Apocalypse

It’s now the seventh week of the COVID-19 outbreak. Electricity has been out for nearly a month, and I’m running low on ammunition and gun oil. The looting has slowed now that the virus has fully taken hold. Some joker set up a solar panel in a tree to play It’s the End of the World on a loop all day long. I can only hope he died in agony shortly thereafter. I’ve considered cutting down the tree, but don’t want to waste the battery for my chainsaw in case the zombies come back. I’d ask you to tell my family I love them, but I know none of us will survive this. If only I’d hoarded more toilet paper.

Game Hints

Mommy and Daddy gave me a game system in my room. It only has a few buttons, and the only display is a number and a few lights. They’re too cheap to get me a really good game system, but I make due with what I have.

The point of this game is to make the number go a high as possible. Mom and Daddy can only get a score of sixty-eight, sometimes seventy. I can do much better. Obviously.

What I figured out is that if you push the button on the right until the light next to “High” stays on, you can get a much higher score. But I bet most you out there knew that. No, I’m here to tell you how to truly get the highest possible score.

I discovered and honed this exploit myself, so if you use it in a video, please leave a link back to this explanation. The key is to think outside the box, literally. The buttons on the game only get you so far. I’ve tried offering the game toys and books, but those don’t seem to have a significant impact on the score. What does work, however, is to take your blanket and put it over and around the game.

You might be tempted to look at the number from time to time, but for the best possible score, leave the blanket in place and don’t move it. If the air starts to smell funny, that means it’s working. The only slight issue with this exploit is that if Daddy finds out he’ll take away your game. My parents get so petty when I beat their score.

Samaritans

Our congregation has started out the new year with a series about the parables in the book of Luke. This is right up my alley, and last Sunday we tackled the parable of the Good Samaritan. Since we’re supposed to sit quietly and not ask questions, I have a lot of pent up ideas. Fortunately, I have a website.

For those of you who don’t trust me, you can find the full text in Luke 10:25-37, but I’m going to rehash it here. An expert in the law asked Jesus “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” This may be the earliest recorded instance of someone asking this question of a Rabbi, but it became very popular as Jewish eschatology advanced in the following centuries. Jesus, being a proper Rabbi, returned the question to the expert, treating the expert as his student. The man was not deterred and answered “Love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus praised the scholar, but the scholar was only coming to his real point. “And who is my neighbor?” he asked Jesus.

This question might seem strange to us, but to the culture of Jesus’s time it was a big deal. They were trying to maintain their cultural identity and their unique relationship with God. To do that, you needed to associate only with like-minded people, and Jesus seemed to have a problem with that. He wasn’t sticking to the devout Jews only, but had picked up a following of sinners and tax-collectors, and there was some concern that he might even have dealings with less savory characters like Samaritans or Gentiles.

So Jesus tells a story. “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (probably to avoid going through Samaria), when he was attacked and robbed. His body was left broken and barely clinging to life along the road when a priest, on his way to the temple, passed by. He saw this man and his plight, and quickly crossed to the other side of the road and continued to Jerusalem. Soon, a Levite, also heading for his duties at the temple, came along. He likewise saw the suffering man and crossed the road to avoid him. Finally, a despised Samaritan came up the road. He saw the beaten man and had compassion. He tended the man’s wounds and carried him to safety. “Who was a neighbor here?” asked Jesus.

The expert in the law could only reply “The one who had mercy on him.”

In the sermon last Sunday we heard about the importance of caring for those in need. We even heard about the need to avoid racism and xenophobia, important messages at times such as these. Yet I cannot believe that was the point of the story Jesus told. I just think the real meaning is something we have a little trouble talking about in Christian circles.

The story is not, as we might hope, about a Jew reaching out to help a struggling outsider. This is a story about the Kingdom of God and how to live out God’s will, and like most of Jesus’s parables the problem is religion. All Jews knew they should love their neighbor, and this man who was beaten and left for dead was certainly a neighbor in need. The problem was that there were other laws that superseded helping someone in need. In particular, people doing holy jobs, such as this priest and Levite, needed to maintain their purity to do their jobs. Touching a potentially dead body or getting contaminated by blood would rendered them unfit for service. In order to maintain the temple this suffering man had to be left to die. It was only the Samaritan, with no theological statement to make, who could actually get down and help the wounded.

The message to the expert in the law, and to us, is to stop worrying about keeping up our holiness and get down into the trenches with those who are in need. Jesus was not opposing God by reaching out to the unclean of his society. He was doing his will.

I think the relevance of this message is hard to deny. How would the world be better if we could reach out to the divorced person, the unwed mother, the homosexual, and the drug addict without fearing what our peers may think? What would they think if we cared more about binding up wounds than maintaining our purity? As Jesus told the expert, “Go and do likewise.”

The Cat of Unintended Consequences

My parents live back a series of gravel roads in the lower foothills of the Appalachian mountain range. Their next door neighbor is a country song come to life. He lives in a trailer. His wife left him. His dog died.

