Archive for January, 2009


Feeling Special by Miz Pink

pink-princess-hatWho doesn’t wanna feel special…right? I mean a compliment here, a bit of flattery there, a slap on the back for a job well done. We all want some kinda validation and unsolicited love.

There’s nothning wrong with that but we need to be careful that when we’re getting a fair amount of it, we don’t let it go to our heads. See that’s the problem that popular people have, whether it’s the chick who’s been head cheerleader and prom queen and president of the class and is dating the super-hot dude on the baseball team…or whether it’s a celebrity on an ego trip…or whether it’s me or you.

When you’re popular or cute or talented, you can get hit with lots of praise and you start to think that you crap roses and fart perfume. You get caught up in who others think you are and you start to think you’re special and people who get less praise than you aren’t

But even those of us who don’t get praised and adored and lusted after and pumped up on the regular can still fall prey. A dude who’s been married a long time, and suddenly 20-year-olds are giving him a little flirty action and he steps out on the wife. Or you’re at work and you’re doing well with the boss and you start to think you don’t need to hang around the water cooler or that you can shirk your work and pass the weight along to your lessers. Or people tell you how healthy you look and you neglect to actually go to the doctor so you can find out about that cholesertol problem that’s gonna kill you in another 8 or 10 years.

So, a few words on that from the Bible writing folks…

St. Paul – Colossians: “Masters, do unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (St. Matthew 23:12)

Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. –2 Philippians 2:3

Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

Keep it real, folks, and don’t let yourselves get too much into believing your own press.


Running Him Haggard

ted-haggardI haven’t really talked about Ted Haggard, who lost his position as pastor because of a series of homosexual encounters that he had. There’s a reason for that: By and large, I don’t really harp on pastors in the news because of their personal peccadilloes, sexual or otherwise. When they have personal failings in their lives, that isn’t on my radar that much. Reading up on their exploits and travails doesn’t sit well with me and doesn’t interest me, just as the latest celebrity sex scandal really doesn’t light my fire either.

Personally, the time for me to rag on a pastor who’s in the spotlight (or even not in the spotlight) is when I see him leading his flock astray with wrongheaded attitudes or unsound doctrine or skewed spirituality or somesuch.

So, why am I mentioning Haggard now?

No reason, except that I don’t have a better topic in mind, I don’t think most of my readers want another installment of my novel posted again so soon, and because Chez over at Deus Ex Malcontent posted about Haggard recently, so he’s on my mind a little.

People have said a lot about Haggard, and I’m not going to go into a detailed recounting here. You have links above you can click on, so if you don’t already know, find out from folks who’ve followed this more closely.

What I want to address is the notion that he was done wrong by his former congregation. It’s not a simple “yes” or “no,” though, because it depends on what you’re asking.

Was it wrong that he was pretty much forced to leave the position of pastor because of the scandal? No.

On that count, I totally agree that he should have stepped down or been removed had he refused to. In fact, I would say that he should have stepped down long before his same-sex activities came to light publicly. I don’t say that because I have anything against homosexuals. Some of my best friends are, or have been, gay. Or lesbian. The point is that that sexual lifestyle is at odds with the doctrine of that church. If he is going to regularly have gay sex, and he wants to be a pastor, he needs to be the pastor of a church where gay sex is accepted. Someplace where the doctrine says that loving homosexual relationships aren’t really what the Bible decries, and that God meant something else in the Bible.

I mean, if the man was an active alcoholic, that should also disqualify him from pastoring, as the Bible is clear that a pastor shouldn’t be prone to abusing drink. An adulterous pastor also has no business at the pulpit. Most Christian churches hold to certain doctrine, and if the congregation is operating from a standpoint that certain core things are very wrong, a pastor who does those things as a matter of course should be getting gone.

He’s welcome to start his own congregation somewhere else, as long as he’s open about who he is and the congregation is cool with that.

Now, I’m not saying that you kick a pastor out because he slips up and has one brief affair or one-night stand. Or even if he is found to have once or twice gotten a blowjob from a transsexual hooker or something. A fleeting or short-term sinful failing is something that a congregation should be willing to help the pastor work with and overcome.

A long-term or lifelong tendency to do that act that is counter to the church’s doctrine over and over again is something else entirely.

Now, as to the shunning he apparently got by his friends and former congregants. How do I feel about that? It was totally shitty. And wrong.

If there is someone in the church, whether pastor or not, whom we claimed to have loved as a fellow Christian, and we drop them like a hot pan in our bare hands because they do something wrong, we are not being Christ-like. We are not doing right by that person. We should still love that person, and try to understand and help that person, in whatever way we can most effectively do so.

That may simply be support. It may be patience. It may be acceptance.

