Wading in the Deep

Religion. Yes, we’re going to discuss religion. A taboo subject, for sure, but the taboo subjects are always the best. It’s also not really a discussion as this is a blog and I’m writing and you’re reading. However, you can always add your two cents in the comment section.

So, what is it with religion? Questions, man, just questions. I have many questions that may or may not deserve an answer and sometimes, they get stock answers heard for eons. I’ve heard them all, some that only raise more questions, but most that cause my eyes to roll. Some questions are big picture and some are small picture. But before I get into it, allow me to give you a snapshot of my background, first, to qualify some things I’m going to say.

Growing up, my mother drag my sister and me to church every Sunday in great, enthusiastic, guilt driven moments in time. We were faithful church sprinters, but never really marathon runners. My father, however, never liked to run. We ran through the major denominations like Catholic, Lutheran, and Baptist. We even hit non-denominational churches, but it wasn’t until my high school years that I settled on a Pentecostal church. It’s where I met my future wife, made some great, life-long friends, and cut my teeth on evangelical theology.

After serving in the Navy, I attended a Bible college for a year until I realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to study. However, I continued my own personal studies. I was a faithful follower, attending church two times a week, partaking in group studies and independent studies, going on mission trips, and determined to make church a meaningful and real experience not only for my family, but also for everyone else. Then that real experience I was so determined to usher in began to punch holes into everything I believed.

The questions started small. They were always whys. I was playing, for lack of a better term, devil’s advocate, not only for those I was with, but for myself, as well. I truly just wanted to think through everything we hung our hopes on and understand without a doubt. It wasn’t enough not to doubt, because, well, we must believe with all our heart because the Bible says so. The Bible also says that even if we have the faith of a mustard seed, that’s enough to do great things. The problem was, I had spent years with mustard seed faith and mountain faith and the results were the same, and it was starting to gnaw at my spirit. But it wasn’t sudden. As I desperately watered the seed of faith, a seed of doubt was also planted and I remember the moment well.


In 2002, I took the Word of God and did precisely what it said and I tested it. In Malachi 3:9-11 it says:

You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

“Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts.

Now, any good evangelical theologian would tell you that this was God promising blessings from heaven if you were faithful in your tithes. For those that do not know, a tithe is ten percent of your income. In the days of Malachi, Hebrews paid their tithes in the form of food, a major source of income. This was how the temple priests ate. Otherwise, they would starve since all they did was pray and offer sacrifices, not really producing anything of worldly value. Using this Bible verse as a modern reference to tithing is popular in today’s church. Whether it’s sound theology may be argued by others much smarter than I am.

In any case, I had been faithful with my tithes, but started to feel as if I wasn’t being true to this word. The reason I was tithing, if I were to be honest, was that I received a tax benefit. Ten percent of my income and then some to a charitable organization did me well during tax season. So, in 2002, I decided I was going to depend on God alone. I paid my tithe in cash, anonymously, for the entire year. If I were to receive a blessing for my faithfulness, then it would be from God and not the government. Unfortunately, the result was less than desirable. I lost my job of eight years the following year and my house the year after that and eventually moved to Florida where my wife and I worked for minimum wage and lived with my parents while trying to raise two small children. I was despondent, to say the least. I thought it was a cruel joke, but I was determined to see it through. Then one Sunday while living in Florida, at the end of my emotional and mental rope, my wife and I sat in church, desperately pleading with God to help us. We were flat broke, with barely enough gas to get to and from church, and with zero prospects, but all the faith in the world, because the Bible says so. After church, we walked out to our quickly diminishing van with our two small children and I saw what looked like a wad of cash stuffed under the windshield wiper. My heart skipped a beat. Was this it? Was this the moment that would send us soaring on eagle’s wings? I nudged my wife and said, “Look.” Tears welled in our eyes. Then I pulled the cash out and a terrible wave of dread washed over me. It wasn’t cash. It was a Bible track made to look like cash, declaring the joy of God and salvation, stuck on a car in a church parking lot. I was sure I was going to jump off a tall building any day.

It wasn’t all rainy Sundays and doom and gloom. I don’t want to just paint a bleak picture during this time. I wrote a lot then, which produced a screenplay that I sold five years later and another that I optioned. It put me on the track to work as a fulltime writer. There were good times, as well, times where God was surely speaking directly to me through some mystical, natural moment. One such moment was during an intense time of prayer for help. A gust of wind blew and minutes later, I received a phone call offering me a job in Michigan. It was what I liked to call a “holy appointment.” Of course, I ignored the fact that I was talking with this company for months about coming back to Michigan to work on a project that we could try to make into a fulltime position. No, I needed to believe that God was on my side, he was looking out for me, paving the way, and that there was a plan to all the madness. So, I rejoiced and we moved back to Michigan. However, the seed was planted and it would grow.


