Giving Up

Surely we know the deal by now: the longer people remain unvaccinated, the higher the likelihood that Covid will continue mutating. Sounds like Omicron may not be the last variant. Can’t we just trust the people who have been saying this all along? Why can’t we believe the ones who actually know something about disease progression and infectious diseases in general?

Nobody has all the answers, but many have no answers at all. They don’t know where to begin. They can’t even ask the right questions. They just tap into the lunacy and trust that, claiming it’s all about freedom and rights and that godforsaken nanny state. Meanwhile, our healthcare system crumbles, and school age children and youth continue missing out on what was once taken for granted—a normal school day.

Don’t blame the teachers in Chicago. Look in the mirror instead.

Off and Running… Somewhere

2022.

A number that would have sounded ridiculously futuristic back in, say, the early 70s. But it’s here. We’re 13 days in now, and it seems like we’re still traveling in the fast lane, either on a road to nowhere or on some sort of collision course.

We’re almost two years into a pandemic, the caseloads and hospitalizations currently the worst they’ve ever been, though maybe there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel. The earth seems to be telegraphing some not-so-subtle hints that it is ready to be done with us, ready to flick us off its skin like so many annoying mosquitos.

Donald Trump in all his sulking ugliness is still lurking, eternally sore over losing bigly to Sleepy Joe in 2020. The country seems to be lurching toward civil war again. There are still a lot of people sleeping with their loaded AR-15s and a stunted understanding of freedom, who still love Trump and prefer things provincial and simple and white.

On a brighter note, we are awaiting the full use of the James Webb Space Telescope, recently fully deployed and getting closer to its L2 position, orbiting a million miles from Earth. Who knows what it will reveal about the universe? $10 billion to look further backwards in time. It’d be nice if we could learn something helpful after spending all that money. Quite the achievement, though. If it works.

I know I am a cynical Eeyore, and there are few things less attractive and less interesting than a person who seems to derive pleasure from always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I look around and see and hear things that make no sense to me. That infuriate and sadden. That serve only to confirm that there are many people who are incapable of growth. Who prefer to shoot first and dispense with the questions altogether.

I see a world crying out for redemption and healing. So in the meantime, I’ll try to be more grateful for the occasional signs of intelligent life.

Whine Fest

So the latest “outrage” is over why the response to those stranded on I-95 a few days ago was not more robust…

Your outrage threshold is way too low. Sometimes you’re on your own, at the mercy of the elements and your own poor planning. You could have rolled with the punches and asked for help from the stranded motorists around you. You had a built-in community of people all in the same boat. Don’t resort to the blame game.

I’m sure local emergency response efforts ramped up as the situation became apparent, but it must have been a logistical nightmare, between staffing shortages and an event crews probably don’t spend a lot of time planning for.

And did you really need to be out and about in the middle of a snowstorm?

There’s a place for personal responsibility and preparation for exactly such an eventuality. Reel in your sense of “outrage.” The world doesn’t revolve around you, whoever you are.

Please Be Quiet

I’m wondering if it’s the same people complaining about their kids getting shortchanged out of all things school-related who are also among the sizeable legion of those who have put up a stink ALL ALONG THE WAY about everything Covid—masks, distancing, other precautions, the demons at CDC and NIH, the dangerous vaccines, not to mention doubting the virus’s very existence.

Sorry, folks. You can’t turn your noses up at everything you could have been doing and then shit on those who have actually been working the problem and trying to keep people safe this whole friggin’ time.

Well, you can, but you just end up looking and sounding like schmucks.

A Familiar Ring

January 1, 2022- wow. Just another day, though.

Really. It’s just the next day in a series of days that should find us contemplating our chances for continued viability. Gun violence everywhere, hardly a winter (so far) in places where winter traditionally is expected. A country full of stubborn “freedom fighters” who find vaccines a bridge too far.

As tragic as the Boulder area fire is, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. As freakish as it may have been, wild fires are indiscriminate destroyers of whatever is in their paths—whether pine forests or houses built in places where houses probably shouldn’t be built.

Of course, non-hurricane winds over 100 miles per hour should have us questioning how and why such speeds were attained. It seems our long-entrenched habits and wildly unrealistic, self-absorbed expectations are no match for the forces being unleashed around us. In fact, our habits and expectations and indifference have in no small part brought all this on.

600

As I recall my walk through a regional shopping mall a while back, it’s difficult not to think about Jesus’ words from Matthew 6, the passage one would hear as Lent begins, about storing up treasures on earth and in heaven. It is quite apparent that moths and rust are consuming the earthly inventory of stuff we thought we needed until we didn’t anymore.

          The empty storefronts and retail ghost towns are testament to an inherent short-sightedness and unbridled avarice, an embrace of inflated promises and immediate pleasures with little regard for the environment or prudent land use. A classic, timeless example of “getting while the getting is good.”

          It’s what will always happen when consumption, and being consumers, rules supreme. The economic engine in its current configuration has an unquenchable need for fuel, gobbling up resources with reckless abandon, rendering expendable people’s’ livelihoods, and rendering irrelevant certain ways of doing business. Some will say these are mere casualties of progress. Nonetheless it is ruthless and impersonal. And, sadly, what appears to matter most.