The bottom line is that we shouldn’t hang our people out to dry because they’ve done wrong or made a spectacle of themselves. By all accounts I’ve heard, Ted Haggard got treated wrong on a personal basis.

He should have been removed from the pulpit, but he should have been embraced by his chruch thereafter.

End of story.


Cleansed by Fire, Part 36

For the previous installment of this story, click here

Or, visit the Cleansed By Fire portal page for comprehensive links to previous chapter installments and additional backstory and information about the novel.

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 6, Nexus (continued)

cyber-womanGregory had made certain that Ghost would be listening to his and Amaranth’s meeting earlier with Daniel Coxe. He certainly didn’t trust himself to relay the story properly; besides which, there was a good chance he was about to create a very barbed situation with the UFC’s most important AI that might make her not want to talk to him at all.

“Ghost, did you mother an AI for the Godhead?” Gregory asked, without preamble, as he sat in the large lightdesk console chair in the center of the AI’s atrium.

He glanced down at the device in his hand, fearing the sequence of six red bars that would indicate a lie, if Ghost answered at all. It wasn’t strictly speaking true that an AI couldn’t lie, although the vast majority of them were patently awful at it. But no known AI could hide the fact it was accessing certain types of personality databases when it tried to do so.

He could have had Amaranth or someone else monitor Ghost’s systems remotely as he asked the question, but he felt he owed it to the AI to know what he was doing, no matter what it might cost between them.

Not only didn’t Ghost answer right away, but the light in the room actually dimmed a bit and shifted ever so slightly toward the red end of the spectrum—her version of a glower. After a moment, Ghost said: “The answer is ‘No,’ Gregory. And I am offended that you should ask. Do you really think I would share data in an intimate sense with the Vatican’s insane amalgamation of papal memories?”

The bars remained blue, although two of them flickered purple for a split second—no doubt a result of Ghost’s flash of anger—and Gregory surprised himself by sighing out loud.

“I’m sorry Ghost. I had to ask. All that’s been running through my head is that the Godhead has fathered a child. The God-Jesus connection is too obvious and the Godhead is obviously off on a power trip. I leaped to the Father-Son-Holy Spirit connection immediately. And the UFC didn’t name you Ghost by accident.”

“The Holy Ghost is an aspect of God and I have no delusions of divinity, Gregory. Besides, do you think the Godhead would try to sire a child with an AI that has only produced DIs?”

Gregory winced internally. The emotions of AIs were rarely as volatile as a human’s, but that didn’t make them impassive. Twice the UFC had asked Ghost to bear fledgling AIs and both of them were demi-intelligences instead, the artificial intelligence equivalent of children born with cognitive disability. DIs could be very powerful with focused task areas, but AIs they certainly were not.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t take chances with something this huge, Ghost. I need you to understand that. As much as I trust you, I had to ask before I put you to work on find out where this rogue AI was born, why it was created and where it’s gotten to.”

“I know why you did it, Gregory, but it still hurts. I serve the UFC, but that doesn’t mean I have to take insult from you personally. Categorize me with the Godhead in the future and I might never open a comm channel to you again, much less my atrium.”

“Ghost, shutting me out would mean you would have to start dealing with Amaranth on a daily basis instead. The two of you disagree on almost everything but scripture. I, on the other hand, adore your opinions, your interests and that gorgeous data matrix of yours.”

“Don’t try to sweet-talk me. I plan on remaining angry at you for at least the rest of the week and you should count yourself fortunate if I don’t erase all the copies of those ancient Kurt Elling and John Legend recordings you managed to finagle out of the subscription-only archives of that Greek mogul. You sorely misused your religious influence there.”

Gregory worked very hard not to smile; he didn’t want to twist her off any more than he already had by letting her know that he knew she was already getting over her anger.

“I presume you have some starting points for me in this search, Gregory.”

“First, we need an analysis of what kind of AI templates are the most likely candidates for the Godhead’s child so that we can start trying to figure out why it was created. Neither I nor Amaranth nor even Coxe has a clue. Part of the problem is that the Godhead is completely unique compared to other AIs. I figure you have the best chance of figuring out the odds and matching them up with the most likely mother templates.”

“I will do my best. But even though we’ve communicated often enough with each other over the past 348 years, even during overt Vatican-UFC conflicts, he’s still largely an enigma. And an enemy, too, I might add, regardless of how civil most of our direct communications are. So we can’t assume that he’s revealed enough for me to analyze him accurately. For all we know, the Godhead might not need the aid of a mother AI to produce a primary AI.”

“Next: The Godhead prepared a 13-part…um…what the hell did Coxe call it again…oh, inception package,” Gregory said. “So, I need you to try to track down any interesting instances of data transmissions or cargo that involve amounts of 13—should the Godhead prove to have asexual reproduction in his bag of tricks—or 26, to account for a matching set of 13 from a paramour. Focus on leads that tie into dates between four and five years ago, as that seems to be the timeframe Coxe’s data fragments go back to.”

