Meet the new car, same as the old car 🎼

Many people love their cars and spend A LOT of time comparing models and prices before choosing the next one. Not me. I have a funny relationship with cars. I see them “primarily” (i.e., strictly) as a necessity to get me to work and back. For me, car shopping is a real drudgery. I’ve leased Volkswagen Jettas the last two cars. The Jetta is a basic, relatively inexpensive compact car that gets the job done. I had zero service issues with my two Jettas. Granted, they’re not the ideal car to drive in Rochester snow, but I’ve had worse.

The three-year lease on my 2017 Volkswagen Jetta (photo left) expired back in October, but I was unemployed at the time and you can’t get financing when you’re unemployed. However, I was able to extend my lease with Volkswagen Credit for another six months. Phew! In the interim, I finally did get a job. Early last month, with my lease extension set to expire in just a couple of weeks, I called my VW sales guy and set up an appointment. The following week, I drove the convenient 1.7 miles to the VW dealership, walked into the showroom, and sat down with the salesman. I got right down to business and immediately asked Nick, “What are your cheapest Jettas on the lot?” There was a 2020 model on the showroom floor (photo right) and a 2021 on the lot. The showroom model had a sunroof and was a little snazzier overall so I opted for that one. Badda bing, badda boom. In less than one hour, my car shopping drudgery was over with. I must be Nick’s easiest customer.

I don’t know why I’m so blasé about cars. My Dad loved cars and enjoyed maintaining them, although he was more of a wanna-be mechanic than a bona fide one. He would make me help him (hold the flashlight, tighten the bolt, etc.) as he worked on his cars on Saturday mornings. I had no interest and hated it. My Dad would inevitably become angry about a difficult repair and take his frustration out on me. “Hold it (the flashlight) steady!,” he would regularly yell. I eventually developed a strategy of sneaking out the back door early Saturday mornings and staying away from the house all day.

My wife loves cars and could easily make choosing the next car a month-long project. With my wife on long-term disability, we’re now down to only one car and she had a vested interest in choosing the next one. She desired that our next car be an SUV, which is what “everybody” is driving these days. I argued that an SUV is not practical for us. We certainly don’t need the extra room or the higher monthly payment. My wife accompanied me to the VW dealership with the notion that it was going to be only the first of several stops in the car selection process, but she liked the 2020 Jetta showroom model and conceded that we didn’t need to spend additional money each month for a bigger, fancier car.

Nope, there aren’t any deep spiritual lessons to be culled from this post other than I’m grateful to the Lord for the needed transportation!

Observation: Interracial couples on television ads

I’m not a social scientist, so I’m going out on a limb with my own anecdotal, subjective observations in this post.

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations were big news last year. Even some of the BLM protests here in Rochester made the national news shows. Amidst all of the racial tensions last year, I noticed something that defied those tensions. Maybe you did, too.

I’m not a huge television watcher – mostly news and sports when I do watch – but I have noticed the growing trend of television commercials featuring interracial couples, specifically White and Black characters.* This is noticeable to me because I grew up in an era – the 1960s – when such commercials would have been unthinkable. So what’s with these companies that are using interracial couples in their marketing campaigns? Are they part of some sort of cooperative social engineering effort by American “elites” to promote harmony and ease racial tensions? Hardly. An article I found on the topic quoted a marketing professor who said the ads, “attract the broad base of customers whose values align with those portrayed through these ads—inclusion and diversity.” Got it. Viewers who value “inclusion and diversity” and who see a commercial featuring an interracial couple are – consciously or subconsciously – apt to have a favorable view of the product and company, according to the marketing strategy.

In the 1960s, just seeing a Black person on a television sitcom was a novelty. Bigotry was still very blatant and accepted at that time. As another example, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, an unabashed segregationist, campaigned for President in 1964 and again in 1968 and received a surprising amount of support. Interracial dating and marriage were definitely not socially acceptable in the 60s and 70s. I can vividly remember riding in the car with my step-father-in-law around 1975 and passing a Black-White couple walking down the sidewalk. My step-father-in-law had an absolute hissy fit. Many conservative evangelical and fundamental Baptist churches (especially in the South) preached against interracial dating and marriage in those days. Yes they did. Pastors presented Scripture verses purported to show that God disapproved of the mixing of races. As one extreme example, Bob Jones University did not lift its ban on interracial dating until 2017.

