Dummy Quiz #2 – Characterize Yourself

Continuing with the unrecorded quizzes, we have:

  1. What is your gender?
    –Male
    –Female
  2. What is your age bracket?
    –Below 16
    –17-24
    –25-40
    –Above 40
  3. What is your marital status?
    –Does Not Apply
    –Married
    –Divorced
    –Widow/Widower
    –Single
  4. Do you have children?
    –Yes
    –No
  5. How would you categorize yourself as?
    –Native American
    –Asian American
    –Non-white Hispanic
    –White Hispanic
    –African American
    –White/Caucasian
  6. Do you identify yourself with any faith denomination?
    –Yes
    –No
  7. What is your education level?
    –Below HS
    –HS/GD
    –Bachelor
    –Graduate
  8. Are you?
    –A student
    –Unemployed
    –Self-Employed
    –Professional
    –Educator
    –Government Employee
    –Service Sector Employee
    –Military Personnel
  9. Including yourself, how many members are there in your family?
    –One
    –Two
    –Three
    –Four
    –Five or more
  10. In what range is your family’s annual income?
    –$24,999 or below
    –$25,000 – $49,999
    –$50,000 – $89,999
    –$90,000 – $149,999
    –$150,000 or higher

tptChoice Team

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About Intoxicants and Bullying

There is an old story that captures an aspect of induced vice.  There is yet another, an observation, that captures how society communicates its conduct and, for good or for worse, maintains status quo.  Both are telling and both deserve to be taken into account.  Both of them are from an ancient place and time.

First, the apocryphal story: There was an honorable man and there was a vivacious woman in the same town.  The latter had taken note with some concern, disbelief and umbrage that her beauty and sensuousness could be brushed off unnoticed by this supposedly holy, upright or decent man.  It posed a challenge for her ego and she determined to make matters right.  That meant that the “holiness”, the “uprightness”, or the “decency” of the man had to go.  She had to be noticed.  She had to be desired.  She had to be taken by the one and the same man.  The harlot was going to own the untouchable man, plain and simple!

So, a trap was hatched by a latter-day temptress to trump Potiphar’s wife who went after the Biblical Prophet Joseph.  In that earlier event, the temptress trapped Joseph in a room shutting off all the exit doors.  However, she failed for the holiness of Joseph was more than a mere airbrushing.  It was bestowed and protected by God, upon Whom was Joseph’s trust and reliance.

So, with the trap set, the man was corralled, so to speak, in a closed space with the beguiling woman, a young boy and a bottle of wine all in close proximity.  This man, as his label would suggest, did not drink and was averse to injustice and violence.  The temptress gave him an option that would allow him to exit from his trapped circumstance.  He could fornicate with her.  He could kill the boy.  Or he could take a swill from the bottle.  Which was it going to be?

Now, this man knew instinctively that he would not and could not stoop to fornication or killing for anything whatsoever, not even for freedom.  He figured that drinking was the least of the evil presented to him.  So, that was the option he chose.  However, alcohol has a mind of its own.  Its job is to deprive man of sound, functioning mind.  Soon, the man was inebriated and snared.  And that led from one thing to another.  He fornicated with the harlot and proceeded to kill the innocent boy.

The moral:  While fornication, murder or mayhem is evil, the evil inherent in alcohol has the potential to exceed those.  It is the mother of all evil!

Functional lesson: As individuals and as a collective, the humankind should not only be protective of life, property, religious freedom, good name, etc., but also find a way to protect the wholesomeness of the human mind.  Minimally, anything that causes an aberration in a person’s intellectual and judgmental capacities should be viewed with suspicion and kept at a distance.

And as to the observation, there is a proclivity to herd mentality, to stampede as it were, among humankind.  So, an old adage says: In face of society’s decency, vulgarity hides its ugly face.  On the other hand, when society is vulgar, decency is surreptitiously lived!

Thus, for example, in the past generation pursuing virginity prior to marriage became a novelty and an extinct state of affairs.  So, the occasional virgin is ashamed and hides this embarrassing condition zealously.  Thus, virginity is a sign of being a social misfit or possessing a medical condition.  It makes one a brunt of jokes and satire and of concern to even one’s parents.  This “condition” is kept guarded as one would have had she/he contracted HIV!

Functional lesson: Just because a society’s mores are one way does not necessarily mean it is the only way or the best way.  Further, just like individuals who constitute society, the collective can mask its disabilities and failures under the shell of its abilities and successes.  For example, access to technology, wealth and representative governance can be used to brush away other profound and abiding shortcomings that in effect feedback by making shallow the gains from technology, wealth and representative governance.

Do you recall where you read or heard the adage before?

tptChoice Team

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The Morning After The Knowing

Here we are, finally, through 50 odd postings covering a myriad of issues. Central to this journey has been one fact: establishing one’s relationship with God in a meaningful and lasting way.

