Tag Archives: religion

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Leave the Bunker

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Pope Benedict XVI is set to retire 28 February 2013.

Pope Benedict XVI is set to retire 28 February 2013.

Today is Ash Wednesday — at least for a couple more hours. Since Catholic ritual and Lent in particular have always fascinated me, I thought I would post on the meteoric news currently causing tsunamiesque waves in Vatican City. The news — for those who have been under a rock since Monday — is nothing short of monumental. For the first time in six centuries, the Pope — the head of the Roman Catholic Church — is going to resign instead of remaining in office until death as is customary.

To give y’all an idea of just how big of a big honking deal this announcement is, in the loooong history of the papacy, 266 men (or maybe 265 men and Pope Joan) have occupied the Holy See. Of that number, a whopping total of EIGHT have resigned. The rest served until their deaths.

The last pope to “resign” was Gregory XII way back in 1415. You read the date correctly. The last time a pope resigned, Christopher Columbus had yet to be born, much less “sailed the ocean blue.” I put resign in quotes for Gregory XII because he didn’t really want to step down but the church was in a serious hot mess called The Western Schism which saw three popes, or more correctly one pope and two antipopes, claiming the highest church office. Gregory was a decent guy or anyway had a good sense of responsibility so he took one for the team and stepped down voluntarily so the other two guys could step down and save face . . . and save the Church in the process.

Gregory XII resigned to help save the Church.

Gregory XII — Team Player

The last Vicar of Christ to step down because he jolly well wanted to was Celestine V in 1294. He had been a monk and a hermit before his election as successor to Saint Peter and he LIKED being a hermit monk. When he found out the College of Cardinals had elected him, he ran away and hid, but they found him and he ended up serving a grand total of five months during which time he impressed everyone by being the worst, most incompetent ruler of anything since Joffrey Lannister/Baratheon. Finally, the cardinals realized they should have left the poor guy alone in the woods and told him he could leave, which he did — immediately.

Now I realize all this papal trivia is wildly fascinating to most of you, but I mention it all just so I can get to the main part of the post and the reason for such a sinister title. It seems even though we dodged the Rapture in 2011 and the Mayan Apocalypse in 2012, we remain in the cross-hairs of Armageddon. It seems Pope Benedict’s resignation has the unintended negative effect of ushering in the End of the World . . . again.

What I am referring to is the swiftly trending on Google topic of The Papal Prophecy of St. Malachy. It seems a text surfaced in the 16th Century purportedly written by the mystical 12th Century Archbishop St. Malachy who was apparently some sort of Papal Nostradamus. The prophecy takes the form of a list of every pope from Celestine II, who was pope in St. Malachy’s lifetime, all the way to the last pope known simply as “Peter the Roman” who would come to power 112 pontiffs later.

Celestine V who famously whined, "But I don't wanna be Pope!"

Celestine V who famously whined, “But I don’t wanna be Pope!”

I’ll give everyone three guesses what number on the list the current Pope Benedict happens to be. Ding, ding, ding!! You guessed it! He’s number 111, which means — according to the prophecy — whomever the College of Cardinals elect to the Holy See in March will be “Peter the Roman” who by some accounts will be the Anti-Christ and by others will be the savior of the Church in “The Last Days.” Now as an NBC article points out, this new pope isn’t going to take the name of Peter II. So far, no pope has possessed the cajones — and believe it or not, the cardinals used to check to be sure — to name himself after the Fisherman from Galilee. Still, some people think whoever is next to occupy the Papal Throne is going to cause some serious upheaval in the world.

Of course, just as many if not many more people believe the “list” is about as useless as a milk bucket under a bull and about as accurate as Mitt Romney’s tax disclosure. They point to several historical inaccuracies in the “original” document as well as to the fact no one had ever heard of this whole prophecy deal thingy for over 200 years after St. Malachy died.

