The Good Samaritan

       Today I had off work I wanted to do some writing at the Philadelphia Free Library. I got a hoagie and a soda and walked to the fountain to sit down and eat. I sat and ate my lunch. I could see the Art Museum, home of the Rocky steps.  I looked around and noticed there were only a few others enjoying this spot. One was an older woman eating a bagged lunch. She had a sandwich in a plastic bag and a small juice box. After she was done eating she got up and left. A few minutes later a man came wondering, more like stumbling, into the park around the fountain. Judging by his disheveled appearance and dragging feet he had obviously seen some hard times. He walked to each separate trashcan placed around the fountain and looked inside. He didn’t find anything. Each time he searched one of the bins he came up empty and his demeanor dropped even lower. He staggered over to where I was sitting and I knew he was going to ask me for money. I thought about how much I hated people like this. They were everywhere in the city. They line the streets laying in gutters begging for change. They hound you and guilt you into giving them money.

O how wrong I have been! As a kid, I hated asking my parents for money. I did it out of necessity. Or so I thought. I thought I needed things. If I didn’t have the money to pay for it, I’d beg my parents to get it for me. Most of the time, I’d end up losing whatever it was anyway. Then I got a sick feeling in my stomach. This man, these people, don’t ask for money because they want to, they do it because they have to. Could you imagine asking for money to eat, let alone beg for it? Imagine asking your parents for money to pay rent, for groceries, and then imagine asking a complete stranger. How low would you have to be? How desperate? To ask someone you don’t know to help you feed yourself. The shame of that concept, the embarrassment, made me put down my sandwich and prepare to hand it over to this man. I couldn’t imagine letting someone into my life like that. To let a stranger know that, “Hey, I’m broke and can’t even pay for food, can you help me.” Think about the information that comes with that admission. Divulging intimately personal secrets that most of us would guard against our lives. Think about the assumptions that come with that knowledge; probable drug addiction, degradation, zero home life, no family, no friends, no hope. These people are alone. And there are a lot of them. As he approached I put my hands in my pockets, in a preemptive motion to empty my pockets. I didn’t have that much on me, but I was willing to part with the rest of it, my BBQ chips, and the end of my sandwich. Then the unthinkable happened.

 He walked right past me. He walked over to the bench recently vacated by the woman with the juice box. In the exact spot, she was sitting there was a tiny pyramid of plastic juice and snack boxes and a sandwich. The man picked up the sandwich and pocketed two of the boxes. Leaving one apple juice. He unwrapped the sandwich and tossed the bag on the ground. The woman had left food, without any knowledge that a mere minute and a half later, a man would come along and she would have satisfied his painful hunger. Maybe she did know. Either way, she had done something selfless. No thank you, no pat on the back, and no tax return. We often do things because we want people to know we did them. I don't know who this woman was, but she should be canonized. 

Doing something without an ulterior motive, without the possibility of recognition, without a reward, is what it's all about. 


Have you ever had that feeling, you know the one, like you're being watched? It's a worry or a slight apprehension. Sure it's agitating, but it's nothing to be scared of, it's probably just nerves. Classic butterflies in your tummy..but that anxiety turns to unease as the floorboards creak. I'm not talking about the creeps, the willies, the Heebie Jeebies. A tiny twinge of angst like a bee sting pinprick sends a bucket of ice water cascading down your spine. I'm talking about dread. A shiver. A moment of foreboding gives way to alarm and panic inside you. Fright warps your mind already throbbing as the walls close in around it. And then, finally, when everything is quiet, the moment you've been waiting for has arrived at your doorstep, danger knocks... Consternation, perturbation, ominous trepidation! Skin crawling, teeth chattering, blood curdling terror! A coffin opens as nails claw the wood, a wolf on a mountaintop howls in the distance silhouetted by the full moon, Womp Womp Wommmppp! Oh, the horror! Muwahaha. Lions, tigers, and bears! OH MY...

I'm not talking about the kind of fear you can buy for $15 at your local cinema, $20 if it's in IMAX 
3D. I'm not even talking about the fears we usually talk about. Fear of flying or spiders or snakes, crowds, clowns, or foreigners. I'm not talking about tight spaces water or the dark. Did you know that aibohphobia is the fear of palindromes? Erythrophobia is the fear of blushing, embarrassment, and red lights. Ergasiophobia is the fear of being employed. I personally struggled with this for many years along with alektorophobia, which is the fear of chickens. For obvious reasons. There is something called Eleutherophobia which is the fear of freedom. I'd say this is the least of my worries. In fact, I'm rather an eleutheromaniac!

