The Lie of the Modern Age

We live in a world where it is preferable to be something that you are not. Where false pretence and misdirection are status quo. We are being taught that it’s required to accept people not for what they are, but for what they view themselves as. Television, magazines and ads bombard you with the message that sex before marriage is fine, if you think you’re in love. Self seeking, self pleasuring, self gratifying and chasing after carnal desire rather than being the men and women that we were created to be, in communion with the Divine, are what takes precedence. No one is what they seem. The person that you see on Facebook, so happy… are they really? The relationship that seems to be perfect online… is it?
 
The paedophile is now merely experiencing a mental disorder. The murderer isn’t to blame because his father beat him. The rapist was drunk, it’s not his fault. The protesters looted, because they got caught up in the heat of the moment. No one is to blame for their own behaviour. The evil inclination has fooled us. It has taken root and it is in control of our world. We are told that up is down, left is right, evil is good. The very moral fabric of the world is being turned on its head.
 
So what is my message to my beloved religious education students? Just this: In a world where it is not acceptable to be men and women of G-d, where being yourself is not O.K., where standing for right gets you labelled archaic and fanatical, in this world where it is no longer acceptable to be what you were created to be, I dare you to be you. Be the person that your parents have striven to help you become.
 
Follow the conscience that the world is trying to silence. Pray. Believe. Listen to the inner voice. Reject evil, no matter how many others are telling you that it is good. Be men and women of G-d. Reject the world, and embrace all that will ensure your place in the world that is to come. In a world where being FAKE is preferred, be real. In a world where G-d is dead, show them that He is alive. In a world where being who you were created to be is labelled bigotry, be the best you that you can be anyway.
 
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” ― Leo Tolstoy
 
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
 
“More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.” ― Glen Cook
 
“Perhaps it is better to be irresponsible and right, than to be responsible and wrong.” ― Winston S. Churchill
 
“Errors do not cease to be errors simply because they’re ratified into law.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri
 
“The fact that good people can be forced to do wrong doesn’t make them less good. But it also doesn’t make the wrong less wrong.” ― Ovadya ben Malkaa

The Road to Recovery

It’s been a total of a month now. Four days of which I spent writhing in absolutely excruciating pain. Standing up straight required all the effort I could muster, and felt as if I were simultaneously being ripped in half and burned. The more minor symptoms included the feeling of acid reflux, and chronic pain across my upper abdomen. Any pressure whatsoever on the right side just under my ribs was pure agony. After four days of this, I finally broke down, called the doctors office and begged for an immediate appointment. They were able to get me in, so I went. After a quick exam, the Nurse concluded that it was gallbladder related. So I was scheduled for a sonogram, and given a script for pills that alleviate the acid reflux symptoms. They actually helped.

I went in for the sonogram, and received a call the following day. All looked completely normal. That was very upsetting, because the pain that I was in, there HAD to be something wrong. I had actually gotten a prescription for pain pills, and I hate (read absolutely loathe and despise with an intense passion) to take medicine of any kind, especially pain medicine. But THIS was THAT BAD. So they scheduled me for a gallbladder function test. I went yesterday morning to take the test in which they gave me an IV injection of a radioactive tracer substance which they scanned at different points over an hour. Then, they flushed it with another substance that triggered the gallbladder to empty. Only… mine didn’t.

The doctor’s office called me the next day and advised that the tests reveal biliary dyskinesia (malfunction of the gallbladder which prevents it from properly emptying). The “normal” gallbladder will empty 35-40% during the function test, mine emptied only 13%. For that reason, I was referred to a surgeon (my neighbour in fact) for a consult on a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). He explained the procedure to me. It’s fairly straight forward. They make four small incisions in the abdomen (three are for their tools including the scope), fill the cavity with air/carbon dioxide, image for abnormalities, detach and remove the gallbladder, then they vacuum out as much of the air as they can  and finally, suture the wounds.

