Welcome to Big Old Goofy World . . . a place where I can share my thoughts, hopes, and dreams about this rock that we live on and call home.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Regret . . .

A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted an article about the “37 Things You’llRegret When You’re Old.”  Well, I am old . . . at least that is what my children keep telling me.  I am old . . . if slowing inching beyond the double nickels is old, I am old.  Since I am old . . . and, since it is nearly the start of a new year and there is the annual obligation to improve one’s self . . . this article caught my attention . . . I wanted to know what the 37 things were that I should make every attempt at avoiding in my golden years.

I will attempt to keep this short . . .

Number one on the list . . . not traveling when you had the chance.  I can honestly say that since I rarely had the chance to travel, I really do not have any regrets about traveling.  Oh, there was that one chance that I had to go to England with my sister, but my mother got sick . . . we never took the trip.  Since then, my sister has offered me another chance at it . . . it just hasn’t panned out yet.  Besides, I live in a wonderful, expansive area of the world . . . Montana.  I have not even scratched the surface of where I live . . . there is so much to explore here . . . so much that I want to see.  I do not regret having traveled more . . . the fact is, I have traveled a lot more than the average person . . . and, the opportunities have not always been there. No regrets here!

Number two . . . not learning another language.  This one made me laugh out loud.  I am a typical American in that I have not yet even mastered the language of my heritage . . . learn another language?  First, let me master the one I am supposed to be speaking and writing now.  I took the obligatory couple of years of foreign language in high school and college . . . and, nope, I cannot remember a word of any of it.  My only question is: does sign language count?  Nope, no regrets with this one!

Number three . . . staying in a bad relationship.  Define relationship.  With all the relationships I have ever had, there has been good with the bad . . . the key to it all is how does one respond . . . how does one relate . . . to the situation whether it is good or bad?  It all adds up as experience and growth in the end.  I have always gotten something out of the relationships I have had . . . I have never slammed the door . . . there is always a crack in the door for what might be.  Nope, no regrets here either!

Number four . . . forgoing sunscreen.  I did not get the nickname “Casper” for having the best tan in the neighborhood.  This is a partially a vanity issue . . . partially a health issue . . . I cover up, wear hats, but I probably live life too dangerous . . . I don’t always remember the sunscreen.  It is okay because I do not have a problem with wrinkles . . . I earned them.  I have always had moles . . . they don’t bother me . . . they add a little color to my milky white skin.  Sunscreen as a regret—nope!

Number five . . . missing the chance to see my favorite musicians.  I got over that one after my senior year in high school after I missed seeing Paul McCartney and Wings one night, and Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Jackson Brown the next night.  Yeah, free tickets too!  But, that is okay . . . I saw KISS, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, David Bowie, Styx, Mott the Hoople, Areosmith, Joni Mitchell, Dave Mason, John Prine, and a few others during my senior year.  Since then I have seen countless others over the years with my last concert being the Avett Brothers a few months ago . . . I love music and will take what I can get . . . even if it is just listening to my church’s choir on Sunday morning.  No regrets on this one.

Number six . . . being scared to do things.  Okay, I will admit that there have been things that I have been scared to do throughout my life . . . but, I am still here.  Jumping off the roof of the house at age ten . . . glad I didn’t do it.  Get the picture . . . I am still here.  Fear has kept me here.  Nope, no regret here.

Number seven . . . failing to make physical fitness a priority.  I am too old for this stuff . . . my bones hurt just thinking about it.  I spent my whole life wondering if I was ever going to put weight on, and now that I have (granted it might be a little more than I should have) . . . I am going to keep it for a while.  Naw, I don’t regret doing a little more physical fitness . . . but, this one might end up snapping me in the butt!

Number eight . . . being defined by gender roles.  Number twenty-eight . . . letting myself be defined by cultural expectations.  Number fifteen . . . caring too much about what other people think.  Okay, I lumped these three together.  First of all, I really do not care to be defined by labels and generalizations like race, age, gender, etc.  I am who I am, as God created me, for better or worse . . . it does not matter what my gender is or what the expectations of my culture are or what anyone else thinks.  All that matters, in my opinion, is whether or not I am living up to who God created me to be.  God is the only one I have to please in this endeavor . . . and, the only way that is going to happen is if I live up to who God created me to be.  Nope, no regrets on these three.

