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Bruce’s Hot Takes for February 11, 2024

hot takes

The Forty-Niners will beat the Chiefs by three in the Super Bowl. Right-wingers will go nuts over Taylor Swift, and the halftime show will suck.

We need term limits based on age. Neither Biden nor Trump should be running for president. Both show signs of mental decline. I support an age seventy cutoff.

Biden isn’t the first president to be managed by his spouse, cabinet members, or trusted advisors. Ronald Reagan, by Nancy, and George W. Bush, by Dick Cheney/Donald Rumsfeld, come to mind.

Biden’s unwillingness to speak out against Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians may cost him the election in November. I suspect Biden is more worried about losing more Jewish votes than Arab votes. What should matter is the violence and bloodshed. That it doesn’t says a lot about the American people and their political leaders.

Evangelicalism is in an uproar over whether Christians should attend a same-sex/transgender wedding, revealing the hateful bigotry that lies underneath the surface in many churches. Jesus said, “It’s just a fucking wedding.” Alistair Begg said Christians should attend LGBTQ weddings. He was promptly deplatformed by John MacArthur and other notable Evangelical leaders.

Our NATO allies should pay their fair share of mutual defense costs — a minimum of two percent. The question is what do we do when they don’t? Let Russia attack them, as the orange Cheeto said?

If Texas wants to protect their border so bad, Biden should let them, removing all border patrol agents and federal national guard soldiers from the border.

I’m re-reading James Michener’s book, Chesapeake. I last read it forty-four years ago. I’m a Michener fan, but his books tend to voluminous. It will take me several weeks to read the book.,

Catchers and pitchers for the Cincinnati Reds begin spring training this week. I’m so ready for baseball. I predict the Reds will win the Central Division. Hope springs eternal. 🤣

Warning about using your cellphone number for two factor authentication. Change your phone number and you are screwed — as I’m learning firsthand.

Bonus: Corporations continue to make gaudy profits by gouging the American public — raising prices just because they can, regardless of whether costs have increased. Thieves, the lot of them. This is the primary reason most Americans think the economy is in bad shape. All they see is rising prices.

Bruce’s Hot Takes for January 17, 2024

hot takes

Dear Republicans, learn the difference between free speech and free market. Twitter owner Elon Musk told some advertisers to go fuck themselves. That’s free speech. After hearing Musk loud and clear, scores of companies stopped advertising on Twitter. That’s the free market.

The late Henry Kissinger was a war criminal.

We the American people are culpable for the war crimes being perpetrated in Palestine. Our weapons, our money, our blind and deaf politicians. We can excuse and justify our behavior, but the world at large sees the United States as the money and power behind the Netanyahu government’s murderous war against the Palestinian people.

Dad’s Place, a small Evangelical church in Bryan, Ohio, pastored by Chris Avell, is in the midst of a legal fight with the City over feeding and caring for homeless people. The City filed CRIMINAL charges against Avell for violating zoning laws. The church is right next to the homeless shelter, caring for the overflow crowds the shelter cannot care for. Yes, the church is technically breaking the law, as is EVERY business and church in town. Why was Dad’s Place singled out by Bryan law enforcement? Avell is a friend of mine. I recently told him I have no use for his theology, but I appreciate his concern and care for the “least of these.” Avell has a top-flight church and state law firm representing him. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

I will be on the primary ballot this spring. I’m running unopposed for Ney’s Democratic central committee seat. This will allow me to play an active part in the reorganization of the local party. The local Democratic Party is on life support. I hope new life can be breathed into the group.

In 1998, Evangelical preachers railed against President Bill Clinton over his inappropriate sexual behavior with an intern. I remember preaching a whole sermon about Clinton’s debauched behavior. Today, most Evangelical preachers have lost all sense of morals and ethics, resolutely supporting Donald Trump, even calling him a Christian. As long as you support Trump, Evangelicals, spare me your moralizing. You are hypocrites, the lot of you.

It was shameful for the New York Times to run an article questioning Taylor Swift’s sexuality. Who she loves or fucks is NOT news.

