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Bruce, What Can I Do to Help?

helping bruce

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled, Depression: It’s the Little Things. In this post, I detailed my present physical and psychological struggles. I mentioned a few of the things aggravate my depression. Sgl asked:

Is there a corresponding list of little things that make you feel better? Particularly ones that we, your reading audience, can do?

What a thoughtful question. Let me see if I can give this question the answer it deserves.

As any depressive will tell you, battling depression is a lonely journey, one in which, for the most part, you are on your own. The same can be said for chronic illness and chronic pain. People want to say and do something — anything — to help their suffering family member or friend. However, people who want to help often make matters worse. It’s far better to say few words, and just let the person know you are there for them, if need be. Unfortunately, well-wishers wrongly think depressives just need positive mental reinforcement — think good thoughts, and all will be well. I know, for me personally, when I see clap-happy seals coming my way, I want to hide. I am, by nature, a pessimist and a realist. I usually accept things as they are, so I don’t need to hear “happy” words to make me feel better. That said, I don’t have a problem with observant people saying, “what can I do to help?”

It helps to understand the mental make-up of depressives and chronic illness/pain sufferers. I tend to be a self-sufficient, pull-myself-up-by-my own-bootstraps kind of person. If I want help, I will ask for it — but I will rarely, if ever ask. This puts my wife, children, and friends in a difficult spot. They typically stand on the sidelines watching me suffer. They know I NEED help, but knowing that if I wanted help, I’d ask for it, they typically say nothing. There are times when I am silently begging for their help, but too proud to ask. Yes, this is a flaw in my character, I suppose, but this is who I am. I am genuinely unsure as to how people close to me should respond to my needs. They know I likely won’t break down and ask, so there has to be a way to meet my needs while at the same time not destroying what little self-worth I have. I do know that the only thing worse than how things are for me presently, is for me to feel “helpless.” I don’t do “helpless” well, but, of late, I am learning that I can no longer be self-sufficient Bruce. Not if I want to get out of bed, that is.

I am at a place in life where I do need help — often lots of it. My “to-do list” is so long, that I am thinking that it might be better for me to just light a match to the list. While doing so would be cathartic, the things that need to be done would remain undone. From website issues to home remodeling/repairs to yard work to countless other projects, my to-do list gets longer every day. I have on more than a few occasions called my to-do list a tyrant.

Every day, I have a window of time in which to get things done. Sometimes, that window is a few hours, and on rare occasions, I might have a six- to eight-hour window. All praise be to Loki! One pervasive problem that has afflicted me for decades is that I love to work, so once I start, I don’t want to stop. Several weeks, ago, Polly left for work at 5:00 PM, just as I was sitting down to work in the office, to do some writing, pay the bills, and reorganize stuff to align with my OCPD view of the world. Nine hours later, I was still working away. Man, did I get shit done, right? When Polly came home from work, she was upset that I had spent so much time “working.” My feet looked as if I were eight months pregnant, and I hadn’t taken my pain meds. Busyness is a great pain reliever — until you stop, anyway. Polly said nothing, having seen his movie many times before. The next day, I couldn’t even get out of bed, and it took two days before I could sit in the office and work again. Did I learn my lesson? Hell no. This is just how I am, and try as I might, be it working in the office, the garage, or the yard, I tend to push myself too far. Carolyn, my friend and my editor, will remind me when I say am going to do this or that, that I need to take it easy, to pace myself. She truly has my best interest at heart. I usually tell her, “I’ll try,” complete with a few smiley emojis, and she’ll respond, “no you won’t.” You see, she knows me, as do Polly and my children. After I stopped blogging for the nth time years ago, Michael Mock — another person who knows me quite well — told me that I was just one of those people who crash and burn and then rise again from the ashes. He, of course, was right. That this blog will celebrate its sixth anniversary in December is amazing — and unexpected.

I really haven’t answered Sgl’s question, have I? I am not sure I can. I taught my children to pay attention to the needs and circumstances of others. I was never much for praying over helping people in need. Go out to the church parking lot, look at the cars, and see which one needs new tires. Don’t pray, just act on the information you have. In other words, buy the needy family a new set of tires. I proudly watched my children (and Polly) put this into practice over the years, helping countless neighbors and workmates. I believe that what goes around comes around. Pay attention to others. Need is everywhere you look.

For my family, they can see my needs. I know I have pushed them to the sidelines, too proud ask for and accept their help. I am asking them to ignore the old curmudgeon and help anyway. Ask to see the to-do list or walk through our home and make a list of things you think you can help me (us) with. I promise, I won’t say no.

For my digital friends, the faithful readers of this blog, the challenge is different. If I don’t tell you what I need, you won’t know. You have no way of peering into my home and seeing what needs I might have. Sometimes, loving, kind readers make donations or commit to monthly Patreon support. Money is always appreciated. Since March 2020 – fuck you Coronavirus — one-time donations have dropped 90% and I have lost a couple of Patreon supporters. While any financial support provided by readers is greatly appreciated, I’m content with whatever the donations are month to month. I know I am never going to become rich and famous from this blog, but donations do help pay site expenses and provide a small stream of personal monthly income. That said, I am never going to beg for money.

I still haven’t answered Sgl’s question, have I? Damn, Bruce, quit circling the runway and land the plane. Okay, okay, I hear ya.

Most of all, I would ask that you continue to read my writing and comment if you are so inclined. For those of you who have the patience and skill to interact with Evangelical commenters, I would appreciate you answering zealots when they come knocking. I can be a bit short-tempered these days with some Evangelical commenters, knowing I probably cut off discussions that others might find helpful. I am more than happy to let others handle Evangelical commenters (unless they are directly asking me a question). Some of you are already helping with this, and I hope you will continue to wield the sword of reason, skepticism, and intellectual inquiry.

I could use some help on the backside of this site: approving comments, deleting comments, fixing broken links, to name a few. Broken links are a big problem. I currently have over 800 broken links. I “intend” to fix them, but alas the more I “intend” the longer the broken link list becomes.

I still want to start podcasting, whether separate content or audio versions of my writing. Last year, I bought all the necessary equipment to record podcasts. What I need help with is the visual design and formatting. I want to put the podcasts on video sites such as YouTube and audio sites such as Spotify, Apple, etc. I plan on purchasing monthly podcasting hosting service.

If you are interested in fulfilling these technical needs, please email me via the Contact form. I am not lacking skill-wise in being able to do these things. What I have is a time problem. I want focus my time on writing. Any help on the technical, non-writing side of things allows me to devote more time to my writing.

Carolyn has volunteered to help answering some of the emails I receive. I need to make a form design change to make this happen. Carolyn continues to edit my prose, all for the princely sum of $0.00. And readers will be pleased to know, that my book project is finally in its early stages. There’s a bit of pragmatism pushing the book project. I am not well physically, and I could die before I finish my book, so it is in my best interest to “git ‘er done.”

Your email, comments, and texts are always appreciated. I am interested in your lives too, so please stay in touch with me. If you would like to exchange texts with me, please send me your cellphone number via the Contact form. Sometimes, just hearing from someone: a text, an email, a photo, a funny joke, can push my mind into a better place. Don’t underestimate the power of a stupid cat meme.

Your love, kindness, and support are greatly appreciated.

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Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Depression: It’s the Little Things

nope

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me in recent months, asking me how I am doing, health-wise. Hopefully, this post will catch everyone up on my current status. Not a cheerful, “ain’t life grand” post, but I do try to be honest and forthright about my health.

I have suffered from depression most of my adult life, especially since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia in1997.

Over the past three decades, not only have I had to contend with fibromyalgia, I’ve had to deal with osteoarthritis and neurological problems (peripheral neuropathy) that are ever so slowly robbing me of my physical strength and ability to walk. My cane and wheelchair are never far away. Some days — most days — are cane days, other days are wheelchair days. Some days are cane and wheelchair days — days when I want to use my cane to club the thoughtless people who walk in front me, try to get in front of me, or just stand there ignoring the fact that I can’t get around them. If illness and debility have taught me anything, it is that some of my fellow humans are narcissistic, self-absorbed assholes who have no time or empathy or time for others.

Every day is a pain day for me. Some days, the pain is manageable and tolerable, and it fades into the background as I write or focus on other things. Other days, the pain is standing with both feet on my neck, threatening to turn me into a weeping, pathetic, suicidal man. Most days, are a balance between these extremes. I take my pain medications and muscle relaxers, try the best I can to function, hoping to live for another day.

