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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Because I serve

I am a believer in Jesus Christ.  I believe that my role as a Christian is to be a warrior.  And I believe that I will be called upon to serve in the eternal host's army.  I am not perfect, I have numerous enormous personal flaws.  This isn't a statement of greatness, but of duty.

I am often asked "What kind of Christian are you?".  I believe the question is meant to elicit an answer to discern whether I am a right wing, evangelical, Born Again sort, or a different sort. I welcome the questions, people have to live out their lives and serve whoever they serve.   I would suggest that while I am flawed, broken in many ways even, that trying to live a morally perfect life is close to impossible.  Therefore the guidelines of Christian life help me endure.  I don't translate my faith to politics, or, if I do, I am a monarchist.  It doesn't work well with democracy or voting.

So what kind of Christian am I?

I try to share when I have abundance.  I try to uplift and help others in areas I have the ability to do so.  I try to be a good citizen.  I believe in prayer.  I believe in being redeemed by the blood of the perfect sacrifice Jesus Christ.  I try, often failing, to forgive.  I try to be steadfast in faith, not solely resorting to God when I am desperate nor crowing about my faith when I am successful.  God calls on me to be fearless, and I only fear things that I cannot change.  But if my number is called and I am to die, I am in no way afraid of death.  I believe in an afterlife.  I do not know, however, how a number of things happened.  I trust that if God is great enough to create a world and cosmos, however things might have happened, it is by the hand of God.

My church experience is rather vast.  I was baptized a Lutheran, confirmed a Methodist, reawakened in a Charismatic non denomination Protestant church, I enjoy the ritual and beauty of Catholicism despite have certain issues.  If I am anything I am Christian.  Any further need to discern who I am can be understood from my work, and from my personal witness.

If I have failed to demonstrate by my life what I believe, then I believe you are hurt.  Therefore, I live as best I can with the world around me being witness to my loyalty and reason.  While I do not see myself as a "role-model" for anyone but my son, my son is a person with endless potential.  Therefore, that single person needing me to be a role model is a very important one.

CLICK Both images for larger/clearer view.

 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Party? PARTY! party.

Why I do not care about party distinctions...

One might believe in a political party, might give life and/or limb for it.  But the typical political party is a machine, driven by a desire for power.  It may well require humans to populate a party, a party needs individual sweat and labor to make a party work, but do not forget that a party is not there for you, you are there for it.

In the state of Minnesota a Republican is almost certainly a Democrat anywhere else.  In the state of Mississippi the reverse is true.  The convenience of location and who we are representing is a context which allows  people who would otherwise not be different, to choose sides in a morality affair.  But in the end, they almost certainly weren't affected by their vote or their support of a side of an argument.  In the end people who are otherwise indistinguishable have made a decision, and in the US the result is Majority rules with lip service to minority rights.    But it doesn't really play that easily.

But labels don't work anyway.  A Conservative Democrat or a Liberal Republican are no longer common.  The divisiveness of politics has made the center ground, the commons, an area where those who linger are called traitors.

Who are we as Americans?  Do we matter?  Have we passed the point of no return and we've fallen from sole super power to one of many great powers?    There are a great many people who believe that the United States ought to be concerned only for American issues.  But then, if everyone had that as their goal then there'd be no response to evil in many different cases.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A prophet is not a hometown hero

I write poems.  Mostly I write poems about the world we are creating, and have left to our children.  I write essays about the same.   I write about love, because it is a common, universal experience.  But mostly, I think about the future, and how humans have screwed this world.  When a pastor who has numerous books in print and a wide radio audience read my work he said that I was a prophet, my poetry is a calling to the heart of people.  And maybe I am, I guess I am uncertain.  But the truth about a prophet that remains true is: from Luke 4:24  "Truly I tell you," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown."  I have only the fewest but most loyal of friends.  The attempts to sell my work fall upon deaf ears, because no one listens to a prophet until it is too late.  And selling books of poetry is not an easy sale, and certainly beyond poetry, a poet who writes not for academia or the journals and coffee shops, that guy is not going to sell.  So I am a prophet I guess.  So are some other people who did better than I have, exponentially better.

For example, I don't believe that I'd like Pat Buchanan in person, nor do I agree with what I've read of his solutions to problems, nor his dislike of Jews. But he has a way, however dark his purpose, or his soul, of presenting the truth that is well laid out and often prescient.

In 1999 with His work A Republic, Not an Empire https://www.amazon.com/Republic-Not-Empire-Reclaiming-Americas/dp/0895261596 Before the 2000s had begun, takes three chapters and lays out the future wars in the world, and why, as well as how the world will fall apart over a desire by US notions of policing of the world state. He did not treat the GOP of GW Bush any better than the Democrats of the Clintons.

This was preceded by his roiling of the American society by the 1992 Culture war speech at the GOP convention. Was the stage set for a division of left and right? In his prescient view, it certainly was, and had been.

He is a flawed, entirely flawed messenger, and I am not offering him up for a leader. I am just saying that the world we live in now and are confused by and driven mad due to, was one that was predicted to the howls of protest of others. However right, or wrong morally his views, he rightly saw that the road was paved towards a fully divided society based upon the values of religious people and secular people, and the nether regions between.


 
But the most frightening of predictions, was how he looked at the fact that the world will turn to Russia for leadership after American offers of help end in failure. Unlike some people, Paul Erhlich for instance predicted a world of billions and billions of people before 2000 AD, Buchanan shredded the easier to accept pie in the sky without exaggerating. My reading of other than American interpretations of world affairs has revealed many different pieces of the puzzle. The current that is rising is captured in a phrase "Better Putin than Muslim".

Is that a world that we want?

Non constructive comments/debate here will be deleted, I am only offering this to suggest that the world is on fire, and sometimes we can't predict who the fireman will be who puts it out. I just know, if it doesn't get put out, it will burn every house, every apartment, and every building.

We are all divided, but these divisions are not according to merit, talent, intelligence. Every side of the debate needs to be fairly addressed. Because right now in America we have one side who hates the other and says blah blah and blah, and on the other side we have someone who hates the other and says blah blah blah or blah. Did you ever think, maybe that there just might be more sides to an issue, a complex issue of life and death, than yes or no?


Our divisions are real, but at one time they were two sides of the same coin.  Now we don't even use the same currency.



"Bushido is realized in the presence of death. This means choosing death whenever there
is a choice between life and death. There is no other reasoning." Tsunetomo Yamamoto

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Q&A


I often receive emails or private messages when on websites like Twitter or Facebook.  These message seem to wish me to answer questions that are often large in scope, and perhaps important on a cosmic scale.  And I get asked my favorite band.  I am not hard to find, I have had a public email since working as a journalist, and my worldviews are such that people are often curious why I think things.

So this entry into my column will deal with those questions.  These questions might cause other questions, but that is the nature of existence.  I am not, btw, obligated to answer questions that are rhetorical, but I've done that in the past.  It never really happens that anyone is happy when I do so, other than me, though.

Question 1.  From a Twitter friend from Europe. 

How the hell can you not vote for Clinton over Trump?  Are you insane? 

I am insane.  But mostly I don't see much difference between the two, and without going into hours of debate, I am really not a political thinker.  Despite have a Master's Degree with work in Political Science, my personal religious convictions keep me from choosing the least evil, and I am happier that way as well.  My guess is that I will vote for a 3rd party not named Libertarian or Green.  The choices from those two are as messed up as the GOP and Democrats.


Question 2.  From a reader of my work, sent by email.

Why don't you write more comics?

I have many ideas, but comics require working with artists, many of whom have a need to make more money than I do, for their labor.  It isn't a complaint, it isn't me saying they suck, I just have not been blessed with a ton of people who want to give me their labor for each project. (Which often, to them seems like I am asking for Free labor, until the payments for work come back.)  I love art, I love comics, so, I love many artists.

I also did a number of collaborative works with people who were truly talented, but, never had the fortune of going beyond the pitch.   One specific work was accepted by an editor at a big company, and he was either fired or quit the very next day.  Another work was accepted, and then never happened because the publisher changed directions and focused on a certain format and genre.  And I had five full length works accepted, with an artist assigned, and projected dates to be published, only to have the publisher disappear.  Comics work ain't easy.

I should say, I honestly am not at my best writing sequentials.  I am a poet, an essayist, and prose comes ok too.  But comics for me is too much incremental events, I paint bigger brush and big scenes.  So, it doesn't move me to write as much in them.


Question 3.  A Facebook friend did an informal Q/A.

Who moves you to write love poetry?

This is not an easy question to answer.  Just because I am married to a beautiful redhead and love her, and have been together since 1988, it doesn't mean my heart doesn't long for or my passions don't strike up for various other women.  But saying that, also note, I've never cheated.

The number of others who cause longing are few, not because I am without longing, nor for my attempts (failed) at moral perfectionism.  Simply put, until 2008 I had no idea that women found me attractive and so to guard my heart, I made certain not to look.  It was a good way to keep my marriage safe.  But, I have to say, it killed my self esteem.  So when my love poems started (not that I ever wrote them in enormous amounts) and women responded, I was a naive dork who had no idea what was going on.

There are many women who are beautiful, and a number of them who wrote to me ended up inspiring poetry.  At the same time I don't feel regret, I did learn a great many lessons in the 2008-2012 period.  And I am no longer naive.



Question 4.  A email question from a reader of my blogs

Why are you so focused upon death?  

This is one of the larger questions to answer, with regards to the issues causing me to write, as I do.    So I will reply with a four part answer, hoping to give you an understanding of reasons for my focus.

1- While I do not fear death, it is due to my belief system that I think that way.  But I watch the news, I read about all of the work to extend the human lifespan.  I read about how cloning might change human life, by creating a living form that has the ability to donate organs, all the while, perhaps not being recognized as "life".  In other words, I might not fear death, but a great many people do just that.   As a writer of essays I try to cause a focus upon important truths that have been ignored or there are those who wish to amend those truths.  Death has consequences.  When you are gone those you love or lived amongst are still there.  You've left footprints on the planet, and how you lived has had an impact upon others.  Death is a point where the living now understand that there is no more time with the dead person.   That alone is a wound that some cannot recover from.

2- Death is a point for which some believe there is nothing afterward.  Whether this is true or not depends upon your ability to believe in spiritual things.  I am a Christian, although, it is important to say that the sort of Christian I am is not the kind many assume when hearing the word.  My life goals are not to change anybody.  We are all of a mind to make our own life decisions, we are all responsible for our own path, spiritually and in our material life.  I have chosen to use my life to demonstrate that sin is not good, and that overall I do not revel in any sin.  I am flawed, as we all are, but I have been flawed in ways that I use to assist others.  (Isaiah 53).  My body has been broken, the lashes from the whip have left stripes upon my back. But rather than cry out for revenge, I seek to forgive, and to understand.  Death for me is something I do not fear, but I fear it for others.  You have only a limited time upon earth.  Making your choices and learning who God is will change your view of death.

3- I have had a lifetime dance with suicide.  My brain has suffered from PTSD, another disorder, and chronic depression.  When highly stressed and depressed, my mind can often break with the way I know is right, and turn to the comfort of thinking that death is a doorway to final silence.  My personal struggles have not, necessarily, made me stronger, but I live to share that I am alive, I have overcome, and that all of my life has had a purpose.  If I lived my life, and struggled and experienced pain, but found out in the end there was no God, I'd still have done good things, still have had a purpose, and would not, in the least, regret what I've been through, or the life I have lived.

4- I realize, obviously, at the age 53 that people die.  But experiencing my mother dying was a brutal event.  I cannot go deeply into it here, it is just too painful, but, there isn't a moment in a day when I think of her that I wouldn't want her to be here.  I recognize that she was broken by Alzheimer's, the disease is horrific.  But, her loss to me, and the entire 9 or 10 years of watching her disease take her led to an intense period of reflection.  And following my loss of my mother, I learned I had cancer, and I ... well this is hard to say, and I haven't really in print before... I almost decided not to deal with the cancer so that I could just die and if there is heaven be with my mother, or if there is no god, be dead and finally sleep forever in oblivion.   But I have a wife and son who urged me to fight, and I did.  I almost lost the fight when staph got into my heart and blood system during chemo treatment.  But I won.  And at the end of the fight, in 2014 August, one of my closest friends killed herself.  That was the point at which I had to decide what I was going to do, live or surrender.  My books are proof of my answer.

Question 5.  From a Twitter friend from India.

You seem to me to be more of a Hindu than Christian.  Why do you call yourself one religion when what you are is much closer to a Universalist or practiser of Hindu?  I love you but you need to be who you are and call yourself what you really are to reflect your faith.

The person who sent this is a person I truly adore.  They are deeply spiritual and honest, delving into their own heart as well as others and asks probing but beautiful questions.  I cannot say this was in anyway a question that hurt or bothered me, and I think people need more honesty in their lives.

But I am a Christian.  I am more of a Theist who is a Christian, since loving and knowing God is the first thing one must do, but there is so much more.  I am not an universalist regarding other religions or the mass acceptance into heaven.  But I do not think that I know everything, that God is limited to my imagination, nor that the paradigms created by theologians are necessarily the best that one can discern from the bible.

But I am flawed, I sin, and Christ's blood saved me and brought me into communion with God.


Question 6.  Facebook acquaintance...

What is your favorite sport and why? 

I don't play any sports.  But my favorite to watch is hockey.  For me the why of my love of hockey can be found in the speed, grace and violence of the game.  And when I say violence I don't mean the fights, which overall I am not a fan of, but rather, the speed of the game on ice causes random disasters, and these athletes have to be able to not crash into the boards from the limits of the rink, the momentum, the obstacles in the path... It is a glorious spectacle.  I understand fights in hockey, I just don't dig them.


Question 7.  Can't remember where they asked me from, but I am sort of friends with them.

What is your favorite period of history to study, and would you want to live there?

I love numerous areas of history.  I am interested in most periods of the past and follow anything that catches my attention.  So, that said, being forced to choose, I honestly think the era of the Samurai and Shoguns in Japan to be the most interesting and my favorite.  But Ancient Greece is a very, very close second.


Question 8.  Twitter person, not really a friend, actually kind of antagonist to me, but, I also find their dialogues with me to be good and instructive.

What artist was the most important of the 20th century, and who will be that of the 21st century?

My personal preference is Picasso or Dali, but I am aware of the vast world of art and haven't a single choice for who is the most important.  I would say that I am not a good one to ask, I tend to be appreciative of art, and, I love it so, that my preferences and ideas are not able to be set in stone.





Question 9.  From a Facebook friend who I have worked with.

Are you ever going to go berserk and kill everyone as you often say?

I do suggest that if I get any more bad comments or experience any more bad things I'll go bongo and from there probably run amok.  But no , there will be no going berserk.





The Last Question
Question 10.  From a close friend via email

What books are coming out in 2017?

I have a few nearly complete and ready to publish, but I always have more books in mind than I can possibly finish writing.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Thank the Greeks

Western civilization is different than the East, or any other sort of civilization.  The foundations of it were not originally upon the power of empires, and great and powerful states.  It became that, but, what was the seed that took root was the Polis, the Equality of the citizens, the need for all to defend the Polis, and the hard fought values that arose from that.  When Persia came to dominate the Greeks, although they were but small city states, who often fought amongst themselves, they gathered to fight.  Persia, a vast and powerful, monolithic and fascinating empire, was not prone to elections and listening to the will of the people.  It was led by Kings or Emperors, and they were autocrats.  The cause that was Greece, in the face of invading empires or terror from the seas, is that they were perhaps not friendly with each other state, but within their world, they were Greek, and that meant they fought, were educated, believed in certain things about their fellow Greeks that could not be extinguished by an enemy outside of themselves.  That remained true until one who saw himself as Greek finally became the leader who would allow them their laurels but only if they called him a Greek, as much as they.  Macedonians under Philip aspired to be seen as Greek, but while they were related, his son and successor  Alexander did think himself the blood relative of Heracles, Macedonia was little more than a dictatorship of the strong.

Today Greece is seen as the weak sister of Europe, but it remains the doorway of Europe through which comes much of the rest of the world.  How fitting that those who seek shelter come in first through the first truly European country.





Bombs Away

Human acquisition and use of atomic weaponry has meant that the world since the end of World War 2 has been one with annihilation at a flip of a switch.  From the beginning of the era, the nuclear warfare risk has risen and fallen as has the tensions of the world.  But while the major powers had some frightening moments, the current fear is one where a rogue state or terrorist group acquires nuclear weapons and destroys a city.  The world would respond as it had in 9/11's terror strikes, I am sure.   But beyond that initial attack the world would respond differently militarily. 

Assembled here are some images of events and scenes and equipment of the nuclear warfare scenario.  Also, there are the books featuring a crisis causing or the actual event of the Third World War.  There are presented also board games with the trigger events, but beyond that the full on wars in depth.  The best though, are the movies listed. The human drama of nuclear tragedy is highly conducive to film, television and even youtube.










Saturday, October 1, 2016

Horror



I generally don't find horror movies, books, comics, or games scary.  I find enough of about true life crimes, tragedies, massacres, wars, and the like to balance my fear of the fictional offerings.  But I still enjoy reading what others offer as their entree into the world of horror.  I am most often challenged and perhaps spooked by a setting or situation that is new, and is in itself dangerous.  I wouldn't want to be in space on a refinery ship in a cold long sleep, so fighting aliens in that isolation and aloneness would be beyond scary in a real situation.  I don't believe in any form of ghost or undead, but Frankenstein?  I could see a reanimated corpse, or somehow the attempt, and it going awry. 

As a person who believes in god other people suppose that I am willing to believe in just about anything, and while I am sure anything might happen, or could, I don't give things much thought unless they sound possible.  Werewolves would be possible if you go the extra mile and suggest a virus causes a reversion to human primal instincts or such.  Zombies or vampires though?  No way.  Ghosts?  Even less so. 

Perhaps horror is having only one chance to escape the planet's destruction, only to find that the rocketeer has hung himself in despair.

Perhaps aliens with genius intellect will overwhelm our defenses, leaving earth to become abandoned and decayed.


Or maybe we'll create robots so smart that they will enslave humans.  And humans will be bred for food, or genetically bred and husbanded to achieve perfect organs for donation.  We can never know.


Or maybe some Alien species that was once worshiped will be pissed off that it is no longer worshiped and will return, and create a new dark age, for the rest of human existence.

Reasons

I am waiting for someone to tell me that it was worth it.  But I am aware that life is completely without logic, without reason.  It is absurd.  What is there to reward life's work?

Is it money?  Well I've never been someone who, even in my personal poverty, valued money over my time.  A person once asked me for an hour of my time, in exchange for a raffle ticket that could win pie in the sky winnings, I wasn't interested.  He then promised me one of three prizes, 50 dollar gift card at restaurant, a big tv, or a entertainment center or some damn thing.  I told him, I value five minutes of my time far more than any of those things.  The sound of the other side of the phone was one of shock.  He said he'd given away so many 50 dollar gift cards and such just for a person's time, that he was shocked.  He asked again, this time saying, for a mere 30 minutes of your time I promise you can have a tv or spiffy entertainment center.  Now, if I was not moved for 5 minutes of my time, it would surely not happen for the 30 minute request.  He said sir, I beg you, tell me what you do that is so valuable?  I said, I value my time to read, sleep, talk to my wife, be with my cats more valuable than things.  The person on the other end of the phone said, there is first time for everything, and sir, you are easily someone I'd would say to be unique.  Maybe I am.  I don't really care.

Is it recognition?  Really not.  If I were desirous of recognition in poetry, I'd go through channels of academia and journals.  I'd submit repeatedly and ape their style and prompts.  If I were desirous of recognition in Christian life, I'd stop swearing, I'd start posting verse, I'd start addressing the world through the lens of a proper Christian.  But I am not one.  I believe in doing things properly.  But the journey to heaven is a narrow path.  I don't presume to teach, I don't presume to know more than others in the world of Christian theology.  I do know who I am, and that by my knowledge of and living in the ways of Christ, I will not be spat out like lukewarm water.  So my words are not pronouncements, they are reports from the frontline.  I try as a poet to be transparent and report truth.  As a person who is a Christian that means I am visible to everyone looking in, warts, failures and flaws inclusive.  I am made of meat.  My spirit will live, but meat will fade.



Is it stuff?  I waver here.  I collect books, comics and various hockey cards.  I kind of find my reward here.  However, if you ask my son, my best friend, or any of the people who received a shit load of my gifts, I am generous and not selfish.  So, yes I collect, and pursue, but never over the personal needs, or to the extreme of financial burden.  I know some wealthy people who look upon others who don't buy as much, or as well with disdain.  Well that is on them.  Not me.  I know some people who literally work harder to buy more stuff.  I never have done this.  I live within the limit of my extra finances.

So if not money, if not recognition or stuff, what is there?  I am a poet; the kisses of cats, the wind in my face that cools our bodies in summer, poetry, children giggling, beauty, hope, and joy are all the rewards of my life.  Everything else that exists is meant to teach me, or help me learn. Writing this I think I've figured out the reward.  Love.  It is all that matters.