DF676B07-76A8-43CC-BAA0-97A43BB36655“That’s strange,” Carl said to his wife as the two were walking past their town’s Baptist church.

“What’s strange, Hon,” Maggie asked.

“That sign in front of the church,” he responded. “What a strange sign to be put up in front of a church.”

Maggie looked at the sign and then looked back at Carl. “What’s so strange about that sign?”

Carl looked at Maggie in disbelief. “Seriously?” he said. “You don’t think a sign that reads ‘God is nowhere’ in front of a church isn’t strange?”

Maggie looked carefully at the sign. “You’re reading it wrong. It says ‘God is now here.’”

Now it was Carl who looked carefully at the sign. “No, that’s not what it says. Look at the spacing of the letters. It clearly says ‘God is nowhere.’ Can’t you see that?”

Maggie grabbed Carl’s hand and pulled him toward the church entrance. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m going to prove that I’m right and you’re wrong.”

The couple walked through the door and started walking down the center aisle. They saw the church pastor toward the alter and walked up to him. “Excuse me,” Maggie said. “We have a question about your sign.”

The pastor smiled and asked, “How can I help you?”

Carl said, “Does that sign out front say ‘God is now here’ or ‘God is nowhere’”?

“That is an excellent question,” the pastor said. “What do you think it says?”

Carl was getting a little irritated. “It’s your sign. Why would you ask us what it means.”

The pastor’s smile broadened. “You know, I knew putting up that sign would be risky, but it seems to be doing exactly what I hoped it would do.”

“And what is that?” Maggie asked.

“Initiate a discussion about God by people just like you who wonder what the sign means.” He said. “Welcome to my church. So, what do you believe? Is God now here or is God nowhere?”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “risky.”


Loyal to a Fault

In the era (or should I say, error) of Donald Trump, the word “loyal,” which has always had a positive connotation, has shifted. Let me explain.

New presidents are expected to nominate highly talented, well-qualified people to fill appointed positions in the executive branch of the federal government. Appointees should be able, creative, and experienced people who will serve the needs of the government and the people it serves.

I’m not suggesting that loyalty to the ideas and ideologies of the president shouldn’t play a role in making political appointments. But that should not be the primary criterion.

The president should not be appointing someone to head up the Department of Justice who is a well-known segregationist and racist. Nor should he appoint someone who has sued the EPA and is a vocal climate change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Secretary of the Interior should not be someone with deep ties to the fossil fuels industry. The Secretary of Health and Human Services should not be someone who profited from insider trading of health care company stocks and who is devoted to his boss’ aim of destroying health care coverage for 20+ million Americans.

The president should not appoint as his senior strategist a right-wing nut job and white nationalist who wants to dismantle the establishment. The president should not ask the FBI Director to pledge his loyalty and then fire him when he doesn’t. And nepotism is not a qualification.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point, which is that loyalty should not trump qualifications.

It’s a shame that our president has turned “loyal” from something positive to something questionable.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “loyal.”

Stairway to Heaven

“What do you mean you don’t believe in God?” Cheryl was incredulous. “Don’t you want to ascend to heaven when your time comes?”

Alan chucked. “If heaven and hell existed, my ‘soul’ would surely be descending, not ascending.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Cheryl argued. “All you need to do is embrace Jesus. He will embrace you back. He will forgive you. You will be saved.”

“Oh my God,” Alan protested. “How many times do we have to discuss this. I don’t buy your religious mumbo-jumbo. There is no all-knowing, all-seeing supernatural spirit in the sky watching and judging everything that we do. It’s a bunch of bullshit.”

Cheryl’s eyes starting welling up. “But it says in the Bible….”

“The Bible,” Alan laughed. “You mean that book written by around 40 different farmers and shepherds decades after your so-called savior died? Why not use Lord of the Rings as your holy book?

The tears were flowing freely down Cheryl’s cheeks. “Stop mocking me,” she demanded. “You’re my brother. We were raised together. How can you be such a heretic?”

“I have an evolved brain,” Alan said. “You do to, Cheryl, but you seem unwilling or unable to use it when it comes to religion. It’s like you’ve been brainwashed, indoctrinated.”

“Well, Mom, Dad, and I are going to miss your evolved brain when we’re all in heaven and you’re in hell.”

“You go ahead and live your life so that ascend to heaven, Cheryl, when you die.” Alan said. “I’ll live mine so that I can experience heaven on earth while I’m still alive.”

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “ascend.”

Humdrum and Ho-Hum

1E959609-88DF-44C0-8F67-2A4EA53C23D4My biggest fear when I retired at the end of last year was boredom. After all, I’d spent close to the last 50 years as an active member of the workforce. I had a job to do, I knew how to do it, and I was damn good at it.

And then, just like that, I retired. What to do, what to do?

I did not want to succumb to boredom, so I set as a personal goal to find ways to exercise both my body and my mind.

The good news with respect to the body is that I have a wife who is an exercise nut and she encourages me to get up off my butt and to keep moving. I also have a dog that demands to be walked multiple times a day, ensuring that I achieve at least 10,000 steps daily.

But what about exercising the mind? As a new retiree, I wanted a way to keep my mind active, engaged, and alert. And that’s where this blog comes in.

When I first started this blog in May, one of my primary purposes was to provide a platform for me to express my views, opinions, and perspectives on topics that matter to me. I also wanted to establish a creative outlet for self-expression and to dabble in flash fiction. But most important, I wanted — needed — something to challenge my brain, to keep my neurons transmitting and the synapses firing. Something that might stave off the mental deterioration of old age.

And something that would enable me to not succumb to the humdrum and ho-hum.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “succumb.”

The End of Days

0D065186-57E6-4961-9F15-52DBDE48D4A0The cloaked figure stood absolutely still. She looked across the bleak, barren landscape. The last of autumn’s leaves were falling from the trees and winter’s cold grip would soon be upon her. She knew that she would not last the season.

The only signs of life were the blackbirds circling in front of the large white orb suspended in the mostly white sky. Was she the only land creature remaining? How could what had once been so beautiful and so hospitable have become so unwelcoming, so desolate?

She was hungry and tired. She couldn’t remember the last time she ate or slept. She was lonely and alone. She was unable to recall when she last saw or spoke to another survivor. She couldn’t face another day.

She removed her cloak, and laid it upon the hard soil beneath where she stood. Her frail, weakened body was barely able to hold her up anymore, so she carefully kneeled down, her knees on the cloak. She bowed her head, and said one last prayer, a prayer that she knew would go unheard by a god she was now sure never existed.

She laid herself flat on her back on her cloak, taking one last look at the sky that before the beginning of the end used to be blue. Then she closed her eyes and almost eagerly awaited the release that death would bring.

Written for today’s one-word prompt, “cloaked.” Sorry for the bleak theme. Image credit: mary1826 on Pixabay