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Can I Have a Moment of Your Time? Please?

I have been in a depressed state for some time. Honestly, it hit some time this past spring as I was ferrying my wife to an emergency room for the third straight day. She’s fine. But it dawned on me that I was not. She’s in the ER with the flu and lung cancer, but testing negative for the flu all the same, and the doctors are freaked out. The cancer is not the problem, but these are not her normal doctors. And I’m trying to find a cell signal to check in on the news.

She was fine. I was not. I’ve become deeply unable to unplug and my stress levels have been rising. I was planning a conference with the Vice President. I was launching a new radio show. I was maintaining a current radio show. I was trying to fundraise to finish paying off the conference and fundraise to start the new radio show. I couldn’t unplug.

I don’t know when it happened. It’s like the first gray hair. One day you’re standing, staring in the mirror. You’re fatter than you were. You’re older than you were. And there it is. That gray hair that had not been there before. At least I have hair.

Then more comes. In the same way, you wake up a bit haggard with a head swimming full of agenda items and stare at yourself in the mirror and see the boss staring back at you. How the hell did this happen? Instead of turning to your left to ask the man in charge what to do, you’re the man in charge and everyone to the right of you is looking for what to do. Damned if I know what to do.

I just want to sit at the keyboard and write. I want to turn on the microphone and talk. Suddenly I’ve got all this other stuff and I’m the man in charge. I’m that gray hair and I plucked that gray hair the first time I saw it. Damn.

I don’t have a real business sense. I write. I talk. I can balance a checkbook and pay a bill. But I hate it. As I’ve been drawn in more and more to starting a show, running a show, running a site, managing a family, and caring for others I at some point realized I was pretty isolated.

I, and oh my gosh all these paragraphs keep starting with I, I used to be in a Bible Study. We called ourselves the Dead Theologians Society. We only read dead theologians lest one of them wind up like Rob Bell. Dead guys can’t become heretics. Their only evolution is into dust. The Bible Study wound down. Friends moved away. That just freed up more time for me to be in the office. Conversations with friends became work conversations. Life conversations did not much happen. If not work conversations, they were political conversations. So I cooked. I got fatter. But I grilled, smoked, baked, fried, and otherwise spent mind-numbing amounts of time in the kitchen exhausting myself because otherwise, the siren call of the home office would find me drawn in. Work is my comfort zone.

Until this year, at least I had seminary. But independent study for a Ph.D. while launching a conference and a new show proved too much. A classroom, at least, provided a few hours of distraction from the outside world. I loved it, but couldn’t afford to keep going to RTS with debts, medical bills, show costs, etc.

Having gotten through the conference in August, I took one week off then launched a new radio show. I am self-syndicating. I am my own affiliate relations, ad sales department, and funder. I now talk for five hours every weekday on the radio. Every penny to pay all the costs comes from what I have in the bank to run this site or out of my own pocket. That’s why it was no easy call to cancel our conference.

But that actually gets me to where this rambling preamble is going. I know there are those who think there must be some ulterior motive or hidden reason for canceling the conference and if there is, it is this — I don’t know that I know what the hell I’m doing anymore, but I know I don’t want to take other people’s money and shill for something or promote something just to get a conference going. Put more bluntly, I didn’t want a Trump rally and that’s what it would have had to become to make it financially work next year. I can’t do it.

See, here’s what I’m realizing — I don’t have all the answers and I’m not sure I have a lot of confidence in the answers and abilities I do have these days, but I know I don’t want to be entangled to a lot of other interests that might restrict me from being able to say what I think when I think I get to the answer. I get all sorts of people around me trying to sell me stuff and make money off me and I don’t know that I’m the guy to make myself rich, let alone other people. I just want to write and talk into a microphone and make sure other people know they aren’t alone.

I just don’t have all the answers people seem to think I do and we’re at peak paranoia where any deviation from tribal orthodoxy is met with suspicion and presumption that there must be something more there. The reality is I hate all the tribes these days. They are all run by a bunch of dimwits who just want power or to be adjacent to power. They’ve got no ideas, few principles left, and rely on a bunch of bullies on social media to keep everyone else in line. To hell with that. I don’t have enough time in the day to be that devoid of independent thought and have no desire to have people I disagree with shut up, censored, taken off TV, or hounded off Twitter by a mob.

As an aside, it is really just garbage to have a bunch of friends hate each other online these days so much that you’d prefer to have nothing to do with any of them lest you get dragged into middle school drama. If I wasn’t isolated enough before, this makes me kind of glad to be in Middle Georgia away from pretty much everyone I know outside of my immediate family.

I’m watching this impeachment stuff play out and I have a lot of friends screaming the President needs to be impeached, there is an impeachable quid pro quo, and the whistleblower needs to be protected. And they’re screaming at friends of mine.

