Read the warning first

WARNINGL This blog is written by an actual Christian. I go to church every Sunday. Heck, I even sing in the choir and read my Bible though not as much as I should. These are my views and reflect whatI believe as reflected via my faith. Feel free to agree or disagree, even villify my views. But this is what I believe.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


Other Person (AK): hello FBI Special Crimes Unit. pecial Agent Kruppke Speaking

Me (Me)L Hello, Agent Kruppke, I'd like to report a kidnapping.

AK: A kidnapping you say? When did this happen?

Me: Well I guess it's been in progress awhil now but it seems to officially happend last Tuesday on election day.

AK: Can you tell me the name of the person who got kidnapped.

Me: Well I don't know all their names but.

AK: All their names? How many people are we talking about here?

Me: Well I don't know the exact number but it looks like it could be several million people.

AK: (somewhat exasperated) You're trying to tell me that last week someone kidnapped several million people but you don't know their names? This must've been one heck of a kidnapping. (Sarcastically) I suppose these kidnappers were little green men and they used a biiiig spaceship to put them in.

Me: No sir. They were men and I guess women in suits and dresses and business clothes and they used a voting booth to kidnap them. Wellvoting booths all across the country. Well that's where they lured them to.

AK :You're telling me that a bunch of men and women kidnapped several million people and have them stored in voting booths throughout the country? That should be easy since voting booths are stored smeplace convenient, OK I'll play along. Who are these kidnapped people?

MeL They're Christians sir. My faith has been kidnapped by allegdly president Bush and led into voting booths. Where they voted for the man.

AK: (raised voice) Have you been watching the X-files while listening to one of those "born again" radio stations?

Me: No sir, I've never seen the X-files and I don't listen much to the term is Christian radio either. But the fact of the matter is that Bush basically took advantage of several things inherent in Christians and used it to to convince them that Bush and the Republicans were the true party of God and Kerry and the Democrats were just this side of being the earthly emisaries for the anti-Christ or at the very least Darth Vader. Please sir, youve got to help me stop this. A lot of basically good decent people were duped into doing something really stupid. Something they..

AK: (Abruptly) Listen you. I have too much serious stuff to do to be worried about a bunch of idiot Bible-bangers. Besides, I voted for President Bush and I haven't been inside of a church except to do soem surveillance. Now if youdon't want me to throw a not so good book at you,you'd better hang up and never callthis number again. You hear me?

Me: But but...

AK: OK Maybe it's time we send a few officers to 252...

To be continued....

Friday, November 05, 2004

Christianity for the disintersted

I have about a dozen things i want to blog about today. here are so many things flying around inside my head andwith the country, and in fact the world, still in the wake of Tuesday's election there's more to write about almost every other minute. I set out to write this blog as a sort of Chrsitian commentary on politics and hopefully eventually life in general. I was all set to jump right in and take on a topic until it came to me from doing my research that there is such a tonload of mis-information about Christianity that to not post somethng very basic would make all of this appear to make less sense than it already does.

If you're expecting me to g into a lomg history of the origins of Christianity and how it morphed through the ages, you're out of luck. . The bottom line is I'm simply not mentally equippd to handle such a task and mreover, I dont think it's my place to do so. After all, if you read the title ofthis and are still here, it can't be because you're looking for scholarly discourse. In fact, if I had to put a wager on who'd be readin his, I'd guessthe majoritywould be people who are, and this is not a great term, hostile to Christianit and are looking for more ammo So in the spirit of trying to unclutter some of the intellectual flotsam andjetsam that has made it's way across the wires. Keep in mnd that I'm not a scholar of Christianity nor am I a scientist or detail-oriented enough to present much minutae. There are others with that gift and I refer you to tehm. I guess another title for this could've been "Christianity for the Common Man".

The center of Chrisitianityis Jesus Christ. There are some who say He never existed, some who say He existed in various forms but without any reason to be deified and some who say He is but one of a series of deiies who have appeared at various times to different peopls in different parts of the world. To peple who call themselves Christians, He is the Son ( caps reflect my own background and are not typos) of the God of Abraham who was sent by God to live a completely sinless life with all the frailties and comlications of humanity, present His teachings to the world and then die asacrifical death as a sin offereing for the sins of all humanity.