Erotophobia is the fear of being in a sexual situation, while fenophobia is the fear of sex in general. Mormons are predominantly affected by this. Just kidding. Please don't smite me. And for reference, geliophobia is the fear of laughter. I wonder what the fear of oral sex is? Mywifeaphobia? Ba dum tss. Gerascophobia is the fear of growth, progress, or evolution. A bibliophobe is someone who is afraid of books or libraries, while uranophobia is the fear of Heaven. If you can believe there are people afraid of Heaven. Whether you believe in it or not is one thing, but to be afraid of the actual idea the possibility, is downright horrifying. Atychiphobia is the fear of failure, which I hear has the largest percentage of undiagnosed cases in the US. I'll get to the point for fear of being long winded...

   I am talking about THE FEAR. The one we all have. The one we don’t have a name for that stops us dead in our tracks like Deer transfixed by the blinding pearlescent fog lights of some Audi. Put yourself in that animal's hooves, somewhere along the entire navigational timeline of your life, you made a decision or decisions that brought you to this point. To this spot in the road. Do you let fear dictate your direction? Standing with your metaphorical pants down in front of a fast-moving, rapidly approaching 4000 lbs metallic beast made of not four but four hundred horses barreling down upon you, eight thousand RPMs, screaming move or watch your entire existence come to an end. I am Shiva destroyer of worlds. Do we let it destroy us? Do we cower in its shadow and let it dictate the direction of our lives? An enemy stands at our gates and the last white flag was just used to bandage your arm. So, I ask you, dear friend, what do we do now? Do we run? Or reload? The Belroq rises from its ashen tomb, breathing fire into the air, standing between us and our chosen path, threatening our very existence, our very freedom, our very lives. Sure, we face total and absolute annihilation, but what a meager cost to wager against victory. Will we let it ruin that which we have worked so hard for? Will we give in now after we've come so far? 

You shall not pass. When caught between two choices, two opposing forces, two complete and utter antithetical anathemas, do you cut off your own arm and live, or die? Forget the odds; remember the stakes. When the walls close in and Luke uselessly tries to barricade them with a pipe, while Chewie's banging on the door and everyone is screaming and freaking out what do you do? We find ourselves in these situations in our lives, not quite sure how we arrived there. We are shocked, faced with the ultimate decision, nay, offered the chance finally to stand up for something bigger than our lives. We can either turn around and go back the way we came or we can hop the fence. We stand frozen while it grips us, shaking us down. It slams us into submission so fast you’d think it was Royce Gracie or Kurt Angle with the Anklelock. When faced with the Sleeper hold, The  Figure Four, The Sharpshooter, or dare say it the LION TAMER, do we tap out?

Second WWF picture used in this blog. Suck it.
When you are face to face with fear, do you run away? Turn on a dime, scoop up your pants, and leave a Roadrunner-esque puff of smoke where your body used to be. Peace, see ya later, no thanks, I’m outta here. It could be taking that job, moving to that city, or just asking for that number, but for that split second let your mind wander to what could happen if you just, uh, excuse, but the moment is gone. The prospect of doing something and failing, the shame, the disappointment, the pain, is often too much to gamble against the safety and comfort of our own ineptitude. Are you willing to take the risk? Sure it may backfire and blow up in your face, but at least we went for it right? What if we shot for the moon, bet the house, swung for the fences, sure it's a long shot, and maybe we were being a bit foolish, but at least we weren’t afraid?

The judges of fate toss our lives onto a heavily weighted scale every day. Somehow of the countless chances you had to avoid this moment you are now stuck with two options, two weapons left in your vast strategic arsenal, two plans, neither of which were A or B. Do we let it hammer us, stomp and tramples us into the ground? Do we let it take the bridge? Do we die without a clutching embrace from a fallen comrade with a speech of faraway seas and misty childhood nostalgic reverie, cue Taps, and BUH BUH BUH...

