came to pick me up.

That person was PFC Randall J. Paul.

Randy was from Los Angeles, CA. If there’s such a thing as a Valley Guy, Randy would’ve been one. Totally, man. He was a tall, pudgy guy with a huge honker of a nose. He looked like an older kid that had never lost his baby fat. Or a really tall cartoon penguin…

“Hey, are you PFC Rowen?” he asked. I was lounging on my bunk, reading. I looked up at him and nodded. “Well, c’mon, let’s go! I’m here to take you to Dental Headquarters. My name’s Randy. You can be my roommate.

“Well, okay, we won’t be roommate roommates, but we’ll be kinda roommates. There’s a shared bathroom between our rooms at the barracks. You’ll see what I mean when we get there. The room next to mine is empty, so you can bunk there.

“I’m so fuckin’ glad you’re here, man! Now you can take over my job and I can become a dental lab technician! I’ve been waiting to do that for a year…”

* * * *

I’m pretty sure Randy talked nonstop for the next six hours, like he was a manic bipolar trying to tell me his life story and everything I’d need to know about the Army without taking a breath in between. Randy’s monologue was punctuated with a whole lots of “…you’ll see what I mean–You’ll figure it out–It’ll all fall into place.” And, “Fuck the Army!!”

Well, it’s not like he was trying to do that. That’s exactly what he did. And years later, when I was a psych nurse, I’d discover Randy really was bipolar…

Our first stop was Dental Headquarters, where I would learn I wouldn’t be a dental assistant, I would become the new supply driver, and Randy would train me to replace him. James Toney, the clerk who would possibly save my ass with his testimony during my court-martial, couldn’t stop shaking my hand.

“Thank God you’re here.” he kept saying.

That first day was a blur to me. We stopped off at the barracks to drop off my gear, and Randy showed me my room, and I got to see what he meant when he said we’d be kinda roommates.

I accompanied Randy as he picked supplies up at the warehouse, linens from the laundry, and he introduced me to everyone at the four dental clinics on base. And when the work day ended, he introduced me to everyone in the barracks. They actually threw a little impromptu Welcome to the Barracks party for me in the dayroom.

Don One and Don Two. Mike. There were two Mikes, but Mike Two was called The Horne. If you fuck with the bull, you get The Horne. Tommy. Johnny. Virg. Brother Al. Lightning Bob. Jesse. Roger. And, Randy.

We drank beer and I tried to remember everyone’s names. They told me where they were from, and stuff. I told them where I was from, and stuff. And Randy rambled on philosophically about anything and everything.

“So, what do you think about your new kinda roommate?” The Horne asked me, when Randy finally did stop talking long enough to take a breath.

“Yeah, well, I don’t know. He’s too…cosmic…for me.”

A stunned silence filled the room, and you could actually see it, the lightbulbs coming on over their heads.

“Yeah, cosmic!” Roger said softly, followed by an equally soft chuckle.

“W-w-wow!” Don One said. “W-w-we’ve been trying to figure him out for a year, and you fuckin’ nail it in five minutes!”

“It’s like he has radar or something.” Don Two said.

“He fuckin’ looks like Radar!” Johnny added.

So two nicknames were born that day. Randy and I became Radar and the Cosmic Kid.

* * * *

What can I say? Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then. You might think I’m overly critical of myself, and I probably am. I tend to see clearly now the things I couldn’t see at all back then, but I’ve skipped ahead, and I know how this chapter turned out.

And the things I was able to see, well, they were so obvious that probably anyone could’ve seen them.

My early adult life appears to be the perfect example of what can happen if you don’t have a plan. How I ended up faring as well as I did is probably one of the great mysteries of the modern world, but only if you don’t believe in God.

What I see looking back is a really smart guy who was seemingly addicted to doing stupid stuff. Add in loss, heartbreak, rue and regret. Gently mix in drug and alcohol abuse. Rinse. Repeat.

That’s the part that kind of chaps my ass now. I really wish I had chosen to do something differently sooner.

* * * *

So, I moved into the barracks and essentially disappeared for about a month while I painted and decorated my room. I hated the pale puke green color the interior of the barracks had been painted back in World War II. I picked up some cheap ass carpeting and folded it to fit the two parts of my room.

Then I went for a cross country night march in the rain and broke my ankle. Randy and I started spending a fair amount of time with each other while my ankle healed, and we talked a lots.

