Christian Holidays – The War On Christmas: Black Friday

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Wal-Mart’s definition of “American Made”

So you’re at Wal-Mart on Black Friday getting your high quality, Chinese made presents for your kids, pondering the hilarity of a store built on the principles of only selling American made products, a “fact” which old naive stupid people still cite to this day while eating their green peas imported from Thailand. You’re still feeling pretty good from Thanksgiving dinner and not too many relatives pissed you off this year by trying to convert to you the evils of liberalism, or set you back fifty years with conservatism. Depending on which side of the dichotomy you fall on.

You’re behind one of those ladies who’s obviously in her fifties, but is trying too hard to look thirty-five. She’s managed, probably either through screaming, guile or just being here early and trampling a child to death to get one of those shitty off brand Wal-Mart TV’s that they had on “sale” but your grandfather totally got for cheaper at Sam’s three weeks ago. She looks awfully smug about it. The lady in the burka checking everyone out looks exasperated, mostly because its 5:15 in the morning and she’s had to mop up a puddle of toddler blood already.

Suddenly you hear the two words known to set off Republicans and Fox News fans from sea to shining sea from the poor muslim woman at the register, “Happy Holidays.” Then shit hits the fan. The lady in front of you yells, “Back in my day it was CHRISTMAS!” then pulls a red white and blue AR-15 out of her handbag and screams, “Lock and load bitches!” Four other gray hairs whip out AR’s and take cover behind end caps and open fire on the cashier who’s already ducked behind her register.

You hide in the women’s clothing department hoping not to get caught in the crossfire, skirmishes like this have broken out all over the country. A flashbang is lobbed out from behind the register and you manage to close your eyes and plug your ears just before it goes off. You see the cashier stand up and spray the dazed old women down with an Uzi as she retreats into the customer service department where her coworkers have already started laying down cover fire.

A few of the old women aren’t as dazed as you thought. They must have had a hard life, dealing screaming children to recover so quickly. One manages to drop a few Wal-Mart employees before she’s taken out by a frag grenade. A stray bullet incapacitates one of the other grannies.

Just when you think it’s about to be over, a few rednecks wearing bald eagle shirts come charging out of the back, unloading shotgun rounds into the Customer Service department. The Wal-Mart employees are professionals and no amount of flag waving bravado can make up for nine months working retail at $8.50 an hour. It’s over when management flanks the old ladies and forces them to surrender.

One of the old women, bloody from a piece of shrapnel from a Vizio television spits on the manager, “You may have won this battle, but the War for Christmas is far from over.”

“Ma’am, it’s Black Friday, we’ve just begun,” he replies, “By this time next year no one will even remember what your politically incorrect holiday even was.” They lead them to a back room, never to be seen again.

A few “wet floor” signs are put out and the area is taped off. The registers open again and you stagger to the front of the line. The burka wearing lady rings up your remote controlled helicopter and Sesame Street toy you had to stab a dude for.  You nod, smile and make your way back to your vehicle. It’s five thirty, you might can make it to Best Buy and get that sweet deal on that external hard drive and that crappy blu-ray movie for seventy-five cents before it gets too crazy. You sit back, exhale, and take your Glock from the glove compartment and put it in the back of your pants.

 

This is a work of parody and satire and in no way reflects any actual events, at least I hope not. Any resemblance to actual people real or imagined is completely coincidental and this work in no way reflects the author’s actual opinions about the organizations depicted herein.  

Prayer On The Internet

This is one of those posts I hate to have to even write, knowing that almost all of my family and friends are devout Christians of one stripe or another and will likely take this the wrong way when they read it. Recently due to the tragedies that have occurred in the US, China and no doubt other places I feel this is necessary.

I want to start out with a passage from Luke 18:9-14. It’s about the Pharisee and the Tax collector (publican in the King James). I got this from BibleGateway.com.

And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:

10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

If you can’t get what is going on, Jesus is telling a story about a Pharisee (a member of an ancient sect of Judaism), who went into the temple and says to God, “Thank you that I am not as big a scumbag as those other guys. You know the ones, the ones who extort people out of money. Those guys that aren’t fair with others. Oh yeah, and those people who cheat on their spouses, a lot. Also I’m super glad I’m not like this tax collector over here. Look at all the stuff I do right! I don’t eat twice a week so I can concentrate on you, and I give ten percent of my stuff back to you! I’m awesome!”

