Tuesday, March 25, 2014

21 Dumbest & Most Clueless Customers in the World

This is one of those web myths that cannot be verified but smells legit because we know human beings. It exemplifies many reasons that I have placed my faith in God, not man.

We are fallible and ignorant in many areas. We misunderstand and beat with frustration the object of our discomfort.

Still, when the smoke clears, we may laugh at ourselves. We shake our heads [or hang them, as appropriate] and learn.

Some of these are hard to believe. But I can guess that the more egregious ones are born from a person mentally disconnecting due to something UTTERLY unrelated.

Usually it is some fresh emotional trauma. We start talking stupid when punched in the gut. We are mentally askew. The overworked mother, the overwhelmed manager, the mistaken tech ability poorly comprehended.

Others: simply pure, flat-out ignorance and fear, based on misconceptions.

As a pastor, nothing shows the Fall quite as clearly.

I truly and honestly sympathize.

Here's one I encountered years ago: I had to FAX a six or seven page print out of a website to a client.

Thankfully, I had a rational and personable account manager to help me. When the client faxed back "changes" which were complaints on how the text was wrapping and placement of images, the account manager called her and explained this was uncontrollable due to the nature of various browsers.

"THAT is so much BULL$#!%!" the lady retorted.

Account manager kindly replied it was not; it was the nature of the web. [BTW, this was in 1997 before cascading style sheets.]

I was aghast that the client was so - well, dumb and rude.

Account manager said, "Well, Justice, her dog just died. She's having a hard day." This was my first insight into how quickly and easily our minds can be overthrown as full-grown adults in a big person world.

When you ask what time the Three O'Clock Parade is at Disneyland, you probably have had your mental capacity used up by little ones and their needs.

Probably.

Here's another truth I found out.

If you think God is mean and should give you some answers, you are the one in pain and have a problem.

Not God.

Let me repeat that.

God is not the problem. Your pain is the problem.

God offers Himself, not a "fix-this" solution, in many cases.

He frankly tells us Christians who love Christ will be maligned, mistreated and misunderstood because He - Jesus, the EXACT representation of God, was treated the same way.

This always bothered me.

I LIKE superheroes and cool guys who fight evil. I LIKE heroes defeating villains. I LIKE problem solvers.

But after awhile, it began to hit me what the problem was.

Us.

We--meaning humanity as a whole--are referred to variously by Jesus Christ as sheep, sparrows, puppy dogs, fish, goats, and well, vipers. OK, the last two are aimed at mean-spirited people, true, but they all have one thing in common: they are unable to reason. They are unable to understand their universe besides immediate need gratification.

In another place, though, especially in John's gospel, Jesus refers to us as "gods" and later as "friends" and "sons of God"--equal to Himself!

Now THAT is unexpected! It even sounds heretical. But Jesus said it, so you have to deal with it. It must be true, at least in certain conditions.

What makes us go from being compared to a wandering animal to a child of God?

What transforms man to be very like the Creator?

Is it Jesus? [Obvious answer, right?]

No. No directly, anyway.

What changes us is the Spirit of God, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit, a.k.a. the Spirit that was present at Creation in Genesis 1:2. Jesus called Him the Helper, the Counselor and would send Him after his death and resurrection.

You see, we can be highly moral, intelligent and decent human beings, but as good as that is, it is insufficient to understand God. We are also limited to merely our personal powers and character to do the right thing, think the right things and act in the right way.

We fail. Often.

But with the Holy Spirit, we can.

We can be helped.

We can be emotionally healed.

We fail naturally. We must be helped supernaturally.

If you have not asked Jesus for the Holy Spirit, I think it is time you did so.

Because if you really are betting on your own human wisdom to figure out this world, you are in big trouble. It is just too crazy, filled with wounded people who cannot process "2 + 2 = 4."

It may be the smartest thing you ever did. If you can think of anything smarter to do than ask God for His Spirit to empower you, let me know.

May God grant you great healing and joy as you call on Him in faith today. :D

Amen.





Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Creep of Creepy [or How I Found Out I Was Counterfeiting]

CREEPY #131
Berni Wrightson's Wolfman = COOL!
Years ago there was a horror magazine called Creepy filled with black and white stories of the macabre, the unusual the horrific. It was forbidden fruit for many a 13 year old boy who sought to grab a copy that had to stay hidden from the ever-watchful eyes of censoring parents – who were right, of course.

But that was its appeal: it was WEIRD and WRONG and filled with stories of DARK JUSTICE in which malefactors received horrific unnatural recompense for their heinous crimes. It was CREEPY.

Yesterday I got an e-mail from an ex-friend about a picture I had stored on Facebook. It was of him holding a can of “Whoop-Ass Chili” with the “Chili” removed. So it looks like he’s holding a can of “Whoop-Ass” – and he has this expression on his face like “You want some of this, big boy?” I thought it was hilarious. I explained that he was a brilliant man but unrelenting in verbal battles. I got the photo from a forum we both frequent, who know him well, and where he had posted the original. 

