Christianese: “He” is the “Father” God


A comment left on Wednesday’s post got me thinking about something that happened in seminary. The language we use to describe our faith is more complicated than I once thought. I always figured there was a name for everything and that was it. Little did I realize that the life experiences of people drastically change how we hear these words, and can radically change the way we view God.

We had to write our papers using inclusive language. Not that I think this is a bad thing, but it makes some things hard. For example, God is not a “he” (nor is God a “she”). God is spirit, and because of this, we were not to use these familiar pronouns to describe God. You may have noticed that on the blog I don’t use “he” when referring to God, it’s because of this rule. In a similar vein, the term father is one that would come up debated from time to time. Typically, the person who wanted to get rid of that term was someone who had a terrible father, or one who abandoned them. Referring to God as “father” only brought up these images and they did not believe that God could be like the father they knew.

I had a great father, for as long as he was around, so that term never bothered me. In my small town church, there were very few cases where fathers weren’t good people and stuck with the family. I never really saw examples of someone who would be uncomfortable viewing God as a father. So when I heard these people calling for a new title, I dismissed them. But as time went on I began to see the value of understanding these terms from other perspectives.

The problem is, we rarely found 100% perfect terms. Sure we use God instead of the pronouns, but then as you write papers on God, it becomes clear that not having pronouns for God make it hard to describe God (see what I did there?). Even describing the first person of God as Creator instead of Father lends itself to bad images of the Creation Museum and fundamentalism. But these are the best we had.

One professor I had claimed, “If you can find an acceptable pronoun for God that everyone can agree on, there is big bucks in that.” I’m still not rich. It’s a hard challenge, and one that I don’t think will ever be resolved.

But do I think that we all need to abandon the terms we’ve always used for culturally sensitive ones? Yes and no. I would agree that being aware of how our words sound to others is important. When talking with friends I know, I let refer to God as “he” and it doesn’t bother us. When I try to sound more professional or when addressing a larger audience, I stick with referring to God as God. I also haven’t addressed God as “Father” for awhile because I realize that God is more than Father. I stick with God once again.

But that’s the topic of another day. More specifically, a post next week. Come back and see the next part of this post on Monday.

What do you think? Does the way we refer to God effect how others understand God? In what ways aside from just the terms “he” and “Father” do we effect those around us with our terminology?

Reworked Post: The surprising effects of gossip

'those are strong words for such a weak person' photo (c) 2009, ohai_spackwood - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is a reworking of the post titled the Surprising Effects of Gossip which was posted in March 2011.

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When I think of gossip, my mind immediately goes back to high school, where someone is trying to knock someone else down a peg, so they say something behind their back. It belittles the other person and really doesn’t help the one spreading gossip in the long run. But I’ve experienced the hurtful side of gossip from someone who didn’t intend to put me down, and that was new for me.

I’m at the age where I’m going to weddings quite often. A couple years ago, I had 4 of them to go to, and one of them was my own, and this year I have four to go to. There have also been others that I wasn’t invited to, and I’m OK with that. When you get married, you realize that not everyone in the world can be invited, unless you’re William and Kate, then you just broadcast you wedding all over the world for everyone to see. So what this usually means is that someone gets cut out here and there.

That happened to me the summer I got married. I had a couple of friends from school that were getting married. I wasn’t sure if I would be invited, because we weren’t that close, and sure enough I wasn’t. No big deal. I already had another friend’s wedding to go to that day, and I would have gone to his even if I was invited to both. But a week or two before their wedding, I was talking to a friend that was going to their wedding that made me wonder why I wasn’t invited.

The situation was that the couple had invited someone who in turn couldn’t make it due to last minute circumstances. This left a smile on the groom’s face, because they really didn’t want them to come in the first place. When asked why they invited this person in the first place, he responded along the lines of, “We didn’t want them to think we didn’t like them.” What my friend didn’t realize was that I wasn’t invited. What I had previously thought was just seating issues and room capacity leading to myself not getting invited, led to wondering if they didn’t like me enough to not even pretend to want me there.

Without knowing, my friend had spread gossip about something that was going on, and instead of directly hurting the person it was about, ended up hurting me instead. I had to say, this was a first. I mean some people say that when you spread gossip you die a little inside, though that might have just been some show on TV that said that. But in all honesty, I’ve never felt hurt by a piece of gossip being told to me. I’m sure that my friend wouldn’t have said anything had they known that I wasn’t invited. Maybe they would have. Maybe this couple actually does like me, but just didn’t have room to put me in because we’re not that close. But regardless, when I see them, I’m a little suspicious and question if they even want me around. Needless to say, I feel my relationship to this couple is harmed by what someone said about someone else. Still to this day, when talking to the couple, I can never tell if they want me there or if they would rather be talking to someone else.

