Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Medical Research: Grumpiness Leads to Dementia

Recently, I read a medical article that discussed RNT, which stands for Repetitive Negative Thinking. I was surprised to learn there’s an actual medical term for this. I always thought constant grumpiness was the default setting for everyone who works in the HVAC business. (And I suppose many people could chime in and say their particular occupation/industry is rife with RNT. It seems all of America these days is consumed with negative thinking — and I’m sure social media has nothing to do with it. Yeah, right.)
The main point of the article I read is that new research indicates Repetitive Negative Thinking is associated with memory decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Here’s the interesting observation: it appears that people with memory problems do not become grumpy; instead, people who are grumpy develop memory problems. So, when we ask that age-old question: Which came first, the chicken or the hissy fit? Medical research says if you spend your whole life complaining and criticizing, there is a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. On the other hand, if you go through life cheery and optimistic, chances are you’ll be the only one at the Senior Center who can answer the questions when “Jeopardy” is on TV in the recreation lounge.
The reason Repetitive Negative Thinking can lead to memory problems is because negative thoughts and words produce stress. And constant stress leads to all kinds of physical problems, including heart attacks. (So, the good news is, if you’re a grumpy person, you may avoid getting Alzheimer’s disease — because you might drop dead first. See? Problem solved!)
The article I read offered advice on how to become less grumpy. Step one: Quit the HVAC business. (No, I’m kidding. This is where you’re supposed to plug in the name of your particular occupation/industry, just for laughs. Of course, if my clients and co-workers learn that I’m making fun of the HVAC industry, they’ll get even more grumpy towards me.) 
Anyway, the steps the article actually advises to reduced chronic crankiness are the following:
First, smile more often, even for no good reason. It’s a proven fact this will boost a person’s mood. In my work environment, whenever someone is smiling for no good reason, it usually means he is plotting to hurt someone.
Next, the article says good posture helps improve your mood. By the way, the medical article was written by two doctors, and here is an exact quote: “If you slump, you tend to grump.” Where did they get their training, the “Groucho Marx School of Medicine”? 
Personally, when I’m at the office, I spend about seven hours each day hunched over my laptop computer. (I spend the other two hours in the break room looking for snacks.) By the end of the day, my spine looks like a question mark. Maybe I’ll have to get one of those stand-up work stations to improve my posture.
The next step is to focus on what you feel grateful for. I think I’ve got this one covered, since my office has photographs of loved ones: my darling wife, my beautiful daughters, my new grandson, and Xander Bogaerts.
The final suggestion is to give yourself happy moments. Well, when I was in college, I gave myself many happy moments, most of which were expensive, illegal, and almost killed me. The article explains: “If you know you like a certain song, play it to boost your mood — and it will.” OK, I can do that. I just hope the rest of the office doesn’t mind Jimi Hendrix blasting at 90 decibels.
Repetitive Negative Thinking is a genuine medical condition. I think we all should try to break this bad habit. You go first, ya grumpy bozo.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

What Is Heaven Really Like?