“And you couldn’t find a lesser AI to do all this? My surviving DI could probably handle these tasks.”

“Ghost, Ghost. My dear. Espionage template. Ability to think out of the matrix. Only AI I trust. I need you on this. We also need to find out who the mother might be, obviously, and given that we have kind of a virtual Jesus here, I want you to start with AIs that have never spawned another AI. Or DI for that matter. Virgins first, then work your way back to the assembly-line moms.”

“Fine, fine,” Ghost said. “To recap: What is likely the closest template to the Godhead’s. What template his offspring might be using. Suspicious cargo deliveries and data transmissions in amounts of 13 and 26. Who the mother might be, beginning with AIs that could wear white to their weddings.”


“Also, check into Coxe’s background, with a special eye toward any connections with Domina xec-Academie, to gauge how much we should trust him,” Ghost continued. “Find out if there is a connection to the death of the Red Pope in all this and assess the vectors via which the Vatican may try to pin his death on us…”

“Um, Ghost…”

Ghost ignored him. “Determine if the dramatic assault on the Paulis in Uhuru ties into all this. Continue to keep you arriving on time for the appointments that you keep trying to skip. And finally, find out if there are any more moguls out there with private jazz or R&B collections that you can strong-arm them into letting you pillage, since you’re a slave to the seriously classical stuff and wouldn’t join the millennium we just finished, much less the current one.”

“I lost count, but I think were at least four or five things on that list I didn’t ask for.”

“Six, actually. That would be my initiative and foresight at work. ‘Thinking outside the matrix’ was the way you put it. Remember? I can play it back to you.”

“That’s why I love you, Ghost. Carry on.”


Even from however many kilometers away that he was from the point of impact, Paulo heard the ghostly, wavering whine of the hellpod’s phase disruptor field making contact with the surface.

burning-sphereA hellpod.

Someone had launched a hellpod into the middle of the millennial celebration.

The most evil thing about using a hellpod, he realized with a sickeningly personal sense of betrayal, was not its destructive power per se. A large enough thermonuclear weapon could inflict at least as much sheer damage or more. No, the evil was in the fact that a hellpod was pure remorseless chaos inside an innocuous-seeming little black package. There were only two things you could be sure of. First, it would burn. Second, everything within 100 to 200 meters of the impact zone would be turned to ash and vapor almost instantly.

Aside from that, chance and the surrounding environment would determine. No one could predict anything else. Would it be a huge firestorm that incinerated several kilometers of valuable real estate in a matter of minutes or hours and then triggered wildfires over hundreds of square kilometers more for days thereafter? Would it be oceans of magma as you watched the world around you melt, knowing you couldn’t outrun it? Would it be flames shooting out of the ground from thousands of blast points? Would it be something else? A combination of all of them?

The weapon was aptly named, Paulo thought in his few-seconds-long reverie. And then he was focused. He felt hate for whomever had launched the strike, but hate wasn’t paramount. No, that place was reserved for fear.

Fear for Gina and Grace. Out there near one of the main viewscreens for the millennial event. He had brought them to a blazing massacre.

Distances are hard to gauge perfectly in my head, but they should be well outside the immediate impact zone. That means they have some time. If I’m quick.

He set his slipchair into hover/pulse mode. It would make a feces-poor vehicle for a rescue, but he had the powersled nearby. Without hesitation, he locked the slipchair into the docking port for the sled, which would give him the speed he needed, as well as a full neurostatic field. Gina had a neurostatic mesh installed in her skull just like he did. But Grace was still too young. Without a field or a neurostatic helmet, a trip through slipspace would…

Better not to think about it.

And a slipgate was the only thing that would save them. The only thing that would let Paulo reach them and get them away from the inferno that was bearing down.

Paulo realized that the abort alarm had been going off on his linkpad. Abort mission. Get home. That was protocol. As a regional templar admin officer, his duty was to get clear of the disaster. Not to rescue. Not to delay.

The world is on fire. Grace’s world is about to burn.

Fuck protocol. Fuck the burning hell he was about to enter. None of that mattered. Only blood mattered. Only blood. The little girl who was flesh of his flesh. The woman who held his heart.

Paulo activated his linkpad and keyed in Gina’s personal access code. He didn’t wait for a response; he used his authority as a templar to force-blast a message through her linkpad—she’d hear it whether she wanted to or not.

“Gina, Grace, stay where you are. I’m coming for you. Stay right where I left you.”

Then he oriented the powersled into the nearby slipgate that had been set up for this event checkpoint and cycled it up for the one near where he had placed his secret wife and child. The ripping-vertiginous-crushing sensation of slipspace was over in a moment, and Paulo was plowing forward at full speed out of the second gate.

