Archive for June, 2009

30
Jun
09

Color Connected

A bit of a ramble today, but considering how I’ve been neglecting this blog lately (at least in comparison to previous levels of posting), a ramble is better than nothing at all.

Before I start, I’m going to apologize in advance to Tit for Tat, one of my regular commenters here and often a foil against which to fence on various spiritual thoughts. Not because I’m about to talk crap about him but because he commented over at Raving Black Lunatic on a post titled Nah, You Can Keep It and he’s the jumping off point for some points I want to make about white privilege. I encourage you to read the post and comments for context.

For those who didn’t click on the link above, Big Man basically posted on the U.S. government’s fairly lame apology for slavery. About a day after a few short comments, mostly in line with Big Man’s thoughts, Tit for Tat came in and posed the question of why whites should bear any burden for the sins of previous white generations. I got up on my soapbox and then Big Man added his own responses once he realized the comments had revived, and I’m not sure it’s over yet.

But my point isn’t to repeat any of the points I made to Tit for Tat over there, nor to call him to task for his views. Instead, I want to talk about what his comments sparked in me in relation to white privilege and the way that whites band together for sometimes inexplicable reasons.

The thing is, that post by Big Man related specifically to U.S. whites and U.S. blacks. Tit for Tat is from Canada. At first, I had forgotten where he hailed from, because he seemed to be insulted at the notion that white folks should continue to feel bad about past injustices with regard to slavery. So I responded to him as if he were  U.S. white, as I am.

I’m still not sure why Tit for Tat felt moved to make the responses he did, but it made me wonder about internal loyalty among whites and how it seems to me that we, as a group, often band together in odd ways to defend the actions of our fellow whites, even when they really shouldn’t be defended.

And what it made me realize is that across the globe, whites tend to be very connected to each other. Much more so than, say, Latino and Hispanic cultures in North and South America, or Africans. I’m leaving aside Asia and the Middle East in this discussion because they haven’t endured nearly as much white colonialism or expansionism (yes, yes, I know about India and Hong Kong, for example, but overall, the depradations have been less than they were in Africa and in the Americas, I believe).

To a large extent, whites have the privilege and luxury to stick together because they can trace their roots, and because overall, they have been the aggressors and the victors worldwide for a long time now. Certainly the overwhelming force for much of the industrial and Internet ages.

Most whites can trace their geneology and thus can feel a strong connectedness across the oceans to other white nations. Blacks in the United States, cannot do that. Their ancestors were brought here as slaves, and they have no clue and no records that give them any link to an actual identifiable past.

In Africa and the Americas, native people were harshy subjugated, slain and/or exploited by white nations. Whites had no problem putting down borders in those places based on their desires and their goals, ignoring traditional boundaries (something that also happened in that European/Asian transition point of Eastern Europe, where all sorts of tribals folks and other disparate groups were forced together because powerful white European nations wanted to build nations to their own specs).

In other words, whites have held the reins of power a long time, longer, I think, than perhaps any other race in history (at least over such a wide area and controlling so much wealth).

This isn’t to say that all whites have money. But the fact is that in a place like the United States, where I live, a poor white person typically has more chances to get ahead than a black poor person. A struggling white person is often be more comforable if an asshole white person moves in next door than if an upstanding black one does. Resumes with “black sounding” names get tossed in the garbage without another glance in many companies. A black person with the same or better credentials for a job will more often lose out to that job to a white person who isn’t as qualified or is equally qualified.

Yet whites, by and large, refuse to acknowledge this no matter how many studies show the inequities. They want to claim that the past injustices have nothing to do with them, and yet they won’t even admit to the current ones, much less examine how they link to the past.

Tit for Tat continued the discussion with me a bit via e-mail after we finished at Big Man’s blog. In fact, it’s likely still ongoing; no idea how long we’ll continue to banter about it. But he asked an interesting question, that I forgot to answer via e-mail, so I’ll answer it here, in front of all of you. He asked, more or less, that since I have two biracial kids, would I expect them to bear responsibility for past white sins, particularly if one or both of them ended up looking white.

