Meaningless, meaningless, all is meaningless... including this blog.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part VI Saturday, December 31, 2022

Today's reading is from chapter twenty of The Gospel of Martha, where the Christ has gathered his apostles around a camp fire and is teaching them mysterious lessons that are difficult to comprehend. Jesus often said that those who have ears, let them hear. The common understanding of this phrase is to pull your head out of your butt and pay attention.

Jesus saith, "I took my stand in the midst of the world, and in flesh I appeared unto them. I found them all intoxicated, and I found none thirsty. My soul became afflicted for the sons of men, because they are blind in their hearts and see not; for empty they came into the world, and empty they seek to depart. But meantime they are drunk. When they shake off their wine, then will they change of their pants. And, behold, I will give them pants to wear anew."

Jesus saith, "If the flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a marvel; but if spirit came into being because of the body, that is a marvel of marvels. Yet I marvel how the spirit hath come to dwell in so great a mass of flesh, without being crushed, or suffocated.: And he looked straitly upon Judas Iscariot, for he was obese.

Jesus saith, "Where there are three deities, they are one. Where there are two, I am not down with that."

Jesus saith, "No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician healeth those who know him; no dentist is welcome in his mother's mouth; no handyman repaireth the house of his own wife; no cannibal doth eat his own children, unless he is an hungred with fierce appetite. For I say unto you, people who eat people are the hungriest people in the world."

Jesus saith, "A city built on an high hill and fortified falleth not, except ye have a catapult with fiery payload; nor can it be hidden, unless ye weave a very great canopy, and the colours of it are that of the surroundings thereof."

Jesus saith, "What ye will hear in your ear, let the other ear proclaim from your rooftops. After all, no one lighteth a lamp and putteth under a bushel, nor doth he put in an hidden place. Rather, he putteth it on a lampstand so that all who cometh and goeth will be drawn to it like moths. Then he sitteth, and he watcheth, as they flutter and flitter about the lamp in befuddlement."

Jesus saith, "If a blind man leadeth a blind man, both will fall into an hole. But if that hole be not large enough to contain both, then will the one pull out the befallen, and he in turn will fall in. And the blind will for ever be taking turns falling into an hole."

Jesus saith, "One entereth not the house of a strong man and taketh by force without tying his hands. But in order to tie his hands, one must be quick and stealthy. Then can one loot his house, and find that which is hidden under the floor boards, unless the floor is of solid rock."

Jesus saith, "Do not fret, from morning to evening and from evening to morning, what you are going to eat, or what you are going to wear. So poop or get off the pot."

Jesus saith, "As for thee, when thou hast no garment, what wilt thou put on? Who might add to thy stature? But thou shalt put on the used clothes of thine older siblings. That very one will give unto thee thy garment; and it shall be unto thee an hand-me-down."

His disciples say unto him, "When wilt thou appear to us, and when shall we see thee?” Jesus saith, “When ye disrobe without being ashamed, and ye take your clothes and put them under your feet like little children and tread upon them, then shall ye see the son of the living one and ye will not be afraid: as though a tiny infant before its immense parent, who doth powder its bottom, and diaper it, and fitteth with a clean sleeping gown of white linen."

Jesus saith, "Oft have ye desired to hear these sayings that I am speaking unto you, and ye have no one else from whom to hear them. There will be days when ye shall seek me, but ye shall find me not. Then will there be days when ye shall hearken back to my words which have become written gospel, and ye shall ponder of their original intent."

Anysia of Thessalonica Friday, December 30, 2022
Today is the feast day of Anysia of Thessalonica (circa 284-304) and, therefore, a short blog post. Although wealthy, she sold all that she owned and gave everything to the poor, then dedicated herself to a strict life of Christian faith. She was murdered sometime around the turn of the fourth century by a Roman soldier who beat her and attempted to drag her into a pagan temple. In his defense, she did spit in his face and it was a perfectly legal kill for the time, as Christians were fair game by edict of Emperor Maximian. But Lord forgive me for being glib because she died due to confession of her faith in Christ while living a chaste and pious life, which is far more than can be said of me. Let me also remind myself today of Paul's admonition to the Thessalonians not to be idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 11). I'm pretty sure Paul would chastise me for watching too much football, among other things. I have to confess that I am a glutton for college football. And another thing -- I often hear others say that the Bible was written by men and not God. Paul also reminded the Thessalonians that the Gospel is not the human word but the word of God (1 Thess 2:13) and that those who do not believe are under a powerful delusion (2 Thess 2:11). I am a firm believer in reason, however -- and I say "however" not in opposition to reason but in favor of truth -- unbelievers are blinded both by Satan and by God. That's tough to overcome except by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Flushing Remonstrance Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Today I shall reach into my hat and pull out... the Flushing Remonstrance. On this day in 1657, a petition was submitted to Petrus "Peg Leg Pete" Stuyvesant (1610-1672), director-general of the colonies of New Netherland, which comprised much of early New York and New Jersey. A staunch member of the Dutch Reformed Church (Calvinists), Stuyvesant was opposed to religious freedom, including any other Christian denomination, and especially Jews -- despite growing religious tolerance in the Netherlands. The petition came from English settlers in Flushing (formerly Vlissingen, now part of Queens, NY), in support of Quaker missionaries who were being persecuted. Quakers, formally the Religious Society of Friends ("the Friends"), were a Protestant sect who practiced a liberal form of Christianity in which all believers are priests and emphasis is placed on each individual's experience with God. Stuyvesant poo-pooed the petition and, in response, replaced the local government. In 1663, in response to a petition to the Dutch West India Company by banished Flushing colony member and Quaker convert John Bowne, Stuyvesant was ordered to cease religious persecution. The following year, the colonies of New Netherland came under British control during the Anglo-Dutch Wars and was renamed New York. Although predominantly Anglican, the British allowed relative religious freedom in the Articles of Capitulation (8/27/1664), which extended to Quakers and members of the Dutch Reformed Church. Signed by thirty colonists, the Flushing Remonstrance is considered by many to be influential to the U.S. Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. From the New York State Archives Partnership Trust of the New York State Education Department, here is the petition (slightly edited) in its entirety:
Right Honorable,

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. We are bound by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible for the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if we have our advocate to seek, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attach us, neither excuse us, for if God justify who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justify.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministery, that cannot be, for the Magistrate hath his sword in his hand and the Minister hath the sword in his hand, as witness those two great examples, which all Magistrates and Ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing. And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state, by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is evil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which arises up against the fundamental law of the States General; so he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, so love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title he appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to do unto all men as we desire all men should do unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egress and regress unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bound by the law of God and man to do good unto all men and evil to no man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall hold to our patent and shall remain, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

Written this 27th of December in the year 1657, by me.

Edward Hart, Clericus

New York State Archives Partnership Trust
© New York State Education Department

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Nittel Nacht Saturday, December 24, 2022
Today is observed by some Jews, particularly of the Hasidic order, as Nittel Nacht -- a Yiddish term loosely meaning "Night of the Hanged One." Nittel Nacht was started sometime in the seventeenth century as a way for Jews to escape the caroling wrath of Christians on Christmas Eve by remaining in their unlit homes and abstaining from studying the Torah. A couple questions arise here: Why would Christians be angry with Jews and why would Jews abstain from the Torah? In medieval Europe, Christians were known to harass Jews for demonizing Jesus, the holiday seasons notwithstanding. To many Jews, Jesus' death on the cross was a curse (Deuteronomy 21:23). As one who is accursed, Jesus listens for Jews who are reading their Torah on his special days, which earns him a temporary reprieve from his eternal suffering, during which he may visit the Jewish house and grab Jewish children from inside their bathroom toilet, pulling them down into the gutters of Tzoah Rotachat (the shittiest part of hell). I cannot make this up, nor would I. One way of passing the time on Nittel Nacht is to gather the family and read the Toledot Yeshu ("Life of Jesus"), an early (possibly sixth century) Jewish account of Jesus whereby he is portrayed derogatively as an illegitimate bastard child of a menstruate woman, practiced sorcery, taught heretical Judaism, was disrespectful to the teachers of the Law, seduced women, was possessed, died a shameful death, and was continually referred to as "the wicked one." Oh, and Judas Iscariot was the hero of this story, having actually engaged Jesus in aerial combat. At first an oral tradition, these stories were compiled into the written Toledot Yeshu sometime between the eighth and ninth centuries. However, there is no original version and most accounts differ to some degree. What, never heard of it? Read it here, here or here. Another thing that is abstained from on Nittel Nacht is sexual intercourse because it is believed by some that only apostates are conceived on Christmas Eve. The consumption of garlic is also encouraged as it tends to ward off demons and vampires and, therefore, Jesus. As Christians, let us not condemn any Jew who observes Nittel Nacht or reads the Toledot Yeshu out of spite for Jesus. Instead, let us all be unified in wariness of the lecherous evils which actually do lurk in the sewers below our homes and lie in wait to abscond with our children from deep inside the toilet. This should be of grave concern to all and children of every faith and religious belief should be taught to fear Morlocks and other gutter mutants.

Jesus' disciples emerging from the catacombs to attack our Jewish hero, Eloi, and his trusty concubine as he sits atop his time-traveling latrine in this 1950 illustration by Norman Saunders from H.G. Wells' 1895 story "The Time Machine," published in a Hebrew edition of Fantastic Unorthodox Mysteries.

Of Plimoth Plantation Friday, December 23, 2022

It's been a while since we last checked in on our intrepid Pilgrim folk and, although they existed centuries past, their story has been paused far too long. Today's episode is brought to you by Govna's BumTM. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation:

Anno Domini 1623: It may be thought strang that these people should fall to these extremities in so short a time, being left competently provided when ye ship left them, and after they begane to come into wants, many sould away their cloathes and bed coverings; others (so base were they) became servants to ye Indeans, and would cutt them woode and fetch them water, for a cap full of corne; others fell to plaine stealing, both night and day, from ye Indeans, of which they greevosly complained. Yea, they were faine to hange one of their men, whom they could not reclaime from stealing, to give ye Indeans contente. In ye end, they came to that misery, that some starved and dyed with cold and hunger. One in geathering shell-fish was so weake as he stuck fast in ye mudd, and was found dead in ye place. In ye mean time, came one of them from ye Massachucets, with a small pack at his back; and though he knew not a foote of ye way, yet he got safe hither, but lost his way, which was well for him, for he was pursued, and so was mist. He tould them hear how all things stood amongst them, and that he durst stay no longer, he apprehended they (by what he observed) would be all knokt in ye head shortly. I have but touched these things breefly, because they have allready been published in printe more at large.

This was ye end of these that some time bosted of their strength, (being all able lustie men,) and what they would doe and bring to pass, in comparison of ye people hear, who had many women and children and weak ons amongst them; and said at their first arivall, when they saw the wants hear, that they would take an other course, and not to fall into shuch a condition, as this simple people were come too. But a mans way is not in his owne power; God can make ye weake to stand; let him also that standeth take heed least he fall.

Shortly after, Mr. Weston came over with some of ye fishermen, under another name, and ye disguise of a blacke-smith, were he heard of ye ruine and disolution of his colony. He got a boat and with a man or two came to see how things were. But by ye way, for wante of skill, in a storme, he cast away his shalop in ye botome of ye bay between Meremek river and Pascataquack, and hardly escaped with life, and afterwards fell into the hands of ye Indeans, who pillaged him of all he saved from the sea, and striped him out of all his cloaths to his shirte. At last he got to Pascataquack, and borrowed a suite of cloaths, and got means to come to Plimoth. A strang alteration ther was in him to such as had seen and known him in his former florishing condition; so uncertaine are ye mutable things of this unstable world. And yet men set their harts upon them, though they dayly see ye vanity therof.

After many passages, and much discourse, (former things boyling in his mind, but bit in as was discernd,) he desired to borrow some beaver of them; and tould them he had hope of a ship and good supply to come to him, and then they should have any thing for it they stood in neede of. They gave litle credite to his supplie, but pitied his case, and remembered former curtesies. They tould him he saw their wants, and they knew not when they should have any supply; also how ye case stood betweene them and their adventurers, he well knew; they had not much beaver, and if they should let him have it, it were enoughe to make a mutinie among ye people, seeing ther was no other means to procure them foode which they so much wanted, and cloaths allso. Yet they tould him they would help him, considering his necessitie, but must doe it secretly for ye former reasons. So they let him have 100 beaver-skins, which waighed 170 odd pounds. Thus they helpt him when all ye world faild him, and with this means he went againe to ye ships, and stayed his small ship and some of his men, and bought provissions and fited him selfe; and it was ye only foundation of his after course. But he requited them ill, for he proved after a bitter enimie unto them upon all occasions, and never repayed them any thing for it, to this day, but reproches and evill words. Yea, he divolged it to some that were none of their best freinds, whilst he yet had ye beaver in his boat; that he could now set them all togeather by ye ears, because they had done more then they could answer, in letting him have this beaver, and he did not spare to doe what he could. But his malice could not prevaile.

This comunitie (so farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For ye yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend their time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children, with out any recompence. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in devission of victails and cloaths, then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter ye other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours, and victails, cloaths, with ye meaner and yonger sorte, thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, and washing their cloaths, they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. Let none objecte this is men's corruption, and nothing to ye course it selfe. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them. But to returne. After this course setled, and by that their corne was planted, all ther victails were spente, and they were only to rest on Gods providence; at night not many times knowing wher to have a bitt of any thing ye next day. And so, as one well observed, had need to pray that God would give them their dayly brade, above all people in ye world.

From these extremities the Lord in his goodnes kept these his people, and in their great wants preserved both their lives and healthes, lest they shold faine to eate doggs, toads, and dead men; let his name have ye praise. Yet let me hear make use of his conclusion, which in some sorte may be applied to this people: That with their miseries they opened a way to these new-lands; and after these stormes, with what ease other men came to inhabite in them, in respecte of ye calamities these men suffered; so as they seeme to goe to a bride feaste wher all things are provided for them. In winter they were helped with ground-nuts and foule. Also in ye sommer they gott now and then a dear.

To be continued. Tune in next time when others arrive fresh off the boat from England with new world remorse. And now for a word from today's sponsor:

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Bah! Humbug! Thursday, December 22, 2022
Charles Dickens' 1843 A Christmas Carol is a timeless classic, albeit itself a humbug. According to an account in the New Testament wherein Jesus tells of a rich man and a poor man who both died and the rich man begged Abraham from hell for the poor man to warn his kin not to make the same mistakes he did in life, the answer was, "impossible."

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire." But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us." He answered, "Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." Abraham replied, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them." "No, father Abraham," he said, "but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." (Luke 16:19-31, NIV)

Now, one could argue that Ebenezer Scrooge did not actually live a luxurious lifestyle. However, he was still destined for the same plight as Jacob Marley for being a rich, miserly bastard. Also, there were three spirits who assisted in his persuasion and change of heart. Although they might be likened to Moses and the Prophets, Scrooge had grown up in a predominantly Christian country that annually celebrated Christmas, so there would be no need of the spirits of Christmas to have to visit him.

I most enjoy the 1984 rendition of this story portraying George C. Scott as Scrooge and I would also have to agree with him that Christmas is indeed a humbug. Let the heathens celebrate the winter solstice with peace on earth and goodwill toward man, but Christians should celebrate it all year long in the same light. Said the ghost of Jacob Marley to Scrooge, "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!" (eBook) Yet here I state the obvious and it is me to whom I speak.

