Purpose




Thoughts of a messed up Christian saved by God's grace





Saturday, February 27, 2021

February thoughts

  Here I am blogging again. What is this world coming to? I have some free time, so I decided to write a little, and see where my mind takes me.

 It actually isn't a very positive post. I'll try to do better next time

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Conspiracy theories

    I am becoming increasingly bothered by how many Christians are buying into conspiracy theories. They seem to be coming from the Trump camp, and there are some really outrageous ones out there. Jeffrey Epstein is alive and has pictures of Biden and his son with little kids......Hillary is dead and has a double, Michelle Obama is really a man.....and there are others that are even more far out than those. A few years ago, I met a younger guy for supper to chat about politics. He talked a lot about a conspiracy guy called Q - of course my friend didn't consider him that. I cannot remember everything he said in regards to Q, but I do remember some of it: The reason Trump got in was to head up a massive investigation into a so-called Deep State. They were going to be handing out indictments for the Clintons, Obamas, and more. Obviously that never happened, and I doubt much - if any - of Q's predictions came true.

 Now there is a guy named Lin Wood who is coming up with some far out stuff...such as the Epstein theory, and even more far out stuff.

  There is guy who reads my blog some who I have been emailing back and forth some recently. He said this in his last email, and I think he hit the nail on the head. I had never thought of it this way, but it makes sense:

Conspiracy theories scare me. I get the appeal of them. They're comforting to people who feel like they have no control and no power. There's something nice about blaming all the problems of the world on one person or a small group of people, when the reality is always more complicated. The worst part of conspiracy theories is you can't disprove them. Everything becomes evidence for the conspiracy. The neo-Nazi guy I knew was a conspiracy theorist if that says anything. It's one of the main things people use to fill a hole that faith in God should fill. A lot of conspiracies are ridiculous, but they also bring meaning into people's lives. That's the problem there. It's really hard to argue the moon landing really happened when someone's structured their entire sense of self around the moon landing being a hoax.

 A family member sent me a video (link here if someone wants to check it out: The plan to save the world), and she told me to watch it with an open mind. My best friend, who I consider more intelligent than me watched it first. This is part of his reply: "The whole basis of the film is anti-biblical and a perfect propaganda piece for the anti-Christ to arise as the "good" leader who will save us all from the bad guys. The Bible doesn't teach that most people are good and if we could just get rid of the few bad ones we will be free. The Bible teaches that we are all hopelessly bad and only God can save us."

 I watched about 5 minutes of the 13 minute video, and couldn't handle any more of it. I am honestly not saying this to be rude or to come off as some perfect person, but I am truly worried about family and friends who are so into Trump that they are buying into these conspiracy stuff. Is it possible that even the most conservative and mature Christians can be deceived and sucked into things that are not any good?

  And I am not saying that all Trump supporters are into the conspiracy stuff, or that all Trump supporters are the same.




Trump, morals, me, and all things gay

 Speaking of same-sex attractions and me....one battle I have had the last 4 years is how evangelical Trump supporters either swept Trump's moral issues under the rug, or outright defended them. 

  Morals have always mattered to the religious right, and they have used moral failings against a lot of politicians in the past.

  To recap:

1) Trump cheated on at least 2 of his wives and bragged about it. He even said he had done nothing he needed to repent of.

2) He had strip clubs in his casinos

3) He bragged about grabbing women by (insert vulgar term), which is sexual assault 

4) The woman he cheated with on his last wife was in lesbian porn.

  Any of these would have been an issue if he had run as a Democrat. Instead, he was compared to David, Sampson, and others. If you pointed his moral failures out, you were the bad guy, even though the same people would have taken major issue if he was still a Democrat. We were told "we are not electing a pastor." 

  As I have said before, a friend of mine has 2 atheist friends who were disgusted by Christians so eagerly supporting and defending Trump. At least one of them made the statement "I don't want to ever hear a Christian talk about morals again." And quite honestly, I don't want to hear Trump supporters criticize gay people or talk about homosexuality again. A preacher I was friends with on Facebook posted a rant about gay people and what an abomination they are....yet he was an over the top Trump supporter. I commented and said something to the effect that yet he had no problem with Trump's adultery and other moral failings.

  And this isn't about people who voted for Trump and even think he was an OK president. It is the ones on social media defending every single thing about him, attacking anyone who dares criticize him or hold him to the same standards we have held other ones to, while trying to shut up anyone who does speak up. 

  To be honest, my struggles have gotten worse these last 4 years. It may sound crazy, and no one may understand it....but as I have watched Christian after Christian either defend Trump's moral failings or outright ignore them, and go after anyone who dared point them out.....it just seemed like a double standard. I know what kind of reaction I would get if I decided to openly live the gay lifestyle. The same people overlooking or defending Trump would be horrified. Prior to the 2016 election, I had commented about some of this stuff and questioned why so many Christians were suddenly OK with adultery. A lady from my church who barely knows me commented "With your past, I am surprised you would have a problem with it." #1 she evidently knows I am attracted to other guys, but that is all she knows - she doesn't go to church enough to know me. #2 my issue wasn't as much with Trump's adultery as it was with Christians defending and being OK with what they never were before.

