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Hope

The morning air was a nearly perfect sixty-five degrees with only a slight breeze.  Ideal conditions to be out on the road. A day worth remembering. I hate I have lost so much of my sense of smell as I would love to capture the aroma of this early fall day in my memory bank as well.

I’m asking things of my body that it doesn’t like especially since it still has too much weight to be carrying around.   The body is fighting against itself and the mind, while the soul is just weary of it all.

Yet even amidst the turmoil within me I am struck by a moment of grand beauty.  In the middle of a pain concert raging in my feet, legs, back and lungs I stop for a moment to watch a squadron of maple leaves launch from their branch and be carried along on a gentle current.  Watching as they spiral down in the morning sunlight. Twirling and twisting in a death dance celebration of their short life.  The sun spotlighting them, highlighting their performance.

For that brief moment time seemed to stop and allow me to take it in.  The sound of the leaves rustling on the trees, the feel of sun on my skin,  the breeze gently caressing my face.  A moment of pure beauty in the midst of an internal storm.  A reminder that no matter how out of control things seem to get, there is hope because there is beauty.  Because there is beauty I know there is love.
Because there is love… I have hope.

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My story would begin in darkness though not total darkness but not romantic moonlit darkness either.   It would be more the darkness that accompanies a storm.   The kind that diffuses the the light and casts strange shadows across the land.  The kind that causes the street lamps to come on at mid-day.
I stand at the gate looking out at the road that lies before me, uncertain which direction to go from here.  Do I open the gate and step through?   Or do I run back  to the porch and ride out the storm in the relative comfort of  the crumbling structure I am  seeking to escape?   Do I stay until the bitter end?
I stand at the gate and look back.  Indecision has me paralyzed and the storm is increasing in intensity.   I feel the  wind at my back and it causes me to shiver.  I adjust my collar and huddle down to make myself a smaller target for the chill breeze and once again turn to look at the road before me just a step beyond the gate.
I stand at the gate and my eyes search for any sign of direction.   Off in the distance I see rays of sunlight that quickly retreat into shadow as I watch, teasing me with hope that is transient and elusive.    I’m too old to go chasing after “maybes” and “what-ifs.”  I need a sure thing.  Yet I realize how unreasonable and unrealistic that standard is.  There are no “sure things” and to make that a requirement will only keep me paralyzed with indecision.
I stand at the gate…

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Update (read: bragging)
Here we are 14 days into the New Year and yes, I am still at it.
For the new year I have decided to learn how to swim. (yes, I’m AARP eligible and just now learning to swim.)
I have had a couple of swim lessons and I haven’t drown yet. I’ve inhaled my share of highly chlorinated water… but not drowned yet. (I will probably die of chlorine poisoning… but not by drowning.)

This past week we found out at work that our per-ordered uniform allowances from 2013 were processed wrong so we had 15 days to re order. I did (and for the first time in 8 years I used every single penny of the allowance)… but there is a catch.

As of this moment I’m in 42 pants. Now the smart thing to do would be order 42’s right? Well… no one has accused me of being smart so what did I do? I ordered 40s and 38s. So… now I have to keep at it in order to fit in my new clothing allowance.

So here is the real reason for the update.
**Now let me preface this with some disclaimers:
I know that to the purists, machine mileage is not the same as “real” or “on the road” mileage. I further concede that my times are s-l-o-w compared to real runners and people who are in a shape other than round.

Having said that:
Tonight I was on Mistress Sadie’s cousin the Elliptical (name yet to be determined) and I did 95 minutes of the “Rolling Hills” program for a total of 7.31 miles. Again, that’s 7.31 miles. That’s averaging sub 13 minute miles. (12.99589603283174… but who’s counting, right?) which was 11770 strides on the elliptical.
Now the interesting part is, that is more than a 10k. (and again I realize that’s not “real” running… but still, it’s pretty darn impressive if you ask me! )

I’m going to have to get a shirt or a hat that says, “I’m Getting There”

Anyway… that’s the update, we now return you to your regularly scheduled surfing and lurking.

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altar call

The altar Call is an outward show of how the pastor can emotionally manipulate his followers to do what he says through guilt and other pressure tactics.  It is a power play so that there is visible evidence of a successful sermon.  The (so-called) “Altar Call” is the pastor’s way of  “proving that he is worth his paycheck.”  It is part and parcel of the Man-centered Gospel of the Church Growth Movement in Modern Churchianity.

