Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ft. Collins, Colo.

11 a.m. to ?

Chosen because…late service

Biggest church I’ve been to.  It sits in a giant field surrounded by wealthy neighborhoods. Not only does it have a welcome center, which gives makes me feel like I’m walking through an airport rather than a church, it also has a worship center, life/center gym, preschool, student center, etc.

I’m grateful for the coffee/donut room. Guilt kicks in so I donate $1 to the coffee collection. This is the only donation I’ve made to a church thus far. After service I feel duped, used and wish I could take my money back.

Love Money, Then Jesus

Remember this scene from Jerry Maguire? This is Redeemer Lutheran Church.

JERRY MAGUIRE SHOW ME THE MONEY


The preachers or whatever are dressed in white, red sashes resting on either side of their chests. Huge choir. Massive movie screen. Many people wearing buttons purporting their love for Jesus. At least I think that’s what they’re for.

It’s “commitment weekend,” a time for parishioners to place donation envelopes they received via mail in Pottery Barn-like donation baskets. Before they do, the preacher fills them with artificial love, hiding the church’s need for greed behind Bible passages such as “whoever does not love God does not know love.”

When the preacher quiets, this message is conveyed, falsely — though song — and soundtrack as people in the sound booth add thunder and other such nonsense to the melody.

After guilt by love, the preacher gets down to business. This whole love B.S. will continue for 36 months because the church is on a mission to a) Raise up stewards b) Pay down debt c) Further the mission.

So learn about God, pay down the Redeemer Lutheran‘s $2 million debt during the next 36 months and then spread God’s word through costly missions. Appalling.

Need for Greed

He uses the following mantras to encouraging giving…and love.

“Love is not really love until it’s given away.”

“I hope you get to learn during this season we get to give love away.”

“We don’t want to whore the message of God.”

Then we watch a clip from Schindler’s List. It’s at the end when Schindler realizes the money he spent on material excess could have saved thousands of Jews.

People sniffle. It’s an emotional scene and a cleaver way for the preacher to beg for money. After the clip, he invites everyone to bring up envelopes of money, encouraging them to “woo hoo” when they dump it in Pottery Barn-like baskets.

I’m sick to my stomach. This place of worship is an infomercial, not a church. I leave and head to a dive bar in Loveland of all places, to cleanse my soul.

The leaders of this church should be ashamed of themselves for their unabashed call to greed. Redeemer Lutheran Church is antithetical to Jesus’ message. It’s disgusting.

Oh how I hate Top 10 lists. That being said, I absolutely must share the most interesting Google queries that have led people to a ThumpMe entry. Below are the Top 13 search engine terms that have driven people to ThumpMe:

1. sexy nine (this happened multiple times, likely queried by grammatically challenged, sexually depraved souls)

2. why schizophrenia people stare

3. porn links to send to people (I had several queries like this but this is my fav)

4. i really want to lose weight in 2011

5. i like married white females

6. what the hell, ill have the venison joke

7. easiest way to levite tissue (I’m assuming this is the correct page? Really want to meet this person…)

8. ivy hughes lansing pretty (I have no idea which entry this led to, but it’s obviously my favorite search combo)

9. politically correct term for dwarf (um?)

10. women get what they want

11. bee skin disease

12. luc d’abadie (what does this mean?)

13. medical marijuana prescription lansing

Merry $mas

December 22, 2010

Among other things, the Bible is all about refraining from idol worship. Ask fourth graders about their idols. Football players. Pop stars. Cartoons. Some anorexic chick on the front of Seventeen magazine.

How many would name Jesus as their idol? A few I suppose. You know, those poor Catholic school kids haunted by raised rulers and swirling wrath.

Who else? How many of you adults consider Jesus an idol? Is that your only one? What about those miraculous Spanx keeping you smooth in your Christmas dress?

I’m in a cafe listening to these materialistic but entertaining women discuss their diamond rings, their bags, etc. This isn’t anything new especially in an affluent part of the country (this isn’t as big of an issue in Mid-Michigan), but it’s hilarious because many of these women are the type of women who claim Christianity because it too is a symbol.

These women will park their Land Rovers in a church lot Friday or Saturday, walk their little designer boots (type varies according to region) into the lobby — excuse me,  first their husband or some other obligated man will open the door for them so as not to disturb the tall skinny latte in their right hands or the behemoth bags resting on their left forearms — rush into the prayer room or whatever it is, daydream during the service while sipping said latte and get the hell out before the dreadful “meet your neighbor moment.”

Perhaps I’m projecting myself on others but, according to the Washington Post, retail revenues are up 5.5 percent from 2009 this Christmas season and, at least where I come from, this revenue is supporting other idols — clothes, cars, engagement rings, vacations. Anything but Jesus.

