Baptisms, the Death of an Icon, and a New Doctor…

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[NOTE: This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I forgot to email it to me after work; sorry about the tardiness – Uncle NecRo]

I have just emerged from a rather surprisingly full weekend. I never plan these as such; they just happen to…well, happen. Mostly, though, it was the Sunday of the two days that fall under my Blessed Days Off from my Place of Enslavement Employment. I wasn’t really running around a lot, but there were some things that made my head swim a bit.

baptism church birthday

The first thing that happened on July 16th was the first ever Baptism Service at my church. This also functioned as part of the One Year Birthday of the formation of said church that I’ve been involved with since the split with my former church. Fifteen…or sixteen, I can’t recall exactly…souls were baptized in the Blair swimming pool as an outward expression of their faith in Christ Jesus. We had set up in the parking lot for the worship service; I set up near them, at the best place I could find that was in the shade. Then, of course, after a few minutes, the Daystar found its way through the shade and stabbed me in the eyeballs. No matter where I moved to, it found me. Gads. So, for a little while, through the worship singing portion, I had to endure the angry ball of fire’s rays, and hope not to burst into flames in front of everyone. That would have been embarrassing. Fortunately, the trees managed to obscure the sun once again, putting me in some shade by the time the sermon came about. Fortunately, it was a truncated 15-minute sermon, so that it could include the baptisms. The sermon’s message in keeping with the event. Everyone was baptized, then it was time for the birthday celebration by way of a massive grillout potluck picnic, with a couple of bouncy castles set up for the kids. The heat of the day was getting redonkulous, with the heat index starting to soar as high as eagle. Weather sucking mighty buffalo. As such, I decided to forego the picnic lunch and the inevitable mingling that came with it (did I mention my anxiety level was starting to rise along with the heat? No? Huh…), and left as everyone was standing in line for their lunchy-munchy. I just picked up some drive-thru stuffs and headed back to the Haunted Victorian, ate my din-din and then settled in for a much-needed extended nap.

The thing about naps is, sooner or later you have to wake up from them. And so was the case with this one: I woke up, and had to once again exist in the “real world”. Eh, standard Sunday afternoon. Late afternoon. Okay, it was early evening. I sleep a bit more than your average individual. I think it may be hypersomnia due to my crippling depression issues. Either way, it was close to 6pm, and I wasn’t hungry yet due to the ginormous nature of the fast food item I consumed upon arriving back at the Haunted Victorian around 1-ish. So I fire up the Fun-Sized Lappy, summon the interwebs, and the first thing I am greeted with upon signing into my Facebook page is a news item that the legendary George A. Romero had passed away.

george a romero

For those of you sad, deprived individuals who don’t know who George A. Romero is, he is the man that helped to not only redefine the zombie horror genre to what we recognize as today with the release of Night Of The Living Dead in 1968 (undead ghouls who wander about and only want to eat your flesh and nummy brains…up until then, “zombies” were of the voodoo magick variety), he also inspired generations thereafter in the art of independent filmmaking. He made more than just a bunch of post-modern zombie flicks, and didn’t just stick to directing, either. Nor did his influence remain in movie making, as several novelists and artists cite him as a great influence in what they do.

As for me, Romero helped to rekindle my love for the horror genre as not only an entertainment outlet, but also as a genuine means of conveying a message in a subversive manner. I salute you, good sir; and should you once again rise from the grave, I shan’t forget to double-tap.

The next thing that grabbed my attention from my nap-induced haze that was slowly clearing off, was the official introduction of the next Doctor. At first, I thought it was one of those fake-outs that have been making the rounds, the ones made by fans and such. But, no, this was an official BBC release: The next Doctor on Doctor Who will be played by one Jodie Whittaker. So, after months of denying that the 13th Doctor was going to be a woman, they finally came out and said that, yes, the 13th Doctor is going to be a woman.