To make matters worse, his son and his son’s wife had been living in his trailer. He started building a barn-like structure behind the trailer for them to live in once their baby was born, but after the birth of their child and associated domestic squabbles, both left, leaving behind a half-completed structure and five cats.

Not being a man familiar with the concept of house cats, he has done the best he could, setting out boxes with straw in them, and placing food out for them regularly. However, the cats are left, as cats often are, to wander freely wherever their feline desires lead.

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Long Time, No Bob

I have not, despite all indications to the contrary, died. I have, however, been busier than I ever wish to be again. I make no promises that content will be coming regularly. I just wanted the world to know that Bob is still alive (and for that matter, so are Kelly and Miranda).

Imaginary Friends

I have often thought that the parents have no imagination, but I now find that to be simply untrue. Instead, they have a rather curious form of imagination which I feel I must disclose for the benefit of the many others of you out there struggling to raise parents.

This particular bout of imagination has recently struck the parents, presumably because of their having spent far too much time indoors over the recent months. In fact, it is the doors themselves which seem to trigger this particular delusion. I will describe it for you, although I confess that even I would have a hard time believing such a thing had I not observed it with my own eyes on multiple occasions.

As you know, the snow is rather delightful this time of year, and I, being the lover of nature that I am, try to take advantage of this wonder as often as I can, though it is troublesome because the parents insist of placing my coat up high where I cannot reach it, forcing me to ask for their assistance, but I’m getting off the subject.

Anytime I open the door to go outside, one of the parents will invariably yell, “Close the door Miranda, you’re letting all the heet out!” At first I thought maybe there were some small creatures named heets that I have somehow missed, but after close analysis of the doorway, I have determined that no small creature is trying to escape. It was only then that I realized what wonderful imaginations the parents have. I can understand their need for such a mental crutch, as being a parent seems very unfulfilling.

In respect to their delusion, I close the door. After all, I wouldn’t want to let the “heet” get out. The parents would get so lonely.

Spicy Snow

It’s that most wonderful time of the year again, and snow is once again falling from the sky, which, as you all know, means it’s time for me to help Daddy shovel the driveway. I have really refined my methods this year, to the point where, honestly, Daddy would be lost without me. In fact, I have to stay very close to him and make sure I shovel right where he is trying to shovel, for his protection and education.

My most recent shoveling expedition was highly disappointing. Instead of snow, we had rain, and the driveway was covered with little ice chunks, which aren’t nearly as good for making snowballs. Nevertheless, I helped Daddy scrape them off the driveway. Daddy said we had to clear it because some friends were coming over later and he didn’t want them to slip.

Apparently he shared my disappointment about the lack of snow, as, a few minutes later, he emerged from the garage with a shaker and began depositing big pieces of snow all over the steepest parts of the driveway and on the sidewalk. It was very loud and hard snow, but I guess that’s probably just because he had kept it in the garage for so long.

I should mention, at this point, that not only in snow great for making snowballs to throw at Daddy, but it is also a delicious and healthy snack, and I try to eat as much of it as I can when it’s in season. It has a great crisp flavor that no other form of precipitation can match.

So, naturally, I had to try out some of Daddy’s garage snow. For those of you who may be tempted to try it yourself, do not eat garage snow. I think keeping it in containers makes it go bad. Stick to the fresh snow. It’s not as spicy.

The Parent Trap

Many of you out there ask how it is that I manage to deal with raising such terrible parents. I have found that the key to making it bearable is to treat the parents as a source of entertainment. The parents are rather simple-minded folks, and it is a source of great amusement to me to watch their puny minds contend with my great intellect.

My latest game is one that really gets them wound up. “Mommy, I want to take a nap,” I say.

“Do you really want a nap?” she asks me.

“Yes. I’m really sleepy.” We head upstairs towards my room. “I don’t want to take a nap, Mommy.”

“But you just said you did.”

“No, I don’t want a nap. I want to go downstairs.”

“Why don’t you try taking a nap?”

“No, I want to go downstairs.” Mommy starts to go back downstairs. “I want to take a nap!”

Eventually I decide to move to the next phase. I go to my room and get into bed. I say goodbye to Mommy and snuggle under my covers.

I know she waits outside my room, so I stay very quiet. Eventually she will decide I’m asleep and go downstairs. I give her a moment, to really increase the comedic value, and then start pounding on my bedroom door. “I need to use the potty.”

She comes back to my room and we use the potty. This time she asks a few extra times if I want a nap. I assure her I do, and she puts me into my bed and eventually goes downstairs.

“Mommy, help my find my monkey!”

We go through the cycle again. “Mommy, I need to poop!”

“Mommy, I’m done with my nap now!”

I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way anyone would be stupid enough to fall for that more than once.” The parents, however, never seem to catch on.

It doesn’t quite make up for all that the parents put me through, but as I’ve found, it really is the little things that make life enjoyable.