Misery in the Valley

A Pastoral Peace

It’s been a quiet week on the farm. Spring is a few months away. There is still winter misery in the valley. Over the winter Ray tore down the 9N and rebuilt it. The chicken coop needs an overhaul, including two tires. It’s been a couple years since the bearings have been changed. Father Thomas’ homily touched on Lamentations. Guys complain about their honey-do lists. Guys that live in 3500 sq ft homes at the end of a cul-de-sac. Men who would shut their mouth after a day of chores on the farm. My Dad offered to help Ray and got to a lawn chair in the barn before he had to sit a spell.

I never lived in a cul-de-sac. My Dad’s house is in a tree covered suburb of Philly. When I headed west in a Trailways bus out of Cherry Hill I was dazzled by the bright lights of the City 3,000 miles distant. The City by the Bay called to me and I answered with a bus ticket. I stopped on the east side of San Francisco Bay at my grandmother’s house in Albany, CA. My Dad said I’d never last living in the city.

It’s been forty years in the city. My Dad has a few chairs on the farm in Merida. One is in the living room with a shoe-box full of remote controls. He commands the entertainment from that chair. Another is an Amish made cane rocking chair with a commanding porch view of the farm. He used to take visitors and talk to the farm hands. Lately, he sleeps in that chair most of the day.

Shall I Stay With Misery in the Valley?

Sixteen years ago the reasons to stay in the East Bay disappeared. The Empress flew to Taiwan with my son. I lost another temp job. My landlord declared that he was converting the entire complex to Section 8 housing. Every tenant had to either move out or qualify for Section 8. Then and still the wait list for Section 8 is decades long. I make too much money so that left moving out.

Choices. Stay on the correct coast where my Dad’s family can trace their California story back through the San Bernadino Mormons or leave the golden state. Then there is the Mayan option—to live with my grandfather’s family on their farm in Yucatan. I chose the third option. I moved from Richmond, CA to Richmond, VA in 2002.

Even when I am in Yucatan I stay in Merida at a hotel. All those years watching the world pass by my taxi-cab windshield make the bustle & noise of the city feel right. Also, I’ve seldom lived in “good” places.  Home has been cars, friend’s couches, hotels and beggar shelters. The house in Richmond is the longest stint of stable living I’ve had since separating from the Empress. My Dad was wrong about me. I did last living in the city.

Tuning to Twilight

It’s twilight. Dinner service is wrapping up and the band is tuning up. I’ve got my Mccauley’s neat and a plate of barbacoa. The weatherman is telling the gringos that this monsoon season will be bad. The train of storms starting in Nigeria is strong. Already they have named 8 storms that have wandered near and then away from Merida.  The 9th, Ian, generated warnings to evacuate. I took another sip of my bourbon.

This is the wrong side of the tracks. It is populated by the bottom third of the bell curve. The normies and good folk fear this valley. They see the shadow of death over us and nod with complicity to their preacher who tells them that we are their fate if they don’t behave. We are good with that.

When I am not in Richmond, Philly or Merida I am here in the bar or in my flat upstairs. The flat used to be warehouse space for the bar. No amount of Pinesol is enough to erase the mix of old bourbon, piss, puke, stale beer, illicit sex, and cigarettes. It has two rooms, a former office in the back with a thrift store sourced kitchen.  Someone before me put a  cheap fiberglass shower with copper pipes green with age into the former office. I’ve tried to clean the toilet but even straight bleach won’t remove the years of beery piss and tossed smokes. The sink stinks of smoked heroin. The big room in front used to store liquor and also has thrift store furniture. It offers no escape from the stench of mortal sins.

Yes I Do

More than a few have climbed the stairs to my loft and exclaimed, “you like living here?!” I do. The noise of the bar plays a melody grounded by the sub-woofer beat of freight trains that pass by every couple hours. They hurry on to feed the hungry maw of the collected mass of normies who worry about me. Let them be scared.

Normie kids come to the bar to get their freak on. This place is exciting. Stuff happens. Girls show up ready to dance, drink and mayhaps give some. The music is awesome. The food is good, even better after a few drinks. People come here to play and then we send them home a little worse for it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. We don’t want to be less dangerous. It’s a long drive over the hills on two-lane gravel roads to get here. An hour out of town is a gas station inhabited by a shotgun-toting old man with a bad attitude. His nose for outsiders is unfailing. He’s put buckshot into the doors of more than a few who seemed like they were lost and ought to be headed back out of the valley.

Gasoline and Buckshot

Old man Saito does sell gas. You have to get past the initial curmudgeonly greeting. You can’t be in a hurry. Most of the normie kids out for a weekend in town know enough to either tank up before they cross the pass or invest a few hours in drinking rice wine (50 proof!) with him.  Those in the know bring a fifth of Makers Mark with them. He searches their car for contraband and finds it, upon which his attitude improves considerably. Also, let him find a carton of Marlboro Red 100’s. Sometimes the old bribes are still the best currency to buy some freedom.

There is freedom here you can’t find on the other side of the pass under the bright lights of the city. Somebody came to a twelve-step meeting and was nervous that they might be found out as a gender-queer psychiatry patient with a thick jacket of mental ward admittance and city jail time. We were not impressed. We are small enough to not need a recognizable municipal government.

The closest we have is Saito’s son, who can be seen drifting through the streets picking the trash for aluminum cans. He’s out on parole after collecting federal time for punching a US Marshall. Oh, it doesn’t stop there. Once inside a fellow inmate threatened to rape him so Ren killed him barehanded. You have to do better than liking both sausages and clams to be interesting here.

Hard Living

It’s a hard life here. We don’t have public schools, public health services, or a social safety net. There are Ren Saito’s friends and there are those who either die or leave because they pissed off Ren. Those that stay figure out a truce with Ren. To survive here you either need your own money or a way to earn a living. Ren found The last guy to try standing on a corner with a sign asking for money in a dumpster at the back of the bar badly bloodied. He was offered two choices: clean the bar after it closes or leave town. He stayed and is the first to greet fellow beggars with a warning.

You know this one, that when you hit bottom the only direction is up. Our townies leave here stronger, clean & sober. We do for each other. The reason we don’t have a lot of municipal services is that we are small, we know each other, and we don’t hesitate to do the needful for each other. It’s how a lot of small-town America works.

I’ve seen the world from the 31st floor of 101 California Street in San Francisco. My suits from back then cost me what I make in three months. I had a family, a two-bedroom condo with designer furniture and two cars. My travel mug costs a month’s wages for those who don’t live under the city lights. That was then. Things are better now.

Father Thomas

Last thing. The church is here. Father Thomas is a Cherokee, a Gulf War Vet, with a bronze twelve-step chip. He was accused by a parishioner of raping boys. Before all that he was convicted of tax evasion for selling moonshine. The county ADA could never find enough evidence to charge him with rape. The church offered to send him to Brazil. He left instead.

He went back to Seminary and was ordained in the Anglican Church. The rumblings of some that the church was out of sync with the times regarding abortion and standards of fidelity or chastity in marriage drove him to set out on his own. He planted a small monastic order in the valley. His order runs a local school, missions and mercy programs, as well as the usual services of a local parish.

Many have underestimated Father Thomas. One seeker accosted him, wanting to know if he used the KJV, “I do not.” Which one, then? “My own.” Your own copy of the KJV? “No, my own translation.” Oh. You will find the NABRE in the pews of the order’s chapel. The order lives under a modified Benedictine Rule.

Westboro Baptist showed up one weekend and sought out Father Thomas. They expected tv cameras and protestors. They got a church picnic in full swing. Father Thomas approached them with plates. The Westboro Baptist kids were hungry. It was a great time for all.

Bottom Third

Down here on the bottom third of the curve, with places to lay my head in Richmond, the Valley, Philly, and Merida I am happier than I was when I chased status and money. I am free. I may not be successful in building my personal brand such that I collect accolades from the normies. My virtue signal is noisy and dissonant. I’m good with it.

The band started up. Lighting Hopkins stuff. My floor is swaying to the music. It’s a good night for the normies downstairs chasing the light fantastic. I’ll sleep well tonight.


You Can’t Repent

You Can’t Repent. You are Irredeemable. Oprah, Queen of Kleenex has declared this. She has sent forth her Amazonian Army to castrate you. You need to get used to being a monster in the eyes of the Queen.  Being castrati won’t be enough. There is another who made a Way. Read on and find out.

Psalm 1:1-4—“1 Blessed is the man[a]
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law[b] of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
    but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”

Matthew 5:6—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

I lost count the number of Sundays my ass stuck to the lacquer paint of a pew as another pastor droned on about the Beatitudes. This Sunday was one more. The pastor’s frame of reference was that these two passages were about us, about each of us and the ways that we should individually hunger for a deeper discipleship hewing closer to the law. Noble idea. And worthy. And for me . . . a bit annoying.