“Wow. You might have a lotta book smarts, but you really don’t know much about life, do you.” was the Cosmic Kid’s assessment of me. I couldn’t really argue much with that.

We hung out with Roger and I unknowingly became his student.

Maureen and I broke up, and my free fall into Hell began. I started smoking pot, and because it’s a gateway drug, the Doorway to Oblivion opened, and I walked through.

Hashish. Amphetamines. PCP. LSD. Cocaine. Psilocybin mushrooms. Codeine. Oxycodone. Peyote. Mescaline. Heroin.  I eventually added all of them to my resume.

I stopped learning things out of books.

* * * *

Some of my cousins did a family history, tracing back our ancestry to the 1700’s. I discovered that I come from a long line of suicidal alcoholics. The successful people in my family tree were the ones who kept drinking.

So, the question is, would I have wandered down the path I chose even if Maureen and I had stayed together? The answer is yes. I wasn’t a leader back then, I was a follower. And seeing how all the cool kids in the barracks were doing drugs, and I wanted to be cool, there’s no doubt in my mind that I would have ended up where I did.

The only other question is, would I have embraced the drug culture as fully as I did if I hadn’t gone completely rudderless in the prevailing currents of the time?

I don’t know the answer to that question. Maybe. Probably.

Yeah. That’s probably it.

* * * *

As exhausting as being around Randy could be, given his manic energy and cosmic consciousness, we ended up becoming good friends. We played Frisbee. We became storm chasers during tornado season. We played pool and fooseball in the dayroom. I helped Randy paint his room.

We drank and smoked and snorted and popped pills while we did all of the above.

Randy bought me a set of Mickey Mouse ears when he went home on vacation, and I wore them one day when I made my deliveries.

I went to dinner with Roger one evening and became a superstar the next day. I was found innocent of all charges when I was court-martialed, and became an even more legendary superstar.

“You have done well, my son.” Randy said. “Maybe you should go back to reading books…”

* * * *

“Dope will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no dope.” – Freewheelin’ Franklin

* * * *

The life of a marijuana aficionado revolves around weed. When it’s abundant, life is good. When it isn’t, there are no words to describe the indescribable hell that life becomes.

Back then, pot wasn’t legal anywhere, and you had to know a guy or twenty to make sure you could almost always get it. Thanks to Roger, I knew a lots of guys, and after he left, I became the guy everyone came to see when they couldn’t get what they needed.

I never became a dealer, but I became a great middle man.

There came a time when no one had any pot, and there was a great drought of weed, and a terrible famine lay all upon the land, and all the people languished.

“Man, you gotta do something!” Randy said to me. “I’m fucking dying here!”

“Let me make some calls.”

From Roger, I knew I had to be smarter than the cops, and you never knew who might be listening in on your conversations. So I invented a code word for weed with the guys I dealt with most. I would say I was looking for Bob, and had had they seen him lately?

It was perfect.

But the cupboard was bare at the home of every dealer I knew, and none of them had seen Bob in awhile. One of them said he didn’t know who Bob was anymore, and even I started panicking.

I decided to call a guy I had met once. I tended not to deal with guys I didn’t know very well, but desperate times require desperate actions.

This guy wasn’t in on my code.

“Bob? Who the fuck is Bob?”

“You know, weed.” I whispered into the phone.

“Oh! That Bob! I’ve got one ounce. Forty bucks. You get here first, you get it” Click.

I have no idea what an ounce of pot sells for now, but back then the going rate was twenty bucks, so what this guy was asking was ridiculous.

“I’ll split it with you.” Randy said, handing me a twenty.

I had a little trouble finding the guy’s place. I had only been there once, but he still had the bag when I got there. He was a Mexican guy named Felix or something. There was only one problem. The weed he wanted to sell me didn’t look like any bag of weed I’d ever seen before. It looked like dried beans sprouts or something. And the baggie wasn’t half full, it was totally full, and was as fat as a proverbial singing lady.

“Is this even weed?” I asked.

“If that shit doesn’t knock you on your ass, man, I’ll give you your fuckin’ money back.”

Drugs never come with a money back guarantee, so I gave the guy forty bucks and drove back to the barracks.

“What the fuck is this shit? This isn’t even dope! What is that? Bean sprouts?!? Give me my money back! Let’s go back to that beaner’s house and beat the shit out of him!!!”

“I have a better idea. Why don’t we try it first.”

