Monday, June 16, 2008

Threatened Species: Dads

Another Father’s Day has come and gone, mostly unnoticed but for the retailers who want to sell you the latest novelty tie that Dad will never wear twice (if at all) or the latest battery-powered grill cleaning gadget that will be relegated to the bathroom for when his back really itches.

Men, in general, have been getting a bad rap in America for the past two-plus decades. Some of it well-deserved. Much of it not. In 1987, Hardenbrook wrote a book titled Missing in Action – Vanishing Manhood in America. Therein, he explained how the women’s rights movement and groups like NOW and science, have relegated men to the brink of irrelevancy. No longer are men perceived as a requirement for a “normal” nuclear family. No longer are men needed to father children – either literally or figuratively. Society actually embraces the concept of “my two moms” more than it ever seemed to embrace a mom and dad.

For years, with rare exception, when men are portrayed as fathers on TV, they are usually pot-bellied, bumbling buffoons out of touch with their children and their wives. There is a poignant juxtaposition between the likes of Cosby, Father Knows Best, Ozzy and Harriet, and The Simpsons, Married with Children, and According to Jim. Every now and then, the dad is allowed to “get it right” but most of the time, he is ahead to sit quietly on the sidelines while mom and the kids get along quite nicely without him.

From newspaper columnists to radio hosts, fathers took an absolute beating yesterday. Absentee dads. Dads who abandoned their families. Dads who shirk their responsibilities. Dads who create statistics that presumably inspire sitcom writers to perpetuate the myth. Heaven forbid that the tables ever be turned on the moms. Motherhood is held nearly as sacred as the Virgin Mary and Mother Teresa. No matter how many moms abuse their children, ignore their children, poor milk over the heads of their children, commit crimes and are incarcerated away from their children, motherhood is held above all else as the most “holy” of roles. Mothers vis-à-vis wives can unwittingly or otherwise bench their husbands and relegate them to the role of financier and chauffer and occasionally, sous chef when cooking with fire is needed. Yet, it is the dads who are vilified as soon as they say “ENOUGH!” It is the dads who lose their children, their home, and their self-esteem who then get beat senseless by the media, society, and pundits alike. It is the dads who spend fathers’ day, the most laughable of holidays, without their children, perhaps seeking secondary employment to meet the balance of their obligations.

Frankly, I don’t expect anything to change. Not as a result of this blog that will likely go unread. Nor because of any major societal revolution driven by dads and right-minded wives/moms alike who concur that the guys have gotten the short end of the stick. To the extent that I was able, I enjoyed my day in the company of the one I love (at home and church) and the dog. But it was also a day riddled with tears and ultimately enough wine to take the sharpest edge off the pain. But even that brought with it the realization that nothing changed. Tomorrow would be just like yesterday. I might get the requisite phone call from one of my children. Or I might not.

I wish my dad were still alive so at least I could wish him a Happy Father’s Day. He got it right – even though he sometimes got it wrong. The best that I could hope for now is that his heavenly father conveys the message on my behalf. I’m sure that sounds quaint to some and ignorant to others, but even this dad and son can still have hope. Hope that tomorrow WILL be better. Hope that I will be able to get it right. Hope that wives, women, and society will come to appreciate as a whole, that no matter how flawed we dads may be, we still have feelings. And while we may make mistakes we also try to make the best decisions we can – even if sometimes it’s the best bad decision available.

So, to all you dads who WANT to be dads to your kids: Happy Fathers Day. Stay in the race. Fight the good fight. To the women in our lives who want to help make that possible and feel our hurt when it is not: thank you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Uncle Knows Best?

It's been a long time since I've posted here, largely because I'm so disgusted with the government and the people who elect it that it would seem that any common sense I might try to voice would be the equivalent of casting pearls before swine. Chances are, those most needful of grasping that metaphor will neither know its source nor grasp its true meaning. But hey, from what I can see, it would appear that ignorance is total bliss.

