Oh, and while we are on the subject of Nazis…

Just to be clear, this is eugenics:  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/

Nazis, you know the ones everyone hates, they also loved eugenics.  Killing the unfit for the betterment of the species is applied Darwinism at its finest.

What has mankind become?

Squad Five-O Was Right

Squad Five-O is a band from Savannah, Georgia that came out of the 1990’s Christian alternative music scene.  The were Ska-Punk, then they were Glam-Punk, then they were Glam, and finally, they just ended up being Rock and Roll.  Now that I’ve gotten the introduction out of the way, I would simply like to say that they were right.  They had a song that they wrote about the Georgia State Flag of that day and it was entitled: “Our State Flag Sucks.”  That, good people, pretty much sums it up.

This article is mostly for my Christian friends, but if you are not a Christian and inclined to read along, you are welcome to join us for this one.  I’m not going to make any apologies for being a somewhat conservative Christian who grew up Southern Baptist but really found Jesus in the 90’s Christian Alternative music scene.  I was there and along with most of my cohorts, I have got the tattoos and the theology to prove it.  The reason that this is important is that I feel like a lot of the bands from that scene had and still have a prophetic voice, calling a challenge to the American Christianity of their day and echoing against whatever we are calling this mainstream, comfortable, prepackaged, and marketed Evangelical Christianity that allows folks like Joel Osteen, Stephen Furtick, and all the other members of the cult of personality to lead us over the cliff of actual relevance and into the abyss of navel-gazing, self-righteousness.

Here’s the thing:  We Christians who grew up in the Southern United States have got to quit defending our Southern Heritage for two very important reasons.  The first reason is that it has become an idol.  The second reason is that it has allowed the rise of White National Socialism and a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.  These are two things which we simply can’t abide.

Let me tackle the first point with a simple question.  Do any of the Confederate memorials, flags, or markers have anything to do with furthering the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  I want you to really think that one through and if you somehow think that the Gospel and these things have something in common, you might be a member for the Christian Identity Movement.  I’ll wait right here, you can go look that one up.  Simply put, all of these monuments and statues are just a part of our modern southern history because they have always been there in our lifetimes.  However, if you really dig into the history of some of these statues and monuments, you will find some really shady goings-on in relation to how they ever got there in the first place.

Now, on to the second point and this one is so easy to illustrate that I’ll cut-to-the-chase and make it quick and concise.  WE HAVE GOT WHITE NATIONAL SOCIALISTS AND OTHER WHITE SUPREMACIST GROUPS MARCHING IN THE STREETS WITH TORCHES!  That is not okay!  I don’t care how much you disagree with the Antifa or Black Lives Matter movements and their tactics, when we have got Nazis marching in the streets, we have jumped the shark with our Southern Heritage.

If taking down every Confederate flag, monument, and marker is what it takes to keep white supremacists out of the streets and by extension causes one less incident like we had in Charlottesville, then let’s get to it.  It seems to me that for those of us who are Christians and Southerners, that we need to apply some of the instruction of the Apostle Paul.  Clearly, these monuments and such are stumbling blocks for so very many people, from so very many walks of life.  They are clearly things that cause people to sin, as proven by last weekend’s actions.

Apparently, Georgia’s state flag isn’t the only thing that sucks.

Bank Error In Your Favor

I know that most of us feel like this is a completely untrue premise…that this never actually happens in real life.  This week, however, either some of the old Ernest Greene luck or divine providence kicked-in.

Since I was a youth minister for so long, I worked for a very long time in positions that paid well below market rates for people with $124,000 educations.  Couple that with some genuinely bone-headed financial decisions between 1998 and 2003 and I ended up with a student loan that stayed in deferral for far too long.  Now, I’m forty-six and still paying off a student loan where the balance is actually greater than the original principle from twenty years ago.

Thankfully, and to my great surprise, I got a notification from my lender this week.  Apparently they had made a serious error on their end some years ago.  Although I have been faithfully paying for well over fifteen years, they had not been billing me properly or in accordance with our loan agreement.  As a result of their error, they credited my student loan balance to the tune of about $6,600 and adjusted my payment terms.

As a result of their error and subsequent adjustment in my payment terms, I should be shed of this burden in about five years.  At that point, Master will have given Dobby a suit of clothes and he will be a free elf.  Dobby will finally be freeeee!

Seriously, modern student loans feel so much like indentured servitude and all it takes is the mistake of taking out a consolidation load to remove most of your rights and stick you with a ridiculous interest rate.  This is such a huge blessing.

Via con Dios, 12 Bones!

I was about to kill this whole website.  Frankly, I’ve just not had the energy or the time to do much of this sort of thing since my dad died.  Between raising kids, taking care of my mom, and working full-time, there just isn’t a lot of breathing room.  However, I feel like I need a little outlet for my writing or my skills will all start to atrophy.  What issue, you may ask, is pressing enough to make me start writing again?  Barbecue in Asheville.