“Well, it doesn’t taste bad…” Randy said as we smoked a bowl. “Actually, that tastes pretty good!” he decided. “Holy shit! What is this stuff? My head feels like it just floated away…” Randy said, and his voice sounded like it was floating away with his head. “Jesus, man! I think you better take me to the Emergency Room…”

I turned to look at Randy. He was pale as a winter morning, and drenched with enough sweat that he looked like he’d been standing outside during a monsoon. Swarms of beads of perspiration were literally running down his face in waves.

“I’m serious, Mark. I think I’m going to die. You gotta do something, man.”

“Where would you like to be buried?” I asked, then started laughing as if that was the funniest line ever spoken.

“Goddamn! That’s cold, man! I can’t believe you’re gonna just sit there and let me die! You’ve become a real bastard, man!”

“Hey, Cosmo, take a couple of deep breaths and get a grip. I smoked the same stuff you did, and I’m not dying. Suppose I take you to the ER. What am I gonna tell them? Well, doc, we were just sitting around the barracks, and we weren’t smoking pot or anything, when all of a sudden my buddy decided he was fuckin’ dying? I’m not taking you to the ER, try taking a cold shower or something. Maybe that’ll help.”

And, it did. Fifteen minutes later Randy returned, and he no longer looked like the world’s worst weather system.

“What’s that?” Randy asked, as I handed him a twenty dollar bill.

“You said you wanted your money back.”

“I changed my mind. Give me my half of the bean sprouts, bitch.”

I have no idea what the fuck was in that bag, but I know it wasn’t pot. And even if it was bag of baby pot plants, those suckers had to have been laced with something, but again, I have no idea what.

Whatever it was we smoked, it was enough to get to get us through the drought, and there was much rejoicing.

* * * *

Life can be unpredictable when you’re in the military, but one thing that you can count on is the people you’re stationed with are only temporary. The Old Timers started leaving. Roger left, then Don One, and Don Two, and Mike. The Horne, Virg and Lightning Bob were gone. The FNG’s came in to replace them.

Tommy, who had never been part of our group–he’d hung out with the Dons and Mike–started hanging out with me and Randy.

“I at least know what to expect from you two. Nothing but trouble. But it’s better than getting to know someone that just got here.”

Tommy was a good old boy from Texas, and that was his given name. Not Thomas or Tom. He was a big man, and he didn’t look anything like a Tommy.

Tommy and Randy actually became real good friends, I wasn’t at the barracks a whole lots by that time in my life. I had become a legendary party animal, and I had rounds to make in my community.

Randy was next up to depart, so Tommy decided we should take him out for dinner, seeing how we were the only three Old Timers left. We decided to take Randy to a place somewhere out in the middle of nowhere. And seeing how it was the last time we’d ever be together, Randy decided to pull a nothing but trouble prank on Tommy Boy.

I know it wasn’t in Lawton, it was an out of the way place that you had to know about to find, but just where it was I have no idea. It was a big place, one of those family style country restaurants that serve Mom’s Home Cooking kind of meals.

The huge restaurant was packed. The tables were filled with families, Mom and Dad, a lots of bunches of kids of every age. Gramps and Granny were sporadically dotted around the tables in the restaurant.

We had drinks. We had appetizers. We had a down home meal with all the fixin’s, and dessert, then Randy unleashed his surprise attack.

For those of you who didn’t grow up in the 70’s when drugs were cool and paraphernalia was even cooler, you could buy strawberry flavored rolling papers that were an electric pink color.

The only thing anyone ever smoked in a paper that color was pot, but Randy rolled a tobacco cigarette in an electric pink paper, a good old big one, and put it in his pocket.

“Man, that was a damn fine meal. Good food, good friends, cold beer, man, I can’t think of anything else that I need right now. Actually, there is one thing. The only thing that could make this better is a joint. Oh! I have one right here in my pocket, and I’m going to fire this bad boy up!”

He reached into his shirt pocket, and pulled out the electric pink cigarette. You could smoke cigarettes in restaurants back then. Tommy’s eyes just about jumped out of his skull.

“Randy! Jesus! What the fuck are doing, man!” Tommy whispered furiously at Randy. “What are trying to do, get us arrested?!?” as Randy put the monster pink cigarette to his lips. “Randy! Have you lost your fucking mind!! If you light that–”

And Randy lit it.