According to many Evangelicals, God created Donald Trump for such a time as this. Gag me with a spoon.

I saw a specialist at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor yesterday. I am hoping to have a G-Poem (gastric peroral endoscopic myotomy) procedure done soon. This procedure is relatively new and only one regional surgeon is qualified to perform it. G-Poem cuts the sphincter muscle in the stomach, relaxing it. Hopefully, this will improve my stomach/bowel motility, and reduce my nausea and vomiting. Unfortunately, many insurance companies consider this an experimental procedure and refuse to pay. My surgeon will seek pre-approval, hoping Aetna Blue Cross Blue Shield approves the procedure. We shall see . . .

Granddaughters #2 and #3 graduate from high school this spring. Victoria was accepted for enrollment at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and Karah was accepted at Richmond University in Richmond, Virginia. Forty-eight years ago, I was the first person in our family to go to college. Since then, Polly, and three of my sons, and my youngest daughter have graduated from accredited colleges. Our granddaughters are straight-A students. It does an old man’s heart good to see them do well in life.

Bonus: The Cincinnati Reds have signed a number of new players — especially pitchers. Hope springs eternal. Catchers and pitchers report to training camp in a month. Will this be the year the Reds make some noise in the playoffs? Fingers crossed, prayers uttered to Loki. May a dying old man’s wish be granted.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Curt Schilling Thinks Obeying God More Important Than Respecting Dying Teammate, Tim Wakefield’s Wishes

schilling and wakefield resized

Curt Schilling, a former pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadephia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and two other teams, finds himself in hot water over his recent announcement that former Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield has terminal cancer. Wakefield has since died. Wakefield didn’t want his cancer diagnosis broadcast far and wide. Schilling, however, decided to take to social media and let the world know Wakefield was dying. How did Schilling justify his violation of his former teammate’s privacy?

This is not a message that Tim has asked anyone to share, and I don’t even know if he wants it shared. But as a Christian and as a man of faith, I’ve seen prayer work and so I’m going to talk about it.

Schilling, a right-wing, Trump-supporting, Libertarian Evangelical, violated Wakefield’s privacy because he believes if he gets enough people to conjure up a prayer spell, healing will follow. Didn’t God already know Wakefield had cancer? Wakefield was an Evangelical too. Weren’t his prayers enough to qualify for healing? Does healing require a certain number of prayers to be prayed? “So sorry, Joey, you came up one prayer short. No healing for you.” Countless prayers will be prayed today for the dying. No matter how many or how few prayers are prayed, death always wins. It was Wakefield’s time, and someday death is coming for Schilling too. The difference between the two men will be in the measure of what they said and did.

As of today, Schilling has not apologized for his behavior. I doubt an apology is forthcoming. Schilling wanted to “save” Wakefield. What’s a little disrespect and indecency if God rides in on his magic horse and heals Wakefield? Of course, no God or horse was seen, and Wakefield died. All we are left with is a Christian asshole who valued his friendship with a dead Jew more than he did his friendship with Tim Wakefield.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Bruce’s Top Ten Hot Takes for September 14, 2023

hot takes

I have never been an Aaron Rogers fan, but after watching him on Hard Knocks, I’m more sympathetic towards the man. Rogers blew out his Achilles tendon minutes into the Jets’ first game and is done for the year. I genuinely feel sorry for him.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will not lead the team to the Promised Land. The Jets need to sign a seasoned quarterback; someone who is a caretaker. Don’t throw the ball away and let the defense do the rest.

Last night’s low was 45 degrees. Where did summer go? I wanted to turn the furnace on. My bed partner didn’t want to crank up the heat. Who won? I froze.

I introduced my five-year-old grandson to newspapers — a sales insert from a farm supply business. Made his day. Sadly, children born over the past ten years know no little to nothing about newspapers.

Our six children grew up in a home that received a morning and evening newspaper every day. They especially remember Dad’s paper rule: keep the sections in the proper order. They also remember that on Sundays no one read the paper before Dad (though I think they sometimes ignored this rule, reading the comics and sports sections, and then putting them back in place — Dad none the wiser).