  This would horrify anyone from my family or church, but I have become more pro-gay over the last 4 years. I cannot imagine me ever believing it isn't sin to engage in sex with the same gender, but I have always felt a bit antagonistic - I guess would be the right word - towards  gay people in general, which may sound weird since I am SSA or gay, whichever term one would use for me. It is just something the conservative church has so demonized as the worst sin, that I guess it influenced me and even caused self hatred because that is me.

 But I am pretty much OK with gay marriage at this point. If people can divorce and remarry and do all that Trump has done and still have the adulation of so many Christians, then is gay marriage any worse? My main issue with gay marriage all along was the fear of what has happened - forcing Christians to go against their beliefs. I can totally understand a gay couple wanting to marry and have an official joining of their lives.

 Maybe it is because I personally struggle with the issue myself, but I honestly believe any Christian who has defended Trump's abysmal moral issues and tried to shut up criticisms of it, and went after anyone who dared bring it up - those people have no business condemning gay people.

 I'll admit after what I have seen and experienced since 2016, I am a lot more tempted to ditch the church and Christianity and just go gay. It is such a tough and lonely thing to deal with. This may sound pathetic, but I so badly wish I could have a relationship and someone to love......but I am not attracted to women, and it is sin to have that with a man.

 And while I struggle alone, my family and others rail against me for daring to criticize their guy.

 And really, after so fully supporting Trump and defending everything about him, how could they rightly stand against voting for a gay conservative candidate..which is likely to happen some day.


Facebook experiment

  A lot of the frustration and crap I have dealt with has come from social media, and pretty much exclusively Facebook. There is still so much conspiracy stuff, and so many posts about Trump - even people insisting he will still be president for 4 more years.

 Something happened a few weeks ago.....it hurt, and I won't say what it was on here, but I decided to take a little break from Facebook.

First, I went through the 704 Facebook friends and deleted 180 who never interact with me. Then I started using the option to snooze people for 30 days on everyone - well, except my best friend and authors I follow and am friends with. I am also going to try to refrain from posting for the same length of time. There are groups I am in and pages that I follow that I want to keep up with. 

 I also use Facebook for a lot of book review related things. I am currently on two launch teams for new books - launch teams are more than reviewing books. They often have things to share on social media to help spread the word about the book, etc.....and there is always a Facebook group to keep up with.

  After a few weeks of not doing much, I am back on posting fairly regularly.




Is it a cult?

   There is a fairly large faction of Trump supporters who truly do seem to act like they are in a cult. There are a couple of things that have bothered me this week - well, one has been longer than a week.

   It is not an exaggeration or hyperbole to say I have never seen such over the top adulation and defense of a politician by Christians and conservatives. Sure, we like Regan, and I consider him to be the best president of my lifetime - of course Trump's most loyal supporters claim Trump is better......but even Regan didn't get what Trump has gotten, and still gets.

  Josh Mandel
     
Josh Mandel is a 43 year old Republican, former military who ran for Senate in Ohio a few years ago and lost. He is running again, and I started following him ages ago, but his recent posts bother me. A lot. He rarely - if ever - posts anything about his platform, policies, and what he personally wants to do if he wins. He constantly - and I do mean constantly - posts about advancing Trump's policies, talks about his support for Trump, etc. Even if Trump was still president, it seems ludicrous to run on a president instead of your own policies. 

  These posts I took screen shots were all in just a few days. His page is filled with posts like this:







   I commented a few times saying he needs to drop the Trump stuff and talk about his own platform and policies, and finally just quit following him yesterday. No matter how much a person likes Trump, it should bother them that he can't come up with any of his own ideas. Maybe that is why he lost last time. 

  And Trump is NOT the leader of the Republican Party.

The statute
   I truly haven't considered CPAC very conservative for some time, but they did something over the top this year. They had a 6 foot tall golden (I doubt real gold) statue of Trump. To be honest, as much as I joke about people worshiping him and he being the Republican Messiah, this took me aback. Yeah, we have monuments to some great presidents, but those were made long after those men died....and they truly did great things...but to put a statue up 4 months after his defeat at a convention he was speaking at.....yeah, that does truly enforce the idea that he has become more than he should be to many Republicans.

  I did a post about it on Facebook with a verse from Daniel where they were commanded to bow to the golden statue of Nebuchednezzer when the music played - hey, I can't help stirring the pot occasionally. :)  After I posted that, I saw a post by my favorite satire page, The Babylon Bee: Three Republicans Thrown Into Fiery Furnace For Not Bowing Down To Trump Statue. I guess great minds do think alike. :)

 And are they truly wanting him to run again in 2024?



Work

  (Yeah, I talked about my job last time..but it never gets better)

  My job truly does drive me crazy any more. I dread work days, and sleep poorly nights before work. I love my days off even more, and hate even more when asked to go in on my days off..I feel guilty for saying no, yet have no desire to go in when I am off.

 I am so weary of people getting mad and giving me a hard time for trying to do my job. I have been cursed at, told to go to hell, called a "King James donkey hole"...only the guy actually said the word. Another man called me "the big fat bald guy at the front desk."

