The Desire for Authority: a Story of Aliens and UFO

I wrote this article last year in response to a letter we received from close family relatives. We’ve received a new one this year. Back then, I was frustrated and sad at their turning away from truth. Now, I have a different perspective and although I’m no psychoanalyst, I’m going to analyze their new letter and try to figure out why there has been such a change in perspective from their “lifelong” pursuit of Christ. Integrated in my thoughts will be ideas behind Pastorship verses Eldership and the authority found in each.

This year, their letter is on the same letterhead, a typical holiday border with holly and bows and bells. The thing is, if this was actual letterhead, I’d be more forgiving, but it’s printed, along with the letter. If they still had a lot of letterhead they needed to use up, I could see their choice in using this. But couldn’t they have found some letterhead that was a bit more generic, say in a UFO style? Anyway, no big whoop. Just trying to lay the groundwork for choices.

Their letter starts out in this way:

Season’s Greetings to all!!!

It’s that time of year to sum up the activity at our home for 2017! It’s been a busy year as it started off with teaching an 11 week course on the Billy Meier Story which focuses on the deliverance of the Laws and Recommendations for all mankind to live by and to convey the false teachings of religions.

Still the holiday greeting yet with a de-emphasis of why they are writing; it’s simply a summing up of their year. (Punctuation is recreated as closely as possible.) I’ve got to say though, their commitment to this deception is garnering steam that I felt was going to go away with time and analysis, but they seem all the more committed, literally. They’ve also gone away with the “you have your beliefs and we have ours” with that last statement. They are now teaching, and telling us the fact, that religions are false.

I, myself, felt that any response to last year’s letter would be counterproductive, because I couldn’t get behind the idea of respecting what they had to say. But I do know people who did, in a very loving way. I feel that somehow any challenge to their new-found beliefs would only serve to strengthen them, and that is my ultimate goal in this writing that I’ll eventually get to, but let’s get on with more of the content.

The success of this class led us to teach the class again this fall. The information that *** taught from Billy Meier and the Plejaren people was educational, provable, inspirational and life transforming… a true blessing in everyday life!!!

This goes on with more about the “Laws and Recommendations of Creation” and other “Scriptural” texts, and a renewed recommendation for visiting theyfly.com, which is a ridiculous site that proves nothing. (The exclamation points are so extraneous, it makes the regular body of the letter unimportant.)

They go on to talk about that their teachings have a 1.5 hour instruction on how to contact “UFO.” Let me point out at this point that every reference to “UFO” is just that. Not “UFOs,” but always the singular. I don’t know if this is on purpose or just an error on their part, but it detracts from the idea of the whole thing.

On that same note, we have had 61 times that UFO have flashed back a “hello” to us, one flyover, two flashback responses by verbally requesting a validation of their presence, and 16 visual sightings of UFO hovering.

I’m left wondering by these things at their hopes. Do they stand around, perform some sort of ceremony or ritual, hoping to see proof? They say at points in this letter how pleased they are at the interest people show in all their teachings, and to me it seems obvious that people would be more curious. What do they have to do to see a UFO at least 5 times a month? And what’s the deal with “verbally requesting a validation of their presence”? They see these things 61 times and “two flashback responses” confirm something deeper to them? Again, it makes me curious in their hopes.

A greater surprise awaited us after the second meeting when the campground owner asked us to come back the summer of 2018 and present the 11 week course on the Billy Meier Story as well as the 1.5 hour course on how to contact UFO!!!!

This was said after telling us about their camping story where they shared the Billy Meier story. This is the crux, the turning point, the axis if you will of their story. This is their hope and desire: that people will want to listen to them. And it is all the more important, I believe, that the stranger the things they want to share the better it is that people will still listen.

I remember back, late at night, in my home in Utah, when they were living with us for a time, him speaking to me about his father. The lights were all turned off, I was ready for bed, and he caught me in the kitchen. I don’t remember the specifics of the conversation, but I do remember his tears. He cried about the relationship between him and his father. We had a disagreement with them regarding the fact that Stacey would not call him father and to our children he could simply be “papa ***,” and not Grandfather or other honorary term. The respect he didn’t receive from his father was not being replaced by his own children, and now us. I truly felt he was trying to manipulate me into feeling that he deserved the respect he always wanted. This came across in the fact that many churches wouldn’t accept his leadership because he was divorced; he was very bitter. I saw that any disagreement with him was in fact, a deeply rooted idea that you didn’t respect him.