Along with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis. neurological problems, and chronic pain, I’ve had three bouts with skin cancer, my gallbladder removed several months ago, a labrum tear in my shoulder, torn menisci in both of my knees, severe lower back and hip pain, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Oh, and now, my red blood cell counts are low — very low. I have been on iron supplementation for the past month. I had bloodwork done today, and I have two doctors’ appointments tomorrow. One appointment is with the orthopedic doctor to see if the problem with my lower back — the disc space at L5 — has worsened, and then an appointment with my primary care doctor. If my red blood cell counts have not improved, I will have to have a colonoscopy and an endoscopy to check for internal bleeding. Since having surgery, I have had nausea, loss of appetite, and dull headaches. I have my eyes checked, nothing abnormal there. All told, since last Thanksgiving, I have lost 70 pounds. And not because I was trying to do so.

Healthwise, my plate is full. That said, I accept my life as it is. I am a realist. I don’t try to delude myself into thinking I am a young buck running through the forest in pursuit of a doe. I am a loving, kind, passionate man who, due to genetics, luck, environmental exposure, and personal lifestyle choices, has a body that is dying at a faster rate than others my age. I am a high mileage automobile that from a distance looks good, but closer inspection reveals a lot of wear and tear.

All of this I embrace and own. It’s my life, I have to live my life on the terms dictated to me by my body. Thinking happy thoughts, putting mind over matter, pretending things are different from what they are, provide no help for me. Even when I was a young man — a healthy, strapping, strong man who hunted, hiked, cut wood, and could bend the world to my will — I tried to see things as they are.

Having my father die at age forty-nine and my mother commit suicide at age fifty-four tend to give me a particular perspective. Visiting sick and dying church members in the hospital reminded me that life is short. My experiences with the sick and dead have certainly shaped my understanding of life, and I know the path I am on, healthwise, leads to a fiery furnace. No not Hell, silly. I am going to be cremated after I die.

My counselor has told me several times that it would be unusual for a person with the health problems I have to not be depressed. He knows I struggle with suicidal thoughts, but he also knows that these thoughts are driven by the chronic, unrelenting physical pain. Through kindness, compassion, friendship, and support, he keeps me from falling down the rabbit hole, never to be seen again (though thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic, I have not seen him in nine months).

As many depressives will tell you, it is often little things that worsen their depression. For me, it’s not the chronic illness and unrelenting pain . . . it’s the little, unexpected things that push me towards the abyss. Things such as:

  • Falling and wrenching the shoulder that has the labrum tear
  • Constipation
  • Getting out of the house so I can take photographs, only to find out I left the SD card in the card reader
  • Emails and texts to friends who never respond
  • Health advice from people I have repeatedly asked to stop pretending they are doctors
  • People asking me, have you tried this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that, this, that . . .
  • Dropping a dish on my foot
  • Stubbing my toe in the dark on something that is not where it is supposed to be; something left on the floor by one of my grandchildren
  • Nothing in the refrigerator I want to eat
  • No Internet
  • The printers running out of ink or toner
  • Microsoft screwing my desktop computer with an update, and now I have to spend precious time “fixing” it
  • Needing a quarter for a shopping cart at Aldi and not having one
  • The batteries in the remote dying just as I get comfortable in my recliner or bed
  • Making an error in the checkbook
  • Store clerks who treat me as if I have a disease, or worse yet, treat me as if I don’t exist
  • Finding out last night’s dinner stained my favorite shirt
  • The DVR not recording a show I wanted to watch
  • No milk and I want to eat a bowl of cereal
  • People not wearing face masks
  • One of my children borrowing my tools one month, one year, five years ago, not returning them, and NOW that I need them, they are nowhere to be found
  • Looking out the back window at our wild, overgrown yard, hearing the taunts of the trees, bushes, and weeds, saying, WE WIN!

Silly stuff, I know. But, here’s what you need to understand: for those who live with chronic illness and pain, there’s a cumulative effect. Their lives are already filled to the brim with the struggles that come from their illnesses. It’s often all they can do to just get out of bed and live another day. So, when small insignificant things are thrown on top of their overload, it can and does bring them crashing down.

Try to remember this the next time you think your suffering friend is overreacting to a small matter: it’s not that one thing that is the problem; it’s the accumulation of numerous small things that have left your friend or loved one curled up on the bed wanting to die.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

1970s: Junior High Gym Class

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

The black framed glasses? Welfare glasses. As soon as I saved up enough money to buy wire-rimmed glasses, I ditched the glasses.

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I have spent a good bit of my life moving, either from town to town or house to house. In 1971 my Dad moved us from Deshler, Ohio to Findlay, Ohio. I lived in Findlay from 1970-1974. I say “I lived,” because my parents divorced in 1972 and my Dad moved us to Tucson, Arizona in the early spring of 1973. I finished my tenth grade year at Rincon High School in Tucson, and once school was out I moved back to Findlay to live with several families in the church I attended. For a few months in the fall of 1973 I attended Riverdale High School in Mount Blanchard, Ohio, and then I transferred back to  Findlay High School and finished out eleventh grade.

Got all that? Here’s my point in giving you a Bruce Gerencser geography lesson. From 1970-72, eighth and ninth grade, I attended Central Junior High School (which has since been torn down) in Findlay. Two school years, my longest consecutive stretch at one school without a move to a new school district (though we did live in 3 different houses during this time), when I actually had time to make a few friends.

While I am now a 6-foot, 325-pound man, during the two years I spent at Central Junior High, I was 5 foot 2 inches tall and weighed a little over 100 pounds. I was a late bloomer, not reaching my current height until the end of eleventh grade. Needless to say, I was quite conscious of my diminutive size.

Even though I was slight of build, I played city league baseball and basketball. I am left-handed, and being a southpaw gave me a decided advantage when it came to playing baseball and basketball. Even though I loved playing sports, gym class at Central Junior High was one of my least favorite classes.

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t very big and puberty came quite slowly for me. I enjoyed playing the various sports in gym class, but when games were over, came the dreaded mandatory shower. Here I was, a small boy with little underarm or pubic hair, among, what seemed at the time, giants. When I took off my clothes and glanced at other boys in the class, it was quite evident to everyone that I was in every way on the small side. Needless to say, I became quite self-conscious about my body.

The gym teacher was also a coach. He was a rough-and-tumble, crude man, typical of many of the coaches I played for. One day, he walked into the shower room where all of us were showering and he surveyed the mass of the nakedness before him and said, Well, I can tell who is having sex and who isn’t. His inference was clear; those with bigger penises and testicles were the ones having sex. Since I was one of the smallest boys in the class — and I mean small in every way — I was quite embarrassed. I am sure some of the boys thought, and we know who ISN’T having sex.

I was also the only redhead in the class. At the time, I had bright, flaming orange hair that definitely made me stand out. My gym teacher called me Carrot. This only added to my self-consciousness.

One week for gym class, we square danced. The male and female gym classes were joined together for dance lessons. I thought, this will be my chance to touch one of the cheerleaders. Typical, self-conscious boy’s dream, right? Well, my dream became a nightmare because my pastor, Gene Milioni, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, came to the school and raised a ruckus about the dancing. As a result, my parents would not allow me to square dance. Later in the year, Pastor Milioni would complain about the choir singing Jesus Christ Superstar. I was in the choir, and as a result of his complaint, my parents wouldn’t allow me to sing. (Please see Good Independent Baptist Boys Don’t Dance.)

I still remember to this day sitting at the top of the gym bleachers watching my classmates square dance. Next to me were two boys who were believed to be homosexuals. The proof of their homosexuality? They refused to take a shower at the end of gym class. Remember, it was the 70s . . . So there I was with the two “fags” who wouldn’t take a shower.

While I eventually grew up to be a physically fit 6-foot man, endowed well enough to father six children, I have been self-conscious about my body my entire life. Once free of junior high gym class, I never took another communal shower. When it comes to using the bathroom, I always try to use a stall. Just the thought of using a public urinal is enough to shut off the flow. If I have to use a urinal, I make sure no one is nearby. And if a man uses the urinal next to me? It’s like a vise grip on my urethra. It ain’t gonna happen. I have often wondered if my experiences in junior high gym class play a part in my inability to urinate when someone is standing next to me.

I do know that my religious training resulted in an unhealthy view of the human body and sex. The Fundamentalist churches of my youth spent significant time preaching against short skirts, pants on women, long hair on men, and premarital sex. Even masturbation was considered a sin. The body — the flesh — was sinful and corrupt and in need of salvation.

How about you? Were you body self-conscious in school? How did your religious upbringing affect how you viewed your body? Please share your experiences in the comments section.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

1986-1995: A Look at My Writing as an IFB Pastor

letter to the editor

What follows is a small sampling of the letters to the editor of The Zanesville Times Recorder I wrote between November 1986 and January 1995. These letters should forever put an end to the notion that I was never a True Christian®. These letters also should help current readers understand why former congregants and colleagues in the ministry are so troubled and upset by my defection from the one true faith. The contrast between then and now is glaring.