Chappy Chanukkah Wednesday, December 21, 2022
This week is Hanukkah (also Chanukah -- Hebrew, "dedication"), an eight-day celebration also known as the Festival of Lights, which begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, according to the lunar calendar, and generally falls somewhere around Christmas. Although not as popular as the birth of Jesus, it commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE after the Jews recaptured it from the Greeks under the rule of Syrian king Antiochus during the Maccabean Revolt and is in honor of the miracle of the little bit of oil that burned the menorah candles for eight days in the Holy Temple, which itself signified the triumph of lightness over darkness. Activities include the consumption of potato pancakes and jelly doughnuts, lighting one candle on a menorah each night, spinning a top, reading of Psalm 30, saying a special prayer, and giving gifts to children which may be nothing more than a single chocolate coin wrapped in gold foil. Since this is not a standard, biblically sanctioned feast, here are a few historical accounts:

1 Maccabees
        Then Judas and his brothers said, "See, our enemies are crushed; let us go up to cleanse the sanctuary and dedicate it." So all the army assembled and went up to Mount Zion. There they saw the sanctuary desolate, the altar profaned, and the gates burned. In the courts they saw bushes sprung up as in a thicket or as on one of the mountains. They saw also the chambers of the priests in ruins. Then they tore their clothes and mourned with great lamentation; they sprinkled themselves with ashes and fell face down on the ground. And they blew the signal trumpets, and they cried out to heaven. Then Judas detailed men to fight against those in the citadel until he had cleansed the sanctuary. He chose blameless priests devoted to the law, and they cleansed the sanctuary and removed the defiled stones to an unclean place. They deliberated what to do about the altar of burnt offering, which had been profaned. And they thought it best to tear it down, so that it would not be a lasting shame to them that the nations had defiled it. So they tore down the altar and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them. Then they took unhewn stones, as the law directs, and built a new altar like the former one. They also rebuilt the sanctuary and the interior of the temple and consecrated the courts. They made new holy vessels and brought the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table into the temple. Then they offered incense on the altar and lit the lamps on the lampstand, and these gave light in the temple. They placed the bread on the table and hung up the curtains. Thus they finished all the work they had undertaken. Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering that they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the nations had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days and joyfully offered burnt offerings; they offered a sacrifice of well-being and a thanksgiving offering. (1 Maccabees 4:36-56, circa 100 BCE, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

2 Maccabees
        Now Maccabeus and his followers, the Lord leading them on, recovered the temple and the city; they tore down the altars that had been built in the public square by the foreigners and also destroyed the sacred precincts. They purified the sanctuary and made another altar of sacrifice; then, striking fire out of flint, they offered sacrifices, after a lapse of two years, and they offered incense and lighted lamps and set out the bread of the Presence. When they had done this, they fell prostrate and implored the Lord that they might never again fall into such misfortunes but that, if they should ever sin, they might be disciplined by him with forbearance and not be handed over to blasphemous and barbarous nations. It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the Festival of Booths, remembering how not long before, during the Festival of Booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. (2 Maccabees 10:1-6, circa 100 BCE, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Josephus - The Jewish War
        Accordingly Matthias, the son of Asamoneus, one of the priests who lived in a village called Modin, armed himself, together with his own family, which had five sons of his in it, and slew Bacchides with daggers; and thereupon, out of the fear of the many garrisons [of the enemy], he fled to the mountains; and so many of the people followed him, that he was encouraged to come down from the mountains, and to give battle to Antiochus's generals, when he beat them, and drove them out of Judea. So he came to the government by this his success, and became the prince of his own people by their own free consent, and then died, leaving the government to Judas, his eldest son. Now Judas, supposing that Antiochus would not lie still, gathered an army out of his own countrymen, and was the first that made a league of friendship with the Romans, and drove Epiphanes out of the country when he had made a second expedition into it, and this by giving him a great defeat there; and when he was warmed by this great success, he made an assault upon the garrison that was in the city, for it had not been cut off hitherto; so he ejected them out of the upper city, and drove the soldiers into the lower, which part of the city was called the Citadel. He then got the temple under his power, and cleansed the whole place, and walled it round about, and made new vessels for sacred ministrations, and brought them into the temple, because the former vessels had been profaned. He also built another altar, and began to offer the sacrifices; and when the city had already received its sacred constitution again, Antiochus died; whose son Antiochus succeeded him in the kingdom, and in his hatred to the Jews also. (The Wars of the Jews, Book 1, 1:3-4, by Flavius Josephus, circa 75 CE)

Scroll of Antiochus
        The Hasmoneans entered the Sanctuary, rebuilt the gates, closed the breaches, and cleansed the Temple court from the slain and the impurities. They looked for pure olive oil to light the Menorah, and found only one bottle with the seal of the Kohen Gadol so that they were sure of its purity. Though its quantity seemed sufficient only for one day's lighting, it lasted for eight days owing to the blessing of the G‑d of heaven who had established His Name there. Hence, the Hasmoneans and all the Jews alike instituted these eight days as a time of feasting and rejoicing, like any festival prescribed in the Torah, and of kindling lights to commemorate the victories G‑d had given them. Mourning and fasting are forbidden on Chanukah, except in the case of an individual’s vow which must be discharged. Nevertheless, the Hasmoneans did not prohibit work on this holiday. From that time on the Greek government was stripped of its renown. The Hasmoneans and their descendants ruled for two hundred and six years, until the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash. And so the Jews everywhere observe this festival for eight days, beginning on the twenty-fifth of Kislev. These days, instituted by Kohanim, Levites and Sages of Temple times, shall be celebrated by their descendants forever. (The Megillah of Antiochus - The Scroll of the Hasmoneans, date unknown - possibly anytime between the 1st and 7th centuries CE)

Saving Christmas Saturday, December 10, 2022
I just installed a Ring doorbell and... oh, wait, it's chiming. Looks like my neighbor walking his dog -- guess there's some tweaking to do. Anyway, I was watching the 2014 movie "Saving Christmas" starring Kirk Cameron in an effort to fall asleep. However, I remained awake and actually watched the entire show, learning that the primary method of defending your beliefs is to make stuff up and re-interpret traditions that are pagan in origin. Not only that, but... oh, wait, my wife just came through the front door without any prior notification from the Ring doorbell. Anyhow, Cameron proclaims that Christians who deem Christmas a commercialized and pagan holiday are wrong and that we should all embrace and celebrate everything that Christmas has become in a capitalistic society. I give Kirk an A for effort and am sorry to see that this film received such poor ratings (0% on Rotten Tomatoes and the lowest-rated film on the IMDb Bottom 100 List). I honestly thought it was just slightly better than "The Polar Express" with Tom Hanks. Cameron blames vicious online atheistic trolls and digital demons for the accursed reviews but I personally blame him for coming up with the story in the first place. Someone somewhere had to have given this film a thumbs-up, but it wasn't me. I remain like his fictional brother-in-law prior to Kirk's holiday pep talk, sitting in the car sulking while everyone else is inside having fun. I dare say I would've punched him in the face if he were my brother-in-law. There's the Ring doorbell chiming again -- it's UPS delivering a package to my neighbor. So, the moral of this blog post is that however you choose to celebrate or not celebrate Christmas, Christians should celebrate Christ in their hearts every day of the year. Let Christmas be a reminder to those who only attend church once or twice a year that people actually still do believe in Jesus. But that's just my opinion. Like the package UPS leaves on my porch without ringing my doorbell so that everyone outside knows I have something shiny and new: take it or leave it.

UPS: Ring the Damn Doorbell Wednesday, December 7, 2022
I have joined the ranks of victims who have had packages stolen from their front porch which were left there by a UPS delivery person at night without ringing my doorbell to let me know they were now left outside and made available to the general public. I am angrier at UPS than at the unknown criminal suspect whom my plain old doorbell did not capture on video. I paid UPS to deliver my packages to me and they failed, then denied my claim because they felt they had done their job by getting my packages as close to my front door as possible for a brief moment in time. Well, my front porch didn't order these items, I did. My name was at the top of the receiving address and I was somewhere nearby on the other side of the front door when UPS reportedly left the packages. What's worse, one of the packages was shipped via UPS SurePost®, which means they don't consider the items worth a shit because you were too cheap to pay more than eight dollars for shipping. It also means they subcontract out the delivery and relinquish any responsibility for lost or damaged packages, even if it was delivered by someone wearing a UPS uniform and driving a brown UPS delivery truck. To this I say, "Let the doorbells ring!" It's simple, it's easy, and it's effective. I've read many online posts defending these poor, overworked, uneducated, underprivileged delivery people who shouldn't be encumbered with the added burden of ringing a doorbell or knocking on a door to alert the recipient inside. Apparently, UPS agrees. Join with me, won't you, and replace the wreath on your front door with a brown ribbon to remind them to ring the doorbell after leaving your packages in plain sight of those who are following their delivery vehicles on the lookout for packages to steal. Let them know that only Santa can leave packages around your house without you knowing and take only that which was allowed him on the cookie plate. The same goes for FedEx, USPS, and all those subcontracted local couriers who don't know how street addresses work. If someone besides you is going to take possession of your goods, then at least let it be a neighbor. And maybe offer the delivery person a cookie (two if they are paired up) if they do ring the doorbell and aren't driving away by the time you open the door. Remain doorbell strong this holiday season and all year long!

For tips on what to do after UPS nearly ruins Christmas for your entire family, visit DeliverySafe®, which has no affiliation with this site whatsoever other than a free, unsolicited hyperlink.

Excuses, Excuses Monday, December 5, 2022

It's been quite some time since I posted anything here. I've been busy working on my third book, due out early next year (no spoiler alerts), and I've been busy on my website here. I will be the first to admit that I know very little about radiometric dating of crystals and rock formations, however, I am trying to understand. Like evolution, radioactive decay of isotopes can take millions of years and, because of this, both remain unobservable events and relatively boring to study. If I haven't said it before, I'll say it now, and if I've said it before, I'll say it again: Evolution is a giant crockpot that has been slow-cooking a fecal stew for centuries which is force-fed to the hungry masses in the guise of bona fide nourishment. Yes, it's a big crock of shit. And these days it's being served with a baloney sandwich smothered with more shit in the form of radioisometric dating -- or the misinterpretation thereof. How do you determine the age of a fossil? By comparing it to other fossils believed to be millions of years old, which is their relative age. For more of an absolute age, take the rock the fossil was found in and calculate how old its radioactive elements are by adding six or more zeroes to it. With enough time, anything is possible. Can't prove this? Doesn't matter because it's a fact and facts just have to be accepted. If you don't accept that the Earth is over 4.5 billion years old and that dinosaurs roamed it for millions of years before the rise of man, then you are a Neanderthal who should've gone extinct 40,000 years ago. What are you still doing here? Believing in God? That is so last millennium.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 11 Thursday, September 15, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed because he set several file servers at remote offices to automatically reboot early in the morning, however, instead they all shut down completely and he has to drive around town powering them back up. Even so, he seems rather chipper as he walks into my office with his coffee mug while I am hunched over my keyboard punching away relentlessly at the keys. "Good morning," he says, but I know better. He suspects something. Maybe he's on to me about chronicling his daily activities, which are potentially limitless. But he acts as if he doesn't care. I think that deep down inside his gruff exterior is a soft kitten -- and I'm allergic to kittens. "Ahem," he says as he clears his throat. I am startled that he is still standing at the door of my office. He announces that this year he will be prestigiously honored as the grand marshal of the ValleyFest Parade, bestowed upon him for volunteering all these past years as the parade's lead coordinator. Big deal. I've never been to the parade and I won't be going just to see him waving at people. "I'm proud of you, my little darling," I tell him. "Will you be wearing a sash and throwing candy to the children?" He takes a swig of coffee and answers, "Not this year. No more candy throwing. Wasn't my decision." He also mentions that he will be retiring from the stressful position since he doesn't need any unnecessary stress in his life. I keep typing. Eventually, I glance towards the door and see no one, but I sense a presence. Yes, he's peering through the venetian blinds from the other side of my office window, which overlooks the hallway. He takes a swig of coffee and departs, or so it seems. I have a webcam pointed down the hall and I take a moment to check the feed. Yup, he's standing in the middle of the hall, facing the camera. He waves and disappears. He's definitely suspicious.

Nuestro Señor de Los Milagros de Buga Wednesday, September 14, 2022
Today's topic is about religious relics and icons, with emphasis on the crucifix known as Our Lord of the Miracles of Buga. This item is considered to have been miraculously created in the sixteenth century, an icon known as an acheiropoieta (Greek, "made without hands"). It was discovered in Buga, Colombia, and resides in the Basilica of Our Lord of the Miracles in Buga, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. A woman saw it floating down the Guadalajara River around this day in 1573, took it home, and made an altar for it. Originally the size of her hand, tradition says that it miraculously grew to about 4.5 feet (1.3m) and when this happened people came from far and wide to pay homage, turning the woman's home into a sanctuary. Another miracle accorded to tradition is that the river also miraculously altered its course around Buga to allow for travelers to the site to not have to cross the river, since there was no bridge nearby. In the seventeenth century, the Catholic Church sent in a bishop to evaluate the piece, who determined that it was too dilapidated from candle smoke and abuse from people breaking off bits and pieces, so he attempted to destroy it by fire. However, it would not burn and instead exuded an oily substance which onlookers wiped off with cotton balls that were later reported to heal people of illnesses. Over the years, several hermitages were constructed to house the icon, which were all destroyed by earthquakes. In 1783, after receiving a list of miracles attributed to the crucifix, Pope Pius VI granted special indulgences to those who made its pilgrimage. By 1907, a basilica had been built of brick by volunteers. In 1937 and again in 1969, the crucifix was attacked and damaged, revealing that it had been originally formed from mud and grass. Throughout the centuries, additional items have been added to it such as a crown of thorns, a skirt, silver, gold and platinum, and an ornate base. The icon has been believed to contribute substantially to peace in Colombia during times of conflict and has lasted longer than if carved from wood.

If you are of Catholic or Orthodox faith, then you probably don't doubt the miraculous powers of icons and their biological counterparts -- relics. You may have also made a pilgrimage to a shrine that houses some of these sacred items and may have even been healed of leprosy or acne or cancer. But is it the power imbued in the icon, the power of the belief itself in the icon, the power of the attributed saint, or the faith of the believer that heals? Typically, it's the power of God as a result of prayers to the saint who then intercedes on their behalf. Icons are generally artistic pieces depicting something sacred, like the crucifix or the Madonna with child. Relics are generally body parts of saints and their clothes or belongings. Historically, the veneration of icons has been debated within the early Christian Church, with many citing the third of the Ten Commandments as a reason for not doing so: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth" (Exodus 20:4, KJV). Isaiah 30:22 also likens graven images to menstrual cloths and Isaiah 42:8 says that the Lord will not give his glory and praise to them. Some argue that the term "graven image" is assigned to those of false gods, while others argue that it may also be applied to any Christian image that is worshipped directly. Those opposed to icons to the point of destroying them are called iconoclasts, which included such early Christian Fathers as Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Justin Martyr, and Eusebius. The Synod of Elvira (305-306 AD) declared that "Pictures are not to be placed in churches, so that they do not become objects of worship and adoration." In the centuries following, wealthier Christians became patrons of religious art, which helped it to flourish. Miracles attributed to works of Christian art are recorded as far back as the second century, with direct veneration of images and association of their miracles becoming ecclesiastical practice in the sixth century. The Catholic Church waffled back and forth about the use of images and artwork, finally embracing icons in the latter half of the ninth century. During the Protestant Reformation, iconoclasm was again at the forefront, primarily among the followers of Calvin and Zwingli, who incited riots and the public destruction of Christian icons and artwork.

But it's getting late so I need to wrap this up. In conclusion, I do not deny the possibility of God's power as the source of miracles that seem to revolve around Christian icons and relics. However, I remain skeptical of them, as well as cautious that the power may very well be of a Satanic nature masquerading as holy signs and wonders. I do not believe in veneration of the saints or their relics, nor of icons in any fashion, but I do admire Christian-related art and architecture. Maybe I'll bring this topic up at a later time. Or perhaps not. Look at the time.

Battles of Muret & Portopí Monday, September 12, 2022
On this day in 1213, the last of the major battles of the Albigensian Crusade to rid the Catholic realms of Catharism was won by a relatively small force of knights and crusaders under the command of Simon de Montfort the Elder (IV). In a standard pitched battle of the time, where opposing forces lined up on either side and advanced straight on, the Crusaders were outnumbered roughly ten to one by several conservative estimates,* but soundly defeated allied forces led by King Peter II of Aragon. The Albigensian Crusade officially ended in 1229, before King James I the Conqueror attacked Almohad Muslim forces on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain on this day in 1229 in the Battle of Portopí and took the island after three years of fighting. The relationship between the two battles, other than being on September 12, was that one side from both was fought by armies from the Crown of Aragon,** a kingdom that comprised parts of southern France, eastern Spain, and the Balearic Islands, which remained until the early part of the 18th century. King James I was son of King Peter II and trained by Simon de Montfort, which makes for an unusual threesome -- and that, my friends, is a double entendre.***

An old illustration circa 1861 titled "Burial of the Moncadas" depicting some significant event from the Battle of Portopí.****

*Laurence W. Marvin at Berry College, Spencer C. Tucker at Texas Christian University, Clifford J. Rogers at West Point, and Lord Jonathan Philip Chadwick Sumption, to name a few.
**Unless I'm confusing the Crown of Aragon with the Kingdom of Aragon, the latter of which was a member of the former. I really don't care. It's all French to me.
***Not my intent at all.
****For an image of the Battle of Muret, go here. It's the same one used here on Wikipedia.

Feast of Nayrouz Sunday, September 11, 2022
Welcome. Abiding by the Gregorian calendar, today is the Feast of Nayrouz in the Coptic Orthodox Church, when the Coptic saints are remembered and celebrated -- and who more than Felix and Regula? These were third-century siblings (brother and sister) and soldiers of the Roman Legion of Thebes under the leadership of Mauritius (Saint Maurice), who converted to Christianity along with the 6,666 men under his command. These were all martyred in 286 A.D. at Agaunum in modern-day Switzerland for refusing to sacrifice to Emperor Maximian. (The legion was formed by Emperor Diocletian and stationed at Alexandria to protect Thebes, then detached by Emperor Maximian to Gaul to fight barbarians. Diocletian and Maximian were co-emperors at this time.) Various accounts record that not all of the legion was put to death at once, but that some fled, later to be captured and martyred: two of whom were Felix and Regula, who were captured in Zürich with their servant Exuperantius, tried, and executed. As legend has it, the three were beheaded, stood up, carried their heads to a hilltop, prayed, then died. A number of churches with funny Swiss names have been built over the centuries on the site, such as Grossmünster, Fraumünster and Wasserkirche.