In recent weeks we’ve discussed the Christian belief in life after death, and Jesus’ promise that those who put their faith in God and seek to follow His commands will live forever in Heaven. However, we don’t spend too much time, if any, discussing what Heaven is like. There’s a good reason for that: the Bible is very vague about the details of Heaven.
One thing we know for sure, in Heaven the saints are not wearing white robes and playing the harp. I mean, the harp is a lovely musical instrument, as long as it accompanies the rest of the orchestra. Harp solos, on the other hand, are pretty tedious. For example, whenever Harpo played in the middle of a Marx Brothers movie, his skill with the instrument was fascinating—for about 20 seconds. Can you imagine thousands of harps, and only harps, playing together? No thanks.
The Bible gives us some cryptic clues about Heaven. Jesus said there are many dwellings in His Father’s house, and He will go and prepare a place for His followers. The old King James Version of the Bible translates this as many “mansions.” I’m not sure what the word mansion actually meant in the early 1600s, but it sounds good to me, as long as I don’t have to vacuum it.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul wrote, “Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard…what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Well, I’ve never seen or heard a thousand harps playing at the same time, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what Paul meant. Paul was trying to say that Heaven will be so wonderful, our finite little human brains can’t even begin to comprehend it. We’ll simply have to wait until we experience it to understand.
That, of course, has not stopped people from speculating on what Heaven will be like. Dr. Scott Hahn recently published a new book titled, “Hope to Die—The Christian Meaning of Death and the Resurrection of the Body.”
If you’re not familiar with Dr. Hahn, he’s the most well-known of a group of Protestant ministers who converted to Catholicism. He’s a professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH, and he’s written more books about faith than the number of Red Sox hats that I own. In other words, a lot.
Anyway, in his new book, Dr. Hahn offers his vision of what Heaven will be like:
“The best dinner party or family gathering you’ve ever attended, where everyone is feasting and talking and laughing and sharing stories, has nothing on the feasting and talking and laughing and sharing stories that will take place in heaven. Our greatest experiences of love, connection, and friendship here on earth offer us only the tiniest foretaste of the love, connection, and friendship we will experience in heaven, where every story will be shared and every story will be endlessly fascinating. Every story will be beautiful and interesting and compelling and engaging. Every story will make us laugh and weep for the joy of it all. Not one story will be boring. Not one story won’t hold our attention. Not one story won’t utterly and completely captivate us.”
What a beautiful description of Heaven. If you’re like me, the most joyful and cherished moments in your life were not when you got a raise at work or bought a new car. Instead, the most joyful moments happened were when you were in the presence of dear friends, laughing and eating and telling delightful stories.
After all these years, I’ve learned a few things, and I now know the most important part of life is entering into loving relationships with other people. Everything else folks often strive for—fame, fortune, power, prestige, pleasure—take a back seat to forming loving relationships with others.
Dr. Hahn’s vision of Heaven is terrific. The most joyful moments of our earthly experience multiplied by a thousand. If that is what Heaven really is like, I won’t even mind if there are a bunch of guys playing the harp.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

They Is Confused by Plural Pronouns

The other day a morning radio host offered his daily musical history quiz. He said, “On this date in 1962, this artist signed a record contract in their living room, with their parents present because they were only 16. The answer after this next song.”
I started thinking about it, since I had nothing else to think about while shaving at 6 a.m. Because the radio guy used plural pronouns three times, and said “they were only 16,” I thought maybe the singers in question were twins, since they apparently were the same age. I wracked my brain, which is always rather foggy that early in the morning, but couldn’t come up with any singing twins. I thought of lots of singing duos, but no twins. Then I said to myself, “Maybe it’s Donny and Marie Osmond. I always thought they were not twins, and I don’t think they were singing professionally in the early ‘60s, but no other names come to mind.” If I was a contestant on Jeopardy, and the topic was “Singing Siblings,” I would’ve shrugged and not pressed the button.
Finally, the song ended and the radio host gave the answer: “Leslie Gore.” I waited a moment, then muttered, “Leslie Gore — and who else?”
Then it dawned on me: the radio guy was employing plural pronouns that are not exclusively plural anymore.
Last December, the Merriam-Webster people announced the 2019 Word of the Year was “they,” specifically the singular use of “they” as a pronoun to refer to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary. By the way, it’s a good thing the word “nonbinary” was added to the M-W dictionary just a few months earlier.
A news story used this example: “Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Sam Smith announced their decision to use gender neutral pronouns.” The article did not mention how old Sam was when they signed their first record contract.
Now, if you think I’m going to get into a big discussion here about gender binarity, and the passionate debate over how many genders there are (Facebook says at least 58), you are mistaken. 
I’m a libertarian who believes in “live and let live,” and I wouldn’t touch this subject with a ten-foot pole (or as the Grinch said, a 39-1/2 foot pole).
Besides, many of the things I thought were important four decades ago turned out not to be very big deals after all. So, these days, I’m picking my battles.
If some folks don’t like the fact that many pronouns are exclusively male or female, I sort of get it. Well, almost sort of. But my beef is with the singular-plural issue. It just seems bizarre for they/them/their to refer to one person.
For example, on the business-oriented social media platform LinkedIn, I often get notices like this: “Today is David’s work anniversary. Wish them congratulations by posting a message.” 
If David does not identify as male, then he will be, um, I mean, then there will be offense taken if the note said, “Wish him congratulations.” 
LinkedIn should do what I just did — dump the pronoun entirely. The notice should be phrased like this: “Today is David’s work anniversary. Offer congratulations by posting a message.”
See? It doesn’t offend the non-traditional gendered community, and it doesn’t offend those of us who got yelled at by Mrs. McGillicuddy for an entire year during 4th grade Grammar class until we got our pronouns right. 
I’ve been around long enough to remember Leslie Gore, which means this dog is way too old to learn new grammar tricks.
Let’s just avoid those gender specific singular pronouns as much as possible. When I read or hear someone use a plural pronoun instead of a singular pronoun, I mutter to myself: “We are not amused.” 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Jesus Can Handle Our Burdens