No. We stand and fight back because fear isn't real. It's an invention to make our lives easier, like money or the internet. It's an efficient and expedited route to the end. An unobstructed EZ-pass lane to a life of blindingly bland boredom and missed opportunities. How do we combat this dark shapeless force with inexhaustible resources? You may think simple confidence will help, or mental fortitude, but you'd be wrong. The left side of the brain can't help you. It's nearsightedness clouds your vision. And the right brain especially can't help. It tells us to be reasonable, use logic, compute the risks, tally the total, and the odds always come back heavily favored against, but you can't destroy, eliminate, or even subdue fear. It will always be there and we just don't have time for false dichotomies. Slam the over. Roll the dice. Why not? Who cares? Fuck it. According to Mark Twain, there is only one resistance to fear and it's not logic, reason, or confidence. It's conqueror, it's vanquisher, it's courage, and that comes from someplace else.

An Unoccupied Philadelphia

Philadelphia's City Hall stands a modest 548ft including William Penn’s six-foot likeness in the heart Center City. It is the world’s second tallest masonry building behind the Mole Antonelliana in Turin by a mere 40 oz bottle. Beautiful and ornately decorated with limestone, granite, and marble, it was the tallest habitable building in the world from 1901 to 1908. It was the first secular building to have the record and the first building to have that record that could actually be lived in. It was surpassed during its construction by the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower respectively, which brings me to the point of all this architectural madness. You can judge a society by the extremes of its decadence. Before City Hall, all the tallest structures in the world were religious. Mostly European cathedrals and prior to that for 3,800 years the record was held by the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Religion once ruled the world, traditions passed down through generations, but by the turn of the century, it was government, reason, and progress. City Hall would remain the tallest building in the state of Pennsylvania until 1932 when the Gulf Tower in Pittsburgh overtook it, but, it remained the tallest building in the city of Philadelphia. Until the 1980s when the greatest cultural shift in mankind's tattered history happened in the blink of an eye. A fifty-year metamorphosis, a transmogrification if you will, leading us away from the greatest generation to its antithesis. The repressed militaristic 50s of Chesterfields, Sock Hops, and unadulterated imperialism amalgamated with the free love revolutionary cluster fuck of the 60s to train wreck into the Cirque Du Soleil on crack that was the 70s and finally crashing into the 80s. An equal and opposite reaction. The antithesis and the answer. Capitalism was our cure. Our renewed faith brought with it an end to the Cold War and the communal socially enlightened orgy of the left. What remained were a group of devious self-serving dregs known as the yuppies. Thus dawned the age of Wall Street.

I'm not talking about the David Brooks Ben Franklin kind of yuppy, but the manipulative sociopathic Patrick Bateman kind. An era ruled by paper, suspenders, and cocaine, who ran our economy into the ground by the time most of you could get a job. I can’t say for sure that this was the straw that broke the camels back, but I’d bet a dollar on it. Housing bubble? Debt Crisis? Nervous lenders? All of these words are just words from the eternal Rolodex of catchphrases and Babylonian thesaurus of taglines. Scanning the pages of this vast infinitely expanding library of words I snap my fingers celebrating my epiphany: greed. That's what I was looking for!

The building that overtook Penn’s illustrious monument to freedom, prosperity, and brotherhood is ironically named One Liberty Place, financed by Willard Rouse, nephew of developer James Rouse, who incidentally is Edward Norton’s grandfather. Off-topic, but interesting nonetheless. The construction of One Liberty Place was highly contested by architect and Father of Modern Philadelphia, Edmund Bacon, who was city planner at the time. Willard Rouse broke the longstanding “Gentlemen’s Agreement” in Philadelphia agreeing that no building would be taller than William Penn’s statue on City Hall. The New York Times ran an article saying Bacon did not attend the groundbreaking ceremony in 1985 saying, “I think it’s very, very destructive that he and he alone has chosen to destroy a historical tradition that set a very fine and disciplined for the city.” But he WAS at the ceremony. Why? Because he’s a gentleman. Not at the ceremony was Mayor Wilson Goode, who had his hands full with the deaths of five innocent children in Cobbs Creek at the hands of Philly PD. Goode was in support of the building even though the building plan was flawed leaving the future of Philly’s downtown unsure. One Liberty Plaza became home to Smith & Barneys, the financial hub of Philadelphia, and Starbucks. It remained the tallest building in Philadelphia for more than a decade until another generation would stake its claim.