The Apostle Paul drives me nuts. He is a man of constant contradictions: Moody and arrogant, loving and humble, righteous and strong, sinful and weak. He is also full of shit as much as he is full of wisdom. I love him and I hate him. We would have been good friends.

I began to look at the Bible as a whole, the grand scheme, if you will. I needed to break it down in its simplest form. To put it plainly: God created man, man sinned, passing the nature of sin onto mankind, making mankind in need of a savior; Christ was born, God in flesh, died for mankind in order to pay the price for mankind’s sin, thereby, allowing mankind to once again enter into fellowship with God. And the whole world says, amen.

Here’s the problem.

Mankind was condemned by way of Adam’s original sin. Mankind was saved from Adam’s original sin by way of Christ’s sacrifice. However, mankind did not consciously choose Adam’s sinful nature, instead it was passed on by each man, inherited from Adam, a blemish on the soul for all eternity and there was nothing that a man could do to save himself. He was doomed. Yet, Christ paid the price and man was saved… only if he confessed Christ. You see the problem? Mankind was doomed by way of proxy, but not saved by way of proxy without individual verbal confessions, i.e. consciously choosing salvation.

That’s enough to drive you insane and you will not receive a satisfying answer even from the most determined and devout theologian. What you will ultimately get is, “These are the mysteries of God,” or something like that. But where does Paul come into all this?

Paul piles it on in his writings.  He wrote letters to churches all over the Mediterranean. Mainly he’s settling differences, addressing problems, and answering questions. He’s trying to create some sense of community that goes beyond each individual church. At the time, the Christian church was all over the map with regards to beliefs and traditions. Paul wanted to straighten the arrow. In the process, though, Paul himself was all over the map. It would take a few hundred years to straighten out.

At one point, Paul admonished a church by saying: It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall (Romans 14:21). In another letter, Paul wrote that women should be modest and dress appropriately (1 Timothy 2:9-10). One can only surmise that this was so women were not obstacles to the men. However, Paul was quick to remind the churches that they should not live in judgment (Romans 14); that they would ultimately bear their own load (Galatians 6); and that they were free in Christ (Galatians 5).

These are a few examples of why Paul drives my batty. At one point, he was putting the responsibility of another’s sin on those who he said were now free, but then said that they would ultimately bear their own load and have to answer to God for their choices. Which is it, Paul? Either we’re responsible for our decisions or not. But, as you see in the original sin vs. salvation example, that tone was established in the beginning.

These holes are what started to punch through everything for me.


Despite the wrestling within my spirit over these questions, I pressed on, praying daily, devoting my time and resources to God and his church. I spent time during prayer asking for guidance and wisdom, as well as needs, always hoping and believing that God heard me and would answer, as we are often told, in his time, because his timing is perfect. This is part of the catch-22s that litter the Bible and church culture that I started to notice.

The Bible is full of examples of God doing things in the spirit world, unseen by us in the physical world. It tells us to be patient and to stand strong even when it appears that God isn’t answering our prayers. It tells us to believe and not to doubt, for those that doubt are tossed about like the wind and sea. The Bible tells us that our reward is in heaven, a place that no one has ever seen, but we believe really exists because the Bible says so. It tells us that we are preparing for eternity and that our life here is temporary, but that what we do here determines our lives there. It tells as that it rains on the wicked and the righteous, that death comes to all, that believers will suffer as much as non-believers, but we know that Christ is with us and that makes the difference. Devout Christians will tell you that God will answer your prayers, but that the answer isn’t always yes, or that you may not see the answer in your time, but your children may see the fruit of your prayers. These catch-22s encourage the Christian to press on while in constant worry over whether they are doubting or truly believing, and at the same time, not providing any real comfort or confidence, but guilt and anguish.

I know that sounds harsh, but as a spirit filled individual once told me when I questioned where the signs and wonders were that God said would follow our testimonies, “You cannot argue with another man’s experience. If he says he experienced a miracle from God, who are you to say he did not?” Well, I’ll see your miracle and raise you a lifetime of silence from on high. That’s my experience.

