Sprint: The nightmare that never ends

Update: The problem is fixed, but I still won’t see much in the way of compensation for my ordeal. See below. 

I am putting this in writing so that there is a permanent record of the nightmare that I have lived through. It is still on going as of this moment, but I hope to resolve it shortly via the courts if necessary.

On June 29, 2017 at about 1 PM EST, I learned that my Sprint account had been locked. I could pay my payments, and see my information, but I could not make any changes or upgrade my wife’s phone. I wanted to upgrade her phone as a late birthday present to her. Instead, Sprint has made this a birthday nightmare.

I immediately began to contact Sprint to see why my account was locked and how I could get it unlocked.

The first person I chatted with, “Katey”, said it was an issue with my browser. I used Opera and Microsoft Edge browsers to view the site, but she said I needed to use Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. I have Firefox installed, so I tried with it. No joy. I tried with Internet Explorer. No joy. I downloaded and installed Chrome and tried Chrome. No joy. She proceeded to tell me it was a cookies issue in Chrome. Mind you, I had just installed Chrome and there were no cookies!

When I explained this to her, she got rude and shoved me off to another person who hung up on me.

The next person I spoke to, “Jessica”, kept putting me on hold for long periods of time until I told her I wanted to talk to her supervisor. I think she kept putting me on hold hoping I would go away.

The next person was “Bridget”. She finally said there was fraudulent activity on my account and she could not help me. I would need to speak to someone from the Fraud Department. I asked her to transfer me to that department, but she said she could not. They would have to call me. Before I could say anything else, she hung up.

Four hours later, after waiting for the call from the Fraud Department, someone called with a very heavy accent. I did not get her name. She told me there was no way to fix it short of going into a Sprint store and showing them my drivers license and they could unlock my account. I said this is ridiculous. I asked to speak to her supervisor. She said she would have to call me back later and then hung up on me.

Thirty minutes or so pass and “Ladonna” called me. She was a supervisor in the Fraud Department. She said that there was nothing she could do to fix my account. I would need to take 2 forms of ID to the store and they could unlock my account. I asked if she was sure they could do it and she said she thought they could.

I asked to speak to her supervisor and she sent me to the Executive Support Staff. About 30 minutes later an “Ari” called me to help me from the Executive Support Staff. She said that I did not need to go to the store, that she could verify my identity over the phone and the Fraud Department would unlock my account. After an hour on the phone with her and a small chat with “Axel” to verify my identity, she said the Fraud Department would unlock my account and I would hear from someone in Executive Support the next day.

I hoped and prayed that this nightmare of nearly 9 hours was over. Boy was I wrong!

June 30, 2017 – 4:00 PM EST – Some one from Executive Support called. She did not give her name and when I asked she moved on to other topics. She said that Ari was wrong, I would still need to go to the store and show my 2 forms of ID to the staff and they would unlock my account. She promised me that they could do it and it would be cleared up if I did. I asked if the CEO could fix this, she said no. Asked if I could speak to the CEO, she said he could not be bothered with me. Told her I could get an attorney and court order if it would help get my account unlocked, she said go ahead their legal team is the best and they would be happy to take me on. I asked to speak to her supervisor and she said he would have to call me back. She hung up.

At 5 PM EST, I arrived at a local Sprint store. I waited for an hour to be helped. Once I was called up, I told the young man, who was very nice, what was going on and that I had been through the ringer on this. I laid out 6 different forms of ID for him to see that I was indeed who I said I was. Get this, he then had to call the Fraud Department because they cannot unlock the account in the store!

After 30 minutes on hold at the Fraud Department, he passes his phone to me because they need information from me. The lady on the line said that she could unlock my account if I could just answer some questions about my account. She said I did not need to go to the store, they could have done this over the phone. When I explained to her all I had gone through, she wanted me to tell my story to her supervisor so he could fix this.