13th doctor

Up front, I have to say that I am completely on board with this. I’m intrigued with the possibilities with this new dynamic. Hopefully the writers won’t go the route of “Hey, I’m the Doctor, and now I’m a girl!” and really write some compelling yarns with the character. That said, there were two points of irritation that immediately hit me the moment I saw the announcement: first of all, they do this all the time, denying something’s gonna happen, and then it happens to be the very thing they’re denying. “It’s Missy in that vault, right?” “Nope, it’s something different.” Then it turns out it was Missy all along. Same thing here: “Nope, we’re not looking at a female actor to be the new Doctor.” I understand the need to play things close to the vest in these instances, especially with the show changing producers as well as lead characters, but this is the same thing the previous show runners did since the relaunch in 2005. I just can’t help but think my intelligence had been insulted a bit, is all.

The second thing that kind of irritated me about this, was that the reveal was so far in advance of the Christmas Special, where traditionally the regeneration into the next Doctor would take place in modern Who. More or less. Now…there’s really no surprise. I don’t know, and maybe I’m in the minority here, but I should think something as momentous as this would call for secrecy until the actual Christmas Special. I realize that trying to keep a lid on this in this day and age of instant news leakage is nigh impossible at times, but think about the impact that could have happened when, finally, Peter Capaldi’s Doctor–my favorite one thus far of the “New” Doctors–dramatically regenerates and finally emerges as the Jodie Whittaker Doctor…then end credits. Boo-ya. Chills, mouths agape, multiple cries of “WHAT THE [expletive deleted]….?!?” Now…we will never have that moment. Spoilers and all that. Oh, well.

Still, the upcoming Christmas Special will be awesome because it has the 12th Doctor and the 1st Doctor, together at last. I just squeed again. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Membership Application Testimony

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rough draft writingIt’s been almost a year since the church that I have been helping to build up was birthed by way of an unfortunate at the church that I had been attending for ten years prior. Just now, we’re taking steps to have membership, and as I don’t count myself exempt for special treatment, I have filled out my application as well.

You might be wondering why I’m mentioning this. Well, on the back of it, it has one page with three questions pertaining to my personal testimony on how I became a Christian, and what that means and whatnot. One page, three sections with a short few lines to fill in.

Of course, as I have this storyteller’s streak in me as a writer, I looked at those brief sections and, after I got done chuckling, decided to just add an attachment of the testimony, and just get out what I have to say without fear of running out of room. Or atrocious handwriting. You get the idea. It came out to four pages. Single spaced. Standard 12-point Times New Roman font.

I’ve decided, then, to post those Testimonial Questions here on my bligity-blog, and share with everyone my answers, to not only show off my scribblins, but also give some of the more curious as to my back story as a Christian, how it came to be and where I went from there and all. That, and I needed something to post to prove I was still alive, here…you’re welcome…

1) PLEASE DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE BEFORE YOU CAME TO KNOW JESUS:
Thinking back, I guess you would say that the majority of my “Before Christ” period was rather unremarkable. I spent the first nine years of my life the son of a Navy Seabee and a Nurse, both of them having been raised by farming families. We were always traveling to wherever Uncle Sam had my father stationed at for as long as I could start remembering things. Thinking back as I write this, I have to emphasis that I was very much blessed with not only parents but the entire family on both sides being completely loving and caring. I was never abused, I never felt scared, and even when I had to be disciplined both Mom and Dad would explain why it was happening, and were always quick to forgive and such. Even after they divorced when I was 9, both refused to use me and my sister as leverage against the other one; to the contrary, I remember my mother chastising me more than once if she heard me say anything derogatory about my Father, regardless of what she was emotionally going through (I can’t even begin to fathom what that was like for her). Even the man that would become my stepfather, while having a, shall we say, old school philosophy when it came to child raising, never abused his position of parental figure…regardless of how hard headed I could be. Believe me, i would have smacked me a few times for my attitude, if you want to come right down to it.

I needed to get all of that out of the way, because I wished to highlight the fact that, for everything that transpired for three or so years before I became a Christian, I’m not blaming my family, my upbringing, the society I grew up in, and especially not the mental condition that began manifesting when I was 9. My actions, my attitudes and especially my decisions were because I chose to do them and be that way.

