Jesus and the Presidential Election

This has always been a fascinating topic to me.  The right wing seems to champion the founder of Christianity and claim to v
ote with their faith on their sleeves.  On the other side, the left wing can sometimes appear hostile to Christianity and those who adhere to the faith.  Jesus, not being a respecter of persons, would not be swayed by any of that.  So, the question is:  Who would Jesus vote for in the upcoming presidential election?

I'm sure that the answer to this would vary depending on who you ask.  I could take a pretty educated stab at it.  However, to try to leave as much bias out of the question as possible, I decided to leave it up to to determine the answer.  This site helps people determine which candidate shares the same values that they do - regardless of party.  I did my level best to answer the questions based on what the Gospel accounts attribute to Jesus' views.  Sometimes, I had to expand the search to other parts of the Bible, but I stuck mostly to the synoptic gospels.

There were a number of questions that I had to simply leave blank because there was no way I could determine the correct answer by the Bible. These type of blank answers typically came from very specific questions such as those concerning "common core," or term limits, or other specific contemporary issues.  I had to skip more questions than I had hoped, but I would rather leave them blank than try to editorialize an answer for Jesus.  Still, there were plenty of questions to paint a pretty clear picture.

The Results

Here is a summary of what the gospels teach us of Jesus' values.   The results of the quiz show that Jesus finds that standing up for the oppressed and those that are taken advantage are very important to him. Few could argue that this is a common theme in his ministry.

Jesus also sides toward the traditional which means that he believes in a civilized society that honors traditional morality and values.   The gospels point out that even though he has compassion, he remained "sinless." He also quoted Old Testament scriptures a lot and read them in the Temple.

The results also show that Jesus strongly believes in showing compassion, empathy, and rehabilitation for small time criminals.  The way he dealt with the prostitute and thief on the cross would support this claim.

It also shows that he slightly sides with regulation to ensure that business doesn't take advantage of the system and consumers.  That conclusion made me picture the anger that he showed at the money changers and how he converted two cheating tax collectors into honest followers.

Other items of note in the summary include being against social inequality, corruption and being an environmental centrist.

Drum Roll, Please!

Jesus is more aligned with Bernie Sanders than any other candidate.  His beliefs and values are consistent with Sanders' on a 79% of the issues.  The closest Republican was John Kasich with a 64%. So these would be the two men he would vote for in their respective primaries.

The conclusion makes sense for a number of reasons.  Sanders is against corruption of banks and is the champion of the "least of these" as Jesus called them.  It probably didn't hurt that both Jesus and Bernie are Jewish.  

Check out and see who you line up with and see if you see the issues like Jesus does. 

The After-life is like Schrödinger's Cat

. . . or How Blaise Pascal was actually the first pioneer of quantum mechanics.

Whether or not there is an afterlife and/or a god or gods that rule it is a debate that has been going on for some time.  In fact, just search bulletin boards, chat rooms or Facebook groups and you will have more than your fill of choices.  Of course, being one that is not shy about debates, I thought I would weigh in here with a different perception.

Enter: Blaise Pascal. 
Pascal was a 17th century genius - a jack of all intellectual trades, one might say.  His work advanced both mathematics and physics. In addition, some of his philosophical arguments are still discussed today.  One of these is known as Pascal's Wager.
The Reader's Digest version of Pascal's Wager states that no one can know for sure about the existence of God and/or the after-life but everyone bets their life on one or the other - they have no choice.  The safe bet would be to believe in God and live like He does exist because even if one was wrong, he would lose nothing but a few years of inconvenience and then vanish into nothingness.  If the believer is correct, thus winning the bet, he gains eternal life.  So it is a not much to lose and everything to gain proposition.  Compare that to the person who bets that there is no God.  If he wins, then he lives as he pleases and vanishes into nothingness.  However, if he is wrong, he is subjected to a horrible and eternal afterlife.  For Pascal, the smart bet would be to believe in God and live like it because one would have very little to lose and everything to gain.

