Exhausting? Who am I to complain?

After devouring every book on humanism and atheism that I could get my hands on over the last 5 years, I have lost my perspective completely on how dismally uncreative my detractors’ arguments and barbs have always been.  The bright and shiny Christian friends I cherish disappoint me with their impoverished sense of wonder about the way humanists and non Christians think.

The questions that arise from college educated, middle class Americans who have access to as much information as I ever enjoyed, are self-made victims of the atrophy that sets in when we graduate college and thus give up reading.

I do not mean to smugly assert that my point of view is beyond the sphere of debate, for it certainly is not.  The unpleasant reality is that I have come to the table seeking a great exchange of compelling words and the chair opposite me is empty.  The arguments marshalled out for the last ten years in response to atheism’s watershed decade of bestsellers are tired ones and maybe they have given their last useful effort like the horse in the end of True Grit.   Come on Christians.  Get off the dead horse and finish this mission on foot.

The questions I received on Facebook are classic face palm arguments.  The phrasing changes but the query stays the same, much to the effect of “you seem to be angry/warring against something you do not believe exists/isn’t it exhausting?”

Well, I didn’t think so.  I will forgive the ad hominen attack about my perceived anger.  I might be as happy as a lark, you see…rubbing lotion on a beautiful woman and then pausing for a moment to make an off handed remark about culture wars.  I do so with a smile because perhaps I love debate.  Perhaps I subscribe to the advice, “be ruthless with ideas but gentle with people.”  I try to do this, in earnest I truly do.

The logic of the rest question is pitiful.  I am not warring against any god nor am I turning my back or hardening my heart towards him as I have been known to do with Taylor Swift.  I am clearly raising objections to the gamut of small to major developments in our culture wars.  From Chick Fil A to Rick Santorum, from Tim Tebow to Tel Aviv.  I am a witness to history.  My peon point of view may be just that.  But I am trying.  I am bringing a water baloon to an inferno of clashing concepts littering the media.  I just want to do my part.

I was asked if my supposed “rage” is exhausting.  The smear of a question was brought to me via a man who has served in Iraq and has seen a good bit more of the world than I have, or will.  My rage is not emotionally driven, and if it is exhausting I have a way to deal with it.  I remind myself that those living during the Civil Rights movement were obligated by their conscience to put things right.  Some gave all they had.  But there were some bit players who used their limited opportunities to make small ripples.  When enough of them chipped in, fairness and equality were honored.

My atheist burden is not a burden.  How can I complain even if it were?  I have one life to live and as the Hitch said, death will offer a reprieve of this burden and allow plenty of time for silence.  It’s time to be loud.  It’s time to speak your mind and heart.  Being spanked to tears and ritually shamed by having to strip for a parent’s delightful spanking routine is exhausting for a twelve year old girl somewhere in Tennessee who’s dad is a deacon in a small Lutheran church.  He believes it to be God’s will and the debate is over before it begins.  Or the boy who is beaten senseless because he wonders aloud what kissing a boy might be like.  The churches that deny membership rights and benefits to interracial couples make for an exhausting ordeal.  My burden is like a fanny pack in Chinatown.  It may be dorky and repellant but I find it practical to help me take in my visit to this strange and bewildering world. Exhausting?  Maybe for those in Indonesia who are jailed for it.  But my strong hatred for religious sensibilities is strengthened by the killing of the American Ambassador.  And besides that, a boy younger than twelve years old was beheaded for blasphemy in one of those detestable Middle Eastern cities last week.  Oh wait, who cares about that boy being beheaded?  Why rage against that if Allah is not real?  Why be upset at a god who doesn’t exist.  Perhaps, you fucking morons, it is because when fucked up ideas take root in the otherwise not fucked up minds of otherwise not fucked up people, they do fucked up things.  Exhausted?  Who am I to complain.

I have lived through some educational and emotional mishandling.  I cry foul when I see the religious community infringe on the happiness of others, insofar as to threaten their dreams, like getting married to a same sex life partner.


Progress of a Certain Kind

About 8 days ago I thought I would begin a juice fast.  I stepped on the scale and saw 274.  I needed a severe action, something to help me draw a line in the sand.  But what to do?  Starving myself wouldn’t work long term.  I decided to go ahead with a juice fast and within about six days I lost a whopping 8.5 pounds.  Then the hard part.  I put two back on.  Now I am barely 5 pounds better off than I was.  As I hover at 269 I wake up with dread.  What if I step on the scale and see 270 again?

