The Wooden Box

I grabbed a cup of water and put it under the faucet. The sound of the water pouring into the cup drew my mind away from the present. I drifted where I always went. I needed it. My mind bent on how I could get it next. I heard the sound of pounding in the distance, but the sound of the cup filling to the top drew me back to reality. Quickly, I turned the faucet off and poured some of it back out. Why did I need water in the first place? Couldn’t I just survive on what I really wanted? Ah… there was that pounding again. It came from the living room.

“He always wants out but he’s not going to get out. Ever. However, a little rest on the couch would be nice.”

The pounding got louder as I entered the living room.

“I’ll just spend a little time in here. It won’t bother me too much. Resting my legs feels good anyway. Now, if I could just get more of that stuff I need.”

I felt an excitement in my stomach just thinking about it.

“I need more of it. I did the last of it months ago. Ah… if only it lasted longer.”

The pounding really got loud now. It came from the large wooden box sitting beside the couch. I slammed my fist on the top of it and yelled, “Shut up!” Sometimes he can be so annoying. At least he wasn’t trying to talk to me. After all, he put me in charge. He should accept how things worked out and just be quiet. On the top of the wooden box a small window controlled the only visual communication between me and him. His breathing was rapid and his eyes danced wildly back and forth as they pleaded with mine. I ignored him and sipped my water.

“Why is this water never enough?”, I thought. “It would be if I had what I really needed. I just can’t seem to find it. It’s not available anymore.”

My eyes wandered around the room. Dust and dishes were scattered throughout the floor. My clothes were strewn on the back of the couch and the only chair I had. Memories of children running through the house went through my head more like ghosts than real thoughts. I really should get a maid. Cleaning is just not a priority. I guess months of fulfilling my needs takes it toll on a house. The wooden box made it seem like the room was furnished more than it was.

“He could clean the house though.”, I considered. “Oh, he would just love that.”

I laughed a little. I sipped more of my water and peered out of the windows. It’s so dark nowadays. I can’t remember the last time the sun peaked over the hills. Darkness prevailed outside the house rendering the windows useless. I stopped looking out of them months ago. There were no neighbors anyway. My street used to bustle with laughter and children’s games. That was before I found what I needed. The pounding started again and this time he spoke.

“Please let me out, “ he said, “I’m sorry I tried to stop you.”

I stood up and kicked the box. “You wanted this Jerry. Just shut up! I’m in control now, and no one can tell us apart anymore.”

“Help me… Help me!”, He cried.

He sobbed quietly as I stood up to leave the room. Jerry used to be my friend. I guess in the end, it was me that turned on him. He always did what I said. Now he can’t do anything.

Dave walked down the hospital corridor. The sun shined through the windows of each room as he passed. Today would have been an excellent day to go fishing, but he had urgent business that could not wait. A Bible could be clearly seen under his arm as he stepped into hospital room 124. A man lay on the bed in front of him. Dave stepped aside to let the nurse finish her check of the patient’s chart. She placed it back at the foot of the bed. The name on the chart was Jerry.

“Jerry, Jerry, it’s Pastor Dave. Can you hear me?”

Jerry’s skin was pale and thin. It looked as though it was draped over his bones like a worn out curtain. Although he was continually moving, Jerry was clearly bed ridden. The sound of the previous question seemed to be sucked into nothingness as the beeping monitors that were hooked to Jerry’s body persisted through an otherwise quiet room. His eyes danced wildly back and forth and his mouth formed inaudible words. He looked like he was crying. Dave spoke again.

“Jerry, Jerry, it’s Pastor Dave. Can you hear me? I’ve come to help you.”

Silence.

“Jerry, I’ve come to tell you about Jesus.”

Jerry’s eyes stopped for just a moment and made their way over to Dave’s. His head shook as he leaned toward Dave. He didn’t have much strength left. Jerry opened his mouth to speak. At first there was a deep gargling sound and then an ever so quiet voice, almost like a baby’s voice, resounding in the small room.

“Help me… Help me.”

At this, he collapsed back on the bed and his eyes resumed their awful dance once again.

“Jerry? Jerry!” Dave called out, but it was no use. He sat in the room for what seemed like an eternity hoping to see more moments of lucidity. The beeping of the machines were relentless. After a while, a nurse walked in and Dave felt it was time to leave.

That night, Dave slipped into bed with his wife. He had not repeated the account of his visit to anyone, and his heart was heavy as his mind drifted back to Jerry. He could still hear his cry.

“Help me… Help me!”

Sleep came slowly to his heavy heart, but his body soon gave way to the familiar rhythms of restful breathing. After all, God gives his beloved ones sleep.

That same night, Jerry slipped into the darkness once more and never returned.

Do You Have This Kind Of Job?