I asked for him to call me back, so I could give the young man at the Sprint store his AT&T Cell Phone back and he could return to helping customers. “Farnz” called me and we discussed everything that had transpired over the past two days. He said he deleted my online profile and that in 4 hours I could register a new one and my account would be fine then. He gave me a $230 credit on my account. At least he said he did.

I cannot see if he did because 6 hours later and the online site still says I cannot register because there are too many profiles linked to my account. But, my previous account is unaccessible as well. So I contact support again and the Fraud Department is closed. I have to wait until tomorrow to chat with them. So I will have to deal with this a third day in a row.

Bottom line, so much is wrong with Sprint. Here is what I think:

  1. Each rep, all 9 of them, called me on my Sprint phone. The same phone listed in my account as the primary phone. That should be their first indication that I am who I say I am. But if not…
  2. I gave them my security pin, backup question answer, my date of birth, SSN, and address each time and they matched the account information. This too should have been an indication that I am who I say I am. But if not…
  3. Who in the heck would spend 9+ hours fighting to get an account unlocked just to steal a phone??? There are easier ways to steal a phone than to spend all this time fighting with Sprint.

I would also like to point out that at no time since the supposed fraud on April 7, 2017, did Sprint ever notify me of a problem. This is a violation of S.C. Code § 39-1-90, Kan. Stat. § 50-7a01 et seq., 815 ILCS §§ 530/1 to 530/25, and Federal Law 15 U.S.C. § 1681a(p). Each holds for fines starting the day the breach occurred until the date I found out about it (June 28). I will be writing complaints to the US Attorney’s General office, and to the Attorney’s General of each state Sprint does business in. I will also file complaints with the FCC, FTC, SEC, CFPB, and the BBB.

This is a nightmare. And of course, I am under contract so I cannot move my service. Not to mention my credit is still messed up, so no one will give me service. I am royally screwed. Such is life in my world.

July 1, 2017 – 1:15 PM – Update: Call from “Eldon” in the Fraud Department. He says, finally, it is not a specialized team in the Fraud Department, like the last 9 people told me it was, but actually an algorithm that blocked my account. And the issue is supposedly with the IT department now. They may or may not have anyone in that department on a Saturday, so it may be Monday before they can fix it. Lucky me! Oh, and Eldon does not work on Monday, so someone else will contact me on Monday from the Fraud Department to let me know what new lie they can tell me about why it is not working.

Supposedly, the Executive Support staff is going to call me to help me with the phone upgrade so that I don’t loose my grandfathered plan. That has never quite worked out in the past, but we will see what happens. Stay tuned for the next installment of How the Bishop Turns.

July 3, 2017 – 8:50 PM – Update: Day 5. Still no solution in sight. No one from the Executive Support Team called me on Saturday like they said they would. “Nora” called me at 8:50 PM and said she would try to help me. I told her I seriously doubted that she would be able to resolve any of these issues. She did not seem too nice. At least the website is no longer telling me there are too many profiles attached to my account. Now it is giving me the error of [MySprint : Register for My Sprint : mysprint_register_for_my_sprint_error_validation_modal : en_US]. This is after it sends a security code to my phone and I put the code in the box and hit enter. Five times I tried this process and all five times it gave me the same error. “Nora” had no idea what that meant and would have to “discuss it with her team” and get back to me within the hour. Twenty minutes left of that hour and we will see if she was telling the truth or just lying like the last 10 reps.

It is really sad that it has taken 5 days, 11 reps and over 25 hours of manpower and wasted time on my part and there is still no solution to be found. This is unconscionable. As big as Sprint is, they should be able to deal with these issues on a much more expedient way. Besides, it was an error on their part and an over zealous computer algorithm that causes the error to begin with. Yet, me the customer, has to deal with the headache and is punished for their mistake.

I hope they intend to do better than a $230 credit considering what a nightmare this has been.