I have had a long-standing gastronomic relationship with 12 Bones, here in Asheville.  Our relationship began long before it was cool to eat there and years before President Obama made it chic.  I loved the food and it was close to work.  Never mind that they weren’t open for dinner.  Ignore that they didn’t have enough seating.  Their food was excellent and the waiting line and atmosphere were well in line with what one can expect from a good barbecue restaurant.

Over the past several years, our relationship has begun to suffer.

First, Jake, their best customer service providing cashier moved away from Asheville.  Jake was awesome.  He had good tattoos and a great disposition.  His not being there makes me sad.

Second, their corn pudding recipe changed when a member of the kitchen staff left.  If you think that it has always been the same, you are wrong…it used to be better…much better.

Third, the original owners (who used to really get in there and work their business) sold out and went to start a BMW motorcycle business.  My dad sold his auto parts business in Asheville to another guy once, now there is no AAA Auto Parts of Asheville anymore.  Correlation?  Probably not, but it makes my point that the original owners of successful businesses are best.  Maybe that’s hyperbolic or an overstatement, but that is my opinion.

Finally, and most importantly, there is the most vile and pervasive problem that has risen in my relationship with 12 Bones: All of the stinkin’ tourists.  The rudeness and sheer number of these people is not to be believed.  They line up like cattle, happy to be in line for as long as it takes because they are on vacation and this is a destination for them.  Me?  I just want some barbecue for lunch; lovely, familiar, and well-smoked pork, chicken, or beef.  Did I mention that I work for a living and that I only have about an hour for lunch?

I went there a couple of weeks ago with my friend who moved up here from Atlanta and I thought Genene was going to kill at least three tourists…maybe four.  Apparently, tourists can’t read the sign on the door that says to keep it closed because of the air conditioning.  As an aside, they have the same problem at White Duck Taco, so that apparently is a wide-spread issue.  However, I digress.  I should get back to my main point.

I have finally realized that it is time to end my relationship with 12 Bones.  It is not that any one big, huge issue is driving a wedge between us.  The simple fact is that we just have a lot of little problems that are adding up to a breakup conversation.

12 Bones, it’s not me…it’s you.  I would like to be able to stop in and get lunch, but you need your resources to better serve the tourists.  Me?  Oh, I’ll be fine.

I’ve found another barbecue place.  It’s on Patton Avenue, the blue-collar part and it is also less than five minutes from my house and work.  It’s even open for dinner and they even had the good sense to hire my buddy, Wes, so that their bar side would have someone with some actual music and bar experience.  I dropped-in for lunch today and had a wonderful chicken sandwich, with wonderful house-made sauces and sides.  All this came with air-conditioning…and not one single tourist.

For All My Friends In Louisiana

reload-1I’m going to keep this short because I’m preparing for a trip to do disaster relief in Louisiana.  Simply put; the folks in Livingston Parish need a lot of help.  They had massive flooding and the vast majority of their homes are unlivable.  Unfortunately, the media continues to follow the motto of “if it bleeds, it leads” and so with the election and the massive social chaos of the summer, the media has largely ignored the need of these folks.

Caleb Johnson and I have known each other for well over a decade.  He’s a great guy and was trying to go on this trip with me to help those folks rebuild.  Unfortunately, he has some obligations which are preventing him from going but he does want to help.  So here is the deal:  Have you ever wanted to hang out with Caleb and the people that he really hangs out with and perhaps have dinner?  Well, now is your chance because whoever donates the most (whether it be the items listed or money) to our relief effort by noon on Friday will get to go eat dinner and hang out with me, Caleb, and most likely another of our friends at one of our favorite restaurants, Asheville Pizza.  You just have to donate the most and then find your way to lovely Asheville on your own dime (if you don’t already live here) and we’ll take you out to dinner, treat you like an actual person, eat lots of pizza and make all of your friends and associates jealous.  Anyone can get a selfy or an autograph.  How many people get to hang our and have dinner with a cool rockstar?

So, get cracking on this.  Here’s the info on how you can donate to the church that is sponsoring the trip.  Here’s the link to donate. All of the proceeds and items will go to Louisiana for flood victims.  Lake Hills has been real cool about sponsoring the trip and this is their website.  You can also contact me at greenestuart@gmail.com if you have any questions.  Thanks for all of your support.  Just be sure to put a note about referencing Caleb on your donations.

So, it’s been pretty intense…

It’s been a rough year, but this last month or so has been particularly difficult.  I lost my Dad a little less than a year ago and I knew that it was going to be a big change, but I figured that since I had so long to prepare for it that it wouldn’t be quite as severe.  I’ve got to say that I was sort of right and sort of wrong.

