Good Friday Brain Droppings, 2020 Edition

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If Jesus’ demise is construed merely as a death — even as a painful, tortured death — the crucial point will be lost. Crucifixion was specifically designed to be the ultimate insult to personal dignity, the last word in humiliating and dehumanizing treatment. Degradation was the whole point.

Crucifixion as a means of execution in the Roman Empire had as its express purpose the elimination of victims from consideration as members of the human race. It cannot be said too strongly: that was its function. It was meant to indicate to all who might be toying with subversive ideas that crucified persons were not of the same species as either the executioners or the spectators and were therefore not only expendable but also deserving of ritualized extermination. Therefore, the mocking and jeering that accompanied crucifixion were not only allowed, they were part of the spectacle and were programmed into it. In a sense, crucifixion was a form of entertainment. Everyone understood that the specific role of the passersby was to exacerbate the dehumanization and degradation of the person who had been thus designated to be a spectacle. Crucifixion was cleverly designed — we might say diabolically designed — to be an almost theatrical enactment of the sadistic and inhumane impulses that lie within human beings. According to the Christian gospel, the Son of God voluntarily and purposefully absorbed all of that, drawing it into himself.

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And now a perspective from the Phoenix Preacher:

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We in the church are faced with both the greatest crisis and greatest opportunity of my lifetime. We have the opportunity to demonstrate to a culture that has rejected us what the love of God looks like in action. We can drop our temporal political and denominational differences and represent Christ in our homes and in our circles of influence. We can work together to share the Gospel and alleviate suffering.Maybe…maybe…this pandemic isn’t a leftist plot to take down Trump, but a God ordained opportunity to build us up in one, holy, faith…maybe…they will know us by our love…I’m praying…

phoenixpreacher.com, “Things I Think”, March 16, 2020

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Obligatory Pious-Sounding Lent Post, 2020 Edition

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Yesterday was Ash Wednesday. The beginning of what we devout types refer to as Lent, the six week period leading up to Easter. Basically, a time of fasting and abstinence from something that’s considered important to them. Sometimes it’s something obvious, like chocolate, or television, or even avoiding the internet somehow. Nowadays, swearing off the internet for 40 days is equal to, if not worse than, swearing off sex for a perpetual horn-dog. I wouldn’t know anything about that later part.

“What are you giving up for Lent?” That’s a question that I’ve come across with less frequency than back when I was in primary and high school. But it does pop up every year. I’ve never really participated in the abstinence part of Lent growing up, despite growing up in a Methodist-based family. Later, after I began my ongoing post-Evangelical wilderness wanderings, my answer would be, “I gave up Lent for Lent.” Ha ha, funny. Pause for laughter. Such wit.

Personally, this year I believe it would be beneficial for me to instead use the time to study the Scriptures, expand my knowledge through books and studies, instead of “giving something up.” I’m doing this all the time; I just want to focus more on this during the Lenten period, rather than distract myself with other pursuits. That’s not to say that I won’t take the time to take in a movie or actually do something to enjoy life. I’m not pious, you know.

For others, to give up something during this time of reflection on the ministry of Jesus, His road leading up to the cross, His death and resurrection, would be beneficial. For me, what I detailed is what I’m going to be focusing on mainly during the next 39 days. Everything I’ve already scheduled to be posted won’t be changed–I’d hate to disrupt the ongoing 366 Days Of Metal thing–but I’ll definitely get back to things after Easter Sunday. Cheers, all, and don’t overdo it on the Cadbury Eggs…

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Darker Musings…

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Images flashing in my brain: Me placing the business end of a pistol in my mouth, chewing on the cold metal, tasting the oil and metallic tang; numb emotionally, pausing, savoring the eternity between now and when my finger rests on the trigger…one question remains, do I close my eye? Or do I leave them open to see what happens after my brains are splattered behind me? Sweet, instantaneous oblivion, or will there be a lingering couple of seconds as reality melts away from my sight? I shall never know…

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OBLIGATORY YEAR-END POST: 2019 Edition

