Am I A Pathetic Parent?

Upon reflection, I freely admit that I am a changed man. Gone are the days of careless partying, carefree spending, and hedonistic living. My life consists of working 50 plus hours per week, driving and participating in my son’s minimum seven hours of basketball practice (x2 if he has a tournament during the weekend), minimum five hours of proctoring my son’s studies, and some time spent with my wife.

No complaints, whatsoever; I absolutely love every minute.

I am leaving this week for a business trip for the first time in three years. I’m excited that I get to visit a city I’ve always wanted to visit, San Diego, but at the same time I’m feel guilty that I will not be there for my son. Don’t get me wrong, I will miss my wife, but I have this strong bond with my son. I am his father, coach, and teacher. He has primary coaches and teachers, but I also fill those roles, and this week I will not be there to fulfill those roles.

Am I pathetic or what?

I’m not sure if I feel guilty not being there for him, or selfish for my own self-interests. I guess one is a means to an end if you look at it objectively, but I am biased either way you slice it. We are in the last quarter of 5th grade, and his AAU basketball team is struggling big time. He is making individual strides with his game, but his team is not. I cannot help the team; hell, I don’t even think the coach(s) can help this team, but I still want to be there to help my son work through it. We found a new coach this past week close to home, and we are excited to start working with him.

Thankfully, it’s only one week, and surely it won’t be that bad. My wife is a decent fill-in (joking – she’s the glue of this family), and friends that will be there during practices to give me summaries of how they went. Skype will allow me to help with his homework if necessary. Still….

Now that I’ve written this blog entry, I’ve decided that I am not pathetic, just at peace and extremely thankful. There is nothing better than being a parent. How some detest it boggles my mind.

Another Intriguing Conversation With My Son About Religion

The mind of a child is compelling to say the least. To say I enjoy the talks my son and I have would be an extraordinary understatement; however, today while watching football he asked a question that turned into a deep conversation.

“Dad, why do people go to church every Sunday?” he asked. Now, let me put some context around said question. First, my wife and I agreed that we will allow him to follow his own religious path if and when he chooses. Second, he had a sleepover Saturday night, and one of his friends had to leave early Sunday morning because their family attends church every week.

“Well, some people find it comforting to hear another person’s interpretation of the Bible. Others feel closer to God when they are in church, while others like to learn more about their religion’s scripture”. I, for one, feel that every religion has something to offer society if taken in the right context. The Abrahamic religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.: They all have teaching opportunities for mankind in my humble opinion. That is why I refuse to tell my son which religion he should follow. When he is old enough, I will let him choose.

The conversation did not end after my answer. “Does the Bible every change?” he asked. “No, but there are different interpretations of the Bible. For example, Roman Catholics have a version, whereas Protestants, for the most part, follow the King James version”.

“So, unless someone changes religions, it’s the same book, right?” he asked. I had to think for a while before answering. “Yes, I guess so.”

His next question got me.

“Then, why do people continue to go to learn about the Bible and Jesus and God if the Bible never changes? Do people have different viewpoints on what is written in the Bible?”

He has a point. I’m pretty sure that most if not all religions teach us to treat people right, and not to murder, steal, commit adultery, etc. Why then are people compelled to go every Sunday?

“Dad, I know I progress to a different type of math every year. Next year I’ll probably be in Algebra I. I will not continue to be taught multiplication tables for the rest of my life. If the Bible never changes, then again why do people go every Sunday for most of their lives?

I couldn’t answer.

Why do people continue to go? Yes, I know some need to feel close to God. They feel it is crucial to maintain a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but if they do what the Bible teaches, and live a moral and good life, then why do they continue to go other than that feeling of closeness?

I don’t go to church. I’m baptised as a Roman Catholic. I absolutely love Pope Francis. But, my belief in a worldly God has veered off course for some time now. I do not speak of this around my son, because again I do not want to have any influence on his choice. But, our conversation had me perplexed today. He asked a great question that I could not answer.

What say you? Anyone?

Are Anti-Intellectualism, War and the Internet Discrediting Religions?

I consider myself a professional student. I love to learn something new every day. I embrace knowledge. I seek the truth in everything that directly effects my life.

