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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our eighth calendar year
    PCR #376  (Vol. 8, No. 23)  This edition is for the week of June 4--10, 2007.

J. Lamar McMichael -- Forgiven  by William Moriaty
"Knocked Up"  by Mike Smith
Gals & Gays -- How They've Betrayed Cult Cinema  by Andy Lalino
Why Am I Smiling?...This And That....Return of The Big Macca....Big Week In TV....Whatever happened To -- ? Chapter 21: J. T. Walsh  by Mike Smith
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J. Lamar McMichael -- Forgiven

What does it take to attain true and lasting happiness? contentment? fulfillment? tranquility? security? the respect and acceptance of others?

What price is a person willing to pay for these life affirming attributes? In what form is this payment to be made?

What is a person willing to do to others or allow others to do to them to reach any or all of these attributes?

Can these attributes be made possible without sacrificing one's ethics or moral values?

Can a person pursue these attributes and still dispense mercy, kindness, compassion, honesty, love, integrity, empathy and trust in their relationship with one another?

Does or should a person have a moral compass in the first place before setting out to pursue these attributes?

These are all questions that some time in our life we should meditate on and, after careful and honest thought, introspection and deliberation, arrive at a defend able conclusion that will define what our true character is while on this earthly sojourn and be the benchmark as to who and what we really are and not just appear to be.
Most all of us want what we call the "good things" in life, but the "good things" in life are a very subjective and individual matter.

Some believe that the good things in life include living in the suburbs, having a family, possessing many material objects such as an SUV, a luxury home, a well-managed landscape, the best clothes money can buy, the finest schools for one's children, a cigarette boat, a swimming pool and a time share condominium. Others believe that the good things in life center around more simple and spiritual things such as church, faith in God, time spent with family and friends, home cookin', admiring the beauty of nature and seeing the beauty and promise with every new day in the rising and setting sun that marks the passing of our time on this wondrous planet.

I guess I fall pretty squarely into that second category, and always really have. But at one time I allowed that love of life and viewpoint to be corrupted.

I held to a false belief that was created and fueled upon receiving news in 2001 that my wife was going to receive a sizable inheritance after her mother had passed away in 2000. I contemplated that I would retire work early in life, that I would have the monetary resources to indeed buy a cigarette boat or a luxury car - - that I would become the newest member of those "elite" who appear to enjoy the more material "good things" in life. That inheritance was, however, invested into what we later found out to be a fraudulent securities scheme called PhyMed Partners, Inc., masterminded by one J. Lamar McMichael, then of Altamonte Springs, Florida. I wrote seven stories about this tragic affair in PCR numbers 166, 167, 168, 282, 302, 328 and 346.

But things are different now.

No more words need to be written or spoken as this will be the last.

The slate of my life concerning this matter and several others has been wiped clean, spotless, shiny and new.

I have found it in my heart to forgive J. Lamar McMichael and all of those associated with that debacle whether through default or design, but I will confirm that getting here wasn't easy.

In the three year period that followed this catastrophe I withdrew into my own personal hiding place. I began to avoid people, even some of my best friends, in fear of being hurt or taken advantage of. I began to view life only in the most cynical way and I formed a total distrust and even antipathy toward my fellow man.

In October 2004 I confided in Denis Lebrun that I was spiritual wreckage. Not only had my family life grown abysmal, but four married couples who were best of friends were all going through divorces at this same time.

I can easily understand now why God hates divorce.

In addition to this the political climate of the nation had become very extreme and visceral and then I heard the news that my preacher, Gary Ogden, a man that I had held in the highest and utmost of respect and love for was diagnosed with colon cancer. The state and much of my life's work was ravaged as a succession of hurricanes struck between 2004 and 2005.

To put it point blank, my life between 2003 and 2006 was a total shambles - - I not only found it impossible to live with this succession of tragedy, I was beginning to hate myself for what I was becoming in response to it.

In February of this year I had breakfast with one of best and dearest friends, Susan Hughes. She could sense over time the course that my life was taking and was concerned with the long term effect it would have on me and even my marriage if allowed to continue. In a very frank and impassioned discussion with me Susan forced my heart to admit what it already knew for several years - - that things cannot continue as they are or the consequences for me and those I love would be disastrous.

