Stand in an elevator facing the people, not the door. Be middle class, refuse an education. Stare. Be honest. Don’t mow your lawn. End a conversation because it’s boring. Loaf. Say what you mean. Wear flip-flops to meetings. Follow your dreams. Deviate.

Last week I spent about 30 minutes staring at a German schizophrenic. He was sitting across from me on a train to the Dusseldorf Airport. Everyone else avoided him, presumably because they understood his shouts and murmurs, which must have been offensive as everyone moved away from him immediately.

He asked me if I spoke English. I pretended I didn’t giving both of us the freedom to gawk. He smelled, as homeless people tend to do, but as I’ve said before, I have this smelling thing. Good or bad, it’s an unappreciated sense. We’re taught not to stare at people particularly people who are down on their luck, those we’re taught to ignore. But because I was in a foreign country and incapable of understanding this fascinating man, I was uninhibited by the social norms that would have turned me from him at home.

I’m catching up on my Bible reading, just whizzed through the Book of Hosea and the Book of Jonah. Hosea is a softie who does everything God tells him to do including staying with a cheating wife, and Jonah does what he pleases but eventually goes back to God. Why do they do this? Because they’re supposed to. They’re told to go back to God. It’s the thing to do. It relieves guilt, consummates loyalty. It’s the norm.

So anyone who adheres to norms gets a pass but who creates those norms and why do we follow?

I don’t know who creates them (sociologist please), but we follow them because the repercussions for breaking social norms are difficult to endure. In some cases, the pressure expounded on these social outliers is so great it leads to suicide.

Unfortunately norms are homogenizing, they keep us from entertaining what we want to do and encourage us to criticize those who do differently.

I’m young(ish) so I’m supposed to network. I hate it. Listening to uninteresting, self-righteous professionals talk about their accomplishments is torturous. All I ever want to say is, “You’re uninteresting and I hope I never spend one more second with you even if you are one of the most ‘successful’ young professionals in the region.” But that’s rude. So I don’t network. I keep my mouth shut, fall in line.

Yesterday I watched “Meet the Press,” which always causes heartburn. Sen. Jim DeMint (R/Tea Party-S.C.) was asked how to right our country’s debt so we don’t have to raise the $1.4 TRILLION debt cap (shiver). Does he want to raise taxes? Cut spending? He said we can do both but refused to explain exactly how that might work. Due to time constraints, what have you, he got a pass.

We take this stuff in stride, take our grievances to the ballot box — what a joke — and accept these non-answers. I’d like to go live with a suggestion to waterboard politicians — a small incentive for details — but I don’t because of the kickback. The last time I said something moderately controversial in a blog titled “Please Just Shut the F%*& Up,” a narcissistic Midwestern mayor got himself in a tizzy, complicating my job for about a month. (If you’re interested in this piece, let me know. I’ll send you an email.) On this one, the personal repercussions were minimal, but because I cantered outside of the norm and spoke my mind rather than following the path of the “objective journalist,” I couldn’t access resources I needed. Really? Because of an opinion? Perhaps a new(ish) idea?

I give major props to columnists and individuals who put their opinions out there without any excuses. Since we’re so politically correct and hold so tightly to this idea of being normal, this is a rarity. We don’t like to rock the boat or confront the mighty social norms.

So, did Hosea and Jonah profess loyalty to God because it was easy? Is religion a norm? Do people do it because it’s easy, because they’re afraid of social repercussions? Before getting defensive, think about it. Do what I do. Tell people — without apologizing — that you don’t believe in God or go to Church. My guess is that the person will either pity you or try to save your soul. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not normal.

(Interesting side note: “Are Independent Thinkers Mentally Ill?”)

Stopping Point: The Book of Micah

*FYI, I’ll be publishing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I need to make up for last week’s absence.

Dan the Man

October 27, 2010

Big Diesel. Hollywood. Shug Night. These are my father’s aliases. His namesake, Daniel the prophet, only had one — Belteshazzar.

