Dear Jack: A Righteous Man Cares for the Needs of His Animals

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: A Righteous Man Cares for His Animals

Dear Jack,

Saturday afternoon you slept hard for three hours while Mommy and I watched the movie Unbroken in the bonus room.

During the middle of it, I snuck in your bedroom to check on you and discovered such a sweet sight: You were cuddled up tightly with Bongo, your stuffed animal monkey.

Not to mention, your bed is always full of your zoo of all your other stuffed animals, which even includes an anteater.

After you woke up later in the afternoon, I took you to the Spring Hill Ham Festival, where you were able to pet (very tame!) farm animals; including a sheep, goat, cow, chicken, duck, rabbit, and a pair of pigs.

Dear Jack: We Rode in a Real Monster Truck at the Spring Hill Ham Festival!

I loved how unreserved you were when approaching the animals to softly pet them. I don’t know that I myself would have trusted them not to attack me.

This video I made includes some footage of you with the animals:

But your calm spirit assured them you were only there to nurture them, not to scare them.

I just recently became aware of a verse in the Bible that made me think of you:

Proverbs 12:10 says this:

A righteous man cares for the needs of his animals.

You love animals. You treat them like babies.

Literally, you wrap them up in blankets and take them with you wherever we go.

With that being said, I don’t see our family getting an actual real life pet any time soon. Our busy lifestyle and schedule would likely lead to not being able to show the pet enough affection and attention.

However, we can definitely enjoy everyone else’s pets and animals.

You are definitely built to care for others and to be a leader. It’s what is in your heart.

I believe you will always find a way to take care of others, especially those younger than you.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You Saved a Cricket, I Saved a Possum

4 years, 8 months. 

Dear Jack,

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Yesterday morning as I was driving you to school, you shared your thoughts with me:

“Daddy, if everybody was vegan and vegetarian, then the animals wouldn’t have to die.”

With a statement like that, an outsider might assume I brainwash you daily with those sorts of thoughts.

But that’s not how I believe in parenting you. I sincerely want you to come to your own conclusions, based on daily observations, regarding the reasons why our family doesn’t eat meat.

I don’t feed you information like this- I only explain it after you think to ask these questions on your own first.

Your epiphany was all your own crafting.

After all, you are truly an animal lover; or at least a stuffed animal lover. Between stuffed animals and Legos, you really don’t play with much else. Those are the things you spend your money on.

My response to your “animals don’t have to die” comment was this:

“Most people still believe that in order to get enough protein, they have to eat meat. But you and I are obvious proof that’s not the case. We’ve lived without meat for years. And we’re both very healthy; as our family doctor has recently confirmed. And that’s why I made that Green Meanie video about it last week.”

I carried our deep discussion with me to work. As I took my first 10 minute walk of the day during a break around 9:00 AM, in which I walked to the end of the cul-de-sac of where I work, I discovered a young possum in a cage trap.

By noon, it was still there, in the horrible summer heat. So I walked into that building and informed the lady at the front desk. She called the building manager, who freed the possum by the time I left work.

Apparently, foxes and possums have been getting into the dumpster behind that building.

But I’m no specist- I don’t care what kind of animal it is: a domesticated dog, a wild dog, or even a lowly scavenger possum…

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I don’t want to see any animal suffer. So I made sure the possum was freed.

When I came home from work, I was excited to share my “I saved a possum!” story with you.

You then shared your own story with me:

“Daddy! I saved a black cricket today. I saw it crawling on the floor in my class at school, so I picked it up and took it outside! And then after my nap, I got to feed our class pet frog two crickets!”

Yes, there is some certain irony in saving one cricket from being stepped on, yet feeding two other crickets to a frog; all in the same day.

Ultimately, you and I share a love to protecting animals.

But really, you rub off on me more than I do you, I think.

Love,

Daddy

The Shell Diet: Kosher- Pork and Shellfish are Not Clean Nor Good For You, Even If They are Low in Fat

Eat like the Old Testament Jews did.