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2019-2020
So, here we are, the end of not only another year, but another decade. They seem to go by so fast now, especially after I’ve made it over the hill, so to speak. May have something to do with the downhill momentum. Or something like that.
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In case you’re wondering if I’m going to do that thing everyone’s doing on social media where they post a picture of themselves ten years ago, and one of them now, no. I’m not doing that. For one thing, I don’t have any pictures of me back that far (I’m not a picture person, though I’m sure someone from my family or friends have one), and really there’s no need to compare how I am now versus where I was ten years ago. Let’s just say, I’m not the same person I was ten years ago. Heck, I’m not even the same person I was five years ago. Or even a year ago, one could argue. Though some similarities remain from then. Ergo, the year end review. Because nobody demanded it.
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I began the Year of Our Lord, Twenty-Nineteen, on a generally cautious optimistic mood: I had been back at work since the day after Christmas 2018 after several months on long-term disability due to a medical procedure needed done on my right foot. I spent New Years Eve like I normally do, by picking up the Admiral’s Feast from Red Lobster for takeout after work, then slapping it into “B” for “Boogie” and split back to my domicile at the Haunted Victorian to eat my seafood feast and call it a year in the peaceful dark solitude, far away from the crowds and drunken idiots on the streets.
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I had taken all of the music reviews and band-related interviews from this normal blog of mine (the one you’re reading) and posted them on the NECRO SHOCK RADIO blog. It seemed a better fit. From then on out, any music review and/or interview would be first posted there. In case you were wondering where all of them went to.
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Over the year, I watched a bunch of movies, either in the theater with the Exalted Geeks, or on streaming devices, or otherwise. Most of them I wrote a review for and posted. Others I recorded episodes of the newly-christened Movies+Beer Pubcast. Some still need to have a review written. I’m getting to those.
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Also over the year, I read a bunch of books, mostly on the Kindle, some actual physical books. Some I’ve written reviews of already, some need reviews done. I’m getting to those as well.

I dreamed of eating kale. That was weird.

I took the entire season of Lent not posting any movie and book reviews, and focusing on study of the Scriptures and meditating on the purpose of the liturgical season. A vow I apparently broke in April. Me so holy.

The dream of the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock died a horrible death before it could happen. Make your own application.
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In December of 2018, I bought an Audio-Technica AT-LP60-BK turntable, so this past year has been big on me collecting vinyl records to use on it. It’s a very satisfying, if a bit expensive, hobby. Nowadays, I’m usually just buying a download of the MP3 of an album; if I want a physical copy, I check to see if it’s available on vinyl, or nothing at all. I suspect I shall be continuing this hobby in the years to come. Consequently, a new series on my blog grew out of this: Vinyl Confessions. My only regret is not getting the model that has a USB connector for easier playing through my laptop.

NECRO SHOCK RADIO is still a thing. I just haven’t been able to coordinate any further shows in the past few months that I’ve been relatively absent from the blog. And since we’re at this point…
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On June 1st, I was readmitted back into the hospital, due to what ended up being the stints in my right leg’s artery failing miserably. This resulted in needing an arterial bypass on my leg, as well as 1/4 of my right foot amputated due to gangrene. Spent over a week in the hospital after the operations, learning a brand new definition of pain and suffering while trying to use the bathroom with even a smattering of self-respect. Since getting discharged, I’ve spent the rest of the year (as of this writing) recuperating at my parent’s homestead, my mother taking care of the daily bandage changes on my foot while it slowly heals. Meanwhile I’m focusing on my health, and trying to keep the crushing darkness and loneliness from suffocating me.
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On the plus side, my eyesight was steadily getting worse and worse since last year, due to rapidly worsening cataracts that were detected in August of 2018. That’s not the “plus side” thing. That would be, since I was out with a bum leg and foot anyway, I decided it was a good time to get the eyes taken care of. At that time, I couldn’t see very well, even with glasses. It was like looking at the world with a thick film of Vaseline smeared over my eyeballs. So, I went in for the Lasik surgery. I’m glad I did, it was the best decision I made this year, bar none.
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That said, these past six months have been a constant, almost non-stop struggle against severe depression, suicide, bitterness, loneliness and feelings of abandonment and betrayal, with very few bright spots along the way. To quote Grave Robber, I struggle to believe that faith hope and love remain.

