Category: politics

Your Ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide

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How to survive thanksgiving
How to survive Thanksgiving and live to tell the tale

 

Thanksgiving happens tomorrow! If you think you can just saunter into the holiday feast without preparation, you, my friend, are sorely mistaken. I’m not talking about food prep. I’m not talking about getting your house clean. I’m talking about preparing for dinner conversations. If you go in unarmed, it could lead to a social and emotional massacre. So here is your ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide. 

Think about the volatility that has fractured this country post-election. The protests and the civil unrest doesn’t take time out for turkey and stuffing. No, it will merely hide under the surface during conversational pleasantries. These pleasantries, like the hors d’oeuvres, will soon evaporate leading you right into the main course. My goal here is to bridge that gap between small talk and your tryptophan-induced, post-meal coma. The objective is to steer clear of political talk… at all costs! 

So take it from your snarky friend and follow these steps.

The Ultimate Thanksgiving Survival Guide 

First, have some Thanksgiving themed trivia to keep the conversation going so your racist Aunt Helen doesn’t go full Sieg Heil while passing the gravy. I’ve listed ten useful bits of trivia below. Use at your own discretion.

Secondly, have some facilitation questions to keep everything light-hearted and chatty while avoiding the Nuremberg Rally-esque diatribes of some of your guests. Remember, people love talking about themselves. So keep ’em chatty and there should be little room to talk about politics.

Finally, if all else fails, have a few emergency recipes as a ripcord you can pull to release your inebriated parachute. This is a failsafe, last-ditch effort, but memory loss and blacking out can be your friend. You just need to secure a designated driver early in the day or there’s always Uber. Included below are some recipes that will do the trick.

So remember to follow these tips and put them into action immediately when you hear the first mention of “Making American Great Again” or “Crooked Hillary.”

It is my prayer that you survive this volatile holiday with family and friends. May the only insanity you experience be the mobs of Black Friday because, at least, Black Friday is something in which you choose to participate and not one that you married into. Enter into this gluttonesque holiday with confidence knowing that the biggest dilemma you should face is which belt to wear because you need one that can expand adequately to meet your turkey and stuffing consumption needs. It may be tempting but elastic waistbands are never an option. They’re only the sign of a deeper problem.

Thanksgiving Trivia to dazzle and distract your guests 
  1. Turducken, which is a turkey stuffed with duck with a chicken inside (yes, you read that correctly), has become so popular that stores in Louisiana ship more than 5,000 a week before the holidays.
  2. Back in 1953, Swanson overestimated the number of turkeys it was going to sell for the holiday by 26 TONS. So, it took the leftover meat plus some trimmings and packaged it all up. Voila! The first TV dinner.
  3. There are actually four places in the United States called Turkey. Louisiana’s Turkey Creek is the most populous with an impressive 440 residents. Then, there’s Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. And last but definitely not least, there are two townships in Pennsylvania named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!
  4. Forget Black Friday, according to Roto-Rooter, the nation’s largest plumbing service, Thanksgiving is the busiest day for plumbers. So eat up folks… the plumbers need your help.
  5. No more ‘gobble gobble.‘ Only the male turkeys, called Toms, make the gobble sound. The females, called Hens, cackle.
  6. Uncle Frank isn’t the only one at the table prone to heart attacks. Turkeys have them too. When the Air Force conducted test runs for breaking the sound barrier, fields of nearby turkeys would drop dead.
  7. More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.
  8. Twenty percent of cranberries eaten are eaten on Thanksgiving.
  9. The Guinness Book of Records states that the greatest dressed turkey weight recorded for a turkey is 86 lbs, at the annual “heaviest turkey” competition held in London, England on December 12, 1989.
  10. Columbus thought that the land he discovered was connected to India, where peacocks are found in considerable number. He believed turkeys were a type of peacock (they’re actually a type of pheasant). So he named them “tuka”, which is “peacock” in the Tamil language of India.
Thanksgiving Conversation Starters
  1. What is your favorite Thanksgiving Tradition?
  2. Who is someone you need to show more gratitude for and why?
  3. What was your most memorable meal of the year?
  4. Black Friday: thumbs up or thumbs down?
  5. What are your favorite stories to tell?
  6. What pop-culture family reminds you most of your own?
  7. What movie should definitely be nominated for an Oscar this year?
  8. What is your favorite part of winter?
  9. Discuss how a cup of coffee, or a good song, or a painting can have a deep impact on you?
  10. What have you been obsessed with the most in 2016?
Emergency Inebriation Options For Survival
  1. The “Healthy” Option – Mix Vodka (you choose the amount) in a glass with ice and add 1 packet of orange-flavored Emergen-C. Boost that immune system while you kill your liver. Two steps forward with two steps back? Perhaps, but keep these things coming and you’ll soon be able to tune out those racist relatives. Just keep telling yourself, “This is healthy…”
  2. The “Sneaky” Option – Open up a beer (any kind will do), take a deep swig then fill that space in your bottle with whiskey. You can keep refilling and nursing that one beer all day. If anyone asks, reply, “This is my first beer…” You’re not technically lying.
  3. The “College Flashback’ Option – Remember your old friend, Jägermeister? Yeah, it was nasty but did the trick. One way to cut the taste and make it a bit more palatable is to add root beer. Finding the right mixer is always key.