Number nine . . . not quitting a terrible job.  Well, I have quit jobs . . . especially if they were not what I was expecting or I was not what they were expecting.  I do not have a tough time quitting jobs, but I never quit a job until I have another job.  That is about the only reason I have stuck with a terrible job longer than I should.  Quitting a terrible job is not hard . . . no regrets there.

Number ten . . . not trying harder in school.  Let’s see . . . thirteen years and a high school degree . . . four years and a bachelor degree . . . three years and a master’s degree . . . two more years and another master’s degree . . . countless workshops, conferences, retreats, seminars . . . no, I think I have worked hard when it came to my education.  No regrets here!

Eleven . . . not realizing how beautiful I once was.  Hmmm . . . never thought about this before.  I guess that is a matter of opinion . . . beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  I have always thought of myself as “okay” . . . true, I am no Brad Pitt . . . but neither am I a Marty Feldman.  Besides, the older I get, the better I was . . . including my looks.  No regrets.

Number twelve . . . being afraid to say “I love you.”  I am probably guilty of this one . . . guilty because I just assume people know and understand that I love them.  I just don’t say it often enough . . . and, apparently, saying “ditto” is not good enough.  I do not regret this one, I just need to practice saying it more often.
Number thirteen . . . not listening to your parents’ advice.  Number twenty-two . . . missing the chance to ask your grandparents questions before they die.  Problem with this one is that I did listen to my parents’ advice . . . I did have the opportunity to ask my grandparents questions.  One got me into trouble . . . the other got me the request to go ask my parents.  If there is a regret it is that I did follow some of the advice my parents gave me (a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology), and I asked way too many questions of my grandparents.  No regrets.

Number fourteen . . . spending my youth self-absorbed.  Yeah, so what?  Name me one youth who didn’t.  It is a part of the journey of life.  I don’t regret my years of self-absorbsion . . . that is why I blog now.  Kind of trying to recapture those years of being self-absorbed.  Regret it?  No, I relish it because it has made me who I am today.

Number sixteen . . . supporting others’ dreams over my own.  Hey, look at number fourteen . . . no regrets here.

Number seventeen . . . not moving fast enough.  No one ever accused me of being a speed demon . . . when I ran or in life.  One of the symbolic gifts given to me throughout my life was the turtle . . . I have lots of these little turtles given to me.  Turtles are slow . . . turtles are anxious . . . but, they are wise.  Nope, I have never been accused of being fast and the speed at which I have moved through life has been perfect thus far . . . look at me today.  I am further along than I was yesterday, a year ago, five years ago, even a decade ago . . . shoot, I am kicking the crud out of where I was when I was born.  No regrets.

Number eighteen . . . holding grudges, especially with those I love.  Number twenty-nine . . . refusing to let friendships run their course.  Number thirty-four . . . getting caught up in needless drama.  These three . . . well, I do hold grudges, but most of the people who I hold grudges against probably don’t even know it . . . so, I don’t waste a whole lot of time over these.  Nor do I worry about friendships running their course . . . nature seems to take care of that.  I don’t need the drama.  I avoid these with a passion . . . I don’t regret when they happen . . . I just get pissed off that I wasted any time with them.

Number twenty-one . . . neglecting my teeth.  I brush several times a day.  I floss . . . well, I use toothpicks . . . and, I cannot stand dentists.  But, I take care of my teeth.  Again, this is partly a vanity issue, partly a health issue.  I don’t worry about this . . . no regrets.  My chompers still work quite well, thank you.

Number twenty . . . not volunteering enough.  Have you seen what they pay me to work at the university I work at . . . pretty close to volunteering.  I don’t buy this one.  Nope—no regrets.

Number twenty-three . . . working too much.  This one made me laugh out loud a second time . . . no one ever accused me of working too much.  What is to regret?

Number twenty-four . . . not learning how to cook one awesome meal.  Number twenty-seven . . . never mastering one awesome party trick.  The truth is, I can cook . . . whether or not what I cook is awesome does not matter.  I am still here.  I do have one awesome party trick . . . I can tie a cherry stem into a knot with my tongue . . . how awesome is that.  I have about as much awesomeness as I can handle in my life . . . I don’t need any more.  No regrets.

Number twenty-five . . . not stopping enough to appreciate the moment.  Shoot, life is too beautiful not to stop . . . no regrets here.