Standing Eight Count

What does all this mean? The short answer is, I don’t know. Beware the one that says he does know without question. In boxing, when a fighter is knocked down, he gets a standing eight count before the fight continues. Religion, Christianity, spirituality, whatever you want to label it has a standing eight count right now. I have gone two years without saying a single prayer, not even a blessing on the food I eat. I decided two years ago that I would not pray. I had said all that I wanted to say. At some point, you just stop calling and leaving messages when you never get a call back. I was also curious as to how different my life would be if I didn’t pray. At the time of my decision, I was in dire straits, emotionally, financially and mentally. My thinking was, it couldn’t get any worse. And without getting into it, I was positive of it. The very moment that I decided I would no longer pray, I felt instant relief, as if someone had taken the world of my shoulders. And, brother, life has been good ever since. Yes, my life greatly improved. Imagine that.

I consider myself an intelligent man who is reasonable and open to discussion. I enjoy learning very much and look forward to each day where I can learn something new. I am also aware of my ignorance. Though this will come as a shock to my wife, there have been times in my life where I was wrong. I am fully aware that I may be completely wrong about all this. And I am willing and able to accept it. But, at this moment in my life, it will take a miracle from God.

Post Script

I often hear, when discussing this topic and when I come to my conclusion, that God will give me an answer and that I may not like it, or that it often takes a tragic event to bring everything to light. This is a great catch-22 and one I accept with a smile. It says that if you dare question any of this, then God is going to get you, like a nun using a ruler to smack your knuckles and setting you straight. So, who in their right mind would question or doubt? However, why does it always have to be wrath? Can’t God also be civil about all this?

I also hear that everything happens for a reason. Well, this isn’t true. We apply a reason to everything to give it meaning. It’s difficult for us to accept that shit just happens. Another example of this is the tried but true “there is no such thing as a coincidence.” That’s not true, either. Life is full of them. Many point to near misses in tragic events as examples. If I didn’t get that flat tire, I would have been on that stretch of highway during that 15 car crash. If I wasn’t running late, it could have be me at that bank when it was robbed. Everything happens for a reason! No one ever says, if I hadn’t lost my keys, I wouldn’t have gotten that promotion. Or, if I wasn’t raped, I wouldn’t have had my precious baby. Everything happens for a reason! There is the one exception, though and it’s one of my favorites: I found money on the ground and God has blessed me, one person’s bad day making another person’s good day. Point is, there certainly are such things as coincidences. To use a Christian argument, just because you don’t believe it, doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I love it.

Post Script Script

I have not written this with any malice in my heart. That needed to be said. I know that it will read like that for many of you, but know that I’m just airing out the laundry, so to speak. I’m not trying to disqualify the faith or discourage believers. I don’t hate the church or God. The church, like any organization, is filled with wonderful people and some goobers, but it’s the good people that make it. As for God, he’s an acquaintance that I wish came around more often when I thought we were tight and hope that someday he’ll pop in for a visit to catch up on old times and possibly talk about the future. So, there is no malice, but I do think that we, as Paul said, should work out our faith. If you are not asking questions, then you’re just a zombie with his fingers crossed. Some of you may not feel comfortable talking about your doubts or questions in public. I understand. Some of you work hard to suppress your questions and doubts. I understand that, too. But at some point, you’ll have to address it. My hope is that you find your answers. We all deserve answers to life’s questions. The moment you stop searching for those answers, you’re already dead.




Winding Down 2015

It’s late September, 2015, and the air is cooling, but the year is just heating up. I’m talking entertainment, folks.

Aside from a disappointing summer television season, I’m looking at you True Detective, there were two shows that stood out. NARCS on Netflix is a fantastic show and it’s streaming, so you can binge watch if you must. Also Ray Donovan on Showtime, worth the cost of Showtime alone. Other than that, television, a medium that looked as if it would replace cinema, has cooled its heels and returned to unoriginal programming for the dull-witted.

But cinema is coming back! At least for the end of the year.

So, what do we have to look forward to? Here’s a short list of must see movies to cap off the year for you.