I was baptized Roman Catholic. I really dig Pope Francis. He leads the largest church on Earth, but instead of spewing the same dogma as his predecessors, he appears to “get it”. When he said he would not judge non-believers, i.e. Atheists, I almost fell out of my chair. Now he is allowing women who have had abortions to jump through hoops to return to the Church, whereas in the past that was a big no-no.

But I see this as reactionary moves to a movement across the globe: People see religion as fallacy and false hope in a world that is mired in bloodshed, poverty, and greed.

If you read any religious text, e.g. Tora, Bible, or Quran, you will read things that are simply ridiculous. Yes, they are stories to teach a certain morality, but let’s face it, leaders for centuries have had to find ways to control their subjects, and these texts were more educational and morality tools aimed at maintaining control.

How many religions have there been where adherents strived to keep their Gods happy? Hell, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia were polytheists and help priests in such high regard that only kings were higher in social rank.

Islam is now the global leader it total cluster-fuckism. The Shia and Sunni have been fighting each other for centuries, but due to our past President George W. Bush and his puppet master Dick Cheney, the United States stirred the hornet’s nest by unseating Saddam Hussein (a Sunni) that maintained order (albeit brutally) and kept the Shia on his borders in check. Now, we have this group known as ISIL or ISIS, ex-Baathists under Saddam Hussein that have grown in numbers and are taking on anyone in their path. It’s such a joke that Iranians are quietly dealing with the West to keep them down as much as possible. Way to go, Dubya!

Western Journalism has always been labeled “liberal” and “corporate”, and they could report and spin a story any way they wanted. Now we have this thing called the Internet that allows a free-flow of information that keeps that somewhat in check. Unfortunately, it also has created citizen journalists and bloggers that pass on so much disinformation that you really have to try real hard to determine what you are reading is true or not. Let’s not even get into Fox News here in the good old USA. They have done such a wonderful job of taking conservatism and dumbing down to placate the uneducated that it has become a serious joke to anyone that has an IQ of 100 or more.

But religion is the one thing that is beginning to crumble. I can no longer believe that there is a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that control the outcome of the world’s events. I do believe that the majority of Christian teachings are good to keep the masses in check, and lend to a child’s development, but to believe that there is a “heaven” and “hell”, or a “purgatory” one must pay homage before ascending into “heaven” is too much for me to believe.

The biggest concern that I have is some people choose to believe everything they hear or read without checking into it’s legitimacy (or downright common sense). Evangelicals are the now loosing their freakin’ minds here in the United States. We have government employees refusing to do their jobs because it’s against their religious beliefs. That’s rich. It is now federal law that same-sex marriage is legal. However, we have local officials that refuse to issue marriage certificates because it’s against God’s will. Forget for a moment that homosexuality is never mentioned in the Bible, or that it has been a large part of society for millennia. We have people that toss law to the side because their God is offended. I find it funny how they tend to choose what sins are acceptable/forgivable when it benefits them, but a stranger….no no no.


Our Founding Fathers put the Separation of Church and State in the Constitution, i.e. the First Amendment, for a reason. People fled Europe for many reasons, religious freedom being one of the main reasons. They made it possible for any person to worship anyway they wanted, but when it came to government decisions it would have no affect or place. They understood that religious interpretation would be varied and highly emotional, and logic would be sacrificed if religious beliefs were allowed in the decision-making process.

Today, Evangelical Ministers are finding ways to control politics from their pulpits, and this is extremely dangerous. People outside of these churches are beginning to see the damage this is causing, e.g. Kim Davis, and it’s putting religion in a negative light. Globally, the aforementioned ISIS/ISIL situation in the Middle East is enough to make anyone with half-a-brain to do a double-take. Hell, we even have Israel’s prime minister dictating foreign policy in our legislative chambers, which paints a picture of Zion/Islam relations in his region.


If you want to believe in an omnipotent being that controls every day events and life in general, you have the right and I respect it. However, I cannot any longer. I will support those that use it as a tool to teach morality that makes sense, but now that information is readily available, including scientific research and fact, we can no longer deny that it is time to put religion in it’s proper place.