The Coptic Church (officially the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria), is based in Egypt, with diocese throughout the Middle East and Africa. Like the Catholic Church, the Coptic Church has their own pope, called the Holy Apostolic See of Saint Mark. As you may surmise, one pope is based on the apostolic ascension from Peter, while the other stems from Mark. Prior to the Great Schism of the Western Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church in 1054, the Orthodox Church consisted of two primary factions -- the Greek Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox. The Egyptian Orthodox Church, a member of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, was also called the Coptic Orthodox Church. The term "Coptic" is of ancient Egyptian origin and often refers to the language of the region in North Africa. This is why in Bibles with commentaries and reference notes you'll see citations from the Coptic (Egyptian) scriptures and the Septuagint (Greek) scriptures. When the Roman empire split in the fifth century between the western Roman Empire and the eastern Byzantine Empire, the two churches associated themselves with each side -- the Catholic Church with the Roman Empire and the Orthodox Church with the Byzantine Empire, yet even during this period they remained collectivized by doctrine and held joint periodic Ecumenical Councils to maintain order and unity. There, now, I don't know about you but I like my stories short and concise.

Himitsu Wo Shiritai Saturday, September 10, 2022
Now, back to business -- the Christian business, that is. Or religion. The business of spreading the Christian religion. Yet most Christians would not consider their belief system a religion, but rather, "The Way" (John 14:6). Since Jesus said he was the only way to God, this has emboldened thousands to forfeit their lives in an effort to travel to far off lands and proselytize to strangers who either think their religion is the way or else foreign rulers who believe themselves to be the All Powerful. As with many countries in many ages, this was the case in sixteenth-century Japan, when Catholic Jesuits came and converted tens of thousands because the Japanese Shogunate -- the military dictators -- had hoped that this would reduce the number of troublesome Buddhists, however, because the Christians answered first and foremost to God, this proved to be a threat to national unity. Within the first forty years that Japan opened its kimonoed arms to Jesus Christ, it then began driving Christians underground (Senpuku Kirishitan, or Underground Christians), where they tended to thrive like groundhogs (guraundohoggu). Hundreds of guraundohoggu missionaries and their converts were dug up and exterminated throughout the seventeenth century, forcing Christianity to remain hidden until the nineteenth century. These clandestine Christians came to be known as Kakure Kirishitan, or Hidden Christians. During the formative years of Japanese conversion, on the other side of the globe, the Jesuits also attempted to bring Christianity to the Indians of Virginia, over three decades prior to the settlement of Jamestown. Unfortunately, within a year, all but one were killed by the new world heathens at the site of the Ajacán Mission. Today, the Catholic Church recognizes many of the martyrs from this period of these two remote locations. Kakure Kirishitan still exist today on remote Japanese islands, with religious practices adopted from Buddhism mixed with Latin prayers and hymns, secret doctrines, baptism, celebration of Christmas eve (Otaiya), communion of rice and sake, Japanese folklore, and ancient Catholic manuscripts written in Portuguese, the meanings of which are long-forgotten. There are no known books or relics, since Kakure Kirishitan had to abandon all visible traces of Christianity to evade persecution.

What's Worse Than This Blog? Friday, September 9, 2022

Once again, apologies to my Ganlu Members for having to wait around for so long between posts. I haven't been on a sabbatical, or on vacation, or out sick, or too busy -- I've just been extremely lazy. No excuses. So let's ease back into this blog business with a secular segment I shall only refer to once as Whiz Bang Quiz Thang. Test your testing ability by taking this test...

Q: What's worse than being openly reprimanded by your boss?
A: Being escorted off the premises in handcuffs.

Q: What's worse than some douchebag anarchist spouting their vitriol against the democratic society that protects their free speech?
A: Total anarchy.

Q: What's worse than a life filled with misery and strife?
A: Eternity in hell.

Q: What's worse than Star Wars Episode I?
A: Star Wars Episodes II and III.

Q: What's worse than an Idaho driver?
A: A van full of Aryan skinheads from North Idaho.

Q: What's worse than someone taking a bite out of your favorite doughnut, then throwing it away because they didn't like it?
A: Diabetes.

Q: What's worse than stubbing your toe?
A: Losing it to diabetes.

Q: What's worse than accidentally spitting on someone when talking to them?
A: Backing into their car immediately afterward.

Q: What's worse than losing all your data before remembering to save it?
A: Losing all your data as a result of a program error generated when you saved it.

Q: What's worse than smelling a co-worker's fart?
A: Having to wipe off their splattered diarrhea before using the toilet.

Q: What's worse than having your computer infected by a virus?
A: Losing your job over it because it was from porn.

Q: What's worse than tripping in front of other people?
A: Slipping on the ice and breaking your arm and tailbone in front of no one.

Q: What's worse than Campbell's Chunky Soup?
A: Campbell's soupy poop.

Q: What's worse than throwing your back out?
A: Nothing.

Q: What's worse than losing only a few pounds after dieting for several weeks?
A: Losing too much weight and all your hair as a result of chemotherapy.

Q: What's worse than spam e-mail messages?
A: Attractive spam e-mail messages.

Q: What's worse than sending an offensive text message to the wrong recipient?
A: That person posting the message online along with an embarrassing picture of you.

Q: What's worse than Nicolas Cage's acting?
A: Nicolas Cage's acting (it continues to get worse).

Q: What's worse than a large pimple on your nose?
A: A large medical bill that wipes out your savings.

Q: What's worse than public education?
A: Illiteracy.

Q: What's worse than ignorance?
A: Smug American tourists abroad.

Q: What's worse than this blog?
A: "404 Not Found" or "Under Construction" (arguably).

There, now. I hope you had as much fun taking this quiz as I did not posting anything for the past two weeks. Time flies when you have free HBO Max. Speaking of which, what's worse than paying for a streaming service that still shows advertisements? Being blind, of course. But if you're blind, you probably have better things to do with your time than watching television. However, if you're blind and reading this blog, then I take that back.

Annunciation of the Waffle Wednesday, August 24, 2022
Today is Våffeldagen, or Waffle Day in Scandinavian countries, which sounds similar to Vårfrudagen, which is the Feast of the Annunciation, when Scandinavians typically eat waffles. Wait, no? I stand corrected: Våffeldagen is on March 25th. Today is just Waffle Day in the U.S., marking the anniversary of the first U.S. patent for a waffle iron. Big deal, stick a waffle in it. Damn, I was going to go somewhere with this. Instead, and I hesitate to do this, here's another installment of Steve the Cat -- about my sister's fat, orange tabby who had many wonderful and amazing adventures before his mysterious disappearance. This episode is entitled "Kitty Porn." Please, enjoy...

Once upon a time, Steve was spending leisure time licking himself while watching wild animals mate on the Nature Channel when no one was home. However, this became increasingly more frequent and he soon found that he could eavesdrop on neighbors who had premium channels like the Discovery Channel or National Geographic with higher-caliber wild animal-mating action. This obsession turned into an addiction which he took to the internet (which back then started with a capital I). Steve went from pleasuring himself with educational animal programs, to naughty pet videos on You Tube, to hard-core pay-per-view bestial pornography and mail-order blackmarket movies from third world countries where laws did not prohibit inter-species relationships. Even Steve realized in his miniscule feline brain that his addiction was a problem -- a problem that was affecting others when he began acting out unspeakable fantasies with throw pillows, stuffed animals, family portraits, articles of clothing, tooth brushes, refrigerated leftovers, and even the house owner on evenings when she was passed out drunk. Steve checked himself into a rehab center for recovering porn addicts, but met up with the wrong crowd and soon ended up starring in homemade pornos by local directors and getting mixed up in trying to sell them in a multi-level marketing scheme, which caused him to go broke buying all his own product in an effort to move up the pyramid. So he was forced to turn tricks as a kitty gigolo on the streets, where one day a patron invited him to a Pentecostal church service, which he reluctantly attended on a Wednesday night when business was slow. Many of the elders present that night were armed with anointing oil and, sensing demonic comportment, laid hands on him, anointed him with oil, and cast out the evil kitty porn demons. The End

Oh, and Steve eventually quit going to church and slid back into licking himself in front of the TV, this time while people were home trying to watch it. He didn't care. God was for people, anyway.

Go Away, I'm Busy Sunday, August 21, 2022
Today I'm too busy to do any scholarly research. So, instead, here's a story from the archives of my sister's cat, Steve -- a fat, orange tabby who had many wonderful and amazing adventures before his mysterious disappearance. This episode is entitled "999, The Mark of the Beast." Please, enjoy...

Once upon a time, Steve was infected with ringworm, so he was taken to the vet where he had various parts of his body shaved. Steve had often thought about getting a tattoo and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Steve visited a local tattoo parlor (Tiger Tattoo, ironically) and after careful, sober consideration decided to have the number 9 tattooed on each of the bare spots. He chose the number 9 for the following reasons, one for each bare spot: the first for nine lives; the second for his age in human years; the third because nine was his favorite number (at least now it was). In time the ringworm healed, the fur grew back, and Steve forgot all about his sweet tats. One day Steve was run over by a bicycling priest. His tail was pulled into the gears and his fur was ripped from the skin, exposing his number 9 tattoos. The alarmed priest, however, interpreted them as the number 6 because there was no distinguishing line under the numeral, of which there were three, and identified them as the mark of the beast from Revelation 13:18. He immediately borrowed a shovel from a bystanding neighbor and cut off Steve's head. Since Steve still had eight lives remaining, his head instantly grew back. The priest considered this fulfillment of Revelation 13:3 and took Steve to the local parish where he prayed in the sanctuary for the Virgin Mary to smite the unholy beast. Steve jumped up on the altar and coughed up a hairball -- "the abomination that causes desolation" spoken of in the Book of Daniel and by Jesus in Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14. But Steve got out and escaped, later to emerge on the international scene in his rise as Satanic leader of the New World Order. The End

Now, go away. I'm busy.

Onward Christian Soldier Saturday, August 20, 2022
So much going on, so little to say. Today is World Mosquito Day (no rhyme intended). Yes, today we remember that mosquitos can spread deadly diseases like malaria, which is apparently an important purpose in life, whether you believe in creationism or natural selection. Today the Church of England also celebrates the compassion of The Salvation Army towards the dregs of society, begun in London's East End in 1865 by William and Catherine Booth as The Christian Mission. William was a Methodist preacher and Catherine was an up-and-coming minister who championed women's rights to preach the Gospel publicly. As sympathizers of the Reform Methodists, the Booths were expelled by the Wesleyan Methodists and eventually started their own church with a militant structure, renamed The Salvation Army in 1878. Along with preaching to the poor and destitute of London, they also founded ministries for alcoholics, drug addicts, prostitutes, gamblers, refugees, the homeless, and disaster survivors. Early on they were met with violent opposition from pub owners united under the Skeleton Army. Today, the Salvation Army is one of the world's largest and most well-known providers of charity and social aid. It is popular for its thrift stores, small military marching bands, and holiday red kettle bell ringers. Although it has come under criticism for its anti-LGBTQ stances, it has recently made it clear that these viewpoints are directed at their own members and not those which whom they serve.

The Salvation Army was instrumental in World War 1 for introducing doughnuts to America by providing them to U.S. soldiers overseas.

Speaking of instrumental, from left to right starting at the top: tuba; trombone; kazoo; euphonium; bass drum; euphonium; cornet; cornet; girl who pushes the electric guitar amp; euphonium.

Every time a bell rings and someone drops in twenty bucks or more, an angel gets is wings.

Catherine Booth wrote and presented many sermons in her day. Go here to read much of what she had to share about Jesus. Here are a few excerpts from a lecture by Catherine titled "Popular Christianity" she published in 1887:

...This is the great distinguishing boast of our faith--the only religion on the face of the earth in which the idea of a Christ has ever been conceived. The Bible offers this Christ. The golden chimes of great joy that rang out on the day when He was heralded by the angels, were to be glad tidings to all people of a Saviour which was Christ the Lord, a mighty deliverer, able to cope with man's inability, with the disadvantages of his circumstances, and the consequences of his fall. Now we contend that this Christ of the Bible, the Christ who appeared in Judea 1800 years ago, is now abroad in the earth just as much as He was then, and that He presents to humanity all that it needs; that He is indeed, as He represented Himself to be, the Bread of Life come down from heaven, the Light, and the Life, and the Strength of man, meeting this cry of his soul which has been going up to God for generations. Here I stand and make my boast, that the Christ of God, my Christ, the Christ of the Salvation Army, does meet this crying need of the soul, does fill this aching void, and does become to man that which God sets Him forth as being in this book. Guilty humanity He promises to pardon, and He does pardon. Ignorant humanity (with respect to God and the things of God) He promises to enlighten, and He does enlighten it. Degraded, sunken, impure humanity (in the very essence of its being) He promises to purify, and He does purify it. We make our boast of this Christ, and we say He is able to save to the uttermost, and that He does this now as much as ever He has done in the 1800 years that are past, that He is a real, living, present Saviour to those who really receive and put their trust in Him.

I know that many may answer, "This is not the Christ that is generally presented in the preaching and teaching of this age, or that is generally professed and believed in by the Christians of this age; neither do we see such results as you depict in their characters or lives." Granted. The sceptics and the infidels say: "We do not see these results, and therefore we do not believe in your Christ." And I say, looking at the question from their standpoint, I should feel just as they do, because they have a right to have these results proved to them. It is useless telling of wonderful things having transpired a long time ago and a long distance away. They say, Show them now; show us the men in whom this change is wrought, and then we will believe that this Christ always does these things. I say Amen, and that because they do not see these signs in the popular Christianity of this day, therefore they reject its Christ, and there is great excuse for them, not such excuse as will justify them at the bar of God, because they ought to have found out Christ for themselves, nevertheless, an excuse to themselves and to their fellow-men. I say, I grant that this is not the Christ exhibited in these days...

...For 1800 years millions of the best of the human race have accepted these assumptions without being shocked by them. If He be not Divine, how comes it to be that, the greatest of human intellects, the sincerest of human souls, and the most aroused and anxious of human consciences, have ventured their all upon this Divine word, and have seen nothing contradictory between His claims and the actual character which He sustained in the world; whereas, imagine the very holiest and best who ever trod our earth putting forth such assumptions, and how would they sound? Suppose Moses, who had talked with God in the burning bush, or Isaiah, whose tongue was touched with the live coal from off the altar, or Daniel, the man greatly beloved, to whom the angel Gabriel was sent again and again, or the apostle of the Gentiles, who was admitted into the third heaven, or the beloved apostle John, suppose any of these men saying, "I am from above, ye are from beneath," "I am not of this world," "If ye believe not I am He, ye shall die in your sins," "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world." Again, "I leave the world and go to the Father;" and in His prayer on the eve of His agony, "The glory which I had with the Father before the world was," and again, in answer to Philip's request, "Show us the Father," "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;" "believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?"

...Without a Divine Christ Christianity sinks into a mere system of philosophy, and becomes as powerless for the renovation and salvation of mankind as any of the philosophies which have preceded it. But no, our Joshua has come, our Deliverer is here; He is come, and is now literally fulfilling His promise to abide, "I and my Father will come unto you, and make our abode with you." He comes now in the flesh of His true saints, just as really as He came first in the body prepared for Him, and He comes for the same purpose, to renew and to save; He is knocking at the doors of your hearts even now, through my feeble words, and will come into your hearts if you will let Him. As He came walking over the sea of Galilee to the men and women of His own day, He comes now to you, walking over the storm raised by your appetites, your inordinate desires, passions, and sins--a storm only just gathering, waxing worse and worse, and which, unless allayed, will grow to eternal thunderings, lightnings, and billows; but He is able to allay it, He offers to pronounce "Peace, be still," and end this tempest of your soul for ever. Will you let Him?

A Witch is a Witch is a Witch Friday, August 19, 2022
Today is World Humanitarian Day (UNGA Resolution A/63/L.49), however, today also commemorates the 1612 Samlesbury witch trials in England and the 1692-93 Salem witch trials in Massachusetts. The former resulted in 14 accusations and 11 deaths and the latter resulted in over 200 accusations, thirty convictions and 25 deaths. Although the trials in England were due partially to anti-Catholic sentiment and those in Salem due primarily to public hysteria, both were the result of an honest belief in witchcraft intended for maleficence against others. True, some of the charges included sacrificing children to Satan and orgies with demons, but most were simply due to spells cast against the antagonists of the accused which caused curses, disease or even death. Today, most practitioners of witchcraft are seers and use tarot cards, potions, crystals, candles, herbs, meditation, spells, oils and astrology to foretell the future, communicate with the spiritual realm, or for self-improvement. According to this article in The Atlantic, many are women who are drawn to the practice of witchcraft because of its feminist overtones and anti-patriarchal undertones. According to this article in Quartz, witchcraft is a paganistic form of self-worship. Unlike medieval witchcraft, modern witchcraft is not seen as predominantly dark magic but rather as white magic, to be used for good. Regardless, all magic is still an occult practice to be avoided by the religious, God-fearing, piously patricentric Christian community (Deuteronomy 18:10-11, 2 Chronicles 33:5-6, Micah 5:11-13, Galatians 5:19-21). Remember, it's all fun and games until someone goes to hell and comes face-to-face with the source of their power.

