Sorry for the late comment on this one Matt. Felt this piece, thanks. My goldendoodle, Molly, just turned 11. She's always been completely at peace getting misted with blowing rain as lightning strikes nearby. Many great memories on our back screened porch, and with people still thinking she's 5 or 6, with God's will (I don't deserve it Lord, but You know she must!), hopefully many more.

I'm one of those weird Twitter weather weirdos that has thousands of posts on a regional weather forum. I like to think Molly is the canid equivalent.

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My wife doesn’t understand my love & enjoyment of our porch looking out onto our backyard & woods. Weekend mornings drinking coffee & evenings sipping bourbon. My chocolate lab chasing deer out of the yard with great joy & much barking. The incredible display of lightning bugs every summer. I miss it every winter & rejoice when I’m able to go back onto it in the spring. It is my favorite part of home.

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You certainly did cover all the bases and brought great joy to our home. My wife and I almost hurt ourselves laughing when reading about your dad’s conversational mode, since we find ourselves,frequently, there. But no, it wasn’t done with us yet-there we were, on our porch having another one of those conversations, almost terminally laughing at ourselves. The old one, two.

Also, your sharing of your life with the tribe within was very moving-tears around and maybe some sobbing too.

Thank you for this piece!

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This one resonates deeply! I have always wished for a wrap around porch, but my deck provides the solitude and sanctuary that I need. It is in the company of the birds and my 9.5 year old boxer by my side, where I feel at ease. Our deck overlooks a small garden space in raised beds; a labor of love each and every year. Thank you for reminding me to take the time to pause, reflect and be grateful for these spaces.

That historical hotel in Cape May is divine! Thank you for such an entertaining read - one that I so needed today!

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ML, like you, I appreciate my good dog, the autumn season, a good drink (whiskey for you, tequila or gin for me, but not both together, yet I've never tried both together, and I always seek innovation so I'll now try both together), and quiet time to reflect. To be thankful and appreciate life. Enjoy the porch, Solomon, and what pleases you. Don't let fall pass you by. Don't let life pass you by.

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Oh my God (not in vain) - while reading the set up for today’s post I followed the link to this one, hating to go out of order, like the OCD creative I am. Now my intermittent crying (one wave from the dogs passing the baton, then another from Bill mowing, oblivious to dying and the boys filling the man-sized hole) - you’ve flayed me. Time to go out on my own porch, but my Old Fashioned will need extra sugar and bitters, because it gives life (and the whiskey) more flavor. 💔

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I've gotta hand it to you: you really know how to read the room! Took me a couple days to get to it, but it's pitch-perfect for the last few days before the autumnal equinox.

After spending too long yesterday on a garage paint job where attention to detail wasn't required, your mention of scraping, sanding, repainting/varnishing railing spindles reminded me just how much sorer my back could be right now...

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you nailed it

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Deb thanks. It is not hard to honor those that love and loved unconditionally. I have said this before and I will continue to say it until my last breath

"I have been blessed and am the luckiest man in this world"

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O yes Billy

you are the luckiest man in this world

because you actually realize

how you have been blessed

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Sep 16, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

Great read. Thanks Matt

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Sep 16, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

Great read. I love me a good porch and a good dog.

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Sep 16, 2022Liked by Matt Labash

Man, now I wish our house had a porch, instead of a concrete slab and some planters out front.

You find beauty and meaning in the mundane Matt, and I really appreciate that. Thanks for what you do.

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I continue to be somewhat baffled by your belief in the Biblical God. Maybe it's your relative youth and the scales have not yet fallen from your eyes. Or maybe I stopped believing because I have given in too fully to reason (although I'm prepared to accept the possibility that the God I do not believe in might be stronger than my disbelief), but given your belief, the Book of Job should trouble you deeply.

It contains the most words spoken by God directly in any of the books of the Bible, and probably beats their combined word count by a factor of five or more. God goes on a tear in Job, and it ain't pretty. (The lines you quote are but a majestic and benign snippet.)

To recap, God is giving an audience to group of angels, and Satan is among them. (?!) God asks Satan where he's been. Satan says that he's been walking to and fro on the earth. God says, Did you check out my faithful servant, Job? Satan says, Yeah, saw him. So what? God says, You weren't impressed? Satan says, Why should I be? You heaped all sorts of blessings on him. Take them away, and he'll curse you. God says, Au contraire! You may go fuck with him all you want, but you cannot lay a hand on him personally. You'll see.