Possess too much testosterone: If you don’t have it, fake it. Laugh at other people’s misfortune. Repeatedly curse and make sexual references. Talk crude in front of the opposite sex and make fun of them when they can’t take it. Have an IQ of 45: if you don’t have it, hide the fact that you’re smarter. Talk about the girl you had the night before and how you disrespected every part of her. Talk about how you got trashed the night before and how you ended up naked in the front yard of somebody else’s house. Don’t do any work at work unless that work involves getting in other people’s faces. Threaten other coworkers jokingly with the worst bodily harm if they don’t do what you say because you’re in charge and then say you’re serious. Take care of yourself first and trust no one that you supervise. Remain incompetent to lead. Join with fellow supervisor’s who put down their subordinates. Punish everyone for the mistakes of the few. Demand of everyone that they know what everyone else is doing, and when they are not omnipresent nor omniscient take away their free time. Conform the place that you work at to the place you worked at previously. Always talk about how things were better at your last job. Pretend to enjoy your job and secretly hate it. Let bitterness over take you and hate everyone else who isn’t just as bitter. Hate the ones who actually enjoy their job. Stay in your current job because you know you have no real skills that could relate to the outside world. Continue the legacy of turning each other in. Do all this and more, and you’re probably someone I work with.

The De-evolution of Man

 

The goal of a horror film is to strike fear in the heart of the watcher. Audiences react in horror to a grotesque scene or a surprise jump in a dark hallway. These fears only last as long as it takes for you to get your scream out. (or jump or whatever you do) However, there is something about zombie movies that comment on the human existence. The zombie is man stripped of whatever makes him human. All that was of value is lost and only the drive to eat remains. While this is make believe, in real life people are afraid of losing themselves. Certain proclivities that a man allows have the potential to overtake him. Man becomes a slave to addiction. (drugs, alcohol, porn, etc.) In pursuit of that one thing families are destroyed, futures are destroyed, children are hurt, and jobs are lost. Everything that was once loved and cared for is gone. The man himself loses who he is. After a while he might come to his senses, but the pieces of his life that formed a coherent whole are lost. He must now pick up what is left and form a new whole.

A good example of this is Jack Torrance in the movie The Shining. His addiction was alcohol. When he drank he became a different person and his anger poured out of him destroying everything around him. He tried as hard as he could to control himself. He stopped drinking and got help. But after taking a job as a caretaker for a huge hotel in the off season, Jack withdraws into his own world in which his family turns against him. In reality they love him, but he sees them as if looking through a tainted window full of betrayal and deceit. Soon he turns against them. Somehow he finds alcohol in the abandoned hotel and acts on every fear within him. His wife and child barely escape with their lives. As they leave, he comes to himself just for a moment, enough to see that any vestige of life that might have remained within him is hopelessly lost, and in the culmination of his addiction he dies.

The potential of this degeneration lives inside of every man. Like fighting an enemy, we try to keep the evil at bay. Time goes by and weary we give up the fight. Evil then takes what we care for the most and dashes it upon the jagged edges of addictive behavior. Broken, we look at all we lost wishing to God we had kept up the fight when we had the chance.

 

Do the Amish Party?

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Rumspringa (pronounced Room-shpring-a) Definition: Running around.

The Amish are a group of people who want to be different from the world. They want to let their light shine through the life they live. They don’t actively convert others to their religion. To them, a simple life that forsakes all vanity speaks for itself. Cable TV, Xbox 360’s and other gaming systems, alcohol, smoking, and even electricity are considered to be distractions that will take value away from their lives. Amish folks do not question the traditions of the church. They are content to be satisfied with the way things have always been. “Idol hands are the Devil’s workshop” is a concept they use to keep themselves busy so as not to think of or do vain things.

Generally, when you see an Amish person they are driving a horse and buggy. The faster pace of the world with their fast cars and places they have to be as quick as possible is quite foreign. The slower pace of life allows them time to meditate on God and evaluate their ways in order to be what God wants them to be.

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You have to commend them for being consistent. Generally, a religious person follows church culture on Sundays and lives in the world culture on the following Monday. At the very least, the Amish way is a consistent way to live your life. The Amish key verse is I John 2:15: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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Amish children are dealt with in an interesting way. Until 8th grade, most Amish children are in a one-room schoolhouse. They drop out after 8th grade and get jobs. Up until the age of 16, they have no contact with the outside world. During this time, the parents bring up the children the way they think they should live their lives, and try to instill in them the values of the Amish.