The other guy just kind of stood in a corner, crying and beating himself and begging God to forgive him of all the awful things he’d done.

The way I’d always heard this story told was that the Pharisee was being kind of loud as you were expected to pray out loud. So he was sort of bragging about his righteousness, to everyone there, and to God. The fact is that the Pharisee was probably a good man. He probably didn’t do a lot of stuff wrong, and in those days his sect was considered the one that was doing things right. It seems to me Jesus used them as examples not because they weren’t righteous, but because they were and were still missing the point of it all entirely.

Have you ever felt so guilty that you fell to your knees in your bedroom, crying to God asking for forgiveness or at least help and mercy for something you’d done or become involved with? I know I have, more than once. I truly knew I’d screwed up and my desperation finally led me to that point. That’s where the tax collector was. Desperate, in need of forgiveness, and wanting to make himself right with God. He was doing this in the place that he felt closest to God in, and trying not to make a show of himself.

That is what truly talking to the Father is. That time of your day, or week or however often you pray, or meditate when it’s only you and He. Those broken or ecstatic moments in your life when you really connect with Him, whether for healing of your wounds or thanks for His blessings are what prayer is about.

And this brings me to my point, something I’ve always felt. I know that many of you reading this will be offended but I think it must be asked. I ask you think about your answer carefully.

What is the difference between posting your prayer on Facebook in front of that small but significant part of the world you know will read, and what the Pharisee was doing in the temple? Is it not mostly because something happened and you want your circle of friends to know your piety?

In other words are you not really saying, “Father God I thank you that I am not like the extortioner, the unjust, the adulterers and the unseemly on Facebook who post pictures of cats? See I post my thoughts to you when it seems best to me, and when those here in this temple can see?”

Shouldn’t you be like the tax collector and be on your knees begging God to heal whatever it is wrong with the world? But mostly shouldn’t you be asking Him to heal whatever is wrong with yourself, and those around you?

One of the many verses that I had to memorize is from the Old Testament. It’s 2nd Chronicles 7:14. I find the King James version of this one to be the best.

14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Don’t post prayers on Facebook. Humble yourself, pray, get rid of your own sinful ways, and seek God. He’s already promised to fix this mess. Just realize you’re already called by his name, not just friended on social media.

Cats and Mythology

I have a large orange tom cat named Baron. He seems to have taken a keen interest in sleeping on my nightstand and blocking all the good air conditioning. Not sure why. Maybe he’s trying to protect me from getting cold or something. It’s kind of weird.

My dog Dilios has taken to protecting me from the cat by making sure he is securely up against me whenever possible or at least between me and the cat at all times. This makes for some interesting evenings sometimes.

I’ve been watching Introduction to Classical Mythology from the University of Missouri, a semester worth of lectures by Professor Joseph Hughes and some of his fellow professors. It’s really incredible. I thought I’d read a LOT of books on mythology, Greek, Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and some Asian but apparently my education has been lacking and quite one sided. Maybe because I didn’t draw conclusions from those books, I simply read the stories for what they were and went on, didn’t really give them huge amounts of thought. Dr. Hughes is a lot more thorough in his examinations, and pretty funny too. Never heard a professor just flat out say, “I really don’t care at all about [topic]”.

The pop culture references are a bit dated, as best I can figure the videos were shot in about 1998-2001. I think it might say, but at any rate they are roughly ten years old. That isn’t extremely relavent but unless you were growing up in the 1990’s you might be confused by some of the references. You can download the whole set on iTunes for free. Personally I listen to them in the car during long drives for work or whatever. I have to say I have learned a lot and have been really inspired by them. Definitely will be looking on iTunes and elsewhere for more stuff like that.

I have to say I never really was one of those bookworms (though I am a bookworm) that just went out and read the classics or poetry in general but I’m actually reading Euripides and am looking for some free downloads of the Illiad and The Odyssey. I can honestly say that if it were not for Dr. Hughes lectures I’d pretty well have absolutely no interest in reading actual ancient Greek literature (well english translations of such).  So thanks Dr. Hughes, new world of reading has been opened up for me.

Making a mental note to eventually change the coffee cup on the banner. The weird china just isn’t me. I’m more of a plain mug kind of guy, and I’m really more of a hardcore tea drinker anyway.