Personally, I find these letters embarrassing, but I publish them today to help readers better understand my journey from Evangelicalism to atheism. (Please see From Evangelicalism to Atheism.)

November 13, 1986

TEXTBOOK READING CASE BADLY REPORTED

To The Editor:

I have for some weeks now very carefully read the articles presented for public reading in The Times Recorder. I have particularly paid attention to those that deal with religion in general and fundamentalist Christianity in specific.

I am of the opinion that The Times Recorder is extremely biased in its reporting of fundamentalist activities. Case in point: the Tennessee textbook-reading book court case. While I certainly do not agree with all of the values these Christians held in regard to some of the books they wished banned from their schools, I believe they have a right to decide what or what not their children are to be exposed to in school.

Remember, children belong to their parents, not the state! Opponents say the state has a compelling interest. Why not have enough compelling interest to make sure kids can read and write? Parents have a right, to mold their children in the religious and ethnic values they see fit. Many will say then remove your children from the public school system and put them in a private school. This is exactly what many Christian parents have done, but even then the state tries to exert control. We are a nation founded on freedom. Why not allow fundamentalist parents to exercise that freedom by keeping their children from reading books they feel are offensive?

I feel that The Times Recorder in its reporting of this issue has tried very hard to present only the liberals’ point of view. When the fundamentalist point of view is presented it seems it is always presented in a negative, scornful, dumber-than-a-ridge-runner way.

How about some unbiased reporting and truly delved into why these parents believe the way they do? How about finding out what those in Muskingum County feel on the Issue? People have the right to know both sides of an issue. It’s time that newspapers begin presenting it.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 25, 1988

EDUCATION CHOICE IS PARENTS’ RIGHT

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my view on the recent article regarding the contemplated jailing of a Toledo couple for home schooling their children without Wood County school board approval.

It is a sad day in America when parents do not have the opportunity to choose how to educate their children. Studies show that children taught in a home school or Christian school environment consistently test higher than their counterparts in the public school. So the issue cannot be educational quality.

The real issue is control. The state, through its government sponsored schools wants to control our children. They feed our children a daily diet of humanistic philosophy and teaching.

They are taught there is no God, no authority and no absolutes. Is it any wonder our country is in the shape it is? We are products of our teaching.

We are told much of a person’s character is formed in their early years of life. He who gets the children when they are young will usually get them for life. For the humanists to further their cause, they must control the educational system. Thus, the reason for the case in Toledo.

I applaud this couple for standing up for their right to educate their children. They will be children who I am sure will know that there is a God, that there is authority and that there are absolutes. That is the only hope for America.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

July 5, 1989

THERE IS PRIDE IN FLAG-WAVING

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my view in regard to the recent Supreme Court decision dealing with flag burning.

It is appalling to think that we have come to the point in this country where we are even discussing whether or not it is acceptable to burn the American flag. Previous generations would roll over in their graves if they could bear the discussion going on today.

We live in the greatest country in the world. We are a nation founded as “One nation under God.” The flag of the United States of America represents that “One nation under God.” It is a great honor to be born in this country. We are the freest country that has ever graced the pages of history.

Our flag represents that freedom. Those who want to desecrate our flag should be given a one way ticket to Beijing, China. Let’s see how they like freedom Chinese style.

I would also like to suggest that Sen. Howard Metzenbaum be given the first ticket. He is a disgrace to this country and the State of Ohio. If he is personally against flag burning, then let his voting record reflect that. It sounds to me like Sen. Metzenbaum wants to have it both ways, and that is not possible.

It seems to me the issue is patriotism or left wing liberalism. Which will it be? As for me I’m with the countless throngs of people who still revere and honor “Old Glory.” I’m proud to be a flag waving American.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 7, 1989

STORY ABOUT RALLY FULL OF HALF-TRUTHS

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my disgust over the liberal reporting by The Times Recorder as exhibited in the article entitled, “Abortion Rallies Have Large Turnout,” which appeared in the Monday, Oct. 30, edition of The Times Recorder. The article is full of half-truths and it is evident the writer of the article is pro-choice. I had the privilege of attending the Rally of Hope, a pro-life rally on Saturday, October 28. It will go down as one of the highlights of my life. It’s too bad The TR chose not to give more newspaper space to this event.

Now to the article. It is statistically proven that most Republicans are pro-life. I thought it was ironic, you were able to dig up one Republican at the pro-choice rally that was for abortion. As a Republican, I assure you, most Republicans are pro-life. Thelma Moore does not represent the sentiments of most Republicans.

I also thought it was noteworthy that the article did not mention that Gov. Celeste participated in the pro-choice rally. Are you afraid to let the local citizens know that our governor is for killing innocent unborn children?

Finally, the article only printed half of Mr. John Willkes comments. It will be noted that his comments were in reference to how a survey can be tainted by the questions asked.

The rest of the statistical quote was “69 percent of Americans believe there should be laws to protect the lives of the unborn?” I wonder why this statistic was left out. Could it be that indeed America is a Pro-Life people?

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 10, 1989

SATAN ALIVE IN OUR WORLD

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the editorial on Halloween by Dave Claypool. Mr. Claypool seems to doubt the reality of a person called Satan (or the Devil). The Bible says in I Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

One only has to look around our country and see pornography, AIDS, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, rampant drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, and many other signs of decadence,. to know that the Devil is alive and well. He desires to destroy our families and our country. One way he accomplishes this is by getting people to believe his actions are harmless. Such is the case with Halloween.

Halloween is the High Holy Day of the Satanic Church. You will find that clearly stated in the “Satanic Bible,” by Anton LaVey. Halloween has always had its roots in the occult and satanism.

Mr. Claypool may call objectors to Halloween, zealots, but at the least, we are not blinded to the devices of Satan. Mr. Claypool may, in satirical humor, mock those who believe Halloween is Satanic; but someday, each of us will draw our last breath in this life. Then we will see if there is a real Satan and who has been blinded.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 31, 1990

MORAL APPROACH IS MISDIRECTED

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter written by Kenneth Prior in the Jan. 19, issue of The Times Recorder.

The purpose of my letter is not to debate the issue of the group called “Strike Force.” I personally have a problem with those types of ministries and the Jesus Christ they portray.

My issue of contention rests with the statements about the assemblies held at various schools. It was discussed, but not Jesus Christ.

Morals without Jesus Christ are nothing but self-righteous acts.

The permanent solution to drugs, booze, sexual pressures, etc., is a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The public school system for 25 years has been teaching a situational morality without God and the Bible.

The Result? A nation of young people that have little, if any, moral values.

Drugs, premarital sex, booze drinking, abortion, and venereal disease are all on the upswing among our young people. First-time occurrences of many of these things mentioned now occur with our elementary-aged children. Why? Morals without Jesus Christ and the Bible.

What this country needs is less Hollywood religion and more old-fashioned Bible preaching. An assembly on morals without a clear presentation of Jesus and the Word of God is like an automobile without tires. It is useless and it’s not going anywhere.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

October 8, 1990

GOOD QUESTION FOR CHRISTIANS

To The Editor:

This is in response to the article on Armageddon in the Sept. 30th Times Recorder.

While I would agree with some of the facts, I disagree wholeheartedly with much of the article. The Bible teaches the world as we know it is headed down a path that leads to destruction.

The final event that takes place on that trek is the Battle of Armageddon. When sin has been destroyed and the Lord Jesus Christ vindicated, God will bring into existence a new heaven and a new earth.

His people, those who have been born again, will live for eternity in the new heaven and new earth. Those who reject Jesus Christ and his salvation will spend their eternity in the lake of fire.

Prior to the end, God will pour out his wrath on this earth in a period which is commonly called the tribulation. My point of disagreement with the article is the issue of Christians being absent from the earth while God judges it.

This is nothing more than “pie in the sky” thinking. God’s people will face persecution and death during the tribulation, God’s people have always faced trial. Why should this generation of weak, carnal, and loose-living Christians be any different?

During the tribulation, God intends to purify His Church. It is time for Christians to WAKE UP!

A lost world needs to see a Christianity that really matters. We have had enough Bakkers and Swaggarts. The world needs to see a holy people who love God and obey His Word. Is God’s closing in on Armageddon and the tribulation?

While most preachers are too busy building their kingdoms on this earth, I intend to be on the street corners of our communities proclaiming a message of repentance! There are still some of us who believe in preaching “REPENT, for the end of the world is at hand.”

But this message is not only for lost sinners, but for Christians also. Luke 18:8 says, “When the Son of cometh, shall He find Faith on the earth?” I would suggest that is a good question for each Christian to answer.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

February 2, 1991

BIBLE IS CLEAR TRAINING GUIDE

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to an article ‘entitled “Controlling Your Household Tyrants,” written by Ron Smitley of Six County Inc.

