Absolution series

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Write Way

So, the shrink suggests I do what I enjoy, perhaps put pen to paper (figuratively speaking) and express my thoughts and fears.  Write them down, go back and read them, grammar check and analyze and peer into the real 400lb Gorilla - not just the outward persona, but rather the innermost workings of my poor little pea brain. 

So, that's what I did.  The result wasn't necessarily what I expected, but rather something altogether different. Rather than telling myself my story, I began writing a fiction series that ended up being amazingly and refreshingly dark.  I called the series, "Absolution for the Average Joe," a series of books that tell the tale of individuals who have experienced something traumatic in their lives and how those traumas manifest themselves outwardly.  The trauma is of their own doing and a price is to be exacted from each of them in a similar manner of the trauma they caused.  It's their act of contrition, their opportunity to right wrongs and do so in quite the dramatic fashion.  This particular series centers around a man by the name of Samuel and illustrates his descent into darkness and how he came to call his acts of retribution "Forced Absolution." 

I've completed the first two books of the series and they are available on Amazon.com for $.99 each, downloadable for Kindle. 

The first is called, Touch of Darkness

The second is entitled, Angels Have Fallen.

Do me a favor and pick up a copy of each, download them to your Kindle or load them into your Kindle Reader software on your Mac or PC.

Thank you.  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Government Has Become A Church

Sad Jesus frowns on their shenanigans.
Billy got involved in the ministry because, well, he wanted to minister too others as he had been ministered to as a child.  He came from a broken home where his father had died in an automobile accident when Billy was a small child and the church had stepped up to the plate and provided comfort and aid to his family.  The pastor would regularly visit with his wife and give Billy's family an opportunity to openly and candidly share their grief.  Over time, Bill realized that what his pastor and church family had done was what he needed to do as an adult.

Billy graduated from seminary and accepted his first post as an associate pastor at a large, established church in an urban setting.  Within a week at the new job, Billy began to see a whole lot more political happenings than ministry happening.  Before long, he was disenchanted with the concept of ministry and left completely to work as a telemarketer.  

One of the biggest problems the Church faces in America right now is that of identity.  The Church is supposed to be a place of respite, a sanctuary for the sick, peace for the lost, and a location where the homeless are fed and the poor have their needs met.  Today, that New Testament visage of what the Church is truly supposed to be has been sacrificed at the altar of political or financial expediency.  After all, meeting need and caring for the least among us isn't as sexy as a rally at the capitol building steps protesting the alleged "gay agenda." 

There's the financial motivation to be a political church rather than a New Testament Church:  Meeting need, caring for the poor, feeding the hungry, and caring for the sick actually costs money and frankly, many churches would rather keep that money to pay for parsonages, campaigns, and the like.

Look, I'm not saying for a second that I have this "faith" thing down because I don't.  I've failed in every way imaginable.  I've been a lousy father, a terrible husband, a mediocre friend, and a mean spirited jackass.  But regardless of my myriad failures, the truth is still the truth and church leaders who become elected officials have proven time and again that ministry is the last thing on their minds, but rather creating a theocratic environment that will supposedly usher in the 2nd Coming has become their real agenda.  Forget feeding the hungry because that's someone else's "calling." To hell with healing and helping the sick because, after all, that's what doctors are for, right? 

Where in the New Testament is there an edict for the Church to become political activists?  Good luck finding it because it simply doesn't exist.  There's an incident where Paul appeals to Caesar during prosecution in the hopes of absolution, but it is a far cry from Jesus saying, "Go out and pass laws that show how much you hate supposed sin."  That's not what He said - He commanded us to "make disciples." 

What we DO know is what Christ had to say about the religious political leaders of his day...here are a few samples.

"Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger." ~ Mt. 23:1-4.
He said that they have "seated themselves in the chair of Moses," which means that they have set themselves up as the ones who are the arbiters of the Law.  He also points out their hypocrisy because they make laws and commandments that they see as right, but not seeing the sins they themselves commit.

"But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments." ~ Mt. 23:5
Press conferences, public hearings, press releases and news stories of their righteous indignation - all for the purpose of gaining notoriety.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves." ~ Mt. 23:15
This pretty much speaks for itself, but in this passage Christ is calling the Pharisees out and underscoring the fact that they are scumbags and their disciples are scumbags as well.  

Matthew 23 continues with some of the harshest, most condemning language in all of the New Testament and all spoken by Christ himself.  And it makes one wonder what these Pharisees think when they read it and because of the fact that they act like sociopaths, they cannot believe for a second that it could be about them.  It's sad, it's tragic and the people of Oklahoma end up paying for their idiocy.

For this new breed of "Christian soldier" who are neither truly Christian nor soldiers, government is a means to an end.  Like the Pharisees, they use the law to create what they interpret as a religious world versus a secular world.  They will use government as a place to worship, to be worshiped and their sacrament has been the sacrifice of common sense.  Whether they believe it or protest the fact, for them, the government has become their church.  Many of these Pharisees condemn the government for caring and feeding the poor, but the government does it because the Church is too busy with their shenanigans to do what they have been commanded.