This has meant knowing oneself and knowing God. Knowing that, through ups and downs in life, we are tested to see whether we are the better for the wear and tear and that all repair and redemption are well within God’s plan for us.

Our season is not over till our breath is all done. So, in God’s Dominion, there is always the room for a winning season. And He can and does accommodate countless many champions, for life is one person’s season against oneself. One lonely player fending both sides of the field: Good and wise vs. Bad and foolish! It is like eating or taking a shower to feel better. One has to do it on one’s own. Nobody can do it for another.

Yes, it is a strange season with the most unusual matchup running every waking, healthy, free hour of every 24-7 that one is blessed to participate in.

One wonders why the season has to be so prolonged and continuous. Well, since we pride ourselves about freedom of choice – the prize we receive for simply having been born human, the Guarantor of that charter has to see whether, how and how much the adult human upholds or infringes upon the rules governing the winner of the pageant, and whether in the latter event man is aware of its transgressions and how it deals with them upon realization of its folly.

The questions that follow are: how broken is one and how did it get so bad?

tptChoice Team

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Is This Me

I have decided to take a look back, have an out of body experience as it were. Thanks to my active imagination this should be a cakewalk. I want to take a good, hard look at myself, like when I stand in front of a mirror.

Do I know who I am? What does my name mean? Who kept it and why? If there is a good meaning to it or is it supposed to remind me of a great person who was adorned with the same name? Am I living up to that? If I have deviated, could I possibly fix it? This could well be a start!

Who is the boss of me but me? Or is my circle of affiliates my boss? How can both be? Is it not then simply double jeopardy! Neither party will ever be pleased. It’s a lose-lose proposition, unfailingly.

I know I am trapped and I can’t breathe. Let me win my freedom back, inch-by-inch, by getting a little light, a little fresh air in, here and there, whenever possible. Then a trace of me will arise inside of me. This will be so good at so many levels.

O’ my Lord, Creator of the Heavens and Earth,  by Your Unique Presence, Your Unaccountable Power, Your Unmatched Will, Your Infinite Wisdom, and Your Supreme Dignity make my prayer happen. “My Lord, I am indeed in need of any assistance whatsoever You send my way.”

tptChoice Team

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Too Much IS Too Much

Things of our own making, even born of goodwill, have a way of getting in our way, disappointing and distressing us. Over time, such disenchantments, for some, could morph into resignation and isolation, or worse.

Providing for self and family is one such thing. It is both a virtue and a responsibility, and it is something most people resort to happily.

Yet, should those in the enviable position of being able to get stuff and more stuff to this end ask how much is just enough?

Several points come to mind. Is such acquisition productive or counterproductive? Is the recipient cognizant of the favor, ready for it, wanting it, or worse, deserving it?  Is it compensating for some other social or psychological hangover faced by the giver? Is it economically sound and sustainable? Is it ecologically sound? Is it fair, globally? Is it simply a very docile, naïve response to skillful marketing?

Clothes, books, toys, kitchen wares, sports and entertainment equipment, artwork, etc. could easily make the list of things that one could continually splurge on. We must, of course, discount any acquisition that is an investment in nature.

Right away, a few identifiers of excessive acquisition become apparent. That would mean, for one thing, that these items are underused, collecting dust, ignored, misplaced, mismatched when one needs them, broken with missing parts, torn and tattered, stepped over and on – completely forgotten.

For example, has a child developed a favorite set of books or toys in face of being piled with more? Are they being repeatedly read or used so that an understanding develops, continual enjoyment and recollection results, and skills are created. Or with so many books and toys thrown at him literally, there is a lack of attachment – belonging, love and respect. Yes, learning may be happening with a flood of a variety of stuff! But what is the type and nature of that learning? Superfluity leads to the development of negative traits because it is simply too exhausting to keep track of things.

This would be true even with clothes. Most of them end up not getting sufficiently used. Too many of them result in a nightmare when it comes time for washing, folding and putting away. Only a passing appreciation may develop for color, style, pattern, etc. Detachment and throw-away culture is not good for the pocket book or the environment from both production and elimination ends. Just because a washing machine is handy, it does not mean that a child or an adult should own a month’s worth of clothes. A child outgrows them. This is true of books and toys. It is difficult to recycle through them more than three times in a season. Soon, too, it gets out of “fashion”. The wastefulness is such a pity and so unfair when we consider those around us in need. The unfairness is by us, not by God. Our affluence is our test as to how we utilize our good fortune.

Similarly, having a dishwasher may push one to have a large volume of dishes and utensils. The sink gets piled up waiting for these items to be housed in the machine. Keeping the kitchen tidy is compromised because things are left to sit around and no one is interested in attending to an ever increasing  chore. Yet when the dishes and utensils were just a few following a day’s use, hand washing would have managed the kitchen space better and made it look tidier.

