First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS wishes to all of you. My prayer is that this is a Christmas where the use of the ‘F-word’ was freely spoken. Of course NOT the ‘F-word’ our post modern culture likes to use the all purpose adjective, BUT RATHER.. family, friends, and faith.
But for me I recall just 7 days before Christmas day in 2009 I endured with an evening of ‘Bah Humbug-ness’ with my wife towards each other that if not for this being a Christian newsletter would be called a fight (the other F-word). What’s that you say you NEVER have 'disagreements' with your spouse? <pause> well try selling that line to Santa.
You see in a Christian email I should not admit to using the F-word (fight) unless talking about fighting the good fight, and NEVER regarding fighting with my wife. We .. simply had a disagreement. Nah.. it was a fight. Just 8 days before we celebrated in 2009‘ Joy to the World, the Lord has come’, there was no ‘Peace on Earth or good will to ME’ as my wife Mary and I did not like each other very much.
The good news is that we can’t stay mad at each other long, and after our disagreeable evening ‘aka fight’ we actually after now 36 years of marriage have a better understanding of each other. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Of course to avoid throwing gasoline on another potential marital insensitivity fire ‘aka fight’ let me clarify.. In this analogy I WOULD BE THE OLD DOG, and my wife would be anyone else BUT NOT AN OLD DOG… I think she would prefer to be the OLD DOG’S MASTER…and she is.. but I digress..
So while I don’t recall the biblical recording of many marital frowns ‘aka fights’ I am sure they were as real a part of life then as they are now. The only glaring difference is a man in Bible days could go hang out with his sheep without being texted by the little Mrs. to get home and take out the garbage.
It was no accident that God created men and women so different. Our emotional wiring and sensitivity differences are intended by God to make married couples better.
This truth is not very comforting for those moments when the light at the end of the life’s tunnel is your wife driving a Mack Truck bearing down on you while you stare like a deer in head lights wondering what you did now in your manly insensitive ways that is about to make you marital road kill. Of course I am figuratively speaking, and if you find this Mack Truck analogy literal, then you are married to an over the road trucker..
Marriage bumps ‘aka fights’ will happen but as another Christmas approaches I am so thankful for my family and my wonderful wife. As you can tell I love to joke, and banter, and good natured tease my bride, but she is my best friend... and allows me to sleep inside when I am good. kidding, kidding again.
May God bless each of you this Christmas. I pray any stress, pace, or F-word (fighting) moments fade in the presence of the F-words (family, friends, and faith ) as you celebrate Christ’s birth.
Aretha Franklin sang her signature hit R E S P E C T in 1967 as a declaration from a strong, confident woman, who demands the"respect" of her man.
Now 40 years later Aretha's cry for R E S P E C T has been hijacked and ratcheted up with evening news 'shows' reporting/exploiting headlines of sexual misconduct (and worse), bullying, systematic white supremacy, white privilege, (white bread), racism, reverse racism, critical race theory, envy, greed, hatred, and our Universities filled with melting fragile snow-flake students claiming 'micro-aggression' by the man. Whoever the man is.
Well, and as Red Green shares in the 'Man Prayer' .. "I'm a man, I can do better, If I try.. I guess.. Amen.
Don't get me wrong, injustice is a serious matter, but truth often is lost in our GUILTY before proven INNOCENT 'intersectional' virtue signaling society.
The above mentioned microaggressions are defined as the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In fact in today's progressive thinking.. if I am offended by your views I can consider your words 'an act of violence' towards and can retaliate with real violence like a punch to your nose, or key your car door, or worse.. So beware!
By this 'standard' I have been microaggressed as a white man with a rural Wisconsin upbringing lacking economic opportunities or exposure to a racially diverse culture. Now that I am older I am again microaggressed for wearing bi-focals, and hearing aides by my younger better seeing, hearing, and better looking society.
Truth is I am NOT microaggressed, and I believe it is all 'microaggressed-hogwash'. Life is good but has never been a level playing field. So let's all determine to.. BUCK UP BUTTERCUP!
But back to Aretha's call for RESPECT.. Why do we make RESPECT so complicated? In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus taught us the two greatest commandments ‘Love the Lord your God' with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind .. and.. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself'.
If I truly love my neighbor my words and deeds will demonstrate respect, and a nice byproduct is it's difficult to feel micro-aggressed if my focus is on God and others.. leaving little time for all things ME.
As I mull over this blog, I remember a couple years ago I had a job where my boss and I had honest mutual dislike for each other. I believed I was disrespected and mistreated leading to a mutual parting of the ways. Looking back I know I should have handled this better.
