Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

Faithfully Frugal by Miz Pink

pink-cash-registerAnyone besides me ever think about what Jesus would think of our daily activities? I mean particularly in our consumption crazed nations like here in the ole U S of A?

Really by all indications the guy had at least one nice set of clothes (nice enough for some Roman soldier to gamble for his cloak) and he certainly didn’t seem to miss necessary meals except for that 40-day fast in the desert. He seemed to have some fun and hang out even while he “teached and preached” but he was a guy who didn’t carry a lot of baggage with him. Literally or metaphorically.

The amount of money any of the average one of us spends on bullcrapola like multiple daily coffees or fast food visits or worthless grooming products or new clothes we don’t need and might not even get around to wearing. Buying stuff that’s on sale even if we don’t need it. Getting a new car when the old one is running fine.

So much money down the tubes. Money we could be salting away. Money we could be using to help the poor. Money we could be using to help our churches continue to pay their bills and staff. Money we could….o heck I’ve made it clear already.

Alot of conservative folks like to think that Jesus would vote Republican. Yea right! Not sure he’d vote Dem either but he sure wouldn’t side with a bunch of folks who think the best thing in the world is to make sure rich people get richer and more people get poorer to make that happen. Jesus was into spreading the wealth and not hoarding it.

Not saying you have to hermit up in your homes or anything. But in the old days (and I don’t even mean as old as J.C.’s day) people could stay around the house or walk around and stuff and somehow remain entertained. Too many of us think that we have to do, do, do, do, DO. Get, get, get. Go go go!

Yes, having lunch out can be cool. So can seeing a flick at the theatre. But how many times do we spend and get and go when we should be staying by the hearth and figuring out how to be closer to our families and enjoy a little stillness and thrift in life?

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26
Feb
09

Cleansed by Fire, Part 42

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 7, Out of the Ashes (continued)

dramatic-handOnce she had finished with Paulo, Lyseena focused herself, prayed briefly, and made a point of seeking out Ather sup-Juris. No sense putting off the inevitable. He was at the far edge of the Pit, discussing something with a tech, and she motioned him over. He finished up, and approached her, his large frame moving with a grace that belied his weight.

“Walk with me Ather. I would like to lunch below. I would like company.”

“Certainly, commander; did you wish to discuss your candidate to replace Maree? She is an excep…”

As they left the immediate vicinity of the Pit, Lyseena cut him off with a quiet, steely, “No.”

Her tone was clear to Ather, and he said nothing, simply nodding slowly in her direction and waiting for her cue as they strolled slowly to the hoverlifts. It came when she continued with, “You might not actually wish to lunch with me when we are done Ather.”

“Do tell,” he answered, with what sounded like genuine, if seemingly modest, concern.

“The survival of the Black Pope was a true miracle to discover this afternoon,” she said. Her affect was flat on the surface, but Ather sensed something darker underneath it.

“Miracles are indeed alive and well, Lyseena. I had been notified shortly before the newsfeeds started releasing the news.”

“How ‘shortly’ before, Ather? Or are you perhaps a miracle worker yourself?”

They had reached the lifts by this point, and the person in the one that opened promptly left it when he saw them. As they replaced him in the lift, Ather noticed that the person had intended to leave on another floor much farther down; his presence often had that effect on people.

As the doors to the lift closed, Ather said, “Lift: Hold position; no alarm.” He turned to Lyseena, and she could see the telltale, if microscopically brief, shift in his facial features that preceded him accessing his hindbrain. “I found out precisely 10.7 minutes before the first newsbriefers transmitted the story. Are you angry that I didn’t tell you? I assumed you had already been told and, if not, that a few-minutes head-start would scarcely aid your investigations.”

“You had no fortuitous knowledge about his survival, then? Or foreknowledge?”

“Lyseena, I serve the Black; you serve the Red. At times, our positions are at odds. Clearly, you are privy this time to something that I am not—a truly rare state of affairs that makes me feel as though I am remiss in my cloak-and-blade skills. I presume that you feel, or know, that no true miracle was involved, which is something I assumed from the start. But if there were machinations behind the Black Pope’s survival, or his ‘predicament,’ I was not made known of them and still have not been.”