Israel, when Christ was alive, had the law.  They had/have commentary on the law as given by God. Ask a practicing Jew about how to honor the Sabbath. Though, block out some time for this because it will take a while. All of it focused on trying to get a thick-necked people to behave better. None of it much good for its intended purpose.

Get Out There

There is an introspective aspect to hungering for righteousness. We should deepen our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus of Nazareth. Then we ought to maintain our vigilance in living out that understanding. It doesn’t stop there, however. Jesus wasn’t commissioning a bunch of temple living hermits. He commissioned a bunch of troublemakers like himself who were to make all nations disciples of the Way. So, where activism, social justice work and the lot are within the practices of the Way, we ought to be doing that as well.

Jesus asked us to serve prisoners, the sick, the poor, the persecuted, among others. Go back and read the Sermon on the Mount again. It has both an inward, personal growth aspect and an SJW aspect. It’s not enough to grow personally. We have to get out there, afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

A Kleenex Empire

Lately, after a rousing acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey’s name was bandied about as a possible candidate for President. Oprah is the goddess of Kleenex, of the teary, emotional moment. The Kleenex Goddess made her wealth on leering at the miseries of others. She cannot afford to have a baddy repent. Though, people seem to be an infinite fount of bad behavior. She is in no danger of running out of baddies to excoriate on national TV.

You Can't RepentMy name is Alan Webb and I am a wife-beater. It’s been sixteen years since I last hit my ex-wife. I still worry that it is half-time for me and the next relationship will be just as destructive as my first marriage. For all my therapy, classes and introspection the jury is still out on whether my next girlfriend and I can navigate through a relationship that is safe and healthy for both of us.

You Can’t Repent

I have people in my life who will not let me repent. I am a monster. Nothing I say or do can change that. I learned a long time ago that there is no gain in fighting to a victory with someone who believes my nature as a monster is immutable.  It’s better to let them believe I am a monster and go about living an honorable life.

Two things of note regarding repentance. One, in our ADHD 247365 shitstorm propaganda cycles, repentance takes too long. The data stream we get is tuned to keep us amped on OMG. because while amped our reason is swamped by our reptilian brain. Our reptilian brain wants to stay alive and fuck. High minded ideas like repentance just don’t get on our reptilian radar. It makes us putty in the hands of those who lead us.

Stay Asleep

So, for the dear leaders, us holding resentment is part of the stew that keeps us compliant. To be woke is a thing for some. Let me suggest one way to be woke, to be aware of the ways that you are being led by a bull-ring made up of propaganda delivered through social media and more traditional news sources like print, broadcast and cable TV. That ring feeds you emo stories meant to keep your reptile brain afraid that it might die, might not be able to eat or worst of all, be unable to fuck.

One more thing. I saw this in my 1100 hours at the table at Boaz and Ruth. The guys that fell back into ripping and running were also guys who could not answer this question, “what do you want to do?” They were really good at their chaplain speeches. They were very clear that they did not want to do what got them arrested and a spot at the table at Boaz and Ruth. What did they want? That . . . that question was tough.

I don’t want to be a monster anymore” is an easy answer. Kind of. First, you are not allowed to stop being a monster. If you ever collected the ire of someone who believed you behaved in a monstrous way then you are a monster and like me, you cannot remove that moniker. At best you can gain a grudging trust that you haven’t been monstrous today.

Do What?

Second, you won’t last on the street unless you find your purpose. It’s not always some grand thing. Sometimes it’s as simple as line cooking or sewer pipe trenching. Mike Rowe made 169 episodes of dirty, skilled labor jobs. Those can be a purpose as noble as anything white collar that you think your parents would approve of. It can be something absurd like writing almost a half-million words ranting about what’s wrong with everybody. The key secret to life as a monster is finding that purpose. And . . . do us all a favor and pick something other than predatory behavior. Thanks, bunches.

Last, repentance takes time. Obvi, no? You would think so. But the town criers that fill our social media feed don’t want us calm enough to reflect on the time it takes to give life to a promise to repent. We are more malleable if we stay amped on the latest OMG to drop. It’s better for our dear leaders if we keep eating the bitterness they feed us.

Now, let’s talk about Purpose. This is one of the big hairy questions we all stumble into. I’ll let you in on a secret about me. I have no fucking clue. I made it through nearly six decades of life just following my nose. There are minor purposes, reptilian ones. But a big, elegant, life-giving purpose? Nah. Hold my covfefe. I mean, yeah, contribute to making the world more peas and fewer big-eyed, starving TV kids? Sure. Write too many words on a blog that no one reads. Did that, doing that. Bring a son into this world with a Taiwanese Mafia Princess? Check. Just . . . I never answered the question, “what do you want to do”?

No Answer is an Answer

I still don’t have an answer. I’m a bit like the other guys at that table at Boaz and Ruth. I know I don’t want to do monstrous things and collect prison time. I know I want to live a life that keeps me as safe as possible so the chances of doing monstrous things are minimized. But . . . as to what I want . . . I don’t know.

The small purposes I found, keeping my house and my car, seeking small acts of kindness done with great love, and embracing a stable life, these have been enough. One of the absurdities of God is those Egyptian monks who sought to isolate themselves as completely as possible and left behind words that became world famous. Something cliche and something true, that we are not to worry about what God does with our pittance of a life. We are to simply live. My pedestrian life driven by reptilian desires that sometimes rise to slight elegance in the small acts of kindness I have done will have to be enough.

Purpose, when you are young or misfortune has stolen your position and now your rock must be pushed up the hill one more time, is useful. It helps clarify which choices fit and which don’t. You begin to hear the siren call of the Queen of Kleenex as the dangerous clanging gong that it is. Truth is, we are finite. The day does come when we become legend only alive in the stories of those we leave behind. Choices get made that set a direction. So, being intentional about purpose is useful.

The World is Absurd

Lovely, no? I didn’t do that. I did whatever I damned pleased. My life never had a carefully crafted purpose beyond making sure I had a roof over my head and food to eat. I’m not MGTOW by choice. It just sort of worked out that way.

You Can't RepentPut me with those who find this shitshow I was born into to be absurd. Life has no grand purpose. We are pissing, shitting fucking beasts with a remarkable talent for hurting each other. Altruism, when it happens, is great. I’ll grant you that most of the Bell curve is unremarkable and never does anything story worthy. But . . . I am nearer to the monster end of the curve than I am to the untested saint end.

Except . . . this crazy, criminal, ghetto-boy carpenter born to a whore a couple thousand years ago started a revolution that continues to this day. He said we ought to hunger for righteousness. The world is absurd and God sent us an absurd leader of a new kingdom after all else failed. A criminal is crucified by the Romans at the request of his church leadership and three days later is alive? That’s cray-cray right there.

Oprah as president is a leadership rooted in bitter unforgiveness. Remember this? Some who worry that if we truly knew them we’d shun them. To which we in the church reply, if you really knew us you would stop worrying. Jesus offers us a cause to pursue and a purpose for our lives absent from the Kleenex Empire. We meet every Sunday, usually, around 10 am or so. I hope you will join us.


Cutting Deep

My buddy is soothing himself by trying to arm himself and his friends. He doesn’t want to die nor be invited to a memorial service for those dear to him. I get it. I don’t want to die either. But beyond a pistol and maybe a shotgun more weapons are just more weapons. They do not increase your ability to fight.

Our military makes our infantry hump 80-90 pounds of gear. There is so much wearable tech on them that they can’t really fight and use the tech they were asked to wear. The answer? Load on more tech. Our enemies walk on to the battlefield with a knife, an AK-47 and a pistol. They don’t wear visible body armor or helmets or any of the crap our guys suffer with. They can’t call in air support or cruise missiles. They kick our ass, repeatedly.

How do you fight an MRAP? Build an IED and get out of dodge. How do you fight a platoon of US Soldiers? Lay down overwhelming small arms fire for 15 minutes and then get the hell out of there. Why 15 minutes? It takes that long for air support to arrive. Simple analog scanner radios will give you enough chatter to piece together what we are saying to each other. Command and communications can be done with smart phones using Viber. Osama Bin-Laden communicated by courier who memorized the messages and drove on a scooter to different sites daily to transact messages. That simple tactic kept him alive for a while.

Musashi famously won duels with a wooden practice sword against steel wearing only a cotton kimono, a hakama and rice straw slippers. The other guys were dressed out in full Samurai kit. If more better kit were a difference maker why are the families of Musashi’s enemies the ones that lost kin?

But . . . us first worldies love our Hollywood ideas of war, of Star Wars Storm Troopers with 3D VR helmets and RoboCop sexy weapons. We want bad guys to be 100 foot tall transformers. Dusty sheep farmers in the poppy fields of Afghanistan are just the wrong trope. It can’t be that the guy getting drunk on local hooch in a hut beside a poppy field is a war-lord. That’s just not right. Worse, that he could be winning against our guys with just a bolt-action rifle and some stunning marksmanship, that’s wrong, plain wrong.

