Anniversary

My wife and I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary two weeks ago. Above is a split-photo of us, top portion, we’re leaving Hedges Nine Mile Point Restaurant where we had our wedding reception on August 24, 1974, and below, we’re leaving our celebratory anniversary dinner at Hedges on August 24, 2022 (almost the same camera angle, several alterations to the building).

My wife and I married when we were both…gulp…eighteen years old. Over the following 48 years we’ve had much joy together, including the arrivals of our two sons and three grandchildren. We also both accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior in 1983. Praise God! We’ve shared nine different homes together, each earned college degrees, and had both rewards and disappointments with our jobs.

There’s also been many trials and challenges in our marriage, including divorcing in 2001, but reuniting the following year. Praise God again!

The saying goes that opposites attract and that’s the case with my wife and I. She’s emotional/effusive/enthusiastic and I’m stoic. She’s impulsive while I’m cautious. She’s a spender and I’m a saver. She’s a talker while I’m much more introspective. My wife tends towards excess, while I lean towards (sometimes rigid) restraint. Etc., etc., etc. At times we’re a great team, complementing one another and covering all of the bases with our disparate personalities. However, at other times the differences have led to frustration and friction. But after 48 years, I still love my wife.

Marriage is not always easy. Marriage takes regular…er…make that ongoing work and sacrifice. Many Christian couples present a rosy posy facade at church and in the company of other believers, but don’t get along behind closed doors. Some sources report that 30% of Christian married couples divorce. Surely a sizable percentage of those 70% who remain married aren’t happily married.

My regular prayer is that I will be a better husband to my wife. Married person, I encourage you to strive, with God’s great grace, to be a better spouse to your partner, also. Encourage. Respect. Forgive. Repeat.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. – Ephesians 5:22-33

What, Jimmy Carter? You’re “born-again”? Pshaw!

If you’re older than 60, you might remember the big controversy that took place when then-presidential candidate, Jimmy Carter, was interviewed in the November 1976 issue of Playboy1 magazine. I was twenty-years-old at the time and still a member of the Roman Catholic church. While in Catholic high-school, I had ditched my comic book collection for used Playboys bought at the Clinton Bookshop in downtown Rochester. I viewed Playboy as harmless “entertainment” as did all of my Catholic buddies. My wife and I married in 1974, but I still sneaked a peek at a Playboy every now-and-then. What red-blooded male didn’t?

In the Playboy interview, Carter intimated that he was a born-again Christian2 (he had openly declared he was a born-again Christian elsewhere) and confessed with regret that he “looked on a lot of women with lust.”

Well, my Catholic family and friends thought Jimmy was a bit of a fool. What was all of this “born-again” mumbo-jumbo? I remember scoffing with my friends about whether a person could crawl back inside their mother in order to be born again. Unbeknownst to me, 1st-century Judean religious leader, Nicodemus, had questioned Jesus Christ about this very thing in John 3:

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” – John 3:3-8

But we were Roman Catholics and had never read the Bible and weren’t at all familiar with the passage. Not only was Carter a fool for claiming he was “born-again,” but he was also a fool for admitting he lusted after women. Why, of course he did! Every red-blooded man lusted after women, but don’t make a mockery of yourself by admitting to it! And if Jimmy was one of those sanctimonious born-again-ers who took their religion so seriously, why did he agree to be interviewed by Playboy magazine? Jimmy shared the November issue with 25YO “playmate” model, Patti McGuire3 (above photo, left), who appeared sans covering in several photos. Even I knew a so-called born-again-er shouldn’t be appearing in Playboy.

Much of the public scoffed at Jimmy’s PR blunder, but he still managed to beat bumbling GOP incumbent, Gerald Ford, in the 1976 presidential election.

Seven years after Jimmy’s celebrated gaffe, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior by faith alone and also became one of those born-again-ers. I’m not sure how much the Carter controversy affected my journey to the Lord, if at all, but I do remember noting the irony of having previously scoffed at Carter’s profession of being born-again. Jimmy Carter obviously thought he was doing the right thing by agreeing to be interviewed by Playboy. He did present the Gospel in a roundabout way.