I no longer subscribe to any newspaper, getting my daily news from a plethora of online sites. I miss not physically reading a daily newspaper. Both local papers are dying. Outside of finding out who died or what Ney’s council did at their meeting, local newspapers offer little value to me.

I set a record yesterday: 12 vials of blood were drawn from my left hand — over $1,000 in tests. The pessimist in me wonders if any of this will matter. Every specialist interprets the numbers differently.

I’m anemic, with low potassium, B12, and testosterone numbers. Supplements keep these numbers hovering around low normal. I reminded the doctor that I was taking significant levels of supplements to keep these numbers out of the basement. Without the supplements, I would be dead. The question, then, is why I have these deficiencies. So far, no doctor has a clue.

Ohio State will not play in the national championship game this year. Neither will Alabama.

My youngest grandson found a cricket in the living room and freaked out. I stopped him from killing it. At Grandpa and Nana’s house, if necessary we capture and release. Spiders? More often than not, we ignore them. Polly swears a big wolf spider is stalking her. Maybe. 🙂

Bonus: Out of all the serious health problems I have, nausea is the worst. I’m nauseous every day, often without relief. You can’t escape nausea. Eating is one of the few pleasures I still enjoy, but nausea often ruins this pleasure. Hard to enjoy eating when you feel like throwing up. I take Zofran to limit the vomiting, but that dull, achy nauseous feeling remains.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Bruce’s Ten Hot Takes for September 9, 2023

hot takes

Attended a folk concert at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Small, intimate venue, with no seat farther than fifty feet away from the stage. Lots of restaurants nearby. Perfect place for a date with your significant other.

Several of our trees have started dropping their leaves, and others are starting to show brown, red, and yellow colors. My favorite season has arrived.

Spring brought us the croaks of frogs, late summer the sounds of cicadas. Tonight, I hear chirps of countless crickets. Nature’s language is spoken all around us if we dare to turn off our electronic devices and listen.

These days, I collect books more than I read them. Seventeen books sit on the table beside the recliner. Polly said to me, “Please stop.” I replied, “I can’t, Im an addict.”

I spent time today teaching several of my granddaughters about the symbiotic relationship humans have with other animals; that every species and animal is important to the survival of our biological world. That’s why we don’t unnecessarily kill other animals, even if they bother us.

I am currently in physical therapy, hoping to lessen the pain and debility in my hips, lower back, and legs. I continue to weekly see a psychologist. Over the next two weeks, I have appointments with a hematologist, oncologist, and neurosurgeon. The pessimist in me thinks this will be a waste of time, but if I can get some helps around the edges of my life, I’ll be happy.

I am happy to report that cannabis helps reduce my pain and nausea — edibles, in particular. YMMV.

The Cincinnati Reds are still in the hunt for a wild card playoff berth. The Reds has the easiest remaining schedule in baseball. If the Reds fail to reach the playoffs, 2023 will still have been a good year. All the Reds need in 2024 is better pitching.

As of today, the Reds sold 400,000 more tickets this year than last year. Winning is contagious. Polly and I attended five games this year — all wins. Recent game against the Cubs had a playoff feel. It’s been a long times since the Reds were relevant past the All Star break.

Polly is retiring in 60-90 days. A new chapter in our life together begins. As always, the two things that concern us the most are money and medical insurance. I suggested we become bank robbers.

Bonus: My nine year old granddaughter excitedly told me all about Coach Prime (Deion Sanders). I refrained from telling her what I really think of Sanders. Definitely not a fan of how Sanders handled the men who were already at Colorado when he arrived on the scene. No loyalty or commitment from Sanders — kicking the entire team to the curb.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Bruce’s Ten Hot Takes for August 2, 2023

hot takes

Joe Biden got on the phone with his son, Hunter’s, business partners, but didn’t talk “business” with them? Sure, and I have a bridge to sell you.

Many Republicans think the indictments against Trump are political payback. Many Democrats, wink, wink, think the indictments are all about the rule of law.