It is summed up most popularly and most succintly in chapter 3 verse 16 of the gospel of John, as "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." That one sentence sums up Chrisitity in a nutshell. If you believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and acknowledge that He died to repay God for your personal sins, then you will have terenity in a life after this one. You can call it an afterlife, the next life or most popularly, Heaven. Since the hsitorical birth, life and death of Jesus occured prior to our own exitence, this is someting that has to be accepted by faith, which is defined as "the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen". Rather than go into a dissertation on faith and its implications i'll sum it up simply by saying if you hear what you are told Jesus and believe in Him via faith, then you are a Christian. If for whateverreason, you cannot make the acceptance by faiththenyou are not. Since belief in Christ carries with it a salvation from the ultimate penalty for a bperon' sins and entitles themto an afterlife, the words "salvation", "saving grace", and "being saved" ae used. In dealing with Christians particularly "born again Christians" which I'll get to i a bit, you will hear them and me for that matter use these terms with a degree of reverence as Salvation through Christ is considered by Chritians ot be the greatest gift they couldhave received. It is supposed to be the defining point in their lives. Again, all this requires faith that there is an afterlife, that there is a God who has set down a prescribed code of conduct and who will ultimately judge all creation on how they adhered to that code. The reason for God having to send Jesus was that we and that includes Michael who is typing this have lived our livs so far from what God requires, that left to our own merits, w would not get eternal life but rather a form of punsihment which i will leave to others to interpret.

I am not by nature particularly good at explaining theology to others which is why I am writing this so tentatively but a few weeeks ago I came pretty close. There's this really awesome place that everyone wants to gfo to. People try to get their tickets but because it's somewhat expensive and we're a pretty poor lot, when the time comes to pay, we don't have near enough. and are asked to leave but those peoplewho have accepted Jesus Christ as the ir saxior are entitled to put their admittance on Jesus' unlimited tab and he covers, or to be historically proper, covered what we couldn't and our admittance is paid for and assured.

Again, certain things are requird. Number one with an asterisk is that Christians must acknowldge their own sinfulness. fter all if we don't belive we've sinned and are continuing to sin, who needs to be saved?
Second is to believe that the afterlife spoken of is a scertainty and not an allegory of some sort. If you accept it then you have a reason to be concerned about whether or not there is a salvation If yu don't accept it then it's all pretty moot. Lastly and most important is to belive that F we are sinners and IF there is an afterlife to be sought after that Jesus Christ is the only one who can deliver u there. Again, if we can do it oursleves or if others can do it instead of Jesus, then there's no reason to grant Jesus any more authority than any other person.

To those who call themlves Christians, the answer to those questiona of faith and in fact they become Christians by professing that Yes,/ we are sinners whose lives fall short of the standard given to us by God, we're sorry that we do but have no way to repay God and threfore are undeserving of eternal life but we acknowledge that Jesus paid forour shortcomings and therefore our admission to eternal life is assured."

That is the esssence of Christianity. In my next post I'll try to explain to explain what comes next.

Till then nin the the spirit of unity, i say

"drop the Puck!!!!!"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Dedicated to Tom Beck

I'm dedicating this blog to Tom Beck. Tom is one of my very best friends although we see eye to eye on very few things. I have no doubt that many of the things he reads in this blog will make him cringe, or seethe, or even pity me. He may rejoice that I am no longer able to produce others like me. Yet no matter how much Tom may disagree with what I write I know that he will still be my friend. He may tell me what he likes or doesn't like. he may even do it vehemently but we will still be friends. It is because we knothat each of us has value not just to eachother as friends, but to creation as a whole. Our backgrounds are different, our experiences are different.

Yet when we are together we are able to celebrate not the things that make us different but the things that we have in common. Like Trenton Titans hockey, West Ham United soccer, pets, Big Ed's ribs, good corned beef, Monty Python and his girlfriend Arlene ( he thinks she's great & I agree -- she's a total mitzvah). That we have things in common make him no less Jewish than they make me less Christian. The secret is summed up in two words "mutual respect"..

