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Below you will find the current episode of the series, Tony's Town. Episodes generally appear weekly and when replaced by a new episode, are generally included in the Archives libraryfound on this page.  Additionally, we occasionally rerun an earlier or archived episode on the Tony's Town Reruns section following the Archive library.  We do this if an episode is relevant to a current event, particular to a recognized holiday or universal time of celebration, or if it is requested by our readers. 

If you are new to the series,we suggest you avail yourself of the archived episodes, especially the first four. They will introduce you to the people, places, and themes of the series as they appear. So, to paraphrase someone well known to us;

Welcom to our neighborhood, friend.

Tony's Town



            A Catholic priest dances with his wife ... again...           

                       At This Moment

     “Father John … that song … I take it it has a special meaning?”

     Startled, the priest chuckles and snaps back to reality.  “Sorry, Nick … got lost for a moment,” he says, a ‘you caught me’ look on his face. “Laura and I loved it.  I remember we danced to it at a club like Mike’s Place just a couple of days before she went into the hospital.”

     Nick smiles. “I’ve always liked it too. So does Andrea. That man is definitely singing from his heart.”

     “That he is,” the priest says, nodding his head slightly. “And it has an even deeper meaning for me … and for all of us, I’d say.”

     “How do you mean …?” Bobby “Pretzels” asks.

      “It brings so much into focus.”

     “Again, how so?” Nick asks

     “Well, Nick, because if God sang a song to us, He might use words something like these.”

 

     Hi, I’m Tony Baggz.  We’re here in the rectory at St. Kates.  It’s poker night and Father Bob was the big winner last week … brought home the grand total of sixty-five cents. So, it’s his turn to host. However, the good pastor got called to the hospital.

     Nick Kossarides, “Uncle” Joey, and Bobby “Pretzels” showed up early and it seems they’ve caught Father John in the middle of setting the refreshments out.  They walked in on the priest staring off in space, a pitcher of iced tea in one hand, a tray of cheese and crackers in the other, listening to the stereo playing a song … “At this Moment.”*

     For those of you who might be new to our neighborhood, Father John was married once.  He lost his beloved Laura about twelve years ago and found a second calling to the ministry. His love for his lady, though, is still very much alive in his heart and soul – as it should be, and Billy’s song evidently brought back a memory. Something I think the three men find intriguing.  Knowing these guys, and Father John’s penchant for exploring the hidden meaning in things, we could be in for an interesting conversation.  Hey, Rabbi Green just walked in the door.  Okay, now I think this could get really interesting.

     What do you say we listen in? …

 

     Pretzels chuckles and raises an eyebrow.  “Please, Father … explain … ya gotta admit, from the lyrics, it’s a strange love song.”  

     “Well, once when we were dating, Laura wanted to break it off. I didn’t want to and this song was popular at the time. I talked her out of it, and it sorta became our song.”

     A furtive smile ambles across Bobby’s face. “But knowing you, Father, I get the feeling it means something more?” he says.  

      “Yea, Bobby, you see, in God’s time, we’ll live that moment again. I’ll hold her again and dance across heaven’s ballroom floor.”

     “Because…?”

     “Because that song will be playing in God’s time … this moment …  this eternal present moment.”

     “God’s understanding of time?” Joey says, a knowing smile in his eyes.

     Father John smiles, saying nothing and slowly nodding his head.

     “And that understanding is …?” Bobby asks.

     “That the only place we can live with God is in this present moment.”

     “Ah, a very important idea in Jewish thinking,” Rabbi Josh adds.

     “How so?” Nick asks.

     “It’s a question the Rabbis of old posed. What is the most important time in history?”

     “The Exodus,” Bobby says tentatively.

      “No.”

      “Yom Kippur … Rosh Hashanah?” Nick asks, softly.

       “No.”

     “What then?”

     “… this present moment.  It is sacred,” Josh says, softly.

     “You know, many people, if they even consider it at all, fail to understand time as it relates to our God, Joey says. They consign Him to our understanding of past, present, and future.”

      Father John and Rabbi Josh nod in unison as if in recognition of a shared understanding. Looking across the table, an inquisitive look ambles across Nick’s face. 

     “So, Joey,” Nick says, “how do you explain time in our relationship with God in your RCIA classes? If you do.”

     “Simple, He is an eternal being; not constrained by our finite experience of past and future. An understanding emphasized by the name he gives Himself to Moses on Sinai; I Am.”

     “God doesn’t understand our past or our future?” Bobby asks.  