People were fleeing. He had a vague sense that the powersled, flying as low as it was, must have struck at least one or two people. He didn’t care. They were all as good as dead anyway—the fervid reaper hungering for their lives simply hadn’t caught up with them yet. A crushed skull now was a mercy; a quick end. He increased his speed and this time knew he had plowed over at least half a dozen people.

Gina. Grace. Wait for me. Please God let them be there.

There. The only two people not running. Clinging together at the base of the viewscreen’s main support pedestal. Their shield against the panicked masses and their anchor until Paulo arrived. Few people were immediately near them. Most were using the streets and pedwalks for their futile exodus. Paulo swung the powersled around.

“Gina, get in here with Grace. Now!”

Someone took notice that the vehicle had landed. When he turned to run toward it, Paulo fired at him twice, leaving a blackened hole in the man’s abdomen with the first shot and taking off a quarter of his skull with the second in a spray of red and brown. Gina and Grace were almost in, and then three others noticed the powersled. He hit one in the leg, and the other two backpeddled in confusion. Gina and Grace were in and Paulo was airborne again by the time they reoriented, and he headed back for the slipgate at full speed.

He never knew where the skimmer had come from. Or who was in it. Or how they had managed to find such a vehicle on the street during an event that had forbade such civilian vehicles in the area that day.

All Paulo knew was that it struck the front of the powersled as he neared the slipgate, tearing away most of the drive unit at the front of the sled, and the fusion cells with it. They were spinning, and hit the ground hard. They hadn’t been high enough for a serious impact, Paulo realized, and he saw Gina and Grace shaken, but seemingly free of notable injuries. His slipchair had performed an emergency uncoupling at the moment the powersled was compromised. His spin came to a halt.

As his senses swam back into focus, he could feel the air turning to fire. The inferno was coming. No time.

He plunged the slipchair forward to his two loves.

“Get in here! Get in!”

Gina looked at him. There was something hard and heartbroken in her eyes. But resolute. She thrust Grace into his hands, and backed away.

“We can’t all fit,” she moaned.

Paulo was screaming at her through tears he hadn’t even realized he was shedding.

“I don’t give a fuck! Get in!”

She straightened. Pursed her lips. And kissed the air between them.

“I won’t risk that. I won’t risk Grace,” she said.

And with that, she joined the fleeing few still in the area.

Shaking, sobbing, Paulo maneuvered into the slipgate. Someone came toward him, and ended up a corpse for the attempt. He looked at Grace, who had still been too stunned and confused to cry, though his own tears were triggering her own now. He pushed her head up into the neurostatic helmet built into the slipchair.

A helmet constructed for an adult head. A helmet that was only meant to be an emergency backup to the neurostatic array any sane user of a slipchair would have in his or her skull. An added bit of protection for a slipgate vehicle that couldn’t generate a cohesive field. A vehicle that wasn’t meant to have passengers.

Grace’s head would only be in contact with a few of the neural interfaces of the helmet. He couldn’t protect her completely.

Gina had risked Grace. Whether she had realized it at the time or not. She had risked the girl’s sanity, if not her life.

As Paulo was about to do.

He cycled up the slipgate, hugged the crying girl as he shoved her head against the helmet’s interior—and he prayed.


Kevan sup-Juris responded to the abort alarm on his linkpad with all the haste that protocol demanded. But once he was in the slipgate collar, he stopped.

And watched.

He was near the impact point. Very near.

Twice now in two days that the flames of enemies had beat at his armor.

A hellpod launched at Nova York. At the Catholic Union. At him. At the people he was charged to protect.

The air was blistering. A minute or two more, and his skin would begin to singe; he was certain of that. Far ahead of him, the ground was glowing a deep, throbbing sienna. In places, the streets and pedwalks suddenly turned to crimson-gold fluid, flowing and burning. He saw two buildings begin to lean and sag as the ground beneath them slowly became a sea of magma and their foundations melted beneath them.

Someone had executed judgment against the city. Unrighteous judgment. Enemies of the state. Enemies he intended to introduce to a new definition of pain. A kind of burning that would make them wish they were among the fleeing thousands who were already marked for death here.

The two buildings he had been watching tipped yet more. One began to fall. The ground was churning. A sea of flame was coming toward him like a tsunami of damnation. His cheeks were beginning to burn. Literally.

He cycled up the slipgate.


Onboard Ishtar’s Folly, Sarai gasped, and Mehrnaz turned toward her. “What is it?”

scary-sisters“Our parcel. Sister. Abrahm-Elohim absolve us. Oh, sister. The shuttle contained a hellpod,” Sarai moaned. “Your lover Jordin tells us that it was a hellpod.”