A witch by any other name is still a witch. Pictured: 16th-century engraving titled "The Witch" by Albrecht Dürer. The four creatures at the bottom are putti, which are cherub-like spiritual messengers (Greek, "daemon"), here representing horticulture, alchemy, necromancy and sexual deviancy -- traditional symbols of witchcraft.

Hippolytus of Rome Saturday, August 13, 2022

I left off the other day with Romans 5:1-11, referring to faith and hope as the crutches of a Christian. This was following Matthew 22:8-14 about somehow getting invited to heaven and showing up without proper attire (no pants?), only to be thrown out. As usual, I shall digress because I have since lost my train of thought. Today is the feast day of Hippolytus of Rome (A.D. 175-235), an early Christian theologian and disciple of Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202), who was a disciple of Polycarp (A.D. 69-155). Like many of his day who bore the same name, not much is known and what little that exists is sketchy, but what is known is that he wrote in Greek. Of the books that are attributed to him, some are mixed in with those of Origen of Alexandria (A.D. 185-253) because the two had similar styles and themes. One famous treatise that bears his name is the Apostolic Tradition, about the early Catholic Order which, of course, is difficult to trace to its original source. It contains details about Christian worship, baptism, communion, ordination of deacons and elders, offerings, widows, spiritual gifts, new converts, burial, prayer, fasting, acceptable employment, martyrdom, and various other details about daily Christian life. Hippolytus also wrote about eschatology, or the apocalyptic end times and the second advent of Christ, which he predicted to be 500 years after the death of Jesus, while criticizing those who were waiting for his imminent return. He was also critical of the popes of his generation and rumored to have been elected himself by a schismatic group as an antipope (possibly the Novatianists). However, he was martyred under Emperor Maximinus Thrax after being exiled to the Sardinian mines as a Catholic priest.

Pictured: either Hippolytus of Rome, or Hippolytus of Alexandria, or Hippolytus of Porto, or Hippolytus of Antioch, or Hippolytus of Palestine, or Hippolytus of Egypt, or Hippolytus of Anatolia.

Here are some excerpts from the third-century Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus for your edification:

Chapter 16: They will inquire concerning the works and occupations of those are who are brought forward for instruction. If someone is a pimp who supports prostitutes, he shall cease or shall be rejected. If someone is a sculptor or a painter, let them be taught not to make idols. Either let them cease or let them be rejected. If someone is an actor or does shows in the theater, either he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone teaches children (worldly knowledge), it is good that he cease. But if he has no (other) trade, let him be permitted. A charioteer, likewise, or one who takes part in the games, or one who goes to the games, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. If someone is a gladiator, or one who teaches those among the gladiators how to fight, or a hunter who is in the wild beast shows in the arena, or a public official who is concerned with gladiator shows, either he shall cease, or he shall be rejected. If someone is a priest of idols, or an attendant of idols, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. A military man in authority must not execute men. If he is ordered, he must not carry it out. Nor must he take military oath. If he refuses, he shall be rejected. If someone is a military governor, or the ruler of a city who wears the purple, he shall cease or he shall be rejected. The catechumen (he who is being prepared for baptism) or faithful who wants to become a soldier is to be rejected, for he has despised God. The prostitute, the wanton man, the one who castrates himself, or one who does that which may not be mentioned, are to be rejected, for they are impure. A magus (magician, particularly of the Zoroastrian priestly cast) shall not even be brought forward for consideration. An enchanter, or astrologer, or diviner, or interpreter of dreams, or a charlatan, or one who makes amulets, either they shall cease or they shall be rejected. If someone's concubine is a slave, as long as she has raised her children and has clung only to him, let her hear. Otherwise, she shall be rejected. The man who has a concubine must cease and take a wife according to the law. If he will not, he shall be rejected.

Chapter 20:3-5: From the time at which they are set apart (those who are chosen who are to receive baptism), place hands upon them daily so that they are exorcised. When the day approaches on which they are to be baptized, let the bishop exorcise each one of them, so that he will be certain whether each has been purified. If there are any who are not purified, they shall be set apart. They have not heard the Word in faith, for the foreign spirit remained with each of them. Let those who are to be baptized be instructed that they bathe and wash on the fifth day of the week. If a woman is in the manner of women, let her be set aparta and receive baptism another day.

Chapter 18: When the teacher finishes his instruction, the catechumens (new believers) will pray by themselves, separate from the faithful. The women will also pray in another place in the church, by themselves, whether faithful women or catechumen women. After the catechumens have finished praying, they do not give the kiss of peace, for their kiss is not yet pure. But the faithful shall greet one another with a kiss, men with men, and women with women. Men must not greet women with a kiss. All the women should cover their heads with a pallium (originally a wide band of wool cloth, later to be worn only by popes and bishops), and not simply with a piece of linen, which is not a proper veil.

Chapter 21:9-20: When the elder takes hold of each of them who are to receive baptism, he shall tell each of them to renounce, saying, "I renounce you Satan, all your service, and all your works." After he has said this, he shall anoint each with the Oil of Exorcism, saying, "Let every evil spirit depart from you." Then, after these things, the bishop passes each of them on nude to the elder who stands at the water. They shall stand in the water naked. A deacon, likewise, will go down with them into the water. When each of them to be baptized has gone down into the water, the one baptizing shall lay hands on each of them, asking, "Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?" And the one being baptized shall answer, "I believe." He shall then baptize each of them once, laying his hand upon each of their heads. Then he shall ask, "Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and died, and rose on the third day living from the dead, and ascended into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of the Father, the one coming to judge the living and the dead?" When each has answered, "I believe," he shall baptize a second time. Then he shall ask, "Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Church and the resurrection of the flesh?" Then each being baptized shall answer, "I believe." And thus let him baptize the third time. Afterward, when they have come up out of the water, they shall be anointed by the elder with the Oil of Thanksgiving, saying, "I anoint you with holy oil in the name of Jesus Christ." Then, drying themselves, they shall dress and afterwards gather in the church.

Chapter 23: Widows and virgins will fast often and pray for the Church. The elders will fast when they want to, as is the same for the laypeople. The bishop may not fast except when all the people fast. For often someone will bring an offering, and it cannot be rejected. For whenever the bishop breaks the bread, he must partake of it, and eat it with all who are there.

Chapter 28:3-4: When you eat, eat sufficiently and not to excess, so that the host may have some left that he can then send to someone as leftovers of the saints, so that the one to whom it is sent may rejoice. Let the guests eat in silence, without arguing, saying only what the bishop allows. If someone asks a question, it shall be answered. When the bishop answers, all shall remain silent, praising him modestly, until someone else asks a question.

Chapter 32: These are the fruits which he shall bless: the grape, fig, pomegranate, olive, pear, apple, blackberry, peach, cherry, almond, and plum. But not the pumpkin, melon, cucumber, onion, garlic, or any other vegetable. Sometimes flowers also are offered. The rose and lily may be offered, but no other flowers. With all foods, give thanks to the Holy God, eating them to his glory.

Chapters 35-38: The faithful, as soon as they wake up and are risen, before beginning work, shall pray to God, and then go to their work. But if there is any instruction in the Word, they shall give this preference and go there to hear the Word of God for the strengthening of their souls. They shall be zealous to go to the church, where the Spirit flourishes. The faithful shall be careful to partake of the eucharist before eating anything else. For if they eat with faith, even though some deadly poison is given to them, after this it will not be able to harm them. All shall be careful so that no unbeliever tastes of the eucharist, nor a mouse or other animal, nor that any of it falls and is lost. For it is the Body of Christ, to be eaten by those who believe, and not to be scorned. Having blessed the cup in the Name of God, you received it as the antitype of the Blood of Christ. Therefore do not spill from it, for some foreign spirit to lick it up because you despised it. You will become as one who scorns the Blood, the price with which you have been bought.

Chapter 41:5-15, 17: If you are at home, pray at the third hour and praise God. If you are elsewhere at that time, pray in your heart to God. For in this hour Christ was seen nailed to the wood. And thus in the Old Testament the Law instructed that the shewbread be offered at the third hour as a symbol of the Body and Blood of Christ. And the sacrifice of the irrational lamb was a symbol of the perfect Lamb. For Christ is the Shepherd, and he is also the bread which descended from heaven. Pray also at the sixth hour. Because when Christ was attached to the wood of the cross, the daylight ceased and became darkness. Thus you should pray a powerful prayer at this hour, imitating the cry of him who prayed and all creation was made dark for the unbelieving Jews. Pray also at the ninth hour a great prayer with great praise, imitating the souls of the righteous who do not lie, who glorify God who remembered his saints and sent his Word to them to enlighten them. For in that hour Christ was pierced in his side, pouring out water and blood, and the rest of the time of the day, he gave light until evening. This way he made the dawn of another day at the beginning of his sleep, fulfilling the type of his resurrection. Pray also before your body rests on your bed. Around midnight rise and wash your hands with water and pray. If you are married, pray together. But if your spouse is not yet baptized, go into another room to pray, and then return to bed. Do not hesitate to pray, for one who has been joined in marital relations is not impure. Those who have bathed have no need to wash again, for they are pure. By catching your breath in your hand and signing yourself with the moisture of your breath, your body is purified, even to the feet. For the gift of the Spirit and the outpouring of the baptism, proceeding from the heart of the believer as though from a fountain, purifies the one who has believed. Thus it is necessary to pray at this hour. Likewise, at the hour of the cock-crow, rise and pray. Because at this hour, with the cock-crow, the children of Israel refused Christ, who we know through faith, hoping daily in the hope of eternal light in the resurrection of the dead.

Provided by St. John's Episcopal Church, Arlington, the Diocese of Virginia.

Invited but Not Chosen Thursday, August 11, 2022

Today's reading is from Matthew 22:8-14 (NIV), where Jesus is likening the kingdom of heaven to a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son but nobody came. These were the Jews of Israel, so God went to the Gentiles and invited them and here is where the parable continues:

"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find. So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, 'How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?' The man was speechless. Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are invited, but few are chosen."

So this should tell us a few things in a sobering manner: 1) You may get invited to heaven and appear before God; 2) He may refer to you as friend; 3) You may not have actually been chosen; 4) You then get the royal bum's rush straight to hell. This passage is troubling. I think it refers to me. The only assurance that it's not me is Romans 5:1-11 (NIV):

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God... And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly... But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, while we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

That's right, it all comes down to faith and hope -- the Christian's two crutches. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4, KJV) -- pretty sure these are similar to crutches. Anyhow, that's all the time I have for Thursday. More on this later. (Who has time for a blog, anyway?)

Patron Saint of Mad Dogs Thursday, August 4, 2022
Today will be brief, as it is the feast day of Saint Sithney (died c. 529), an Irish Catholic Benedictine missionary who emigrated from Britain (England) to Brittany (France), where he founded a monastery and was chosen by God to be the patron of young women seeking a husband. However, he replied that he would never get any rest and would rather take care of mad dogs than women. From then on he became the patron of mad dogs and rabies and dogs have since been brought to drink from his well at Guic-Sezni for healing. That's all I could find, so that's all I know.

If you would like further information send for a booklet to:
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
Animal Health Division
Hook Rise South
Tolworth, Surrey KT6 7NF
Telephone: 01-337 6611

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland
Chesser House
500 Gorgie Road
Edinburgh EH11 3AW
Telephone: 031-443 4020

Prepared for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by the Central Office of Information, 1977.
Printed in England for Her Majesty's Stationery Office by Impress (Acton) Ltd.,Dd 555202 Pro 10317 RP4

Fool for Christ Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Have you ever wondered about that Disney cathedral in Moscow's Red Square, the one with the multi-colored cupcake domes? It has many names, including Trinity Cathedral, Pokrovsky Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat, and the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed. The cathedral was constructed in wood by Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century in memory of the conquest of Kazan and Astrakhan, two major cities of the Tatars, previously the Great Horde, formerly the Golden Horde, and built on the site of several wooden churches collectively known as the Trinity Church. It was later reconstructed in stone during the reign of Catherine II the Great in the eighteenth century. It's a wonder the Communists never tore it down but they did confiscate it from the Russian Orthodox Church in 1928 and turned it into a national museum, but not until after the Bolsheviks melted all the bells and killed its priest. Stalin did consider tearing it down because it was an obstacle to his military parades but relented after he was promised a peek at the Immaculate Breasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Novgorod (he never did and several people were imprisoned for it). Although still part of the Moscow Kremlin, church services have been held in it since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The name Vasily the Blessed comes from Vasily Blazhenny (1468-1557), or Saint Basil, who was considered a holy fool for Christ ("yurodivy" -- an Eastern Orthodox ascetic who was deliberately provocative towards society by his/her simple life of exaggerated self-humiliation to the point of appearing naked and insane) and there were reportedly 35 throughout the history of the Russian Orthodox Church besides Basil. However, Basil was known for being prophetically knowledgeable about people who were dishonest and he had the half-naked balls to rebuke Ivan the Terrible for being preoccupied in church one day with thoughts of building a palace on the Vorobiev hills. Basil concerned himself with the poorest of the poor in Moscow for 72 years, even though he still accepted alms from them, and often wore heavy chains, which are preserved at the Moscow Orthodox Spiritual Academy for visitors to disrobe and try on. Today is his feast day and since he ate very little there's nothing to feast, so remember Basil by being a fool for Christ. (He was often beat up for it, though.)

The Cathedral of St. Basil is often mistook by tourists as an amusement park, although once inside they can see over 400 religious paintings, all meticulously restored with red spray paint which the Bolsheviks censored all of them with, and for a few rubles visitors can paint a remaining bare spot. Other museum activities include freezing cold temperatures in winter, climbing up or falling down a variety of winding staircases, gawking at modern Russian peasants who are no wealthier than their medieval ancestors, a selfie with the remains of Basil the Blessed, vodka vending machines, and one restroom break.

International Tiger Day Friday, July 29, 2022

Today is International Tiger Day and what tiger is as well-known as the Bible? That's right -- Tony the Tiger. Although tigers are awesome, I'd be remiss if I didn't concentrate instead on Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany, who today are venerated by Catholics (Lazarus, Mary and Martha), Anglicans and Lutherans (Martha), and the Western Churches (Lazarus). According to Western Church legend Lazarus became the Bishop of Marseille in Provence (southeastern France), but according to the Eastern Orthodox Church he became the Bishop of Kition on the island of Cyprus. According to both, Lazarus never smiled much after being raised from the dead by Jesus. Some combine him with Lazarus the beggar from Luke 16, just like some combine Mary of Bethany with all the other Marys, claiming that they were all redeemed whores. And we all know that Martha just needed to keep her mouth shut and work diligently behind the scenes. You can read more about all three in The Gospel of Martha.

Above: Tony the Tiger at the raising of Lazarus. Like corn flakes in a bowl of milk for four days, Lazarus arose from the dead a little on the soggy side, but Jesus made him fresh and crispy.

Right: Tony the Tiger at the home of Martha and Mary, explaining how Mary's choice to just sit and listen is Gr-r-r-reat!

Above: Tony the Tiger in modest Eastern Orthodox priestly attire circa 1952. The original slogan was: "Kellogg's Frosted Flakes are like manna from heaven (Exodus 16:14-15)."

Reprobus the Canaanite Monday, July 25, 2022
Today is the feast day of Saint Christopher -- or was, as it was discontinued by the Catholic Church in 1969. But the Eastern Orhtodox Church still celebrates one of the most well-known Christians that stood at 7.5 feet tall -- even taller than most of the statues of the Virgin Mary. As legend has it, sometime in the mid-third century this average-size Canaanite who was originally known by the name Reprobus (Latin, "Reprobate") was forced by the Romans to serve in the Unit of the Marmaritae, or dog-headed legion. One day he decided that he wanted to serve the greatest king he could, so he presented himself before his local ruler and entered service, until he noticed the king cross himself at the mention of the Devil, revealing that the king believed the Devil to have more power. He then decided to serve the Devil. During his search, he encountered a band of thieves whose leader referred to himself as the Devil. But when this leader avoided a Christian cross out of fear, Reprobus learned there was someone even more powerful than the Devil. So he converted to Christianity and after baptism by a hermit named Peter of Attalia he devoted himself to serving Christ by helping travelers across a dangerous river. One day he helped a considerably heavy child to cross the river, after which he commented, "I do not think the whole world could have been as heavy on my shoulders as you were." The child replied, "You had on your shoulders not only the whole world but Him who made it. I am Christ your king, whom you are serving by this work." The child then vanished and Reprobus was Christened anew as Christopher (Greek Christophoros, "Christ bearer"). Soon his image was appearing on medalions and dashboard figurines as a protector of travelers, surfers and children who wander the globe on their own, as well as being used to ward off epileptic attacks, toothaches and bachelors. After this, he went to the cities of Lycia and Antioch in Asia Minor and converted thousands during the Christian persecution under Emperor Decius, becoming a martyr himself in the process.