From the tone of the article I can see Dr. Spock lives on.

God did not leave child training to chance. He gave each of us a clear guide for training children, and it’s the Bible.

The problem is many so-called experts have called the teachings of the Bible outdated. They would even suggest the Bible teaches child abuse. But is that the case?

The Bible teaches sexual abstinence before marriage. Planned Parenthood and public school sex education programs teach children safe and responsible sex. Result? Rampant venereal disease and pregnancy. Who shall we blame?

The Bible teaches homosexuality is a gross perversion. The liberals of the day call it an alternative lifestyle. Result? AIDS. Who shall we blame?

The Bible teaches marriage for life with monogamy inside the marriage. Society says live together, get a divorce if you are not happy, etc. Result? Broken homes, venereal disease and abused children. Who shall we blame? I could go on and on.

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” I will agree with Smitley on one point, we DO have tyrants in our homes. The reason? No Biblical discipline.

A parent who loves their children will spank them if they rebel against their authority. (Which is, by the way, a God given authority.) Proverbs 13:24 says, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son; but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”

The hope of America rests in its families. We need to get back to Bible-based family practice. It is the only way!

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

April 10, 1992

CHILD ABUSE LIST COULD BE FAULTY

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the article on the secret child abuse record, which appeared in the March 30 issue of The Times Recorder.

If the statistics quoted are to be believed, 10 to 20 percent of all adult Ohioans are on this list. Are we really to believe 600,000 Adults in this state are suspected Child abusers? Either the statistics are incorrect or the method by which one ends up on this list is faulty.

Granted, child abuse is a serious problem. In 15 years of pastoral ministry I have seen my share of cases. I have no objection to those who have been convicted of bonafide child abuse crimes, being placed on a list.

But I have a sneaking suspicion many on this “McCarthy Era” list are guilty of nothing more than good discipline practices.

The official philosophy of the Ohio Department of Human Services, the state teachers’ unions, and the different departments that offer help to children, is that of no corporal punishment. According to them, to paddle a child, for any reason, is child abuse. Several other states are trying to pass laws that will outlaw all forms of corporal punishment.

Our schools in Ohio have removed corporal punishment as a means of discipline. Result? Read the newspaper and see the mayhem in the public school system.

Educators blame it on the family structure. Perhaps this is true, but who suggested to this generation’s parents that they discard time-tested, God-mandated forms of child discipline? We must lay the blame at the feet of social workers, educators, liberal ministers, and mental health workers who bought Benjamin Spock’s line on discipline. The result of all this is a Society that is in rebellion to all authority including God’s!

The only thing Spock’s book is good for is paddling a rebellious child. OOPS! I better not say that. Some liberal bureaucrat might turn my name in to the DHS list keepers.

May we ever be reminded to: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Prov. 22:6. That training includes proper child discipline.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

August 31, 1992

DEMOCRATS ARE AT ODDS WITH GOD

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to recent articles dealing with President Bush’s comments about Bill Clinton’s views of God and religion.

Bill Clinton and Albert Gore are Democrats in the truest sense. They try to pass themselves off as conservative, family-oriented politicians, but such is not the case. To be a Democrat is to be a liberal. While there may be good, conservative people in the Democratic Party, the official party stance is a liberal one. President Bush has every right to call Bill Clinton into question in regards to his views of God and religion.

The official Democratic line is pro-abortion, anti-capital punishment, expanded social programs, and pro-homosexual. This and many other issues puts the Democratic Party in direct opposition to the Bible, which then puts them at odds with God.

While I am not so naive to believe that being a Republican and a Christian are synonymous, the Republican Party does stand for many things that are right. I am a Republican not because of George Bush, but rather because of what the party stands for. Pro-life, pro-capital punishment, and social programs that help people (and not enslave them) are some of the reasons for being a Republican. These are Biblical values.

I have my concerns about the Republican Party. My fear is that they are just a few years behind the Democrats. This is evidenced in their courting of the homosexual vote. Instead of openly courting the homosexuals, better time would be spent passing and enforcing sodomy laws. God declares that homosexuality is a perverse sin.

Bill Clinton and Albert Gore both claim to be Baptist and Christian. Their views are incompatible with true Christianity, and as far as them being Baptists, I am ashamed that they would number themselves with those who for the most part oppose what they hold to politically. The Baptist churches which Clinton and Gore are members of should speedily exercise church discipline and remove these men from their church rolls. They have no right to the name Baptist, let alone the name Christian.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

January 15, 1993

CHOICE OF CHELSEA’S SCHOOL SHOWS CLINTON’S HYPOCRISY

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my views in regards to Bill Clinton’s decision to put his daughter in a private school. While I am an ardent advocate of private education, I believe Mr. Clinton shows utter hypocrisy in his decision.

We should remember, just months ago, Mr. Clinton ran on a platform of anti-school choice. He strongly believes that children should be educated in state schools. Unless of course it is your child and then you do what is best for the child. Mr. Clinton needs to practice what he preaches. If public education is so wonderful, why not enroll your daughter in the Washington, D.C., city schools?

No, Mr. Clinton knows that the D.C. schools are for the most part juvenile detention centers. Crime, violence, guns, etc. are commonplace. I wouldn’t want to educate my children in that environment either. Where are the teacher’s unions, now? Or do they know, like Mr. Clinton, the true shape of many of our school systems.

I am one parent who has determined to provide my children with a private, religious education. As progressive education, coupled with an amoral society, moves in force in our local communities, we can expect to see the same problems here that they face in Washington, D.C.

I trust Mr. Clinton will see what a hypocrite he has been. I don’t condemn him for doing what is best for his daughter. My prayer is that each of us will be allowed to do the same. For my family it is to send them to a non-chartered, non-tax supported Baptist school that teaches Bible morals, ethics, and doctrine. If Mr. Clinton has a right to choose, so should we!

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

February 5, 1993

HOMOSEXUALITY PERVERSE SIN

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my views in regards to the issue of homosexuals in the military. It is an admitted fact that homosexuals have long existed in the various branches of the military. The issue is whether or not their conduct or lifestyle should be given sanction.

This issue is much deeper than whether or not homosexuals can serve in the military. It clearly is a moral issue. If we have not, as yet, become a paganistic, amoral society, then it would do us well to address the morality of this issue. Is homosexuality moral?

For those who hold to the Bible being their standard of morality, homosexuality is indeed a perverse sin. While adultery and fornication are grievous sins as well, homosexuality goes beyond them in the fact that it goes against nature (Romans 1)God made man and woman to have distinctive roles. The very core of homosexuality goes against ALL that God intends. Bible believers reject the notion that homosexuals are born that way. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.

I would implore Congress to override the intentions of the Clinton administration and ban homosexuals from the military. Their lifestyle is incompatible with the rigor and order of military life. To those caught in the web of homosexuality I would beg them to turn to Christ in repentance and I believe they will find a Savior who will not only forgive them but will also deliver them from the deep sin they are in (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

April 11, 1993

CHRISTIANS MUST MAKE JUDGMENTS

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the letter by Doug Allen in The Times Recorder April 1. Mr. Allen’s views show very forcefully what is wrong with professing Christianity.

As Christians, we have been called to a life of holiness and commitment. We are to love what God loves and hate what He hates. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. But today, the salt has lost its savor and the light has gone out.

Mr. Allen equates those who make Biblical Judgments with those who hate and spew forth bitterness. Who is judging now, Mr. Allen? I have no hatred or bitterness in my heart toward others. My desire is to reach the sinner man with the gospel of Christ. My desire is to imitate my Lord in his love and compassion for sinners. But that DOES NOT mean we throw Bible truth and judgment to the wind.

People who take the view of Mr. Allen and claim to be Christians are in direct violation of the Scripture. We are to judge righteously and properly. To do so means making judgments about the society we live in. Contrary to the opinion stated by Mr. Allen, we ARE to speak for God. If His people do not speak for Him, who will? God gave us the Bible, which we must proclaim to our generation. It’s repent or perish!

Finally, I would say that perhaps the root problem is a theological one. Mr. Allen suggests that the only difference between a Christian and all others is a sincere prayer. This thought is the core of Arminianism and is utterly false. True Christianity is a turning from sin and an embracing of Christ by faith. It is the adopting of a new life in Christ in which Christ becomes the Lord and Savior of a person. Anything less will not avail. Some people are sincere and certainly some even pray but that is not true Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

May 26, 1993

JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY HOPE

To The Editor:

I am writing in response to the May 19 letter by William Lacy. Mr. Lacy shows the demeanor and character of a man who rejects God and His infallible truth, the Bible. His letter is filled with distortions and inaccuracies.

