Thoughts (again)

I can’t take credit for this, but I heard someone say God is not a cosmic vending machine when it comes to thoughts and prayers.

It’s true.

God will always answer your prayers. It might not be what you want, might not be obvious, but here’s a thought. If you’re mad because you didn’t get the thing you prayed for, then maybe your focus wasn’t on God to begin with. It was on that thing.

Thoughts and prayers are good if they are in line with God. If you’re doing the thoughts and prayers thing because that’s what everyone does in a given situation, then you could be a Pharisee.

If you’re genuine in what you’re thinking and praying about, then cool. That leads to another thing, If you’re in a position to do something about whatever you’re thinking and praying about – and here’s the key – if that doing is in line with God’s will, then you need to be doing some work.

Doesn’t matter what it is.

Doesn’t matter what the argument du jour is.

Doesn’t matter what’s happened.

We have free will, but it’s not our place to impose our will upon God. Our place is to have the will to follow the things He has for us. And it was never predicted to be an easy thing to do, either. If it were easy, then something’s not right.

God is not a cosmic vending machine. Don’t treat Him like one.

There’s an old saying about God helping those that help themselves. I’ve always interpreted that to refer to a walk in faith. Others use a different meterstick. I won’t go into those differences. If you want to start an argument with people, on social media for example, inquire about those differences. I’m not interested in that kind of arguing. Not when there’s people in this world that need love more than they need arguing. ‘Love thy neighbor,’ it’s said.

Do you love your neighbor?

I wouldn’t presume to think that it’s me with the ability to argue. I’m not important enough in this world to make those with supposed power to listen to me. In fact, I doubt that those in power would agree with me, because if they’re agreeing with me then that means they haven’t bothered to find a way to agree with each other.

Sad thought, isn’t it? And some use the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers.’ I have to wonder how many have forked tongues shaping the words.

I don’t want that kind of influence anyway. It’s sad that I feel I need to say these things that should be evident anyway. I despair that I have to remind people about the more important things – and yes, for that matter, I have to be reminded too when I’m down.

I love you all. Be kind to each other, ok?

RIP Michael Churchill

My sensitivity to the Spirit has not diminished with age. I can be irritable, grumpy, rough-edged and blunt. I know I’ll never be a St. Theresa or any of the number of those with phenomenal forbearance.

I wouldn’t try to be one of those, just to mold into something useless.

Now, the question is ‘useless to who?’

I would say instead, ‘useless to Who?’ No one is useless to the Creator. We just don’t know what we can be used for.

I’m currently sitting in the fellowship hall of a country church I haven’t visited before. There’s coffee and cookies and well, I like cookies. I came tonight to pay respects to an old friend that fought cancer, and his funeral is tomorrow. This is his church.

I don’t really attend ‘church’ in a building per se, as I’ve gotten older. I look around at the woods, the grass, the sky, the weather and I thank the Creator Himself for it. The parts of my mind that enjoys the scientific method and logical observation note the things in nature that make up this world, the various observable facts, and the things that remain a mystery.

That part rejoices, along with the other part that watches for the Spirit’s presence. All parts agree.

The moment I crossed the threshold of this church, I felt that Presence. I knew It was here as I drove by the setting sun and saw the illumination of the building.

Firefighters are here, turned out in dress uniforms to honor their comrade, and Michael’s turnout coat and helmet is at his casket. Family and friends are here, some sad and showing it and some not.

The Presence is also here, guarding a good man before we commit his body back to the earth from where it came. I have no doubt that at the hour of his death and escape from the ravages of that demon cancer, he heard the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enjoy thou into the glory of your Lord.”

No doubts.

Sadness? Yes, there’s sadness. But there’s a greater joy.

I’m glad my old friend is no longer suffering. Before he left us, I held his hand and whispered in his ear that I loved him and that I wanted him to save a place for me.

We’ll meet again, one day. On that day my sensitivity to the Spirit will be in full force.

Godspeed, old friend.

More thoughts

Sigh.

I’m here again with another thought. Actually, more thoughts.

So, I got blocked today, apparently for asking a simple question. Again, I’m not going to make a direct reference to the person, same as the one from the last Facebook post and frankly I don’t care now. If that person doesn’t like it, then I am genuinely sorry.

I’m venting here.

So I was catching up with my friends on Facebook, and I come across a post congratulating Sweden for getting the first gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. That made me smile, since I consider Sweden to be a pretty competent participant in either version of the Olympics. Let’s be honest – if you’re on any of the Olympics-level teams, you’re something special. I admit to some confusion about the viewing schedules on TV, and wish I could see the judo and taekwondo competitions more often, but that’s beside the point.