Note: The Feast of St. Christopher is celebrated by the Orthodox Church on May 9. Sorry if you missed it. What river he ferried travelers across to safety is unknown, as most of what remains about him is based on later legendary accounts. Christopher was not really venerated until about the seventh century, as far as anyone can tell. Oddly enough, he is also the patron saint of a holy death... but wouldn't any martyr be? He is sometimes depicted with the head of a dog, a condition some refer to as cynocephaly, which either means he had a dog face or he really wasn't a Canaanite but a Canine. However, I have chosen above to point out that he was recruited by the Romans to serve in the Marmaritae, of which there is also very little known and could very well have been a pack of giant dogs who walked on their hind legs wearing sandals and skirts (or pteruges).

Christina the Astonishing Sunday, July 24, 2022

Today we remember Christina Mirabilis of Belgium (1150-1224). But how can we remember what we didn't even know? She was reportedly raised from the dead at age 21 before witnesses at her funeral, levitated to the rafters, and recounted being taken to heaven, hell and purgatory by angels who offered her the opportunity to continue living a life of penance on behalf of those suffering unspeakable torments in purgatory, which she did to the fullest extent. Once back on Earth, she renounced the basic necessities of life and lived homeless and in rags, begging, often chased by dogs, and regularly throwing herself into burning furnaces or plunging into the wintery river for hours and each time emerging unscathed. Those who witnessed such spectacles described that she was experiencing the agony of these events and could hear her screams while in the flames or see her being battered by a mill wheel in the freezing waters, yet they saw no visible burns or broken bones. During these periods, she would experience ecstasies wherein she led the souls of the recently dead to purgatory and those in purgatory to paradise. She was twice jailed for suspicion of demon possession and often chased by dogs. With the ability to smell other people's sin, she usually avoided close contact with people, hid out of sight, and even levitated to get away from them. She later joined the Dominican Convent of Saint Catherine in Sint-Truiden in the province of Limburg, where she died of "natural causes" at age 74 (possibly exhausted to death from being chased by dogs). Never beatified, many still venerate her as the patron saint against insanity. If you find yourself being chased by dogs, try calling out to St. Roch instead.

St. Demoniac of Magdala Thursday, July 21, 2022

On this day in 1209, to kick off the Albigensian Crusade at the behest of Pope Innocent III, 20,000 inhabitants were slaughtered in the Massacre at Béziers in Southern France. The intent was to round up all the Cathars, a Gnostic Christian cult that challenged the Catholic Church, but the town was not willing to hand them over and instead taunted the Crusaders, who broke through the city gates and killed Cathars, Catholics, women and children. Supposedly, this is where the term "Kill them all and let God sort them out" came from, according to Catholic prior Caesarius of Heisterbach (1180-1240), who attributed the saying to Catholic abbot Arnaud Amalric (1160-1225). One of the churches that was ransacked -- and where it was reported that 7,000 people were killed* -- was the Church of St. Mary Magdalene, whose feast day is today. The Gnostics loved to write about Mary Magdalene, however, not many manuscripts have survived that were mentioned by the early Church Fathers, particularly those who spoke out against the Gnostics. One manuscript that partially survived is the Gospel of Mary, wherein Mary Magdalene calls the disciples a bunch of pussies for despairing after Jesus' death and resurrection, then goes into a polemic about Gnostic cosmology which Jesus revealed to her in a vision, to which some of the Apostles question her credibility as a woman. Another manuscript that was recently discovered, The Gospel of Martha, devotes a whole chapter to the dark secrets of the demons who possessed Mary Magdalene. Even more importantly, it dispels the rumor that she and Jesus had a thing going. Here is an excerpt from chapter eighteen:

Then saith Thomas unto Jesus, "And what of thee, Lord? Surely thou art an eunuch." And Jesus saith he, "Nay, but I am as thee, tempted in all the ways of man." But Thomas persisting saith he again, "Surely it is doubtful, Lord, for thou art daily surrounded about by maidens and damsels who tend to thee, and still thou keepest unto thyself."

Then Jesus lifting his robe saith he unto Thomas, "Lookest thou, but touchest thou not, that thou mayest see that I am tempted just as thou art tempted." And Thomas beheld, and believed.

Then saith Philip, "But what of the demoniack, Mary who is called Magdalene? For she it is who is closest at thy side always, and vying with the menfolk; and a comely dame besides. Naturally we but assumed."

And Jesus replying saith, "The Son of man hath he no bosom upon which to lay his head. But verily I say unto you, Mary hath she a fondness for one of these my disciples, even an one that is amongst ye now."

Then the disciples looked one upon an other, inquisitive of whom he spake. And, lo, their curiosity was piqued exceeding, and they did enquire amongst themselves, which of them it was that Mary called Magdalene should fancy; and began every one of them to say unto him, "Lord, is it I?" Simon Peter therefore beckoned, and saith unto him privily, "Lord, pray tell, who is it?"

Jesus answering saith unto them, "One of the twelve: he it is that dippeth an hand with me in the dish, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped, the same shall be him to whom Mary hath preference. The Son of man indeed goeth in continence, not knowing the familiarity of a woman: but glad tidings unto that man in whom Mary doth delight! It had been good for that man that he had not been an eunuch."

Then did Jesus dip his bread, and unto John of Zebedee did he give sop. And so the eleven delivered unto John a good ribbing, and much banter was shared amongst them all; unbeknownst to Mary called Magdalene, from out of whom seven demons were cast.

*According to some historians there were no more than 15,000 inhabitants in Béziers and the number of those killed was inflated by early witnesses, but it was the Feast of Mary Magdalene** and historians weren't there. Pictured: Most artists agree that Mary Magdalene was a woman, however, they do not all agree on what color her hair was or if she even had hair. **According to some Catholic historians, the feast day of Mary Magdalene was not officially established until 2016.

Bloody Friday Thursday, July 21, 2022

On this day in 1972, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) detonated about twenty bombs in Belfast, Northern Ireland, killing 9 and injuring 130 in an attempt to wreak financial harm. Aimed primarily at the British government and the ruling Irish government, the Ulster Unionist Party, it was part of a thirty-year internal skirmish referred to as "The Troubles" which officially ended in 1998. On one side were the Protestants, the ruling elite, and on the other were the Catholics, the repressed minority. Although not necessarily a religious war, it was fought primarily over Northern Ireland's membership in the United Kingdom and the desire of the IRA and its nationalist alliances to be independent. This attack by the Provisional IRA happened the same year as Bloody Sunday, when British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians and killed 14 during a protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland, on January 30, which resulted in a song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono that year and another by U2 in 1983. More than 3,500 people were killed in conflicts related to The Troubles -- about 52% civilian and 32% British security forces, with the remainder being members of paramilitary groups. Even though the IRA was considered a terrorist group, they were sorry for all the civilian casualties they caused.

Pictured: Kieran Nugent (1958-2000), who was imprisoned more than once for his involvement with the Provisional IRA and the first to refuse to wear the issued prison uniform and instead wore a blanket while claiming to be a political prisoner rather than a criminal. In 1973, at age 15, he and a friend were gunned down by union loyalists while standing on a street corner in Northern Ireland, so in fairness, they started it.

PSA: Disaster Preparedness Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Everyone should be prepared for a natural disaster. Hording food and supplies and always wearing long underwear are a good start but what do you actually do in the midst of a disaster, especially when there's no time to think? Well, look no further, because here are your options:

  • When caught in a lightning storm, hide under a motor vehicle that isn't on blocks.
  • When faced head-on with a tornado, run directly into the center of the twister where it's hollow. Once inside, lay flat like a skydiver.
  • If confronted with an avalanche, jump as high as you can to ride atop the snowslide. For landslides, climb to the top of a nearby tree and pole-vault from treetop to treetop as they are felled.
  • During an earthquake, go to the roof of the tallest nearby building to get as far from the ground as possible. If the building collapses, jump at the last moment as if in a free-falling elevator.
  • In a hurricane, cyclone or typhoon, remain in the eye of the storm until it dies down. Don't become distracted by all the rubble as you travel along inside the storm.
  • In case of tsunami, grab a surfboard, sailboard, paddleboard, or wakeboard and ride it out.
  • While in the midst of a stampede or swarm, stand perfectly still like a tree.
  • If caught in a flood, let your body go limp like a drunk driver.
  • For a wildfire, stop, drop and roll through the oncoming flames to the other side where the fire has already passed.
  • In case of draught, stay well-hydrated. Nothing to drink? Consider going somewhere else, but drive there.
  • If a volcano erupts nearby, first take cover from falling debris then jump from rooftop to rooftop to avoid flowing molten lava or run away on a pair of aluminum stilts. If the air becomes heavy with ash, then cover your head with an empty fish bowl and wrap a wet towel around your neck.
  • During a solar storm when the sun is bombarding the Earth with a volley of solar flares, unplug all appliances and wear the highest SPF sun screen you have, re-applying it every five minutes.
  • In case of a dust storm, get vaccinated. If the dust storm lasts longer than a year and crops fail, it could trigger the bubonic plague.
  • Ride a bike away from a falling meteor or comet. It's possible a meteor detonating in the atmosphere or its impact upon the ground could cause an electromagnetic pulse that would stall your car.
  • If caught in a sinkhole, grab a whip or the grappling hook from your utility belt and latch onto an exposed tree root or sewer pipe.
  • At the start of a blizzard or cold snap, get to a warmer region immediately, then book a flight to a tropical destination that's not experiencing hurricane season.
  • Pray. Start by saying, "God, if you're there..."

Note: Deathly smog or a poisonous chemical fog are not natural disasters. However, akin to a limnic eruption or lake overturn, perform the same fish bowl maneuver as with volcanic ash.

LWoS 104, 105, 107, 114, 116 Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Once again we return to the sound advice of King Solomon, having been lost all these years but now available to all who speak the English language. Did Solomon speak English? Why, he invented English -- the King's English. Yet in his wisdom, he had the foresight to remove all the fanciful Elizabethan pronouns for the common man. Should you desire more wisdom in your foolish life, check out the book. (By check it out, I don't mean like from a library -- shell out a measly buck for the Kindle version or for the same price as $10 you can procure a paperback copy just like that which the scribes of old used to pen by hand.)

104 My son, do not be a sluggard. Observe the industrious ways of the mountain yeti. Without command, or overseer, or ruler, it goes about gathering stones, and sticks, and branches, and whatnot. And for what purpose? Who knows, but it toils in warm weather and times of plenty in order to store up provisions for colder seasons and times of scarcity.

105 My son, on second thought, do not be like the mountain yeti, for it slumbers all winter long.

107 My son, contrary to popular belief, idle hands are not the devil’s workshop. He does not seek for slackers to do his bidding. He needs driven, hardworking, misguided infidels. Furthermore, an idle mind is not the devil’s playground. It is his toilet, where he takes an existential dump. Give the devil his due, but not too much credit. You are your own worst enemy.

114 My children, a short story about a dog and a penguin who were close friends for years. One day the dog killed the penguin, ate most of it, and used the remains as a hump toy for days until its tattered corpse completely fell apart. Why? Who knows? Although friendly, dogs are relatively carnivorous and given to impulsive behavior, while penguins tend to taste like meat. Moral: One day, the Lord will reign upon his throne from Zion and the dog shall lie down in peace with the penguin. Until then, animals of different kinds are not friends.

116 A wise man observes the cycles of the moon and studies the positions of the stars. A fool stares into the sun. A wise man knows what time of day it is by the position of the shadows cast upon the ground. A fool chases his own shadow. A wise man expects the best but plans for the worst. A fool tries to predict the weather, but he cannot even forecast a bowel movement if he were disrobed and squatting over a hole.

Edict of Expulsion Monday, July 18, 2022

Today we remember Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) as well as those who were persecuted under the Edict of Expulsion (1290). I shall once again flip a coin and go with... The Edict of Expulsion was a royal decree issued by King Edward I of England on July 18, 1290, expelling all Jews from the Kingdom of England and giving them approximately 3-1/2 months to clear out of the country. It was in effect for about 350 years until 1657. William the Conqueror had invited the Jews to England in 1066, probably for their money, then instigated a feudal system and brought all estates under his subjugation, however, Jews were considered direct subjects of the king, who could treat them as he wished and taxed them heavily because they were the primary financial lending body since the Church forbade Christians from lending for profit. Hence, the Jews were increasingly seen as extortionists and antisemitism went on the rise. Jews were not protected under the Magna Carta of 1215, were ordered to wear yellow badges in 1218, were prohibited from building synagogues, owning slaves and mixing with Christians in 1222 (Synod of Oxford), and from then on segregation, limitations and taxation increased, along with brutal rumors, persecution, and the killing of Jews. The Statute of Jewry in 1275 outlawed all lending at interest, synagogues began to be forcefully closed in 1282, and King Edward began seizing Jewish property and expelling Jews in 1287. In 1290, King Edward I imposed a heavy tax on English citizens while at the same time expelling all Jews to rid England of the possibility of any further usury. Estimates range from 2,000-3,000 Jews were forced to leave with only the possessions they could transport. On May 8, 2022, the Archdeacon of Oxford marked the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford with an apology from the Church of England during service at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, even though the Catholic Church was the official church of England at the time of the synod. When asked for comment, Pope Francis shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Apology accepted."

Firgun Sunday, July 17, 2022

Today is International Firgun Day and International Justice Day, so I will flip a coin and go with... Firgun (pronounced FEER-GOON) is a Hebrew word with Yiddish origin, no good English translation, found in no Bible concordance and means the act of sharing in or even contributing to someone else's pleasure or fortune with a purely generous heart and without jealousy. It was founded in 2014 by Made in JLM and its website is here. It's akin to giving a compliment but not like giving a compliment but sort of -- something like this: I'd like to give a shout-out to Sam McGhee and Mitch Williams at Inland Film Co. (IF), a commercial and documentary film production shop based in the Inland Pacific Northwest. These guys are bringing genuine innovation and creativity to a region that is imaginatively impoverished and saturated with meretricious advertising for Dave Smith Motors. For more of Sam's amazing photography, visit him online.

A photograph taken by Sam McGhee somewhere in Ireland. Looks like a cathedral. Most of his photography and cinematography are homegrown. In my biased opinion, he's really good.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part V Monday, July 11, 2022

Today's reading is from chapter twenty of The Gospel of Martha, where the Christ has gathered his apostles around a camp fire and is teaching them mysterious lessons that are difficult to comprehend. Jesus often said that those who have ears, let them hear. The common understanding of this phrase is to pull your head out of your butt and pay attention.

Mary Magdalene saith unto Jesus, "What are your disciples like?" He replying saith, "They are like little children playing in a field that is not theirs. When the owners of the field come, they will say: You kids get out of our field. Then the children take off their clothes in front of them, and wag their little behinds, and they return their field to them."

Jesus continuing saith, "For this reason I say, if the owners of an house know that Steve is coming, they will be on guard before Steve arrives, and will not let Steve break into their domicile and steal their possessions; unless they are insured, and their property can be replaced. As for you then, be on guard against the world, for it is full of Steves."

Jesus saith, "Prepare yourselves with great strength, so also the Rogers can not find a way to get to you, for the trouble you expect will come from Roger. Let there be among you a person who understands. When the crap [sic] ripened, Steve came quickly carrying a sickle in hand and reaped it. Whosoever hath ears to hear, let him not just hear, but listen."

Then asketh John brother of James, saying, "Lord, will there be in heaven intimacy that is sexual in nature?" Jesus saw some baby opossums nursing, so he saith unto his disciples, "These suckling are like those who enter the kingdom of heaven."

They say unto him, "Then shall we enter the kingdom as opossum babies?" Jesus saith unto them, "When ye make the two into one, and when ye make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when ye make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female; when ye make eyes in place of an eye, an hand in place of an hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then shall ye enter the kingdom."

And James the brother of John saith unto him, "Lord, thou didst lose us at opossum babies. From then on did thy words but falleth upon ears that heard, but did not listen."

But Jesus continuing saith, "I shall choose you, one from a thousand and two from ten thousand, and they will stand as a single one. And, lo, the remnant shall be as a glob."

His disciples say, "Shew us the place where thou art, for we must seek it." He saith unto them, "Whosoever hath ears, let him hear. There is light within a person of light, and it shines on the whole world. If it doth not shine, then that person is Steve, and he is darkness."

Jesus saith, "Love your friends like your own soup; taste them with a spoon as you would the broth of your chicken."