Schrödinger vs PETA
Fast forward about 270 years. Erwin Schrödinger was a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who was instrumental in the development of quantum theory. Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment that deals with possibilities and outcomes.  The original concept was based on whether or not a radioactive atom is decayed in an hour's time. It is a complicated explanation dealing with the half life of the atom in question. Since I don't want to lose anyone in the explanation of it, I will modify the scenario in a fashion that will make it more likely that people will stay for the ride.  So here is Psychosomatic Wit's version of the Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment.

A cat was closed in a box with some food laced with deadly poison.  After an hour, it was assumed that the cat had either eaten the poison and died or did not eat the poison and is alive.  Until the box is opened, the cat can be considered both alive and dead at the same time.* This explication (known as the Copenhagen Interpretation) holds that it is the act of measuring (or in this case opening the box and observing) that changes the dual reality (both the alive and dead cat) into one conclusion. That is just one of the many interpretations of this thought experiment.** As nonsensical as this sounds to some, many reputable theorists still assign validity to this interpretation. 
The Afterlife has Gone to the Dogs - or in this case to Schrödinger's Cat.

Whether or not there is an afterlife is something that cannot be determined with any certainty until after one crosses over from this life into . . . well, that remains to be seen, doesn't it?  So if we are to use Schrödinger's thought experiment as a model we can conclude that while we are living, waiting for us is both an afterlife AND a state of nonexistence.  When we depart the living in this physical world one of those conclusions will remain a reality while the other will no longer be viable.  How then shall we live in the meantime?

Well, if it was your beloved cat in Schrödinger's box, you would anxiously cling to the living cat until you are finally able to joyously reunite with it or sorrowfully say goodbye.  If not, you would have said your goodbyes at the point the cat was placed into the box.

Why would we treat the afterlife any differently?  The choices are that one could embrace a hopeless destiny or a meaningful life full of hope.  With the former, we might muddle through this existence looking for some kind of meaning and only finding it by assigning purpose to helping a few fellow hopeless souls who also have a meaningless, finite existences. 
Or, one could choose the equally viable option of the afterlife. With that choice we could look forward to unending bliss in reunion with loved ones and embrace being part of an eternal plan that gives meaning to life by being a part of something much bigger than only a finite, random existence offered by the alternative.

I know that some would argue that even if the afterlife exists, it may be unpleasant no matter how one chooses to live and a seemingly infinite list of other negative possibilities.  That is a discussion all its own and should be given its own space. I will leave factoring the probabilities of the characteristics of the afterlife for another time.  So keeping it simple, one can choose which direction he wants to go in consideration of his appointment for death. The beauty of it is that there is no wrong answer.  It is just a question of choosing what kind of life you want to live and what kind of gamble are you willing to take.

I know what reality on which Pascal would have wagered . . . and he was a genius.

*No cats were harmed in the making of this blog post
**Schrödinger's Cat thought experiment was based on sub atomic particles, half life of a radioactive atom and a mechanism to determine whether or not the atom had decayed to the point of emitting radiation that would cause a vial of poisonous gas to be broken therefore killing the cat.  I explain this to hopefully dissuade egg heads from coming after me about quantum mechanics which would really just be a distraction that misses the plot.

Memories of Dad

Today, of course, I am thinking of my father.  He passed away when I was 18 - just six minutes after my birthday expired. Life was crazy then and the whole thing was surreal.  I watched him waste away from cancer the preceding months.  Everyone told me that he waited to pass so he wouldn't foul up my birthday.  I like to think that is true, but who knows?  If so, it was a nice present.

I didn't have the same experience with my dad as my siblings.  They knew a man that was gone a lot. They remember a father who probably drank too much and was prone to be a little scary as a result.  I am glad that isn't my memory.  In my years with dad, he was a nondrinker who made my dinner every night because my mom worked.  He was the guy that took me to every little league game and even coached a little for my team.

