Tuesday, July 5, 2016
I’m beginning to think that all the fishing shows I’ve been watching lately aren’t being completely honest with their viewers. I don’t mean to sound judgmental but what the hell! Now believe you me I’m no expert, and I don’t have a five-hundred-dollar rod and reel either, but I’ve been fishing a few times myself, and people I’m here to tell you, it’s not quite the same as our illustrious TV hosts have lead us to believe. In fact, in my experience at least, It’s nowhere near the truth. To prove my point, I’ll walk you through a typical Chris Ledgerwood fishing trip and let you be the judge. It’s early, the sun is peeking thru the trees, the wind is gently caressing my hair like a long lost lover. I’m apprehensive but confident. I approach the pond like a ninja waiting to strike, cautiously scanning the water’s surface for signs of my quarry, a big ass fish! And I’m not disappointed, the fish are assaulting their prey like torpedoes launched from a secret underwater base. It’s exhilarating, fins are flashing in the sunlight as the water churns in carnivorous delight, a true fisherman’s paradise. This, my friend’s, is the moment I’ve been preparing for. I’ve downloaded twelve different books on the art of fishing and watched countless YouTube videos, I think it’s safe to say that I’m an online fishing expert. I tie the perfect Texas style rig, a term I learned off YouTube by the way, my rubber worm is the perfect weight, color and style. It’s flawless, a true work of art! I wait until I see a fish break the surface, cast my line and prepare for battle. It’s then I realize something isn’t quite right; the fish that were so energetic before are now stone cold silent. Seriously, have you ever watched an old black and white movie where the villain rides into town and there’s absolutely nothing stirring but a single, lonesome tumbleweed? Yeah, well, it’s like that! But, and this is what kills me, my wife, a person that hasn’t downloaded any books or watched a single YouTube video is reeling them in left and right. How can this be? And get this, she’s using a fifty cent bobber and a worm, the same kind Opie Taylor used on the Andy Griffith show. Are you serious!? Screw this, I'm going home and play my guitar!!!
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Most children, and boys in particular, dream of wild and exotic careers when they grow up. Very few of us actually envisioned ourselves as working adults. Life for a child is free and open to all possibilities, so the concept of success being defined by the size of your bank account never entered into the equation. I guess the question is this: Would the twelve year Chris Ledgerwood recognize the forty seven year old version I have become? Now I’ve held a lot of jobs in my life and even made a good living for a short time. But let’s be honest here, I never have fit into the take no prisoners corporate mentality that pervades our society. In a world that values conquest over peace, dominance over compassion and profit above all, It can be hard to find your place (much less thrive) if you don’t possess the necessary skills to do so. It’s not that I haven’t tried, but to judge my self worth on such arbitrary things as sales goals and gross profit margins is madness. The cold hard truth, however, is America worships at the altar of power. And what above all else constitutes power in our world? Money. When a teacher, a person that has dedicated their life to the education of our children, has to face debilitating budget cuts, while the powers that be poor untold billions into an ever expanding military/industrial complex, something is terribly wrong! How do we fix it? I don’t know and if I did who would listen? But I will say this: I want off this merry go round! Now I realize we all have to work, and I also realize there are those that see things differently than me. But if you value the almighty dollar above common human decency, you’re part of the problem. It’s not that difficult, really. Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Monday, May 23, 2016
It’s been said that every life is a story, and every story - though most of us refuse to believe it - deserves to be told. And I tend to subscribe to that theory, simply because the alternative is unthinkable to me. There are those, however, that have no problem believing our existence is simply a matter of chance nothing more or nothing less…… a cosmic raindrop in an infinite ocean of possibility. And I’m not knocking that way of thinking. In many ways it’s liberating, or at least it appears so to me, but I’ve never been able to take that leap. God, and his role in our life - or lack thereof - has always been intriguing to me.
There’s a school of thought that states we choose our destiny prior to birth. That seems a little screwed up if you ask me. I don’t know about you, but if given a choice, I’d choose a story filled with espionage, gun fights and copious amounts of gratuitous sex. Because, let’s be honest here, all those things are uber cool, especially the copious amounts of gratuitous sex. But, if this theory is to be believed, I chose something far more benign.
But on the other hand, maybe life isn’t preordained at all. Maybe we write our own story in hopes of understanding the complexities and hardships of this thing we call living. Or maybe it’s a little of both, and we play our roles - putting our own twist on our character’s performance - within the confines of a cosmic screenplay of course. But the one thing I have learned is this: Hardships and trials, though not pleasant or desirable, if processed properly, can create a beautiful and compassionate soul.