Now, with this UFO thing, how can you disagree with him? He doesn’t even give you the opportunity! He wouldn’t hear of it.

Lately, in our own studies at our church, we have studied the idea of leadership and authority in a pastor led church verses and elder led one. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably many healthy pastor led churches; ones in where a pastor doesn’t get caught up in their own authority. I haven’t thought much about it before, but an elder led church has less, I say less, propensity to move towards error. Elders need to give each other to their fellow elder under the headship of Christ. Decisions regarding theology, direction, counsel and prayer need to be discussed and dealt with among a plurality of elders. Again, I’m not necessarily against a pastor led church, but it seems that a lot of the churches that have gone off the deep end, have a singular authority.

I see this in ***’s desire for people to be interested in his teaching. “These people respect me,” I see him saying in argument against our challenges. If they take it all in, then finally reject what they’re teaching, their loss… It’s no longer what he is teaching, but to him, it is their rejection of “UFO.” This was something he couldn’t see in his weak teaching of Christ. I say weak, because I know. He sent us a book he wrote, back when he still called himself a Christian, about forgiveness. The arguments were weak and had no value holding onto the authority of Christ, but only the authority of others in your life, probably a father or pastor.

He has found his muse, or mantra, whatever you want to call it. And the more he is challenged by his authority in those who rejected him, the more power it gives him in his embracing something that is just crazy enough he can only blame your weak faith. I can speak to this because I lived it for a time. I came to a point some years ago, that I saw my driving away people, as a way to blame them for their intolerance of me. I knew that eventually people wouldn’t care for me so I drove them away in my obnoxiousness in order for me to say that they couldn’t handle the truth of who I was. But it was a lie I formed around myself. Much like *** has found a belief to surround himself with in order to not have to blame himself for his shortcomings but he can now blame others for their lack. Knowing this brings me no comfort in his decision for him and his wife, but I can understand it a little more. I could be wrong, but I think that I’m not. It rings of truth in the history of knowing him the way that only I observed.

I feel sorry for him and his wife that they can easily deny what they claimed for a lifetime. Their/His hope is now in beliefs that he claims are “provable,” but even a soft examination of this… stuff, proves how much faith you have to make within in order to believe it.

I end this article in the same way I did last year: a prayer for them. Lord, I don’t fully know the way to reach people, especially these people. They were very close to us for a time until they rejected us. I don’t care anymore about their rejection of us, because I understand now how easily it is to forget and/or reject those we love. I recall so many times I’ve rebelled and in a way rejected you. Yet you’ve always been faithful, bringing me back growing in faith, knowing that you’re always there. Thank you for being real. Make yourself real to them, in the way you would only know. Please let it never be a point where you give them over. Let this be a time of testing for them and for me, knowing I will grow and knowing that they would see the fault of the worldview they’ve adopted. However, You are sovereign! You are God and I will ever praise you in whatever circumstances I find myself in.

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Acts 14: We’ve Got Another Think Coming

Paul and Barnabas do their typical thing and enter the synagogue first. The text says that they spoke in “such a manner” that lots of people believed. (I am initially reading from the NASB.) The amplified version says, “with such power and boldness.” The NIV says that they, “spoke so effectively.” Other versions simply say that they spoke. Now, if we begin to think that they crafted their speech as to sway, with their words, we begin to wonder the power of these men. But they most assuredly would disagree that it wasn’t their power that many believe. For even though faith comes through hearing (Rom 10:17), we ultimately know that it is the Holy Spirit that converts a man, that has him understand as to believe. Even Paul said that it wasn’t because of his persuasive words (1 Cor 2:4). If we begin to think it is us doing the convincing, we’ve got another think coming.

The Jews are losing their culture, the ones that only find their culture valuable. This is a great message for us today. We attempt to change the culture today to fit what we think it should be because of who we are, forgetting that we don’t change the culture for our sake, but that our change is the most important thing we should focus on. The culture can defend itself. We share the word, and individuals are changed. Then we focus on individuals. If we think by changing our culture we can change people, we’ve got another think coming.

