Monday, April 17, 2017

B-I-N-G-O, Atlanta traffic style

Someone posted this on Facebook today, and I'm afraid it sums up Atlanta traffic perfectly (except it leaves out "debris in the roadway".)

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

When God got the last laugh (repost)

(This is a repost of this blog entry, from April 5, 2015.)

Today, God got the last laugh.

The laughter began before dawn, when a dead body regained consciousness in a cold tomb.

Or perhaps it began with an earthquake, which rolled a stone away and scared guards so that they became "like dead men".

I'm not sure if Jesus strode out boldly with a swagger, or if he just peeked out from the tomb, thinking, "Hello?  Where is everybody?" and then walked out.

The party in hell was over.  The party in hell had broken up with screams of horror and shouts of anger.  How dare he?  How dare he get the last laugh on us?

The first person he revealed himself to was a woman, Mary of Magdala, the Mary that wept because they had taken her Lord away and she didn't know where he was.

It was when he said to her, "Mary," that she knew who he was.

I wonder if, when she turned towards him, Jesus was smiling.

I wonder if he smiled when he appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus.

And I wonder if he smiled when he first appeared to the apostles who were hiding in the upper room.  We know he said, "Peace be with you!" and showed him his hands and feet.  But I wonder if the expression on his face said, "Look!  It's me!  I'm here!  Isn't that great!  I told you it was going to happen, and it did!"

This is Easter Sunday.  

Easter is a holiday associated with bunnies (chocolate and otherwise), baskets, eggs dyed in different colors, new clothes, parades, and white shoes.  It's also associated with large dinners--usually with ham as the main course--with family visits and perhaps a surprise from the Easter Bunny.  (One year, a gift from the Easter Bunny came with a note and a carrot with teeth marks in it.  I told everyone who would listen that those teeth marks were proof that there really was an Easter Bunny.  It was years before I realized that my dad had written the note and probably had bitten into that carrot as well!)

This is the holiday where people and Easter lilies will crowd churches, and many will repeat as part of a liturgy, "He is risen." "He is risen indeed."

But do we really understand that, on this day, God got the last laugh?

If man had created God in his own image, as is sometimes alleged, hope would have died at the cross.  The apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:12-19, says:

"But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied." (emphasis mine, TAS)

The cross would have been proof that God was created in the image of man, for the cross meant death--physical death of a man, the death of hope, the death of dreams the death of everything. 

But God got the last laugh. 

Jesus said he would rise from the dead . . . and he did.

The witness of men, the witness of Scripture speaks--indeed, it shouts--that "Christ has indeed been risen from the dead!" as I Corinthians 15:20 says.  

When we speak today that "Christ is risen indeed," it is not merely a recitation of a liturgy that has been passed down for two thousand years.  Instead, it is a testament to a God that got the last laugh--over Satan, over sin, over death.

I wonder, if when the disciples saw Jesus, he looked like this, as painted by artist Jack Jewell:

This is the day when God got the last laugh.

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When Satan threw a party (repost)

(This is a repost of this blog entry from April 4, 2015.)

Today, the party in hell that started when Jesus died on the cross continued.

Satan laughed and the demons rejoiced.  Because what they wanted had been accomplished, the death of God.  As Nietzsche would write nearly 1800 years later, "God is dead.  God remains dead.  And we have killed him."

They had won.

On earth, the body of Judas had been discovered, broken, with his bowels spilling out.

The rest of the disciples hid behind locked doors, afraid that they would be next.  Peter drowned in shame, hearing the words in his head, "I don't know the man!" and starting every time he heard a rooster crow.

Mary?  Where was Mary?  Overcome with grief and pain and heartbroken.

Death had come and killed God, and Satan was in the middle of throwing a party.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, April 14, 2017

When man killed God (repost)

(This is a reposting, with some minor changes, of this blog entry from Good Friday of 2015.)

Today is Good Friday.

Man killed God today.

Man, in the guise of a Roman ruler, his centurions, and people who screamed, "Crucify him!"  killed God.

Man stripped him, beat him, mocked him, "hailed" him as "king".

And then man led him out to a cross.

Man watched while he stumbled along the Via Dolorosa.  Some jeered him, some wept, some wailed, some didn't pay attention.