Why I hide my seminary experience

Found at Savage Chickens

This last weekend I was sitting with a group of people that I didn’t know and the obvious, “What do you do?” questions came up. Naturally, I was reluctant to share about my degree, focusing on my jobs in the library system. Then a man said to me, “You don’t have to hide, you can be open with us. We’re all Christians.” The only problem is, I don’t know if I can be open with you, even if you’re a Christian.

First off I’m introverted and when talking to new people, I already feel uncomfortable. But mostly I’ve been hiding my religious training from others for years. When you go to seminary, people sometimes act differently around you. And when you go to seminary and aren’t going to be a pastor, some people don’t know how to act period. So I’ve hid what I do, masking it in I go to graduate school, or saying I’m a religious studies major, or just deflecting to that I want to be a writer.

People have different reactions to me being a Christian, and a “learned” Christian at that. I’ve been told that I didn’t need to go to seminary, if I’m called to ministry, just go into ministry. I’ve had people argue with me that Christianity isn’t correct or even relevant anymore. But some Christians tend to have the idea there is one form of Christianity that is correct and everything else is wrong.

It’s this viewpoint exactly that I hide that I went to seminary. Because I don’t know if you’re going to say that I wasted my time, or that my beliefs are wrong, or that I should be a certain type of Christian. I don’t know you, but knowing myself, I don’t want to hear you tell me these things. I’m glad I went to seminary, I don’t think my beliefs are wrong, and I’m already a certain type of Christian, I’m not going to change to fit your model.

Some people have been very supportive of my academic endeavors, and some people are interested to hear what I have to say. But because I don’t know if you’re going to be supportive or critical, I don’t share my experience. Because lets me honest, will I ever see you again? You live in a different state, or go to a church I’m not coming back to, or are at an event where we’re making small talk. This is a one time conversation, so I’m going to leave it at the minimum I can.

If we were going to be neighbors, or you went to church with me, or you work with me, and we are going to build a relationship of some sort, then perhaps I’ll open up to you. But when I know that for the next 3 hours, we’ll be talking about things and then I’m going to leave and we’ll never meet again, then I don’t feel the need to get into in depth conversations. Please don’t take this the wrong way, it’s not you. It’s my perception of you and the fear that I’ll be put down. I just don’t want to risk it. I’m just trying to protect myself. I know it makes me sound like a jerk, but it’s keeping myself safe, and I’m not ready to open up. Maybe one day under different circumstances I would talk on an on about it, but not today.

Weekly Recap: June 9

This is the Weekly Recap. Each Saturday I share posts that I found to be worthwhile from other writers. I also post a list of the posts I wrote that week in case you missed anything and wanted to catch up. If you want to be notified when new posts are added to the site, you can follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, or sign up for the mailing list and get them in your email by using the sign up form on the right side of the page.

Posts from other writers

What’s The Big Deal About Being A Mom? – Matt Appling, Prodigal Magazine
Some people believe there is a specific way a mother should be. Matt however, believes they can be more than just what tradition holds.

Lament and Faith and Childhood: Why my kid and I read the sad Psalms – Micha Boyett
Doubt and questioning are a part of the life of faith, and there is no reason why our children should not know the sad Psalms.

Love Wins Isn’t Jewish Enough for Rob Bell - Kurt Willems, the Pangea Blog
Rob Bell is known for his understanding of the Hebrew culture that surrounds Jesus, but with his book Love Wins, it doesn’t go far enough into the Jewish context of the day.

Christian Bookstores: On Product and Promise – Addie Zierman, How to Talk Evangelical
Christian bookstores were once a place I went to to find new music and books. But over time, it becomes exhausting, and Addie shares her perspective.

Why I Tell Some Visitors to Go Home - Ray Hollenbach, ChurchLeaders.com
Usually we want to welcome people into the church, but sometimes it’s best to tell them to go home.

Go fly a kite (a post about my son, cursing a macaw, & reciting Catholic nursery rhymes) – Matthew Paul Turner
Sometimes we can get so focused into doing something, that we lose sight of what we were doing from the start. The best thing is when those we love despite it.

