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Feral Barn Cats Part Two

Last week, I asked my son and daughter-in-law if I could photograph the feral cats that reside in their barn. After giving me a quizzical look that said why?, they told me I could, but warned me that I would find it hard to get close enough to the cats to photograph them.  Sufficiently warned, I went to the barn, camera and flash in hand and took the following photographs. I hope you enjoy them.

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What follows is not a new cat breed. My daughter-in-law told me these two chickens are quite old.

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chickens

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Part One

Feral Barn Cats Part One

Last week, I asked my son and daughter-in-law if I could photograph the feral cats that reside in their barn. After giving me a quizzical look that said why?, they told me I could, but warned me that I would find it hard to get close enough to the cats to photograph them.  Sufficiently warned, I went to the barn, camera and flash in hand and took the following photographs. I hope you enjoy them.

feral cats in barn

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Part Two

A New ‘Cat’ in Our Backyard

Last December, I wrote a post about feeding and helping a feral cat. I later wrote several other posts about this cat. You can read those posts here and here.  Fall is now upon us, and before long the blustery winds of winter will cover our yard with snow. The feral cat, now a year old, is still among the living, and he, along with several of his buddies, make several trips each day to our yard to eat. Usually, they stop by the compost pile to see what goodies we have left for them before they make their way to the cat food. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that the feral cat and his black and white compatriot consider our yard home. Some nights, we find them sleeping on our picnic table or swing and during the day it is not uncommon to see them lounging in the garden or under the pussy willow bush. As the temperatures get colder, we will do our best to give all the cats who come our way a safe, warm place to sleep.

Several nights ago, a new ‘cat’ showed up at the Gerencser Cat Hotel. I’d seen him several times before, but every time I opened the back door so I could go outside and photograph him, he ran off. This time he decided to play possum and pretend that I couldn’t see him. He allowed me to get within ten feet of him, which was great since I had to use a flash, and I was able to shoot several photographs. I hope you enjoy them.

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A Personal Reflection: The Rhythm of Life

plant going to seed

Cicadas sing their early evening song and crickets add their chirp, reminding all who stop to listen that summer is almost over.

Farmers wrap up baling straw and hay; soon they will harvest corn and beans. As in every other year of my 58-year existence, I am reminded by the harvest that fall has arrived.

The baseball season winds down and soon football will vie for my attention. The Reds won’t make the playoffs. Will this be the year the Bengals win a playoff game?

The garden soon will be spent. The sunflowers are beginning to seed, offering a sumptuous meal to birds that frequent the yard. The Indian corn stalks have ears. Once dry, they will provide colorful decoration for Halloween.

Apples are starting to turn red. Last year, a freeze killed all the blooms, but this year there should be plenty of applesauce to can, a fact the grandchildren will certainly appreciate.

The last cabbages are shredded, and put into brine which will yield sauerkraut in a few weeks. A pungent odor wafts through the kitchen, one that is endured for the sake of hot dogs and spareribs.

The pumpkins are turning orange, and come Thanksgiving, the queen of the kitchen will turn their meat into pie. What possibly could be better than a pumpkin pie heaped with whipped cream and family gathered around the table, grateful for the lives they share with one another.

Summer flowers start to die and drop their seeds, while mums begin to flower, offering the year a last splash of color before the cold temperatures of winter claim their beauty.

Where has time gone, I ask myself. It seems the days pass so quickly now. Didn’t we just celebrate Christmas?

Life is short, I remind myself. Enjoy the rhythm of changing seasons and let them be a reminder that no one is promised tomorrow.

102516

Encouraged by a Young Bernie Sanders Supporter

bernie sanders 2016

Bernie Sanders for President Sign in Our Front Yard

A short while ago, someone pulled into our driveway and got out of their vehicle. I was busy writing when our early visitor detection system, also known as Breigh, the cocker spaniel, went off, alerting me that someone was in our driveway. Sure enough, seconds later someone knocked on our door.