My smile was gone with the next sentence that said “MAGA supporters can suck it.” MAGA presumably refers to ‘Make America Great Again,’ which is a catchphrase that then-candidate Donald Trump used in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Still uses, I should say. It worked then to reach those feeling left out.

My response was that this had started out as a good congratulatory note, and it was. I went on to call this person out – gently – and ask why did politics have to be put in it? Plus, I didn’t think that had bearing to the Olympics, and said that. I’m sure the athletes have their opinions, too, but when they get out on the field, or slopes or ice or whatever, they’re thinking of the competition, the stress of competing at that level, and what they need to do. I really don’t think they have time for whatever their country’s politics are.

That’s why I like the Olympics, because politics presumably aren’t necessary, and world-class athletes can compete. I get so tired of political grandstanding, arguing, sniping, and everything about it. Religion, too, as you probably remember from my post the other way. Politics, from my point of view, is just another form of power and influence that corrupts, and I dimly remember that the Founding Fathers had that same worry as they hammered out the Articles of Federation and later the Constitution.

So, for my question, I got blocked. My question, that failed to line up with this person’s views, wasn’t responded to with an answer other than a peremptory blocking. I won’t go so far as to say ‘dictatorial,’ since that is a privilege that all of us with Facebook pages have, but it brings up a troubling thought. This thought is not in specific reference, but it’s a trend I’ve observed in more people than I want to admit.

If one slashes away any differing points of view for the sake of a question, then what’s left? If there’s only one point of view allowed, then how can one be accepting of others?

I don’t go into my specific political choices – my family doesn’t alway know my thinking on this – but I’m generally centrist-right. I’m not registered Democrat or Republican, and if I had my say about it, I wouldn’t ever be. However, in order to vote in primaries, I have to temporarily pick one. When I do that, I get crap in my mailbox I’d rather not.

I wasn’t pleased with the selection that finally shook out in 2016. With the things coming to light and things left to come to light about supposed meddling
by technical, political, and other means by foreign agents, I am concerned about a redirection of will. A political judo throw, if you will. I don’t know how many of those reading this have been on the mat, but if your ukemi ability sucks, you ain’t going to feel real good as that mat rises up to meet you.

Out of breath? Achy? Unable to get up quickly and continue sparring? Considering how much arguing and backbiting there is (watch C-SPAN if you don’t believe me) after that judo throw of the elections, I don’t blame you. Use jiu-jitsu as the example if you want to, or any of the grappling systems.

Ever notice that the gun debate has gotten a little more quiet, now that there’s politics to argue about? After that politician was nearly killed on the field playing ball, there was an outcry and support for him, but now? Back to business as usual, and he’s still having some issues. It was a Bernie supporter that shot him, too. There’s people that say he should have shot straighter.

Or the sexual assault on college campuses thing there was a lot of talk about recently? Fraternities doing a pig roast, which I’m not going to define here. The stuff about rape – or the stuff about the false accusations.

What about the arguments about police or protestors? Want to touch off a real big one. Stand up on one side or the other. I well remember being called a slaver by someone on Facebook simply for having worked in the prison system. “Prison-industrial slaver,” it was. Refuses to ride along with cops to see what it’s like to be a cop. Protestors – sure, protest injustice if it exists, but the moment stuff starts burning, gets broken up by a mob, or someone get hurt by the mob, you’re no longer protestors. If the cops give a lawful order like “go this way, but not here, then take a right up to Walmart and disperse from there,” then do it. Somebody throws a brick or a Molotov cocktail at the cops, well, so much for that.

But no, there has to be politics.

I’d never ever want to be President. I’d tell the long term Senators and Representives that they need to quit using twenty-five words where seven would do.

I don’t want to be in politics, period. If it’s disappointment in our “leaders,” who either contradict themselves or find carefully measured but gleeful delight in finding contradiction, it’s the people who vote them in.

Take your pick of the side. If it’s a “hard-whatever,” then there’s someone else that’s got to take it upon themselves to respond. Snippily, snottily, with various curses and insinuations that make me wonder if they’d talk to their mother that way.

But no. Ask a question about why is politics getting put in a post about something that’s supposed to be above politics and its strife, and get blocked. I see that politics is more important than answering a simple question given without accusatory tones at all.

I know the Founding Fathers got pretty rough, but I really do think they’d be disappointed.