I’m having a really hard time getting through the rest of the Bible so I need to grab hold of randomness like idol worship. The girl sitting across from me has on Nike with a big swoosh, a Mountain Hardwear fleece, a Droid and Fossil jeans. I hate when companies place their labels on the outside of clothing, but if I put my clothes on inside out today, same situation.

Unless I missed the glowing bulbs, reindeer holding birdhouses (?), santas and creepy nutcrackers snuggled in the manger with Jesus in the middle of the New Testament, every single person in this cafe is worshiping some anti-Christ idol.

My parents’ house looks like the North Pole. Every room, every blanket, every picture, every decoration replaced by something Christmas-like. It’s fantastic. However none of it has anything to do with Jesus. Admittidly, we’re not relgious. My dad went to Catholic school, an abusive and terrifying experience, but us kids are heathens.

My mom tried to give us a dose of Jesus (it’s his birthday after all), but it didn’t work. For a few years, she  kept this horrid painting of Jesus in the guest room. Eventually we convinced her to get rid of it. I literally couldn’t fall asleep with that sadistic Mona Lisa looking at me.

A few days ago, I asked my mom what happened to creepy Jesus. She said she didn’t know so I asked if she had anything other than the glittery angel ornaments my sister and I made when we were kids in any of the six of 11 first-floor rooms decorated for “Christmas.”

We searched. This is what we found. Upside down. Behind a ladder in the garage.

Out of respect I cleaned up the poor guy, righted him, but couldn’t do anything about the crack in the glass.

This is Christmas. Right? Obviously the commercialization of Christ is as old as the day is long but every year it blows my mind and I have to write about it especially because Christians are not supposed to worship other idols.

I have some idols, none of which have to do with Christ but so does everyone else so what happens to those Christians? Are they nixed? So American Christians don’t exist?

Well, at least we can be charitable during the season, think of other people and their hardships. I do it all the time. I mean, my heart bleeds for the guy sitting across from me. Here I am clicking away on a Mac while he clunks away on a TOSHIBA! I have no idea how the poor soul gets any work done.

Stopping Point: Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians

If you don’t have at least one vice, don’t plan on infiltrating my personal circle. I’ll never trust you.

God and I agree on this point, he just doesn’t know it. According to this bit of Bible, God gives non-believers “corrupted minds” so they can do things they should not do, so they can entertain vice, which includes: evil, greed, jealousy, murder, fighting, deceit, malice, gossip, evil talk; hating God; insolence; pride; disobedience; lies; and cruelty.

Above all else “every man is a liar.” Agreed (women included), but what a disingenuous way to garner followers. Essentially God is saying, “since you’re human and these things are bound to happen, you’re screwed so you may as well give yourself over to me and, if you do you’ll have eternal life and this drudgery you live will disappear.”

I’ve stayed away from cliché arguments against religion, but using force and fear as a means to facilitate loyalty is repugnant.

The Book of Romans is fascinating. It’s about God’s Law and it is written like a congressional bill so if a person isn’t paying attention, they just get the fear and follow message. It’s winding, wordy (new word) and extremely difficult to follow. But the stuff Paul wants us to know — you’re bad and if you don’t love God you’re screwed — is written in plain English.

At one point Paul says (in parenthesis), “I use every day language because of the weakness of your natural selves.”

As in, listen up dummy, here’s everything you need to know. God created you to sin, but is merciful and will forgive you and let you walk among angels if you believe. Aside from coercion, this is a lie. In the Old Testament, God is anything but merciful. He doesn’t show grace, turn a blind eye, or bestow patience on sinners. He eviscerates them.

I know the Bible offers a lot of value — I see it — but this is propaganda used to fool people into letting fear overtake thought.

Now, I’m trying to remain open minded. As I said, I’ve found a lot of value in the Bible. I even found two bits in The Book of Romans that apply to my life.

“If our gift is to speak God’s message, we should do it according to the faith that we have.” If we don’t act on that faith, then we’re in trouble. But, if my faith is within myself, does that count? It may not be what God intended, but it’s faith.

Paul says that if we, as individuals, think something is right and we do that thing, we’re OK. But if we have any doubts about it, we’re guilty and therefore it’s wrong. So if I think it’s OK to kill a certain person – no doubts, no guilt — is that OK?

At one point Paul portends to address some important questions, questions no person of faith has ever answered for me. For example, if God is merciful, how can God find fault with anyone? Peter’s response: “But who are you my friend to talk back to God?”

That’s my problem. The answers I see in the Bible are ones of don’t ask don’t tell.