That said: As I mentioned, at the age of 9, I began manifesting the symptoms of an odd neurological disorder the name of which I’m not going to share, due to the pop culture media typifying it as something it’s really not, and would rather not be met with a chorus of “Oh! The swearing disease!” (if that didn’t already tip off what that is). Of course, it wasn’t properly diagnosed as such until I was 13 (I had one psychiatrist convinced I had schizophrenia at one point…that was a fun time, let me tell you); so up until then, I was experiencing sudden depression and anxiety at an age where I should have been more concerned about playing and doing other kid-like activities. Instead, I was making fast headway to being That Weird Kid that carried over into Junior High and High School. I started getting suicidal thoughts at a rather young age, and was finally checked into a psychiatric ward at a hospital in Omaha for observation and treatment when I was 12. That’s how I spent my summer vacation that year. Later that year, I was put back in after an actual suicide attempt. I would eventually go back to that ward three more times between then and my Freshman year in High School. It was like I could feel myself mentally disintegrating, and I was helpless to do anything. The nurses were starting to take bets as to how long before I was back in the ward. I wish I was making that last bit up.

So, there’s the context. 15 years old, and already been in the psychiatric ward five times in three years. Not to mention having quite the legend going around school as to that nutcase James. Let’s move on with the story, shall we…

2) PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW YOU CAME TO KNOW JESUS AND WHAT YOU NOW BELIEVE ABOUT WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR YOU:
A couple of years ago, Pastor John asked me if I remember exactly when I became a Christian. I told him “Yes, kind of”. It was about a week or two before my Sophomore year in High School, about a week or so after my final stint in the hospital, which puts it around mid-August, 1989. I was 15. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, here…

As is part of the cliche that is Midwest rural folk, church was an active part of our lives, even if only nominally. My father was raised Methodist, and my mother was raised United Church of Christ, which I half-jokingly refer to as “Methodist Lite”. You get all the Wesleyan religion with some coffee and pastries in the basement afterwards. Maybe a potluck every other month. Those were the best. Point is, we were church goers. Every Sunday, we were there. When I hit 8th Grade, I got involved with the Pilgrim Fellowship (which is what they called the youth group there), helped out the pastor when needed, and participated in the choir and got confirmed. I knew about Jesus: He was the guy who was born in late December, then died a few months later as a grown man (he got better, though). You get the idea. The classic “I go to church and I’m a good person’ kind of setup, where my only encounter with the word “Gospel” was when I landed on the starting page of the first four books of the New Testament while flipping through in boredom during the sermon. It really did become more of an enforced obligation, come to think about it.

This is not to say that no one tried to share the Gospel with me, in whatever form. It’s just that, they were afraid to. There was a High School Bible study that was going on at the time I knew nothing about, where I was told one night the kids were asked to name the last person you would ever expect to become a Christian, and I was named almost unanimously. To say I was “weird” and a “misfit” would be like saying “Van Gogh had an interest in painting”. Being a long-time psycho ward alumni notwithstanding, I developed into quite the antisocial freak, mostly by accident. I liked hard rock and metal, I was always off by myself reading some kind of dark fantasy or science fiction novel, and I was never seen without my denim jacket with the customized band logo on the back. So, obviously I worshiped Satan. That’s rural High School in the late 1980s for you. But, the truth was, I was alone and pretty much resigned to that fate. I can understand how the thought of coming up to someone like myself at that time was fear-educing, but had an upperclassmen came to me and just said something that wasn’t derogatory…I was starved for that. Would I have been open to receiving the Gospel from them? Maybe. We’ll never know, because they never did.