Today, I am less of a man. I checked in at 8:05 AM to have my malfunctioning part removed. I was miserable not only from the pain, but because I was not permitted to have any coffee prior. I was scheduled to have the offending part removed at 10:30 AM, but at 9:00 AM a call came to my nurse advising that they were ready for me. They wheeled me down the hall in the bed, past the previous victim and into the surgery section. The intern anesthesiologist was a pretty funny fellow, Micah Reece (University of Kansas Nurse Anesthesia Program), was pretty awesome as was the female anesthesiologist whose name escapes me. The surgical nurse (Laura M.) was very kind and patient with me, and described everything in detail. Doctor Morrissey poked his head in to say hi to me before they knocked me out. His smile was fairly reassuring. The intern anesthesiologist went to work on me, and the next thing I know, I am waking up sore. I try to roll to my right side, but they all instruct me to stay on my back. I pass out again. I wake up again, and once more try to roll over to my right side, only to be told not to once more. I pass out again. I wake up in my room, look around, and roll over onto my right side.

Hospital Recovery 2 Hospital Recovery 1

Once I was good and awake the nurse came in and asked how I was doing. She offered pain meds which I initially declined but which Natalie talked me in to. I wasted no time getting up to go to the water closet. After that, I ordered a meal consisting of a grilled chicken breast sandwich, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, a salad with ranch, and COFFEE. After eating, I finished getting dressed and Natalie walked me up and down the hall twice. I then got another cup of coffee on the way back to my room, and we waited for the nurse to arrive to discharge me. The nurse stated that I’m the best patient they’ve ever had for this procedure. To be honest, even prior to receiving the pain medicine, the pain was so much less than it has been in a month, that it almost felt good. I’m pretty sore now, but the soreness in no way compares to the pain over the last month. I feel great. It makes sense in the end, considering the surgeon having stated that my gallbladder was enlarged and couldn’t be removed, rather, it had to be drained first. Apparently we caught it in time, it wasn’t discharging at all.

Thank you all for your concern and for your prayers. You guys are great.

Tomorrow, I will be less of a man.

Tomorrow, I will be less of a man. No, not the way you think. I’ll be going in at 8:00 AM to have my malfunctioning part removed. I’m excited, because it marks the beginning of the end of this two plus week long period of agony. At the same time, I get weak at the sight of a needle going into my arm, so I’m terrified. And my surgeon, to whom I referred as “the Butcher” didn’t help at all when advising me that he would basically be stabbing me four times. I can’t tell you how many dreams I’ve had since then of an artery being nicked, and my never waking up again. At any rate, I look forward to what I assume will lead to relief.

For this reason, I will probably not be checking to any social media in in the morning. I have to be up bright and early to shower with anti bacterial body wash, particularly around where the surgery will be performed, and then  I get to go in and do mountains of paperwork, after which I’ll sit in a room for a couple of hours waiting in dread. I’ll try and report back after the operation is complete, if I’m feeling up to it. I’ve been told that the best thing I can do for recovery is to just get up and walk. “Walk it off” so to speak. And so I will. Just as soon as I am able! Any prayers are certainly most appreciated!

Finally A Solution

A couple weeks ago, I spent four days in absolutely excruciating pain. Standing up straight required all the effort I could muster, and felt as if I were simultaneously being ripped in half and burned. The more minor symptoms included the feeling of acid reflux, and chronic pain across my upper abdomen. Any pressure whatsoever on the right side just under my ribs was pure agony. With four daughters, two of which want to climb all over me all of the time, I spent a great deal of time in agony. After four days of this, I finally broke down, called the doctors office and begged for an immediate appointment. They were able to get me in, so I went. After a quick exam, the Nurse concluded that it was gallbladder related. So I was scheduled for a sonogram, and given a script for pills that alleviate the acid reflux symptoms. They actually helped.