My dad, Dan, is similar to Daniel. He’s loyal, generous and inquisitive. He also makes grandiose statements, loves giving advice and ends up in some interesting situations.

I’m not sure why my brother calls my dad Big Diesel, but the name fits the personality. Why? Well, Big Diesel has his own way of doing things. Rather than messing with his desk chair, Big Diesel keeps it at midget height, his chest level with the keyboard; he turns his laptop sideways to read unusually formatted documents; and carries his reading glasses in a plastic sandwich bag. Big Diesel.

Like Daniel the prophet, who walks in a fire to save his friends, Big Diesel is extremely loyal. Why not long ago he participated in a three-day, 60-mile MS walkathon to support his friends. No one in our family has MS and until moments before the race, Big Diesel wasn’t walking much. When he started training (I’m guessing a week, two weeks before the race), he got a huge blister on his heel. Rather than letting his friends down, he cut a hole in the back of his shoe to accommodate the blister. Big Diesel.

Daniel the prophet prays for his people while wearing sackcloth and sitting in a pile of ashes. I don’t think my dad’s ever done that (it’s possible), but he has his own sense of style, which is why we call him Hollywood. Hollywood is a very good skier, but his skiing attire — black jeans, $2 Ray-Ban knock-offs, flapping jacket — is all 80s and if Hollywood gets a phone call, he will stop mid-turn to answer it. Hollywood loves his flip phone and has special greetings for everyone who calls. They include: “Yo.” “Mr. Brown.” “Hel-lo.” “Hey Ives.” “This is Dan.” His tone varies with each greeting and when he’s done with you he says, “It was good talking to you.” Click. No goodbye. Conversation over.

Inference is a Prophet Daniel and Big Diesel/Hollywood specialty. The prophet interprets dreams, Hollywood interprets people. For a while, Hollywood knew all bad drivers were either “on drugs” or “punks.” “Methheads” got worked in there for a while, but I think that prophecy has dissipated.

Hollywood could be a writer. He loves telling stories and creating conspiracy theories. This is how his final alias, Shug Night, was born.

For some reason Hollywood started a conversation about the Biggie/Tupac beef, of which he knows a lot (he watched a special). It’s impossible to talk about Biggie and Tupac without theorizing Biggie’s death. Shug Night admits producer Suge Knight had a role in the situation.  However, Shug Night’s says gangs are the real reason Biggie got shot. He blames the “Knights and Crips” a rivalry that, to my knowledge, doesn’t exist.

I just got off the phone with Shug Night. I had to verify the spelling of his name. I though it was “Shrug Night” (because he shrugs his shoulders a lot) but it’s Shug. Why Shug and not Suge, like the real Suge Knight?

“I just shortened it up. His name wasn’t cool enough for me.”

I read The Book of Daniel with greater enthusiasm than the other books because it made me think of my father. If churches could relate personalities like Big Diesel, Hollywood and Shug Night to the prophets, I would consider parking my butt in a pew.

Stopping Point: The Book of Hosea

Sympathy for the Devil

October 26, 2010

Here’s a christian favorite: “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

He sure does. I dozed off during today’s reading. I blame Gog, a man with an interesting name and dull tale. When I woke up I thought, “What the hell am I going to write about today? All I’ve got is Gog.”

To stay awake during the rest of the reading, I turned on Pandora and wouldn’t you know, the first song was “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. When I finished reading, I got an email from a reader about Stones’ front man Keith Richards quitting the Bible in 2008 because “it was boring.” Coincidence? I think not. God wanted me to find inspiration in the devil.

Before boring Gog, I read “The Valley of Dry Bones.” Anorexics existed during Biblical times (many people nearly fasted themselves to death in the name of the Lord) but this valley is full of bones, no flesh, no organs, no fuzzy faces. Bones.

God breathes life into these bones, thereby creating new humans. How, might I ask, does this exclude reincarnation as a possibility for Christians? What if God screwed up and breathed souls into animals or trees? I’d like to delve into this topic, but I’m brain dead and it’s almost Halloween so let’s get back to the devil.

