Caesar

Caesar: (n) a title used by Roman emperors

There are certain words that just should not be associated with human beings: king, queen, pope, master, lord, dictator, supreme ruler,
emperor and the general title of Caesar.

We are people. We just do too many fruitless, ridiculous, repetitive and common things to ever believe that any backside was polished by the Divine.

Yet when you get in the presence of someone who deems him or herself to be superior, and has come up with a matching handle to enhance the claim, it is fruitless to attempt to chide them to some sanity and awareness of their human roots.

So Caesars fight Caesars to be the Caesar above all Caesars.

Now that’s a tossed salad.

Yet how wonderful it is to walk around with the simple desire to enjoy life and bless other people and casually quip, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.”

 

 

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Bloom

Bloom: (v) to produce flowers; be in flower.

Dictionary B

Perhaps the most difficult thing for human beings to do is admit that what we are pursuing is just not blooming–especially if we’ve gone through contortions to promote it.

There are just signs that ideas, beliefs and goals are growing in the right direction and are worth further cultivation. When these signs are absent, we have to be willing to walk away and maintain the good cheer necessary to start again.

What are the signs?

1. Good ideas green.

Long before they bloom, they show some sprout–what you planted is actually emerging from the dirt. There is a greening.

2. We don’t find ourselves needing to make excuses.

I can always tell when I’m pursuing a faulty pathway–I need to over-proclaim its value or constantly explain why it’s important. Some truths do need to be self-evident.

3. Other folks see the growth and get excited.

America is a victim of hype. We spend too much time trying to advertise instead of asking ourselves if it actually has any chance of progress.

  • If you plant a seed and get some green, then comes the bloom.
  • If you don’t plant a seed there’s no chance for greening–that is true.

But don’t expect anything to become flowery if it doesn’t have… da-vine.

 

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Barb

Barb: (n) a cutting remark.Dictionary B

I believe the old adage is, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Of course, that concept is not only optimistic, it is not necessarily beneficial in improving situations and evolving our efforts.

Yet I’m often curious if there is a way to speak without coming across phony or critical. What would that be? Because the truth makes us free. At least, that’s the assertion. But what is the freedom we are granted by the truth?

It all depends on whether the truth arrives with judgment, explanation or merely as comment.

After all, “I don’t like this” is not the same as “I don’t like this and you shouldn’t like it, too” and certainly has no familiarity with, “I don’t like this because God doesn’t like it.”

I think you can actually speak the truth with love, free of barbs, if you don’t have to involve the mob or beseech the Divine as your ally.

If someone loves me, it should be enough for me to say, “I don’t like that.”

  • It doesn’t mean they should stop doing it.
  • It doesn’t mean that the heavens are preparing a hell because of their choices.
  • It means I have a preference.

Here is a factual statement:

I will never be able to share THE truth. All I can do is share MY truth. And my truth consists of the things that edify me, encourage me and make me stronger.

We live in a generation of verbal barbs. Self-righteousness is not limited to religious people, but permeates politics, business and entertainment.

You may feel free to criticize any one of my articles, knowing for certain that I will hear your words and I will learn.

I don’t fear changing my mind. I consider it my advantage to evolve.

Having a brain that can reject nonsense and embrace potential … is truly a confirmation of the divine.

 

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Banter

Banter: (n) the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks.Dictionary B

I do not know whether you’ve heard yet, or discovered it in the obituary columns, but banter has died.

The silly, challenging, comical, poking fun and sometimes nearly flirting with degrading conversations that friends once had with each other have been murdered because the movement of social media has deteriorated our interaction to, “please like me–or I hate you.”

Here is a startling statement: every piece of critique or even criticism is not necessarily meant to be confrontational.

I sometimes find myself joking with strangers in a grocery store, only to discover that they become alarmed if I even connote that they are anything short of divine.

Here’s what I know for sure–repentance is impossible if you already think you’re God.

If all your ways are righteous in your own eyes, then you will fail to realize that your emotional soul may be desperately in dissaray or on the verge of disintegration.

Introspection is what the human race requires to survive and to make sure that we don’t kill each other off.

And the best way to allow for introspection is to permit banter, which is a “safe zone,” where suggestions or ideas for discussion can be hatched without blatantly or viciously attacking another person.

Yes, long before I tell you that I think you’re an ass, I could have relieved some pressure by asserting that “even a monkey could learn how to change the toilet paper roll.”

We think we become more civilized by saying the right thing all the time, when all we’ve done is set up a situation for saying what we really feel–at the wrong time.

  • I would much rather you would joke with me than insult me.
  • I would prefer that you would poke fun at my foolishness instead of gossiping about me behind my back.

Banter is the gentle comedy we use to steer our friends in a different direction, so we don’t have to intervene … and constantly send them to rehab. 

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Ave Maria

Ave Maria (n): a prayer to the Virgin Mary used in Catholic worship. The first line is adapted from Luke 1:28. dictionary with letter A

Everyone pretty much insists that they are not bound to be politically correct, even as they correctly utter everything politically.

I understand political correctness. Having a sensitivity for other people’s feelings, ideas, talent and faith is always a noble adventure. And actually, there are very few times when we should make a stand over some issue or terminology simply to prove our point.

I am not Catholic.

Yet when I sat down to write a novel on the life of Jesus, where he shares his own story, and I was compelled to fill in the missing years which are not normally spoken of in historical or scriptural writings, I ran headlong into the character of Mary of Nazareth.

