Calvin and Hobbes Image of God

Imago Dei

imago dei detail Imago DeiSaying that the concept of Imago Dei is not unknown to Christians is an understatement on the order of saying Custer and the Seventh Cavalry had a bad day on the Little Big Horn back in 1876. It’s all over the Bible and has come up in more than one Sunday Sermon. But, for all the hype over the idea, I can’t help but think that most of us Christians don’t really believe it. We certainly don’t act like we do.

The history of Christendom is filled with examples of man’s inhumanity to man; wars, inquisitions, witch hunts and more. Lest you think that’s all in the distant past, The Troubles in Northern Ireland have claimed thousands of dead and injured. According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency estimates that this conflict has affected as many as 500,000 people. You don’t have to look overseas to find examples of the shitty way Christians treat others, either. Earlier this month, World Vision announced that it would no longer discriminate against LGBTQ individuals in its hiring practices, which caused evangelicals to threaten to pull their support from the agency. Essentially, for these folks, World Vision’s doctrinal purity is more important than feeding starving children. This is not how we would treat God, so why do we treat those made in God’s image this way?

Is it so surprising that we don’t see the image of God in others when we don’t see in it ourselves? Each and every one of us have aspects of our personality that we hate. And, all too often, we allow those aspects to carry more weight than the things we love about ourselves. This is the Devil and his demons, not some fellow with horns and a pitchfork tempting us to “lie with mankind, as with womankind” or any other “sin” we lay at his door. Self-hate blinds us to the fact that we are, indeed, made in the image of God. That blindness allows us say and do terrible things to ourselves and others. If there are degrees of sin, then hate (especially self-hate) has to be at the top of the list because, like English 101, it is the pre-requisite for all the other ones.

We would do well to remember these words from Doris Betts’ Everything I Know About Writing I Learned in Sunday School:

“The Bible doesn’t concentrate on one-sided, goody-goody characters. Career thieves get redeemed at the very last minute. God seems to love human beings, warts and all. A trickster like Jacob and an adulterer like King David are of great interest to Yahweh; doubting Thomas and cowardly Peter are important to Christ. Will Campbell once stated it bluntly: “We’re all bastards, but God loves us anyway.”

I can’t help but believe that when stop hating ourselves, we’ll stop hating each other. When we accept that we, ourselves, are made in the Image of God, we will begin to accept that others are also made in that image. And, then, maybe we can start doing this Christian thing the way we should.

Relationships

Relationship RelationshipsThe folks at Love Wins say homelessness isn’t really a lack of housing, it’s a lack of relationships. A lot of people who are homeless, hungry, poor, etc., don’t have relationships with others who can make sure they’re not outdoors, have enough to eat, are sufficiently clothed and any of the other necessities that life requires. For example, there have been times when I couldn’t make the rent, keep the lights or water on, didn’t have money for groceries, etc. But, my friends and family stepped in to make sure I didn’t get evicted, go hungry or suffer any of the other disasters that could have befallen me.Because of that, this “lack of relationships” thing has always seemed a little foriegn to me. But, the story of Pia Farrenkopf? That’s different.

Pia Farrenkopf was a 49 year-old woman from Pontiac, Michigan who died in 2009. Sadly, that’s not really news; it happens every day. What makes this story different is that no one missed her until a few weeks ago. Yeah, you read that right, she was dead for 5 years and no one missed her. How could such a thing happen? Well, Farrenkopf’s job required a good deal of travel and her neighbors were used to extended absences; that job had ended a few months earlier, so no one at work missed her; what family she had lived on the East Coast and she had lost touch with them and, her mortgage and utilities were paid by bank draft out of an account that had a pretty good chunk of change in it ($54,000). It was that money running out that allowed her to be found; the bank foreclosed on the mortgage and a contractor checking things out found her in the backseat of her car, sitting in the garage.

How does one make so little impact on the world around them that no one notices they’re gone for 5 years? Simply put, a lack of relationships. If Farrenkopf had just one person she talked to on any kind of regular basis, things would’ve turned out differently. But, she didn’t and died alone and unnoticed.

You may be thinking “This is incredibly sad, but it’s nothing like being homeless or hungry”. And, maybe it’s not. But, the loneliness this woman must have felt is heart-breaking. It’s the same loneliness that people who are homeless, on the margins and fallen through the cracks, deal with on a daily basis. And, it may be the most dehumanizing part of the whole situation.