Verse 3 confirms that the words they were speaking, was done in the reliance of God. He gave them grace and signs and wonders “done by their hands. This being said, the people of the city became divided. It’s what Christ does. He divides. Anyway, a plot was afoot and the apostles were being mistreated and there was an attempt to stone them. They became aware of the plot and fled, but continued to preach the gospel. I begin to wonder at this point… How does the gospel affect us when there is mistreatment? Generally I think that fear stops us. Fear of being misunderstood, or misaligned. But, mistreated? How do we have to fear that? We all say in our own little studies something to the effect of, “Oh, it’s coming,” when considering true persecution. Is that when we stop, or when we start preaching the gospel. We think that there has to be a perfect moment, a perfect opportunity, or perhaps a divine appointment(?) to say something. Do we wait, or do we go? When is the time? The time is now? Everything in our society seems to be based on timing. When to buy a house. When to sell. When is the right time to invest? Should I just use the bank? Or a Credit Union? I don’t mean to insult the idea that God can work out in a specific and right moment, because HE ALWAYS DOES, but for us, that thinking might be a bit skewed. If we think there is a perfect time to wait and share the gospel with someone, we’ve got another think coming.

In one of the places they fled, they performed one of those aforementioned sign and wonder: a man who could not walk from birth, stood up and walked. Seemingly, Paul either spoke it within hearing of the man, or he shouted for the man to get up and walk. But the reaction of the crowd is the interesting thing here, at least to me. They are considered as gods. Offerings are prepared. Worship is intended. But Paul and Barnabas tear their robes, go immediately to the people and tell them that they are only men as they are. Their purpose is to show them that their worship of these gods has no purpose. To reveal the God, the True God as creative and generous. Man, in general, receives blessings from God; rain and food and life. This is the God they are intending to reveal, and a misunderstanding of their “signs and wonders” is a sorrowful thing. They went immediately to the men. How often do we allow our goodness, our love to be misunderstood as just us? And this ignores the question about signs and wonders anyway… What are they really? Healing? Or simply speaking boldly? Both? When we don’t act like the world in following Christ, we should be giving credit to him. Instead, there are many out there claiming the name of Christ and acting too much like the world. If we think our goodness and love in following Christ can be done in our own power, we’ve got another think coming.

Those Jews who were so upset about Paul and Barnabas in Iconium, heard about the goings-on at Lystra. They went there and won the crowds over, stoned Paul until they thought he was dead, and dragged him out of the city. What a strange turn of events. First they’re considered gods, the next thing they’re being stoned by the people. You wonder at the stuff the bible leaves out sometimes… How did the Jews, convince a bunch of god offering fanatics, to stone those that they thought were gods just a little bit ago? The work of God goes on. Those we think are dead, are revived to preach another day. I get the feeling that what was most concerning to the Jews wasn’t just their culture, but it may have been the fact that they believed God was being misrepresented by these… Christians. Sure the means of their fervor should have made them question their hearts, but maybe, deep down, they believe they were doing the work of God. I may be too condemning at times towards people who seem to be arguing that God is this way or that way. One thing we’ve learned so far in our study of Acts, is that God ain’t gonna do the same thing in the same way no how, no way. Of course the Jews stand against the growth of the Church isn’t necessarily doing the work of God. But in all… well, most of these summary statements in Acts tell us that the Church grew, despite persecution or corruption or tribulation. God’s work does not stop. I have to wonder again though, am I a help to the gospel, or a hindrance. Is my inaction less helpful than my actions? There are many things to speak out against in our Christian culture here in America, but does it help? If we think we “help” God out in all our actions against those who would call themselves Christians, we’ve got another think coming.

Ultimately, the book of Acts is a compelling read that leaves a lot out that we might want to know. But God gives us what we need to know. Our words are what lead people to believe. By being part of the culture means it should be changing around you because of our influence. God does call us for specific times to do specific tasks. Sometimes it is a very tough decision on our part to love someone we so much despise. So much of the time we need to expose a lie that is disguised as the truth. We are individuals called to individual purposes and corporate purposes. Our gifts complete the Church. We are needed where we are. God will complete the work He has through His people. But the one thing we cannot do is say, “this is how it was done in Acts, we should be able to replicate it.” Are there God’s people out there today lifting a man from his mat he spent his whole life on, to walk for the very first time? I pray to God that there is! Have I seen that happen? No. But that does not mean it doesn’t. God Can Do Anything. Is He limited by my inaction? No, only I choose to limit Him. Our God is an amazing God not limited by time or circumstance. We are limiting Him by our unbelief. I think if there is one warning I come away with by studying Acts is, don’t limit Him to a method, or an experience, or even by my own weak faith. Strengthen my faith, oh my God. That I may see your signs and wonders worked out through your Church. If I think my life is enriching simply by knowing Him, but not taking part in His work, I got another think coming.