Guest Post: “I’m a Christian, I Don’t Like Worship Songs” – Ryan Pugh, The American Jesus
Guest posting at the American Jesus, Ryan gives a well written look at some reasons how worship music can change for the better.

My posts this week

What are the pros and cons of the online church?
Lots of churches offer their Sunday services online. But what are the pros and cons to doing this? I look at a couple of each today.

How do we deal with “not in the earliest manuscripts?”
There are sections of scripture that claim they were, “not in the earliest manuscripts.” How do we deal with these portions of text?

A glimpse at open theism
I’m an open theist. I admit it. Today, I give you a glimpse into what open theism is with two examples. Look for a short series on this topic next month.

A glimpse into open theism

I’ve mentioned before that I’m an open theist. This basically means that I believe that God has not known every tiny fact about the future for all eternity. Instead, I believe that God has a plan, but is open to the influences of creation. God knows every possible outcome, but does not know exactly which one history will take until it happens. I plan to get into open theism much more at a later date and with more depth, but consider this a preview.

I first stumbled across the idea of open theism during my first year of seminary, I took an Intro to Theology course. One of the grades in that course comes from the “theological terms test” where you are given a variety of terms to define. As I was searching theological dictionaries for answers to study, I came across a definition for omniscience that threw me for a loop. It was worded in a way that changed my entire view on what God knows.

It was defined as the ability to know everything in a perfect and immediate way. What struck me as odd was that it didn’t say the ability to know everything forever and always. Instead, I began to formulate what God’s knowledge would be like according to this definition. The basic idea of what I came up with was that God knows everything as it happens, truthfully, without any outside evidence. My example was best found in the story where Jesus is teaching and the leaders were saying nasty things about him to each other. The text says that Jesus immediately perceived what they were saying. In other words, Jesus didn’t know what they would say before they said it, but as soon as they did, he knew exactly what they said, without anyone having to tell him that they said it.

But I think another example that is more recent can be found with the church Rachael and I go to. They were planted six and a half years ago, and just recently bought a new building. This building was built by another church plant seven years ago, but it failed and the building has been unused as a church for several years now. At first nothing sounds too different with this idea. But I stepped back and looked at it from a chronological standpoint, and that was where I saw God’s openness.

God called the first church to be a church at that location. They built the church, and failed. If God had this all planned out from the beginning of time, then God planned for this church to fail, which I don’t think God would do. But as it failed, God said, “OK, let’s go to plan B.” This was when our church was called and planted. This time God waited until we were ready to move into a large building by having us stay in a school for a few years. Once God saw we were ready, unlike the last church ended up, God said, “Time to put this building to use.” So we moved in. It wasn’t planned that God would have that first church fail so we could succeed. But God wanted a church there, and when one option didn’t work out, God called another. (I hope that made sense.)

As I said, this post is more of a preview in openness theology. I plan to get into this in a short series down the road, but I’m too busy at the moment to do all the research. I have a plan though, so maybe next month. Stay tuned and feel free to leave comments below.

How do we deal with “not in the earliest manuscripts?”

In seminary I read some journal articles and wrote some short papers on a couple of problematic sections of the New Testament. Two points that stick out in my mind are John 7:53-8:11 and Mark 16:9-20. The reason these sections are problematic is because of a little footnote I noticed a long time ago. It said something to the effect of, “not in the earliest manuscripts.” I didn’t quite know what this meant so I skipped over it. But when I hit seminary, skipping it was no longer an option.

In my time at seminary, I studied Greek and Hebrew. I’m very rusty with my actual translating abilities, but the lessons I learned from those classes stick with me. In particular to the point I’m trying to make is what exactly these manuscripts are.

Growing up I had no sense of where the Bible came from. I assumed the disciples were walking around writing down everything Jesus did and said like a court stenographer, then stuck everything in a folder and off to the publisher where Gutenberg printed it out as we have it today. I was a bit off. Instead, the people who wrote the Bible often wrote it years after the fact, recalling from memory and telling the story to fit the point they were making.

But as I began to learn about this text I had been reading since I was a child, I learned it was built over a long period of time, and not from just one original book that had been translated, but from tons of source material. Some items such as the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are more or less whole copies of the New Testament, but they are from the fourth century. If we want writings closer to the time of Jesus and Paul, we have fragments. Some of these fragments have maybe 5 words on them. Others are like the one shown above that might be a whole page.