Okay never mind, I guess this is the straw I was talking about, this is when it happened. Comcast, the cable conglomerate, was now King. If there was a sarcastic font, I’d use it, surprising. It wasn’t anything new or groundbreaking, it was inevitable. Aldous Huxley was right and I didn't need a four hundred dollar history class to realize it. Quakers testify in front of God that they will live in opposition to gambling, capital punishment, and slavery. They also oppose time itself and seasons, oddly. They also oppose oaths. Counter-intuitive? I agree, but we digress. What Quakers do promote is more relevant: integrity, truth, temperance, moderation, sustainability, relief of suffering, penal reform, plain language, and peace. They had this idea that our pleasure would take over our world and we would become complacent in our comforts.

William Penn had high hopes for his new land. Religious freedom, inventive thinking, and a country whose wealth far exceeded her need were his goals.  The betterment of all, which includes the less fortunate. A bountiful harvest capable of feeding both native and newcomer. Whether he planned it or not, from the right angle, his statue looks like he’s taking a 10-1 all over his wondrous creation. Standing at the top of the tallest building in Philadelphia, the great founder is symbolically guilty of public urination.
     It shall be unlawful for any person to urinate or defecate on any public right-of-way, underground platform or concourse, elevated passageways used by the public, railroad or railway passenger stations or platforms, or on the steps leading to any of them, or any private property used to accommodate the public, or on any private property without the permission of the owner. The penalty for violation of said law is subject to a fine of $300.

Los Pollos Hermanos Part II

After what seemed like a two-hour trip we arrived at a farm in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night. The van pulled up to two large white makeshift barns. They must have been a mile long.  We parked and we sat there. We waited for what seemed like hours. Then a huge rumble shook us and could be heard coming up the country road. A truck came into view. It looked bigger than a normal 18 wheeler, but there was something different. It looked like a giant woolly mammoth skeleton. It pulled up and I realized they weren’t bones, they were cages. 

Countless metal bureaus waiting to be filled with both white and dark meat. That exact moment is when it happened. The moment I realized I would never look at work, restaurants, and chickens the same. The doors to the first barn opened as a gust of wind filled our lungs. KABOOM. I gagged. To describe that festering mass as a smell, wouldn’t justify just how terrifyingly wretched it was. I took a step closer to the door of the barn and squinted. I couldn’t get a glimpse of what it was. I couldn’t quite make out what my eyes were seeing. Before I knew it the zombies in the van jumped and were lost in the billowing blanket of funk. One of the men whipped around the corner and sped toward the cage ridden truck with a forklift. My eyes focused on the interior of the barn. For as far as the eye could see there was a white undulating mass covering the ground. A witch's cackle bounced off the walls of my head and rattled my brain. 

A wave of frightened, fidgeting, feathered beasts carpeted the ground from wall to wall. 32,000 chickens had just been woken. They do it at night so the chickens don’t have time to organize a counter-attack or some shit. The weary war-torn van riders transformed into agents of fate. Sent to deliver these chickens to their final resting place. I was in a daze stumbling around the barn catatonic. At first, I couldn’t stop laughing. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Eric, Pete and I were holding each other up each convulsing in fits of laughter. A guy grabbed me by the collar and yelled, “Start fucking grabbing em ya idiot!” The forklift had started bringing the cages into the barn and the men were already hard at work filling them. These “cages” if you can call them that, looked more like a dresser for clothes. They had metal slats on springs that would be snapped closed when filled with enough chickens. Each drawer had to have at least 20 chickens in each. My harasser shook me out of my stupefaction and told me I had to get at least a hand of chickens each time I grabbed them. “What the fuck is a hand of chickens,” I thought to myself. A hand meant seven chickens total. That means three in the left hand and four in the right, or vice versa. 