All God has to do is breathe life into bones. The devil, on the other hand, has to personalize purgatory for every sinner. That, my friend, is quite a task. I am not bothered by the prospect of spending eternity in inferno. Extreme heat is not on my Top 100 List of Irritations. When I go to hell, the devil’s going to need to customize a chamber for me, Ivy Hughes, and it should include the following:

Old people eating liquids

Barking dogs

Morbidly obese people in motorized scooters

Snakes

Politicians (there’s some overlap here)

Glenn Beck and his stupid university

Bjork

Mark Zuckerberg

Raw chicken

Those are just a few samples from the list I’ve been compiling for about a year and that’s just me. My husband’s chamber would include wet socks, mismatched socks, Oprah and unsolicited contact with bodily fluids.

Imagine how many people are in and will go to hell. Imagine customizing purgatory for each and every one of them.

In “Sympathy for the Devil,” the Stones say the Devil “stole many a man’s soul and fate.” Imagine managing all of those stolen souls? The Devil only gets one holiday — Halloween — so make sure it’s a good one.

The Rolling Stones : Sympathy For The Devil (live) HQ

Stopping Point: The Book of Daniel

*We’re adding faces and opinions. Thursday our first guest blogger, Laura Talley, creator of the Redheaded Skeptic, will contribute to ThumpMe. If you’re interested in contributing or have suggestions for contributors/subjects, please leave a comment or contact me at ivy.hughes@gmail.com

Gospel Aerobics

October 19, 2010

Gospel Dance Aerobics #1

(Video provided by www.givinghimpraise.com)

This is simply amazing. As a former aerobics instructor, I can appreciate the outfits. As a non-believer reading the Bible, I appreciate the incorporation of the Gospel though I can’t understand anything that woman is singing.

I’m going to overlook the fact that this book is a compilation of C-grade poetry because it validates the notion that every great nation must fall, an end people hasten by refusing to pay attention.

God went hoarse warning the people about their greed, excess, corruption, etc. but they didn’t listen and bam, good by promise land, hello dust and thorns. I’m not a history buff so I can’t say what round of empire destruction we’re entering, but I know which country’s citizens aren’t paying any attention. It’s the same one that’s on deck for obliteration and, unfortunately, we’re living in it.

I had a rather church-like moment Sunday. You need a whole lot of patience to get into my favorite breakfast place on a Sunday so I headed to IHOP, a post church destination for many people in the greater Lansing area.

The last time I went to IHOP the décor was tan and brown, the waitresses were rude, wore orthopedic shoes and delivered meals sized for humans, not elephants. IHOP 2010 is like the dining hall of fat kids camp, flat screens on the walls, meals for $6.99 that include two eggs, four pieces of bacon, hash browns and bottomless pancakes and servers at the ready with two types of hot sauce and ketchup. The bottomless tank of coffee was already on the table as were the five different flavors of syrup. To make room for this mess, I had to take my Bible off the table and put it on my lap. My breakfast at IHOP was so excessive I couldn’t even read, which is a microcosm of what’s happening in this country. We’ve excessed ourselves to stupidity. (My version of spell check doesn’t recognize “excessed” though it’s fairly prevalent on the Internet. Evolution?)

I know history is cumbersome. Lots of dates, lots of names, lots of little details about metals and string and begetting clans but is it too much to ask people to pay attention to the present? Even just a little. I covered the Michigan Senate for about three years. In case you haven’t tuned into the news for oh, years, my state in a bit of a predicament. Something about high unemployment and aging industries… Anyway, it’s damn hard to watch politics that intimately and then watch how little the public reacts. Actually, reaction would be good. Generally, I don’t see anything.

I’m not suggesting violence, but unless “bloody uprising” becomes a new Wii game, I think the citizens of this country are going to keep their heads in the sand, coming up for air to yell racial slurs after tourist attacks; borrowing a popular “celebrity cause” for dinner party conversation and, occasionally voting for people they don’t like and issues they don’t care about.