Dad was responsible for giving me my first friend of another race.  He helped a black man that he worked with get his son into the little league I was in.  A few times he and I, his friend and son went together to the games and got a bite afterwards.  I thank him for showing me how normal life should be.

My father had a keen since of humor which involved his own vocabulary.  He had names for everything.  He called orange juice, "Simpson," water was sky juice, and because we always tended to leave the vacuum cleaner (the tank kind with the hose), in the hallway as a hazard, Dad called it an automatic tripper.  There were MANY more names he had for stuff, I wish I could remember them all.

Dad loved corn bread and made it practically every day.  I never cared for corn bread as a child, but dad was determined to change that.  He would change up the recipes and add stuff to it just to try to win me over.  I remember one day he took some out of the oven and there were pools of butter on the surface.  He said, "Jeff, take you a bite of this.  I know you'll like it."   I responded, "Dad, you know I don't like corn bread, why do you keep offering it to me?"  His response was, "That's not corn bread; it is buttered corn cake!"

When I was 16, I got into a car accident.  It wasn't my fault - REALLY!  Some guy backed out of a Pizza Hut across three lanes of traffic and hit me.  I was really scared to call my dad.  I don't know why; me being 16, I just thought somehow everyone would figure it was my fault.  My dad showed up and made me believe right away that it was no big deal and it wasn't my fault.  He even fixed the fender in our driveway with his auto body expertise.

Anyway, that is the father I remember.  I am blessed with those memories.  I do miss him more than most people realize.  I miss you, Dad. And dad, I like buttered corn cake now.

Leave it All on the Field

She heard him say it a thousand times over the years. “Leave it ALL on the field,” Eric would bark at his players at the practices and games for the Freemont High School football program. That was his mantra and all on the team knew it well. Its aim was to make it quite clear that every tiny bit of effort, every ounce of strength should be expended in the attempt to win the game. He loved that phrase, but seldom believed it was accomplished.

Gina grew up with definite ideas about marriage and her duties as a wife. She was always there for Eric. She would run errands and provide drinks and fruit to the players. Every now and again, she may even cross the nourishment line and bring cookies. Whatever was needed, whatever she could think of to make things better or nicer, Gina was there to serve her man.

Although she took her role in the marriage quite seriously, she did have her own ideas and dreams. She did quite well as a kindergarten teacher at the neighborhood elementary school. She served in the PTA and had just published her first children’s book. Gina was a real go-getter and she knew what she wanted. She was successful at every endeavor, except for the one she wanted the most.

Gina was able to juggle marriage and career through love and conviction – the conviction of just doing what was right by her husband. In addition to her supportive duties at the field, she also tried to exhibit her dedication at home. She was always there to bring him a beer, chips and plenty of back rubs. She did love him and frequently told him so. But more than that, Gina gave her love hands and feet. This was just Gina.

However, this was NOT Eric. He was a perfectionist and was never able to find perfection. No matter how well his team performed, there was always something they could have done better. They won a few regional titles, but had yet to make it to the state finals. He would not be happy unless they brought back the state title, he thought. What Gina knew that Eric didn’t was that even THAT would bring only a fleeting smile. Eric was not happy and it seemed to Gina that he was determined to stay that way.

Unfortunately, Eric had this same attitude at home – particularly with his ever loving, and ever trying wife. He tried to do his part in his own way. He helped out at the house, especially the maintenance and outdoor chores. He would even manage to muster out a “thank you” when Gina was being her serving self. However, he never showed his love for Gina and seldom voiced it. He didn’t really understand it or what it was or wasn’t, but Gina knew. She felt it go right through her every day, sometimes every minute.

Gina felt that Eric’s affection was token as if he was hugging an old aunt that he hadn’t seen for years. When they shared intimate moments, Gina shuttered because she knew that she was a mere object to ease his frustration, not a wife to be loved or cherished. He was not always that way. Gina wondered how the change ever came about. She dealt with the temptation of blaming herself, but deep inside, she always knew that she could only do what she could do.

