The New York Daily News’ cover is made up of tweets highlighting the words “pray” and “prayer,” with big, bold letters proclaiming “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.”
I think part of the issue is the definition of prayer (and how it has replaced the word “condolence” in modern language). It’s very easy to say “pray for this or that,” and it makes you look all spiritual in doing so. But how many people who say they’re offering prayers REALLY are doing so?
And what are they praying for? Dear God (or whatever higher being you hope might be listening), please give me what I am asking for? And is that all that’s going on? “Give me this please,” CLICK. That’s the secular take on prayer – the Genie in the Sky who only answers those who win the lottery.
In “Conan The Barbarian,” the titular character prays to a god named Crumb, asking for victory in a battle. He ends this prayer with the words, “If you do not grant me this request, then TO HELL WITH YOU!” And that’s where we as a society are today. God give me this. No? Then I hate you. Kinda sounds like my four year old when I won’t let him have another candy cane off the tree.
Instead, let’s look at what prayer is truly intended as and for – an open (and ongoing) communication with God. Makes not just your wishes known, but your gratitude, and be listening for that still small voice. It’s a two-way street.
The other issue is pure and simple – no one comes to the Father except through the Son. All these people say “I’m praying,” may say “God help us” under their breath, and move along with their day, feeling as if they earned their prayer badge for the day. Only the Bible says that empty, thoughtless prayers are NOT heard by the Master. It is ONLY through the Son, Christ Jesus, that prayers are heard.
And this is the concept that runs people the wrong way. They want their spiritual godmother to grant them requests, but don’t have the faith to back it up. They’re calling a wrong number then getting mad when no one answers.
So in a way, the NYDN is right. God is NOT fixing this, but it’s not because prayer in itself is ineffective. It’s because the prayers being offered are empty, hollow requests with no faith behind them (if they are offered at all….just because you tweet it doesn’t mean you do it).
Am I opening myself up to ridicule? I’m sure I am. Will there be counterpoint comments from folks claiming that I am 100% wrong? I’m certain there will be. But you know what? I don’t care. Unlike those who pray with hashtags and nothing else, I AM praying. And that prayer is, “Even so, Lord Jesus, come”…..
I wish I could be as popular as Joshua Feuerstein. The guy posts “selfie rants” from his cell phone to his Facebook page, and almost immediately, people get fired up, the video goes viral, and controversy arises. Right now, one of his videos is making the rounds across national press because Starbucks’ 2015 “holiday” cups do not specifically say “Merry Christmas” or “Jesus.” Going by Feuerstein’s logic, Starbucks “hates Jesus!” (that’s not a paraphrase – that’s his direct quote!). Feuerstein’s response was to “prank” them by telling the clerk that his name was “Merry Christmas,” forcing them to write the phrase on his cup. Man, do they hate that (another direct quote)….
Now, before we get into this, let me say straight up that I am a Christian. I am on staff at my home church as a worship leader. I believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and to many of my friends, I may be considered ultra-conservative.
That being said, where do I begin?!
#1. I don’t own a single cup (coffee or otherwise) with “Emily” written on it. Going by Feuerstein’s logic, I hate my wife. I guess I better hurry and get an entire supply of cups with my wife’s name (as well as God, Jesus, my mother, my kids, and anyone else I love, since that’s obviously a major sign of love).
#2. Yes, you told them your name was “Merry Christmas” so they would write it on YOUR cup. This is the equivalent of a spoiled toddler getting the blue sippy cup instead of the red just so they stop crying. Are you really accomplishing anything with this, other than FORCING someone to conform to YOUR wishes? I don’t know about you, but if someone is going to tell me “Merry Christmas” (or “Happy holidays,” or “Have a nice day,” or “Here you go, NEXT!!”), I at least want it to be sincere, not forced.
#3. By using phrases like “they hate Jesus,” Feuerstein is intentionally using inciting language to enrage viewers into action. It’s the equivalent of clickbait – “How DARE they refuse to say “Merry Christmas?! They must HATE Jesus!!” Wow, that sounds extreme….let me watch this video.
#4. Joshua Feuerstein first gained notoriety by posting a video that claims to destroy evolution in 3 minutes. This video quickly went viral, giving Feuerstein a following on his Facebook page (and gaining some mocking attention from some atheists with YouTube accounts). No one took the time to acknowledge that the argument Feuerstein uses (dated May 23rd, 2014) actually came from a Mark Lowry routine from 2001. I wonder how Mark feels about having his routine ripped off in a 3-minute viral video….