1Time ran out on archetype “playboy,” Hugh M. Hefner, publisher of Playboy magazine. He died in 2017.

2Yes, I certainly do realize Jimmy Carter is part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and its “progressive evangelicalism.” I do not endorse Carter’s theology.

3Patti McGuire married professional tennis player, Jimmy Connors, in 1979, and she’s now 70 years old. Youth and appearance are fleeting commodities. What do people have when they’re gone?

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. – Proverbs 31:30

Top 25 Posts

Yesterday marked the 7th anniversary of this blog. My, how time flies! As is our nerdy annual custom, below are the thirteen top-viewed posts of the past twelve months that were published prior to July 17, 2021, aka older posts, as well as the twelve top-viewed posts of the past twelve months that were published after July 17, 2021, aka newer posts. Click on the hyper-linked titles to read the respective posts. Much thanks to all of my friends and readers here at WordPress for your support and encouragement over the past 7 years!

Thirteen top-viewed older posts

Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe – July 10, 2017 – 1147 views

Did Jesus or the apostles ever quote the Apocrypha? – May 22, 2017 – 906 views

“If I take off my scapular prior to surgery and die on the operating table, will I still go to Heaven?” – January 17, 2017 – 825 views

What’s with all of those little candles at Catholic churches? – April 5, 2018 – 495 views

The improbable “return” of Jimmy Swaggart – August 14, 2018 – 468 views

Beating the chest and other Catholic formalities – November 13, 2018 – 278 views

Alistair Begg: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. – November 16, 2020 – 274 views

Catholicism’s “three-legged stool” – Broken for all the world to see! – December 8, 2017 – 220 views

Does 2 Timothy 1:16-18 teach Purgatory? – May 29, 2018 – 219 views

Dreamcatchers? – May 6, 2016 – 217 views

Padres advance, face Dodger$ – October 5, 2020 – 217 views

Charles Spurgeon and Roman Catholicism – September 17, 2015 – 180 views

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce – It’s back!!! – December 9, 2020 – 178 views

Twelve top-viewed newer posts

Russia invades Ukraine – February 24, 2022 – 125 views

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #33: I am a Catholic because when I go to confession I want to believe that Adam walks into the confessional and Jesus walks out – March 18, 2022 – 122 views

Answering another Catholic apologist – July 21, 2021 – 98 views

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #3: I am a Catholic because Jesus is really, truly, personally, literally present in every consecrated host in the world. – August 13, 2021 – 93 views

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: The Index – May 13, 2022 – 91 views

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #1: I Am A Catholic Because I Believe Catholicism Is True – July 30, 2021 – 82 views

Forty Answers to “Forty Reasons I Am A Catholic”: #2: I am a Catholic because it’s the best of five choices – August 6, 2021 – 81 views

Throwback Thursday: Yes, I am “in Christ.” No, you’re not. Yes, I AM! No, you’re NOT! – May 19, 2022 – 81 views

A mysterious drop in views – January 30, 2022 – 79 views

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 11/20/21 – 72 views

A short op-ed: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the news media that’s allegedly not telling us the “full story.” – March 14, 2022 – 69 views

Welcome to the Weekend Roundup! – News & Views – 4/30/22 – 67 views

Huh?

Above: Former member of the Byrds and full-time tweeter, David Crosby, reacts to the news that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.

Huh, David? You’re holding to a blatant incongruity. If you believe all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, what about the pre-born’s right to life? Apologize to all of the women in this country? How about apologizing to the 30 million pre-born baby girls (and 30 million pre-born baby boys) killed in abortions in the U.S. since 1973?

Pro-abortionists must work very hard to ignore and/or deny the blatantly obvious, that a pre-born baby is a living, human being.

See ya later, Big Jim

I began working at Eastman Kodak’s giant Elmgrove manufacturing plant in Rochester, N.Y. in 1976 at the age of nineteen. One of the first jobs I had was in Bldg. 3 Stock Control (parts warehouse) assisting a big, burly guy named Jim Moon. Jim was a “line reader,” meaning he walked one of the many camera production lines in Bldg. 2 every day and re-ordered parts as needed. My job was to deliver the parts to the line.