So, my buddy, seduced by Hollywood, is filling his life with tacticool. Worse, he is mailing tacticool to friends like me and pestering us because we haven’t been to the dollar store to by the latest AirSoft automagic pepper-ball gun with laser sights and robotic ammo maker included. That I haven’t bought a Maverick 88 shotgun yet is a problem for him. Sucks to be him.

❤ ❤ ❤

That’s one thing rattling about my heart. The next two happened together. I have made it to Boston to see my son for the last three years. I was there from Thursday night until last night. Before that on Wednesday while I was at work my pastor called. The middle-aged son of one of our elders was in jeopardy. His wife had thrown him out in a bipolar tantrum. He had gone the full-monty. Married her and worked for her Dad and lived in an income property owned by the Dad’s brother. Without the woman he had no job, without a job he couldn’t pay rent. Without paying rent he was ass-out. Everything he was and he had was with that woman. She put him out.

I planned on driving a cab on Thursday then getting on a plane after my shift. I didn’t have time to deal with a church member who had spent the night in a Sunday School classroom on a cot and had no place to go. But . . . I am that guy who has loudly boasted that if you need something, ask and I’ll do my best to help out. Plus, this was my pastor on the phone asking. Shit.

So, with trepidation I offered him a night staying with me but he had to be out before I left for Boston. He agreed. I proceeded with my plan, made the money I needed and realized I was out of time. I did not have time to get home, get packed, get myself to the airport and deal with an unexpected guest who had no place to stay. What to do?

A lot of us would never have let him stay to begin with. We have our own shit to deal with. We are busy, struggling, trying to make our way and keep our heads above water. Making a difference is a bonus. We would have ended the cab shift early and told the house-guest to git or there would be a cop-calling argument. I feared losing a few hours to an argument which would cause me to miss my flight and screw up a half-year of planning.

I don’t know about the God you worship but mine can be a pain in the ass. He took me at my word when I said I wanted to help. So . . . I’m still headed to my last fare for the day 15 minutes from where I was realizing I was out of time. I couldn’t deal with my houseguest. I let him in, though–for just one night, kind of. This sucked.

I made a choice. I had to. My flight was too soon and I valued my effort to put my trip to Boston together more than I valued tossing a new friend on to the street. I called my guest and explained that I didn’t have time for him so he was welcome to stay until I got back. So . . . he stayed and I went to Boston. A running narrative in my head all weekend was a worry as to what I’d find when I got back. If it was RayRoberta Bob I’d come home to alien puke and an epic post beer-bash mess. This guy, my guest, was awesome. He cleaned my house for me. He left me a note letting me know he’d update me when he could. Awesome.

❤ ❤ ❤

Boston. This was a bucket list thing for me. Some years ago I attempted to take the Empress and my son to Disneyland. It was awful. We fought the whole weekend. I had set up everything through a web site using a debit card. On arrival in LAX I found that I could not rent a car using my debit card and had no credit cards. We were stuck at the airport. It didn’t get better. We did go to Disneyland but it was a miserable weekend with the Empress plucking last nerves I didn’t know existed. Deep within me was an unspoken oath that I’d pull off a fly/hotel/car rental weekend some day.

Done. I flew JetBlue, stayed at Extended Stay America, a hotel chain the Empress and I stayed at when we first arrived in Virginia, and rented a Fiat 500x. This isn’t blog post worthy for a lot of my upper-middle class peers. It is what we do. For me it was a victory. Planning for this started two months ago with zero money saved for it. So, as I am capable of doing and kind of dislike doing, I used my talent for making things work out to git-er-done. Tim and I squeezed in some quality time, were able to talk about stuff he’s been stuffing, and eat Pho in Boston’s Chinatown among other things. Bedford’s H-Market is awesome. It’s food court is good. Worth a trip.

It’s Monday. The trip was draining. I’ve enjoyed having today to blog, eat, sleep and do chores before heading back to my cube-rat life whacking computers. I know those stories too. The ones where the family black sheep dies a John Doe in a public hospital leaving a legacy of empties and regrets. Some would say that’s what always happens. The paternal, “get it together or you’ll end up like that guy.” I am that guy. I took the road less traveled by and it has made all the difference.



I wrote a post I titled, “Anxiety“. I wanted to be done with it. I am not done with it. I am not over it. Fear touches me in two ways lately. My son, who I don’t usually write about, suffers from anxiety that causes depression for him. This is actual for him. There isn’t a “just get over it” for him. When he gets knocked by life it takes him out. Recovery is never sure and can take months. It hurts and no amount of tough love will move the ball for him. Yeah, he is a millennial, something of a snowflake. The angst is no less powerful for him.

That’s one. The other is the intense tantrum the press is having now that HRH Pimp Daddy US has left the building. Their king, their god, their bhodisatva, did the horrible thing and let Cheeto Satan move in. It’s the end of the world as we know it. A bajillion women worldwide marched and carried protest signs and sang and spoke of wanting to burn down the White House. The *White* House. Shouldn’t it be something else, maybe the 1600 House or something. I mean, seriously, “white” House. Isn’t that racist somehow? All that strom and drang and what of it? Not so much.

I have a question for all those who are trying to learn to contort themselves so that ass and lips can meet. Who is your lord and king? Who is your Daddy? You knew this would end. Pimp Daddy US said so. Is that it? Is that who you worship? A dear leader who committed a venial sin and simply walked away from being the most powerful man on earth? You are that simple, that empty, that you worship a pimp? No wonder you are a mess.

This was going to end. It has to. It’s been a century of diddling about with socialism, either more or less of it. Every election cycle the offers of mo money came and went. Every election cycle we found out that the offered mo money was more money for our pimp, not for us. Instead of less tricks it was more. When we tried to object we got hurt.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Spain’s flirtation with anarchy fell into authoritarian socialism and after some bloodshed, came around to democracy as the least evil way to run a society. China is a mix of places. Where the party still dominates it is a shithole. Where capitalism has infested places like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Shanghai these places have exploded in wealth and disparity. We are at a generational turning point where the old guard of the last century is dying and losing elections. Sorry to say it, baby-girl, but this is the beginning of something impossible to avoid.

It’s one of the freakish things about abusive relationships. The victim keeps going back and the abuse keeps escalating. The cycle is well known. Obama was an abuser. Sorry, that’s what his term in office felt like to me. He spoke sweet words, said a lot, but his outcomes hurt us. Each time he would promise to treat us better, do some therapy, be a better pimp, and beat our ass back into the hospital. All the while making sure that we were out in public looking fine as fuck.

After all that, and now that he is gone, we somehow forgot the abuse and want him back. If we can’t have him then we want his bitch-in-chief, Billary. None of what we said in the hospital to the social worker means shit now. Jimmy Choo’s y’know. He took our Jimmy Choo’s with him. We want our pimp back.

The press is doubling down on the propaganda of Pimp Daddy US. They insist that Pimp Daddy US’ story was accurate. It was one of fear, of an unspoken fist in our stomach if we got out of line. Pimp Daddy never hit us in the face or above the neckline. Nobody ever saw the scars. We had to bring him his money, after all. The scars are there. Our John’s saw them.

Now that we don’t have Pimp Daddy we don’t know how to live. Self reliance? What is that? We haven’t shopped for ourselves in Walmart in 8 years. The people who shop at Walmart are missing teeth and can’t speak proper English. You want that for us? We always went to Nordstrom to the personal shopper desk with Pimp Daddy’s card. He always ordered in from a stack of takeout menus. We got thick but he said he liked it.

He’s gone. We went to the doctor and doc says we are diabetic, have high blood, are ?!obese!? and could die if we don’t quit living this way. The HIV test was negative but doc wants to test us again in 6 months. Our pimp daddy god-king left us to go on vacation in Palm Springs. How could he?

Yes, self-reliance. change the things you can, let go of the things you can’t, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We who spent time in meetings have a bunch of these. Change who you worship. Get a new god-king because the one in Washington D.C. dates “models” who turn up on porn sites. Melania is just a high-class mail order bride. Think what you will of the last 2,000 years of idiot followers of that martyred Nazarene carpenter. I’ll put my martyred carpenter up against Cheeto Satan Melanic Dumpf all day. We try to use foundation to cover the bruises but we are not so different from you.

Who would you give your fealty to? A magic brown man who didn’t care enough to shoot Cheeto Satan? Cheeto Satan himself? How about . . . that dead guy the Romans killed whose followers claim is still alive and conduct a cannibalistic ritual meal of his blood and flesh? Is fealty to him, to the Nazarene carpenter any less insane, less absurd than fealty to a rich John with a taste for expensive whores?

In an insane age, in an age where the dominant language is imagery and video, the image of the crucified Christ remains powerful and good. The cross makes sense in this bonkers shit show we were born into. Cheeto Satan will do whatever. The teeth knashing over his latest crime against socialism will continue until he leaves office.