  1. Steve Jobs – starring Michael Fassbender
  2. Bridges of Spies – starring Tom Hanks
  3. Rock the Kasbah – starring Bill Murray
  4. Burnt – starring Bradley Cooper
  5. Spectre – starring Daniel Craig (with hesitation)
  6. The Peanuts Movie
  7. Spotlight – starring Rachel McAdams and Liev Shreiber
  8. Trumbo – starring Bryan Cranston (personally most anticipated)
  9. Macbeth – starring Michael Fassbender
  10. In the Heart of the Sea – starring Chris Hemsworth
  11. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – starring everyone (probably the biggest event in the history of cinema)
  12. The Hateful Eight – starring Kurt Russell and Jennifer Jason Leigh
  13. The Revenant – starring Leonardo DiCaprio

I can’t promise that they will all be great, but chances are that they will be good, or at the very least, entertaining. And this list may not represent all the must see movies. I’m sure there are some dark horses from the independent world set to release before the end of the year. But going by this list, you can see that it is going to be one hell of an award season and the Academy will have some tough choices to make.

What’s on your list?

The Value of Unplugging

The novel is finished, just dealing with some polishing and touch ups, and the queries have been sent out to the publishing world. Sins of Iniquity is the beginning of a running series involving the life of private investigator Leroy Cutter. He’s not your typical P.I. in that he’s a disgraced former Detroit Police detective that’s loose with the dollar and hell bent on living a life of leisure. Unfortunately for Cutter, he can’t seem to avoid the underbelly of Detroit.

I started to the second book, Bone Cay, back in January while Sins of Iniquity was cooling between drafts. It’s a third of the way complete, but before I planted my hind end back in the chair, I needed to unplug.

I started by going on a trip to the mountains for a weekend and then I went camping. There will be a few more road trips in the next coming weeks to Ohio and California. During my excursions I completely unplug from the world, turning off my phone and not picking it back up until the adventure is finished. The unplugging lasts as little as a few days to a few weeks.

Unplugging was, at one time, difficult. I enjoy being connected. However, I also hate being connected. But the more I unplugged, the more comfortable I was with it and the less I desired that 24/7 connection.

During normal operating hours, I seem to be constantly aware of every single happening in the world, how my friends and family feel, coming attractions, predictions, and quasi-prophetical inclinations. The barrage of information, true or false, has a detrimental effect on me physically and emotionally. I am unaware of this during normal operating hours, of course. Then I unplug.

It is amazing how refreshed, both physically and emotionally, you are when you no longer care about everyone’s opinions on every little thing going on in this giant world. Unplugging from the electronic umbilical cord frees your mind, allows perspective, and most of all, kicks stress in the no-nos. This was how we felt before the internet age, before 24 hour news coverage, before Chicken Little started reproducing like a jack rabbit. This is real life.

So, I’m going to do it more and more until it’s not just something I do, but something I have done for good. If you want to save your soul, if you want to gain back control, unplug and experience your life, the joys and pains. Free your mind. Unplug.

Out of the darkness and into the light

As some of you may already know, I have recently wandered from my writing cave after finishing my new novel, Sins of Iniquity. It’s good again to breathe fresh air and feel sunlight on my face. I’ve missed you all.

The novel was a little under a year in the making and it is in the hands of my first readers. What’s a first reader? Simply put, they are the readers that tell me what works and what doesn’t work. In other words, they get to read a book that is almost there, but not quite. It’s a dirty job, but I’m happy they choose to do it. Once I receive their feedback, I go in for another round of revisions, send it off to my editor and then wait some more. Eventually, the book does go to print. Eventually.

The Final RoundIf you’re not a first reader, don’t worry. You can be a second, third, or fourth There is a Seasonreader. I wish those numbers were higher. Kidding, of course. They’re much higher… but not much. Anyway, to become a higher number, simply pick up a copy of my last two books There is a Season and The Final Round. One will rip your heart out and the other will punch you in the gut. You decide which does what.

But if you’re still itching to find out what Sins of Iniquity is all about, I’ll give you teaser.

Lee Cutter, recently forced to retire early from the Detroit Police Department, is a private investigator looking for a way to do as little as possible and live a life of leisure, but he has one problem. He needs money like the rest of the world. When Barbara Goldman is willing to pay him anything to find her missing sister, he jumps at the chance. It’s easy money and he’s all about easy. However, unfortunately for Cutter, the easy life will have to wait. He soon finds himself thrown into a world filled with family secrets, dirty politicians and a turf war between the mob and a city gang called Mickey Cobras. Now, he’s just hoping to get out on the other end alive.

You’ll have to read the book when it comes out to find out more.

Finally, summer is upon us and I am in need of much R&R before I begin the second Lee Cutter novel, which is tentatively titled Bone Cay. Until then, there are margaritas in need of my attention. Keep your eyes open for contests and giveaways and feel free to share this with your friends and enemies.

Have a safe summer and stay cool, my friends.