Man, in the guise of trained centurions, picked up nails--long, cruel nails--and, using a mallet, drove them, blow by blow, into skin and muscle and bone and blood vessel.

They did it three times.  One for each arm, and one for both feet, crossed together.

And then they sat back and gambled while God gasped for breath, slowly suffocated, bled, and died.

And if that wasn't enough, someone rammed a spear into his side.

Then the broken body of God was picked up and carried to a borrowed tomb, wrapped in linen, and laid to rest.

The last act was the sound of a stone rolled over the entrance, then the final thud as it landed in its place.

This was the day that man killed God.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Coronary thrombosis, cerebral hemorrhage, and I-85

If the main routes through Atlanta, Georgia can be called "arteries", then Atlanta has been long overdue for the traffic equivalent of a coronary thrombosis or a cerebral hemorrhage.

Yesterday, it got both.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., Channel 2 news cut to a live shot of horrifyingly thick black smoke billowing from under an overpass at I-85 and GA State Road 400.  This is the height of rush hour (or, non-rush hour, however you want to put it) and 85 was crawling with commuters desperate to get home.

The Georgia State Patrol, fearing for the integrity of the bridge, stopped traffic.

Minutes later, the bridge collapsed.

Amazingly, NO ONE was killed or injured.  In fact, NO ONE was even on the bridge when it collapsed.

However, the result of the coronary thrombosis of the highway will be Atlanta's own version of bypass surgery.

Beginning this morning, if you want to get into the city of Atlanta, you can't go down I-85 south. Instead, you'll have to exit on I-285, which goes around the city of Atlanta, and pick whatever access point you think will get you to where you need/want to go.  If you want to get downtown, your best bet may be to take I-20 from I-285.

If you want to go north on I-85, you'll have to get off at 17th street, just north of downtown.

Both I-85 north and south in the area of the collapse are closed until further notice.

Which leads one to ask:  Is there a traffic equivalent of beta blockers for Atlanta?

Well, possibly.  One is called MARTA, our public transportation system, comprised of buses and trains which may or may not get you where you want/need to go when you want/need to go there. Another is working from home, which people are being encouraged to do today.  There's also car pooling.

Dekalb County Schools are closed today, giving the kids there a one-day head start on their spring break.  (Matthew's home today.  Gwinnett County is using an unused snow day as a holiday today.)

What caused the fire?

We don't know yet what started it.  What people think was burning was a bunch of plastic cables stored under the bridge.  One (now former) Facebook friend posted "terrorist attack", with NO PROOF.  That is just plain irresponsible.  (And if it WERE Al-Qaida or ISIS, it would be a heck of a lot more coordinated and a lot more spectacular.)

For now, GDOT and whoever else is in charge will be performing bypass surgery and eventually reconstruction of the arteries.

Brace yourselves for a long hospitalization and recovery period!

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

"I didn't even see that he was drowning."

Dr. Jason Wheeler began Monday morning walking through the doors of Gaffney Chicago Medical Center and making his usual turn into the emergency department, where he worked.  He greeted his fellow co-workers and was greeted by them, with a comment by a nurse that he was needed in three.

He reassured her that he'd be there in a minute.

He boarded an elevator and rode up to the 10th floor.

Upon getting off, he calmly walked to an outside balcony and stepped up onto a ledge, where he looked down at the street and the people walking to and fro.

And then he casually stepped off the balcony.

This all happened in the first 90 seconds of "Monday Mourning," the Chicago Med episode aired on March 16th.

The opening sequence was shocking, stunning, and meant to be that way.  I mean, it was an ordinary, casual good-morning sequence, showing someone on his way to his normal duties as an ER resident, ending in his suicide.

Dr. Wheeler had had problems for some time.  He drank, and at one point, asked psychiatry resident Sarah Reese for pills and for therapy.  She turned him down.

Even in the shock of Dr. Wheeler's suicide, the ER department must go on.  After all, people are not going to stop getting sick and getting hurt just so the ER department can grieve.  So the staff went about their normal day as best they could, while occasionally stopping to wonder, how could they have missed that something was so wrong with a colleague?

The ER borrowed Dr. Reese, the psychiatry resident (and former ER med student) to help out.  During her treatment of a man who'd jumped into an icy river to save a little boy drowning--and who himself suffered a heart attack right after he did so--she asked, what went through your mind?