I tell you this story because, while it is a bit extreme, I could see it happening to me. Oh, not the part about no one noticing me being gone for 5 years, that’s a bit much. But, I’m pretty introverted and I like my solitude. If it wasn’t for Olivia (my daughter, who still lives with me), I could go several days without seeing anyone. With just a few small changes to my life, I could end up like Farrenkopf. That realization also highlights the fact that, with just few different changes, I could end up without enough to eat, a place to lay my head or the agency to deal with those problems. When I see it in that light, it’s not so foreign after all.

World Vision Doesn’t Believe In The Bible?

FranklinGrahamWorldVision LG World Vision Doesnt Believe In The Bible?For once, being late to the blogging party has actually worked in my favor. I really thought about jumping on the bandwagon and writing something about World Vision’s announcement that it would no longer discriminate against LGBTQ people in its hiring policies. But there was another piece that had a claim on my attention, which is pretty much the way I wanted it. Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of having a cow every time some evangelical group decides to do the right thing and join us in the 21st century. Because of my delay, I thought I’d missed out on this one, that the time to write about it was past. But, the fine folks at World Vision fixed all that Wednesday by changing their mind. That’s right, they decided they’re not going to hire LGBTQ folks. Take a wild guess as to why.

If you guessed that evangelicals lost their minds and threatened to pull their contributions, you’d be right. Of course, the folks in the pews didn’t come up with this rather ugly slice of hate; they got their marching orders from people like Al Mohler, Denny Burk and Franklin Graham, who said on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch radio show “It’s obvious World Vision doesn’t believe in the Bible…I am sickened and heartbroken.” Surprisingly, I actually agree with Graham…, sort of. There is someone in this equation who doesn’t believe in the Bible, but I don’t think it’s World Vision. Graham and all the other evangelicals who got their panties in such a wad are another story.

In a post on his Edges of Faith blog, David Henson said “Evangelicals have a hate problem when it comes to homosexuality. Period. I know that’s extreme language. But it’s true. We can disagree over an issue and still find common ground in aiding the very poor and disenfranchised. We can work side-by-side in the work of Christ and not agree on every single marginal issue. And homosexuality, as it relates to the Bible’s message and meaning, is marginal. There are 31,000 verses. Only around 8 or 9 can really be said to have anything to do with homosexuality. (None are actually about homosexuality — monogamous, committed relations — as we understand it.)” I couldn’t agree more.

While homosexuality may be a marginal issue, feeding hungry people isn’t. In fact,working for justice (i.e. feeding the hungry, caring for the poor, etc) is the central is the central theme of the Bible and can be found everywhere from the Old Testament law to the New Testament Epistles. The truth is, if Graham and company truly believed the Bible, they wouldn’t hold a gun to the head  of folks who are doing exactly what Jesus commanded, forcing them to exclude whole groups of people (something Jesus never commanded) based on a few misinterpreted scriptures.

The Prodigal Son Part Duex

prodigalson The Prodigal Son Part DuexAt the end of Monday’s piece on The Prodigal Son, I said the story leaves us wanting more and ended with “…maybe that’s on purpose. Maybe it’s up to us to fill in those blanks and keep it alive. And, maybe I’ll do just that in a couple of days.” Well, it’s a couple of days later, so let’s see what I can do with this.

The party for the younger son (let’s call him Fred, I like that name) lasted almost a week and it was a doozy. But, like all parties, it came to an end and life settled back into its normal, everyday rhythms. And, Fred welcomed the comfort of that domestic mundanity…., at first. After a couple of months, though, he began to feel the old, familiar itch. At first, all it took was the memory of the hunger and humiliation he felt while working for that damn Gentile farmer to quell any desire to go back to his old life. But, as it always does, the memory of the bad times began to fade while that of the good times seemed to grow.

Things weren’t made any easier by his brother (Lloyd) who was a total shit about everything, as older brothers usually are. Oh, it was nothing overt; just Lloyd playing “the good son” and making sure the old man saw it. It didn’t help that Lloyd was a natural at this farming thing and Fred had a brown thumb. And, Lloyd’s easy competence made Fred’s ineptitude stand out in stark relief. The situation was slowly becoming unbearable.

One day, his father sent him to a nearby city with a load of produce from the farm. A deal had already been brokered with a trader and all Fred had to do was turn over the goods, pick up the cash and get home safe. Simple, easy and well within his capabilities. Or, so his father thought. Unfortunately, the old man didn’t realize this was the very same city where Fred had done his “riotous living”. Needless to say, it was a recipe for disaster.

