Category Archives: Faith

Favelas

I’ve never been to Brazil, though it holds massive appeal to me. There’s a lot to like: rainforest, soccer (they call it futebol), the culture, various meats served on swords. Even the notorious ‘rough’ parts of Brazil seem kind of alluring. Let me explain.

MMMMMMMeat on swords

MMMMMMM sword meat…

I’m always interested to see how ‘the other side’ operates and navigates day-to-day life in any country. Not in an idiot poverty-gawking American sense (Look, Ma! That feller’s peein in the street!). My interest in the world’s ‘wrong sides of the tracks’ isn’t academic, journalistic, do-gooder based, thrill-seeking or scientific. I think it’s mostly just inquisitiveness. It’s also practical.

For one thing, I find that meeting people who look and live different than you do is the spice of life. Also, fancy places are pretty similar the world over. Shopping malls in Chengdu, Cape Town, Calcutta and Columbus are largely indistinguishable. Wealth seems to breed insipidness, as well as the propensity toward being a pompous jerk.

Poor places in general are usually just more interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware that there is nothing fun, quaint, exciting or entertaining about poverty. There’s nothing nice about high infant mortality rates and not having access to life’s basic essentials. What I’m trying to say is that whatever country you’re in, it’s usually the poorer areas where you’ll find the most interesting people, the warmest hospitality, the most innovation, the most unique experiences, and the best food.

Getting a sense of how the poor, the forgotten, the feared and reviled, the outcasts and outliers live is always an enlightening experience. How do they survive? What’s their life like? This seems like a good starting point for trying to figure out a country, and understanding the people who make up a country. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, Faith, Film, F Entertainment, Foreign Lands

Foreva? Foreva-eva?

Today we’re talking about the concept of eternity. You know, that never-ending expanse of time that, according to many major religions, awaits us all once we shuffle off our mortal coils. Our bodies die but our immortal souls linger on forever and ever yada yada yada.

Before we get going, I want to note that for this particular piece I’d just like to consider what a positive eternal setup might look like. While it’s hard to refute that all of us deserve some sort of punishment after we die (or at least be made to perform some sort of embarrassing musical number in front of all the assembled nations, tribes and judgmental peers), I’d rather not spend time speculating on what a negative eternity might consist of. I can’t even imagine a never-ending DMV trip or traffic jam, much less with flames.

Moving forward with the ‘positive afterlife scenario’ paradigm, what will we do with all that time after we die? Christians, Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Hindus and most other religions all have different ideas of how the hereafter works. Zoroastrianism contends that the righteous will forever reign with Ahura Mazda.  (sounds so peaceful and automotive!)

We have the official orthodox party lines from all these religions about what eternity will consist of and how we’ll spend our time. Most of which seem to predict various forms of idyll, worship, pleasure and ongoing paradise. Sounds pretty cool.

But how about some specifics? I have so many questions about this arrangement.

I suppose no one alive really knows exactly how it all works. What eternity looks like and consists of is one of those mysteries of the universe we’ll just have to wait on, so in the meantime let’s do what we do best here: offer up some wild speculation, outside-the-box thoughts, unsubstantiated hypotheses, and hopeful guess-ery.

Involvement with Human Affairs

If we learned anything from Angels in the Outfield (other than the fact that Tony Danza had clearly never thrown a baseball in his life previous to filming this movie), it’s that the dead have the power to exert influence over the outcomes of sporting events. I imagine this sort of thing will occupy much of our time (such as Auburn’s Chris Davis being carried on sweet angels’ wings all the way to the end zone in last year’s supernatural Iron Bowl).

Chris Davis, flying to sport glory on the wings of blessed angels?

Chris Davis, flying to sport glory on the wings of blessed angels?

Perhaps we will also be involved with the living in other ways, like Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Maybe the recently deceased are immediately given ‘helper’ or ‘guardian angel’ tasks? If this is the case, it will be interesting to see whether or not we are assigned to monitor a geographic area, specific individuals, or if we’re just supposed to be on the lookout for certain problems (i.e. bridge jumpers, weaving motorcyclists, rollerbladers with no brakes, drunk people trying to feed animals.) Continue reading

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Filed under F Abstract Concepts, F Commentary, Faith

Fourteen Holy Helpers

In our self-obsessed, individual-driven world of medical breakthroughs, technological wonders and incredible Hot Pocket innovations, human beings are only becoming more self-reliant, insular and independent. We are ‘masters of our fate,’ and the ‘captains of our souls.’ Many of us have no need for God or anything of the sort. We are our own helpers, our own healers.