 Just this week:
1) There is allowed one visitor at a time, multiple during the 1 pm-6 pm visiting hours, with no waiting inside for the other people visiting the same patient. A lady insisted she had been allowed to sit outside the patient room while her aunt was visiting because her aunt was hard of hearing the day before (my day off). I called the nurse - I cannot make those kind of decisions, and the nurse said no. The lady kept kicking up a fuss, so my coworker who was helping out a bit called a supervisor and eventually got permission as I kept screening other visitors,

2) Last night, a young guy walked in with no mask and didn't stop. I tried to stop him and he kept walking, so a coworker caught him. He cursed me out, gave me a hard time about the mask - said he didn't wear one the day before - refused to say where he was going and claimed his "pap" was dying, so I just let him go. 

3) I have to know where people are going. If anyone goes to a patient room when they are not supposed to, or when there is someone else there already, I am going to hear about it. Sometimes I can tell if they have paper work and head for outpatient testing, and just by asking "can I help you with anything", a lot of people will say where they are going. But others, I have to actually come out and try to politely ask where they are headed, and explain why I need to know. 

 So this lady walked by with her elderly mother long before visiting hours headed towards the corrider where the patient rooms are. I walked over and asked if I could help them, and got a snappy "no thanks". So I asked where they were headed, and she came back with "Do you really need to know all of my business?!" 

 I replied that I kind of had to know and started to explain, but she shut me down and said she didn't want to know. I tried a few more times, and finally got the explanation out. She shot off more comments and ended with they were going to the coffee shop, but she'd just forget it and get her mother's bloodwork.

 She did come by later and apologize, but that rarely happens.

   Another man gave me a hard time because the seating area in the lobby is closed off, and daily I get attitude from people for not being allowed to wait in the hospital.

 The only plus is since November, it was only 2 hours of visiting, and it had to be the same visitor every single time......but this week started 5 hours of visiting, and family can rotate those 5 hours.

 It truly has given me a better understanding when I am on the other side of things. I despise the masks, but I don't give anyone a hard time about it. I just get in and out of stores as fast as I can and spend a lot of time at home....where I can go mask-less.


 





Saturday, January 30, 2021

Life lately


 2020 was a bad year for me for blogging. I find doing it somewhat therapeutic, and did start several that I never finished. I think once I got it out of my system, that was it. I am going to try to do better this year, not because I think people are dying to read what I write, but because I do normally enjoy it, and it does help to do it.

   This will be one of those multiple topics posts. I separate them to make the post not seem so daunting, and for anyone who does read it can skip around if they want. 

  So without further ado, here is what is on my mind lately - well, at least some of it. :)


Covid

   The Covid virus has been running rampant for almost a year now, and I still find myself wondering if all the restrictions and actions have been necessary. I was laid off from the day after Easter thru party of June for 3 months because they shut down visiting at the hospital, which made my position pretty much unnecessary. Thankfully with the extra unemployment I got, I didn't have any financial problems, and paid my car off 2 years early with the extra and the stimulus check. Granted, my payment was only $135 a month, but I owed $2800 in March, and paid that off in June. It was a great feeling. Then I bought an electric piano.

 But if Walmart could be open, then why not restaurants...at least with limited seating? The very day Ohio reopened restaurants, two of my nieces and I ate in one. I have eaten out a lot since then. I live about 25 minutes from Salem, OH, and usually make a trip there every week to buy groceries. Almost every time I go, I eat out...and I eat where I can eat inside. There are still a few restaurants like Arby's and Wendy's that are only take out, and I avoid them. I don't want to eat in my car.



Covid and me

  On October 9, I was feeling really hot towards the end of my work day. Since I have a thermometer I use for visitors, I took my temp and it was 100.4. 100.3 is the highest you can be and visit a patient. On my way home, I started coughing. I called the employee health nurse who scheduled me for a Covid test the next day. They did a rapid test, and I was not at all surprised to find out the next day that I tested positive.

  I ran a variety of symptoms: fatigue, short of breath, fever, cough, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weird foggy feeling...but no loss of taste or smell, which is common. On day 8 of my quarantine, my little sister, who had had the virus,  stopped off with some food. She thought my breathing was bad, so I came to the ER at the hospital I work at. They evaluated me, and put me on a steroid. They didn't admit me, but said if my oxygen levels dropped any more, they would admit me. Two days later, they were down to 82. I packed clothes, my laptop, some books, and my phone charger and went to the ER again.

  They admitted me for 5 days, and I was on oxygen for a couple of those days, and on a steroid...which jacked my sugar up to the 500's. I was very impressed with the care I had.

  I went in on a Friday, and they released me on Tuesday. A doctor or nurse had made an appointment with my regular doctor for the following Monday. He checked me out, and had me stay off work another week because my breathing was still not too great.

 The breathing issue, foggy feeling, and fatigue hung around for a few weeks.

 Most of my family had the virus: parents, both sisters and their husbands, all 3 nephews, and at least one of my 3 nieces. The youngest thinks she may have had it a few months before.


Masks

  Masks are one of many things I hate about the Covid era. I am one who refused to wear them until they were mandated. And of course I not only have to wear one at work, I have to enforce people wearing them in the hospital. I didn't even wear them every time I went to Walmart, though I didn't give anyone a hard time. I made the statement on Facebook recently that I refuse to post pictures of me in one, and that if I do post a picture of me in a mask, I am in trouble and need help. :)

  Being on the other side of it as someone enforcing it has made me see things differently. I wear them where required, but still hate them and doubt they help much. Faucci is now recommending people wear two of them, and "experts" are recommending we wear three. Really? There are people in the medical field who insist they don't do any good, and others who swear by them. Even those in charge have waffled about it. If they really do good, then why recommend 2 or 3? And if they work that well, why quarantine when you have the virus? :)

 Many of the pro-mask people are downright obnoxious about it, and I have seen several use Scripture to try to back up their insistence that everyone wear masks. They say to make others feel safe, we should wear them.