Back to the point, those sections that say “not in the earliest manuscripts,” that means that the earliest copies of the New Testament, even the Codexes I mentioned earlier, don’t have these portions of scripture that we have today. They were added in later, somewhere around the eighth century. It’s kind of like someone adding another chapter to Romeo and Juliet where we find out that they didn’t actually die at the end but lived happily ever after. These were not in the original texts written by the people who wrote the New Testament, as far as we know. We don’t have much from the first century, so perhaps they were there, were removed later, and then added back in. But until we find those earliest copies, if they still exist, then we have to assume that they were never a part of the story.

So what do we do with these? Should we abandon them? Part of me screams yes. They aren’t original, so why keep them. They might tell good stories, but if they weren’t in the original text, then they weren’t the authors intention. In fact the portion from John doesn’t even flow with the rest of the story. If you read the portions of scripture before and after it, they flow quite nicely.

But on the other hand, they have been a part of the tradition, and they reflect Jesus. Whether it show that Jesus rose from the grave and appeared to the disciples in Mark, or that Jesus shows love and compassion instead of condemnation in John, these portions of scripture reflect who Jesus was, which makes me weary to declare their removal.

So what is your take on this? Should we get rid of these extra pieces of scripture that don’t belong there? Should we shove them into the footnotes for anyone who wants to read them? Should we just let them stay there? Sound off in the comments below.

 

What are the pros and cons of online church?

For a few years now, churches have been online. Not just with websites and Facebook but by placing their services online. Whether it’s just a podcast where we can hear the sermon or the music, or a live stream of the entire service, churches have been online. But what are the pros and cons with this approach? I’m going to look at two ways that online church services can be both helpful and harmful to the church.

Sharing the gospel: Pro

One major benefit of the online church is that we can get our message out to more people than ever before. There are only so many people in each city. Even if everyone in that city goes to one church, their potential for numerical growth declines once everyone is going there. By spreading to the Internet, they have the potential to spread to everyone with a computer. But it doesn’t have to be across the nation, it could also be down the street. If someone from the church broke their leg and can’t make it to church, they can still take place in the service at home until they can join them in person again.

Sharing the gospel: Con

On the other hand, you might be reaching a lot of people, but how many of those people are connecting? I’ve said before that I could care less about music and care more about finding a family. I don’t want a family I only watch online. I want a family who can talk to me face to face. This is something we don’t get from online church services. I’m sure with Facebook or Twitter there can be some interaction, but I’m not really going to connect with anyone from California by talking to them on Twitter. At least not close enough that I would tell them my inner struggles and conflicts.

Learning new ideas: Pro

With online church services, we can learn a lot by hearing what other people have to teach. In my small town church, I learned one set of beliefs. By listening to podcasts, I was able to hear what other pastors had to say and what they believed. One summer I listened to sermon podcasts from various churches every day. I grew so much because of hearing other perspectives and ideas. I think that summer I listened to over 100 sermon podcasts from one church, and over 50 from another church. I heard more spoken about God there than I did at my own church, just by hours alone.

Learning new ideas: Con

Unfortunately, while the Internet allows us to share ideas, not all of them are good. In fact, some of the can be quite harmful. Hate speech and poor theology have been invading the church, and anyone with an Internet connection can spread their misinformation. Today, I look back on those ideas that I listened to over that summer and some of it I regret being as attached to as I was. I’m no longer a fan of the preacher who gave the sermons, and sometimes find the things they say to be off base. And without the community of people around me because I listen to this on my own, then I don’t have other people I can contact with, but am on my own to discern things out.

So I’ve shared two ways that I think that online church services can be both helpful and harmful. I still don’t know which side weighs more. What’s your opinion? Have you every taken part in an online service in any way? What were your impressions? Do you think they’re beneficial or not? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Weekly Recap: June 2


This is the Weekly Recap. Each Saturday I share posts that I found to be worthwhile from other writers. I also post a list of the posts I wrote that week in case you missed anything and wanted to catch up. If you want to be notified when new posts are added to the site, you can follow me on Twitter, like my page on Facebook, or sign up for the mailing list and get them in your email by using the sign up form on the right side of the page.

Posts from other writers

Calling all evangelical leaders: Christian hate is trending (speak up!) – Matthew Paul Turner
The amount of hate speech coming out of Christianity is rising and it is time for us to stand up against the hate and shut it down.