     “Understand, Bobby, … yes … subject to them, no.  All of eternity is present to God in this single present moment, and it is in this moment we are present to Him. It is the only time frame in which we can live with Him.  We cannot plead our past actions or future intentions as justification for our present worth.”

     Nodding, Father John sets his coffee cup down. “You can’t do what I think a lot of people today find themselves doing, he says.”

     “And that is?” Bobby asks.

     “Well, I’m thinking of the person who’s a prisoner of his or her guilt, believing past actions render them beyond God’s salvation … beyond His mercy. Sure, our past is present to Him. But it is not His desire that we remain in that pain, hurt, or sorrow. He desires us to choose His law and His love; to break the chains of the past, and live a life of hope, faith, joy, and love of ourselves, and others, now, in this present moment.  God sees us as He created us; in His own image and likeness, not a shattered soul, unworthy of His love.”

     Sipping his coffee, the priest pauses as Joey takes up the conversation.

      “And the idea of God’s time is critical to our understanding of the faith we share and our belief in, and understanding of, our sacraments, Bobby. Especially, the Eucharist.”

     “How so?”

     “As I said, all eternity is present to God in this single present moment. Jesus’ action, two thousand years ago on the night before he was betrayed is present to God, right now.”

     On Bobby’s face is the look of a light going on in his mind..  “And what is present to God in this moment, even though it happened for us almost two thousand years ago, he makes present to us.” 

     “Exactly. Listen to the priest’s words of consecration; ‘Lord let your spirit come upon these gifts like the dewfall, so that they may become the body and blood of your Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

     “And in that moment, the Lord becomes actually present on the altar,” Nick says, quietly … “because that moment in time, almost two thousand years ago in our time, is present to God now. And He makes what is present to Him, present to us at our request ... a re-presentation of that Last supper, two thousand years ago.”

     “As if we are approaching that table in that upper room with the Lord, and the twelve apostles," Bobby says quietly, the amazement of one realizing something for the first time in his voice. “Taking the bread and wine, the body and blood of our Lord, from the priest.”

     “… Who stands, in the person of Christ; in persona Christi, as the church teaches,” Joey says quietly.

     The kitchen falls quiet.

     “Then how about eternal punishment?” Rabbi Josh asks, after a moment.

     “Well, Josh, if living with God is in the present moment, separation from Him is also the present moment … one that is unending.”

      Pausing, a smile breaks over the priest’s face. “And, time is a danger for those having a different seriously flawed understanding of God’s time.”

     “And that understanding is?” Josh chuckles, the look in his eyes betraying a shared secret.

     “… believing they can continue to live contrary to God’s law and then make it all up at the last minute,” Father John laughs.

     “You mean, like the person who goes on a ninety-day diet to lose twenty pounds, makes no changes, then thinks they can make it up the last week,” the rabbi says, a devilish twinkle in his eyes …

     … “I’ve been there. And I can tall you …

     … it doesn’t work.”

 

    “You’re thinking as man thinks, not as God thinks, Peter.”  Our Lord’s words.

      Hell is eternal separation from God. Has a person consigned to Hell been sentenced to unending suffering as we understand time? Or has one merely been granted one’s choice to live apart from God for a moment … a moment that, in His time, is unending?

     Isn’t divine justice, simply granting us what we ask for?

     In our journey with and to Him, this present moment is all that is available to us. Turn our back on God in this moment and we live apart from Him. Until we choose another present moment to reverse that choice.  And it is a choice.

     One we all must make …

     … in this moment.

    Thinkaboutit … I’m Tony Baggz.

*At this Moment – Billy Vera and the Beaters, 1981, written by Billy Vera. 

© 2018 Tres Angeli Publishing, LLC

 

 

 


Tony's Town Reruns

A spot-on answer to an eternal question, from a scientist no less...

                                                 PROOF

 

     “Hey Doc, can I ask you something?”

     “Sure, Tommy. What’s on your mind?”

     “You go to church; you believe in God, right?”

     “True.”

      “Why?”

      Surprise registers on the surgeon’s face.  I don’t think it’s a question he was expecting.

     “Why do you ask?”

      “Well, there are those who say God is a delusion, a form of escapism for those who can’t handle reality. Face it; no one's ever proved God’s existence, at least scientifically. And yet you, the Rabbi, Father Bob, Pastor Swanson, Joey, Vince, Mike, Ace, and all the gang seem so … I don’t know … firm in your beliefs.”