Lyseena searched his eyes for a long time, then said, “Lift: Resume descent. Ather. Trinity help me, I believe you. And I don’t know if that gives me comfort or more unease.”

“Lyseena, I am part of the Black Orders and precious little that happens within them gives me ease of mind,” Ather remarked. “By the by, I still wish to lunch with you.”

***

It might be days yet before he knew whether Bechan had escaped Israel, or even if he was still alive, Rabbi Brifel Mann reminded himself. But it would take days for the remaining preparations to come together as well, and it was time to bring Kotel into the picture fully.

prometheus-inverted1Israel’s flagship AI was very sophisticated, but at his core, he was a dressed-up secondary AI, and that was a shame, as it might be the one factor that could prevent him from carrying out his part in the Synod’s plans.

The original Kotel, now there was a masterpiece of AI design. A custom-built primary AI with a template that combined tactical, religious, legal, economic and espionage elements beautifully. A template  so complex that it likely would have made siring offspring with any other AI impossible. He had cost a fortune, and was worth every debit.

Then rendered worthless by the twin missile barrages shortly after the Final Crusade that wiped out Kotel’s main complex and his remote backup databases. The Vatican had tracked the attacks back to some Arab militia and brought them to justice, but most of the Synod had been certain, from the start, that the Vatican had really done the deed. The Vatican that was “protecting” them and helping them rebuild by sealing them off from the rest of the world. Whether they wanted to be or not.

So helpful they had been in providing a new primary AI, though, and so quickly. Kotel II.

And it took us less than a week to find the deeply hidden subroutines that made Kotel II appear loyal to us, but actually linked to the Godhead and furnishing data without ever realizing it.

Instead of confronting the popes and the Godhead directly, the Synod set a plethora of explosives around the core processors of the AI, and turned his databases into so much rubble. And, after informing the Vatican of the disturbing terrorist attack that caught them off-guard and relieved them of their new AI, the members of the Synod asked, very politely, if they could spare the Vatican the expense of another primary AI and simply design their own this time.

Now that everyone on both sides knew privately what they wouldn’t publicly ackowledge, the Vatican struck a compromise: Israel could order up its own AI, but would have to make do with a secondary AI. A primary AI might, they suggested, suffer a similar fate as Kotel I.

Kotel III had served well, until reaching the end of her life five years ago.

And now this Kotel, eager but young—powerful but largely untested—was going to have to try to interface with several sympathetic AIs in the outside world and give them information the Vatican didn’t want released. All while a dozen Vatican Orbital Navy vessels had Jerusalem under constant surveillance, while troops and wingscouts watched Israel’s physical borders, and while guardian AIs kept watch on the nation’s virtual borders.

Brifel sighed.

I strongly suspect we are going to need a new AI very soon, right after the Vatican punishes this one to death. And probably a whole new Synod as well.

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

25
Feb
09

Taking the Leap

the-big-leapNo surprise to regular readers that I have semi-regular discussions with atheists and agnostics on this blog and at others. I don’t try to covert them, because I’m not clinically insane nor masochistic, but I think it’s great to make sure we all understand each other. Much better than one side calling the other a bunch of superstitious idiots, while the other side is calling them narrow-minded secularists.

In fact, TitforTat and The Word of Me have probably been my most frequent foils lately (and I mean that in the nicest recreational fencing/dueling way possible). In terms of longer dialogs, though, TWOM had a conversation with me here with regard to a Mrs. Blue post here, and I’m trading thoughts with him over at one of his postsover at his blog right now.

It’s good stuff, and I like the conversations. As long as no one gets to calling me an out-of-touch looney-toon, all’s good (that hasn’t happened often, and most of those people I don’t even try to engage again). But I have been thinking a lot lately about what divides a spiritual believer from a non-believer, and it strikes me that as much as we intellectually can appreciate each other, it is hard to truly explain ourselves to each other. For both sides, it seems self-evident that our position is the correct one, and it troubles us on some level that the other side hasn’t broken through to our way of thinking.