I wanted to put the 270’s in my rear view mirror forever.  I hiked, swam and jogged like crazy this week–often coming home drenched in sweat.  My few cheats have come in the form of a handful of almonds and other healthy fare.  I had a couple gummy bears the other day.

Tomorrow when I wake up I may see that I ran through this wall and lost a pound or so.  I might see 266 or hell, even 265.  Maybe the plateau is over and the dramatic results will resume.  Maybe when I speak in Lynchburg on the 29th I will be in the 250’s.  I would hope so.  But for now, I am happy with the progress I do have, namely a lot more energy. The crowd will get a more energetic speech, for sure.

My eyes and mind feel clear.  The hiking has helped me find a peace and hone in on it and how beautiful nature is.  It was while hiking I remembered that this planet is a beautiful thing and something I should be taking care of.  True glory isn’t found in heaven on my face before a war god.  It is standing knee deep in a creek surrounded by little waterfalls.  The stillness of the beauty of nature is an amazing thing.  While God in the Bible commands us to conquer the earth and dominate it, dominate animals and such, I find a happiness and purpose in ignoring that.  I love hiking while teaching my son not to leave garbage behind and we try to respect all the beauty around us.  The burn in my thighs while hiking reminds me I am taking an action to correct myself.  The sting in my arms while swimming reminds me I am making an effort.  I slipped into an old pair of jeans with little difficulty last night, I know I am reshaping my body.  So many things remain outside of my control but I know with this hiking routine I am doing what little I can.  It helps.

Tomorrow I resume a more stringent juice diet with some raw spinach and watermelon for dessert.  I will probably walk or jog since today was my big workout.  Think of me and send your encouragement as you can find it in your heart to do so because I want to be healthy and fit.  I remember how enthusiastically I would yank my wife’s towel down when we first got married.  Her body was (and is) a work of art and a playful thing to behold. It has always been a one way street.  She is sexy and fun and my body has been thus far kind of disgusting.  Even five pounds down, she has noticed and has been a big encouragement.  I hope to post before and after photos here and they should be coming along in the coming days.

who cares?

Today something very sad happened.  My neighbor, we can call her Anne, was evicted.  Anne was at work and received a phone call to come home to her townhouse right away.  When she arrived, her belongings had been strewn across the lawn and people were rummaging around through them.  Her television was stolen, to name one.  Girls were spotted down the street wearing Anne’s clothes which had been basically dumped over the balcony.

I was about to take Liam and Laura out for dinner and I saw this pathetic sight–Anne kneeling on all fours looking discouraged and thoroughly exhausted from crying.  Her friend Tamara was there.  They were trying desperately to bag some clothes and important things up off the ground.  How embarrassing it was for them to see thongs and bras halfway out to the sidewalk.

I parked the car and my whole family jumped into confused action.  I sent Laura to get Glad bags and Liam helped me pick up some clothes off the ground.  We spent an hour or so with Anne and Tamara.  I used bungee cords to stabilize a mattress and a boxspring to the roof of my van.  I drove their stuff to Tamara’s apartment.

Anne and Tamara are both black and seemed a little surprised that a white guy with a beard and longish hair came over to help.  First they thought I was there to pick through their stuff and maybe steal it.  They were hugging me and thanking me by the end.

Drenched in sweat, I said my goodbyes.  Then I said to Anne, “My dad had a big heart.  When  I saw you there on your knees it made me think about my dad.  He would have stopped and rushed to help.  I guess I am the same way.  We have to help each other and believe in each other during these tough times you know? My dad gave me that van in his will.  He died a couple years back.  I am glad that in some small way it’s like he was there helping.”

I called my mom and shared this story with her.  She quipped, “did you tell the ladies he was a pastor?”  Well, no.  I had forgotten to.  Or had I?  Did it matter?  I didn’t tell Anne I was an author.  I didn’t tell Tamara that I sleep naked, or that I like purple Listerine.  I don’t even know what Anne does, except she has a job.  And two daughters who nearly saw the whole tragic scene in the lawn–from their school bus.  They would have a hard time living that down, for sure.  They might have been traumatized.  Their sense of security would have crumbled as they saw their Disney-themed underpants  lying on the ground next to their dirty stuffed animals.  How sad that would have been!

