Why I Decided To Join A Church (And Get Baptized)

(The Champ’s latest at EBONY on his recent decision to join a church.) 

I didn’t grow up in church, but I was surrounded by it. My parents weren’t regular attendees, so I wasn’t a regular attendee. But, I attended a Catholic middle school and college, and this combination of experiences—religion classes, mass attendance, playing Pontius Pilate in school plays, etc.—allowed me to learn about Christianity without being indoctrinated into it. Let me put it this way: I learned more about the last days of Jesus from watching Jesus Christ: Superstar (still one of my favorite movies) than from reading the Bible.

These experiences also set the foundation for the way I’ve come to be a believer. Although I “believed” in God as a child and young adult, this belief was theoretical. I believed in the idea of God, but not necessarily in God Himself, as I just wasn’t able to completely wrap my mind around the existence of a supreme, supernatural being.

I also realize that much of this belief was more do to familiarity than faith. Believing in God and being a Christian was just what people around me did. So, although I didn’t fully embrace it, I accepted it the same way little kids accept their parent’s explanations for why you need to do well in school before they’re even able to grasp why you need to do well in school.

Yet, as I grew older, smarter, met more people, read more books, traveled more places, tasted more foods, felt more pain, loved more women, breathed more air, and saw more things, it started to make sense for me. The Earth is too vast, varied, scary and, well, perfect for it not to have been created without a purpose. And, it took me knowing, seeing, and experiencing more to realize that I didn’t need to understand everything. More specifically, I didn’t need to understand why certain things happened (or didn’t happen) and why other things happened (or didn’t happen).

I realize this might seem like a strange and semantic way to come to a spiritual understanding, but this is how it had to work for me. It had to make intellectual sense before it made spiritual sense. And, while I recognize there’s no way of knowing God’s ultimate plan, a glance outside my window lets me know a plan exists.

This understanding has not been easy. For instance, last year I blacked out during a completely irresponsible, reckless, stupid, and dangerous attempt to drive while drunk. I also had two friends in the car with me. We’d been drinking at a club, and we decided to hit a 24 hour diner afterwards. The next morning, the memory of the drive was completely gone. Today, almost a year and a half later, it’s still not there.

We all could have very easily died that night. While I’m (obviously) glad we all made it home alive, it didn’t make any logical sense that I’d make it out unscathed while people in much less dangerous situations regularly meet tragic ends. I eventually stopped trying to make sense of it when I came to understand that it won’t make any literal sense, and this process of accepting that some things will just be beyond my comprehension has been a struggle.

(Read the rest at EBONY)

Signs That God Has a Sense of Humor

And if you don’t believe in God, then feel free to substitute God for Allah, Kool-Aid, Jetskis, or whoever you pray to when times are tough. Should the case be that you don’t pray or send a shoutout up to anybody then, well, just pretend the title of this post is, “Yo, That’s Crazy, Yo.”

So the person up above (unisex deism, FTW!) clearly has a sense of humor. I feel like most people have had moments where something happens and the only reason such a thing would occur is because your God or my God was clearly bored or blinked and shenanigans ensued. Hell, I pretty much say that on a daily basis lately.

Question, is it sacrilegious or at the very least in bad taste to put “hell” at the beginning of a statement when the preceeding statement specifically recognized a higher, assumed benevolent and merciful, being? These things keep me up at night.

So since the statement is so popular and the grass so green, I figured I’d share with you all few examples of what I really mean. #BARS #WHAT #GETLIKEME #SWAGMEOUT

1. Birth control making women sick

Flow with me. We’re all grown here so most of us know a lot of women taking birth control. One thing you learn about birth control as a man is that some pills make women sick. Others don’t. Fellas, next time a woman rejects you, don’t take it personal, their own bodies reject things they put in them…which…is not what she said, but could be if you squinted? Maybe? Anyway, say you’re a woman (pretend) and you forget to take your pill one day. So you double up the next day [Editor's note: I have no idea if this makes any sense. - PJ] And let’s say that you become immediately nauseous. At like 9am. Are you nauseous because of the pill you just took? Or did the pill never take and #wallahmagic you’re with child. Only a humor-loving God would make a pregnancy indicator part of the anti-pregnancy process. That Allah, what a card. Don’t be dating a chick who always jumps the gun. Be up at 11pm and get that late text. #PUN (stolen from Lil Wayne. Attribution Squad).