This struck me in particular when TWOM recently posted in one of his comments something to the effect of “I’ve read the Bible and I’ve tried to understand it and believe.” I’m probably misquoting him a bit, but that was the gist as I recall. And it’s been said to me before by other agnostics and atheists that they have tried to read the Bible with an open mind and “just don’t get it.”

And this is precisely where the rubber meets the road: Faith vs. concrete facts. Intellect vs. surrender.

This is not to say that the faithful lack intellect nor that the doubters and atheists lack any kind of “spiritual” or moral core. Far from it. But here is the best example I can come up with as a person of faith:

Imagine a person who decides to go skydiving. There are a few likely scenarios.

She completely freaks out with fear and doesn’t go to the skydiving takeoff point at all. This would analogous, I believe, to someone who says “Yes, I’ll consider your points and/or read that Bible thing” but never really tries.

She goes to the site, freaks out, and just cannot get on the plane, or she gets on the plane but cannot get herself out of that seat until it lands again. She never jumps, but she at least went to where it would all start. I liken this to the person who does give some consideration to it, but never really turns off the literal/concrete parts of their brain. I mean, I personally enjoy and respect (and use) critical thinking, but you cannot think your way to faith.

She makes it to the door of the plane while it is in midair, but she cannot make the jump. She sees all that open sky beneath her and feels the excitement and fear in her gut. She has a visceral and emotional reaction, but making the leap is just too much. She goes back to her seat. Here we have a person who has managed to open their heart and might see a glimpse of what the faith believer sees, but on some level, the thought of letting go is too much. Whether because of fear that it might be true, and a desire not to find out and have to consider answering to a higher power, or whether fear that faith will lessen them somehow; reduce their intellect or spin them too far away from provable reality perhaps.

She jumps out of the plane and goes for the ride. This would be the person who does make the leap from purely temporal and rational thought to faith. It is a wild and scary ride sometimes, and the person might regret it in some ways. The person might even decide one day to reverse course and deny that faith she tasted or decide not to embrace it fully, but the leap was indeed made, whether for a short time or a lifetime.

None of this is to suggest that atheists or agnostics are cowards. Fear isn’t altogether a bad thing. And they, in turn, could accuse someone of me of being fearful of considering that there isn’t anything beyond this life; that there isn’t any intelligence guiding the universe. They would argue that I am afraid to let go of a comfortable superstition.

Myself, I don’t feel fear at the possibility there might not be a God. I have considered it. Hell, I spent most of my life ignoring spiritual things and the church and might as well have been an agnostic or even atheist, despite having been a baptized Catholic who occasionally went to church. I still find myself at a crossroads at times when I ask, “Am I spiritually delusional?” In the end analysis, having made the leap and feeling the swell of my spirit and sensing things beyond the physical and intellectual, I simply cannot conceive of there not being a God.

It is, to me, as clear and as unassailable as the existence of gravity. That doesn’t mean I don’t doubt some of the specifics of the Bible or wonder if my spiritual path is the right one. But for me, taking the leap wasn’t simply a transient thing. I live in a world where God exists, and I can no more deny Him than I can deny myself.

24
Feb
09

Two-fer Tuesday: Comfort by Miz Pink

Where do we find our comfort in life and where should we? Is this a question you’ve asked youself? If not you might want to consider it because it might save you a whole lot of heartache, trouble and even heartbreak I’m a-guessin’.

I think too many people find comfort in the wrong things. Like, oh…

  • Booze, drugs, smoking
  • Sex
  • The internet (Facebook, Twitter, discussion boards, etc.)
  • Spending/shopping
  • And the list goes on…

pink-puppyNone of the above things is all bad. In moderation or in spurts or even occasional binges they don’t cause too much trouble if youve got your head on straight. I mean, I like me some drink now and again. I may or may not have imbibed certain other chemicals. I don’t smoke, but hey I don’t scorn those who do. Sex is nice though better if in a relationship instead of just randomly. Blog and boards and facebook are great, but I’ve seen people get sucked into them whole hog and neglect their lives elsewise. And spending…well…we know where that got our economy. Stimulated the hell out of it until we maxed out our cards and took all the equity we could out of our homes and now look where we’ve gotten.