Jesus saith, "Thou seest the dander in thy friend's eye, but thou seest not the kitten in thine own eye. When thou takest the kitten out of thine own eye, then shalt thou see well enough to remove the dander from thy friend's eye; even after he hath rubbed it sore, and it becometh swollen shut."

Jesus saith, "If ye fast not from the world, ye shall not find the kingdom. If ye observe not the sabbath as a sabbath, ye shall not see the Father. If ye commit not the scriptures unto memory, ye shall not be able to recite them on demand. Then assuredly shall ye sound foolish attempting in vain to make your words sound as holy writ; and moreso in an ancient tongue."

I Forgive Bob Johnson Sunday, July 10, 2022

We all have had a Mr. Johnson in our life. For me it was Bob Johnson the trigonometry teacher, baseball coach and unmitigated bitter persona. This sour apple should not have been teaching children, influencing children, or allowed anywhere near children. Yet he was paid to make Pythagorean arithmetic even more convoluted and boring for teenagers than on its own and he was allowed to take the fun out of baseball at a varsity level. He complained every day about being a human being, criticized the youth of humanity and frowned upon every human who walked through the door of his classroom. During the day he turned sines, cosines, tangents and secants into a foreign language. In the afternoon he practiced benching players. It was because of him that I quit both activities. I loved playing baseball but suffered from an uncontrollable side arm. If someone had simply come alongside me and said, "Stop doing that and throw correctly," I would've been a contender. I struggled at mathematics and didn't even know that trigonometry was about triangles. But if Mr. Johnson taught me anything it was that quitting is an important variable in becoming a cynical asshole (maybe akin to a negative correlation coefficient, but I wouldn't know). I quit to get away from Mr. Johnson. I'm sure he would've said that I was incompetent at either pursuit and that someday I would thank him for leading me from the wrong paths at an early stage, but I don't care what he would have to say and I'm pretty confident he doesn't give a polynomial's functional notation what anyone remembers of him as a teacher or a coach. I know that I have a mathematical impediment and that I never would have made it to the Minor League and I readily accept that, but I still struggle with the memories of being an adolescent in a world where Mr. Johnson stands in the doorway, arms crossed, scowling and slowly shaking his head from side to side. I've had other teachers and professors just like him, however, I don't remember their names. Instead, they are all just a composite of Bob Johnson. I cannot forget Mr. Johnson but I cannot blame him either. I forgive Bob Johnson. God bless you, Mr. Johnson, and may the Lord have mercy on us all.

Pictured: Mr. Johnson as I remember him. As a fellow member of Assholes Anonymous, I did not post an actual photograph of Bob Johnson. I could've tried drawing a picture of him but other Bob Johnsons sneered me away from that path, too.

Martyrs of Gorkum Saturday, July 9, 2022

Today we are reminded that it wasn't just the Catholic Church which euthanized its nemeses in Christ. On this day in 1572, during the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, nineteen Catholic monks and clerics were hanged after being mutilated by militant Calvinists in the town of Brielle near the city of Gorkum in Holland in the Netherlands of the Low Countries after refusing to disavow transubstantiation and papal supremacy because, as you may remember, Calvinists were opposed to -- among other things dogmatically Catholic -- transubstantiation and papal supremacy. Between 1523-1648, it is estimated that over five million European Christians perished at the hands of one another over differences of doctrine, but partly fueled by nationalism, but mainly between Catholic realms and Protestant domains.

Sancti in Memoria
  1. Adrian van Hilvarenbeek, Norbertine canon and pastor
  2. Andrew Wouters, pastor
  3. Leonard van Veghel, pastor
  4. Nicholas Poppel, chaplain
  5. Godfried van Duynen, pastor
  6. James Lacobs, Norbertine canon
  7. John of Cologne, Dominican friar and pastor
  8. Cornelius of Wijk bij Duurstede, Franciscan lay brother
  9. Anthony of Hoornaar, Franciscan friar and priest
  10. Godfried of Mervel, Franciscan priest and vicar
  11. Nicasius of Heeze, Franciscan friar and priest
  12. Theodore of der Eem, Franciscan friar and priest
  13. Jan of Oisterwijk, Augustinian canon regular
  14. Nicholas Pieck, Franciscan friar and priest
  15. Willehad of Denmark, Franciscan friar and priest
  16. Anthony of Weert, Franciscan friar and priest
  17. Francis of Roye, Franciscan friar and priest
  18. Peter of Assche, Franciscan lay brother
  19. Jerome of Weert, Franciscan friar and priest
(As close as I can tell, these are who they are, as I did not know them well.)

The Facts of Life Friday, July 8, 2022

The facts of life can be generally frightening because, as they say (whoever they are), truth is stranger than fiction. If we all had an Edna Garrett in our formative years like the girls at the fictitious Eastland Academy in Peekskill, New York, we may have all been better off. But now that you have gotten to this place in life where you browsed the Internet and came across this website, it's time you knew the real, unadulterated facts of life...

  • Birds and bees procreate differently than humans.
  • There are more than just two certainties besides death and taxes, which includes advertisements. Regardless of whether you pay extra to not see them, they still show up.
  • Old fashioned notions such as common sense and morality are myths of ancient folklore.
  • Pennies will breed when kept together. Also, a penny saved is a penny earned, for a cheapskate.
  • God created God-fearing people while scientists and doctors evolved from apes.
  • Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter are conservative personalities developed by the Freemasons.
  • Oprah Winfrey is a robot crafted by the Illuminati.
  • Evolution is statistically improbable and cannot be proven by observation.
  • Priests and pedophiles should be surgically castrated. Although this is not a proven method to eliminate unwholesome inclinations towards children, it's still a good start.
  • Big Brother is watching you. There's nothing you can do about it. Even staying off the grid does not help. But don't worry, chances are in your favor that Big Brother is not interested in you, at least not personally.
  • The end of the world is near, at least in relation to the overall timeline. Speaking of time, time has no physical properties nor is it dimensional. The only point in time is now. Time is nothing but a system of measurement. Time travel is impossible.
  • Not everybody loves Raymond.
  • The devil is in the details. He's also in the underpants of naughty Catholic school girls.
  • The three most important ingredients in any food are sugar, salt and butter. Bacon grease or lard may be substituted for butter.
  • James Tiberius Kirk was the greatest Starfleet captain, but you should definitely come to that conclusion on your own. Also, science fiction tries to prove that God does not exist. This includes Scientology.
  • In-laws are more strange and awkward than actual strangers.
  • Happiness comes from within, like a healthy bowel movement, which is cathartic. However, a happy wife is still a happy life for all involved.
  • The comic strip "Mutts" is the real reason why newspapers are becoming extinct.
  • Anything good is bad for you. Even religion, which usually shows you just how bad you really are.
  • The Nobel Peace Prize technically could skip a year without a winner, yet it was still awarded to Yasser Arafat, Elihu Root, Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama, and yet the Nobel committee overlooked Mahatma Gandhi twelve times.
  • Microsoft Windows sucks... all of the resources out of your computer. It's also a crappy operating system and arguable that it's better than nothing.
  • Cell phones cause brain cancer. They also cause testicular cancer when carried in your front trouser pockets and colon cancer when carried in your back trouser pockets. You shouldn't talk on a cell phone while pumping gas because you may get distracted and fail to stop exactly on an even dollar amount.
  • Alcoholism is a disease which can only be cured with stem cell research on the liver of an inebriated fetus.
  • Your grandmother was right. Never trust a milkman (milk is the number one cause of pregnancy). Never trust a mailman (mail is the number two cause of pregnancy).
  • People are selfish and lazy, which gives the impression they are evil and stupid.
  • Acne in males is caused by a lack of sex. Whiteheads are the build-up of semen trapped in pores as sperm tries to leave the body through the skin. Acne in females is caused by the practice of black magic. Puritans often determined if a suspected witch was guilty based on the presence of blackheads.
  • There is no sex in heaven. There is nothing like sex in heaven. There is nothing sexual about heaven.
  • People who eat people are the hungriest people in the world.
  • You can't always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you just might find you get a nose bleed.
  • Somewhere over the rainbow awaits an angry little leprechaun itching to beat your head in with his shillelagh.
  • Love is like a comfy chair - plush and filled with pubic hair.
  • It's all fun and games until someone trips a forgotten landmine.
  • Guns don't kill people, people firing guns at people kill people and the only way to get rid of guns is to kill the people with guns.
  • Cars don't kill people, people driving cars kill people and the only way to get rid of cars is to kill the people with cars.
  • Killing people doesn't get rid of people.
  • Youth is wasted on the young. Money is wasted on the elderly. Humor is wasted on dads.
  • Your farts do stink but everyone else's farts smell worse than yours. Some farts do smell like flowers (corpse lily and titan arum of Indonesia, carrion flower and parasitic stinking root of South Africa, dead horse arum lily of some Mediterranean islands, western and eastern skunk cabbages of the U.S., to name a few).
  • A tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit.
  • You should've taken a left instead of a right at Albuquerque.
  • Idaho drivers are the worst. They usually don't know where they are going, where they're at, or even that they are driving a car. If they graduate junior high school, they are automatically awarded a driver's license. Otherwise, they have to take a driver's exam which consists of driving into a neighboring state and violating more than five traffic laws.
  • Facebook revolutionized the way in which we waste our time. Meta has revolutionized nothing.
  • Meat is murder -- savory, delicious, God-sanctioned murder.
  • Boys are smarter than some animals. (Not all, just some.)
  • If you sass your elders then you too will become old like them.
  • Golf becomes more exciting the less exciting you become. Shuffleboard and croquet are drinking games for all ages.
  • It's not the destination -- it's the voyage that matters, unless voyaging aboard a cruise ship that features the original Solid Gold Dancers in costume.
  • The word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Joan of Arc Acquitted for Donning Pantaloons
Thursday, July 7, 2022
On this day in 1431, Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was posthumously found not guilty of heresy, which is why she was sentenced to death twenty-five years earlier by the Roman Catholic Church, which now considers her a saint. Long story short, France was in the midst of internal conflict while in the midst of war with England over control of Europe, better known as the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453), and young Joan had visions of saving France, then helped France win some battles against England and get Charles VII crowned King of France, then she was captured by the English who tried her for heresy before an ecclesiastical court which in effect determined that Charles was aided by a woman wearing men's clothes and therefore had no divinely-ordained right to the throne. She was subsequently burned at the stake at age nineteen and her ashes were thrown in the river, but the French went on to win the overall war twenty-two years later flying her Fleur de Lis pantaloons from their flagpoles. Eventually, Joan was exonerated due to improper procedures, even though she recanted to being French but did not repent from wearing men's clothing and continued to do so until her death, which was in clear violation of God's Law (Deuteronomy 22:5). She was later honored by the 1948 film of her namesake, starring Ingrid Bergman and based on the successful Broadway play, Joan of Lorraine, starring Ingrid Bergman. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three, including Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design.

(This history report earned me a D+ in junior high school. Back when it was originally written, there was no Internet and therefore no Wikipedia. I had to visit a public library on a bike with no helmet and locate some books using the Dewey Decimal System, all without a protective N95 mask. I now cut myself some slack and postmundanely award it a C- in memory of Mr. Olson, although I think he may have been the U.S. History teacher. I don't remember. I was never good at history.)

Star-Spangled Applesauce Saturday, July 2, 2022

This fourth of July is the fourth of July and as such, U.S. Independence Day, when we as Americans minus Canadians and Mexicans and also everyone in Latin America join together and fight for parking space to get a glimpse of fireworks representing our freedom to burn money. The Founding Fathers of this great nation may not like what has become of it over the years, but quite a lot has changed since the start and they didn't stick around to see it all the way through to the end. Most of us have all but forgotten these free-thinkers and freedom fighters except that some of them remain printed on our play money and a few of them here and there still stand in the form of stone or bronze and covered in pigeon droppings. To help refresh your memories, here are some grilled morsels of U.S history served up with virtual BBQ sauce and cyberslaw. Use them to impress your friends, make new ones, or correct your elders.

  • Although John Hanson was the first U.S. president, George Washington challenged him to the best three out of five in arm wrestling to capture the title.
  • George Washington chopped down a cherry tree in protest of high British import taxes on fresh fruit.
  • George Washington never smiled because his cheeks were made of wood.
  • After the Constitution was ratified, George Washington ate the Articles of Confederation.
  • John Adams was the second U.S. president but first to pee the executive bed in the White House.
  • As a lawyer, John Adams represented the British soldiers involved in the 1770 Boston Massacre because of his staunch belief that no one should be denied the right to counsel and a fair trial. However, he changed his position after being paid in stamps.
  • John Adams edited Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence, changing the opening sentence from, "We hold these truths to be palpable, that all men are created comparably, that they are endowed by their deity of choice with certain nontransferable rights, that among these are aliveness, enfranchisement and the pursuit of gladsomeness."
  • John Adams was the father of John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. president and fourth to pee the executive bed at the White House (fifth U.S. president James Monroe didn't live there long due to the fire of the War of 1812).
  • Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay contributed to the creation of the Federalist Papers, which later became the National Enquirer.
  • Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were in a duel, the winner of which got to appear on a twenty-dollar bill and the loser on a ten-dollar bill.
  • Alexander Hamilton was the first secretary of the treasury and promoted the first sin tax, which was an excise tax on domestically produced whisky, which many poor people considered an income tax.
  • As a youth, Alexander Hamilton was a member of the Hearts of Oak, a Boy Scouts of America of the day, except that they were also trained in killing British soldiers. He was later commissioned as Commanding General of the U.S. Army after the French Revolution and earned a merit badge for enthusiasm.
  • Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, which was greatly influenced by the philosophers of the Enlightenment, including John Locke, Montesquieu, Francis Bacon, Immanuel Kant and Benjamin Franklin, who all made up the infamous Committee of Five.
  • Thomas Jefferson supported the Louisiana Purchase to expand NCAA football into the Big Ten and Big Twelve conferences.
  • As third president of the U.S., Jefferson signed the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves, concentrating instead on domestically-grown slaves.
  • Jefferson had relations with his wife's half-sister, who was a mixed-race slave girl of fourteen years of age when he was forty-four, and over time he fathered six children with her. He was also a lawyer, architect, philologist, author, surveyor, mathematician, horticulturist and mechanic.
  • James Madison developed the four branches of the federal government -- legislative, executive, judicial and shadow ops.
  • Like many of the Founding Fathers, Madison was a statesman, diplomat, land owner, political philosophist and hater of British Loyalist fags.
  • As fourth U.S. president, James Madison was still strongly opposed to British Loyalist fags and ushered the U.S. into the War of 1812 to get in a few more licks.
  • James Madison was instrumental in crafting the U.S. Bill of Rights -- the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution which originally included an exhaustive collection of colonial recipes sure to tantalize the palate of any finicky patriot.
  • The Committees of Correspondence was a patriotic pen pal club started by Samuel Adams, one of the outcomes of which was fourteen years of bromance letters between his cousin John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
  • While many of the colonial elite were wealthy slave owners, Samuel Adams instead employed filthy Irishmen and degenerate Italians.
  • Samuel Adams was leader of a gang called the Sons of Liberty that drank vast quantities of Boston Lager and rode around town on modified horses, tarring and feathering British Loyalist fags.
  • Along with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Henry Laurens, John Jay helped negotiate the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which split up all non-U.S. North American territories between Britain, France and Spain, while throwing the U.S. a few fish east of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • John Jay was the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, giving it the nickname SCROTUS (Supreme Court Ringleaders of the United States) and often showing up to judicial meetings in a night gown.
  • John Jay negotiated the "Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, Between His Britannic Majesty and the United States of America," which tied up loose ends from the Treaty of Paris and gave the two primary parties of the time, Federalists and Republicans, something to be deeply divided about.
  • Patrick Henry was famous for his quote, "Give me liberty, or give me death!" which was in regards to the rise of fast food restaurants and a corresponding rise in his cholesterol. He was fond of the triple-patty Liberty Burger at Carl's Sr., predecessor to Carl's Jr.
  • As a lawyer, Patrick Henry won the court case of "Parson's Cause" effectively upholding the Two Penny Act and causing Anglican ministers to take the Lord's name in vain.
  • As a wealthy land owner, Patrick Henry owned many slaves but was in support of their freedom and return to Africa. However, it was rather inconvenient at the time and as he put it, "Someday, somehow, but not on my watch."
  • A prosperous and wealthy merchant of rum nougat, licorice pipes, Swedish Fish and marshmallow confections made from whale oil, John Hancock was often accused by British authorities of smuggling to avoid paying import taxes, which were the highest on sugar and products made with high fructose corn syrup.
  • John Hancock experimented with rudimentary synthesizers in his spare time and helped to revolutionize jazz fusion.
  • Originally a British Loyalist fag, Hancock eventually had enough with British taxation and duties on the American colonies and joined Samuel Adam's Sons of Liberty gang, riding around and harassing customs officials and rival press gangs.
  • Gouverneur Morris was a U.S. senator from New York, which was confusing to people when his name was spoken but not presented in writing. After his involvement in the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, Morris served as Minister Plenipotentiary to France, a fancy title for ambassador. The French believed him to be the U.S. governor and wondered why he spent so much time in their country.
  • Gouverneur Morris was elected to serve on the Committee of the Elements of Style, which proof-read all documents drafted in the Continental Congress for grammatical and punctuation errors.
  • An aristocrat, Gouverneur Morris was opposed to uncivilized states of the western frontier being on equal standing with the refined eastern states and accused their uncultured representatives of selling their votes to bears and otters.
  • Paul Revere is well known for his midnight ride up and down the entire Atlantic Coast to warn colonial militia of the advancing British Army upon Lexington and Concord while being chased by the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, who threw a Jack-O-Lantern at him which missed and hit the lantern hanging at the Old North Church in Boston. When Minutemen at nearby outposts saw it light up, they lit their lanterns in both directions up and down the coast, thus signaling to others that something was coming and awaiting anxiously for the arrival of Revere to tell them what it was.
  • As a silversmith, practicing dentist and gang member of the Sons of Liberty, Paul Revere permanently installed grillz in his mouth. Early east coast rapper "Longfellow" composed hip-hop lyrics about Revere, immortalizing him for generations of breakdancing patriots.
  • Paul Revere was a leader in the Boston Tea Party but forgot to invite his close gang affiliate William Dawes, as well as failing to give honorable mention for Dawes' contributing part in "Paul Revere's Ride."
  • George Mason was a neighbor of George Washington and protested when Washington chopped down Mason's cherry tree because, as Washington put it, "That ghastly shrub only produces pits with no fruit and I am grown wearied from picking up pits on my side of the yard, I just gotta say."
  • George Mason helped craft the Constitution but refused to sign it in protest to John Hancock's overcrowding signature.
  • As a real estate agent for the Ohio Company and opponent of slavery, George Mason became a slum developer of his own properties after retirement, anticipating that freed slaves would need a place of their own to live.
  • Charles Carroll III was the wealthiest and most formally educated of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, making him the sure choice as a delegate to the French Canadians in Quebec.
  • John Marshall was the longest serving justice in U.S. Supreme Court history, finally retiring in 1908 to make room on the bench for Justice Thurgood Marshall.
  • Rebel, patriot and financier James Swan assumed all U.S. revolutionary debts owed to France and effectively transferred them to domestic investors, making him one of the first U.S. entrepreneurs to profit from war.
  • Although not a U.S. Founding Father, King George III played a substantial role in pissing off those of our ancestors who retaliated against the tyranny of the British monarchy.
  • Let's not forget Benjamin Franklin.