As I looked out the window I saw a bearded young man wearing a ball cap in his late twenties standing on the porch. His vehicle was an old truck. I carefully opened the door, not knowing if there was a confederate-flag-waving redeck or an atheist hater standing on my doorstep. Imagine my surprise when I greeted a man who wanted to know where I got my Bernie Sanders sign.

As of today, I think our home sports the only Bernie Sanders sign in Defiance or Williams County. This man wanted to know if Sanders had a local office. I told him no and said I ordered the sign at Sanders’s website.

He said he wanted to get a sign because he was a big Bernie Sanders supporter, as was his girlfriend who sitting in the truck. I laughed and said, now there are two of us, and he replied that he had a number of friends who were Sanders supporters. At this moment, my heart flooded with joy, so much so that I wanted to shout PRAISE JESUS! Okay, just kidding a bit.

bernie sanders cartoon

When I look at the Republican debate lineup I want to gag and throw my hands up in despair. The candidates, all 17 of them, are a reminder of everything that is wrong with the United States. The young man on my porch reminded me that all is not lost. While President Obama failed to bring the hope and change I hoped he would, I know we are better off today than we were under the reign of King Bush. A better future awaits us if we can drive a stake in the heart of amoral capitalism and corporate greed. (I am not anti-capitalist as much as I am against capitalism as it is now practiced in the United States.)

There’s a restlessness brewing among young adults. Whether it will result in dramatic political change remains to be seen. For today, I am encouraged. If Sanders cannot win the nomination, then I will support whomever the Democratic candidate is. I hope, in the process, that Sanders can materially affect the Democratic party and force it to abandon the teat and bed of corporate America.

102516

Defiance Family Fun Fest: Local Evangelicals Use ‘Fun’ to Evangelize Children

children choosing christ tent

If there is one thing I’ve learned about Evangelicals and conservative Christians, it is hard for them to get together and just have fun. Everything is a means to an end. It’s hip now for several local churches to go out in the community and “help” others. Dressed in their matching church advertisement shirts, out in the community they go to do good works for Jesus. Why is there a need to advertise the church or hand out printed materials with the church’s name on it? If it is all about Jesus, why not do these works anonymously? Instead, these social outreach programs are used as a means to evangelize and attract church members. While they certainly do some earthly good, the grand goal is to win souls to Jesus and increase the church roll.

Years ago, the churches I pastored sponsored numerous fun events for local teenagers. From all-nighters at the YMCA to roller skating and bowling, we would design activities sure to draw local teens. During every event we would have a time when we gathered everyone together and preach the gospel. You see, fun was not the objective, salvation was. Teenagers endured the preaching and high pressure evangelism because they knew that fun awaited them just beyond saying the sinner’s prayer.

Last Saturday was the inaugural Defiance Fun Fest. According to the Defiance Crescent-News (behind a paywall):

Several Defiance area churches are partnering with Ravens Care of Defiance to present the first ever Family Fun Fest, Aug. 1 from 4-7 p.m. at Diehl Park in Defiance…

Family Fun Fest is an opportunity for families to spend time together enjoying food, fun and friends, all for free. The event has been underwritten by the Defiance Police Officers Association, First Federal Bank, General Motors Defiance Casting Operations, Johns Manville, Midwest Community Federal Credit Union and The State Bank.

The idea started when Pastor Rick Rufenacht of First Church of God in Defiance talked with other pastors about working together on an event that would minister to people in the Defiance community. His church had done a similar family event the past six years, but he was looking for a greater impact on Defiance.

“I had attempted to get some pastors together to talk about doing ministry together and what that might look like,” said Rufenacht…

…Katye Katterheinrich, director of Ravens Care, loved the idea of a family event.

“There are so many adult events in our area, but this is an event geared toward families, and it’s free,” said Katterheinrich. “There are a lot of families that don’t get to go on vacation, that don’t get to go to the pool, that don’t always have these kind of opportunities. Ravens Care is supported by area churches, so working together on a family event with the churches, is really natural fit.”

