Are you there God?

No, it’s not Margaret.
It’s Eric. Long time no speak, eh?

How you doing? Family doing well?

Things are alright around here. I’m a lucky guy. I have four beautiful girls. One, I chose. The rest chose me. I’ve got a pretty good job, working with people I like for the most part. They treat me well, and though we’re not wealthy, we don’t want for much. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, as I work from home every day, watching these girls with pride, wondering who they’ll turn into as they grow up. We’re getting a pretty good idea of the first one, and even the second. We really like what we see! Thanks for asking!

You’re right. I guess I do have something on my mind.

It’s kind of an uncomfortable subject to approach, though. You see, it occurred to me a couple weeks ago, that your name has a negative connotation for me. In some contexts, it bothers me more than others. For instance, “In God We Trust” doesn’t bother me. At least not in appropriate contexts. The phrase “God Bless America” irritates the bejesus out of me, though. Partially because of Lee Greenwood’s song. Partially because I think it’s awfully presumptive that you’ve not got something else going on of a higher priority, and partially because I’m not sure that we give you much reason to be proud these days.

To be fair, my irritation with the very mention of your name isn’t your fault. It’s guilt by association. You don’t have to look very far to see people doing things in your name that I think that you would find not only disappointing, but downright distressing. When was the last time someone was put over God’s knee? 😉 So far, I’m impressed by Pope Francis. He really seems to be trying to get people’s heads on straighter. Getting people to pay attention to things that matter. Loving your neighbor. Taking care of those less fortunate. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything, but still…great choice. He’s really got his work cut out for him, though. And that’s just with the Catholic Church.

Many of the other denominations seem to be experiencing a similar identity crisis. I’m sure you’re aware, but we have groups (I won’t mention them by name, as I don’t want to send anybody there that doesn’t know about them) that actually picket funerals! Can you believe that? Scourge of humanity, really. How can you look yourself in the eye when you knowingly go out to cause people further anguish in some of their times of deepest pain? Or, the churches that actually coordinate Quran burnings, antagonizing millions, knowing just how incensed they would be if it was the Muslims burning the Bible.

Somehow, as a people, we’ve forgotten that Jesus was a brown skinned socialist. We seem to have overthrown his ideals in favor of the Church of Me. More people are worried about their brother’s speck than their own log, y’know? We condemn your children who are wired just a little bit differently, and prefer the same sex, even though it’s not unique to humans, but have no similar condemnation for those who demonstrate gluttony and greed at every turn.

So, unfortunately, I think your image is being degraded by who you’re being associated with. That’s the best reason I can come up with that I actually have an unpleasant reaction to reading your name. Many years ago, I was raised Catholic, all the way through Confirmation. But, if I’m being honest, the church turned me off. I’ve never been certain about what I think, but I was pretty sure that you and I would be alright, as long as I am treating people we respect, and living my life in a fashion that I can be proud of. So, while some would call this a crisis of faith, I’m pretty comfortable with where I am.

I’m pretty damn proud of who I’ve become. I’m proud of who my girls are becoming. I’ve been blessed, over and over again, even as an agnostic. But, I plead with you, please do something about your followers. It’s disheartening, because I’m pretty sure that a hefty percentage of them would step over their brother on the way to the bank.

Your good name, sadly, depends on it.

Risk

Hi. Remember me?

I’m the opinionated fella that seems to have an opinion about everything, but forgets to take notes on the ideas that I have opinions on and want to write about.

Since I was seized by one such topic while I have the iPad in my hand, I want to write on it. That topic is risk. Or, more accurately, protecting your kids from it.  I understand the notion, right? If I can exercise just a little bit more due diligence, and keep my girls safe, I should certainly do so, right?

Debatable.

Are we really doing them any favors by protecting them from all forms of risk? Or would we be better served by letting them fall sometimes? Then, we learn that falling happens, and how to get back up. These discussions with some of our close friends and family who are new parents. Facebook is full of fascinating things. Some of it, even good advice! But, it does t stand out as to which is which. Nobody wants to see their child hurt themselves. It really doesn’t matter if it’s by falling down, at the hands of a friend that’s less than kind, or a substance abuse problem. But, how do you learn about natural consequences, if you’re barred from making decisions that lead to them? The short answer is, you don’t. You learn to believe that someone else will save you from the repercussions of your actions.

And really, what are we trying to protect them from?

Is it that we’re trying to protect them from pain? Are we trying to protect them from bad decisions? Are we simply projecting our own fears upon them? Or, perhaps we’re trying to save our own heartache. I suspect mileage varies, but one thing that I’m sure of, is that it’s going to be difficult to find a person whose healthy confidence in themselves, if they have never been permitted to make decisions and not have them work out to force them to recover. Passing our fears on to our children does them no favors.

But, you know? Something that I’m certain of, is that it would be difficult to find joy in a life completely devoid of sorrow. The thrill of achieving an unexpected success would be severely degraded if there was no cognizance of what it is to fail. What kind of life would it be, to have such a numb existence? Failure is an integral part of growth. As a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. I’ve seen people and corporations become completely paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake, or failing. And while I’ll stop shy of encouraging them to fail, I’ll encourage them to try, because it’ll effectively be the same thing sometimes. And that failure is good, as long as you learn and grow from it.

Some people, I suppose, would rather have a boring, steady existence. I’m not one of those people. I’ll take the pain, and the joy that I then become cognizant of.