“One Pastor Candidate for Every Five Pastor Openings”

Have you heard this one? I just heard it the other day.

I’ve been generally aware of the “pastor shortage” or, put differently, the “need for pastors,” but the other day after a men’s Bible study, a church member shared this doozy with me.

You see, the local church my family will probably join is between pastors at the moment and it’s been seven months. They have stalled in the search, basically taking the past seven months to write a church profile with only two salient facts in my view: low attendance (50-60 a Sunday) and minimal budget (somewhere around $150k a year).

But now, with only depressing effect, there’s this fact in the mix. Only one pastor is available for every five congregations looking for a pastor, or in need of a pastor.

I say, let’s honor the rumor and explore what it may mean. Like from a God’s eye view. For example, are we saying that God isn’t providing shepherds for His flocks? Seems unlikely. What are some other options?

One other option, possibly the only other option, is that the pastor-less churches aren’t churches.

Boom.

Consider that.

What would that mean? What would we be saying if we concluded that four of five pastor-less churches aren’t “churches”?

I’ve been thinking about this question all week. And the answer, as I see it, is not as surprising as you might guess.

What does it mean that four of five pastor-less churches aren’t actually “churches”?

It means people aren’t religious anymore.

And that fact is not surprising at all. It’s quite mundane really. It’s not even embarrassing. It’s “just the way it is”.

Specifically though, or more acutely, it means that these pastor-less groups, are viewed by men like me (or men I went to seminary with) as uninterested in religion. Instead they’re interested in having their way all the time, and won’t be moved from their opinions.

In the particular church I have been attending, the head deacon was curious about my opinion on whether the flag could be placed back behind the pulpit in the sanctuary. It seems the previous pastor took it down as an early order of business during his tenure.

The point here is not, “What did you tell him, Pete? We are having the same debate.”

The point is, “What man on earth, let alone man of the cloth, man called by Almighty God to preach the Word, wants to debate sanctuary decorations?” That’s not a Christian church problem, that is a personality problem. Too many cooks in the kitchen.

Step 1 of problem solving, Air Force Officer Training School style: Recognize The Problem. The problem here is not a pastor shortage, the problem here is a truth shortage.

The God of the Bible, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe is not afraid to use unpleasant truths to accomplish His will.

The truth is these groups of people long ago stopped being Christian churches. Everyone with children left—that’s the first sign. But more than that, churches grow. They also convert people. If so-called “churches” aren’t growing and aren’t gaining new converts for years, they’re not churches. This isn’t the end of the world. It’s the truth.

In conclusion, don’t put out a “Pastor Wanted” sign if you’re not a church.

And if you’re not a church, then the only public action for your group is prayer. If the “church” won’t pray together, then you’ve learned all you need to know. 1. It’s definitely not a church and 2. your two options then are evangelize or leave.

I say, why not evangelize? Most people are horrible at it and you’ve at least got a ready audience.

As for me and my particular situation, I’m attempting to practice what I preach here. I’m sticking with these folks, who otherwise are not a church, because they’re a ready audience and they need Gospel as much as the next man.

On Art and On Health Insurance Costs

These two have nothing to do with each other, so don’t spend any time searching for the connection. Art and Health Insurance Costs have nothing to do with each other. They’re just both on my mind and I’ve been meaning to write about them for some time.

The reason to write about Health Insurance Costs is because I finally know the answer to my long unanswered question, “How does it work?” I usually ask this question when the person taking my money says the word “only”. And the HR folks seem to always say, “You only pay…”

While I haven’t ever googled anything like what I’m about to share, part of the reason for that lack of searching is that I wouldn’t even know how to ask the question. Experience was the way for me to “search it up”.

My company tells me that I can choose between an HSA or whatever the other, more traditional plan is called. Neither the acronyms, nor the explanations of benefits made a difference to me, and the paycheck deduction is near identical. I chose HSA.

Long story short: the HSA costs me (family man) something like $230/paycheck no matter if I go to a doctor or not.