You have billions of people in the world who believe that she was not only the mother of Jesus but also divine herself.

So rather than playing it safe, keeping a Catholic approach to her character, or disregarding those traditions in favor of a Protestant approach, I decided to research it as a writer.

What do we really know about the life of this woman?

My study opened up a vista of possibilities.

  1. She was probably a girl in her early teens, living in abstract poverty, when she found herself pregnant, believing deep in her heart that it was due to the bidding of an angel of the Lord.
  2. In sharing her story, she risked being stoned.
  3. She had the faith that her betrothed, Joseph, would come around and love her and protect her instead of becoming her primary accuser.
  4. She birthed her child in what might be considered some of the worst possible circumstances.
  5. Within two years she was forced into exile in Egypt to avoid having her son murdered.
  6. She returned to her home town, where the rumors of her pregnancy were still circling about.
  7. By my count, she had a total of seven children, counting the names of the ones listed in the Gospels. (Now, I know the Catholics believe these to be cousins, but to each his own.)
  8. She had to deal with her oldest son deciding to leave home, walking away from the family business.
  9. She mistakenly thought he may have turned crazy, and sent her other children out to get him, only to have him turn his back on the whole family to pursue his mission.
  10. She found herself in front of a cross, staring up into the bleeding and dying countenance of her beloved first-born.
  11. She was there to witness the resurrection.
  12. And she was present for the founding of the church that bore the name of her son of promise.

My research unveiled the character of a woman who was powerful, enduring, confused, pondering and finally, faithful.

Honestly, when I got finished, all I could say was … “Ave Maria.”

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Appetite

dictionary with letter A

Ap·pe·tite (n): a natural desire to satisfy a bodily need, especially for food.

I stumbled across a conversation on the Internet between two women, arguing with one another about food.

Each of them had posted a picture of herself, so I had a quick visual of the combatants.

The extraordinarily slender woman was piously offering advice on better food choices that her “friend” might want to select to escape the rigors of obesity.

The “friend” in this case, who was a plump lady with a big smile, lamented in her diatribe about people who judge her by her appearance, offering way too much advice on how she could become more attractive and meet their standards.

It fascinated me in this day and age, when people are so convinced that we are “born a certain way,” that we excuse all of our prejudice against one another based on the necessity of consuming food.

For I will tell you this–because I am a fat man, I know more about calories, good food choices and what is healthy than twenty skinny people. I can tell you exactly how much I overeat, and how those particular carbyhydrates or sugars affect not only my plumpness, but also my mood.

There is no chubby person in America who couldn’t apply for a license to become a dietitian.

The sooner we realize that our appetites are primal, if not genetic, the better we will be able to address them, bringing them under our scrutiny if not our control.

I have the metabolism of a sloth, so I also have to fight to escape having the exercise regimen of the same creature. In other words, I would much rather hang from a tree by two claws than fall to the earth and run about hunting bananas.

Add to that the fact that I do not eat because I’m hungry. I tend to eat because the refrigerator has not yet been emptied. It seems to be my mission.

I don’t expect someone who’s thin and burns calories by looking at a book to comprehend this dilemma. But I do think one of the more cruel aspects of human prejudice is to squint at the weaknesses in others as we smirk at our own.

Appetites are what confirm that somewhere along the line we had a merger with the jungle. Addressing them, acknowledging a problem and controlling them is what confirms that we have a divine lineage.

 

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Antidote

dictionary with letter AAntidote: (n) a medicine taken or given to counteract a specific poison.

Sometimes I do dorky things just to make sure that people don’t believe I have become divine overnight through a particularly good sleep cycle.

Actually, it is my penchant in life to attempt new things, which always opens the door to the possibility of playing the fool.

I went with my wife and children to Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, where my mother-in-law had retired.

She did not like me.

I don’t know whether it was something actually problematic between us, or if she felt the need to act out the typical plotline for a sitcom between son-in-law and mother-in-law.

She had a house on the beach. So one morning I took the children out to enjoy the ocean, only to discover that the entire landscape was covered with dead jellyfish. Unwilling to be deterred from our sea-time pleasure, and since the jellyfish were up on the shore and not in the water, I let the kids splash around while I sat, carefully watching them,

Meanwhile, more dead and dying jellyfish were washing onto the shore. I didn’t think much about it, until one of them brushed up against me, and with his last aspiration, stung me on the leg.

It didn’t hurt. Kind of a magnified bee sting. But in no time at all, the wound began to swell and I was sick.

It was a strange sense of ill will. I knew I was in trouble.

I made my way up to the house with the kids and told my wife and mother-in-law what had happened. Being a great veteran of the region and the sea, my mother-in-law grabbed some Adolph’s meat tenderizer and spread it on my wound, telling me “that always works.”

It didn’t. I was getting sicker and sicker. My mother-in-law told my wife that I was just being a wimp.

So I finally had to bypass old mom and asked my wife to call the local doctor. He arrived about fifteen minutes later with his satchel, saw the sting and reached in and pulled out one vial of what had to be several hundred of antidote.

He explained that some people are just allergic to jellyfish. By this time I was quite frightened. He calmed me down, gave me an injection, and in a matter of about an hour, I was just fine.

It amazed me that something so small could make you that sick, and that something even smaller could make you better.

I was grateful for the antidote.

But unfortunately, my mother-in-law still thought I was a wimp.

 

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