Category: FAITH

The Joy List; Mourning to Dancing

Ever regret something you said? Have you wanted to avoid someone of pre-judge them before you knew them, but once you learned more about them, you regretted how you may have treated them or felt like you had missed an opportunity to know someone amazing? We all have lots of regrets. Worrying about the future causes anxiety, but ruminating about the past can often leads to either anger or depression.

While I certainly believe that God is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:8), God is with us through our heartaches, including, if not especially when we grieve the loss of someone important to us- it seems that Jesus wasn’t just talking about death and loss. He was explaining that some of the most joyful people are people with consciences.

Originally posted on Instagram June 17, 2022
follow me @maldog13

Oh sure, sometimes it feels like it would be better not to feel. It seems like people without a conscience (sociopaths and narcissists) must have it pretty good. They don’t care about other people’s feelings, they just do and say whatever they want without caring about how it effects (or affects) others. I know I often wonder if I’d be more successful if I just didn’t care.

But how an anyone like that genuinely experience real joy, not just temporary happiness? What they think is contentment is really callousness. What’s worse than hatred? Indifference. These are people that use people and love things, instead of loving people and using things.

They aren’t reflective. They don’t reflect on the things they say and do or who. Maybe because they wouldn’t like what they see. In literature and mythology vampires are creatures that suck the life energy out of others. One of the ways to recognize a vampire, is that they don’t have reflections. Powerful, seductive, even seemingly impervious, but dead. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually dead.

Jesus is telling us that while it’s true that if we live our lives with empathy and compassion, we’re certain to get hurt sometimes, often because we’re selfish and short-sighted human beings so we end up hurting others. That’s called guilt.

It’s important to understand the difference between guilt and shame. Shame destroys but guilt drives us to rebuild. Guilt & shame both make us want to de-construct, but shame is hopeless & helpless, it’s fatalistic and doesn’t want to rebuild, it wants to burn it all down and abandon it. Guilt doesn’t have to be permanent- it’s regret, it’s willing to take responsibility so that you can rebuild, revise, reform, retro-fit and resume being useful.

As much as I hate being trite or cliché, maybe some corny, cheesy kitsch will help. On the one “hand, hurt people hurt people,” and we’ve all been hurt at sometime or another. And “you always hurt the ones you love, the ones you shouldn’t love at all.” Right? And as the Tin Woodsman said in ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ “now I know I have a heart, because it’s breaking.”

Mourning over grief- hurting about hurt you’ve caused is proof that you both care about others and are reflective, responsible and mature. You’re not a vampire.

Having a conscience means that you care about people besides yourself and that you are reflective & aware. It means you have standards of decency & respect other people’s rights & boundaries. It doesn’t mean that you have to live in constant shame or self-hatred.

Apologizing or making amends restores relationship. Being humble enough to admit you were wrong builds trust, it doesn’t make you look weak or inferior. That’s universal, even secular. You might even call this “Restorative Justice” on the personal, individual level.

Saying you’re sorry and trying to make amends is a way to be kind. Kindness always brings joy.

Now, if you think of yourself as Christian, think about this- “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” I John 1:9.

Be honest about it when you hurt people and both you & they can heal.

Deny it and you’ll probably just keep hurting more people.


The Joy List; Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

Posted June 17, 2022 on
Follow me on Instagram with @maldog13.
VERSION; the Amplified Bible

I think the King James said “Blessed are the poor,” but I’ve tried hard to read through at least half of the versions of the Bible found on and pretty much most of them don’t just say “poor,” they say “poor in spirit.”

I remember that when I first heard a version in church say “poor in spirit,” I worried that some wealthy person had changed it or something. Since I’m not a member of the clergy and therefore can’t read Greek or Aramaic, I searched as many different translations as I could, including Eugene Petersen’s paraphrase, the Message, because I really wanted to dig into what Jesus was really getting at. RSV, NIV, NKJV, ESV, Oxford, New American- they all talk about being poor in spirit.

I knew God doesn’t dislike the poor. There are estimates that the Bible mentions the poor or poverty anywhere from at least 178, to 300, to as many as 2,000 times. Obviously God wants us to help the poor. After, the Beatitudes, later in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), Jesus says that if someone asks to borrow your coat, give them the coat of your back. And of course in Matthew 25 He tells us to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and visit those in prison.

