Monday, April 17, 2017

I Yelled At Collin...


I hadn’t spent time with Collin for a bit so I asked him if he wanted to go to McDonald’s with me to pick up dinner.  He happily agreed.  He jumped in the car with his DS and we took off down the street to get burgers and a salad for Collin because his stomach had been hurting him the past few days.  Collin’s new ADHD medication had been causing some digestive issues so I thought a salad would be helpful.

As we drove up I asked Collin what else he wanted and he was focused on his DS.  I knew a side salad wasn’t going to be enough and I asked a few more times what he wanted.  He didn’t reply and was still focused on the DS.  So I tore it out of his hands and threw it in the backseat.  I said “Collin!  I’ve asked you several times what you wanted!  Why aren’t you answering me?!”  He started crying and replied “You said I just get a salad.”  I tried to recover.  I tried to tell him yes and I also wanted to know what he wanted with the salad.  

But it was too late.  I had scared him, made him feel dumb.  I had not communicated the right way to my youngest son who already struggles with communication.  That’s not to say he didn’t have part in the conversation – but a 40 year old understanding and owning his part in a conversation is much more than the 11 year old ADHD boy’s part.

And then it started under his tears. 
I heard him.
“I am stupid.  I don’t listen.  Once I focus on something, I can’t un-focus Dad, and I don’t know how to fix that.”

I grabbed our order and started talking with my boy again.  I got his DS out of the back seat.  I threw it so hard the game came out of it.  He lost the progress on it because of that.  I asked him if he saved his game before we left the house.  Thinking that just a few minutes’ worth of lost play time would make up for my behavior.  It wasn’t so bad, right?

But it was.  I hurt my Collin.  And I made him feel inferior.  We talked on the way home.  About having a word that just he and I could use to try and grab his attention so he knew I was trying to get him to focus.  We picked a phrase from one of his favorite videos.  We were OK.

We were OK, but I wasn’t.

I got home and went to bed.  He fell asleep and I went in and kissed him goodnight.  I went to work the next day and was in my cube when I knew I had to repent of my behavior.  Not just apologize, but repent.  I wrote him a letter.  I framed it in such a way that I thought in my head two avenues to write it.

The first: What if this was the last letter I would ever write to my boy, because I would not be here?
The second: What if this was the last letter Collin would ever get to read because he would not be here?
Craig Arnold < >
Mar 27 (1 day ago)

to Collin
Last night you called yourself stupid. 

Last night you said you don't listen. 

Last night you said you get so focused on one thing you can't un-focus to something else. 

Collin, let Dad tell you this once and for all. You're not stupid.  You are intelligent and gifted. A wonderful artist and a great encourager to your daddy. I love your smile, your energy and the times we play together. 

I love the games we play together, the games you invent and the way we always have fun whatever we do. 

You do listen. You listen to me when I ask you to do something, even if you don't want to; you listen to me and are a good son and a wonderful boy. 

I get frustrated. That's not at you, that's at me for not knowing how to help you be the best you can be. That's all any parent wants for their creative and loving boy. 

Keep going. You are doing great. Be your best you. I am always proud of you. 

You are my awesome son and I love you, 


Collin read my letter and started to cry. “Thank you, Dad.”  We sat and hugged for a long while.
I repented to my Collin.  I didn’t just say I was sorry.  I refuted everything that my offense made him feel about himself.  I took the time to make sure everything he thought about himself was obliterated and took the responsibility back on me to make sure he knew I was accountable for my actions and that his Dad still loved him, even when I fail him.

That’s the spirit of repentance.  Restoring what was taken away from someone so reconciliation can occur and the relationship can be restored.  Collin teaches me many things, including how to be a better human being.  And that is a great gift indeed. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Self Hate: I watched Batman Vs. Superman...Again...

I hated this movie the first time.


I paid money to see it. 


That $12 could have been invested better.  Like losing it on the street, or buying sand.

This week, I saw on my cable provider the movie was sitting released and able to be viewed.  I thought I would give it another try but this time with a different intent.  

 Instead of viewing it through the eyes of my hero, Batman, who in this movie isn’t Batman.  He’s some angry, murdering, rich dude punishing Marvel character.  