If the masses get their way, we will have an Obamanation in the Oval Orifice next year. I would strongly suggest storing food, fresh water, medical supplies, etc. because it could be an ugly 3 1/2 to 7 years depending on how you read Revelation. Suffice it to say, we may all be wearing numeric tattoos before all is said and done.

The State of Florida just passed a constitutional amendment to increase property tax homestead exemptions from $25K to $50K. Big government lovers, the media, and our esteemed governor continue trying to convince us how this was a good thing. Never mind that the exemption increase is about 15 years too late and the entire amendment is worded so poorly that I doubt even its authors know what they really meant to say. Nevertheless, the mindless sheep of Florida voted for it despite the realization that it'll only save them, on average, $250/year. Never mind that an indexed exemption process would ensure that the issue not be visited again. Never mind the current wording set the amendment up for a constitutional legal challenge. (Be wary when Crist finds his name on a national ballot.)

Be still my soul. To offset the lost revenue in property taxes, the State is now proposing an additional 1% sales tax on purchases. Let's say that the average person who owns a home spends $20K per year on taxable purchases (consumer goods, some foodstuffs, clothes, eating out, durable goods, etc.). One percent of $20K is $200.

Yeah, great amendment. We just saved $50. Meanwhile, fuel prices continue to skyrocket courtesy of the Federal Government mandating the switch to summer blends. This results in refineries operating at 85% capacity (not counting the one that just burned). Gas prices at the station by my office jumped 15 cents since Friday. 15 cents x 44 gallons (my tank size) x 52 weeks = $343 more out of my pocket courtesy of our omnipotent government.

And don't forget the increase in food prices stemming from ethanol production which actually requires more petroleum to produce (tractors, fertilizer manufacturing, trucks to deliver to processing, trucks to move from processing to storage, etc.) - none of those trucks or tractors run on gas which COULD be supplemented with ethanol. No, they're all diesel powered.

BTW, did you know it costs 1.6 cents to manufacturer a US penny? (If you're a reader of this blog or pay attention to the news, you did.)

Yeah, we are governed by a bright bunch. See what happens when you get a bunch of attorneys involved in anything and then convince the media that liberal government is a good idea?

One of those treasonous Revolutionary War guys once said that ". . . a revolution every 200 years is good." Annie, get your gun.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jesus - Not Just a Drywall Hanger

Contrary to popular belief, Jesus is not just the name of every other Hispanic drywaller or painter or concrete specialist. In fact, it would seem that it's only accepted by some cultures to name their children after the most significant religious figure in history. Sure, there are a few Abrahams and Muhammads. Odd how no one seems to name their kid Buddha. Or Tao. Hmm. Go figure.

At any rate, I heard a sermon last weekend that got me on the ever-dangerous path of thinking - not one of my strong points. The gist of it was that everyone seems to have a different notion of who Jesus is to them. To some, he is merely the drywall installer. To others, the painter, or gardener, or pool boy. Still to others, he is merely a profanity. Or a fictional character. Or a great teacher. Or a prophet. Or a little baby in a manger with sheep and a mule and wise guys and shepherds. In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby liked praying to the sweet little tiny infant Jesus just lying there in a manger; Cal Naughton, Jr. preferred to think of his Jesus as wearing one of those tuxedo shirts that says I'm formal, but I'm here to party and playing lead guitar at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Mrs. Bobby steps in and says she thinks you're supposed to pray to the grown-up Jesus.

To many a televangelist, Jesus is a cash-cow. To some, Jesus is nominally involved in that winter holiday around which retailers gauge consumer confidence. To public schools and government, Jesus doesn't exist at all. Nor does God. Allah is ok, as long as he isn't blowing stuff up.

I could continue, but I ask you: who is Jesus? Who is He, really? Beyond what you think you know, beyond what you were told by your grandma as a kid, and past the guy who's middle initial, contrary to popular belief, is NOT "H"? For the record, it doesn't begin with F or PH either.

