December 28, 2009

So I am in Detroit airport paying WAY too much for this internet so I thought I would take this opportunity to write a blog. I just needed an address of where I am staying in India and I could either pay $7 for all day or $5.50 for fifteen minutes. I paid $7. And think I made the right choice.

To get to India I will fly from Nashville to Detroit (already done) to Frankfurt to Dubai to Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) to Chennai.

Here’s some things that stood out so far.

You know, people with tattoos are people too! We are just people…with tattoos! I mean, this one lady was staring at me for a while in Nashville airport and most of her staring was directed at my arm, the tattooed one. Her staring turned to glaring and at one point I expected a laser beam to shoot out. At one point I politely asked her what time it was. She looked at me with a look of relief and shock that I could speak and did not bite her. I seemed to be Airport-trained and safe. She smiled and told me the time.

A cute little kid was reading a comic and I was reminded about how cool kids are and how much I love them. He read this joke out loud to his mom, teenage sister and brother, speaking with a lisp, “The little boy went to the doctor and thaid, ‘Doctor, I need a new butt! Mine’th got a crack in it!” He then laughed uncontrollably, and almost fell out of his seat.

I saw a soldier who is probably 18, but looked all of 16. He was all decked out in army camo and ready to go somewhere. He was all alone. It made me really sad for some reason. I thought about him having to go back, where ever he is going, to fight in some war that probably has very little to do with him. He is young. Was probably just home for Christmas or something, or maybe even going out for the first time. I kind of just stared at him. My heart got real heavy! I had to look away. I focused on the joke-telling kid again. He mispronounced a word and it sounded like a really, REALLY vulgar word. He didn’t catch it, but his family did. Their eyes got HUGE! The snatched the book from his hand and read it but could not find the word. They asked him to read it again and, totally unaware, he repeated the vulgar word. The mom mouthed “Should I tell him?” to the daughter. She shook her head no.

The kid went along and read in bliss and unabandoned laughter, as he read some joke about diarrhea.


Enough Evidence…

December 27, 2009

Ok, so I had heard some stuff about the “balloon boy” when it all was happening back in October, but I didn’t really pay enough attention to know what it was all about. My Mom mentioned something about it today, telling me the parents got charged for the hoax. I watched some Youtube videos about it. I watched the one where Falcon Heene (the “balloon boy”) sold his Dad out on the Larry King Live Show and then I watched the one where he was (seemingly) so nervous he puked on live television on the Today Show. Wow!

I even watched the wife swapping show that the “balloon boy” family had appeared on before the whole even happened. If there was any doubt in my mind that the father was guilty, I watched this rap video (produced, directed, filmed and probably written by him) of his three boys.

Yep, if you couldn’t understand the hook they are talking about “pussification” a word their dad probably made up, insinuating that certain things (like wearing pajamas for example) lead to boys becoming…well, you know “pussified”. And yes, this seems to be the clean version of the track because they blanked out S.O.B., the F-word, and “titties”, but they felt it was ok to leave in a line about a “fag peeing on their heads”. Um…yeah, enjoy your jail time Mr. and Mrs. Heene!

Knick-Knack Paddy Wack Give a Dude a Bone

December 21, 2009

Eli, my nine-year-old brother, and I hung out today. I took him Christmas shopping for my mom, step-dad and grandparents and then we ate lunch and went bowling. At one point I had to drive past a place that I have been avoiding the last few weeks of my Tennessee visit: MY Waffle House that closed down this year.

I go there every year when I visit the States. And I pretty much go on a daily basis. I love it! It’s not so much the food, coffee or skanky environment, as it is just the whole package. And I like being called “sweetie” and “honey” and “sugar pie” by the old, country, toothless waitresses.

I am pretty sure they were about to add my face to the menu. Last time I was in town, when it was time for me to head back to Cape Town, all the Waffle House ladies gave me a Waffle House visor, little button, and a name tag with my very own name on it. It was great! But it’s over now. They closed that one down. Bloody recession! Sure, there are two more in Cookeville, and I can go, and have gone, to the others, but it’s just not the same.

Anyways! Back to the story…

So Eli and I drove past the empty, sad looking EX-Waffle House building, that had been designed and painted another color; no scattering, smothering or covering going on in there! It made me sad to see it really. And the blows kept coming! I was shocked to see someone had ruthlessly vandalized the window. Probably just a depressed customer like me who did not know how to express his sadness properly and so it came out in the form of aggression, with a slight hint of perversion. There it was: a big red penis, standing on its hine legs.

I said, “Oh wow!”

Eli, “What?”

Me, “Oh…um…well, someone drew something rude on the window over there. It’s not very nice.”

Eli, “What is it?”

Me, a little surprised he couldn’t tell and very sorry I had opened my mouth in the first place, “Well… it’s a penis.”

