A Huge Bite of the Apple

In case you haven’t heard yet, the Apple Corporation has agreed to pay Ireland over fifteen billion dollars in back taxes. Yes, that’s billion with a “b.” When I first read this, I assumed it was some kind of joke or satirical essay. Nope. It’s real.

This whole thing is surprising on many levels (most of which I don’t have the room to discuss here). I find that my meager, little brain has a hard time comprehending what’s happening here.

First of all, how can anyone (even a mamoth corporation) accumulate a tax debt that large? Hasn’t Ireland ever heard of withholding? The US Government discovered this little trick eons ago. You’d think the secret would have leaked across the waters before this.

A Random Act of Kindness

Secondly, why is Ireland being forced to do this? According to my sources (the general media), this is not something they actually wanted to do. I’ve never heard of such altruism on the part of ANY government. They should just be left alone. When something good happens, shouldn’t we simply call it a random act of kindness and leave it at that?

The most mystifying part of all this is Apple itself. Why in the world have they agreed to pay all that money? If the Irish don’t really want it, stick it in your back pocket (or maybe more appropriately, your back vault). The only thing I can figure can be summed up in the old saying, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

Apple undoubtedly has the moolah. They certainly have plenty of mine to work with. Most people I know have Apple phones, as I do. Every computer I see in movies and on TV shows (as well as on my desk at home) is an Apple. iPods, iPads, and iWhatevers abound everywhere. Apple has to be rolling in the dough (or else they’re wasting a lot of pocket change). In any case, they’re brandishing it now.

Getting Religion

Or maybe…just maybe…the bigwigs at Apple have finally “got religion.” Stop chuckling and hear me out. Jesus once told the Pharisees to “give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” (Luke 20:25) Could it be that the fat cats are feeling guilty? Could it be that their consciences have gotten the best of them?

Caesar, in the time of Christ, was the Big Kahuna. He was the monarch of monarchs. He was the dictator to end all dictators. In other words, he was the government. Jesus, in no uncertain terms, was telling the Pharisees that it was okay to pay their taxes—even to the hated Romans.

So, it looks like the guys and gals at Apple are doing the right, and Biblical thing. They’re ponying up. Ireland doesn’t want it, the EU (European Union) says they’ve got to collect it, and Apple is getting out the checkbook.

It’s kind of funny in a way. It’s usually the corporations that are getting accused of being greedy. I guess there are a few governments that aren’t all that far behind.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Incessantly Standing in the Way

If you haven’t heard of this guy, you need to check him out. His name is Mason Wells, and he always seems to be standing in the wrong place. He was on the scene at the Boston Marathon explosion, the Paris bombing, and was critically injured during the Brussels terrorist attack. What are the chances?

How could anyone be at all three of these sites of human carnage? Certainly it’s possible due to the time intervals between these events—but probable? I think not. Yet, it’s true.

If I were he, I‘d have a few questions. I’d be asking things like, “Why me?” “Why am I still alive?” “Would anyone care to go for a walk with me?”

Accidentally Present

To be accidentally present for any one of these occurrences would be highly improbable. To be in attendance at all three… Well, you do the math if you know how. Let’s just say, this may be the unluckiest man on the planet (or the most fortunate, depending on how you look at it—he’s still alive, after all).

The real kicker is this. He was an LDS missionary. (No, not an LSD missionary—although, if he told you his story, you might think he was tripping on some hallucinogen). I’m not of the LDS (Latter Day Saint) persuasion; but if I was him, I might consider changing teams. If he were a Roman Catholic, he would probably be canonized already. I’m pretty sure his survival is a documented miracle.

The nice part of Mason’s story is that, although his faith has been sorely tested, it has deepened according to him. I guess trials and tribulations can do that. It’s just that most of our trials are a tad less dramatic than his were. I’ve always heard the third time’s a charm, but c’mon!

Shortly after he began the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said an interesting thing. He told his followers, ““Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11) In other words, if you’re persecuted, count it a blessing.

The Caveat

Well, Mason Wells must ultimately be one of the most blessed guys going. The modern day terrorists seem to be singling him out. If that’s not persecution, I don’t know what is. They seem to have him targeted. Everywhere he goes is ground zero. If it weren’t so scary, it would be funny.

Unfortunately, there was a caveat to what Jesus said about being blessed. Being persecuted alone apparently isn’t enough. You need to be persecuted for his name’s sake. I’m not sure Wells qualifies on that count. Being an “innocent bystander” probably isn’t the same thing. Still, just being there on three separate occasions should count for something. A blessing is a blessing. I suppose he’ll take them any way we can get them.

As for me, I’m looking for an easier route to my blessings. Terrorists aren’t doing God’s work (I don’t care what they say).

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]

Sex and the Single Hurl

It’s quite amazing how many dudes are getting into trouble these days over allegations of sexual harassment. To me, the most astounding part is that when one accusation is hurled, dozens seem to follow. Talk about playing the field. Sheeesh!

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what to make of it all. It won’t be long before we have no more congressmen or entertainers left to speak of (and the ranks of the Catholic priesthood have already been decimated). What’s a mother to do?

I keep wondering when the shoe will drop on me. Oh, don’t worry. It’s not that I’m a sexual predator or anything. In fact, at the ripe old age of sixty-seven (sixty-eight in fifty-six days—but who’s counting), I’m pretty docile. Still, it seems to be happening with regularity to every possible kind of male. Representative John Conyers is not exactly a spring chicken at eighty-eight. It’s getting to the place where I’m afraid to look at anyone sideways.

No Gesture Too Innocuous

An incident took place in my life about twenty-five years ago that I will never forget. I patted a young lady on the shoulder. I know that may sound rather innocuous to some of you, but a person who happened to be watching made the following comment. “That gesture could be misunderstood.”

I remember being put off at the time (and somewhat incensed) to think someone could mistake my intentions from a mere pat on the shoulder. But now, that comment is making more and more sense to me. I haven’t stopped patting people on the shoulder, but I’m keenly aware of the possible consequences.

To make matters worse, I’m a hugger. I hug everyone—men, women, boys and girls (well, not the boys so much…you know how macho teenage boys are). Hugging someone could get me into even more trouble than a pat on the shoulder—just sayin’.

Dirty Old Men

Things seem to be reaching a tipping point as far as hurled accusations are concerned. It seems like every other day, someone is coming out of the woodwork to point a finger at some supposed perv. Dirty old men seem to be the favorite targets at this point, but I doubt it will stop there.

Don’t get me wrong, though. If these guys are guilty, they probably deserve whatever they’ve got coming to them. But for the sanity of us clean old men, we’d like a few, clear guidelines. We used to have a pretty good idea, but the rules seem to be changing. We would hate to inadvertently cross the line simply because we didn’t know where it was.

I suppose we could all attempt to avoid the opposite sex as much as possible. The biggest problem with that, of course, is that there are more of them than there are of us. Plus, it would make for a very dull existence.

As for me, I intend to continue passing out the pats and hugs. Hopefully, nothing will get hurled at me. I’m getting too old to duck.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]