So what do we have here? God is essentially using Job to prove a point to Satan. Why would God feel the need to justify himself to anyone, much less Satan? And why does Job have to suffer so God can win this ego bet?

So Satan, being Satan, has all Job's crops burned down (and the servants tending them burned to death, too), his oxen and camels stolen (and the servants tending them put to the sword), and his brother's house blown down by the wind -- killing the brother and all his sons and daughters. No complaints here from God, by the way. What are the lives of scores of servants and a whole family when a wager with Satan is on the line?

Job, as you would expect, complains mightily. He doesn't specifically blame God (preserving God's bet), but he does ask why he has been singled out for such catastrophes and tragedies.

So comes now God with his boffo speech (Where were you when I laid the four corners of the earth, shut in the sea with doors, brought forth the leviathan and behemoth, etc.?), and the fun stuff you quote.

But there's a far less seemly part, that extends much longer:

God berates Job for whining:

"Gird up your loins like a man;

I will question you, and you will declare to me.

Have you an arm like God,

and can you thunder with a voice like his?

Deck yourself with majesty and dignity;

clothe yourself with glory and splendor.

Pour forth the overflowings of your anger,

and look on everyone that is proud,

and abase him.

Look on everyone that is proud,

and bring him low;

and tread down the wicked where they stand.

Hide them all in the dust together;

bind their faces in the world below?"

Well, gee. No, God, I can't.

So, Job being adequately cowed and Satan proven wrong, God restores all Job's wealth, by a multiple, and gives him an abundance of sons and fair daughters, and a long life, full of days.

But that's scant comfort to Job's dead brother and family and all the dead servants who were pawns in this sordid show of force.

Like a good reporter, you need to ask the follow-up questions. Next time you're on the porch, yelling at God, bring up the Job thing again. Say you got some more questions. Say Ray wants to know.

But watch out!

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Hey Ray. I just spent a half an hour typing out a quasi-answer to this. But I liked the question so much, that I think I'm going to use it in my next Ask Matt. (Why waste it in the comments section?) That's my feeling tonight, anyway, two bourbons in. If I change my mind in the morning, in the cold light of a 0.0 BAC reading (two bourbons is not nearly enough to make me drunk), I will type that answer here. Otherwise, look for it in my next column. It won't satisfy you, I predict, but it will address you. You will be seen! As the kids say.

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I'll be looking forward to this. Uncharacteristically (for the hour) not being any bourbons in when I saw this a bit earlier, I thought better of the impulse to post a few words. Glad I did, since you handle your liquor better than I do.

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Dear Matt:

Regrettably, two bourbons is just a warm-up for me. Red wine and cognac as the night progresses gets me comfortably numb, but not drunk. These days, that’s a far shore to swim to, and most nights I’m too tired too put in the effort. Tonight, though, I ’m close.

Fortunately, I don’t need to be satisfied in anything, but I welcome being challenged. (I take that back; satisfaction is critically important in many aspects of life, particularly marriage, but not in the realm of ideas. I remain abjectly unsatisfied in my understanding of what the eff is going on in this thing we’ve been given, but I relish the bright, flashing lights of a different perspective. It helps pass the time between drinks.)

As I’ve said, I’m pretty convicted that there is no God in the way that you conceive of him/her/it/they. On the outside chance that I’m wrong, please don’t mention my name. I would prefer not to be seen.

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Dear Ray,

I admire your guts

in laying out how you see

the question of God.

I also admire your guts

in welcoming challenge.

I am a Christian who would not

be welcome in most churches.

I reject the entire idea that God

is to be feared.

I do not fear God and never will.

God, to me, is full of love,

comfort, and forgiveness.

He is not some cruel vengeful judge.

The view of God put forward in Job,

in much of the Old Testament,

and even in some rants falsely attributed to Jesus, is to me a load of vicious crap.

So is the assertion that every word of the Bible is The Word if God.

If it is, I join you in being Outta Here.

But it isnt.

The vicious stuff

was written by humans!

We are all at least half vicious

and some of us are damn near

ALL vicious.

I have treated many such humans

in the high security forensic hospital

I used to work in

till the heat got too hot

in the kitchen.

But God is not vicious.

God is not to be feared.

God is gentle and kind.

So how can know what part

of the Bible is God speaking?


Take any part of scripture

and ask yourself:

Does it bring new life into my life?

Does it bring light that makes me weep with it's beauty?