I hope legitimate churches continue to do their charity work, and community services, but if they continue to delve into local or even global politics, then it is time to begin charging them taxes and eliminate their free-rides.

And in the case of the Middle East – let them sort their mess out. I know, we stirred the pot, so we cannot simply walk away, but continuing to sacrifice American servicemen lives is not an option. It’s my opinion that over 4K troops died needlessly in Iraq, and that alone is why ISIS/ISIL exists today. If they want to continue to die for Allah then that is their right – have at it. If they threaten an American life, then we should eliminate the threat, but any other involvement is no longer our concern.

Religion? Thanks, but no thanks. You did your job in the past, but today I’ll side with common sense, education, and logic. I don’t need a book and someone reading it to me to know that murdering someone, stealing from someone, committing adultery, and dishonoring my mother and father is not a good thing. I know some people may need help in the common sense department, but pushing an invisible deity to drive home these points has proven foolhardy.

I didn’t even touch upon how some religions love to treat women like second-place subjects.

Cue up the Middle East if you need real-life examples.

Good Is On The Left…

I am reminded of a lyric from the song “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC: “If good is on the left then I’m sticking to the right”. That song was written around 1980 and appeared on their “Back in Black” album (yes, I’m old; I still call them “albums”). I loved that album, and it’s sold a gazillion copies and is one of the best selling of all time.

However, even though it appears that “good” is on the left, more and more people are leaving the right and going with progressive and/or liberal political leanings. When Barack Obama was elected POTUS back in 2007, the tide turned against the Republican party, and they knew it. Forget the fact that the people of the United States elected their first Black President, his election signaled a tremendous shift in political thought and decision-making that frankly has scared the living shit out of the Conservatives.

Think about it: Fox News has always favored the Right, but the full frontal assault on President Obama and the left has been both brutal and ridiculous. Business leaders have poured billions of dollars into promoting strategies that leverage fear, lies, racism, and the limitations of mediocre intelligence to do whatever they can to save their ways of living. I can spend a day making a laundry list of examples, but I won’t.

Listen, I’m no expert, but I do consider myself somewhat intelligent and not blind to stupidity. Common sense has always been assumed, but it’s been proven it’s a commodity and not a given. The best example I can give is the good old Bell Curve. You know, we are suppose to cut off the far left and far right, and focus on the middle? That’s where the GOP has failed miserably.

The Republican Party has done a wonderful job speaking to those that already believe that Obama is the devil, gays will ruin future generations, and that ISIL will soon invade the USA and impose Sharia Law. Instead of focusing on those, like me, that consider sane arguments on both sides over important issues, it appears they thought by brain-washing those that already followed the Republican platform would be enough to win back the White House.


Now, they GOP did win back the Senate, and held control of the House courtesy of gerrymandering. Two things handed the Senate back to the Republicans: Low voter turnout and the Democrats distancing themselves from President Obama. The latter was the perfect example of why Democrats are considered weak; they rather duck from a fight than stand up for what they truly believe in.

Now, in 2015, we are witnessing the GOP’s worse nightmares: After 50 attempts of trying to overturn the ACA, i.e. Obamacare, they hoped the Supreme Court would overturn parts of the Act that would begin the dismantling of it. Instead, the SCOTUS upheld ACA. The next day (today), the SCOTUS made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Both victories for the Left, and ironically won with a Conservative majority sitting on the Supreme Court.

Good is on the left.

The Internet is a wonderful tool for many reasons, but in the case of politics it is an important and wonderful tool. No matter how much BS the Right spews, those of us in the middle have the Internet to discover truth above lies. Those that embrace logic over emotion can come to conclusions on issues without some right-winger claiming that the end of the world is near if we do not impeach President Obama. The far left will never vote anything but Democrat, and the far right will never vote anything but Republican. The middle, on the other hand, is more and more choosing the view of Liberals/Progressives, and it will continue as long as the GOP continues to spout non-sense, and/or refuse to work with the loyal opposition party to do what’s best for the country via compromise.

The Evangelical that fills their back pockets with the dollars of the powerful to spout right-leaning Christianity, enjoy it while you can. More and more people are leaving because they too see what is written in the Bible is different than the interpretation of those standing behind the pulpit.