Council of Brabant Friday, July 1, 2022

Today we commemorate the lighting of the Lutheran pyre by the Catholics with the burning of Jan van Essen (not the painter) and Hendrik Vos (not the politician) on this day in 1523, two Augustinian monks in Belgium who were burned at the stake for refusing to recant their Lutheran beliefs, which was a capital offense even in the civil courts of the Holy Roman Empire. There was a third, Lampertus Thorn, who was given a little longer to think it over and eventually died in prison. Actually, the whole of Saint Augustine's Monastery in Antwerp professed to Lutheran doctrine, but the threat of searing capital punishment graciously persuaded them to be more amenable to Catholic doctrine instead. A conservative estimate is that about fifty million European Protestants were put to death by the Roman Catholic Church and their political sycophants, although it is difficult if not impossible to put a number on those who were Lutheran, so we'll just say plenty. Back then the "Church" had a zero-tolerance policy against those who failed to toe the line. Allowing members to openly sass the papacy or make their contentions known could possibly undermine the Church's authority, so these heretics needed to be delt with swiftly and severely, but not without the opportunity of being tried and tortured first. As a result of this particular episode, Saint Augustine's Monastery was deemed defiled and subsequently destroyed.

Pictured: An etching from the Wellcome Library in London of an unknown Christian being burned at the stake, so the liberty has been taken to clone him and label them Jan van Essen and Hendrik Vos -- again, not the Flemish painter and Dutch politician. This was possibly the work of Italian painter Giulio Cesare Ferrari (1818-1899, no known affiliation with the Italian luxury sports car), and possibly a self-portrait of self-immolation.

International Asteroid Day Thursday, June 30, 2022

Today is International Asteroid Day (2016 UN A/RES/71/90) and the only reason I mention this is because I have an apocalyptic-dystopian movie idea I came up with when I wondered recently why this subject hasn't already been sufficiently exhausted. But it hasn't because here's my storyline: It's the future and Earth is either at peace or at war, it doesn't matter. A large asteroid roughly the size of our moon has been detected outside our solar system by a space probe that was lost and presumed inoperative. As it moves closer, scientists discover that it is comprised of garbage from another solar system, possibly from another galaxy, as the collected debris cannot be readily identified. Since it appears to be on a collision course with our moon, we (whoever we are, it doesn't matter) send a fleet of rockets on an intercept course to nudge its trajectory towards the sun with the intent to incinerate it. However, it slingshots around the sun and heads directly for Earth at an accelerated speed. So we shoot missiles at it do blow it apart, only to discover that there is a large cosmic whale trapped inside, which is now free to swim in orbit around the Earth and consume all of our satellites like plankton. After digesting the majority of Earth's weather and global positioning satellites, it defecates on our planet and, although a large portion of it burns up as it enters the atmosphere (creating a giant hole in the ozone, no less), a remaining turd the size of Australia hits the surface (where doesn't matter, but likely Australia). This causes tsunamis of feces around the globe and shit storms which wreak havoc on our already fragile environment. The foreign bacteria released into Earth's ecosystem also causes the pigment of all biological matter to change, eventually turning Earth into a hellscape of fluorescent pink. Featuring an all-star cast of Bruce Boxleitner, Wesley Snipes, Helen Hunt, Scott Bakula, Cuba Gooding Jr., Meredith Baxter, Michael Gross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Haley Joel Osment. Directed by Steve Guttenberg. Produced by Saban Films in conjunction with The Asylum. Rated TV-MA. This film has not yet been made but eventually it has to be.

Of Plimoth Plantation Tuesday, June 28, 2022

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were in the midst of a defective pea harvest and had sent some newlyweds on a honeymoon to a territory strewn with the bodies of Indians who had succumbed to plague. Squanto and Hobomok were being razzed by a Wampanoag Indian chief by the name of Corbitant for being allied with the Pilgrims. Today's episode is brought to you by Clifton's Radiator. If your car is experiencing radiator problems, call Clifton and he will gladly loan you his radiator until you get yours fixed. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, this somer they builte a fort with good timber, both strong and comly, which was of good defence, made with a flate rofe and batllments, on which their ordnance were mounted, and wher they kepte constante watch, espetially in time of danger. It served them allso for a meeting house, and was fitted accordingly for that use. Now ye wellcome time of harvest aproached, in which all had their hungrie bellies filled. But it arose but to a litle, in comparison of a full years supplie; partly by reason they were not yet well aquainted with ye mannner of Indean corne, and they had no other. Also much was stolne both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable, and much more afterward. And though many were well whipt when they were taken for a few ears of corne, yet hunger made others (whom conscience did not restraine) to venture.

Behold now another providence of God; a ship comes into ye harbor, one Captain Jons being cheefe therin. They were set out by some marchants to discovere all ye harbors betweene this and Virginia, and ye shoulds of Cap-Cod, and to trade along ye coast wher they could, but ye Indeans had no trading comodities. This ship had store of English-beads (which were then good trade) and some knives, but would sell none but at dear rates, and also a good quantie togeather. Yet they weere glad of ye occasion, and faine to buy at any rate; they were faine to give after ye rate of cento per cento, if not more, and yet pay away coat-beaver at 3 shilings per sterling pound, which in a few years after yeelded 20 shilings. By this means they were fitted againe to trade for beaver and other things, and intended to buy what corne they could.

Shortly after harvest Mr. Westons people who were now seated at ye Massachusets, and by disorder (as it seems) had made havock of their provissions, begane now to perceive that want would come upon them. And hearing that they hear had bought trading comodities and intended to trade for corne, they write to ye Govr and desired they might joyne with them. Althings being provided, Captaint Standish was apointed to goe with them, and Squanto for a guid and interpreter, about ye latter end of September. But they could not get aboute ye should of Cap-Cod, so they put into Manamoyack Bay and got wat they could ther. In this place Squanto fell sick of an Indean feavor, bleeding much at ye nose (which ye Indeans take for a simptome of death), and within a few days dyed ther, desiring ye Govr to pray for him, that he might goe to ye Englishmens God in heaven, and bequeathed sundrie of his things to sundry of his English freinds, as remembrances of his love; of whom they had a great loss.

After these things, in Febrary, a messenger came from John Sanders, who was left cheefe over Mr. Weston's men in ye bay of Massachusets, who brought a letter shewing the great wants they were falen into. He desired advice whether he might not take corne from ye Indeans by force to succore his men till he came from ye eastward, whither he was going. The Govr and rest deswaded him by all means from it, for it might so exasperate the Indeans as might endanger their saftie, and all of us might smart for it; for they had already heard how they had so wronged ye Indeans by stealing their corne, as they were much incensed against them. Yea, so base were some of their own company, as they wente and tould ye Indeans their Govr was purposed to come and take their corne by force. The which with other things made them enter into a conspiracie against ye English, of which more in ye nexte. Hear with I end this year.

This episode was brought to you by Clifton's Radiator, who reminds you that if your car is experiencing radiator problems, call Clifton and he will gladly loan you his radiator until you get yours fixed. Here's a sneak preview of the next installment of Plimoth Plantation in the year 1623:

Mens wives were to be commanded to doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, washing their cloaths, and they deemd it a kind of slaverie, neither could many husbands well brooke it. To be continued.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 10 Monday, June 27, 2021

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed because he is becoming absent-minded. Lately he has been misplacing his coffee mug or keys but today he forgot which side of an argument he was on. Those who say that you are only as old as you feel are senile. Growing old carries with it many torments, as Kelvin will often remind me and does so even now:

  • Hearing things that aren't there but not hearing things that really are there
  • Falling asleep when you sit down but not being able to fall asleep when you lie down
  • Flatulence, uncontrollable flatulence
  • Aggravation with whippersnappers who have no notion of good old-fashioned common sense
  • Back spasms, uncontrollable back spasms
  • Dietary restrictions on sugar and salt, plus everything else
  • Wearing all one color (sweat suits, pant suits, coveralls)
  • Not seeing well enough to drive at night, or in inclement weather, or during the day
  • Aggravation with whippersnappers who have no notion of a good old-fashioned work ethic
  • Abnormal skin growths, uncontrollable abnormal skin growths
  • An endless variety of pharmaceutical supplies and their TV commercials
  • Weekly pill planners upgraded to monthly pill planners
  • Garbage day on a Tuesday instead of a Monday
  • Modern conveniences not being so convenient
  • Aggravation with whippersnappers who have no notion of good old-fashioned consideration and manners
  • A snot rag in every pocket except the one you keep reaching into
  • Less and less trust because you no longer understand the times
  • Nose and ear hairs, uncontrollable nose and ear hairs
  • Increased use of profanity when complaining
  • Taxes, Medicare, Medicaid, all that shit

I have a good laugh as Kelvin finishes his rant, along with his usual whole wheat bread sandwich, one piece of fruit, and a diet soda. About that time he receives a phone call from a vendor needing access to a communications closet on the other side of town. "Yeah, and what do you want me to do about it?" he says, then adds before hanging up, "Try me again tomorrow before 9:00AM. I'm old and I don't like surprises."

IDISOVOT Sunday, June 26, 2022

Today is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (UN Resolution 52/149) and what better way to celebrate than by looking back on ways in which Christian churches tortured their own for refusing to confess to charges of heresy. The Spanish Inquisition was exceptionally innovative and had nearly three centuries of practice, but not everyone need be tortured. Many were spared by having to witness their loved ones being tortured, which caused them to recant, thus resulting in a win-win for all involved. Don't blame the Christians for inventing this stuff, as the Romans were known to use them on the Christians back in the day.

This device suspended the suspect by their wrists, which were tied behind their back, and their body weight usually caused the shoulders to pull from the sockets and separate within an hour, especially if additional weight was added or the rope was jerked.
Water Interrogation
Similar to waterboarding, the suspect was strapped to a board, a cloth called a toca was shoved into their mouth, then water was poured over their face to mimic the sensation of drowning. The duration of time allowed to take a breath was incrementally shortened and the process could go on for days as a single session. A similar method was Water Curing (pictured), whereby the suspect was forced to imbibe copious amounts of water, causing water intoxication.

The Rack
A veritable favorite tried and true, the suspect was cuffed by the wrists and ankles to ropes or chains, then stretched via a roller and lever mechanism which caused the joints, ligaments and tendons to snap, crackle and pop. Sometimes a bed of nails was added to shred the skin and flesh whilst stretching. A similar contraption was The Pulley.

Iron Maiden
This was an upright sarcophagus made of iron with spikes on the inner surfaces. Although not much archaeological evidence exists prior to the 18th century to support its use for church-affiliated interrogation, it is nonetheless an interesting conversation piece. Another device for encompassing the suspect was the Brazen Bull of Greek origin, which was a life-size bull made of bronze in which the suspect was placed inside and then a fire was built beneath the bull to roast its inhabitant. Supposedly, it was also acoustically designed to transmute human screams into the sound of a bull.

Head Crusher
This device was designed to slowly crush the skull with each twist of a screw, first breaking teeth and jaw. Eventually the eyes would be forced out of their sockets and the brain would follow. By then it was usually too late to confess to anything. Smaller ones were also devised for fingers and toes.
The Wheel
The suspect was stretched over a wagon wheel and beaten with a club, the spaces between the spokes allowing bones to break upon impact. Ordinarily a form of capital punishment, the suspect had to be removed before too much damage was inflicted resulting in death.

Burning at the Stake
This classical means of capital punishment was also used for torture. However, as with the rest, there was always a point of no return. If the smoke didn't force a confession, then roasting flesh was always the second option.

The Saw
This one was fairly straightforward and effective to onlookers after the first or second application.

Judas Cradle
The suspect was held aloft by ropes and lowered naked upon a pyramid-shaped seat, then the ropes were slowly pulled downward, forcing the suspect's undercarriage onto the point. Without a confession, penetration was inevitable.

Other torture methods not pictured here include the Spanish Donkey (wooden horse covered with spikes), Choke Pear (hand-held expandable device for insertion into bodily orifices of the lower extremities), Spanish Tickler (which resembled a Garden Weasel), and the Knee Splitter (self-explanatory). Of the roughly 97% of those who survived being tortured, most of whom were either Jewish or Muslim converts, a good many were mutilated for life. Not to worry about the plight of the inquisitors, as the torturers were just doing their duty to bring the accused back to the faith and therefore forgiven. Those who confessed and recanted were then often forced to pay penance by bearing a heavy wooden cross or wearing heavy clothing made from uncomfortable materials such as barbed metal, called a cilice, for hours to days on end. And to think that kids these days complain about having to go to church and sit through a forty-minute sermon.

Activities Center for the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition

Augsburg Confession Saturday, June 25, 2022

Yesterday was a historic day in the U.S. because the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and since everyone has their opinion on pro-choice v pro-life, I will spare you mine. Instead, let us here remember the Augsburg Confession, presented on this day in 1530 before the Diet of Augsburg and Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, which outlined twenty-one articles of faith of the Lutherans plus an additional seven antitheses against the Roman Catholic Church, all edited by German theologian Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) and originally released in Latin and German. Now, most Lutherans have these memorized from birth, so I will spare you the entire list here, but to refresh your memory check out the Book of Concord online containing the doctrines of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Basically, Lutherans disagreed with the importance of religious tradition, good works as a necessity of salvation, and veneration of saints. Although they opposed transubstantiation, they sort of didn't, instead describing the Eucharist as the less complicated process of "sacramental union" whereby the bread and wine don't actually become Christ's body and blood but his presence is still real in the consecrated sacraments, which is sacred fodder for a later blog post. Lutherans felt that priests should be allowed to get laid once in a while within the aegis of wedlock. They still wanted to hear the juicy confessions of the flock, but without the heavy guilt trip in return. Of course the Catholic Church cried taurus faecibus exturbandis opitulatur to this in the form of a confutation, to which the Lutherans issued an apology, but not the kind which means they were sorry, rather the kind defending their stance. The Augsburg Confession (Latin, Confessio Augustana) was released to the English-speaking audience six years later, although it had mixed reviews and was not well received by the Reformed Church. A third sequel to the Augsburg Confession, Confessio Catholica by German theologian Johann Gerhard (1582-1637), was released in Latin without English subtitles and was not as big of a hit as the original Confessio Augustana or its first sequel, Apology of the Augsburg Confession.

Pictured: King Charles V receiving the Confutatio Augustana from the Catholics on his right, while receiving the Confessio Augustana from the Lutherans on his left. What is important here is the contrast between a full length gown that covers the entire leg as opposed to a knee-high skirt that now bares the ankle and the calf.