Of course, I could be wrong but I seriously doubt it.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Live For Now, Not Then

“It is by no means an irrational fancy that, in a future existence, we shall look upon what we think our present existence, as a dream.”  ― Edgar Allan Poe

We are often told that we are to live in the "now," to put behind us our past and never look back.  Heck, that type of thinking even has Biblical precedent - Lot's wife took a look back and turned to a pillar of salt, the Apostle Paul write sin Philippians 3, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." In essence, we just keep on trucking, move ever forward and basically give no thought to our past.

Frankly, I don't think those passages, those axioms can be by taken autonomously.  We just forget that which we experienced yesterday?  There has to be more, right?

We are unquestionably the sum total of our experiences.  Every little moment of joy, every twinge of pain and discontent While those experiences may not define our personality or paint us into a corner wherein there is no hope for the future, it's intellectually dishonest to think that without looking back once in a while, we can learn necessary life lessons.  It's exhausting to hear people say how we can't "live in the past," but I'll be honest...I get it.  We live in the here and now, we exist in the here and now and unlike the Creator, we are confined by time and space.  It's who we are.  So, how about something different?

1.  We look back at our past to see the mistakes we have made, and those mistakes often remind us of our fallibility.

2.  Sometimes, looking back and moments of joy, remind us what joy looks, tastes, and feels like again.  We often need that reminder.

3.  We look back to remember what we have forgotten.  I've lost whole blocks of my memory from the past and it's frustrating as hell.  I look back at times to try and fill in the gaps, to cross that bridge from curiosity to knowledge.  Sometimes, I have to trudge through muddy waters to get there and it's worth it, I tell you.

4.  Shut out the condemning voices - including our own.  "Therefore there is now no condemnation," (Romans 8) is a reality, but only so if we apprehend it and apply it to ourselves first. The voices of condemnation are all around us - there will be those who are hell bent on your destruction, your voice just has to be louder than theirs.  Maybe we just learn a new language and speak that language to minds...

5.  Acceptance.  Just accept the fact that there are some seriously jacked up things in your past and own them.  I've made a mountain of them and yes, I own those bitches.  There are many other mountains of bullshit out there, but this one is all mine.  When you own it, you control it rather than it controlling you.

What we learn from our previous mistakes is really up to us.  We can allow it to change the very core of our being or we can look at it for what it is - a learning opportunity.  I confess that I have not apprehended this truth myself.  I still hold a great deal of anger as a result of my youth, but the progress has been made that I know without hesitation that the past cannot own me.  It has only the control over me which I choose to give it.

We live for now, yes, but it doesn't hurt one damned bit to remember the joys and pain of the past - embrace that which is good, discard that which is bad.

I don't know.  I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it.


Monday, January 12, 2015

It Will Not Happen In Oklahoma

There are trends sweeping the nation in a cultural, spiritual and physical sense and some consider them to be enlightened.  It's more complicated than just moral standards because even the most "moral" pillars of our community, when all alone and no one is looking or listening, they agree with principle.  For example...

Legalization of marijuana - medical or otherwise.  Perhaps  I am wrong, but I cannot see this ever happening in the state of Oklahoma.  Liquor by the drink was hard enough to get through the concrete walls of morality, to pass something as controversial as medical marijuana under this Pharisaical leadership just is not going to happen.  The only way it will be even considered by the hyperbolic moral majority in Oklahoma, is to see one of their own suffering under immense pain with no hope for relief.  It's okay, of course, to prescribe medication that is highly addictive and destroys the body from the inside out, but marijuana is "of the devil."  Personally, I have a difficult time reconciling my position about legal alcohol while marijuana remains illegal.  The hypocrisy stacks up so fast in Oklahoma, you need wings to stay above it.

Elimination of the death penalty.  We like killing bad guys in Oklahoma.  It's as though we have a desire to be like our big brother, Texas, when we grow up.  Regardless of the fact that we have screwed up executions so badly as to be an international embarrassment, regardless of the fact that we have no doubt imprisoned the innocent and called them guilty (Jeffrey Todd Pierce, for example) and destroyed their lives, regardless of the fact that we tout our "pro-life" position like a badge of courage but kill prisoners with impunity, we just like the feel of what we deem as justice, our unique brand of justice.  We use Scripture to argue our position of being pro-life, but forget that those Scriptures are written in both the imperative and indicative tenses - and that it applies across the board, and not selectively.  This is not to say, of course, that we can use deadly force to protect lives in the moment, in the immediate sense.  There is justification for that, but to imprison on shady or questionable evidence and then to kill in the name of the state...   What ever happened to Joyce Gilchrist, by the way?

Over the last couple years, it seems like Oklahoma is undergoing a bit of a change, a shift if you will.  The change isn't a shift to the left or to the right politically, but rather it seems like the level of apathy has reached epic proportions.  The legislature continues to trudge ever forward, presenting legislation that is largely moral in nature instead of Constitutional.  Think about it:  Legislation that increases the difficulty for divorce where children are involved (as though keeping children in a dysfunctional household is the right thing to do), DNA samples taken at the point of felony arrest - not conviction, and the list goes on.  There is a change in the wind alright, and I don't think anyone is going to like it much.

What difference does it make to me or to the average Joe?  Not much.  We're too concerned with staying alive than we are changing public policy.

Of course, these are just my opinions and I could be wrong.  But I seriously doubt it.