Of course I have no idea why life can be so exhilarating one minute and exasperating the next. But it is, and we all struggle to find our own way to cope with life’s realities. And I think that is why religion is such a powerful force within humanity. It offers absolute truth to those who are willing to follow it’s rules and regulations. The only problem is which religion is correct, and which rules do we follow?
For me that question was answered quickly. You see, I am a product of the Bible belt, or the flyover states as some people are fond of calling it. But that’s complete bullshit. Because the people that live here are some of the hardest working, hospitable and compassionate people you’ll ever meet. There’s just absolutely no room for discussion when it comes to religion. Which, if you think about it, is kind of strange. Fundamentalism of any kind, by it’s very nature is rigid and harsh. The fact that most fundamentalist are more compassionate than their theology allows speaks volumes to me. But I don’t have a crystal ball, and I can’t see into peoples souls. So, I’ll leave it at that.
Now that’s not to say that there aren’t any hippie dippy, love thy neighbor, universal health care, marriage equality advocates that reside in our little vacuum, but they’re in the minority. Religion, however, and fundamental Christianity in particular, is by far the prevailing mindset. It all seems so innocuous, really. And for many people it may very well be.
Bur religion, in my opinion, is supposed to be a sacrament pointing us toward something higher than ourselves. But, when taken as a literal fact, and sprinkled with a health amount of shame and fear, religion becomes something far more sinister. It becomes a means of control and abuse. I know those words sound harsh, but that doesn’t change the fact that their true. Anytime someone claims to know the mind and will of God for your life….. run!
Sunday, May 15, 2016
I can’t remember the exact moment I lost my faith, or for that matter, why I even began searching. But I did, and once you start down that treacherous path, you can never return. Oh, you can try. Hell, You may even convince yourself it was all just a trick of the enemy, but deep down inside you’ll know the truth, and the truth is there are no answers….. just questions. And that’s the damnable thing about losing one’s religion, the loss of absolute truth, and the emptiness it brings. But out of that initial emptiness, there is a hope - at least in my experience - that transcends the feelings of loss and replaces it with wonder.
You know the fear and anxiety that take over the moment the roller coaster reaches it’s peak, and no amount of wishful thinking can postpone the inevitable. Well, it’s a lot like that, but if you’re a believer, and you get it wrong - in your subconscious at least - there’s hell to pay! But for some reason unknown to me, despite all the years of teaching and indoctrination, I was willing to take that risk, and begin a journey of the soul that would change my life, and how I view the world forever. And like all good journeys of the soul, this one began with a book. Well, sixty-six books to be exact……. the Bible.
Yeah, you read that right, I said the Bible. But if you’re going to question your faith, or anything for that matter, you need to go the source, and for a born again, fundamentalist Christian, it’s the Bible. Of course, I was aware of the contradictions contained within it’s pages, but I repressed any real inquiry because that would be considered a lack of faith, and a lack of faith, like I stated earlier, is tantamount to eternal doom.
Now you have to understand, I was taught the bible was the literal, ineffable word of God, and if a story could be taken literally, then it must. So, Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, Adam and eve and Noah’s ark, along with countless other stories were, in the church’s teaching, actual historical events. So, what should have been read as a great metaphorical story, was turned into a declaration of God’s character.
And God’s character it seems, is a little schizophrenic. Well, to be honest, it’s not God’s character I’m questioning. It’s religion’s. So when I speak of losing my faith, what I really mean is I’m losing my faith, or more precisely, I have lost my faith in religion, not God.
And like I stated earlier, it was the Bible itself that began my journey from fear to hope. And though I’ve never claimed to be a biblical scholar, I’m not ignorant either. Besides, it doesn’t take a scholar to figure out the bible is full of violent, misogynistic, homophobic stories that if taken literally, not only glorifies humanities travesties, but downright endorses them. But, and this is an important but, there are many, many verses that speak of God’s unconditional love, grace, mercy and forgiveness, and it is in these verses that my soul found solace.
But many a well meaning, legalistic, Christian, upon hearing my heretical thoughts, would inform me - with the wild abandon of a child left unattended in a candy store - that I couldn’t pick and choose which scripture verses to follow. Yes, God is a loving God, they would say, but he is also a righteous judge, and you can’t just dismiss that, Chris. God needs to be feared! After all, if God went about forgiving everybody with impunity, where would the world be? Later on I came to realize that what they were really saying was this: If God forgives and loves everyone unconditionally, where does that put me and my self righteous indignation? It’s a good question, and the answer is fully in the arms of grace.