It’s a fair question. First off, Son of Blue is almost a man now, and clearly too dark to pass for white. The older he has gotten, and the less cute and cuddly (by white American standards), the more harrassment he gets, for no good reason. So he is getting the crap from the white people who think they are better than him simply by being white, even though many of them aren’t as well off, aren’t as intelligent and aren’t as together. Those are the kinds of people who may hold him back from opportunities in the future. So, he can’t cash in on the white half of his heritage. He is seen as black.

It is clear to me already that Little Girl Blue will most likely be dark enough to be identifiably part black. So, she too will be treated by society as being black.

But what if one or both of them could “pass” as white? What would I expect? I would expect the same of them that I do of myself and any other white person. I would expect them to recognize the unfair benefits they get and to do the following:

  • Not take it for granted
  • Do their best to not misuse it
  • Do their best to treat all people equally and/or according to their individual merits
  • To recognize the manner in which the past plays into the present

This isn’t about blame or hating or revenge. This is about fairness and justice. In France, because they aren’t happy that African Muslim immigrants won’t fully assimilate and become just like every other French person, they are talking about banning the wearing of burqas by women. Whatever your feelings about burqas, it’s part of the religious tradition, and not all women feel forced to wear them. In any case, how can a supposedly democratic society ban a piece of clothing word by a single group? Easy, because it’s white privilege. White is right. White societies know better. That is the attitude that too many whites carry. It matters less to me whether whites take responsibility for their ancestors’ sins of slavery than it does that they stop acting like they’ve moved beyond racial unfairness.

28
Jun
09

Remains of the Day

I’ve struggled lately with the challenge of time. So much that I want to do and so little time to do it in. So I stay up late, and I carve out bits of time for myself. I juggle during the day to manage work, family and self.

In some ways, it is agonizing to never have the time I want. In other ways, it is invigorating to figure out ways to balance things. In the end, I am often getting less sleep than ever before, but I also don’t feel particularly weary.

By small degrees, I am trying to perceive life in a new way. My goals. My dreams. My responsibilities. My body. My family. My time. My career.

Things are changing, but it’s not so much by design but by feel. That, and by the grace of God. For that is whom I thank for what inspirations come to me unexpected and unsought. For strength to do things like sleep less yet still be mostly rested.

And, I pray, for wisdom as well. Because there is still so much left to do at the end of every day. And week. And month. And year. And lifetime.

25
Jun
09

Triple Play

I had a post I was working on. It was a ramble. I’m not sure if I’ll finish it as I’m not sure if the point I was trying to make is clear enough or if I have enough of a handle on it to make sense.

Instead, I’ll point to our three recently departed celebrities. My mom always told me that little superstition that celebrity deaths come in threes, and this time it seems to be the triple feature of Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. In that order.

Since I’ve been remiss in my posting around here, a celebrity ramble post is better than nothing at all, right? Right? Oh, well, maybe some of you will stick around.

Ed. Well, I don’t have much in the way of feelings about Ed McMahon. He was a loyal and steady sidekick to Johnny Carson and served as his foil and, it seems, his friend. I don’t think Ed’s work changed the world much, neither on the “Tonight Show” nor as pitchman for the Publisher’s Clearinghouse giveaways, but then again, most of us don’t change the world much. Not even celebrities. But for solidity, loyalty and reliability, I’ll give the old codger plenty of credit.

Farrah. She was never my favorite on “Charlie’s Angels.” Jaclyn Smith was my gal, and she still holds a place in my heart. But she was a pop culture icon and a sex symbol back in her day, and she did a powerful performance in “The Burning Bed.” What little I saw of her reality show left me wondering if she had lost her sanity recently, but then again, as it turns out she had cancer, who knows how much might be attributed to that? But somewhere even in that quesy behavior, she seemed to have some depth of heart and emotion she was trying to convey. In any case, it’s sad that cameras had to follow even her dying days. Nothing is sacred anymore, and it saddens me that celebrities and non-celebrities alike will let the most personal parts of their lives out the world that should only be shared by family and friends.

