Protestant Work Ethic


The Protestant work ethic is the view that a person’s duty is to achieve success through hard work and thrift, such success being a sign that one is saved. Having spent several years of my life collecting Unemployment, is it any wonder that I disagree?

The Germans have an expression, “Good enough is always your best.” The Germans are also famous for starting two World Wars, Nazism, and the slogan “Deutshland uber alles.” So, even though I am part German, I take their words of wisdom with a large grain of salt. “Deutshland uber Denmark” or “Deutshland uber Monaco” might have been good enough for me.

The Puritans believed that hard work was the way to Heaven. The Puritans also believed that some of their parishioners were witches and, so, they put them to death.

I think it is time to take another look at the Protestant Work Ethic. Let’s start with the Bible story about the Garden of Eden. What was Adam’s job? All he had to do was to come up with names for all the animals that God created. That’s a job that even I would relish. I might not have done as good a job as Adam, but my work would have been “good enough.” Maybe, instead of monkeys, I would have called them Hairy Tree-climbers. Then, squirrels might have been Furry Tree-climbers. Koala bears could be Cute Tree-climbers. Maybe not my best work, but good enough. The point is that while he lived in Eden, Adam did very little work.

Then Adam and Eve got thrown out of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. They tried to blame it on a talking snake. I think that explains why people today are so stupid. Our first ancestors were obviously morons. The talking-snake defense?   Come on! I would have just told God that I didn’t realize that it came from the forbidden tree. I just found it on the ground, and thought it was from a different tree. I’m sure that Johnnie Cochran could have come up with an even better story, maybe something like, “They didn’t eat the pit, so you must acquit,” but I think that the “found-it-on-the-ground defense” might have been good enough. It was certainly better than the talking-snake defense. That sounds like Adam and Eve might have been smoking the forbidden fruit, not eating it, but, like I said, Adam and Eve were morons, and they were found guilty. What was their punishment? Work! Adam and Eve now had to make clothes, grow food, hunt animals, build shelters, yada, yada, yada. Life inside the Garden of Eden had been all play. Work was God’s idea of punishment. So why do we think that God values work so much? Based upon the Garden of Eden, I think that God’s idea of paradise is having fun (at least that’s what I think the God, who I don’t believe in, believes). Work is overrated. Play is underrated. God even has a Commandment to honor Him one day a week by NOT working, no servile work on Sundays.

Why were Protestant pastors so keen on work? Well, back in those days, a thing called tithing was popular in the church. Tithing meant giving the church one-tenth of all you made. It’s mentioned repeatedly in the Bible.

And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave Him a tenth of everything.

Okay, so the church is supposed to get one-tenth of whatever you make. There it is! The smoking gun. The reason the church wants you to work so hard. The church is working on commission.

If the church wanted you to achieve Paradise, they would say, “Play more. Have a good time. Enjoy life. Find new animals and give them names.” But they are more concerned with getting their commission. It probably pisses them off that there is a Commandment to avoid work on Sundays. 24-7 was probably their idea, and God had to talk them down to 24-6.

So, I am proposing a replacement for the Protestant Work Ethic, the Agnostic Play Program. Don’t pray – Play. Have a good time. Enjoy life, find new animals, and give them names. I think I’ll call snakes, long, thin crawly things that can climb trees, but can’t really speak to you (unless you’re Harry Potter).

Serpent in Tree

Peace & Love, and all of the above,


People Will Come

-James Earl Jones as Terence Mann in Field of Dreams.


The Barnstormers began this season on the road and got off to a slow start. Then, a couple weeks ago, they had their home opener at Clipper Magazine Stadium, and won. They needed the home crowd to get them back on track. Last week, my friend John came for a visit and we went to two games. The Stormers won both games and got hot. They went back on the road and continued winning. Today, they are in first place in the Atlantic League.

We have some attractions in Lancaster that can get my friends from New York to drive 180 miles for a visit, but a Barnstormer game is, by far, the best draw. It’s Minor League Baseball, so don’t expect to see any pitchers throwing 100 mph fast balls. As a matter of fact, we have one submarine pitcher who barely throws half that fast. Don’t expect to see towering shots that travel 450 feet, either. Most of the homers are down the right field line, which is only 300 feet from home plate. Do expect to have fun, though.