The Bible says Jesus is the Son of God, in whom He is well pleased. It says He is the once and final propitiation for our sins (past, present, and future). It says He is our brother, high priest, counselor, and friend. It says He is our intermediary before a completely holy, omnipotent, omniscient God. Did you know that He is called the Lamb of God because God provided Him as the final blood sacrifice? Did you know that prior to Jesus' death and resurrection, Jewish priests had to sacrifice an unblemished, perfect lamb for the temporary forgiveness of sin? Did you know that God first implemented a blood sacrifice (the shedding of blood) as a result of sin when He made clothes for Adam and Eve after they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (note, not the same as the Tree of Life, and not an apple tree)? Did you know that Jesus is as alive and relevant today as He was 2000 years ago? Did you know that He longs for a relationship with you? Not religion. I could be religious about playing golf every Sunday (and soon "lose my religion" because of my chronic bad habits). He wants you to know Him, as He already knows you. Did you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made and before He formed you in the womb, He knew you?

Put aside whatever impressions you may have of Him. He wasn't white, or Asian, or black. He wasn't walking around with a halo and aura as depicted in Renaissance art. He was just like you or me among His peers and contemporaries. If He was a stand-out in a crowd, Judas would not have had to betray Him with a kiss for the guards to know who to arrest. He wasn't as the native New Zealanders portray him with body art on his face. Although, He was. He is exactly who you need, when you need Him, whether you know it or not. And He's waiting for you to invite Him into your life.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomever believes in Him shall not die, but have eternal life. For God sent His Son into the world, not to condemn it, but that through Him, the world (people) would be saved. John 3:16-17

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What if . . . ??

No, this is not about a Beatles song, but it could be.

What if . . .

It was global cooling instead of warming? While I doubt that polar bears are actually drowning as Algore would like us to believe, I wonder what would happen away from the poles if the world was cooling. This pondering occurred to me as I looked into a pond that I made for my sons' turtles wherein cichlids also live. The water was so chilled by Florida's sub-freezing temperatures that they were all nearly dormant, on their sides, at the bottom of the pond. If instead of our beloved mother Earth "having a fever" as Algore likes to suggest, it was not able to maintain homeostasis (that's the ability to regulate one's body temperature for those in San Jose)? What of all the woodland creatures in the swamps of the deep south unaccustomed to cold weather? How many lizards would die needlessly on bike paths in Miami because they fell from trees due to their chilled blood failing to keep them on their respective tree limbs? Imagine the horror!!

People took ownership of their actions? Imagine the relief that our justice system would experience if people like Carlos Sousa, Sr. simply said "my son, that moron, was wrong to be drinking and hanging out with his buddies and aggravating that tiger. I'm sorry that the community of San Francisco lost a beautiful creature because my moronic kid antagonized it enough to leap from its enclosure and kill him. I'd like to help educate others as to why being a punk is wrong."

The woman in England whom was burglarized despite her six foot fence was permitted to install barbed wire to further discourage thievery. Instead, she was denied this privilege as it posed potential liability issues for her should someone trespass and be injured on the fence.

What if . . .

Jesus had been married? And had a child as asserted in the DaVinci Code? Would it have changed any component of His ministry, death, and resurrection?

Gays and lesbians were allowed to "unite" in a partnership that gave them similar rights (e.g., health insurance coverage, spousal privilege, etc.) as married couples without being called "married"?

Fossil fuels were not from fossils? It would seem that we'd be finding a lot more dinosaur bones if they were the sole source. And, it would seem that the Earth would be running out as was predicted nearly forty years ago.

Government truly was of, by, and for the people rather than special interests and business? What if elections were based upon character and the desire to represent the people rather than personal motivations and self-ascribed birth rights?

Societies and cultures and countries were not propped by other countries experiencing guilt for their prosperity and the warlords and other incompetent leaders were simply allowed to destroy their people by the Peter Principle? If we are forced to subscribe to Evolution, then Survival of the Fittest isn't a jagged pill at all.

Common sense was employed as the litmus test for all decisions rather than emotion and political correctness?

What if . . .