But there’s a $3,000 deductible.

So that means that if you happen to go to the doc, whatever the number the letter in the mail gives you after figuring out what was “covered”—pay attention—must be paid. So if you go and owe $3,000, you’re now paying, over one year (26 paychecks) $345/paycheck ($230+$115). (Luckily, most places don’t charge interest on these year long payment plans—luckily for them, I mean…)

To restate that, if you need to spend your full deductible, you go from paying $460 a month to $690 a month!

Now, once the deductible is met, there is an “out of pocket max”. For my plan, this is—for any one us—$6,875/year. For the entire family it is $8,000. (Don’t quote me on these numbers. They’re close. Who would have them memorized? I have better things to do.)

Again, once some one (1) member gets bills for $6,875, which is only $3,875 more than the “deductible”, the new paycheck-ly cost of the plan is…(total of $3,875 / 26 added to $345)…$494/paycheck! Put plainly, we’re up to $1,000 a month!

If we get bills to the tune of the family out-of-pocket max, that’s an addition of $1,125 (over the course of 26 checks) or a grand total of $537/paycheck!

In short, before all the medical bills become “covered” (natural sense of the word) by my health insurance, I have to contribute $1,100/month or so, or the initial $230 x 26, plus $8,000, for a grand total of $13,980!

I’m not sure the word “covered” really means anything at this point. Maybe we’re “covered” in the sense that a year of mortgage payments “cover” our heads all year.

“What’s your mortgage?” Next time someone asks, tell the truth. Add up both the mortgage and the health insurance.

Now you know. And no one ever had explained it to me before. So I wrote it down today.

Next, unrelatedly, let’s talk about Art. I just listened to a podcast on the philosophy of Art and a super intriguing idea was planted in my mind. The idea? All Art as “work song”.

I like this idea so much, it gives me so much joy, that I’m infecting you with this idea now. Is Art itself merely “work song” for our lives, comprehensively? If so, what does that mean? If not, how is genuine “work song” (like “I’ve been working on the railroad” sung by actual railroad workers while they work on the railroad to pass the time away…) different than Art?

Fascinating to consider. On the one hand, if all Art is work song, that paints a pretty depressing vision of life on Earth—as in, life is so bad we have to sing to get through it. But I don’t see why it has to. I like singing and I like working and I like singing while working. Just did it the other day. Was chatting movies on the leg home and belted out, “Say it soft and it’s almost like praying”. (Name that tune?) Made the crew chatty and made me smile.

As for me, I’m undecided as of yet. But I’m leaning towards siding with the “all Art is work song” crowd. What do you think?

Been Driving A Lot

I’ve been driving a lot, of late. And this has provided ample time for thinking.

As my careful readers know, it is my general belief that my assessment and perspective on life is spot on, and that there is something to gain if I am able to communicate my perspective to others.

My particular aim is to develop the most eloquent and compelling, if not provocative, manner of stating whatever position I find to be true and in need of announcement.

Today, I want to firmly place the concept of “races” or “ethnicities” or “identity politics” or “racism” in the trash fire. I want all of us to stop giving ear and time to the idea that the certain subgroups of humans which have been oppressed are now in need of special, however acute, advantages to make up for the oppression etc. You know what I mean—all the mainstream, legitimate sounding equity and equality BS.

Here’s my zinger which demonstrates that I’m right:

No race/ethnicity/community will ever say “thank you” to the race/ethnicity/community that helped them.

To use one specific example, I’m saying that the venerated “black community” will never tell those former-slavers-now-living-with-“white-privilege”, “Thank you all for giving us a hand when we needed it.”

And it is this fact-of-life of perpetual ingratitude that is the proof that the Blacks themselves know who is ultimately responsible for their station in life—individuals.

Of course, I could be wrong. I long for it, in fact. I’ve even made it easy for ya. All that would have to happen for me to be wrong is one or more of my readers which hail from the “community” would have to say, “Btw, Pete. In honor of your upcoming 41st birthday, I just wanted to say, ‘Thank you for freeing us from the chains of bondage. That was very big of you.’”

(I’m not holding my breath.)

While I wait, I march on with high hopes of avoiding the consequences of unthinking stupidity—and raising my children to do the same.

A Tone-Matching Post On 50 Years of Unhurt Women, Physical Touch, and One of Justice Sotomayor’s Opinions Within Her Dobbs Dissent

I became a gym regular at the age of 16. I mean, I was a nearly five days a week regular. I loved lifting weights. Unlike most of my peers, I used my senior year’s “take an hour off school cuz you work fifteen hours a week” work consortium(?) credit on the first hour, not the seventh. I went to school late. What did I do before school? I went to the gym.

You ladies, especially you unfit ladies, may be surprised to know that gyms are a pretty well-known place for gay men to congregate en masse.

As I get going, a few factual anecdotes may prove salient here.

Back then, I had a buddy who was always more socially aware than I, and we were probably the only two 17 yr olds actively engaging in weight lifting for personal fitness, ie not football, while in high school. Despite my falling behind him in awareness, I was well-aware that one or two of the men at the gym we regularly chatted with were essentially sexual predators, and that my young friend and I were the prey.

Anecdote 1: The one man, 50ish in age—but no more than twenty in appearance (“Black don’t crack”)—offered my friend $200 to publicly shower at the gym. My friend accepted and told me that he figured, “I needed a shower anyhow.” He then told me, “So I shower, the dude walks in, (keep in mind this is a public men’s locker room) and I see him peer in, and then he leaves. Easy money.”

Anecdote 2: I never got an similar offer, but I was always a user of the one private shower, and one morning the door opened and this same gay man see me and says, “Oh, sorry about that,” and closes it. I shook my head. My predominant thought was, “I don’t know if I could stop myself from the same foolishness if an uber fit, attractive (and unconscionably funny and smart and charming…) young woman was showering in the men’s locker room right behind where I took a leak, either.” Or simply, “Meh.”

Unlike my buddy, I had more chats with another man that folks always told me was gay, but he never as anything but nice to me. Well, over time he accepted my invitation to watch me play roller hockey in a men’s inter-mural league. That was horribly awkward. Not sure why I did it.

Anecdote 3: And while he didn’t proposition me, he knew I was promoting a local Strongman Competition and he offered to have his company sponsor it. As I took him up on his offer, he paid me the $250 from his own checkbook—not Frito Lay’s. Lol. He must’ve wanted it real bad. I mean, I’ve been horny, but sheesh.

I could go on, believe me.

Nearly two decades later, life/poor judgment drops me off as an assistant manager at a gentleman’s club. Besides alcohol, their business is physical touch. Seriously. In a manager meeting they told us about studies which show that a waitress’s placing their hand on a patron increases tips and spending. They reminded us how some men come in to the club not having been touched ever during the preceding week or so. A handshake from the bouncer/doorman, or at least a fist-bump, is good for business, period. (Unless the gentlemen displays otherwise, naturally.)

Furthermore, at the club, I learned that Hollywood generally gets the lap dance concept wrong. I have witnessed—my own eyes—“regulars” who literally just want the “lady” to sit, cowgirl-style, on their lap, and chat. Or perhaps just sit like that and hug. Song after song after song, dollar after dollar after dollar. No dry humping, no gyrating, just body touching body. Like as much surface contact as humanly possible. Mind you, this was not every man. But many.

All the above builds to my climactic and tone-matched response to the notion that women will be hurt by the overturn of Roe.

The other day, I posted that the evidence and arguments of “women” claiming, “women will be hurt,” really mean that “children-not-yet-living-as-responsible-adults” are who will be hurt. I thought this would necessarily lead someone to ask me how to fix this “irresponsible children will be hurt”situation. But you didn’t bite. So before getting to that interesting question, I want to show another angle of how this “women will be hurt” claim is foolish. The other angle being, “Women will be hurt?? What about MEN!? What about ME!!??”

See, as above, I believe—as a man—that I need touch. I don’t mean “want”, I mean “need”. I mean, like, “can’t live without it” need. And the main touch that I want is unprotected vaginal sex—including orgasm—with a woman.

Before Roe was overturned, before last Friday, I had all sorts of ways to feel this touch, in all fifty states. I told women, “I love you.” I told women, “You can’t get pregnant if we stand/sit/you’re on top/I’m on bottom/sideways/doggy-style etc.” I told women, “I’m rich.” I told women, “My family’s rich.” I told women, “I’m smart.” I told women, “No matter what happens, I’ll make it work.” If none of those dead ringers would achieve my need, I’d dig deep and offer, “You’re so beautiful.” Finally, if fortune was not on my side, or, to be frank, if she was really dumb (“geez, Pete”—I know, I’m mean), sometimes, when I really, really needed that special touch, I would tell them, “Come on, baby. It’s not like first trimester abortion is illegal. Just. (Oh that’s it.) Let me. (Yes. More.) Finish in you.”

And now?

Damn you, Justice Alito!!

Nowhere, not in the United States nor in my pickup lines, did I ever have to worry about what State I was in. Do you understand?

But now, since Friday, when all other winners fail me, when I have to resort to the classic, “It’s not like first trimester abortion is illegal,” line to spread my seed in a woman, I have to consider where in this great country I even am! (And as a Captain, I have a tendency to travel. So this overturn affects me particularly hard.)

I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right. It’s true, I could say, “Even if we’re in one of the states which has banned abortion, I can get you a comp’d flight to a state that has the pills at least.” Yes, that might be a winner. But she’d probably have to be ESL at the least to let that pass. (I’m seeing that in the throws of ecstasy created by yours truly, an immigrant might only recognize “pill” and think “birth control”—and while many women on the pill only take it as a secondary, passive method—still requiring the man to use a condom—some do not. So I may be able to get the touch I need with this line.)

In the end, I want to wrap up by saying, Justice Sotomayor et al’s argument that “abortion rights allow a woman to control her destiny” (paraphrase) is true only conditionally, that is, only with the addition of one word. To make it true, it must say, “Abortion rights allow a stupid woman to control her destiny.”

Two Thoughts For To-day

First, I want, for posterity, to include content from an email to a friend. It’s about the second amendment and Bruen opinion. I know the email will never be deleted, but this is easier to find and I like the compact way I developed my thoughts.

My full attention response to your statement of the crux of the matter is as follows: by virtue of it being in English and law in a political State, the Second Amendment means something. Rather, it meant something. And by meaning something, there are things it didn’t mean. It had nothing to do with SpaceX, for example. Or vehicles in general. The rub is not “regulation”. The rub is “what did it mean?”

To be clear, I’d even be fine with deciding it is unintelligible and we’ve been fools for two centuries-plus for treating it like it had meaning.

****

My feeling on the passing scene is the Left will always insert straw men (“it’s about safety” or “it’s about how far does the second amendment limit regulation”) because the most plain meaning of the words (if there is any meaning at all) is, “Citizens ought be able to instill fear in the hearts of seeming attackers AND, if attacked, connect the remaining space between threat and action with certain death.” And the Left will never admit this paraphrastic or philosophical meaning because they are the attacker.

There’s no sweet spot, D-. There’s meaning. Should citizens be able to make this connection between threat and action or not? What do we believe? I say absolutely. And I mean this regardless of whether there is a second amendment, regardless which country I am in. I believe the best political philosophy on weapons is citizens must bear them. Did the second amendment teach me this? It doesn’t matter. Does the second amendment mean this? I believe it does. And part of the reason I do is that these men were revolutionaries themselves. Had they not had weapons, they wouldn’t have founded anything. By way of analogy, a mathematician who denied numbers are useful to his profession would be the same as a Founder meaning otherwise than I believe he did by the words of the second amendment.

****

Random slaughter? That’s also not a concept in the sense that you meant—unless the holocaust and all the major atrocities of people with guns against people without guns are included. In church world we say, “The Gospel levels the field.” In the same sense, so do guns. We’re all sinners. We’re all possible victims—and we ALL should be. No man, not the government, not “you or anyone else” gets through this lifetime without fear of attack.

****

That’s the email content and first thought for today.

Second, I want to say that I love hearing from people who I disagree with. In this case, I have been doing my best to understand the “women will be hurt” argument on the Pro-Choice side of things.

So far as I can understand it, in the end, the argument doesn’t really mean “women”. By “women” they really mean “children”. No, I don’t believe they mean “female people under the age of 18 will be hurt.” Instead, I believe that the “person” they mean by “women”, in the sense they employ, has not yet achieved adult status.

Adults have to make decisions. “Should I live here or there?” “Should I date this person or that?” “Should I rust out or wear out?” “My primary circumstances have changed, how does that affect my next decisions?” These are inescapably adult decisions.

“I want my way here and now, there and now, and now and forever—without consequence”, that’s a child. That’s a child, no matter the age, no matter the sex.

I believe this is a wise assessment. But I also believe it furthers the conversation in a good way by providing something meaningful to respond to. So if you disagree with the big overturn or how I have characterized this “women will be hurt” part of your stance, and if you enjoy conversation, then please comment below. I’d love to hear how I’m misunderstanding things.

Not Quite Able To Finish Today

I’m close. Page 108ish, I want to say. I was trying to make it to the end of the Bruen opinion and dissent, but my eyes are closing. All I want to capture in this blog post is that the dissent, as you may have heard in a summary article already, spends great effort to declare the following, “Guns are for killing people.”

Isn’t that what I just said the other day? And in, like, five words?

Man, I feel like how genius’s must feel.

Justice Breyer gives out, in a belabored manner, all the statistics which show that locations with many guns also have many gunshot deaths. OMG. Really?!

Next someone is going to take time to state that snow-capped mountainous regions have more downhill skiing, oceans have more ships, and racetracks have more racecars.

Why stop there? Women have more babies. Men have more penises. And children are short. That’s a sock-knocker-offer.

Then there’s the fact that airports have more air traffic than restaurants.

What else?

Basketball courts see more running than bowling alleys.

Justice Breyer says the issue is whether the Second Amendment can allow states to regulate gun ownership, but then he proceeds to argue that guns are for killing people.

Snark aside, there is plenty of interesting nuance in the document, but as a super poignant summary, back in Heller, Justice Scalia defined “Militia”. Now in Bruen Justice Thomas used his opinion to define “Right”, and in Bruen, Justice Breyer defines “Ends” or “Purpose”.

Good work, Justice Breyer. Now if we could only hear how that relates to the concept of a “right”, I’d be all ears.

They Will Know

Hardly a day has gone by while I have been a professing, confessing Christian that I don’t think about the vast increase of nearly irrefutable knowledge since Bible times—and its seeming ability to dethrone gods.

This new Jurassic Park movie is one more stumbling block for Christianity. It’s not just, “There are no dinosaurs in the Bible.” It’s not just, “Using the Bible timelines, there’s no accounting for dinosaurs.” It’s not even merely, “Christians go to unappealing lengths to rationalize away everything that dinosaurs mean to timelines of the universe.” It’s that dinosaurs are certainly not gods and yet they have seemingly trounced the god of the Bible—and effortlessly at that.

As I mentioned last post, I’m currently reading selections of the greatest math and science books, and that means Euclid. When it comes to science, you start with math. When it comes to math, you start with Euclid. (Wait for it…) It’s elementary.

I have mentioned Euclid in past posts, and I have mentioned that I think comparing what Euclid was doing circa Bible times with what Biblical authors and God Himself was doing circa Bible times is endlessly fruitful.

This time around, the guided reading book put special emphasis on the fact that Euclid was concerned with ideal figures, not with drawn figures. Put differently, his definitions, postulates, common notions, and eventually propositions were not about, “Can you draw an equilateral triangle or circle etc.?” No, they were about, “Can you build a mental construction (field of study we call geometry) which supports itself against all attack?”

Student: “Why is a point that which has no parts?”

Teacher: “Because that’s what Definition 1 says.”

Smart Student: “Okay, I get it.”

It’s not far removed from fiction.

Reader: “Why is Batman not able to fly?”

Author: “Because he’s just the man Bruce Wayne.”

Smart Reader: “Okay, I get it.”

Unlike fiction (you’re telling me no one ever notices Bruce Wayne is not present when Batman is??), however, Euclid holds up tolerably well.

And my point, regrouping, is to highlight that Euclid was intentionally teaching things he knew were only in his mind.

Dinosaurs—only dead objects.

Triangles—at their purest, only in our minds.

Religion—inadequate written and spoken term for core reasons for actions and ideas among living people.

****

Next, a lady at work yesterday rolled up her sleeve to reveal a new-ish tat of a scene of the “North Woods” on her forearm, from what I could tell without staring.

At the gentlemen’s clubs, I saw many women with bodies all tatted up. I learned that some men found it ugly, and others liked it. I found it kinda sexy when the tattoos were thought through. But no matter my opinions today, I can remember initially being repulsed by what I thought the ink did to an otherwise beautiful figure.

Yesterday, I felt that revulsion again. This was a pretty darn normal looking lady—definitely not a lady of the night choosing fast living at every turn. I then felt, “She’s searching for meaning. That’s the only explanation. She’s feeling like a cog in a machine and needs to individualize and ground herself. That’s why she took the counter-culture path.”

I know, I know. Seems like a lot of thought for something trivial. But my religion compels me to see it’s not trivial. Everything matters. And most of all, losing matters. It’s clear that religion has been losing. At every turn this is true. Why is religion losing?

This brings me to my title.

I’ve been studying Ezekiel for some time now. And many times the LORD gives, “And they will know that I am the LORD,” as the reason for his actions. Most often, his actions were lethal judgement of the members of a prideful tribe.

I’m not gonna ask the corresponding question about dinosaurs. But I do want to ask it about the math and science geniuses. What power did ideal figures have in staving off death? What power does a jurassic period in history have in clinging to life?

How about the tattoo? Did my co-worker’s tattoo satisfy?

****

Clear, consistent thought is a must. It doesn’t obtain eternal life, mind you, but it sure is essential while on Earth.

Dinosaurs are fascinating to contemplate—especially when they are destroying national monuments.

It feels wonderful to make long-lasting decisions (permanent tattoos). I can speak as an expert on this one. Being able to act decisively with an aircraft which does not forgive poor judgment is half the reason to become a pilot. My thoughts and actions matter. I’m important.

But even I can report that making many vital decisions still doesn’t satisfy.

Religion satisfies.

At the end of the day, I see American history recording our current age as “one in which we discovered the reason religion didn’t die.”

“And they will know that I am the LORD.”

U-valde, U-krain(silent e), U-s Fools

No one is interested in living with perfect consistency or perfect coherency. Not even me. That feels robotic or mechanized, or simply inhuman.

My titular pairing of Uvalde and Ukraine is not about advocating consistency or coherency or that those should be aimed for in the gun control talk. I do not find it troubling that someone could want to arm Ukraine and also disarm school shooters.

Instead, my argument is: “Don’t be led astray from the obvious.”

Is that an argument? Maybe not.

So my advice, then, is “Don’t be led astray from the obvious.”

Guns are for killing people. Maybe not every gun is equally designed for killing people, maybe some guns are purposely designed for other uses, but in the sense that, “These boots are made for walking”, “T-Rex doesn’t want to be fed”, “Jesus saves”, and “The Navy needs Maverick”, guns are for killing people.

If you can’t imagine ever wanting to kill people, then don’t buy a gun.

If you can imagine wanting to kill people, then buy a gun.

Guns are for killing people.

Guns are not made to encourage honest dialogue. Guns are not made for laws. Guns are not made to save lives. Don’t be led astray, folks.

Furthermore, it is my belief that the content in this post can be agreed upon by all humanity. What do you think? Do you agree?

PS – Lastly, if you want my actual solution to the constitutional debate, here’s the amendment I crafted carefully after Parkland. Amendment XXVIII: In time of peace, Arms shall no longer be secured by the people. (Second Amendment stays.) You can find my other post’s on the topic back around March 30, 2018.

Peak Excitement

Most of you know I have been working my way through many writings and volumes of the 60 volume Great Books of the Western World set, via the 10 volume Great Ideas Program guided readings. Most readings so far have tended to be political essays, and so when I saw that the next volume, Volume 3, is Foundations of Science and Mathematics, well, you can imagine my thrill.

I am nearly finished with JS Mill’s On Liberty, meaning tonight may be the night. Queue DeVito’s serenade to Arnold in Twins, “Tonight, is your night bro!”

I have never considered myself a math guy and I hated physics and chemistry in high school. Chemistry was actually the class that ruined my chance to get a motorcycle in high school. Straight A’s? See ya!

But as I attended seminary, I dug into epistemology and all the reasons folks don’t believe in Christianity and the resurrection etc. and have ended up finding myself intrigued to always have a leg up on the ability to intelligently and succinctly speak to the origins and limitations of science and mathematics.

Have I said that tonight could be the night? It could be. Queue Tony and Maria, “Tonight, tonight…”

Usually Tuesday’s are when my wife joins her friends in prayer for hours and I get a movie night to myself. But I don’t think so for tonight. Tonight I get the chance, no, the privilege to open new doors of mind-space.

I ask you, faithful reader, does it get any better than these moments?

[SPOILER] A Pilot Weeping, A Review of Top Gun: Maverick

As the Memorial Day themed church service began this morning, I just knew I was going to be in the right mood to cry during the movie in the afternoon. Some days ya’ just know.

The opening sequence confirmed what I suspected—but the dam held.

Oceans, forests, hills, deserts, mountains, jungles, and, oh yes, skies are the appropriate natural descriptors for how much emotional size was packed into each and every scene. Skies and skies of feeling, packed onto a smaller and smaller IMAX screen.

Still, squinted eyes were able to hold back the waters.

Somewhere in the training sequences I consciously decided that I was going to just let it happen, no matter who might look over and see.

When Phoenix has the birdstrike, her quick identification of the malfunction and even quicker reaction to save the aircraft struck a chord and finally a few tears came out. It felt amazing.

Then when Maverick surprisingly appears to run the course in 2:15, there was no holding back. No sobbing, mind you. But definitely communication from my soul in the form of slow building tear bombs dropping down my cheeks.

I wanted Maverick to succeed. He’d been talking like a boss the whole movie, and finally he was going to show the world that he could back up his words with action.

****

My life looks very, very different than it did leading up to and during my time in US Air Force pilot training. It’s astonishing to me to even consider who I was then and who I am today. But more astonishing is how this movie affected me. It brought to the surface something long buried deep within.

That something is the following fact: Pilot training was the last time in my life where I wasn’t embarrassed to do my best.

We all did our best.

Not anymore. That’s not allowed.

I’m up to fifty pushups five times during the walks with my toddler, these days. Right out in public. Fifty. Cars driving by. Same spots. Neighbors able to see. Fifty. All the way down and up. Fifty. I’m forty years old and struggle to do fifty pushups, but I also know that not one person who may happen to see the struggle can do more than me.

That’s the closest event (maybe these blogs when I’m in the mood) I can consider as one in which I give my best anymore. Even my best friend from college doesn’t want to play when I really put effort in.

But my pilot training class of ‘05? We did our best.

What’s changed? Now that’s a weeping good question.