Unfortunately, interpretation is nine-tenths the law and I’m the outlier.

Stopping Point: Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

* Note to the few of you hanging on despite this post: I will be traveling across the country starting Friday. I will continue the posts, but may add some travel updates as well.

 

I try not to celebrate the raping and pillaging of other cultures however, Thanksgiving 2010 was fantastic. Good food, wonderful family, the Book of John and Jorianne, the Coffee Psychic.

For five days, I had access to three guideposts — family, religion and the occult. They all said the same thing: Have faith. It will all work out.

But as Jesus and Jorianne demonstrate, it’s extraordinarily difficult to know without seeing and do without knowing.

Jesus says: “None of you will ever believe unless you see miracles and wonders.”

Jorianne says: “You’re being pulled in two and you don’t know which way to go.”

All true but Jorianne’s coffee/tarot reading provided something more tangible than the Bible. That doesn’t mean I’m going to make any decisions, but I’m more comfortable with the idea of not doing anything, which is something.

Some are as skeptical of psychics as I am the Bible, but Jorianne knew about my foot surgery and stomach issues without my saying a word. But, as with the Bible, her visions are open to interpretation and I’ll take what I want and leave the rest.

My Life According to Jorianne

My stomach issues involve female organs, possibly a collapsed uterus. (I’m sorry. This is foul. The uterus should never be discussed, not even on ThumpMe.)

My U will be righted soon and then I’ll start cranking out kids, likely twins. (Multiples run in my dad’s family. Damn.)

Don’t trust Michael. (Who?)

Go back to school. (No.)

Though I don’t eat sweets I like wine, which is “OK” for me. (Thank God. I can check alcoholism off my list of worries).

There’s something with the Coast Guard. (I like ripped men and can’t swim…)

I will meet a Dimitri or Demetrius, possibly in a work setting, possibly a doctor. He will be a positive influence, role model and man of great integrity.

An imposter is threatening my safety.

I will travel a lot this summer. (Yes. And it will involve unshaven men and rigs.)

I will travel to many “weird” places, including Iceland. It will take my writing to a whole new level. (Totally down.)

She mentioned the Dimitri/Demetrius thing multiple times, which is fascinating because I’ve never met either. She also said “If you need time, be by yourself for a while and sort things out,” which is interesting because this is my only plan for 2011.

I’ll also “make the correct choice” and am hanging around someone who is “not willing to make sacrifices, is self-centered, conceited, has little regard for others, only for themselves,” which answers one question.

Jorianne is a modern day prophet. Like prophets, psychics predict events. People listen to the predictions they like and ignore those they don’t.

So, in taking what I want from Jorianne, this is what will happen. When I return from my island of self-discovery Dimitri, the Coast Guard surgeon, will fix my womb so I can travel to weird places and raise a brood of twins. In Iceland I’ll open a vineyard and, since I’ll have a PhD, I’ll do what all PhDs and writers do — sit on my ass and think all day.

Sounds pretty good. Now I just need to find Dimitri. Casting call starts today.

Stopping Point: The Acts of the Apostles

Ah, holidays. What could be better?

Holidays were created to celebrate dysfunction. It’s OK. All families are dysfunctional even the “normal” ones — it’s called denial. Don’t stress out about, enjoy it. You’re in good company. Jesus’ family was screwy too.

In the New Testament, four men give a version of the gospel. You can glean anything you want from any of them. I think Matthew is dry, Mark is dark and Luke is wonderful. His writing is interesting and he details good old family pandemonium.

Based on Luke’s account, the following characters likely attended a Jesus family holiday:

Elizabeth — An old woman who owes her unexpected pregnancy to an angel.

Zechariah — Elizabeth’s old, mute husband who sits in a temple to avoid confronting his wife’s “conversation” with the angel that prophesized her pregnancy.

Mary — A young virgin who cannot figure out how she got pregnant. Gosh darn it. I hate when that happens. Wait a minute…

Joseph — A passive-aggressive young man who retaliates against Mary, his pregnant virgin bride, by wrapping her offspring in a blanket and dumping him in a wooden box.

Jesus — The only 12-year-old in history who sneaks out of his parents’ home to help people. An overachiever, he leaves home at 30, which is typical among intellectuals.

John the Baptist — A somewhat bossy old man who throws water at people.

Judas — A traitor.

Martha and Mary — Feuding sisters.

Unfaithful Servants — The thousands of people relegated to the children’s table.

I wish Youtube existed in B.C. I’m sure it would outshine the Griswold Family Christmas freak out.

The Hap Hap Happiest Christmas

*Disclosure. This contains an f-bomb. Sorry. Unavoidable.