So what the heck does it mean to be “poor-in-spirit” and why the hell would that be a GOOD thing?

I appreciated the way that the Amplified Bible clarifies things sometimes. It’s like reading with a dictionary and thesaurus by your side. Being “spiritually poor” is the opposite of having a “puffed-up spirit.” In Matt 16 Jesus warns his disciples about the leaven (yeast) of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He seems to be really angry about their hypocrisy of wanting to be honored and treated special in Matt 23 and Luke 14.

This makes me think that to be poor in spirit simply means to be humble, to not go around thinking you’re the boss all the time. It’s sort of the opposite of being narcissistic. Is it just me, or have we been having to deal with a lot of narcissistic, sociopathic, self-centered, entitled and bossy selfish people in the world lately?

So how do we make sure we’re aren’t one of the artificially puffed-up people with inflated egos? How can we take a vow of spiritual poverty? How about if we try to connect with people instead of trying to control everyone. Choose a life about love, not about power. As John the Baptist said in John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” I believe that God is god and I am not.

Being “Christ like” is pretty antithetical to how many supposed “Christians” act these days.

Love, joy, peace, patience, & kindness aren’t just ends in themselves, they are means to the end of building community. What do you think? Is Jesus on to something?

When Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, He meant His way of doing things isn’t the way the world does things; Jesus does things through connection, rather than control. The power of love, as opposed to the love of power. Try it, I dare you. #beattitudes #sermononthemount #kingdomoflove #thejoylist #joy

The Joy List; Invitation

A “prosperity-theology” take on what I’l like to blog about this Summer might be to “manifest prosperity.” But that would be selfish and shallow. Another, maybe not churchy angle might be using the law of attraction to bring about happiness and contentment. But for me, that still seems kind of self-centered or immature.

I’d like to look at something anchored in love and that will build relationships and community, not just “actualize” personal peace. What I want to think about and maybe even begin a discussion about will involve wrestling and reflection and maybe even doubt and struggle and emotional and intellectual work- but I don’t want it to devolve into just a self-help practice for self improvement in a secular/philosophical sense or a new kind of piety and purity practice or “works-righteousness” in a theological/religious sense.

I want to keep it real, genuine, authentic, honest, and basically “raw.”

I want to talk to seekers and thinkers, people open to conversation and exploration of philosophy and “spirituality” and basically being human. But I don’t want to hide or water-down my background and faith tradition to do that. But I also don’t want to be judgy or preachy or bossy.

Meanwhile, I also really want to talk to my “fellow believers” in order to encourage them to reflect and reconsider and allow themselves to be vulnerable to conversation without being on the defensive, or rushing to correct every ambiguity or subjectivity.

Mahatma Gandhi lawyer, human rights activist and political founding father or modern India read from the Jesus’ ‘Sermon on the Mount’ (Matthew 5-7) nearly every morning and evening for over forty years. “Christ’s Sermon on the Mount fills me with bliss even today,” he said “Its sweet verses have even today the power to quench my agony of soul.”

Humorist and science fiction author Kurt Vonnegut, famously questioned why, if Americans so often talk about this being a “Christian nation,” so many courthouses and government buildings have monuments to the ten commandments (Exodus 20) and not the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12), after all, these are the very words of Jesus Christ, whereas the commandments come from the Mosaic books of the Jewish Bible.

We live in hard times. Inflation, high gas prices, political polarization, media saturation, school shootings, wars, international tension, the recent global pandemic, a resurgence of racism and antisemitism, stress, anxiety, depression, anger, drug abuse and suicide. Wouldn’t it be nice to find some bliss instead of so much angst?

To be honest, I don’t know whether the Sermon on the Mount is gonna be some kind of panacea. I’m cynical enough to bite my tongue when well meaning but perhaps inexperienced or just empathy-challenged Christians talk about how believing in Jesus made everything better.

Now, I’m also skeptical when non-Christians talk about the power of positive thinking or visualizing their goals or just making up their minds that they deserve better and that’s when things change.

But I also know that just “doom-scrolling” social media or channel surfing cable news (in or out of an echo chamber) certainly isn’t helping me cope or doing my mental health any good.