I wish you could have been there to see it, the range of emotions that raced across Tommy’s face as Randy lit that cigarette. Surprise. Shock. Stunned shock. Fear. Anger, rage and then relief, followed by,

“Oh, you sonuvabitch! I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you for that. Did you know about this, Radar? I’m gonna fuckin’ kill you, too!”

* * * *

Randy left in early October of 1976. Only Tommy and I, and Raoul remained of the original barracks bums.

We sent Randy off in the evening, he got off to a late start for a guy that was getting out of the fucking Army! But then, he wasn’t the most organized guy I’ve ever known.

“I’m gonna miss that cosmic motherfucker.” Tommy said.

* * * *

I wouldn’t have to. Randy and I stayed in contact for years. He called me all the time when I was still in the Army. He even came to visit me once, driving from California in an old pick up truck. He couldn’t believe Raoul and I were best friends.

He’d call me at work when I was a psych nurse at the MVAMC. He called me at home. My lovely supermodel wife would shake her head and leave the room when he called. Randy moved to Wichita, KS, got married, had a daughter.

He called me at home early one morning after I gotten off of a stretch of nights. This was probably in the mid-ninties. He said he was depressed. He had a loaded gun, and he was going to kill himself.

“Where’s your family?”

His daughter was in school. His wife was at work, but she’d be home at noon. I kept him on the phone for four hours until his wife came home and convinced him to go to the VA for help. He was assessed, and sent home.

I called to see how he was doing the next day.

“Oh, they told me I was bipolar or some bullshit like that, and they wanted me to start taking a bunch of fuckin’ meds, man. I told them to go fuck themselves, and they told me to go home.”

* * * *

He called several months later at work again to tell me he had six months to live. He had cancer. It was a Friday in April. I told my horrible boss what my Army buddy had just told me on the phone, and  I was driving to Wichita as soon as my shift ended, but I’d probably be at work on Monday.

“Go! Let me know if you need anything!”

Maybe she wasn’t all horrible…

,* * * *

Lea and I arrived in Wichita at 4:00 AM. We checked into a no-tell motel, got a couple hours of sleep, took a shower, then went to see my dying buddy. His wife answered the door.

“Hi. I’m Mark. I’m Randy’s Army buddy–”

“Mark!! Oh my God! I’m so glad to finally meet you! I’ve heard so much about you! I feel like I’ve known you all my life!” she said, giving me a bone crushing hug. She was a big woman. “What’re y’all doing in Wichita?” She saw my wife, so she stepped outside to hug her, too.

“I’m so sorry,” Lea said. “This must be so terrible for you. Randy called yesterday and told Mark he had six months to live. We jumped in the car and drove all night, but we’re here!”

“What? Six months?? There’s nothing wrong with Randy! He’s not going to die!”

“The hell he isn’t!” my wife said. “I’m going to fucking kill him myself!”

“He doesn’t have cancer?”

“Oh God no! The doctor told him he needed to quit smoking, or he’d die from cancer…  I can’t tell you how glad I am to see you. Thank God you’re here. Thank God!”

I explained to Lea that Randy was bipolar, and she decided not to kill Randy. She finally calmed down, but I don’t think she’s ever forgiven Randy for that.

We spent the day with Randy and his family. As evening fell, Randy and I went for a walk so I could explain Bipolar Disorder to my friend, and the treatments available. Randy actually listened to me without interrupting every five seconds, and he appeared to be thinking about what I’d said.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked. We were sitting on a picnic table in a park near his house.

“Yeah. What was it like fucking Raoul’s wife? Man, she was hot! Jesus, Rowen, you should see your face! You look just like Tommy did when I lit up that fake joint in the restaurant!” Randy said, laughing as if he’d just uttered the funniest line ever spoken.

I have no doubt that my face perfectly mimicked Tommy’s face that night. And for a moment, I thought I might kill Randy myself.

My affair with Nadina had happened just before Randy left. I know I didn’t tell him I was tapping Nadina while her husband was out of town. Did I?

“How did you know?” I decided to ask.

“Because you went over to her house every day after work that week Raoul was at Fort Sam, and you didn’t come back to the barracks until the sun was coming up! What else could you have been doing? Playing cards? You should have seen yourself, man, you looked like you were going to die, man! And every day you looked worse! By the end of the week, you could barely walk!”

“Who else knew?” I asked, when I could finally speak.

