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Living Scripture

24 Sep

Twelve tasks for the esoteric re-Creationist. 

The Holy Bible has been used for centuries both to justify the greedy, murderous acts of despots as well as to motivate great numbers of people to do good deeds, live peacefully, and sincerely claim a deep knowledge of the scriptures even though they haven’t really read them. If you’re looking for a path to Biblical understanding that’s more reliable than an excitable man wearing a white suit and a Rolex, try the Maximum Know-How 12-step method of scriptural scholarship. 

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12 Ways to Understand the Bible Better

1. Do one of the following:

  • Fast for forty days.
  • Fast for one day.
  • Skip dessert.

2. Develop 800 different ways to prepare and serve manna.

3. Explain why it’s usually a good idea to extinguish a burning bush, especially in an arid region.

4. Prepare a plan for housing at least two of every type of land-based animal in a confined, ocean-going craft for approximately six months. Ensure the following:

  • Carnivorous predators are not located near the antelope section.
  • Elephants, hippos, rhinoceroses, and other heavy creatures are distributed evenly around the ship.
  • The giraffes will not bang their heads.
  • Cicadas, kookaburras, peacocks, turkeys, roosters, and those really loud monkeys they always use in jungle movies are all stored as far as possible from the human sleeping quarters.
  • Animals prone to vandalism (e.g., raccoons, goats, kias) are kept away from vital areas of the superstructure.
  • Wasps, hornets, biting flies, etc. are given constructive, emotionally engaging group projects to keep them occupied and out of everyone else’s life.
  • Animals used as a food source for the human passengers are organized so that a measured decrease in population doesn’t incite suspicion among the general population.
  • Cute little fluffy kitty-cats can sleep wherever they want to.
  • [Insert dragon/unicorn joke here.]
  • Mongooses are housed near the serpentarium to ensure general peace of mind.
  • Everybody leaves the skunks alone.

5. If you have an amazing ability and your girlfriend is always trying to get you to reveal how to overcome it and then, the very night you tell her how (in strict confidence), some guys show up knowing your “secret” and you end up having to kill them (because you actually lied about your vulnerability), and your girlfriend gets mad that you don’t trust her and asks you again—dump her!

6. So, it took Moses a river of blood, then frogs, lice, flies, hail, darkness, etc.—all just to convince Pharaoh to give the Israelites a few weeks off of work. Have you ever had to deal with a boss like that? Explain.

7. Organize an agenda for holding a family conference with a thousand wives.

8. Come up with ten clever, face-saving ways to ask locals for directions just after you’ve been vomited onto the beach by a giant fish. (E.g., “That’s the last time I take the Carnival cruise to Ninevah! Could you point me to the docks, please?”)

9. Compose a psalm. Throw in a few selahs for the band.

10. Participate in a “Biblical suffering tour” of the Mediterranean and Middle East that facilitates at least five historically accurate experiences of being:

  • Enslaved in Egypt.
  • Chased through the Sinai.
  • Besieged in Samaria.
  • Dragged against your will to Babylon.
  • Starved in Syria.
  • Imprisoned in Jerusalem.
  • Blinded on the road to Damascus.
  • Beaten with stripes in Macedonia.
  • Stoned in Lystra.
  • Shipwrecked on Melita.
  • Exiled to Patmos.
  • Executed in Rome.

11. Practice walking on water to determine if it’s really as difficult as the “religious right” makes it out to be. 

12. Be good. Or at least don’t kill anybody… on purpose.

20 Random Things to Have an Opinion About

12 Mar

20 questions, volume 1

Are you a conversational pushover? Do loud, obnoxious people give you grief about not being able to hold your own in a serious discussion? Are you looking for obscure issues to have concrete opinions about, so you can trick people into thinking you have intellectual depth?

Maximum Know-How is here for you, with this premier edition of 20 issues—some of them even currently relevant—that you can think about now so that you’re ready with a snappy observation should the topic ever arise in a social setting.

  1. Most dangerous: Iran or- North Korea?
  2. Least trustworthy: China –or- Russia?
  3. Lance Armstrong: Devious jerk –or- moral leper?
  4. Whose Line is back: Are you “ecstatic” –or- “euphoric”?
  5. Pepper Pots –or- Natasha Romanoff?
  6. Obamacare: President’s sincere attempt to improve our healthcare system –or- pushing wholesale socialism with his eyes wide shut?
  7. Bee Gees –or- Beach Boys?
  8. Rotten Tomatoes –or- IMDB?
  9. Loss of Olympic wrestling: IOC corruption –or- cultural shift?
  10. Doctor Whoor- Downton Abbey?
  11. Joe Flacco’s $120.6 million contract: Totally worth it –or- Totally ludicrous?
  12. Sequester: Typical political grandstanding –or- Brilliant, under-the-counter way for both sides to cut the budget drastically while getting to blame the other party?
  13. A-Rod’s fading career: End of an era –or- It’s about time?
  14. Adele’s “Skyfall” wins Oscar: Best Bond tune ever –or- Academy’s 50th b-day gift to the franchise?
  15. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Hang ‘em up –or- keep on shooting?
  16. Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster: A bold statement for civil rights –or- “I thought his name was Ron Paul”?
  17. Pixar: Death throes –or- just in a rut?
  18. More Bourne –or- more Mission: Impossible?
  19. New pope: Heavenly selection –or- political appointment?
  20. Daily Show’s Stewart going on hiatus: The man needs a vacation from fake news –or- What do you mean it’s not real?

What to Do When It’s Time to Die

8 Mar

Death touched my family this last week. This is the closest it’s come, but the relationship was distant enough that I feel melancholy, but not threatened. That said, I lay in bed this morning sifting through cultural memes about what mindset I should adopt when facing death. You know, those “live each day as if it’s your last” or “eat, drink, and be merry” or “last chance to save—sale ends tomorrow.”

So what would I do if this was my last day? I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. In fact, the computer wouldn’t even get turned on. Work, email, video games, Facebook, the endless halls of distraction afforded by the web—all seem trite and pointless when set against one’s mortality. International affairs, sports, local news, movie trailers—all my usual Internet haunts are now hollow and joyless. The only thing I’d consider is watching Whose Line clips on YouTube. Yeah, I might do that on my last day.

Meal-wise, I’d be eating out because a healthy diet won’t do me any good now, and who wants to die with dirty dishes in the sink? I’d hit a breakfast buffet, and get a teriyaki bowl for lunch. For dinner… I’ll decide that later.

Now, how to spend the day? Exercise—like jogging or the gym—is unappealing, but I would like a hike in the crisp sunshine. I wouldn’t go too far afield in case I expire on an obscure mountain trail and end up traumatizing some poor Boy Scouts on a day hike, or requiring the Forest Service to spend $450,000 (or whatever) to extract my remains by helicopter. I think the local nature park would suffice. Maybe take a drive out to the bird sanctuary south of town.

Interestingly, my lifelong media obsession has dried up. Movies and books would take up too much of my day, TV is inane (I’ve long known that), and music—what fits the mood? Dance music is about living, rock music is about anger and alienation, classical music takes too long, hymns are perfect for reflection and contentment. But I want to spend the day living, not reflecting. To my surprise, I chose Nanci Griffith’s cover album, Other Voices, Other Rooms, but I’d skip the really depressing tracks.

What I should do is spend my last day surrounded by family and friends. But it’s short notice to set up a big party, and telling them why they should come see me would poison any chance at a fun gathering. I thought about calling them up (totally out of the blue) to chat, but if I didn’t share my news, they’d feel guilty for having a meaningless conversation, or angry at me for keeping them in the dark. Instead, I think I should spend an hour or two writing thank-you notes by hand—“thank you for being part of my life” sorts of things.

Of course, there’s also the urge to devote myself to a day of reckless abandon, law-breaking, drug use, telling jerks what I really think of them, blurring my mind with booze. But I’ve always preferred clarity and peace, so why ruin it now?

In the end, I suppose I’d spend the day doing and saying nice things for others, whether I knew them or not. Picking up litter during my hike, opening the door for strangers at the restaurants, being patient with children and strangers, being sincere and open with family and friends. I assume God knows I’m coming, so I’d keep in touch with Him through the day in case there was any last-minute business He wanted me to take care of.

But of course, I don’t expect to die tomorrow. So I’ve finished my heart-healthy breakfast, worked on some B2B marketing brochures, and written a blog post. I think I’ll go for a walk this afternoon, though, before the kids get home from school.

Post-Papal Job Opps

12 Feb

Six new career paths for Pope Benedict XVI during retirement

Simply a matter of changing hats

  1. Lobbyist—This is a no-brainer. The very definition of lobbying is to wield influence, and who on the planet has greater influence? He’d have to be careful about which special interests he represented so as to avoid the embarrassment of appearing at public functions or in TV commercials  with protestant movie stars or singers like Madonna or Lady Gaga.
  2. Corporate consultant/board member—While many detractors, both in and out of the church, would argue whether he “has a finger on the pulse of the people,” conservative corporations worldwide would scramble to have him on their team, even if he didn’t do anything except show up at the annual board meeting.
  3. Pitchman for Italy/Vatican tourism board—The Italian economy is still in grave crisis and can use all the help it can get.
  4. TV show host—At first I thought of something like Robin Leach’s Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, though more along the lines of Grand Religious Monuments of the World. But that would require a jet-setting lifestyle. So maybe he should follow the lead of John Bunnell or the late Alistair Cooke, who stayed in a studio or on-set introducing segments. I’ll bet the Catholic church has plenty of thrilling historical accounts of priests or nuns in peril that could be reenacted.
  5. The man behind the curtain—Imagine keeping much of the power and influence of the papacy without having to fulfill its public duties. How much could he accomplish now that he can expend his cultural capital on getting things done instead of giving speeches and waving from cars and balconies?
  6. Movie cameo actor—I haven’t seen many films where the pope was an actual character in the screenplay, but he would be great in cameo appearances. And not just globe-trotting franchises like James Bond and Jason Bourne. Think of the great response if he silently shared a NYC cab with some hapless comedic heroine, or was sipping a latte with Stan Lee in the next Avengers movie.