Archive for August, 2014

Robin Williams – Stop the Pain

Let me begin by saying I am writing this to try to come to grips with my own loss of Robin Williams. Let me also say that all I know of Robin Williams I know from his work on the stage and screen; in other words, I am no insider (family, friend).


I do, however, strongly relate to the state of mind where the only thing that can be done to stop the pain is to end it all. Suicide is the ultimate escape. Ultimate, final, permanent. Forever.


While I have stood at the edge of the abyss, I have (obviously) never taken the next step. I understand that there are some 40,000 of our fellow travelers in the United States that do take this next step every year. One suicide is a tragedy. 40,000 is an epidemic.


The pain is real. It is as real as real can be. Suicide is an act of desperation.


By any measure that society embraces, Robin Williams was a success. So too, John Denver, Karen Carpenter, many others. However, in their minds, they had failed. The pain comes from failure. The pain comes from a lack of hope. The pain comes from emptiness.


Yes, life is tough – for us all. We have very different lives. But, we all bring ourselves to the table, and present ourselves to the world, and very often the world flips us off. Day after day. Yet, the show must go on. Shouldn’t it? Some choose to conform, and may find some comfort in assimilation, maybe even to the point of losing themselves. Some may rebel, and find the conflict rewarding. Some choose to chuck it all and flip off the world.


While we put one foot in front of the other every day, we step out a journey of self-discovery. We all – without exception – strive to understand who we are in this thing called Life. Despite the cliché, we do, in fact, try to find ourselves.


For me personally, the hand of GOD has stayed my own hand, many times. I know of no other way to explain it. For me personally, it is GOD’s daily intervention in my own life that enables me to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other. It is the absolute conviction that GOD is a real presence in my life that keeps me in this game, keeps me slugging away, keeps me from turning the occasional vacations from the rat race into a permanent departure from this world.


For those that are not similarly blessed, what about our friends? I used to be a Facebook user; but after awhile I found that no one wanted a dialogue. No one asked me about me. Seldom did anyone make any comment about me at all. It seemed that all of my Facebook Friends were much too busy talking about themselves to be at all interested in me. Day after day, it was “look at me, look at me”; not enough was it “what about you?” So, when I ask about our friends, I most definitely do not mean Facebook Friends.


I mean those people that do care, and act like it. They are more interested in you than themselves. They want to know how you’re doing, and say very little about how they’re doing – unless you ask (a dialogue, remember – interaction, not just observation).


As I said at the beginning, I did not know Robin Williams (or John Denver or Karen Carpenter), or any of those people close to them. So, I am only suggesting that they did not so much fail themselves as their friends failed them. I know, I know: who am I to say such a thing? It would be brash if it wasn’t stupid.


But, may I ask what you are doing to help those people you do know? Do any of you have it easy, and need no help? Are any of you totally alone and like it that way? Thrive in the complete absence of anybody or anything outside of you? IMHO, we all need somebody; whether it is another person like ourselves, or another person like Jesus.


It is too late to help some. But, it is not too late to help others. Learn from our losses and step up to supporting and befriending others. We all need help. Life is too big and too tough to go it alone.


“I get by with a little help from my friends” – you know this lyric, do something with it: be a friend. You might find your own pain is eased by helping others. Others just might follow your example and help you cope with your own pain. If you get in the habit of reaching out to help others, your hand will already be out there for someone else to take to help you. Win-win.


Robin Williams, thank you for sharing. You are missed. Rest in Peace.






Oh Hell

Well, is there, or isn’t there? You know: Hell. I mean, is there a Hell; or isn’t there a Hell? I want to understand my options for eternal life. And, if Hell is just not an option, then things in the here-and-now just got a whole bunch nicer. Yabbut, that is so terribly convenient. Too convenient. Too good to be true. Yeah, call me a cynic ‘cause I look horses in the mouth (I have no idea what it is I am supposed to be seeing there, but I look anyway – gift horses, too).