The billionaire (e.g. Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and who could forget Donald Trump) that think they can buy elections, please continue to spend your money while you can. Citizens United’s shelf life is short and soon will be overturned.

Others that for whatever reason cannot see that more and more citizens of our great country are sick and tired of wars, tax reductions for the wealthy, the sick and poor neglected, and again a laundry list of opportunities for us to improve, then I don’t know what to tell you. Some of you are too far gone and cannot be helped. Some of you are to ignorant for your own good. Some of you are on the payroll, and the money is too good for you to do the right things. Whatever, the train is at the station, and it will soon leave without you.

Good is on the left, and I’m leaning that way.

Numb, Sad, Lost….Just Fill In The Blank

I just don’t get it. I really don’t. I’ve spent the last 24 hours trying to get my thoughts in line with what has happened, again, this time in Charleston, SC. It’s not like we haven’t seen this before—senseless killing without a second thought from perpetrators that decide to forever change people’s’ lives.

He, Dylann Roof, allowed hatred to control his actions, and while blaming nine African-Americans who were sitting in Bible study in a historic church, he decided to shoot these unarmed church goers because, in his words (paraphrasing), they were raping our women and taking control of our country.

I’m going to say something that I have no problem saying: Racism is alive and well in the United States of America. Let’s no longer stick our heads in the sand and ignore the facts. There are Americans that feel to whatever degree that whites are better than blacks. Somehow, these Americans were taught that African-Americans are inferior. Racist seeds were planted early in life and were allowed to grow within their corrupted souls. Blame it on their parents, communities, families, lack of education, mental illness…whatever, enough is enough.

I watched Jon Stewart’s opening monologue and was brought to tears because everything he said was spot on correct. Yes, international terrorists must be dealt with, but what about domestic terrorists? Let’s be clear: This was a racist hate crime, but it was also an act of terror on the African-American community. That being said, we have people already dropping the same old bullshit that this was a crime against Christians, and if they were armed with weapons they could have stopped it, etc. etc. etc. Yes they were Christians; that is quite evident since they were murdered while praying in a church; however, why should be expect and/or require people to arm themselves to prevent being attacked especially in a religious sanctuary?

When will our country begin dealing with the problem of racism? I don’t have the answer, but I wish I did. I have to try to explain to my 11 year old son why someone would feel the need to murder innocent people for any reason whatsoever. I have to try to explain to him why some people feel they are inherently better than others based on the color of their skin. I have to continue teaching him that all people are created equal, but a sickness continues to permeate our society that infects people’s minds to think that it is perfectly acceptable to treat others differently; to hate them based on these differences; to kill based on their twisted view of the world we live.

To those of you that feel you are better than others, I feel sorry for you. To those of you that consider yourselves “Christians”, if you feel you are better than others and do not accept that Jesus told you to love everyone, but continue to think people of different creeds, beliefs, or color are inferior, then you need to pick up the Bible and read it again. Those of you that do not believe in God, that is your right, but if you feel you are better than others then perhaps you should look deep into the mirror and let reality slap you in the face because you are not better.

We have drones flying over several Middle Eastern countries in an effort to kill terrorists that threaten American lives and our way of life; perhaps, and I’m spit-balling here, but maybe we should consider using these drones on domestic terrorist groups to protect Americans here at home.

Again, I don’t have the answers; I am struggling big time. Right now I can only think of those nine people that were gunned down for absolutely no reason. I mourn their deaths, but I am more saddened by the inactions of we Americans to do anything about it.

Are Religions At The Crossroads of Individual Salvation and Societal Control?

Years ago, I had a personal conversation with a Catholic priest, and I asked a question about the Gospels. Specifically, why are there noticeable differences between the text written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John regarding the life and times of Jesus Christ.

His answer was simple and clear.

“Imagine a car accident on a street, and the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians. The police begin asking the witnesses what they saw to begin their investigation. Each witness would describe the big picture, but add differences from their viewpoint. What one witness saw may be completely different from another witness, or another witness may have had a better viewpoint to add additional information to paint a better picture”.

Makes sense to me.

Now, I am not a Christian scholar or historian, but it is my understanding that the Gospels were written several years after the death of Jesus Christ. Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John write based on what they were taught, or what they were told to write? How could they write about someone’s life many years after the fact?