#5. Did Starbucks put “Happy Hannukah” on their cups? Do their cups say “Happy Kwanzaa”? Heck, do they even say “Happy Holidays”?? Nope. Plain red cup. No wording of ANY kinds. They are taking the stance of “all or nothing,” and this is exactly why – because someone will ALWAYS complain!! And for the record, red is of the two traditional Christmas colors, so there’s that….
There is a video from a former Christian turned atheist who points out that Joshua Feuerstein seems to have the stereotypical “hip Christian” appearance and approach – backwards ballcap, beard, and loud, brash (some might call it obnoxious) voice. It fits in well with the “angry Christian” movement that is claiming that a paper cup is a form of persecution and that there is a “war on Christmas.” The problem with Feuerstein’s videos is that they are not really bringing glory to God so much as they are shaming the world (and gaining attention for Feuerstein himself). They carry an air of, “They should be doing what WE want!!!” Personally, if someone hates Jesus, then I’d be doing the best I could to LOVE that person rather than give them one more reason to hate Jesus….
Is there a “war on Christmas”? If so, it’s failing more miserably than the war on drugs. Go out on Christmas Day and find any major retailer that’s open. In most instances, all major businesses are closed. Do you get mail on Christmas Day? Nope. Ever go to the bank on Christmas day? Not a chance. They’re FEDERAL holidays, which means that the US Government RECOGNIZES Christmas as an official holiday. So much for THAT war, huh?
Finally….ever heard the phrase “any publicity is good publicity”? I guarantee that Starbucks is seeing an uptick in consumers this week, just so folks can go in and “prank” Starbucks into saying “Merry Christmas” (a full three weeks before Thanksgiving, mind you!!). Way to stick it to them, Josh!! Would’ve been easier to simply put a post up saying, “Starbucks won’t put ‘Merry Christmas’ on their cups, so I’m never going there again, and neither should you.”
But if he did that, then it probably would’ve have wound up in the New York Daily News…..
I saw a friend post this story earlier today, claiming that stories like this are why they feel that any and all religion is not only ludicrous, but dangerous. And I will agree with them TO AN EXTENT – any religion, when taken to an extreme to support a self-fulfilling goal (or one that is manipulated in such a way as to control others for the benefit of one’s self) IS dangerous, and sometimes deadly, as was the tragic case here.
That being said, there are those who are looking for something – ANYTHING – to believe in, not out of experience or education, but simply out of desperation. Some folks find solace in religion/faith/beliefs/mottos/philosophies/what have you. Others find it in a bottle or a hypodermic needle. There is a void in so many lives that is filled artificially, and there are those who will prey upon the searching by offering them a distorted version of whatever they’re looking for, hoping to benefit from their desperation.
I believe that this is what happened with this “church,” and as more evidence is presented, we’ll find not only a God-less church, but a selfish motivation behind their works wrapped in a distorted religion whose end goal was not to honor and worship God, but to benefit those who ran it.
Look at some of the more notorious televangelists from over the years. They offered a prosperity gospel that, at face value, offered believers unlimited wealth – so long as they made a monetary donation to the ministry being presented. This is a religion based upon cause and effect – you give us money, and God will give you even more money in return! Seems too good to be true? Well, that’s because it is – someone had taken some Bible verses (usually Deuteronomy 8:18) out of context to create a get-rich-quick scheme that benefited not the parishioners and believers, but the head of the ministry.
I call attention to 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21…
Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. (ESV)
There ya go. Says it right there. Don’t discount what you see, but don’t be afraid to verify. Test it before you dive right in. Make sure it’s sound and solid. If you ask someone to verify their stance, and they accuse you of having “little faith,” simply say, “Yep, in you, I do.”
Yesterday, a story caught my eye on the local news’ Facebook page. A four year old girl was getting stitches for an injury sustained after being punched (according to the girl’s mother) by a male classmate on the schoolyard. While at the Children’s Hospital, the mother claims that a male orderly at the registration desk (in an effort to cheer the little girl up), told her, “I bet he likes you.” The mother apparently took this as not only advocating violence, but teaching her young, impressionable daughter that hitting someone is a sign of affection:
“I bet he likes you.”
Dear man at the registration desk at Children’s hospital, l’m positive that you didn’t think that statement through. As soon as I heard it I knew that is where it begins. That statement is where the idea that hurting is flirting begins to set a tone for what is acceptable behavior. My four year old knows “That’s not how we show we like someone. That was not a good choice.”
