Davis v Davis

Davis, Kim, Gary, 365 Christianity, Clerk, Christian, Rights

Unless you live in cave in the Canadian wilderness you have probably caught whim of a Legal vs. Christian faith confrontation in Kentucky. The case revolved around Kim Davis’, Rowan County Clerk, refusal to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples, a ruling recently handed down to lower courts by our U.S. Supreme Court.

Kim’s justification is that the mandate violated her conscience and civil liberties as a born-again Christian. In other words, her freedom of speech and right to dissent were being denied.

In another case, Charee Stanley (47), a recent convert to Islam, was recently suspended by ExpressJet for refusing to serve alcohol to passengers as it violated her religious beliefs. Other flight attendants simply volunteered to take up that part of the job. No problem!?! Except for one Flight Attendant who filed a complaint against her. Thus, the 12 month suspension for Charee.

Are these two cases the same? Similar? Totally different issues?

A perspective. First, I am a Davis— Dr. Gary Davis, to be exact. Second, I also am a practicing Christian. I even teach Christians how to express our faith in ways that make sense to normal people. Most people have NO IDEA who genuine Christians are. They think we are ALL like Kim Davis. I am not like Kim Davis. We may share the same Biblical faith, but that is where it ends.

At the risk of being accused of tooting my own horn, allow me to record a recent texting incident between myself and a friend (not a Christian) that I interviewed for my next book, THE WHISKEY CHRONICLES: what normal people think of Christians. He initiated this conversation—

TD: Just 2 words, “Kim Davis?” Thoughts?

GD: Kim Davis?

TD: Kentucky “Christian” city clerk.

GD: Oh, her. One word, JERK!

TD: Hahaaaaahaa. What do normal people think of Christians? Probably Kim Davis! It’s unfortunate. But I think of Gary Davis…, a real Christian. Time to get that book going.

GD: You are an amazing Encourager, TD! Writing. Writing. Videoing. NEED more Bourbon to finish book.

TD: Hahaaaahaaa. I’ll be right over with a barrel.

Question: Who did more to further the cause of Christ? Davis…, or Davis? Who would draw more people TO Christ? Who would polarize people more?

I’m sorry, Kim; but what were you thinking!?! I am sorry I referred to you as a jerk in my text; it was more of an emotional reactionary response than a reasoned one. Please forgive me.

I live in New England where under 1% of the total population attends church (except Boston; 7%). That’s not genuine Christians, who believe the Bible and attempt to follow its teachings; that percentage is even less. America is NOT a Christian nation; never has been, never should be. We ARE a nation that promotes religious freedom…, within our communities, and in the workplace. Kim believes she upheld her faith by denying marriage licenses to same sex couples. I believe she violated both her job mandate and Scripture’s mandate to be subject to the Bible’s teachings and with government ordinances—

 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities… .” ~ Romans 13:1 (NIV Bible)

Seriously, Kim Davis, although I support your right to dissent, your shape of Christianity just did more to embarrass the name of Christ in our society than to draw people to Him. But you are not alone; too many Bible believing Christians still insist ondefending the faith against this world rather than befriending the people who live in it. Christians are not a bad lot if you can push past our oft offensive antics.

Question: So what can we do to resolve our differences? What can we do live in community with one another.

Comments & criticisms welcome.

…for what it’s worth,

  Gary

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Vermicompost

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Worms, Compost, Vermicompost                 Vermicompost is the product or process of composting using various worms, usually red wigglers, white worms, and other earthworms to create a heterogeneous mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste, bedding materials, and vermicast. Vermicast, commonly known as worm poop, is the end product (pun intended) of the breakdown of organic material by an earthworm. -Wikipedia

We had a cute little depressing nursery rhyme when I grew up— “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me; I’m gonna go eat worms.” ‘Turns out that might not be a bad idea. Worms seem to have a way of turning organic materials into a super-rich fertilizer. Eventually, they will even turn you and me into fertilizer. Doesn’t that just make your day!?! So the next time you feel like $#*%, enjoy it! You’re finally on your way to making a difference in this world. Worm poop at last!

You can find a ray of hope in everything. In pain, in prison; in terrible poverty or in facing death, there is always a hope that beams within us just below the surface of what everyone else sees. Why is that? Where does it come from? I believe it is a remnant of the glory of creation, where the entire Universe came into Being. Birds have it, I know dogs do, and children…, they have it. WE have it too; it’s just that we’ve allowed it to be buried deep within the dark void of our souls, unable to break through to the surface.