 Then on the other side, you have the anti-maskers...which does include me, though I do wear mine where required. Many of them also use Scripture to support their views on masks, and believe a Christian should not give in to wearing them. Many feel it is an attack on our freedoms.

  I honestly cannot see any Biblical evidence to support either view. Before they were mandated, I refused to shop at any business that were requiring them...then the governors of Ohio and PA mandated it everywhere, and I had no choice. I still question the right of a governor to force us to wear them, and also question their right to do some other things......but it isn't the fault of businesses. They have to enforce it because the governors are forcing them to do so.

   I have gotten a lot of attitude because of the new restrictions and rules at the hospital. I have been cursed at, told to go to hell...you name it. It is usually over other stuff, but some of it has been about masks. As much as I hate wearing them, I still have to enforce it, and have masks at my desk. The worst ordeal I had was a few months ago. A man walked in without a mask with his wife for testing. I asked if he had a mask, and he whipped out his cell phone and showed me something saying he had a medical exemption - he seemed all too prepared, and was most likely spoiling for a fight. There are no exemptions at the hospital, and I politely told him that. He went on a rant threatening to call these people, and  those people. He was going to sue  the hospital, he was going to sue me, etc. I asked him to wait a minute til I called my boss...she didn't answer, so I called the second in command who said she would try to get hold of my main boss.

Meanwhile the guy was still shooting his mouth off, and finally said that his appointment was in 5 minutes, and if I made him miss it, I would pay for that also. So I said "just go sir." He said "give me a **** mask, but if I get sick, I am going to sue." I repeated to just go into testing. He started walking away, then stopped and demanded my name. I told him he didn't need that, and he replied "fine...I'll just tell them it was the big fat bald guy at the front desk." Ironically, he was bigger than me. I was worried how he would act when he left, but thankfully I was on the phone helping a guy at my desk. He stopped and stared at me for a minute, but left after I ignored him.

 That is a very extreme example, but I have been wondering for a while if Christians are reacting right in regards to masks. Some seem almost proud to buck the system and not wear one. If the person as the door tells you to put one on, is it OK for a Christian to refuse?


Cooking

  I have come to really enjoy cooking. I will never be as good of a cook as my mother, but I think I have become a pretty decent cook. I'm definitely no gourmet chef, but I have started to branch out a little and try new things.

 Last Christmas instead of giving you my heart, I bought an air fryer. I really like it, and have used it a lot. One of my favorite things in it is very simple: potatoes cut up with the skins on. I love fried potatoes, but have never had any luck doing them. But in the air fryer...perfect. It does cook a lot of things faster than in the over or stove top.

 This Christmas I bought an Instant Pot. I had been wanting one for a while, and one of the rare good deals on Black Friday was a 6 quart one on Walmart.com normally $99.99, on sale for $49.99.

 The Instant Pot has been a little more challenging to learn and use than the air fryer. It is basically a pressure cooker, so you can't remove the lid until the steam has been released....either naturally, or manually. I have had 2 problems with it so far, but they were user errors.

1) I made Mexican rice that scorched badly. I researched the issue, and it was definitely my fault. There has to be enough liquid in whatever you are making, and the recipe called for a cup of chicken broth. It also called for a cup of tomato paste. My mistake was mixing everything together. When you have a heavy sauce, you are supposed to just layer it on top, not mix it in. I mixed it in, so it scorched.

2) My second mistake was last week. I have made soup in it a few times, and made Chicken Noodle for the first time. I did the manual steam release, and instead of just releasing steam, it also sprayed chicken broth everywhere. I actually wondered if something was wrong with it....but nope! User error. Someone told me when you have a lot of liquid in the pot, to let it release the steam naturally. I am impatient, and the natural way takes longer. I guess I need to be more patient, at least in regards to cooking.

  And I cook without using those two devices. I made chili last week, and started it in the crockpot, but it outgrew that, and I had to transfer it to my biggest roaster/pan that I use sometimes for soup.

  The bad thing is I always make way too much of pretty much anything I make. My family teases me and says I should cook for the army or a big camp meeting.

 My family is big on gag gifts - a tradition I started - and one of my sisters bought me a book of recipes for a potluck. The funny thing is, she had to tell me it was a gag gift. I was like "cool, I can use another recipe book." :)

 Supper tonight is going to be stromboli using frozen bread dough.


Work

  My job has changed so much because of Covid. I have to screen visitors and enforce new rules and restrictions, and most of the time I double as a gatekeeper. I had been laid off for 3 months, from Easter Sunday through part of June while visiting hours were shut down.

  My job duties have changed a lot. I work at the information desk in the lobby. Before, I looked up patient room numbers, gave directions, and helped people in other ways. I often had to run people places in wheel chairs - which I thought was crazy since it took us away from our desks, but no one else would do it.