Eli, “EWE!”, slight shaking of his head expressing disappointment towards the vandal, “That doesn’t sound very nice! Whatever a penis is!”

Me, in absolute shock, “You don’t know what a penis is?”

Eli, “No. What’s a penis?”

I thought for a moment. I wondered how Eli had made it 9 years without hearing this word. I wondered if I had corrupted his little nine-year-old mind with a vulgar word and then I realized that penis is in fact the medical term. And I guess the word choice could have been much, much worse!

Me, “Well, it’s a boys private part.”

Eli, “Oh. Ok.”

Me, “What do you call it?”

Eli, “A dude. Cause daddy always told me to shake off the dew when I was done peeing and I thought he said dude.”

Oh yes! How could I forget!

Me, “Oh yes! How could I forget! Well, that was a picture of a real tall dude.”

Eli, “Huh. Well, it looked like a half of a bone.”

Me, a little worried, “What?”

Eli, “Like, it only had the knobby part on the one end.”

Me, “OH! Right.”

I thought about it a second. He was quite right. I was impressed, and also wishing I would have thought of that and could have just said, “AWE! Someone drew a half of a bone on the window! What a jerk!”

Me, “Excellent perception on your part Eli. It does look like a half-a-bone!”

Eli did not ask what perception means so I assume he knew.

I Hate Religion!

December 3, 2009

I really do! Now, before you punch a hole through your computer screen, cursing me and condemning me straight to the pits of hell, at least hear me out. Then, if you still feel like doing that, you can tell me to “go to hell” and I will take it like a man.

When I was in Germany many people asked me if I am a “religious person”. I would shudder at the thought and answer that I am not, or at least I try not to be, religious, but follow that by saying I am deeply spiritual and believe in Jesus, and much of what I do is rooted in that belief. But I also feel that many people who call themselves followers of Christ are not as much following Him, as they are following a system which was created to follow Him; a system that gives size, shape and color to a seeming invisible God. Much like Bill Maher, and his anti-religion documentary Religulous, I hate religion for the division it brings to the world. The difference between me and Bill however is he does not believe there is a God and so he finds religion absolutely ridiculous and absurd, but I believe there is a God and believe that religion (and much of the harm done in its name) is man’s feeble, flawed attempt at following God. But I hate religion. 

I do not hate God. I actually love Him a lot. I just hate religion. By religion I mean the practices, traditions, buildings, rules, regulations, legalism, sects, denominations, and so on we create to try and follow God. The man-made stuff. Our means to the end, the end being God. I guess as humans we need a certain degree of it, because we are simple creatures really. Like the Israelites who created a golden cow while Moses was gone for a few days, or Thomas who checked the resurrected Jesus’ scars for proof, we like to see things. We want the tangible, not the mysterious. We want an instruction booklet and a warranty, not a choose your own adventure book.

We like to build safe boxes, with as few questions as possible, to make our experience of following God easy, human-friendly and safe. In the process, we often leave God behind and passionately follow religion; because religion is easier to see (for those who do not have time to look deeper) and much easier to follow (for those who want more answers than questions). Unfortunately, in our quest to follow God, we make a lot of user-friendly practices, regulations and steps in order to help us better follow God, and those very religious things are what end up causing much harm and discord in the world. We hurt people, push them away and the “religious” fight amongst themselves, battling to prove who is more “right” and superior, often forgetting that God is the only right and superior one.

People who speak hollow religious words with actions that do not match are following religion, not God.

Denominations and church splits are of religion, and not of God.

Radical extremists bombing abortion clinics or flying planes into buildings are radically following religion, and not God.

The Crusades were led by religion, not God.

Slavery and oppression throughout the world was justified by religion, not God.

When I look at Jesus’ life of activism, I see that much of what he did in His walk on earth was break down religion, because it was being used to oppress people and hurt them. He came to uncomplicate things. When asked what the most important commandment is, He said “love God and love people”. Anything else is complicating the situation. If we love God and love people, other important stuff will follow, and the negative behaviour (through judgments, condemnation, practices of exclusivity, aggression, etc.) will fall away. Let’s face it, we often treat people really bad in the name of religion posing as the “name of God”! I do not think He likes that very much. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was on earth, the only people He spoke harshly to were the religious leaders of the time, and people bringing violence and greed into the place of worship. Jesus hated religion, but He wanted people to meet God, feel His love, and love each other. Because religion of the time was causing harm to people. Jesus wanted people to be free, not live in bondage. Today we see the same things happening in the name of religion. And people are so busy spreading “religion” many have left God behind, and those recipients of the dished out religion, and the Kingdom of God itself is suffering because of this. That’s why I hate religion.

Feel free to swear and throw your computer at me now!

Originally posted on