The Fourth of July. Independence Day. It was Saturday, July 4th, when our parishes here in Connecticut had their first public weekend Masses since early March. It was a wonderful experience. Attendance at the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass was limited by design. Everyone wore facemasks. Every other pew was blocked off, so folks kept at least six feet from each other. Rather than incense, the smell of hand sanitizer wafted throughout the sanctuary. But just being back at church for Mass—finally!—was a terrific sensation.
The gospel reading that day, for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, was from Matthew, chapter 11. Jesus exclaimed, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
What a wonderful coincidence that particular reading just happened to be the gospel for our first public Mass in months. (Although, maybe rather than a coincidence, it was instead a mysterious God-incidence.)
What have the last four months been for most Americans? A single word best answers that question: burden.
Just think about what we’ve been through since early March: Loved ones got sick, and many died because of the horrible COVID-19 virus. Jobs were lost. Classes were cancelled. Businesses were shut down; many never to reopen. Lives were completely disrupted. Then, an act of horrible violence sparked waves of more horrible violence throughout the country. Without a doubt, life in America over the past four months has been a burden.
And for faithful Catholics, the burden was compounded when we were ordered by the bishops NOT to attend Mass. Out of an abundance of caution and the fact this virus is so contagious, the bishops regretfully closed our churches. Just imagine if last Fall someone announced, “I’ll bet a thousand bucks that next year the bishops will order all Catholics to stay home and not go to Mass.” Everybody within earshot would’ve laughed at the guy — and quickly accepted his wager. Well, if that had happened, that fella would be a rich man today.
So, on the first day we were allowed to attend weekend Mass once again, Jesus said He will give rest to everyone who is burdened. That sounds great! Where do I sign up? Does He take credit cards?
Well, it’s not exactly something we “sign up” for. There’s a spiritual concept in Christianity that teaches we must surrender to be victorious. Now, by worldly standards, that makes no sense. To be victorious in any struggle, we instinctively know that we have to fight hard and overpower our enemies. Only then will we be able to declare victory.
Much of the burden that people endure these days is self-inflicted. We assume it’s our responsibility to run the universe and make everything right. I’ve got news for you. None of us have the skill-set to pull that off. It’s not in our job descriptions. The only One who has the ability to do that job is Christ.
After all, don’t forget: Jesus was not simply a Jewish carpenter who offered a lot of nice teachings 2,000 years ago. Scripture says this about Jesus: “Through Him all things were made.” Before lowering Himself to become a man, Jesus was “one-in-being” with God Almighty, and He was instrumental in the creation of the entire universe.
We need to surrender to Christ; that is, we need to get out of the way and let Him be God. He has the power and strength and majesty to assume our burdens. If we just relax and trust that the Lord is in charge, we will be amazed at how light our burdens become.
Now that our churches have reopened, try to attend Mass on the weekend once again (only, of course, if you are not in a high-risk category). It’s been a long spiritual drought since early March, and we all are weary and troubled. Throw your burdens onto Jesus. He can handle them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Writing for the ‘Hep Cat’ Crowd