Or Superman, who I never liked because of his one dimensional all powerful blowing out a sun and can get hit with a nuclear bomb type powers.  We get it, you are super…man.

I decided to watch the movie through the eyes of the character that was most hated when the movie was released.  That’s Right: Lex Zuckerberg.

I mean Luthor.

The entire theme of BvS is Death. It opens with death (Wayne parents) it ends with Death (Superman). In the film's middle are the tearing down or already destroyed lives and values of people.  Batman is no longer Batman because of the loss of Robin.  Superman is no longer Superman because he’s a lone super power on the world stage acting on his own against any City-State's wishes.  Lois is losing her influence with contacts in the Government because she is taking unnecessary risks with her life and getting CIA operatives killed (THAT WAS JIMMY OLSEN!  DID YOU KNOW THAT?!).  On and on and on everyone has lost or is losing something.

Enter Luthor.

Lex is a product of base-need and self-actualization. The ultimate elevation of the human mind built up from life experiences that started in abuse from his father and scrapping to get by to the pinnacle of owning a global company, received at the hands of his father. Nobody is smarter than Lex. 

He knows everything. 

The movie explains this. He has known for years Bruce is Batman. That Clark is Superman. He knows the meta-humans. He has files on them that Bruce steals during a party.   The Flash, Cyborg, Aqua-Dude and even Diana – the immortal warrior.

But he’s starting to crack in the beginning of the movie.

Why?  He says it. “The bitter sweet pain among man is having knowledge with no power. Because...Because that is paradoxical”

Lex exclaims that line. Knowledge without power is paradoxical.  And he has the most knowledge.

To Lex, an atheist, there is no God. Even though he spends quite a bit of time talking of God(s) he doesn't believe He/they exist. He even tells Superman this on the roof after he takes Martha hostage and uses her as a pawn to get him to fight BatFleck.  Lex has rationalized God away. “See. What we call God depends upon our tribe, Clark Jo. Because God is tribal. God takes sides. No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy's fist and abominations. Mm mm. I've figured it out way back, if God is all powerful, he cannot be all good. And if he's all good then he cannot be all powerful.” 

Therefore God doesn't exist.

Lex’s entire bend is proving these supers/metas are not God.  Continuing the quote from above “And if he's all good then he cannot be all powerful. And neither can you be. They need to see the fraud you are. With their eyes. The blood on your hands.” These are just fallible creatures that Lex can take down because he's the smartest man in the room.  

I’m gonna go retro here and think that Zach Snyder pulled some Luthor mythos from the other films.  That’s explicitly clear when the BvS Luthor speaks of the Greek story of Prometheus the same way the Superman Returns Luthor speaks of Prometheus.  In Superman Returns, Lex is also found saying “Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind.”

What I think we are seeing, in the DCU is the genesis into the Lex we know. But right now, it's just being born in him. Lex is smarter than Batman. But he needs him. Remember, even midway through the movie - Lex and Bruce share the exact same opinion of Clark. He needs to be destroyed, because we can't control him. They both see Superman the same way.

Enter Doomsday: Son of Luthor.

Batman and Superman don’t kill each other because Martha, the name Negan whispers after he and Maggie are shot.

"If man can't kill God (speaking of Bruce here), The Devil will do it!" - Lex
He's speaking metaphorically here. Doomsday isn't the real Satan. He's Lex's creation. Lex doesn't believe in the spiritual realm. Everything can and will be controlled, because he's the guy with all knowledge. 

Until he breaks when he realizes he can be as smart as he wants, but he can't stop what's coming.
By the end, Lex isn't crazy. Lex is scared. And he's the only one who understands WHY they should be scared. But what's he say at the end, when he's rambling?  “But, the bells are already been rung, and they've heard it. Out in the dark. Among the stars. Ding dong, the God is dead. The bells, cannot be unrung! He's hungry. He's found us. And he's coming!”

The whole time he's trying to find a way to destroy things is because there are no such things as God(s) and you either partner with power or you destroy it.

If you watch the movie again, with that being the whole motivation for what's happening, it adjusts the perspective. He's a puppet master realizing he may not have all power.

And that is what drives him.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

And ye shall know them by their Fruity Pebbles...

“Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of 'the flock.”― Christopher Hitchens

When Christianity came to be it was at the death of its founder.  The people who were left were a little over 100 shut up in a room praying for, well, something.  In a moment those people were transformed, including those closest to the one murdered by the Romans under the directions of the very people that man came to be a witness to.

A following day, while before a crowd of thousands, one of those followers stood up and publicly condemned those who facilitated the murder.  In a public morning rebuke the over 100 became over 3000.  That group continued to grow while suffering persecution from the Jewish worshipers and Greek culture.

Contemporaries of the time offer little insight into what was going on, other than a “new Jewish sect” was growing.  We know it was gaining momentum with the Jews themselves before being opened to the Gentiles of the time.  Many affluent women joined from the Hellenistic culture and opened their homes to teachers of The Way.  The term “Christian” was actually a badge of shame early on in the New Testament church; and when you said you were part of the “church” you weren’t speaking about a building or denomination you were discussing the idea of being a part of something: a called out group of people illuminated by a truth that you accepted and followed, loving a God revealed to you through his begotten Son and loving your neighbor as your own life.  It was a religion born from a death, grown in persecution and had a reputation of how the followers loved one another.  

People sold land, inheritance that had been in the family for generations, so that those who had nothing would have their needs met.  Leaders were setup to be servants, given an example from a life who served others.  The one they called Lord never demanded worship, he sought people so he could know them and be known of them.  At one point he called his disciples friends.  If there was a kingdom where the top of the pyramid was flipped with the Royalty on the bottom this appeared to be it.

“We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justified crazies.” - Bill Maher

Centuries rolled on, a book was assembled from different authors, a hierarchy installed, denominations set, mission focused and a desire to convert the world became a goal.  The Renaissance led with Humanistic thinking brought about the Reformation.  The men of the time questioned the deviation from the original intent of the church and its active members to worship man and a religious institution in contrast to the Author and Creator who made it all.

Soon no matter what part of theology you claimed be it Eastern Orthodox, Western denominational-ism, Catholic or Protestant the “church” ceased being about the people and passed into the execution of the process and tradition.  If you went to “church” on Sunday it was a place, not a people.  Supported by tithes and offerings, still mission minded the leaders built larger churches to house more individuals who over time became more disconnected with one another.  The vulnerability of need and weakness became a facade to right living and that facade became the belief.  People en masse no longer sold what they had to fill the need of another, at least not publicly or corporately.    A pastor today who teaches the doctrine of the original founder to a mega church of a thousand or more would be hard pressed to look at his batch of disciples and call them “friends”. 

“We keep on being told that religion, whatever its imperfections, at least instills morality. On every side, there is conclusive evidence that the contrary is the case and that faith causes people to be more mean, more selfish, and perhaps above all, more stupid.”― Christopher Hitchens

People outside these teachings can easily spot the hypocrisy of its followers.  This isn’t new, but the reaction to dealing with the hypocrisy has changed.  Early on the Apostle John, who survived many trials and wrote a few books of the bible, dealt with a leader of a group of believers who had a less than loving approach to people:  
 3Jn 1:9-11  I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  (10)  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.  (11)  Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.

The early church had no problem calling harmful and unloving behavior of other leaders out into the light.  Unkind words and actions were rebuked, not hidden.  Not only was it called out, but people were told unkind acts that hurt others showed the person committing those acts has never seen the God that sacrificed his life for them. Believers were not told to extend grace to those in leadership who were not in unity.  These people were facing persecution and death, they didn’t suffer hostile attitudes.  To do so was to allow that behavior to continue.  Paul wrote the same to his disciple Timothy:

1Ti 5:19-20  Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  (20)  As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

If the called out assembly today dealt with the internal issues it has with its own leadership of this kind, would accusations and a brand of “unloving people” cease from the outside world?  Would a directional change to following the master and his example be enough to adjust the outward testimony churches have?

“One would go mad if one took the Bible seriously; but to take it seriously one must be already mad.”― Aleister Crowley

The men quoted aren’t describing the 1st century church in scripture; they are describing the church they saw in their time.  If the fruit of the church today is a reputation hypocrisy, a lack of gratitude and a desire to keep failing leaders in place instead of rebuking them and removing them if need be then it’s not a church.

It’s a building full of people who have never seen God.