July 3, 2017 – 9:47 PM – Update: with 3 minutes left of the hour she promised me, Nora did indeed call back. She walked me through the steps to get my new profile established and the account now works. It took 26 hours, 11 reps, and 5 days to get it working. I have to say, I appreciate Nora working to get it resolved.

I did managed to get a $230 credit on the account. While that is far from equal compensation for the ordeal I went through, I guess it is the best I can hope for.

Dana’s phone and Thomas’ phone are now upgraded. I am paying a fortune for 32 GB iPhones. They wanted $100 down to get the 128 GB version. They both have 64 GB versions right now. So I am not sure how happy they will be with the 32 GB versions. But such is life. If Sprint wants to make this right, I have a couple of ideas:

  1. Give me 3 months worth of free service. That should be compensation enough for all I went through. Or,
  2. Change my upgrades of Dana and Thomas’ phones to the 128 GB versions at the 32 GB version price with no down payments. Or,
  3. Clear all our leases out (except for the ones I just upgraded) and let us keep the equipment.

I think any or all of those would be a step in the right direction to truly resolving this horrible ordeal.

The Middle (Followup Blog)

I must caveat this post as usual. This is my opinion and not necessarily the opinion of any church or organization I am affiliated with.

The Middle.

I posted earlier today on Facebook about the middle. I wanted to expand upon that posting.

The middle is often viewed with disdain. People say that if you sit on the fence, you are lukewarm or indecisive. The middle man is usually seen as being the one that gets the short end of the stick.

But I believe that in our current day, the middle is where we as clergy should be. There are so many people rushing to align themselves with causes that sit on the edges. Civility has been lost in our political and social discourse. It has become an “us” verses “them” narrative. But that is not the message of the Christ.

The message of the Christ is one of love. Love does not run to the extremes that exclude people, vilify people, marginalize people, or dismiss people. Love embraces all people. In love it is not an “us” verses “them”, it is a WE.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe we are called to stand against inequality, injustice, hate, bigotry, racism, and all the other forms of discrimination. I do not believe that we will be effective by vilifying those who disagree with us or who we view as opposing our views.

When I see videos on Facebook of police and Black Lives Matters protestors marching arm in arm, I am overjoyed. They have mastered the WE. They are living in the middle. They are not vilifying each other, but rather working together to rid the world of hate, anger, racism, and violence. That is what we should all be doing.

But when I see protestors at Planned Parenthood clinics calling women entering the clinics whores and sluts, telling them they are going to hell, despite the fact that the woman may only be there for a cancer screening, I am disappointed. When I see protestors calling for the death of people they view as opposed to their movement, saying that whole segments of society are going to hell because of who they love, or being violent in the name of forcing change, I am saddened. This is not what we as Christians, or we as clergy, are called to do.

We are called, as Saint Paul said, to become “…all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22)

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

We do not have to rush to the edges, we do not have to become extremist to effect change in our world. We can effect change by standing in the middle. We can be an anchor so that those who have drifted to the edge might have a lifeline back to the middle. We can stand, silent, prayerful, in the middle, with our anchor attached firmly to the Christ. We can effect change by being the lighthouse.

The lighthouse does not ride on the ship. It does not stand miles away from the coast. It does not drift in the water off the coast. It stands in the middle. It marks the point where the two major forces join. We can be that lighthouse.

It is time to set aside the rhetoric that divides people. It is time to stop with the “us” verses “them” mentality. It is time to unite people.

