Day of the Holy Innocent

Today Colombia celebrates April Fools, but it is called “Dia de los Santos Inocentes.” It is similar to April fools because of the pranks that people play on each other today. The roots of celebrating the days actually have to do with the bible and King Herod and the massacre of the innocents. Basically the magi coming to visit Jesus are alerted by an angel and return home via a different route hoodwinking Herod. I already find the magi amusing because who does not love pronouncing Balthazar.

Another amusing fact is that one of the precursor of April Fools day is the Feast of Fools a medieval tradition that was held, you guessed it, on December 28.

Ambushed by religion

Even though my wife lived in Canada for 8 years and got a little taste of North America, she is still getting used to the things that are very different here in the U.S. Even though Kansas City is much more slower paced that Chicago, it is still an American city and it moves at a good pace. When she is surprised by something here it makes us both laugh and reminds us how cool it is to have a similar background, a similar understanding of life. Actually we spend quite a bit of time laughing, from our little inside jokes to just getting each other’s sense of humor we spend quite a bit of time chuckling.

Religion is one of the things we have in common, and funny enough we ventured outside of the Catholic faith during our younger years. I think I did a little more venturing than her, but we both agree that we like going to mass and get something out of it. We don’t have a policy in religion for our friends and respect their beliefs or atheism. We are actually quite open to discussing the subject and explain what is the whole deal with the Virgin Mary or Rosaries or whatever it is that people from other faiths just don’t get. However we do not evangelize or try to convert people with words and arguments.

This week my wife was ambushed by religion. On this particular denomination I happen to have a lot more knowledge because someone in my family is a Jehova’s witness… I think this was the first time she encountered the no birthday policy they have. She asked a coworker if she wanted to sign a birthday card and was met by a very short “We don’t celebrate birthdays.” from a person she likes and appreciates already.

That right there is my problem with some institutions. The moment where you have to take a “we” stand… the moment where you stop being yourself and become just a piece of the big puzzle. Then when an unsuspecting person approaches you and touches the “I have been told I cannot do that” button, they are met with an uncharacteristic programmed response.

Some of the closest friends I made during my time in Michigan were from a very fundamentalist church. This was my second time trying a very strict protestant church. I respected most of their beliefs and helped out quite a bit around the church. I hanged out with them all the time and they became my support structure. It all ended when I refused to believe that they had a prophet that actually knew when rapture was going to happen.

I have seen this tactic before first hand and both times it involved money. The more you gave and sacrificed, the more “grace” you were going to receive. Furthermore, if things were not going well in your life, you were not giving enough. It was run like a business and they were selling salvation and in some extreme cases healing. The preacher would drive around on a brand new jag and had a brand new Harley while everyone else in the congregation could barely afford the Sunday clothes.

Like the time before when I had been ambushed by religion, they had a sit down with me telling me that I either believed what they said without challenge or I could not attend church anymore. In one conversation with someone I though was my friend my support structure was completely removed. I was very close with a couple that attended the church and we kept contact after the whole incident, but it was very clear that hanging around with me was going to cause them problem so I am waiting until the time where the world was supposed to end to give them a call. Actually it might have already passed so maybe I should call them to see if now that the prophet failed to predict everyone’s demise we are allowed to hang out… maybe there was an extension to get every last cent from their pockets.

Halloween is EVIL

Wait… what? Why do we need an alternative to Halloween? When did it become the Devil’s holiday? Why aren’t Satan’s follower’s up in arms about defamation of character?

USA Today has an interesting article about a play called Hell Houses. Apparently Evangelical churches are now performing lobotomies along with their services. Who in their right mind would want to be saved out of fear? Did we forget that fear and guilt are NOT from God? Where do churches get off trying to scare people into turning to God?

1 John 4:18

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

I do not see the point of a church using fear to evangelize. If evangelists differentiate themselves from the Catholic faith and concentration on spreading the message, which last time I checked was about love and not fear or guilt, then why are they trying to scare people straight?

2 Timothy 1:7

God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Some people that claim to follow not just the bible but most importantly the new testament forget a fundamental thing, it is all about love. Accepting and embracing other is the real message that Jesus tried to spread. When did that change in to demonizing everything under the sun?

Halloween is actually a holiday that was originated by the Celts and it was just about the end of summer. Sure it has become commercialized just as much as Christmas has but that does not make it evil. If spreading the message involves injecting fear on people to convert them to the right path I feel that religion will fail.