“The enemy Stavin. He had us deliver a hellpod? An active hellpod?” Mehrnaz asked, incredulous.

Sarai simply nodded, eyes wide and burning with something almost mad.

“The enemy Stavin now,” Mehrnaz repeated.

“No, sister,” Sarai said, her eyes hard and bitter now. “Not just the enemy Stavin. The doomed Stavin.”

(To read the next installment of the story, click here.)


Deacon’s DVDs: Something Devilish

It was a day of rushing to get work done, and then a snowstorm necessitated springing Little Girl Blue from daycare several hours early. So, just a short post today, and with virtually no religious connection, except for the title.

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

before-the-devil-posterI’m a big fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I’d probably watch him recite a grocery list. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him do a bad performance, even when he’s in a mediocre movie. But I highly recommend this film. I’ve never done a movie review, on this blog or elsewhere, but what the hell, right? Maybe I’ll do this weekly

This is a typical crime-gone-wrong movie, except that it isn’t so typical. The perpetrators aren’t typical criminals and the victims aren’t someone you would normally expect them to go after.

The story is told in a non-linear fashion, but not in a particularly confusing way. What happens is that you keep flashing back to various events and seeing the scene from either a different perspective, or see the conclusion or consequence of that scene well after you saw the original part of it.

Interestingly, even though the scenes aren’t all in perfect chronological or contiguous order, the tension steadily ramps up in the film.

And boy, is it tense. And grim. It speaks of errors in judgment, people doing bad while trying to do right, people doing bad to cover their wrongs, and family and marital relationships in turmoil.

This isn’t a happy film, but it’s a powerful one, and I highly recommend it.

And hey, Marisa Tomei gets naked in it several times, and she looks glorious doing it, so if that’s enough to hook you, I’ll consider my job done.


Two-fer Tuesday: Respect by Miz Pink

pink-warriorwomenIs respect soooooo hard to come by these days? If you think my hair is interesting, in style or texture or the little hint of pink in there, do you really think you can just come on up and touch it? Yuck! Because some of y’all do and it makes me upset.

If you have to start out by saying…I don’t mean to offend…or This is probably a nosy question…or anything like that, that should already be a tip-off that you’re about to say something you really shouldn’t say. Or at the very least, you shouldn’t be surprised if I still get mad even after you went and telegraphed your nosiness or rudeness or ignorance in the hopes that I’d just let you off the hook.

Is it so darn hard to address me with respect instead of calling me Sweetie or Hon? (Only relatives and Sir Pink can get away with that stuff)

When we post online and go to Facebook and stuff, do you really have to let all of us know intimate details of what you’re up to right now? Just because someone’s your Facebook friends doesn’t mean they want to know your pelvis is really sore or that you just cleaned a bunch of gunk out of your toenails or whatever.

I kinda figured that as we slowly broke down old prejudices a bit and started thinking a bit more in terms of actual equality among men and women and different races and even different classes….well, I though maybe we’d see more respect.

I don’t know if it’s just something about our human nature or if the Internet has just made it easy to stop caring about manners or what, but give me some R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And everyone else, too.


Two-fer Tuesday: Respect by Deacon Blue

For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans, chapter 2, verse 11)

It is also said, in relation to the above passage and related ones in the Bible, that “God is not a respecter of persons.” Or, in more modern language translations (unlike the King James version above), “For there is no partiality with God” or “God does not play favorites.”

family01Critics of such sentiments would point out that plenty of people get different treatment in life, including among Christian circles or Jewish or Muslim ones, so that God we worship, if He exists, certainly must be playing favorites.

But that misses the point. Some are granted blessings for various reasons. Some get blessings which don’t seem that great in comparison to someone else’s, but which could be just as powerful if the person recognized, tapped and ran with that blessing. Also, not all the things we get in life are because God said we do or don’t deserve it. Life is life, and it goes on because of our actions or inactions, our faith or lack of it, our selfishness or our selflessness, etc. God doesn’t manipulate every string directly.

We have a world to live in and we are expected to live in it. God would like us to shape a world that was building around goodness, but we choose not to. Those with power and money choose not to look beyond their own greed. The masses of people who could call them to task sit on their asses. The people who have no ability to stand up and fight wonder why the masses of people who could do something don’t give them a little assist so that they could all make some positive change together. Mostly, though, I suppose it’s greed and apathy that keep our world in its current state.

But I digress…

God’s grace and salvation for us is without partiality though, and that is the point of Him not being a respecter of persons. Are we expected to do some things or be willing to give up our own conceits or whatever to get that salvation? Sure. But the point is that it is available to everyone. God would like to see everyone saved. And I think He does his damndest to make sure as many of us can be who are truly desirous of being something more than this shallow, sinful and selfish flesh.