Love God? check, love this boss? I did not appreciate, or RESPECT him so loving him like myself wasn't happening.. but it should have. I put my hurt ego over humbling myself and representing Christ. Being disrespected by my boss was BEYOND a microaggression to me. He told me he did not like me, and I did not quietly work on improving this. I would follow orders, but if the look on my face could tell a thousand words.. then he knew I did not like him or respect him. Two wrongs certainly did not make a right, and I was responsible for my part/wrong in this failed workplace scenario.
So my prayer coming from this bad experience is to get my eyes off of ME, love God, and care for others... even when the others are bosses from a no good very bad day.
So today I pray we all love God with all our hearts, and uses each of us to be the hands and feet for those who are in need, even maybe your enemies. (note these are God's two greatest commandments, not two greatest suggestions) May our hearts, words, and actions always be compassionate and RESPECTFUL to others in this hurting world, and I pray for God's loving presence and perspective when we are disrespected and/or mistreated by others.
Jeff (micro-REgressed?) Larson
p.s. On a lighter note, I would like to share a clip regarding Injustice inherent in the system at the time of King Arthur. Repression Inherent in the System. <-- click here for a chuckle
Most every year I share a story from the Old West (umm 1960s), but just like any Clint Eastwood Western ie. The Good the Bad and the Ugly, or The Unforgiven.. this story of Justice with six-shooters blazing begs to be retold.
I enjoyed watching a while back a TV docudrama on the history of the American West. It was a time when Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, and Jesse James with guns a blazing lived large in the tales of lawman versus Lawbreaker.
This brought my mind back to 55 years ago in the (MID)Western frontier of Cable Wi (population 280-maybe) when I served as an 8 year old lawman working with my deputy and 6 year old friend David Larson. It was a time of lawlessness where big talk and big guns (cap & pop alike) were a way of life.
Bad blood had been brewing since Sunday School the previous Sunday when Dastardly Dick Ludzack and BadNews Bryan Anderson AGAIN refused to sing Jesus loves me (truth is neither could sing a tune to save their lives) talking big about "singin' is for girls." This type of brash defiance of our Lord could not be tolerated.
The time for words (or singin Jesus loves me') was over.. justice must be served.
So just a few days later September 14, 1965 (right after school) Deputy Dave and myself traveled to the Ludzack Farm on the east side of town to bring these brazen lawbreakers to justice. If justice came at the end of a rope or my smokin' guns.. So be it.
This day would soon after be known as The Shootout at Ludzack Farm. (kinda like an elementary school version of the Shootout at the OK Corral)
When we arrived at the Ludzack Farm we learned Dastardly and BadNews were camped out on the North side of the family barn, so we quickly set up just on the Southeast corner as news traveled they were heading south along the east side of this same barn. We were ready, but knew they would not surrender without a fight. Both sides had enough Guns & Ammo to make the NRA blush.
Tension was in the air as Dastardly & BadNews turned the southeast corner and were met with guns a blazin'. BLAM, BLAM, PEW, PEW, POP, BANG. This gunfight was was over before it started.
As the smoke from our cap guns lifted it was clear by their (imaginary/implied) bullet riddled bodies both Dastardly & Badnews had their 'comeupins'. There would be no trial, there would be no chance for dem boys to redeem themselves and sing like choir boys next Sunday morning cuz.. THEY WUZ DEAD.
Except.. out of the silence BadNews Bryan (always hated him) shout "Uh-uh" you missed me, and you are both DEAD cuz I shot you both in the HEAD."
It was such a grand lie. Such a big fib that 55 years later I am surprised Bryan thinks he has a chance at Heaven. This just ruined my day. I came to this town to bring law and order, and I am thwarted by a 7 year old and those weak words.. Uh-uh! I was so mad I went home and told my MOM.
Thinking back to those lawless times in the fall of 1965 I am haunted by my failure to bring to justice that no good lyin' snake Bad News Bryan Anderson. Of course the story is not over as Bryan was the best man in my wedding in 1984 and we meet almost weekly for lunch.
You know what they say, keep you friends close, and your ENEMIES closer. Better sleep with one eye open BadNews.
Jeff (dreaming of exercising my second amendment rights since 1965) Larson
note: Spiritual lesson for the day.. Make your peace with the Lord before you have your 'comeupins'.
Today, I am remembering the great FLAME MAIL of 2011.
let me begin by saying I do not expect everyone to agree with me and in fact I would not advise everyone to agree with me all the time, BUT.. bottom-line I believe God loves everyone, but requires a repentant heart seeking Him.... as outlined in John 3:16.
So with all this out there, I want to post the last words from my disgruntled reader from 2011. I am not doing this to mock him but I think it is interesting how upset this man was. I do feel sorry that he was this upset with me, BUT.. what's a cartoonist to do? <pause>.. DRAW!