Bonus: Always remember to bring a full flask to events like these, you never know when you need an emergency ration. If all else fails, just excuse yourself from the table for a moment, drain the flask and then enjoy the rest of your day. 

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Don’t be a turkey! take this ultimate thanksgiving survival guide, own the day and make it yours.

Get Out and Vote!

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On the eve of Super Tuesday, I have only one message for you… get off your butt and vote! Sure, there’s plenty of reasons as to why not vote, but I’ll give you three compelling reasons to go out and vote.

I know. I know that you’re feeling disenfranchised about the whole electoral process and I’m with you on that. It’s a broken system run by broken people… but the same could be said for the institutionalized church. A handful of you show up a few Sundays a month to waste an hour of your time, so I digress. Here are my 3 main reasons to get out and vote.

Here are my 3 main reasons to get out and vote:
  1. It’s your minimum, basic, civic duty as a citizen of this country. Voting is like paying for parking tickets, watering your lawn or being picked for jury duty. No one enjoys it, but it’s kind of like the kale…  we know in the long run that it’s part of the greater good. So hold your nose and enter the voting booth.
  2. There are other issues and candidates at stake. I hear your pain, no one wants to go on a double date with the Orange Don or Crooked Hillary. I completely understand. They’re like that couple that keeps texting you to hang out. When it comes to voting, there are more pressing issues on the ballot than those dysfunctional two with power issues. I voted early and there were 26 other issues on the ballot. If you can’t stomach the options for commander and chief, just remember that there are other things going on in the country and your local community. Let your voice be heard.
  3. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain for the next four years. Yes, I know that harping and complaining about politics is an American pastime, but if you don’t go and vote I’m not going to let you have that right. You’ve been revoked. If you can’t bother to get up off your butt and vote… you just need to remain silent for the next four years in regards to politics. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Shush.

Needless to say, voting often doesn’t make a huge difference in the big races, but in the smaller local races, it can be a big deal. Complain all you want about so many things… but just complain to yourself as you wait in line on Super Tuesday to vote.

 

Honesty, Faith and Doubt

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The beauty of the honesty, faith and doubt of a child

If you want to make something like cookies or pancakes, there are always essential ingredients that you’ll find common between most recipes. Eggs, flour, and oil are among those that you’ll find over and again. When it comes to believing in something greater… I assume we’d get a wild spectrum of answers of the essential elements depending on your religious upbringing or current indoctrination.

I stumbled upon this piece of paper (pictured above) a few weeks ago on the floor at church. I can only assume it’s from a child, but I found it absolutely fascinating, beautiful… and genuine.

There were three key ingredients at play here: honesty, faith and Doubt all mixed together. I believe that these ingredients are absolutely essential for one’s spiritual journey.

I was raised Southern Baptist and in that vein of Christianity, “knowing” was always paramount… but not in the spiritual sense. It was more about intellectualism. You have to know all the right facts and those facts would bring you closer to God. Doubt had no place because the belief was all about possessing information much like you do when preparing for a test. You study hard and hopefully get a good grade.

But in faith there are no grades, right? The Southern Baptists would agree with that statement in theory, but in practice, that’s another story. When it comes to grading, one quick way to lose points is being too honest and/or doubting. Let me exactly qualify what I mean by grading. There’s no overt scale at play, but there is a significant amount of judgment happening by the other church members and clergy. You’re judged on what you say, how you look, what you do and what you think. You need to look and act like the rest of the herd in order to be accepted. It’s more of a social construct than a religious practice.  Over my career, I’ve worked for a spectrum of Christian brands: Baptist, Pentecostal, Methodist and non-denominational. These rules apply to all of them.

Now, let’s return to the picture. I think there’s a reason that Jesus mentioned the faith of a child in Matthew 18, and he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children are filled with wonder, but they are also filled with questions. Incessant questions. As a father, I’ve experienced this wide-eyed curiosity firsthand. Initially, it annoyed me. They saw me as the answering machine. Over time, it changed. I’ve learned to love their questions. Actually, their questions have changed and stretched me.

To proceed in this conversation, let us add a few clarifying definitions to this conversation. I’ll inject some varied voices into this as they may help to define these terms.

Honesty by Ayn Rand

“As the refusal to fake reality, honesty consists in a deliberate, principled renunciation of any evasion, distortion, misrepresentation, or artifice. In essence, honesty means not pretending.”

Faith by Pete Rollins

“The word “faith” is a much-misunderstood term. In contemporary discourse, it often means the act of believing in something that lacks empirical evidence, something that one affirms through intuition, the interpretation of a particular personal experience or the interpretation of a publicly observable phenomenon.  However the term, in its more theological sense, has much more in common with a particular way of living.”

Doubt by Lesley Hazleton

“Consider that doubt… is the heart of the matter. Abolish all doubt, and what’s left is not faith, but absolute, heartless conviction. You’re certain that you possess the Truth — inevitably offered with an implied uppercase T — and this certainty quickly devolves into dogmatism and righteousness, by which I mean a demonstrative, overweening pride in being so very right, in short, the arrogance of fundamentalism.”