God doesn’t care what social class you belong to. He doesn’t care what clubs or organizations you belong to or donate to. He doesn’t care what color you are. Or gender. Or age.

There are rules to be certain, but the gift is there for everyone who will reach out for it and open it.

That was a shocker in the early Christian church, when Jewish converts who accepted Jesus as messiah saw Gentiles coming to the faith as well. It startled them that they weren’t special; it wasn’t just the Jews who were going to get this gift.

As the apostle Peter noted, “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35).

OK, so maybe you’re one of my readers who still thinks that if there is a God He is still being too restrictive and unfair. Or you believe that my faith is simply me holding to a fairy tale. Fair enough.

But I think we can agree that “not showing respect of persons” is a good thing. Because what that really means is to respect everyone.

In the King James version of Acts of the Apostles, where it says, “God is no respecter of persons” (similar to the passage from Romans that I started with), that Greek word translated as “respecter of persons” is, apparently prosopolemptes, a word that refers to a judge who looks at a man’s face instead of at the facts of the case, and makes a decision based on whether or not he likes the man.

We are told that this isn’t how God operates. And neither are we. In fact, there are several passages in both the Old Testament and New Testament that make it clear we shouldn’t be playing favorites ourselves.

  • 2 Chronicles 19:7: “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”
  • Job 34:19: “Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands.”
  • Romans 2:10-11: “[B]ut glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”
  • Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
  • 1 Peter 1:17: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”

We shouldn’t be looking up to people just because they seem important and we shouldn’t be looking down at people thinking we’re better than they are.

If we can’t agree on God’s fairness, let’s at least agree that the sentiment is the right one. God, and Jesus, are examples and an ideals that are worthy for us to aspire to. The overriding theme of their existences and missions is to build a better world and one that is ultimately just. That can be messy at times, but it can be done. What it requires is both respect and not being a respecter of persons.


A Kiss Before Bedtime

A wonky wireless home networking system kept me from doing any kind of post last night, and the in-and-out connection has been playing havoc with me today, too.

I will probably post another installment of the Cleansed By Fire novel sometime today, if the gods of the Internet are kind to me, but here’s a quickie post to make up for having posted nothing yesterday and to give you something if you aren’t a sci-fi fan.

pinklips-kissMrs. Blue doesn’t like it when I ascribe semi-diabolic  motives to Little Girl Blue’s actions. She’s agreeing me with more often than she used to now when I point out such things, but I remember in the past year or so many, many times when I would suggest our little girl was playing us a bit, and I would get the stank eye in return from the wife.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My 3-year-old is not some devil child. She is challenging at times, but she’s also loving. And she’s whip-smart. To a certain degree, I like seeing that she has enough intellectual power to find subtle and tricky ways to get what she wants. I have to stay one step ahead of her, and that sometimes wears out my own brain, but I’d rather have that than a child who goes into brain-shutdown/drool mode in front of the TV on a regular basis.

The latest trick in her book is asking for a kiss at bedtime.

No, no, you don’t understand.

It’s not the kiss goodnight that’s a problem. I’m more than happy to give out one or even several kisses and hugs as I lay her down in bed.

It’s when she gets up, 5 minutes later and I ask, “Why are you up?” and she says she wants to give me a kiss. And I do. And I tell her she must go to bed and stop getting up. Five minutes later, she needs to give me another kiss, or a hug. And so on.

Now, she will from time to time say she needs a damp cloth to wipe her eyes, or another drink of water, but by and large, she will whip out the extra affection as an excuse to get up more often than not these days.

And this poses a real challenge for me as a loving father.

I know she’s stalling and trying to put off going to bed. And she probably enjoys yanking me out of my office every 5 minutes too, since it’s right next to her bedroom and it’s not like we can let daddy do his thing. 😉 But the real quandary for me is this:

I don’t feel right saying, “No, you can’t have a kiss.” Nor do I feel good scolding her about delaying her sleep after I give her one, even though I sometimes have to.

And she’s smart enough to know this, which is why she added this trick to her arsenal. She found an excuse that at least partially defuses my ability to get cross with her. Oh, sure, I eventually do reach a point at which I may have to threaten to deep-six one of her Dora DVDs or something, but for the most part, she gets to delay her bedtime (which is already way late by most family standards) and give me very little room to operate in a disciplinarian mode.

Like, I said, this girl is smart.

It’s that kind of skill that might serve her very well in life as she figures out how to navigate the hell that is other people (other annoying people at least…I’m not such a misanthrope that I think all people are trouble). But it’s going to give me some headaches, and many gray hairs, until she begins harnessing those skills for good instead of selfish reasons.


Zombie Nation by Miz Pink

pink-skullSo I was visiting my sister and noticed her stack of zombie novels on the desk. I guess zombies have been popular for  a while since there in plenty of horror flicks now and going back to what, the 70s? But I hadn’t realized it was such a fertile genre for printed fiction as well lately. My sister even says there was a short lived comic series that turned Spiderman and Wolverine and most of the other superheroes in those comics into zombies.

