Corporate Religion vs. Faith: Subtitle: The Pope, the Whole Pope, and Nothing But the Pope: Sub-Subtitle: My take on Mans place in Christianity.


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So, I know religious division / sects / labeling / denominations / etc, are confusing and frustrating for those who don’t have a faith. They’re also confusing and frustrating for those who do, trust me. Religion is now widely looked at as more of a status symbol or a club affiliation than a relationship with The Almighty Creator.

“I am a Catholic.” Some say. “We are the original faith, 1.2 Billion strong. Revere me.”

“Oh yeah, well IIIIIIII’m a Lutheran. All the taste, half the ceremony.” Other’s retort.

“Well you’re both wrong,” a third religi-sizer interjects, “I’m a Southern-Baptist, Episcopalian, Charismatic, Faith-Healing, Christian-Scientist, with a side of hash browns. Nail that to your church door and smoke it.”

Sadly, I fear many are missing the point. Can’t see the forest through the trees, or maybe more appropriately, can’t see Christ through the stained-glass and incense.

If I had to label myself, I guess I’d say, I’m simply a follower of Jesus Christ, God incarnate whose ultimate once-and-for-all sacrifice made it possible for me to be forgiven for my plethora of continually compounding sins. So you can call me a Christian. I love and believe in Jesus Christ and Him alone. Period.

The reason I’m writing this piece is the fanatic hoopla that has been made over the Pope’s recent and historic visit to the United States. Every news outlet and media service has been focused on his every move. Every facial expression analyzed, every comment debated by political pundits. He dictates the church’s stance on important issues. He says what is forgiven, and what is not. The Pope offers blessings and absolves you from your shameful sins. He is, after all, the leader and head of over one-billion Catholics on planet Earth; is he not?

Is he? Is he really?

Well, my view is no. No he is not. Close your mouth. I know, how could I, right?

The Pope, the position of the Pope, the institution that has been established by the Catholic Church over the last 1600 or so years has been to elevate Men to glory and power using God as a vehicle. The Pope. His holiness. He is simply a man. Like anyone else. He sins just like everyone else. He has impure thoughts just like anyone else. He needs Jesus’s salvation just like anyone else.

He is no closer to God than anyone else. Read the Bible. [F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) It doesn’t say some have sinned. Or most have fallen short. All.

The fact that the “Catholic Church” has established a paradigm wherein a human man is the conduit for a “believer” to communicate with God, receive forgiveness, and “earn” salvation by works, or saying “Hail Marys” or penance, is appalling and directly against what the simple message of Jesus states.

The Pope is a man, and from what I’ve seen more of a politician than anything else. He is purporting to speak for God, enacting His will here on Earth. Again, if you read the scripture and listen to the message Jesus preached you will see that the institution of the Pope sounds eerily similar to the Pharisees and Sadducees which Jesus denounced time and time again.

They were the Jewish religious leaders of the time and they stood in between you and God. They were the only way you could communicate with The Lord. They dictated thousands of laws and regulations that you were required to keep under threat of banishment or ridicule, and they elevated themselves above all of their “parishioners” with an air of superiority, advanced social status, expensive and gaudy robes and adornments, and political power.

Sound familiar? Hint, hint. Nudge, nudge.

The truth is we all have a direct connection to God. A Fastpass to the front of the line. The Batphone if you will. All you need do is simply speak to Him. No buffer. No ceremony. No regulations. No ritual. All you really need to do is read the Bible to see that the majority of what occurs in the Catholic Church today is not found in the Scripture. It is nearly two millennia of men adding rituals, and road-blocks, and qualifiers, and restrictions to a relationship with Jesus to ultimately glorify themselves.

The Catholic Church is a business. A big, powerful, corporate business. A business with scratch in the political arena, and with a vested interest in global economics.

Now those raised in the Catholic Faith will be appalled to read this. I’m sure many will have a visceral reaction to hearing THE VICOR OF CHRIST being questioned. That is simply because for many Catholics, it was how they were raised. Its indoctrination at its finest and I get it. How dare I lambaste your Pope? How dare I blaspheme his holiness?

Therein lies the problem. He is not “His Holiness”. He is not holy at all. He is a man. The Lord Jesus is holy. The Lord Jesus is King. The Lord Jesus is in charge. Not Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, the 266th Holy Roman Emperor elected by the papal conclave by means of the College of Cardinals.

The Pope cannot forgive you. Nor can he, for example, forgive women who have had abortions (for only 1 year, act now) as he recently stated. The Lord Jesus does that of His own accord. He doesn’t need any help… Last time I checked, He was God.