Comfort isn’t just a warm set of flannel jammies on a cold day or a warm puppy or a cup of cocoa or whatever. It isn’t just a kiss on the cheek or a hug or a smile from your kids or whatever. I mean, those things are comforting too sometimes in complex ways and sometimes just as simple things.

My point really I guess is that we need to find comfort in places that matter. Home is where the heart is and as cliche as it may sound it’s true. Look to your home (if you’ve been wise enough to build a reasonably happy one and not get trapped in hell) for your daily comforts. Look to true friends. Look to scripture. Find hobbies that do more than just dull your senses (like, oh, constant TV).

Comfort is all around us. Both the good kinds and the bad kinds. Choose wisely friends.

24
Feb
09

Two-fer Tuesday: Comfort by Deacon Blue

dock1God promises us comfort if we keep the faith. For some of us, though, that comfort may not come in this life—or it may be fleeting when it does.

That’s the thing that sucks about life. Whether we’re on this planet to “serve time” or to grow spiritually or to pass through a stage before some next transmogrification (which may itself simply be another step in God’s chain toward something even better) or “just because,” we won’t always be among those who find comfort regularly.

It’s a sobering and even disheartening thought.

But it’s truth, and we would be mad to deny the truth, whether we are among those who believe in God or among those who don’t—or even those who are on the fence.

But I think that we can find comfort. If we stay strong in our beliefs (and atheists have them too, obviously, non-deistic though they may be) and those beliefs are grounded and centered in a moral and healthy place, we can tap into wellsprings of comfort, at least for a time. If we choose our friends and spouses well, and we raise our children well, we can have comfort.

Ease, perhaps not. Constant comfort, probably not. jesus-christ-w-lamb

But nothing in life is constant, not even life. Comfort is there. There is strength to be found if you look. I encourage you to cultivate much of that comfort through God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Many of you won’t, because that’s not where your beliefs lie. For those people, I’ll pray that you have comfort where it is needed in your life.

And if you don’t believe my prayers have power, well, that’s OK. It’s the thought that counts, right?

Be comforted, folks.

23
Feb
09

Cleansed by Fire, Part 41

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 7, Out of the Ashes (continued)

Hauruld Taguire liked his tobacco real—he had never used a nicstick or any other method of smoking tobbaq in his life and considered it a point of pride to keep it that way until his dying day. The proprietor of the inhalatory down the street from his multi-suite was of like mind and happy for a customer like Hauruld who could appreciate and afford quality cigars or cigarillos.

Hauruld also liked his wine and scotch very, very old. And he liked his femmes very young—preferably prepubescent and more than slightly frightened.

His first two vices posed no problems for the Vatican. Why should they when the government of the Catholic Union derived so much of its income—both from taxes and from equity stakes in major corporations—from things like casinos, liquor, tobacco, tobbaq and rec-pharms.

As for the third vice, Hauruld was both discreet and, for those very rare times when his discretion slipped, incredibly well-connected, so he’d never so much as been investigated for violation of any of the Catholic Union’s sexual laws. Some said he kept files of improper dealings among the members of the upper Vatican echelons to make sure he never would be.

charlyesLike the Vatican, Charlyes Kemusian couldn’t care less about the first two vices, not that he particularly cared for tobacco or tobbaq himself. Of course, Charlyes had never much cared for dalliances with females either, but child-rape certainly wasn’t something he supported. So, while he was fine with the tumbler of scotch Hauruld had given him, he wasn’t enjoying the cloud of smoke hovering in the air nor the even-more-noxious presence of a sexual predator.