  Now I am not allowed to leave the lobby, as I have to make sure no one is going where they shouldn't go. Visiting hours from June through November were 10 am-6 pm, unlimited visitors as long as it was one at a time, with the others waiting outside.

 As of the end of November, visiting is 2-4, and it has to be the same person visiting the entire time the patient is in the hospital - add that to the list of things people get mad about and give me a hard time about. I am seriously used to getting verbally harassed and abused. Because of limited seating and trying to limit exposure, they try to limit the amount of people coming in for testing also. Unless the person having a test is a minor or has to have someone with them, the other person or people has to wait out in their car. There are no waiting areas open in the hospital. Of course that goes well in the extreme cold or heat. I had a guy yesterday give me a hard time about that and claiming I was disrespecting a 72 year old man, and what a shame that was....said he was not going to run his car and waste gas. After insisting to talk to someone about it, my boss managed to talk him down.


Politics

  The election is over and Biden is president. I do believe there was cheating - there always is - but I am not sure there was enough to tip the scales to him. If Trump voters and supporters are 100% honest, they have to admit Trump is not a nice man - or even a good man. I firmly believe if he had acted better he might have won more people over.

 Instead of trying to woo conservatives who opposed him, he went after them...said he didn't need us, and that we were human scum. He attacked anyone on Twitter who dared oppose him, and in my eyes acted a lot like Obama did with his opposition.

 George W Bush was not perfect, but I can't honestly think of much he did wrong. I didn't like the idea of the NSA listening in on phone conversations and the like, but he was a decent man and decent president. Unlike Obama and Trump, he took whatever crap was thrown at him and acted like a gentleman and acted presidential. I think people have too quickly and too easily forgotten how he acted and reacted during 911. He stood tall, and even many Democrats respected him for that. I shudder to think how Obama, Biden, Gore - had he won - or Trump would have handled that. Gone on Twitter and ranted at the bad guys?

 It seems the main reason so many conservatives are anti Bush now is because he dared not bow to Trump. Conservative and Christian principles, values, and morals are no longer what we judge politicians and voters by....it is their view of Trump. There are true conservatives and decent men who are put down and demonized by Trump supporters because they dare speak out against him. Whether it be a politician, voter, pastor, or whoever.....their conservatism and sadly, even their Christianity, is questioned and taken away if they do not fully embrace and support Trump.

 Examples of the latter: I had a cousin tell me I was not on God's side if I didn't support Trump. Several shared an article before this past election saying that true Christians would vote for Trump. In 2016, Max Lucado shared a great article on why Christians shouldn't support Trump, and was called a Pharisee.......yet if he had posted that about a Democrat, it would have been OK.

 I don't lump all Trump voters and supporters together....but there is a large part of his supporters who are way over the top and I am convinced have made him into an idol. When you say that Trump is the only one standing between us and socialism, and the only one who can do this or that, you are letting God out of the equation. When you treat fellow Christians badly and make false claims about them, Trump has become too important to you. Too many Christians have been putting their faith in a man, politics, and a political country.

 It truly has not been easy being a conservative who hasn't supported Trump. It truly has about destroyed my faith, and has made me doubt everything. If this is what Christianity is - political, Christians fighting and arguing about it, trying to shut down those who disagree, etc - do I want it?


Red trucks

  For the last few years, I have been into the red truck decor. I have incorporated it here and there throughout the house. My living room and a few other rooms have a nautical theme, so I am not sure the trucks go with that...but oh well, it is my house. :)

 I wanted a table runner for the stand in my living room, but it was impossible to find one that wasn't holiday or season themed. I finally settled on a patriotic one that I figure works for most of the year. I have two metal trucks on it. The one came from Hobby Lobby and has moving wheels. I found some miniature feed bags to put in the back.



 The other has stationary wheels, and was one of Walmart's gift sets that has foods or snacks. The trucks - which came in red, white, and green - had a bag of cookies in the bed. I had seen the green and white ones, and was tempted to buy it. Then one day I was there and those were gone and there were red ones. Of course one somehow ended up in my cart. :)

 I also have a few garden flags that have red trucks on. One for fall, one for Christmas, and one for winter that I bought because I couldn't find the Christmas one.


Christmas

 Speaking of Christmas, I just wasn't in the mood or spirit this year. I was just too depressed and decorated very little. I didn't even put up a tree or send any cards. Our family did get together - the majority of us had had the virus anyway, and I did enjoy that......but I just couldn't get into the season this year. I didn't even get my Christmas CDs or movies out.

The hospital calendar 

 Every year, the hospital I work at has a calendar photo contest. Anyone who works at the 3 hospitals, doctor's offices, convenient cares, or any other facility in the Heritage Valley Health System can submit a photo. Any employee can vote for their favorite 3, and the top 12 are used. I have tried the last few years, and actually won this year. This year's guidelines were different. Since no one could travel much in 2020, it had to be pictures of local things. I submitted a picture I had taken of a covered bridge near me that I took in the winter. It is amazing how many people commented - employees and visitors. Not only is the picture used in the calendar, large posters with the pic and a pic of me and my job title are posted all over the 3 hospitals and any facility in the health system for that month - and mine was January. I was pretty popular for a month. :)




 And it was cool. I asked to have a poster when they change them for February, and am supposed to be given a couple. I thought it would be cool to keep one. Even though they misspelled my name on the poster :)


Depression

  My depression has been really bad the last year..worse than anyone knows. I can put up a pretty good front. I am the kind of guy always telling jokes, so I doubt many people have a clue what is going on inside.
 