So, if you want to find out with me what this poor Palestinian preacher was telling people on a hillside why or how they can be blessed (religious jargon for happiness, health, joy, and/or good fortune), join me this Summer on a journey to (hopefully) bliss or beatification (or both?).

Talk to you soon.

I will try to post at least once a week, but I can get both impatient and busy (or lazy) so please be patient with me. Subscribe to this blog on WordPress if you want to be sure to be notified about updates. I hope you will participate in conversation in the comments, but please keep it civil, I reserve the right to delete, block or report trolls.

7 Dirtiest Words

UNPOPULAR OPINIONS? Call me hypersensitive or prude or soft or a “libtard” or any name you want.

I saw a stranger with an “F Your Feelings” sweatshirt in a convenience store today- actually it was kind of cleaned up because instead of the 4-letter interjection, it featured a stick figure thrusting it’s pelvis against the letter Y in the word “your.” You get the idea. I’m sorry, but this is why we’re so screwed as a society right now (pun totally intended).

Left or right, religious or secular- we’re selfish & insensitive. We don’t give an f-bomb about anyone but ourselves and our team/tribe anymore. I guess I’m an outlier because I believe in transformation rather than transaction. People over possessions, process over product and especially the power of love over a love of power. If this makes me radical or sinister, I guess I’ll have to live with that. 

Let’s try this

What if instead of assuming that the fruit St.Paul talks about in Galatians 5 (esp. verses 22-23) weren’t just “proof” of having the Holy Spirit, but values, virtues, & principles that we actively work toward living our lives by? Hear me out. This isn’t “works righteousness.” Paul never says that you must have these to get into Heaven. But again & again throughout the Gospels Jesus COMMANDS us to love. Love the Lord & love your neighbor. Even love your enemies.

It seems to me that if we practiced these “fruit.” If we try seeing them as means rather than ends. If we deliberately make it a point to share them with others, whether they deserve it or not or offer them to us or not- life would be better. Work, family, our lives, our communities, hell, it it could change the world. God knows it would change the church.

I know so, SO many people who avoid, resent, even distain church. I don’t think it’s just because it’s boring or foreign to them. I know damn well it’s in part because the see it (us) as unaccepting and judgmental. But not just that, they don’t just see us as controlling with all kinds of rules & restrictions. It’s because the see us as huge hypocrites.

By no means so I mean to “water-down” God’s word or gloss over sin. What is sin? Mere disobedience? No it’s selfishness.

American Christians (yeah white, conservative evangelical Christians) are fixated on sin being sexual immorality, impurity & debauchery (Galatians 5:19), but isn’t it ALSO hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
(Galatians 5:20)? Damn right it is.

No I didn’t forget the witchcraft & idolatry. The thing is we excuse ourselves from those by assuming they’re about satanism or other religions. Witchcraft really comes down to controlling ourselves what we ought to trust to God. And idolatry is making anyone or anything a priority over God. So- ourselves, our tribe, our team, our race, our party, our nation, our ideology, out candidate, our opinions, our precious way of life, our privilege & comfort zone? All of this can be worshiping false gods.

Oh, but what if, just what if- instead of seeing human tradition, dominant culture, long held convention, and rigid institutions… what if nonbelievers, “nones,” millennials and gen-Z-ers saw love? Saw patience.? What if they saw kindness?

What if instead of suspicion, they saw joy? What if instead of defensiveness, they saw self control? What if instead of seeing blind support for corruption, greed, materialism, consumerism & defense of anger, rage and prejudice, what if they saw goodness.

What if instead of seeing Christianity, Christian nationalism, Christian identity or Christian-ism, what if for once, we got out of the way and showed them Jesus.

So often we’re so incensed by the possibility of people seeing Jesus as “just” a teacher, prophet, philosopher or agent of social change but not their “lord and savior,” that we don’t allow Him to also be this things. Would that be so bad?


Please don’t exe-communicate me for denying His divinity. I DO believe that Jesus is THE only begotten son of the living God. But how can we possibly believe that if we don’t follow the teachings of this humble, non-violent, Middle Eastern first century, homeless Jew?

Wouldn’t I be life changing, society changing, civilization renewing, & world restoring if more & more people sought to live by these fruit of the spirit? Even if they all though or believed different things about who first taught them?