I went in for the sonogram, and received a call the following day. All looked completely normal. That was very upsetting, because the pain that I was in, there HAD to be something wrong. I had actually gotten a prescription for pain pills, and I hate (read absolutely loathe and despise with an intense passion) to take medicine of any kind, especially pain medicine. But THIS was THAT BAD. So they scheduled me for a gallbladder function test. I went yesterday morning to take the test in which they gave me an IV injection of a radioactive tracer substance which they scanned at different points over an hour. Then, they flushed it with another substance that triggered the gallbladder to empty. Only… mine didn’t.

I guess it’s a good season for surgery in the family… The doctor’s office called me this morning and advised that the tests reveal me to most likely have biliary dyskinesia (malfunction of the gallbladder which prevents it from properly emptying). The “normal” gallbladder will empty 35-40% during the function test, mine emptied only 13%. For that reason, I will likely need a cholocystectomy (gallbladder removal). So, long story short, we now know why I am in constant agony, particularly after eating. We now know how to make it stop. All that’s left is to schedule the surgery and get it over with. It’s fairly straight forward. They make four small incisions in the abdomen (three are for their tools including the scope), fill the cavity with air/carbon dioxide, image for abnormalities, detach and remove the gallbladder, then they vacuum out as much of the air as they can and finally, suture the wounds. I should be able to go home the same day.

It will be sore, but with any luck at all, it will be much less painful than it is at present.

ZEAL For Life – Tropic Dream Review

DISCLAIMER: Results will vary by individual. We are all different, and our chemistry reacts differently to different things. My review is scientific, but not medical, nor am I a medical professional. This review discusses my thoughts on ZEAL For Life by Zurvita, and the effect or lack thereof that I observed on my energy and focus while testing the product.

ZEAL for Life by Zurvita, Focus and Energy Drink Mixes. Bold Grape, Tropic Dream and Wild Berry Flavours.

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about ZEAL For Life by Zurvita, and since a friend had some samples, I decided to give it a go. The flavour that I was provided for testing was Tropic Dream. I was really quite excited. Prior to testing, I went all day (until after 5PM CST) without coffee, to measure against the day that I would test the product which I would also be doing without coffee. On the day that I went without coffee during the day, I took my vitals for comparison at different intervals throughout the day. The results were fairly consistent throughout the day with an average resting heart rate of eighty (80) and an exercise rate of one hundred twenty eight (128). My blood pressure was one hundred thirty two over eighty (132/80) and my respiration per minute averaged eighteen. While waiting for the test to begin, I decided to examine the bottle and their website to see all of their fantastic claims. One of the first things I noticed is that right on the bottom it states that the drink mix is gluten free, vegan, and surprisingly, “Kosher”. This caught my interest, so I did some looking. Nowhere on the bottle did I find any sort of hechsher at all.  I looked for any of the familiar Kashruth supervisory or endorsement markings. I found none. So naturally, I took to their web site. There also, I came up empty. The only thing that even came close to touching on Kashruth was found in their FAQ.

Q: Does Zeal Wellness contain any shellfish? A: Zeal Wellness does not contain shellfish or shellfish by-products. However, please be aware that Zeal Wellness contains many different individual ingredients and some of those ingredients may be processed in a facility that also processes shellfish.

Flabbergasted as to why they would avoid giving a supervisory mark, I turned to their fact sheets. There, as shown below, I did find an OU certification on their fact sheet. Bingo! We have a hechsher!

z1

I went through their ingredient list on their web site to be certain, and enjoyed reading the write up that they have on each ingredient that I couldn’t pronounce if I tried for a month. After reading what each individual ingredient is supposed to do, and how it is supposed to work/react in/with your body, I was more excited than ever to try this wonder drink.

The following claims are made by the makers of ZEAL For Life:

The Zeal blend:

  • boosts your energy*
  • optimizes your health*
  • enriches, restores and protects your body*
  • helps maintain a healthy weight

Zurvita’s Zeal for Life combines many of the most powerful nutritional components available today into a single, delicious, real-food product. Recognized as what’s called a “functional food,” Zeal transcends the role of many supplements, and provides the body with the food-based nutritional components it needs in a more fundamental form.