In that moment, hurt and in a new place, worried about perhaps getting a shot or stitches you were a person we needed to help us and your words of comfort conveyed a message that someone who likes you might hurt you. No. I will not allow that message to be ok. I will not allow it to be louder than “That’s not how we show we like each other.” At that desk you are in a position of influence, whether you realize it or not. You thought you were making the moment lighter. It is time to take responsibility for the messages we as a society give our children. Do Not tell my 4 year old who needs stitches from a boy at school hitting her “I bet he likes you.” NO.
Upon seeing this post, I responded in a Facebook reply on the station’s page:
Here’s my “open letter” response:
As a parent myself, I think you’re going a little too far with this “open letter on Facebook.” You said it yourself: “You thought you were making the moment lighter.” Why can’t you take someone’s intent for face value? They were trying to help. I’m sure the last thing on their mind at the time was whether or not they were opening the door to a lesson in domestic violence.
Now, I understand – you’re angry. Your little girl just got stitches because of someone else’s child. You’re going to be emotional, and anyone who crosses you is probably going to catch your wrath, whether they deserve it or not. The orderly at the hospital did not hit your child, nor were they trying to make light of an injury – they were simply trying to lighten your daughter’s mood. Be happy they were at least TRYING.
I hate to throw your words back at you, but l’m positive that you didn’t think that statement through too much when you hit “send” on Facebook and proceeded to embarrass a poor orderly who by your own admission was trying to help. The only person who deserves your wrath is who did this to your daughter, not the orderly trying to help. You went from concerned parent to grandstanding jerk, and now that your letter has gone viral, I’m sure that orderly will at least face some sort of professional discipline.
Look, people say stupid things. We’re humans. We put our foots in our mouths quite often. Is it really worth blowing up like this? What if someone posted an open letter on Facebook the next time you said something you didn’t think through? Sure, we all have a right to call someone out, but that doesn’t always make it ethical.
As for the orderly’s assumption of “I bet he likes you” – apparently you never heard the story of the Little Girl In The School Yard, where in a GIRL (not a boy) punches the boy she has a crush on….
I was immediately taken to task by several folks who thought that I was out of line for such a response, and proceeded to compare this little girl’s injury to an abusive relationship and even rape, claiming that if we tell a preschooler that if someone punches you, they probably like you, we are somehow scarring them for life by telling them it’s OK to be beaten if the person loves them.
First of all, let me say this: I do NOT condone domestic violence in any way. Period.
Secondly, let’s take a step back and look at what we know. A little girl was hit by a little boy. The injury required stitches. The little boy’s parents, in theory, are the ones on the hook for that, because it was their son who did the damage. It’s up to the little girl’s mother to take it up with them. End of story.
Thirdly, let’s look at intent. A male orderly (of unknown age) made a reference to the well-known “Little Girl In the Schoolyard” story, wherein a little girl chases a little boy and punches him because she secretly has a crush on him. It’s a cute little story, and it’s intended to make kids giggle and blush. I’m sure that was the intent here of this orderly.
Now, had the orderly said, “Suck it up, kid, he’s just trying to get your number,” then yes, I’d say there’s a problem, but it sounds to me (and by the mother’s own admission), he was simply trying to lighten the mood. Take it for what it is.
Had this mother not made such a stink about it, these words (and most of the event) would probably wind up mostly forgotten as this child grows up. Move along, nothing to see here. But no, this mother had to write an open letter admonishing the orderly and embarrassing her poor daughter with a photo (pre-stitches, mind you) of her injury.
Now, before someone flies off the handle, let me also add this. I have a four year old son who just a few weeks ago required stitches from a playground injury. When the nurse asked what happened, I told them he got into a bar fight, and they should see the other guy. Now, these nurses could’ve easily misunderstood what was fairly obviously a joke, called the department of child services, and reported me for taking a four year old to a bar, but they realized I was making light of a situation, primarily because if children see you panic, then THEY will panic with you. If they see you calm, relaxed, and making jokes, then they will be likewise.
THAT’S ALL THIS ORDERLY WAS TRYING TO DO!!!
On top of all that, can we PLEASE stop looking at this world through the jaded eyes of a 21st century adult and TRY looking at it through the eyes of a child? I’m sure the first thing that went through this little girl’s head was not, “Oh, he hits me, so he must love me, so that means that it’s ok for someone to hit me because it means they love me.” It was probably closer to, “Ew, GROSS!!” And that would be it.