First, he would have us believe that those of a “fundamentalist” persuasion do not think for themselves. While there are those who are “closed-minded,” and who would argue that Mr. Lacy himself doesn’t have a very closed mind, most Christians think for themselves. We wrestle with the truth of the Scripture. Some of the greatest thinkers in history have been Christians. I would gladly allow Mr. Lacy to look over my library. He will find books by men of education and stature.

Secondly, Mr. Lacy takes the approach that all who say they are Christian are indeed one. Not so! The Bible does not teach a salvation of many different roads all leading to one place. There is one hope of salvation and that is in Jesus Christ.

Such is the case on the moral issues Mr. Lacy brings up. There are not two ways to look at ANY of the issues he raises. It is not what man says, but God. It is of little concern to me that most denominations advocate abortion and homosexuality. The Bible declares both to be wicked and that is sufficient for me. The problem today is that what is called Christianity in America, for the most part, is false religion.

Mr. Lacy would have you believe that Christians believe they are not accountable to civil government. Sure we are, as long as that government rules in a righteous manner. The law of God is sufficient for any society. It is when civil government attempts to become god that conscientious Christians must object and stand against their government. We will either be ruled by God’s law or man’s law.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

July 9, 1993

OUTRAGED AT HISTORY REWRITE

To The Editor:

I am writing to express my outrage at the deliberate attempt to rewrite American history as attempted on the Mini Page June 28. The issue, which is mainly for children, featured Thomas Jefferson as the main subject. In among many historically correct facts were at least two blatant distortions of history.

The first dealt with the quote from the Declaration of Independence. It is remarkable that two important words, Creator and unalienable, were left out. They talk about being endowed with rights, but who did Jefferson say endowed us with those rights? Their Creator! The proof that this is a deliberate misrepresentation rests in the fact that all other phrases left out in the context of the quote were represented with ellipses. Such was not the case with the omission of “their Creator.” The word unalienable was also deliberately left out. The politically correct would have us believe that the government endows people with rights, which at any time can be taken away. Hogwash! Men are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights, rights that cannot be taken away by man. The foremost of these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Daily our government continues to encroach in the areas of our unalienable rights.

I would also note in passing that the part in the Mini Page dealing with religious freedom paints a very biased and skewed view. It shows the symbols of the supposed five major religions in America. Would the writers of this article have us believe that these five religions were in existence when Jefferson wrote his various thoughts on religious freedom? The 18th century of America was a century dominated by Christianity. No Buddhists, Hinduists or Islamics and very few Jews. Let’s at least paint an accurate picture. Next we’ll be reading articles from these historical reconstructionists that the doctrine of separation of church and state as practiced today was what Jefferson meant when he wrote of the issues of government and church separation. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

December 9, 1993

GOD HATES SIN AND SINNERS

To the Editor:

I am replying to the Dec. 3 letter written by J.D. Kimple. Mr. Kimple accuses me of being uninformed and of using rash generalizations. The truth of the matter is that Mr. Kimple has bought into the government line about AIDS. We can quote statistics galore but they prove nothing.

The largest percentage of those having AIDS is homosexual. Yes, it has spread to the heterosexual population, but the issue is still the same. Heterosexuals are getting AIDS for the most part because of immoral sexual practices. Show me two people who were virgins when they married and were faithful to each other and now they have AIDS. There is no such case. Morality and fidelity and the only cures for AIDS.

As to God being a kind, loving God, yes, he is. I am thankful for his saving grace. But God also hates sin. God punishes sinful men for their wicked practices. The old cliche “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner” is not in the Bible. God hates sin and those who do it. Man must flee from the wrath of God. Only then will man find love and forgiveness. God saves men out of their sin and does not leave them in it. God’s view of homosexuality is summed up in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mr. Kimple is not questioning my religious convictions, but rather the word of God. Let God be true and every man a liar.

Bruce Gerencser
Somerset Baptist Church

November 15, 1994

ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS

To The Editor:

Recent news reports have touted a new test that can be used for detecting Down Syndrome a month earlier than before. This new test is called Chorionic villus sampling, or CVS. Prior to this new test, amniocentesis was the primary method used to detect Down Syndrome while the child was still in the womb.

We are told that women over 35 should have this testing done to determine whether or not their child has Down Syndrome. What is not being said? That the only reason for this type of testing is so an abortion can take place if the test comes back postitive. Now we can kill the unwanted Down’s child at 10 weeks instead of 16 weeks. Our nation continues down the path of decadence, murdering those who don’t fit the accepted criteria of life. God help us.

All life is precious. It is the gift of God. Who are we to determine what is “quality” or “acceptable” life? God never gave us that right. Some would argue that the over 35 mother would like to know if she is carrying a Down’s child. When the test came back negative she would then be relieved. Why does it matter? If abortion is not the issue then it does not matter if the child is Down’s. But abortion is the issue, and we continue our killing ways.

God will hold us accountable for how we treat the innocent and the helpless. As a parent of a Down Syndrome child, I thank God for allowing us the privilege to have our daughter. Yes, there are those difficult moments, but the precious moments far outweigh the difficult ones. We wouldn’t trade our daughter for all the money in the world. May God help each of us to view life as precious. May we stand against anything and anyone that depreciates human life. From the womb to the grave we uphold the sanctity of life.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

December 16, 1994

RAZE THE STRUCTURE

To The Editor:

The issue of school prayer will prove to be one of the hottest topics of 1995. Newt Gingerich and other ardent right wing Republicans plan on making it one of the first topics addressed in 1995. I guess we should feel excited that the Republicans are trying to get God on our side again. If we can just get prayer back in the schools, then America will have the favor of God

Please don’t do God any favors. For the first time in my life, and I am sweating as I write this, I agree with the liberal, card-carrying, ACLU members. Let’s keep prayer out of school. Do we really think, that a moment of prayer, at the start of the school day, is going to make a difference in our society? I think not By the time the politicians and the courts get done with what type of prayer will be acceptable, it will certainly not resemble anything that would be pleasing to the God of the Bible.

Christian parents are naive if they think that a momentary prayer at the start of the public school day will keep their children safe from the onslaught of humanistic instruction. Instead, Christian parents need to ask themselves if their children belong in public schools in which everything the Bible teaches is held up to question and ridicule. We can put our heads in the sand, Christians, but when we come out of our hole, the fact still remains: the public school system is bankrupt and no place for Christians to educate their children.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that there are fine Christian educators in the public school system, and they are to be commended for their diligent effort, but the Titanic is sinking and it is time to man the lifeboats.

Do you want prayer, real prayer in school? Then put your children in a school that believes the Bible and which encourages, by teaching and action, students to pray to the God of the Bible. Or perhaps, like some of the rest of us, home school your children. Prayer is always legal in the home school.

My main objection about school prayer has nothing to do with the school itself. It is time that Christians and churches quit being hypocrites. We want the public schools to practice what we are not practicing ourselves. The average Christian prays less than five minutes a day. Churches have prayer meetings in which nobody prays. Are we concerned about America? Then let’s pray. Let’s make our churches houses of prayer again. Religious leaders continue to clamor about the need for revival The precursor to every great revival is prayer. The New York revival of 1858 came forth from a small prayer meeting. Thousands were converted. Moral change was effected. But today, where are the cries of mourning coupled with prayer and fasting?

It is time to be honest. School prayer is just new paint on the outside of a dilapidated, soon to collapse structure. Oh, it may look nice for a while, but the building is sure to collapse. We don’t need any more paint Instead, let’s raze the structure and build it again.

People of prayer. That is what America needs. When we become a people of prayer, we will not have to worry about school prayer. When Christians determine to walk according to the teachings of the Bible, the public school systems will either change or their buildings will be empty.

It’s time to quit blaming the devil, the Democrats, or Bill Clinton, and instead put the blame where it belongs. We, as Christians, have forsaken our duties and responsibilities. We are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, but we have become a salt that has lost its savor and it’s pretty dark out there.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

January 4, 1995

SHOOTINGS ARE WRONG, BUT SO IS ABORTION

To The Editor:

We find in the news again the report of another abortion clinic shooting. First, the paper was filled with articles on Paul Hill the Presbyterian minister recently convicted of murder in Florida. Now, I am sure we will be fed a continued diet of stories about John Salvi, the purported Boston abortion clinic shooter.

Paul Hill and John Salvi committed horrible acts; acts that God does not condone. God, in his unalterable moral law, declared “Thou shalt not kill.” The end never justifies the means, and the killing of abortion clinic workers will never bring an end to abortion. These two men are murderers and must face the consequences of their sin.

Sometimes men and women can become so committed to “the cause” that they lose sight of moral rightness. Instead any action becomes justified as long as it serves the cause. In the end, Paul Hill and John Salvi must answer to God.