Number twenty-six . . . failing to finish what you start.  Unfortunately, I was raised to finish what I started . . . haven’t always successfully done that, but I try.  On the other hand, there have been a few things I wish I had started, but hey, Bill Gates didn’t like any of my ideas.  No regrets here either.

Number thirty . . . not playing with my kids enough.  As the children were growing up, I think the kids wish I didn’t play with them so much . . . that I go out and find my own friends.  Nope, I played with my kids plenty.  The problem is now they wish I would play with them more often.  But, I have no regrets here.

Number thirty-one . . . never taking the big risk (especially in love).  Define risk.  Each and every morning when I get out of bed . . . I am risking living.  Living is pretty big as the alternative is death.  I think that qualifies as being a risk-taker.  As far as love, well . . . it is not regret . . .

Not taking the time to develop contacts and networks . . . Number thirty-two.  Not a problem . . . I know people, people know me . . . now whether or not they are the “right” people, I don’t know.  What I do know, as an introvert, I have more contacts and networks than I want . . . I do not regret having more.

Number thirty-three . . . worrying too much.  Yeah, I do this.  I worry too much, but that worry has kept me alive.  I enjoy being alive.  No regrets . . . worry lets me know that I care.

Number thirty-five . . . not spending enough time with loved ones.  Hey, we are talking family here . . . what do family and fish have in common?  After three days they begin to smell.  I spend plenty of time with family . . . they may disagree, but we still talk to each other.  Nope, no regret.

Number thirty-six . . . never performing in front of others.  I am a minister . . . a preacher . . . who preaches at least fifty-two times a year.  No regrets.

Number thirty-seven . . . not being grateful sooner.  Yeah, there is irony in this one.  If you have read this far, you are probably wondering why in the world isn’t he done?  Well, the end is coming . . . I am grateful and have been grateful most of my life . . . and, now you can be too.

So, there you have it.  The thirty-seven things we will regret when we get old.  The bottom line is that of the thirty-seven things, only one was a “maybe” regret, and the other thirty-six were not regrets.  The only thing I did not mention was number nineteen . . . not standing up for yourself.  I probably do not do this often enough, but you know what?  In the end it all works out . . . maybe it is karma, maybe it is just dumb luck . . . but, things always seem to work out in the end.

The amazing thing about this list was that over  141 thousand people shared this list on Facebook . . . 549 thousand liked it on Facebook . . . six thousand tweeted it on Twitter . . . and, I wrote about it.  I think the problem is we spend too much time worrying about things no matter what age we are . . . we just need to live life, follow the adventure, and be all that we can be in the moment that we are living.  I do not want to enter into my older years filled with regret for things that do not matter.  That is a waste of time.  What matters is the present moment . . . that is all that any of is promised . . . the present moment.  I will not be making resolutions for the upcoming year.  I will stick to the one that I made years ago . . . I resolve to not make another resolution, but to live to the best of my abilities in the present moment.  We would all do well to do so.

By the way, I apologize for the length of this blog . . . but, I hope you get the point.  LIVE!!  Regret . . . nope!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Who Wins? God Knows . . . NOT!

Notre Dame believes . . . after all, they have their Touchdown Jesus.  Tim Tebow believes . . . story is that at the end of his miraculous season with the Denver Broncos he prayed to God to give them help . . . and, God gave them Peyton Manning.  Probably more Auburn University fans than not, believe . . . two last second miracle games in a row got them into the national championship . . . only by the “grace of God” and bunch of chicken Bowl Championship Series selectors picking them over Michigan State.  Apparently a lot of people believe that God “plays a role in determining which team wins” sports events . . . 27 percent of Americans according to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute last January. 

Personally, I don’t think God gives a hoot one way or another about who wins any sporting event.  I think that God is way too busy with a whole lot of more important stuff than whether or not some player can kick the winning field goal, knock a homerun out of the park, or win a national championship.  Looking at the shape of world today after we humans have been having our say in it for so long, I imagine that God is pretty busy with other things than sports.  Besides, as an avid University of Nebraska Cornhusker football fan, I have prayed for years since Tom Osborne retired for another national championship . . . and, those prayers have gone unanswered.  Shoot, I would take a Big Ten championship . . . but, no!  I forget, God is a Notre Dame fan . . . remember, Touchdown Jesus.  It is probably better to admit that God is too busy than to acknowledge that God just might not care a whole heck about the Cornhuskers since Coach Osborne retired.