Celebrities can get people off the couch. On Oct. 30, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are hosting joint marches at the Capitol, the Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive. This is sure to be cute and I commend Colbert and Stewart for attempting to draw the public eye to the issues burying this country but the public eye is lazy, it rolls around IHOP on Sundays, lolling from a giant plate of pancakes to the sports ticker (or cartoons) on a big screen TV. The people in Jerusalem didn’t have big screen TVs, but they had wine and women and jewelry and once they developed lazy eyes, they lost everything.

Stopping Point: The Book of Ezekiel

(Note: I would like to relate at least one entry per Name Book  — ie. Mark, Daniel, John, etc. — to someone who shares that name. However, I’m short on a few. If you know a Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah or Haggai I could talk to, please let me know. I’ll be flexible. If you’ve got an Oadie or Zeek, that will work).

If we walked among the prophets, there’s no way God would stand for such as thing as National Bullying Prevention Month, a lengthy, touchy-feely strike against bullying. On the other hand, God’s prophet Jeremiah would likely accept a position as National Bullying Prevention Month spokesman.

You see, at this point in the Bible, God was extremely upset with people for worshiping idols and ignoring him. As punishment, he vowed to slaughter them, smash them like jars full of wine, starve them and kill them with disease. His prophet, Jeremiah, the sweet, marrying kind, was devastated by God’s wrath and wept for the people, but was too afraid of God to go his own way. Because both were so extreme in their emotions, God appears to be a bully and Jeremiah the victim.

Unfortunately, we tend to focus on the extreme, which is why things like National Bullying Prevention Month exist.  Extreme instances of bullying are not a joke. These instances — 16-Year Old Muslim Beating; Four Teen Suicides in Ohio;  — are reprehensible and the people responsible for them should be severely punished. That being said, 21st Century America is overly sensitive.

There’s no reason to dedicate a month to something the everyone has experienced especially since those experiences are generally mild. If you’ve gone to elementary school or survived puberty, chances are you’ve been “bullied” or what we old fogies might refer to as “teased” and/or “made fun of.”

I have a fat face and when I was in fifth and sixth grade I was a tomboy and spent recess playing basketball with the boys. When I exercise, my round little ball face reddens. Unfortunately for me, side ponytails were the rage during my tomboy phase and after a particularly strenuous game, one of the boys told me the combination of my red round face and side ponytail reminded him of a cherry.

I’ve been made fun of for wearing a bolo tie and being a bookworm but my worst bulling moments occurred in junior. I was teased non-stop by a group of girls in junior high school. After I rounded out and switched social groups, they stopped teasing me.  One even asked if I wanted to be jumped into her gang. I’m not into teardrop tattoos so I declined.

I was never physically harmed like Ralphie in a “A Christmas Story.”

A Christmas Story – Bullying Clip

But, like Ralphie, I survived. We were kids. We got bullied. It happens.

Ralphie Loses It

If we’re going to start setting aside a months to recognize extreme situations, why not create a “National White Collar Criminal Roundup Month;” “National Political Accountability Month;” or “National Spend Less Than You Earn Month”?

Normalizing extreme situations is extremely dangerous. In between God’s threats and Jeremiah’s emotional breakdown, a reasonable outcome exists. But because the back-and-forth focuses on two extremes, it’s difficult to see the reasonable middle ground.

If we, as a society, could stop swinging between freaking out and not caring, we wouldn’t need things like National Bullying Prevention Month. We also wouldn’t cave to political wedge issues or overact to people who think differently than we do. I’m not one for ideals, but it would be great if we could just moderate. Everything in moderation.

This, of course, is coming from Little Mrs. All or Nothing. We’ve all got a little work to do.

Stopping Point: Book of Jeremiah, 31-52

For all the wind I blow about being a non-believer, I sure do find myself wearing articles of faith. Sometimes I do this insincere promise making I suppose the liberal minded might consider prayer. It goes like this: “Whatever you are if you get me the hell out of this hurricane, I’ll try to be grateful for what I have.” Etc. I also believe in something greater than myself, embrace my own mortality and am fascinated by the spiritual world, but that’s only because I have Irish ghosts.