So I guess the point of this rant is… Anything that takes your eyes off of Jesus and His simple message of love, relationship, and salvation from your sin… Is not Biblical.

Religion vs. Faith and Relationship. Religion says look at me to see how to reach God. Faith simply takes out the middle man (which is what Jesus preached all along). By the way, when Jesus breathed His final completely mortal human breath on the cross, Jerusalem was rocked by a jarring earthquake, “[A]nd the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Mark 15:38)”. The separation between man and God was torn asunder. No middle man. Its symbolic.

The Pope is a politician. Does he say nice things that are good for the world and the majority of people?


Does he kiss children on the forehead and say beautiful blessings over them?


Is he probably a very nice person who loves God in his own way?


Is he the holy mouthpiece of Jesus Christ whom we must look to for a connection to God?



The joys of dining out with young children: A cautionary tale of woe.




Dining out with two children under the age of three is… stressful. No, that’s not quite right.  It’s more like trying to defuse a bomb set on a short timer, that is pressure and impact sensitive, while wearing a blindfold, during an earthquake…  Yah, that’s better.

I asked my (almost) three-year-old son Nixon, “What do you want for dinner?”

His reply, “Pancakes!”

“You can’t have pancakes for dinner…” I reply in my “Dad tone”.


I stood there looking at my son and I have to say I was impressed by his bravado and defiant determination to basically have cake for dinner. I’ll take credit for the stubbornness in his DNA.

“Okay, fine,” I say. (To the pancakes, not the ice cream. He’s not that good.) Breakfast for dinner it is.

As an aside we had our house tented for termites three days ago and just got back in. Due to the poison that was pumped through our home we had to get rid of our food. So in the moment, where do you get a quick, cheap, breakfast for dinner meal? You guessed it, Dennys!

So, back to my original statement. Dining out with two children under the age of three is… stressful. What many people who don’t have children (Or are so far removed from having young children that they’ve simply forgotten what it was like) fail to realize is that when you are dining out with young children you are on the CLOCK.

I sit in the car, looking at the front door of Dennys. Just taunting me. “Hey, come on in,” it says,  “Have a meal with your kids. Relax. It’ll be easy.”

No. No it won’t, Dennys. You’re a big fat liar, Dennys. I look at both boys in the rear-view mirror. They’re restless. Uneasy. Horizon before a big storm uneasy. I can sense the crankiness lying just below the surface, like a hungry crocodile waiting for an unassuming wildebeest to take a sip from a murky riverbank.

I get them out of the car and we start to walk the green mile towards the restaurant.

“Dead man walkin’,” yells an elderly man in plaid pants and red suspenders as we pass him on our way in. Not really, he actually said hello and held the door open for us. We are quickly sat in a booth, the high chair is disinfected with wipes and filled with a fussy ten-month-old with a very short attention span.

Now, as soon as butts hit vinyl, time becomes very precious. Every moment counts. Seconds matter, people! Seriously. My children have an about (depending on the time of day, alignment of the planets, and how close we are from, or coming up on a nap) a twenty, to twenty-two and a half minute shelf-life in a restaurant. Seconds… count.

“Hi how are we today?” “Oh look little ones! How old are they?” “Would you like to start with an appetizer? Drinks?”

Things all well-meaning servers say. She doesn’t sense my urgency. She fails to see the stress on my face. By this point my oldest, Nixon, has taken the saltshaker and poured the entirety of its contents into a powdery pyramid in the middle of the table. As he laughs at his granulated masterpiece he kicks off both of his flip-flops and tells me he has to go pee-pee (he’s potty trained). I look at our server with a defeated sigh and tell her I’d like an iced tea, water and milk for Nixon, and she turns away to get the drinks. Uhh-uh. Get back here!

“NO WAIT!” I yell in a hushed, inside-voice church tone. “I need (not want, or would like… NEED) to order. She looks slightly put out that I’m throwing off her well oiled Dennys order taking routine but she begrudgingly obliges.

Lincoln starts to scream.

I put a spoon in his hand to divert his attention. He gags himself… badly. Its gross.

Nixon informs me that he will only eat “Cookie Ice Cream”, over, and over, and over.

I order pancakes and eggs for my son. He hears me order and promptly offers his protest in the form of a high-pitched squeal that only dogs and bats can hear (Just kidding, everyone in the restaurant heard it! Ha ha… ha… *laughter slowly fizzles out into an embarrassed chuckle… then tears).

Lincoln throws the spoon he’s been gagging himself with towards our server. She simply looks at it on the floor, then back at me. I sigh and blink for a really long time.

“Ill be right back with your drinks.”