Dr. Connor Rhodes, heart specialist, overheard that conversation.

Dr. Reese said, he--referring to Dr. Wheeler--came to me for help and I brushed him off.

Dr. Rhodes tries to reassure her, saying, you can't save everyone.

And that's when Dr. Reese replies with, "It's not that I didn't jump in to save him. It's that I didn't even see he was drowning."

Of all of the lines, of all of the scenes of "Monday Mourning", that was the one that hit me.  I didn't even see that he was drowning.

We don't see, do we?  How many of us see that someone is "drowning" and reach out a lifeline to help?

It's impossible to see if someone is drowning if we're not looking at the water, so to speak.  It's also impossible to see if someone is drowning if the drowning person isn't screaming for help, waving their arms, trying to get someone's attention.

While Dr. Reese berated herself for not seeing that Dr. Wheeler was "drowning", she redeemed herself at the end of the episode.  She went to the office of Dr. Daniel Charles, head of the psychiatry department, and said, everyone talks to you and you absorb it all like a sponge.  How are you doing with all this?

His response:  "It was awful."

I've talked off and on (and maybe "on" more that "off") about my own circumstances here.  There are times I've felt like I was "drowning".  I think I use this blog as a cry for help at times.  It's a way that I process things that are happening to me, things that I observe, things that I think and feel.  Often, I write "off the cuff" and don't always go back and edit before I hit "publish".

It's tempting to use this episode of Chicago Med as a way to talk about how I often feel I am "drowning".  But, unlike Dr. Wheeler, I've been able to get the help I need.  For whatever reason, Dr. Wheeler was either unable or unwilling to say the words, "I am drowning.  I need help."  It's hard, especially in a helping profession like medicine, to say, "I need help."  At least one character in "Monday Mourning" made that observation.  Asking for help, too often, is perceived as a sign of weakness, like you need a "crutch" to help you.   And if you're a helper, why, then, do you need help?

I've been lucky.  I have access to medical/psychological help.  I see someone twice a month, and I take my meds faithfully.  And I have people I talk to.

So, let me ask the question:

Who out there is drowning?

Are you drowning?

And how can I throw you a lifeline?

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.

(The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.  If you're ever drowning, this is a good lifeline to grab onto.)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Matthew O'Brien and Tina Dineen

Fans of the TV show Scorpion may catch my reference in the title of this post.  For those who don't, I'll explain:

The basic premise of Scorpion is that of a team of eccentric geniuses who save the world every week. :-)  They are led by Walter O'Brien, who has an IQ of 197.  Although they are geniuses, the group's social skills are somewhat, shall we say, lacking.

In the first episode, Walter and the team meet Paige Dineen, a single mother working as a waitress. Walter discovers that Paige's son Ralph is a genius.  He strikes a deal with Paige:  You translate the world for us, and we'll help you understand your son.

That's sort of how I interpret my role in my son's life.

My role is to "translate" Matthew to people around him.  It is to explain why he breaks into game show lines, or who these "people" (mostly fictional characters or TV personalities) are that he talks about.  (He did tell someone that they looked like Emily Prentiss, the character Paget Brewster plays on Criminal Minds.  Thing is, the person he said that to . . . DOES look like her!)

Last night, his prayer request in his youth group was that Spencer Reid, a Criminal Minds character, get out of jail.  I haven't kept up with the show lately, but apparently Spencer is in jail in Mexico for something he may or may not have done.  I am very thankful for the people who work with Matthew in the youth group, because the leader handled his request with sensitivity.

I suggested afterwards that maybe Matthew could pray for the actor who plays Spencer Reid, Matthew Gray Gubler, because he probably needed all the prayers he could get.  (If you work in the entertainment business, I think that's definitely true.)

In recent episodes of Scorpion, Paige has been getting rather frustrated with Walter and has left him to "sink or swim" on his own.  That's sometimes how I feel with Matthew ("not everyone wants to hear about the last episode of Jeopardy!")  But, Paige is coming to understand her role not only as Walter's "translator", but as Walter's friend.

I don't know if Matthew will ever learn the "language" of the world around him, but I hope my "translating" has done some good.

Until then, I'm sure Matthew will be sending up more prayers for Spencer Reid, and God will smile at those prayers and understand the heart that those prayers come from.

Just my .04, adjusted for inflation.