I’ve criticized God for being contradictory but in the Book of Isaiah, he sticks to his general theme of punishment and forgiveness, destroying people and land and then rebuilding both. He does this over and over again. Why? Because people don’t learn from the mistakes of those who went before them. If they did, this cycle would stop.

Interestingly, God doesn’t want people to listen to the dead — he abhors it. Curious. His prophets are dead. The people in the Old Testament are dead. If a person reads the Bible, aren’t they listening to the dead? Think about what we could learn, what some of us have learned, from the dead.

Let’s look at my Irish ghosts.

Letterfrack Industrial School Graveyard

I don’t like to harp on sexual abuse in the church. It gives religion a bad rap and unfortunately, abuse happens everywhere. However, the physical and sexual abuse administered by the Christian Brotherhood for nearly 100 years is exactly why God should encourage us to listen to the dead.

In the late 1800s through the 1970s, Irish parents turned their sons over to the Christian Brotherhood believing the fathers could not only feed their sons during a period of grave economic depression, but could also teach them a trade. These children attended schools like the Letterfrack Industrial School. Rather than getting an education, many of them were raped, beaten and killed.

My husband and I happened upon the Letterfrack Industrial School several years ago. We learned about it while sitting in a bar. Miraculously I convinced my husband to visit the school’s cemetery at dusk. This is what happened during our encounter with the dead.

What We Discovered Before Going

Thousands of boys were abused and then murdered, buried in surrounding peat bogs; the church wasn’t held responsible; families never knew what happened to their sons; supernatural interactions were common; no one wanted to talk about it.

What We Experienced

10 p.m. Summer. Dusk. Walked through the woods. Extreme presence, heavy. Sounded like singing in the trees. Curiously non-threatening. Opened the gates. Few graves. Large monument. Me taking photos. Husband behind a monument. Suddenly he asked to go, felt unsafe. We headed to the gate, thousands of microscopic bugs ran up our arms, legs, everywhere. Ran through the woods. Got in the car. Looked through the photos. Saw ghosts. Went to a pub. Showed the photos to patrons, watched the pub clear.

We returned to the site the next day to disprove my husband’s theory that the orbs in the photos were actually “medallions”, but we didn’t capture anything else on camera (or see anything in the trees). On the flight home my husband, Mr. Science, admitted that he had actually wanted to leave the graveyard because while standing next to the statue, he felt something on his neck. Interestingly, I took a photo right before he asked to leave. In that photo he’s standing near an orb. Odd.

Water spots are common on pictures, especially digital photos however, I’ve talked to several photographers about this photos and none of them have been able to explain these orbs. (Look at the detailed shot. I see an orb and a face. Crazy?)

I can’t stop thinking about Letterfrack, about what happened to those boys, about the priests, the crimes they got away with and the idea that this might happen again. Can’t we listen to those kids? We listen to prophets. Both are dead.

In the grand scheme of things, Letterfrack is a small example as to what could happen if we would just listen to the dead. What if the Rwandan government listened to those who died during the Holocaust? What if U.S. leaders took a little peek at Roman history? All those dead guys?

Why doesn’t God want us to listen to the dead? The dead wrote the Bible. They destroyed nations. They ruined the reputation of the church. The dead have a lot to say.

I’ve been researching the Letterfrack Industrial School for years and — if given the opportunity to do an in-depth study on some issue — this would be the one. All I need is funding, possibly a bit of protection. If you would like more information about the Letterfrack Industrial School, check out The Knitter blog or “Founded on Fear,” a book written by a man who went to the Letterfrack Industrial School and eventually killed himself.

Stopping Point: Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40-66

Note: My apologies for the Thursday post. Some really cool opportunities were presented to me yesterday and I had to take advantage. Will not happen again.