Here are some novel ideas on uniting people:

  1. Remain civil in your discourse. Online discussions are the worst about this. This is because it is hard to hear the tenor in which things are said. Someone’s short to the point response may not be them being rude, it might be them on a cell phone trying to type with a keyboard that is 2 times smaller than their fingers (trust me, this is me most of the time!). Their formality in their messages may not be condescension, but rather formality and an attempt at showing respect to you. It is always better to assume the best in someone rather than assume the worst. It will defuse so many situations.
  2. Stay away from politics. This is a hard one for me. I love politics. I love to discuss politics. But I live in the deep South. Here my politics are heresy. So rather than anger people, I try to take Saint Paul’s tact and be all things to all people. That means I have to sometimes grit my teeth and say nothing when someone is attaching my political views. I don’t go on the defense. I don’t even share that they are talking about things I support. I merely smile and bless them. That also defuses so many tense situations.
  3. Religion is not a weapon. As clergy, many of us already know this. But there are times it is hard to remember in the heat of a discussion. Our Christ taught us love. We can preach and live love if we are using the Bible as a sword. We should be gentle in our discourse on religion. We should show the love of the Christ to everyone, regardless of who they are, what religion they are, and who they love. If we cannot do that, we have missed the entire point. Christ calls us to love. It is time we as Christians start loving.
  4. Lastly, for all else, use the 5 second rule. I want to share with you a little tidbit about me. I have been on anti-depressants for 15 years or so. Rather than deal with my issues from my childhood and young adult life, I was given medications to mask the problems. Now 15 years later, I am working on those issues. As such, I have also been able to lower the doses of some of my medications. One of the things that anti-depressants do is they regulate emotion. So I experienced a very muted set of emotions for 15 years. Now that I am working to come off the meds, I experience more emotions that before. It is has led me to have to use the 5 second rule much more. It really works. When you read something, see something, experience something and you are tempted to react immediately, take 5 seconds to breath first and then ask yourself if this is something you should get worked up over. Is this something you should respond to? What would Jesus do? (In my case, I ask what a dear Bishop of mine and a priest of mine would do.) Only after that 5 seconds and a little thought, should you react. This will save you and everyone around you a lot of grief. It has for me!

These are not hard things. They are habits we should work to incorporate into our daily lives. Civility, love, charity, and understanding are not bad words. They are words that bring us closer to what the Christ taught. Let’s start living them.

Blessings!

Christians: Stop shooting the wounded!

A wise man once said to me that Christians are the one group that tends to eat their young. He also said that we tend to shoot our wounded. While that may be a gross image, what he meant was that we tend to attack and devour anyone in our midst who we disagree with or find to be odd.

And today, we as Christians continue that trend of devouring our young or shooting our wounded. We look at our brothers and sisters in Christ and if we do not like what we see, if they are not up to our standards of what a Christians should be, we tend to begin gnawing on them. We in the Independent Sacramental Movement are the worst about this. We forget that we are all wounded and imperfect individuals.

We look at our brothers and sisters and being to pick them apart: They are too prideful. They are too full of ego. They are too hard on people. They are weird. They have a history. They went to jail as a youth. They are too fat. They are gluttons. They dress funny. They talk funny. They smoke. They are always sick. They think they know everything. They…they…they…

We even being to assign tags to them: They are dangerous. They are vile. They are hateful. They are to be avoided. They are crazy. They are stupid. They are insolent. They…they…they…

And before you say it, if you are thinking, “But I don’t act that way.” or “I have a good reason to say that about so and so.” Then stop and realize, this message is for you.

Now let us ask ourselves a couple of very pointed questions. 1) What did Jesus say about such things? 2) How did he instruct us to live? and 3) Are we living that way?

1) The first question is the most important. What did Jesus say about such things. Many of you will immediately begin with the money changers in the temple. “Jesus threw them all out of the temple. He was justified in his assessment and anger. He even called the Pharisees vipers!” You are right. Jesus did. But we are not the Son of God either. When mortal men, like you and I, came before Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, what did Jesus do? Here, let me help you:

Now the scribes and Pharisees brought forward a woman caught in adultery, and they stood her in front of them. And they said to him: “Teacher, this woman was just now caught in adultery. And in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such a one. Therefore, what do you say?” But they were saying this to test him, so that they might be able to accuse him. Then Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the earth. And then, when they persevered in questioning him, he stood upright and said to them, “Let whoever is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And bending down again, he wrote on the earth. But upon hearing this, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest. And Jesus alone remained, with the woman standing in front of him. Then Jesus, raising himself up, said to her: “Woman, where are those who accused you? Has no one condemned you?” And she said, “No one, Lord.” Then Jesus said: “Neither will I condemn you. Go, and now do not choose to sin anymore.” (John 8:3-11 CPDV)

The authorities were well within their rights to bring this woman up on charges. The Law of Moses said she should be stoned to death for her crime. However, Jesus did something unprecedented. He challenged the law and the authorities and offered a path of love, mercy and forgiveness. He gave her another chance to be different, to change her life, to live anew in freedom. How many times have we denied this opportunity to our brothers and sisters? Bishop, Priests, Deacons: I am speaking to you! How many times have we looked at our fellow brothers and sisters in ministry and immediately taken a dislike to them? How many time have we judged them through the lens of others gossip about them, or others opinions about them? How often have we decided that we are God and judges, sentenced and executed them all the while feeling justified in doing so?

2) How did Jesus teach us to live? This too is a good question we must ask ourselves. How many times have we been hurt by our brothers or sisters, how many times have we perceived a wrong being committed against us? And how did we act or react? How did Jesus instruct us to act?

But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who slander you. And to him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your coat, do not withhold even your tunic. But distribute to all who ask of you. And do not ask again of him who takes away what is yours. And exactly as you would want people to treat you, treat them also the same. And if you love those who love you, what credit is due to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you will do good to those who do good to you, what credit is due to you? Indeed, even sinners behave this way. And if you will loan to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is due to you? For even sinners lend to sinners, in order to receive the same in return. So truly, love your enemies. Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. And then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and to the wicked. Therefore, be merciful, just as your Father is also merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you: a good measure, pressed down and shaken together and overflowing, they will place upon your lap. Certainly, the same measure that you use to measure out, will be used to measure back to you again.” (Luke 6:27-38 CPDV)

Wow! This is a far cry from what most Christians do today! We tend to label those that hurt us. We tend to shun them, talk bad about them, look for ways to attack them. But that is not Christ-like. That is not living the Gospel.

If anyone says that he loves God, but hates his brother, then he is a liar. For he who does not love his brother, whom he does see, in what way can he love God, whom he does not see? And this is the commandment that we have from God, that he who loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:20-21 CPDV)

Listen carefully to me, especially you pastors and teachers: If you do not love your brothers and sisters, you do not love God. Saint John makes this clear. If you say you love God, but hate your brother, you are a LIAR. A LIAR. Listen carefully to what else he says, “he who loves God MUST also love his brother. It does not say that we might love our brother. It does not say if we feel like loving our brother. It does not say if our brother has never hurt us or if our brother is our spiritual equal or if we believe our brother is worthy. NO, it says that we MUST love our brother.

3) Now let us look in the mirror. Are we living the way Christ instructed us to?

Before I get to that, go ahead and begin to rationalize your behavior and your feelings. I will wait.

Now, take a deep look into yourself. Do you love your brothers and sisters? Really? Are you willing to help them bear their cross? Are you willing to look beyond the superficial and see them as Christ sees them?

“But so and so is weird. Or they are dangerous. Or they have a history. Or they hurt my feelings. Or they looked at me wrong. Or their breathing on me. Or…or…or…”

But, before all things, have a constant mutual charity among yourselves. For love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining. Just as each of you has received grace, minister in the same way to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. When anyone speaks, it should be like words of God. When anyone ministers, it should be from the virtue that God provides, so that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ. To him is glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:8-11 CPDV)

Look at that! Saint Peter commands us to have constant mutual charity toward our brothers and sisters. We cannot have that kind of mutual charity if we are always looking for the bad in each other. We cannot have that kind of mutual charity if we are always harboring anger, resentment and hatred toward one another. We cannot live that command if we are constantly looking down at our brothers and sisters.