So no, I didn’t tell them my dad was a pastor.  My mom, bless her heart, loves my dad’s memory but she misses the point on this occasion, I think.  My dad would have stopped his car and helped in his twenties and thirties.  He wasn’t a pastor then.  He might have done it for them out of a love for God but he believed that a person only loves God as much as he loves people…if that makes sense.  It did for him.  He had a huge heart full of love for people who deserved compassion and even some that didn’t.

If I drove back to Tamara’s apartment tonight and knocked on her door, I could imagine the scene.  “I forgot to tell you, my dad was a pastor.”  Who cares?  If anything, that might make her wonder, “if he’s a pastor I guess that is his job to do that.”  It means more to receive a kindness from an average joe, sometimes.  I was just a joe in a beater van tonight.  I stopped and helped with no thought of being compensated.  Crazy thing–a friend of Tamara followed me to the van and slipped me FIFTY DOLLARS, which is a lot of money to me right now.  I tried like hell to refuse, honest I did.  She said, “you are a good person.  I have a lot of money, please take it and live your life.”  I plan to!  I can get some healthy food instead of another 65 cent can of store brand Chef Boyardee knock offs.  Times are tight on everyone it seems and my finances are in the toilet.  Fifty bucks really puts a smile on my face and overall, it was a great night.

Anne faces a world of challenges now she has been kicked out of her home.  When she was on all fours, I couldn’t help but notice that from between her breasts slipped an enormous cross on a silver chain.  Her faith in Jesus may or may not be well placed but nobody in town stopped to help her–only rob her.  The only one who showed up to help was me, the hard core atheist, my five year old son who worships Lego Batman, and my wife who hasn’t gone to church since I can’t remember.  Dozens of Christians (based on the number of bumper stickers I saw) live in that building and throughout the day did NOTHING.  I don’t mean to put myself on a pedestal but I am just a nice guy with a van.  If we all open our eyes maybe we will think twice before speeding past people like Anne having a meltdown in a pile of bras and panties and broken furniture.  People like Anne deserve dignity and our compassion.  Anne is a human being, a mother and a hard worker.  She fell behind, and she paid  dearly.  As a good humanist, it is my charge to love and take care of her.  I hope she gets a good man in her life, maybe the father of her children (or someone else) to help her because it is hard out there.  In any case, I cannot imagine the evening going much different if I had mentioned that my father was a pastor.  I don’t revere his legacy as a pastor–but I revere his memory as being a great man.  He stopped his car to help turtles cross the street.  He drew pictures for kids in hospitals.  He was a great guy and by using his van, I really did feel like he was there kind of doing his thing along side me and my son.  I loved my dad and he loved me but no–his job had little bearing on how he would have responded to the scene I witnessed.   *the picture above is not an actual picture from the scene and I use it with no intention of copyright infringement on someone else’s photograph.  It merely reminded me of what I saw most accurately. Thanks.*

Too Perfect

tims poster

Richard Dawkins’ most downloaded clip on YouTube is of course, his famous visit to Randolph college.  There, he blasted Liberty University and encouraged LU students to attend a “proper university.”  His visit sparked a lot of debates on campus at Liberty the next day, as one might expect.  I didn’t catch the good doctor at Randolph.  I only heard about all this in my Christian Evidences class at LU.

If it were not for Dawkins visit, Dr. Foreman might have never taken ten minutes of class time to explain who Dawkins was.  He might not have read some pages from the God Delusion.  He might not have mentioned Sam Harris.  You see, that ten minute foray into the evils of atheism is what started my trajectory towards becoming who I am today.

The hangups, quirks, shame and guilt of Christianity covered me like barnacles on the hull of  a ship.  One does not merely wash barnacles off with Palmolive.  Dawkins and Harris helped me work through the monotonous and tedious lies I had been indoctrinated with for the previous 20 years.

My upcoming talk in September has been moved from its original location, CVCC, to Randolph College.  This is quite amazing, on a personal level.  My journey towards atheism truly began at Randolph, when you think about it…

I couldn’t be happier and I plan to have a great evening there.  I encourage you all to attend if you can.


Attention Seeking Behavior


There are times when I get around people and forget that I am a part of the group.  I become self-aware and start clowning.  Older and more mature friends of mine see through this and love the real me, hurting and skeptical, hiding beneath the clown mask.  I have put many friends through awkward and embarrassing times.