I am writing this on the Thursday after Election Day, 2004. George W. Bush has just been reelected to serve a second term as President of the United States. It may shock you to know that both of us voted for his opponent John Kerry. Both of us were surprised that Bush won re-election although as I reflect upon my own voting esperience and as I read and listen to the "post-game analyses" that have appeared on TV, radio, in print and via the Net I can understand to some degree not only why Bush won but also why the Republicans made gains in the Senate and House.

One of the differences Tom & I have is that Tom is much more ready to discuss his views openly than I am. Writing this blog is a big step for me. It is not because I respect the convention of never discussing religion, politics and sex in public as much as it is lack of self-confidence on my part. It is funny that I can discuss hockey theory with the cool clear analysis of a surgeon. When I sing either in choir or for uh um seduction, I want my voice to be as precise as if I were a mathematician. It goes the same for anything I feel deeply about. Heck one time I was with my friend Linda, my best female friend though strictly platonic, and I started a discourse on sexual positions and I related it the way they teach you to figure out which way a hockey puck will bounce off a dasherboard by imaginingthe line of flight and its tangent. Her reply was "too cerebral". Still, as important as my Christianity is to me, and as much as I try to keep educated on current affairs including reading opinions from different points on the political spectrum, I lack the confidence to express my views. Last night while reading Tom's new blog, Malvolio, i mentioned how if I set my thoughts on the election down in a blog, I'd probably make Tom have a piglet and have even more people annoyed at me than I do now. Tom replied that it was a free country and that I should just write what I feel without malice, and not be concerned about what people may say.

That aside I want to start by saying that while I voted for Senator Kerry, it was not an easy choice. I cant stand President Bush. I didn't vote for him in 2000. I find a lot of his actions and policies objectionable. In discussing him with others includng other Christians, I have used such terms as "war criminal", "charlatan", "arrogant doofus", and "pimp" ( "procurer" to those of more refined sensitivites). Yet, I was never able to fully embrace the candidacy of John Kerry either. Even as I stood in the voting booth with all the lights on my electronic voting booth activated, I had to pray to God that I made the correct choice even asking for Him for wisdom as I pushed the final lever to have the votes for Kerry and my Democratic congrssman, Rush Holt, made official. As I left the voting booth, I felt a sense of relief and a desire to get away from this election as soon as possible. To that end, I rented two reasonably mentally unchallenging videos and tuned out the world until yesterday at 6 AM.

I awoke to find myelf five dollars poorer as I had a friendly wager that Kerry would win going away. I found it inconceivable that Bush's record would warrant a second term. Moreso, the recent drives to register new voters seemed to have been enthusiastically reposnded to by the the type of young "hip" voters who'd enthusiastically vote for Kerry. The talk was of twenty-five million new voters. I couldn't imgine more than 2 million of those voting for Bush meaning a net gain of twenty three million for Kerry. It all pointed to if not a landslide then at least an enthusiastic thumping. Yet such was not the case and as I walked my beagle after seeing 10 minutes of news coverage I reflected on why I thought the results were as they were.

One of the things I found distatseful about Bush was how he approached Christians like myself as if he were our last hope in the USA. He brought up how a Kerry presidency would produce a government that is if not openly hostile to Christians or, in the new vernacular, "people of faith" or alternately "fundamentalists", then definitely unreceptive to what we hold dear. It was a well calculated move on his part as earlier this summer in a move that I'm amazed didnt receive more play in the news media, the Southern Baptist convenetion removed its blanket endorsement of any specific party and instead told its mmbers to treat each race individually, candidate by candidate. Bush needed to find a way to get this voting bloc, and in turn others likethem, squarely inhis column. He did it with an unwitting assist from Kerry and his supporters.

If someone is telling you that I'm a bad man and that if I'm elected I'll make your life miserable, I have really three choices. I can come back and repudiate his comments, I can say ththe's right or i can dismiss them gently. Kerry responded somewhere between the latter two. hile he didnt openly say that he was going to openly pursue an agenda contrary to most Christians, at no time did he make any overtures to assuage the fears Bush raised either. His followers spoke of making sure that Bush didn't pack the Supreme Court with fundamentalists or radical Christians.In one of the debates when Bush brought it up, Kery simply avoided the question. Had I been running as Kerry not as myself, I would've said that I would select judges who had the best overall rating and not tose with a given litmus test. It isn't the best answer BUT it is far less threatening than the scenario Bush drew. I recalled how in the hours after I voted on Tuesday, people asked me about the election and spoke in terms of "stopping those Christians" or "keeping the government out of the hands of fundamentalists". Now I like to think of myself as being rational but one of my character traits be it flaw or strength is that I dont take threats well. I viewed their attitude as not an insult, although they may as well have used the insulting "Bible-thumper" or "crossback". It seemed as if I and people of my belief were slowly but surely being painted as enemies of the country and people to be vilified.