An Interview With Writer Gary Allison

Gary W. Allison:

This is an interview I did recently about writing, filmmaking and Detroit.

Originally posted on elizagalesinterviews:

gary a

Gary Allison is the author of the book The Final Round; here is a link to his website:




Q:  What made you start writing in the first place?

A: I’m not sure. I like stories. My family told stories, some good, some bad, some repeated. I wrote as a teenager. It was garbage. Writing was for sissies and I’d be damn if anyone called me a sissy. The teenage years were secret notebooks of cringe inducing plots, incomplete philosophical assaults birthed from a black hearted, greasy teen whose mind was preoccupied with getting laid or lying about getting laid. They were awful years: the pimpled years.

Once eighteen, the writing stopped. I joined the Navy and proceeded to indulge in worldly customs that mainly involved experimental liver endurance tests. I was an iron man. When I wasn’t working at defending this great nation of ours single handedly…

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2015 was a great year

This was a great year. I know it has just begun, but I figured I would start off on a good note. Yeah sure, there will be ups and downs, but in the grand scheme of things, 2015 will be great.

I just wanted to jot a quick note for those that read the blog, all ten of you. Normally, I write an end of the year review of my accomplishments, failures, and other nonsense. I didn’t do it this year, because, well, I was busy writing. I still am. That is why this is going to be quick.

My wife asked me on New Year’s Eve as we had dinner at a local restaurant,  what is your resolution? She knows that I don’t make resolutions. I gave her that look and she said, “What do you hope to accomplish in 2015?” That was better, though we may have been splitting hairs. I gave her a straightforward answer and so, without further ado, here is what I hope to accomplish in the year 2015.

  1. Land a publisher
  2. Save Money
  3. Spend Money
  4. Travel More
  5. Write three more books
  6. Sell what has been written already

That’s it. Although this list does not represent all of my goals, they are the focal points of 2015. I have a more comprehensive list that I update every year, five years, and ten years. As always, goals are important. It gives you a target for precise aiming. Make a goal or goals for the year, that way you can also say 2015 was a good year.

What are your goals for 2015?

Thanks for reading!

The Glue that Binds Us

It has been a while since my last article. The blog, unfortunately, was a low priority due to my current writing project and other business ventures. I’m happy to say that as we ease into 2015, that the end of 2014 is turning out to be exciting and rewarding. However, this isn’t the reason for my sudden break in silence.

I could write about Ferguson, MO and draw a lot of attention to myself by fanning the flames on either side of the issue. I could cheapen myself by enraging people or appeasing them. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, this article will be about something that I’ve witnessed for quite some time now and the opportunity to present it seems appropriate.

When I’m not working, I like to observe. I don’t like to write a blog for the sake of the blog, but I prefer to have something worthy to write about.  I observe and then I comment either in the form of a fictional story or a newspaper article or this blog. All writers must be observers of people and of life in general. It’s not always acceptable, nor is it pleasant. For example, while shopping at the mall the other day with my wife, I would constantly leave a store to go out and sit while my wife stood in line to purchase an item. Finally, after doing this several times, she came out and asked why I wouldn’t stand in line with her. I told her that I liked to sit and look at the faces. Yes, I’m that creepy man staring at you at the mall.

The faces inspire me. I make up stories, voices and situations. I watch the way you interact with others, how you move when you speak, everything about you. You are all rather interesting. But here is what I’ve observed either first hand or on television or on the internet. We are an increasingly less polite society and it is the bane of our existence. It will ultimately be our undoing.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

A polite society is the glue that binds us together. When we cease adding glue, the binding unravels. When we start insisting rather than asking, the willingness to tend to our needs wanes and leaves us wanting and open for frustration, violence, and disappointment. This applies to the little things in life, as well as the big things, from your life at home to the governing.

Politeness demands respect, because politeness is not meekness, but it is secure and confident. It shows respect and, therefore, requires respect.

Last night, I attended the Bills and Jets game at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bills couldn’t host a home game at their stadium due to seven feet of snow dumping on their city. Detroit opened their doors and it was a great time. The stadium was packed, the Bills slaughtered the Jets and the crowd loved it. I almost became a Bills fan.

Before the game started, the stadium announcer asked us to stand and remove our hats for the National Anthem. It’s customary in the United States to do this before every sporting event. I’m not exactly sure why, but it is a tradition and we do it. No big deal. As a veteran, I don’t mind a little patriotism now and then. Besides, we only sing the first part of the song. I’m not sure if we sang the entire song would everyone agree that it is the right song for our anthem. But I digress.