But ever since reconnecting with Maree, comatose though she was at the time, Charlyes was feeling that old sense of responsibility and duty edging back. Without any faith remaining in the cause of today’s Secular Genesis, he had decided to choose duty to family and friends instead. Edward Deschaine had been a dear friend, even more so when Matthew was sick and then dying, and Maree was Edward’s family. A pity that Edward’s honor had skipped over Tobin rather more than a bit, but at least it landed squarely in the subsequent generation with Maree.

And so he sat in the presence of very rich man with stunningly few morals, and slid a piece of memorysheet with a vid-capture toward Hauruld.

Between one puff on his cigar and another, Hauruld smiled warily and glanced at the memorysheet.

“That is all you wish me to do in order to settle my outstanding debt with you, Charlyes?” he said, flicking gray ash into a catchbasin nearby. “Much as I hate to admit it, you saved my life, and I don’t want you coming back saying I only paid you partially.”

“Hauruld, I think your life is very near worthless,” Charlyes responded, with a steady, polar-cold voice that an old man who knew two young, strong bodyguards were nearby had no right using. “So it’s an almost even trade. Find him, tell me where he is, and I will forget you ever existed.”

Hauruld laughed without much humor. “Given how old you are, I could just wait a bit longer and let age take that knowledge from you itself. But you want this man’s location, you will have it. Anyone who wants to stay off the Vatican’s sensors is almost always obvious to mine.”

***

“Please sit, Paulo,” Lyseena said. She was meeting him privately in a small side-room off the admin suite. Very intimate. And the location of many a dressing-down when confrontations needed to be had away from curious eyes and ears.

paulo1Paulo sat, and picked up a cup of hot caff when Lyseena waved toward the tray on the table between them. For all the casual appearance of this room and the civility thus far, Paulo was no idiot. He was in an arena, and Lyseena was his opponent.

“I want to speak with you about your…adventure, Paulo. When the abort alarm went off on your linkpad, you should have gone straight to the nearest slipgate. Yet you went to fetch your cousin and demi-niece. Why is that?”

“I was near enough. The risk to me was minimal. They were family,” Paulo said. His voice was absolutely level and neutral. He came from a family of merchanters and one of his brothers had taught him the tricks of speaking without revealing. Just as he had taught to Paulo to listen. Which is why he could sense the subtle timbre of Lyseena’s voice, so much like the voice of a business associate when she’s about to turn a deal sour.

“That’s wyvern shit, Paulo,” Lyseena said. Her words were quiet and without obvious malice, but given how rarely she used profanity, the words were more intense than they might have been from other lips. “I don’t believe you were anywhere near them. Tell me, how is Grace doing?”

Another shift in timbre; worse this time. “When we came out of slipspace, her face looked like she was screaming, but there were no words. Her eyes were everywhere, like they were seeing things I couldn’t. The physicians and medtechs say she is calmer now, even without meds. But she hasn’t spoken. There is no sign that her mind is returning, but also no signs of the outright madness that most show when they go through slipspace unprotected. She’s well enough physically, but Gina would have been horrified.”

“You are horrifed in Gina’s place, though, aren’t you?”

“The little girl is blood, commander,” Paulo responded, then fluidly added the lie: “As was Gina.”

“The Order Juris is your family, Paulo, and has been since you took your vows. Blood relations are a distraction. A potentially lethal one, as we’ve just witnessed with you.”

“I’m a product of my culture and my upbringing, Lyseena. We don’t cut the lines to our family loose so blithely. I’ve already given up a normal life to be a templar admin officer. I won’t forget blood.”

Lyseena took a sip of caff, sighed and set the cup down.

“Paulo, what would I discover if I ordered Grace’s regular physician to produce some genetic samples?”

There it was. He had sensed it coming from the start, but had expected a far more direct assault.

“What are you expecting to find, Lyseena? Gina was her mother. She handled her medical affairs, not I.”

“I’m expecting to find her father.”

“A man dead some years now. Why do you want to find him?”

“Is that what I will really find if her physician provides me samples?”

“Of course.”

“And what if I issue a warrant to get samples directly from Grace herself? And not from a man whom I am sure has some loyalty or debt to your family so long ago and so deeply buried that I have no hope of guessing why he would keep doctored genetic samples.”

Paulo said nothing. He held Lyseena’s eyes serenely, and sipped at his caff. The only difference between you and a businessperson, Lyseena, is the gun you carry. And sometimes the gun makes you less dangerous. I won’t be cowed.

“What would I find then?” Lyseena prodded.

“You will find, I expect, exactly what you’re looking for, commander. Your intuition will bear fruit,” he answered, leaning forward ever so slightly. “What do you expect from me?”

“That you would keep your vows, Paulo.”

“Don’t confuse me with Maree, commander. I’ve kept the vows that matter. I’ve been loyal to the templars. Will giving my balls to Lukas do anyone any good? Have them if you think so. I’ll gladly give them. Put them in a jar and show them to your new admin officer as a warning. I certainly don’t need them anymore.”

“For better or worse, your testicles will remain where they are, Paulo. Gina is dead, and I’ll take that as the hand of God removing temptation from your path. I am displeased, Paulo. And this will tinge our relationship. I don’t know how much longer I can keep you near me or if I will find forgiveness for you in the end and rebuild.

“But Paulo, the only reason I am not shipping you to Lukas to pay for your crime is because with Maree’s betrayal and the botch-up of the millennial, I can’t afford another scandal in my inner circle. But rest assured that if Ather’s nose should sniff out what my intuition did, I will hand you over to him in a heartbeat. He’s too consumed with Maree, though, I think, to notice. But if he so much as suggests he has some suspicion about Grace’s parentage and your actions, I will give him leave to reveal everything he can discover about you. I will be surprised and outraged.”

Paulo picked up his cup, sipped at the caff again.

“I live to serve, Lyseena,” he said. She waved him off curtly, and he left to go check on Grace.

Blood to attend to for now. Soon, I hope, blood to spill when we find the creatures who burned Nova York and took my daughter’s mind from her.

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

21
Feb
09

Cats vs Dogs by Miz Pink

pink-coiffe-catThere are cat people and there are dog people and much like men and women they’ll never really see eye to eye. Ohhhh I know, there are people who like dogs and cats but I guarantee you they play favorites with one side or the other. It’s like men who are in touch with their feminine side or women who are super-handy with house repairs.

Sir Pink is cat people. Don’t even start with any jokes about his manliness now. I only call him Sir Pink because I’m Miz Pink around here. Trust me, he’s manly. If he could, the housecats we have would be bobcats at the smallest, and pumas and tigers if he could get away with it. Sir Pink, he saw a strange cat on the porch trying to follow Mini Pink model 2 into the house, and he gently lifted it up and carried it away, and got a nice cut on his lip from one of those razor sharp little kitty claws for his troubles. Me I woulda stomped on the porch and screamed and made the kitty run away. Don’t get me wrong, I love our three cats (mostly), but I’d rather have a dog, and the moment one of Sir Pink’s kitty’s meets its natural end, it’s getting replaced by a pooch.

Dogs mostly are predicatable and loyal. I like that. I want a pet that will stand by my side and be happy when I come home even when I don’t have catnip or a toy or food.

Seems to me that there is a similar dynamic in the Christian church as a whole. It probably got cast in its sharpest clearest nastiest form with open armed conflict between Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants in the 20th Century but there are less extreme examples as well, and not just in terms of splits on dogma between denominations.

Sometimes we just don’t see eye to eye on anything but Jesus and maybe not even that at times. Make me crazy how many Christians I know who seem to think Jesus was a NRA card-toting, Republican neo-con (or would be if he were alive today). Me, I think more a super educated and spiritually aware hippie who can kick ass. Others think he was just nothing but love and flowers. So, I guess that makes me a dog and cat person with regard to Jesus. Maybe that’s why I actually can talk to folks on both of the extreme ends still.

Anyhoo my point is that…well, it’s like this: I’m a dog girl married to a cat guy and I’m happy enough with that. As fellow Christians we need to focus more on the core needs of the church and the kinds of attitudes and priorities that Jesus taught us about. If we’d focus less on who’s right or wrong on specific little crap I think we’d get alot more done and do it alot better.

21
Feb
09

Cleansed By Fire: Adventures in Non-Linear Time

future-dunesHad meant to keep up my momentum on the novel with a couple of new installments each week, but I see it’s been a full week already since my last one. Oh, well. Life intrudes.

Of course, the novel itself is intruding, too, ironically. I don’t know how most people write novels, but as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of this is being done as I go. That is, I have no outline, and only a few set-in-stone events and outcomes to anchor me as I go. One side effect of this is that at times, I am struck by an irresistible need to write scenes that are for future installments rather than the next one in line. As inspiration hits me, I feel like I need to go with the flow and not lose a good rhythm, rather than force myself to write the next installment. Further confusing the non-linear progression of the writing of my novel is that fact that I’ve started to go back and do some re-writes of the earliest chapters now. So, at any given time, I’m living in the present, future and past of my novel, and it’s starting to confuse me. 😉

As I pull together the next installment of the novel in the next day or two, be comforted (if you’re a fan) in the fact that I’ve updated the portal area for the novel with two new informational items:  How the Vatican and the Terran Catholic Church operate and A glossary of occupations, social roles, titles and other people-related terms  in the novel.

20
Feb
09

Tongue-Tied: A Message to My Fellow Christians

tongue-tied-imagerySometimes, as Christians wanting to share the good news of Christ, we try too hard. We don’t know what to say and we trip over ourselves. Or we get so eager that we say too much, too soon, too fast for the other person to be able to absorb. Or want to, for that matter.

Sometimes, frankly, we just need to shut up.

Evangelism, I think, is less about talking that it is about simply being there. Being there to listen. Being there to be a good example of what Jesus told us we should be. Being there to answer questions if necessary. Being there to act when action is needed to help someone.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t sometimes jump in and somehow suggest to someone that Jesus might be the path he or she needs. But too often, I think Christians jump in way too soon.

We have the Holy Spirit to guide us and that means that more often than not, we need to quiet our minds and quell our eagerness and listen. We need to listen to the Spirit of God and let ourselves be guided, not to force the people around us to listen to what we want them to when we want them to.

The people around us who aren’t born again don’t always need to hear from us about Jesus. More often, I think, they need to see Jesus, through our actions.

Because, in the end, no one becomes born again because a Christian convinces them to. That would be empty and false. No, they are born again because they choose that path, and I think more people would choose it if we would just closed our mouths, listened to them, and avoided some tongue-tied, awkward attempt to cajole them into choosing the path of God.

19
Feb
09

Typical Monkey Business

I saw the New York Post editorial cartoon the other day that had two cops over the bullet-ridden corpse of a chimp, with the dialogue: “They’ll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill” coming out of one officer’s mouth.

It offended me on so many levels with its utter lack of regard for taste or logic. At the same time, it didn’t surprise me one bit. I won’t go into that here, though. Other bloggers, both black and white, have done a good job of that already. Go to these places to get a flavor of that:

Raving Black Lunatic
Deus Ex Malcontent
Huffington Post
The Field Negro

greedWhat I want to get into in this post is the ridiculousness of those who would defend this cartoon and its treatment of the current adminstration and, by extension, the way they defend the most idiotic monetary policies of the Republicans.

First, there are many that have the notion that the cartoon is OK, because it’s a political cartoon, and George W. Bush was sometimes compared to a chimp in such cartoons. Oh, now it’s OK to suggest violence against a sitting president? Because these defenders are likely the same people who would have screamed for investigations, sanctions and maybe arrests if any Bush-Chimp item suggested for a moment that any kind of harm was due to the president (and they didn’t from anything I recall). That’s hypocrisy, and it makes arguments that there is nothing racist about the cartoon fall flat.

But second, and perhaps more intense for me, is the wider issue here about the stimulus package and the fact that there are plenty of poor, working class and middle class Republicans who would simply nod their heads at this cartoon and say, “Yeah, the stimulus package was just that bad.”

I’m frankly sick and damn tired of this. I understand that many Republicans in the middle class and below it don’t like the lack of moral and family values that they perceive all Democrats, and especially liberals, to possess. And you know what, while I disagree with that, I respect that viewpoint. If you think the moral, law-and-order, marriage/sex/homosexuality views of the Republicans are superior, and that is your priority in a politician, great.

But stop defending their economic policies. I’m tired of Republicans who aren’t rich, and are getting screwed as badly as us Democrats of modest means, saying that the Republicans have been on the right track with handling our money. They don’t say word one about throwing trillions in the direction of Iraq to pay for a war we started under the pretense of fighting global terror, and they don’t get all that mad about throwing $800 billion at the finance industry and letting them do whatever they want with it…but oh, try to repair our nation’s infrastucture or reduce teen pregnancies or generate actual direct jobs for the working class, and then you’ve gone too far!

Christian Republicans in particular need to get up off this bullcrap. Christianity has never been about amassing wealth and pushing down the working class. Much of what Jesus promoted was very socialist, actually, when you get right down to it. He wasn’t about power and prestige and money and he didn’t want us to be either.

So stop defending the party that has elevated greed and bailouts for the rich to an art form. If you like them better for their social and moral stances, then just stick to that. Stop lying to yourselves that they are better for your pocketbook, because all they want is your damn money. And you can say that the Democrats want the same thing, but at least they seem to try to spend in on our own damn country and trying to make people’s lives here a bit better, instead of throwing our weight around and lining the pockets of people who don’t need a leg up.

And if I haven’t made myself clear enough how I feel, here’s a little something from Deus Ex Malcontent. A post I made there. First, though, the context. Chez posted a quote from JP Morgan Chase spokesman Thomas Kelly, who was being very evasive in explaining how the company was using the $25 billion it got from the late-2008 bailout the Bush Administration managed to push through for the folks on Wall Street. It went like this:

“We’ve lent some of it. We’ve not lent some of it. We’ve not given any accounting of, ‘Here’s how we’re doing it. We have not disclosed that to the public. We’re declining to.”

In my comment to that post, I imagined what the head of JP Morgan might say if he had decided to come forward and be honest about things. It contained more than my usual amount of foul-mouthed behavior, so be warned:

You cuntbags want to know how we spent “your” motherfucking money?

I’ll tell you. I don’t need that weasel-flak Thomas Kelly to speak for me anymore.

For starters, everyone at JP Morgan Chase from executive vice president on up is now debt-fucking-free.

Oh, and I bought us a goddamn island in the South Pacific to relocate to if any of you decide to try that guillotine shit that’s been bandied about.

We’ve got 90% of the members of both house of Congress on our dicks full-time, now, too. Lifetime thralldom from a congressman or senator doesn’t come cheap.

As for me personally? Shit, I’ll tell you how I spent “your” money…

…I’ve been using $100 bills as rolling paper for the finest weed you can buy in this solar system.

…I’ve been washing the taste of that pot out of my mouth with Perrier-Jouet champagne. I’ve been drinking it like water. Oh, that didn’t sting enough? How about the fucking champagne flute I’ve been guzzling it out of, which I had laser-carved from a single fucking perfect diamond the size of your shin.

…I also rented out the goddamn Four Seasons Hotel ballroom and hired a hooker from every conceivable racial background to do a mass fucking lap dance just for moi. And before they left, I let them head out with as many $100 bills as they could stuff in their cunnies.

And that’s just this fucking week. Just want ’til you hear what I do with “your” money for New Year’s.

Suck on that, bitches.

Cordially,
James L. Dimon, President, Chairman and CEO, JP Morgan Chase & Co.

My more right-leaning brethren, the current stimulus package, while it may not solve much, isn’t your enemy. It’s actually the closest thing we’ve seen to a step in the right direction for a long time. So, if you’re going to defend the cartoon I mentioned at the start, or if you’re going to support the Republicans, stop doing so on the basis of fiscal policy.

Unless you’re rich.




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

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