     Smiling, Doc restates Tommy’s question. 

     “Why do I believe in God?  Well, probably because I remember how to tie my shoes.”

     Heh, heh … the look on Tommy’s face is priceless. You’d think he’s just seen a dozen aliens get off the cosmic bus. 

 

       …Hi, I’m Tony Baggz.  It’s an early winter Saturday afternoon here at Fire Company # 5.  "Doc" Rogers just stopped by, probably because today’s Saturday and that means hot dogs and chili. "Crazy Pat" is famous for his chili and on Saturdays there’s always a big pot on simmer. Drop-ins are always welcome and some of the gang are already here. Of course, the fact there’s a good hockey game on the big screen later doesn’t hurt either. I sense an impromptu party brewing.  

     Tommy McMichael, one of the firemen at #5, is, by his own admission, lukewarm when it comes to matters of faith. Being in medical school, I imagine many of the people he sees every day believe only in what can be proved; it’s the nature of the scientist, and often, the concept of God doesn't fit.  And it sounds like Doc just threw him a curveball.

      Let’s listen in ...

 

     “How to tie your shoes? … No offense, Doc, but you gotta explain that one. I figured you for a Bible verse or something,” Tommy says, shaking his head.

     “Well, I have faith in Scripture,” Doc says. “However, the unbeliever claims it’s just a fanciful tale, and scientifically, I can’t refute that.  After all, the Bible isn’t self-attesting; it doesn’t prove itself to be true anymore than ‘The Night Before Christmas’ proves the existence of Santa Claus.”

     “Okay. But … how to tie your shoes?” 

     Chuckling at the look on Tommy’s face, Doc sips his coffee. “Okay, answer me this. You’ve studied anatomy; where’s the memory located?”

     “The brain. The limbic system, the hippocampus, and possibly some peripheral areas.” 

     “Prove it.”

      “Well, damage to those areas affects memory. Surgeons have proven that.” 

     “Have they? Or have they simply demonstrated a cause and effect relationship?”

     “They’ve … proved it,” Tommy says, hesitation creeping into his voice.

     “They have?  So, if you tie a tourniquet around your upper arm and leave it there, sooner or later, your hand dies from lack of blood flow, right?” 

     “Right.”

     “And every time you did, the same thing would happen, right?”

     “Yea.”

     “So, you’ve proved your hand is located between your shoulder and elbow, right?”

     “Well, no.”

     “Exactly. The same is true about the memory.  Just because a certain area of the brain is damaged doesn’t prove the memory resides there. It only proves a cause and an effect relationship. Memory is affected by trauma to that area, right?"

     “I guess so.” 

     “Now, you said other regions of the brain can affect memory, right?”

     “Yes.”

     “And if I said the central locus of the human memory is located in, let's say, the brain stem, could you prove me wrong?” 

     “No.”

     “Why?”

     “Because … damage the brain stem and the body dies.”

     “Exactly. You can't test my hypothesis. You can’t cut into the brain stem. You can’t eliminate all possibilities. Scientifically you can’t prove exactly where the memory is.”

     “I guess.”

     “But you know you have one, right?”

     “Yea.”

     “Again, why?”

     Laughing softly to himself, Tommy shakes his head.  “Because I remember how to tie my shoes.”

     “Right. You know something exists, not because you can prove it; beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt as a lawyer might say, but because you experience its effects.”

     The look on Tommy’s face intensifies as Doc continues. 

     “Empirical or scientific knowledge is vital; it enables us to progress as a species. And that's where the unbeliever bases his argument; since God can’t be scientifically observed and proven, He doesn’t exist. Tommy, if empirical knowledge were the only knowledge available, I’d also say there’s no God."  

     “So, you’re saying you’d agree?” 

      “On an empirical level I’d have to.  But on another equally important level, no, I don’t agree. If there is one thing scientific logic demands, it’s consistency; scientists hate anomalies. And for me, that’s where the nonbeliever’s position breaks down. In his own basic premise, he contradicts himself.”

     “How so?”  

     “He contends God doesn’t exist because His existence isn’t proven, yet in the next breath says he believes life exists on other planets, trusts someone to repay a debt, hopes his sick little girl gets well; respects a colleague or loves his wife.  Belief, trust, hope, respect, love, all realities; all things we know exist, yet none can be proved scientifically. He bases his concepts of those realities on a premise he refuses to recognize on the other."

     “And that premise is?”