          So there will continue to be a need for what the church offers when it’s at its best: open doors, open hearts, open minds, and Christ-like compassion.

Merry Christmas.

Watershed

The Protestant Reformation ushered in change of seismic proportion. One could argue that it was change born of necessity, born in response to abusive power. It was change whose time had come. Martin Luther and the other reformers took exception to the status quo, dared to be faithful to interpretations of scripture that had somehow been lost or buried amidst the typically human tendency toward making it “all about me.”

What a rotten philosophy, mantra, whatever you want to call it. It is an infection that seeks to permeate every aspect of our lives. It is an appeal to our basest instincts. Advertisers and marketers have long known about and exploited it. People in high places are poisoned by it, their judgment clouded by it.

And, one could argue, it is responsible for our fear and loathing of change. If everything is always “about me,” then control is what we seek. And change that doesn’t suit is unwelcome.

Faith, in contrast, gives up control. It resets our bearings, helps us see and feel differently, and act on behalf of others. Change isn’t necessarily any easier, just less threatening.

Beware Mush Brain

I realize there’s no going back to the days before the tech explosion, and I have no desire to do that. But there is something about gadget saturation that’s not sitting well with me. I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for a long time, and the best I can come up with is that there’s a downside to the whole concept of “virtual.”

          The brilliant designers and marketers of the world have succeeded in flooding the marketplace with devices we didn’t know we needed and which we now apparently can no longer live without.

          Frankly, I can’t imagine not carrying a phone in my pocket, simply for the convenience and connectivity it offers. And there is something about the elegance and workmanship and functionality of my iPad that would make it difficult to give up. There is a certain seduction to it all.

          Still, I can’t shake the feeling that all this gadgetry is creating a sort of shadow world that distracts and dulls and leads to disengagement and coldness.

I imagine that any cord-cutters and those who have never owned a cell phone or a computer who have stumbled upon this blog post are feeling validated. This isn’t my intent. There is certainly a place for the wondrous capabilities at our disposal– as we may have realized over the last two years or so.

It’s just that there’s also a place for setting boundaries and recognizing that dependence on our gadgets is its own sort of prison. And the world it draws us into is not always as advertised. It’s described as “virtual” for a reason.

Rest For Our Hearts

          No doubt, many of us hold our religious beliefs close to our heart. We all harbor a certain self-righteousness- we know what we believe and no one can tell us otherwise. Even if we believe that there is no God.

          In just about every religion, there is some sort of directive or at least desire to make converts. Jesus at one point sends his disciples out with the command to spread the gospel, to evangelize, but also to shake the dust off their feet and move on if people didn’t welcome them.

          There is no mention that I am aware of that directs these messengers to make converts at any cost and by any means including coercion, threats, intimidation, and heartless violence. What kind of convert can one expect to garner by employing such means? What kind of god rewards such behavior? Or is even worth worshiping?

          One could say Jesus was a martyr, too. He died for his faith, out of conviction, obedient to the end. He, too, wielded a sword, though it took the form of words that cut like a knife, and actions that simultaneously enraged some and brought many others to faith.

          Jesus was motivated by love. He embodied love. One would be hard pressed to say the same about acts of terrorism. Those who would make themselves judge, jury, and executioner are not motivated by love, but by something more primal, less evolved, and much less useful.

          As we soon arrive at Christmas, we may be reminded of the words from Isaiah 9: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace“- an Old Testament text that Christians have appropriated as being descriptive of Jesus, who wouldn’t come along for another 600 years or so.

          In any event, may the coming season both alert us to Jesus’ coming and his presence among us, as we yearn and search for that peace that surpasses all understanding.

Misled

Kudos to the European Space Agency and their ten-year effort at catching up with a heavenly body hurtling through space at around forty thousand mph, landing a washing machine-sized laboratory on it, and beaming back high resolution pictures so all of us can at some level share the experience.

            This happened 7 years ago, and other countries and agencies have accomplished similar things since. Still, this whole enterprise is mind-boggling. It is what scientists do, though- they accept monumental challenges, take what looks like a pipe dream and an impossibility and turn it into reality. They figure things out– often enough by trial and error– and learn from their mistakes. They utilize formulas and equations and measurements. They do the math, finding confirmation that they can trust these things.

I think this is what makes the response to all things Covid so disheartening and just plain frustrating. People with no clue are deciding the CDC folks and public health officials are off their rocker, that they’re feeding the country a crock. They instead believe others who claim that rights have been violated. That this whole assault on our “normal” lives is the fast track to a “nanny state,” a freedom issue, rather than a time to trust the people whose life’s work is solving problems, taming seemingly insurmountable challenges, and learning things that improve and save lives.

This will be among the things that, if and when we have the chance to look back at what worked and what didn’t, heads will shake at the thought of how and why people could be so self-absorbed, and so ignorant– mind-boggling for a different reason.