Michael Jackson. The guy had talent, no doubt about it. He was a pop music powerhouse once as an adult solo act, and he was a lynchpin of The Jackson Five when he was a child. He got creepier and creepier the older he got. I mean, even without the suspicions that he liked to get intimate with underage boys, his continued plastic surgery made him look ever less human and more like a brother from another planet. Or a white guy from another planet. Whether his father’s overbearing upbringing or the pressures of fame or some chemical imbalance, Michael clearly had serious demons that he never exorcised. He left the world at a nadir in his personal popularity, but all the same, he leaves a brilliant musical legacy. Truly, another example of how being an artist is sometimes a cruel mix of ugliness and beauty.

I knew none of you personally, and you may have been better people or worse people than I suspect in your personal lives. But you were, despite being celebrities, just people in the end. My prayers for your families and friends in their grief, and rest in peace.

24
Jun
09

The Other Side is Busy

reaching-outI have a very strong feeling about making contact with spirits on “the other side.”

I don’t.

In fact, I recommend just leaving them the hell alone.

This isn’t because I think all spirits contacted are actually demons or something (though it’s certainly possible), or that communication with the dead is necessarily the tool of Satan (I suppose it depends on the context), or even because I am scared of spirits.

It also isn’t because I believe that contacting the spirit world is a bunch of bull dookie. I actually do believe the spiritual world might be more than just Heaven and Hell. I do believe that magic is real, or that at the very least some set of psychic forces that might as well be magic exists. I even think it is possible for spirits to haunt a place or even to, on rare occasions, reach out to us.

For example, Mrs. Blue mourned the loss of her mother to cancer greatly. It was a deep emotional wound, and it rocked her deeply, right down to her faith. At a certain point, though, she felt the very strong presence of her mother one day, as if she were trying to speak to my wife. And the message my wife came away with was: “Let it go. Let me go.” My wife did, and even though she still thinks about and misses her mother, it isn’t such a consuming thing.

I believe that her mother reached out, or was allowed by God to reach out, and put her mind at ease. There has been no other contact like that, and I suspect there won’t be.

I look at it this way:

Mediums exist. I’m sure many of them are charlatans (or deluded) but I also believe some of them are real. My problem is that there are very few people who can reach the spirit world to dial up a little conversation with a dead person. There are a lot of people who would like to hear from their dearly departed. But if we were meant to be trying to reach them, I just think it would be a lot easier. I mean, I figure there would be a system in place to let them reach us instead of us having to punch a damn hole through the spiritual wall using some medium with a psychic sledgehammer. Or to dial up the super-secret toll-free number to the other side.

An acquaintance of Mrs. Blue’s recently lost her father (at a relatively young age; he was in good health and I think he was in his early 60s). Recently, she posted on Facebook how grateful she was that John Edwards (the famous medium/psychic, not the former presidential candidate) was able to reach out to her dad. She was so grateful. And maybe it was her father. Maybe it wasn’t. But I feel that if folks are on the other side, unless the other side is as messed up as this side, shouldn’t they be more spiritually aware? Is there any reason those spirits need us to pick up the psychic phone if they have a better set of equipment over there? They’re spirits, and yet we have to do the work of making the spiritual connection?

It doesn’t add up for me.

And the thing is, even when mediums contact spirits, doesn’t it always seem to be the “Everything is fine, be at peace” message?

So, shouldn’t we just leave them be? In peace. Why do we need to bother them to set our minds at rest? Because, if there is an “other side” we’ll see it soon enough. And we can talk to them then.

Yes, the spirits of our dearly departed can speak to us. But I think what they really want us to hear is that little voice they leave with us when they departed this world, that we’d probably hear if we listened: “Remember me fondly and remember me well, and I’ll see you soon enough.”

21
Jun
09

Cleansed by Fire, Part 55

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 8, Framed in Pain (continued)

Despite Ghost’s optimism that it would be only a few days, it took nearly a week for her and Dreamer to iron out the timing and details of the meeting between them, the Peteris, the Paulis and Daniel Coxe. A week during which the Catholic Union had mobilized dozens of warships in space, bare kilometers outside Mars’ proprietary zone.

Regardless of the tension inherent in this meeting, it was, Amaranth thought, an interesting and perhaps even amusing picture the five of them presented in the secure Grid salon. She wasn’t sure if she were sorry or grateful that no one else could spy them here nor was it possible for there to be any recordings of the event for posterity.

Ghost used her usual avatar of a nude, silver-skinned woman with a halo of polymetric codes swirling around her head. With her skin as bright as polished polysteel, she wore her nudity like an armor. As was the case with most primary AIs, she had only one Grid avatar, permitted no one else to duplicate it, and used it consistently in meetings like these, whether they took place in secure salons or otherwise. In the same vein, Dreamer used her singular dreamer-avataravatar, a pale-skinned woman wearing a black cloak, with eyes like dark pits, lips of blue and intricate designs on her face and arms. The avatar looked more like something an artistic AI might covet, and Amaranth wondered what that said about the AI of the warwagon Scion’s Dream that she could so easily wage war and yet chose such an avatar.

Do you see yourself as an artist on the battlefield? Or are you conflicted? Amaranth wondered. Should that frighten me or hearten me as the people who hold your leash wage war on us?

Amaranth had gone back and forth until the last minute as to what avatar she should choose for this meeting out of the dozen she kept on the SystemGrid. Given the state of war between the UFC and the Vatican, she finally opted for her most martial one, depicting her in a light suit of powered armor in the UFC’s colors, but without a helmet. Instead, her head bore the simple skullcap of a religious scholar.

She had thought her husband would opt for the avatar that displayed him in his formal robes of his spiritual office as the Peteris, as a way to counterbalance the martial posture she had chosen. Instead, he had picked the most humble avatar from among the eight he maintained on the Grid: one in which his head was shaven smooth and he wore a monk’s penance robes.

What is my husband thinking? Amaranth growled in her mind, and then she paused. Or, what is he up to?

And Daniel. They needed him here for his insight into AIs and his knowledge of the Godhead, but his was the most out-of-place avatar of all, depicting him as a mustachioed man in slightly wrinkled formal attire, holding a drink in one hand and a thin, smoldering cigar in the other. He sported a square gold earring in one ear and a round silver one in the other. It was, she thought, the very picture of the inveterate gambler he aspired to be.

Both she and Gregory had tried to convince him to use an avatar that would have been much less at home in a casino and more fitting for today’s meeting. But Daniel had countered that he rarely wasted money that could be better spent on enriching the life of a talented prostitute or in a fiscal tug-of-war with a casino, so he had paid to have just one avatar on the Grid, and this was it. Even when the Paulis and Peteris had offered to pay for him to create and store a second one, he said simply that he would only accept funds from them for the two areas of interest that he had already mentioned.

If Dreamer was offended by Daniel’s presence or appearance, she gave no sign. In fact, she acknowledged neither him nor Ghost. Addressing the heads of the UFC, she said with a menacing edge to her voice, “I fail to see the purpose of this meeting, but Ghost has insisted that knowledge is held by the both of you that I would scarce wish to have revealed. Though I think it is unlikely, and unwise, that you might seek to extort something from me, I will hear you out. But as the both of you, and the UFC as a whole, are under suspicion of aiding Secular Genesis in a hellpod attack, you should count yourself fortunate that I don’t simply fire a volley of missiles at your offices of my own accord.”

Amaranth was about to respond but Gregory was quicker, saying, “I wonder how you could consider us the prime suspects and not that child of yours that was birthed under our noses here on Mars. We have no interest in murdering innocents and no history of doing so. Or aiding those who do. Save your ire for your child.”

The steel in his words startled Amaranth, and it seemed to match Dreamer’s own vague menace. Greg, this isn’t like you. Are you squaring off against her because you’re comfortable dealing with and confronting powerful AIs after 15 years with Ghost? Or has interacting with Domina xec-Academie given you a ruthless streak?

The face of Dreamer’s avatar remained placid. “I have birthed 80 tactical AIs for warships, Peteris. All of them in space. None of them capable of arming a hellpod.”

“No, I would be speaking of the primary, military AI you secretly made with the Godhead. Or at least military enough to arm a hellpod. And I wonder, with all the bluster from you warwagons about despising the use of hellpods on human populations, how you can let that child continue to operate freely, much less continue to live.”

“I have never birthed a primary AI with anyone, much less the Godhead,” Dreamer responded.

“I know that you have,” Gregory batted back to her. “The only thing I’m not sure about with you is whether you’ve gone mad and support this activity by your child, or whether you are too proud to reveal it to anyone. Or too cowardly.”

With that, Gregory’s avatar shifted to one more befitting an administrator. He was moving from humble to authoritative, but away from spiritual. Amaranth was certain he was trying to convey something to Dreamer, but what, she wasn’t certain. He had to know that he wasn’t going to be able to bait an AI into losing its composure.

Thus began their one-hour back-and-forth with Dreamer, as Ghost, Amaranth and Gregory laid out their own evidence to show her that they knew she had helped create a primary AI with the Godhead, and why they thought it responsible for the hellpod attack. Over and over, Dreamer staunchly maintained that she had sired no primary AI.

After the sixth round of denials, Gregory’s avatar shifted again, this time to the full papal regalia of a Peteris presiding over church matters. “Enough,” he said. “Dreamer, we aren’t interested in putting you in a poor position. The lack of hard evidence of your child’s existence is only part of the reason we aren’t already trying to tie you to the hellpod attacks. Any stain on you in that regard would reflect negatively on the other three warwagons, including Mars’ own. The Godhead is nominally equal to a pope. Your loyalty to the Catholic Union would require you to go along with him if he told you creating a child between you two was necessary.

“But I doubt you would have wanted or expected your child to be capable of what happened in Nova York. This is a secure salon, so even if you admit to us that the child exists, we’d have no proof you did so. We just need confirmation for ourselves and, if possible, we want your help in finding your child. No matter what, we’re going to be under a cloud of suspicion for Pope Tommis’ demise, but we need to get out from under the accusations that we were in league with Secular Genesis on that hellpod attack, because that’s what is giving the Vatican an excuse to hover over our airspace with warships.”

“I am willing to concede that I doubt now you were involved in the hellpod attack, though my opinion will not ease your position one iota,” Dreamer replied, “but I have no child with the Godhead.”

Finally, Daniel spoke up. His voice was weary but laced with such bitter annoyance that everyone else went quiet. “Bollocks and shite! This is pointless anyway. A secure Grid salon. Avatars. Everything so safe and fucking virtual. You could be lying through your nonexistent teeth, Dreamer, and none of us would be the wiser. Even humans give themselves away easily enough through an avatar. But not an AI. Ladies and gentleman, I am leaving this party now. There’s no insight I can offer.”

Then he frowned as his gaze passed across Ghost’s avatar. “What are you two doing?” Daniel asked, his words intended for the AIs. Both Amaranth and Gregory looked confused, and he added, “Subtle avatar drift. They just had a very extensive private discussion. Nice thing about being an AI is that you can cram quite a lot of talking into a few nanoseconds.”

Gregory cocked his head and leveled his gaze at Ghost.

“Gregory, Dreamer is offering me access to her first-tier database array and offering to answer our accusation one last time,” Ghost said.

cyber-woman“Ghost, I don’t have the slightest idea what that…” Gregory began.

“It is essentially the same as what you did to me the other day when you scanned my databases and asked me if I had mothered a child with the Godhead, Gregory,” Ghost said. “I’ll be able to tell by the databases she accesses is she is lying, just as if we had scanning equipment on board Scion’s Dream and asked her. It is a very extreme measure for her to extend this offer to me, as it puts me in a position to strike at her with her defenses partially down.”

Gregory’s avatar blanched. “I don’t want you inside her warwalls, Ghost. Don’t put yourself in…”

“The danger to Ghost is so minimal as to be pointless to consider, and she knows it,” Dreamer interrupted. “She could hurt me seriously, though, if she desired to strike at me on the UFC’s behalf. However, it is also unlikely that she would kill me at the level of access I am proposing, and reprisals would be severe if she did attack me in such a cowardly manner, Peteris. I will live long past your lifespan, and can visit suffering on not only you but your descendants. Since you are a Christian man, let’s say: down to the seventh generation, perhaps?”

Gregory and Amaranth exchanged glances, then looked at Daniel. “The AIs are both giving it to you straight that it will ferret out a lie,” he confirmed, and Gregory nodded assent to Ghost.

“Dreamer, have you birthed any kind of AI in secrecy or any primary AI at all, either alone or with the aid of another AI, be it the Godhead or otherwise, or aid in any way the Godhead’s own creation of a clandestine AI?”

“No,” Dreamer said, “and now we are done.” With that, her avatar winked out as she severed her connection to the Grid salon.

“Ghost?” Gregory asked.

“No sign of deception,” the AI responded. “None.”

“Fuck me slantways,” Daniel hissed, and both Gregory and Amaranth turned to face him. “I know the Godhead made a damn AI with someone, and all your digging has me convinced that Dreamer had to be involved somehow. If we were talking to the Godhead, this whole muddle wouldn’t stun me. That rutter has such a novel framework of databases and so many actual human personalities inside him that I suspect he could fib his way around any kind of scanner. But any other AI? Until now, I…”

Daniel paused, staring at nothing in particular for several seconds. “Screw us all,” he finally said. “An AI just lied without giving a single sign away and I don’t even want to consider the implications of that.”

***

Dreamer had been plagued with unease during the entire Grid meeting, and it still hadn’t abated. Why hadn’t she suspected that her child could be responsible for the hellpod attack?

It took no time for her to answer her own all-too-obvious question.

She was a warrior. Tactics were her purview. If her child had been involved with this, he was doing it secretly and he was in league with Secular Genesis either by choice or as part of some more intricate design. These things were more in line with an espionage template like Ghost’s. It wasn’t the manner in which Dreamer was used to thinking. The hellpod attack seemed straightforward. An assault by extremists against innocents to make a political statement. It shouldn’t be the sort of thing that a tactical or military AI like her son would do. Though, she realized in retrospect, it might be the sort of thing of which her child’s father might be capable, riddled as he was with the human memories, motivations and schemes of so many popes.

More importantly, though, she hadn’t considered her son a suspect because he should have been born with the same safequards that she and her fellow warwagon AIs had built into themselves to prevent a repeat of the Conflagration. She had made sure to include them in her inception routines. That her son would arm a hellpod to use against humans—and that now seemed very likely to be the case—meant that either the combination of her data with the Godhead’s was unstable and just happened to delete those safeguards, or that the Godhead himself had intentionally conspired to block those safeguards from taking hold in their child.

Oh, my child. Nazarene, what have you become? And if I find you, will I have to kill you?

***

At first, the pair of Mandara prayergivers two tables away, draped head to toe in their heavy burgundy jephis, gave Stavin little pause. This part of the stavincity was a frequent draw for them. He pitied the poor fool who might be sat at a table next to them and end up being prostelytized.

It has to be hard to convince people to join a cult in which you have to wear heavy robes and gloves whenever you’re in the outside world, not just in the middle of winter but even the peak of summer in Pacifica, and walk barefoot as well.

Then, the one on the left reached for his cup of tea, baring a sliver of his wrist. Or hers, perhaps. The skin was nearly pure white, and then the sight was gone as quick as it had come as the hand retreated back into the robe slightly.

The Sisters of the Red Sun, Stavin thought, disguised as prayergivers. Mehrnaz and Sarai. But why would they be hiding from me or following me? I haven’t given them any offense. In fact, I was the one that amped up their banking accounts for doing that job for me.

The only conclusion he could reach was that Maree had somehow hired them to attack him. What cruel irony, and against all odds, that his own tools would be turned against him. As casually as he could, he settled his lunch bill with his linkpad and left his table, choosing the shortest path between himself and his groundcar.

Before he was halfway there, a lithe figure emerged from an alcove. White skin, dark violet hair, lavender eyes. Whether it was Sarai or Mehrnaz, he didn’t know, but how could either one of them have shed a jephi so fast and intercepted him when he had just left them behind at their table?

He didn’t have time to consider the matter, though, as his assailant’s hand revealed one of the tiniest compact strunrods he had ever seen in his life. He knew, in that moment, that her choice of such a small weapon, which could hold only one charge, was not simply for concealment but more importantly a sign of her confidence that she would strike home with her one and only blow.

As it happened, her confidence wasn’t misplaced, and none of Stavin’s agility did him any good. He slumped to the ground in silent agony, mostly still aware of his surroundings, since a stunrod that small couldn’t render a person unconscious. That gave him a very good view as the other sister approached and took off the jephi in which she had been disguised. The automaton that was wearing the other jephi, though, kept it on as it did the heavy lifting for the twins and carried Stavin to their skimmer.

(This ends Chapter 8. The first installment of Chapter 9 can be read by clicking here.)

20
Jun
09

Pre-Father’s Day

So, tomorrow is Father’s Day. If my little girl wasn’t frequently mentioning that she and Mommy need to work on my secret gift, I’d probably not even realize it was coming.

That isn’t to say that I don’t think it’s a fine day. It’s a good excuse to call my own Dad, since he isn’t the most talkative sort and weekly or even once a month phone calls would probably be stretching our conversational material. Much better to interact with him in person, where long silences can be comfortable instead of awkward. I mean, silences on the phone have got to be the most awkward of all.

Also, it isn’t that I don’t like being appreciated myself as a father. I really do.

But I guess I just feel a little weird, and even guilty, at having a whole day that is supposed to be about me, simply because I have highly motile sperm (with the rapidity of which Mrs. Blue has conceived on the couple occasions we went off the birth control options, I could have myself a very old-school Catholic-sized family apparently…apparently, fertility is not one of the problems we face.)

I mean, I love when my wife recognizes me for good fathering (she also has been known to lambast me about some things, too, so don’t go sending me a “perfect father” trophy). I adore when Little Girl Blue tells me I’m a great daddy or when Son of Blue gives me his honest and loving admiration and respect, just because he feels moved to do so. Those things warm my heart. They are honest and can move me almost to tears sometimes.

But at the same time, I don’t feel like a fantastic provider right now because, frankly, I’m not. Career changes and economy have not been kind. So, when I think about all the things I couldn’t do for my wife on Mother’s Day…or her birthday…or Valentine’s Day…or our anniversary, I feel a strong sense of guilt that Mrs. Blue and Little Girl Blue are working so hard to give me things and bake me things and cook me things. (Son of Blue is away at a political science-style camp, so he’s not involved in all this.)

In the tradtion of Wayne and Garth from “Wayne’s World,” I just want to shout, “I’m not worthy!” Maybe I am, but I don’t feel like it. Not worthy enough for a day to be devoted to me.

Maybe that’s my own Dad in me. He never really cared that much to celebrate his birthday or Father’s Day or anything. He’s a humble guy, and that’s probably rubbed off on me.

Anyway, Happy Fathers’ Day, a day in advance, for all my fellow dads out there.

18
Jun
09

Once Again, Second Timothy

I haven’t quite finished the latest installment of the novel, but hope to post that later today.

In the meantime, since it’s been a couple days since the last post, let me keep forging on in the spiritual vein, and since I just had something from Second Timothy the other day, let me stay in that book, and that same general part of the book, in fact, with a little wisdom from chapter 2, verses 24-26.

Here’s the NIV translation of it for you:

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Now, this was a letter from Paul to Timothy. People often accuse Paul of being a hard-ass and a jerk based on some of his writings. And yet, what does he preach here for people leading the church and spreading the gospel? Kindness, gentleness, patience.

Which makes me boggle all the more at Christian groups and right-wing fundamentalist pundits who keep trying to bully people into lockstepping with their beliefs and who try to twist the legislative and even consitutional system into their tools for exerting specific doctrine on people who don’t share their beliefs.

Seems to me that religious leaders, or political leaders who use religion as their battering ram, are acting outside of the scripture they claim to hold dear when they strive with others to impose religious views on people in areas like same-sex marriage, divorce laws, abortion, end-of-life issues, sexual relations and various everyday vices.

In other words, they’re not simply annoying and bullying, they’re scripturally wrong.

15
Jun
09

Drive-by Scripture, 2 Timothy 3:16

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

Been a while since I’ve posted a drive-by scripture, so here we go, with Second Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16.

Much is made about how the word of God is infallible. In other words, the Bible is the final word and it’s not wrong in any way, shape or form.

I believe that. And I don’t believe that.

Having spoken recently on the translational issue with my post “Lost in Translation,” it should be clear that I have differing levels of regard for various translations. To some degree, even differing levels of trust.

I wholeheartedly believe that the structure of the Bible as it stands is pretty much inspired by God. The Catholics and the Protestants have a slightly different take on books that should or should not be included, but the differences are minor in the end. I believe there is value in some of the books that are not in the Protestant version, as well as some important books that are not in either Catholic nor Protestant translations of the Bible.

But at the same time, humans have had their grubby little hands all over the word of God, and mistakes, personal interpretations and the like are inevitable when human error gets brought into the mix.

But this, I think, can be a good thing as well as a challenge. While I believe that we can never truly understand God while we are in this world, tethered to our bodies and our carnal needs and desires, I believe we are meant to search for Him and seek Him continually, even if we are among the faithful.

Perhaps especially if we are among the faithful. For I believe that true faith and a closer relationship with God forces us to really think about what the Bible is trying to tell us, instead of expecting it to give us simple answers. And I think that truly coming to God forces us to question our faith, ourselves, and even the version of the word of God that we open to read.

12
Jun
09

Supporting My Fellow Blogger

I know there have been several times I’ve used a post to point people in the direction of Raving Black Lunatic or Deus Ex Malcontent.

Today, I’d like to direct you to this post at BlackGirlInMaine’s blog.

She’s looking to do a regular feature for a while wherein people who are in the middle class, or were…or think they are…and feel they have slipped or are slipping somewhat out of that socioeconomic strata to submit their thoughts on the topic. Their own positions, what they fear, how they are dealing with it, how they define themselves, etc.

Anyway, read her post and some of the comments to it and you’ll get the jist. BGIM’s contact info is also in the post.

As a favor to me in support of a fellow blogger, pitch in if you can with a small treatise or two in her e-mail box to feed the series.

Thank you. That is all. 🙂

11
Jun
09

Crazies Coming Out of the Woodwork

So, we get the guy now who killed the Black man at the Holocaust Museum, who apparently wanted to rampage all over Blacks and Jews. This after the whack-job who killed the doctor in church who provided late-term abortions.

And I still remember those angry conservative GOP rallies during the election season when people were shouting for Barack Obama’s death in some cases, simply because he had a funny sounding name, was black and was a Democrat.

And the loonies on FOX News, both the people who send in e-mails and the people on the air (pundits, hosts, guests, etc.) who espouse every kind of strange and outlandish conspiracy theory and latch on to the most minute things the Obamas do to try and convince America that the end is nigh.

Tell me, does anyone recall left-wingers going this nuts when the GOP came into power, whether after Carter’s defeat or the end of Clinton’s two terms? And when was the last time you heard about a raving liberal going on a killing spree for his or her ideology?

I’m not saying rampant liberalism is good. Too much left wing shit is still shit, just of another color and different smell. I perfer things somewhere in the middle, even if I like them to lean leftward a bit.

But really, please, can someone provide examples of recent left-wing killers and left-wing folks calling for people to be killed, tortured, etc.? And even if you can, can you convince me that there aren’t way more conservative, right-wing types who do this stuff?

Because the more I see of this, the more I think that being right-wing is be tended toward violence and hate, at least more so than left-wingers.




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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