While the New Testament doesn’t directly address interracial dating or marriage one way or the other, I can’t imagine Jesus Christ approving of segregationist policies/traditions/customs and forbidding interracial marriages. BTW, today’s DNA test kits are showing that we have a lot more ethnic and racial variety than our grandparents would have been comfortable acknowledging.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” – Colossians 3:11

It’s regrettable that we still have to deal with race issues. Prejudice still exists. And there are also those who stoke racial tensions for their own benefit. At the foot of the cross we are all sinners in need of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Above: In this 1956 booklet, John R. Rice, a former leader of of the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement, recommended the perpetuation of racial segregation.

*I’ve noticed (my subjective observation) that in the majority of these commercials featuring interracial couples, the male is Caucasian and the female is Black. Perhaps that is the marketers’ pragmatic concession to lingering objections to a Caucasian woman being in a relationship with a Black man?

Does God frown upon interracial marriages?

1328 followers? Hardly.

I’ve been blogging for 5.5 years and WordPress shows that I currently have 1328 followers. Huh? 1328 followers? Really? The reality is that only a very small number of those “followers” actually interact with me and my blog on any kind of regular basis. Out of curiosity, I recently scanned through the long list of followers and noted those below who drop by, from every-now-and-then to daily:

Beth at Born Again

Bruce at Reasoned Cases for Christ

Cathy at Peacemakers

Craig at Poetic Perspectives

Chris at Wings of the Wind

Crissy at Walking by Faith

David at

Jimmy at The Domain for Truth

Joseph at Complicated Politics

Kent at Gersom Clark

Lauren at Tulips & Honey

Lisa Beth at theburninglampdotcom

Mandy at Blue Collar Theologian

Marlagro at God Stories for Me, Yippee!

Marques at Overcoming The Times

Did I miss anyone? I’m grateful for the above 15 bloggers for their fellowship, support, and encouragement and for their witness for Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Thank you! I was introduced to half of the above folks in just the past twelve months. I’m very grateful for the handful of “old friends.” But what about the other 1313?

Many bloggers, expecting reciprocation, “follow” people in an attempt to gain followers for themselves, but shut off any and all automatic notifications. A blogging maxim is that you’ll get what you give. A blogger will attract followers by following other bloggers and by “liking” and commenting on their posts. But I try to actually read the posts of the bloggers I follow and there’s only so many hours in the day.

I noticed there are several who remain on my followers list who have stopped blogging over the years. I’m certain there are also a number of followers who disconnected because they were offended with one or more of my “controversial” posts or who were just not interested in Gospel outreach to Roman Catholics or in the dangers of ecumenism, my two major topics. I myself have disconnected from Christian bloggers who never bothered to reciprocate or who post views that I cannot support.

Although in our flesh we would like for other bloggers to like us and the posts that we write, that should not be our motivation. Our aim should be to please the Lord.

Postscript 1: Wally at Truth in Palmyra had to stop blogging in October 2019 because he went back to school, but he gets an honorable mention. In addition, Sbreaker95 regularly contributes comments to my apologetics posts, but doesn’t maintain a blog.

Postscript 2: Credit goes to David at who wrote a similar post back in August in which he also questioned his inflated number of “followers.” See ‘Followers’: Fake News.

For 100 Bible Verses on Friendship, see here.

Huh? Back to work?

Some of you are aware that I was unemployed for a very long stretch. Today, I have a good news update!

After working at Eastman Kodak and one of it’s offshoots, Kodak Alaris, for a total of 43 years, I was laid-off in September 2019. I had just turned sixty-three and was not in a position to retire outright. See my post about that event, here. Around the same time, my wife was forced to leave her job for medical reasons and go on short-term disability.

Kodak Alaris provided a three-month severance package, including three months of free “career transition” training, which I took advantage of. I learned how to search and apply for jobs using all of the latest tools and resources and began seeking employment in earnest. The economic picture here in Western New York is bleak, to say the least, but I applied to many jobs (eventually 130 total) and had several phone and in-person interviews, but no offers. There’s no doubt that my age was a huge liability. When the severance ran out, I applied for unemployment benefits. Then COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and millions joined me in the virtual unemployment line. New job postings slowed down significantly because of the pandemic. I kept applying, but began to resign myself to the fact that I probably wouldn’t work again. Thankfully, unemployment benefits were extended several times because of C-19 and my wife was also eventually granted long-term disability. We were able to pay our bills without dipping into our retirement savings.

Then, in early-December 2020, a recruiter from Company H reached out to me via email asking if I would be interested in a particular position. I had previously interviewed with Company H for a similar position, but I was rejected and I did not wish to go through their wringer again, so I ignored the email. Yes I did! But the recruiter, bless her, was persistent. She subsequently called me on the phone and I relented and went through another series of interviews with multiple H managers.