And then Saint Peter says something remarkable. He says something I have seen happen time and time again. “For love covers a multitude of sins.” Saint Peter is saying that if we have love, we can overcome these little vices we see in each other. We can overcome the clouded perception we have of one another. We can overcome the slights, hurts and pains we have caused each other. If we only have love!

I want to close with this: We as clergy, we as Christians, have the great opportunity to minister as true mirrors of the risen Christ. We have a chance to love others as Christ does. We have the chance to effect real change in our families, our churches and our world. But if we really want to do that, we must stop focusing on the splinter in our brother’s eye and focus on removing the plank in our own.

Only then, can we truly see clearly enough to love as Christ loves us: unconditionally.

Homosexuality and Obesity – Perry Noble’s Missed Dichotomy

My plate has been rather full of late which is why I have not had time to chat here. However, I saw a blog post today that warranted a response.

For those who do not know him, Perry Noble is a “Christian Pastor” in South Carolina. He is the pastor of New Spring Churches, which bills itself as more progressive than most churches. However, progressive in South Carolina is far from anyone else’s view of progressive.

Mr. Noble wrote a blog post today entitled “Homosexuality and Obesity“. The title alone should begin the blood boiling process, but in case it has not, let us look at what Mr. Noble has to say about both subjects.

In a previous blog post, Mr. Noble said, “8 – The world would change in an unbelievable way if the church would attack the issue of obesity as relentlessly as it attacks the issue of homosexuality! (It would also be way more relevant to the church!)” On the face of it, this seems rather innocuous, however, he had to take that statement and make another whole blog post expounding upon it. This is where he went wrong. Once you dig a hole, it is good advice to stop digging.

Mr. Noble continues, “Let me say right out of the gate I believe God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman—period. That is not a statement of hate or intolerance; it’s simply a statement of what I really do believe the Scriptures teach. I do not hate people who are gay. I actually have friends who are gay.” There is so much to say about this statement alone that I could spend days just on it!

I will not discuss the obvious issues with the whole Scripture says marriage is between one man and one woman. If you want to know what I believe about that, you can read more about it here.

And I think it goes without saying that when someone uses the line that they do not hate someone because, “I actually have friends who are gay” that pretty much screams out that they are haters and bigots. You need only look back throughout human history to see hundreds of examples of this.

He goes on to make the convoluted claim that only people who don’t know Christ will be excluded from heaven and to say otherwise is adding to the Gospels. However, he then says that in Corinthians Paul says that homosexuals will not go to heaven. So he is hedging his bets with this one. Guess it is Russian Roulette if you believe in Christ and are gay. (/sarcasm)

Mr. Noble continues, “Which brings me to the issue of obesity … Most of the people reading this article have most likely never heard a sermon on the issue of obesity. The very fact I would categorize it as a sin is quite offensive to some. However, I believe obesity is one of the most prevalent struggles in our nation today, and there are way more people in our churches wrestling with obesity than they are homosexuality … Our country is literally eating itself to death, yet the church chooses to remain silent about the issue because it seems to be too personal. Gluttony is specifically mentioned in the Bible.”

Do you see what Mr. Noble did there? He went from claiming that homosexuality is a sin, but not really to obesity is a big issue that is a sin because gluttony is a sin. In other words, Obese=Glutton. I would hope most of my readers would understand the logical fallacy in this or at very least, understand the scientific and medical reasons this is bull.

As if they is not bad enough, Mr. Noble keeps digging, “I was reminded of the seriousness of it the other day when I read Proverbs 23:1-2,

When you sit to dine with a ruler,
note well what is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to gluttony.

HOLY CRAP!!! That is INTENSE! Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony?”