There’s no doubt that Donald Trump is a mob boss, albeit a cartoonish one. That said, he could murder our republic if he is not stopped.

Am I the only one who is tired of the theatrics on MSNBC: waving indictment papers, showing the ass-end of defendants walking into court, showing largely empty press rooms, and reporters chasing after Trump loyalists, asking them stupid questions? How about reporting the damn news! All I hear on MSNBC is Trump 24/7.

I miss Walter Cronkite — a true news reporter. Thirty minutes of no-nonsense news. Today? Most news programs seem long on opinion and short on factual reporting.

I live in a world of spin; a fast-spinning merry-go-round, from which I’m hanging my head and vomiting. I’m sick of spin.

There seems to be little correlation between the price of oil and the cost of gasoline at the pump.

If Ohio Issue 1 passes next Tuesday, it will put an end to successful voter-driven constitutional amendments and initiatives. This is exactly what Republicans want.

I see you Fall, sneaking up on the upper Midwest. I love ❤️ you, but I sure do hate your deranged sister Winter.

Apple buying the streaming rights to PAC-12 football 🏈 and putting it behind a paywall is a bad idea. What about poorer fans who can’t afford to pay an exorbitant fee to watch games on Saturdays?

Bonus: Strong-handed left-handers face greater adversity and obstacles than right-handers. They are at greater risk for injury and accidents due to being forced to live in a right-handed world.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Short Stories: My Love Affair with Baseball

cincinnati reds gnome
Cincinnati Reds Gnome that Graces our Front Yard

In 1962, the Gerencser family moved from the rural northwest Ohio community of Bryan to San Diego, California. I was five. My grandmother, Jeanette Rausch, and her daughter, Marijene also moved to the Golden State. That summer, for my birthday, Grandma bought me a baseball glove, ball, and hat, and took me to my first game. On the appointed day, Grandma picked me up — not my sister, not my brother, just me — and drove us to Lane Field to watch the San Diego Padres play — then the AAA minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

I don’t remember anything about the game, but I have no doubt I spent the evening listening to Grandma explain the game to me. You see, she was an avid baseball fan, having attended numerous Detroit Tigers baseball games with her attorney father as a child. Grandma, like her father before her, was a Detroit Tigers fan.

In fourth grade, I was given an assignment to write a story about an experience one of my grandparents had. Grandma Rausch was my favorite grandparent, really my only grandparent. I asked Grandma to tell me about seeing Babe Ruth play, which became the story I shared with my class.

I became the third generation to root for the Tigers. My grandfather, John Tieken, with whom I had a difficult relationship, was also a Tigers fan. For my eleventh birthday, Grandpa took me to a baseball game at Briggs Stadium between the Tigers and the Cleveland Indians. This was the year the Tigers won the World Series.

Here’s the box score for the game:

tigers indians 1968

I played baseball from the age of nine through fifteen. I was a diminutive child, a lefthanded boy who was fleet a foot but couldn’t hit a breaking ball to save his life. I was good enough to make the team, but usually one of the last few boys chosen. I played outfield and was often put in the game to bunt. Being a fast-running lefty gave me a distinct advantage, but more than a few pitchers I faced had difficulties pitching to left-handers. Instead of hits, I got plunked in the back, ribs, buttocks, and head. A hitter I was not, but I did make a good target for wild opposing pitchers.

The summer between eighth and ninth grades, I started having problems fielding the ball, so much so that I feared coach was going to cut me. Instead, he said to me, “Hey, Gerencser. You need to get your eyes checked.” Sure enough, I was nearsighted. Glasses fixed my fielding problem, but I still couldn’t hit a curve ball.