Things were fine on the trip to town. In fact, Fred didn’t feel the itch all the way there. Even as he made his way past many of his old haunts, he didn’t really have the urge to stray. It wasn’t until the deal was done and he had his father’s money in hand that things went south.

It was a long trip and he didn’t get to town until the middle of the afternoon.The roads being what they were, traveling after dark was not a good idea. So, the plan was that he would spend the night in a local inn and head back first thing in the morning. After he’d found a room, he ran into a friend from his wild days and they began to reminisce. One thing led to another and the two went on a terrific bender; financed once again by Fred’s father.

When he woke up and realized what had happened, he thought, “Shit, I’ve done it again.” To ashamed to go home and let everyone know he’d lived up (down?) to their incredibly low expectations, he found a buyer for the pack animals, paid the innkeeper and went off in search of work. He thought it would be easier this time since he wasn’t in the middle of a famine, but he was wrong. He didn’t know many people in the area and the ones he did know either weren’t what you’d call business people or they remembered him as an abhorrent wastrel and wouldn’t have anything to do with him. It wasn’t long before his meager funds were gone and he was reduced to panhandling and sleeping wherever he could find a bit of shelter. It was bad, but at least he wasn’t feeding pigs.

One day, he was sitting in his preferred spot with his cup set out for alms. He was dirty, he smelled awful and he was still bloody from the beating he received a couple of days earlier when some youths robbed him. A familiar mantra ran through his head: “My life is shit and I deserve it. My father took me in after I disrespected him and wasted his money. He trusted me with the littlest bit of responsibility and what do I do? Fuck it up. Royally. There’s no way he’ll take me back again. I’m stuck in this mess and it’s all my fault.”

He was so busy beating himself up, he didn’t notice anyone was there until some coins rattled in his cup. He looked up to say thank you and saw his father standing there with tears running down his face. The old man didn’t say a word, he just reached down,  gathered his son into his arms and embraced him. It caught Fred off guard and for a minute, he reveled in the love of his father. Then, he came to his senses and pulled away saying, “No, I don’t deserve this. I did it again, Dad.” His father shook his head and said “I don’t care about that. All that matters is that I found you and you’re safe. You’re coming home with us.” He looked over his father’s shoulder and saw his brother standing there, his face also wet with tears. Overwhelmed by the knowledge that they’d been looking for him all this time, he asked “But, I stole from you. How can you still love me?” His father smiled through his tears and replied “You are my child. How can I not love you?”

The Prodigal Son

prodigalson The Prodigal SonAt church yesterday, my pastor continued his sermon series on redemption. This week, the text was Luke 15:11-32, the parable of the prodigal son. I’m sure some of you theology nerds are saying “Wait a minute, that’s not from the lectionary!” Lectionary?!?AtCollege Park,  we don’t need no stinking lectionary. We’re a Baptist church, independence is how we roll, bitches. But, I digress.

Now, before we go any further, I have to tell you that the prodigal son is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I mean, it’s up there with Balaam’s talking donkey and Elisha calling bears down on some smart-ass kids. So, you can imagine my happiness when I saw the subject of the sermon. And, fortunately, though the bar was set high, I wasn’t disappointed.

In the story, we’re told that the younger son asked for his inheritance while his father was still alive (a grievous insult) and proceeded to waste it on what the KJV calls “riotous living”. This is one of the few times I prefer the King James translation over a newer one. Having done some “riotous living” myself over the years, I have a pretty good idea where all his money went. Anyway, just as the money ran out, he found himself in the midst of a famine. Starving, he took a job tending pigs and was so hungry that he wished he could share what he’s feeding to the pigs; which is pretty much the ultimate degradation to a devout Jew.

As you can see, his road back wasn’t easy. And, those  troubles were brought on by his impatience and stupidity. While there are people who might argue that God brought him to this state in life to teach him a lesson, I prefer to think that God doesn’t make bad things happen to those God loves. God is not, however, above allowing those people to suffer the consequences of their actions to learn a lesson before showing them the way out of the dark. And, so it is here.

After the brilliant realization that things at home weren’t nearly as bad as he thought, the son decides to go back to his father’s house and ask to be taken on a hired hand, saying “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” As Michael (our pastor) said, these are words of real repentance, not the cheap grace that Bonhoeffer spoke of .