Big Jim was different from the other guys in the warehouse. He had a Bible on his desk, which he read during lunch break. Above his desk were a few decorative print-outs praising Jesus. It was noticeable that Jim didn’t join in the ribald banter with the other warehouse guys. Uh-oh. Jim was one of those born-again Bible-bangers I’d heard about! I had better watch out! However, Jim and I eventually had several conversations about spiritual things. I specifically remember him enthusiastically talking about Bob Dylan and his alleged conversion to Gospel Christianity (see the related post here). I also remember discussing the Baptist Temple Building in downtown Rochester, the topic of a future post. Jim would slip God into a conversation every now and then. It wasn’t unnatural or forced. That’s just the way Big Jim rolled.

After several months, I moved on to another position at Kodak. In 1983, I actually became one of those “Bible-bangers” myself when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. Jim’s witness wasn’t a “direct” influence on my conversion to Christ, but it was an influence.

I’ve thought about Jim every once in a while over the years and wondered what happened to him. A few weeks ago, I was reading the death notices in the local newspaper and noticed his obituary. Jim had retired from Kodak many years ago and moved down to Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (20 miles from Nashville) with his wife. He died at the age of 89, which means he was only around 45 when we worked together. I would have guessed he was much older at the time, but everybody is “old” when you’re 19-20. I remember Jim had sold his house and moved into an apartment in the late 70s to finance his son Jeffrey’s education at Oral Roberts University. Oral Roberts? Well, Jim and I definitely would not have worshiped at the same church, but we were brothers in Christ just the same.

I’m looking forward to seeing Jim in Heaven and thanking him for his witness.

The lesson: Christians, the unsaved are watching and listening. Give them something to think about. They may not react right away. We’re just to keep sowing the seed.

25 Weeks to Go! 🗓

I haven’t written about my employment status in quite awhile, so here’s an update.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I was laid off from Kodak Alaris in September, 2019 at the age of 63. I had worked in many capacities at Kodak after being hired in 1976, however, my positions within the company the last 20-years were non-physical desk jobs. It was actually quite incredible that I remained at Kodak for 43-years given the steep decline of the company over the last 34-years of that period. Competition from Fuji and rapidly changing technology forced the photo giant back on its heels beginning in the early 1980s. The layoffs began in 1985 and never stopped. Kodak once employed 60,000 people in the Greater Rochester area. That number is now down to around 1000.

So there I was in 2019, unemployed at the age of 63. I had planned on working until I could collect full Social Security at age 66 and 4 months and hoped that I could still hit that goal working someplace else. I began collecting state unemployment checks along with federal supplements due to the pandemic and was making as much money as when I was working, but I knew that wouldn’t last. I applied to many, many companies over the course of a year only to get the virtual door repeatedly slammed in my face. Jobs are scarce here in economically-challenged Western New York, especially if you’re in your 60s. A local manufacturer finally offered me a job in December 2020 and I started a few weeks later.

Starting with a new company at the age of 64 was tough. The learning curve seemed incredibly steep. It was originally intended that I was going to be a data integrity analyst/problem solver in the warehouse, but the job transitioned into coordinator of work orders going to the factory floor and I ended up doing most of my own order picking (a photo of one of our warehouse aisles is above). My young co-workers are so lazy and unproductive that it’s actually faster if I pick the orders myself. Ironically, picking work orders was my very first job at Kodak in 1976.

My schedule is somewhat weird, Friday thru Sunday, 6AM to 6:30PM. The job is very physical and entails quite a bit of heavy lifting and walking. I average about 60,000 steps a weekend. Nope, that’s not a typo my friends. I walk 60,000 steps aka 27 miles per weekend. Definitely not an optimal job for a 65YO. On my days off, Monday thru Thursday, I mainly desire to just sit on the family room couch to recover from the weekend and to recharge my batteries for the next weekend.