Anyway, there was a group of men in front of me that had one too many pops before the game. One of them didn’t remove his hat when the song started. I’m not sure he even knew where he was, let alone knew he had a hat on his head. The fellow sitting a couple sits down from me reached over and slapped the guy on the shoulder and said, “Take off your f#@&ing hat! What the #$!@ is the matter with ya?” Can you guess what happened next?

Though I secretly wished for a drunken brawl for the sake of a good story to tell later, it did not happen. But it almost did. The guy with the hat reached up and felt his head, realized he had a hat then took it off. He then turned to the other guy that delicately reminded him of that fact and told him to do things that are physically impossible. They mixed words like respect, disrespectful, pride, and honor with other words that we tend to frown upon in public. Cooler heads prevailed and they eventually stop their shouting just in time to hear the home of the brave.

This is just one example but it is more common than not. A polite person would have reached over and said, “Excuse, but would you mind removing your hat, please?” Most likely, the drunk would have reached up, found that he had a hat on his head, removed it and then apologized. And if he didn’t, you wait until the anthem is over and either skewer him with shame or live with your disappointment in today’s society. However, if we all lived with politeness, the first response is more likely.

Consider this in your daily life. Do you demand or do you ask? Do you think before you speak? Do you treat people as you want others to treat you or do you walk around like the world’s official badass, policing people because you think you’re smarter than the average bear? Do you think you are entitled to respect without showing that same respect? How big is that chip on your shoulder, whether earned or not? And just because you earned a chip, doesn’t mean you have to accept it. The way you interact with others will say more about you than those around you.

So, here’s the starter package for becoming a confident, secure and, therefore, polite person. Add these words to your daily vocabulary: please and thank you. Once you have mastered those two words, you can move on to a more advanced stage of politeness. Don’t worry, it will then be as natural as breathing. And you if you don’t breath, you die.

Have a happy Thanksgiving to those in the States and to those abroad, enjoy your week.  Look for my end of the year blog where I’ll reflect on 2014 and plan for 2015. In the meantime, work on that politeness.

The Ferguson Truth

Have you been watching the news, following Twitter, listening to the radio talk show hosts lately? It’s all about Ferguson and it should be, but are you getting the whole picture? Probably not. You’re most likely getting a version of the picture as repainted by a talking head with an agenda. Beware.

I’ll start off by saying that I’m not angry about the shooting of Michael Brown. I don’t know enough details about the shooting, whether he was a threat or not. I’ve heard conflicting accounts, but that doesn’t mean anything. The truth is something that will come out in the investigation, which includes forensics, eye-witnesses, the officer’s report, time stamps, and recordings. The law will abide and it will comb every detail and it will answer the hard questions with answers we may like or that we may not like, but they will answer them. I’m willing to wait for those answers and accept them. That is, if the authorities leading the investigation can conduct it without outside influences. And just so we’re clear, I’m not talking about Ferguson PD as the authorities. For crying out loud, the State of Missouri and the Justice Department are vying for position here and the world is watching. There’s no room for covering anything up, assuming that authorities would attempt to cover up the details, of course. But that’s a large assumption.

Instead, what I am angry about is the handling of the protests. My anger isn’t reserved for one side, either. I am upset with both sides. I am upset that there are those that will take advantage of a tragedy for gain, for ideology, for crime, or just because they are bad people. I am upset that law enforcement is ran like a para-military group, goose-stepping across Ferguson, suppressing the media, unable to isolate the bad guys, strong arming innocents and making a mockery of the Second Amendment and the American way.

There is no doubt that law enforcement has mishandled the protests. They should be embarrassed, even held accountable. However, the protesters, the organizers, the people that truly care about rights, about justice, who want nothing but the truth and who want their voices heard should also be embarrassed. There are wolves among the sheep and the sheep welcomed them with opened arms. The wolves are not working for them, but they are working against them, using the sheep for their own personal gain. They darken the silver-lining and remove true hope and community then eventually turn the sheep on one another, while placing the blame on the “other side”. The wolves want only chaos, because in chaos they gain power.