I love this story because it presents an image of the God I want to believe in, a God who loves unconditionally. It’s the story of a father whose child rejected him and everything he stood for (well, except for his money) and he welcomes that child back with open arms. There are no conditions, no caveats; just “Welcome home, son. I missed you so much“. It doesn’t get any better than that. Especially when you consider how much I have in common with the son,

Like a lot of the stories Jesus told (or the ones about him, for that matter), this parable leaves us wanting more. I mean, what happened after the father told his older son to quit being an ass and join the party? Did the younger son stick around or did he take off again after his memory became a little hazy? We don’t know, because the story ends so abruptly. But, maybe that’s on purpose. Maybe it’s up to us to fill in those blanks and keep it alive. And, maybe I’ll do just that in a couple of days.

salvation

What Is Salvation?

admitting youre an asshole What Is Salvation?Recently, a friend posted the following status on Facebook: “I’m glad not being an asshole is not a prerequisite of salvation.” I responded “Hmm, looks like we define “salvation” differently. Not to mention, “asshole” and went about my business, which included a morning at Love Wins and a trip to the store to replenish someone’s supply of peanut M&M’s. I didn’t really stop thinking about it, though, wondering how I might reply if someone questioned my comment. As I thought about it, I began to realize there might be a blog post in there somewhere. There was and this is it.

So, how do I define “salvation”? First, let’s take a look at the dictionary (stop rolling your eyes, damn it) and see what it has to say about this word. As usual, Merriam-Webster has multiple definitions, but the one that applies in this context is “deliverance from the power and effects of sin”. There are other definitions out there, but this is the one I like. It’s simple, it’s direct and it’s free from proselytizing. Of course, it doesn’t really answer the question. In fact, it kind of brings up another one: what is sin? This time, you’re in luck because I don’t have to go to the dictionary for an answer. Several years ago, a pastor I respect and admire said sin was anything that separates us from God. And, that’s where asshole comes into the equation.

I did go to the dictionary for this and found a classic example of why I love these dusty old tomes. I googled “asshole”, expecting only to find an entry on Urban Dictionary. But, to my surprise (and delight), it had entries in Wikipedia, Merriam-Webster, The Free Dictionary and even the Oxford English Dictionary. I mean, seriously, a vulgar word like “asshole” in the esteemed Oxford English Dictionary? How cool is that? (Yes, I’m geeking out. Shut up) For once, all the definitions were pretty much in agreement: as asshole is a stupid, irritating, incompetent, mean or detestable person (a combination of all the definitions). So, what does this have to do with sin? For me, to be separated from God is to not love my neighbor because that is only way I can get my head around loving such an abstract concept like God. I think it’s safe to say that if you’re being stupid, irritating, incompetent, mean or detestable, you’re not loving your neighbor.

Now, if you’re a normal person, you’ve already seen a glaring error in this piece; I didn’t until I was deep into it. Right in the middle of this stunning display of theological brilliance, I realized I had missed one important word in Terry’s status: “not”. As in “not being an asshole is not a prerequisite of salvation”. Once again, my ADD had bitten me in the ass.

Once I saw my mistake, I struggled with salvaging all the work I’d put into this until I realized my jerkitude (entry #2) actually illustrated the point at hand: salvation does not preclude humanity. In other words, salvation isn’t losing the capacity to be an asshole; it is the realization you can be an incredibly assy person and the instilling of a desire to change that.

love mercy justice [Converted]

Justice and Mercy

hands Justice and MercyAs a good  mediocre progressive Christian , I have a different view of justice and mercy than someone with a more conservative outlook. That difference of opinion is a pretty stark highlight of the distinction between the two views. This week, I’ve seen two examples of that difference and I want to share them with you. 

First, a more conservative view of justice and mercy. In an article on the American Conservative website about Fred Phelps’ declining health, Rod Dreher said “One tear of repentance from the vicious old preacher will open the floodgates of the divine mercy he spent his life trying to deny to others. I pray for that tear”. Now, if he’d stopped there, I wouldn’t have a problem. Sure, it’s not exactly complimentary, but he does seem to hope God cuts the old dude some slack. But then, he ends with “And I hope no one pickets his funeral, giving to his family the mercy they do not deserve.” That is awful harsh.