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Goodbye Ken Carey, A Follow Up

A couple of weeks ago I received a comment on my former post about Ken Carey. The person who commented asked me to remove the post because it contained stuff that wasn’t true. So I responded with the below. I edited out his name because I think he wants to remain anonymous. He wanted most of all for me to clear up my errors regarding Ken and you can see that I address them in my email further below. I was wrong about his family relationship as abandonment. I was wrong about how he died and was discovered. For that I am sorry and this is one of the reasons I am writing this post.

—, With utmost respect, I must say that that was invariably the point! I, and the community that Ken had connected himself to, knew Ken in a profound way that may or may not have been glimpsed by those people who knew him those oh so many years he existed on earth before he came to West Plains. You must know, and admit that perspective is everything when it comes to what we see in people at different epochs in life. I will not remove this post. In fact, you have inspired me to write my final perspective on what I witnessed the day of the memorial of Ken Carey. And, dearest —, I would like any perspective you may share in what you find so disagreeable about what I knew of Ken. I give you the opportunity to rebut my view, my understanding, my perspective of what I, and I alone witnessed, processed, and gleaned from my personal relationship with Ken. Tell me, what is so troubling to you that you would have me delete my perspective. Would you tear down other memories of Ken that do not fit your view? I would hope not! For they ultimately, forthrightly, and wholly complete the picture of who Ken, in totality was. —, I would give several days for you to provide any opinion of yours, and I will gladly publish your opinion, that you began publicly here, on my blog.
Thank you for your opinion, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
Mark Mayo

I was admittedly a little offended at the suggestion that I remove the post. I think it was the fact that so many of us want to delete any idea of bad things in our history that it upset me in the same way. Also that this blog is personal to me and doesn’t get around much with the exception of the initial post about Ken Carey.

Anyway, the person commented again and told me a few things about what I was wrong about. They asked me if I wasn’t going to remove the post to at least remove his comments. So I did. I also responded with the below to an email that was linked to the comments in my email notifications.

First off, I want to tell you that I did delete your comments. Last night when I first saw your post I was at a point where I have grown weary with the world’s idea that if we delete what we don’t want to see or hear, it didn’t really happen. If I did come across as offended, it was simply because deleting opinion or experience is offensive to me. I agree with you that what I saw or heard or surmised about Ken may have been wrong and I would welcome the opportunity to set the opinions straight.

Secondly, I really don’t think you had that much to worry about with people seeing my blog, if that was in fact what you were worried about. My writing isn’t that great, and not many people at all visit my site. It isn’t the numbers that matter to me, but my expression in that… which may have added to the offense I felt. My blog is very personal and when the numbers jump, as they did prior to Ken’s memorial service, it surprises me.

Again, I do realize that the facts of family relationship may have been wrong because of how Ken may have felt at times and what I witnessed may have been perceived wrong. I do not, still, want to edit or delete the original post, but I would very much like to write the second one; a follow up, per se. In that post I will direct to the previous post and say that much of what I will say will be to correct some opinions of mine. I will edit the older post to direct to the newer one at the beginning, stating that corrections and updates have been made. Will that suffice? It would require some, maybe much, input from you, as you appear to be a family member. Which leads to my first question, if you agree to correspond from this point:

How are you related to Ken? (I’m guessing you’re his son?) When was the last you saw him? How often did you visit with Ken in the last few years? Did you know he was writing a last book? Does the family have anything in their possession regarding Ken’s last book?

More personal if you can: I know it must have been devastating for the family as a whole to suffer through the divorce; so how did things change around the farm when he was gone? I myself was in high school when my parents divorced, so I know the pain.

Stuff to clear up: Ken never said the word divorce to me, and I suppose I assumed separation. He made me believe that his mother-in-law drove him away and his wife condoned the action. He was, or appeared very lonely at his apartment, and I always surmised it was his distance from “the farm.” I may have guessed that none of the other family cared, as the only one I saw was his daughter, who had many problems of her own, and it seemed to me she only came out of desperation. I witnessed him and his wife together when I took him to his grandson’s game, and to me it seemed awkward and forced. Any of these things you can address in your own way if you want, but the more I know, the more valuable I will have in my memory of Ken.