I have a lot of friends who think this is a witch hunt, the President should not be impeached, there is no quid pro quo, and the whistleblower needs to be destroyed. And they’re screaming at friends of mine.

I’m processing it like everyone else. I don’t have all the answers. I think there probably was a quid pro quo, the whistleblower should be public, and the President probably needs to face the voters over this and not a bunch of Democrats who’ve wanted him gone since day one, especially since the election is less than a year away and half the Democrats would vote to impeach the President if he cured cancer because of the economic impact on oncology research.

I also know a whole lot of people will switch positions when the next Democrat becomes President because all this “rule of law” talk is really about hating the guy who was not supposed to win and Bob Mueller didn’t offer up the silver bullet they were expecting. On top of that, there’ll be plenty of Democrats who excuse the exact same sort of behavior, deny it is the same behavior, and tell the rest of us we have no right to say anything because we didn’t with Trump. It will be nonsense, but the media will eat it all up.

Here’s what else I know — 2020 is a bullshit election. And yes, it is my site, I don’t allow profanity on the front page, but there it is. We’ve got the choice between the internet comments section in human form versus one of several geriatrics — one who writes rape fantasies, one who doesn’t know what state he is in, or one who thinks she can pull money out of thin air and billionaires’ backsides to fund a utopia no one outside Harvard wants. I don’t like any of them really, but I know which one won’t take away my guns, my money, or my church’s non-profit status. It’s a bullshit election. I feel — and it is not a think, but a feel — like we’re all being held hostage and deciding who we want to pull the trigger.

The President has put a heretic in charge of faith outreach and a bunch of evangelicals think they can behave like braying jackasses because the President does. The Democrats have a bunch of braying jackasses too who don’t believe in anything except themselves and destroying orthodox Christian institutions. That insufferable Episcopalian who only rich white people and reporters like keeps twisting scripture like the devil tempting Jesus and we’re supposed to give him a pass because he’s gay, a millennial, and he’s throwing scripture back in evangelicals’ faces. This does not even include the media, which has gotten increasingly awful and self-righteous and less representative of what’s actually going on in the country. All these people are terrible and it frustrates me Jesus can’t just come on back and send a lot of them straight to the hellfire they’re headed to.

I used to know which way was up. All I’ve got left is my sense of right and wrong and I increasingly think everybody is wrong. I think there is more and more incentive to be quiet, which in my nature means I want to speak up more loudly and let others know they are not alone. I think there is a real concerted effort to make people think they are alone, which is why I’m willing to do five hours a day of radio to make sure people know they are not alone. It’s why I want to do that cooking show where I bring in people I disagree with and we break bread and don’t talk politics.

That all brings me full circle as I end this rambling. I’ve been in a not good place mentally for a while. The state of affairs in this country is depressing. I try to compartmentalize my wife’s health, our finances, my kids, politics — and the one great outlet I had, i.e. going to seminary once a week, is gone, snatched from me by my career choices no less. There is just work now.

This past weekend some friends took me out west. They paid for everything. They didn’t want me to worry about money or anything else. I worry a lot these days about everything. They took away my laptop. They took away my iPad. They’d have taken my phone too if they could. We shot machine guns from helicopters. We talked no news. We saw no news. We did not talk work or business. We just hung out. I don’t know when I’ve done that with friends or family. I honestly have no idea when the last time was that I went more than 24 hours without touching my computer.

It made me realize just how much focus I’ve lost on life outside of work and politics. It made me realize I need to do a better job of focusing on things other than politics. It made me realize how isolated I’ve become — I’m Tom Hanks yelling at a volleyball, but at least the volleyball can float. It made me realize that the anxiety you and I are feeling is mostly about never unplugging and taking a break and just hanging out. It made me realize how toxic the current political environment is to our souls and both you and I should do a better job of stepping away from it before we become real addicts to it. It made me realize I don’t have all the answers and it made me realize I’m okay with that. It made me realize I’ve been so focused on stuff that matters, but other stuff matters more including my family, building friendships, and making time for God. It’s been a while since I cracked open the Bible outside of church.

I write to think. I don’t know if the President should be impeached, but I think we should probably have the election instead of impeachment and use that political process. I’m willing to think I’m wrong and I’m willing to think the people who can’t imagine they are wrong probably are wrong.

So I’m just gonna tell y’all what I think. You can disagree. And I might change my mind. Also, Jeffrey Epstein probably didn’t kill himself and ABC and CBS would rather fire a whistleblower who exposed ABC’s failure to cover Epstein while they’re preening about protecting the impeachment whistleblower. So there’s that. I told you I’d tell you what I think.

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