Last week’s column discussed my views of the presidency. Here’s a summary: I have nothing against the presidency, just the egomaniacs who want to hold that office.
In the essay, I concluded that the best person to be president is Groucho Marx, because he famously said, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” In other words, the President of the United States should be a person who is humble enough not to want the job. All the folks who desperately desire to be president are automatically disqualified, in my view, by the very fact they crave the job. And if you think I’m referring simply to the two old white guys who will be on the ballot in November, be aware there are at least 30 power-hungry people frantically working behind the scenes right now to position themselves to run in 2024. They all should have their heads examined.
Anyway, after last week’s column was published, it was pointed out to me that every single person I mentioned was famous ages ago. Today, their names are unknown to everyone except geezers like me. Hmm, I didn’t realize that.
Here is a list of the people I mentioned last week, what they are famous for, and when they were famous:
James Buchanan, President of the United States, 1857 to 1861.
Groucho Marx, comedian and movie star, 1920 to 1960.
Major Strasser, sinister character in the movie “Casablanca,” 1942.
Ed McMahon, sinister sidekick of Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” 1962 to 1992.
Richard Nixon, sinister President of the United States, 1969 to 1974.
Joe Biden, comedian and sinister character The Joker in the movie “Batman,” 1989.
One alert reader sent me an email note that said: “How do you expect young adults to read your column when all the people you mentioned died decades ago?” The note continued, “You should mention celebrities and politicians that young people can relate to, such as Madonna, Bill Clinton, Elton John and Harrison Ford.”
Um, OK. I think this particular loyal reader might define “young people” as anyone who was born after World War II. I’m surprised he didn’t use the expression “hep cats.”
Here’s the thing: I did some extensive research recently, and discovered that of all the people who read my column on a regular basis, the average age is 77. I didn’t plan to be the official Western Connecticut AARP humor writer. It just kind of worked out that way. Even when I started this column almost 20 years ago, back before I was a geezer myself, the people who enjoyed my essays sent me notes — not the email kind, but the ones that are written on paper and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service — telling me I was a pretty clever fella, for a youngin’.
I kept waiting for feedback from readers in their 20s and 30s, but nothing came. Then it dawned on me: folks in their 20s and 30s don’t read newspapers anymore. They get all their information from social media. (Which is a polite way of saying they don’t get much information at all, just a mish-mash of biased rantings masquerading as news.)
As the years progressed, I aged right into my demographic, and now it would never occur to me NOT to refer to bygone celebrities such as Groucho Marx, Ed McMahon, and Joe Biden, because most of my readers can remember following their antics decades ago.
However, just in case a young adult accidentally stumbles across this column, here is an up-to-date, modern reference: Hey, how ‘bout that new singer, Elvis Presley? He can really shake his hips. Quite a hep cat, huh?

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Jesus Says Hell Is Real

There are many misconceptions about Christian doctrine. One of the most pervasive fallacies is the idea that Jesus taught nothing but love and forgiveness, but afterward a bunch of intolerant, mean-spirited Church leaders added all that hell-fire and brimstone rhetoric to scare folks and keep them in line.
The thinking is that Jesus was so meek and mild He wouldn’t even harm a fly. He came to offer unconditional pardon to everyone and bring them all to Heaven, no questions asked, no requirements necessary.
In reality, Jesus talked about Hell more than He talked about Heaven. In this week’s gospel reading, Jesus told the parable of the weeds and the wheat. This is one of the few parables that Jesus explained to His disciples afterward. He clearly described each symbolic point: (1) the sower is the Son of Man, (2) the field is the world, (3) the good seed represents the children of the Kingdom, (4) the weeds are the children of the evil one, (5) the enemy is the devil, (6) the harvest is the end of the age, and (7) the harvesters are angels.
Jesus then said, “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
Remember now, this was Jesus’ explanation of the parable. He was not speaking in symbolic language at this point. He was plainly explaining the true meaning of his previous symbolic language.
In His explanation, Jesus acknowledged the existence of the following: the devil; the devil’s evil followers; a future final judgment; and a place where evildoers will be sent, which is, shall we say, not very pleasant.
But how can that be? How can a loving God send people to such a terrible place as Hell?
Professor Peter Kreeft offers an interesting idea: “Maybe Hell and Heaven are the same thing: God’s own truth and goodness, loved and enjoyed by the people in Heaven and hated and feared by the people in Hell. Maybe the fires of Hell are really the light of God. Like two people at a concert: for one it’s heavenly music, for another it’s hellish noise.”
Certainly, if someone was self-obsessed, and found himself in a place where everyone forgot about themselves and focused all their attention and devotion toward God, that would be agonizing. The point, however, is not whether Heaven and Hell are separate places or the same place experienced differently by different people. The point is that Jesus clearly taught that the final judgment and Hell are real.
Yes, Jesus certainly is meek and mild, loving and forgiving. But there’s a lot more to Him than that. He is righteous and just. He abhors evil and makes it clear there is no place in His Heavenly Kingdom for chronic and unrepentant evildoers.
If Jesus said there really is a devil, and that “children of the evil one” exist in this world, we can be sure it’s true. (I mean, come on, watch the evening news for 10 minutes. You don’t need Jesus’ words to be convinced that evil is flourishing in our world.)
The first step to winning a battle is to realize that you are in a battle. Far too many Christians are not even aware that an intense struggle between good and evil is raging at this very moment.
At Mass this Sunday, listen to Jesus’ words—whether you’re at church or still watching Mass on TV. Listen carefully. Now is the time to make sure that when those harvesting angels appear, you’re not bundled up with the weeds and tossed onto the flames. Jesus is all-loving, but we have to embrace His love and let it transform us into holy people.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Groucho for President?