I knew right then what I had to do - - it was time to get my life back on track and get right with God once again.

A series of epiphanies began to touch my heart and embrace my soul...

I can be better or I can be bitter.

I can once again bless and heal myself and all others of humankind or I can continue to eviscerate and condemn myself and all others of humankind.

The first step I took was to write a letter to Gospel preachers Louis Wallen III and Gary Ogden explaining the many tribulations that were vexing my life and seeking their counsel and advice. Gary Ogden, who like me, lives in Plant City and preaches at the Church of Christ on Wilder Road was the first to respond. Not long after receipt of my letter we had a wonderful discussion where I reaffirmed what I had to do to head once again in the direction of spiritual salvation.

I had to truly get right with God, pray for the forgiveness of those who had hurt me and get back on the path that I chose in June 1987 of accepting Jesus Christ in my life as my personal Savior and regardless of what fate may befall me, walking and living in a manner that would honor His sacrifice for me.

I grew to understand on that night with Gary Ogden that I can overcome and not be overwhelmed or overwrought.

That I can overcome and not succumb.

I grew to understand and finally believe that regardless of what has happened to me, or what others think about me or say about me, what matters the most is what I think and how I react, and that regardless of what evil others (including me) would do, God is in control and that the righteous will prevail.

I am pleased beyond words to report that Gary Ogden is cured of what was a Stage 4 colon cancer.

Yes, I believe that miracles still happen and do every day.

...and yes, sometimes the good guys still prevail, and folks there ain't much better of a good guy than Gary Ogden.

I am also pleased beyond words to report that through the love of Jesus Christ I too am cured and finally at peace with myself. I have in turn decided to dedicate myself to helping others find that peace that comes through faith, belief and communion with God.

And so it goes.

J. Lamar McMichael I forgive you - - I pardon you - - and I unconditionally sign your spiritual release.

My forgiveness does not mean that there will not be consequences on this earth or on judgment day for your actions, but on my behalf I set you free.

You chose your path and it brought shame and ruin to you.

I rediscovered and my path and calling and it has brought the joy, blessings and redemption that only the forgiveness of Jesus Christ makes possible. If you want to walk this path with me, I would be so honored to hear from you.

Many worse things have happened to others than myself - - Bruce Murakami witnessed his wife Cindy and daughter Chelsea being burned to death in a street racing related auto accident in November 1998 and found it in his heart to forgive teenager Justin Cabezas who was responsible for the deaths (http://www.touchedby.com/article_sptimes_072502.htm).

The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was stoned to death, and of course Jesus Christ died a horrific and lonely death of crucifixion on a cross on Calvary. In both instances they cried out words to the effect of "Forgive them Father, they know not what they're doing!"

They forgive and I can forgive - - I must forgive - - it is the true character of what I am. The true benchmark of what I choose to be.

So what truly matters to me?

A cigarette boat or my wife?

A luxury home on the water or a loving relationship with immediate relatives?

A monetary fortune or the riches found in my friends and Christian brethren?

Friends like my wife, Karen Cashon and our immediate family, the Frontiero's; friends like Susan Hughes, Denis Lebrun, Kathy Caffentzis, Beth Blechscmidt, John Blechschmidt, Tommy Winnett, Betty Helen Longhi, Bob Scheible, Nolan Canova, Harry Wise, Lisa Clardy, Diane Petteway, Ron and Sarah Melone, the Colannino family, Gustavo Perez, Dave and Debbie Carter, Jennifer Moore, Joel and Cathy (spelled it right this time, sorry about the last time Cathy!) Wynkoop, Brendan and Anna McWilliams, Terence Nuzum, Vinnie Blesi, Andy Lalino, ED Tucker, Mike Smith, Matt Drinnenberg, and many others that I may have overlooked. In addition there is Gary Ogden and my Christian family at the Plant City Church of Christ.

What an honor to know these people! What a blessing!

These people, my many blessings, all of these are the true riches and all of these are irreplaceable treasures from God.

No one could be more blessed for I am truly the richest man alive!

"La Floridiana" is ©2007 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.