For a long time now, I’ve accepted that the opinions of those that preach and/or teach religion go off their understanding of scripture. The word “religion” basically means “belief”, so once a person reads text from any bible, he or she is going to comprehend what they want and/or are capable of understanding. That being said, it scares me that any one person can wield so much power over a group of people based on their interpretation of religious text.

Religious leaders have always had some degree of influence over politicians, but today, in my opinion, it is getting way out of hand. Until churches and their spiritual leaders pay taxes, they should stay out of politics. Directly instructing congregations to vote a certain way should be explicitly forbidden. Stick to interpreting the bible, not the U.S. Constitution.

Consequently, more and more people, due to the onset of the Internet, are beginning to see through a lot of the vitriol spewed from pulpits across the world, and think for themselves. Before the development of the World Wide Web, people relied mainly on network news and Sunday sermons. Back then, each remained on script and focused on their direct message. Some may argue that networks leaned “left”, and to a degree I would agree, but I would also add that just because intelligence and facts were leveraged during broadcasts isn’t a bad thing. When I went to church, the Priest would read from the Gospels, and his sermon would focus on what he had read.

What happened?

Now we have news broadcasters casting their opinions on the state of the world, political leaders, etc., and church leaders are more focused on politicians and their actions and ensuring that their flock vote a certain way.

Listen, I don’t need a bible or minister to instruct me on how to be nice, not steal, cheat on my wife, murder another human being, etc. Nor do I care how a news anchor feels about President Barack Obama; that’s now why I watch the news (or used to). I think it’s common sense that just because my neighbor left his car running in the driveway doesn’t mean it’s mine to take and use however I like.

Now, I understand some folks need something to hold on to; they need to believe that a better life is out there somewhere. Me? I think once my heart stops beating, I’m done. I’ve got one life to live, and while I’m here, I want to have fun, earn a good living, raise my son to be a good citizen, and add to the community however I can. I also want to be the best husband I can for my lovely wife. Again, I don’t need the King James Bible to tell me how to do that. I don’t need to confess my sins to God via a priest to clear my consciousness. Just like preachers like to tell us; we are all sinners. I know that. I learn from my mistakes, try not to make them again, and move on.

If you or anyone needs religion to get through this thing called life, I have absolutely no problem with that. We all need a helping hand, that’s for sure. Unfortunately for me, I feel religions were designed more of a societal control mechanism than a guide to salvation. Was Jesus Christ a real man? Yes, I believe he was. Was he crucified? Yes, I believe that. However, the reasons why are different in my opinion than the ones taught on Sunday morning.

I believe Jesus Christ was a man that preached good teachings for the common man. The Virgin Mary? That one is up for debate. I do, however, wish I could have seen the look on Joseph’s face when he found out Mary was pregnant. Surely, that was an interesting conversation, if Joseph truly wasn’t the “real” father.

Once Jesus had enough followers, he must have become a grave concern to the leaders of the day. Good old Pontius Pilate must have gotten an ear full from all the powerful men in ear shot. Control, once gained, is both hard to maintain and even harder to release. They decide to eliminate Jesus, so they beat him half to death, then hang him on a cross with two other poor SOBs. His mother and followers watched and cried while he died on the cross.

He dies, is prepared for burial, and placed in a tomb.

No, he did not rise. He was either cremated or buried elsewhere, and the story continued.

I’m sorry, but once a following is created, people will find a way to leverage it. Now I understand why leaders want to keep society controlled and not allow it to get out of hand, but like everything else, people take things way too far and the original purpose becomes an afterthought.

Today, racism is still an issue, and many in this country are afraid that minorities, i.e. African-Americans, are gaining too much power. They cannot fathom that by 2050 Caucasians will be the minority. African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and other ethnic minorities are growing in numbers, and the 1% are panicking. Why do you think the GOP has become a puppet and the wealthy are their masters? They are absolutely terrified that good old Christian values are falling by the wayside.

The LGBT community are made up of human beings that want to be treated just like everyone else. They want to love. They want to thrive. Why is that such a hard thing to understand? What is wrong with any human being loving another human being?