Well, I’ve put in 70 weeks to date and I have 25 more weeks to go. Yes, I am counting! My retirement date is targeted for November 30, but I’ve been accumulating vacation time so that my last actual work day will be Sunday, October 30. All that said, I fully realize, as the Bible states (James 4:14), that I can’t “bank” on tomorrow, let alone six months from now, but certain things must be planned for.

I’m grateful to God for my job and the opportunity it gave me to bridge to full Social Security without having to dip into my 401K savings, but it has been a very physically tough row to hoe. I’ve considered quitting several times, but I’m pretty close to the finish line at this point and I plan on sticking it out. Thanks to all those who prayed for me when I was searching for a new job and afterwards. A special thanks to my brother in the Lord way over in SoCal who has encouraged me to keep pushing since I was laid-off in 2019.

Hurrah! My posts showing up in followers’ reader feeds once again!

Last week, one of my blog follower-friends, David, alerted me to the fact that he was not receiving my published posts in his reader feed. Hmm. Then Crissy wrote to say the same. Then Bruce. Then Cathy. Well, this was a disconcerting pickle. I’d been regularly posting articles on my blog every day except for Sundays, but many follower-friends were not receiving them. I dug into some of the behind-the-scenes data and discovered many of my followers had not seen any of my new posts in their feeds for the last 12 days, just as Bruce had mentioned. How did that happen? I hadn’t changed anything in my settings.

I contacted WordPress Help yesterday and a rep suggested I clear the cache and cookies from my Chromebook. That didn’t make any sense to me because my Chromebook is only a few months old, but I did it anyway. Bruce also suggested that I switch my general setting from “Public” to “Private” and back again to jolt/reset the software, in accordance with the first rule of repairing malfunctioning electronic gizmos, “Turn it off and then turn it back on.” I also did that.

So, this morning I published my usual Tuesday “Truth from Arkansas! Sunday Sermon Series” post with bated breath and, what do you know, it actually fed to my follower-friends! I know that because yesterday I became a follower of my own blog in order to test if I would receive the next new post in my reader feed. As the above graphic shows, instead of indicating that my blog was last-updated 12-days ago, it now shows as minutes ago.

Hurrah!

Thanks to David, Crissy, Bruce, and Cathy for alerting me to the problem and thanks to the WordPress rep and to Bruce for the suggested fixes. I don’t know which option corrected the problem, but “it” worked.

Thank you, God!

Russia invades Ukraine

I woke up this morning to the news that Russian military forces have launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. While this is not surprising given the massive military build-up on the Ukrainian border over the past several weeks, it’s disturbing just the same.

I’m somewhat familiar with Eastern European geopolitics because of my studies of Poland for many years. Eastern European nations were able to achieve independence following the destabilization and fall of the Soviet Union in the late-1980s and early-1990s. Beginning in 1999, former Soviet-bloc countries began joining NATO in an effort to protect themselves from any designs by a resurgent Russia.

Former Soviet-Russian KGB agent, Vladimir Putin, entered politics in 1990 and ascended to the office of Russian Prime Minister in 1999. He’s swapped the ceremonial democratic government titles of premier/prime minister and president several times, but has become the de facto dictator of Russia. Putin retains control of Russia by selling the lie to its 144 million citizens that NATO is a looming threat to Russian sovereignty. Ukraine, on Russia’s western border, initially applied for NATO membership in 2008, but then vacillated in the face of strong Russian opposition. However, following the limited Russian invasion of southern Ukraine in 2014, the Ukrainian government made joining NATO a priority. Although the West was wary of provoking Putin/Russia, Ukraine’s NATO membership appeared to be a certain eventuality, until now.

I can vividly remember the height of the Cold War during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We grammar school children were put through “duck and cover” drills in which we practiced scurrying for shelter under our desks for “protection” against incoming Soviet nuclear missiles. It was scary stuff for a young child.

The invasion of Ukraine (and the forthcoming long-term subjugation of the country) is discomforting. We have not experienced anything like this in generations. What happens next? Will this escalate? Will Putin target additional former Soviet-bloc countries? All this coming after an international health crisis on a scale not seen in 100 years. We like to think this world is a somewhat stable, secure place, but this is blatant evidence to the contrary. There is no security in this world and its political systems or in its non-Christian (or pseudo-Christian) religious institutions.