Now, for the progressive side. On the Emergent Village Facebook page, I was following a conversation about an unrelated topic when the subject of justice came up. Some incredibly enlightened progressive commented “Whenever I see people talking about justice this way, I am reminded of a quote from Madeleine L’Engle: “Absolute justice? Don’t you feel the need for the weensiest, teensiest bit of mercy? I mean, me, I want lots and lots of mercy.”  Okay, I admit it; it was me. And, while I am an imperfect progressive (I think the Toyota Prius is an abomination before God), the concept of mercy over justice is a progressive one. At least, I think it is.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that progressives are better Christians than conservatives. Nor am I saying that we’re right and they’re wrong (this kind of ambiguity is another aspect of progressive Christianity; one that drives conservatives crazy). I’m only attempting to point out one of the differences between the two groups.

Do I believe that I’m right? Well, yeah; it’d be kind of stupid to put this out there otherwise. But, the emphasis is on “believe”, because I don’t think you can know this kind of thing. It’s a “take it on faith” deal. So, whether or not it’s true, I can’t say. God knows I hope it is.

I do have to admit the  conservative fetish for justice confuses me. Most conservative Christians I know believe that humans are filthy sinners who are a stench in the nostrils of God. You’d think they would be the biggest proponents of mercy on the planet. Instead, they seem to believe God is a wrathful,  bloody-minded despot who punishes trangressions with a justice that is swift, harsh and sure. I prefer to believe that God is love and that love is expressed by God’s mercy in forgiving those transgressions as soon as they are committed. Before you ask, even.

Sure, I find justice (i. e. everyone gets what they deserve) to be an attractive concept…, until I consider that “everyone” includes me. I mean, it’s not really justice if you get what you deserve and I don’t. That’s why, like Madeleine, I want mercy, lots and lots of mercy.

I said I hate figs

Pray For Fred

Fred Phelps Pray For FredA while back, I quit mentioning Fred Phelps and Westborough Baptist Church on the advice of a friend who said all they wanted was attention and by giving it to them, we were playing into their hands. It made sense to stop then. Today, however, it makes sense to mention them again because, according to reports from estranged family memebers, Fred Phelps is dying. In case you live under rock, Phelps is the founder and former leader of Westborough Baptist Church (the “God hates f**s” people). There are more than a few people saying that we should forgive him and pray for him and his family. And, we should; as followers of Christ, it’s the least we can do.

Not everyone agrees with this, of course. There are a lot of people out there who’ve been hurt, either directly or indirectly, by Phelps and company or people just like them. But, remember, the folks at WBC are losing a father, grandfather, uncle, spiritual leader, etc. I speak from experience when I say that’s a tough place to be.

I find myself wondering, beyond prayer, what is a good Christian response to the death of a man who caused so much pain and suffering for others? For the record, I don’t sit around wondering what the “proper Christian response” to a given situation might be; believe it or not, I actually have a life (such as it is). But, I am asking that question this morning because of I’ve seen several social media posts hoping for a picket of Phelps’ funeral. A few advocate doing so as a way of extending grace and forgiveness to a group that denied both to a lot of people. You might find this strange, but I disagree.

I disagree with this idea because, as Olivia (my daughter) said this morning, “You don’t do that (picket) ‘in love’. It just doesn’t work that way”. Plus, and maybe I’m being cynical here, but I detect a note of condescension in the rush to show grace to Phelps and his family. It feels like there is an undertone whispering “We’ll be so sweet, sugar won’t melt in our mouths. That’ll show those assholes who the real Christians are. ” It’s like what Paul said in Romans 12, but on steroids. And, out of context.

If you want to extend grace to the Phelps’ and the folks at Westborough Baptist Church, leave them alone. Don’t tell them you’re sorry for their loss or anything else you might think of. They didn’t ask for it, they don’t think they need it and would think you have ulterior motives. Sadly, in a few cases, they’d be right.

As for picketing the funeral, I’m not saying whether you should or not; that has to be your decision. But, it would be nice if you didn’t say call it a “Christian response” because it’s not. Showing up at someone’s funeral with a sign is shitty. It’s shitty when they do it others, it would be shitty if anyone did it to them

DirtRoad

A Good Man Isn’t Hard To Find

Daddy A Good Man Isnt Hard To Find
The epitome of a good man

As I read that title, it comes to me that I probably should apologize to Flannery O’Connor for stealing her words (but that’s another story, so to speak). Adding the qualifier “If you know where to look” to the title might not be a bad idea, either. It seems hard to find these days, but goodness is out there; the trick is knowing where to look. And, to know that, we need to know what we’re looking for. So, what does it mean,  to be a good man?

