Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Free Tract Society For You!

It was a grocery store parking lot in Glendale, but they’ve found me again!

Today’s religious tract left under my windshield is brought to you by the Free Tract Society, who have a website here that doesn’t do much and a facebook page where, among other things, they lament that Obama won re-election here.

Just a single page, double sided.  The first page lists famous bible verses where the overarching theme is CHRIST DIED for us and our sins.

The second page is  KEEP THESE THOUGHTS BEFORE YOU AND REMEMBER, and it’s a run down of standard stuff like “Salvation is free” and “Every Blessing you enjoy in the life, even the air you breathe, comes from God.”  Sure, there’s a tiny bit of “God is just and sin must be punished,” but I’d say the bulk of it is refreshingly free from pointed fingers about how you’re a bad person in need of redemption.  They’re not trying to scare you at all (they’re gonna let their facebook page do that, I guess) and that’s a good thing.

At the end of the second page, is ACCEPT CHRIST NOW.  And yet doesn’t go on to say how you do that.  Doesn’t list a website, doesn’t list a phone number.  The address is a PO Box, nobody’s going there in need of revival.

So I’d have to say that Free Tract Society kinda drops the ball there – why tell me all these things and then not tell me how to accept Jesus.  Maybe they ran out of room on their double sided tract, and figured it was more important to end with ACCEPT CHRIST NOW as opposed to AND HERE’S HOW YOU DO IT!

I think what cracks me up more than anything else is the idea of the Free Tract Society person going around, slipping these under the windshield, and then patting themselves on the back.  I did a good thing today!  I put Free Tract For Jesus under car windshields!  Maybe people will come to Christ because of me!  I won’t follow up on my good deed, so I have no idea what effect I had at all, but I did a good deed!  I did a good deed!  God loves me and the good deed I did!

Yep.  It’s awesome, all right.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Baby Jane and Blanche

I’m on another dogsitting gig through the rest of the month, so say hello to these adorable mini-daschunds, Baby Jane and Blanche.
 Of course those aren’t their real names.  For one thing, these sisters are six, not ancient movie stars.  And they like each other, for the most part.  And finally, they are dogs, not Bette Davis or Joan Crawford, heh.

But yes, they are just as adorable as they look in the pictures.  They’re allowed on the furniture, they’re relatively well behaved (unless they see a squirrel, then it’s game over) and they don’t require much, they just wanna be on the couch with you.  And I want them to be on the couch with me, although it does make writing hard, since I wanna snuggle those little noses to DEATH.

Their owners told me about the breakfast/dinner ritual, which includes a prayer.  The owners somewhat embarrassingly explained that I didn’t have to say a prayer, but they did, and I think it’s hilarious, so I’m totally keeping the tradition while the owners are gallivanting in Europe. 

The ritual is simple.  I pour the kibble in the bowls.  I get Baby Jane and Blanche to sit.  I put the bowls on the ground, but they’re supposed to stay put and not move.  Then I say the prayer, and as soon as I say, “Okay,” the pups zoom for their bowls, and inhale the kibble in something under 3 minutes (I’m not kidding.)

The prayer can be about anything, since, you know, dogs can’t understand most English (though they appear to equate, “Okay” with “DINNER TIME!  RUN RUN GET IT NOW!  IT MIGHT LEAVE!”)

So I thank God that Blanche and Baby Jane are generous enough to allow me to use their meal time for my own personal prayers.  I usually thank God for the day, I pray that the morning/evening will be productive and successful.  I ask God to bless the kibble (though I don’t think unblessed kibble tastes any different).  I thank God for Blanche and Baby Jane, and thank you thank you thank you, Lord, Amen.


I wonder what runs through the doxies’ minds while I do this.  I wonder if the presence of God can fall upon an animal who doesn’t know a God exists.  Sure, there’s been plenty of examples where God shines through the love of an animal, but does that animal KNOW they’re being used as an example, as a vessel?  In other words, we look at the dog and see God.  What does the dog see when we’re looking at it?

I guess it’s possible the that dog looks at us and thinks WE’RE God, since we’re the provider of the kibble and the water, and we’re the ones who open doorways of opportunities that lead to backyards where bathroom duties abound in abundance.

So then it’s just God reflecting between man and dog, a never ending circle of God’s grace reflected over and over and over again.

And dogs will never understand that.  Ho, ho, ho.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wasn't Lent Two Months Ago?

I decided to give up sugar and alcohol for a month.  I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I wanted to look nice for that, and I haven’t had a test of discipline like this in a long time.

“Lent was two months ago!” crowed some of my friends when they heard I was doing this.  I know, I know, I know.  And it’s not as though I’m a sugarholic or alcoholic.  I only drink on the weekends, and that’s when I indulge in dessert as well (I eat fruit during the workweek).  So it shouldn’t be that hard to go for a month without those things, right?  Sure, right, right.