1) Why don’t Jews eat pork or shellfish but Christians do? Because most Christians that I know take Peter’s dream in the book of Acts literally to mean that it became okay to eat any kind of animal, after Jesus conquered death.  And it can appear that way if the chapter is not read carefully.  But when I read Acts 10 in its entirety, it’s clear to me that God gave Peter the “animals on a blanket” dream to represent to him that Peter should stop seeing non-Jews as “unclean” and start preaching to everyone, since the mainstream Jewish population rejected Jesus as the Messiah.  And by the end of the chapter, we see that for the first time, non-Jewish people trusted in Jesus for salvation.  And not just a few, but thousands of Gentile people were converted, because of the symbolic dream that God gave to Peter.  It was a dream God used to get Peter’s attention.

If it seems difficult to accept that Jesus dying for our sins on the cross didn’t also change the dietary law that God gave to Moses in the book of Leviticus, consider this: Why are so many people allergic to shellfish?  And why is eating pork the leading cause of people getting intestinal parasites?  Because Jesus dying on the cross didn’t change the fact that the bottom feeders, scavengers, and carnivores still eat the leftovers and the crap left over at bottom of the food chain.  Science didn’t change.  By eating these forbidden animals, we are eating lightly toxic food.

In short, eating Kosher means you can eat these animals: chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, cows, and fish with gills (tuna, salmon, tilapia, etc.). But you can’t eat these ones: pigs, ducks, rabbits, deer, shrimp, scallops, octopuses, sea urchins, or bottom feeder/carnivorous fish (catfish, sharks, swordfish, etc.).

2) And because red food dye is made from scale insects and/or petroleum, any kind of food containing Crimson Lake or Red 40 (mainly candy like Twizzlers and red M&M’s, Skittles, etc.) has ingredients that are not Kosher.  Kosher law does not allow anyone to eat insects other than locusts (which John the Baptist ate), nor does it even mention eating petroleum, but it shouldn’t have to, because it’s pretty clear to me: Petroleum is oil, not food.

3) Also, meat and dairy products are not supposed to be eaten during the same meal.  I’m not saying I never eat a cheeseburger and that I only eat vegetarian lasagna, but I just keep in mind that evidently meat and dairy products were not meant to be digested together, because it slows down the digestion process and promotes constipation.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

A Storytelling of Snake Charmers (or Escapists)

Sometimes there’s no way to get around or over a problem; the only way to get past it is to just go through it.

This past Saturday my friend Tommy and I embarked on our second annual canoe trip on The Harpeth River in Nashville.  The same river that just a month ago flooded much of the western part of the city.  I would love to paint myself as this avid outdoorsman, compensating for the fact (as I’ve established before) that I’m no athlete.  But really, it’s just that I can’t turn down an activity with a friend that allows me to spend several hours breathing fresh air, getting sunburned (just my knees, very badly), and getting to see wildlife.

Especially one that I deem as a lazy adventure (Manspeak, Volume 8: Relaxation).  With the water being as high as it was, very little power was needed on our part to get the canoe moving.  Just basic steering away from rocks and into the best currents.  Like most male oriented social activities, canoeing  kept us from awkwardly facing each other the whole time (Manspeak, Volume 4: Stance).  And gave us something to do when there was nothing to say (which never really happened, because of our mutual love for Super Mario Bros. 2, McGee and Me, and fatherhood).

Two hours into our journey, after relatively no stress whatsoever, I had to do it.  I had to, in typical 1980’s sitcom fashion, speak a line of ironic foreshadowing: “This has been a really laid back trip.  No problems at all.”

Instantly, we look up and ahead.  Two trees had fallen from the flood; one from both sides of the river, blocking the entire length of passage, doubly.  But even in that moment, we didn’t realize that this puzzle ahead was more complicated than just getting past two fallen trees.

We decided the right side of the river promised the easiest and quickest clearance.  I had learned from our last trip that where there was thick, abundant, yellowish foam, it meant there was a decaying animal trapped alongside the river.  As we got closer to the foam, both of us smelled the corpse before we saw it.  A large dead fish, head and tail missing.  Still the size of the pillow you sleep on every night.  Meaning that passing through would ineviditably mean we would have to step in the water to lift the canoe over the fallen tree, we opted to check out the left side of the river blockage as to not get funky fish foam on our sunburning legs.

We steered to the canoe to the other side, seeing right way that the depth of blockage was even greater.  In our strategy forming minds, we both came up with our own idea of how to get through.  Tommy wanted us to stick to our original plan; to step in the water and lift the canoe over our heads and over the trees, then place it back in the water and hop back in the canoe.

