Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Life Happens When You Aren’t Paying Attention

On Friday, May 27, I walked through the front door of my workplace.  It was quiet, not a soul around except for the company owner.  It’s usually bustling with activity.  He followed me into my office, closed the door, and said, “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  You’ve been here for a long time and you’re like one of the family, but I’ve got to let you go.”  It’s a family owned construction firm.

I’ve been working there for fourteen years, and I’ve been the office manager for, oh, I’d say seven of those – though I realized a long time ago that was just a glorified title.  It made me responsible for a whole lot of stuff without having any real decision making authority.  But it was a good job with good pay and I understood the whole family dynamic.  The owner’s wife was one of the staff.  Can you imagine “managing” the owner’s wife?  It ain’t gonna happen.  She comes in when she wants, does what she wants while she’s there, and leaves when she wants.  How do you manage that?  You don’t manage anyone whose last name is painted on the door and signs the front of the checks.

I’ve worked my butt off for them.  In fact, I worked my butt off for them before I was office manager; before I make good money.  That’s why I got to be the office manager.  I learned every aspect of their business, saved them countless dollars trouble shooting IT problems, implementing new software, taking apart computers and printers and fixing them to go back out into the field.  Any time other employees were out, even for extended periods of time, I stepped in and kept things going.  The last office manager we had before me had a conflict with two of the other employees and they were let go.  I stayed until 7 and 8 p.m. picking up the slack while I watched him walk past me and out the door at 5 p.m. on the dot.  The owner’s wife has a myriad of health issues, not to mention the fact that she’d rather not come in at all most days.  He insisted she be given integral, vital tasks.  Things she taught me to do she now has to call me into her office multiple times per day to get assistance because she doesn’t know how to anymore. 

That hurt; to just be “let go”.  Do you know why I was let go?  Because post divorce, existential crisis, job burnout causes depression.  I wish I had walked away on my own terms.  But no, once again, my stubbornness bites me in the derriere.   I thought I could handle it all.  I did seek counseling and received some antidepressants.  I did go through a bout where I had a horrible time concentrating.  And therein lay the problem.  I thought that since I had been there so long and had proven myself a valuable member of the team and that I really was like a member of the family that I could admit that to my bosses.  I was wrong.  Everyone else there has been through their share of health issues and it’s all worked out okay for them.  The minute I admitted fallibility they no longer trusted my numbers.  I became a liability.

I learned some very valuable lessons through that.  Not the least of which is:  just because someone tells you you’re like a member of the family doesn’t mean you are.  They’ve caught one of the actual family members sleeping on the job in his truck while the workers were, well, working.  His last name is painted on the door.  He’s still there.  The owner’s wife plays solitaire while everybody else is picking up her slack because she has vital tasks that are date sensitive and she can’t quite remember how to do them anyway.  She’s still there. 

I did learn that they had already replaced me with someone who was in need of a job who was a close, family friend.  I think there might be more to the story than I really know.  The new office manager is a man.  This has always been a good ole boy system.  So part of the problem is that I didn’t have the right plumbing for the job.  I wasn’t hard enough on the “girls”.  A man could do that better.  Can’t wait til he’s hard on the owner’s wife.  That’ll go over like a lead balloon.  The trick to that job is to make her like you, because if she doesn’t you’re done for.   It pays to know the family politics.

When he told me I was fired I was shocked.  I wasn’t expecting that at all.  Devastated was more like it.  But I didn’t let it show.  I just smiled politely and said,  “I’m sorry you feel that way.  I’m sorry it’s worked out like this.  Thank you for the opportunity.”  I packed my things and left.  I went home, cried for a while, and fell asleep.  When I woke up Saturday morning I felt this utter sense of relief.  Timing is everything.  Sometimes you just have to know when it’s time to move on.  The job had become more stressful than I think I had realized.  I was looking for a job when I found that one and I have a skill set that will enable me to find another. 

I’ve just taken a little vacation from real life.  I haven’t posted much, haven’t read much and just generally have been relaxing.  But it’s time to get back to real life.  Life happens when you aren’t paying attention.  Sometimes it sneaks right up on you and says, “Boo!”.  Things happen and some of them are in your control and some of them aren’t.  The real measure of you’re character is how you deal with them.   


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What Are We Really Fighting About?

Doug B. over at Groping the Elephant inspired this post by positing some very thought provoking ideas.  Namely that our religious convictions cause us to do evil things to each other.  We try to enforce our religious ideas on others. He’s not wrong.  But underneath all that I wonder, is that what we’re really fighting about? Religion?

Here’s the quote from his post that really made me think about this:

The idea of dividing the family of humans into various religious sects is not a good one, and has only brought wars and strife from the beginning. If we must satisfy a need to convert or turn over a new leaf, I would like to see more of a commitment to basic humanism, the placing of human considerations above those of an invisible deity.