While discussing membership in a fancy country club, Groucho Marx once quipped, “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.”
That quote came to mind while pondering the presidential election. To be honest, I don’t care to vote for anyone who actually wants to be president.
It’s kind of a Catch-22: anybody who really wants to be president should be immediately disqualified, while the person who should have the job ought to be someone who absolutely does not want it.
It’s not that the President of the United States is an evil occupation. And it’s not that we don’t need someone talented and dedicated to fill the position. It’s just that in our day and age the process of running for and winning the presidency has become the most shameless display of political prostitution imaginable. No, I take that back. There are now aspects of running for the presidency that are simply unimaginable.
Anyone who thinks the ultimate goal — the presidency — is worth all the pandering and lying and begging for money and allowing the media to do a cavity strip-search on national TV day after day is, in my view, a person who is either a raging egomaniac or certifiably insane. And I don’t think having egomaniacs or crazy people running our country is such a good thing.
Just ask the folks who had to live through the tumultuous reign of President James Buchanan. Well, since he was president from 1857 to 1861, most of the folks who lived through his administration are probably a little forgetful these days. (Or as Major Strasser might say, you would find the conversation a trifle one-sided.)
Buchanan was known as Ol’ Nutzo, but only to his closest friends, a couple of whom were actually not of the imaginary kind. To his political opponents, however, Buchanan was known as Ol’ _____  ____  ____. Regrettably, newspapers during the 1850s had a policy of deleting obscene words. And since most mid-19th century politically-oriented Twitter accounts had yet to discover the joy of profanity-laced, foaming-at-the-mouth rants masquerading as enlightened discourse, no one knows exactly which words filled those three blank spaces.
It is suspected by historians that the three blank words might have referred to Ol’ Nutzo’s sex life. Since Buchanan was the only U.S. president who never married, one can only imagine what the late-night comedians of that era had to say about him. (Again, because of technological limitations with television networks in the mid-1800s, all of those shows have been lost to history. The only thing we know for sure is that Ed McMahon was there.)
While the nation was being torn asunder by the issue of slavery, Buchanan apparently spent most of his time holed up in the White House, screaming in a paranoid rage about countless unseen enemies supposedly out to get him. This style of governing was successfully adopted many years later by Richard Nixon.
For the good of the nation, somehow we need to get the loonies and the pompous posers out of politics. We need a president who is humble, self-effacing, and most of all, doesn’t really need or want the job. We need Groucho Marx for President of the United States. (At first, I was thinking of Joe Biden, but Groucho is a bit younger.)
Yes, I admit Groucho’s health situation has rendered him about as talkative as the folks who lived through James Buchanan’s administration. But on the other hand, the media won’t be able to pick apart everything he says and twist his words out of context.
Say the secret word and win a hundred dollars.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