Dad’s passing seemed like a necessary part of life, but the circumstances still don’t entirely sit well with me.  Either way, Dad is gone.  That fact was cemented in my mind while I sat alone with his body, waiting for the funeral home to drive quite some distance to come pick it up.  What was left there in that room was not my Dad.  He was gone and I was left to grapple with some very concrete concepts of mortality and the human soul.  It has stayed with me longer that I thought it might.

The year has progressed, with lots of challenges in completing not only a couple of very large personal projects, but also with trying to get Mom’s house in order for her to be there by herself.  That struggle seems to be coming to an end, but I wouldn’t relive the last couple of months for all the money in the world.  Please allow me to elaborate.

We moved Mom in with us after Christmas so that they could redo all of the floors in her house.  During that time, it became painfully evident that Mom had been hiding a great deal of physical limitation and disability.  Still, she really perked up at the new flooring and although it was an enormous undertaking, it seemed worth it to see her happy with her home…until she fell forty-five minutes after we got her home.

After that, we ended up with Mom on a walker in a house that still needed the kitchen reinstalled.  I started working as late as I could every night after I got off work and most weekends, trying to arrange all the details and install the kitchen.  Many days became sixteen hours of work and six hours or less of sleep, but even that seemed worth it.  I had even hired a couple of guys to help me with the kitchen and it really started to come together…that is, until the bottom fell out.

My Aunt Frances had some complications with some surgery to remove a gall stone and I guess something went way wrong.  She was well into her mid-eighties and her body just couldn’t fight anymore.  They brought her back to the same hospice center that my Dad was in last year and I went straight out to see her, planning to return the next day and every day thereafter until she passed.  She’s always meant a lot to me and I hated to see her go.  Fortunately, I got to see her that one last time.  Unfortunately, on the way home I stopped off to let a tenant back into their apartment and on the way back to my Jeep Cherokee, I fell and broke my left arm, my nose, and I did my best to take all the skin off of large sections of my face.

In a matter of seconds, I found myself covered in blood and helpless to get myself off the ground for a few minutes.  I just laid there and bled…alot…I mean a bunch.  In fact, there is still blood on the concrete if you were to check out that sidewalk.  This all led to the most disturbing trip to the emergency room that I’ve ever had.  The highlight for me was when the woman next to me passed out and started throwing up blood.  Yeah, it sucked.

So, for the sake of expediency, here’s a summary of how it has been since then: awful…it has been awful.  I couldn’t go back out to see my Aunt Frances because we didn’t want her to be worried because I looked like I had been in a car wreck.  I spent the next several weeks as an invalid, because it unbelievably hard to do just about anything when you can only use one arm.  Even the simple stuff is hard, like tying my hair back.

Finally, I was starting to feel better and a bunch of friends had chipped in to keep everything moving forward.  It looked like I might be able to start catching up and finishing Mom’s house when I did something stupid and reactivated a near-record level of sciatic pain.  Thankfully, there are Prednisone and Percocet.  Those were starting get me moving again when something happened that really put the topper on this whole last year.

I took Mom to a quick doctor’s appointment.  The short version is that she had some trouble with her walker and fell backwards with me trying catch her with my bad arm.  Yep, totally helpless, watching my Mom fall backwards in slow motion while I tried to catch her with a useless arm and with a walker between us which made it impossible, anyway.  Her head hit the ground and she died for somewhere between thirty seconds and a minute.  It felt like longer because she turned blue and was non-responsive and the world seemed to stop, but either way, it was the worst.  Thankfully, she revived and after a couple of hours in the emergency room, we were on the way home.

So that’s been my year…intense and sucky, but with lots to think about, which made it even harder, at times.  Now, we are counting down the final days until we can get my son’s spleen removed so that his health can improve.

IMAG1278With that and the rest of my year, I’ve got something that I would like to admit:  It has been a really humbling experience, to say the least.  It has been really hard, but it has left me with some very lucid realizations.

  1. I would really appreciate your prayers for my son, Bruce.  Like me, they are going to have to take out his spleen so his body will quit destroying his red blood cells.  This will relieve his jaundice and he will no longer be yellow, but he will also be no longer able to fight off encapsulated bacterial infection.
  2. I would also appreciate your thoughts and prayers.  This whole thing has been so humbling and most days I have just enough stamina to finish my work day and spend the evening fighting the pain.  It’s getting better, but some days are better than others.  Also, it has become apparent that I am sometimes a real jerk and also that life is fleeting, at best.  I’m making a real effort to apologize to some folks with whom I need to make amends because I feel like it is the right thing to do.
  3. Most of all, I want everyone to take a really hard look at where we are right now.  Our country is eating itself over racial tension, bathrooms, and an election where we get to decide between two very large bags of crap.  I don’t know what to say to everybody, but I do know that I would like to remind Christians that the same Jesus who said to love your neighbor also said to love your enemy.  Frankly, I don’t see enough of that happening.  We need to start making amends with everyone or this election will be the least of our worries.