I still manage to make myself look terrible in social settings, overly eager to get attention.  I don’t mean to blame everything on my parents or homeschooling, but if I ever hope to change and be more humble–I have to be realistic about who I am at this time of my life.

I am a lonely person.  I had friends in Lynchburg and even in North Carolina I made some great friends right before moving.  I will be making contact with the Think Atheist crowd in Maryland this week and I hope to meet some people there with whom I can get along.

Twitter and Facebook are a blast but can be toxic for attention seeking people like myself.  This is why I don’t do much on Twitter.  Twitter has a way of making me believe that strangers are sitting around waiting for me to enlighten them or show them new truths. Facebook is almost as bad.  I hardly have a life outside of it though, and I go months without seeing acquaintances let alone friends.  I go through normal routines of work, eat, work, watch TV, sleep, stress about finances, repeat.

I am hoping to bust out of this rut and enjoy spending quality family time with my wife and son, getting my priorities straight and living more confidently in my own skin.

In the last month I have finished editing Preacher Boy and I believe this version will be more readable and more effective than its previous incarnation.  I have no right to ask for positive reviews on Amazon when the typos are so distracting.  I know that my creative powers come out of my heart, which has been in a bad place recently.  When I get my life together, my comedy and writing gets better, my whole family seems better off.  I guess the message is, don’t worry so much about getting attention and validation!  You know what you can do to make your life better, even if it has to be broken up into small steps.  Maybe you get a vasectomy, take a vacation, paint a picture, buy a mountain bike, go skinnydipping–just take an action and let the pieces fall where they may.

The new me is a much less inhibited person because I am exhausted from trying to please everyone.  My misery and loneliness is the greatest common denominator and the one constant in all the equations.  If I am made to feel like a bad person for perceived attitudes, I will express the attitudes directly.  The world will have to do a little bit less digging to find out where I am coming from.

Lastly, my “spiritual” journey I am on right now has everything to do with boundaries and fairness.  For twenty years, my response to compliments has been, “all glory to God.  Praise God!”  I was just the means to God’s end.  I knew that in my own body nothing good existed.  Now an atheist, it is hard to take compliments or accept affection.  The shame issues are deeply rooted.  I tend to doubt people’s kindness.  My goal of being level headed about success and positive feedback is mired and mucked up in my innate self loathing and bitterness.  But are they really innate?  No.  They were put there.  By parents and religion and the culture I grew up in.  A girl told me I looked cute the other day and I couldn’t even say thanks.  Now I want to walk up and say thanks and give her a big hug.  She was being nice.  Now I just have to learn to be nice to myself without accusing myself of being an attention-whore (see above pic).  I deserve attention.  I deserve love.  I deserve these things because I am a kind and loving person.  I am not perfect but I am not a filthy wretch deserving of eternity in hell, like I believed until 4 years ago.  I am something much better.  And so are you.

SEPT 29 2012

It is almost a guarantee that I will be speaking in Lynchburg, VA on Septbember 29th.  There is no charge, there are no tickets to order.

This little event will take place at CVCC and be open to the public, even LU students are encouraged to attend.  I plan to be on my A game, and give a spirited talk about the New Fundies, who use their Christopagan mystical understanding of Christianity as doggedly as any Baptist uses real fundamentalism.  The real fundamentalist experience is a state of mind…

I hope you will all turn out for this special evening.  The person who travels the greatest distance to attend will be rewarded.

I will have the newly edited version of my book Preacher Boy for sale afterward for a brief book signing.  I hope to see you there,

More details to come soon!



Book tease

I will begin penning a rewrite of Preacher Boy with a much higher quality typeset and overall editing.  I will add about 4 chapters including a new intro and epilogue. 

This will replace Preacher Boy as we know it.  The changes are for the best.  However, a funny book is coming together in my mind which will be a series of short essays.  Books strain the ADD in me, so this will be a mash up of punchy and quotable potpourri for the critical drinker.  

To The Voluntarily Offended

Many Christians perusing popular atheist fodder on facebook pages or twitter feeds become uniformly upset and disgusted at the irreverent content they find. It is easy for the atheist community to forget the feelings of hurt that accompany blasphemy. This much is true.  Perhaps this is why my own facebook page and other outlets have become a little bit tamer over the last year.  I have Christian friends and loved ones whose feelings I put ahead of my own at times.