Some people find out negative aspects of people they knew and it changes their mind about what they saw. I will always remember the time I had with Ken as valuable, and no matter what negative things you may feel the need to share with me will only strengthen my admiration of him, because of what he may have struggled with.

I knew Ken wasn’t “Christian” in any traditional sense, but I do know he was saved! I believe people come to Christ in many different ways, and Ken’s was very unique. I do not think he abandoned the beliefs he held for so long. I think they became more central to the idea of a universal Christ become personal. We disagreed in some things, but he held Christ in the utmost highest point of worship, and that was his trust. Again, very hard for me to put to words.

I know I was wrong about how his death came about, and that was tragic on my part, but not wholly to blame. I was called by a police officer informing me that Ken listed me as his emergency contact. I was so shocked to find this out, not only his death, but him listing me as his emergency contact, that I didn’t ask any questions. People would ask me at church about the details and sorrowfully I couldn’t answer them. I called the officer in charge a few days later, left voicemails, but, for some reason he never called me back. I didn’t really pursue because I figured I’d read about it in the paper or meet family at the funeral, but it never came. Thus prompting the blog post. I was told by someone else that he was found days later. So, the emergency contact and the timing left me hollow and may have leant a hostility to his family, though slightly. But still bitter.

In answering these questions, you can be as specific or general as you want. Also let me know if you don’t want anything posted. But I hope you feel as I do, that truth is needed in this situation… for many people.

Thank you for writing me, and I hope you agree with the idea of a final post and any help would be great. The small window I knew Ken was eye-opening, and I found him fascinating in many aspects, I hope this will enhance the picture.

Sincerely, Mark Mayo

This email was written about a 11 days ago. As of today there has been no response. There could be many reasons for this: My email information of him was incorrect. I am impatient. He hasn’t found the time to respond and he wants to be careful. It is to an email he doesn’t regularly check. Or, he doesn’t want to be involved further.

Either way, I wanted to keep this record to show that I was wrong about things with Ken, and perhaps I can respect the wishes of you out there who would like me to delete their comments and deal with issues on a more personal level. I’ve written too much that I’ve lost or deleted in frustration that I will find it very hard to delete something I’ve put my heart into. I will correct when I am wrong. In fact, if this person still wants to clear up my wrongs, I am so willing – it is the connecting that is the issue. So I write this to let him know I’ve tried getting in touch with him.

Mark Mayo

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Dear Erika, The Cynical Diaries

Dear Erika,

This morning I posted to that one site a commentary on recognizing fake articles that promote your hometown. After writing that, I thought that perhaps it was a little too condemning to the people who shared the actual article I was referring to. But, I thought it made me laugh anyway, so it is a keeper. Some things I post to that one site and realize that it is stupid, or mean, and it doesn’t make me laugh, so I delete it. So, I am considering making a new page or blog post subject called, “The Cynical Diaries.” Although, it might be already a thing. Hold on, let me check…

Okay. In my search I’ve netted 2 sites. The first one is a Tumblr site whose web address is named “foolish-beetle.” The name of their blog is “The cynical diaries,” and it is pictures and gifs and such that aren’t what I would necessarily consider cynical. They haven’t posted since April 2016. The other one is actually called “Cynical Diaries.” It is a Russian(?) site that is on blogspot, and hasn’t posted since 2012. I’m not sure how cynical it actually is, but it’s basically non-existent to the freedom-loving breed of Americanalism I think my target audience may be. And it looks a little sketchy, so I didn’t delve to deeply.

Wait a second… Maybe I am confused on what the definition of cynical actually is. Let’s check it out:

cyn·i·cal
ˈsinək(ə)l/
adjective
adjective: cynical
  1. 1. believing that people are motivated by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.
    “her cynical attitude”
    • doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile.
      “most residents are cynical about efforts to clean mobsters out of their city”
      synonyms: skepticaldoubtfuldistrustfulsuspiciousdisbelievingMore

      antonyms: idealistic
    • contemptuous; mocking.
      “he gave a cynical laugh”
  2. 2. concerned only with one’s own interests and typically disregarding accepted or appropriate standards in order to achieve them.
    “a cynical manipulation of public opinion”

I believe the main component comes from the first definition in my case. Specifically, “distrustful of human… integrity.” Also, the synonyms help: skeptical, doubtful, suspicious. Especially when it comes to people’s motivations.