There’s one sure thing about minor league baseball. Anything can happen. Almost all the players are hopeful of someday making it to the Majors, but only a few ever do. Most of them have a good bit of talent, but not quite enough to play in the Big Leagues. Blake Gailen is the all-time Barnstormer homerun hitter, but he’s only 5’9”. When the wind is blowing toward right field, he has the power to knock one out of the ballpark, but most of his homerun shots would be fly outs in a Major League park.

To be a big leaguer you have to be able to hit, throw, catch, and run. Most of the guys I watch can only do 2 or 3 of those things well. That’s what makes the game exciting, though. Knowing that the opposition is less than perfect challenges the team that’s batting to try to manufacture runs by taking more chances. They might try to stretch singles into doubles if an outfielder doesn’t have a very good arm. This leads to a lot of exciting plays at 2nd base. If a catcher doesn’t have a strong arm, more guys might be tempted to try to steal second, leading to more exciting plays at 2nd.

In the first game that John and I attended the Barnstormers were leading going into the 9th inning. The league leading Sugarland Skeeters had a man on second with one out. The batter hit a fly ball 400 feet into the deepest part of centerfield. The runner at second tagged up, so that he would advance whether the ball was caught or not. The Barnstormer centerfielder, to the surprise of everyone, made a tremendous catch crashing into the wall. As soon as the ball was caught, the man on second took off. He would make it to third easily, but he had no intention of stopping at third. He just kept on going and sprinted for home. The centerfielder relayed the ball to the shortstop, who threw the ball home an instant before the runner got there. The tag was made. The runner was out, and the game was over. An unusual double play. A very exciting finish.

Anything can happen in a minor league game, and that’s what makes them exciting. It also doesn’t hurt that you can get seats right behind home plate for less money than you would pay for parking at a major league stadium.

20180421_150057 (1)

John and I have been friends for 47 years, and we both played softball on the telephone company team years ago.   There are few things more pleasant than sitting in the sunshine for a few hours with an old friend, watching a ballgame, and laughing about old times.

Later that night we polished off some beer and watched the Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams. The DVD came with bonus features that included a discussion with Kevin Costner and baseball greats Johnny Bench, George Brett, and Bret Saberhagen.  Just a couple guys talking baseball.

The next day’s game was “Play Hookie with the Barnstormers Day.” The game started at 11 a.m. and the stands were crowded with school kids. They weren’t really playing hookie, though, as they were mostly on group outings with their schools. We were surrounded by a couple thousand kids, and for a couple hours, we, too, were kids again, enjoying another ballgame. It helped that the Barnstormers won, again.

I’m glad that they have a minor league baseball team playing their games just 5 minutes from my apartment, and even more glad that I have some great friends, who will make the drive here to sit in the stands for a couple of hours to enjoy life, relive old memories, and be kids again.

“Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”

JB and his girls

Go Stormers.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,



Oh My Godfather (Bro’s before Woes)

I try to live my life like a social butterfly flitting casually from one joyous moment to the next, but this is not always possible. Like the song says, “Into each life some rain must fall.” Recently, my Uncle George passed away. He was 85, a good man, a loving husband and father, a deeply religious man, and, in fact, my Godfather.

I attended the memorial mass in Ohio with my relatives. I travelled there with Brother X. It was heartwarming to find that my relatives all really believed that Uncle George was now “in a better place.” Some small part of me wished that I still had that faith that my relatives hold dear. Brother X does. He’s a Catholic of conviction, who believes strongly in the religion our parents taught us. My brother Kevin is still a Catholic, too, but I think he is more a Catholic of convenience. He did not show any strong signs of faith until he adopted two hyperactive boys and needed a little spiritual help and a Catholic school to help raise them.

I used to be a devout Catholic when I was a child. I was less devout in high school, when girls became more important to me than God. I guess you could say I was a “Cafeteria Catholic” while I was in the service, just choosing a few items that appealed to me and ignoring the rest of the menu. By the time I got my Honorable Discharge from the Navy, I had discharged most of my religious convictions, too. When nothing on the Catholic menu but the sacramental wine appealed to me anymore, I became an Agnostic.