Often children with fewer books, toys and clothes turn out to be more put-together, more informed and skilled adults because they develop patience. They are forced by necessity to spend more time with their smaller collection of possessions. They become less of a butterfly.

Is there a long-run relationship and respect being forged with the type of item one is driven to replenish? If not, then a complete halt in getting more is warranted?

A child who is benefitting from what is being provided him or her is certainly fulfilling for the caregivers. A tidy house with clothes, toys and books properly utilized and kept in their designated places is character building. People can manage a trickle. None can handle a flood. Affluence can be a pain in the butt if its downside is not understood and addressed.

To be able to buy things is good. To be able to do maintenance of things bought is better. Spiritually, bringing dignity to handling things in one’s possession is indispensable for a pleasant, thankful, organized life.

“Our Lord, forgive us our sins and the excessiveness in our actions and make us firm in our resolve and assist us in managing the distractors.”

tptChoice Team

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Making Prayer Count

Prayer is mankind’s primary artery of connection with its Creator. Those who aspire to faithfulness would do well to remember this. Many things may be said about a prayer well done, but I would like to reflect only on a few of them.

First of all, central to any meaningful prayer are sincerity and devotion. While sincerity is connected to the intention behind engaging in any form of supplication, devotion is connected to the focus in that process.

Secondly, prayer is not just for asking to meet worldly needs, it is also a device for thanking, and asking for forgiveness. In fact, in its totality, prayer acts as a means of communicating with the Creator for the purpose of charging up spiritually.

Third, drawing upon the research on modern parenting, the debate on how much time should be spent on being with a child appears to have been settled thus: quantity opens to quality moments. It is not practical to expect that every time a parent is with a child, the time spent will be filled with quality – fun time, creativity, teachable moments, caring interaction, etc. On any occasion, the child may be sick, tired, irritable, distracted, or rambunctious. In fact, the parent may be out of sorts, also. In those instances, the parent’s time is spent on either simply managing the situation or hanging in there, and nothing else. Hence, only with stretches of interaction with a child, there will likely emerge pattern, attachment, love, respect, obedience, discipline, curiosity, skill, etc. Likewise for prayer. We need to have more praying moments in any period of time to capture a moment that is meaningful, satisfying, or heartfelt, or simply put – smoking.

Now, how does one add more time to praying? Well, just like modern athletes, we need to take baby steps – stretching a little at the boundary of tolerance and repeating it until the stretch becomes natural and integrated with the old. Then we stretch again and repeat. As our repertoire increases so also does our spiritual muscle build. So, the formula is to increase a little at a time and be at it on a regular basis. But prayer may be built along two dimensions: number of times reserved for praying in any period of time and duration of time spent on praying on each such occasion. These two elements should seamlessly fit into one’s daily life. Otherwise, it will not be sustainable and one is then liable to declare that praying is not one’s thing. BTW, praying multiple times in a day, for example, creates interference against forces of disquiet, indiscipline and self-centeredness that would otherwise take a life of their own. It’s like taking a timeout to regroup.

Incidentally, as in military, business, medicine, teaching, research, etc., prayer is subject to SOP or standard operating procedure. Best leaders among us have rituals that allow for rhythm or cadence. So, for a heartfelt moment with our Creator, we need to create a repeatable pattern that will feel organic. So, deciding on how many times, when and how long to pray allows one to gain a clockwork pattern.

Finally, two more related elements must be mentioned. i. The act of formal praying itself should have a structure or ritual that needs to be identified and followed every time one is hitting a prescheduled prayer. It could involve ensuring personal cleanliness, appropriate spot selection with appropriate ambience, adopting a particular direction, physical posture, incantation, etc. Prayer deserves this type of dignity once we realize Who we are communicating with. This way, too, time is not wasted in figuring out what to do next whenever engaged in ritual prayer. Having a ritual also allows a community to grow that shares those elements. ii. Ritual or formality should not rob prayer of its basic elements – sincerity and focus. Neither should it result in the absence of moments of spontaneous prayer resulting from a sense of awe, happiness, disgust, fear, or sorrow, or from a desire to receive forgiveness and blessing. The point is that, for prayer to count, life should be built around the formal, scheduled, ritual prayer, and not the other way around. Otherwise, prayer would be an afterthought, a burden and an obligation, delivered hurriedly without the heart and the mind guiding it. Consequently, it would be barren of desired productivity. Lacking dignity, prayer would be just another  sloppy, spur of the moment lottery entry seeking a phenomenal rushed delivery.

Prayer allows one to communicate on all channels, at all times and in any circumstance with one’s Lord,  the Ever-receptive Lord of the Worlds. Obsequiousness is always very much in order!

“O’ our Lord, accept our prayer.”

tptChoice Team

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