Pastor Max Begley of Second Baptist Church in Defiance, is pleased to be a part of this event and the spirit of cooperation that has grown among the churches and with Ravens Care.

“Each individual church may not be able to do a family festival by itself because it may be limited by resources, so by coming together, we can do something better together that has a greater positive impact on the community,” said Begley. “Because Rick and his church had already been doing this, we agreed to work together to build on that, and once we did, it started coming together quickly.”

Several of my grandchildren attended the event.  According to the newspaper, Fun Fest included:

…large inflatable attractions, Zorbs, hot dogs, popcorn, sno cones, cotton candy, games, crafts by Lowes of Defiance, a karate demonstration, a demonstration from Iron Faith Fitness Center of Defiance, a photo booth, Defiance firemen and fire trucks, Defiance policemen and cruisers, Defiance County Sheriff’s Office, DARE and K-9 dogs.

What’s not to like, right? Sounds like a lot of fun and the proceeds went to support Ravens Care, a “Christian Ministry dedicated to meet needs in the community that are not being met by other agencies.”  I am all for any “ministry” or program that helps the least of these, but  works of charity should not be used a means to evangelize non-Christians. While Ravens Care, as far as I know, does not evangelize those they serve, the Family Fun Fest did.

Children were able earn coupons/tickets that could be turned in for rides on the inflatables. Guess what one of ways was that children could earn tickets?  Attending a gospel presentation at the ” ‘Choosing Christ’ tent for kids, (a program) designed to allow kids to learn the gospel message.” Hey kiddies, want to earn some tickets so you can go play on the big, fun rides? Just sit here and let us tell you about Jesus. As any adult who was evangelized like this as a child will tell you, what’s a little preaching and praying when you get to play games and do fun stuff when you are done. Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I know you died on the cross to save me from my sins. Come into my heart and save me. In Jesus name, Amen. Tickets please!

I did a cursory Google search for the Children Choosing Christ tent and I found out that this tent is used to evangelize at NW Ohio fairs and special events. While I was unable to find out what group or person owned the tent, I was told that the preaching in the tent was decidedly Evangelical, geared to evangelizing and converting impressionable children. In any other context we would consider such behavior predatory and harmful.

Get Right With God,Consult the Bible When Making A Decision, and Keep America Communist Free,

Now that’s a headline. What follows are photographs I shot while out and about in rural NW Ohio.

get right with god

High Resolution Photo

I found this sign along U.S. Hwy 127 south of Sherwood, Ohio.  Recently, the Defiance Crescent-News featured an article written by Isaiah Ross about this sign:

Along U.S. 127 and Paulding County Road 424 is a cross that simply states: “Get right with God.” Amid word that the beloved cross would be removed, the past few weeks have been filled with heated emotional debate.

The cross was to be picked up by the American Sign Museum located in Cincinnati, whose founder Tod Swormstedt said the acquisition was supposed to be a birthday surprise from his girlfriend, Nancy Herbert. Herbert’s friend Cate O’Hara was heading up to Bryan with her daughter when she noticed the sign off the side of the road. O’Hara, knowing Swormstedt’s involvement with the American Sign Museum, contacted Herbert to inform her of the cross. The surprise was reportedly ruined when Swormstedt was notified of it after a local newspaper ran a historic account of the cross last week. However, Thursday morning, he received news that the sign was no longer available for pickup.

The cross was placed there by Rev. Harrison Mayes around 1966 in his journeys throughout the country. Mayes took to working in the coal mines at a young age, and when he was a young man, an accident caused him to be trapped in a mine. He prayed and prayed to God, vowing to live the rest of his life in God’s service if he survived the predicament.

His prayers were answered. Mayes made it through to fulfill his side of the covenant, so he took to his bike and used his building skills to construct, paint, and place his signs where he saw fit.