The church lecture series is all about the man in the pulpit no matter how much he claims to the contrary.  The Cult of Personality is the glue that really holds the congregation together.  Take away the charisma in the pulpit and the so called church that meets in the temple they have built for themselves will dwindle down and die.  The sheeple will find themselves another proxy god to put in the pulpit.  They must have their very own idol to listen to and to worship.

“Not a god,” you say?  Really?  Pastors are the gods over their congregations.  His is the only voice allowed to speak during the lecture and he cannot be questioned about anything he says from behind the so called sacred desk.  He is infallible and not to be questioned.  He demands loyalty and obedience.  His word is law.  The sheeple are conditioned to passively, and unconditionally accept what the man in the pulpit is saying no matter what he says.  The pastor is in fact speaking “ex cathedra” as he is the head of his church no matter who he gives lip-service to.

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.”   -Lord Acton  expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887

_________________________
My premise is that any man who is given authority over others will, if left unchecked, make full use of that authority for both personal gain and personal power. The amount of corruption by this person will ultimately be decided by the amount of power that is available. As Lord Acton says, “Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority.”

In modern Christianity most church congregations are based on a simple design. The authority is vested in the persons of the (so called) clergy, usually at the consent of, or at least the tacit agreement of the (so called) laity. This Catholic Idea of Clergy/Laity came from the teachings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprias, and Augustine who created and promoted the whole “Christian” class/ caste system. While not addressing the theological issues of this problem Lord Acton actually does a marvelous job of attacking just such a system, “There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it.” As true today as when Acton said it.

-excerpted from my blog:  https://persifler.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/corruption-is-directly-proportional-to-the-level-of-control-that-is-available/

The “Altar Call” is nothing more than a way for the Pastor to practice his manipulation tactics while stroking his own ego.  I dare say that what most people claim to be a movement of the Holy Spirit is at best ginned up emotionalism brought on through guilt and spiritual/emotional manipulation.  Why would I say such a thing? Because the “feeling” is generally gone by the time you reach the parking lot, that’s why.

Finally, and most importantly, the Altar Call promotes a man-centered humanistic approach to religion and “salvation.”  It portrays a weak frail god who can only work in “his building” following the pastor’s sermon.  I have heard testimonies from folks who sweated bullets all week long until they could get to the Altar Call part of the service so they could get saved.  That screams of a god in a box who is so weak and so inept that that he has to have the work of the Man of god (little “g” on purpose) in order to save someone.  I have also heard of so called soul winners who got people to say the sinners prayer on visitation coaching them to come to church on Sunday and come down during the altar call in order to make their decision official with the preacher.  *groan*   No, no I don’t have all the answers.  I’m just now asking the right questions.  I just know that this Kabuki theatre that is being called “Church” these days is a sham and a shame.

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Last night I had two Poblamo peppers (out of the garden) stuffed with three cheeses. Cheddar, White cheese sauce and Pepper Jack… enough heat to get my nose to running. (of course lunch was sushi and wasabi mmmm, the wasabi and ginger brought tears to my eyes… it was soooo good) So, the peppers were merely to bookend an already spicy day.

Now, I thought that maybe being able to step out of the 44’s from the other night might have been wishful thinking on my part… Au contraire, mon frère.  Yesterday afternoon I wanted to install an odometer on my bike but I was feeling lazy so I just threw on a pair of shorts without a belt. They are 46s and I wrestled with them all afternoon trying to keep them “up.”

(stay with me and I’ll tie those two random stories together)

So, all afternoon I had been wrestling with my pants because I was too lazy to get a belt and put it on.  After much gyrating and “hiking” my shorts into position, I finally finished the odometer installation.  A little later, I felt a twinge of hunger so  I began fixing my dinner.   Preparing dinner was a “Keystone Cops” process last night as I waddled back and forth between the computer and the oven, checking the time and the condition of the peppers and surfing the interwebz.   I alternately looked  like a hip-hop, saggy-pants, gangsta’ and “Dorf on Cooking.” I swear, one time I even looked like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins during the penguin scene.

Anyway, the peppers were finally done and I sat down to eat.  Yes, they were very good!  I “can” cook when I take a mind to. Afterwards, I cleared the table and put everything away in the sink. My nose was running just a little from the heat of the meal so I grabbed a paper towel and stepped into the utility room to blow my nose. I reached up with both hands and trumpeted a hearty Bb.