Since I don’t believe in God, the Devil, Heaven, or Hell, I guess that makes me an Atheist, but my basic credo is “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” I don’t desire to be a member of any of the world’s religions, but I do kind of like the Rastafarian drug policy. If I’m wrong about the existence of God, I hope my Mom and her baby brother George are now playing harp duets for God in Heaven and that my Dad is doing the vocals. My Dad loved to sing in church, and he was always the loudest voice in the church. I found out during Uncle George’s Memorial Mass that Brother X takes after our Dad. Standing next to Brother X was like being locked in room with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

If there is a heaven, then, I suppose there’s a hell, too. I’m prepared to go. I don’t think I’ve lived a bad life, but I’m sure I would find Heaven to be a tad boring. In Hell, I’d find plenty of my kind of party people, and I’ll bet the place really rocks. If there’s a Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven, I’m sure that Hell must really have a hell of a band, too (even if the Devil doesn’t play fiddle any better than some kid in Georgia).

George and his wife Miriam, being good Catholics, had a bunch of kids, who had a bunch of kids, who are now having a bunch of kids of their own. The church was packed with relatives, and most of them knew the responses to the prayers and the words to all the hymns. I wasn’t the only one, though, who didn’t know when to stand, sit, or kneel. Like my parents, not all of George and Miriam’s kids followed in their footsteps. Thank God for Atheists, I thought, when I noticed that I wasn’t the only one who looked out of place in a church.

After the Mass we all went to VFW Hall and caught up on what’s been happening in our lives. I recognized all my first cousins and most of their spouses, but had no idea who their kids, and kid’s kids were, but I got introduced to everyone. One was a little girl named C J. She wants to be a paleontologist when she grows up. I asked her how old she was, and she said “8 and a quarter.” Then she asked me how old I was. I asked her how old she thought I was. She sat back, thought a moment, and then said, “You’ve got to be at least 20.” Instantly she was my favorite.

Obviously, it was a sad occasion, but we still had quite a few laughs. Many of the laughs were at the expense of Ohio’s Cleveland Browns, who, according to my brother, are the worst team in the NFL. I know nothing about football other than the Philadelphia Eagles won the last Super Bowl. The only sports I follow are Harness Racing, minor league Baseball, and Women’s Flat Track Roller Derby – Sports that very few others follow. So, I would have little to say, if it wasn’t for Brother X feeding me anecdotes. The fact that the Cleveland Browns had two of the top four picks in the NFL draft that weekend also added to the fun, because nobody in Ohio was happy with the choices they made.

My Cousin Jim from Pennsylvania asked me if I combed my hair with a firecracker. As he is balding, I quipped back that he was the only one of us not going grey. Then everyone joined in and barbs were flying faster than a fly fishing contest on the Allegheny River. Brother X kept feeding me jokes and before long they were calling us Penn & Teller. Later, when Brother X and I got back to the hotel, we polished off the remains of a bottle of bourbon and laughed our asses off recounting all the things that had been said.

The next morning, we headed back to Lancaster and laughed for the entire trip. We stopped in Somerset to pick up cookies for his two grown kids at the Eat’n Park. It seems that they were the kids’ favorite cookies from childhood. While we were there, we took pictures with Jackson, a big elephant statue in the parking lot.

“When I asked for nuts, I didn’t mean these two.”

When we got back to Lancaster we went for lunch at Fat Pigs and watched some of the track and field races from Penn State. X is a former cross-country runner, and his son DJ is a track coach, so he’s into that stuff. Afterwards we grabbed another bottle of bourbon and some videos.

We watched The Wedding Ringer with Kevin Hart and laughed ourselves silly when the future father-in-law invited the groomsmen to a game of touch football. The father-in-laws teammates turned out to be Joe Namath, Too Tall Jones, and other former NFL players. The “friendly” game soon became a blood sport when Joe Namath threatened to shove the football up the groomsmen’s asses. That line, and the bottle of bourbon, almost made us fall out of our chairs.

Joe Willie.png

Well, this was supposed to be about Uncle George, but I guess I got sidetracked. I have a tendency to do that. Rest in peace, Uncle George, and, if He exists, may God bless you.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,