For eight years I deepened my marriage to the cross. I prayerfully sought ways to serve my neighbor, my kin, and my enemies. I have been blessed to be granted chances to do small acts of kindness, sometimes with love, sometimes not. That doesn’t change because Pimp Daddy US is out of office and playing golf until winter break is over and his daughters have to come back to school. Cheeto Satan is just a side show as it concerns the practice of my faith.

Last year some protesters stood across the freeway and stopped traffic for half an hour. They wanted us to care about black people, to understand that black lives matter. Not more than a mile from their protest is public housing where numerous churches and NGO’s are working to get the residents out of there and into stable lives. It is hard, frustrating work that goes largely unnoticed. It is stunning to me that a dozen people would block traffic and claim that black lives don’t matter in complete ignorance of the work under way in Richmond’s public housing. This says a lot about the protest community.

Cheeto Satan? Whatever. Some of what he’s doing was going to happen either by intent or by disaster. Pimp Daddy built a house of cards that was going to collapse anyway. At least Cheeto Satan wants to take it down card by card rather than just let it collapse.

I’ll end here. If fear is a powerful force in your life then you have surrendered to a false-god. You worship a lie. God made you fearfully to love him more dearly. He loves you and wants you to thrive. There is no such thing as courage. Courage is what we say about someone who was terrified and did the needful. To conquer fear get a new god, a real god, who is love. The threat to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was not myth or an empty one. The miracle would be less amazing if it were not as the bible tells it. Yet these three men were willing to die for their faith. They risked death and found freedom. That’s an awesome god, way better than Pimp Daddy or Cheeto Satan.



Let me explain the title of this piece. This aphorism, “secrets have a way of getting out,” was in my head as I watched our local TV station report the march on Broad Street because Dumpf was inaugurated. Dumpf’s opposition is desperate for a secret that will kill his ability to be President. The secret that keeps revealing itself is our national general anxiety now that Pimp Daddy US has flown to Palm Springs to devote himself to golf.


I said in an earlier post that anxiety never speaks of life or victory. It speaks of death and injury and misery and trouble and toil. It is what God gave us so we don’t get eaten by a sabertooth tiger. I’m making this edit three weeks after I first posted this piece. Our current national mood feels like an anxiety fueled tantrum where we don’t want to understand that this was inevitable. The secret is that Dumpf is destiny.

It’s a lot easier to be against something than it is to be handed the royal scepter. I can happily write a million words of snark, never advocating for an answer and it is of little consequence. We have had a professional class of agitprops for as long as I remember. These folk make it their career to be agin it. It doesn’t matter what the thing to be agin is. They are just agin it. It has happened in history that the agitprops win and have the scepter because they killed the king. For the bulk of human history the way the regime changes is through war. Equally constant is the use of genocide to control a king’s enemies. One reason we are exceptional because we have been able to change kings without bloodshed for over two centuries. Trump is finding out that being mouthy and agin it is very different from being king.

I used to try to engage with them, to ask what they wanted. The answers were usually some foolish platitude like giving the people a fair deal. Anarchists would say they wanted to just wreck everything and replace it with governance by community boards. The Communists have tried in numerous places to enact their utopia only to find that the wealth moves into the black market and ignores them. Socialists are just communists that are willing to allow some private ownership of capital and tangible assets. Same deal, the core belief is that the community in the form of government is the better operator of the enterprises of an empire. It fails.

Now I leave them alone. I am a follower of the Way. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth died and was raised again on the third day. Read Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας for the rest of it. I don’t need to hate or fear or bother myself all that much with what happens in Washington D.C. The change I seek comes from being it. I’ve written extensively here about what that looks like. I’ll not repeat it here. The PUDFRB agitprops throw bricks through store windows with the same religious passion that I sing Amazing Grace. It’s a waste of time to deal with them. They are walking dead incapable of being light and salt.

We were headed, may still be headed for a Nazi America. We are almost there. We just need a leader who leads by either overarching patriotism or by a constant drumbeat of reasons to fear everything except the dear leader. Trump marks a delay in this, maybe. His opposition seems intent on furthering their goal of revolution to be replaced by some childish fantasy of what would make America great for them.

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It is a tactic. Find some juicy rumor about somebody and beat it to death on social media. Muster up a ton of righteous indignation. Keep at it because if you repeat an accusation enough times it gains the heft of truth. Lately, it is a finger pointed at the left, who have become obsessed with the idea that our president hired Russian prostitutes to piss on the bed that Obama once slept it. This is added to the steady drumbeat that Putin personally hacked the election and caused Cheeto Satan to be the most powerful man in the world.

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That’s one. We have Bradley Manning, nee Chelsea Manning, who has garnered enough sympathy by choosing to cross-dress that Obama commuted his sentence. This one goes way back for me. When I was naturalized as a citizen of the Peepul’s United Free Demokratik Republik of Berkeley I had to pass a quiz and sign a loyalty oath. I was given a classification: zzcc, for apprentice cab driver in a collective. It’s not a very high status. I would have scored higher if I had agreed to be classified after getting my first crazy check. High status goes to an African-American lesbian who has six kids by six different fathers and is on TANF, SNAP and so on. Even higher status is awarded to her if she is an addict.

What’s happened since is that guys have heard the unspoken message and decided that gaining status to get the girl means agreeing to be gender fluid. The penultimate is the love-fest for a treasonous spy simply because he decided to wear a training bra. See if this doesn’t sound nuts to you: that one could do anything, any depraved thing, and get a pass because they self-identify as trans-gender.

Young women are my krypton. I am a creepy old guy lurking about the tubes ogling women young enough to be my daughter. But . . . Chelsea Manning is my savior. I can simply declare that I self-identify as a twenty-something lesbian and solve my ethical issue. Since I now am Alice and not Alan, I am 22 and a lesbian, I gain status in my old PUFDRB home. I qualify for attaching Go-Pro’s to my shoes to get video of panties worn by SumYung HotTea and others. When challenged, I get to claim that I was born this way and am fulfilling my destiny.

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We are in trouble if your train of thought is, “sure, if that’s what makes him happy, let’s set up a personal shopping appointment at Nordstrom’s and drop some cash on a new wardrobe.” One of the inanities of some is that their rules are ok but those old rules by people they dislike, those rules are not ok. I’ve been in so many seminars by agitprops where after hours and hours of discussion the core boundaries that emerge have a strong resemblence to either the القرآن الكريم or the Bible. Efforts at wiping the slate clean are amusing to me because very often even though the past is disregarded it has a way of sneaking back into the resulting decisions.

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I am writing this on the Saturday after Trump’s inauguration. I had to turn off my phone because Inger is apoplectic. She started blasting Ray last night, who turns out to be surprisingly empathetic to Inger, and me and Felina. Through the fb meme storm, the story seems to be that she has made a home for herself in a house leased by Felina, who is the one among peers with the most legit presence. Inger is recently out of rehab and at risk of arrest because she’s blown off her drug-court judge and social worker. I don’t think I am giving too much away in saying this. So . . . yeah, Inger has garnered the ire of her housemates because she launched an epic fit. Nothing damaged that threatens the security deposit but also the house has a long weekend cleaning up. Felina doesn’t have a license. It was never necessary. The one vehicle owned by the house has expired tags. This is not a bunch that gives a rip about compliance. Felina is herself capable of epic latina angery storms. Ray and Felina managed to drive Inger to the psych ward without getting arrested. Not bad.

Inger’s tantrum seems to be an attempt at being pissed off enough, ugly enough, that she will be heard in D.C. and they will come correct and make Billary president. Inger is one of those who spent a few hours being booked and released from Richmond City Jail. She was charged with public intoxication and assault on a cop. That went well. Inger is still learning that attempting to motivate and lead by force of negative emotion is a game of diminishing returns. More hate has the opposite effect of what is intended. It’s power over a group diminishes to arrive at indifference. Inger should be out next week. It’s going to be rough because the hospital followed protocol and contacted her probation officer. Her near future will not signal very much virtue.

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There was a picture that raced about social media that claimed to be of a dead woman who had been left out in the cold with her child. So it was said, she and her child died on that bus bench because no one had stepped up to help her. The proffered answer was something program, NGO or government above and beyond what we are already doing. There was very little bandwidth given to the thought that we, without a program, could bring a cup of soup to that woman and sit on the bench with her, talking. No, it had to be Pimp Daddy US who had to do something more.

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Service is ugly. It messes with your orthodoxies. The usual tropes, that the guy asking for help is somehow damaged and undeserving of mercy, get stomped on. The other, that we are not enough, or that sacrificing will put us in jeopardy, are both shown to be false by the many who have sacrificed to give mercy and find that God has blessed them.