Who knows, maybe their hears would be softened enough that the Spirit would seep in and change their minds about Him.

Fruit has seeds. The seed is the word (Luke 8:11). Stop hoarding Jesus.

He may have died for you alone if you had been the only one, but you weren’t & he didn’t. Jesus loves EVERYONE, even if they don’t look, think, or vote like you.

The marriage between religious fundamentalists and political right; due for a divorce

“It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.”-Rev. Billy Graham

Funny how “Mr. Conservative” Sen. Barry Goldwater felt the same way.

Alas, first Democrats lost the South when they supported civil rights & integration, Nixon & Reagan both went with a “Southern Strategy,” then, around 1983 or so white Southern evangelicals realized they could use abortion as a wedge issue, even though many religious groups had actually supported the Roe decision.

I am by no stretch of the imagination “pro-abortion,” but I for one am tired of that issue being used as a cover for racism, injustice, inequality and most recently authoritarianism, conspiracies, lies and insurrection. I don’t want to make an idol out of the Democratic party, but I sure am praying that God will wipe the scales from the eyes of our fellow believers on the political right.

Dream Prayer

I DARE you to pray this today-


Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy.

Now it the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of
segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.

Now it the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial
injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

Now is the time to make justice a reality to all of God’s
Dear Lord, let the dream of little children one day living in
a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by their character come true.
Lord Jesus, let freedom ring, let it ring from every
tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, help us to speed up that day when all of Your children,
black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and
Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of
the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God
Almighty, we are free at last.”

In Jesus name,

Who was MLK?

Rev. Michael King Sr. grew up a poor, Black sharecropper in Georgia at the turn of the last century. As a young man he moved to Atlanta, fell in love with a Baptist preacher’s daughter and eventually followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps and studied to become a minister.

In 1934, Rev. Michael King, Sr., attended the World Baptist Alliance in Berlin. He was so moved by the teachings and sacrifice of sixteenth-century German church reformer Martin Luther, that he changed his name from Michael King to Michael Luther King and finally Martin Luther King. His teen aged son chose to change his name to Martin Luther King Jr, after his father.

MLK Grew up in segregated Georgia during the Great Depression, but went on to become one of the greatest leaders of the civil rights movement. Now, on the third Monday in January, Americans observe the legacy of his contributions with a national holiday.

King Jr. studied sociology in college and then went to seminary to become a pastor like his father and grandfather. While serving in Alabama, Pastor King became involved with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group of mostly Black pastors committed to achieving racial equality through non-violence.

Many people either think of Martin Luther King Jr. as just a Black hero, with nothing to offer to the rest of us. Others take him for granted as just another pop-cultural icon along with JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis. For me, he is a hero of the faith. A courageous Christian leader like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor who stood up to Adolf Hitler and the NAZIs.

One of my favorite books that I wish everyone on Earth would read is Dr. King’s “Strength to Love,” (1963) in which he explores the parable of the good Samaritan and what it means to love your neighbor and love your enemies, as Jesus taught. In it, he also wrote about the parables of the friend who knocked on his neighbor’s door at midnight and the rich fool who hoarded his wealth in his barns, only to have his soul required of him that night. King addresses fear and speculated on what sort of epistle the Apostle Paul might have written to America.

I think that even in mostly white, rural Iowa, it would be good to consider some of the lessons of Dr. King today in 2008. We forget that he was a Baptist minister like Mike Huckabee and a PhD who could analyze domestic and foreign and military policies just like like a Barack Obama or a Bill Clinton. We forget that King was a Nobel Peace Prize winner like Al Gore.

I recently found a speech that he made about Vietnam back in 1967 on April 4, 1967 at a meeting at Riverside Church in New York City. He was assassinated a year later on April 4, 1968 trying to help striking garbagemen in Memphis, Tennessee.

People wondered why a civil rights leader was suddenly turning into a war protester.

“I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission — a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for ‘the brotherhood of man.’…but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I’m speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men — for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them?”