But damned if, after taking those small things away, the cravings start INSTANTLY.  I was walking through Party City on Saturday, and I had no idea they had a candy section for parties, and it was like walking through some kind of Candy Bazonkaland.  And true, it was all wrapped up in plastic bags and bins with blaring signs (5 for $1.00!), and probably no adult would want this kind of candy.  But I had to walk slowly through it and do one of those sense memory things, where I imagined the taste of a Three Musketeer mini thingie, or what a junior mint tastes like.  Had to go through the whole experience before I could move on and let it go.

I tried going to the sugar free section of a candy store, but those items looked as though they had been there for years, like NOBODY wants to eat the sugar free peppermint patties, heh.

If I’ve been binging on anything, it’s Mad Men, and you know ALL they do is drink on that show.  Watching people drink at work, knowing I can’t drink at home, that’s actually been easier for me. 

And when you stop doing these things, and then analyze the urges when they come up, it seems that when I’m really stressed (like dress shopping for this friend’s wedding) is when I REALLY want some kind of sugar candy thing.  Like there was a bowl of perfectly wrapped pink and red taffy at this one dress shop, and normally I’d just dive on in, but I had to stop myself. 

And when you’re at a play, and it seems everyone around you has their little plastic cups of wine, or beer bottles, and you’ve got a bottled water, it’s not difficult.  It does make you wonder why you drink in the first place, or at least, why do you drink at a play.  (I drink when I’m writing to quiet the critical voices in my head that inhibit creativity)

But overall, I don’t understand the whole Lent thing.  Like if I was doing this officially for Lent, and in the grip of a craving, I’m supposed to be calling on Jesus to help me through the craving, or saying to God something along the lines of, “I want You, God, more than I want this beer!”

Which seems to really cheapen the notion, somehow.  I much prefer to think that I’m strengthening my resolve, my discipline, my commitment skills.

And how does THAT help your relationship with God at all?

Um…. Okay, fine, I don’t rightly know.  Man, this is when I would drink.  But I’m not going to, ho ho ho.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Moms, Dads, Death and Mad Men

This post is coming from a sicky brain.  See, even that sentence right there didn’t make sense.  I have called work saying I’m sick, is what I’m trying to say.  Which is also why this post is coming to you a day late.  With frequent breaks to stretch on the bed and feel the fluid in my ears slosh to and fro.  It’s lovely.

A college friend’s mother passed away this week.  It occurs to me that my peer group is now hitting the age range where our parents are passing on (dying seems like such a rude word) to higher grounds more frequently.  Or not.  

Additionally, Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday.  I have other friends who are passing around links to articles about why you should stop hassling women who don’t want to have kids.  I rarely get hassled about why I don’t want kids.  I think all the righteous indignation I would get to spew would be fun.  Which is probably why God has mostly kept all those hasslers away from me.

I do hate it when I hear pastors in the pulpit talk about how you don’t understand God’s love for us until you become a parent yourself. And it’s insulting, not just to people like me who don’t want kids, but to the people who have been desperately trying to have kids and not been successful.  To generalize that there’s a dimension to God’s love that parents can access and non-parents can’t, well, shame on you for characterizing God’s love like that.  You don’t know how many dimensions of love God has.  Nobody does.

But while not everyone wants to be a parent, everyone HAS a parent, or a loved one, or even a liked one, and that means most everyone will have to experience the death of that person.

And that is something I rarely hear about from the pulpit.

“Grief waits” said my friend Tricia a long time ago, and while I am not fetal and sobbing on the floor yet (and I wonder if I ever will be), there are more times where that searing pricking behind the eyeballs sensation hits, and I’m on the verge of tears in odd places.

For example, I’ve been binge watching Mad Men, as I’ve heard it’s an example of great writing on TV and Netflix has the first five seasons on instant streaming, and I’m already caught up on Breaking Bad.

I remember Dad saying he liked watching it, and I said I didn’t watch it because I didn’t have time, and that was the end of that conversation.  But then again, we both watched Amazing Race and didn’t talk about that much either, so it’s not as though bonding through shared interests worked with us.

Having made it through season 3 so far, I can see why Dad liked the show.  That was his era, being a company man in the 1960’s.  Dad wasn’t an ad man, but he did spend time in the sales department of his company. 

One the nicest emails we received in the aftermath of Dad’s passing was from a former co-worker of his who was one of the only women hired in his department.  “Your Dad was the kindest, most professional, smartest, honest person I have ever worked with… he always treated me with the greatest respect and was a true gentleman.”

I’d like to think that Dad would’ve been similarly nice to Peggy in the Mad Men world.

And as I watch the lovingly re-created world of the 1960s, with its smoking and drinking and fashion (and lamps.  For some reason, I always look at the lamps in the set design), every now and then I whisper up to Dad, “You were right, Dad.  It’s a good show.”

And I hear the smile in his voice as he says back in my brain, “Yep.  I told ya so.”