The one thing that preached the Gospel to me and let me to respond to Jesus’ gift of salvation and grace? Metal. Specifically, it was a copy of an album entitled To Hell With The Devil by Stryper. You may have heard of them. I got it when I was 14, and I listened to it all the time, nearly wearing out the tape in a year. Admittedly, I did get it because it had the words “Hell” and “Devil” in the title, but this album was…different. The lyrics were not like the songs that the other bands in my collection were singing about; they were talking openly about Jesus, being “The Way”, we were “Free” to believe in Him, His victory over the devil, so forth and so on. It was the final song, though: “More Than A Man”, when I first heard Jesus referred to something other than just Jesus; they referred to Him as God. I’ve never had anyone tell me that Jesus was more than just a guy who lived long ago who said a bunch of interesting things and did a bunch of mind-blowing miracles somehow. I began thinking about that concept. Then I began thinking maybe the song was true about this. Then, months later, in that mid-August evening, late at night, I was laying in bed, thinking about how dark the previous year had been, and not seeing any light at the end of this current tunnel. So, I asked Jesus to save me. I believe the exact words were, “Jesus, save me.” That was it. No flowery speech, no reciting of a specific pre-written prayer, just a simple “Jesus, save me.” That very moment, I felt a very tangible sense of relief and release wash over me. That was it. Simple, yet genuine, and Jesus did.

As to what I now believe about who He is and what He has done for me, well…simply put, He is not only my Saviour, but also Lord. He is God, the Son of the Trinity. The more I study the Bible, the more clear I begin to see how everything in the Old Testament pointed us to understand the plan for Him to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins that we inherited from Adam’s fall. Not only that, but because He was resurrected, He broke the power of sin and death. Think about that…Jesus conquered sin and death. Tell me of anyone who has even come close to doing that. His righteousness has been imparted to me, I have been reconciled to God because of this, and I have hope in the resurrection one day, and of Jesus’ promise to return. Until then, I am his humble servant. His grace and mercy abounds.

I sincerely hope you’re still awake. Again, my apologies. If you’ve made it this far, I applaud your tenacity. Moving along…

3) PLEASE DESCRIBE HOW YOUR LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW THAT YOU KNOW JESUS AS LORD AND SAVIOUR AND HOW YOU ARE GROWING IN YOUR FAITH, OBEDIENCE AND SERVICE FOR HIS GLORY:
The summer after I graduated High School in 1992, I went to a youth retreat in Colorado with a couple of other guys in my graduating class who have had the (dis)pleasure of knowing me in my days before I became a Christian. We got to talking about when we became Christians with each other, and after I mentioned my story, both of them said they could sense something was different with me when the tenth grade year started. This was the first time they said anything about that. Granted, it wasn’t until my Senior year in High School when I first began to actually realize and explore what truly being a Christian meant, but before that I could very much sense a difference that I couldn’t really put my finger on. It was business as usual, but there was more of a clarity, like a light switched on. After graduating High School, I believe God started putting me through the refining process, as not only did I develop a strong desire to read the Bible and study it, but there were people placed in my life that very patiently instructed me in my growth.

I wrestle with my faith continuously. I am not perfect, but it is the Holy Spirit that is constantly sanctifying me, instructing me, encouraging me, and convicting me. It’s been almost 27 years as I type this since I gave my life to Christ, and not only have the most interesting parts of my testimonies, my story have come after I became a servant of Christ, but I get the nagging feeling I’m not done here by a long shot. I still struggle with my mental condition, and while I have more than once begged God to take this away, I do believe that I’m square how Paul was with a certain thorn not being removed. His grace is sufficient. I am weak, but He is strong. That, and also there are the teens from the youth group I helped out with that have told me that they probably wouldn’t have paid attention to my preaching the Gospel during the lessons, had I not been openly candid about my condition and how it pertains to my faith. There are many other stories, too, but we’ll leave them for other times. You’re welcome.

As I said, I’m not perfect. I suppose at one time I fancied myself Mr. Super Christian, but you know what they say about pride coming before a fall. I’ve had plenty of those. All I can say is, throughout this journey, I’m not the same as I was back in my 20s. Or my 30s. Or even five years ago. The only constant has been God’s faithfulness. I am compelled to continue serving Him in whatever capacity. That’s all I can really say.