Ten minutes in.

Nixon starts to cry.

Lincoln, not wanting to be left out joins in.

I turn to little Link to try to entertain him and Nixon takes the opportunity to grab hold of the sugar packet container near him and he makes it rain.

He laughs. Then screams because he wants to get up. I don’t let him, which only serves to push him to find more creative methods of escape. What’s that you say? Why yes, he did try to wiggle under the table. I hook him with one of my legs as I take an entire napkin out of Lincoln’s mouth. Where did he get a napkin? How?

Sixteen minutes in.

I look up. A rush of hope flows over me. Food! Our glorious food!

We eat, quickly. Nixon chokes on a pancake. Lincoln paints himself in eggs and the blended peas I brought for him.

We finish. Our server takes FOR-EV-ER to bring our check.

Time to leave. Thirty minutes in.

I pick up Lincoln and brush and wipe him off as best I can whilst blocking Nixon in the booth with my hip. He slips past and starts doing hot-laps around the room, garnering cheers from many of the elderly patrons, which only serves to excite him more. He turns on the afterburners.

While clamping Lincoln to my hip, I chase my feral child down. I pick him up by the waist band of his pants and carry him extended from my face like one would hold a rabid ferret, to the cash register. I pay and Nixon sees the “Claw Grabber” toy machine by the front door. Hatred flows through my veins and I think very bad thoughts about the manager that thought it would be a good idea to put that cursed machine so close to my escape route.

He. Loses. His. Ever-loving. Mind.





We’re outside.



Kick Dad in the chest.

Arch unnaturally like they’re possessed by a demon as to make it impossible to buckle the bottom clasp.

Click. Click. Click.

The boys are locked in their car seats. I shut the door and just stand in the silence. Eye’s closed I just inhale and soak in the nothingness of outside. I may have cried a little, I’m not sure. When I open my eyes I am looking directly at a middle-aged couple that are caught mid-laugh. They are laughing at me. The man gives me a knowing nod and they head into the restaurant.

I’m not sure what the point of this story was now that I’m at the end of it. I guess maybe just some comfort for people out there that no, you’re not the only one who’s kids act like that. I feel your pain, and I’m sure many of you out there can relate.

And maybe some advice for those in the hospitality industry. If you see a parent flying solo with young children, give the guy a break and expedite things along. Twenty-Two and half minutes fly’s by pretty quickly.

Nick Gerasimou is a father of two, author, blogger, and teacher based out of South Orange County, Ca.

Copyright 2019 V. Nicholas Gerasimou

Why everyone should train Jiu-Jitsu at least once in their life: (Part 2) -Big Brother Syndrome and Other Things I Was Wrong About-


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In the animal kingdom, many of our undomesticated four-legged friends live and operate in a pack based society. It is basically a tiered hierarchy of power and dominance that delegates the weaker, smaller, and for the most part, younger members of the pack further down the proverbial totem-pole. For anyone who has a younger sibling of the same gender, you get this concept. You understand that without that preordained system the world would just crumble into anarchy. Without the younger sibling willfully accepting his role as the second, chaos would reign. Markets would crash, society as we now know it would be irrevocably altered and a new dark age would be ushered in where up is down, right is wrong and the nuclear family falls apart. Dogs and cats… living together… MASSHYSTERIA!

Sorry (*clears throat, smooth’s out ruffles on shirt and collects himself). As I was saying, as young children, my brother Dean and I had a clearly established relationship. I was the big brother. Period. There you go. Goodnight everybody.

What did that mean you ask? Well, it meant that I, for the most part, got my way. I dictated what we did, who went first, where we sat, the video-games we played (I was ALWAYS player #1… AL-WAYS), the music we listened to and the television shows we watched. Early on in our lives this dynamic was based on physical realities. I am four years older than Dean. At six and ten, or eight and twelve I had a distinct size advantage on the poor kid, and I exploited every ounce of power that afforded me. A foot taller and fifty-pounds heavier goes a long way to winning a “his hand is on my side of the backseat during a long car-ride” or a “he touched me first” argument.

As we grew and the size differential began to equalize, I developed and maintained a Herculean strength advantage which I coupled with a Machiavellian game of psychological warfare that would’ve cracked the most hardened of detainees at Guantanamo. I was the Alpha of our little pack.

(Another aside: I was horrible to him growing up. I could blame a plethora of contributing factors from my childhood, but that doesn’t change the fact that I broke his hand, gave him seven stiches over his left eye and made him cry buckets of salty adolescent tears. Just know that I’ve since apologized, and taken to explaining my motives and such, bit-by-bit. Love you Dean, smooches and hugs, your big-bro, Nick)

Then a strange thing happened. We grew up. I blinked and we had both graduated from college, We both had careers, student loans, and our first gray hairs. Dean and I were close. Much of the tit-for-tat bickering had simply faded away with time and we were left with a friendship.