Seven chickens, I repeat, seven chickens in your two hands. Full grown, “free range” chickens weigh between 5-8 lbs. This means you have to grab a leg of each chicken. Three legs in one,  four in the other. The guy who was explaining this to me with a mouthful of tobacco and curse words said he could get 15 chickens normally. I shook my head in bewilderment. He smacked me on the back and told me to get to work. So I dove in. In case you didn’t know when chickens are scared they try to fly away and crap their pants. This means when you pick up one they go absolutely apeshit. Feathers, dirt, poop, fills the air. The job is so dirty that Mike Rowe did it, and hated it. I can't even imagine the damage we did to our lungs. Did I mention that chicken legs are very brittle and weak so you can feel them break in your hands when they try to get away? It's horrifying. Almost as horrifying as watching one exploded into dust as it gets run over by a 9,000 lbs forklift. I remember stuffing a few chickens into the slots and closing the gate as one stuck its head out. The gate closed and his cheeks puffed out like a cartoon. I opened the slate and pushed his head inside. That was the last humorous thing that happened that day. After hours of filling our lungs with putrid air, the first barn was done. The other workers simply went on to the next barn. No break, no downtime. 

The three of us staggered over to the cow pen where the smell was actually better. As we began to empty the second cow house, things started to calm down. The other workers were having conversations with each other about different things. What grade they dropped out at. How much time they had done. And many other topics that are wildly inappropriate for anything but a bordello. When the morning dawned we could finally see the actual cloud in the air. We cornered the last few chickens as they ran in terror. When it was all over we sat down by the van and thought about what we had just done. We were scarred for life. The foreman of this crew was the women, who drove the van. She told us that we would be paid like 0.0001 cents per pound. We had caught 64,000 chickens. 64,000 chickens sent to their doom at my hands. If they were people, they would make up the entire population of Lebanon, PA. We didn’t talk to anybody on the ride home. A few of the other workers tried to make conversation, expecting to see us again. We left that McDonalds' parking lot and barely said a word to each other in the car. Then suddenly we all started cracking up. Did that really just happen? We thought. I got home and took all my clothes off and left them on the porch. They would later be burned by my mother. I took three showers and still couldn’t get the smell out of my nose. Weeks later I received a check for about $93. I spent the next 6 months in clucking shell shock. I couldn’t even think about chicken. I had to eat alone anytime my family made chicken for dinner. After the trauma wore off I was finally ready to eat that white meat again. Do you know the first place I went? 

Where they serve only the oldest chickens no longer able to lay eggs, stripped down to the bone, and then ground up into a mash combined with a variety of stabilizers and preservatives, such as tertiary butylhydoquinone, a phenolic antioxidant used as a chemical preservative, polydimethylsiloxane, an anti-foaming agent, all pressed into familiar shapes, breaded and deep-fried, frozen, and shipped to your friendly neighborhood eatery. MMMMM GOOD.

Los Pollos Hermanos Part I

One summer, I was working in a warehouse. Unlike my other friends who were working there for the summer, I got placed in shipping and receiving. I spent most of the days inside a dirty disgusting big rig packed to the gills with boxes upon boxes of sneakers. We would unload the trucks onto a metal slide and put them onto palettes. That meant these palettes were about 10 feet high. Each box had to get scanned before it was taken off the truck. We had an efficient system. Two guys were in the truck throwing boxes onto the line as two full-timers used the scanners to check in each box. The rest of the crew feigned being busy. This old guy would just lean on the palette jack waiting for the boxes to get stacked, complaining about how hot it was and how things would be different if he was white. Since it was a warehouse a large portion of the people who worked there were temporary. Kids working there for the summer, recovering addicts, and people on work release. A guy named AJ who had done five years for hearsay as he told it, became a good friend of mine. You see only full-timers and summer kids could use the scan guns. They didn’t trust temps to use them and not steal them. This didn’t go over well with many of the temps, who were also upset we got paid more. It really isn’t their fault they went to jail, right? AJ had a barcode tattoo on the back of his neck that I would scan whenever his back was turned. He used to hate that. Every morning I’d stagger into work at six in the morning and he’d already been in the truck. I’d reach the opening of the truck and I’d hear a voice echo out of the belly of the beast. Out of the dark depths, I’d hear, “Fucking Andy’s coming.” It was AJ mimicking Chucky from Childs Play. I remember one day inviting him to eat lunch with me and my friends. 

I didn’t tell them because I wanted to see how the would react. He just sat down and started eating. Then he looked around and stared at my friend Eric, who was a red-head, was about to piss his pants. AJ yelled with a mouth full of burger, “What you looking at Rick Astley!” Eric quickly looked back at his plate and muttered nothing. AJ leaned across the table and ate Eric’s PB&J in one bite, “Fucking Pete and Pete looking muthafucka!” We all started laughing except for Eric. Eventually, he lightened up, but AJ busted his balls for the rest of the summer.