Just like the shock created by a horror movie, it might get the adrenaline pumping, it might actually not let you sleep for a week, but eventually you are going to go back to normal and act on your own set of rules. True faith, true change and true belief come from our own personal relationship with whatever God we worship. Doing things are of fear works only as long as we are afraid.

Some Jesus with your Party?

Bible ThumperDON`T WAIT till Judgement Day To Believe the BIBLE BELIEVE & OBEY NOW!

This was the scene this past weekend when I was hanging out with some friends at the party area full of sinners. Once I saw the sign, actually first the other side that said, you are all going to hell, I told my GF to take a picture. The dude took this as an invitation to SAVE me.

I am allergic to crazy, and I was not going to have this dude hand me his little pamphlet. I said, no thanks dude I already GOT JESUS! he insisted on telling me how much of a sinner I was for being there. My patience for crazy was used up a while ago so I insisted on saying, no thanks man. Then he struck a cord, go ahead and get drunk and sin. I turned around and told him, dude Jesus turned water into wine, and even though he could have came back with the whole it was a wedding, he decided to say that back in Jesus day, wine was more like grape juice. Then to add insult to injury he starts telling me about the drunks from the Bible. I was not drunk, neither was anyone in my group. We had just been in the museum all afternoon at the happy hour on the sculpture terrace and went to Westport for just some food, a single drink for some, and actually cookies and milk.

So I guess going outside of my house to anywhere but a church is consider sinning, actually not just that I am going to hell. How dare I consume alcohol or walk around in a place of sin? I personally think the biggest sinner was the dude holding the sign who obviously believes in a very fundamentalist way and its looking at all the girls dressed in very provocative clothes… what a sinner.

The guy embodies my issues with religion. Pushy people that have higher standards than me and therefore are living messengers of God telling me, dude you are not one of the 4400. Almost like Nelson from the Simpsons laughing at me saying, you are not worthy!

The winner of the Logtar award for cleverness and hilarity goes to the dude holding the other sign with my favorite punctuation sign (…ellipses…) , which read… Holding a sign got me NOWHERE…

Living each day like it was your last

This Sunday the mass was about the end of days. During my life I have listened to plenty of people using the gospel to talk about the end of days and the destruction of the world… Apocalypse! But they all seem to forget this little passage…

Mathew 24

36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

The priest talked about the end of the world from a different perspective. He geared it more towards living your life to the fullest every day. Doing what you want to do and not waiting for thing to just happen. My Mom has actually also adopted this way of thinking after seeing someone close to her depart this earth a little to early. We do not know when the day will come when we are not in this earth anymore and we should not take our life for granted but as a gift every single day.

All the churches that talk about rapture and the end of the world drive me nuts. It bothers me the most when the churches feel the need to put a date to it. Even if they were dead on, and we all know they are wrong, why should we live our life in fear? God is not someone to be afraid of but rather someone to draw strength and love from. As a Christian I believe that Jesus message was that the most important thing in life was love.

I try to regret nothing in my life. I like to live my life looking ahead while enjoying the present but I have to admit that in the last year there were things that I regretted doing and not doing. I regret not going to Colombia when my Grandfather passed away to be with my family. I regret not doing everything that I could do to accomplish something that in my heart was the right thing to do. Hopefully it was a lesson learned and I will not ever hesitate when it comes to doing what I want to do.

A quote I read recently said, “It is better to be hated by who you are, than loved for who you are not.” I think it fits with the topic of living every day like it was your last, simply because sometime we get wrapped up on trying to make the world happy instead of living our own lives.

I am not saying that we should throw away responsibility and live a careless life; however I do think that it is better to go closer to that extreme than to live a monotonous life that does not match with our desires. I think the happiest people on earth are not those that have the most, but those that are doing what they want to do. If you surround yourself with negative people that have a horrible outlook on life, you have no choice but to start picking up some of the negativity. That is why I believe that you should stay as far away from those people as you can. We have all met them at work, school and life, and their lives always seem to get worse instead of better.

We all need to evaluate our lives whether we believe in God the same way or not. We need to see if we are living our lives to their full potential. Are you doing what you want to do? Are you leaving something for later that you should be doing now? Did you call your loved ones to tell them how much you care about them?

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