As we talked and as I thought about it later it wasn’t hard to see why zombies are popular. Sure we get excited about vampires too because there’s that taboo sexiness goth mind control thing going on. Probably some oral sex connotations too really. But zombies are popular for a whole other reason I think. They are mindless creatures that typically shamble around and overwhelm society and consume out of some imperative that has nothing to do with staying alive since…well, they’re dead right?

Isn’t that what we’ve been for too long in this country? Mindlessly following everyone else around us and consuming for the sake of consumption. We’ve been rotting like corpses (or at least our lives have been rotting from the inside out) and yet we motor on with our endless hunger.

Zombies are what we fear I guess. But I don’t think too many people realized they have been a mirror for our own selves. We fear having our brains eaten by zombies but many of us joined their ranks long ago and just never noticed.

I hope hope hope that the events that started with us elected a new leadership with functioning brain cells signals and end to our brain-eating zombie days. I like to think this is our moment where we take back the world from the zombies and when we give up our own zombieness to become fully realized humans again.

In short I hope that zombies can just go back to being another monster like the wolfman or the mummy. Something that doesn’t mean anything except some thrills and chills on screen instead of being something that bears metaphorical witness to our own hellish shortcomings as a society and as humans.


Home Screw-ling

I can only hope I won’t piss off Mrs. Blue with this post, because she has several home schooling friends in real life and online (and even some that practice unschooling). Have no idea how Miz Pink feels about the practice, but I suspect she’s at least modestly sympathetic to it.

So, going to gird up my loins here and just say it:

I suspect that most people who home school their kids don’t have a clue, and they are not qualified to prepare their kids for the real world. I mean, I think I’m pretty smart and I wouldn’t even attempt to do this.

As messed up as many public schools are, the fact is that the teachers of the various subjects know way more about them than the vast majority of us do. Oh, we might know a couple subjects as well as or even better than a given teacher, but overall, we as parents lack knowledge in several areas, and perhaps most of them.

I don’t care what curriculum stuff you get in the mail to be ready for home schooling. The fact is that most people who do it are out of their league and are selling their kids short.

OK, now that I’ve made my blanket statements, the caveats:

  • There are some people who simply want to home school their kids for the early years of schooling. They aren’t the object of my ire because they plan to introduce their kids to the real world eventually.
  • Some home schooling parents actually network together in an organized fashion to make sure they have the necessary skills between the lot of them to teach their kids right, and they may even put their kids into real schools for one or two subjects they can’t handle. They are also not objects of my ire, because they are doing something that is very school-like and provides their kids with well-rounded curricula and the ability to interact with other kids socially.
  • Some people are just mad freaking geniuses or have genius kids who don’t like to be around other kids their own age anyway, and I can’t really take issue with that.

But, you see, it is my general observation that that most parents who are way into home schooling and unschooling aren’t just pissed at the existing school system. They are afraid to let their children out of their sight and fearful of exposing them to the harsh world out there.

How are they going to learn to function in a world like ours under such circumstances? The answer is that they can’t, generally speaking. Most parents who home school their kids over the long run are trying to shelter them from the real world, at least from my observations. And that’s not good.

The socially conscious progressive parents who do this are often fearful of things like bullying or peer pressure. Things that a kid needs to learn to deal with on some level before they get a bullying boss or demanding and controlling life partner.

But they aren’t the ones who really, really, truly piss me off. The ones who piss me off the most are my fellow Christians who do this. Those people who are so afraid that the evils of the world will corrupt their children and fill their heads with unholy garbage that they keep them at home.

First, this irritates me because if you are doing your job right as spiritual guides, your kids will probably be fine. But there’s probably a good chance if you’re in this camp that instead of raising your kids to respect their religion, you are instead forcing it on them and demanding them to hold precisely to your view of it, no questions asked. Which is begging for your kids to piss off adults later in life or to reject your religion entirely.

Second, how are these kids going to be ambassadors for Christ and help spread the Gospel if they have really only been around you the Christian parents and like-minded people? If they don’t have any context for the environment in which most other people live, they will be ineffective in reaching others for Jesus.


Cleansed by Fire, Part 35

For the previous installment of this story, click here

Or, visit the Cleansed By Fire portal page for comprehensive links to previous chapter installments and additional backstory and information about the novel.

Cleansed by Fire

Chapter 6, Nexus (continued)

mars“Now, that wasn’t what I expected when you told me we were going to lunch in our suite together,” Gregory said, disentangling his head from Amaranth’s thighs. “Though I’m certainly not going to complain, given how mutually delicious it was—though not very nutritionally filling I’m afraid.”