I don’t understand why so many people remain “friends” with their exes. Even if that person is a good person what, exactly, is the value of the friendship?

Five years after my wedding (anniversary is Oct. 9, cheers!) and halfway through the Bible and I think I’ve figured it out why I have no desire to hold onto those who scooted through and ran out of my dating favor. I live my life according to David’s son, the Philosopher, an influential and often morbidly pessimistic man who doesn’t allow for clinging to what was and grasping for what may be. He’s the closet the thing the Bible has to a Buddhist and he’s second only to Job in my heart.

The Philosopher is a bit grim. The heading, “Life is Useless,” tips off his musings on the complete meaninglessness of life and our miserable fate as human beings, but when his edge is removed, he and I are completely on par.

The Philosopher talks about four basics ideas that I would say, set the foundation for how I live my life:

1. “Everything that happens was determined long ago.”

2. There is no way for us to know what happens to us after we die.

3. The same fate comes to both good and bad.

4. All we can really do while we’re alive is do the best we can and be happy.

The Philosopher takes this to mean that God has laid a miserable fate on us but, for the first time in my life, I’m going to push back with optimism and suggest something is allowing each and every one of us to experiment, play and experience for a finite amount of time. This is a gift.

I try to live in the moment. It’s a struggle. I imagine it always will be. But I believe I am much more capable than most of finding peace in life because I also find peace in death. Incidentally, I do not believe in heaven and hell or God or Satan as defined by the Bible. My belief is linear. I am here now, I’ll be here as long as I’m supposed to be, I’ll be as good as I can while I’m here, I’ll be as happy as I can while I’m here and then I’ll die. Done.

If more people adhered to this idea — and it is not a negative one, hence my commitment to enjoy life —would organized religion start to fall apart? If humans were less concerned about where they came from, what they’re meant “to do” and what will happen when they cease to exist in the frame in which they recognize existence, would they spend as much time reading the Bible? Looking to a higher being for guidance and assurance of things they can’t control? Really, I’m curious. I’m enjoying this read and the Bible provides a lot of good insight into human nature, but it’s really hard for me to hold onto the greater thing — in this case, God — when the thing itself is right in front of me, soon to be behind.

Why, if a relationship has run its course, does either party hold on to it? Some of my friends say it’s because they don’t feel any resentment toward their ex. Others say it’s because they like the person. But what is the point of putting effort behind something no longer relevant? Why hold onto things that used to be or place hope in something intangible that may never be, such as an afterlife?

I love this quote from The Philosopher:

“This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.”

Stopping Point: The Book of Isaiah

The Old Nag on the Roof

September 27, 2010

Halfway through the Bible, nearing the New Testament, and women FINALLY get some respect. Well, sort of.

At the end of the proverbs there’s a little shout out to the “Capable Wife.” Capable is a far cry from wonderful, perfect or fantastic, but Biblically, it’s progressive. Five hundred pages before the capable wife, women accused of cheating were cursed with swollen stomachs and shrinking genitals. Now they’re “capable” but only if they adhere to 19 criteria, some of which are grossly outdated.

What 21st Century wife gets up before daylight to feed her husband? Makes bedspreads? Wears clothes of fine purple linen? Spins her own thread and weaves her own cloth? I started ironing my husband’s shirts about a month ago (I do this while watching soaps on Univision) and I already feel dirty and oppressed.

I’m glad things have changed but like it or not, some of the most irksome components of being a “capable wife” have carried over into the 21st Century. For example, we’re still expected to “speak with gentle wisdom” and if we don’t, men automatically revert back to another “female” quality addressed in the Bible — Nagging.

The Bible says it’s:

“Better to live on a roof than share the house with a nagging wife.”

“Better to live in the desert than with a nagging, complaining wife.”

And, that “a nagging wife is like water going drip-drip-drip on a rainy day. How can you keep her quiet? Have you ever tried to stop the wind or ever tried to hold a handful of oil?”