When I did…

…my (46) shorts fell straight down and landed on my feet around my ankles. Very glad I didn’t go blow my nose in the living room!   So, there I was, with my pants on the floor …but my sinuses were clear.

Sometimes I crack myself up!
There’s no real moral to the story… I really just wanted to brag on my disappearing waistline. 🙂

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Over on http://www.stufffundieslike.com forum a question was asked:

Why Did You Leave? Would You Go Back?
For those of you who have left Fundamentalism, and I think that’s probably most of you who post here, why did you leave? Was it the theology, or was it the culture? If it was the theology, what specifically about the theology drove you away? If it was the culture, what specifically about the culture drove you away?

My answer:

Why did I leave?

Most of you know my story and the history of deception and lies I encountered in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement.
http://www.stufffundieslike.com/forum/showthread.php?tid=45

Why did I leave?  Why didn’t I stay and fight?
I believe that there is nothing worth salvaging in the IFB movement.  I believe it is a religious cult movement that should die a very public, and very convincing death.  The heart and core of IFB error is Theological Error.  The error lies in how the IFB presents and views God in relation to both the individual and the “Ministry” of the Local, sanctified, separated, sold-out, sanctimonious sect of believing believers.  According to IFB dogma the “Local church” is superior to all other things Christian.  In theory and in words they say they worship a sovereign God… but in practice God’s sovereignty ends with the
preeminence of the individual’s free-will.  In a nutshell, God is viewed as a reactive deity who frets around his heaven wringing his hands hoping that there will be someone to stand in the gap, make up the hedge, and come up with a masterful formula for winning souls to Christ.  Because we know that Church in the IFB is all about the numbers.

Numbers and power actually.
I am more convinced than ever that,   Most churches today have a “pastor” who oversees the entire operation, and there may be a deacon board that is either working with the pastor or against him… either way it is doubtful that either “office” is operating biblically. With the advent of the Professional Clergy there has been a rise in the cult of personality as well. The Professional is seen in a light that is clearly not biblical and we see that whether by “influence” or by acquired “authority” these men rise to prominence. Even the small rural churches are patterned after this and the pastor is looked on as a man of authority over the congregation. And there is the rub.
Even the meanest paid rural “pastor” would not willingly give up “his power” over even the smallest group of people. It is not about the money, heaven knows many, if not most, small congregations pay at or below the poverty level. No, it is about power to influence and control a group of people and mold their worldviews.(This is the danger of the passive approach to worship where a one-way conversation takes place.  The only view allowed in these meetings is the pastor’s.  This affords almost total control by the speaker to inject his own views as ‘god breathed’.  Whatever the “anointed”, “man of god” says while behind the “sacred desk” will be seen as, and accepted as, the “word of God”.) That is an especially strong allure for men of lesser character who are drawn to such positions. I have no doubt that there are good men who are trying to do what is right in these positions and I commend them and pray for them but the position itself is the enabler, the seductress; and even the best of men will, sooner or later, succumb to the temptation of power. We see a picture of this in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings Trillogy”.   As a Ring Bearer, Frodo Baggins had an awful burden to carry yet, even he failed in the end and succumbed to the power of the ring; unable to destroy it he claimed it for himself.  The thread through-out the tale is about power, the use and the abuse of it.  Many who would have taken the ring would have done so out of a noble purpose but would have been corrupted by it’s power and their corruption would (like Sauron) only be limited by the (unlimited) power of the ring.

Would I go back?
No, not even if my life depended on it.
I truly do not believe that the IFB movement is worth saving, and I truly believe that it is a cult.  A very seductive powerful cult that relies more on the abilities of man and less on the power of the god it claims to serve.  That may sound harsh and it may be.  I know that God does work in the midst of even the very worst of these bunkers.  But I do believe that the error and the man made traditionalism and the King James only idolatry that is practiced in these dens of sanctimonious piety is deadly poison to  sanctam ecclesiam catholicam; sanctorum communionem.  (the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints)

Where am I at spiritually now?
That is the hardest thing about leaving the IFB bassinet, one has to start thinking for oneself.  I was fortunate in that about the time I left the enfolding tentacles of the IFB, I broke my ankle.  How was that fortunate?  I was able to spend almost 6 months examining my worldview.  I was able to take a long hard look at who I was in Christ, what I actually believed, why I believed it and I wrestled with several items that I had to abandon because there was no reason other than man-made traditionalism that I was holding to them.   It’s much tougher than having someone spoon-feed you how you should act and think.  But the realization that you are no longer performing according to someone else’s standards is very spiritually refreshing!  Yes, there are often doubts and you find you might be out on a limb that you would not have climbed before… but the learning experience is so worth it.