Well, as they used to say on the X-Files, “The truth is out there!” I’m not going to deny the whole thing creeps me out a pretty good bit. I was raised being taught the Rapture was imminent and those who didn’t go got to stay behind to face The Great Tribulation and live in a world ruled by The Anti-Christ. As a result of all the “Rapture talk” I grew up listening to from my elders, I have a bit of a phobia of “The End of Days.” I realize such a confession might make me look naive and unsophisticated in the eyes of some intellectuals and all atheists, but I’ve got a story I’ll tell later that gives credence to my fear.

Luckily, I had a thorough Biblical upbringing so even though the creep factor is high, I tend to discount any notion that a monk — however saintly and knowledgeable — could predict the End of the World accurately. I hold with Matthew 26:36 where Jesus told all the date setters around Him, “”However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” I figure if the last day is something even Jesus doesn’t know about, I have nothing to stress over.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t stress anyway!

Love y’all and keep those feet clean!

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It’s Already Tomorrow in Australia

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It seems reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!

It seems reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated!

As I’m writing this, folks who slept in all around Southeast Asia are just crawling bleary-eyed out of bed and on their side of the International Date Line, it’s already Friday, December 21, 2012 and the BBC, MSNBC, and FoxNews are all reporting nothing of consequence is happening across the Pacific. So, it looks like 12-21-12 is going to join a long and distinguishedly infamous list of other dates under the heading of “Days the Apocalypse Didn’t Come.”

I know some people are seriously disappointed. I don’t mean “fake disappointed,” either. Some folks are probably sitting around scratching their heads in real consternation wondering where all the earthquakes and meteors are or what happened to Nibaru? I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised to hear some disturbed individuals will have committed suicide by the time 12-21-12 makes it all the way around the globe. Echo and the Bunnymen said it best, “People are strange.”

I never seriously considered the world ending today. I still owe money and haven’t hit the lottery. If you ever see me on TV holding up one of those funny, oversized PowerBall checks, THEN you should probably make preparations because I’m willing to bet if I ever get rich, the game is going to end. That’s just my luck.

In the interest of some vein of seriousness though, any thinking person should have realized the world wasn’t going to end on this specific day. First, look at the problem scientifically. The Universe couldn’t care less about dates. The idea of dates — as well as most other divisions of time — are human inventions. “Tomorrow” or “next century” don’t have any meaning to planetary forces like earthquakes. Comets don’t punch time clocks. Any scientific end-of-the-world scenario hitting on a particular date is simply the wildest of consequences. The Universe just doesn’t have a calendar.

Secondly, from a theological standpoint, God doesn’t have a calendar. Neither does Allah or any of the other myriad gods man has worshipped over the millenia. Time doesn’t matter to an eternal being. God will end the world if and when He gets good and ready and not before. A being who exists OUTSIDE of time has no need of specific dates so anyone trying to pin a date down is just flirting with disappointment.

We petty human peons are the only creatures on the planet things like the page on a calendar or hands on a clock mean anything to. Animals go by seasons and the sun and natural rhythms. Tides have no time, but only the pull of the Moon and the Sun. We alone fret over our arbitrary conventional invention.

So get over it and go shopping, people. Christmas is only four days away! Go on. Occupy yourselves some other way until the next big prediction comes along. But until then,

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Geez, people, you took our lands, you took our gold, you took our way of life . . . can't you take a freaking joke? Just turn to the next calendar page!!

Freaking A, people, you took our lands, you took our gold, you took our way of life . . . can’t you take a freaking joke? Just turn to the next calendar page!!

Why I Still Believe: Reason 2

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Granny Wham on her last Christmas with us.

Granny Wham on her last Christmas with us.

Granny Wham started teaching Sunday School when she was 18 and only quit over 50 years later because a stroke left her too weak to stand long enough to deliver the weekly lesson. She started teaching Sunday School at Dials United Methodist Church down Highway 101 where she grew up, but the bulk of her teaching years were given to Beulah Baptist Church in Greenpond. By the time I was born, the Sunday School Committee honored her by naming a class after her. “The Martha Wham Bible Class” exists to this day unless it’s changed and no one told me.