Incredibly, Company H offered me the job in mid-December! I accepted and was then kept busy going through the pre-employment hoops and finally reported to work for the first time this past Saturday. My schedule is Friday thru Sunday, 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. That’s certainly not an “ideal” schedule, but I’m so grateful to have a job. H is a very good company, probably the best of the two or three top-tier manufacturers remaining in Rochester. Thank you, God!

Much thanks to all my friends here at WordPress who prayed for me during my unemployment. I’m very conscious that millions upon millions of workers have lost their jobs as a result of C-19 and are facing serious financial challenges (not to mention the 374,000 C-19 related deaths in the U.S. alone).

One of the blessings of unemployment was being able to devote time to blogging. With my new job, I definitely won’t have as much time, especially Friday thru Sunday, so I anticipate posting a bit less frequently.

Thank you, again!

Is America the “city set on a hill”?

1You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Yesterday evening, after the U.S. Capitol Building was secured following the violent assault by protesters, the legislators reconvened to complete the Electoral College certification process in connection with the recent presidential election.

I watched the proceedings for a short time and heard several legislators plead for national unity following the unprecedented turmoil. A few mentioned that the world was watching and that the United States must go forward as the “city set on a hill,” a beacon of democracy to the rest of the world.

Ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in 1620, politically-minded colonists and Americans have misappropriated Bible passages for their temporal ends. Faith and politics have been conflated for so long that many/most can’t distinguish between the two.

In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus Christ DID NOT have in mind the United States as the “city set on a hill.” It’s quite clear from the context that He was referring to His followers. Believers are the city set on a hill. The church, the body of believers scattered throughout the unbelieving world, is the city set on a hill. Our message is NOT political, it is rather the GOOD NEWS! of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. This Good News! of salvation in Christ Jesus knows no national boundaries or political affiliations.

“Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.’” – John 18:36

Addendum: Ronald Reagan famously referred to America as “The Shining City Upon a Hill” in his same-titled speech delivered in 1974 (see here) and in several speeches thereafter. But the notion didn’t originate with him. Preacher John Winthrop had claimed that designation for the Massachusetts Bay Colony 344 years earlier in 1630 (see here). The notion that America was in an anointed, covenant relationship with God has been preached from American pulpits ever since.

Cemetery tales, #2: Our future home? Nope!

My wife and I take a daily walk with our dog at a nearby cemetery where my wife’s mother, father, and step-father are buried. We actually have two side-by-side cemetery plots located there that are reserved for us. Walking at the cemetery every day got me thinking about death and sparked a couple of posts, the first one was published last Wednesday and can be read here. The second and last post is below:


Shortly after my wife and I married in 1974, my mother-in-law married her boyfriend. Don was a big, burly guy who had risen through the ranks at a local manufacturing company, from a machinist on the production floor to plant superintendent, through sheer hard work and steely determination.

Don was a man of enormous appetites. He was a heavy smoker and also enjoyed multiple highballs every evening. He was also a gregarious conversationalist and loved to impress his listeners with unusual facts and trivia that he had picked up. Don was raised as a nominal “Baptist” (i.e., liberal American Baptist), but didn’t put much if any stock in religion. In contrast, his membership in the Masons meant quite a lot to him. Although he never attended church, he wrote out a monthly check to a local mainline American Baptist church, “just in case there’s something to it,” as he liked to joke.

My mother-in-law, Dorothy, was a nominal Catholic and when her health began to sharply decline in 1983 due to her emphysema, Don contacted the local Catholic parish and a priest made several visits and administered the last rites. Just previous to that, my wife and I had trusted in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We both witnessed to Mom on many occasions and also presented her with a Bible. She did eventually profess her faith in Christ. However, Don did not appreciate our talks with Mom. He felt we were confusing her at a vulnerable time with our “religion” from the “renegade”/”wildcat” independent fundamental Baptist church that we were attending at that time. There was definitely spiritual warfare going on. For a man who didn’t personally care about “religion,” Don was vehemently opposed to our “interference.” Our relations with Don remained tense right up to the day that Dorothy died in January 1984. After several months had passed, we had a few get-togethers with Don, but there was an icy undercurrent and we eventually lost touch. Don came down with cancer and ended his life in 1996 with an overdose of prescription pills.