Now, if you believe in a religion that calls for you to be a heterosexual or else you will rot in Hell, that’s your business and choice, and I respect it. Do not, however, force your beliefs on me and society. You made your choice now live with it; the rest of us will live with our own personal beliefs.

Again, when I die, I want my family and friends to get together, bury me, and have a party reminiscing over the good times. Once the party is over, go on living your life and think about me from time to time. I want to be buried so my body, when it deteriorates, adds something to Mother Earth so she can continue on. If you believe in the after-life, then good for you. I hope it exists for you. I, however, believe that once I die, I’m dead.

But that’s the point to all of this diatribe. We are individuals living together to get through our lifetime. Understand we are different. Understand we think differently. Understand we have different tastes. Understand we will have strengths and weaknesses, and for the most part, will try our best to do what’s write for themselves, their families, and their communities. There will always be outliers, and must be dealt with accordingly. Hopefully, common sense will take over the insanity we are buried in daily and we will all live happily ever after.

I Just Realized That I Only Have a Little Over 6 Years Left!

Damn. You know the old question, “where has the time gone”? That’s what I asked myself today about my son’s life. He’s 11 years old, and will turn 12 later this year. Before I know it, he’ll be 18 and off to university.

I better get to it.

The way I look at it, if 11 plus years have blown by this quickly, well six surely will travel at light speed. He already acts like a grown up constantly discussing his plans for college and professional career. He is steadfast in his conviction to be both a basketball and football player at the University of Florida and then the NBA and NFL, respectively. He works at his dream extremely hard, so who am I to bring him back down to Earth with a sprinkle of reality from time to time? It’s his dream, and I’ll be damned if I attempt to get in his way.

I will, however, support him in any way I can.

Surely his chances are slim, but who cares? The way I look at it, if he continues to do well in school, and works hard at improving in either or both sports, then who the hell knows. He definitely has the passion for it.

Even though I absolutely love being involved in his sport activities, I treasure the moments we share every single day. That’s the part I’m going to miss when he eventually moves on. One of my favorite times is when we are riding in the car. You wouldn’t believe the conversations we have had; anything from sports (of course), to questions he has about his friends and school, and his observations about the world around him. Let me elaborate on the latter.

He views the world quite like I do. He isn’t afraid to question anything and everything, and I love that. The conversations we have are intriguing and challenging. He keeps me on my toes. One of the most recent questions he asked: “Dad, should I walk closest to the curb when walking with a girl?”


A dear friend of mine told me not too long ago that I possess and “old soul”. She was right; I do. I believe in manners. I believe in chivalry. I believe in romance. I believe in being kind and polite to anyone and everyone. So when Jake asked me that question, it brought a huge smile to my face. I’ve never gone out of my way to instruct him to do it, so I asked him why he asked. “Well, I see you always walk closest to the curb when you are walking with Mom”.

That’s my boy.

He too is a lover of history, and we often talk about our next trip to Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian. However, with the recent 50th anniversary of Selma, he asked me to help him understand the significance of the event. Now mind you, he is an avid admirer of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., so my description focused more on voting rights and not just inequality and racism. “I didn’t realize it was a struggle for people to vote back then” he replied, and I responded with “the struggle continues to this day”. “Well”, he said, “when I’m old enough I am going to vote because it is my civic duty”.

Again, that’s my boy.

I know—I’m gushing over my son. If you’ve read this blog before then you should be used to it. If not, then I don’t know what to tell you.

So, I have a little over six years left to watch my son grow up, become a man, help him discover his life’s passion (other than being the next LeBron James – his sports hero), and do whatever it takes to support his endeavors. I’m his father, but also I’m his biggest fan. He has so much more to learn, discover, and experience, and I can’t wait for it all to happen.

In the meantime, I have to continue to be a role model, and set an example for him to follow. Believe it when I say that I never, in a million years, ever thought I would think or say such a thing. Then again, I never thought I would have a son as incredible as Jake.

I worry that I may fail him. I worry that I may disappoint him. I worry that I may not be able to support him in certain situations. But the one thing I will never fail at is loving him and trying to do what’s right. That type of failure is totally unacceptable.

Six years to go—it’s going to be one hell of a ride.