Anyway, one day we had just got done with a long work week and we were hanging out at Eric’s. We were looking for ways to make some extra money. We made decent money at Footlocker, but when one of your history books cost $200 alone, we needed something extra. Eric was looking through the classifieds when he stumbled upon a notice that would change my life. “Chicken Catchers Wanted.” That is all it said except for the number below it. What is a chicken catcher? We asked ourselves. 

Did they set traps? Did they use weapons or nets? Did they camouflage themselves and trudge out into the wilderness in hopes of bagging a big one? We were curious. Eric called the number and a woman answered on the other line. “Hello?” She answered brusquely as if she was doing ten things at once. “Quiet!” She yells at the apparent house full of kids she had running around her during this conversation. Eric asked her about the job to which she replied, “Are you sure you guys wanna do this?” That should have been our first hint that something was wrong. She said all we would need was a pair of gloves. Then she told us a van would pick us up by the McDonalds on Front Street in Harrisburg. We dressed in the most stereotypical redneck gear we could find and prepared for the worst. We even got a can of chewing tobacco at the gas station to get us in the mood. Me, Eric, and our boy Pete sat on the hood of the car and talked about the upcoming night. You see she told us the van would pick us up around midnight. As I was entertaining the boys with my best Larry the Cable Guy impersonation a white passenger van rolled up. A woman in the driver's seat rolls down the window and glares at us. I’m serious. She just stared at us. Didn’t say a word. It was obvious to her that we were the guys she was picking up. We walked around and slid open the door of the van. POW. A mushroom cloud of some type of fecal death spray saturated our eyes, mouths, and noses. The only thing weirder than the smell was the men originating it. Four rows of bench seating had one guy a piece. Two were passed out. One was rolling something into a cigarette. The last stared out the window apparently hoping that someday this all would end. 

They were all covered in dirt or shit. I’d like to say dirt, but I know it was shit. I sat next to stargazer and kept my mouth shut. A few minutes into the ride and my phone vibrates with a text. It’s from Pete. It read:  “Turn around.” I turned around. Eric was puking into his spit filled Gatorade bottle. The smell must've got to him. Maybe it was nerves. Maybe it was the fact that a van was driving us deep into the Pennsylvania wilderness in the middle of the night. People don't come back from stories like this, I thought. TO BE CONTINUED...