Her teaching Sunday School, however, doesn’t force me to still believe the truth of Christianity even in my darkest times. Not her teaching, not the beautiful hymns she used to sing with the choir, not the way she taught me personally about what Jesus expected of me. None of that. What is burned in my mind and scribed on my heart from a childhood spent at her knee is her faith.

Granny Wham had the purest faith of any Christian — man or woman, adult or child, clergy or laity — I’ve ever known. She believed the Bible was the Word of God. It was black (and some red) words on white pages and gray didn’t enter the equation. Granny’s faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ was a rock solid, steel strong backbone for her whole life.

Granny didn’t develop her faith living some cupcake life on easy street. Of The Greatest Generation who came of age during the Great Depression, she worked in the house with her sister — my great-Aunt Mary — and in the fields with her two half-brothers, Uncle Gordon and Uncle Henry. When old enough, she worked in the sweatshop conditions of a textile mill for a time. Her childhood and youth weren’t easy, but her faith endured those hard early years.

Her faith endured watching those brothers go off to war, one to the Army and one to the shipyards. During that awful war she started exchanging letters with a nice young man from a nearby community. That nice (and handsome) young soldier eventually became Papa Wham and her faith and prayers helped bring him and all her loved ones home safely.

Her faith would not forsake her when Papa Wham came in to her hospital room late on a cold night in January 1948, gently took her by the hand and told her their precious infant child — a little girl she never got to hold — had passed away. I’ve lived to see the death of a child rip marriages to shreds and reduce the strongest faith to agnosticism, but it did not overcome Granny. She grieved, and in some very powerful ways, Aunt Judy’s death would mark Granny — and through her, all of us — for the rest of her life, but as the writer said of Job, “Through all this, [s]he never lost her integrity, nor blamed God foolishly.”

Granny’s faith endured some of worst trials through her other two children. Daddy especially was singled out for her unceasing prayers when he was sent to Vietnam for 13 months to fight. I’ve heard how drawn and pale and haggard Granny looked over those months of waiting, never knowing if the knock on the door would reveal an Army officer and a chaplain with the awful news so many mothers received in those terrible years. It wasn’t to be though, and Granny’s faith was rewarded with Daddy’s safe return.

The latter half of Granny’s life gave a multitude of trials. Mama and Daddy’s divorce was a crushing blow to Granny’s heart because is was bitter torture for her to see her family torn. Later, when my Aunt Cathy and Uncle Larry’s had to endure some growing pains in their early years, Granny prayed hard for them too. When Aunt Cathy was so very sick through two extremely difficult pregnancies, Granny stood by constantly to help and to pray. Of all Granny endured, however, one night nearly 20 years ago stands clearest testament to her trust in her Lord.

It was December 1995; Papa had passed away in July on the day after Granny suffered a stroke. For months she had battled to talk clearly and to walk unaided, but worst of all after 49 years — just 6 months shy of 50 — Granny was alone. This night, we’d eaten at Daddy and Teresa’s. I was on the couch with Budge and Granny watching The Trip to Bountiful which reminded me so much of what Granny had endured I was teary-eyed before the old hymn “Blessed Assurance” began to play.

I thought Granny might have dozed off until I heard a voice — not the strong alto that sang to me, read to me, and prayed for me all of my childhood and beyond — a thin voice, a tremulous voice, but for all that, a perfectly clear voice singing softly, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation; purchase of God. Born of His spirit; washing in His blood. This is my story; this is my song; praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story; this is my song; praising my Savior all the day long.” Laid low by a stroke, no longer independent, and bereft of the love of her life, Granny Wham still sang her praises to the One who had never forsaken her, Blessed Assurance truly was her story and her song.

Granny is gone  now. I wish she’d been peacefully at the home she and Papa built together, but in her last years, she required more care than we could give her. She was never happy in the nursing home, but her love of us kept her here until she missed Papa more than she needed to stay and “look after us.” So, with Aunt Cathy gently holding her hand she slipped away to join the loves of her life — Papa Wham and Jesus Christ, and that is why she is a powerful reason I still believe.