I am also upset that there are those on the sidelines, watching on their televisions that have strong, uninformed opinions, spreading half-truths while making bold declarations. Nobody knows anything even when they think they know everything. The color of our skin does not make us experts on any subject, white or black. We are only experts on ourselves, our experiences, our hearts and we project those things upon what is happening around us and somehow think that makes us right. It doesn’t. Only the facts will clear the air and by the time the air clears, no one will care. We will have moved on, latching onto some other national tragedy or agenda. The only people that will care are the family and friends of Michael Brown and the officer that shot him. We get to go on with our lives, forgetting all about the chaos. They will live with it forever. It will keep them up at night. It will hit them at odd moments throughout the day, weighing them down, reopening wounds they thought time had healed.

You may be angry now– We may be angry now, but we get to move on with our lives, free and clear of guilt, lasting anger, heartbreak and pain.

So, while you are spitting your venom at the police or at the protesters, take a second and gain a little perspective. There are real people involved here, not characters in a story, not just organizations, but real people. They have real losses to deal with and it isn’t about the big picture that worries the rest of us. It’s about their small world, their neighborhood, their lives.

And the truth will prevail when the storm quiets.

Take a hold of your self worth

I’ve narrowed down the reasons why social networks drive me mad. It’s a bit of a quandary as I enjoy the use of social networks. But it’s safe to say that I want to quit them on a daily bases, as well.

First the good.

I like keeping up on what’s happening within my network of friends, family and news feeds. I have an eclectic group of friends that have varying political views, social views, senses of humor and lifestyles. Keeping up with what they are doing and thinking helps me better understand my world, keep a level headed perspective and appreciate all that I have, even during those moments when I don’t think I have much.

I aslo don’t watch television news, so I depend on my social networks to browse headlines that interest me. There’s a downside and an upside to this. The upside is that I can choose the information I want to digest. The downside is that I sometimes don’t get the entire picture and miss stories that are relevant to my world. However, I am able to filter out the fear mongering and hyperbole that is usually associated with broadcast media. I should say that for the most part I am able to filter. There are those occasions when those type of stories sneak through.

Now for the bad.

Van Gogh, the King of Selfies.

Van Gogh, the King of Selfies.

I hate selfies. I am of the belief that a selfie is a mental disorder. I’m not talking about a group selfie with your friends or family. I’m talking about that bathroom selfie, car selfie, sad face selfie, pouting selfie, on my way to the doctor selfie. It screams of desperation and desperation is one of the least attractive attributes of a human being. More on that in a moment.

Note: I’m using the word “hate” here and just so there are no misunderstandings, I mean hate in the harshest manner. If you want to tell me that no one should hate and I should choose a softer word that is more appropriate, send me an email and I’ll tell you what you can do with your suggestion.

I hate the incomplete, open ended status or tweet. The following examples are real:

“My life is over.”

“Nothing like having a doctor give you horrible news.”

“Is it even worth it anymore?”

“Don’t even ask.”

and of course



These type of statuses and tweets are followed by a slew of concern from friends and followers, questions concerning the writer’s well-being, encouragement, etc. They also rarely get a response from the original poster.

Selfies and status baiting aside, there is the one thing that absolutely drives me bonkers, the one thing that stirs within me a blackness, a deep seeded loathing that makes me scream at my laptop, and it is the tweets or statuses that declare despair or extreme joy based on a current relationship status or lack thereof.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about someone announcing their breakup with their girlfriend or boyfriend. I’m not talking about someone who is in the middle of a divorce. I’m also not talking about an engagement announcement or a wedding anniversary. Those are noteworthy and understandable.

So, what am I talking about?

I’m talking about the young lady that posts, “I wish I had someone to hold.” I’m talking about the young man that tweets, “All the good women are taken.” I’m talking about the young lady that posts a selfie of her and her new beau with “My life is finally complete” written above it. I’m talking about the young man that posts a photo of his new girlfriend that says, “I don’t know how I lived without you all these years.”

But it doesn’t stop there. These same poor souls go on for weeks, months, even years posting and tweeting how incomplete, sad, or unlivable their lives are. Or they go on for the same amount of time posting and tweeting how amazing and fulfilling their lives are.

Of course, it all changes when they find someone or lose someone, but it’s all the same, good or bad.

What do I scream at my laptop? I scream, “Where’s your self worth?”

Self worth is lacking to such an alarming degree among people that it’s frustrating and sad. Yes, we all want to be loved. We’re human beings. We write poems, stories, books, make movies, paint pictures, sculpt and write songs about love. It’s with us in the morning when we wake up and it’s with us when we go to bed. Love motivates us in just about everything. It’s what separates us from the animals.

Exactly what am I getting at here?

You, the desperate one longing for love, are refusing to accept the love that is already around you. In other words, unless you are a complete asshole, you are drenched with love.