“Only me. I was kinda your roommate, remember? I knew when you were home and when you weren’t. I didn’t tell anyone, I promise! Not even The Horne, or Tommy. And I sure as hell didn’t tell Raoul!”

I was able to breathe again, and that was good, but I couldn’t stop shaking. I stared at the ground for the longest time, unable to even think.

“Hey, are you okay? Jesus, maybe I should take you to the ER. Or maybe you should take a cold shower…”

Yeah, maybe…

I eventually looked up, and found that I could smile.

“I gotta tell you something, you’ve got the biggest balls of anyone I’ve ever known. And the most guts. Remember when we met? You were that naive kid from Montana who didn’t know the difference between pot and acid.

“You were the FNG who walked halfway across Fort Sill on a broken ankle, man! We went tornado chasing in the dark because you said you’d never seen one in person! We goddamn near died at least twice, but you never let a little thing like almost dying to death stop you!

“You were a heartbroken trainwreck that tried to kill himself and couldn’t smile for a month, and next thing anyone knows, you’re dating strippers, smoking weed, dropping acid, snorting drugs and popping pills like candy, and getting drunker than everyone else in the barracks, combined!

“You were the ultimate party animal, man! No one could keep up with you! You beat the fucking Army at its own fucking game! You took those fuckin’ fucks in Headquarters on, and you won! Remember that!

“You didn’t have a clue who you were, but you became the leader of the barracks. You fucked with The Horne, and you put that fuckin’ loudmouth in his place! Man, I still can’t believe you did that!

“And to top it off, you make love to the most beautiful woman on the planet, and then become best friends with the guy whose marriage you destroyed, and you didn’t even blink! If that doesn’t take balls, I don’t know what does!

“And look at you now, all straightened out, registered nurse, married to a fucking supermodel! You aren’t human, man. You have to be some kind of a god!”

“Oh, I’m not all that straight.” I finally replied. That was a lots for me to take in. “I still drink, and smoke pot. I’m human, man. Just like you. Just like everybody else. I don’t see myself in the same light you do. It seems pretty dark to me now, looking back. I have no idea how I survived.”

“Dude, no one else does either! I’ll tell you something, I never knew if you’d be dead or alive when the morning came. None of us did! We were going to have a pool on how long you were going to live, but Roger wouldn’t let us.”

“I miss him. I loved that guy.”

“We all did, he was the best. But you became even better than him.”

* * * *

I never saw Randy again. We talked on the phone frequently. His daughter grew up and went to college. His wife left him, she told him she couldn’t take it anymore and had to get off the roller coaster.

After that, I don’t know…

A friend of mine who reads my posts once commented that I have lived a crazy life. Well, I did hang out with a lots of crazy people.

If you ever want to know what’s happening on a psych unit, ask a patient. Randy was never one of my patients, but he had a psychiatric disorder or two. He never missed a trick, and he never forgot anything. Randy’s assessment of me was spot on.

I’ve been blessed with a lots of really tremendous friends, even when I probably didn’t deserve the kind of friendship they offered.

Thank you Randy, for your honesty and candor, and your cosmic viewpoint. I credit Roger the most for helping me become the person I’ve become. His humility and common sense were qualities I’ve tried to incorporate into the man that I am.

Okay, I haven’t done so good with the humility part…

But there’s a part of Randy in me, too. That’s the part that looks at almost everything from a different point of view. The part that looks for other solutions than the accepted ones. The part that seeks the Truth. The part that keeps searching in the dark, even if it’s dangerous.

Hey, you can’t let a little thing like the threat of death stop you. You only live once, and we all have to die from something.

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.

A Brief Treatise on God

I am aware I said I would brief. I’m not yet sure if that’s possible given the subject matter at hand.

A lots of stuff has been written and said about God. I tend to doubt I have any new insights to add about God, given everything that’s already been said, either by God Himself, or all the people that have theorized about Him. And while those things are good to know, it’s the things that aren’t said I find most interesting.

I’ve tried coming up with a personality profile of God. As the Fabulous Roya says, “I do not judge, I make assessments.” I can’t presume to judge God when I lack full knowledge of Him or his motives, but He’s pretty clear about what His primary objective is.

By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.

For my money, that statement is more telling about God’s purpose than anything else He’s ever said. God swore an oath upon Himself that He would accomplish this.

Humans blithely swear oaths all the time without thinking about what they’re saying. I’m telling you the truth, I swear to God! I couldn’t tell you how many lies I’ve heard that were supported by that line.