One day when I was about twenty-eight Dean tells me that he and a few of his friends had started training Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) at this gym up in Irvine and that he loved it. I shrugged and kind of dismissively acknowledged what he’d said.

“Cool,” I think was my heart-felt reply. “It’s kind of like the thing where you roll around on the floor with other guys while you wear pajamas?” I said with a small smirk.

I was met with a flat disapproving stare. Apparently my particular brand of humor was lost on him, “No.”

He proceeded, with limited success, to try to explain to me the finer points of BJJ.

“What if I punch you in the face?” I asked. He was silent for a moment as he pondered my quandary. At the time he was a White Belt with a few stripes. He knew A LOT more than the average person but was relatively speaking, still in his Jiu-Jitsu infancy.

“You wouldn’t be able to,” came his reply.

“Why not?”

“You may get a shot in, but then I would kill you,” he answered.

“Kill me?”

“Yah, I’d choke you out or break your arm.”

Well this… I had to see. He was so smug. So confident. Had he forgotten where he was on the totem pole? Why was he smiling?

ABORT! ABORT! IT’S A TRAP! But alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well. (I had a bet with myself that I could work Shakespeare into this. And… done!)

So, in our childhood bedroom at our parents’ house, the room that we used to share with the bunk-beds (of course I had the top bunk) wayyyy back when I was the Alpha, my baby brother and I got into an impromptu submission wrestling match. Suffice it to say, it did not follow the same script that it used to when we were kids.

My bravado instantly dissolved when my pulling and pushing resulted in next to no movement from my “much too calm for the present situation in my opinion” brother. Dean had somehow transformed himself into an Easter Island Statue and had been instantly superglued to the floor. We traded headlocks and I rolled onto my back. Then the fun began. All of my adrenaline fueled power was simply negated by whatever Black-Magic-Brazilian-Voodoo my little brother was now into. He felt like he weighed a metric ton and no matter what I tried I could not get him off of me.

I played college football darn-it! Back in Junior College I blocked Marcus Steele so well that he actually tried to fight me, and then took himself out of the game and switched the side he rushed from because he couldn’t get to my quarterback (That’s my football claim to fame. For those of you who don’t know, he went on to be a standout linebacker at USC and then played in the NFL for a bit).

I am a little claustrophobic. Being smothered and slowly choked to death is kind of low on my list of daily to-do’s. Panic flooded my brain. I’ve never felt so helpless before. I was completely at the mercy of my baby brother, whom I had so ruthlessly tormented for, oh… I don’t know, most of his life. I tapped. Then tapped again. Then, yup you guessed it, a third time when my elbow felt like it was going to pop out of joint.

I called it quits. We quietly sat there looking at each other, sweat dripping from our brows in thin streams. Something deep and profound had just happened. We both felt it. The student had become the teacher, the Omega was now the Alpha, the kernel was now the pop-corn (I don’t think that last analogy worked).

“Pretty cool stuff huh?” Dean asked with a smile.

Morpheus had just told me that I had been living in the Matrix and if I wanted to, I could choose to learn about a whole new world. The world of BJJ. Well I was hooked.

My first class was a brutal awakening into a world I’ve truly grown to love.

Nick Gerasimou is currently a BJJ Brown-Belt under Juliano Prado, at Total MMA Studios / BTT OC in Tustin CA.

Why everyone should train Jiu-Jitsu at least once in their life: (Part 1)


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Is 30 old? When I was 15 it wasn’t even a question. Yes. Yes, 30 is old. Dinosaur old. Like Great-Grandma listening to George Washington sell 8-track-tapes on the transistor radio during the Civil-War old (you may have to fact-check me on that one). But now, looking back at 30 from wayyyyy up here in the nosebleeds at 36, I can tell you no. No, it’s not. Not even close to old. Now… fifty, that is old. (*Make mental note: In 14 years write a scathing editorial about how 36 year old Me, was a short-sighted condescending young punk). So, 36 isn’t exactly young, but it is definitely not old.

What I have noticed is that things seem to take a little longer to heal when I ding them. Ligaments and tendons are less forgiving. It seems that the cartilage in my knees is now more like wet construction paper than reinforced industrial rubber. Violent, explosive movements carry a higher price-tag than they used to. I actually have to weigh the potential icepick in my joint soreness that “Future-Tomorrow-Nick” will have to endure, that 20 year-old Nick would have done without a second thought or any negative repercussions, when I am about to do something athletically spectacular.