I, however, saw a different means of escape.  Shaking the tree and its submerged limbs further in and out of the water, I came to the conclusion that if I crouched down low in the boat, Tommy could stand on the tree, pushing the canoe through the limbs as I helped keep them pushed down to make way for our path.

Tommy is an easy-going guy.  Or maybe it was my natural older brother demeanor, but I convinced him to do it my way.

And right as he said, “alright, let’s do this”, I replied with “Oh, there’s a snake right there!”

I picked my oar up, placing it on my shoulder like a rifle.  “Look five feet away from the end of my oar.  There’s a black snake wrapped around that branch.  He blends in almost perfectly.  His head is up, and he’s looking at us right now.”

It’s not that he didn’t believe me, it’s just that my head was in the way for a few minutes before he could finally see the thing.  And when he did, he jumped in to “crisis mode” with me.

Of course, a man in Crisis Mode is not a man who gets nervous or noticeably excited.  He is a man who speaks lower and slower as he attempts to play the situation in slo-mo, in order to figure out the best practical solution for the potentially dangerous and deadly problem.

After another five minutes (which seemed like 20) of deliberation, after realizing our wishes of killing the snake with a flame thrower were not part of reality (thanks a lot Contra), that we had to meet this problem head on, we went in to Action Mode, while of course, simultaneously remaining in Crisis Mode.

Keeping our eyes constantly scanning the weather, the bank (filled with a good amount of visible snake holes), and the canopy of tree branches over us for more snakes, we carefully lifted the canoe out of the water and over the fallen tree, sliding in the mud (he was wearing flip flops, I was wearing my ten-year old New Balance cross country running shoes), only to realize that once we set the canoe back into the water, another 12 feet ahead was another (this being the third) fallen tree blocking the entire width of the river.

The snake, now behind us, had slithered off of his resting (preying) place on the branch.  Was he in the water now?  Were his friends waiting up ahead of us?  We tried not to think about it.

We hoisted the canoe over the final tree.  The only way into our vehicular escape module was to hop down a few feet from the tree we were standing on at that point, which meant possibly tipping the boat over.  Thank God, we both landed it and got out of there as fast as we could.

The final hour of the trip involved a lot of head turning at every threat of another lethal animal.  We did end up seeing a doe that froze once it saw us.  I was convinced I would see a great beast out there, like a mountain lion or a blank panther.  Never happened though.

The thing is, I’m typically the last person to ever spot any kind of creature in wildlife.  And despite me being so close to the snake, I’m still amazed I spotted it.  We talked about the possible ending this story would have had if I wouldn’t have miraculously seen the snake.  I would have remained in the canoe as Tommy pushed us through, the snake would have been inches away from my nose- either biting my face and falling into the canoe with us.

When I bought my mountain bike back in April, the girl who sold it to me told me that when her brother was working at Bonnaroo last year, he got bit by a water moccasin.  He had to be airlifted to the hospital and given a $40,000 antidote.  Now he was to pay off that debt on a $30,000 a year salary.

But in that moment encountering the snake on the river, what else could we do?  We couldn’t go over or around the problem, we just had to man up and go through the problem.

Myself and Tommy back in 2008

Giving in to the Addiction of Pickles

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 1

Sunday night as I looked in the refrigerator for a delightful snack, a jar of Texas Pete pickles caught my eye. Much of the time, if I start eating pickles out of the jar, I end up consuming about 1/3 of the pickles before I can stop. And it’s not uncommon for my digestive system to reject them shortly afterwards. But I still go back a few weeks later and do it again, every time.

But this particular night, the sight of only three pickles left floating in that green water actually took me back to science class in college. I thought of the weird animal fetuses I saw in jars in the back closet, feeling bad for even looking at them. So I didn’t eat the pickles Sunday night.

Twice a year I eat an anchovy pizza, for good measure. Tonight was the night. Anchovies, onions, and jalapenos. The owner of the brick oven pizza restaurant delivered the pizza personally to my table and told me I am the 5th person ever to actually order anchovy pizza in all his years of running his local chain of restaurants. The combination of anchovies, onions, and jalapenos combined really gives a pickle sort of flavor. I call it Pickle Pizza.

So for the times I am tempted to eat 1/3 of a jar of pickles, I just have to remind myself: Pickle pizza!