2. Women being allergic to Latex

This one is kind of the gift that keeps on giving. Except the exact opposite. I need to explain how this even came to pass. On this blog and in various conversations I’ve had in real life with friends, etc, I’ve been amazed at how many women have stated they’re allergic to latex. ESPECIALLY considering (after some quick research) that a solid 95 percent of all sold condoms are latex. After a conversation with a friend last week, I was like, “man, this really is more prevalent than I thought…what the hell are the non-rawdog options?” Turns out, you’re left with lambskin (which is something that I’ve heard about but never even seen) which ONLY protects against pregnancy – not STDs – and/or non-latex, something I didn’t even realize existed. I’m not even quite sure what that means. Is it just rubber? Is it made of fairy glitter? Lady bug wings? To complete the murder, according to Amazon.com, everything but latex is super duper expensive. Seriously, peep the price points for lambskin. It’s like $45 for a box of 12.

The point here is this: God clearly enjoys human fallibility and potential bad decision making. I can totally see a couple learning about the allergy, deciding to try the other options, finding out hoe expensive they are, rationalizing (“well, you are on the pill right? And we both got tested? It’s not like we’re going anywhere…”) then rawdogging it til the cows come home. Only a deity with a sense of humor make a person allergic to the most common form of prevention of things that might kill you.

OF COURSE YOU COULD ALWAYS JUST ABSTAIN!

3. Come to think of it…allergies to grass, air, sun,

While none of those allergies are very funny at their worst, there has to be some kind of sick joke to make somebody allergic to grass, right? Short of being from the polar caps, Mongolia, or the some grassless place, most people are going to encounter grass. So this isn’t funny so don’t you dare laugh, but I’m pretty sure God did that for his own sh*ts and giggles. Which, again, might be sacrilege.

I don’t know, I really wrote this whole thing to talk about the first two because they just seem unusually cruel. And remarkably ironic and hilarious if you set the world in motion.

Again, that God, what a card.

What are signs you’ve seen that show you that God has a sense of humor?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. SAY NO TO LIFESTYLES UNLESS YOU WANT TO SAY YES TO PREGNANCY aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

God Knows My Struggle, So It’s…Okay?

If you dating Black women I don’t feel bad for you son, but you’ll have 99 problems and God will be one.

Okay, that didn’t work like I wanted it to but what I was trying to say via Jay-Z was that if you’re a man who is dating Black women, there’s a really good chance that God, Jesus, and ‘nem will enter into your relationship at some point. The Holy Trinity has definitely crip walked into nearly every relationship that I’ve had, usually in the form of me being questioned for not going to church. It’s come up time and time again within each relationship I’ve been in. I think I just have a thing for church girls…or at least I did until I realized that I like to date Black women that read, in which case, well, nearly all of them are church girls.

Amen.

This is not really a problem, mind you, though it does present an issue when you hear “ohhhhhh God” as much as I do…wait…what was I saying?

Moving on.

Now dating church girls presents very few issues in terms of religion. Since most of us are reared in church of some sort, dating a woman who would like to pray together and worship together is pretty much par the course. And I’m saying, most of us have that old time religion in our bones. I love the Bible and one of the best gifts I ever received was a Bible. I treasure that thing. I love God and all that jazz.

Here’s where it starts to present an issue and I’m speaking about women here because I’ve never really spoken to any men who (admittedly) go through this same struggle. But it seems like many women struggle with being “Christian” and what that requires and how that can get in the way of (forgive me for putting it that way Jesus, strike somebody else and come back to me later) “relationshipping”. Unless you have two people who are truly on the same page of celibacy, there’s a very good chance that there will be some smanging going on. Obviously, sex can get in the way of getting closer to God, so to speak, since you’re supposed to wait until you’re married for many more reasons than just religious, but most of us tend to realize that while everybody is probably doing it, that doesn’t make it okay to do if you’re truly on a walk with God.

That make sense?