You are not finally worthy of someone’s love because you have a new girlfriend or boyfriend. You are not unworthy of someone’s love because you broke up, either. You are still you either way.

And about desperation…

Desperation breeds disappointment. It raises expectations that most cannot meet. Then it lowers your expectations to dangerous levels, leading to further disappointment. A desperate man or woman has never found true happiness or a way out of desperation. They are always desperate unless they choose not to be any longer. Circumstances normally never cure desperation. Circumstances only suppress it.

So, here’s my advice to those desperate souls, the ones longing for love:

  • Learn to love yourself, but keep it to yourself. No one wants to hear how much you love being you. There’s a reason Kanye West gets on everybody’s nerves.
  • Learn to appreciate the good in your life now. Most of us take for granted the good we have in our lives from time to time. Most of us are also able to realize we’re taking the goodness for granted. You, however, are not, do not, cannot. Take a step back and look at the good and behold.
  • Learn to accept the things you cannot change. You cannot control or change another person. You cannot change your race. You cannot change your past. You cannot see the future. You cannot change the weather. You cannot change how tall you are or how short you are. You cannot change your nationality. You cannot change your age. You cannot change the fact that you are going to die some day. You cannot change how strangers behave or react. Learn it and accept it.
  • Understand that the odds are in your favor. There are 7 billion people in this world. There are over 300 million people in the United States. In my town alone, there are 90 thousand people. The odds of you finding someone to love and someone to love you are great. If it’s not working with one, move on. As the saying goes, “There are plenty of fish in the sea.”
  • Understand that life is short. Too short. You can either spend it being miserable or you can enjoy it and live completely. Stop letting others decide how you will feel each day. You make the choice.
  • Finally, if you can’t do any of these things, then please, for the love of all that is holy, quit your public whining. At the very least, gain some perspective. While you’re crying that no one loves you or shouting to the world that your life is now awesome because you have a girlfriend, there are people in the world wondering if today will be the day someone cuts off their heads. Perspective is a beautiful thang.

That’s the rant. Thanks for reading and feel free to add your two cents in the comments.

Pope = Happiness

popePope Francis recently gave his top 10 secrets for happiness. They are what you would expect: treat others well, be giving, forgiving, etc. However, that’s just vanilla Pope PR. Here are his real top 10 secrets:

  1. Be a Pope. Let’s face it. Nothing groovier than being the Rock. Just ask Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. But a pope rock comes with an extra dose of holy goodness, Batman!
  2. Live in Vatican City because, well, you’re the pope. It’s a city and it’s a country and it’s surrounded by Italy, Rome to be exact. Location! Location! Location!
  3. Have a throne. Not a crapper, but an actual golden throne to sit upon and look regal. Nothing beats a big chair that’s reserved just for you.
  4. Change your name to something cool and meaningful… because you’re the pope. How many Melvins out there wish they could change their name to something cool like Mark, Luke, Peter or Bartholomew? Okay, forget that last one.
  5. Make sure all of your needs from the smallest to the greatest are met… because you’re the pope. From socks to air travel, having your every need met is the bee’s knees. Worry about gas prices? Not if you’re the pope. Price of milk is going up? Who cares? You’re the pope!
  6. Remove yourself from any real accountability, but don’t take advantage it… because, well, you’re the pope. This is tricky. Granted you’re in a position that God ordained you for and, therefore, only God can remove you, it’s still not a good idea to let that go to your head. Half the world already hates you. No reason to give the other half fuel for the fire. But it’s still pretty cool not being accountable to anyone on this rocky cesspool of a planet.
  7. Wear a ring people will kiss when greeting you. It’s way cool. A lot like kissing your ass, this is more socially acceptable. When someone kisses your ring, there’s an air of respect involved. When someone kisses your ass, it’s disgusting.
  8. Have an array of funky hats. Nothing says I’m my own man like a collection of bad hats, Harry. Wear them with pride and wear them often.
  9. Wear a dress almost every day. On second thought, make it every day. Ditch the trousers and go for the muumuus. Great for all occasions and they are cool in the sweltering Roman summers.
  10. Two words: Pope selfies. Nothing says, I’m a good guy and I’m having a blast like a holy selfie. Live it up and tweet to the rest of the world the look of the day. Throw in a pic of you shaking hands with a cripple kid and watch the love pour in like a heavenly waterfall. You’ll be glad you did.

If you would like to see the original article listing Pope Francis’s top 10 vanilla secrets to happiness, click here.