The Message (and you helped!)

This is a copy of the message I will give to my congregation in lieu of our Pastor’s vacation day.  Since several of you gave me help here, I wanted to thank you by showing what you helped me accomplish. I added the pics for you.  I do need to apologize.  I wrote this in Word and, no matter what I did, it always erased the lines between paragraphs, so it is … compressed.

Faith, Blame, Power
By Scott L Vannatter
May 13, 2012


There was an Irish man who entered the local pub and purchased 3 pints of ale from the bartender. He then sat in a back corner and took a sip out of each in turn until all three were gone. He did this for several days. Finally, the bartender said to him,
“You know, the ale’s only good for a short time after I pour it. It would be better if you bought them one at a time.” The man looked at him.
Yes, that’s true,” he began, “but it’s my brothers. They lived out of the area, so this is how we celebrate each night, by drinking together.” The bartender nodded.
This custom continued for months. The man became a regular and all knew him and his habits.
Then, one day, the man came in and ordered two pints of ale, went to the corner, and began his custom. The others in the bar watched him sadly, but no one spoke. The bartender walked slowly over and said,
“I don’t want to interrupt your grieving, but the rest of us wanted to say how sorry we are for the loss of your brother.”
The man looked bewildered, then laughed, “No, no, it’s okay. My brothers are fine. It’s me. I have given up drinking.”
_ _ _

Of course, if you were to tell the man he was still drinking, he might blame it on his brothers. Blame is the process by which you attribute the reason for something, usually bad, onto something or someone else. Of course, often we blame ourselves. Why do we do this? What is this great need we have for explaining away responsibility for things and putting them somewhere else?
The students that I taught had one thing in common: blame. They either took the blame for everything (blamed themselves) or they never took the blame (always had an excuse). We look at this and say, “No. You need to…” and, with that statement, we put that blame on someone or something else. Blame seems to be a societal problem as well as something personal.
I now spend quite a bit of time writing a blog entitled “Kindredspirit23”. In it, I try to help us all realize we are together in faith and together in life. This blog has a post I enter each day, some are long, some are short. Sunday’s, today’s, is a copy of this sermon that I posted because, when I was trying to organize this message, I asked for their help. So, this is a composite of several ideas from several people all around the world. Each of them will recognize what part they played in creating my input for this message.

One person spoke of all the time we waste in blame and how ridiculous it can look. I have seen this. I have seen people so intent on blaming others that they waste more time than it would have taken to, simply, fix it themselves. They can, also, look very idiotic moving the blame away from them so they don’t look idiotic.

The very best example of this was a time when I was sitting at my desk at school. One student walked up to me and took something off my desk, putting it in his pocket. I looked at him and said,
“Put it back.”
To which he responded,
“I didn’t do anything.”
Instead of getting angry, I simply said,
Good. I am glad you didn’t do anything, because, when I have security come here and do a search…”
He interrupted me at that point, taking the thing out of his pocket and saying,
“I’ll put it back.”

You know, we laugh at this, and I hear people tell me how horrible it is that many of our children do not understand responsibility. There are many, many times I would have to blame the parents. I would blame them for not being there, for not taking a positive role in their child’s life, for not trying to see how their own behavior will affect that of their children.
But, truth be told, you can’t stop there. Once you get on that train, you should keep going or you miss so much. Society has instilled within many of our citizens the idea that they are all important and what they want should be pursued at all costs. Then, for many of the rest, society has said that they are unimportant and their needs should be sacrificed for those more privileged.
Are these right? Is this the way we should think? Let me consider it for a moment.
Okay, let’s try this out. I think I will blame my stroke on society. They make us believe that it’s okay to work hard; extra hours for little pay, and eat whatever we want. That needs to be cornered better.
I will blame McDonald’s for creating hamburgers, fries, and chocolate shakes that are tasty, fattening, and cheap enough that they can be eaten several times a week.
I will blame the other dining establishments because they charge too much for me to go there all the time.
I will blame the grocery stores for misleading package information and trying to sell poorly-grown, fatty foods the cheapest.
I will blame the people for buying all these fattening, cheap items and allowing them to become the big names in the business.
I will blame our government for accepting the monies given them by these companies to keep them important in the eyes of our society.
I will blame the scientists for creating this stuff in the first place.
I will blame the doctors for not being able to cure me outright.
I will blame the hospitals for not being able to do a more thorough job.
I will blame GOD; He could cure this totally if He wanted to.
Well, I guess I will blame me for being who I am and doing the things I do.