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt most of the time, but I have read and reread this passage in the context that Mr. Noble uses and I can only come up with one thought as to what he is getting at. That is that obese people should kill themselves. Yes, I believe Mr. Noble is advocating for people who are obese to cut their throats. I will give you that he may not have meant it that way, but that is what it comes across as.

As someone who tried to kill himself as a youth, I can say that there are not words strong enough to describe my thoughts about Mr. Noble that this moment. And, no, I have no desire to call him a child of God.

He continues to dig, “There are people who have objected to me talking about this issue in the past and try to use the excuse that they are genetically predisposed to being a glutton, yet when people in the gay community try to say they are genetically predisposed to being gay, Christians push back and say “there is no way.” So why does the argument work for one side and not the other? … If you are so angry at me right now that you want to hit me I understand … and if you are overweight or obese and are feeling self-conscious let me be very clear about what is going to follow: My purpose in writing this has not been to hurt you, tear you down or push you away. I’m writing this to encourage you – and let you know that I know EXACTLY how you feel and the battle that you are going through. I was fat when I was a kid … really fat. I was fat in middle school. I was fat in high school. I can remember buying size 50 pants once! I can remember buying XXXL shirts. I can still remember the names I was called in elementary school … and until this day I still see myself as fat and am more self-conscious about my appearance than anyone would imagine. I still battle weight issues every single day. The first thing I do every single morning is step on the scale to weigh myself, and way too often I have let higher numbers than I expected drag me down for the day. Until this day I hate shopping and trying on clothes for fear they may be too small and it would make me look bad. But, I also know that Jesus in you allows you to overcome ANYTHING.”

I have so many things I would love to say to Mr. Noble, but none of them are very Christ-like. He claims that he was once fat and that Jesus took it away from him. He acts like it was some sort of divine liposuction. He goes on to explain that all we need to do is to pray and get your butt to the gym. He did it, so can you! Except for those that can’t and the inference is that if you can’t you have a problem with faith. Maybe you are not a good enough Christian. Maybe you should try harder. Or if that fails, there is the knife to the throat option.

You see, Mr. Noble is daft. He is one of those people who think that everything in life is black and white. You know what I mean: Marriage is between one man and one women, except that it was historically and scripturally between a man and 300 wives and/or concubines. Obese people are just gluttons who need to learn to push away from the table, or die, either one is fine with him. These issues are not black and white.

One more thing for Mr. Noble: I am obese. I weigh in at 423 LBS. I have a 66 inch waist line and wear 4XL shirts. I am morbidly obese. I have tried every diet, every medication, every exercise program I could. I stuck with all of them for more than a year and saw little to no change in my weight. In fact, I was eating less than 1200 calories a day at one point as well as less than 15 grams of fat! Yet I never dropped below 350 lbs. I was on that diet for a year and a half. I exercised daily. It was so rough a diet that it did damage to my heart. But I refused to stop until I almost had a second heart attack. So I guess I was not a strong enough Christian, or I was not motivated enough. Had I read your words at that moment in my life, I would have likely ended my life. And that would not have bothered you one little bit.

He claims, “Food is “the drug of choice” used by most people today. For years I would joke about my weight and try to excuse myself from being that way by telling everyone that “it just ran in the family.” However, there was a day, a snapping point for me, where I realized that as long as I saw myself as a victim I would NEVER walk in victory.” Do I believe I am a victim? Hell no!

This is more BS psychology. I have true medical and physical reasons I am obese. Not one of them is because I over-eat. In fact, there are times I do not eat enough! Ask anyone who knows me and you will find that I eat very little. In fact, my wife who is 1/4 my size eats more than I do!

Yet, according to Mr. Noble, I am a glutton who should cut my throat. How very loving and Christ-like. If that is your idea of helping, please, Mr. Noble, shut up and sit down.