I Believe, Help My Unbelief

Do you ever wake up in the morning some days and think, “Ugh, I’m not even sure if God is real”?
Life can be a grind, and sometimes we feel that our entire existence is so painful and futile, a good God would never let us suffer this way. Maybe He’s not even there.
It’s not a crime to admit your faith gets weak at times. Living in our modern, secular culture, where most expressions of religious faith are mocked and ridiculed, it’s perfectly normal to wonder whether God is real, or if it’s all just a curious myth passed on from previous generations that knew nothing about science.
But here’s the thing: if you’re ever tempted to abandon faith in God, please understand that not believing in God is a hopeless worldview.
Now, of course, unbelievers will never say that. They proclaim their views are based on science and reason, and it’s very liberating to know the truth about reality and dismiss once and for all those ancient religious fairy tales. And, of course, they never hesitate to remind us that the most brilliant people in society do not believe in God.
However, the fact is, rejecting God is hopeless. When you boil it down, it offers no hope whatsoever. This is because the core principle of this viewpoint is that the natural world is the only thing that exists. There is no spiritual dimension to reality; no gods, no angels, no Heaven, and no human soul.
It may seem there is something behind our eyes, an “I” or “me” or unique person with thoughts and dreams and feelings and relationships and vivid memories. It may seem the core of our individual being is somehow within our bodies but yet much greater than mere flesh. Theologians call this our soul or spirit.
But people who reject God insist it’s all an illusion. Our unique personality and consciousness are nothing more than electro-chemical activity taking place inside that complex lump of gray mush know as our brains. It’s all natural, and there is no spiritual aspect to it.
Additionally, when we die, it all comes to a screeching halt. No life after death, no continuation of our consciousness. Just complete annihilation. Our bodies become worm food in a cemetery and our minds and sense of individual awareness cease to exist. We’re gone. Forever.
That’s why not believing in God offers no hope at all. Our accidental existence here on earth is terribly fleeting, and when it’s over, we are gone for all time.
When you wake up on those painful mornings and wonder if God even exists, be aware that if you go down this secular path, you are siding with meaninglessness and despair, which will only increase your pain. If you at least cling to the idea that God might be real, and admit you don’t know why a good God would let so much suffering occur, you at least have hope. Hope that someday it will make sense to you; hope that all the injustice of this world will be made right in the next world; hope that our fleeting time on earth is not an exercise in futility; and hope that joy and love will again fill your heart.
The desperate man in Mark 9:24 is a wonderful example. This man’s son was very ill, and he came to Jesus begging for help. When Jesus said that faith is important, the man cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!”
When we’re feeling down and desperate, when our faith is slipping away, we need to pray this amazing prayer. “Dear Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!”
No matter how bad things seem, no matter how weak your faith is, do not despair. God is real, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel that way, and He loves you more than you can imagine. Don’t lose hope, because our God is a God of hope and joy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Letter to My New Grandson

Dear Grandson,
I know you’re only a few weeks old right now, so you probably won’t understand much of this. But maybe when you get a little older you will read this and have a better idea of what I’m trying to say.
You see, you are only the third person in my entire life who I loved intensely even before I met you. The other two people are your mom and your auntie. Of course, there are many other people I love, including your Grammy Joy-Joy, but I didn’t love them until after I got to know them. You are different, little one. The minute I heard that your mom was expecting, I fell in love with you. And then when I finally saw you in the flesh and held you in my arms about a week after your birth, I just melted. Love is indeed, as the song says, a many-splendored thing. (Pop quiz: who else, besides me, thought the word was “splendid”? Thank you, Google.)
I have no experience at being a Grampy (but plenty of practice at being a Grumpy). However, I’m pretty sure my main duty as grandfather is to spoil you rotten, and then hand you back to your parents and let them deal with the aftershocks.
Hopefully, I can do a bit more in my grandfatherly role than just give you mini Snickers bars when your mom’s not looking and watch Red Sox games on TV with you. Maybe I also can impart a little wisdom, too, such as teach you how to throw a curveball.
Little grandson, you were born in a very interesting time in history. When you look at your baby photos years from now, you’ll notice that almost everyone is wearing a mask. I pray that when you look at those photos, mask-wearing will not have become the new normal. (I also pray that people will stop using the tedious phrase “new normal” by then, especially me.)
Some folks say planet Earth is so messed up these days that it’s not right to bring a child into this world. But you could make that argument about every moment in history. For example, when I was born in the late 1950s, the Cold War was on the verge of becoming hot, and people feared a nuclear war would break out at any moment. Those who were born during World War II came into an even more treacherous world. And what about the Flu Pandemic of 1920? Or the Civil War of the 1860s? Or all the various plagues and wars and natural disasters that have occurred?
The point is, during every moment human beings have been alive, people could make the case that it was a bad time to bring a child into the world. But this viewpoint is, and always will be, wrong for one simple reason: life is a beautiful and precious gift from Heaven. A new life, especially one you’re related to, fills you with joy and love and hope. How else can you explain falling in love with someone you haven’t even met yet? The sensation took me by surprise for the first time over three decades ago. I suspect your parents are amazed by it now. It’s quite a treat for me to feel it all over again so many years later.
If people have never experienced the phenomenon of falling in love with someone they haven’t met yet, nothing I can say will make them understand. And if they have experienced it, nothing needs to be said.
God bless you, little grandson. I look forward to being a part of your formative years. Just don’t tell your mom about the mini Snickers bars, OK?