Two posts by Zach Hunt from the American Jesus
Politician Preachers
Christians have a tendency to bring politics into the pulpit. But the reason is not always to bring about a better world, but to find a special kind of power.
How Being “Radical” Became A Bad Joke
We love to claim that Christianity is radical. But in our efforts to be radical, we have fallen way short and have made ourselves a joke instead of a passionate effort.

Being A Man: Size Matters – Sonny Lemmons, Prodigal Magazine
Sonny left his job to be a full time father. Others around him told him that was a bad choice for his career. He thinks it was a good idea.

Things That Have Gone Missing Because My Husband is an Atheist – Alise Wright
Alise’s husband left Christianity to become an atheist. A couple of things have changed because of this, and here is a list of what has gone missing in her life because of this.

35 Years in Church and I Still Don’t Know How to Deal to Poverty – Shawn Smucker
We know that poverty is a big problem. We know the church should work to end poverty. But even after 35 years, we still don’t always know what to do.

My posts this week

An incredible sight to see
This month I passed over 1,000 views on my blog, and actually ended at 1,133. This gives me hope that this writing endeavor will actually be worth it.

My father’s fight with ALS: Part 5
This month I’ve been writing a series about my dad’s struggle with ALS. This week I concluded the series with the story of his funeral.

Eight quick book reviews
Instead of taking the time to review each item individually, I wrote some quick reviews of the books I’ve read this year as a part of my 30 book reading goal for 2012.

Goal recap: Eight quick book reviews

If you remember, one of my goals for this year is to read 30 books. I’m lagging a little behind. But I have completed ten books (along with a handful of graphic novels). Today, I’d like to share with you a few short reviews of the books I’ve read this year to give you a hint at the books I’ve been reading. Note: All links to book titles lead to Amazon. If you buy the books from these links, I might get a monetary kickback. That’s the mandatory warning, onto the reviews.

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Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics by Alisa Harris
This is the first book I’ve read in 2012, and I would recommend this book to anyone who is planning to vote this year. Alisa writes about her switch from a mindless one issue voter to someone who sees a spectrum on the political landscape. From her home-schooled conservative family in New Mexico, Alisa heads off to college, joins the young Republicans only to regret it, and ends up as a journalist in New York City defending a person who she never met before because people should be treated with care. It was a quick read, and one I really enjoyed. Click the link above to find it on Amazon.


The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News Revisited by Scot McKnight
Many today believe the gospel is that Jesus died to get us to heaven. But Scot argues that that is a narrow focus, too limited from the whole story. The whole story of the gospel is the Bible, from Israel through Jesus to the church. Taking only one part of this will not tell us the whole story. I have to say, the first half of this book was fantastic, and argued the story very well. Unfortunately, the second half drug on. It felt like unnecessary repetition, but maybe because I got the concept early on, I wasn’t the intended audience. Still it’s worth reading for the view of what the gospel really is, and I would still suggest you pick up the book even if you only read the first few chapters.


Insurrection: To Believe Is Human To Doubt, Divine by Peter Rollins
This book was great. As someone who doubts, Peter states that it’s good, even necessary in order to grow in our faith. Without doubt, we cannot grasp the fullness of Jesus’ experience on the cross as he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” The only way that we can experience fully our faith, is to burn what we have believed to the ground, and begin from the point of doubt. When we have rebuilt, our faith will be better for it.


The Hunger Games Trilogy: (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) by Suzanne Collins
I work in a library and around the time the Hunger Games movie came out there was a huge rush to read these books. I finally got my hands on them, and for the most part I loved them. The first book is amazing, absolutely perfect. The second continues that hot streak ending in a way I didn’t see coming. The third book, even though I knew it would eventually end that way, was a bit of a let down. I can’t describe it, but it just didn’t hit me as well, and I feel the book should have ended slightly sooner than it did. Still, they books are good and I recommend reading them all as a trilogy rather than as separate books. Also, read them in order of you’ll be lost.


God of the Possible: A Biblical Introduction to the Open View of God by Gregory A. Boyd
Open theism is the belief that God does not know everything in the future definitively, but knows every possible option there could be, to put it simply. I’ve been an open theist for a few years, but this book has helped me to really connect everything together. Greg Boyd’s simple read is incredibly concise and to the point, yet still capable of drilling home the points he makes about open theism. I would suggest that everyone in Christianity read this book. It is one of the best theology books I’ve ever read, and one of the easiest to understand as well.