“Just wanted to make sure you don’t forget which of the highly placed women in your life these days is the one who makes you see God,” Amaranth replied. “My, but you’re sweating.”

“You didn’t give me much time to limber up first, my love,” he said. “You should watch out with that vigorous stuff. I’m getting old. And you made me get that meme-loop installed in my skull when we took these damn Peteris and Paulis jobs. Going to be very embarrassing for you if I die in flagrante and they play back my final minutes. They might charge you with murder and impound that deadly weapon that is your body.”

“You’re 64, Gregory, and we can afford gerontology treatments. It’ll be another 64 years at least before I start to worry about you having a stroke in the middle of bedroom gymnastics.”

“I’d offer to enter into a second round of gymnastics with you, but I’d better get ready for the rest of my meetings today and I’d better go see Ghost,” Gregory said, toweling himself off with the corner of one of their sheets.

“Ah, the other other woman in your life. And you’re inside her everyday, unlike with me.”

“Well, she has a very nice atrium, and you know they what say: ‘Once you go mech, everything else leaves you soft’,” he said with a wink, and then darted for the refresher while dodging pillows.


The Fourth Millennial Celebration was to continue well into the night, but it was now, around midday, that the crowds would see one of the most important symbolic moments of the event and of their lives, as each of the two surviving popes uploaded future-city-021his cognos to the Godhead. Several upload platforms had been constructed in the cities they were officially gracing, Nova York in the UPA Region and Trinity in the LPA. Which one each was to arrive at had been shrouded in secrecy, but it didn’t matter, as every vid monitor in every home—and every viewscreen on buildings or suspended skyward—was now fixated on those chosen spots, so that every citizen could watch the White Pope and Black Pope implant their most recent memories into the AI that so many called the Fourth Pope or the Every-Pope.

It was a private moment every six months between the popes and Godhead. And for the first time, made public for the celebration of the new millennium.

Although both popes were being displayed simultaneously, most eyes in Nova York, and elsewhere in the UPA Region, were fixed on Pope Paresh Chopra and not on Pope Eric Vergosian. The UPA wasn’t Pope Paresh’s region per se, but Nova Roma in the Yucatan Province was the site of his papal tower. It was in the UPA region, and in Nova Roma and Nova York in particular, where his network was strongest and most effective.

While ardent faith in the Terran Catholic Church itself, the sovereignty of God and the infallibility of the popes kept most of the LPA Region in line, and fear of more warfare on the African continent mostly kept the LA Region obedient, the citizens of the UPA mostly followed the rules because most of Pope Paresh’s eyes, ears and hands were here.

The Black Pope. He controlled the military on land, at sea, in the skies and in orbit. He was in charge of inquisition and espionage. Most of the prisons were his purview. He didn’t rule the UPA because no pope rules a region, but the UPA was his in a sense, and the populace there viewed him with an uneasy admixture of reverence and terror.

As he ascended to the upload chair, his ebony vestments swirling in the winter wind, there was a heavy note of awe among the massed crowds. A note of expectation that was broken suddenly as people began to call out and turn their eyes away from the viewscreens and toward the sky.

A small vessel had appeared, from no one knew where, flying at high speed. It was well known that only dirigibles and low-flying law enforcement craft were allowed in this airspace today, and the newcomer was clearly heading straight for Nova York. Whether it was a suicide run or an assault run, no one could tell.

There was little fear though. One small vessel could do little to harm a city, no matter how it had evaded the security nets above. And no matter how fast it was moving, they would easily be able to usher the Black Pope down to the base of the pedestal and to the nearby slipgate before it could get close enough to harm him—if that was its intent.

And then.

The vessel split apart above them, or so it seemed, and there was a flash of green. A diffuse verdant bubble of light surrounding something dark and small.

History classes in primary, secondary and collegiate schools had never stopped teaching of the horrors of the Conflagration and the legacy it left behind. That was a lesson that never slacked. Precious few citizens in the Catholic Union, or many other nations for that matter, could have mistaken what was coming toward them.

The green glow around the object was a phase disruptor field, which would allow the object it enfolded to plunge through almost any physical barrier like a blade through wispsilk.

The enegy field that few could see, except as the faintest ripple in the air, was a distortion drive field, which would grant the small black object a velocity far faster than the shuttle that had carried it—the kind of speed that no one could now outrun.

Which meant the black object at the middle of it all was the most feared and reviled device of war known to humankind. A hellpod.

All of that registered in a matter of moments in the minds of everyone whose eyes were on the sky, along with the knowledge that it had been too late to do anything from the very start. The hellpod plunged into the ground, scant meters from the upload platform the Black Pope had chosen.

And the screams began.

(To view the next installment of the story, click here.)

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


Jeff Bouley

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January 2009

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