To find that answer (however subjective it may be), I think a definition of the word good is a…, well, good place to start. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it this context, it means “Strictly adhering to or fulfilling all the principles of a particular cause, religion, or party”. Dictionary.com defines it as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious”. While these might be excellent definitions of the word good, I think they fall woefully short of what it means to be a good man.

You’re probably wondering what the hell I mean there. Take Hugh Hollowell, for example. He is always telling people “I’m not a good man, but I want to be”. And,the above definitions, he’s really not. He doesn’t “strictly adhere” to a particular religion or party (the “cause” part of that is an exception). And, by his own admission, he is not “morally excellent” (who is?). But, if Hugh Hollowell is not a good man, then I’m pretty sure the rest of us don’t have a chance.

So, if those definitions of good don’t work for me in describing what it means to b e a good man, what does? Serendipitously, on Facebook this morning, I found a quote from Jim Rohn about leadership that I think describes a good man pretty well. He said

“…be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

Now, I’m not saying that to be a good man, you have to be a leader. Or that, to be a leader, you have to be a man. But, as I read this quote, I saw the character traits of the best man I ever knew: my father, Tom Rieves.

Like all of us, Dad wasn’t perfect. He could be cranky and cantankerous, his temper sometimes got the best of him and he could be oh, so stubborn. Even so, to me, he was the epitome of a good man. 

At some point, on some level, every male on the planet wonders if he’s a good man. I’m not sure we can answer that for ourselves, though, because it’s hard to see your own goodness; I think it can only be measured and expressed by others. If you’re like me and have difficulty accepting praise and compliments, that can make things…, interesting. Which  is why a lot of us say things like “I’m not a good man, but I want to be”.

When it comes to the question of whether  or not you’re a good man, I’ll say this: cut yourself some slack and remember that just because you aren’t perfect doesn’t mean you aren’t good. It just means you aren’t perfect.

Sometimes, A Cigar Is Just A Cigar

cigar1 Sometimes, A Cigar Is Just A CigarLately, I’ve seen a lot of posts and articles about being in one’s 40′s. I have two reactions when I read them: 1) I chuckle and think “Oh, that’s cute” and 2) I wonder if I sounded the same way when I was in my 40′s. I’m afraid the answer to that is yes, I did.

I’m not sure where the obsession with this particular decade of life comes from. Maybe it’s because 40 is considered a big milestone, although I’m not sure why. It’s not like 16 or 18 or 21, those are milestones; something actually happens at those ages. Turning 40, though? It’s all in your head. Being 40 doesn’t bring any benefits or hindrances. Not concrete ones, anyway. What happened to me as a result of reaching my 40′s? Not a lot, really. Certainly nothing that I can that put my finger on today. Which says a lot, when you get down to it. So, as someone who’s been there and done that (I’m 52), I want to tell you 40-somethings…something: You’re thinking too much.

Don’t get me wrong, thinking is not a bad thing. Even thinking about being in your 40′s isn’t a bad thing. You’ve got to process where you are and where you’re going and you can’t do that without a little thinking. But, remember, a cigar is sometimes just a cigar.

Most of you are Gen Xer’s and I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Oh great, another fucking boomer telling us what to think”. You’re right, I am a boomer, but I’m a part of Baby Boom cohort number 2 (I’m not kidding, this is a real thing), which means I have more in common with Generation X than I do the entitled whiners and grouchy-ass old people everyone thinks of when you say “Boomer”. Because of that, I feel your pain and, truly, I’m not telling what to think. I’m just trying to help you gain a little perspective.

It’s not your fault, you know. You’ve bought into the idea that everything has deep meaning. As ideas go, that’s about as stupid as “everything happens for a reason” and the belief that you’re not a success unless you’re working at your dream job. I suppose my generation is responsible, since we’re the ones who came up with that bullshit. It certainly wasn’t our parents; they were to busy surviving the Great Depression and helping to whip the dreaded Hun. No, it was the Baby Boomers (a group that’s always had way too much time on their hands) who came up with this tripe. When you get right down to it, your 40′s aren’t all that different from your 30′s, with the possible exceptions of being a little more affluent and dealing with teenagers. Unfortunately, the latter pretty much offsets the former.

Look, I’m not saying that reaching your 40′s doesn’t matter. It does, if only because most of you guys are pretty cool people and I like having you around. But, you’ve gotta understand that, for those of us who are past this stage in life, making a big deal about being 40 is kind of a joke. Because there’s one thing you’ll learn when as you get a little older: 40 is just a number. And, not a particularly important one, at that.

"As a youth I prayed, "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet." St. Augustine