Monday, May 30, 2016

You Can Leave Your Hat On

I'm a Clevelander. I love this town. I'm not a big sports guy, but I love watching the Indians and the Browns. I've never been a Cavaliers fan, but that's because I almost dislike basketball. When I was an altar boy (another story for another day), the priests would take us on field trips to events like the Cleveland Force Indoor Soccer games (Darth Vader would come out before the team, the Imperial March would play, and everything!). These games were held at the Richfield Coliseum.

Now it's an empty field, but back then it was a giant echo chamber designed to make the 5,000 Cavs fans sound like 50,000.

Times have changed in Cleveland. No longer at Richfield, the games are played in a nice venue right downtown. And there are far more than 5,000 Cavs fans.

One of the big fans is the CEO of the company I work for. This year, as an incentive for folks to root for the winning Cavs, he has bestowed a "jeans day" for after every game the Cavs win during the finals. Our normal dress code is "business casual" (making nooses - er, I mean "neckties" optional), so jeans days are used more as incentives. For instance, we do a fundraiser, and everyone who donates a certain amount are permitted to wear jeans on that day. Things like that.

So, it was really nice that last week, even with the Cavs winning a game earlier in the week (granting us a jeans day), that we were permitted to wear jeans on Friday in recognition of the Memorial Day holiday.

I decided to include with my jeans a special hat (I have more hats than my wife has shoes): A baseball cap with the name of the ship I served on when in the Navy.

There are rules of etiquette that I like to follow when wearing a hat. I guess I'm a bit old fashioned that way. For instance, you can wear a hat into an office building, but you should take it off upon entering an office. Same with a hotel. It's okay in the lobby, or even in the hallways. You should take it off upon entering a hotel room. Get it?

On this day I threw etiquette to the wind and decided to wear the cap all day. This caused me to be the recipient of a few compliments, thanking me for my service. My response was as follows:

"Thank you, but you have Veterans Day to honor us. Memorial Day is to honor those who never came home."

So, as you take time to gather with family and friends to eat burnt offerings of brats and burgers, and even to argue the taboos of religion and politics, please remember that there are a number of gravestones that designate the life of someone who has given that life up for you.

With deepest thanks, and prayers to those families who mourn the loss, I take my hat off to you, and thank you for your service.


 (The title is a reference to the song from Joe Cocker.)

©Emittravel 2016

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shabbat Shalom

On Saturday, my wife and I had the wonderful opportunity to join in the celebration of a Bar Mitzvah. For those not in the know, a Bar Mitzvah, or "Son of Commandments" is a celebration of a young man being welcomed as an adult in the Jewish faith, responsible for his own actions, and ready to fulfill the 613 commandments in the Torah (a continuous rolled scroll upon which the five books of Moses are written in Biblical Hebrew). This young man is the son of a close friend of my wife's, and it was an honor to be invited.

In a way similar to the Catholic church, most celebrations include a normal mass (or "service" in non-Catholic traditions). So, included in the Bar Mitzvah was a traditional morning service including prayers, blessings, and songs.

The reason for this particular writing was a short segment that we all recited as part of the service. I'm going to include it here:

"The Meaning of Shabbat is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on Shabbat we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world."

If you are anything like me, you'll want to take a moment to pause and reread that.

(Note: Shabbat is also known as the Sabbath [which most Christians celebrate on Sundays]; defined as the time from Friday sunset to Saturday evening when three stars appear in the sky. Though, with the multitude of cloudy days we have here in Ohio, I'm not sure when they DO conclude Shabbat, as you can't see the stars!)

"…we try to become attuned to holiness in time."

I've written quite a bit concerning my views on time and my understanding of God within such boundaries. So, you know that the above statement would "stop my clock" (pun intended).

As I've written in the past, God lives in eternity, or in other words, without time. He is not bound by cause and effect. He sees the end from the beginning because He is outside of time where the beginning and end reside.

The most impactful name He chose to use to describe Himself was given to Moses: "And God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM.' And He said, 'Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."'" (Exodus 3:14) (NKJV)

The most precious name God chose to use concerning Himself was one that said, "I have stepped INTO time to be with you." Holiness stepped into the world of time.

That's why that statement struck me so. Shabbat is a time where we focus on becoming attuned to holiness (God's very presence) IN TIME (in our NOW). We set aside the busyness of life in time, to focus on the One who is not limited by time, in order for us to become more attuned (more receptive and aware) of the holiness that we will eventually find ourselves once we step out of time - into eternity.