Everyone has some tip about how to survive the holidays. They include; keeping alcoholics and drug addicts off the invite list; creating boundaries (good luck to you); making realistic choices; setting low expectations; committing to a four-day food coma; and viewing life as a series of absurdities.

Jesus says “…a family divided against itself falls apart,” which is a fancy way of advising families to stick together.

I, on the other hand, advise a light heart and saturated liver.

Strap in. The race begins Thursday.

Stopping Point: The Gospel According to John

I should write about suicide and sex all the time. They’re huge sellers. That being said, the honesty of yesterday’s post really freaked some people out. Initially it irritated me, but then I realized the reactions reflected our discomfort with honesty. We covet our feelings, our flaws and our desires for fear that others will judge us. Myself included.

Yesterday’s confession was three years late. Why? Because it’s easier to talk about things that are embarrassing or emotionally intense once they’re in the past. Way in the past.

In short, we’re often ashamed to be human, which is why I like Jesus. He encourages honesty and introspection. He also allows us to forgive ourselves for being human.

Unfortunately God gets all the glory. All I ever hear is “Dear God” or “Thank you Lord.” God is the one who brings people to their knees. Jesus heals. The Lord hates. Jesus loves. Jesus accepts. God damns. Jesus helped the poor. God damned them (at least in the beginning of the Old Testament, he did the same to foreigners).

Do people pray to Jesus? I’ve heard “In Jesus’ name,” but that doesn’t sound prayer-like to me.

Why does God get all of the kudos? Well, he’s older and we’re taught to respect our elders. He’s also very Hollywood. He loves special effects and doom and gloom. Jesus, on the otherhand, is like an Independent film. Listening to him takes patience. He offers substance.

Last night I tried praying — to Jesus, not God — and instead of peace, I had a horrific nightmare, woke up yelling, knocked water all over my side table and quintupled the width of my favorite short story collection. My hips, back and stomach also seized up, preventing me from cleaning the mess. The dream —family murdered, me living in a house of blood with an invisible killer that suffocated me from time to time — wasn’t what I was looking for, but it made me think. God may have delivered blood and guts, but I don’t know if he would have putt me in the house or subjected me to the invisible killer. Jesus did (maybe) and I’ve been analyzing both all day. How do they pertain to my life? Emotional state? Etc.

I like Jesus, but I think this is a farce: “When  you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”

When I sort of prayed, I did not expect physical and mental torture especially because my prayer was altruistic, which is uncommon. Is exorcism a common response to prayer? Is that why everyone prays to God instead of Jesus?

Well, I’ll give Jesus another shot. As for the Lord, adios Dios.

Stopping Point: Book of Luke

Family Meeting

November 16, 2010

Family meetings. Everyone has them. It’s time for ours.

You’re pushing back — rightly so — regarding yesterday’s emotional cop out. Why can’t/won’t I dig deeper into the New Testament? Why not examine it and myself more critically? Etc.

You’ve gotten to know me a bit through this blog, but I’m fairly good at hiding behind words. I mean my profile picture is a llama or an alpaca. Who can tell? I’ve never met the young woman on the masthead. I told you I hate Miracle Whip, am offended by Tex-Mex and wear contacts but what do you really know about me?

Time for some honesty. Right now I’m going through some stuff I cannot write about because it affects too many people. This is not a cop out. Actually, it would be easier for me to write about the situation. You know the relief you feel when you’re sick to your stomach and you finally vomit? That’s what happens when I write.

Believe me, I want to write about this. It would be a redemption of sorts but I can’t. My motives aren’t selfish. I’m not holding back to protect myself. In fact, let me lay out a few things that, until now, have been reserved for very close friends. This will make you pity me, hate me, distrust me, fear me, but it’s honesty, proof I don’t fear exposure, evidence that I want to be honest in this quest. Two things: I’ve had my stomach pumped twice and three years ago, I slit my wrist.

Two things got me through: Love and writing. If I were to write about the current situation, I would feel better but everyone else would feel worse. So it’s not an excuse, it’s just what it is. Bear with me on the New Testament. OK?

If you looked through the hole in my head, you’d see these are the scriptures (is that what they’re called?). Maybe they’ll provide more insight…

Scriptures (or whatevs)

“Why, then, do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?”

“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.”

“To have good fruit you must have a healthy tree; if you have a poor tree, you will have bad fruit.”

“Anything that goes in a person’s mouth goes into his stomach and then out of his body. But the things that come out of his mouth come from the heart, and these are the things that make a person ritually unclean.”