To cultivate any healthy, spiritual community, we have to realize that doubt and honesty are just as essential as faith. If you eliminate one, the rest fall by the wayside. To embrace this idea takes courage and risk, which is why it rarely happens. Belief in anything always brings with it risk and the unknown. Think about love, for instance, there is no guarantee. But the reason we risk things for love is that the rewards, the upside, is worth it. When you love others and take on faith that they love you… it takes courage.

When it comes to the church, risk left through the back door long ago. Then soon after that, courage joined up with it in the parking lot. Christianity without risk and courage isn’t a movement anymore… it becomes an institution. Jesus didn’t come to set up institutions, they were one of the reasons he railed against the establishment. Institutions survive by keeping themselves afloat. Their existence becomes all about themselves and people become secondary. Now, again they may argue that fact in theory, but their practice says otherwise.

Why does this matter? Well, it’s everything. If the foundation from which you operate is fundamentally flawed, then the outcome won’t be what you want. With each passing year, the institution looks and acts less and less like the one who started the movement. The question to ask here is, does the church today look like Jesus?

But all is not lost. It doesn’t take much to right the ship and I’d wager to say that embracing a mixture of honesty, faith, and doubt is the key.

The first step is allowing doubt to breathe. It’s essential in this journey forward. Antionette du Liger de la Garde Deshoulieres once said, “seeking to know is only too often learning to doubt.” The fear is that doubt leads to more doubt, but in truth, if you pair doubt with belief and honesty, beautiful things can happen. Sure it’s a risk, but nothing great is ever accomplished without risk. It also takes courage that God is at work in the lives of others which is one of the basic beliefs of Christianity.

Looking back at that picture I found, I want there to be a place where that child can grow on their spiritual journey while expressing their doubts and questions in a safe environment. For the church to look more like Jesus, we must realize that belief needs to have a mixture of honesty, faith and doubt cultivated with one another in a loving community. That’s how we transition from an institution back to a movement. It’s how we return the beauty and mystery to Christianity.

Voting Differently

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A snarky take on voting differently

Snarky Faith 9/20/16

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A rundown of how we, in America, find ourselves stuck within a two-party, political system in regards to voting. Could there another way? If we don’t like options A or B… is there a point in voting for options C or D. Ho do we vote differently? Too often, we feel like our vote doesn’t make a difference, but every vote has the opportunity to change the future. Is there a viable alternative to a two-party system? If so, how do we incite change? Join us to hear what that could look like as we skewer through life, culture and spirituality.

Tune in to find out more…

Jesus Politics

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A snarky take on religion in politics

Snarky Faith 8/30/16

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A rundown of the nonsensical ways that Jesus is so often inserted into politics. His ways and teachings don’t line up with quests for political power and personal gain. But what if the ideology of Jesus was infused into the political spectrum? What would the politics of Jesus look like?  Join us to hear what that would look like as we skewer through life, culture and spirituality.

Tune in to find out more…

Snarky Saints: Tolstoy

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a snarky take on Leo Tolstoy

Snarky Faith 8/16/16

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Leo Tolstoy (Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy) is the newest addition to our growing congregation of Snarky Saints. Join us as we delve into the religious and political beliefs of the great and influential Russian author. Tolstoy’s insight and acumen are so vital as we wrestle through life in light of the current religious and political climate of today. Is there hope? What can we learn from Tolstoy? Why is he one of our saints? Tune in to find out more.

Join us as we skewer through life, culture and spirituality.

Pokemon & Black Lives Matter

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A snarky take on Advocacy and Change

Snarky Faith 7/19/16

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A rundown on of the topics of Pokemon Go and the Black Lives Matter movement. In the midst of the insane whirlwind of the current political season, we talk about advocacy and social justice in the face of technology and the religious posturing. Is there hope that faith can inform action that exists outside the realm of politics? We think so.

Join us as we skewer through life, culture and spirituality. Tune in to find out more.

The Orange Messiah

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A snarky take on Trump: the Orange Messiah

Snarky Faith 6/14/16

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A rundown of the Trump: the Orange Messiah and his courtship with the religious right. The new messiah looks little like Jesus and yet we see Christians flocking to him for all the wrong reasons. Call it what you want, but some Christians are in need of a bit of a wakeup call (and maybe some therapy).

Join us as we skewer through life, culture and spirituality. Tune in to find out more.

Oaths

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Snarky Faith 4/12/16

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A rundown of whether or not Christians should take oaths. What does Jesus say about oaths and how should we contextualize His call in our own lives. Join us as we wade through the the act of taking oaths. I swear it’s worth your time. Tune in to find out.

Hitler, Trump and Jesus

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Snarky Faith 2/23/16

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A rundown of the similarities between the rise of Hitler and the rise of Donald Trump. We chronicling how fascism took hold and, in both cases, a distorted version Christianity was used to as a vehicle to push it forward.  Will history repeat itself? Will we stand idle? Join us as we talk about Trump and Jesus look at the world very differently. Are we right on or way off? Tune in to find out.