I’ve had my share of pain and horror in life, betrayal and judgment: somehow I’ve always been able to feel that glowing ember of hope, burning deep within, underneath the anguish of the moment, or month, or year. I truly believe that it was placed there by our Creator; it’s there to remind us that we are not alone. That leftover spark from the first millisecond of time is what still connects us to the Universe and to the God who made us. If I did not believe that, I would be no more than a speck of dust— a compilation of atoms that even the worms wouldn’t want. That connection is the real “god-particle.”

So the next time you feel like worm-poop, try to feel that tiny glowing spark of Creation still glowing with you. It’s there. Go digging. [Note- You might have to dig through a lot of worm poop to get to it.]

For what it’s worth, poopy-head,

  Gary

Getting Lost

Lost, Thoreau, Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, risk, reflectionMost of us, at some time or another, will get lost. It may be as simple as getting lost on back roads or forgetting where your glasses are; or, more seriously, getting lost in life; that is, losing your sense of direction, purpose, and/or identity. In short, you no longer know where you are, who you are, or where you are heading.

A dead stop.

In the midst of that empty confusion certain questions start to arise—

How did I get here? What could I have done differently? How do I start to dig out of this mess? More importantly— How do I find myself again? Who am I now? What do I do next?

Anxiety starts to immobilize your spirit; you cannot take any action for fear of further failure. But you have to do something. Anything! Here are some of the things I’ve done when I’ve gotten lost.

1. I start taking small steps. What are the little things you can definitely accomplish that will bring some semblance of stability or order to your life? Do that. Then do another one.

2. Keep in mind that when you are lost everything is a risk. Things you used to do as a simple matter have now morphed into insurmountable monsters. Nonetheless, you must face those monsters to overcome them. I had to. And I corralled a cadre of friends to stand by me as I faced them.

3. Don’t ask God to do for you what you must do yourself. He is definitely in charge. But we are not mindless robots. He expects us to act responsibly with the time He has given us.

4. God can’t direct a parked car. Start moving. If it’s in the wrong direction, He’ll redirect you.

5. Establish NEW points of reference for your journey. The former points of reference are gone; you’ve already passed them. If you want to find your way again, you’ll need to discover a whole new set of reference points to guide you. I find I need to cut back on my activities to give my mind, and heart, time to process the mental & emotional shift. What will most likely be the next sign along your path that you are getting back on track?

With all the variables we have to juggle these days it’s easy to get lost along the way. You have to work hard to get back on track. So get to it. Drive! You will not stay lost for long. [Proverbs 16:3.]

Honor God, honor people…, make a path,

Gary

Mostly Pure

Clueless, Pure, Garrison, Keilor, Mostly, Pure, Christian, Dr, Gary, Davis, NeedincIf you’ve ever driven ‘cross country on Saturday night you might have tuned-in to PBS’s PRAIRE HOME COMPANION, a weekly broadcast of Garrison Keilor, onetime resident of the ill-fitted Lake Wobegone, and modern satirical comedian.

The show is “sponsored” by the fictitious product “Powdermilk Biscuits,” whose slogan is “Made from whole wheat raised in the rich bottomlands of the Lake Wobegon river valley by Norwegian bachelor farmers; so you know they’re not only good for you, but pure … mostly,” which “give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done. Heavens they’re tasty and expeditious.” Powdermilk Biscuits has its own theme song, sung by Keillor every week. And NO, I’m not going to sing it for you.

It has always been fascinating to me how something can be “mostly pure.” I question this every time I read the ingredients listed on our food products. “Mostly pure?!?”  I think. What does that mean? I also think of it at funerals when people speak of the deceased as “a good man.” It’s the reflection in their voice that gives me pause— like they’re trying to convince themselves of it.

Defining anything as mostly pure causes me to wonder if we even know what pure actually is anymore. A girl who is a virgin is defined as pure as she approaches marital status. “Pure 100% Virgin Olive Oil” makes me curious about what the other olive oils are. Are they like Dove Soap— “99.99% pure. It’s almost as if being described as pure is derogatory, especially if you are a young lass. I mean, who wants to marry someone who is still a virgin!?! Really.