But, it seems to me there must be a Paul Harvey part of this hell thing. While I do accept the idea that GOD can do anything He wants – including not having a Hell – I’m not going to base my behavior in this life on someone else’s “reasonable hope.” We all have a “reasonable hope” of winning the lottery. In fact, it’s damn near a statistical certainty that someone will; but I was never strong in math. I am, after all, only six little numbers away – I should be able to wrap my brain around six little numbers.

So, while I give GOD permission to do anything He wants, I just can’t logically accept the concept that there is no Hell, or that it is empty. Seems to me, there’s just gotta be.

Otherwise, what is the point of Jesus Christ?

One could say that, while humans do really stupid things, JC wiped the slate clean and we’re all saved. One could say that. Many do. I don’t. For me, JC made it possible for me to be saved – He didn’t guarantee that, no matter what, I was going to be saved. In fact, Jesus spent a good part of his column-inches in the Bible talking about the existence of Hell. In fact – in fact – it is hard to read very much of the Bible without running head-long into judgment and punishment, sheep and goats, wheat and chaff, millstones, throwing seed on hard ground, among thorns, etc., etc., etc. It is like winning the lottery: beyond me to understand why there is so much talk of Hell – by the Man Himself – if there actually isn’t one. Dunno if Jesus had a great sense of humor or not (I have no idea why I just thot of Henny Youngman), but Hell seems a terrible joke. If it is one. As my old friend Bill Shakespeare would say, that is the rub: “if.”

If there isn’t a Hell…

…what is the point of rewarding everyone? Not everyone can win the race; not everyone can get the Blue Ribbon, First Prize, or a trophy for their I-love-me room at home. That just makes no sense; or the contest has no value. In every endeavor, there will be winners and those who aren’t. Our system of government works (after a fashion) because there is one person in the White House (present incumbent notwithstanding). You want to go to a doctor that graduated at the top of her class, don’t you? You want the pilot of your airplane to be the best, don’t you?

The person in office won the race, and there are many who did not. In any class, there is a valedictorian, and many others. Even in our games, there is a “world champ” (even if the game is not global at all). You can’t have one, without the other. Somebody wins, somebody doesn’t. That would seem to be the way Life works; at least that is how my thinking works.

Some would have us believe otherwise.

In the world of religion, there exists this thing called the “church of nice.” It isn’t a matter of who is welcome, it is based on the acceptance of every human behavior under the sun, as if all activity was, well, just activity. Relative truth has shoved Absolute Truth aside, in the name of not wanting to hurt anybody’s feelings. On Sunday morning, for about an hour or so, you can hear how anything and everything you do is “ok”; but come Monday morning, you are reminded that everyone has a boss and not all paychecks were created equal. Quite the disconnect. Quite the non sequitur. Quite conflicting (and only confusing it you think about it).

Being no scholar or theologian myself, I find that I can’t reconcile the death of Jesus (not only the death of the Man per se, but the manner of death – i.e., excruciatingly protracted and painful) with the idea that none of the rest of us have to pay a price, of some sort. I just can’t fathom the idea that Jesus suffered what we all consider a horrible punishment, with the idea that we don’t have to do our share.  Jesus as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card just doesn’t work for me. This view is certainly popular; this view is certainly the fashion. We are lemmings, willing to accept any position that relieves us of responsibility. As long as society gives us the freedom to do anything we want, we’re going to exercise the freedom to not think about doing the right thing. Hell, it doesn’t matter anyway: not here, not now, not there, not later. Right?

Fine, Jesus died to make it possible for all of us to go to Heaven. Yep, I agree. But, there was this caveat that the gate is narrow – it ain’t gonna be easy. Furthermore, if we adhere to the concept that we have free choice, then we can, in fact, reject GOD (this is called “sin”), and Heaven. GOD is not going to force us to wind up in Heaven. It’s there, Heaven is. He is knocking on the door. He has already reconciled us to Himself (the Crucifixion). However, as Fr Barron goes on to say, everyone is invited to Heaven; but some decide not to join the party.