Day after day she endured this marriage, most of the time with a smile. She, in faith, kept serving him, loving him, being there for him at home, at the games, and in the bedroom. She was there, but she felt it dying. She wasn’t sure what it was that was dying. Was it the marriage? Could it be her love for him? Perhaps it was her life, itself. All she knew was that something important was dying and she was slipping, ever so assuredly, into survival mode.

One crisp October Friday morning, Gina started her routine. Knowing that there would be a game that night, she prepared for her husband a big, healthy breakfast. This got her up a full hour before him to clear out of the bathroom and have coffee and breakfast at the ready when he opened the morning paper at the table. Her preparations were made with conflicting emotions. She was excited to again go the extra mile for him out of faith and love, but at the same time, was agonized that it would be accepted with unloving apathy.

After breakfast, she sent him off full and awake ready to face his day. In return, he kissed the air a good two inches from her cheek and drove away. She noticed his game folder left on the oak secretary by the front door. She scrambled to ready herself for her day in a fashion that would leave her barely enough time to stop by the high school to “save his day”. She saw Eric outside the gym and rushed the folder to him. Her reward was a not-so-angry, “if you would have reminded me at the door, you wouldn’t have had to rush over here.” Tears welled up in Gina’s eyes as she turned out of the parking lot.

At lunch, Gina stopped by the supermarket and grabbed the makings of his favorite meal. Because her planning period was back-to-back with her lunch, she was able to get the meat and potatoes home and pre-prepped so she could have it ready and on the table after the game. She also managed to grab three cases of soda and four bags of apples to be put on ice in the back of her van.

She was there in the front row, when the Freemont Roughriders won in overtime that night. She cheered until she was hoarse. She supported her man. She presented the apples and soda to the players after the game and dashed off to make his meal.

Eric thanked her but never diverted his eyes from SportsCenter as she trudged up the stairs to bed. Somehow, she mustered enough hope to exercise her love and duty one more time before crossing off another hapless day on the calendar of their marriage.

She waited there for him in bed with a new gown that flattered her thirty-something body. Her wrists and body had the light scent of her most luring perfume. Anxious tears filled her eye wells as she heard him finish up in the bathroom a few feet away.

Eric knew what to do when he slid into bed. With not as much as an “I love you” or a mouth kiss, he finished his business with her and rolled over and fell into dispassionate slumber.

Saturday morning arrived not unlike other Saturday mornings. Eric slept in while Gina got up early. Normally, she would do laundry and prepare breakfast. Today was different; her chore was only for herself. She filled two suitcases, gathered her laptop, books and other important papers. Gina was nothing, if not consistent - always thinking of her man so she let him sleep. While he was snoring upstairs, she wrote him a note so as to not wake him on his cherished day off:

Dear Eric,

I devoted the last twelve years to you and our marriage.
I was there for you and I gave to you all I knew to give. I never asked
for anything in return, but I did need a husband - you know, Eric, a husband
to care for me, partner with me, but mostly to love me. Unfortunately, you can’t see that YOU need to be a husband for your own good as well as for the
prosperity of a marriage pledged to each other and to God.

I don’t know what else to do; I have nothing more to give to bring about
the kind of marriage I know that WE deserve and God wants us to have. You
should be proud of me, though, Eric. For our marriage, even though we
lost, I want you to know that I left it ALL on the field.

Your wife,

On this Memorial Day, We Want to Pay Honor to Those Who Serve

All kidding aside, my sincere thanks and respect goes to all those who have answered their country's call to defend and protect us.  I would also like to thank the families who have sacrificed and lost loved ones in order to make and keep this country strong.  We are in your debt.

No matter how certain military actions have been viewed or supported, these brave individuals do not have the luxury of asking questions.  They just answered the call.  Respect should be given to them from EVERYONE.