Our culture doesn’t seem concerned with being pure in any way whatsoever, whether it be sexually, morally, politically, or in family and business priorities and commitments. Why is that?

Here are just four causes for our loss of concern for purity

1.      We’ve become jaded. Thanks to modern media we can learn everything about anybody. It’s on the Internet, in the Tabloids, and on Headline News. We’ve grown accustomed to our public figures, be they politicians, athletes, or celebrities, being “dirty” in some way. And we simply accept it.

2.      It’s all about winning. UCLA Bruins football coach Henry Russell (“Red”) Sanders has said “Winning isn’t everything: it’s the ONLY thing!” (1950) Win at all costs, by skill, cheating, trickery…, whatever. Just win!

3.      Our base concern is the Bottom-Line. Making money is the only thing that matters. Screw anybody, just to make a buck. Remember the Wall Street broker’s answer to the question?  “How much money is enough?”  “More! That’s why lawyers are brought in to arbitrate an agreement. It is assumed that both parties will write the contract in their favor exclusively. Purity and fairness never come into the equation.

4.      A total abnegation of personal and corporate (not to mention governmental) Integrity. We no longer have a problem with disguising a lie as a truth, or with omitting certain data to make ourselves look better. Pragmatism has supplanted personal integrity in unfathomable ways.

To change this cultural-life pattern is no simple task. But we must start (yes, again) to correct our ways before God and our fellow men & women. Might I suggest we start with our own lives and relationships, and then press on to demand some degree of personal integrity and purity from our cultural leaders? 99.99% is sounding pretty good. Mostly pure!

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

New Year’s Warnings

New Years 2015. Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Warnings, Consider this LIST…

            Now that our world’s financial situation is more secure, given the amount of consumer spending that took place at Christmas/Chanukah, we must rush to plan our New Year’s Eve celebrations in less than a week. And, frankly, I love the way we have come to say good-bye to the last year and WELCOME! to the new year.

The celebrations set forth the expectations of hope and accomplishment in the weeks & months to come; with the exception, of course, of weight-loss. Let’s not get the New Year off on a bad foot.

In keeping with this theme, allow me to offer some of the life-long-learning precepts I’ve stumbled upon along the way.

1.      Plan for your summer family vacation within the first two weeks of January.

2.      Take a New Year’s Day hike somewhere…, anywhere; except over fields of landmines.

3.      Look at next year’s financial picture while you watch football. IT mixes the serious with the sublime. You can decide which is which.

4.      If you are married, ask your wife/husband how you can love them MORE next year.

5.      Set personal goals for your work-performance. It is not about getting that promotion: it is about making a difference in your workplace and in the lives of your fellow employees.

6.      Plan to give $$$ away this coming year—lots of it. You will have more $$$ if you do. Don’t ask me how this works; it simply does. Trust me on this.

7.      Eat out at a nice place once a month. It will remind you of your aspirations; and oh, tip big.

8.      Avoid death, but take some scary risks in the New Year. You need to remind yourself how precious yet fragile life really is.

9.      Face some of the BIG questions. “Where did all this stuff come from?” “Do I have a place in the grand scheme of things?” “What is it?” “How do I show love?” “How do I receive love?” “Am I ready to face my Maker?” “Who will win the Superbowl?” “Describe “God.”

10.  Remember to breathe. You know what I mean.

There…, that should give you some things to think about during commercials. Forget making New Year’s Resolutions…, just DO this list.

Happy New Year!

  Gary

Thanks-giving

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Turkey, Thanks, Thanksgiving, Thankful Once a year in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving; a time to remember to be thankful for all that we have. Friends and family gather together to give thanks over a bountiful meal, with turkey & mashed potatoes & gravy, yams, green beans with slivered almonds, coleslaw, cranberry sauce, fresh rolls from the oven…, and pie! Apple pie (a la mode), pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, even rhubarb pie. Kinda gets your mouth watering.

And football. LOTS of football! This year, depending on the number of channels you pay for, there are 3 NFL games from which to choose; but that’s just the NFL. Did I mention there’s more food! Hot crab dip, onion dip, spicy habanero salsa, and even Tzatziki. Blown your diet yet?

Then think of the next 3 weeks + of turkey & cranberry sauce sandwiches. Maybe not.

Oddly, one of the things missing in all this celebration and comradery is— remembering to give thanks.  In most American families not even a prayer of thanks is offered before the meal anymore. Who are we supposed to thank? What’s the history of Thanksgiving? Google it.