After three decades of supply-side economics, Americans have seen the high-tech bubble burst, and the real estate bubble burst, the stock market repeatedly crash and rebound, more millionaires than ever before yet a disappearing middle class, disappearing manufacturing jobs, jobs shipped over seas, high gas prices yet record profits for oil companies and a widening gap between the super rich and the working poor. No wonder so many voters in Iowa responded to the messages of John Edwards as he railed on big corporations and unfeeling insurance companies.
King talked about our problem with consumerism in his 1967 speech too.

“…We as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin…we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.”

Black , White, Red, Yellow, or Brown, Dr. King’s teaching may have as much to say to us today, as it did forty years ago.

Strength to Love

Nearly every year I re-read a book of sermons by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called “Strength to Love,” from 1963. Many people would be surprised by what a Biblical teacher King was because we tend to take him for granted as a cultural icon or a Black leader or a political activist.

One chapter in particular struck me as something that we could all use these days. Let’s face it, this is a time of high anxiety and stress for many of us. Governor Culver recently tried to reassure Iowans that we’re in better shape than the nation as a whole to face the coming recession. But come on, things have been getting hard for all of us for a long time.

Wars, stagnant wages, increasing costs of living especially gas, food, heating fuel and health insurance, talk of climate change, cultural change, and global competition have all left us a little frazzled. Perhaps you’re finding that just the challenges of daily life, let alone personal tragedies and crises are wearing you down.

Rev. King talked about Jesus’ parable of the man who knocks on his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread found in Luke 11:5-8.

“The traveler asks for three loaves of bread,” Dr. King wrote. The three things we need most are faith, hope and love.

“In a generation of so many colossal disappointments, men have lost faith in God, faith in man, and faith in the future…in the midst of staggering disillusionment, many cry for the bread of faith.”

“There is also a deep longing for the bread of hope.” Dr. King continued, “In the early years of this century many people did not hunger for this bread. The days of the first telephones, automobiles, and airplanes gave them a radiant optimism. They worshiped at the shrine of inevitable progress. They believed that every new scientific achievement lifted man to higher levels of perfection.”

But as we all know, came WWI and WWII and the Cold War. We realized that technology won’t produce a futuristic utopia. We may have more than enough food to eradicate world hunger, but greed and corruption prevent us from ever being able to get the food to who needs it. The twentieth century left mankind wounded and disillusioned.

King lamented that “the light of hope went out, and they roamed wearily in the dark chambers of pessimism. Many concluded that life has no meaning… But even in the inevitable moments when all seems hopeless, men know that without hope they cannot really live, and in agonizing desperation they cry for the bread of hope.”

If anything, we’ve learned too well that life is not fair. Some people don’t even see the point in trying anymore.

Finally, MLK pointed out what we are most starved for.

“There is the deep longing,” King wrote, “for the bread of love. Everybody wishes to love and to be loved. He who feels that he is not loved feels that he does not count. Much has happened in the modern world to make men feel that they do not belong. Living in a world which has become oppressively impersonal, many of us have come to feel that we are little more than numbers.”

We all need to find ways to get out of bed in the middle of the night and come to our neighbor’s aid. We all need to try to feed others in anyway we can but we should also remember where to turn when times get worst.

Luke 11: 5-8 has a man asking to borrow bread from a neighbor, but in Luke 11:1-4, Jesus teaches the disciples the Lord’s Prayer and in 11:9-13, He urges us to pray and ask God’s help for anything we need. If we need faith, hope, or love, all we have to do as ask, seek, or knock.

No One Listens

A secular 21st century American view on Luke 16 :19-31

There was this rich real estate developer with long red ties, who liked to have his name on everything and who loved decorating with gold. He even had a gold toilet. Meanwhile, down in the entrance plaza of one of his opulent resort hotels, was a homeless guy named Larry. Larry had eczema and rheumatoid arthritis.

Everyone assumed that he had mental illness, though no one knew for sure if he had PTSD and TBI since he was a veteran, or if he had something like Bipolar or Schizophrenia or just some personality disorder. Most people were afraid to ask. They assumed that he’d refused treatment or would be dangerous if they approached him.

Truthfully, most people figured that he’s be an emotional and financial burden if they took the trouble to get to know him anyway, and they all hoped to avoid being entrapped in a vortex of awkward and volatile responsibility and guilt. Anyway, plenty of people suspected that Larry was addicted to drugs or alcohol and shared the worldview that one’s predicament in life was your own fault and responsibility.