I understand I am a skeptical person and perhaps you, or some people, may not think that being cynical jibes with my Christian beliefs, but I believe that it is a characteristic that is essential to my core, and the results of my cynicism may be what most should be measured against my beliefs. That is to say, how I use my cynicism reveals what I believe. Sometimes it irks me to hear people justifying their behavior because Christ did it, and I don’t want to do that, but in a way, Christ was cynical.

Does it make someone cynical in knowing people’s motivations, or simply in guessing their motivations?

Anyway, I’m wondering about where to post my “Cynical Diaries.” Should it be a facebook site, or should I just make it a feature of one of my 2 different blogs? You know I have 2, right? This one, which is me, undeniably. And the other one: “Former Stranger In Rebellion,” which use to be “Stranger In Rebellion,” and now is my more “fun,” rarely posted to sites (although this one has become quite rare as well). On FSIR, I had a run of “Memes that make me go, huh?” which I enjoyed and this might be the same. Although this one that I’m considering may have more writing and thus might not be as accessible. But, then again, I have saved a few memes and think that maybe I could incorporate those into the new feature. The other thing I’m thinking of is changing the name of FSIR to “The Cynical Diaries.” Hmmm… What do you think.

Your brother,

Mark

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Dear Erika, The Beginning of Stories

Dear Erika,

I forgot to call Chris yesterday. No, that isn’t right. I failed to call Chris yesterday. And much like when I forgot to call you on your birthday, I feel the need to appease myself. Not that I probably will, but that doesn’t mean I won’t make a feeble attempt. After all, my not calling you on your birthday has led to this… I made a promise that I would call you every day that week and share something with you. That was a lot of fun for me. I was sharing my life with you, even though I’m not even sure you received the voicemails or texts. I think it was the idea that I was reaching out to a world that may be forgetting me, much like I, regrettably, am forgetting it. I called a couple of times in the last week or so, and left my rambling voicemails, and thought that I need to make a more permanent record of this life I now live.

Last Sunday, I was in our deacon meeting and they were talking about family reunions. Then David mentioned about how glad he was that I didn’t move several years back. Joe asked me how I felt about it and I was dwelling on the fact of family reunions. It hurts a little to think about what I am missing. The growth of your children and generally being in your lives on a day-to-day basis… or more rightly week-to-week… let’s stick with month-to-month then. I think I miss the idea of you all than the reality. Let’s face it, since we grew up and hadn’t had the weekly going over to Nana and Papa’s house every week or so, we were growing apart. Maybe not so dramatic as that; but we didn’t see each other as much as I’d like to have. Everyone had their life, and I had mine.

Stacey and I try to instill the idea of family bonds to our girls whenever there is a riff between them. We see the separation between Stacey and her family, physically, emotionally, spiritually and philosophically, and we desire to break that cycle with them. I don’t want to say that it is the same with all of us on my side of the family, but the chasm grows wider, and this is my feeble attempt to connect.

I am here in West Plains for the time being, and that is where I’ll stay until I am drawn otherwise. It has been such an area of growth for all of us that I can’t imagine my life any other way. It is hard to see that the distance is so huge, that I can’t afford to make a trip back more often than I’d like. We have a jar in our bookshelf that says “Utah Trip” that has some money in it, that we’d like to see full before the end of the year. But it stays mostly empty as things come up.

Anyway, I’ll keep this writing up, as I feel a great need to do so, and I hope in some way you look forward to them. I’m going with Chris to see Iron Maiden next week in Kansas City, and taking Ella too. Think of it! I remember going to see Iron Maiden when I was near her age and couldn’t imagine Mom or Dad going with me. But now I have the opportunity to take my daughter… to Iron Maiden. Ha! I hope it’s something she’ll always remember.

Speaking of remembering things, I remember the connection we had when I’d tell you stories about unicorns and a certain little girl. I know you remember that because we always talk about it. Now I’m going to tell you more stories. Stories of a more real nature. Hopefully they’ll connect with you in ways we have been missing since I left.