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You may wonder how they have managed to stay the same throughout the years. Virtually no one questions the church or tries to change the way they do things. This is accomplished in part by a period in the Amish life called “rumspringa”. After Amish children reach the age of 16, they go out into the “English” world to experience what it is like. It’s during this time that they either choose to join the Amish church or leave it forever. This period could last anywhere from a few months to a few years. The decision is very hard for many. To leave the Amish church is to forget everything you have ever done: forget your family, church, work, friends, and your community.

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This “dabbling” in the outside world is like playing with fire. The boys dress English and drive cars. The girls typically do not. If there isn’t a party around, then they make one. Within minutes, word spreads that a party is on and Amish adolescents from miles around, and even from other states, jump in their newly acquired cars to attend a party that could number in a few hundred to a thousand. These parties include alcohol, smoking, sex, rock music, gaming, and sometimes drugs like methamphetamines. Sometimes the parties are held in a parent’s backyard. The parent has knowledge of what goes on and does nothing to stop it, for the Amish adolescents must be free to make their own choices. However, if an Amish person were to die during the time of rumspringa, hell is their destination. An Amish preacher commented on this belief and quoted “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment.”

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And for all that they do, the Amish children know that the church will take them back unconditionally. And the Amish church reports that currently 90% of all rumspringa adolescents come back to the church, which is the highest percentage reported thus far. When they come back they are baptized into the church and make a promise to God to follow the rules of the church for life. The ones that leave the church, choose material things and the “English” way of life over their own families.

 But is this a good practice for the Amish people? On the positive side, at least their young people are given a choice. You can’t say they are forced into their religion. However, age 16 is a time of great inner pubescent turmoil.

It does raise the question of how to keep your children in the same faith that you have as they get older.

Erik Erikson had no formal training in psychology, but was trained to be a psychoanalyst by Sigmund Freud. He stated that people pass though eight psychosocial stages in their lifetime. At each stage, there is a crisis to be resolved. The stage I am concerned with is Stage 5, which ranges from age 12 to 18. Erikson says that the question “Who am I” becomes important during this time. To answer it, adolescents increasingly turn away from parents and toward peer groups. Erikson believed that during adolescence the individual’s rapidly changing physiology, coupled with the pressures to make decisions about future education and career, creates the need to question and redefine the psychosocial identity established during the earlier stages. Teenagers experiment with various sexual, occupational, and educational roles as they try to find out who they are and who they can be. This new sense of self is a reassembly or an alignment due to the resolutions of the previous crisis and the new opportunities that are now afforded them. This will contribute to the final stage of development where the individual will look back over his or her life and accept the accomplishments, failures, and limitations that have occurred. Of course, some will be filled with regret at the way they have lived their lives.

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So, how do we deal with our young ones if we want them to grow up right? In my experience as a Christian, almost everyone has fallen away from the faith at some point in time. But this “Crisis of Faith” is not limited to the young ages. I have a friend who recently went through a crisis of faith and she is around 29 years old. She began to question what truth is and did not accept the Bible answer. The problem is that by that time she was already settled in life, had a husband, and a job, and now all that is in jeopardy. There is too much collateral damage for a crisis of faith later on in life.

 Why don’t people develop their faith personally at a young age? Well, many reasons pervade in the current day, but I believe there is a main reason: Erikson states that parents who are overly restrictive and harsh give their children a sense of powerlessness and incompetence, which can lead to shame and doubt in one’s abilities. If you aren’t given the chance to make a decision, chances are the decision is made for you. You roll through life following the beliefs that aren’t really your beliefs but you haven’t realized it yet. If you did, it would be the beginning of your crisis of faith.

Knowing that the crisis of faith is advantageous at a young age, how then as parents do we proceed? Usually, between the ages of 18 months to 3 years old is when a child starts to develop his own system of doing things. A child at this stage has the dual desire to hold on and to let go. Parents who allow their children to roam freely while at the same time provide an ever present guiding hand help the child to develop a sense of autonomy (self-governing). Now really, are they self governing at that point? No. But you can allow them chances to make their own decisions in certain situations. After all, we as parents know what our children can and cannot do. (At least, if we are looking for that kind of thing.) As the child grows older and reaches the teenage years, allow them to gradually increase in responsibility and freedom. As a parent, know that someday they will probably have a crisis of faith. And the Christianity that you want them so badly to hold on to… foster their minds to question it and be ready to answer those questions. Better it be you than someone else. Show them your faith is true, and teach them to recognize a lie. At least they will have the tools to deal with their crisis of faith properly.

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Drunk People

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Last night I was dispatched to the scene of a potential drunk driver. When I came in contact with him he appeared sluggish and his speech was slurred. Another cop and I watched over him while he sat on the curb. He asked me, “So, how long you been white, man?” I said, “All my life. I’m the whitest guy you’ll ever meet.” He turned to my partner, Sargent Estrada, after a brief pause and said, “So, how long you been white?”