You may not know this about me, but I’m overly cynical and sometimes too logical and contrarian for my own good. It can be a nitrous combination at times. What this all means in laymen’s terms is that I will eventually get into some debate about whether or not sex should actually be taking place. I almost feel at times like I’m enabling somebody’s walk away from God and its unfair for them to put me in that position. I’ve offered to stop engaging in such practice to ensure that my other half could work towards their goal of Godliness. And nearly EVERY time, I’ve been met with four words:

God knows my struggle.

Or it’s kissin’ cousin, God knows my heart.

Scrrrrrrrr.

Or more simply, I like sex and have no intention of stopping this because it brings me joy. I don’t really do anything else wrong so I don’t feel any type of way about this short of the guilt you’re laying on me right now. God made sex and made it so pleasurable so maybe he intended for it to happen this way.

Now, I’m no religious scholar. I mean, I pray (well I say my grace before I eat at least…but I do pray on occasion) and II read my Bible and I love me some praise and worship music. Basically, I’m no expert on religious doctrine or rules, but I’m fairly certain that God knowing your struggle doesn’t make it better. It just means that he knows it exists. But seeing as he knows it exists in you and that you have acknowledged its existence, he would also know that you’d likely have the capacity to work on it. Right?

Which means that the whole, “God knows my struggle” thing is basically a cop out, no? No shade here or anything, but can you really be working on something if your default reaction is that its a struggle you have, therefore you deserve some slack. While I realize that we as human beings have needs, or wants, I do think that for something like sex we also have the ability to put a stop to it. I know…temptation is real and very present. And engaging in pleasures of the flesh is a satisfying dish. However, if you claim to be looking towards getting closer to God, how can you say that you’re trying in the sex regard if you’re still willing to engage in sex? I know its hard to go cold turkey and dispel the advances. And hell, there’s a good chance based on the things you see and read (even here) that not giving up the goodies places one in a space of presumed singledom.

I’m not sure I completely agree with that, but I do understand the logic and get why that would be a concern.

So what’s the solution? Only date people who are on the exact same walk you are on? Even folks in church ain’t on that walk most times. How do I know? Well…aside from the obvious…I’m just saying. Like can you just keep moving along in the ways of the word and all while still copping out by suggesting that you’re good except for that one struggle and you’re “working on it?”

What say you? And here’s a question as this was mostly tailored to women, do men struggle like this or are we just accepted heathens? I’m truly curious.

Does God know your struggle (as you guzzle a 40?)

Love 40.

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. GOD KNOWS MY HEART aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3, AMEN

I Never Thought I’d…

I never thought I'd wake up to this every morning.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”

There are myriad reasons why Woody Allen’s famous quote annoys the hell out of me, none more prominent than the fact that it suggests that the master of the universe has a pretty shitty sense of humor. I mean, God has been around forever (give or take a couple trillion years or so), and if we take Allen’s quote to heart, He has the same sense of humor as that asexual asshole high school guidance counselor who guffawed when you told her you wanted to be a professional clown.

Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to think of my creator as being a bit more self-deprecating. I imagine God sitting around, deleting voicemails from Kelly Price and thinking things like “Uranus. Ha! What the hell was I smoking when I farted out that wack-ass planet? That place is about as useless as tits on a bull.”

Anyway, while I think God would be kind of a dick if He found humor in the fact that we can’t predict the future — which, since He didn’t see the need to give us that power, is like clowning an Elephant for not being able to make mango salsa — I do actually think it’s (occasionally) amusing when life throws us curveballs; putting us in situations we never, ever, ever thought we’d be in.

For instance, I am not an animal person. I don’t hate them or anything — well, I don’t hate any animals aside from gotdamn f*cking deer and the bird who finds a way to shit on my car three days a week — but I’m just a guy who’d prefer to live an animal and pet free life. Perhaps I’m scarred from the fact that my last pets — goldfish named fred and freda — got their dumb asses killed because my neighbor gave them too much food and they ate themselves to death. (This really happened, btw) Who knows?

But, I do know that I never thought that I’d end up owning a f*cking cat…which I currently do right now. Now, that’s a bit misleading. Due to some circumstances too interesting to print today (Seriously. The story behind the temporary cat ownership has enough material for a week’s worth of VSB posts), I’m actually cat-sitting for the next four months; not permanent, but long enough to make me, to quote Panama Jackson a few weeks ago, “a nigga with a cat.”