As Christian believers, we pray to the Lord God Almighty. He was not caught by surprise by this Russian invasion. We pray for believers in Ukraine. The majority of Ukrainians are Eastern Orthodox, but there is a Gospel Christian presence. We pray that relative peace will be restored so that the Gospel can continue to go out. Amidst the turmoil, we believers are secure in the Lord’s hands.

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.” – Psalm 16:8

A mysterious drop in views

It may seem a bit tacky for a blogger to write about their blog stats, but I experienced a very strange phenomenon last year. I’ve been blogging here at WordPress for seven years and there was a noticeable increase in views from year to year over that span, until last year. As you can see from the WordPress graph above, this blog had 70K views in 2020, but “only” 45K views in 2021, a 36% drop! That’s pretty significant. The number of published posts did drop from 338 to 284 from 2020 to 2021 due to some upheaval in my personal life, but that’s only a 16% decrease. The content from year to year was pretty similar. So, what happened? I have my theories.

At excatholic4christ, many of my posts examine the Roman Catholic church and its false gospel of salvation by sacramental pseudo-grace and merit. We live in an era marked by rising intolerance for anything deemed to be “intolerant.” I’m sure many Roman Catholics and non-Catholics who are sympathetic to ecumenism would interpret my critical posts as “hate speech.” Even believers are losing their stomach for discernment material. Social media platforms are increasingly monitoring and filtering content that they consider to be “hate speech.” The EU and Canada are a bit farther ahead of the U.S. in this social media censorship. I don’t wish to be paranoid about this. Perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe the huge drop is attributable to other factors.

I surely don’t hate Roman Catholics. I was a Catholic for 27 years and many of my family and friends are still Catholic. For 1500 years, the RCC violently suppressed all opposition and non-conformists and led billions to hell with its false gospel. Yet for pointing that out, I’m the alleged “hater.”

Don”t get me wrong. I’m thankful for the 45K views last year and especially for all of my friends and readers here at WordPress who support this blog and its “controversial” content. We know the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone is bound to offend, as will the calling out of false churches and false religions.

Car advertising hokum

Car dealerships are going through a very tough time right now because of inventory shortages due to the lack of computer chips at the factories. We have a multi-site dealership here in Rochester, Bob Johnson’s, that started out strictly as a Chevrolet franchise, but has been scarfing up less-solvent local dealerships of various automobile makes.

Bob Johnson Chevy came out with a television advertisement jingle twenty years ago that it’s been running ever since. That’s right, for at least twenty years Rochesterians have had to listen to this jingle, sometimes multiple times during a single half-hour television program:

You’ll get more for your money,
You’ll get much greater value,
You’ll talk to kind, courteous people,
Who really care, they’re so sincere,
I recommend them to my family, recommend them to my friends,
They’ve gone way above and beyond my great expectations,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet,
Bob Johnson Chevrolet.

Every adult Rochesterian can sing that catchy ditty blindfolded. The writer deserves a huge bonus.

What annoys me about this commercial jingle is its claim that Bob Johnson’s employees “really care” and …ach!…that they’re “so sincere.” There’s a degree of “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” in this self-attestation of caring and sincerity. I have no doubt that BJ’s employees treat their customers with a degree of kindness and courtesy. That’s a must in any type of sales and service company. However, Bob Johnson’s employees are also focused on delivering as much profit to the company as possible. If they did otherwise, they would be quickly replaced.

Car dealerships will take advantage of naive and unknowledgeable customers, both in the selling and servicing of cars. Can a car dealership service manager retain his position without being a bit of a flim-flam artist? Methinks not. I don’t believe for a single second that Bob Johnson’s management and employees are above the stereotypical car dealership scams, despite the “we are so sincere” protestations. I believe that Bob Johnson’s knows that we know that, but they’re counting on the advertising hokum rubbing off on us subliminally.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” – Romans 3:10