As we enter a new year and a new decade, I find myself in a pitch-dark place. I entered the year with cautious optimism; I end it unsure of the future, and not able to trust and believe anything from those I call friends. I wait for the other shoe to drop, to find myself once again without a church family. I don’t regret being honest and up-front about my struggles with mental illness; I regret having expected any other kind of reaction than the one I got. I only have myself to blame for all this.

I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.
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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an Admiral’s Feast to pick up, before the drunken revelry gets too unruly. Until next year, I remain your humble servant Uncle NecRo. God bless, my wonderful freaks.

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Dave Ramsey’s Got A Gun…

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dave freakin' ramseyI’ve always kind of had a twinge of something being off about Christian financial guru Dave Ramsey, even when I was taking the course with Kim back in 2013 (they offered the normally $150 course free for couple that are engaged to get married, which we were at the time). It’s rare that anyone doesn’t have any kind of dark underside that doesn’t get shown to the general public, especially in show business and things like this. But, here we are, with an article on The Wartburg Watch blog: Dave Ramsey Hates Gossip. Is It Because He Does Strange Things Like Pull Out A Gun During A Staff Meeting?

Apparently, this has been happening within the Financial Peace University and the Lampo Group (Dave’s business) for a while; the Wartburg Watch article references a previous blog post about Ramsey back in May of 2014, when this started coming out.

This is my shocked and appalled face. In which I mean, I am neither shocked nor appalled at this revelation. Mayhaps my jaded cynicism with American Evangelical Christianity (TM) prevents me from really being knocked asunder. Or maybe it’s the fact that I never really idolized Dave Ramsey to begin with; certainly not as much as my ex does. More the reason to trust in the Lord rather than putting faith in any person, I would presume…

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Eastertide…

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So, here we are. Another Lent season, ending with Easter Sunday, has come and gone. For many, this was a holy time of reflection on their faith and what it means to them. For me…I have to be straightforward with everyone: I don’t really consider the holidays on the Christian calendar to be all that important.

Okay, okay, let me rephrase that: I don’t really consider the Big Two Christian holidays–those being Christmas and Easter–as special as any other day of the year.

Yeah, there’s just no way I can phrase this without sounding like some kind of curmudgeon. I assure you I’m not trying to rain on the celebrations of anyone observing the resurrection of Jesus from the grave. Jesus’ victory over sin and death is at the very crux of my faith (pun very much intended).

As I approach my third decade as being a servant of Christ Jesus (as I told the youth group last week, I became a Christian at the age of 15, and it’ll be nearly 30 years in August; do the math), I find myself less and less enamored of any perceived “holy days” and holidays as I once was.

The reason for this, first off, has nothing to do with being sick and tired of having to put up with so many Actual Lee* types who want to nit-pick how un-Christian Easter really is and sucking the fun out of everything for everyone (although I’d be lying if I said they didn’t annoy me); nor does it have anything to do with slowly losing my faith over time.

The truth is, I find that the longer I walk down this path that Father God, Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit has me on, the less I feel the need to celebrate Easter**. At least, not as all-out as many of my fellow brethren and sisteren do.

Here’s how I see it: Remembering the sacrificial death and consequent resurrection of the Son of God is very important. But, I think, equally important is to remember that we’ve all been living in the Eastertide, the period after His resurrection and ascension. The work is finished. We should be celebrating this every day out of the year.

Shouts of “He is Risen!” Well, He’s always been risen. Do we need reminding? Probably. We are a people that easily forgets what God has done for us. We go about the rest of the year seemingly stuck in the Saturday before Easter, like He’s still dead and our hope means nothing. An empty passion play.

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[*= “Actual Lee”: a type of person who always wants to correct anyone about anything, interjecting their superior knowledge on any topic of discussion, often unsolicited, usually starting with the word “Actually” (“Actually, the Easter celebration has its roots in the pagan celebration of the spring equinox, and was absorbed by the Christian church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.”) SOURCE]

[**=yes, I understand that some prefer calling it “Resurrection Day” due to not wanting to associate with the pagan roots of Easter. That’s fine, I have no qualms with that. I call it “Easter” myself, and that’s why I use it in this post.]

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