Crappy Christian

"Practicing" Christian, because one day I'll get it right.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I do not care for football. I don't watch it. I don't pretend to understand it. And really if I were queen of the world I'd eliminate American Football from the face of the earth. Despite my disinterest, I can't seem to escape the story of Ray Rice, a local (Baltimore Ravens) football player who knocked out his wife (then fiancee) in a hotel elevator. The response from the media has been one of shock and outrage. The news cycle doesn't seem to be done with the story, because an indefinite suspension, doesn't appear to be enough for the masses. Hopefully, the cycle will move towards redemption, for both Ray and Janay Rice, but right now I'm not hearing much about redemption.

What I am hearing is punishment and anger. The anger is justified and understandable. Punishment, necessary. Unfortunately, it has resulted in the NFL throwing both Ray and his wife out into the cold. What they need is love, paths towards forgiveness and redemption. What would have been nice, would have been for the NFL to suspend Rice for say a season, AND provide marriage/family counseling and anger management to the couple, to wrap their arms around this family and say, "we abhor what you (Ray) did and what we saw, but we want you to be a better man and a stronger woman, and we want to walk with you to that better place." But no, that's not what the masses want.

Thankfully, our Lord and Father is not the NFL. He offers redemption and forgiveness because he knows we are royal screw-ups deeply in need of both. I have seen G-d redeem my father, who was an angry drunk and abusive husband. When I doubt the Lord, I remember the miracle he worked in my parents' life how he brought back to life the dry bones of a marriage of 30 years after 10 years of divorce. No human could have brought forth that, no human (not his family nor friends) convinced my father to stop drinking and to heal whatever pain he was trying to self-medicate. 

Our Lord has redeemed thieves, murderers, and the like. He redeemed Saul, a man who sought to eliminate early Christians, we know him as Paul, author of several books in the New Testament. He redeemed John Newton, a slave trader in the 18th Century, who we know as the author of "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me...."

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."
Romans 3:23-24

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Prayers and intercessions

Today was a hard bike ride. Not because it was hot, but that didn't help. No, it was because of two lost women who I believe did not understand English all that well, trying to get somewhere on the 1000 blk of M St. NW. They stopped me and asked for directions on N St. I, figuring the city is a grid and you go with the grid, pointed them towards M St and the direction they needed to go but, OH NO DO NOT ENTER- ONE WAY. Being on a bike I forgot that the street was funky. I did not make myself clear and they wound up following me. Long story short, they went in the correct direction down a street that wouldn't help them. Hindsight kept bugging me on the way to work. I should have led them to a route that would have got them back on to M. Hindsight.
So I did what I thought I could do, I prayed. Somewhere on Massachusetts Ave, I prayed to G-d that the ladies would find their destination, or at least someone who spoke Spanish. Then later I asked St. Christopher, as I held my St. Christopher's medal and prayed for him to intercede for the women. Then when I got to work, I called up my husband and asked him to pray for the women.
If you pray, please pray for those who get lost on DC streets.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Watch what you watch

We used to watch TMZ for the entertainment value.
We don't have cable and we hardly watch network broadcast television so we miss out on the reality shows and latest anything, so TMZ was a way to hear about people we don't know nor care about. But we stopped, mainly because the show was too raunchy and I don't need anything from the show stuck in my head.
That is a problem I'm noticing. Maybe it is a sign of getting older because I don't remember scenes or outlooks from television getting playback in my head, when I didn't want it, when I was younger. Other stuff, like things I read would occasionally pop up in my younger days, but not often since I was in grad school and hardly read anything for fun. Now, and maybe at least since I became over 35, I noticed these things that I consume resurface, like a dead body in the river, when I least expect or desire them.
I can't watch Law & Order:SVU anymore. One reason, compared to all the other L&Os, this one was the worse. The others were more about the crime, not about the cops. Another reason, I prefer dead body police procedurals, not raped/abused person of any age procedural. A friend told me that since becoming a mom she couldn't watch L&O:SVU at all, it plants fear into your mind. I was bored and did watch one SVU episode and regretted it several days after when a script, a line of thought, kept replaying itself in my head. The problem was this script was distracting and countered all the other scripts that loop in my head that keep me happy and sane and focused on what matters. I don't need Hollywood's or NYC's writers to tell me of crime. When I first moved into my neighborhood I would hear gunshots often and I had 24 hour drug dealers on the corner. I figured out my own way of being safe in the city and TV warps it.
Though not television I had to take a certain song out of my workout playlist because it too was messing with my head. It must be an age thing. Things I used to listen to gleefully when I was a teen, semi-shocks me when I can't help but to get the double meaning. Back in the 80s it went over my head. But back to my pulled workout song, it was the clean version but I can fill in the blanks. The problem was I was constantly filling in the blanks in my head and I didn't like where my thought patterns were going.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Short: How Taxes differ from Charitable Giving

Of the many many ways taxes differ from charitable giving is that people don't spend time how they can give less charity, compared to how much effort is given for tax breaks, loopholes, shelters, and the like.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