Why I Could Never be an Atheist

The Fountain of Eternal Life, Cleveland Ohio
Don't let the title fool you. I am not out to bad mouth those without faith.  I am merely telling you why I cannot be one of them.
"For in my faith, I stay connected."
I have been a Christian just about my whole life.  I realized more recently that even when I was doubting and searching, I was still in the fold of God’s mighty hand. That is one of the things that is so amazing about Grace. God's Grace was sufficient - even in my doubt and anger.

It dawned on me this morning how thankful I should be for that.  For in my faith, I stay connected.  Connected to God, humanity, and to those I love.

There was a time recently that I wanted to break away from my faith.  I felt a need to cut off ties to an unfair God, and to join the masses of God detractors. I was ready to take my place in the grand ostrich paradigm of spiritual reality.  You can read about it here.

I am so glad that God's Grace was bigger than my doubts and resentments. For by that grace, I am still connected.  I am grateful that there is not a storm so fierce that it can overcome the divine walls that protect His children.

A mother's love is not made of this world nor dissuaded by wound or strife. 
No house, no city, no world can contain it 
Nor can the constraints of this life.

This thankfulness hit its PEAK on the morning of Mothers Day. I lost my mom last year.  Because of the role she had in my life as parent, dependent, and best friend, she gave my life meaning. At some point after a period of serious grief, I realized that if we were on our own with no God, we would be permanently disconnected with our parents, our spouses, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends that have passed on before us. It would be almost as if they had never existed at all - or had the same reality of a movie we once saw.

What if you lost a child or the baby in your womb?  There would be no connection; no present reality. We would have to pretend that temporal things or beings could give our lives significant meaning rather than not being any different than the roadkill we pass on the freeway on our morning commute.  
In atheism there is the admission that we cannot disprove the existence of God.  However, we must also admit that the faithful cannot prove that He does exist - not in a transferable way. Whichever way we go in matters of the spirit, we must have faith in the path that we choose.  

I had a preacher one time who loved to say "If I could take Jesus out of my heart and put Him into yours, you would never give Him back."  The older I get and the more I grow in faith, the more I understand that.  That is the nontransferable proof that atheists lack.  But even if I did not have that, I would still choose hope, because no pretending in the world can keep connections with those we love if we profess that those connections could not possibly exist.

So, I would still choose faith and hope because of love. My parents, grandparents, and other dear family and friends that have gone ahead of me are counting on it.  I count on it, too.

Brothers and sisters, we want you to be fully informed about those who have fallen asleep in death so that you will not be overwhelmed with grief like those who live outside of the true hope. --1st Thessalonians 4:13 (the Voice)

Mom, Just Mom . . .

Yesterday was my mom's 80th birthday. I made her a cake.

First I got some fried chicken and made up some mashed potatoes.  Mom loves drum sticks.  As she got older, the legs were something she found was suited just for her.  She could hold on to them, there wasn't a lot of work involved and no unnecessary bones to dodge.  That and some good mashed potatoes made up the ideal meal for Mom - as long as she had a dessert!

That is where the cake comes in. It was chocolate fudge with milk chocolate icing. In the cake batter, I added some peanut butter.  That was my hack because my mom always loved the chocolate peanut butter shakes at Sonic. I also added a packet of Dream Whip to the batter because I know how important a moist cake is.

When everything was ready, I sat down in my empty house.  I ate two chicken legs, a little mashed potatoes, and for dessert I had peanut butter-chocolate fudge cake custom made for the woman I owe everything I have sweet in my life.  I love you, Mom.
The following message I have is widely considered a platitude.  People tend to smile thoughtfully and nod their head.  Then, most go on their merry way without it.  But let me urge you to take it with you and hold onto it tightly.  Let it become apart of your values and who you are:


The Blog that Relaunched a Thousand Words (or more)

