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).

Either-Or-Nothing

July 7, 2010

Blessing or curse. Life or death. Republican or Democrat. Smart or stupid. Mayo or Miracle Whip. Penis or vagina.

The black and white rhetoric of the most vociferous religious entities in our culture is absolutely the No. 1 reason I passed on religion for the first 20 years of my life. I came to understand faith and spirituality by cautiously moving about their lucid parameters, but back away from both as soon as they fall into the fold of religion as defined by institution.

I am not alone. I’ve spoken with several friends and acquaintances about this Bible quest. Surprisingly (at least to me), all of them spent time in religious institutions when they were children and all of them have faith in a higher being. Interestingly, most of them are removed from and bothered by the emptying institutions hell bent on preaching archaic extremes.

I realize the squeaky wheel grabs the camera, particularly as it pertains to religion and politics, but the in-betweens — the Objectivist Party, the average Joe (Joe the Plumber excluded) — remain quiet. They have no interest in out-shouting the Billy Graham’s of the world. They’re not extremists. They don’t see in absolutes. They just want to do and be.

At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses recites the following:

“Today I am giving you a choice between good and evil, between life and death. If you obey the commands of the Lord your God, which I give you today if you love him, obey him, and keep all his laws, then you will prosper and become a nation of many people…

“But if you disobey and refuse to listen, and are led away to worship other gods, you will be destroyed …”

“I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God’s blessing and God’s curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make.”

One or the other. No middle. This is absurd. Parents often pretend to operate in absolutes, but how many really do it? What about the courts? Education? Relationships?

The Lord threatens termination of entire nations incapable or uninterested in choosing his life. By not choosing life (as defined by his terms), we choose death. So how the hell has any HUMAN population survived?

I’ve read and noted some “exceptions” to these many rules, but so far this text is a boomerang of extremes.

When does the loud extremist make room for a quiet, middle of the road being capable of measuring the Lord’s extremes and making human life not only possible, but enjoyable?

Jesus?

Stopping Point: Book of Judges

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