Through the course of his life, Mayes made many signs, each of which is large enough to be easily seen and read from the road. All of them share a similar message of being prepared and getting saved. Several signs stand erect in the greater region around his home in Fork Ridge, Tenn., but they are present in 22 different states. Some are as far north as northwest Ohio, where locals have seen the Cecil area cross and one that used to be near Antwerp before an accident destroyed it. As he knew his days were coming to a close, he began writing on his signs where he wanted them placed, in hopes someone would continue the efforts of his lifelong promise…

Across the road from the Get Right With God sign I found this billboard:

decision to make

High Resolution Photo

Isn’t it good to know that the Bible is a one-stop shop for all your decision-making needs. Need to decide what to make for dinner? Check the Bible? Need to know if brown shoes go with blue slacks? I’m sure that the billboard owner has a more spiritual intent in mind, something along the lines of getting saved.

Tuesday, Polly and I drove to Fort Wayne to attend the Dayton Dragons vs. Fort Wayne Tin Caps baseball game. I’ve been battling an upper respiratory infection for the past week or so, and by the time we got to the stadium I was in no shape to sit in 93 degree heat and watch a game. So we turned around and came home. Here’s a sign I photographed on a country road outside of Antwerp, Ohio.

keep america communist free

High Resolution Photo

Ah yes, Joseph McCarthy lives on.

Please click the high-resolution links to see photo full size. Most photos on this site are resized to 600×400, resulting in 60-90% reduction in size. This reduction flattens and softens most photos. I hate it, I mean I really, really, really hate it, but you’d hate it even more if I uploaded all my photos as shot and it took 5 minutes for the site to load. If you would like to save, print, or use one of my photos, please use the high-resolution photos. Any noncommercial use is permitted.

 

Bruce Gerencser Poses for His Lover: Five Shocking Photographs

I always wanted to write a headline like that. On Wednesday, Polly and I celebrated our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. We drove up to Lake Erie and the Marblehead Lighthouse to spend the day. Over the years, I have shot thousands of photographs and I am generally the photographer for most family gatherings.  As a result, there are not many extant photographs of me. Polly has “encouraged” me to sit still and allow her to “shoot” me. Here’s the finished product from Wednesday. Enjoy or use them to practice your dart throwing skills.

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Local Christians Respond to Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

biblical marriage

On Friday, the godless, anti-American,socialistic, communistic,  jihadist, liberal, satanic-inspired U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ohio’s constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. Ohio Governor John Kasich, also known as Mr. Wall Street, publicly admitted the marriage battle is over: (link no longer active)

“I’ve always felt that marriage is, you know, one of these traditions between a man and a woman, but the Court has spoken. And I’ve said all along that when the Court makes a decision, we abide by the law of the land. And they made their determination and—just move on. It doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed, I am, but the decision has been made.”

 

Williams County Commissioner Al Word, formerly the sheriff of Williams County, evidently slept through high school government class. Word told The Bryan Times (behind paywall):

“Why don’t they change the voting process so the minority always wins?  I believe everyone should be treated with respect, whoever they are, but this has gone completely over the edge. I’m in total disbelief and most people don’t realize the gravity of the whole thing. It changes who we are and how our issues get decided.”

Evidently, Word thinks the United States is a democracy where the majority rules. However, as anyone who has ever taken a government class should know, the United States is a republic with a representative form of government. Majority or minority has little to do with it, and in the case of the Supreme Court ruling, the issue is the court’s interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, especially the equal protection clause.

I understand why Word is upset. In 2004, Ohioans voted to restrict marriage to “only a union between one man and one woman.” This constitutional amendment passed 62-38 percent statewide. In Williams County the margin was 73-27 percent. According to The Bryan Times, the voting margins were similar in nearby Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Putnam, Paulding, and Van Wert counties.