Does it startle me

and open my blind eyes?

Does it tenderly lift me up

to become a better person ?

To grow into a person

filled with grace

and tenderness

and compassion?

If it does,

that's God talking.

If it doesn't --

if it's mean,

if it fills me with fear,

if it makes me feel seasick,

if it reads like a horror movie

(like the monster God in Job

you so aptly describe)


That's the lying voice

of the sadistic side of us humans.

Commonly known as "the devil."

And i sure as hell

will never worship

at the altar

of that beast.

Bravo that you won't either, Ray.

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"I.P. Freely?" Other? Just pick a winner. It can be plain-Jane. In fact, it could be "Plain Jane."

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I hear you. Pick an alias, then. Or should I just use "R.B." if I proceed? "Chuck E."?

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“Chuck E’s In Love,” or does that date me?

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That'll work. Plus, a good song.

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And the poem, maybe Lowell’s “After the Surprising Conversions”?

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All depends on one’s point of view. I find the Book of Job wonderfully subversive. Why do bad things happen to good people? Who knows? Even God can’t explain it. And those people who do try to piously lecture on the subject are full of excrement.

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Except in the case of Job, we know exactly why bad things happened to good Job: God instructed Satan to test him. Job passes the test (but just barely) and gets rewarded. Job's brother and his brother's family, and scores of Job's servants, are collateral damage and lose their lives. Pretty bad things happening to innocent people, no? And we know who did it and why.

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This is a good'un!

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Also, I was in Cape May with 7 of my 40-something girlfriends last weekend. We spent many an hour on a porch on Jackson street contemplating life and people watching. It was an amazing weekend.

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Love me some Jackson Street. Almost as much as Hughes, a few blocks over. Try to ride bikes down it as many times as we can while there, since it has some of the prettiest houses/porches per capita in America. Also, the Ebbitt Room bar at the Virginia Hotel on Jackson is a great spot. Even if the restaurant is ridiculously overpriced.

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Yes, never take life for granted 🙏🏼

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Sep 16, 2022·edited Sep 16, 2022

Funny you should write this now. I know it's coincidence (or is it? ) however, my wife & I just made the decision to move back home to Indiana. In looking at houses I made two stipulations: one is a seperated workshop and the other, on which I will not compromise, is a west facing porch. Going to have her read this to support my desires.

Edit to add: brings back memories of my college days living off campus, sitting on the porch with the guys beer in one hand joint in the other watching the storms roll in.

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your sublime stipulations

shall serve marital bliss

(and I won't... back... dayown

T Petty)

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I once wrote about 2600 words about how the front porch will save the world. This article inspired me to dust it off, fix a broken link or two.

The truth is, we don't sit on enough of them, and we in turn don't build enough of them. We're too focused on building garages, with buttons to push, to ensure we are shielded from the rest of the world. I think the lack of porches in many modern homes shows our priorities. We value highways, including information super ones, more than we value a moment to wave at our neighbor, or perhaps sit next to them on a porch listening to the heavens, or sometimes. Each other.

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I once heard a sermon in which the pastor mused about how our problems relating to other people in today's culture has to do--at least in part--with the relative absence of porches in modern housing, and the proliferation of decks. We're out back, where no one sees us, instead of out front, facing our neighbors.

So I think you're onto something Daniel.

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You know what Steve, my first house had a nice porch and swing that we would sit on for all hours of the day. The neighbors would do the same.

Our current house lacks a porch and it took coronavirus for the neighbors to get to know each other.

It was the best thing that happened to us to develop close friendships with people mere feet away from us.

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beautifully spoken

thank you Daniel

I would love to read your article

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Thank you, Deborah! I'm not one to hijack a comments section for self promotion, so hopefully this comment will be buried so deep it won't get me blocked or thrusted into Labash Purgatory.

The article is right here: https://www.danielkherndon.com/how-the-front-porch-will-save-the-world/.

I would love to hear your thoughts afterward.

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thank you, Daniel!

don't sweat it if you

land in the Purg

I know how to pick a lock

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I read your article on how the front porch will save the world.

Your analysis is fascinating.

As Steve P. says above,

I think you:re onto something.

You offer a simple but profound,

exciting and doable solution

to our fundamental problem:

our ignorant uncaring insular disconnection from each other.

I also read your article on Putin.

It is a brilliant original analysis.

You pinpoint exactly what we failed to learn from Sept 11:

the vital and urgent necessity

of the pre-emptive strike.

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