But just as killing abortion clinic workers is murder, so is the aborting of babies. People who work in abortion clinics are employed in the killing fields. They, by their employment in such places, lend their support to the killing that goes on in the name of a “woman’s right to choose.”

While I feel sorry for the Nichols family who lost their daughter, Lee Ann, in the recent clinic shootings, let us not forget that Lee Ann Nichols was a willing participant in the killing fields. She may have only been a receptionist, but she knew what went on behind closed doors. Her brother was quick to quote the Bible and decry his sister’s murder, and rightly so. But his sister has blood on her hands also.

Lee Ann Nichols wanted the world to be more civilized. Abortion will never make us more civilized. Abortion, for any reason, devalues the worth of a human life. Human life is now nothing more than fetal tissue to be tossed away at a woman’s whim.

There is only one answer to this problem. Man must obey his God. And Jehovah God said “thou shalt not kill.” It is time that we figure out God really meant what He said.

Bruce Gerencser
Frazeysburg

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Nerve Pain: Please, Don’t Touch Me

dont touch me

Many Fibromyalgia sufferers have days where they can’t bear to have someone touch them. The other day, Polly came into my office and started to put her hand on my shoulder. I barked, DON’T! Polly knows when I say this that I am having a “please don’t touch me” day.

Most days, the nerves in my skin are quite sensitive. This sensitivity is part of the problem I have with chronic pain. I hurt everywhere, from head to toe. It has been over a decade since I have had a day where I could say, I feel pretty good today. Fibromyalgia primarily affects the muscles. I also have osteoarthritis, along with chronic low back pain. Fibromyalgia+osteoarthritis+back pain+nerve pain=unrelenting chronic pain. Fibromyalgia+osteoarthritis+back pain+nerve pain+narcotic pain medication+muscle relaxers=less unrelenting chronic pain.

garfield pain

As anyone who lives with chronic pain can tell you, pain medications do not make the pain go away. They lessen the pain spikes and provide a break in the pain cycle. When normally healthy people take narcotics to alleviate pain, they often feel a buzz from the drug. Some people become quite loopy. That’s not how it is for people who are on a long-term pain management regimen (as I have been for over fifteen years). Unless the chronic pain sufferer takes narcotics like Dr. House — by the handfuls — it is unlikely that they will feel a buzz or become loopy. They will feel a lessening of the pain, a break in the pain cycle, but otherwise, they will be as normal as normal is for them.

On “please, don’t touch me” days, the pain medications don’t work like they normally do. I am unsure as to the physical reason for this, but I know that I can double my pain medication on a “don’t touch me” day and it has little effect. I just have to tough it out, knowing that the next day will be maybe, I hope so, likely better.

This past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I worked in the office, took care of some remodeling projects, cleaned house, and trimmed trees and bushes. I worked far longer and harder than I should have, but since I am unwilling or unable to stop doing so, I must live with the consequences. And, boy, oh boy, do the consequences roll in like a freight train! Today, and probably several more days thereafter, I will have to contened with pervasive, unrelenting nerve pain. I am definitely in a “don’t touch me” phase of life.

Why I am telling you this? Perhaps you know someone who lives with chronic pain. If so, perhaps this post will give you a little insight into what they might be going through. Perhaps you have seen them grimace when someone touches or bumps into them. They might be having a “please, don’t touch me” day. If they are anything like me, they will endure the pain for the sake of not appearing crabby or difficult. Chronic pain sufferers want to be seen as “normal”, and often they will silently endure the pain unintentionally inflicted on them by others.

People who know me well will generally ask how I am doing before hugging me or shaking my hand. (COVID-19 has lessened such close encounters.) Some friends and family members know how to read my face. As much as I try to hide the pain, it reveals itself in my face and eyes. I normally have sparkling blue eyes, but when I am in a lot of pain, depressed, or physically having a difficult day, my eyes will turn gray. I don’t know WHY my eye color changes, I just know it does.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Good Independent Baptist Boys Don’t Dance

christian dancing
Not even this kind of dancing was permitted in the IFB church

Repost from 2015. Edited, updated, and corrected.

In September 1971, I began my ninth grade year at Central Junior High School in Findlay, Ohio.  At home, my parents argued constantly, and seven months later they divorced. A few months after that, Mom married her first cousin — a recent Texas prison parolee — and Dad married a 19-year-old woman he met at the local dirt race track. She brought a toddler girl into our new “blended” family. 

Needless to say, life at home was anything but love, peace, and harmony. I hated my parents for getting divorced. I hated my Dad for marrying a girl who was only four years older than I.

I stayed away from home as much as I could. Dad was busy with his “new” family, so my siblings and I were left to our own devices. I spent a lot of time at the local YMCA. I didn’t have the money for a membership, so I learned the fine art of sneaking into the Y. The Y became my home away from home.

Dad started G and B Train Shop with Gary Zissler, a fellow deacon at the church. The store mainly sold Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and HO trains. I worked at the store in the evenings. Dad paid me twenty-five cents an hour, minus the cost of the pop I drank. Since we rarely had pop at home, I became a pop-a-holic while at the train shop. I also spent a lot of money buying comic books at the next-door drug store. I quickly learned how to sort the till to fund my habits.

Our family attended Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. Trinity was a large Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church pastored by Gene Milioni. Ron Johnson was the assistant pastor and Bruce Turner (please see Dear Bruce Turner) was the youth pastor.

After Pastor Milioni married my dad and his second wife, Dad and my siblings stopped going to church. I, however, immersed myself in the church, attending every time the doors were opened.

The church became my family. Most of my close friends attended Trinity, and the church provided me with everything I found lacking in my home life. Even though I am now an atheist, I will forever be grateful for the support and social connection the church provided for me.

In the fall of 1972, my tenth-grade year at Findlay High School, Al Lacy held a revival at Trinity Baptist. One night, I came under great conviction and I went down to the altar, confessed my sins, and asked Jesus to save me. A week later I was baptized, and not too long after that, I publicly confessed before the church that I believed God was calling me into the ministry. I was fifteen.

My life changed dramatically after I got saved. I started carrying my Bible to school, and I regularly witnessed to my non-Christian friends. My non-Christian friends, those I played sports with, thought I had lost my mind, and some of my Christian friends did too.

I have always been an all-in kind of person. I don’t do half-way very well, so when it came to being a Christian, I was 100% committed to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I took seriously what I heard the pastors preach. In my young mind, I saw the pastors as speaking for God. After all, everything they preached about came straight out of the Bible, God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word — KJV-1611.

Trinity was an IFB church, affiliated with the Baptist Bible Fellowship. The pastors preached against rock music, premarital sex, mixed swimming, going to movies, short skirts and pants on women, and long hair on men. Remember, it was the early 1970s, and mini-skirts and maxi-dresses were popular and men wore their hair long. The pastors at Trinity were anti-culture, believing the love and peace generation was destroying America.

Like a good Baptist boy, I tried to follow the rules to the letter. God (or the pastor) said it, I believed it, and that settled it for me. One sin the pastors were against was any kind of dancing. Not just some types of dancing, they were against ALL dancing.

I vividly remember ninth-grade year at Central Jr High. The Phys Ed teacher decided to teach square dancing. I was all for learning to square dance. This would be my only opportunity to touch the cheerleaders. Unfortunately, Pastor Milioni put an end to my carnal desires. He came to school and made a fuss about the square-dancing class. Next thing I know, I am being forced to sit with the fags (talking as we did in the 1970s — I do not use such language today) who refused to take Phys Ed. This was a punishment worse than death. Pastor Milioni would later come to my school to complain about the choir singing Jesus Christ Superstar. I had to quit choir.

Both my junior high and high school held dances, social events that everyone attended — well everyone but this good Baptist boy. I went through a period of time when I was really upset about all the rules and restrictions, so I would stay overnight with non-Christian friends so I could go to the dances with them. I did this numerous times. I don’t know if my parents ever caught on. If they did, they never said a word.

I came through the 1970s with my Baptisthood intact. I never smoked cigarettes, drank, or toked marijuana. I didn’t listen to rock music, I kept my hair cut short, and I successfully made it through high school as a virgin. Not that I didn’t want to have sex — I did — but I was afraid of what might happen if I did, and I didn’t think any of the church girls I dated were “willing.” I found out a few years ago, after talking to some of the girls I went to church with, that they were more “willing” than this naïve Baptist boy thought they were.

The first time I danced was at the wedding of one of my children. This was the first time for my wife too. My daughters-in-law cajoled us into dancing. Oh, what a sight we were. We may have been years away from our Fundamentalist youth, but it was quite evident that we didn’t know the first thing about dancing.