An oath used to be something sacred. And binding. If an oath was sworn, it had to be fulfilled or there were dire consequences.

I have no idea what sort of consequences God would face if he fails to fulfill his oath. He swore upon Himself as there is no one higher than He. God would essentially have to impose a punishment upon himself if he fails, and that’s not likely. As near as I can tell, God has never lost at anything.

But let’s suppose God fails to achieve His prime objective. After all, He is dealing with humans, and if there’s one variable that can screw up any plan, it’s humans. In which case, I conclude the punishment falls not on God, but on us.

When you take a long look at this, God isn’t asking for much from us. Obedience and worship. But those two things, well, they’re pretty much everything. And those two things are choices we have to make.

Free will. God can’t make us do anything. If He could, I’m sure this world would be a far better place than it is now. But if everyone on this planet could perfectly perform those two actions, all the stupid shit would vanish in one day.

God just might be a little crazy. This is my assessment, so you don’t have to agree with me. But from my point of view, God has to be crazy for thinking humans are the perfect vessel to achieve His goals. According to God, we are his masterpiece.

And while we are capable of some pretty amazing stuff, humans have also done some pretty dark and heartless shit. And sadly, that aspect of human behavior appears to be getting worse, not better.

If I were God, I would’ve stopped with ants, or maybe bees. Their societies are far more harmonious and efficient than ours will probably ever be. Plus, bees can fly. And they make honey.

I have to believe God knows what He’s doing, and that is about the extent of my faith. When it comes to God, I have far more questions than I do answers. If you’re looking for a man of little faith, look no further. You’ve found him.

God is perceived to be All-knowing and All-powerful. Like most guys, I can’t wrap my mind around this. And I have a vivid imagination. I have trouble remembering my Social Security number anymore, and I’ve had it memorized since I was in Basic Training.

As for All-powerful, you’re talking to the wrong guy. Our cat seemingly has more control of my life than I do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. She appears to know what she’s doing.

From what I can tell, we view God in this manner because that’s how He described Himself, much like the Great and Powerful Oz, and we all know how that story turned out.

But, God can’t lie!

He can’t?

No! It’s a sin! It’s one of the Ten Commandments!!

Yeah. There’s no commandment that says you cannot lie. You can’t bear false witness against someone else, but you can make up all the crap you want about yourself. I like to think that the laws that apply to us, must in some way also apply to God. Those who uphold the Law cannot themselves rebel against it.

All of the main characters in the first books of the Bible lied about something. Abraham, lied. Isaac, lied. Rebekah, lied. Jacob, really lied. David, lied his ass off! David, the beloved of God. David, the man after God’s own heart.

It wasn’t until after David had schemed to have Bathsheba’s husband killed that God finally said, Now you’ve gone too far. And God’s punishment for David was severe.

My Christian friends say these examples of human frailty illustrate how God can work wonders with imperfect people, and they completely miss the point. God didn’t care that his chosen people lied because if He did, that’s not something He would’ve been able to ignore.

God never looks the other way. God never sweeps anything under the carpet. He doesn’t give you a mulligan. Every swing counts.

Look. God is our Heavenly Father, right? And parents lie to their children all the time. Remember a guy named Santa Claus? Why do parents perpetuate a story they know is false? Because the story is magical, and everyone should believe in something magical, at least once.

Name one thing more inherently magical than God. I’ll wait…

So, is God really All-knowing? Even if He isn’t, He knows far more than we’ll ever know. He knows enough, and then some.

Is God really All-powerful? He’s powerful enough to to kick all of our asses, with one hand tied behind His back. He’s more than powerful enough.

I seriously doubt that God is exactly what we think He is, but the reality of what He might be in no way diminishes the amount of respect and awe that I have for Him. And that’s the most compelling reason I have to want to be a prophet.

God is worthy.

But that creates somewhat of a dilemma for me. I’m not aware of any prophet that had to apply for the job. From what I can tell, God chose them, not the other way around.

My lovely supermodel wife thinks I am absolutely crazy for wanting to do this. If I could speak feline, I’d ask my cat for her opinion, but she would probably discourage this ambition of mine. Unless God agreed to lift her up on the couch whenever she wanted. And give her a lots of pizza.

Yeah, my cat loves pizza.

Well, I did imply I’d be brief, so I’ll stop here. But I have a lots more to say about God. So we’ll visit this neighborhood again.