Many years previous, when my mother-in-law was still relatively healthy, Don had presented us with the unusual “gift” of two cemetery plots. He and his siblings and their spouses had purchased multiple, co-adjoining plots at White Haven Cemetery, but somehow ended up with two too many. So now, when my wife and I take our daily walks in the cemetery, we often walk by our plots. It’s a strange sight, but we know we will be with our Lord when we die, not “resting” beneath the cold ground.

Postscript 1: After I wrote the above, I remembered one of the most important parts of the story. In the final weeks of her life, Dorothy was in great physical distress and begged the Lord to take her home. My wife and I also prayed to the Lord that He would take her. It was Christmas time and Dorothy asked me to get her a fresh-cut Christmas tree. Don was adamantly opposed to the idea, but finally relented, cautioning me to get only a very small tree. I defiantly picked out the tallest and fattest tree available and put it up in their living room. Don fumed while Dorothy was delighted. After Dorothy died, her physician, a pulmonary specialist, pulled my wife and myself aside and matter-of-factly informed us that the spores from the Christmas tree had accumulated in her lungs and clogged up any remaining breathing capacity and had killed her. Ah, that’s my God. Thank you, Lord!

Postscript 2: Dorothy’s grave is in one section of the cemetery, alongside her second husband, my wife’s father (see my post about Gordon here), while Don’s grave is in another section alongside his first wife.

Above: That’s Don (left) proudly giving my brother-in-law, Jimmy (middle), and myself (right) a tour of the production floor at a Gleason Works open house, October 13, 1979.

Have a Joyous New Year!

In the last few weeks, many media journalists have taken a look back at 2020 and commented on how challenging a year it was. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter upheaval, and the controversies surrounding the presidential election and post-election, 2020 was a unique year. In my 64 years, I’ve never experienced anything matching the turmoil, and I grew up in the tumultuous 1960s.

However, as believers, we know that we don’t find our ultimate happiness and joy in our temporal circumstances. With that in mind, I’m hoping all of my friends and readers here at the WordPress blogosphere have a joyous New Year in the Lord! May we follow the Lord more closely this year by His grace and be a blessing and encouragement to others.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  – Lamentations 3:22-23

Cemetery tales, #1: Don’t cry?

My wife and I take a daily walk with our dog at a nearby cemetery where my wife’s mother, father, and step-father are buried. We also have two side-by-side cemetery plots located there that are reserved for us (more on that detail in post #2). Walking at the cemetery every day got me thinking about death and sparked a couple of posts, the first one below:


Jesus wept.” – John 11:35

We’re all familiar with John 11:35, the shortest verse in the Bible. But why did Jesus weep in that particular circumstance, already knowing He was going to raise His friend, Lazarus, from the dead? Many have speculated, but perhaps part of the reason was because Jesus’s heart was weighted-down in perfect empathy for Lazarus’s grieving sisters, Mary and Martha. I was recently reminded of a time when I was less-than-empathetic as an immature new believer. First, a little background.

My wife’s mother (daughter and mother in above photo, circa 1970) died way back in January 1984 at the age of 68. Dorothy was a longtime cigarette smoker and had developed a progressive case of emphysema. The last couple of years of her life, it became increasingly difficult, make that torturous, for her just to take a single, satisfying breath.

Dorothy was raised as a Roman Catholic and even spent a few of her childhood years as a boarder at the former Academy of the Sacred Heart, located at 8 Prince Street in Rochester, a consequence of the breakup of her parents’ marriage. Dorothy grew up and got married herself, but divorced her husband in the early-1950s, which was quite scandalous at that time. She then married my wife’s father, resulting in the Catholic church excommunicating her (formal letters of excommunication were issued from the diocese in those days). Dorothy subsequently did not attend church, but she raised her daughter (my wife) as a Catholic, including four years of Catholic high school. As Dorothy approached the end of her life, her last husband, a “Protestant” (more on him in the next post), contacted the local Catholic parish and a priest visited a few times and administered “last rites.” However, Dorothy also heard the genuine Gospel and accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior by faith alone.

Dorothy was taken to the hospital in late-December, 1983 in extreme discomfort, but there was nothing the medical staff could do. She was returned home and died a few days later.

Okay, now comes the embarrassing part.

My wife cried heavy tears at her mother’s funeral. I was surprised. We were new (aka immature) believers at that time and the Gospel church we attended encouraged members to have a constant, “Stepford-ish” smile on their faces. I actually admonished my wife not to cry because her mother was in Heaven and no longer suffering. What a dummy I was. I was putting cold, detached theology ahead of my wife’s deep sorrow at the loss of her mother. What I actually needed at that moment was a heavy dose of Jesus’s empathy.