In conclusion, I know that there are brothers and sisters in Christ who have a death grip on their comfortable religion and practices in the IFB bunkers which they live and breathe.  But I have found so much fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ outside the bunker system that I could never go back into the cave to stay.

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It has been a while since I updated The Orange and Lime Green Sherbets, or how things are going with Mistress Sadie.

I will have to admit there was, shall we say, a pall in my resolve.
What with “The Wedding” and so much other stuff going on over the summer I found myself dozing while my life was on autopilot.  I had let my guard down and when I awoke from my self-induced stupor I realized the enemy had retaken ground that was hard won the first time.

So there I was, faced with the ultimate decision, what do I do?  Do I go ahead and take the easy road back to the couch and give up?  Or do I man up and dig down deep inside myself and find the Marine that I once was, pick him up dust him off and between the two of us become the man that I once hoped to be but never have been yet?

To tell you the truth everything within me fought against me this week.  Every demon from my past, every failure I have ever experienced popped up and sang its tale of woe, weakness and frustration.  All my failures, disappointments, and personal flaws whispered to me to just give up and quit.  “It’s not worth it,” they said.  “Why even try?” they said.  “No one cares about or wants you,” they argued.  “What difference will it make?”

It dawned on me, they were absolutely right, “What difference WILL it make?”  So I quit arguing, and somewhere deep, deep down inside I started to get angry.  I stopped engaging my demons and my failures and my dead dreams, and my personal flaws altogether… and in my mind I stood up, turned around and began walking.  They all withstood me, began to taunt and make fun of me until I finally growled, “To hell with all of that, I’m doing this for me!”  I don’t care about my failures, or my flaws, or even about what anyone thinks of me!  I’m doing this for me, and when it’s done I hope to finally meet the man that I once hoped to be.  Not the man someone else wants me to be, but the one who I let life beat down, the one I smothered with religiosity, the one I never allowed myself to be.

Today marks the second day back in actual training mode.  I went back to Mistress Sadie and she worked me over for 50 minutes.  35-40 minutes was pumping her as hard as I could go.  My heart rate peaked at 180 beats/min. She was glistening with my sweat when I finished.  I wiped her down and she knew I was back only now the intensity is greater than before.  I’m on a mission.

Somewhere in my encounter with Mistress Sadie today I stepped through a portal in my mind, a portal to the id.  I had to find the Marine.  I knew he was in there, covered with the sands of my time, the dust and sediment of my life.  I sent out a distress signal, that he was needed, that I was reactivating him.  If this mission was to succeed I was going to have to have him back.  His ability to endure the mental challenges was needed.  I realize now that it was I who limited his physical abilities and I was the one who held “him” back.

Somewhere around the 20-minute mark he found me.  For a brief shining moment I felt him there; he was there to rescue me.  He was there to carry me over the pain threshold and for the next 20 minutes he ran with me as we pushed past levels 8-10 on Sadie as we took the hill of level 12 and reached the summit at level 14 for a couple of minutes.   Somewhere during the 5 min cool down he nodded and smiled.  I came back to this side of the portal, completely spent but encouraged, knowing the Marine is still with me, “Always Faithful.”

I was able to do one Set of the 14 Fitlinxx stations, then to the steam room to relax, finally shower and leave.

So, here I sit.
I’m not the man I once was.  With heaven’s help I will become the man I once hoped to be.  Not for anyone else or anyone else’s approval, this time I’m doing it for me. (Now I fully understand the meaning behind James 4:14-16.  If the Lord allows me to complete this quest, then so be it.) I have examined my life, weighed it in the balances and it comes up lacking.  And if I fail, let me die in the attempt, because that would be preferable to this life of mediocrity I now endure.

I am Persifler, not the man I was, but not yet the man I hope to be.

*for those who don’t know who Mistress Sadie is:  precor_amt_100_i

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Neil Postman’s “Amusing ourselves to Death” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRabb6_Gr2Y

 

Marshall Mcluhan’s “The medium is the Message” interview

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImaH51F4HBw

 

Francis Schaeffer’s “How then should we live” part X

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5WOuYA5Esw

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