That said, there is something kind of flattering and hopeful about this situation for the Christian, if he only looks closely.

1.  “ATHEISTS ARE SMUG ASSHOLES WHO CASUALLY INSINUATE THAT I AM CRAZY”  Yes, sometimes the Ricky Gervais style of faith-bashing lumps millions of otherwise average Americans into a great messy heap of morons.

2.  Why are they so frustrated?  Why so determined to shake my faith?  This is best explained by turning the question backwards.  Why are Christians so hellbent on sharing their faith for decades with prodigal family members?  They will argue along the lines of,”you would understand if you knew how liberating this lifestyle is, how good God is” etc. Well….for those of us who have gone through religious abuse and psychologically draining experiences encountering Satan and his minions–it sure is a relief to find out we can move on with our lives.  But is it easy?  Is it really a relief?  For some it is far from it!

Humor and snarky sarcasm is a way for some people to move on from the bitterness and hate they were burdened with.  It may not be the most healthy and respectful way for them to find peace, but it can be therapeutic.  The offenders online may well be surrounded in real life with religious zealots, often in their own families and workplaces.  The internet may be the one place they can rip a blasphemous brain fart and not be embarrassed.  It may be the best, last or only arena for self expression.

Christians enjoy such popularity in the States, they needn’t hide quite as much.  Their beliefs are widely upheld in the court of public opinion, and if what happened in North Carolina signifies anything–the real courts as well.  Gay marriage is under attack as are the rights of women.  The GOP holds the religious right in a trance.  Things are changing to even the playing field but overall, I see a lot of Christian jewelry and symbolism everywhere I look.  An atheist bumper sticker may as well read, “please dislike me.”  Atheists often feel put-upon but are perceived as shrill instigators and egghead pricks.

Lastly, people of any religious persuasion know a lost cause when they see one.  I don’t lose sleep over my neighbor’s values.  He is a grown man and not likely to change based on  a chat with me.  Some people are searchers, others think they found something. If you are a Christian and an atheist is hounding you to look at your faith–be flattered!  This person doesn’t really think you are crazy, he thinks you are reason-driven and intelligent.  He believes you can study the Bible and find it to be lacking in the areas you find it so rich.  He thinks you are capable of abstract thought.  He believes in your ability to be open-minded.  He has hope for you, in some sense, changing your life for what he thinks is the better.  He may be dead wrong, perhaps Jesus is the only way.  But at least he is trying to show you his brand of love and conviction.  When someone does this in an earnest and respectful way, it is a beautiful thing.  When he is just another dick on the internet–just block him or try to look the other way.  Whatever you do, don’t assume he doesn’t care for you.  These internet bullies can be the nicest people sometimes, they will buy you coffee and talk to you all night long.  I know I will.  I am always up for a speaking invite and always will be.

I will be speaking in Lynchburg, VA for the first time since Preacher Boy was published.  I will update when I have the exact dates and times but for now I know it will be in September or October.

Peace and Love


The Reason Rally

March 24–The Reason Rally in Washington DC is being promoted as a kind of Woodstock for atheists and skeptics.  I hope to meet deconverted people there en masse!  I feel nervous about going because so many people there are going to be bashing religion and making “friends” based on a sense of victimhood and shared prejudice towards Christians.

That said, others will be there looking for a good time.  I will be there with a big bag of books to distribute!  Shameless publicity hounding?  You decide!

I hope to meet as many people as I can and make some friends.  One day perhaps I will be more involved with the Rally.


I have begun working on a 2nd book called FUNDIE: how fundamentalism splinters lives, families and communities.  i may tweak the title but this book will be a superior read to Preacher Boy and more topical.




The First and Last Rung on the Ladder

Have you heard the phrase “emergent church?”  If you haven’t, you are probably living a very satisfying atheist life or perhaps just living under a rock.

Over the last eight years or so, a significant contingent of young Christian evangelicals have become absolutely disgusted by the faith.  Somewhere along the line their close ties with the “world” came to mean something.  Going to bitter baptist churches and hearing about the secular world in harsh terms got old.

Liberal Christians live with a little discomfort with the Bible, and of course inherited some anti-gay, anti-sex attitudes in their youth.  In 2012, a lot of thirty year old men and women do NOT want to go to a stuffy church and hear the tired cliches of the pulpit.