Yes, there is the JOY that is ours, in all circumstances, as a part of being in Christ, and we must not allow grief and sorrow to completely consume us, BUT let’s allow our brothers and sisters (and ourselves) to work through grief and sorrow, by God’s grace, without adding to their burdens by making them feel guilty.

To see Cemetery Tales, #2, click here.

Remembering the old clicker

My wife and I married in 1974, right after high school, and our two sons came along one and four years later. For the first twenty-five years of our marriage, I worked at a number of blue-collar jobs and my wife stayed home with the kids. Throughout that long stretch, we didn’t have two nickels in the checking account after the monthly bills were paid. Finances, or the lack thereof, were a regular cause of frustration and friction in our marriage, which is not all that uncommon from what I’ve read.

When the boys were young, Friday nights were special. My wife would give me a shopping list and our two boys and myself would head over to the Wegmans grocery store on East Henrietta Road to buy food supplies for another week. Always on the list were a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a jar of Pace picante sauce, which we would enthusiastically scarf down while watching TV after we got home. Back in those days, there were plenty of decent television shows for the family on Friday nights like “The Hulk,” “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Knight Rider,” and “Air Wolf.”

Things were so tight financially that I always brought my red “Handy Counter”* clicker adding device (see top photo) along on our grocery outings. After I placed an item into the grocery cart, I would press the appropriate keys on the clicker to keep a running tally. We had a budget for our groceries and I tried to keep the total close to the goal. As we got to the last few aisles of the grocery store, it often became an exercise of returning some non-essential items back to the store shelves in order to stay within the budget. Inexpensive hand-held electronic calculators were introduced in the late-1970s, but I preferred my rugged clicker for the grocery shopping outings. It was actually much easier to operate than a calculator because I didn’t even have to look at it when I pressed the keys. I had to replace the clicker every year or so, but it was amazing they lasted as long as they did because of all of the cheap plastic parts (including plastic gears).

Later on in our marriage, I got my degree from night school and made some advancements at Kodak. My wife also went to school and began a career as a nurse. But additional income brings other problems and challenges. Then, in the summer of 2019, I was laid off after 43 years at Kodak and my wife was forced to leave her job because of health problems. But the Lord has provided for us in amazing ways this past year. We still watch our budget, but I don’t need to bring a clicker with me to the grocery store. Back in the day, I used to see (and hear) other frugal shoppers using a clicker at the grocery store, but I haven’t seen or heard one in maybe thirty years. I checked the internet and some vintage clickers like the one in the photo are available on ebay.

Thank you, Lord, for providing for us then and now!

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:25-34

*The Handy Counter clicker was manufactured in Hong Kong for Kitchen King Company located in Central Islip, N.Y.

24,938 emails in my in-basket???

I’m sixty-four-years-old, born and bred in the analog era, so the rapidly advancing digital technology of these days does not come naturally, as this post will attest to.

When I created this blog back in July, 2015, I had to provide an email contact address, just like every other new blogger. So I opened a Yahoo email account. However, I soon discovered that EVERY time there was activity on my blog (a published post, likes, comments) as well as every time there was certain activity on the blogs that I followed (a published post, my likes, my comments, etc.), a notification was sent to my email in-box. Needless to say, the emails quickly accumulated.

I tried and tried to stop the notifications. I searched on my “dashboard” settings, but noticed that all of the email notification switches were turned off. Huh? I googled the topic, trying to find a solution, but couldn’t find any helpful information. Meanwhile, the mound of incoming email grew and grew. Yahoo let’s the user highlight and trash 100 emails at a time, but I was receiving around 20 emails each and every day. After a while, I just gave up.

A few of weeks ago, I checked my Yahoo in-box and I had close to 25,000 emails. Again, I tried searching my WordPress dashboard settings and also googled for a solution. Nada. So frustrating. Just by chance, I opened up one of the emails and noticed the “Want less email? Modify your email notification settings” at the bottom.

Aha! I clicked on the hyperlink and was directed to my WordPress profile where all of my email notification options were very visible and all were checked.

I subsequently unchecked all of the email notifications and saved the settings. I haven’t received any system-generated emails since.

Wow. The simple solution to the problem was right under my nose.

I then went back and, over the course of several days, deleted all 25,000 emails in my Yahoo in-basket, 100 at a time. It was actually kind of an interesting and nostalgic project. Just about all of the bloggers I used to interact with back in 2015 and 2016 are no longer active.