Question and Answer III

God created the Earth in seven, scratch, four point five billion days right? It took him an extra 4,498,000 to create man. He tinkered, toyed and experimented. Who would be the best inhabitants of the new world? Who would be the best protectors of its glorious lands? The giant lizards were a decent attempt. Great beasts, who could live in peace and harmony, with their surrounding habitat. Living in unity for nearly 200 million years. Each member complying communally with their rank on the food chain. Plants, animals, fish, and insects lived under their reign. Mammals have lived for 200 million years. Insects have lived to 400 million. They only killed for food. They didn't kill out of vengeance, jealousy, or a troubled childhood. But, they didn't progress. They couldn't think. One of the four-legged beasts stood up over two million years ago.  A Homo Sapien. The mongrel race first appearing in the Upper Paleolithic Era. Descendants of a number of extinct species including Habilis, Erectus, and Neanderthalensis.
The Thinker? Or the stinker?
Coincidentally, on the other side of the world, another species was evolving. A species that was directly entwined with that of homo sapiens. Bos primigenius. Also known as aurochs, or the ancestors of domestic cattle. Animals that could sustain human life providing food and milk. This is one of the reasons why Hindus revere the animal as divine. Why did our species win? Why was it our collection of matter that came to control this planet? Who was responsible? Who implies it was a person or being, but nobody I know is capable of something like this. Was it Mother Nature? Was it simply science and how the Universe restructures after a disaster? Was it God, in the monotheistic sense of the word meaning source of all and supreme being? HA. I fart in your general direction. God is a curse word to the one who pulled it all off. Whatever he or she doesn't ask to be called God. That’s just what we nicknamed him because we are lazy and God’s only three letters. The Lord. The Almighty. The father, the son, and the Holy Ghost. Gitchi Manitou. An Incarnation of Yushu. Yahweh. 
Hosanna in the highest
It doesn’t matter, all religions tell the same story. Just in a different language.  I'm Catholic because I like the music the best. Though I'd rather be Baptist.  Whatever you call it, lead one particular animal out of the jungle and into the world. The earliest descendants of man came from Africa. In those days the world looked differently and they didn’t call it Africa. One of the monkeys in the jungle was fooling around and started to think. He wanted to say something but he couldn’t speak. He didn’t know how. He was depressed because everyone else kept making fun of his deformed thumb. They were jealous because it helped him do things. He didn’t care because he knew he was different. These new outcasts dragged their feet out of the forest and out into the wilderness. They walked in search of a better life. There were many obstacles along the way. Treacherous foe threatening to ingest the man if he didn’t protect himself. They just wanted to find peace. They just wanted to find happiness. They thought and thought. They banged their heads against the walls of their caves in frustration. Thousands of years of this went by and the man finally realized what he had that was special. He was a Cro-Magnon. During man's genetic evolution he didn't develop sharp claws or poisonous skin or even venom. Though that would be cool. What did God give him that made him different from the rest? What defining characteristic led him to control a planet? To literally have the world's health and well-being in our hands. Ingenuity. Intelligence was his defense mechanism.  
"I believe in a religion that believes in freedom."
His brain protected him. It was how he was designed. An intelligent design if I might add.  And whatever or whoever was responsible for the production of the human brain should be held accountable. 10,000 years ago, humans decided to trade in their nomadic tribes and hunter-gatherer mentality for comfort and community. The first prototype states were started 6,000 years ago. Mankind went from sticks and stones to warlords with bows and arrows. They waged wars over resources. How barbaric? 3,000 years ago religions like Judaism and Hinduism were founded. In the last 2,000 years, we went from pretending Kings with armies to elected officials with cell phones. Believing in God isn't believing in a set of rules or archaic rituals, its believing in an idea. It's an inspiration. It's a belief. I was inspired by a movie to ask a question. I got the answer within a second 
O Deep Thought!
My friend's cave doesn't have internet so I had to wait till I got home. In 1880, Herman Hollerith invented the machine for recording data. It could process information via feedable punchcards. Ten years later the United States used it to calculate the Census. That company would become IBM.  Less then a hundred years later it would partner with a young man named Bill Gates to create the basic computing system. In 1996 this divine giver of answers was founded at some school in California as a research project by some homo sapien born 4.5 billion years after the Earth. Today nearly two billion homo sapiens can communicate through the internet and almost double that have cell phone subscriptions. Now for the follow-up. How long do men live for? The average human lifespan on Earth today is 69 years old. 39 years older than the oldest Tyrannosaurus Rex. Add ten years if your an American and twenty if you live in Monaco. We replaced razor sharp teeth and concrete skin with AK47s and bulletproof vests. We are the tyrants now. But if history has taught us anything, it's that we have the capacity to change. We have the technology. We have the power. We will evolve again. It's our nature. It's in our blood. It's our destiny.

Question and Answer II

Whether its a man with a lightning bolt sitting in a chair, or the wide expanse of unknown elements far beyond our reach known as the Universe. Something gave us the most precious thing in the world. Life. Our brains can’t comprehend the complexity or secrets of life even though we spend a lifetime doing it. Let me rephrase that. I can't say "God in a metaphorical sense," for my atheist brethren and pretentious hipsters out there because I don’t believe it. I didn’t need any more proof something else was out but pondering the question gave me the evidence. You see Earth is over 4.5 billion years old. Taking into account the expansiveness of the universe, a relatively tiny speck or atom of energy gravitated to a specific light. A specific location just close enough to the sun to be warm, but no far enough away to be cold. It spends so much time around this spot of comfort it started collecting dust.  Dirt, water, terrestrial elements collided with the light and Earth was formed.

They settled, gathered, and grew to like the place to which they were stuck. They didn’t choose it, they just gravitated to it. Some divine force pulled them together. Years of this went by. A couple billion to be exact. A protective layer formed around the Planet that made it possible to colonize. Eventually, the visitors from outer space colonized the surface of the earth. Microbes of interstellar debris accumulated. Algae spread and spread. Volcanic rock formed epic mountainous landscapes. Trilobites, Nautiloids, and Sea Scorpions populated this new terra. A severe snowstorm overtook the planet for millions of years. What remained were organisms so minute, so minuscule, so resilient, that they endured over elements more careless. They understood that survival was the most important thing. Unfortunately, most of their limbs got frostbite during the storm and fell off that they would need to grow back. They would need to develop, transform, modify, and expand. They needed progress. They needed to evolve. Billions of years following the creation of the Earth, life as we can possibly perceive it, began. In a swift stroke of genius, a resident of the milky way galaxy started life. The only rock with the means and motivation to try something this ludicrous sprouted a seed. 