The results? You can feel more vibrant and energetic, fueling a life of real purpose and significance.

It includes:

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • antioxidants
  • amino acids
  • micronutrients
  • phytonutrients and more!

Zeals’ balanced nutrition can be a foundational support to good health, proper energy levels and successful weight management.

For this evaluation, as I have not used it long term, nor do I have the proper supply necessary to do so, I tested only the effects on energy and focus.  I did not evaluate in any way the following claims, and can make no statement in regard to their effectiveness, or lack thereof:

  • optimizes your health* – Not evaluated by the FDA
  • enriches, restores and protects your body* – Not evaluated by the FDA
  • helps maintain a healthy weight

 

Preparation was simple. I removed the plastic wrap from the lid, inserted a piece of ice (at a friends suggestion) to help mix, and filled with water. I replaced the cap and shook vigorously. After drinking the solution, I noted that a great deal of powder remained, so I added a small amount of water, shook again and finished it off. The odour was similar to that of orange juice, so that wasn’t off putting. As far as flavour, it highly resembled a pomegranate flavoured five hour energy drink, with an ever so slight hint of sawdust. It went down easy enough, there was no gag reflex, and it was actually quite good.

Now, on to the actual test itself!

Results before and during the test.
Results before and during the test.

I’m not a phlebotomist, nor do I have the equipment, so I am unable to provide any sort of a blood test or results of chemical composition, increase or decrease etc. I can only give the data above. As you can see, my exercise rate remained fairly constant. My Beats per Minute jumped eight (8) points in the first ten (10) minutes I presume that is the small amount of caffeine hitting my system. It then drops two (2) points and increases again at an hour. Likewise, my systolic pressure takes a bit of a leap at ten (10) and at thirty (30). My Respiration remained fairly constant, though elevated. As far as actual focus or energy, I was fairly disappointed. I felt no difference, whatsoever. In fact, by the thirty (30) minute mark, I was actually getting more sluggish. I reviewed the recordings of myself after as well, to see if there was a noteworthy change in demeanor, and saw that between the thirty (30) and sixty (60) minute marks, I actually nodded off a couple of times.

In closing, this “Energy” Drink may well work for others, but in my controlled testing, it was an extreme disappointment. It may work over long term use, but in terms of energy drink use (one use for immediate results) it failed miserably. I was afraid that the “placebo effect” from all of the hype of friends and commercials may skew my results, but I can safely say there was no external influence to these results whatsoever. I wanted it to work, it simply didn’t have any effect for me. I rate it two of five stars, for having attractive packaging and a smooth and palatable flavour.

 

 

 

Predestination

There is a prevailing thought in Western culture, which sickeningly ascribes all things that occur to Divine will. This horrible notion is perpetuated ignorantly by well meaning persons at funerals, for instance. I’m sorry that your loved one died. It was G-d’s will. He/She’s in a better place now. G-d was just ready to take him/her home. When there are horrendous tragedies with high human cost such as school shootings, people are quick to declare that it was G-d’s will that it happen. That there is some sort of Divine logic in all of it. This is absolutely WRONG. And those that say such things are doing great damage. This line of thinking encourages anger at G-d by victims family. Why would G-d want this to happen? Why would G-d take him/her like this? etc. The correct response to such happenings requires knowledge (to the extent that we CAN understand the Divine) of the workings of Divine will. I won’t attempt to address any theological implications here, only to give a very basic understanding of the very fundamental precepts of these ideas.

The notion of predestination is comprised of two essential elements:  infallible foreknowledge, and immutable decrees. Predestination is further affected by an “external” element, and that is the free will granted to mankind. First of all, we must start with free will.

FREE WILL: (noun) –  the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

The age old question applies? Why would the Divine grant free will, and then punish us for our use of the gift? Greater theologians and philosophers than I have pondered this for centuries, and still have arrived at no mutually satisfactory response. I am left therefore, only to ponder the implication of how this “gift” relates to Divine will.