There is something special about setting aside life and its business, to share with one another on "what is eternal in time". Whether or not you are one who believes in the existence and presence of God, taking such time will bring more focus on our finitude, and hopefully help us realize the wonders of our now.

Shabbat Shalom

©Emittravel 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Who Told You That?!?

WHO told you that?!? Who TOLD you that?!? Who told YOU that?!? Who told you THAT?!?

The other day a coworker told me about a transgender woman being attacked on a subway. A woman started yelling obscenities at her and ended up chasing her around the car. At one point the attacker yelled, "What should we do about you 'cause this sh** right here ain't appropriate for my child." The attacker wasn't travelling with her child at the time, but apparently didn't see the disconnect between screaming obscenities at someone for just being different and determining what was appropriate or inappropriate for her child.

I'm not going to spend a lot of space discussing my opinions on the whole transgender topic. If you want, you can read that here.

You do not have the right to hate someone because of their sexual identity.

I want to ask the woman one question: Who told you that?!?

President Barack Obama has been given the "title" of "First Black President". That is a title I have a lot of problems with. For one thing, he comes from a father who is black and a mother who is white. So, if anything, he is the "First Half-Black President". Calling him "black" is just as racist as calling him "white". Regardless of whether or not you agree with his policies, if you focus on the color of his skin - as a badge of honor or disgrace - you are being racist.

Let me state that again: It does not matter whether you focus on the color of his skin in a positive or negative way, the mere act of focusing IS racist. You can consider him the best President this country has ever seen, or the devil's spawn himself, but you have to do that based on his character - not his color.

You do not have the right to hate someone because of the color of their skin.

I want to ask you one question: Who told you that?!?

Where did this prejudice come from? Is it something that is a part of our DNA? I don't think so. Our basic belief structures are influenced - nay, determined by those who we either chose (friends, coworkers, church members) or don't chose (parents, extended family, church members[?]) to associate with. It is up to us to open our eyes and minds to the POSSIBILITY that what we've been molded by was wrong. And once we've allowed ourselves that opportunity, it is up to us to change. How? Maybe by consciously filtering the inputs we receive before they, like weeds, take root in us and choke the life out of the beauty that we can experience.

I’m going to end this blog by sharing a "Shots of Awe" video. This video doesn't focus on the prejudice I've been smacking, rather, it focuses on the fact that our free will is not autonomous. Rather, it is influenced by the world around us, and our free will, as a result, influences it back.

©Emittravel 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Untitled Unblog Unpost #1

I'm breaking my weekly posting regiment this week due to having family over for a Mother's Day cookout (gotta love them venison burgers!), so no blog post.

I should be back at it next week.

And as I tell our pets when I leave for work: "Be good. And if you can't be good, sleep a lot."


©Emittravel 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Let's Talk About You - What Do YOU Think of Me?

"You know, if they ever find life on other planets you can throw away your Bible."

That was a comment once made by my brother during a conversation years ago. And, according to a lot of what I hear, his opinion (was) is a common one. Here is why:

Humanity has had this God complex for most of its recorded history. (And to keep grammar simple, I'm going to use male references, though this is not limited to the less-fairer sex.) Man has believed that God is here to fight his battles, give him special favor, or that he himself IS - in a sense - God. He has been so wrapped up in HIMSELF that he believes that God not only created the world, but that He created the ENTIRE vast universe JUST for him!

Talk about hutzpah!

One of the Bible verses used to support this is John 3:16 - "For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son . . . " (emphasis mine). You see it? God so loved THIS world that He gave His Son. That must mean that there cannot be any other life in the ENTIRE universe, or God would have had to give His Son to THAT world as well (because, of course life there would have had to sin and need a savior too!). And, since Jesus came to earth as a man, and not an aardvark, man MUST be the most important life on earth. And since man is only on earth . . .

You have to understand the importance of man in the grand scheme of things. You see, Adam and Eve sinned, and not only cursed themselves, but the whole of creation:

"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now." (Romans 8:19-23 NKJV)

So, creation eagerly waits for the sons of God (redeemed man) to be revealed. Creation will then be delivered from the bondage of corruption that man's sin put it in. And since man's sin took place on the world that God so loved, there cannot be life outside of earth.

So, if only MAN wouldn't have sinned, creation itself would be fine.

You know, the more I write, the more ludicrous that sounds.

If you are one who has this man superiority complex, may I direct you to my blog "Ptolemy Syndrome"!

I guess all I can say, if there IS life out there in the great expanse of the universe, and there very well could be, is that that life is far more intelligent, and far less full of itself, than what we have here.

(Inspired by the movie "Contact" and the podcast FilmSack! of the same movie.)

©Emittravel 2016