 I think the whole virus thing has contributed, and that politics has also really done a number on me. It is really difficult having different views politically from your family and most of your church and acquaintances. I am not going to get political again - just saying it has been rough.

 I hesitate to tell my doc. There was a period of time about 10 years ago or so that my doc at the time kept trying different meds on me, and I hate to do that again. It seems to be worse than ever. I have to about force myself to read, and if anyone knows me at all, they would know that is not normal. January is almost over, and I have read two books this year so far.

 There is no way I'd ever do anything stupid. I firmly believe unless someone is not in their right mind that someone who kills themself is most likely going to drop straight into hell...and I sure don't want to go there. Plus, I would never do that to my family.




Two family scares

  We had two scares in our family in the last couple of months. 

Scare #1 Caitie 

My youngest niece, Caitie, got married in September. She got a great guy we love, and it was a beautiful wedding. About 2 months back, her doctor was afraid some lumps on her neck were lymphoma and ordered a biopsy. We were all worried, but I didn't realize how worried I was til I found the results were negative. I cried like a baby.

 I love all of the kids, but this kid......she has messaged me several times when there has been family gatherings I had to miss because of work to tell me that she missed me and wished I had been there. I thought I was going to have to work Christmas day, but got it off. She messaged me and told me she was glad I could be there, and that she wouldn't have wanted to be at the party if I hadn't been able to go. That pretty much made me cry too. It still hurts that I was never able to be a dad, but I love those 6 kids so much.




Scare #2: Nathan

 A few weeks ago, my 3 nephews were putting Christmas decorations away in their barn loft. The oldest came down the ladder and went inside. Nate, 13, started down, but the ladder fell taking him along. He fell 12-13 feet, and ran in the house bleeding, leaving his brother Ben stuck up in the loft til they remembered him several minutes later.

 He was taken by ambulance to St Elizabeth's in Youngstown, where they kept him overnight. He had several cuts on his face and head, fractured his left wrist, and had a 5 inch long 1 1/2 deep cut in his left leg. No concussion or other injuries. He could have been hurt much worse, especially if he had hit the concrete head first.




 I took him a bucket of his favorite snacks the next evening after he came home from the hospital. He is a tough kid, and impressed the ER staff with how well he took it all.


Loneliness

 Something I struggle with that I don't really talk about is loneliness. Our family gets together when we can, though I can't always be there....but I don't have a social life outside of that and when I take the kids out to eat.

 It may not make sense, and depression probably plays into it some: I am lonely a lot, yet there are times I thrive on being alone. I just am not close enough with anyone to hang out. Today is a Saturday I am off. I did any shopping I needed last night after work. This morning, I went out for breakfast at the restaurant near my house - I walk when it is warm. I'll spend the rest of the day inside by myself.

 I have felt really disconnected from my church and people there for some time. The Trump era hasn't helped that. My best friend says I need to reach out and have people over....but who? I honestly don't have friends...just acquaintances, and am not good at making friends....and who wants to hang out with a 51 year old guy attracted to other guys? I don't feel like I belong anywhere or with anyone except my family... and even they try to shut up my criticisms of Trump and say I am causing division - even though I only criticize him on social media.

  I can understand more than ever why so many gay people embrace their sexuality and try to find someone to love. If you are a guy my age, you are an oddity. I hate sports and don't have much in common with anyone.

 I just find myself wishing sometimes I had someone to watch a movie with, or help eat what I cook. But that isn't happening.

 Thankfully, I really like my house - well, my half of the duplex. I have plenty of room, and like this place the best of any I have ever lived since I have been on my own. I hope I can stay here a long time, and have no intentions of moving.


Bernie

  I hate to end on a negative note, so I'll share a few of the Bernie memes I have made. I am really amused by this fad or trend, and have been having way too much fun with it.

                                                              In our ER at work


                                                       In the one main hallway at the hospital


                                                                 on my desk at work


                                                               With me at Hocking Hills, OH


                                                                 In front of my house

                                                                 
                                                            At my church


                                                             at the crossing of the Red Sea


                                                         Outer Banks with the kids


                                                           Spying on my niece and her husband :)


Friday, January 8, 2021

Disillusioned with Christianity

   


  I didn't blog much in 2020, and the last time I did a blog post was at the end of August. The main reason is my depression has been really bad for several months, possibly worse than it has ever been. No one in my life has a clue as to how bad my depression is. I am not bordering on self harm of any kind, so if you are reading this, no worries there. There are a couple of reasons I would never do that.

   I have started some blog posts, but never finished them. I typed this one up at work the other day when it was slow, so I guess I will post it. I am not posting links on Facebook as I usually do, so maybe no one will even read it...especially since it is so long.

 Disillusioned with Christianity

  I have never been a strong Christian. I have struggled with different doubts for most of my life. For years, I struggled to believe God truly loved me. I also went through a period where I had a difficult time believing I was truly saved. I have never felt I measured up to what a Christian should be, and prayer and reading the Bible has never come easy to me. It has mostly been something I felt I had to do as a Christian. So nothing I say in this post is because I believe I am a better Christian than others, or that I am better off than anyone. Because that is far from true.