For those believers wearing the Auburn University colors . . . it wasn’t God that determined their fate this season, it was luck.  It was luck and poor defense that allowed the “Hail Mary” pass to be caught through the Georgia secondary to win the game.  It was luck and the fact that the Alabama defense didn’t keep playing that allowed the missed field goal to be returned 106 yards for the winning score against the Crimson Tide.  God had no hand in any of that . . . it was pure, dumb luck.  Besides, God is a God of justice and would never, ever allow a SEC team in the national championship for the umpteenth time in a row . . . if God really cared.  Shoot, Notre Dame would be playing in the championship and would be undefeated every year.  Come on . . . God had nothing to do with Auburn’s luck no matter how much better they were than a year ago.

God just does not care . . . but, there are people out there who think that God does care.  At one of the regional cross country meets held in Kentucky before their state championships, a runner from Whitley County was set to compete until she was assigned the bib number 666—“the number of the beast” according to the Bible.  She refused to wear the number.  Both she and her coach appealed to the race officials for a new number, but they refused . . . so she decided not to race.  Her reason?  “I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God,” she said.  Personally, I don’t think God would have gotten her mixed up with the beast as she was running . . . it was a cross country race for sport, not world domination.  God doesn’t care.

Besides, evil does not dwell in the lowly sports of running . . . everyone knows that it is New York where evil resides.  A panel of trademark judges affirmed and confirmed it last February when they ruled against a company called Evil Enterprises.  Since 2008 Evil Enterprises has been attempting to market a line of baseball-related product trademarked as “Baseballs Evil Empire”.  But Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees challenged them over the title.  In February, the judges ruled, “There is only one Evil Empire in baseball, and it is the New York Yankees.”  Those damn Yankees!  But God doesn’t care . . . shoot where were the Yankees this past season?  Look at what is happening to their team . . . drug scandals, retiring superstars, and the second largest luxury tax paid since the tax was instituted 11 years ago (which they have contributed $252.7 of the $285.1 million dollars or 88.6 percent of the total tax since its inception) . . . evil pure evil . . . but God doesn’t care about baseball . . . at least not since the Miracle Mets of 1969.

Speaking of those Miracle Mets . . . and, this is how I know that God does not care about sports . . . I was and am a loyal Baltimore Orioles fan . . . those were the guys that blew the World Series against the Mets.  I know that I prayed just as hard as any Mets fan . . . hey, we had one of the best teams ever assembled that year . . . for the Birds to win the series.  We didn’t win . . . we just got beat by good baseball and luck.  Had to be . . . God was busy doing other things that were more important . . . at least that is what I keep telling myself.  It beats thinking God ignored my prayers!

I do not think that God cares about sports.  I feel for those 27 percent of Americans who believe that God plays an active role in deciding sporting events.  I feel for them because anything can happen whenever two teams square off against each other . . . ask the Crimson Tide of Alabama or the Bulldogs of Georgia . . . the ball can bounce any way it bounces.  No, in the grand scheme of things . . . in God’s ultimate design . . . sports are probably not the number one priority for God’s time and attention.  Having said that, I do think that God appreciates a little acknowledgement from time to time—even in the world of sports:

But, come on, who really seriously thinks that God is an avid sports fan dictating the outcomes of sporting events?  If God were a sports fan, God would be a Cornhusker fan . . . after all, Nebraska is God’s Country . . . no one else would have it!  That I believe.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Problem with Boxes

So, a big-time public relations executive, Justine Sacco, lost her job for . . . putting people into boxes.  Phil Robertson, star of the reality show—Duck Dynasty—lost his job (well, temporarily suspended) for . . . putting people in boxes.  Whenever people are looked at in certain ways, or labels are placed upon them, they are being put into boxes.  In doing this people are negated and limited in sharing who they are and what they have to offer.  Robertson and Sacco are not the only ones who do this . . . we are all guilty of putting others into boxes . . . shoot, we are guilty of putting ourselves in boxes!  The problem with boxes is that one size does not fit all people . . . they are usually generalizations that are often far from the truth. 

Think about it . . . all Democrats are . . . all Republicans are . . . people with disabilities are . . . elderly people are . . . all politicians are . . . liberals, conservatives, and middle of the roaders are . . . blacks are . . . whites are . . . Native Americans are . . . religious people are . . . Muslims are . . . Jews are . . . Christians are . . . poor people are . . . women are . . . men are . . . jocks are . . . and, on and on and on the list could go.  Name your group, place them in a box, and fill in the blank as to what they are.  We all do it . . . the only problem is that we are not important or famous enough to be constantly monitored as to what we are saying . . . but, we all do it.  We all place people into boxes.