Evolution took place on a scale so tremendous that even the man upstairs thinks its pretty cool. An enormously colossal, tremendously monumental, family sized elephantine mammoth of a massively mega-monstrous scale.  It was so preposterous we can barely comprehend it actually happened. In fact, we’ve been in denial about it for the greater part of our existence. Vast chaos and lofty experiments took place simultaneously as these Lilliputian beings whipped themselves back into shape. They squirmed, they scrawled, and they stood. The organisms that remained saw fit to weaponize themselves for the dangers of the outside world. They knew they were going to be threatened. What terrible creatures rose from these ashes of the Earth? Lizards and reptiles. Beasts outfitted for the most rugged terrain imaginable. They were equipped to battle the most violent, brutal, and humungous creatures that would challenge their very right to live. To exist. Forget Israel and Egypt. Their evolution took place out of survival, not some dinosaurian theories based on religious beliefs. 

These affiliations, which are ultimately based on geographical location, are both insignificant and irrelevant to the human species. I’m Catholic, but not by choice. Nobody likes being Catholic. People go to church to find peace. Catholics go to church out of guilt. I just like the music the best. I appreciate all religions because their root teachings and beliefs center on the idea of progress and quality human behavior. Be good to your fellow man. But most have seen their religions twisted into hateful Zionist organizations. In the dinosaur world, they would be the carnivores. The predators. And the biggest and worst mother on the block was none other than the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex. The King Lizard. The carnivorous bipedal coming straight out of the late Cretaceous. Stomping around with the most powerful jaw and tiniest arms. He ruled the land with cruelty and unreasonable consumption of dinosaur meat. But, there are those who take a peaceful approach. Beings that understood their survival was connected directly to the Earth itself, so they decided to feed on her, rather than feeding on each other. Apatosaurus' tired of getting on their friends' shoulders to reach food, grew longer necks. Stegosaurus developed elaborate defense mechanisms to shield themselves. Imagine a human being trying to survive in a world like that. How would you protect yourself? Lucky for us the mighty universe gave Earth a fresh start.  65 million years ago, an astronomical sized meteorite struck our planet and life as we knew it, ended. For millions of years, the Earth was a vast wasteland of molten rumble. A hell so unimaginable that no microbe dared survive. Hark! What did the Universe see? Survivors? Something new was taking place. A new species was gaining its balance. Animals crawled, squirmed, and stood again...

Question and Answer I

Obviously, given my vocation, I have thought long and hard about God. I've had countless discussions, lectures, and uninhibited questions dealing with the big guy. Most people wonder why I have faith. They ask if there was a specific situation that gave me faith? Was there a miraculous idea or an ominous question incepted in my brain. The answer is always a resounding yes. Yes, there was a question. One specific question that I couldn't help but answer. Scour the universe for even a hint to the answer. A question so daunting I cowered in its shadow. An everlasting, perpetuating, metronomic question that hypnotized my conscious. The question that made me believe in God was this: "How long did a T. Rex live for?" Let me clarify in college terms: "what was the average lifespan of a Tyrannosaurus Rex?" You may find that childish and I admit it is rather moronic, but then I sought the answer to this and a number of other seemingly pointless inquiries. Were there 75-year-old T. Rex’s pushing around tennis-ball-bottomed walkers with their tiny arms? What about the middle age T. Rex? 

Sick and tired of risking his neck to catch and devouring triceratops all day. Comes home to a disrespectful nagging mate and ungrateful pestering offspring? The answer is that most T. Rex’s didn’t live past 30. They were just hitting their prime. Most didn’t live past 18! How miserable is that? This question or rather, the search for the answer, lead me to believe in God. Not in the classical, gray beard, Church going kind, but the creator, the universal, the eternal entity that controls all matter,  purpose, and gravitational direction kind. You might be asking yourself why? Well, ladies and gentleman. I have the answer, well I have AN answer at least, it was the best I could come up, bear with me...

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