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Anyway, people of VSB.com, I’m sure I’m not alone. I know everyone’s life hasn’t followed the exact plan you thought it would, so how would you fill in your own personal “I never thought I’d…” sentence?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Seven “First World” Problems God Hates Us For Complaining About

Don't worry. I'm sure God hates you.

While doing some work Sunday afternoon, I decided to take a short break and walk to a fair taking place a few blocks away from my place. When I got there, I noticed a station where some organic produce company was giving away free lemonade with the company’s name on the bottle. In return, you had to sign up for their emailing list.

As you may have imagined, there was a bit of a line (maybe 10 deep), but my cheap ass didn’t give a damn. Doesn’t matter if it’s a pencil eraser or a bunch of broken broomsticks being given away. I will stand in line (and fight someone) for some free shit.

Anyway, I eventually made my way to the front of the line, signed my life away, and grabbed my free bottle of organic lemonade. Nevermind the fact that I had no freakin idea what the hell organic lemonade was going to taste like. I got my free bottle and I was happy…until I took the first sip. It didn’t taste bad — it was actually surprisingly good — but  I got a little annoyed at the fact that they had the audacity to give away room temperature lemonade. It wasn’t hot or even lukewarm, but it tasted like a bottle of something that had been taken out of the cooler an hour ago.

As a walked to another station, still (slightly) annoyed that I was sipping on a bottle of not-even-really-all-that-warm lemonade, it finally hit me: I’M ANNOYED ABOUT A F*CKING FREE BOTTLE OF LEMONADE!!! A FREE BOTTLE!!! THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD WHO WALKED BAREFOOT OVER SEVEN MILES OF HYENA CARCASSES TODAY JUST TO EXCHANGE A BABY GOAT FOR A CUP OF MALARIA-FREE WARM WATER, AND I’M ANNOYED ABOUT A FREAKIN FREE BOTTLE OF LEMONADE THAT WASN’T AS COLD AS I WANTED IT TO BE!!!

To give myself a little credit, the annoyance isn’t really my fault. I’m an American, born and raised in a country where the vast majority of people in it don’t have to worry about things like “Will this water make my stomach explode?” and “If I fall asleep tonight, will the warlords kidnap me and force me to be a sex slave to their army of child soldiers?

Basically, I’m a “first world” person with first world privilege and first world problems. And, along with “Having to stand in line just to get a bottle of lemonade that just didn’t happen to be very cold,” here are seven more relatively insignificant things that God probably kind of hates us for always complaining about.

1. Slow Wi-Fi

Every time you complain that it took 1.8 seconds instead of 1.3 seconds for your bullshit webpage to load, an ebola-infested elephant rapes a kitten.

2. Having too many items to choose from in the supermarket

The next time you get annoyed that there are too many different types of ranch dressing to choose from, remember that the migrant workers who picked the lettuce for the salad that you’re going to put your ranch dressing on pee on the lettuce seeds because their boss only allows them one bathroom break every 16 days.

3. Wearing condoms

“Damn you God, for giving us access to an invention that allows us to continue to have pleasurable sex while not having to worry about STDs, pregnancy, or vaginas with teeth. Damn you!!!”

4. The rain

Only in bitch-ass America do people become suicidal because of a weather occurrence that, if it happened more often in certain parts of the world, would save like a billion lives a year.

5. Dealing with cable company customer service

Yes, it truly is a f*cking pain to spend five minutes talking to a person on the phone just so they can instantaneously restore your cable so your lame ass can watch House Hunters.

6. Walking to destinations

So, lemme get this straight. You just purchased a pair of $175 sneakers that took 12 Chinese factory workers four straight 23 hour shifts to make, and you don’t want to actually walk in them because, well, it rained a couple days ago and you don’t want the nonexistent mud to graze your douchey f*cking sneakers?

Bitch.

7. The government

Yeah, I think, if given the choice between having the ability to complain about the government without having six masked men come to your house in the middle of the night and slash your Achilles tendons and not having the ability to complain about the government without having six masked men come to your house in the middle of the night and slash your Achilles tendons, I think I’ll stay in the place where all my tendons will likely stay intact. Thanks for asking, though

That’s it for me today. People of VSB, can you name any other “first world problems” that God probably hates us for complaining about?

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)