     "Intuitive knowledge; belief in the existence of something even though we only experience its effects. I can’t see the wind, but I know it exists because I feel the breeze and see leaves on trees moving.  I can’t see electricity, but I know it exists when I flip a light switch. I can't see love or hope or trust; I can’t prove them but I know they exist. And by extension, I believe in God, not because I can see him, but because I see the effects of His existence.” 

     “How … where?”

     “In man himself. Scripture tells us we’re made God’s image and likeness. In our higher attributes; intelligence, wisdom, creativity, compassion, mercy, justice, and love I see the reflection of a being greater than anything in existence as we know it.” 

     Sipping his drink, Doc continues.

     “Tommy, life is an either/or proposition. Either everything came from nothing, or this perfectly ordered universe is the product of an intelligence, a Creator, outside our human understanding. Myself, I can't believe you can add an eternal void to an infinite vacuum and get existence as we know it. Zero plus zero equals zero. Any seven-year-old with tell you that. And I can't believe that somehow, from nothing, and by spontaneous generation and/or random chance, devoid of cause, plan, or design, you can get daisies, ducks, dolphins, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders."

     “Then what about evolution, the big bang, things scientists have proved?” 

     “Proved?  Really? Come on, Tom, you’re a better scientist than that. You know a theory isn’t a fact, even when repeated over and over. Evolution, the big bang, they’re good theories, but they’ve got a long way to go before they’re facts. Facts that ‘prove’ there is no God. In fact, scientists who have a death grip on a half-truth, and trumpet they have the final answer, do the advancement of science no favors.”

      Chuckling softy, Tommy shakes his head. “Gotta hand it to you Doc; Father John, Pastor Williams, and the Rabbi would be proud.”

     Doc smiles at his protégé. Tommy winks and, looking down, says …

     “ ... oh, and by the way, Doc, you’re wearing loafers.”

 

     A learned man once said, “the probability of the universe being created without the involvement of God is as likely as the unabridged dictionary resulting from an explosion in a printing shop.”  Interesting thought. 

     ‘Unless you become like one of these little children, you shall not see the kingdom of God.” Words of the Carpenter.  Why a small child?  Why not a philosopher, a scientist, or maybe a sage, rich with the wisdom of time and experience?  Because small children possess a humility and a simple, yet ironclad faith born of an absolute trust in the wisdom of their elders and a joy in being alive in a world they cannot, in any way, conceive of coming into existence either from nothing, or from their own abilities. 

     I like the term, ‘open to the possibility.’  It’s an excellent approach where clear-cut answers don’t exist. I am open to the possibility the Creator brought Adam and Eve directly into existence in the Garden of Eden many years ago. Like Scripture says. And to the possibility God used, and continues to use, tools such as big bangs and evolution.  Or that mankind was “seeded” on Earth by aliens from another galaxy. What do I actually believe? Well, I’ve made my choice; you must make yours.

     But I do believe one day, that Supreme Being, in Whose image you and I are incredibly made, will provide those answers.

      Open to the possibility … are you?

     Thinkaboutit … I’m Tony Baggz.

 ©Tres Angeli Publishing LLC 2017 


Tony's Town Archives

Below you will find prior episodes. The have been included here in the order they appeared through the first four episodes; Church and State to Amish Race Car Drivers. Many of the people, places, and themes of the episodes are set in those first four. Also, the Tony's Neighborhood portion found immediately below is a overall view of the people and places you will find in our neighborhood. If you are new to our little neck of the woods, may I suggest you avail yourself of these so as to familiarize yourself with our little world.

Please enjoy.


TONY'S SOUTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD  - PEOPLE AND PLACES    Come meet the neighborhood gang and their favorite haunts.

 CHURCH AND STATE    In today's culture, what does structured religion provide society?

NAMES    Get to know many of the neighborhood gang more closely.  And what popular recording artist might need to change his nickname?

THE REPAIR    Sometimes the most trivial work is the most important.  Discover it in a conversation that occurs before, "movie night."

AMISH RACECAR DRIVERS     The 'glue' that holds uncommon relationships together puzzles a young man.  Listen to a rabbi set him straight..  

TWELVE CENTS      Sometimes the very valuable lessons in life, come at little cost.

ROLL TIDE     An prolife episode shows us sometimes those very valuable lessons come from the least likely person you would expect. 

DILEMMA     An unexpected windfall is a challenge to "do the right thing."

BLACK OPAL     Some of God's most beautiful, yet unlikely, creations, speak to us of beauty and depth beyond what's see on the surface.