Here are some suggestions on how to instill an aspect of thanks-giving into your Thanksgiving.

1.      Whether you are the chef, invited guest, or family, gather your wits about you to celebrate with an attitude of how can I serve rather than serve me.

2.      If you are a guest, bring something. Anything. It’s historical.

3.      DO NOT make football the god-of-the-day.

4.      If you believe in God, DO start with a prayer of thanks-giving.

5.      If you do not believe in God, at the beginning of the meal, thank the chef! Profusely.

6.      Toward the end of the meal, go ‘round the table asking each one there to offer at least one thing for which they are thankful. Kids included.

7.      Offer to help with the dishes! If others don’t offer, conscript them. Note- the chef is not allowed to participate in kitchen clean-up.

8.      If you are a guest, do not linger about forever. Unless invited to stay, leave after you do the dishes.

9.      If you are the host, be gracious, but sit down. Stop!

10.  NOW you can sit and watch more football. [After you go for a hike to shed the excess bulk.]

From our family to yours, we wish you the best season of thanks-giving ever. Gobble gobble.

 

Happy Thanksgiving,

  Gary

troubled

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Death with Dignity

Brittany, Maynard, Death, Dignity, Compassion, suicide, Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christian, HemmingwayDeath with Dignity— Brittany Maynard, 19 November 1984 – 3 November 2014

(CNN)—  Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old who said she had terminal brain cancer, took medication to end her life under Oregon’s ‘Death with Dignity Act,’ advocacy group Compassion & Choices said Sunday.

“Brittany chose to make a well thought out and informed choice to Die With Dignity in the face of such a terrible, painful, and incurable illness,” a post on her website said. “She moved to Oregon to pass away in a little yellow house she picked out in the beautiful city of Portland.”

In a statement, Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy group that has been working closely with Maynard, said she “died as she intended – peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones.”

 

Brittany Maynard was an incredible young woman. She lived her life as she saw fit. And she ended her life as she saw fit; not enduring the agony of a terminal brain cancer, but rather choosing to die with dignity, foregoing further deterioration and suffering.

Some years ago my friend Tom faced the same choice. At age 24 he started feeling like something was very wrong. It was. His body was spotted with all kinds of cancerous cells. Like Brittany, he too made it almost to his 29th birthday, dying just 3 days before. Unlike Brittany, Tom chose to endure the pain and suffering, the loss of mobility and, eventually, mind. His death, too, was surrounded by family and friends.

Why did Tom make his decision to suffer to the end, rather than to end his life with dignity? Tom trusted in God for his life and did not believe he had a right to tamper with the decision to end it.

So, what is it to die with dignity? In Brittany’s heart and mind she believed she made the honorable, dignified decision. Tom made a different decision. Was his death any less dignified than Brittany’s? This comparison raises a serious philosophical question. Death is a complex issue. Who is the final arbiter of our passing? Soldiers sacrifice their lives for the lives of their comrades-in-arms; family members willingly put their lives on the line to save a brother, a sister, a child, a wife. But giving your life for another is not the same as taking your own life. The first is sacrificial; the second is self-centered.

The question is— Do we have the right to make the decision to end our life? In many ways I can understand Brittany’s decision. In so many other ways, I cannot. It benefited her tremendously, I suppose. But it also deprived those she loved the experience of processing her death with her; through pain, suffering, disorientation, and the end. But can we truly call it death with dignity when her death was actually assisted suicide? She believed she was dead already. I believed she deprived those who loved her from their responsibility and joy of caring for her to the bitter end.

Determining the morality of Brittany’s decision is something we need to discuss in this culture. Her choice should give us pause about our own ethic, or lack thereof, when facing our own mortality. We really do not want to think about such things until our own life is at stake.

If the truth be known, we chose not to think much about anything smacking of ultimate realities. It is simply much easier to let life carry us on from one event to the next. This is not very smart. Sooner or later we will all have to face the tougher questions in life— some sooner than later. But if we do not face them, life will seem very cruel when it takes us by surprise.

If we accept Brittany’s choice to take her own life (suicide) then we have progressed (?) to the point of convenient functionality in our society. If your father is failing, help him end his life. If your child is dying, do the same. Or maybe we need to establish a maximum age, say 70, beyond which the elderly are deemed non-productive and useless in contributing further to our society.