So many times, we look at things from the perspective of an adult, reading way more into something than children are even capable of. The only way a child will read into something is if we TELL them. Otherwise, just let them old on to their innocence.
So, I stand by my response. This mother flipped out and went overboard on what was essentially a throw-away line meant to calm the child. Instead, it enraged an emotional parent even more, and could have possibly cost someone their job over a simple misunderstanding. Live and let live people. If someone says something you don’t like, deal with it in person, on the spot, and move on.
On a side note, how much trouble did her classmate get into?? Is the mother now pressing assault charges against a four year old….?
As I write this, I am sitting at a high school cafeteria table on a Saturday morning with two of my sons whom I am willing to bet are just as bored as I am. One of them is hiding under the table. The other is laying on the booth seat counting the number of lights in the ceiling (70 total by his count).
My other son is with Mommy, who is walking up and down the makeshift aisles in the cafeteria, looking for deals on “pre-loved” clothing donated by other parents. Mommy lives for events like these, which might be why such sales are labeled “Mother’s Exchange.” Indeed, the majority of the clientele appear to be mothers who spend their school days on Pinterst and looking for ways to be thrifty.
Me, I’m just along for the ride. I don’t shop – at least not on the level of my wife. If I want something, I don’t shop; I go get it. In and out. I could make my way through Mall of America in 45 minutes. I can typically look at a selection of products and know right away if any of them interest me.
Which drives my wife nuts because she is the exact opposite. She enjoys the hunt. She’ll shop until close if she could (and has), just on the off chance that she may dig up a great deal on something. By the time I’m done getting whatever it is I came to get, she’s just getting started….and I wind up simply walking behind her for the next hour or so.
Which is what leads me to this cafeteria booth. It’s not comfy, and it’s not really all that spacious, but I can sit. I won’t be bugging the missus, who can shop to her little bargain-hunting heart’s content.
Now the record store is another story….
If you’ve made it this far, then that probably means you know at least A LITTLE about me, but just in case you’re unfamiliar, this blog is an attempt to elaborate on topics in more than 140 characters and without clogging someone else’s news feed with unsolicited opinions. At least this way, I can offer my thoughts and ideas without feeling like I’m hijacking someone else’s social media to do so.
That being said, I’d first like to welcome you and thank you for taking a moment to join me here at Some Bald Guy Responds. In case you’re wondering, the site name originates from a joke I made on social meda:
Why am I never quoted as “responding” to a current event?? “George Takei, Mike Huckabee, and some bald guy who talks to much respond to Kim Davis’ release from jail.”
Posted by Kyle Boreing on Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Shortly after I posted the joke, the idea of Some Bald Guy Responds just wouldn’t go away. It’s a fairly simple concept, and really not all that funny of a joke, but it DOES describe the purpose of this site – a bald guy (me) responding to various topics, whether they be current events, entertainment, history, geography, or (dare I say it) politics and religion. It’s my site!
If you are unfamiliar with some of my writing, then I encourage you to visit MusicScribe.com, a southern gospel music site for whom I’ve written for the last seven years. I have no intentions to leave that site, and my work there will continue as usual. In that instance, I am writing more from a journalistic approach rather than personal opinion (although I do offer commentaries on the topic of gospel music from time to time). That’s not going to change.
What makes Some Bald Guy Responds different than other sites for which I’ve written is that this is very much me, raw and unrehearsed (and if history is any indication, with very little proofreading). Although I try to be clear and concise with my writing, there are times where I find it almost therapeutic to simply write, language arts be damned. I therefore apologize in advance for any hackery of the English language (including the use of the word “hackery,” which my spell-checker indicates is not actually a word; poetic license envoked!!).
I will also warn you – comments on this page will be open, but moderated. I reserve the right to edit comments as I see fit (I don’t want this to turn into a free-for-all). That being said, I welcome folks to comment on anything they feel led to. This is the internet, after all! All I ask is that you remain respectful, and keep the language at a PG level – late 80’s PG (movie buffs will get that joke, I hope).
So, with that out of the way, I’m going to get things underway at Some Bald Guy Responds. Maybe I’ll try to be clever with my post titles – I haven’t decided yet, so that can be an adventure we all can take together. For now, it’s rainy, cool, and getting late (for me), so I’m off to bed, unless I think of something.