Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Carolina Panthers Announce Their 2019 Schedule - Video Game Version

I have no idea who came up with this, but it damned brilliant:

Monday, April 22, 2019

Religion in Free Fall

Gallup has published a study on church membership, and the details are concerning.  Church membership is at its lowest level since the survey began in the 1940s, and is most assuredly at its lowest level in US history:

Things started in the past 20 years, and the trajectory of the graph is shocking.  

Some things to consider:

  • Interesting to see how the fall coincides with the rise of the internet
  • Given strong religion participation by immigrants, pretty much our source of population growth in this country, actual fall-off by long-tenured American citizens is likely significantly steeper
  • Catholics are falling off at a great rate.  Gallup reports that 63% of Catholics belong to a church, whereas just 20 years ago 76% did
I'm not sure how all of this will ultimately manifest itself in our society, but I have the fear it will not be good.

I think we're already seeing that...

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Saturday Song Share: Johnny Cash - The Unclouded Day

My goodness, do I miss men like Johnny Cash:

Here's to great men and simpler times.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Sorrowful Mysteries

As I've been praying the rosary this lent, the subject is the Sorrowful Mysteries.  As I've been meditating on them, the five mysteries really revolve around Jesus being forced to suffer what we, as humans, will suffer in one way, shape, or form.  Consider the following:

  • The Agony in the Garden - Here Jesus knows his fate, yet is seeking a miracle to save Him from it.  Likewise, he's betrayed by a dear friend - someone he loved and trusted who ultimately wronged him in one of the worst ways imaginable.
  • The Scourging at the Pillar - Jesus is brutally beaten to within inches of His life and suffers physical pain most humans would never have to endure.
  • The Crowning With Thorns - Jesus suffers both the physical pain of the crown, but the added pain of ridicule and rejection.  It starts with soldiers teasing and spitting on Him, and ends with an entire crowd screaming, "Crucify Him!" 
  • Carrying the Cross - At this stage Jesus encounters His mother, and sees how His fate is impacting her.  The emotional pain of watching one we love so much suffer so much had to be equal to the physical pain manifested in carrying the cross.
  • The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus - His was not an easy, quiet death.  It was long, painful, and torturous.  
When we think about our individual suffering and what we endure as part of our human lives, pretty much any of our suffering kind of fits into one of the Mysteries above.  No, they may not be in perfect alignment, but they're close.  Hence, when we pray and tell God of our suffering and ask that He understand, we can be assured the He understands quite well.  He has walked a similar path, He knows our pain, He's felt it all.

That may not take away our suffering (which in itself remains a mystery of both life and faith - why must we suffer?), but sometimes when mired in what can at times be something that is unbearable it helps us to talk to Somebody who has endured similarly.   

Happy Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Tax Day

On the day after Uncle Sam gets his paperwork, it seems only fitting to discuss how incredibly broken our tax system is.

Its complexity is a scam designed to have the poor and/or unintelligent pay more than they should.  There's no other answer.

A moderately complex return took me approximately 8 hours total to complete and over $125 in software.  Had I taken some easier paths it would have gone a lot faster and would have been a lot more expensive.  Likewise, without the software, I have no idea how long it would have taken me - likely three times longer or worse, and it's painful to even consider.

Given the difficulty of navigating the process, it is hard not to feel like the government is ripping us off.  Because they are.

Spare me the "civic duty" and "benefits of living here" talk.  The process should be a lot more simple and is clearly hurting people.  That's wrong.   

And these are the same people we want in charge of our health care.  God help us.  

Monday, April 15, 2019

Bittersweet Monday

It's a bittersweet day today.  Today we close on the sale of our cabin on Leech.

Twelve years ago, we bought the cabin where our family traditionally stayed at a resort since I was a little kid.  Over our ownership we've hosted may friends and family, caught a lot of fish, and overall made wonderful memories.

So why did we sell?  A lot of reasons, but the primary being we've moved to northern Minnesota and live on a lake, making the cabin on Leech quite redundant.  Likewise, the ownership board of the resort became extremely activist, and we were looking at being forced to make significant changes and upgrades to the cabin.  The net result would be that it would no longer be our cabin, kind of in more ways than one.

The good news is that the cabin will be available for rent, which we'll absolutely do as long as friends and family choose to join us.  The bad news is that when we stay there, it technically will no longer be "ours."

It's said that under duress one should go to their "happy place."  For me, I'm about 7 or 8 years old, and I'm sitting in the living room with my siblings.  In the kitchen are parents, grandparents, uncle, and friends, and they're all laughing so hard.  While I admit it's hard to sell one's happy place, I'm not selling those memories or the hundreds of others that were created there.

And guess what?  We were renting the place when we made a lot of those memories, just as we'll do going forward.