I have spent a lifetime fighting getting placed into a box.  One of the boxes I fight being placed in is the box of being a minister.  No matter how hard I fight being placed in a pastoral box, I still end up in the box.  It is a box with a lot of assumptions as to what a minister is . . . most of which, I am not.  Once people get to know me they often tell me I did not fit into any of the asumptions of what they thought a minister was about.  But, I still know that I am stuck in that box.  Whenever it is pointed out that I am a minister, the room becomes quiet, the drinks disappear, and I begin fielding questions about the virginal birth, Jesus walking on water, and homosexuality . . . as if I am the end all authority on all topics religious and theological.  I’m not.  I am not a biblical scholar . . . I am not a theological savant . . . I am not all that reverent.  After people get to know me they usually view me as fairly irreverent . . . not what they are usually expecting of a minister.

That is one of the problems with boxes . . . boxes come with assumptions and generalizations.  All ministers are the same . . . all black people are the same . . . all homosexuals are the same . . . all Indians (Native American or from India) are the same . . . all Republicans are conservatives, all Democrats are liberals . . . all politicians are the same.  They think the same . . . talk the same . . . act the same . . . live the same.  The sad thing about this whole “box” dilemma is that we so readily buy into it . . . we buy into the expectations . . . and, we live in the generalizations.  Our society thrives on this economy of boxes . . . every box has its place and purpose.  We are all guilty of this idea of boxes.  We, as humans, are a lazy sort . . . we look for the easy way out . . . we look for the loopholes.  M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, says that laziness is the whole root of sin . . . and, it all started with Adam and Eve taking the easy way out instead of waiting for God.  We believe the assumptions and generalizations . . . and, that is what gets us into trouble.

This is not something new.  In 1962, Malvina Reynolds—a folk/blues singer-songwriter and political activist, nailed this phenomena in her song Little Boxes.   The song became a hit for her friend Pete Seeger in 1963.  The song is a political satire about the spread of suburbia and its conformist attitudes.  A university professor once said that he had been lecturing about this idea of conformity for a whole semester, and the song that says it all in one-and-a-half minutes. 

The satire comes in the fact that reality says that boxes don’t work . . . we live in a world that is filled with diversity . . . God did not create any two of the human exactly the same . . . we are all different and to throw everyone into boxes defeats God’s purpose.  That is what was wrong with the statements made by Sacco and Robertson . . . they lumped people together and placed them in boxes.

As I stated earlier, we humans are a lazy sort . . . we take the easy way out.  It is easier to lump people together, throw them into boxes, than to actually take the time and have a relationship with them.  It is easier to live with the assumptions and generalizations than it is to know and understand the truth . . . hey, that is what makes good advertisement.  Yet, the bottom line is that this is not God’s will . . . this is sin, plain and simple . . . it is taking the easy way out.  Taking the easy way out has created this mess we call our society in which we place people into boxes . . . usually boxes that are way too small to hold the reality and truth of who those people are.  When this happens we make stupid statements like Sacco and Robertson made.

Both Sacco and Robertson have the right to believe whatever it is that they want to believe.  They have a right to express their opinion, after all it is an opinion and it belongs to them.  This is not an issue about expressing an opinion, it is an issue about using generalizations and assumptions to categorize and place whole groups of people into boxes that do not fit into the individuality and diversity of God’s creation of the human race or design of the Kingdom.  If we are to be scriptural we must remember that the Bible begins with acknowledgement of the fact that the human race . . . male and female . . . was created in God’s image.  Each and every human being is a chip off of the ol’ block that is God . . . and, as such, is deserving of love and respect for who God created them to be. 

The problem with boxes is that there is not a “one size fits all”.  To put people in boxes is to negate God’s gift of individuality and diversity . . . it is to ignore the many pieces of the puzzle that make up the face of God . . . that expose the kingdom . . . that makes us all a part of God’s family.  The problem is that boxes are just a ticky tacky way to live life . . . they all look the same.  We know the truth . . . none of us is the same.  God designed us that way . . . the adventure is seeing how the many individual and diverse pieces go together to fulfill God’s will.  That includes Sacco and Robertson . . . let’s not put them in boxes . . . that would be too easy and wrong.