He has risen

He has risen indeed!
Joyous Easter everybody, and I mean everybody for Christ died for you and me and a whole bunch of people. But better yet, he rose again, left the tomb, ran some errands in Hell and returned, and then left again ascending into Heaven.
I am engaging in my traditional Easter activity of staying home. I dislike crowds* with a growing passion. Last night's Easter vigil was good. Yes, I did give nasty looks to the kid who decided to make periodic loud "AH" noises. Yes, they are fun noises and if Jr. came to church regularly he would have gotten the novelty of the echo noises out of his system. The regular kids have their own way of experiencing mass, asleep, eating, staring at adults (including the priest), or a combination of those. Christmas and Easter just seem a little cruel to small kids. They are dragged to a strange place, forced to wear strange clothes that they cannot play in, surrounded by strange people, and if they go to a mass, smell strange smells. It's like only going to school on test or evaluation days. The Help was one of those kids. His childhood memory of church is puking on the playground of the random church his parents picked that year. Though baptized as a child he did not come to know Jesus until his late 30s. So with my data set of one, I don't have much faith in annual/biannual visits to church for children.
Of course, normally I'm home on Sundays anyway.

*Earlier that day I was at a crowded Awesome Con. I disliked the line and HATED the booth area. I had to escape at one point and let the Help wander the booths by himself. The crowded convention center was tolerated because of all the great costumes and get-ups.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

PCA church moves to weekly communion

I was at the Help's church this Sunday and they've been having communion every Sunday for Lent. Before it was just for Advent. And from now on they will be having it every week.
Good for them.
Lucky me I'm used to passing the plate of saltines and individual servings of wine/grape juice and it helps that we sit with a group who know I'm Catholic. I honestly don't want to confuse anyone, but I'm not participating. So I will avoid sitting next to the person who asked why I wasn't Christian. Nice person, but....
There are other things I don't participate in at the Help's church, like the praise songs. One, there are no music notes for me to read for the praise songs. Can I read music? Not really but I know a half note from a quarter note, and it helps to see that my voice is supposed to go higher on this part. Secondly, I don't buy or listen to these hippy-dippy Jesus is my girlfriend songs on the radio. They are absolutely foreign to me. Lastly, I don't trust those songs. To me the theology is a little wobbly on some of those lines or something is just plain wrong. Most of the time I can't put my finger on it.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Marriage savings/discount is not automatic

I was talking taxes with a friend, it is April after all, and I mentioned that according to TurboTax the Help and I are paying less than 11% (something like 10.54%) of our gross income to federal taxes. Friend was impressed (yea me, sidenote, another friend says she's paying nearly 0%, which is impossible or illegal), and wondered if it was because the Help and I were married. Unsaid, up to this point in the conversation was friend wondering if it would be worth it for him and longtime gay partner to marry. Unsaid by me in the whole thing was, no, and I went to prove it.

Before the Help and I married, our pre-marriage tax rate was about 12pointsomething%, after ten-point-something. On the surface you'd think, ah ha, we got a marriage tax savings. Ah, no. I noticed two things. One, our combined gross income was less post-marriage than pre-marriage, even though we both got raises in that time. I lost income renting out my extra room, which is now our room. Retirement and other pre-tax funky paycheck stuff also did it. Prior to marriage, we weren't putting much, if anything into retirement. By being one in marriage we are trying to be purposeful about our future and our finances are combined. My gay couple friends, have been together for a couple of decades and their finances are separated, and I don't see their accounts coming together any time soon. Sometimes I'm shocked how separate they live their lives at times.

The second thing that helped lower our tax rate were deductions. We pay more in local taxes (income & property) which is about half of our deductions. The other half, charitable giving. I give to my alma maters, we give to our churches, and one church I don't attend anymore. We give to local charities. I give to random charities. I was giving to charities before getting married, the Help did the 1040EZ and really didn't give much thought to giving. The Help's alma mater, UC-3rd Circle of Hell, will probably never ever get anything from him, and since I never went there, we won't be giving. We give to the school we both attended, only because I was giving to the school anyways. They just tacked his name on is the only difference. I know our friends volunteer for the arts, but I don't know if they regularly give to any one charity. They don't attend any weekly religious (there are many, many gay churches and gay friendly spiritual houses in DC) functions and so as I know don't regularly financially support any non-profit. Knowing one half of the couple he'd probably be very unwilling to give away significant amounts of his income.

So yes, in marriage we saved money. Not because some state granted us a marriage license, that helped, but because we began living as married people, being one with each other. I heard a financial guru say that the difference between being married and shacking up is 'the conversation is different.' We have had conversations about our future, with the assumption that in 20, maybe even 30 years (we're old, we married old, one of us will be dead before making it 40 years) we will still be one. I know the conversation is different in the way I've seen others lives, between the married and the shacked up.

Note: I forgot to mention the mortgage interest deduction, which is less now than what it was when we got married. That helps too, but less so as we throw more at our mortgage. But then again, we're going to get a 2nd mortgage for the construction planned this year.

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