The throngs of disenfranchised church goers want to go to a Starbucksy, hipster friendly place where black guys look like they do on commercials for expensive electronics: skinny jeans, vests, Buddy Holly glasses and bowties.  They want white preachers who preach barefoot in pretorn jeans and have highlights.  Maybe they wear “guyliner” to accentuate eye contact.

The praise music should sound like Coldplay-Black Keys-Matthews Band.  Design tends to be minimalistic and weird, like a mish mash of celtic shit with scribbly post modern shit too.

These churches have coffee *though not free* and a fresh feeling of “authenticity.”  The name of the church should sound like a new club, like the Place, the Rock, the Atrium, the Aperture, the Narthex…

The preacher normally says something like, “we are just doing life together.  Christianity is a relationship.  This church isn’t the building y’all.”


Over the last ten years there have been thousands of “relevant” style churches like described above.  The EMERGENT church is DIFFERENT.  At relevant churches, you might see some bra straps showing and tight pants here and there but the casual crowd still carries around the same fucking Bible under the arm.  The same verses.  The same dogma.  They just don’t talk about it.  They won’t argue against it or be embarrassed of it outwardly, they just focus on pop psychology-friendly Dr. Phil fodder from the pulpit.

The EMERGENT CHURCH is indeed different in that regard.  These people are willing to put the Bible back on the shelf and openly question whether much of it is true, or for today, or what have you.  They take “moratoriums” on casual sex, homosexuality, abortion, and other things which are traditionally frowned upon by the faithful.

The popular voice of this movement is a close tie between Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, if not Donald Miller.  Rob Bell is public enemy number one among the ultraconservative Baptist crowd.  Bell’s doctrine is reliable as a mesh condom.

Bell wrote a new book recently called, “Love Wins” which sneakily posits the idea that hell is simply a metaphor or perhaps hell is what we make for ourselves in this life.  Heaven is a state of mind.  Bell writes like a man fed up with Christianity but without the balls to turn to the dark side of atheism.

The Emergent Church is praised in the West Coast because it is the “first rung” of the ladder for people who are seeking truth on their spiritual quest.  It is praised because it is the last rung people clutch onto when they fall off the ladder!   Bitter, disaffected Christians who haven’t read their Bible in five months mingle with unsaved people.  Balding guys with glasses and an iPad fresh out of Panera Bread mingle with girls who were on Girls Gone Wild the weekend before.  Jesus is the Buddy Christ, and Truth is relative.

Anyone who has encountered some fall out from denying Christ publicly must feel a bit cheated when others join the damn Emergent Church.  It is a pussified way to leave the church.  Everyone knows that the Emergent Church is to Real Church what Coke Zero is to an XXXL-Triple Thick Chocolate Shake with whipped cream and a sidecar of Jack Daniels.  The content is bereft of real meaning and void of truth claims.  The Playboy Channel’s “Nude Yoga Spotlight with Bree” segment has more spirituality.  And maybe that is the problem with America.

This country’s left leaning young people are obsessed with the ambient, phony, weak-tea spiritual fuzziness but abhor taking a stand for doctrine.  They carry the Bible to church on Sunday morning but go grab a beer and rent an R rated comedy like the Hangover 2 for Sunday evening’s entertainment.  When the real Christians who allow the Bible to influence their lives (a little bit) see this, they call “hypocrite!”  It is a douche move, but a valid observation.  The Bible does not describe a Christianity that coexists very well with blatant secularism.    Christians should look like “aliens and foreigners” according to Peter.  Strangers in the land.  Paul called Christians a “peculiar people.”  Jesus said, “they will hate you.”  I am sick of people who bask in the light of secular reason go off to church on Sunday morning and tell the world that there is something of worth going on at these Emergent churches.  To all Emergent people out there…GET A LIFE.  GET LAID.  Fucking grow up ?  You are all a bunch of milquetoast single people who hate Jerry Falwell and James Dobson and you realize you cannot get a date to get into your car with all your Christian shit bumper stickers on it.  You just want to be happy.  It’s called LEAVE THE FAITH.  Make it decisive.  Make it count.  Stop falling off the ladder or wasting your life trying to climb it.  Whether the Emergent thing is the beginning of your “search” or the last thing you could cling on to before hitting rock bottom, let me tell you…the bottom is where it’s at!  Just let yourself go.  The ladder is a lie.