Oh yeah – forgot to tell you that part, didn’t I? The original pic was him showing off a food item. It was NOT a can of Whoop-Ass Chili. I grabbed that image from the web to modify and put in his hand.

People got upset. Very upset. I went “Wha…? It’s a JOKE – c’mon, get a life!” and moved on. No biggie, I thought. He’s been so vicious and name-calling, insulting and insinuating, how is this TOO far? I’m not placing his name even on the file – and I am NOT sharing it with anyone who had not seen the original either!

Get over it!

Now my ex-friend did write that he did not believe I was meanly-spirited but that I am "really, really bad at judging these things." And that it was… get ready for it…

It was CREEPY.

He said I had a penchant for it. A blindness in this area that I needed to reflect on.

So I’ve been reflecting. 

He was right.

Here’s How I Got CREEPY, True Believer
I had been hurt by my ex-friend and wanted to say something about it. I wanted him to tone down his verbal barrages, because I had grown up with flare-temper men and women who had issues. It literally hurt to read his posts. He’d cut loose with 300 word paragraphs with nary a breath or break.

I’d learned a long time ago that humor and cartooning can make a point that even your target can laugh at.

Not this time.
Lepre-Khan! 
Awful, ain't it?

You already know why if you have spent more than four days on the web. You have seen evil done and misinformation and bad Photoshop work everywhere. Every image in the political spectrum from Sarah Palin to Barack Obama has been manipulated for humor.

But here’s where it gets bad: good humor, and editorial cartooning, depends on exaggeration for effect. It DEPENDS on caricatures, stereotypes and over-simplification. The very things verbotten in literature, we cartoonists use to elicit a laugh. They are our tools in trade.

There are all kinds of cartoons: tasteful understated cartoons, gross cartoons, and obscene cartoons. It is a form of visual parody we love and identify with. You can slip a lot into a cartoon from your side of the political fence and find opponents willing to listen. They are powerful, but, like I said, they depend on simplification to garner your attention and emotional altruism.

There are no “realistic” cartoons. They are self-defeating.

So I failed in my humor, as my ex-friend said, because I crossed a line. An invisible line.

What line, you may ask? The line of realism.

It looked too realistic.

No. Forget that.

It looked REAL.

Like the original pic. Like I took it myself. It was not longer a cartoon; it was a counterfeit.

You see, I have a curse. It is usually helpful in task-oriented situations: I am a perfectionist. If I see that I can make something better, I do. I hate sloppy. Hate it.
 From Understanding Comics
by Scott McCloud, p.11

The more specific the image, the more narrow the scope of appeal. The closer to real-life, the closer to an op-ed piece or slanted review/report instead of an allegory or fable. It is just the way we are. We can “hear” a story of colorful figures far faster than a report of cold hard facts. Broad strokes are inclusive; narrow strokes are exclusive.

I also grew up with a love of special effects and making things that were fantastic look realistic. I was twelve when Star Wars came out. I was twenty-two when I first even saw Photoshop, and was using it daily ten years later. I love making something un-real look real.

But if you do that in real life, with real people and real objects? It is no longer cartooning.

It is counterfeiting.

No one would have been upset if it was clearly seen to be photoshopped. You can accomplish that by doing a hack job of cut and paste, and everyone just snickers.

Conversely, if you do an excellent job of wrapping the fingers around the object, dropping the light levels and skewing .05 degrees in the vertical plane to make sure you cannot tell the object was emplaced after the fact, you have gone too far.

Your craft has crept up to become a curse. You have become CREEPY.

You don't want that.

This blog has run long, so I must end with something that connects it to Jesus, right?

Well, Jesus knew the power of story and how people thought. He did not mind offending the educated, the politicos or the self-righteous legalist. He wasn’t swayed either by simple emotional appeals or moral misdirection. He says it like it is and pushes buttons.

Yet there comes a point in His ministry which He is obviously using restraint, and is holding back to keep from overwhelming people. He won’t tell His disciples everything He knows or show everything He can do so as to not scare them. He is careful in what He reveals. He is so meek that after He casts out thousands of demons, when the people ask Him to leave, He just up and does it.

You see, Jesus was CREEPY. He could do terrible things and wonderful things and people knew it. He cursed a fig tree, told a storm to shut up and a dead man to get up.

But He also needed one thing though when dealing with living human beings.

Their agreement. Their permission. Over and over He asks, “Do you want to be made well?” “Do you believe?” He never demands our personal rectitude or fights to remind us He is the Son of God. He simply is power held meekly and gently. Because He acts in love, He steps aside often for the wounded, the weaker, the fearful.

He listened to them. He did what they asked Him to do.

Yesterday, my ex-friend told me what I did with his photo was CREEPY. He wanted me to take it down.

He was right, so I did. I did it because Jesus would. I did it because I love my ex-friend.

My ex-friend does not love me. That's just a fact.

But Jesus said something about that too. ;)

Amen.