Really!?!

We have finally fulfilled Earnest Hemmingway’s social prophesy—

“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

~For Who the Bell Tolls (1940)

Questionable Contracts

 Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, Contracts, Questionable, Compromised,             It was a lovely dinner at their favorite restaurant with appetizers, wine, a beautifully presented main course and a special dessert, prearranged with the chef by John. Following a lengthy explanation the nature of commitment proclaiming his deep love for her, and a declaration of intent-to-marry, Sam dropped to one knee, gazed into Susannah’s eyes, and said those four heart throbbing words— Will you marry me?

She, of course, said yes! They were engaged. Over the next few weeks they excitedly told family and friends about their intended path toward matrimony, choose invitations, booked a place for the wedding/reception, and groveled at their parents’ feet for the $50,000 to pay for it all. They had much to discuss. Do I hear $12,000?

One night after watching a movie together, John slipped in the idea of having a prenuptial agreement, to assure their commitment would always last. Susannah was less than enthusiastic.

To be sure, contracts are meant to protect both parties in case something goes wrong with their commitment to each other. In business, that’s wise. In marriage? It seems more like a guarantee of temporary bliss followed by eventual failure.

The sad thing is that too many contracts are designed with loop-holes that can be used to default on the commitment. We think— If things don’t go perfectly (read- the way I want them to), then I’ll just sneak out of this one. Be it in a marriage or a merger, if we don’t get everything we want— we end it.

There are many reasons these escape clauses are slipped into contracts. One of the main reasons is that, over centuries, people have come to learn that they cannot trust one another, in business or in marriage. “I have to protect my own self first.” If people were inherently good this would not be a problem of course; but history shows otherwise.

Thus do we compromise on our commitments. We find those loop-holes that we can slip through and so slip our way out of the spirit of the agreement, though not the letter of the contract. We renege on our commitments in relationships, in business, and in life in general; all to protect ourselves and then the other parties.

What would happen if we put the other person or company first? What if the contract or marriage vow assured blessing and safety for the other first? Could we possibly be hurt or betrayed? Of course. But we would also be on our way to changing this world.

Remaining honorable in commitments rules out subsequent confrontation later.  Win/Win is always the best option.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

Pondering Magic and Mystery

Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, universe, magic, mystery, deep magic, LewisWhen I was quite young, 12-13, I dabbled in magic. Nothing serious at first, but then it started to draw me in. there are, of course, simple tricks that can be done with slight-of-hand or through hidden mechanical devices. These were simple and fun presentations that astonished my fellow 13 year olds. But the more I got into the sport of magic the deeper I wanted to go.

Toying with the deeper aspects of magic was exciting. Then it grew subtly darker, alluring me and luring me in, to a point where it became increasingly uncomfortable. There came over me a sense of exhilaration at the prospect of manipulating this darker power; until one performance where things got terribly out of control. I had gone too far; I was in too deep and I knew it.

That was probably the first time I had ever prayed in my life. Not one of those Now I lay me down to sleep…, prayers: more like— O my God! What am I doing? Help me! The next day I burned all my tricks equipment and books on magic in our backyard.

Thanks to C.S. Lewis I have later learned of the deep magic, the cosmic dance of the wonder of this Universe and how it holds together. This truly deep magicis the underlying force that draws all matter, energy, and beings under the constant sustaining care of a God-Creator.

            We ignore these mysteries in this present age to our peril. We disregard them as fancy, fables, myths, or archaic religious fairy-tales. But the question remains— Why have they persisted from antiquity into this supposedly postChristian, empirical, “scientific” age? Could it be that there are different kinds of Truths that persist even though they are undiscoverable through our scientific method? Maybe the mystery and magic of old persist because they are real, yet exist in a realm that does not fit our investigations.

            Yet today we insist that science and religion are enemies. Science is about discovering truth: religion is about myth, fanciful postulations for the yet undiscovered. Really!?!

            Do we actually believe that ALL that can be known will be discovered by scientific methodology? Is human ingenuity that stunted? Is human arrogance that portentous? Then we must determine that either our minds are too feeble to make room for the grandeur that is our realm; or, that the wonder of our universe is not that spectacular at all.

            With the myriad of discoveries unveiled seemingly every day I dare say we are in over our heads on either account. Our universe is still full of magic, and certainly full of mystery.

            So help us God!

A fellow journeyman,

Gary