How about you? If you were raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home and attended public school, how did that affect your ability to be a normal student? Please share your experiences in the comment section.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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The Day My Wife was Sued for $2.6 Million

newark baptist temple heath ohio

My wife taught one year of third grade at Licking County Christian Academy in Newark, Ohio — 1980-1981. The unaccredited school was operated by the Newark Baptist Temple — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist congregation pastored by Polly’s uncle, the late James (Jim) Dennis. (Please see The Family Patriarch is Dead: My Life With James Dennis.)

As Polly will admit, she was grossly unprepared and unqualified to teach school, but LCCA needed a teacher and we needed the money, so Polly dutifully tried to manage a class of third graders.

After Polly left LCCA, we helped her father start an IFB church in Buckeye Lake, Ohio. In the spring of 1983, Polly learned that a student of hers, Eddie Linders was alleging that he had suffered serious physical injuries after being beaten up by fellow student, Stan Toomey. Linders’ parents sued LCCA, the Baptist Temple, Toomey’s parents, and Polly — as the boys’ teacher.

The 1983 lawsuit was dismissed. I was unable to find any news report on the original suit. The lawsuit was refiled in 1985.

The Newark Advocate reported on April 5, 1985 (behind paywall):

Lawsuit seeks $2.6 Million in Damages

A former Licking Countian has filed a $2.6 million suit in Common Pleas Court, seeking damages from the family of a boy she claims beat her son several times during April and May of 1981. Patricia Nelson, of Brooksville. Fla., filed suit Thursday on behalf of her 14-year-old son, Edwin. Ms. Nelson alleges Stan Toomey of Alexandria beat her son up while they were both students of the Licking County Christian Academy, run by the Newark Baptist Temple. She filed an earlier version of the suit in 1983, but it was dismissed March 15 of this year. Ms. Nelson seeks $1.6 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive, damages from the Toomey youth and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Toomey, of 4472 Lobdell Road, Alexandria, and Polly Gerencser, of the Emanuel Baptist Church, Buckeye Lake. Ms. Gerencser was a teacher at the school at the time of the alleged incidents and should have controlled Toomey’s behavior, Ms. Nelson said. She also seeks to hold his parents responsible While Thursday’s suit does not enumerate Linders’ injuries, the first claim said he suffered from dislocation of the vertebra, swollen legs, bruises and head injuries. Ms. Nelson seeks a jury trial.

This suit was also tossed out of court. According to Polly, she wasn’t even in the classroom when the alleged assaults occurred, and best she can remember, all the Toomey boy had was a bloody nose. Besides being sued for $2.6 million, what was most irritating about this lawsuit was the fact that Pastor Dennis — remember, he’s Polly’s uncle — didn’t bother to tell us about the suit. We read about it in the newspaper. Needless to say, we weren’t happy.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Masked in the City’s Bible Belt

williamsburg bridge

Guest post by MJ Lisbeth

I think I’m recovering pretty well from my bike accident. Heck, last Tuesday I even rode the 5 miles to my follow-up CAT scan. I hope it will confirm that I’m as well as I think I am!

The day after, I went for another, longer, bike ride. I needed it because, well, I’m a nearly-lifelong cyclist. Also, I wanted not to think about the CAT scan and to think about other things: It was a couple of days after the anniversary of my mother’s death.

Now I’m going to tell you something you may have figured if you’ve read my previous articles: I live, and grew up, in New York. Even though parts of the city, through gentrification and hyper-development, are becoming more homogenized, it is still a city of stark contrasts. It’s still possible, in some areas, to enter a completely different world simply by crossing a street.

This is especially true in Brooklyn, one of the city’s five boroughs. Today the name is practically a brand that, to much of the world, signifies hipness (if in an overly self-conscious way). If you spend any time in the waterfront neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, it’s easy to understand why: In cafes along Kent, Bedford and Driggs Avenues, where I rode, young men and women in tight jeans wash down their $15 slices of avocado toast (!) with $20 craft beers or cocktails.

These young people, nearly all of them childless, are hated or resented, or at least mocked, as “entitled millennials” because, for one thing, nearly all of them come from other parts of the United States and thus, in the eyes of some, can’t be “real New Yorkers.” (I would argue that is exactly what some don’t want to become. But that’s a subject for an entirely different article.) Also, many of them, even before the pandemic, didn’t seem to be doing any work to support themselves. The money for their avocado toast and drinks—and the condos in which many of them live—comes from elsewhere.

One thing I have to say for them, though: When they weren’t eating or drinking, nearly all of them were wearing masks. Of course, they weren’t covering their faces with those generic blue, white or yellow hospital masks: Some, I am sure, created their own face coverings, while others had them made by artisans or designers, whether in the neighborhood or elsewhere.

As I pedaled down Driggs, I rolled under the Williamsburg Bridge overpass as a train rumbled and clattered across. Many see the bridge as a sort of Mason-Dixon line, if you will, dividing North from South Williamsburg. One could also argue that Nostrand Avenue, where East Williamsburg begins, performs the same function. Like the line that separated the Union from the Confederacy, the areas north and west of the “lines” are richer, whiter and more educated (at least in a certain sense) than the areas on the other side.

My ride didn’t take me into East Williamsburg, though I ride into the area often. I will mention, however, that it is the last remnant of Williamsburg’s Puerto Rican community, which dominated the area for four decades or so after World War II. I did, however, spin my wheels south, into one of the two New York neighborhoods that most closely resemble a prewar shtetl.

I am talking about the part of Williamsburg below the eponymous bridge. The description in my previous paragraph is not an exaggeration: If you were to find yourself on the southern part of Driggs, or on Lee Avenue, late on a Friday or on Saturday, you’d have the place to yourself.

Since I was riding there on a Thursday afternoon, I wasn’t alone. The thing is, I was one of the few non-Hasidim in the area. Normally, I don’t mind that: At worst, I am ignored and can ride or go about whatever else I’m doing, undisturbed. On the other hand, the fact that I was cycling through the neighborhood on the day before shabat, I couldn’t help but to notice that I, and the other goyim in the area, were the only ones wearing masks. None of the Hasidic men and women covered their faces.

I noticed the same phenomenon as I pedaled further south, into Brooklyn’s other Hasidic enclave: Borough Park. There, I was even more isolated: I was, literally, the only goyim (all right, I’m an atheist; but in that community, any outsider is goy!) pedaling, walking or otherwise passing through the area. But that was not the only reason I felt as if I stuck out even more than I did in South Williamsburg: I grew up at the edge of Borough Park, where it borders Kensington. Half a century ago, when I was an altar boy (and manque transgender), the neighborhood was more or less evenly divided between Italian-, Irish- and Polish-Americans. Most of the men, including my father, were blue-collar workers who did as much overtime as they could so they could send me and my peers to the neighborhood’s Catholic school, which closed about 15 years ago. And we all went to the same church—which remains open mainly because of Hispanics who work in the neighborhood—on Sunday.

In my old neiIn my old neighborhood, none of the residents was wearing a mask. However, in a neighboring community, populated mainly by Bangladeshi Muslims, nearly everyone — male, female and otherwise — was.

I would like to think that the denizens of my old neighborhood would have covered their faces, if for no other reason than their reverence (really, a combination of fear and obsequiousness) for authority. The funny thing is that, for all of that they (and I, at the time—after all, I was an altar boy) unquestioningly obeyed our church and school, we knew enough to listen to secular authorities when they knew better. Unfortunately, my old neighborhood—along with South Williamsburg and a few neighborhoods dominated by Evangelical and Pentecostal churches—are this city’s “Bible Belt,” if you will. They believe that the power of their beliefs will protect them when the recommendations of Dr. Anthony Fauci won’t. And even if their fealty to the Word of their God doesn’t keep them from succumbing to COVID-19, they believe that God (or Yahweh) “wants” them “now.”

Some pundits have, accurately, observed, that in the US, the choice to wear a mask—or not—during the COVID-19 pandemic breaks along political lines. In my city, though, it has more to do with religious faith—which, ironically is the political “fault line” in the Big Apple. My ride showed me on which side of the line I live.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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My Previous Blogs

blogging

Long time readers, all three of you, know that I had a plethora of blogs over the past fourteen years. I would write for a while, burn my blog to the ground, only to resurrect again months later. Welcome to the mind of a depressive. The good news is this: The Life and Times of Bruce Gerencser will celebrate its sixth anniversary come November. Can I get an AMEN! Or dare I not mention this milestone lest I find the gasoline and matches again?

Several readers have asked me about the names of my former blogs. Here ya go:

  • Fallen From Grace
  • The Way Forward
  • Rethinking Church Life
  • Bruce Droppings (my favorite name)
  • World of Bruce
  • A Restless Mind in a Restless World
  • The Hungarian Luddite
  • The World According to Bruce
  • The Emergent Church
  • Northwest Ohio Skeptics
  • Restless Wanderings

Crazy, huh? Hey, I have never claimed to be sane.