I tried words, the replied to his email with images and comments from the Back Pew. Forgive me if you think this is taunting or mocking.. I do not intend this, but I do want to put this to rest.. as my frustration has subsided,
As any reader of the Back Pew realizes, I am not a theologian, I am not a pastor, but instead I am just a guy who 'draws' (cartoon) unto to the Lord so he will draw near to me.
note: Twitter & Facebook have now become the home of spiritual flame-throwing. These are places where disagreements escalate into cries of FALSE TEACHER or HERETIC. Maybe many of these tweets are true, but I am not sure Social Media is the best forum for deciding who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell.
now without delay.. here is the flaming email from 2011.
-- BEGINNING from the computer of the frowning flamer-- dateline: 1/19/2011, around 3pm CST
I continued to write because you are wrong, you are a double-minded man.
I continued to write because you cannot defend what you believe. Goodness, you couldn't even answer a few simple verses!
I continued to write because I am duty bound as a Christian to do so.
You have no idea who Calvin or Luther or Knox or Kennedy or Sproul are.
You know you're ignorant. You know you know nothing about theology. You have no training at all, and what you do have, is so off base on even an Arminain or Reformed perspective (you espouse a Universalist theology-- and you are bound for Hell if you persist!) . Yet you will persist.
What a two-faced hypocrite. And a scared one at that, writing all those verses and then telling me I couldn't respond. What a joke you are.
What kind of man are you, where you can't even defend what you think in any kind of coherent manner?
Don't bother writing back. I've unsubbed from your nonsense blurbs, and have blocked your e-mail.
You will be in Hell if you continue in your Universalist beliefs (again, look that term up, as you don't even know what it is).
-- END from the computer of the frowning flamer-- dateline: 1/19/2011, around 3pm CST
Ouch.. I am a bit slow some times, but .. I don't think this guy likes me. So let me post the same comments with a few Back Pew images inserted as I see fitting. I think in Proverbs it says .. 'If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.. or if you are a cartoonist, draw cartoons'.
-- BEGINNING same FLAME w/ BP Rebuttals -- dateline: 1/19/2011, around 3pm CST
- I continued to write because you are wrong, you'er a double-minded man.
- I continued to write because you cannot defend what you believe. Goodness, you coulnd't even answer a few simple verses!
I can't argue this.. I know I struggle with migraines, and I bruise like a peach.
- I continued to write because I am duty bound as a Christian to do so.
thanks.. I guess.. but please put down those stones!
- You have no idea who Calvin or Luther or Knox or Kennedy or Sproul are.
and I know Kennedy was the Catholic president. (well at least I got three right.. didn't I?)
- You know you're ignorant.
(note: if i am ignorant, i probably don't know it.. since isn't that the problem with being ignorant?.. you just don't know)
- You know you know nothing about theology. You have no training at all, and what you do have, is so off base on even an Arminain or Reformed perspective (you espouse a Universalist theology-- and you are bound for Hell if you persist!) . Yet you will persist.
Sorry, not a universalist.. I believe in Heaven, and Hell. John 3:16 gives us the great news God loves us.. BUT.. the ball is in our court. We must believe, and we must honor God with our lives... in words and deeds. Very serious stuff.. but very very good.
- What a two-faced hypocrite. And a scared one at that, writing all those verses and then telling me I couldn't respond.
- What a joke you are.
ahhh so you have been reading my emails. I am like everyone.. I need Jesus daily... and I like jokes. <pause> is that what you meant by me being a joke? Maybe not... again.. the above noted ignorance is bliss
- What kind of man are you, where you can't even defend what you think in any kind of coherent manner?
but i did pass the pop quiz at our church last Sunday .. so I pay attention sometimes.
- Don't bother writing back. I've unsubbed from your nonsense blurbs, and have blocked your e-mail.
You will be in Hell if you continue in your Universalist beliefs (again, look that term up, as you don't even know what it is).
Well.. On your way out, don't let the door hit ya, where the good Lord split ya.
-- END same FLAME w/ BP Rebuttals -- dateline: 1/19/2011, around 3pm CST
So again, a cartoon rebuttal is what I do. Most of it is tongue-in-cheek.. I pray today we are kind to each other. That our words are well chosen, and have meaning. As Christians there is a spiritual urgency that is different from our Secular world causing great angst and division.. BUT ALSO.. within the church there is also great angst and division. It is ok (very OK ) to disagree with each other, but I pray we are respectful and kind, and understanding.
May God bless each of you in your pursuit of His truth. Love God with all your heart, and be kind to each other.
Jeff (a bit singed) Larson
Final note: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1 ESV.
While I was flamed in the above email, I am reminded and convicted to do better myself. I can be direct, terse, and think skinned at times in my words. I pray for forgiveness and desire to do better.
The mutterings on life and faith by cartoonist Jeff Larson