My dad never attended my games; whether he was too busy or disinterested, I do not know. Lacking transportation, I rode my bike to my home games. For out-of-town games, I caught a ride with one of my coaches. Mom attended a few of my games. One summer, I was playing high school summer league baseball for Jaques Sporting Goods in Findlay, Ohio. On July Fourth, I played in a game against North Baltimore. Mom and Grandma attended the game. I played a few innings. I even had one attempt to showcase my batting prowess. Grandma was sitting along the baseline on a blanket, cheering me on. As I came up to bat, I heard Mom and Grandma loudly cheering for me, especially Grandma. While she was a small woman, weighing less than a hundred pounds, she had a loud voice, one made raspy from decades of smoking cigarettes. I took a couple of pitches — balls — swung and missed a couple of strikes, and then came the deciding pitch, a breaking ball — a called strike three. Before I could even turn, with head hung low, from the batter’s box, I heard — well, everyone heard — “Hey Ump! That was not a strike!” That was Grandma, defending her oldest grandson to the end.

I stopped playing baseball after tenth grade. Too many moves and new schools for me to make a team and play. As an adult, I turned to competitive slow-pitch softball for my baseball fix, a sport I played into my early thirties.

Like my great-grandfather, grandmother, and grandfather before me, I was a Detroit Tigers fan. I would remain a Tigers fan until 1980. By then, I was married with one child, and living in Newark, Ohio. I took a job as a general manager for Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips — a popular fast-food chain at the time. I did my training at the Heath store and worked as an assistant manager there for a few months before I got a store of my own in Reynoldsburg. My fellow assistant was Neal Ball, a newly married man my age. We quickly became close friends, playing basketball together, eating dinner at one another’s homes, and, most importantly, attending Cincinnati Reds baseball games.

Neal was an avid Reds fan. He lived and breathed the Redlegs. His infectious love for the Reds wore off on me, and it was not long before I had a conversion of sorts, and switched teams. I was now a Reds fan, and I remain one to this day. While I still follow the Tigers from a distance, the Reds are my team. I have watched thousands of their games on TV or listened to them on their flagship station, 700-WLW. My three oldest sons have fond memories of me listening to nightly games on a portable AM-FM radio. We lived in a mobile home at the time. The trailer’s metal exterior made it impossible to get an AM radio signal inside, so I would either sit on the porch and listen to the game or put the metal coat hanger attached to the broken antenna outside of the living room window so I could get the signal. When I was out and about doing the Lord’s work on summer evenings, the game was always on the car radio, with Marty and Joe broadcasting the game.

Forty-three summers have come and gone, and I remain a diehard Cincinnati Reds fan. The game is on the TV as I write this post. Our children are all Reds fans, though some of them are not as committed to the family religion as their father. The third generation has also embraced the Reds — as if they had any choice. 🙂 One of our granddaughters is named Morgan Rose. That will tell you everything you need to know about the Gerencser family’s love for Cincinnati baseball — even when the Reds suck.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Evangelical NFL Analyst Dan Orlovsky’s Prayer for Damar Hamlin Should Be Offensive to Christians and Atheists Alike

dan orlovsky

Last Monday, the Cincinnati Bengals played the Buffalo Bills in a game with playoff implications for not only the Bengals and Bills, but other teams in the league. Everyone expected a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, a shootout between rising stars Joe Burrow and Josh Allen. Partway through the first quarter, Bengals quarterback Burrows threw a pass to Tee Higgins, leading to a collision between Higgins, who held onto the ball, and Damar Hamlin. The hit was ordinary, one played out countless times every Sunday on NFL fields. The difference this time is that Hamlin immediately dropped to the ground as if he had been knocked unconscious. What actually happened was Hamlin’s heart stopped from the blow to his chest.

Dr. David Gorski explained the injury this way:

Monday night, I was flipping channels—mainly because I’m old and often, rather than streaming my content, I actually still flip channels—when I came across a shocking and disturbing scene. Actually, what I saw wasn’t so much shocking at first as it was puzzling. It was an NFL football game, with the action stopped and a player apparently injured. However, the tableau struck me immediately as odd and disturbing because there were so many players milling around on the field, seemingly all of both teams. This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen if the injury is a run-of-the-mill sprain; it usually only happens when the injury is very, very bad. And so it was, as it quickly became apparent to me that CPR was being administered to a player on the field, with the shocked announcers commenting on what was happening in hushed and horrified voices, not knowing how to discuss what was happening. I soon learned that the player was Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who had gotten up after a tackle but then collapsed. As the CPR on Hamlin continued for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, I had two thoughts. First, I—like the millions watching—wondered if Hamlin had died and was saddened, even though I didn’t know who he was.