The Opposite of Evolution: Intelligent Design

 

I remember being in high school thinking, how can I honestly believe God created the Earth in 6 days when there were obviously dinosaurs who would have wiped man off the face of the planet? Dinosaurs that are inconveniently not mentioned in the Bible. So I decided to compromise: I convinced myself that they were not 6 literal days, but that a “day” was equal to millions or billions of years. That way, I don’t look like that naïve neighbor kid of The Simpsons whose idea of fun is playing Family Bible Trivia.

Then during my first year of college I had such an eye-opening revelation that I just couldn’t stop thinking about it.  A splendid epiphany of  relief and amazement.  Such a nugget of information that it literally changed the the way I see life as I know it.  That’s what happened to me in 1999. I learned how God actually could create the Earth in just six 24-hour days and how gigantic dinosaurs fit into the equation.

It wasn’t until Noah built the ark that it rained, for the first time ever.  That is a big deal. Genesis 2:5, 6- “…the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.”

From Adam to Noah (10 generations, as listed in Genesis 5) there was no rain. We also know from that chapter that men lived between 365 and 969 years, the average age of all 10 forefathers being 857 years old each. So the point is that before it rained, people lived a LONG time.  Over 10 times the average of what people live today.

So there had to have been many millions of people who were born and lived during just those 10 generations. Obviously there wasn’t birth control so just one man would have probably produced many offspring during his lifetime alone, then his children his children, and so on. That’s a lot of people living a long time…

So Noah was 600 years old when it rained for the first time. That’s thousands of years with no rain. Genesis 7:11- “In the 600th year of Noah’s life…all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened.”  So there was plenty of water under the Earth (which watered it) and plenty above the Earth, which created a greenhouse effect. That’s part of the reason they lived so long. It was a completely different living environment. I haven’t even mentioned yet that the all people in the history of the world at that point were all vegetarians.

After the months of flooding were finished, God told Noah some history-changing news: “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant” (Genesis 9:2, 3). So prior to this, they were only eating plants. Thousands of years and millions of people eating plants.

Not only did the people not eat animals, the animals did not fear the people. Comprehend this: vegetarians living amongst tame animals. Tame cows are easy to imagine. Even tame birds. But what about tame tigers? And bears. What about dinosaurs? Keeping in mind the environment of the world prior to the Flood was a greenhouse. It’s no wonder that ancient cave drawings have been found that show people riding dinosaurs. People capture in art what they value and what is familiar to them.

But how did a brontosaurus fit on the ark? The same way any large animal fit. Get ‘em while they’re young and small, of course. But by the time they got off the ark, and the greenhouse effect was gone, the survivors found a different Earth. The huge dinosaurs did not have enough to survive on.

The Great Flood broke apart Pangea, the land mass which made up all the continents. The zebras from Africa once freely crossed the then-nonexisting border to South Carolina. (Zebra skeletons have been found as far as Salt Lake City, Utah.) But they just couldn’t survive in the new land mass now known as America. The penguins in the tropics died off. The penguins in the Arctic survived. The kangaroos in the Russian tundra couldn’t survive, but the ones in Australia did.

And of course I was wrong about dinosaurs not being mentioned in the Bible. It’s just that the word “dinosaur” was not coined until 1929. Instead, there is a “leviathan” (mentioned a total of 5 times in the Bible: Job 3:8, the entire book of Job 41, Psalms 74:14, Psalms 104:24-26, and Isaiah 27:1). It refers to a giant see monster that is impossible to capture.

Another word for a dinosaur in the Bible is “behemoth”. It is mentioned in Job 40: 15-24 as a beast that was created “with man” (as in the same week, not millions or billions of years before.) The verses describe the creature having a tail of cedar; the behemoth’s massive strength is compared to God’s. I can’t think of any animal living today that has a tail anywhere near the size of a cedar tree.

This has been a briefing of the history of the ancient world. Should anyone worry about “carbon dating”, just keep this in mind: When Adam and Eve were created, they weren’t babies. They were “man” and “woman”. The animals and plants were also fully grown. So why wouldn’t the rest of the universe be fully grown as well? Something to think about the next time while during a tour in a cave there is a stalactite growing over a wooden sign that was posted 40 years ago which explains to you that it took thousands of years for the stalactites all around to grow.

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