PurchasePurchasing – Purchasing refers to a business or organization attempting for acquiring goods or services to accomplish the goals of the enterprise.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . .

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And I feel fine. My apologies to Michael Stipe and the rest of R.E.M.

Harold Camping, current Doomsday prophet.

So by now you’ve probably heard that the world is going to end this coming Saturday. According to 89 year old self-taught theologian, Harold Camping, the numbers all add up and it’s all over but the shoutin’ as they used to say. From his readings of the Bible, Mr. Camping has worked out the exact day and hour of The Rapture, the supernatural event when Jesus is returning to gather His faithful home. The prediction has spread like wildfire among fringe Christian groups and folks all around the world are, in the words of the old gospel song, “gettin’ ready to leave this world.” A group of atheistic animal lovers has even started a company to address the needs of the beloved pets who will be “left behind” as their owners are Raptured.

As for me, I plan on going to our church’s Saturday night service like Budge and I usually do. Sunday, we’ve got a full day of doing nothing planned, pretty much like always. I’m not really worried about The Rapture taking place this weekend for one simple reason — when Jesus Christ Himself was on the earth teaching His followers, He specifically told them that He didn’t even know when He would return. The only Being in the universe who is privy to that date and time is God the Father and while Mr. Camping IS as old and white headed as most people seem to figure God is, he’s not God.

Ergo, he doesn’t know squat. He’s just another member of the lunatic fringe like that idiot Fred Phelps and his congregation of inbreeders out in Kansas. Just another person heading up a group of like (and feeble) minded people carrying signs and giving non-believers the world over just another reason to mock Jesus and Christianity.

At least the members of Heaven’s Gate had the tact and decency to kill themselves rather than spreading their kooky comet-following message all over the internet.

My Aunt Betty had this painting called "The Rapture in Dallas" hanging in her living room. It scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Don’t misunderstand me though. I was raised in a fully Rapture believing and Rapture ready home and church. To be completely honest with y’all, I never figured I’d see forty years old because I believed whole-heartedly that my family and I — based on the steeply declining condition of the world — would be gone in the Rapture well before then. Obviously that hasn’t happened . . . yet. That’s right — yet. I don’t discount the possibility that the Rapture could take place, but it’s not one of the major doctrines of Scripture, it’s very divisive to the Church, and it’s just not a mountain I’m prepared to die on.

All that said, however, growing up steeped in the belief of an imminent Rapture did lead to one of the most “terrifying-then-and-hysterically-funny-now” events of my life. I was a junior in high school and enjoying my best, and last, season as a starter on the school wrestling team. I got home from practice one Tuesday afternoon and the house was empty, which was odd because Mama should have been home. I sat down to a bowl of ice cream and waited. After half an hour, I started to get concerned. One very important thing for y’all to know is this was 1987 — before answering machines were commonplace and way before cell phones were ubiquitous, if they even existed.

This series is pretty close to the beliefs I was taught growing up. If you've read any of it, you know why I was freaking out.

I called Mama’s work, no answer. I called Papa John to see if Mama was over there. No answer. I called Granny and Papa Wham. No answer. Finally, I called out to Aunt Mary’s and I KNEW she was home because her car was in the yard when I came by and she’d be getting supper cooked for Uncle Carroll. No. Answer.

I went into a blind panic and started calling around and everywhere I called either no one answered or I got a busy signal. Now at this point, most rational people would have figured something totally explainable was at work. Well, I was reasonable and I came up with the only logical solution I could think of — The Rapture had come and Jesus took Mama and the rest of my family and I had been left behind! When that realization hit me, I almost upchucked my bowl of ice cream. If you’ve ever studied what some churches teach on the Great Tribulation period that will follow the Rapture, you’ll know what had me in a twist. Seven years of Hell on earth ruled by the Antichrist — Satan’s agent. Anyone who converted to Christianity during that time would be hunted down and publicly executed. Plagues of demons in the form of scorpions. It’s not a pretty picture and that’s exactly what I thought was waiting on me because everyone I knew was a Christian and loved WAS GONE. I was alone and left behind.