….

The first thought that came to mind among emergency room doctors, and trauma surgeons on social media was that the most likely cause of Hamlin’s collapse was commotio cordis.

This is a phenomenon when a blow to the chest can result in disruption of the heart rhythm and ventricular fibrillation and cardiac arrest. It’s not common, but it is a described phenomenon. As is the case with any cardiac arrest, survival is inversely proportional to how quickly effective CPR and electrical cardioversion are administered, and because commotio cordis happens outside of the hospital, like other cardiac arrests in the community, it has a high mortality rate.

….

One common misconception about commotio cordis is that it requires a blow hard enough to damage the heart muscle and cause a cardiac contusion, something that I used to see not infrequently in victims of vehicular trauma back in the 1990s when I still did trauma surgery. Timing is likely more important, as commotio cordis is much more likely to happen if the blow lands at a specific point in the cardiac electrical cycle.

Hamlin remains in critical condition at a Cincinnati hospital. He is on a ventilator. Immediately after Hamlin was injured, TV channels such as ESPN, CNN, and MSNBC thought it wise to assess blame for the injury. I heard every absurd explanation for Hamlin’s cardiac arrest except the fact that he was playing a violent sport, got hit in the chest as a result of a violent collision with another player, and his heart stopped. Dr. Gorski’s post was a response to anti-vaxxers who, within minutes, were saying Hamlin’s heart stopped beating because he had received a COVID-19 vaccination!

I had to stop watching the news. I can only tolerate so much ignorance and stupidity before I say ENOUGH and turn on Yellowstone, 1923, Tulsa, or some other program. I also found myself increasingly perturbed by the “thoughts and prayers.” crowd. Any time there’s a tragedy, out come the calls for prayers — as if prayer had anything to with saving Hamlin’s life. As Dr. Gorski makes clear, what saved Hamlin’s life was the proximity of medical professionals and equipment. Had Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest at the grocery, a restaurant, or at home, it is likely he would have died. If we want to offer up thanks to anyone, let’s thank science, doctors, and medical professionals. God had nothing to do with what happened, nor will he have anything to do with, hopefully, Hamlin’s recovery.

Evangelicals, the public masturbators that they are, have been quick to praise God for Hamlin surviving cardiac arrest. Of course, what is not mentioned is that this very same God is responsible for Hamlin dropping dead to start with. According to Evangelicals, God created everything. He is the sovereign ruler over all, including what happens on football fields. God could have kept Hamlin’s heart from stopping. He could have kept the collision from happening. Yet, after medical professionals heroically saved Hamlin’s life, the Evangelicals rushed in, saying, PRAISE JESUS! LOOK WHAT GOD DID. Recognizing that God is a part-time employee, Evangelicals implored people to keep praying. One NFL analyst, Dan Orlovsky, pompously stated that “we know that prayer works.”

On Tuesday, Orlovsky, an Evangelical Christian, decided to use his position of authority on ESPN’s NFL Live — a program I watched every day at 4:00 pm — to subject viewers to his prayer.

Before publicly praying, Orlovsky said:

This is a little bit different. I’ve heard it all day. ‘Thoughts and prayers. Maybe this is not the right thing to do but it’s just on my heart that I wanna pray for Damar Hamlin right now. I’m gonna do it out loud, I’m gonna close my eyes, I’m gonna bow my head and I’m just gonna pray for him.

Video Link

Here’s what Orlovsky prayed:

God, we come to you in these moments that we don’t understand, that are hard, because we believe that you’re God, and coming to you and praying to you has impact.

We’re sad, we’re angry, and we want answers, but some things are unanswerable. We just want to pray, truly come to you and pray for strength for Damar, for healing for Damar, for comfort for Damar, to be with his family, to give them peace. If we didn’t believe that prayer didn’t work, we wouldn’t ask this of you, God. I believe in prayer, we believe in prayer. We lift up Damar Hamlin’s name in your name. Amen.