I want to thank readers who jumped on Bruce’s crazy train in the early days and continue to ride today. Your love and support are appreciated.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

A Note From Bruce

note from bruce

I have received a number of emails and messages of late from people wondering if I am okay. They have noticed my writing volume has reduced, and this is usually a sign that something’s up in my life. 

Polly had major abdominal surgery on June 30. This surgery, five hours in length, reconnected her bowel to her rectum. You may remember that in January 2019, Polly landed in the hospital with ulcerative colitis. In August of that year, she had to have emergency surgery to fix a fistula that developed between her colon and bladder. This left her with a colostomy bag. The latest surgery reconnected her plumbing. To put it bluntly, she’s back to shitting normally now.

Polly is doing well, and after six weeks off of work, she will return to her job on August 11.

I am scheduled to have surgery on August 10. Yes, boys and girls, it never seems to end at our house. I will have my gallbladder removed. I have had a gallbladder problem for years, but the pain would wax and wane. A few months ago, the pain moved in and decided to stay. Just what I needed, more pain, right? My primary care doctor warned me that I had reached a point where I had to have my gallbladder removed. Not doing so could cause serious, life-threatening problems. So, surgery it is.

Late last year, I had to have a large cyst in my chest aspirated (drained). Three months later, I had the have the cyst aspirated again. And . . . you guessed it, my third breast cyst has returned. Getting someone to drain the cyst has proved problematic. Thanks, COVID-19. (The last time it was aspirated, the radiologist removed 360cc – about 12 ounces — of fluid.) I have yet another ultrasound scheduled for this week. Hopefully, this will jump-start the process. The cyst is in a place where, as it grows, it pushes on a nerve bundle that affects the functionality of my right arm. This is not something I can ignore.  That is if I want to continue to use my right arm.

Finally, I am in the throws of a bout of depression — deep, dark depression. Driven by my health problems (and Polly’s), the non-stop bullshit emanating from the White House, and COVID-19, I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay on top of my to-do list, including writing for this blog. This, of course, as a Type A workaholic, only makes my depression worse. 

All of this shall pass, or I will. 🙂 Now you know the rest of the story. I appreciate your concerns. Better days lie ahead, just not today. I will continue to foist my writing on the world, but it may not be in the volume readers have become accustomed to. I hope you will understand.

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Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Story of Fish Lips

Bruce Gerencser, Ninth Grade 1971-72
Bruce Gerencser, Ninth Grade 1971-72

The year is 1972.

I am a ninth-grader at Central Jr High School in Findlay, Ohio.

I am a typical boy.

The need to prove I am one of the guys is important to me.

I want to fit in.

I want to be part of the club.

The retards have a classroom in our building.

You know who they are.

The freaks.

The morons.

The half-wits.

A wonderful opportunity to prove that I belong.

Fish Lips.

That’s what we called him.

He had big lips like Mr. Limpet.

Every day he wore a tin sheriff’s badge and carried a toy gun.

No post-nine-eleven worries in 1972.

Why do the retard’s parents send him to school like that?

Don’t they know boys like me lurk in the hallways looking for opportunities to mock and harass their son?

And so I did.

I mocked him and made life miserable for Fish Lips.

So did other boys, but I am the boy I remember.

I was part of the group now.

I hope Fish Lips didn’t mind being the price of admission.

It is 1989.

I am 32 years old now.

I have three children.

I am the pastor of a thriving Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church.

My wife is pregnant with our fourth child.

Our beautiful red-headed daughter was born on September 1st.

Our first girl.

We are so excited to finally have a girl.

It was not long before we realized something wasn’t quite right with our daughter.

The doctor sent us to University Hospital in Columbus.

A genetic test . . .

We didn’t need the results.

We already knew . . .

Our daughter had Down Syndrome.

Her features were mild and the doctor missed all the signs.

We found out she had Down’s the same day our second daughter was born.

I had a mentally handicapped child.

All of a sudden I had a flashback to 1972.

Visions of a hateful boy persecuting the mentally handicapped, all because he wanted to belong.

I thought of what I would do to that boy today if he did what he did then to my daughter.

I wept.

I couldn’t undo what I did.

But I could make sure I am never that boy again.

The least of these deserve my protection and care.

They deserve to be who they are without worrying about a boy with something to prove.

I am glad that boy died in 1989.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

American Individualism Will Kill Us All

1970-nova-ss

Son #3 invited me to a car show tonight in nearby Bryan. I enjoy attending car shows, especially if they have lots of classic/muscle cars. Such cars remind me of the automobiles I owned in the 1970s and 1980s. My favorite car remains the 1970 Chevrolet Nova SS I owned in 1975-76. Lots of raw horsepower, a chick magnet.

I was hesitant about attending the show due to concerns over potential exposure to COVID-19. I decided social distancing and wearing a mask would keep me safe, especially since the event was being held outdoors around the Williams County Courthouse.

According to my finely tuned Baptist preacher crowd counting skills, there were about 200 or so people at the car show. Would you like to guess how many people were concerned with social distancing or were wearing masks? Social distancing? No one bothered. And masks? Five people wore masks: Me and Bethany, a couple selling kettle corn, and a man in a wheel chair. That’s it. Roughly 2.5 percent of the attendees were wearing masks.

Yesterday, I had what I call a Bruce’s Git-r-done Day. I turned 63 today, and I still lack moderation and balance in my life. Hey, the house is on fire! Charge, with an empty squirt gun, and put the fire out! Try as I might to slow down, I find it impossible to do so.

I decided to go to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Bryan to renew my driver’s license. Afterward, I stopped by Bill’s Locker Room to order an embroidered red apron. The BMV was busy, with everyone lined up outside waiting to be waited upon. Out of the 20 or so peopled queued up, four of them were wearing masks. And Bill’s Locker Room? There was a sign on the front door that stressed the importance of wearing masks. Want to know how many employees and customers were wearing masks? One — me. That’s it.

I stopped home to eat lunch with Polly before she headed off to work. I was quite fatigued, but I decided to push myself and drive to Defiance to pick up my prescriptions at Meijer, run our car through the new car wash next door to Kohl’s, and stop by Menard’s to buy two bags of sand.

Roughly 20% of people in Meijer were wearing masks. Menard’s? Everyone was wearing masks. Why? Menard’s requires its customers to wear masks. Damn commies, the lot of them. How dare they tell free-born Americans what they can or can’t do.

The sand, of course, was out in the yard, which I only figured out after traipsing through half the store. As I was headed towards the checkout, I was hit of wave of lightheadedness and fatigued. You’ve pushed yourself too far now, dumb ass.

I managed to check out, crawled into the seat of our Ford Edge, turned the air on high, and sat in Menard’s parking lot for ten or so minutes, hoping to catch a bit of wind in my sail. I finally felt well enough to drive home. I told myself, “this was a really stupid idea.”

II checked my blood pressure and blood sugar level. My glucose level was 62. I took my evening medication, downed a Dr. Pepper, and ate a sandwich. Man, was I tired! I turned the TV on to watch All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC. Halfway through the show, I fell asleep. An hour later, I woke up, and my was body was screaming from head to toe in pain. The pain was so bad that I ran a hot bath and sat in the tub for a half-hour, hoping the pain would abate (and it did).

Around 1:00 a.m. or so, I started trading messages with a woman who was a teen in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church I pastored in southeast Ohio in the 1980s. We had a delightful conversation.

Polly arrived home from work at 2:30 a.m. I told her I was really feeling weak, and my eyesight was blurry. I thought, I’d better check my blood sugar level. What the fuck, it is 40! As any diabetic knows, a 40 reading means its time to head for the emergency room. Not me. I’m Bruce Gerencser, a real American. I can do all things through Bruce!

I started to stand up, only to find that I couldn’t do so. I told Polly, I’m in big trouble. Get me a Dr. Pepper. I chugged it down, no change on my glucose level. WTF! Polly, now quite concerned said, do you want a glass of orange juice? Yes, right away, I replied. 90 minutes later, my blood sugar level rebounded to a whopping 50. It took until 7:00 a.m. for my glucose level to reach 72.

As I reflect on the lack of social distancing and mask wearing by locals andAs I reflect on the lack of social distancing and mask-wearing by locals and my unwillingness to balance my life, I have concluded that American individualism will be the death of us all. While I can smugly and self-righteously chastise locals for not caring about their neighbors, am I really any better? Don’t I owe it to Polly, my children, and my grandchildren to prudently manage my health? It’s one thing for me to push myself a bit, but it’s another thing to run headlong into a brick wall, thinking that I am impervious to harm. I am not.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media?

Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so. Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.