Is 30 old? No. But 30 is when I made the decision to start training BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu). Looking back with salt-and-pepper haired wisdom, with more than over half-a-decade of training under my belt, I wish I had started earlier in my life. What was I doing in my 20’s that was so darned important? Curls? The elliptical? Reverse grip barbell curls so the veins in my forearms would really stand out when I walked down the beach? Sheesh. I want to go back in time and choke that kid out (Also to tell him to stop checking himself out in the mirror and flexing. What an absolute tool).

If only I knew then what I know now. Like my Grandmother used to say, “If, If’s and but’s, were candy and nuts, you’d be a black-belt by now.” At least I think that’s what she used to say. Maybe not. My point is I look at the young guys in my gym today, guys in their 20’s flipping, spinning, arching, flying… and I cringe. I cringe because I just think about how bad my back, or shoulder, or knee, or how now I have this thing with my left hand where it feels like someone is taking a ball-peen hammer and smashing my metacarpals to powder whenever I make a fist, would hurt if I still trained like that.

Then I look at the really young kids and laugh. They are so goofy. They just roll around and have fun and play. The instructors have to make training like a game for them to keep their attention. And it works. And they have a ball. I can’t wait to get my boys in there. But the question I always circle back to and ponder is, where would I be if I started training when I was 6? With three decades of discipline and instruction and Jiu-Jitsu culture. Well, unfortunately for me that wasn’t a possibility.

I grew up in Southern California in the 80’s and came of age in the 90’s. When I was five I sat in awe and watched as Ralph Macchio took on the entire Cobra Kai Dojo, and Crane-kicked his way into the pop-culture lexicon, in The Karate Kid. Deliberate sideways Karate-chops thrown with emphatic, “HIE-YAH”’s were the weapon of choice when battling a foe on the playground.

Everyone you knew had a Brian Williams-esque story (too soon?) about how a while ago, before they moved there (wherever “there” was) and you knew them, they took Karate for a few years and they were almost a black-belt before they had to quit. We all wanted nun-chucks and did our best to build our own elementary school do-it-yourself versions. PVC pipes with a rope, two sticks with a chain screwed to the end of each, or if you were in a pinch you’d grab some forgotten snowflake Christmas wrapping paper, remove the cardboard tube, break that bad-boy over your knee… and voila!

Now I am a tad-bit too young to have seen “Way of the Dragon” at the time of its debut, but Bruce Lee fighting Chuck Norris may have caused a tear in the martial arts space/time continuum. Later in the 80’s Mr. Norris kicked and shot his way through “Missing in Action” and “Delta Force”, and paved the way for the plethora of bulging bicep-ed, kick-throwing, one-line snipping action heroes of the 90’s. But in 1988, The Muscles from Brussels Jean-Claude Van Damme, starred in what I consider to be one the greatest no-holds-barred, mixed martial arts fight movies of all time, “Bloodsport”.

(As an aside: In 1993 when I saw Royce Gracie choke his way through UFC 1 in what I at the time, called Karate Pajamas, I was in awe because one of my favorite movies had just been brought to life.)

That was how I saw Martial Arts. Flashy kicks, and snapping punches thrown in blinding combinations too quick for the eye to see. Whenever you hit someone, Indiana Jones would snap his whip through a two-by-four off-camera. At least that’s how it sounded. The bad guys would always win in the beginning, but then after a severe beating, our hero would gain a powerful, righteous second wind and finish the fight with a dramatic strike that was framed just right for the screen. So went the 90’s, and I left that decade feeling that I had a pretty establish spot on the physical toughness “I can win a fight” hierarchy. I was so horribly misinformed.

Now physically, I am a bigger person. Have been my entire life. I played football in college and excelled at competitive power-lifting. My father was a professional bodybuilder and I literally grew up in a gym. I was raised to believe that the stronger and bigger you were, the tougher you were, the more people you could potentially beat up in a fight. At a touch under six-feet tall and depending on the day, I floated around two-hundred and thirty pounds (still do), I felt pretty confident in my abilities. I got into a few scuffles in college (mostly with drunk idiots), and I bounced at a few nightclubs to earn some extra cash once football season ended. I was tough I tell you. Tough.

I wouldn’t learn how truly un-tough I was until close to a decade later in my life when I began my martial arts journey. But the story of my BJJ beginnings is a story for another time. Stay tuned.

Nick Gerasimou is currently a BJJ Brown-Belt under Juliano Prado, at Total MMA Studios / BTT OC in Tustin CA.