Orlovsky rhetorically asked, “maybe this is not the right thing to do.” Dan, that was the Holy Spirit telling you to keep your prayers to yourself. Surely you remember the words of Jesus where he said this about praying on NFL Live:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

….

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1,5,6)

Orlovsky evidently thought everyone watching NFL Live was a Christian, so they wouldn’t mind his public prayer. That’s what Christian privilege looks like. Orlovsky seems unaware of the fact many watchers of NFL Live are NOT Christians, and many of them who are people of faith don’t like shallow public displays of religiosity. When viewers tune into ESPN, they are looking for games, scores, news, and highlights, not public displays of affection for the Christian God or prayers to Jesus. If I wanted religion, I would change the channel and watch one of the many Christian channels that are available these days. What I want from ESPN is sports.

Further, does anyone doubt what ESPN’s response would be if a Muslim analyst offered up a prayer to Allah or any other deity except the Christian God? OMG, the outrage would immediately pour forth. I suspect ESPN might even suspend the analyst. But, because Orlovsky prayed to the tribal God of most Americans, his prayer will be deemed acceptable. I am here to tell you it is not.

As I prepared to write this post, I searched in vain for one news report or blog post that questioned the appropriateness of Orlovsky’s prayer. Every story praised Orlovsky for putting words to his “thoughts and prayers,” leaving me to be a lonely voice in the stands voicing opposition to his prayer. Orlovsky could have prayed privately, as Jesus commanded. He could have privately gathered his fellow analysts together and had a prayer circle. Instead, he subjected Christian and non-Christian viewers alike to his peculiar deity and prayer.

I am sure that some of you might say, “Bruce, this is no big deal. It’s just a prayer.” On one hand, I agree. Orlovsky’s prayer is fifty seconds of public masturbation to the Christian deity. Who cares, right? On the other hand, as an atheist and a secularist, I am increasingly tired of the Orlovskys of the world shoving their religion in my space. If we don’t speak up, how will we ever put an end to these things? Religion is a private matter. Evangelicals wrongly think they have a right to shove their religion in our faces, and I, for one, am tired of it. There are millions upon millions of Americans — many of whom watch NFL football — who don’t believe, as Orlovsky does, that prayer works. What we do believe is that science works, and it is to the doctors and medical professionals who cared for Hamlin we offer up our “prayers” of thanksgiving.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Short Stories: The Summer of 1968: Little League Baseball and Dad’s Corvair

bruce gerencser eighth grade
Summer of my eighth-grade year, with my mom and a friend (that’s a Rambler in the background) My mom is five foot eight, so as you can see I was quite short at this age.

In 2018, I attended my oldest grandson’s Little League baseball game at the Ney park. In 2007, my wife and I bought a home in Ney, three blocks from the park. Ney is little more than a spot along Route 15, home to one stoplight, one bar/restaurant, one gas station, and 356 people. The park has several ball fields, one of which is used to play youth league baseball games. What makes Ney’s field unique is that it has lights. My grandson’s game had an eight o’clock start time, meaning that part of the game would be played under the not-so-bright lights. A half-hour before game time, I gathered up my Sony camera, lenses, and tripod (which I since sold because my health precludes me from doing photography work), my water bottle, and my oversized lawn chair and headed down to the park. Bethany, my oldest daughter who has Down syndrome, gathered up her purse, water bottle, and backpack — filled with coloring books, colored pencils, and crayons – and headed down to the park with me.