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Back to Chelsea. I have no interest in what underwear you choose to wear or whether you decide to be something other than whatever ugly you were born with. Neither is it noteworthy to me if you love a partner who shares your same genitals. There are two things I care about: parenting and dysfunction. For me, there are two genders: parents and non-parents. If you are a parent then I care about how you raise your kids and what that will mean to us as we have to cope with your progeny. Dysfunction should be obvious. If the reason you have decided to be an outlier and choose some gender identity that isn’t cis-male or cis-female is some bitterness or mental health thing–fix that. It’s the bitterness and the cray-cray and the way that makes an impact on us that matters to me. Whether you end up as two sausages or two oysters or whatever but are otherwise mostly healthy it is the healthy that I wish for.

I am struck by my encounters with some within the LGBTQ world. Rather than take what is noble and good about men or women they seem to like being obnoxious. The caricature they present as their true selves isn’t what we would wish from the better parts of what masculinity or femininity means. No, it’s the trashy stuff, the stuff where men or women are being asshats. That’s what seems to define the transgender set. They choose the aspects of men and women that are shameful and shove it in our faces as the real identity. It makes good copy and a terrible lifestyle.

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Things are going to change. It looks like a lot of the bribery of the Demokrats that they were using to stay in office is at risk. I am ok with this. What the Demokrats were offering through Billary was something we couldn’t keep doing. We are broke, America. Pimp Daddy US doesn’t have our money. The only difference between Dumpf and Billary was the severity of the collapse. With Billary the PUDFRB agitprops would get their D.C. in flames and a government that would have to shut down because it could no longer pay its bills. With Dumpf it may still happen but not as soon as it would have with Billary.

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I’m repeating myself  in this next. Empires come and go. Emperor’s rule and die. Dynasties rise and fall. The circle of life continues. Dumpf is done in at most, eight years. In the meantime, if you want to change the world the means to do so hasn’t changed. If you have not befriended your neighbor now would be a good time to do so. If you are renting now would be a good time to look for land to buy. You want something with a lot big enough to support a small garden and maybe a few chickens. If that’s illegal where you are maybe use all that political animus to get the county or city to approve of keeping chickens. Humbly seek to strengthen your relationships to those around you. Trust your instincts. Listen with both ears and be slow to speak. You’ll know what to do.

We change the world by being the change we seek. I know, it’s a cliche. Whatever. Still, do the small acts of kindness, be merciful and gracious first. Remember this? אם אין אני לי, מי הוא בשבילי? אם אני רק לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי? This also: עשו לאחרים את מה שהייתם רוצים שיעשו לכם – זאת תמצית התורה ודברי הנביאים.


Is There a God?

1 Corintios 2:14 “El que no tiene el Espíritu no acepta lo que procede del Espíritu de Dios, pues para él es locura. No puede entenderlo, porque hay que discernirlo espiritualmente.”

Right. An omniscient, omnipotent diety gives a shit about me. That’s not crazy. Nope. This diety won’t interfere with my choice to act out and will keep me from harm even though I am causing harm to myself and maybe others. He (?He? not s/he, s/him, or whatever?) What kind of patricarchical, obtuse, obscene, oppressive, phallic bullshit is this that God has to be a cis-guy? How do we know that this is all an illusion. That I am alone in my world, there are no others, what I percieve is wind, water, smoke, mirrors or all of that? Why would solipsism be false?

We have science. For 800 years the record has been corrected. Truth identified and documented. The farce of the bible exposed. Nietzsche is deep, “God is Dead.” Can we just get on with it and dispense with all this religious folly?

To which I have questions. What of women? Women are emotional, irrational, demanding, frustrating and desirous beyond reason. Some wicked demon made it such that a pleasure equal to eating demands that we deal with women. How sick is that?  Women are trouble. Yet, they are inescapable. More of the shitshow we arrived in. Woo. More questions. Are there exceptions to the law of causality? How does the quantum description of reality give rise to the reality we perceive?

I’m a bard, a bad one at that. I succeeded in my effort to avoid science as much as possible in college. My drunk alien RayRoberta Bob as god is almost plausable to me were it not a lifetime of indoctrination in the Reformed Tradition of the Presbyterian Church. So, I am going to add to my list of literary offenses and fail to answer the questions I posed.

My failure is not without purpose. First, I can’t begin to answer the physics questions I pose. I’m a stupid English major from a California State University in a time frame when degrees were being granted to proud C- students like myself. I graduated, but barely. Second, my world is absurd and mysterious. I’ve given up debating with God over whether the seven creation epochs were 7 Gregorian Calendar days of 24 hours each. The Bible and much more fails when made to survive an examination through Western scientific methods. I surrendered and in that surrender found my life to be better. God made the world in six phases and rested on the seventh. Good enough for me.

I mentioned Inger in a previous post. Inger, along with her self-serving approval of mincome, is annoyed with truth. The world consistently disobeys here desire for a modern, angular exegesis of reality. Absurdity and mystery piss her off. It should make sense. Everything should make sense. That it doesn’t is an affront to her stainless steel and concrete aesthetic.

Inger has not yet given up her fight with the universe. She means to win this one or die trying. So, all the kings men who have tried to put her back together in a less intense and more curved shape have failed. OCD much? Yeah.

I quit fighting my past. I am the dutiful first born son of a Presbyterian mother and Methodist father who became Presbyterian when he began dating my Mom. The older I get the more comfortable my same spot in the pews has become. Presbyterian Orthodoxy is an inescapable part of who I am.

So, my direct answer to the question of the existence of God is a reflexive, “yes.” No, it isn’t well-reasoned any more than my annual itches for an impossibly perfect Christmas that rattle about thanks to my Mom’s life-long fight with her sister for approval from their Mom. My belief in the existence of God is an act of faith, irrational and at odds with the world Inger wishes for. There are very few truly straight lines in my world.

Nothing I say can convince you of the existence of God. Either you agree he exists or you don’t. I’ve also lost my taste for winning the argument on this. I am quite happy in my little shack on a less traveled road in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. My call is to serve regardless of the object of my service’s beliefs regarding God. Sometimes, when you are hungry, a hot meal is the best altar call possible.

Wikipedia has an article on the question here. Allow me to offer a chain of reasoning that is weak but for me, worthy. First, does love exist? If it does and God is love, then since love exists God must also exist. Further. Love is a verb and by inference we witness the existence of God in his actions demonstrating his love for us.

Love is a weak voice shouted down by all the dissonant noise alive in the lives of us who found comfort on the shores of the River Styx. Crazy is our normal. Altruism, true altruism, triggers suspicion for us. There has to be something behind it, some gain or motive, some desire that drives the act of kindness. We find it hard to believe that self-less acts of kindness are possible. That there could be a deity who would want us to experience altruism seems impossible.

Hebreos 4:1-2, “Cuidémonos, por tanto, no sea que, aunque la promesa de entrar en su reposo sigue vigente, alguno de ustedes parezca quedarse atrás.Porque a nosotros, lo mismo que a ellos, se nos ha anunciado la buena noticia; pero el mensaje que escucharon no les sirvió de nada, porque no se unieron en la fe a los que habían prestado atención a ese mensaje.”

Yet, we live insane lives so Inger’s desire for a rational world hits our ears as a dissonant minor chord. The God I know fights being contained in a bakelite trimmed stainless steel and concrete temple. Left alone Chernobyl is overrun by moss and plants that ruin its modern architecture. His world is at least fractal in its complexity. He made a world in which Quantum theory helps make the calculus work. Why not an insane, absurd God for this shitshow?

I believe God exists for completely selfish reasons. I grew up in a house infested with mental illness. I was tormented by anxiety from a very early age. Anger became my binky. I could have what I wanted because I was able to cajole my parents into indulging me. This lasted until 1979 or so and my initial years with my paternal grandmother. I returned to Earl Palmer and the First Presbyterian of Berkeley seeking answers. I wanted something of home, even as fucked up as home was. Earl is brilliant and patient with yungins. It was after many Sundays listening to him preach that my heart was softened and I was ready to let God in. I believe God exists because that belief keeps me sane.

Later in life, as I came to understand that my life was going to collapse again and I’d have to rebuild for the fourth time, I needed a family. I found that in St. Giles, in the Men’s Fellowship. Without them I’d either be dead or in prison. Along the way I’ve experienced miracles of grace and mercy that knit well with my Protestant upbringing.

I believe God exists for irrational reasons. I attribute some of my experiences to him against reasoned deduction. It is a knowledge I have always had and found comfort in. Mine is not the place to win the argument. Mine is to serve you anyway, to share and walk with you as we count down our sunrises until we are rowed to the far shore of the River Styx.


Weapons Hot

Guns bother me. I don’t like it that there is a tool sold which is designed to kill. I get hunting. Venison is good eating. Our cops, military and security professionals are paid to face impossible choices and at times, take life. There are also people with a strong enough signal that they collect haters who go further than nasty words. They need guns. Everybody else? I wouldn’t ban guns. If you want one you should be able to buy one. But . . . my God asked me to love neighbor and enemy alike. So, the stinking turd of a question is, why own something made to facilitate killing?