When Mama got home thirty minutes later and came into my room to ask my help in getting the groceries she’d stopped off after work to pick up without telling me, she found me sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor rocking back and forth nearly in shock. When I realized it really was her and not a vision of some sort, I nearly broke her back and neck in a bear hug. To this day, I have never felt more relief about anything than I felt at that moment.

Why couldn’t I get in touch with anyone? A car had taken down a telephone pole nearby and service was interrupted. Calls went through like normal, but they wouldn’t connect anywhere.

So be careful what you scoff at!

Love you all and keep those feet clean.

Stop Hijacking Jesus

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As a matter of good raising, I don’t normally discuss sex, religion, or politics in polite company. Lately, though, a trend has developed that has me frothing at the mouth and I’ve reached the point of putting my irritation into print.  Therefore, this post will be quite religious and political in places. So, if you are an atheist or you hate religion or you just don’t like reading or talking about spiritual things, here’s your warning. Hit the bricks now and if you still read to the bottom, don’t send me some comment about how “weak-minded” or “old-fashioned” I am to believe the Bible is real or that God is real or that Jesus is real. I’ll take my chances, thank you very much.

So, you’ve been warned.

If you’re still with me, know that what’s driving me nuts (well, MORE nuts) is the growing tendency of people in all forms of public endeavor to drag religion into everything. What has finally pushed my quarter off the table is the rash of comments in my local newspaper by people claiming to speak for Jesus. It’s on my last nerve and it has got to stop.

People need to quit hijacking Jesus.

As an example of what I mean, watch any football game from high school to pro. As soon as a player makes a

I'm pretty sure He don't care, son.

touchdown, he hits a knee or points to the sky in some obvious move to “give thanks” for his touchdown.

Really?

I am not a seminary educated theologian, but I am willing to bet on a few things in the theological sphere and one of those is I’m pretty certain Jesus Christ is not a football fan. Or a baseball fan. Or basketball. Or hockey. . . you get the picture.

See, for those who don’t know, Jesus and His dad, aka. God Almighty, have tasked themselves with the creation and maintenance of the universe. Now, even though being omnipotent makes this task vastly easier and probably does leave time to take in a few quarters of football here and there if They so choose, I just don’t picture Jesus being a football fanatic. Of course, the Saints DID win the Super Bowl last year, but I think that was more on God-given talent than any divine intervention.

Leave Jesus out of the scoring celebrations!

The proper order is "get award" THEN "get drunk!"

Another group that boils my innards and boils my blood over their misappropriation of the Lord’s Name is the lot of “award winners.” Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys. CMAs, AMAs, and Grammys. Stage, screen, or stereo. The medium that is the source of the awards show is irrelevant. They all have the same seriously annoying habit. As soon as they get up on stage and take their pot metal statuette or crystal resin miniature from the vapid, chattering host or hostess, the first thing many of them do is lean into the microphone and say, “I’d like to thank God for this award!”

Really?

Again I appeal to my admittedly self-taught body of Biblical knowledge and I feel very comfortable saying God probably doesn’t care that you won your silly award. After all, He and Jesus sit on thrones (well, technically Jesus is standing at God’s right hand for the moment) in a room vastly beautiful beyond our finite minds’ ability to comprehend. They are surrounded by seraphim and cherubim that do nothing 24/7/365 (366 on leap years) but sing songs more glorious than our greatest songwriter can dream of. Do you really think They stop listening to an angelic choir just to hear Lady GaGa warble out “Bad Romance?”

I’m betting against it.