Two other observations

1. Matthew is a much better writer/story teller than Mark though Mark found a use for “sickle” and told a troubling story about dropping a paralyzed guy through a hole in a roof so his book isn’t a complete wash.

2. The parables clearly laid the foundation for 21st Century jokes. Did you hear the one about the 10 girls who took their lamps to a bridegroom? How about the one about the three servants and their coins? Or the one about the sower who sat in a boat? That’s a real side splitter.

I suppose this post is a parable. It’s the only way to explain yesterday’s haze but I believe substance will creep back in.

By the way, do not feel sorry for me. I’m medicated, I have faith this situation will work out (whatever that means) and I’m too old and tired for suicide.

On that note…have an uplifting day!

Stopping Point: Book of Mark, Jesus Feeds 5,000 Men

Impatiently Waiting

November 10, 2010

Today I could use a priest, maybe a monk. Two reasons.

1. The prophets are jumping from century to century, kingdom to kingdom and it’s confusing.

2. The prophets have been going on and on about this end of the world situation. God recommends people “just wait” as if it’s easy to ignore an overly hyped apocalypse. I can’t wait for anything because I’m human, I’m American and I’m managing opposing…I want to say personalities but that makes me sound like a psycho. IDs? Can priests address that?

There’s a lot of stuff going on in my life (as if everyone else is at the beach pounding margaritas) and I want everything wrapped up. I want answers. I want decisions. A good friend of mine suggested I “be still and listen,” which is like telling a crack addict to sip tea while reading Thomas Friedman’s “From Beirut to Jerusalem.”

I’m trying but it’s hard to listen when I’ve got Ms. Type A in one ear and this spontaneous, free spirited pixie in the other.

The contrast between these personalities is reflected in my office. I have 10 running to-do lists; a file folder of more than 200 fiction and non-fiction story ideas; two novels in-process; a list of life goals (often conflicting); and a list of quarterly goals. That’s the military side. The creative side painted the walls bright blue, hung art and covered a large bookcase with all sorts of randomness including graduation tassels (what?); journals; dried lavender; sports medals (who cares?); an original Betty Crocker cookbook; useless press passes; a typewriter; and a tooth, likely human.

I worry that if I fail to balance these identities, I’ll either end up like Dr. Leo Marvin, an uptight goal-oriented therapist who helps his patient, Bob, learn to appreciate life while his own falls apart, or The Dude, a happy burnout who loves White Russians and women named Bunny.

Thenali and What About Bob part 2/2

Big Lebowski Crash Scene

God expects his people to patiently wait for the end of the world. We don’t hear from the people, but we hear from the prophets who swing between Dr. M and The Dude. None of them are in the middle. None of them are “just waiting.” They’re either freaking out (type A) or calmly relaying God’s message (pixie). If the prophets can’t balance Dr. M and The Dude, how am I supposed to? Just wait?

Stopping Point: The Book of Malachi

Sexy Nine

November 9, 2010

I’m not a mathematician, but I crunched some numbers during Leviticus and according to young God, humans can have sex nine times during a 30-day month. Max. If the stars don’t align and a woman has her period during those nine days, the in-laws are visiting, or someone has a headache, sayonara pillow talk.

How then, does human kind make it to 600 B.C.? After centuries of war and a nine-day sex window, how the hell did humans survive and have enough resources to repopulate?

Maybe after eviscerating his people a few times, God conducted a census and changed his mind. He does it all the time.

When I did my days-of-sex count, God punished his people by draping them in sackcloth and drawing their hair over their eyes. In the Book of Micah and the Book of Nahum, God punishes people by having them run around naked. I’ve never lived in a nudist colony (visited one, fascinating and shriveled), but I assume the propensity for sexual interaction is greater when people walk around in the buff — any collision could result in attachment.

It’s too bad we can’t choose who follows God’s nine-day sex rule. Unfortunately, most people can procreate (cringe).

Right now one of the “hot topics” on American newsreels is a presidential miscarriage. Our former president, W., had someone write a book for him and in it he talks about the time he saw his mother’s miscarried fetus.

According to the Christian Post, “He unexpectedly saw the remains of the human fetus that his mother saved to bring to the hospital” and “acknowledged that moment also contributed to his pro-life view.”

I’m so traumatized by this, I really don’t know what to say other than there must be some rational behind the nine-day rule. Imagine how many more Bushes there would be if God allowed sex all month! Yikes!

Because part of me is a 15-year-old male, I had to include this. I also grew up in the 90s so I have a thing for Salt-N-Pepa. Enjoy.

Spindarella cut it up one time…

Salt N Pepa – Let’S Talk About Sex (The Original)

Stopping Point: The Book of Zephaniah

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