May the God of peace soon crush Satan under your feet. Cheers, all…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Farewell to the Youth Group…

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haunted hallwayFor the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

I’ve been silent. I know I have been silent, not posting my brain droppings or reviews or such these past few weeks. There have been some paradigm shifts, the major of which was where I said goodbye to my youth group last night.

It was known that this was Shelli’s last year of doing the youth group, as she had been faithfully doing so in the Student Venture capacity for 25 years. Not counting the few years before when it was just a weekly Bible study in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While she had said she was retiring every two years or so, this time she meant it.

It just so happened that I had gotten involved with Student Venture when it was started back in February of 1992, and have been involved in some capacity for approximately 17 out of the 25 years. There was that wilderness period between 2000 and 2009 that I’m not going to go into right now. Sufficed to say, I needed that time. When the Lord saw fit, He drop-kicked me back with the youth group to serve the leaders. Then I moved up to one of the co-leaders. We kept the name Student Venture long after Campus Crusade decided to change their organization name to CRU, and then the last year it was decided to break off entirely with being associated with CRU, more because we were affiliated in name only. The break was very amicable, really. That was also the last year we would exist as a youth group as we know it.

The original plan was to pass on responsibility of the group to myself and another friend–Darla–who were helping co-lead (for lack of a better word, this early in the mourning as I write this). Then, a few weeks into the new season, Darla left to to focus on her family (I swear I didn’t mean to evoke Dr. James Dobson’s old ministry, sorry); I realized that I would be the one taking over the lessons and teaching the group after Shelli was gone. And, after the initial period of anxiety, I  fell back to what I knew best to do: leave it up to God to do what He does, and let the Holy Spirit guide me as I merely serve to the best of my ability. Remain faithful in presenting the Truth of the Bible and Who Jesus is, and let God do the heavy work in the kids’ hearts and minds.

You know, what I’ve always been doing. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and all that.

Then, without getting bogged with the details, a chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes was started at the High School, and Shelli decided that the torch should be passed to those starting up FCA and dissolving Student Venture entirely. It’s logical, really, as there are so many more opportunities for the kids to grow and mature in their faith and interact with peers from other FCA groups, and it’s headed up by a couple of instructors from the high school. I would be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t a little bit upset at the sudden shift. Then again, the group wasn’t mine to begin with.

So, last night I said goodbye to probably the best bunch of kids I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with. To watch the Holy Spirit work in their lives, seeing them want to dive into what the Bible says, reading it chapter-by-chapter, and most importantly getting to introduce them to Jesus. It was the one day out of the week I looked forward to. It was…difficult, to understate the situation. Hugs and tears and laughter all around.

So, the torch has been passed for the kids in Hooper, Nebraska. And various surrounding communities. It’s difficult to imagine not being a part of their lives in the future, but I believe they’re in good hands. As for me, I foresee a bit more Wilderness Wandering. Or to put it another way: While it’s true that when God closes one door, He will open another, no one wants to talk about the period where you’re wandering around the hallway waiting for Him to open up the other door.

Can I praise Him in the hallway? Do I have a choice? Am I really going to end this with rhetorical questions? Sure, why not? Cheers, all…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Brain Droppings on Joy vs. Happiness

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cheesecakeHaving the Joy of the Lord does not equate Happiness. Happiness is an emotion. Emotions are fleeting. The dessert at the meal. Joy, on the other hand, is the nourishment that is gleaned from the meal itself–the proteins, the complex carbohydrates, the amino acids necessary for continued strength and endurance. The dessert is the brief allowance of empty calories that produces happy feelings, but overall doesn’t benefit the long-term goal.

To pursue Christianity as a means to secure happiness in this world will eventually leave you confused, bitter, angry, jaded, and finally disillusion.

Jesus does not offer happiness. He offers something better: Joy. And as the risen Redeemer-as the true source of joy, the more we rely and trust in Him and let go of the world we were once a part of, the more you come to understand that Joy is sustaining us. Nourishing us to continue on in Christ Jesus rather than give us a blast of happiness, only to have it fade.