One other thing before I leave the entertainment industry alone and move on to the REAL target of my derision. If, after receiving your pot metal or crystal resin, you lean into the microphone and drunkenly or doped-upedly slur your thanks to the Almighty, I wouldn’t count on that thanks reaching the ceiling. I am no longer a teetotaler where faith and alcohol come together. My thought is Jesus’ first recorded miracle was turning fetid water into fabulous wine. I don’t think He has a problem with a glass of wine or a cold beer after cutting grass in July in the South.

The whole drunken slurring thing though? Probably not so good. The Bible has several instances of people (usually men) getting drunk and the results are always disastrous and ugly. You may THINK you’re different, but I can pretty much assure you, you’re not.

Leave Jesus out of the “awards ceremonies!”

Now, before I begin blasting away at my most despised blasphemers, let me make clear that I think anyone anywhere can respond to and accept the Gospel, be he a self-indulgent basketball star or be she a babbling, bacon bikini wearing songbird. I have it on good authority that one of my very best friends accepted the Gospel message halfway down a 150′ ravine during the third end over end flip of his 280ZX. One of my former students, a self-proclaimed atheist, hear Jesus’ call in a fighting hole in Afghanistan right after a Taliban bullet made a crease in his armor helmet.

Any time. Anywhere. 24/7/365 (366 in leap years).

Now for my true venom. The group that I despise the most and the absolute WORST Jesus hijackers are POLITICIANS! I am at the point of getting nauseous whenever I hear some scheming, conniving, back-door-dealing Washington sewer dweller talk spout out something like “Our party won control of thus and so because God is on our side!”

Let me go puke.

This wrapping oneself in the Cross covered prayer shawl is completely bipartisan as well. Elephants and Jackasses alike invoke the name of the Lord to hopefully win the passage of some “vital” piece of legislation or, much more likely, to appeal to the “folks back home” who expect their representatives to be moral, preferably Christian, men and women.  Nowhere is this malady worse than here in my beloved Southland. We are a devout people down here. Sure, we may go out on Friday and Saturday nights each week and drink ourselves blind. We may switch from bed to bed like our heads are on fire and our butts are catching. We may swear and spit and carry on, lie, cheat, steal, etc.

But we’ll be in church come Sunday.

We expect the same from our politicians and they deliver. If I hear one more politician say “I feel this is what God would want me to do,” I may collapse into an uncontrollable conniption fit! It wouldn’t be so brazenly blasphemous and hypocritical if the politicians were not so “cafeteria” style about their so-called “heavenly mandate.” A senator can vote to increase the deficit, increase taxes, increase involvements in wars — but he’ll still get elected by a landslide as long as he claims to be staunchly against abortion! A representative can back big business, spit on the middle class, and whore-hop around Washington, DC worse than a Heidi Fleiss call-girl working on a new Ferrari, but as long as he keeps pushing a bill to get prayer back in schools, the people will support him.

535 member congregation and every single one of them is a politician! Who'd a thunk it?

So it goes on with this party claiming divine favor then that party claiming some new revelation. They’ll get up on TV with tears in their eyes as they talk about their conversion experiences in a little country church (he or she may be from Atlanta, Nashville, or Jacksonville but it’s ALWAYS a little country church) when they walked the aisle and let Jesus into their hearts.

All I know is Jesus must be pretty lonely in there since He’s the only thing in that heart.

Let’s get one thing straight and clear once and for all now and forever. Jesus Christ is not a Republican. Jesus Christ is not a Democrat. Jesus Christ is a King and not just ANY king but the King of Kings. Neither He nor His Daddy give two toots in a tornado about our petty earthly politics because They know who ACTUALLY runs this show! It doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to Either of Them that Barak Obama defeated John McCain to become POTUS. They. Don’t. Care. They have bigger fish to fry.

So please, all you politicians posturing on a false faith or even a genuine faith that you can’t stop ramming down people’s throats, stop. STOP!

Leave Jesus out of politics.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

Lick a Rock, Scare a Dragon

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Two things by way of explanation and the title will make a lot more sense. First, I like rocks. Specifically, I like pretty rocks, preferably carved and polished into smooth spheres. I have several on my fantasy shelf of my bookcase in my home office. They once adorned the bookcase and desk in my library office back when I had a job, but I digress. So, I like pretty, smooth, spherical rocks.