The human creature is created with potential, talents, deficiencies, handicaps and free will. What the human does with this “hand delt” is entirely up to the human. One may have multiple handicaps, and turn them into strengths. Another with the same handicaps may become bitter to the world and behave as if everything is owed them. For this reason it is clear to see that “G-d made me this way” is nothing more than an excuse. The Divine does not create a killer as such. How they became so, is another argument best left to the Nature vs. Nurture psycho babble. But it is not something to be blamed on heavenly forces.

We can no longer proceed further without the inclusion of the idea of predestination. For our example of the murderer, we now have a set of decrees. This person, with these particular handicaps is to be born to this abusive man and his on again, off again girlfriend who, due to their own life choices, live in complete poverty. This is an immutable decree. A set of circumstances that cannot be changed. There are variables, of course… a social worker may notice, and set in motion governmental intervention resulting in the child being placed in a loving foster home, or a not so loving, but nonetheless safe boys home etc. But the base decree cannot be changed. This IS who the child will be born to. Now then, there are several roads that this child’s life may take. Free choice. Regardless of where he ends up, with his birth parents, foster parents, a boys home, or a teen runaway, every choice opens new possibilities and paths. Now we begin to see a taste of infallible foreknowledge. To divine eyes, which transcend all time, all is seen, all is known. All possible paths and variations are foreseen, and the free will choices that will be made have already been observed. This is not to say that the Divine in any way leads the outcome, but at certain junctures in ones life, He may, by immutable decree, cause certain persons to cross a particular path which may be helpful to the individual. But then again, the choice is on that individual to accept or reject the help, and take or leave that path.

In short, yes. G-d knows all and sees all. He knows the end. He knows what we will do and how. But it is not because He causes us to do so, merely because He, like a person watching a movie with the ability to fast forward and rewind, sees and knows what has been, what is, and what will be. The choices made are the individuals own. The paths taken, results of choices. The Divine lovingly created each of us with our potential. He decreed our start point. He gave us our strengths and our weaknesses, and then He gave us free will to do with them as we may. He never commanded a boy to go into a school with a gun and kill twenty kids and four teachers. He allowed that boy to make the choices that led him to that point, and even placed doubt in the boy before he did the horrid act. One last call of the conscience. Only He knows how many children have listened to that still, small voice, and not committed the act they had planned. But He CERTAINLY never made them do it. He did not decree that it should happen. He did not make it part of His “plan”. He allowed free choice to be made.

Sure, there are particular persons who He takes a more active role with. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, the Prophets etc… World leaders, world events and such. I have no doubt that it was Divine and Immutable Decree that the Nazi’s come to power, much as their forebears, Babylon and Assyria. Or that the United States of America be discovered, formed and established on Judeo Christian principles, and to go on and become a world leader for fifty years. But we know this already. The Tanakh/Bible makes clear that He places Kings on their thrones and guides the destinies of nations. But this little rant addresses only the individual level. That is the most basic terms that I can place on the most difficult to understand mystery of Divine will, decrees and free choice. Hopefully it made some sort of sense. If you want to know more, contact me and I’ll send you a reading list on the subject, by minds greater than mine could ever hope to be.

Predestination was originally published on Theo's Thoughts

Predestination

There is a prevailing thought in Western culture, which sickeningly ascribes all things that occur to Divine will. This horrible notion is perpetuated ignorantly by well meaning persons at funerals, for instance. I’m sorry that your loved one died. It was G-d’s will. He/She’s in a better place now. G-d was just ready to take him/her home. When there are horrendous tragedies with high human cost such as school shootings, people are quick to declare that it was G-d’s will that it happen. That there is some sort of Divine logic in all of it. This is absolutely WRONG. And those that say such things are doing great damage. This line of thinking encourages anger at G-d by victims family. Why would G-d want this to happen? Why would G-d take him/her like this? etc. The correct response to such happenings requires knowledge (to the extent that we CAN understand the Divine) of the workings of Divine will. I won’t attempt to address any theological implications here, only to give a very basic understanding of the very fundamental precepts of these ideas.