What a great time for a blog launch – or in this case, relaunch.  There have been some things happening to me lately concerning my writing that makes it an exceptional time on a personal level, but that isn’t the only reason. This is an interesting time we are living in. With politics and other news, sports, and just everyday craziness that is afoot this season, there will be enough things to explore and laugh at for some time.  By the way, it is also a great time for you to go and “like” the PW page on Facebook!
Presidential campaign season is officially underway. Both parties should provide some interesting blog fodder.  On one hand, we have Queen Hillary and the Pips.  And what’s a discussion about the Democratic Party without the mention of socialism?  Thanks, Bernie Sanders!
On the other hand, the Republican primary seldom disappoints when it comes to providing a fascinating cast of characters and this year is no different.  YET ANOTHER Bush wants to fill out a change of address form for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  In addition, the field includes an ousted business woman, a retired surgeon, a really thirsty guy, and a couple of guys with really bad hairdos. We could discuss for hours.
Then there is the rash of police/minority issues that have plagued the country the past couple of years.  This page will have plenty to say about that.
One thing that none of us can escape is the influence of God in our lives OR how the lack of a belief system puts those of us without faith on a specific path.  This blog is always concerned about this aspect of life.
In addition, PW will look at some sports issues.  Traditionally, there hasn’t been much of that here, but lately (for those that have been perusing the site) that has changed. With the NCAA tournament recently closed for the 2015 season, all fan eyes are looking at transfers and reloading for the upcoming season.  This site will touch on many teams, but be primarily concerned with Indiana University.  Baseball and football are also gearing up at the pro and  college levels.
There will be something of interest for most people (if not one post, perhaps the next one).  Some of you will agree with what you read; others will be irritated.  Then the following post may have the opposite effect.  As always, comments are always welcome - at Psychosomatic Wit  and on the Facebook page.  I look forward to responding to comments.  Without interaction, I will never find out that I am wrong!
So, what do you want to talk about?

Should Christians Call for the Death Penalty for the Boston Bomber?

Recently, I read and reviewed Unoffendable, by Brant Hansen. Written from a Christian point of view, it deals with anger and, of course, being offended. You can read the review in the previous post. In it, Hansen talks about the MYTH of righteous anger and how it has no place for a follower of Christ.  I wondered in light of the Boston Marathon bombing and the guilty verdict that was reached against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, how this “righteous anger” principle applies when considering the concept of capital punishment – especially for the Christian.  The trial is in the sentencing phase so I think this is a timely topic. The issue now is whether Tsarnaev should be put to death for his part in this horrible crime. 

When people think of a capital offense, this surely would be a good fit. Tsarnaev and his brother used pressure cooker bombs to destroy the lives of race participants and a crowd of onlookers.  When the smoke cleared, three people lost their lives and 264 people were injured - some very seriously including the loss of limbs.  Yes, it stirred up a great deal of anger from all over the country and the world. Here are some examples of that anger that I picked up in news stories and comments:

“Fight the good fight prosecutors and give this child-murdering Islamic terrorist the death penalty he so richly deserves.”

Just kill the scum and get it over with Boston”

So the Boston bomber kill 4 and injured over 200 and we are gonna give him a quick death? If it was up to me I would water board him”

These are natural reactions, aren’t they?  Christians and nonbelievers alike are sickened by such a crime.  However, how does God expect His followers to respond to this, with capital punishment?  Apparently 75% of conservatives and half of Christians say, yes. I would guess that for evangelicals, it is much higher since the Catholic Church is against it.  
God has authorized capital punishment all over the Bible . . . oh wait, or is it just in the Old Testament?  That is troubling, isn’t it?  Christians don’t like it when nonbelievers throw Old Testament laws in their face.  Old Testament laws bring up death penalty for any number of things including prostitution, and being a rebellious son.  If we are going to let the Old Testament be our guide for our capital punishment views, how can we ignore other Old Testament rules and punishments?

Christians like to look at the New Testament instead because it is about Grace.  Christ fulfilled all the rigidity of Old Testament rules and laws and if we hitch a wagon to his star, then we can rest in that Grace.  So shouldn’t we also extend that grace to others?  Should not that be our model? Does the new Testament support the idea of capital punishment?