But, let’s look at the numbers (link no longer active) for God’s Kingdom-Northwest Ohio Division, also known as Williams County. In 2004, there were 26,722 registered voters in Williams County and 18,294 of them voted on the marriage amendment. (68% voter turnout) 13,275 voted for Issue One, and 5,019 vote against the amendment. Yes, 73% of those who voted cast a vote in favor of the marriage amendment. However, when measured against the number of registered voters, the number drops to 50%. As in the case of most Ohio ballot initiatives, they are voted up or down by a majority of a minority. (in 2004, Ohio had its largest voter turnout in years)

I think Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown is right when he said:

“The court has spoken. The public is behind the court and the court speaks for the public…I am convinced Ohio voters, if they had it to do over would agree. Marriage equality is the law of the land now, period, just like civil rights. It’s a victory for everyone, gay and straight. Those who disagree will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

After the Court’s decision, The Bryan Times contacted “virtually every church in Bryan”  to get a response. Only two pastors responded: Pat Schwenk, pastor of New Hope Community Church and Kevin Kellum, pastor of Grace Community Church. Both pastors were deeply disturbed by the ruling.

Schwenk stated:

This is certainly not the firs time the U.S. Supreme Court has made a ruling contrary to the truth of God’s word. It’s not a decision we celebrate, nor is it one we despair over either. God is still in control. Regardless of the moral and spiritual drift happening in our country, our response should be to faithfully honor God first, while loving others–even when there is disagreement.

Kellum stated:

Troubling, for a number of reasons. The church’s worldview of marriage has always been that it’s a vow between a man and a woman. Now we’re in uncharted territory. We’ve talked about openly with the congregation. Our doors are open to any race, gender, and (sexual) orientation.  We still have hope and we still believe and obey the word of God and depend on him for guidance on our lives, and we continue to look to God for his definition (of marriage). I’m concerned that there is a whole generation of young people who have no foundation in the church’s teachings, and with this ruling, I expect that to continue, to present a challenge to the church.

Don’t be blinded and misled by the talk of loving others and open doors. These words are loaded with Evangelical presuppositions, and all that is meant by their perfidious words is:

Yes we love homosexuals, they need Jesus, so our doors are open so that they can repent and find Jesus as their Lord and Savior. And if they don’t, they are going to be eternally tortured by God in hell.

Neither pastor is willing to openly and without reservation embrace homosexuals and welcome them into the membership. Married same-sex couples will find that very few local churches are willing to treat them as they do married heterosexual couples. As long as the Bible is the authoritative standard, same-sex couples will never be treated justly, fairly, and equally in churches like New Hope and Grace Community Church.

Over in Defiance County, the Crescent-News asked readers what they thought of the Court’s ruling. Here’s what several local fundamentalists had to say on the newspaper’s Facebook page:

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I left more comments on the Crescent-News’s page than anyone else, yet when the newspaper printed many of the comments in today’s edition of the paper, none of my comments were printed. It’s hard not to conclude that they either “overlooked” my comments, they were too long, too intellectual, or they didn’t want to give the village atheist any more press.

The Bryan Times was able to find an openly gay local man willing to comment. Here’s what Denver Henderson of Bryan had to say:

“Yesterday, I could do anything everyone else does–buy a car, own a house, pay taxes, fall in love–but there was always one thing I couldn’t do. Tomorrow I can. It’s not a big national question of ‘Can we?’ anymore. Now it’s the personal question of ‘Do we want to?’  (That kind of freedom is)  what it feels like to be a part of ‘We the People.’  It’s a big deal. It’s history happening right now and you don’t get to see that very often.”

Notes

Over the years, I’ve tried to give the Crescent-News editorial staff the benefit of the doubt when it comes to things like not printing my comments, but I have reached a point where I am no longer willing to do so. If I am missing something here, then I’d love for Steve VanDemark, Dennis Van Scoder, Todd Helberg, Mark Froelich , or Bruce Hefflinger to point it out to me. From “lost” letters to the editor, a “lost” 35th wedding anniversary announcement, numerous resumes submitted for a photography position flushed down the toilet, and no response to emails, comments, and tweets, it’s hard not to conclude that the newspaper has no interest in engaging me at any level. Even when fundamentalists personally attack me in their letters to the editor, making inflammatory and untrue statements, the newspaper says nothing. Why is this?