You know this one: revenge is a dish best served cold. A variant: weapons purchases are best done coldly. If you have any dissonance, darkness, evil, or trouble in your heart, fix that. Fix it before you invest the time and money needed to buy a weapon. Definitely, if the reason for the weapon purchase is aggression against someone who has transgressed against you, don’t buy the weapon. As you stand at the counter choosing a weapon to purchase, you need to be clear and cold.

Weapons are tools for a deadly purpose. People are disturbingly talented at finding ways to hurt each other. Take away guns and we come up with something else to use with deadly intent. We should have the ability to buy and own a weapon. We also need to own the responsibility that comes with owning a tool made to kill.

Too, if you are still a boy in a mans body and want an impressive looking gun that signals your badassery, you are an idiot. We are a first world country. We are also a nation that is incredibly good at selling things. There is plenty you can spend your money on to signal what a stud muffin you are. It doesn’t have to be a gun. I won’t try to judge whether you need a .50 caliber pistol. If you want one, buy one. Just. . . I hope you aren’t buying it out of a need to make your mark among the guys. And if you do buy a .50 caliber pistol, put in the time and money at the range so you can actually hit what you are aiming at.

A little back story. My buddy, who moved to California just as I was finishing college, has decided that his safety is improved by owning a small armory. He’s already bought the dollar store version of the Mossberg 500 shotgun. Also on his shopping list is a .22 caliber long gun and a semi-automatic pistol. I think he’s an idiot for at least two reasons. First, in most self defense situations the distances are well within the range of a pistol. A shotgun could be a liability. Second, he’s doing this hot, out of fear.

I asked him about this post. His reason for starting with shotguns and low caliber long guns was ease of use. At close range a shotgun doesn’t need a skilled marksman to be effective. This is a comfort to him. And a .22 long gun has very little recoil and tends to be fairly accurate, again, relying on the weapon to compensate for poor marksmanship. Rather shitty reasons to own long guns. I hope he puts in the range time to keep up his skill with the weapons he owns.

A katana in the hands of a beginner is a reason to worry. The student and his weapon are a little too uncontrolled to be safe. It is why I was never allowed to practice with steel. Steel was for black belts after many years of repetitive practice with wood. Even then the black belts demonstrated with steel solo. I feel similarly about any gun in the hands of a poorly trained marksman. The marksman makes the gun more dangerous because of the low training effort and consequent poor skill.

It makes more sense to me that you would pick a weapon with the most utility given your needs. For me that is likely to be a semi-automatic pistol. Then, having made the choice you start with training and then maintain your skills through continued practice and training. Ownership should come at the end of an initial session of training. Everything you need to know about weapons can be learned at the range with a semi-automatic pistol. Master your primary weapon. After that, if you want other weapons and can buy them cold, have at it.

There are plenty who buy weapons, live long and go home to Jesus never firing a weapon in anger. For those that own weapons and enjoy them safely, good on you. I have no truck with your hobby. Y’all are not blog-post worthy. Us, the noisy and dissident, we are what generates content and posts like this one. It is us that need to check our narratives to explain why we want to own a weapon.

Self-defense. This one is tough for me. I’ve been a cab driver for almost 20 years. I’ve driven over 500,000 miles without endangering my passengers or being robbed. In all those miles I’ve never had a gun with me. The same behaviors which have gotten me to this point are what will continue to keep me safe. But . . . I am successful in a narrow circumstance where I’ve become skilled at staying safe. The world and the risks in it are way bigger than me. It happens that for some a weapon is needed for self-defense.

Just . . . after 5 years of training in Aiki Jujitsu and all those miles I can’t accept that your only option is a weapon. You have to be creative and smart when presented with a threat that could be shoot/don’t shoot. I’ve been through intense situations where a gun would have been an antagonizing addition. I got through them without a weapon. It can be done.

A small confession: I’ve been gun shopping. I looked at pistols at the counter at Cabella’s. The kid talking to me was in love with an off-brand .38 special revolver. I asked him about semi-automatic pistols and he showed me these made-in-north-korea knockoffs that were branded something like glok or smiss & wexxon. It was a short conversation.

Colonial Shooting Academy here in Henrico, VA was a more impressive experience. The guy talking to me was my age or so and really seemed to know his stuff. Felina was with me. I couldn’t get her to come over to my house for Halloween. I mentioned that I was going to window shop at Colonial Shooting and she was all about it. She had eyes for the Smith & Wesson 500. I thought she was stupid for liking it. The Shooting Academy guy showed me a couple Glocks. Nice weapons. The Glock 19 fit in my hand and felt good as I manipulated the slide and checked the magazine for rounds. His reason for recommending 9mm pistols was the price of ammo. Range ammo was really cheap and more deadly ammo was still inexpensive. He also said that ammunition makers have been working to improve 9mm ammo over other common sizes like .38 ACP.

Then Felina asked if we could put in some range time. I wasn’t ready for that. Felina can be a bit much. I rented a Glock 19 and she rented an AR-15 after I refused to buy range ammo ($4.00 for one round) for the 500. Whoa. Very tight groupings with the AR-15. She was scary good with the Glock.

I know a little about guns. I don’t know enough. I shot .22 rifles at summer camp as a Boy Scout. I had a British buddy in college who wanted to rent all the Hollywood guns–.44 magnum, 9mm Beretta, etc. We spent a couple hours murdering paper targets with guns he could not get at home. I shot a .22 Ruger competition pistol that was pretty easy to handle. Bigger than .38 caliber and I was a danger to myself and other people on the range. Plus, handling guns is an emotional thing for me. I quit shooting part way through the hour. My head was banging with the knowledge that these weapons were made to kill people.

That knowledge still bothers me. Both the Cabela’s visit and tonights visit to Colonial Shooting Academy were emotional experiences. Felina wasn’t helping. The sales guy at Colonial Shooting was a big help with her and with explaining things. Not sure knowing Felina is a fan-girl of big guns was reassuring. The sales guy had me at the Glock 19.

I wrote this last night while watching the final episode of Survivor: Millenials vs. Gen X. I tossed and turned last night. There was a quote I stumbled across online commenting about the Glock 19 from a Latina woman. She spoke of having a love/fear relationship with men. A gun was power for her. Power she wanted to use against men who scared her. Unpacking that is probably more than 1500 words. Still, I wouldn’t want laws in place that were intended to prevent her from owing a gun and feeling safer.

Women, I hear some of you. The world is not safe for you. Felina Ramos has been in Biloxi for the last few months. Another guy, another misadventure with a man. The guy is photogenic and fabulously fem. When they rode with me the other night the body language was story worthy. She was cold to him, stiffly giving him affection while he was annoyingly yappy. After we dropped off Buddy, Felina filled me in. Buddy was starting to creep her out. They were over the initial hot & horny and starting to know each other on the dark days. He’d turned possessive and demanding of her attention. When they were out he’d get all happy when she made the drink orders and chose what to eat. Felina has dealt with that before.

That wasn’t it. A few nights ago in Biloxi a guy asked them for a dollar. They mumbled a refusal and he started following them, calling them names, insisting that they give him money. Buddy was as useful as a Vietnamese dong. He kept whimpering that they should just give him money. Felina had to confront the homeless guy. Buddy was ever appreciative and thankful.

Felina’s big issue is trust. She trusts no one. From jump, she assumes she is going to get hurt. It takes a lot for her to relax and feel safe. Felina has never done the responsible thing and gone to safety classes or legally gotten a permit to carry. Her range time happens off the radar. The point for me is that Felina isn’t so enamored of Buddy after having to save his ass.

I get it that some women come to decide that they way they are going to make their world safer is by owning a gun. I wanted to deviate from my theme a bit to acknowledge that weapons ownership can mean different things for women. Along with women needing agency, needing a voice in policy and law, they need safety. It’s #2 on Maslow’s hierarchy, pretty important. We shouldn’t get in the middle of the choice to own a weapon for women that choose to do so.

I can be at peace with owning a gun and its responsibilities for reasons similar to why I liked owning a katana. It is an accomplishment to practice marksmanship and become skilled. I started this with, gun purchases are best done cold. I’d rather join those who own and master what a weapon can do than live with fear and conflicted feelings about a tool made to kill. Maybe it’s not a more reasonable justification than my buddy’s who is afraid of a nebulous threat from left-wing zombies. He responded with Luke 22:36, “He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one“. Jesus said this on the night before his crucifixion along with telling Peter that he would betray him. I’m a poor bible scholar. Read all of Luke 22 to get a fuller understanding of my friend’s quote.