 But the truth of the matter is, I have become disillusioned with Christianity. And it is pretty much because of politics.


 I get people voting for Trump in the general election because of Hillary. I am still not sure a Christian should have voted for him.....but I get why so many did. I don't get people - especially Christians - voting for him in the primaries over some very decent, conservative, and even Christian candidates. I felt fairly early that I could not vote for him, and not just because of what and who he was. I have criticized Democrats for years for voting for the candidate on the Democratic ticket no matter how bad they were....so how could I do the same when the candidate was the very opposite of what we should be voting for? 

 And man, did I get crap for it....from several Christians. They didn't care that it would be going against my conscience to vote for Trump. They made false accusations, and did their best to get me to vote the way they were, and used all sorts of things to manipulate me into voting how I strongly believed that I should not. I was told if I wasn't for Trump, I was for Hillary. I was told a vote for a 3rd party was a vote for Hillary. A long time friend told me if I wasn't for Trump that I was for Hillary and for killing babies.....and he knew I wasn't.


 Four years later,  anyone who dares criticize and not fully support Trump are still put down and called names. Just yesterday a great conservative and good man (Tom Cotton) who is a Republican Senator was called spineless,  and Christians and conservatives are wanting to vote him out because he dared say we need to accept the election results. On the same post, another Senator who is a true conservative was also called spineless because he has dared speak out against Trump. If you aren't 100% for Trump, then his Christian and/or conservatives supporters consider you a traitor, spineless, and other lovely terms.


  In 2016, author and pastor Max Lucado came out against Trump and gave solid reasons why a Christian should not support (and maybe vote for) Trump. He was called a Pharisee......yet if he has listed the same reasons for a Democrat, he would have been cheered on.




  I am not going to list all of the reasons I oppose Trump, and why the reasons I felt I could not vote for him. That is not the point of my post. This post is how I have become disillusioned with Christianity. And again, I am not saying I am a better Christian than anyone else. In fact, I feel like I am on the edge of dismissing Christianity completely on my worst days.


  I cannot remember who said it, but back in 2016 a man made the statement that if you are a Christian and was going to vote for Trump, it should be done with weeping and sorrow, not with excitement and happiness. Yet many Christians acted like he was the best thing since sliced bread and were excited to vote for him.


 Shortly before the election, Trump supposedly became a Christian....just when he was really needing the Christian vote. Had someone running on the Democrat ticket done that, the same people believing his conversion would be very dubious that it was a genuine conversion. The man has acted very badly in the last 4 years, and most, if not all of his Christian supporters insist he is a Christian. Part of the problem is that if a politician does enough things his supporters like, they pretty much equate that with being a Christian.



 Since Trump has come on the scene, Christians have defended - or at least turned a blind eye to -  adultery, strip clubs, a man bragging about sexually assaulting women (and yes, what he said he likes to do IS sexual assault), vulgarity, arrogance, general bad behavior not befitting a president - and especially a Christian. And yet they claim he is a Christian...a baby Christian. Just how long does the baby stage last? Some claim he is the most Christian president we have ever had. 


 It is bad enough that so many Christians bypassed what they would condemn in a Democrat, but they want everyone else to do the same. Prior to this last election, several Christians were posting things claiming if you are a true Christian, you would vote for Trump. Others knocked, and pretty much mocked Christians for having issue with the way Trump acts.....even from my own church. Christians who oppose Trump have been called Pharisees, traitors, told they are not on God's side, and other similar things. It is not easy being a Christian and/or conservative who opposes and holds Trump accountable.


 I firmly believe that politics has corrupted the church and Christianity in America. The nomination and election of Donald Trump has either made it worse, or made it more obvious....or both.  The events of this week are a great example. Trump supporters broke into the Capitol and resorted to violence and destruction. A lot of Trump supporters are insisting the people are not Trump supporters. Others are defending and supporting it....yet they would condemn Democrats for the same actions.


  The Bible has a lot to say about how Christians should act and conduct themselves, yet that seems to go out the window for so many when it comes to politics.


Would a true Christian harshly criticize Democrats while trying to shut up anyone criticizing Trump?


Would a true Christian criticize a Democrat for what they defend in Trump?


Would a true Christian try to manipulate others into voting like them?


Would a true Christian try to get someone to go against their conscience?


Would a true Christian place so much faith in a politician? 


Would a true Christian be OK with and cheer on actions in Trump that they know are wrong and that they would never stoop to themselves?


Would a true Christian call someone names and knock them for believing they should not vote for Trump?



  I attend what is known as a holiness church. They are known for believing it is wrong to dress in certain ways, and for not engaging in certain activities that a lot of other churches do. They also teach and believe in sanctification, or an indwelling of the Holy Spirit as some churches call it. It is a taking out of the root of sin, and is supposed to take away what makes people lose their temper and stop them from being petty, etc. I personally stopped believing in it some years ago because of people professing it and not acting it...plus isn't Jesus enough? If a trip to the altar giving your life to Jesus doesn't cause a big enough change in you, then maybe it didn't take.