But back in the 14th Century, when the Black Plague was mowing down everything in sight, we weren’t quite so sure of ourselves. We needed all the help we could get. In those days, the people turned to 14 Holy Helpers to deal with their many problems. Let’s have a look at this elite group and what they were called upon to help protect against.

Agathius – – Headaches

At first glance, this seems like overkill having a Heavenly Helper designated just for headaches. But then again I can’t imagine spending a day productively threshing wheat, being a blacksmith’s apprentice or cheesemongering with a pounding headache. Continue reading

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Filed under F History, Faith

Francis (of Assisi)

Francis of Assisi is hands-down one of the greatest, most influential F’s to ever walk the earth. As the son of a wealthy merchant, he could have lived a comfortable, sumptuous life of leisure and pleasure. He could have ‘had it all’ by the world’s standards. While apparently he did indulge in his early years and ‘drank his quart of sin’ as Shane MacGowan might say, he experienced a transformation so remarkable that he is still revered, widely discussed and even lending his handle to popes to this day.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

Growing up, Francis had everything a nice Italian boy could want: money, power, all the requisite food and drink. He probably had many nice tracksuits and one of those gold chains with a horn on it. But what he wanted was glory. Continue reading

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Filed under F History, Faith, Folks

Flailing, Fallen, Fearful, Flopping, Foolish Failures

We are weak and pitiable creatures. That’s what we are. I have no problem accepting this.

The worldview I subscribe to offers a remedy to this situation – redemption through Jesus – which is great (albeit an esoteric future thing that is hard to grasp). But still I struggle with this notion of how consistently awful mankind is.  Sure there are days when beauty and goodness seem to outweigh evil, but most of the time it sure doesn’t seem that way.

Why are we so bad? Are we even worth saving? Is this generation bound for destruction? These sorts of questions keep all of us here at TMF up at night; resulting in our intern having to make many late night fact finding trips to Krispy Kreme. (‘What the #@%$ Fred you idiot I said SPRINKLES!’) Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, Faith

Flanders, Ned

Father. Neighbor. Holy Roller. True believer. Mustachioed. Lefty…

One of the most beloved residents of Springfield, Flanders, Ned (full name Nedward) has given us so much over the years. A faithful provider of positivity, forgiveness, uplifting exhortations, enduring catch phrases, and gentle reminders of hell’s eternal flames, steady Ned has been our delightfully cheesy moral compass since his debut in 1989.

Longtime fans of The Simpsons have been through quite a lot with Ned. He’s been subjected to more tribulation, twists and turns than perhaps any other character on the show (other than Hans Moleman).

'I was saying Booo-urns.'

‘I was saying Booo-urns.’

He’s lost a wife and nearly his faith on multiple occasions. He’s had to endure living next door to Homer for more than two decades. But despite all this trauma – or perhaps because of it – it seems Ned has also experienced the most profound transformation of any Simpsons character.

From “Funny” to Beloved

The Simpsons has undergone quite a transformation itself over the years. From its humble beginnings of getting cheap laughs from Bart’s sassy one-liners (Eat My Shorts!), and the crudely drawn family engaging in crude behavior (Homer choking Bart, shocking one another at Dr. Marvin Monroe’s clinic, etc.), The Simpsons eventually became the smartest, most insightful, most important TV show probably of all time.

How did they go from “funny” to an unmatched intergalactic phenomenon with legions of devoted fans?

I think a key to the program’s rise to greatness can be found in Ned Flanders’ ascendance from one-dimensional goofballery, to the complex, nuanced man that eventually emerged. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, Faith, Film, F Entertainment

Festivus

A Festivus for the rest of us!” – Frank Costanza

Dear friends, Festivus is fast approaching (Dec. 23). Don’t worry I didn’t get you anything either. That’s okay because Festivus is not that kind of celebration.

While Festivus was technically created in the 60s by writer Dan O’Keefe, the holiday as it exists today was introduced to us by the great Frank Costanza (via O’Keefe’s screenwriter son who wrote it into the script) in one of the best Seinfeld episodes of all time, “The Strike.” This 1997 episode was packed with legendary antics and one-liners that would quickly become part of our vernacular (“The Human Fund,” the “Two Face,” Kramer on strike: “It’s a walk out!” Elaine’s sub card, etc.), but the introduction of Festivus spawned something transcendent: an actual holiday that is observed around the world to this day. It is officially a thing. And while invented for comedic purposes, perhaps other major holidays could learn something from the traditions of this special day?

Festivus means different things to different people, so I can only offer what it means to me. But together, I hope we can unearth the true meaning of Festivus.

To kick things off, let us begin with… the Airing of Grievances. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, Faith, Family, Film, F Entertainment, Fun Phenomena