The simple answer is no. Christians like to point at a passage in Romans that tells us to be willingly subjected to government authority. The other passage is one in Acts where the apostle, Paul, subjects himself to government authority even if it means his death.  Nowhere did it say that capital punishment is right and just under grace.  If Christians use this verse to justify their clanging for capital punishment, then they also have to admit that slavery is justified also because it is a comparable element under the law.  Just because Roman law had the authority to put prisoners to death does not mean that the practice was endorsed by God. Only the authority of the government was endorsed.

Getting back to Unoffendable, Hansen doesn’t discuss capital punishment at all but here is what he did say:

“(Vengeance is) His, and it makes senses, too, that we’re not allowed vengeance. Here is one reason why: We stand as guilty as whoever is the target of our anger.  But God? He doesn’t. . . . Whatever anyone has done to me, or to anyone else, I stand just as guilty. People have lied to me, but I’ve lied too, People have been unfaithful to me, but I’ve been unfaithful too, People have hurt me , and I’ve hurt them. I get angry toward murderers, and then here comes Jesus, telling me if I’ve ever hated someone - and I have  I am the murderer’s moral equal.”

Does this concept not ring familiar?  In John, chapter 8, the Pharisees and Scribes brought a woman to Jesus. She was caught red handed in the act of adultery.  The law was clear.  This woman was to be stoned.  Jesus told them that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone at the woman.  The Temple officials departed.  Since all of the accusers left (because they were not clean themselves), Jesus pardoned her.  Keep in mind, Jesus was the ONLY one that had the authority to cast that first stone.  He chose to extend grace, instead.

How then can Christians be for capital punishment?  Where’s the grace?  I am not saying that horrible offenses shouldn’t be addressed.  There are many reasons that, as a society, we cannot allow the offenders to walk freely on the street.  However, doesn’t the death penalty take that concept too far?  Apparently, Jesus thought so.

Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes were recently married. They each lost a leg during the Boston Marathon bombing.  They made this statement regarding a potential death sentence for Tsarnaev, “We must overcome the impulse for vengeance.”

Also Jennifer Lemmerman, the sister of an M.I.T. police officer who was killed by Tsarnaev, said she thought that the death penalty would bring neither peace nor justice. She wrote on her Facebook page, “Whenever someone speaks out against the death penalty, they are challenged to imagine how they would feel if someone they love were killed. I’ve been given that horrible perspective and I can say that my position has only strengthened,’’

I don’t know if Kensky, Downes, or Lemmerman are Christians, but they sound more like what I would envision someone being influenced by Jesus Christ, rather than those with torches and pitch forks that tend to shout some modern day version of, “Crucify Him!”

Can We Be Unoffendable?

If you just look at the title of Brant Hansen's Unoffendable- How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, it appears to be another self help book designed to teach the reader how to develop a tough skin.  That assumption couldn't be further from the truth.

The book is written from a Christian point of view, but even skeptics will be able to get something out of this book and enjoy it in the process.  Hansen isn't preachy or teachy. He doesn't even come off as an expert on the subject.  In fact, each page is laced with humility which is very appropriate for the subject matter because through the pages, we discover how important humility is in being unoffendable.

The author exposes “righteous anger” for what it is, problematic and even an illusion.

I used to think it was incumbent upon a Christian to take offense. I now think we should be the most refreshingly unoffendable people on a planet that seems to spin on an axis of offense.

Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.

Hansen chides those that want to cherry-pick scriptures justifying their anger and has a firm answer to them, but of course he does it without taking offense.