Personal thoughts

Thoughts

“Fictitious Sky Man.”

This phrase has been on my mind since a Facebook friend went on what seems to be a semi-regular rant about spiritual belief. This particular diatribe was concerning the players/fans/whatever following a higher power to their team or whatever, and asking why they thank the fictitious sky man for their wins?

And yes, that person will probably know exactly who I am referring to – the post was deleted later, but still. I’m not making any direct references, because this post is a general observation.

It still bothers me.

As for the players, the genuine ones with faith anyway, they probably grew up being told that they have a talent for whatever ability they show on the field. Or diamond, or rink, or whatever their sport is played on. The genuine ones with faith give the glory they receive for those talent to whom they feel gave it to them instead of keeping it for themselves.

The “fictitious sky man.”

Now, this is a matter of belief. Some have it, some don’t. Nowadays, it has become common to ridicule those of belief, if someone else doesn’t believe. It could be belief in anything.

If you don’t believe in something, make fun of it. If you don’t like something, make fun of it. If you hate something, make fun of it.

Someone’s belief in a sports team.

Their favorite brand of car or truck.

What they like to eat.

The genre of books, movies or music they like.

Their religious preferences or their lack thereof.

Whatever it might be. Tear it down and dismiss it as quaint or stupid. It seems there’s a lot of “fictitious sky man” going on.

For that matter, there of those that profess to believe that tear down those that don’t. For that particular instance, I say “love your fellow man.” That doesn’t mean run them over or let yourself get run over. And as a note, the term “man” isn’t used in a sexist way – it’s used in general, as in “human.”

So, yeah, the term “fictitious sky man” bothers me. It’s most commonly used as a derision of Christ, and that derision is therefore placed squarely on anyone who is a Christian – whatever denomination or branch. Or, whoever places his or her belief in Christ no matter the role that person plays in the Church. And whoever made the comment about not secure in beliefs and scrolling by, reminded me of others talking about turning a blind eye to the things that need fixing in the world. Just ignore it.

I can’t.

I’m not a minister. I’m not a teacher of Christian theology. I don’t have a substantive role in the general body, and I haven’t received a call for any of that. I’m still a Christian, baptized in a little Pentecostal church – that was a personal matter. And I do mean little, too. The back yard was bigger than the building.

I don’t make fun of others’ beliefs or lack thereof. I’ve done it in my younger days, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t done it in a long time. I’ve reached a point in my life that doing that is just not fun and frankly I feel like it reflects badly on me and whoever I happen to represent. Or whatever I happen to represent. I’m not a CEO of a company for instance. Unless you count Steele Writing Enterprises, but that’s my website that I haven’t felt well enough to contribute to lately. Frankly, the feelings roiling around inside me writing this is bad enough.

So yeah – I feel it’s pretty immature to throw around “fictitious sky man.” Perfectly up to someone to choose not to believe. That’s a personal choice, just like mine for baptism. Still, I have to ask – why has it become acceptable to ridicule practice of faith?

And don’t get me started on those people that think killing others for what they think is their spiritual right is what they should do.

In a way, it’s disrespectful. Respect is another term that feels like its definition has fallen by the wayside. Don’t agree with my way of thinking, then you’re disrespecting me and must be attacked.

Different forms of attack in today’s world. Physical, of course. I hope never ever to see that, but of course it happens. Attack by words? Most prevalent, especially on Facebook.

“But that’s my freedom of speech!”

True, it is. I’ve also noticed that it’s a lot easier to type something out on a keyboard, just like I’m doing now, without fear of an immediate physical reaction. In other words, I see a lot of stuff online that people wouldn’t say to another person standing in punching range. Sort of like the kids that wait until they have a good head start before they turn around and yell “And your mama speaks Wookiee!”

It still isn’t a good practice.

I’d ask that whoever reads this – if you don’t hold the same beliefs I or others do, can you tone down the “fictitious sky man” bit, at least? I have to ask, does it raise your stature to do it, and if so, stature in whose eyes?

Now, I’m waiting to see who’s going to bring up the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, and wants to fight that fight all over again. As for those two examples, that’s long in the past and not my circus or monkeys. I don’t have any guilt from that – because I wasn’t in that decision making process. So, leave those two alone.

In fact, I’m waiting to see who’s going to bring up what.

These are my early morning thoughts – no editing, no weighing of points, no fakeness. Just a flow of thinking, after a night of tossing and turning. That’s how I feel about this.

Be kind to each other, okay?