Building a Life Out of Words by Shawn Smucker
This book tells the story of one of my online friend Shawn Smucker, his wife Maile, and their four kids, as they move around the world before finding it necessary to live in his parents basement because of finances. Being this down on your luck might seem like an odd time to stop the job search and focus on a writing career that doesn’t have a promise of paychecks, but it is exactly what he does. If you have ever had a dream to do something that seems like a crazy idea, this books is for you. Read my full review of this book here.


Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan
I first heard about Tom and Atticus while watching Dogs 101 on Animal Planet. They are an amazing duo, an overweight man and a 20 pound miniature Schnauzer, who climb mountains to raise money for charity. So when I found the book I was excited to read the story of their expeditions. What I didn’t expect was how honest and true the telling would be. This book has been a great read, slow at times, quicker in others, but always full of heart. It’s not all about the mountains, a dog, or life in New England, but it is the story of a life spent with someone you enjoy, doing something you enjoy.


7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
The book revolves around the concept of seven. For seven months, Jen and her family will either give up seven things, or limit themselves to seven things. Confused? Allow me to explain more. Their family steps back from the rush, the over advertised, loud and chaotic world in seven areas. This is an amazing book about simplifying. If you enjoyed the The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne, then you will enjoy seeing how a radical change can still be lived in your everyday life. For my full review of this book, click here.

Next up on my list include World War Z, Night, The Eye of the World, From Eternity to Here, and Wisdom Chaser. I’ll post another collection of reviews in a couple of months.

My father’s fight with ALS: Part 5

May is ALS Awareness Month. ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is the disease that killed my father while I was in high school. In his honor, I’m going to share the story of his illness and struggle over the course of this month. There will be five posts, one each Wednesday of May. If his story moves you, please consider donating to the ALS Association as they try and find a cure for this disease. The donation site is found on the right side of this page.

Last Wednesday I shared the story of my father’s last week. Today I tell the story of his funeral. If you want to read the posts from this series, check out the series recap.

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The day of the funeral, my family and I were standing in the lobby of the funeral home. It was still early, but a few people had shown up for the funeral at that point, mostly family and people from church. My Sunday school teacher Brian walked up to me. He informed me that he was my age when his father died, and if I needed anything, I could talk to him. I knew that was true, I mean he was a leader in our church. But I didn’t really know him that well outside of our class, so that was hard for me to want to talk to him. Then again, I didn’t really want to talk to anyone at that point.

After the funeral service, my mom, my grandparents, and I came forward to take one last look at my father. This was the final time I saw him. Sure there are videos and photos that I can look back on, but they aren’t the same. I can no longer touch him and see him personally.  After we took one last look, they closed the lid to the casket and six of my family members went forward to carry the casket. They took him outside the funeral home and placed him inside the hearse. We got in a car that would follow it and many of my family members got into their cars with the little purple funeral flags on the hood. I still can’t see a train of these cars go down the road without remembering what it was like to ride inside that train.

We arrived at the Bradford Cemetary. It sits on a hill about two miles from the house I grew up in. We all parked along the road and go out to find the inevitable six foot deep hole in the ground. My family members pulled him out of the hearse and brought him over to the hole where they laid him on top of a set of straps that he would be lowered into with. It was raining that day, and there was a small canopy set up where my closest family members could stand under while everyone had to use umbrellas. It was as if the sky was weeping along with us that day. Randy said a few more words and we turned around and left him there. I admit it didn’t feel right to just walk away with him out in the air. We didn’t watch as they put him in the ground, so it felt almost as if we were just abandoning him.

After we left the cemetary, we returned to the local YMCA where we had rented the gym in order to have everyone together for a meal. I’ve been to a few dinners after a funeral, they’re never fun. But that day, surrounded by friends and family, never did I feel so alone. I’m sure there were people around me telling me stories and asking me how I was. But I can only remember myself sitting in a chair with no one around. Even the memory of my girlfriend has gone. I know she was with me the whole day, but I cannot remember her being near me at all. Instead, I just remember being alone.

That feeling is one I couldn’t shake for years. It’s the feeling that made me shut off the world, and eventually land me in therapy and the hospital. It took a long time to open up to the reality that he was gone and that life would have to move on. It’s never easy, but it’s necessary.

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These posts have been selections from a book I’m working on. It tells the story from the time my father was diagnosed, through his death, my depression, trip to the hospital, and eventually how I ended up on the other side of grief. I’m working on it as I get the chance, but I hope to have it ready to submit to an agent or publisher by the end of summer. If you’re interested in helping me do edits and reading over it for continuity errors, send me a message or leave a comment and I’ll be in touch.