One last point. As I was writing this I was in the mindset that homosexuality and obesity where very different. They are, but in one way they are not. You see, it was once acceptable to discriminate against homosexuals. In many states, it still is, but that is changing slowly. As it does, obese people are starting to find the light on them. We are faced with growing prejudice and discrimination. The voices who call out that we are obese because of our lack of effort, our lack of motivation or our lack of faith continues to grow. We find ourselves as the last acceptable form of ridicule and prejudice.

If I want to fly, I have to pay more because of my weight. Some buffets charge me more because of my size. It is harder and harder to find clothing for someone my size and if I do find clothing, it cost twice what you would pay as a normal sized person. (Side note: You would think they would want to make clothing for people my size. I know for a fact no one wants to see me nude!)

Just a couple of years ago a politician in California put forth a bill that would require obese people to be sterilized so that they could not pass on their “fat genes”. This while still arguing that it was not genetic but rather laziness that caused obesity. There was a push a few years ago to fine people who were overweight because they cost the “system” more money. Now churches are getting in on the fun by attacking obese people as well. I have actually been called “Bishop Slovenly” by a fellow “Christian” in a religious order. Why? Because being obese equals being sloppy, unclean and disgusting.

All of this is done in the name of motivating obese people to loose weight. It is done so we can be “healthy”. Yet it ignores the medical data that proves that some people can be obese and still be healthy. It ignores the data that proves that some people are genetically built obese. It ignores the psychological effects of such treatment of those who struggle to live each and every day.

I call on all leaders of faith to decry such insensitive and misguided comments. I call on all of you to treat those of us who are obese with love and respect. Remember the Golden Rule applies to all of us, not just those whose waist lines measure up to your standards.

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk

It was a simple statement, “Our shortage of Bishops in the Independent Movement is over! Praise God!” It seems innocuous doesn’t it?

But it made me angry. And it hurt me. Why? Was it referring to me? No. It was referring to the news that one of our priests has been elected to the Office of Bishop. So why does it matter to me?

It matters because our church works very hard to make sure that we select good candidate to do the work of the church. We have a process that requires education, criminal background checks every 3 years, Stewards of Children training every 3 years, Psychological screening and interviews with members of our church. Then the candidates are sent to the Commission on Ordained Ministry. This is body fo 5 clerics who review their files, all their supporting paperwork, and then vote on whether or not they feel they would be a good fit in out church.

For Bishops or a cleric put forth for consecration, they must go through the above process (a second time if they are already a member of our church) and then have their information reviewed by the College of Bishops and Vicars who also vote on their suitability. Only if a 2/3 majority of both bodies find them acceptable, do they move forward.

On top of that, they will be waiting until next June before they are consecrated. Which means that there is more time for growth and spiritual development.

Yet, clergy in the ISM feel it is their duty and obligation to snipe at us. People who claim to be Franciscans acting in a way that would make St. Francis cry. And for what? A cheap laugh? A feeling of superiority? That is, of course, one of the most important qualities a cleric must have! Right?

Wrong!

Today in our world people are dying from lack of food, medication and care. Our own Congress is working to take away food assistance and healthcare for not only poor adults, but also for children and military veterans. People are dying in our cities due to increased gun violence. And what are we doing as Christians and Clergy to help them?

We are sniping at each other. Putting each other down. Holding our heads high as we declare, “I am more valid than you,” or that, “I have more lines of Succession than you.” We work for weeks to destroy each others ministry. We walk around acting as though it is a contest to see who can be the best at destroying someones ministry or chasing them away from their calling.

We have become a sad lot. It is time to start working together, rather than tearing each other down. It is time to be true Christians, or to stop lying to ourselves and others. It is time to help the homeless, the poor, the orphan and the widow so that Sodom and Gomorra do not rise up at our judgement to condemn us for our inhospitality.

It is time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It is time we all put our money where our mouths are and live what we say we believe.

I, for my part, am willing to work with any of those in the ISM who truly want to work to advance the Kingdom of God. However, if all you want to do is play games and continue the pattern of ISM abuse, then please, turn and walk away.

Blessings!