Second, I am a Christian by faith. It’s the way I was raised and I’ve had no great epiphanies that have lead me to change. Now, I am not nearly as rabid a Christian as I once was since I have drifted (or more precisely, sailed at full steam) away from my very Fundamentalist childhood. The church I attend now would not be considered liberal by any means, but it’s definitely Christian. Now, if you happen to be one of those odious individuals who feel the need to send a scathing comment blasting me for believing in a bunch of fairy tales written in a highly doubted book, let me just save you some time and say I won’t publish your comment and as soon as I realize you are a troll, into the gmail trash folder you go. You get to sleep or not however you want to and I’ll continue to hug Pascal’s Wager closely to my heart. In the end, we’ll all find out one way or another . . . or we won’t. So just go and pee on someone else’s cocoa puffs.

Having said I am a Christian, please don’t assume I have an instinctive dislike for other religions. I make every attempt possible to respect the faith of people I meet. I realize that they were most likely raised in their faith just like I was in mine; therefore, attacking a person’s faith can be construed as attacking family. I have been friends with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, several stripes of pagans, three or four branches of Wiccans, and a handful of atheists just to name a few. Of course we don’t discuss religion much, but we still get along fairly well. It’s a little like being a Red Sox fan who is friends with a Yankee fan. You have every reason to believe your friend is daft, but you like having him as a friend and it’s worth just not discussing baseball to keep him around. So, I told you all that to tell you this: I generally don’t belittle or make fun of other people’s religions. I did say generally because I have my limits and I ran smack into one of those limits tonight on eBay.

Okay, so remember way up at  the top where I said I like pretty, round rocks? Turns out eBay has a whole sub-category devoted to pretty rocks and if you search correctly — as I learned to do in my MLIS program — you may find many round rocks among the pretty ones. Some of these are beautiful, but wildly expensive. Just for example, if anyone wants to buy me a medium sized malachite sphere or a similar sized lapis lazuli egg, I won’t turn the $300 gift down and I’ll even dance at your wedding.

I was cruising through the listings tonight and marveling at the usual suspects like reptilian jasper and a beautiful hematite – pyrite mix when I saw a pink agate. Now pink agate is not unusual, though I suspect some unscrupulous dealers are selling nothing more than marbles. No, what gave me pause was the description. “Protects from dragons.”

DRAGONS. Fire, lightning, acid, cone-of-cold, cloud-of-panic  breathing giant lizards.

I put the car in park on that one. Upon further examination the description said that this particular type of pink agate, when used in the practice of some obscure Wicca spellcraft, will banish any dragons from your vicinity. It also promotes healing and mental well being. All that for only $9.99 plus shipping and handling. I fully expected it to have “but wait, there’s more” at the bottom followed by slices, dices, and juliennes fries.”

I have a good buddy who is a Wiccan priestess and in all our conversations on lots and lots of stuff, I have never heard her mention the word “dragon” one time, much less try to convince me that a pink marble on a stand would protect me from one. I’m sorry, but if your “religion” involves banishing giant fire, lightning, acid, cone-of-cold, cloud-of-panic  breathing lizards by throwing pink marbles at them, I am going to make fun of you. I can believe a lot of things. I fully agree with Hamlet when he says, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.” Unfortunately, my willing suspense of disbelief stops with throwing pink marbles at dragons. I love everybody and I really don’t want to have offended anyone . . . but if a giant fire, lightning, acid, cone-of-cold, cloud-of-panic  breathing lizard shows up in my yard, I can guarantee you two things: I’ll need to change my shorts and I’m not going to stand there and throw a pink marble at it. A +5 arrow of dragon slaying, maybe, but not a pink marble.

If you know more about fighting dragons with pink marbles, I’d love to hear from you, but until then, know that I love y’all and keep your feet clean!