Again, I agree with his sentiment.  Religion is divisive.  It makes us against them.  But is it really the religion which is divisive or is it underlying ideals?  You see, when I back up from scripture and from religion – all religion- I’m wondering if there’s something more to this.  If we could remove religion completely, as if it never existed, would we not be divided about something else? Would we not still be, tribally, us against them?

I look in our own country, the US, and I see division.  Not so much on religious issues, but on principals.  Capitalism vs. Socialism.  Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Libertarians vs. Independents.  These are not all religious issues.  I look to the Middle East and I see division over a line in the dirt between nations.  I see conflict over liquid gold, crude oil, and I see dollar signs that equal greed.  I see oppressive governments and protests by citizens who are tired of being oppressed.  I look to the past and see the Crusades and believe that the underlying issue was political.

Am I endorsing religion?  Not on your life!  I see it as a means to an end.  Just as in the stories of Moses, the leaders needed conveyed authority from a deity to impose rule over the people, so it has been through the ages.  The issue is this:  people who are in authority have a tendency to abuse that authority.  As Doug B. so aptly points out, people are willing to follow authority.  The problem is, and I’m as guilty as anyone, people don’t think critically about where their loyalties lie.  People in authority have no qualms about foisting their ideals on the people and using a deity to undergird their position. 

It is abuse of power.  Which came first?  Did God create man or did man create God with an agenda in mind?  What better way to manipulate to achieve your agenda than to have a following believe that the particular agenda is God ordained?  “God said this is my dirt”.  “God said I should have what I want”.  Man starts with a personal desire and then manipulates things in his own mind such that some magical sky god endorses and convinces others of the same. 

Look at Hitler.  He tried to extinguish the Jews.  He also used religion as a means to do so.  Who believes that was what it was really about?  Now the Christians don’t want to claim him because of his atrocities, and who can blame them?  But what came first?  His racist tendencies or a belief that a god of some sort was telling him to extinguish those of another race?

What are we really fighting about?  Are we really fighting over religion and trying to force others into that religion?  Or are we really fighting over control and authority?


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What’s In a Word?

I’ve seen raging debates all across the internet and even in my facebook newsfeed about which version of the Bible is the correct one.  Which translation meets the criteria for being categorized as divinely inspired and which ones don’t.  These debates are usually surrounding the Authorized King James Bible of 1611.

Proponents of the King James Bible of 1611 usually hold that it is the only divinely inspired translation. Though there are multiple translations into the English language that have come after, most of which claim to be closer to the original Greek.  Just one tiny problem.  We don’t have the original manuscripts.  In order to maintain divine inspiration we’re told it doesn’t matter that we don’t have the originals.  There were many copies, all close enough in edit, that we can know what the originals said.  Any discrepancies are likely copyist error.

But did you know that the original King James Bible of 1611 was full of marginal notes?  Marginal notes that indicated there could be several meanings of a word translated into English from Greek?  Somewhere along the way someone decided that those marginal notes were unnecessary.  They picked the most likely meaning and went with it.  Because much prayer and thoughtfulness went into the original KJV of 1611 that the translators didn’t want to mislead, they thought it prudent to include those side notes. Huh.  How about that.  They didn’t think they were the purveyors of all truth and wisdom.

And what about these other translations?  There’s the NIV, NLT, ESV, NAS, GWT, KJV, AKJV, ASV, BBE, DBY, DRB, WEB, and the YTL.  I’m sure I’ve missed a few. That’s eleven, count ’em, eleven translations.  Apparently there’s a lot in a word.  Apparently we don’t know what the words are.  Because, if we did, we wouldn’t need eleven plus translations to convey them.  Then there are individuals who have Bibles.  There’s the Scofield Study Bible, The MacArthur Study Bible, and The Ryrie Study Bible.  That’s just to name a few.  Because apparently these folks have it all figured out.

You and I are supposed to be convinced that God somehow preserved his word over thousands of years?  Which one?  Proponents of various translations think theirs is the best, just like their particular brand of Christianity.  The original Hebrew was translated into Greek and Aramaic. Not a chance something went wrong there. ::sarcasm::  Then all of this was translated into Latin.  Nope, no way there could be an error. ::more sarcasm::  Then this was all translated into English and various other languages.  I don’t see how anything could possibly go awry. ::dripping sarcasm::  None of this even accounts for the fact that, as far as the English language goes, there are nuances to the original terms that we can’t possibly even express.  Still, I can’t get away from that tiny little problem of not even having the originals.

And what of copyist errors?  And what of forgeries and interpolations?  We’re told to believe that minor copyist errors don’t change the original meaning of the text.  Don’t we all know that even changing one little letter in one single word in a sentence can change the entire meaning? Here’s an old joke that’s been around for ages:

A man sends a letter back to his wife while he’s on a business trip in a tropical locale saying, “The weather’s nice and I’m having a great time.  Wish you were her.”

What’s in a word?  You tell me.