See, none of that does an ounce of good in solving my problems. Even blaming myself doesn’t help. People may agree with it, but it doesn’t help.
I don’t know if people realize it, but when you say, “If it’s God’s Will,” that statement sounds a great deal like blaming God and avoiding responsibility. It sounds as if you truly have no choice in the matter. It is going to happen, no matter what.

I am not trying here to argue with anyone about this statement. I don’t have all the answers and would be the first to say that; however, I do believe that many of us attribute responsibility (blame) easily so that we don’t have to worry about it. It’s not our fault.
In closing, let me make one positive point very clear:
Each year, I gave my students a lecture. They didn’t know it was a lecture, but it was. It went something like this:
“Well, I am so glad you decided to come to school today.”
“I didn’t decide to come to school.” (Someone would always bite…”
“Sure you did. It was your choice to come to school.”
“Nope. My Mom made me.”
I would look around the room at this point.
“Really? Where is she? Did she pull you out of bed, dress you herself, force feed you, get on the bus with you, bring you to class, and stay here?” I would look again for her.
“No, Mr. V. But, if I didn’t come she would yell and, maybe call the police and they would take me to OSSP.” (Out of school suspension)
“But, you’re not there.”
“So, you decided to come to school?”
“I would rather have stayed home in bed.”
“But, you didn’t. You chose to come here; so, why not have a good, productive day?”
From there, I would go on to tell them that when they blame someone else for something, they are giving all that power to that other thing. The police or their Mom is now all-powerful; they, as kids have no power over anything. Unless…you take that power by “choosing” for yourself and taking the responsibility for your actions and those consequences.
Did they all get it? No. But, there was always, one. One person who looked at me and smiled just a bit. I could tell that person might have a lot of problems, but he/she would, at least, know they had made their own choices. It was my hope, those choices would be productive, but, either way, they might just own up to them.
We all have to realize that, for us to have power in this life, we have to step up and take the responsibility for our actions and those consequences. Even in our faith, it is up to us to take the responsibility for our beliefs and what those entail. I don’t remember reading anywhere that Jesus put the blame for anything He did on anyone else. He stood up for Himself and His beliefs no matter what that entailed.
Since I need to tie this in to Mother’s Day in some way, I will say this: Wouldn’t your Mother be proud to know you made your own decisions and stood up for who you are? Mine would.


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  • Soma Mukherjee  On May 14, 2012 at 3:27 am

    what a superb writing Scott…I see you started with Mags pub joke…excellent speech….Absolutely loved it and so agree with you….


    • kindredspirit23  On May 16, 2012 at 8:55 pm

      It went well. I may have stepped on a few toes, but, perhaps, those few needed to think about it.


  • southernhon  On May 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    I was just coming here to ask how it went today. Glad it went well! Namaste!


  • magsx2  On May 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Wow, that was fantastic, and I loved the way you started off with the joke and went from there, I also like the way you changed the joke a bit to fit in, well done. 🙂
    I thought your message was very well said, and I’m sure the people that were there listening thought so as well.


    • kindredspirit23  On May 13, 2012 at 9:22 am

      We will see…I haven’t given the speech just yet!
      But, with all the help I received, how could it fail?


      • kindredspirit23  On May 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        Just so all my great helpers know it…I gave the message and it was received just fine. I think I may have struck a few nerves, but that’s okay.
        Thank you all,


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