I positioned myself just beyond the first baseline so I could photograph the action. My grandson played for Tinora — a school district north of Defiance. Their adversary for the night was a team of players made up of boys from Ney and the surrounding area. As I surveyed Ney’s players, I noticed that one of them, who was of slight build, had fiery red hair. Seeing this boy brought memories of another redheaded boy who played under the lights on this very field fifty-five years ago. In the spring of my fifth-grade year, my dad moved us from Harrod, Ohio to Farmer, a small community five miles west of Ney. We moved into a farmhouse two miles outside of Farmer, a home owned by my dad’s sister and brother-in-law, Paul and Mary Daugherty. We would live there for two summers. During these summers, I played baseball for the Farmer Tigers. Back in the 1960s, country boys roamed the countryside, rode their bikes, went swimming, and if they were lucky, played baseball. I was never a great baseball player. If fifteen players were being picked for a team, I was always one of the last boys chosen. I had two things going for me: I was left-handed and I was a fast runner. By the time I made the Farmer team, I had already developed bad habits that hurt my ability to hit a baseball. These bad habits would follow me through Little League and into summer league high school baseball. Being slight of build and left-handed, I stood close to the plate when I batted. This made me an easy target for balls thrown by wild pitchers who were not used to throwing to left-handed batters. Over the course of the four years I played Little League baseball, I repeatedly got plunked in the head, back, and legs with wildly thrown pitches. These repeated beanings made me gun-shy, and my inability to stand in there and hit the ball turned me into an offensive liability. My coach for the two years I played for Farmer decided the best approach for my lack of offensive prowess was to have me bunt and run like hell. I was fast on my feet, and as a left-hander, I was two steps closer to first base than a right-handed batter.

I don’t remember my parents ever attending my games while I played for Farmer. On occasion, my father would pick me up after a game and take me home, especially if it was late and I would have to ride my bike home after dark. One night, Dad came to pick me up with his blue Corvair. For those not familiar with the Chevrolet Corvair, its motor was in the rear and its trunk was at the front. Dad opened the trunk so he could put my bicycle away. After doing so he shut the trunk so we could be on our way. For some reason, the trunk wouldn’t latch. After several attempts to get the trunk to latch shut, dad came up with an ingenious plan: he would have me lie down in the trunk and hold it down while he drove us home. And that’s what we did. At the time, I saw my ride in the trunk as a great adventure; and indeed it was, as we bounced down Route 249 to our home. I suspect if my dad did the same thing today, child protective services would be paying him a visit the next day. I am sure some of the parents of my fellow baseball players wondered what Bob Gerencser was up to. Who in their right mind puts their son in the trunk? Right mind or not, this redheaded old man has never forgotten his ride home in the summer of 1968 — a time when war raged in Vietnam, race riots inflamed American cities, and assassins’ bullets claimed Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. This remains one of the few “good” memories I have of my father.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Who Dey: Will Bruce Finally Admit There’s a God?

jesus football

Over the years, I have snarkily listed evidence that might change my mind about the existence of God. You know, like the Cincinnati Bengals winning the Super Bowl. I figured this ask would never come to pass. After all, the Bengals have been to the Super Bowl twice in franchise history and hadn’t won a playoff game in thirty years. What I didn’t count on is the Messiah showing up; his name is Joe Burrow.

Well, here we are. In two weeks, my Cincinnati Bengals will play the Los Angeles Rams for all the marbles! After Evan McPherson kicked the game-winning field goal, my granddaughter turned to me and said, “Grandpa, why are you crying?” Polly and my sons knew why I was crying — a seminal moment in my life, a moment I shall never forget. Win or lose the Super Bowl, these Bungles-turned-Bengals have warmed and thrilled this old man’s heart. Sure, it’s just a game, but there are moments in the life of a long-suffering fan, that the “game” is much more than just another game.

If the Bengals do indeed win the Super Bowl, I will keep my word and consider their win over the Rams as evidence for the existence of God. The problem, however, will be ascertaining WHICH God is a Bengals fan? Jesus? Allah? Jehovah? Apollo? Anu? Buddha? Or maybe Satan/Lucifer is behind the Bengals’ win, his way of thwarting the Rams?

Regardless, I will praise the football gods for the Bengals and their magical, thrilling 2022 season. And if it’s not too much to ask, God, it’s been over thirty years since the Cincinnati Reds have won the World Series. Pretty please? I really will “believe” if you deliver on this one. 🙂

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser