Friday, September 11, 2020

This is what's wrong

Yep, I'm gonna take out all my frustrations with the world (Covid-19, wearing masks everywhere, house renos, work, not writing, etc) in this blog post.

This is what set me off today:


It's a news item taken from CNN.com

In the run-up to one of the most important elections the American people have ever faced in their short 200-year history as a nation, Kamala Harris' shoes are the hot topic that Americans are "raving" about. I don't want to tell 330 million people what they should or shouldn't be raving about... well, I guess I DO want to tell them what not to rave about, and that would be a politician's shoes.

I mean, really? Look around, America, might there possibly be some other topic that could be more important than fashion. Hmm? Maybe?

Because, otherwise, the rest of the world reads a headline like this and they think that maybe Americans are so vapid, clueless, and superficial that they got exactly what they deserved in President Trump. 

And we all know that can't be right? Can it?

I feel much better now.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday Riddle

 Friday Riddle

When can a pronoun be sung?

When "him" becomes "hymn".

Friday, July 24, 2020

Dying Again

So, last night's dream was a bizarre tale indeed.

I don't remember the intricate plot, but the events took place in Toronto. After all the hoopla was over, I found myself in the passenger seat of a car driven by someone who was supposed to be one of my two cousins, but probably didn't actually look like either of them.

You know how dreams are.

We were leaving Toronto and she was driving too fast and almost missed the exit ramp to get on the highway out of the city. I don't know which highway she wanted to take. It doesn't matter.

At the last second, she yanked the steering wheel and the car swerved to the left. I could tell the car was going to run over a curb/partition, and so could my cousin. I braced myself for the jolt and she tried to correct the car's trajectory but failed. Instead of turning to the right and staying in the exit lane, the car simply kept going toward the left and, when it ran out of road, dove off what suddenly appeared to be a cliff.
Watch a Bunch of Beater Cars Go Flying Off a 300-Foot Cliff in ...
I stared at the water below as the car lazily flipped over and then I clapped gleefully, aware of the ironic twist in the narrative: I had just spent an endless amount of time getting out of some type of complicated trouble, only to die during my escape.

Everything went into slo-motion, and the second that I became aware that we would crash upside down into the water below (and die), I woke up.

But I so relish that liberating feeling I had of acknowledging and appreciating the irony of the situation without being concerned about my wellfare.

I think this is the second dream I've had within a month wherein I die. Well, at least I didn't have have the Covid virus, unlike in some of my other recent dreams.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Blaming the Wrong Scapegoat

The devil made me do it | We the Governed

"The Devil made me do it!"
Remember that gem from the nineteen seventies? I can't remember the product but Madison Avenue advertisers, cashing in on Flip Wilson's popular catch phrase, hit a home run with that one.

Funny thing, though, is that we're still blaming the Devil for whatever evil thing we've done which we think couldn't possibly come from ourselves, unless we were provoked, encouraged, driven, lied to, by the Devil himself.

After all, we pray to St. Michael after each Mass (and sometimes in between Masses): "...and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."

So, we acknowledge the dangerous role that the Devil plays in our lives and, of course, we wish to be spared of his influence by letting St. Michael fight our battles. But just in case he's busy fighting someone else's battle, we can always claim that it wasn't my fault (that I sinned). It was Adam's fault for creating Original Sin; it was the Devil's corrupting influence in my life (because my soul is so pure-white and my goodness is such a threat to the Evil one?); it was my drinking, etc. There are infinite scapegoats for our inability to do good.

So we go on sinning and blaming/giving credit to the Devil. Meanwhile, Jesus - the Logos of the universe - became incarnate precisely to be the scapegoat that we need in order to be spiritually cleansed. But we don't in humility turn to Jesus. Instead, we lay praise/blame on the Devil, who, I would think, is more than happy to take credit for our most recent downfall. Why not? He's got big shoulders, and if we can lay the blame of our own sinfulness on him, he'll gladly take it, especially if it stops us from going to Jesus with a contrite heart and begging for His forgiveness. And notice that this way, too, we don't actually have to acknowledge the real reason for our own sinfulness: The Devil made me do it! Not me! I'm fundamentally, essentially, ontollogically, a good person. If I do bad things, those actions/thoughts/words/omissions surely don't come from me. How could it be me? I've been baptized. I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me. I'm good. Heck, I even believe in God. I'm practically saved as it is by just waking up in the morning! No, if I do bad things, it has to be due to the almighty powerful Devil's influence.

And the Devil, who doesn't have to life a finger to further corrupt us and draw us away from God, sits back and laughs at our downfall.
* * *
PS: After reading this blog, my wife exclaimed, "The Devil never makes you do anything."
Touche, dear.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Catholic Church - Social Distancing

Saturday (sort of) Funny
The Catholic Church, practicing social distancing years before it was mandated.

Prayer in the Time of Coronavirus': LA parishioners worship in ...

Thursday, May 21, 2020

McCorvey was paid. So what?

 Norma McCorvey, plaintiff in Roe. v. Wade, said she was paid to ...



So, the latest news is that Norma McCorvey confessed to taking money to become an anti-abortion activist, even though she did not believe in the pro-life cause. What are we (Christians and all pro-life proponents) to make of her deathbed confession?

Nothing. Why should we?

Do people actually think that the whole pro-life movement is based solely on McCorvey's actions and words? If so, they are wrong.

Regardless which side of the debate used her stance(s), she did a world of good by speaking out against abortion. And yes, she was, at the time, the perfect person to voice an objection to abortion. Who cares if she did not believe in what she was saying, or if she did it for money? The message got out, and many true believers in the pro-life movement drew inspiration from her words and actions. McCorvey may have been a fraud, but the pro-life movement isn't, nor do her past intentions reflect on the necessity of standing up for the lives of the unborn.

As scripture states:
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves" 2Corinthians 4:7

McCorvey is one such broken vessel, who leaked out - through all of her words and actions - a whole lot of God's power. Probably more of God's love for humanity and the unborn was revealed to the world by McCorvey than if she had actually believed in the pro-life cause to begin with.

Of course, she will have to face God for the choices she made, but regardless of her intention, she ignited the pro-life movement. And for that grace, we are grateful that God chose her to do His work.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Sprainter and Street Art

Street art in Rome
Note: The pictures appearing in this post are not my own. Any issues, please let me know.

Street art and some of the artists who work in this style are the background/setting for my young adult dystopian novella Sprainter.

Basquiat - Untitled "Skull" 1984
In Sprainter OZone, the female heroine who shows up in Tronno, asks MrE, an acolyte (religious) street artist who spreads the messages of hope and rebellion through street art, "How's spray painting Bible passages gonna stop the killing?"

The street is the perfect public space for MrE and his group of graffiti artists to spraint (spay paint) their art. MrE usually writes a short Bible reference, such as John 3:16, and then he adds some religious iconography to decorate the text.

Yes, graffiti is vandalism, and no, I do not endorse it. But for a fictional setting, I thought it presented a unique chance to examine the possible lifestyles of two of my favorite artists in a piece of fiction; Bansky and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to begin to pry the lid off this type of artist, and to also bring my characters' religious zeal into the public sphere of action.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
All street art is essentially propaganda. Much of it is political satire, contributing to some aspect of the current political discourse, be it in . This defining characteristic suited my purposes quite well, since I wanted the street artists in Sprainter to be fully involved in their world, regardless of their relatively young age. I want the young adult readers to realize that it is possible to do something to fight injustice - something besides creating a Facebook page and garnering "likes". I do not personally think those pages make any difference, and I seriously worry about the future of political activism when it is reduced to such trite acts as creating a FB page.

Bansky, street art
Towards that end, I love street art. It is big-scale, in-your-face socio-political activism! It can be simple, or complex, but it is always driven by a desire to expose social injustice, and to sometimes point the way to change the status quo. These are two traditional characteristics of  great art.

In Sprainter, I sought to bring this artist-revolutionary spirit to the forefront of political-religious activism and this story afforded me the opportunity to explore such extremes, including how zeal (religious or otherwise) can, if propelled by reasons other than love, can itself easily slip into oppression and persecution.

If you're interested in young adult romances, art-themed fiction, a dystopian setting, and religious inspirational fiction, then you will enjoy Sprainter, available from Smashwords and most e-tailers.



Just a note before leaving you. I wish to clarify any possible misunderstandings about Basquiat and Banksy: To the best of my knowledge, neither artist has expressed their religious views in their street art the way MrE does in Sprainter.

Jean-Michel Basquiat died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27 in 1988. Banksy is wanted by police agencies throughout the world. Although his identity has been a well-guarded secret for years, I just discovered this recent photo.

 ~JT~

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