I’ll leave you with this: the highest form of swordsmanship is living so you don’t need a sword. You can’t achieve that jerking a protest sign up and down in a picket line shouting, “no more guns, no more wars!” Nor is your safety assured locked in a university study room designated a safe space with demanding rules declaring what is and isn’t safe behavior. My readers would take great delight in literally shitting on your term paper for women’s studies before setting off a string of lady fingers in the room. We are like that. Learn to fight and win. Master your weapon so you live free of the need for a weapon.


Is the Bible Reliable?

No. That’s why I like it. That’s why I believe it is true. People are unreliable. Truth is fluid. At one time the earth sat at the center of the waters under the waters. Then by observation we come to understand that the earth circles a star. Over the decades we learn more and the truth changes again. A religious text that wasn’t a hot mess is to me a suspicious text. I’d expect a species that is a hot mess to write a hot mess book. What? People are not a hot mess? Seriously?

1cor134Mohamed declared he had recieved a revelation. He wrote the القرآن الكريم. He wanted the Bible to make sense. It does not and neither does the Q’uran. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, annoyed at the flaws in translation that have crept in to the Bible over thousands of years, did the scorched earth thing, and started from scratch. They messed up. But, since, they’ve gotten on their high horses and declared all of us to be apostate. No, they are right and we are going to hell. Some Muslims, impatient with God, have decided that the way to bring about a post-apocalyptic paradise is to force God’s hand and have that final calvary battle in Syria.

Sure, God is going to reward a bunch of zealots a post Revelations paradise on earth, with Mohamed returned, because they charged across a battlefield in Syria waving swords and firing muskets at the enemy while riding horseback. That’s not nuts. That’s rational.

Let’s not forget the numerous Christians who isolated themselves somewhere yelling that the rapture was nigh and they needed to be ready. The moment comes and the less insane of them realize that the buzzer on the dryer has gone off and one of the kids is crying because it’s time to eat. Life. Intrudes. Or the more insane of these sects that loses their damned mind and immolates or drinks poison.

If you brought me a religious text designed by Apple that was all bauhaus and logically (Aristotle’s logic) solid I’d not want it. The meaning of the word “bible” is library. It is a selection of religious texts argued over from the beginning. If there is any feature of Christianity it is our love of debate and apologia. We get it from our Jewish ancestors. Our central religious texts reflect that.

How much more loving, poetic, and accurate is a canon of 66 books which have stood the test of time. And, yes, we can’t even agree on a consensus of which books belong in the bible and which should be left out. So, 66 books is a fungible number. There isn’t even one bible. BibleGateway offers roughly a hundred editions of the Bible in various languages and from different sects. Over these books a grand narrative plays out from the creation story(s) in Genesis through to the Revelation of John. It is us. It is reliable in its depiction of the core values, core beliefs of us, of followers of Christ.

Please, though, stop trying to make it into something it isn’t. The foolishness of some, that want to bend the bible into a modernist, utopian exegisis of orthodox truth, reliable in its facts, historically accurate down to the angel on pinhead count, this is nonsense. The bible is a canon of the heart and stomach. It is absurd when viewed through 20th Century, rational eyes. Let it be what it is and the beauty of its truth exposes itself.

John 1:1-John 1:5 ESV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” One of the oft-quoted mistranslations by the Jehovah’s Witnesses is:  “In the beginning was the Word,+ and the Word was with God,+ and the Word was a god.*+  This one was in the beginning with God.  All things came into existence through him,+ and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.” Much is made of a small change, “Word was a God“.

The whole debate makes my head hurt. You can read one article on it here. It is significant to this piece because in spite of our continued wrangling over what we believe, what should and shouldn’t be part of the canon, the Bible thrives. One answer for many is to dismiss the whole mess out of hand because there has been so much hypocrisy, so much evil done in the name of the Lord. If that is you, fine. If humans have any constant, it is our talent for strife. We know the right thing to do yet we still do things we should not.

To repeat something I said in another post, my world is nuts. It is absurd. Nobody behaves, not even God. Them that throw tantrums because there are too many that don’t behave in amenable way are entertaining idiots. As I write this there is a small group of protesters who have decided to occupy a bridge. The idea is that they can stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Many beloved tropes about evil oil companies are sung as hymns by the press and fellow travelers. Those evil oil companies want to pipe oil across sacred Native American lands, ruining the water table, despoiling Mother Earth and worst of all, make money. This is sacred truth for the protest bunch. We who might disagree are apostate. We are ipso facto fascist.

I’m sure, were I able, opening a conversation with the protesters that challenged their orthodoxy, would not go well. They know their truth is accurate, factual. Me, the WASP, just doesn’t understand. If I understood I’d agree with them. The bible is reliable because it accurately reflects us. We are obstinate, sure of our orthodoxies, intolerant of opposition or differences, quick to speak with two mouths and close one ear.  For some, my drunk alien is more true than some wild-assed fable about a martyred carpenter from Nazareth. An absurd word of God works for me.

The books we keep resonate across time. Of all the greek plays to keep we kept Oresteia. Of all the inspirational books across time there are 66 which persist in spite of everything. They reflect who we are and how we can be better. Their very absurdity is what makes them beloved by me. Last bible quote as I end this, Colossians 3:16, “ Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Ok, actually, a couple more: John 1:9-14, “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”


F R E E D O M ! ! !

Explore God: Is Christianity Too Narrow?

Christianity has too many rules. If I want to party all night long to loud music while my buddy boffs a hot chick, why not? I mean, it’s my life. Fuck off!

Let’s see . . . creepy fifty-something guy trying to relive his despicable twenties. That’s not a problem. No. It’s fine. Yeah. Totally fine.

Some two-year old’s discover a certain word and find it to the the most powerful spell they can utter. It’s one syllable. It’s total bad-ass magic. What’s the word? “No.” That child utters that word and suddenly the world stops. All the grownups perk up. Some of them freeze. It’s awesome.

Right around puberty we learn a word-storm that boils down to, “the grownups are stupid. I’m old enough. I should be able to do what I want.” Some of us do and get noticed by this space. Those that do make great copy. We love them.

The question for today in church was, “Is Christianity too Narrow?” I had a reflexive, “no” come out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop it. You can click away now because I’m going to say triggering and macro-aggressive things next. Gone yet? Go. Git. Seriously, this is not the blog post you should be reading. Go back to YouTube for more kitten videos.

The ones I want gone are the ones who will not listen to what’s next. According to them I am intolerant, racist, misogynist, lbgt hater, alt-right freak, etc. Because of my adjectives I am innately at odds with the orthodoxy of the day. Because of my history I cannot shed the scarlet letter that binds me to shame. Nothing I can say is sufficient. It is I who has to change, who has to behave in a way amenable to the haters of this blog. It is I that must continue to ask for supplication from my haters and fail to get it. So, I’m not talking to my haters.

I loved the word, “no” so much I kept saying it all the way to my grandma’s house in Albany, CA where I found someone who had me before I could say it. It wasn’t until I was fifty-something that I could sing, “I’m Trading My Sorrows” and feel it deep in my belly.

It was once I began to say, “Yes Lord” that a lifetime of Sunday’s in worship began to make an impact on my life. None of the altar-calls before the last one stuck. I’m alive today because of Jesus.

Tommy Nance gave the message last Sunday. He made a challenge to those present. He asked us if worship could be a sin. He asked us to wonder if all we do is warm a pew on Sunday whether our comfort in that pew could be used to coddle us into a dead reflection of God’s image birthed in us when sperm & egg became zygote. He challenged us to get out of the church and be the church in our communities. He accused us of brilliantly winning debates against unbelievers who challenge our exegesis. He described listening evangelism where we let people tell us about God.

You have met us before. You know us better than we know ourselves. You see us come down the street and go inside your homes to wait us out. We are the traveling sales people of the church. We door-knock, bibles at the ready, locked & loaded to capture more heathens. The only win is one where you give your life to Jesus right then. What we want is to close the sale, win the deal and bring home another buck for the church.

That isn’t me. I wasn’t asked to sell you so you become a Christian. I was asked to shut my pie hole and serve you. I am narrow in my beliefs. I do believe that a lot of the current orthodoxy about inclusion is the very opposite of inclusion. I don’t get what I want most of the time because my way of life as a Christian forces some difficult choices.

I’ve had it good. There is very little I can’t have or do if I set about to accomplish it. I’m almost 15 years into boot-strapping myself to where I am today. The devil’s buffet was a delight for some of my years. Until I pushed away from it and left my dirty plate and half-empty soda-pop at the table. To root myself in a 2,000 year tradition, to know that many have gone before me with similar questions, didn’t become a reason to reject my heritage. It has become a comfort.

When you have privilege, when the world is your oyster, your presence as a citizen of a first world nation gives you access to uncountable wealth. Oh stop. I know. The vast majority of the world lives on a few dollars a day. Our richest 1% controls an obscene percentage of the world’s wealth. I won’t hear a pitch that the answer is to take all that wealth and give it to the 99%. Go away.