The notion of predestination is comprised of two essential elements:  infallible foreknowledge, and immutable decrees. Predestination is further affected by an “external” element, and that is the free will granted to mankind. First of all, we must start with free will.

FREE WILL: (noun) –  the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

The age old question applies? Why would the Divine grant free will, and then punish us for our use of the gift? Greater theologians and philosophers than I have pondered this for centuries, and still have arrived at no mutually satisfactory response. I am left therefore, only to ponder the implication of how this “gift” relates to Divine will.

The human creature is created with potential, talents, deficiencies, handicaps and free will. What the human does with this “hand delt” is entirely up to the human. One may have multiple handicaps, and turn them into strengths. Another with the same handicaps may become bitter to the world and behave as if everything is owed them. For this reason it is clear to see that “G-d made me this way” is nothing more than an excuse. The Divine does not create a killer as such. How they became so, is another argument best left to the Nature vs. Nurture psycho babble. But it is not something to be blamed on heavenly forces.

We can no longer proceed further without the inclusion of the idea of predestination. For our example of the murderer, we now have a set of decrees. This person, with these particular handicaps is to be born to this abusive man and his on again, off again girlfriend who, due to their own life choices, live in complete poverty. This is an immutable decree. A set of circumstances that cannot be changed. There are variables, of course… a social worker may notice, and set in motion governmental intervention resulting in the child being placed in a loving foster home, or a not so loving, but nonetheless safe boys home etc. But the base decree cannot be changed. This IS who the child will be born to. Now then, there are several roads that this child’s life may take. Free choice. Regardless of where he ends up, with his birth parents, foster parents, a boys home, or a teen runaway, every choice opens new possibilities and paths. Now we begin to see a taste of infallible foreknowledge. To divine eyes, which transcend all time, all is seen, all is known. All possible paths and variations are foreseen, and the free will choices that will be made have already been observed. This is not to say that the Divine in any way leads the outcome, but at certain junctures in ones life, He may, by immutable decree, cause certain persons to cross a particular path which may be helpful to the individual. But then again, the choice is on that individual to accept or reject the help, and take or leave that path.

In short, yes. G-d knows all and sees all. He knows the end. He knows what we will do and how. But it is not because He causes us to do so, merely because He, like a person watching a movie with the ability to fast forward and rewind, sees and knows what has been, what is, and what will be. The choices made are the individuals own. The paths taken, results of choices. The Divine lovingly created each of us with our potential. He decreed our start point. He gave us our strengths and our weaknesses, and then He gave us free will to do with them as we may. He never commanded a boy to go into a school with a gun and kill twenty kids and four teachers. He allowed that boy to make the choices that led him to that point, and even placed doubt in the boy before he did the horrid act. One last call of the conscience. Only He knows how many children have listened to that still, small voice, and not committed the act they had planned. But He CERTAINLY never made them do it. He did not decree that it should happen. He did not make it part of His “plan”. He allowed free choice to be made.

Sure, there are particular persons who He takes a more active role with. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, Saul, David, Solomon, the Prophets etc… World leaders, world events and such. I have no doubt that it was Divine and Immutable Decree that the Nazi’s come to power, much as their forebears, Babylon and Assyria. Or that the United States of America be discovered, formed and established on Judeo Christian principles, and to go on and become a world leader for fifty years. But we know this already. The Tanakh/Bible makes clear that He places Kings on their thrones and guides the destinies of nations. But this little rant addresses only the individual level. That is the most basic terms that I can place on the most difficult to understand mystery of Divine will, decrees and free choice. Hopefully it made some sort of sense. If you want to know more, contact me and I’ll send you a reading list on the subject, by minds greater than mine could ever hope to be.