Your brother,

Mark

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Dear Erika, Burpee Visions

Dear Erika,

This morning we did “Jacobfit.” We were supposed to do it last night but because the new headmaster came in it interrupted things. I’ve been exercising regularly in the Crossfit style for a few months now with Jacob as our instructor. And, we call it Jacobfit. We go Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. This morning our work out was “As Many Rounds as Possible” of 10 burpees, 20 wall-balls, and a 250 meter run, in 20 minutes. I ended up with 3 rounds plus 16. After completing it, I was amazed that I did 40 burpees, 66 wall-balls and 750 meters. Thinking about attempting that several months ago makes me glad where I am right now. I mean, several times in this period I like to call, being alive, I’ve tried different kind of workouts; running, swimming, ellipticals. Nothing ever stuck, and my motivation level was low.

I wish I could say that if I was in Salt Lake right now, that I’d be doing this, but that is extremely doubtful. These people, and this difficulty of being away from you all, has changed me. The other day someone asked me the goal of why I was working out, and it is that I want to be healthy. But it’s more than that. I want to live past our father’s and his father’s age. When I got the cat bite and had to spend some time in the emergency room, I watched people. They were all so (apparently at least) unhealthy. That was a huge turning point as well. I was just becoming consistent with the exercise, then I get this bit that draws me to the place I don’t want to see: The immediate consequence of bad choices. All people in the emergency weren’t their by their own direct choices, but it is what I saw. And that is what is driving me now.

Laying on the ground during my third round of burpees, I see fat people in reinforced chairs, and I get up again. That could be me. I’m still fat, and have a long way to go, but I have a goal.

What is an immediate goal for you lately?

Your brother,

Mark

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Unequivocal Culture: Fake News and Those Evil Christians

It started, as many of my current rants usually do, from that one site’s news feed. Someone shared an article that said something about the uproar of Christians being offended because of the new gay character in the Beauty and the Beast movie. I was annoyed at what appeared to be another calling for boycott by so-called conservative Christians. It seems to me that whenever this happens the movie in question gets nothing but unsolicited advertising, making Christians look foolhardy, and weary producers begrudgingly shake their heads as their coffers grow by leaps and bounds.

Hmmmm… Perhaps they enjoy the free advertising and get to look more noble for their bold approach to an old story.

Of course they do!

I know not a one person who would protest these leaps of character by Disney, ever since the backfiring of Hollywood protests in the 80s and 90s. I can’t even imagine that most Christians, given the climate today, would even care about a gay side character. I didn’t. In fact, I thought he was rather interesting, except for the stupid part at the end.

Anyway, I think some marketing manager needed to create a little more buzz for the film and came up with the controversial aside. They have an instant victim to their little ruse and bam! Christians are evil because they hate gay people, so come support our movie.

It all died down after the film came out and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the gay character wasn’t performing gay feats of strength.

This whole thing came up again because of some stupid April Fool’s Prank apparently pulled off by Disney. Or maybe not Disney, just someone being a troll.

This one promoted the fact that Disney was making the new live-action Lion King’s Simba as a gay character. Then it said, “Homophobes go nuts!” Really? It might not have been the fact that it would change many elements of the story that people might have been upset? Initial reactions withstanding, this is just more blather to show how horrible it is to not fully appreciate gayness, gay-culture and gay people in our lives. And who are these horrible, hate-filled people??? Christians! That’s who!

This is pure propaganda. These ideas of intolerance by religious conservatives, and Christians are being foisted upon the general populace of facebook as fact. It is fake, and all this talk about fake news is detracting from the fact that we’re all being played! They make up a story about how angry we all are, post comments on these fake articles making us believe that these people are real, and it is all a line to push their followers to action. We are the fools in this, and they are all believing the lie about how intolerant we all are. And not a Muslim’s intolerance is in sight… just sayin’.

You know, we conservatives are losing the culture war. Not that I think many of us understood that we were in one in the first place. Where do we fight? Do we fight? The more we stand up it seems the more we are shouted down or told to be more tolerant by our apparent peers. We are not united as the liberals appear to be. Not because of Trump but because we don’t know where to stand and we haven’t in a long time. We argue about how far we should go and everything we deemed solid dissipates like dust in our hands.

Hold onto something solid people. Solid like a Rock. It’s gonna get crazy out there, these social sites are the testing grounds that will soon be in the streets. Find your truth and make it stand!

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