Well, not yet. The wealth redistribution project that has been under way for almost a century has cost in the hundreds of trillions. We have sent boatloads of cash to that doe-eyed kid on TV who just wants a few cents a day from us to be able to eat a couple crumbs of leftover UNESCO rice. That kid is still in the late-night TV ads with a tear in his (?her?) cheek. Multi-trillions of dollars later and the claim is that we have not done enough. I’m in my mid-fifties. I first saw that ad as a teenager. That kid is old enough to be a grandparent. Somebody must not think I am very bright.

I need to stop at one paragraph of that. This is what I want to say. My privilege did not fix my major malfunctions. Quite the opposite. My privilege enabled me to have my major malfunctions. I could, to a great extent, use my position to insulate myself from misery. The idea that the answer for that doe-eyed kid is a first world life of privilege is an idea ripe for this space in its absurdity and folly. What I need is structure. It is miserable to choose a life which demands I wake at 4am for chapel and includes a reading schedule that will get me through the Psalms in a week. I count that misery as joy compared to having tasted the Devil’s buffet and pushed away from the table.

All of what the Devil has to offer has a short half-life. Early on it is grand. You want that early experience. Soon enough, though, his appetite for your soul begins to drain the euphoria out of his buffet and the bleed of your joy and spirit begins. Each attempt at recovering that early ecstasy diminishes the pleasure and increases the soul-sucking pain. These should be familiar outcomes: morgue, hospital, rehab and prison or jail. Some or all of those happen more than once except the morgue. If you are there then you have been eaten and there is nothing left to eat.

Jesus offers us an examined, disciplined life of self-sacrificing love. Those aspects of our lives that need to die are offered up to the cross in repentance. Christian life is a constant sacrifice of those aspects of ourselves which hinder a deeper relationship to Christ. It is narrow by design. And their lies the problem for anyone like myself that has a first-world life. We are asked to give up all the perks that come with being who we are in this time and place.

I part company with evangelists because they run right past this truth: this life isn’t for everyone. Christ died to live and to be his disciple we must also die to the world in order to live in Him. It is a high price to pay for a life that does not assure comfort. No, actually, being Christian has been and continues to be a miserable life for many. Saying the prayer and joining us isn’t ipso-facto, life-time warranty, 100% guarantee acquistion in 5 easy payments of a release from strife. Nope. I did both. I supped at the Devil’s buffet and realized he was eating me. Then I knocked on Heaven’s Door and Jesus let me in. That has made all the difference.



Felina Ramos

Felina Ramos is in her twenties. It’s been hell getting here. I was all set to write a blog post about the speed at which many tag a given narrative as proof of rape culture and in so doing, cheapen the phrase. Check your narratives people. And, yes, I am hinting that my story of a young intern flipping out because a coworker smiled at her will continue in this space. Felina, though.

pigface-flowerFelina’s story killed it. I know she’s an outlier, that most women don’t have such an outsized story to tell. I am one who loves to point out that the stories we publish are the ones that have a larger than life aspect to them. Only a small percent of us are black and bullet ridden. Only a few women have survived as much as Felina. The 99% will never have a story worth a blog post. Felina does.

Felina dresses goth, has a bloody rose tattoo on her left arm. She’s in Richmond trying again to get her grades together to return to Stanford where her full ride scholarship awaits. Her uncanny attraction to pigs is a bit unnerving. She’s not attracted to them. Too many come at her with attitude she reads as, “I could get from flirty to dirty sheets pretty quick with you.”

How About . . . No

I see what the pigs see. I also saw the steel and concrete in her eyes buttressing a deep river of anger that made me decide that I’d regret checking her off on my bucket list. The weather has been good so she’s been living on the street. It’s not as if Felina hasn’t been offered help. It is this. The last time she agreed to take a bed in a shelter she woke up to find the overnight worker fondling her. The place promised to be safe, to be somewhere where she could try again to get healthy, was a place hosting a predator.

Felina spent a night in jail recently after she slapped a well meaning woman at the bus stop who offered, “everything happens for a reason. You have to look for the lesson in this.” The things that Felina has survived defy explanation.  The lesson life has taught her is worse than a night in city jail after bitch-slapping that woman.

Felina, 24, born in Haiti to a Peace Corp father. Dad came to Haiti as an aid volunteer for Hurricane Gordon (1994). Mom was Mormon at the time, in Haiti to soak up the sun, eat, and maybe find out about her family’s connection to the island. Dad’s roots were Moorish and Mom’s were Catalan. Felina grew up in Puerto Rico. A fine beginning that went further south for Felina at around age 12.

The thing that has been so stunning is her inability to escape predators. Monsters under the bed? She’s got men wanting her in the ugliest way. Mom & Dad wanted her to break the family curse and so sent her to boarding school. Their idea was that if they sent her to a good boarding school she’d be safe and set for college and success.

Good Plan . . . Gone to a Nightmare.

Boarding school had a janitor (pig #2) who liked them young. His special pet was Felina, who gave herself to him until she graduated with honors. She got a full ride at Stanford, as far away from Georgia as she could manage. Nightmare over? Not even. It was as if she had some sort of invisible nametag that said, “abuse me.” It wasn’t even limited to men. Women would coo that it’s safer with a girl and then bust out the latex and whips.

Childhood in Carolina, Puerto Rico before boarding school was a little better than what TV loves to show. Her parents did better than most. They both worked, her Dad sold shaved ice (Pure Mountain Water!) to tourists and her Mom as an office manager in a doctor’s office. She had one sister two years younger than her and an older brother she seldom saw. The brother was a soaring vulture who was only home when he wasn’t in jail or had run out of money. But, they had a house and a car, which was more than many of her childhood friends.

Felina’s reason for wanting to go to boarding school was a Bambalan (pig #1) friend of her Dad. This bichote started with her when she was eight. Then she got her first period and he told Papa that she was spoiled and could never marry a Catholic. Es lo que hacen los hombres.

Felina Ramos Knows

Felina knows a couple things. She knows that some men are weak against her and will do nearly anything if she asks them the right way. She knows that no one has ever been able to contain her behavior. She can and has done many taboo things. Lately, though, she knows that between bicho and a good book it is the book that feels better. Some rosehip tea, a fleece robe and something by James Patterson are way better than pene apestosas.

She’s on meds and most days her life trying to hold it together almost makes it to sundown without drama. She’s was living at home in Carolina helping take care of her parents for a couple years. She became the parent in the family for her sister and her gilipollas brother. Then a friend of the family told her she could come to Richmond and study at John Tyler to get her grades up and go back to Stanford. One more gallo del paseo who had her crotch in mind. She still hopes to make it back to Stanford some day.

I was ready to launch, ready to yell at those who cheapen the phrase “rape culture” by spewing it with abandon. It was one of those odd moments I’ve had. I saw what the predators saw. She comes across as an easy fuck. Sometimes, she is. Her heart is walled up behind a deep stone fortress of too many men assuming she’d like it quick and rough. She’s been abused too much, taken for granted too many times, had hands and bicho invade her safety. She is the exception that kills my glittering generality. Her story is too oft told, too old for a young woman.

I’m still there. I live here too. I see that the devil is hard at work eating souls. He’s made an oven for us and we are being baked in depravity until we are nicely golden brown and bubbly. I’m past the age where every woman I see is one I want to fuck. If SYHT reappeared in my life offering a bit of bacchanal it wouldn’t be an obvious yes. I flirted with Felina. But I’ve driven too many miles in a cab, carried to many Felina’s to be captured by her spell so easily. Not Felina specifically, but many like her who got with a guy hoping to use him as a lily pad and discovering he was a drunk, an asshat and worse. Women whom I pick up between 3 and 5am who had something in mind that didn’t happen and now need me to get them home.

What Size Are You?

The thing that bugs me is that the young women burning up the tubes with accusations of rape culture present it as a fact as immutable as the sunset. It is again the assignment of a narrative based on the stories of women like Felina as proof that all men are pigs needing castration and a training bra. And again the stipulation that the victims have no agency. They must just accept their fate as jaiva for bicho. They were born this way.

The genius of Christ was this. His revolution started within. He asked us to examine our own lives and the ways we are broken and in need of repentance. I can’t offer an answer to Felina that explains why life has been shitting down her throat. I can offer her hope that the shit-show can be less shitty. I didn’t start out well at age 19. The ending will be a lot better.

Felina and I are connected through social media. Lately I’ve become a ghost to her. If I were younger and hornier this would be a problem. Now? Meh. Some people are with us for a season and are gone. We get to keep the memories. Felina, when I told her I prophesized that she’d be ok, at first got angry with me and then got quiet, mascara and eye-liner leaking down her cheek.

We owe ourselves and Felina a little introspection and as needed, some effort at behaving better. And yeah, this site is for the pigs, the outliers and malcontents, God made them too. I still hope Felina will find the right support and be able to end the nightmare. And . . . allow me my hope that maybe the pigs will get a shock of recognition and perhaps chill the fuck out.