Basically, his only friends were stray dogs in the city, most of whom were a little less hungry than Larry and for the most part treated better by the average passers by, especially tourists.

As you can guess, long story short, Larry was constantly hungry and begging for money or food and ultimately died and his corpse wound up being in simple wooden coffin, loaded onto a ferry by city workers and lowered into an unmarked trench along with thousands of other unidentified corpses on Hart Island, south of the Bronx.

Larry’s soul, on the other hand was gently and compassionately carried by angelic beings to the “other side” where he enjoyed the company of the one and only Santa Clause himself. After all, if you have faith of a child, you get to spend eternity as as a child.

As it turns out, the mighty marketing mogul had a massive coronary around the same time. He was buried on one of his many estates, with an expansive monument with his name on it in gold, marking his grave, overlooking the ninth green of one of his golf courses.

His soul however, wasn’t delivered to “the good place,” but instead, he found himself in the middle of what looked and felt like a horrific Hieronymus Bosch painting. Was this Hell? Was it Purgatory? Limbo? Hades? The underworld? A terrible dream? Another dimension? Who knows? The rich resort and casino owner didn’t know, all he knew was in torment.

He looked up and saw Santa cuddling child Larry under his arm. So he shouted up and asked him, “Father Christmas, tell that Larry character to bring me a Diet Coke, or at least a bottle of water- I’m dying in this fire down here.”

But the old elf answered him, “Sorry Kiddo, you had it pretty good during your lifetime, didn’t you? But for poor Larry here, life was pretty much a living hell, so now he’s finally finding comfort and solace and you’re finding out what it was like for all the people you used, abused, or, like Larry here, just plainly took for granted.”

“Besides,” said Saint Nicholas, “between you and us is a gap, an abyss that can’t be crossed.”

“I’m begging, please,” said the rich man, “send Larry as a ghost to my family, have him warn them, so that they don’d end up here like me!”

“Well,” said Santa while several of your family members are facing indictment, there’s at least a couple who wrote tell-all books about you so they can’t be all bad… well, at least unless they’re just doing it for the money. “

“Say, look.” said Nicholas, looking the rich man straight in the eyes, “Didn’t any of them every watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ or how about ‘A Christmas Carol?’ Let them pull them up on Netflix. If those don’t make you reflect on shallow, crass consumerism, feel some empathy and compassion for the less fortunate and maybe even hit ya in the gut with a bit of good old fashioned guilt over your white privilege, I don’t know what will. That closing scene with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed chokes me up every time I see it.”

“No,” said the rich man, “this is a really busy time of year with parties and media appearances. I don’t think any of my kids watch anything older than 10 years, except maybe ‘Home Alone 2,’ that thing’s a classic.”

“So, not even ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’? Man, that kid Linus doesn’t pull any punches.”

“No, but look,” said the rich man, “a ghost would really do it, if somebody came back from the dead, that’ll really get them to change their ways.”

`”Dude, that Charles Dickens stuff has been around for almost a couple hundred years. It’s not like practically every TV sitcom hasn’t done a version of it. Heck, Bill Murray milked it for at least two movies! Love people, use things, not vice versa. How hard is that? Appreciate all the blessings you have instead of wanting what everyone else has and preventing everybody else from getting as much as you already have. Family and community and helping others is not just more important but more rewarding than power and prominence. It’s not rocket surgery.”

“Just one haunting,” begged the rich man, “maybe appear in a dream or two?”

“If they won’t listen to Frank Capra, Charles Schultz, or Bill Murray, what makes you think they’ll listen to the ghost of an unknown homeless guy?”

“Let’s face it, prophets, rabbis, sages and philosophers have been speaking and writing and writing songs and making art for millennia. They talk till they’re blue in the face and people still think that money, power, popularity and their own entertainment is more important than simple kindness and gentle patience.”

“Take it from an old Turk. People selling toy commercials have been using my likeness to preach faith, hope, family, community and generosity are more important than decorations or gifts.”

“If they haven’t listened to Doctor Seuss or Hallmark Channel rom coms, do you really think they’re going to listen to someone who raises from the dead?”

“Even people who say that they believe in people raising from the dead, don’t listen to them. Or hasn’t this past year made THAT painfully obvious?”