Grace Community Church is a part of the Ohio Mennonite conference. While there has been some movement towards accepting same-sex marriage at the national level, I suspect most NW Ohio Mennonite pastors/churches consider homosexuality and same-sex marriage a sin.

New Hope Community Church is a garden variety Evangelical church. Here’s their doctrinal statement (proof texts removed):

The Infallibility of the Bible
We accept the miracles, creation, etc., as literal accounts.
To repudiate any portion of Scripture as unreliable is like changing an inch on a ruler.
If one inch is changed, the entire system of measurement is altered.

The Absolute Diety of Christ

The Virgin Birth of Christ

The Historical Creation of Man
Man did not accidentally evolve from lower forms of life.
God created man as a unique spiritual being.

The Sinful Nature of Man
Man is not basically good.
He is basically evil.

The Substitutionary Death of Christ
Others have died difficult, martyrs’ deaths.
Jesus is the only One who died for the sins of the world.

The Bodily Resurrection of Christ
Some say Christ arose in spirit or His teaching lives on.
But the Bibles teaches Jesus arose bodily from the grave.

A Literal Return of Christ to Earth as Promised

The Resurrection and Assignment of All People to Heaven or Hell
We are sometimes criticized for too rigid a stand.
But Jesus said, “Narrow is the way…”

NW Ohio: Secular, Non-Religious, Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies

bruce gerencser 2015

Are you having a hard time finding someone to perform your wedding ceremony? Are you non-religious, secular, humanist, atheist, agnostic, or pagan and want to get married but can’t find anyone to perform the service? Are you religious but not affiliated with a church and are looking for someone to perform your wedding? I can help!

Are you a same-sex couple looking for someone to officiate your wedding? Now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage in Ohio, same-sex couples can now be legally married. Now is the time to book a date for your special day.

My name is Bruce Gerencser and I am duly licensed by the state of Ohio to perform wedding ceremonies. If you are interested in having me perform your ceremony, please contact me at defiancecounty@gmail.com

Service area: Bryan, Montpelier, West Unity, Alvordton, Pioneer, Wauseon, Napoleon, Archbold, Paulding, Hicksville, Defiance, Ayersville, Antwerp, Sherwood, Farmer, Ney, Holgate, Deshler, McClure, Malinta, Evansport, Ridgeville Corners, Pettisville, Fayette, Liberty Center, Stryker, Edon, Edgerton, Blakeslee,  and all points in between.

Local Christian Takes Courageous Stand for Jesus 

Snark ahead!

As you know, here in rural NW Ohio, religious persecution is quite severe.  Never mind that there is a Christian church on every street corner and the overwhelmingly majority of local residents profess faith in Jesus Christ. In the mind of God’s chosen ones, being forced to even think about two people of the same-sex being married in a ceremony performed by the notorious atheist Bruce Gerencser is enough for them to think they are being persecuted nigh unto death.

While their paranoid delusions have no basis in fact, I do think many Christian zealots have a persecution complex. Why, just the other day I drove though Pulaski, a spot along US HWY 127 noted for Bruce Gerencser having attended third grade there, and noticed the following:

believer lives here

This sign is akin to having a sign that says White Person Lives Here or Republican Lives Here.

Everyone in rural NW Ohio is a Christian. Yet, I am sure this bold as Daniel in the lion’s den Christian thinks that they are making a courageous statement of faith. They should expect persecution to befall them. In fact it already has. An atheist and his agnostic wife drove by this believer’s house and snickered. Such persecution has not been seen since the days the Romans slaughtered Christians in the Coliseum. How will this believer survive the withering persecution of a snickering atheist and his wife?

Stay tuned for updated reports.

Note:

Now, if I put a sign up in my yard that says, God is a Fiction, an Atheist Lives Here, I doubt the sign would survive the night. I know of only three or four out of the closet atheists in this area. I am sure there are more, but most local atheists stay in the closet lest they face social condemnation and economic harm.

 

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