AUGUST 16

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Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. – 2 Corinthians 7:1

Tuesday. The further along this post-Evangelical wilderness I traverse in my ongoing daily wrestling with my faith, there are certain things that have come into focus that I had taken for granted previously in my early days as a Christian. For instance, Grace.

 

Grace has become just a codeword for works in a lot of evangelical minds. The point to see here is that we tend to get anxious about the way God is doing things. If he starts getting all overly generous on us, we want to call him off to the side and see if we can’t add a few rules and expectations in there so WE feel better. Michael Spencer, internetmonk.com

 

Grace is messy. Grace is scandalous. If I’m honest with myself, I would rather not have anything to do with grace, because of the simple fact that, as someone who acknowledges being made in God’s image, I tend to be wired for justice. So whenever I see someone receiving grace, instead of the justice they deserve (some might use the word “karma” instead)…well, it bothers me, to understate things.

Which is why there’s always a constant reminder of how much grace I’ve been shown throughout my four decades here on this planet. About how I’m a great sinner who fortunately serves a Great Saviour.

It’s not enough to say that I’ve been saved by grace. I have to be willing and able to constantly show grace. And in that aspect, I am a great failure. I suppose I will be until the day I’m gone from this world.

::END TRANSMISSION::

MAY 11, 2016

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Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. – Romans 8:5-8

Woke up this mourning at 2am to the sound of a whimsical thunderstorm outside. The windows were open, and I lay there in the darkness, listening to the rain hitting the cars, the concrete, the roof; the wind blowing the trees, rustling the leaves, howling through the ancient foundations of the Haunted Victorian. The strobing of the lightning, the crack of the thunder. The chill of the draft, chilling my skin. Oh, the wondrous dreams the weather drummed up while I drifted back off into the netherworld of dreaming.

Awakened again around 7:45am. Recorded the scripts for two upcoming sessions of NSR, edited one together. Finished up watching Season 2 of Angel.

Went to the HyVee at 132nd and Dodge, met up with certain members of the CBC Bennington for lunch. It’s part of my ongoing “therapy”, wherein I force myself to be “sociable” and not be “antisocial”, to force down my revulsion anxiety at connecting with fellow Christians. Once again, I survive, yet still need to take a nice, hot shower to make my skin stop crawling.

Finished lunch, went down to the Old Market to see about picking up some dust covers for my vinyl LPs at Homer’s, and ran into Kyle B—–. He’s one of those kind of friends that we run into each other every few years or so, but always pick up like no time has passed. He’s good people. I praise God that He would allow me another time to catch up with an old friend.

OBLIGATORY EASTER POST, 2016

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wroooooooooooooooong

I almost didn’t post one this year. Not out of forgetfulness, mind you. I had been, as I normally do, chewing over what the brain droppings would be for this year’s post. And I almost decided to not post anything.

Mostly because of certain individuals that feel the need to ruin things for everyone.

They’ve been doing this for quite a bit. I just seem to have been a bit more hyper aware of it all this year, for whatever reason. I speak of these fellow Christians of mine who feel the need to point out that we are all wrong about Good Friday and Easter. Every year, they whip out their memes and their charts, trying to prove that our timing for the days of our observations of Jesus’ respective death and resurrection are WROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG, and we’re all idiots for doing so. Somehow, this is supposed to prove their ultimate spiritual superiority, or something like that.

Look, like Christmas, I don’t really care about what day it is that we, as Christians, observe and remember what Christ Jesus layed down for to ransom our ungrateful selves. Truth is, yes, He is risen…but we’ve all been living in the post-resurrection world. And if you want to get down to it, the only thing that Jesus expressly commanded us to do to remember His sacrifice was to participate regularly in what we call the Communion.

What I’m trying to say is, I don’t think that observance of Easter or not really negates my salvation, through my trust and faith in Christ Jesus. Let alone doing so on the actual day or not. We should all be living like it’s after He has risen, as new creatures through faith in Him.

The point is, He died, He rose, He conquered sin and death. And that’s why we gather together as one body, to remember that.

But, if that makes me an idiot, then fine. I’m an idiot. I have better things to worry about.

He is risen. He has risen indeed. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

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