Have a great day, and Merry Christmas.

And the Truth Shall Make You Free

I had my second Bowen Therapy session today with Diamond Dave. I really like and appreciate this guy. He kind of reminds me of me, and that’s not a bad thing.

He’s pleased with my progress, and he figures a couple more times of beating the hell out of me will probably do the trick. That’s seriously what some of the stuff he does feels like. But I’ve always felt energized after being therapeutically assaulted by Dave. In fact, I’m feeling so good I’m going to write something profound. Maybe…

It’s a combination of what he does, and says. Dave makes me think. He likes to theorize about how I may have injured my back and neck.

Pain is a strange thing. When you’re no longer in agony, the memory of it f-a-d-e-s. My first kidney stone felt like getting kicked in the back by an angry mule, like, a couple hundred times.

I thought I was going to die to death at the time. Now, I’m like, Yeah, that wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had. Even my more recent back and neck pain is fading from my memory quickly, and in some ways it was even more better worser than my kidney stone.

“These things don’t happen in a vacuum.” Diamond Dave said. There had to be a cause that produced the agony I was in.

In much the same fashion, there was a cause that made me start thinking I wanted to be a prophet, or in other terms, a man of God.

Then why don’t you become a pastor? Or a chaplain? Or a priest?

Yeah, that’s a reasonable question.

I hope this sounds like a reasonable response. Some of my friends in Arizona were pastors. All of them agreed that being a pastor was a calling. It’s not so much of a vocation as it is a compulsion.

Plus, it’s a huge pain in the ass. You actually meet fewer crazy people as a psych nurse. And psych nurses have powerful medications at their disposal. Pastors do not. I think I got the better end of that deal in terms of vocations.

I have never wanted to lead a church. I’m more interested in starting a new religion. I know that’s probably going to sound a little weird, but hear me out.

I was raised Catholic. I went to Mass every Sunday. I was an altar boy. And I believed the things I did about God and the Trinity and everything else because that’s what I was taught to believe. If I had been raised in the Jewish or Muslim faith, I would’ve believed that dogma instead.

After I graduated from high school, I essentially dropped out of church, and abandoned all pretense of following any organized religion. I started exploring and researching everything I could about God and his many incarnations, and the many religions he spawned.

There’s essentially only one reason why anyone believes whatever it is they believe about God. They perceive it to be the truth. I mean, why would you believe something if you knew it was false? Even atheists, who don’t believe in God at all, do so because think they’re right, and all the fools that worship any God are wrong.

Jews worship the One, True God. His name is Yahweh. So do Christians, except their One, True God is a Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but still One God, somehow, and Jesus Christ is the King and Savior of the world. Muslims also worship the One, True God, but his name is Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.

Three different beliefs. All of them are the One Truth.

To break it down even further, there are different factions in all of the world’s three main religions, and they all believe a different version of the Truth.

Eastern Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists and even Mormans are all Christians. Sunnis, Shiites and Sufis are all Muslims. There are Orthodox Jews, Hasidic Jews, Reformist Jews, Conservative Jews and even Messianic Jews.

These varied sects can’t even agree with each other about what the truth is in the larger scope of their unified religion. And I I haven’t even mentioned Hindus or Buddhists or Shintoists or any of the other thousands of religions floating around out there in the world.

Upon further review, I came to this ridiculous conclusion. Either all of them were the One, True Religion. Or none of them were.

I discussed this with Brian Leach, my friend and former lead pastor at Joe’s Church. He understood what I was trying to say.

“If anything can be the truth, nothing actually can be. There has to be a Ground Zero.”

Somewhere, out there, out where dreams come true…  There had to be One Original Truth. And that is what I have been seeking, like a dog chasing its tail.

* * * *

The real seeker of truth never seeks truth. On the contrary, he tries to clean himself of all that is untrue, inauthentic, insincere – and when his heart is ready, purified, the guest comes. You cannot find the guest, you cannot go after him. He comes to you; you just have to be prepared. You have to be in a right attitude.

* * * *

I’ve been seeking the Truth since I was in my early twenties. I’ve gone down every wrong road I could find, and every dead end. Twice. Just to make sure. The above paragraph probably sums up everything I’ve learned in roughly thirty years of being totally lost as well as anything I could say, but this is how I’d phrase it.

What is the truth? I can’t tell you what the truth is, but I can tell you what it isn’t.