I think men have kicked the sleeping on the roof option, but many men use a particularly well-known desert spot — Las Vegas — to escape nagging wives. They also can’t figure out how to make the nagging stop. I was shocked by the sheer volume of nagging wife self help sites on web. My favorite is “The Best Ways To Deal With These Nag Nag Nag Wife Creatures,” which suggests men avoid the nagging by finding a “hobby,” going “out to the pub,” laughing “at her nagging face” or, my personal favorite, slapping her “in the face with a piece of candy floss.”

The teensy crumb of credit given to women in the proverbs is paltry, but that’s not what bothers me. I’m bothered by the fact that modern women have dropped silly “capable wife” requirements such as weaving cloth, spinning thread and wearing fine purple linen, but men still adhere to the idea of women as nags.

Nagging is saying something over and over again. Correct? That’s interesting because nagging is addressed over and over again in the proverbs. Capable women are not.

Stopping Point: Ecclesiastes (whole thing)

Finding Faith

August 25, 2010

Faith. Either you have it or you don’t. Nowhere is this more apparent then the Book of Job, a well-written recollection of a virtuous man who sticks with God after God destroys his family, but turns his back on God after God confiscates his wealth and poisons his health.

Before Job returns to God, he asks the million-dollar question that is the great divide (or at least one of them) between believers and non-believers: Why does God allow the innocent to suffer and the evil prosper?

I realize this question is over simplified and that the idea of unpunished evil and tormented good is a loophole, not a law, but I’ve never found a single person or text capable of giving me a satisfactory answer. Why? Because those providing the answers have faith in God and I don’t.

I have faith in destiny, karma, goodness and people (with the exception of phone-based customer service representatives), but can’t attach it to a mass, a structure, a group, a book, a being or a gathering. It’s just there. I have faith in myself. I don’t know why. I don’t know where it came from, I just wish more people had the confidence to use themselves as a faith agent. I’m not opposed to religion or God, I just can’t understand why some people who listen to God, will not, or cannot hear themselves.

In a rather dark moment, Job says:

“Human life is like forced army service, like a life of hard manual labor, like a slave longing for cool shade; like a worker waiting for his pay.”

A less dramatic version of this echoes the opinions of many of my friends, colleagues and associates. They’re sort of satisfied with their jobs. They’re sort of satisfied with their personal lives. They wish they had time to do things they enjoy. They wish they had a better work/life balance. They really want to do x for a living. They really want to give y a try. But they lack faith in themselves so instead of changing course, they hide behind mortgages, school districts, 401ks and life.

Since we spend most of our waking hours working, let’s use work as an example. According to Andrew Hewitt and Luc d’Abadie, authors of “The Power of Focus for College Students,” only 5 to 10 percent of people “follow their dreams.” According to a Conference Board research group study, only 45 percent of Americans are satisfied with their jobs. Satisfied! Not happy. Not content. Satisfied.

Office Space Trailer

These individuals lack micro while I lack macro. However, the concepts overlap. I understand and agree with much of the Book of Job, but rather than relying on God, I use God as a placeholder for personal faith.

Elihu, the smart lad responsible for pulling Job away from his pity party, says:

“Although God speaks again and again, no one pays attention to what he says.”

If they don’t listen, God speaks to them in dreams and visions. If they still don’t listen to his nudging, they get sick. I don’t see God as the agent for this series of events, but I don’t dispute that it happens. Many people don’t listen to themselves. Then they ignore their dreams and then they acquire a sickness, a different kind of sickness, the “I’m 65. I have a nice 401k, but wouldn’t it have been cool if I ran with that idea I had 20 years ago? Oopsie. Guess I’ll just drive around an RV and enjoy my retirement” sickness. This sickness,* in my opinion, is squander and it’s caused by lack of faith. Personal faith.

I understand faith, but my question is, why do people tie it faith to “God?” I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer because it’s a matter of faith. That’s it.

Stopping Point: Psalms

* It’s only a sickness if it results from losing faith in self. For some people, RV life is a dream come true, which is cool.

%d bloggers like this: