During the last presidential election campaign, Ben Carson made a very good point about the Internet and the deteriorating state of civility in America. Referring to the Internet, he said (paraphrased), “You can read almost any news story online, then look in the comment section and find people cussing at each other. Where did this hateful spirit come from? It certainly didn’t come from our Judeo-Christian heritage.”
I’m pretty sure things have gotten worse on both sides of any spectrum one could name – political, social, racial, national, economic, etc., since the election results came in.
Of course, most of the people saying horrible things to others online are operating under nicknames, and most would never be brave enough to say such things to others in person. The anonymity of the Internet makes them both brave and unnaturally rude. Thus our dilemma.
About ten years ago, I was wondering if the Internet unites or divides us and wrote the poem below. Unfortunately, I fear it’s just as true today, maybe more. I sure hope humanity does some work on itself soon. I don’t know how many more chances we’re going to get.
One day, the good Lord was looking down on us all
And, as usual, wondering where He went wrong,
When He had a crazy idea He named “The Internet”
And thought, “They should have had this all along!”
“I’ll plant the idea in somebody’s head down there
And when they can all finally talk with each other,
All this fighting will be replaced by understanding
And every man will rush to help his brother.”
So He did just that, then went away for a week,
Which to Him is about twenty of our mortal years.
When He returned, he logged on, wildly curious,
But what He saw nearly drove Him to tears.
His first stop was a popular site called You Tube.
But He found everyone fighting about everything.
“I can’t believe it,” He cried. “What’s wrong with them?”
This isn’t what I hoped my Internet would bring!”
He searched, still hoping, but found endless depravity.
There was some good here and there but, all in all,
He felt that His gift had been hijacked and graffiti’d,
Nothing more than a sophisticated bathroom wall.
What He hoped would bring peace and prosperity
Had become rude, ungodly, vile and unkempt.
“I hoped it wasn’t true of My children,” He thought,
“But it seems familiarity really does breed contempt.”
Creatures like this are proof to me that there is a creator. Can an insect will itself over many generations to look like a leaf so its enemies won’t see it? What consciousness is at work here? A creator’s, or a bug’s? A mistake or intention?
The atheist and/or evolutionist’s answer is natural selection, the strong, smart or better camouflaged surviving (survival of the fittest) and the others dying until the product is this, but that still indicates a kind of consciousness, the kind of consciousness that adds the deterioration specks of the leaves to its wings, or the reflection of light to an owl’s eye on a butterfly wing. The question is – what is the source of that consciousness?
This is the third installment in my attempt to convince the mortal world that I am and have always been the star of a sitcom in heaven called Messin’ with Mark, a show created, written and produced by God Himself for His personal amusement and that of the angels that inhabit His heavenly area up there.
Jesus didn’t approve of His Pop’s antics at first, but He got with the program when He saw how funny it was to have ludicrous and even impossible things happen to me, and my pained reactions, which apparently They both think are pretty funny.
I’m reaching pretty far back for this episode, but I think you’ll agree when you’re done reading that some divine intervention had to have taken place.
My brother, Paul, was three years older than me. Not a lot of time between adults, but two different worlds to kids. He was bigger, taller, stronger and smarter. We got along well except for the usual sibling rivalries and disagreements. But one day when I was about nine years old, I upset him pretty bad. I can’t remember what I did but it was bad enough for him to chase me right out of the house and down the street. I sought refuge at the house of my best friend, Dana Eckman, who was home at the time and let me in just as Paul was about to pounce on me. I locked the door as he tried the knob. He banged on the door before walking away and yelling, “You’ve got to come home sometime, you little jerk!”
I probably should have let him calm down but I couldn’t resist waiting for him to get a safe distance away, then walking out onto the front porch to annoy him some more. I suppose I figured I was already going to get a beating so I might as well enjoy myself while I could. I danced and said something very original like, “Can’t get me!” or the classic “neener neener.” He came running back. I continued dancing just long enough to make sure I could get back inside and lock the door a few seconds ahead of him. I then went to the front window and laughed some more at his red, anguished face. Dana just watched, horrified. He didn’t understand the complex cat and mouse game that is brotherhood. Paul swore he would kill me as he walked back across the street. I went back out onto the porch and continued my dance. He ran back. I ran back inside, and the cycle repeated several times. I started getting bored so I upped the ante and walked to the sidewalk. I was pretty sure I could get to the house before he could make it across the street. My brother eyed me, calculating, trying to figure out if he could beat me to the door. He must have decided he couldn’t because, as I was dancing and singing my “can’t get me” song, he scanned the ground for something he could throw at me. Fortune smiled on him as his eyes spotted a dog poop. But that wasn’t the only bit of luck he would have that day. Oh, no. Far, far from it.
Without thinking, and probably not very hopeful he would even hit me, he threw said poop in my general direction. My singing and dancing was so unguarded and carefree that I failed to see him pick up the poop and throw it. I didn’t know he had thrown anything until . . . IT LANDED IN MY MOUTH.
Yep. Right in the old pie hole. One hundred points and the big plushy on the midway. God must have had a little mercy on me, though, because it was one of those bleached white dog poops that had sat out in the elements so long, all the color and, more importantly, flavor had run out of it. It exploded in my mouth and left me feeling like I just chewed up a piece of chalk. Of course, the shock made me gasp and inhale a bunch of it. I coughed as my brother, amazed at his luck, gleefully cried out, “That’s dog poop! A direct hit!”
Oh, how the tables can turn. I was now retching and he was the one laughing and dancing, celebrating his throwing arm and the poop dust I was coughing up. Sometimes karma takes a while, sometimes it shows up right away.
It’s hard to describe the maelstrom of emotions that went through my mind at that moment except that they were all bad – repulsion, anger, humiliation, horror. I ran to the hose in front of Dana’s house but it had one of those recessed knobs that requires a special wrench to turn on. My brother’s laughter rang in my ears as I continued to cough up white, poop dust and search desperately for water. I finally ran into Dana’s house and stuck my entire open mouth under the faucet upside-down and ran it full blast until my head, neck and upper torso were drenched.
I finally washed away all the poop, but have never been able to wash away the memory. Having dog poop thrown into one’s laughing mouth tends to stick in the memory bank, filed under “Funny now, not so funny at the time.”
You may not know me down here, but I’m kind of a big deal in heaven.
Here’s still more evidence that I’m God’s little cartoon character, or the star of a heaven-based sitcom. Comic relief in heaven. It’s the only explanation.
Before the first incident, Jesus noticed a large group of angels gathered around God, looking down at something or someone on the earth. Curious to see what the commotion was about, He strolled over, looked over God’s shoulder and said, “Whatcha looking at, Dad?”
God replied, “Watch what I’m gonna do to Mark today. This is gonna be hilarious.”
Jesus shook his head and said, “Him again? C’mon, Pop. Why are you always picking on that guy? I mean, you created him. You’re supposed to be compassionate ‘n stuff.”
“I know but I can’t help it,” God replied. “I mean, look at him!”
Jesus looked down again and said, “Yeah, I can kinda see what you mean. Look at his face.”
They both laughed before Jesus checked Himself again.
“No, Dad. Really. This is wrong. We’re supposed to watch out for people like him.”
God stopped laughing and thought about it for a few seconds, then they looked at each other and said, in unison, “Naaaaaaaa!”
They decided then and there to make a show out of it – Messin’ with Mark. Read on and you, too, will believe.
Case in point –
One summer Saturday, I was driving to my wife’s house to take her to a long-anticipated concert. She and I had just met and I was struggling to impress her. I was stuck in typical L.A. traffic when I started to get overheated. I had put on a pullover sweater because it was one of those “June gloom” days that started out cold and quickly heated up. Since traffic was stop and go, I decided to quickly remove the sweater the next time traffic came to a full stop. Traffic stopped so I released the seatbelt and started trying to take off the sweater. I had an RX-7 at the time so there wasn’t much room to do anything, let alone put my arms over my head to take a sweater off. The sweater and I ended up in a wrestling death match.
Having used up the 1-2 seconds drivers in Los Angeles have to move when traffic starts moving again, drivers behind me started honking, then yelling, then making hand gestures. But the sweater had become a thing possessed. In desperation, I yanked it off with a vengeance and stepped on the gas to avoid getting shot at by someone whose life I had stolen seven seconds from. I immediately felt a searing pain on my forehead. I looked in the mirror and saw that the zipper on the v-neck had torn an angry path right up the middle as I pulled it off. I had never thought about how treacherous the zipper on this sweater was before this incident.
I arrived at my wife’s house. She gasped and asked, “What happened to you? Did someone hit you with a tomahawk?” I told her I had been attacked by my own sweater. She laughed as she cleaned the wound. She offered to put a few band-aids on my forehead but I couldn’t bear the humiliation. At dinner, walking around afterward, and at the concert, strangers speculated about what might have happened to me as I fanned my forehead with anything I could find.
By this time, hundreds of angels had gathered around God and Jesus to watch the show, laughing uproariously. Probably feeling a little guilty, too, because they’re supposed to prevent stuff like this, but a little guilt always makes things we’re not supposed to do a little more enjoyable, like when we got a day off school for a holiday as a kid versus when we stayed home from school pretending we were sick. It was always more fun when we knew we were doing something we weren’t supposed to do, right? Angels are no different. Don’t let their name fool you.
It’s also no coincidence that God and the person who comes up with ideas for TV shows are both called the “creator”. I imagine God received a little resistance from Jesus on this one since an injury was actually required for this episode, but his response was probably, “Don’t worry, Son. I’ll heal him, too. It’s worth it. This is gonna be hilarious.” Jesus argued to heal me faster than usual, but not so fast that I get suspicious that He orchestrated the whole thing. But they underestimated the intelligence They gave me. I’m onto Them. I’m not this dumb. I can’t be. It has to be Them, and their show. But I don’t mind contributing to the laughter in heaven. It’s kind of an honor, actually. I just wish they would warn me, but I guess tipping me off would ruin the show. God writes in mysterious ways.