The post-election media both conventional and unconventional has embraced that line to some extent. I like to see how people who are farther right and left ( I hate those terms) of me viewed the election results. On one side, there were people praising Christians for rallying to the support of President Bush, the Republican party , Jesus, and America as a whole. . It was almost condescending, like telling a dog "atta boy" or "Atta girl" or "good dog". Not the most positive way to put things but at least it was cordial.

On the other side are words that sometimes sound like they're being written by the guy who hypes pro wrestling matches. If Christians are not beng portrayed as rubes or dummies in the more distatseful sources we're now regarded as haters and barbarians. I have seen articles that paint all Christians a being like Nazis during the time of Hitler. They have stopped short of listing people like myself as being no less an enemy of the United States than Osama bin ladin. I never tthought of myself as being mentally inferior any more than I consider myself an enemy of my country. Yet whrther intentioned or unintentioned, that message came through loud and clear. My sense of angst over whether or not to vote for Kerry (as I repeat I ultimately did heck I voted straight Democratic for the first time ever) was not whether or not I thought Kerry was a better cjoice for president. I felt that he was Tuesday afternoon and I feel the same way this morning. But it was that nagging persistent feeling of being vilified and disrespected that had my finger hovring over Bush's name before I stepped back prayed and with faith in my God, voted for Kerry.

I do not have the best personality in the world. I have been called repulsive, annoying , an irritant and even the equivalent of salmon patties ( ie disatsteful at first but eventually in time regarded as harmless and in some ways beneficial). Despite that it has contributed to my being alone more than I'd like to be, I live by a few codes one of them being "I want you to like me, but if you don't you'd sure as heck better respect me". Even when Tom and I are at odds and he is, as is his perogative, explaining forcefully his opposition to Christian doctrine, Christians and even at times me, there is always that mutual respect between us that I mentioned above. Though I am Christian, I hve attended minion services (hope this is the right term) at the Temple Tom worships at and I have tried to be as observant and reverent as I would be at services at the church where I attend. A lot of the prayers Tom's temple prays, I've sung as anthems in various choirs. I respect his fellow worshippers ,again term, as I would worshippers in my home church or any church I visit in my travels. I wear a kipah that I received at my godson, Matt's bar mitzvah and address his rabbi and cantor with no less respect and authority as I would Pastors Haupt or Smith of my home church or any other man of God. Just as I know Tom would do the same should he ever visit where I worship for any reason. It all comes down to mutual respect even if there's a profound disagreement between the parties involved. It's there between Tom and me. It's something you can sense in our presence. It wasn't there for a lot of people in the Kerry campaign. It ultimately didn't keep me from voting for him but apparently it did for a fair number of people. It cost Kerry the presidency and it may ultimtely cost the country a great deal more. I feel that it is wrong to blame the Christians who responded to this insult whether correctly or incorrectly perceived any more than it woiuld be wrong to blame a dog that is being teased and or theatened from snapping at its threateners and the metaphor extends to wild animals, varmint pests, fish as well as to voters. To expand on it would just confuse the issue, but for now I say that before you blame Christians like myself,or any other griup for that matter for throwing the country into a morass from which we will possibly never escape, examine your own rhetoric and see if it acted as an unseen hand pushing the hands of voters to the side of George W. Bush, possibly even reluctantly so.

Again I dedicate this blog and its future posts to my good friend Tom Beck. May he and all those who read it accept my thoughts in good will and may their responses regardless of how contrary to my own they may be, be written in friendship and in a spirit of trying to understand each other's views. In the spirit of unity, let me close by saying three words that I know Tom and others will agree with:

"Drop the puck!!!!"