  It is difficult to explain  the whole doctrine in a simple and condensed way, but let me put it this way: a Christian who is both saved and sanctified should act differently than the person who is just saved. Yet countless people who believe that and supposedly are sanctified in the way my church believes do not act like it when it comes to politics. Don't get me wrong, any Christian shouldn't act like so many do when it comes to politics....but if you are professing something that is supposed to cause you to act differently than what those who do not possess, then why bother with it?


  This is not an exhaustive list of what gets tossed out when Christians get political, but here are some I believe do:



Love

Patience

A soft answer

Humility

Patience

Doing good to your enemies

Loving your enemies

Praying for your enemies -or those you disagree with

Don't bear false witness

Forgiving

Not putting faith in man

The whole love chapter

The fruits of the Spirit

Being peacemakers


  Can we love our neighbor as Jesus said to if we go after them because of politics?


  And yeah, I suck at some of those also, and have given back as good as I have gotten.


  Four years later, I still don't get how and why the religious right picked Donald Trump. Nor do I get why so many enthusiastically support him. If I did vote for him, it would be reluctantly and I sure wouldn't be excited about it and broadcasting that I voted for him and be proud of the fact as so many were in both elections. I have been sickened as so many Christians support and defend him no matter how badly he acts, and refuse to hold him accountable....then they try to shut up anyone who won't support or ignore his actions.

 Just today, a Facebook friend posted that a lot of Trump supporters are calling for him to start a 3rd party: The Patriot's Party. Keep in mind that Trump supporters were strongly against voting 3rd party these last 2 elections....believe me, I know. 


 Christians have become way too political, and have let politics influence how they act towards those who don't agree with them politically. I also believe being so political has hurt our witness, and hindered us from what God wants us to do. Too many people work harder to win people to their candidate and political views, than they do to win people to God and get people into church who don't attend. Politics has pretty much become an idol to many Christians, and they are either unaware of it or they just don't care. The great commission has become more about winning people to Trump than to God.



 Christianity would be better off if Democrats ruled everything and Christians suffered for their faith, then to be overtaken so much by politics that it affects how we live and how we treat people. I believe  American Christianity has become far removed from Biblical Christianity, and politics is one major factor. There have been many times in these last four years that I have found myself thinking "If this is Christianity, I am not sure I want it." And if I, a person raised in the church, a Christian school, and who had 4 years of Bible college feels that way, then how many non-Christians feel that way when they see how Christians act in regards to politics? How many people have been turned off on Christianity because of what they have seen from political Christians?


 I have related it before, but a friend of mine has 2 atheist friends who stated that after Christians supporting and defending Trump in 2016, they never wanted to hear a Christian talk about morals again. I fear politics in general, and such an extreme over the top defense and support of Trump has dealt a blow to Christianity.


 And again, I am not saying I am guiltless or any better than others....but I will say the actions and words of many Christians these past 4 years have chipped away at what I believe and shaken my faith. I would like to think that these Christians wouldn't say what they have said and acted like they acted if they knew how it has affected my faith, but I fear politics and protecting Trump takes precedence over that. Not all Trump voters and supporters are the same.. I get that. I am not trying to make a blanket statement about all Christians who voted for him. But it is sad that so few have called him out on bad actions and policies over the 4 years of his presidency.


 Last year I did something I thought I would never do: I un-registered to vote. There were a couple of reasons.

#1 I am still upset and frustrated by what was said to and about me for voting 3rd party.

#2 I am really disgusted with the Republican Party and wanted out

#3 I wearied of the idea I had to vote for a candidate because he ran on the GOP ticket and I was a Republican.



  Christians should be involved in politics, I am not saying we should not be, but too many are too involved and not only let it affect how they treat people, but it also takes up too much of their time and energy. Instead of using social media to spread the Gospel and encourage others, too many use it for politics. A political Christianity is not a Biblical Christianity. It is a shallow Christianity that is not going to change our country for good. We like to blame the Democrats for the stare of our country, for the lack of morals, for drifting so far from God and the Bible....but could it be that too many Christians are contributing to that by living a version of Christianity that is too diluted by politics and other influences.

 People love to say what Jesus would or would not do. I have no idea if He would vote, or if He would vote for either of the two main parties. I do know this: He was not political. There were a few times when the religious leaders tried to get Him to be political, and He refused. If we truly want to be like Jesus, maybe we should also avoid politics...or at least not focus on it very much.

**addition

  I was thinking along these lines today, and I had this thought: We let who is in the White House consume way too much of our time. I get being concerned about politics, and our lives are influenced by who is in the White House, but why do we let it consume us so much? Is it any wonder Christianity is dying? We are obsessed with politics. One only has to look at social media to see how true that is. 

  I believe Trump has changed conservatism and Christianity in America, and done a hard blow to both. I still cannot understand why Christians are so over the top loyal to him to the point that they accept and/or defend everything he says or does, and ignores what they would normally be against. Why do they go after anyone who dares criticize him and not 100% support him? It seems the most important thing to many Christians is to defend and support Trump. 

  It has made me want something better than this politicalized Christianity that is so prevalent. There were Christians in the past who faced lions, stoning, were burnt at the stake, and suffered in other ways for their faith.....and they stood strong, and loved their enemies who were torturing and killing them...yet today's Christians can't handle their favorite politician being criticized.

 I believe American Christianity has been shallow for a long time, but these last few years have shown just how shallow it is.