The unoffendable message is given to the reader packed with humorous and heart touching stories told in Hansen’s quirky, but charming way.  He draws on Christian authors and artists and isn’t shy about picking on evangelical culture, as much as he does himself.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the book going into it.  Sure, I bought into the premise  - which perhaps puts me a step ahead of the crusaders in our midst, but I wasn’t sure about the pragmatic quality of the thesis.  In other words, while I agree anger and offense aren’t good ideas on many levels, there doesn’t seem to be a choice in the matter for most of us.  I thought of it as a traveler going down the road looking for Unoffendable City.  If he stops at a local filling station to ask for directions, he would probably get the unhelpful response, “Sorry, buddy, but you just can’t get there from here.”

Hansen agrees with me AND also disagrees:

 And while I thought the ideal of choosing to be “unoffendable” was ludicrous, I’ve tried it.    And I'm not perfect at it, but I’m much, much better than I used to be. I just let stuff go.  I go into situations thinking, I’m not going to be offended.  No matter what.

What I found out as I approached the end of the book was that Brant Hansen is right.  I was not as prone to be offended in my daily life as I was before reading.  Sure, I had times where the gut reaction of offense wanted to surface, but from reading the book being unoffendable wasn't quite as difficult as it was before and will probably get even easier day by day unless I turn loose of the concept.  I do not plan to do that because I prefer peace in my life rather than strife.

I whole-heartedly recommend Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. Although it helped me a great deal, it doesn’t come off as a self-help book.  It is more like a memoir or an amusing conversation with an interesting friend at a coffee shop. It was so enjoyable that I was always ready for another cup.

Thomas Bryant Answers the Call from the Hall

As a follow up to my previous post, Will Thomas Bryant Help Crean Keep His Job at IU, 5-star prep standout Thomas Bryant is officially taking his talents to Bloomington.  Coaches, fans and most of the team are celebrating.  However, those players
on the bottom of the totem poll are probably biting their lips about now.
Do you love me THIS much, Coach Crean?

Will Thomas Bryant Help Crean Keep His Job at IU?

Perhaps the fate of Tom Crean at Indiana University rests in the hands of a 17 year-old man-child.  Of course, I am talking about the program's latest crush, Thomas Bryant.

Bryant is a 6-10, 240 pound center out of Huntington Prep, Huntington WV.  He is a four-star prospect rated 27th in this coming recruiting class.

It looks like it is a two-horse race between Syracuse and the Stripes to obtain Bryant’s services.  Two things that make me think that he is leaning toward Syracuse is that A. He still talks about them despite the fact that they haven't contacted him in a couple of months; and B. this comment that he made to Inside the Hall, about his Hoosier recruitment included, “They send me a ton of damn letters,” In addition, the Crystal Ball from 247 Sports also has the Orange edging out IU for Bryant's services.

With all the axes falling on coaches around the country, Crean's job security is still ambiguous at best. IU AD Fred Glass seemingly gave Crean an endorsement to remain the coach of the Hoosiers, but pay attention to what he actually said to the Indianapolis Star last week (bold emphasis mine):

"My goals for this program are to perennially contend for and to win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament and win our next national championship - be elite, if you will. As a lifelong Hoosier and IU basketball fan, alumnus and current AD, nobody wants that more than me.
"Coach Crean's status should be based on his ability to achieve those goals going forward, not what he has or hasn't done in the past. Because I believe in the team he has assembled and is assembling, his leadership of it and their ability to start achieving our program goals, I continue to support Tom Crean as our coach."

This statement by Glass looks carefully crafted.  When he claims that he “continues,” that implies “at the time of the statement.”  He didn’t say, “I will continue . . .,” nor did he give a time frame or include the words "next season" in that statement,  It seems that Crean’s ability to “achieve those goals going forward” and the team he “IS assembling” necessarily involves Bryant, or at least a similarly qualified big man.  If not, IU is destined to have another undersized, under-performing team.  

Bryant is poised to make his decision by next week. It just may be that if Crean wants to keep his job at IU, he needs to do more then send Bryant “a ton of damn letters.”  If Crean survives the Bryant recruitment without signing a quality big, then the next chapter of this saga may take place the first week of July, when the coach would be paid $4.5M less than if he was terminated today.