Whether Catholic or Not, You're Catholic
Friday, June 24, 2022
Today is the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was consecrated to the entire human race by Pope Leo XIII in 1899. But that's not all. Prior to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (1962-65), salvation came only through the Catholic Church to baptized Catholics. The Roman Catholic Church was the only legitimate Church of Christ and Protestant churches were not part of this body, although the Eastern Orthodox Church was because it had preserved the apostolic succession of bishops. From Vatican II, it was determined that salvation could come to anyone, regardless of their beliefs or non-beliefs. Salvation may now come to those who, although either a believer of a non-Christian religion or not belonging to any church at all, seek God sincerely and follow his commands as best as their conscience directs. The Roman Catholic Church is still the one true Church of Christ, all others being somewhat valid but deficient, however, through some mystical communion with the Catholic Church, those who are indeed saved outside the Catholic Church are actually connected to it and still fall under the infallible authority of the pope. Although early Catholic Church fathers taught that those outside the Catholic Church, as well as those who left the Church or who were excommunicated, could not be saved, the Catholic Church now holds that those who are baptized in Christ are not guilty of separation from the Catholic Church, even though their communion with the Catholic Church is imperfect.
This is visibly possible because elements of the Catholic Church can exist outside the boundaries of the Church, such as the Bible, grace, faith, hope, charity, gifts of the Holy Spirit, etc., albeit they all rightfully belong to the Catholic Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992-94), section 847, "Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience -- those too may achieve eternal salvation." However, according to section 846 of the Catechism, unless those outside the Church recognize it's supreme authority, then they cannot achieve salvation or attain heaven after death. Therefore, non-Catholic churches are simply ecclesial communities which must still ultimately adhere to the Catholic and Apostolic Universal Church as their head -- that is, the Roman Catholic Church as their mother. In a recent declaration by the Vatican, Declaration Dominus Iesus ("On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church"), non-Catholic churches were referred to as defective. Though salvation may come to individuals who belong to these defective churches, it is still incomplete because the Roman Catholic Church is the chosen instrument for Christ's salvation for all humanity. At least according to them.

Proper Recognition for Widows Thursday, June 23, 2022

Does anyone remember the Bible story about the widow at the well who tossed in two copper coins, which was all she had to live on, so Jesus rewarded her with a cup of living water? Neither do I, but I do recall that the Apostle Paul said to give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need (1 Timothy 5:3, 5:16) and some guy named James said something like, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, etc." (James 1:27). Some believe this to be James the brother of Jesus known as James the Just, or possibly James the brother of Joses and son of Mary wife of Clopas which is often attributed to being one and the same as James the son of Alphaeus also known as James the Less or James the Younger, but probably not James the brother of John and son of Zebedee because he most likely died before it was written; be that as it may, considering that it appears to have originally been written in Greek, someone else may have dictated the letter for one of these or a completely different James. Regardless, we are admonished to care for widows, which is something the United Nations picked up on in 2010 and made a day of it called International Widows Day. My grandmothers were all widows and someday my wife will be a widow. My grandfathers provided and someday a new husband will provide for my wife. But for those whom provisions are unprovided, we must give proper recognition in the form of benefaction, ministrations and service. My Catholic grandfather died of a heart attack while jogging following quadruple bypass surgery and my grandmother, also Catholic, was fond of accusing him of doing it on purpose, but she was well provided for the last fifteen years of her life spent in a nursing home with dimentia. However, not everyone is as blessed.

Pictured: UN mascot for International Widows Day by Heinrich Zille, 1902. Fun fact: IWD was introduced by President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon based on the charity work of Baron Rajinder Loomba through the Shrimati Pushpa Wati Loomba Trust. Another fun fact: One in ten of the estimated 258 million widows worldwide lives in extreme poverty. Okay, that didn't sound fun. On the contrary, it is sad. As my grandmother used to always say about shitty situations -- the one who was Catholic, "Lord have mercy on us all." She also used to say to me, "No, you're not my brother Pete. I may have forgotten your name, but I still remember who you are -- that smartass grandson of mine. Now get me out of here."

Christ Conspirator Wednesday, June 22, 2022

I'm not into conspiracy theories, but if I were I'd consider Christianity as one of the greatest conspiracies of all time. For one, the Bible itself mentions the possibility that the resurrection of Jesus was a possible conspiracy of his disciples, who came and stole his dead body at night, which it also refutes as a lie of the chief priests (Matthew 28:11-15). Second of all, most of the Jews throughout history do not accept that Jesus was their promised messiah, which he claimed to be. Thirdly, even though it's difficult to deny that Jesus was an actual person, it may have been likely that his followers fabricated his miracles to bolster his ministry (John 10:37-38). Fourth, if there are two diametrically opposed forces of good and evil which are above mankind, then wouldn't it stand to reason that one force would release a double agent to intentionally mislead as many believers of the other force as possible by any means necessary (Matthew 12:24-29, Mark 3:22-27)? Fifth, what if Jesus was enlisted by a demi-god, just one of several whom the nation of Israel chose as their sole deity, to represent the one called Elohe in a cunning manner appealing to the Gentiles? Or what if Jesus was impersonating a rabbi to pass the time and was so convincing that he began taunting the real rabbis just for sport, then kicked it up a notch and worked full time at making people believe that he was actually the Son of God? Or what if some secret cabal invented Jesus to disrupt the steady flow of tithes to the Jewish Temple, so then the Jews let one of their own religious leaders convert to the Christian faith as a means of covertly subverting Christianity into a Gentile religion that would disrupt pagan sacrifices to the Roman gods? Or what if Jesus' followers eventually started making shit up and misleading everyone else from the third generation of believers on for two thousand years before God finally set people straight by sending a latter-day prophet with even crazier teachings? Or what if Jesus was planted on Earth by extraterrestrials from another planet to sow discord in the form of love and forgiveness among the Earthlings for nefarious purposes and to disrupt our timeline? I would pursue these further and make up others except that the Holy Spirit convicts me of the truth. If you don't know Jesus on a personal level and are not convicted by the Holy Spirit, then send me your ideas and I will consider posting them here. Otherwise, repent.

Pictured: Jesus performing unbelievable acts like washing feet. Apparently, he had a homosexual foot fetish. Why else would he go to great lengths teaching others that they should love their enemies then die on a cross at the hands of his enemies unless he was a masochist? And another thing, why make outlandishly egotistical claims like being the only way to God unless he had a messiah complex? (Artist unknown.)

Love Thyself as Thyself Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Christians think they have the market cornered on compassion and charity, but today is the June solstice (summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and winter solstice in the southern), as well as World Humanist Day, reminding us all that secular people care about heathens, too. Humanists believe in themselves with an emphasis on science, reason, naturalistic philosophy and something called "free inquiry," whereby nothing is sacred except for individual dignity and autonomy. They trust that morality need not come from a higher source. They promote progressive policies based upon liberal ideals in order to advance democracy and human rights with the goal of happiness and self-fulfillment for everyone. Let's face it, Humanists have faith in people, whereas Christians don't. We have faith in a Savior who has redeemed people from themselves, whereas Humanists don't believe in sin and a God who punishes sin. Now is the time for Humanists and their wealthy uncles, Humanitarians, to step it up and take over so that Christians are no longer necessary for benevolence and may be "raptured" from this world. Everyone will be better off after getting rid of us pesky, naive, meddlesome, religious do-gooders who serve no real purpose other than to inhibit the natural evolution of humankind. Unfortunately, when that day comes, it will be Satan who steps in and fills the void. Whether or not you believe in Satan is of no concern to him because he believes in you and that's all that matters to him, that you're both on the same side.

BEDTIME for Bigotry Monday, June 20, 2022

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to inform around 250,000 slaves of their freedom, about 2-1/2 years after the Civil War had ended and Abraham Lincoln had announced the Emancipation Proclamation. Many states now honor this day as a holiday called Juneteenth (which has afforded me the time to write this today). Although not as clever as "May the fourth be with you," it is far more important since racism has stuck around these past 157 years in the hearts, minds, subconscious, hiring procedures, judicial processes and biased institutional frameworks of white majority rule through what is being called systemic racism. Even though slaves were freed after the Civil War, their freedom was not upheld by the laws that governed white U.S. citizens, despite the Reconstruction Amendments. Worse, local black codes segregated blacks from white society, which was solidified by regional Jim Crow laws that carried discrimination and disenfranchisement through the following century. Regardless of the outcome of the Civil Rights movement in the latter half of this past century, American POGMAIPs continue to struggle with residual discrimination, latent prejudice and even outright bigotry. On behalf of those who feel uncomfortable about having to address this topic, myself included, it's obviously an issue that needs to be put to bed. Therefore, I propose the acronym BEDTIME: Belated Emancipation Day To Individuals Marginally Enslaved. However, this does absolutely nothing to help the situation and only goes to show that I am ignorant, which I freely admit, but not quite as ignorant as those who actually think that racism no longer exists in this country, or even those who are afraid this means having to admit that all whites are inherently racist, then paying restitution to all minorities for the injustices imposed upon their American ancestors. Systemic racism means that inequality has been perpetually developed upon a foundation of ethnological favoritism which has resulted in white privilege, the construct of which needs to be openly dealt with once and for all. My understanding is that this is the primary purpose of Critical Race Theory, but my comprehension notwithstanding, people are people and therefore we are all mainly just a bunch of derogatory expletives.

Now With Improvd Spell Check Sunday, June 19, 2022

I went through this site with a spell check yesterday and was appalled at how many words were misspelled. If you come across any misspellings or grammatical errors here, rest assured that someday I will eventually find them myself and make the necessary correction. With that said, today is a reminder that we have only one Father. According to Matthew 23:8-12 (NIV), Jesus said, "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you only have one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." So then why are priests referred to as Father?

The priestly title of "Father" is one of spiritual fatherhood, taken from 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 wherein the Apostle Paul writes, "... as my dear children... in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." Much like a biological father who provides nurturing, support and guidance in this earthly life, so the priest provides spiritual upbringing to the born-again life, such as Paul's relationship with Timothy (Philippians 4:22), Onesimus (Philemon 10), and towards the Thessalonians: "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory" (1 Thessalonians 2:11). The members of a Catholic parish have been entrusted to a priest's spiritual care, so they have a filial affection for him and call him Father. In turn, priests refer to the members of their fold as "my son" or "my child."

Although the New Testament has many such comparisons and uses the term father both for biological and spiritual ancestry, the fact remains that Jesus said, "And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven (Matthew 23:9). To be a father figure, whether physically or spiritually, is one thing, but to assume the title of Father is a different issue, especially when it was used specifically for God's role as the Heavenly Father. 1 Peter 2:5 and 9 declares that believers in Christ are together a royal priesthood. Revelation 1:6 says that Jesus has made his believers to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father. If Christians, then, are collectively a priesthood who serve but one Father, then the question remains as to why elected priests of the Roman Catholic Church (and Orthodox and Anglican churches) should assume God's title as Father.

To Catholics, this is a fundamentalist argument, to which the counter-argument is Matthew 23:8-11, wherein Jesus also says that no one is to be called Rabbi, for Christ is the only Master, or teacher, because Christ is the one true Teacher. True, there doesn't seem to be many qualms with calling people rabbi, master, teacher, or even father; however, whether or not Jesus meant what he said literally in regards to the application of such titles, Catholic priests are exalted with the divinely reverent title of Father. According to Matthew 23:12, "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Taken in context, this should be a clear indication that the titles Jesus was referring to just prior to this were not to be used by believers as titles of reverence. Anyhow, today is Father's Day in the U.S. and since I was too busy spell-checking I didn't have time to compose what I would think is a humorous list of dad gifts. Instead, I pulled this diatribe from the archives and re-gifted it.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 9 Friday, June 17, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- he opened a door in the basement hallway because water was pooling from underneath, only to discover it was a couple feet higher on the other side. Apparently, the city had accidentally broken a water main during sidewalk beautification construction outside our building. The biennial basement flood was a record two inches deep by the time it was shut off. With wet pants and soggy shoes, Kelvin immediately sets about to getting to the bottom of this mess and discovers in short order that the building owners had illegally tied into the city water, which the work crew didn't know about. While waiting for the maintenance crew to arrive with wet-dry vacs and fans, Kelvin pours himself another cup of coffee. Without restraint I ask, "Why'd you open that door?" To which he quips, "And what would you have rather had me do about it?" I reply, "Left it closed and submitted a work order to have it checked out." To which he replies, "But that could take days, if not weeks. We'd be under water by then." I ask, "Did you do the math?" "Yes," he says tersely, "I just so happened to have my slide ruler with me at the time and was able to predict disaster!" He then sloshes out the door to the parking lot to see if he has a pair of dry shoes in his car but never returns. I assume he either went home or ran off down the street barefoot and carefree, but I'm pretty sure he went home and went back to bed.

Pictured: My co-worker, Kelvin. Notice the veins in and around the head indicating that he is perturbed. His face has been censored to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent, not even Kevin. I mean Kelvin.

Jah Loves Ya, Mon Thursday, June 16, 2022

Today is the birthday of Leonard P. Howell (1898-1981, aka the "Gong Guru"), one of the leading figures in the Rastalogy movement in Jamaica, a street preacher who proclaimed that black Africans were superior to white Europeans, author of the 1935 Rastafari tract The Promised Key, founder of a Rasta community called Pinnacle, and regarded as the First Rastaman. Howell was arrested twice for his involvement with the Rastafari movement, resulting in two separate two-year prison sentences, and finally committed to a mental asylum. Rastafari is a religious belief system grown in the 1930s when black Jamaicans got fed up with the white Protestantism of colonial Britain. Here is what you need to know about it if you don't already know anything about it:

  • Belief in Jah (Jehovah), the God of the Bible, who resides in everyone.
  • Haile Selassie (1892-1975), emperor of Ethiopia (1930-1974), who claimed to be a descendant of King Solomon, is believed to have been the promised messiah of the Bible and Jah incarnate -- if not the first messiah, then the second coming of the first.*
  • Rastafari derives from "Ras Tafari." Ras is an Ethiopian prince and Tafari Makonnen was Emperor Selassie's name at birth, Haile Selassie being his baptismal and royal name.
  • Africa is the promised land of Zion. It's all in the Book of Revelation... and Daniel.
  • Cannabis is a sacrament and aids in mystic union with Jah.
  • Rastafari is a natural, carefree way of life, as characterized by dreadlocks.
  • Blacks only -- the whites of Western civilization are the whores of Babylon. Well, okay, maybe some whites are welcome who have dreadlocks, smoke ganja and raise their fist in black solidarity.
  • There is no central leader, priests, nor orthodoxy and denominations are called Mansions of Rastafari.
  • Belief in the Bible, but that it was originally written in the ancient Semitic Ethiopian language of Amharic and was about the history of Africans, who are the real chosen people.
  • Jesus was black -- African black.
  • Christianity is an oppressive creation of white Europeans responsible for black slavery.
  • Rastas do not die, but if they do, they are reincarnated.
  • Rastas speak their own dialect of English, called "dread talk," which uses the pronoun "I" excessively.
  • Dietary restrictions are Levitical and mostly consist of vegetables, but are generally not consumed if prepared by a woman during menstruation.
  • There are less than one million Rastafaris worldwide with about 30,000 in Jamaica. About 70% of the Jamaican population is Christian.

*The mansion known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel does not believe this, but rather that Emperor Selassie was a very important messenger of God. Selassie, himself a Christian and member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, denied that he was Jesus or a messiah and warned the Rastafarians that they had made a mistake in claiming that a human being is emanated from a deity, possibly referring to himself rather than Jesus, but many Rastas believe that Jesus was no more God than anyone else.

Bob Marley (1945-1981), a convert from Catholicism to Rastafarianism in 1966, sang many Rastafarian songs to a reggae beat, including "Jah Is Mighty," "Rasta Man Chant," "So Jah Seh," "Positive Vibration," "Exodus," "Babylon System," "Zion Train," "Forever Loving Jah," "Jump Nyabinghi," and "What's New Pussycat?" Reggae is often associated with Rastafari, but not all Rastafaris associate themselves with reggae.

60 Second Romance Vol 10 Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Warning: The following may not be suitable. There are certain men who wear certain kinds of fragrances, or colognes, or musks. But why? Regardless, his favorite was Saxon Wood Spice after shave lotion by Lee Pharmaceuticals. Although he had tried others -- Old Spice, English Leather, Aqua Velva, Afta by Mennen, Brut, Gillette Fusion, and Bay Rum -- none attracted the kind of woman he preferred except for Saxon. His pheromones were toxic and Saxon not only soothed his razor burn but had the right chemical balance to mask the putrid bodily pheromones which naturally repulse the opposite sex and aid in distracting from a frightening personality and other disagreeable characteristics. But what kind of woman was a Saxon woman? Her name was Persephone and although argumentative, ultimately she was compliant. She was the kind to have "daddy issues" and he was the browbeating daddy she furtively craved. Their love was short-lived, as the universe was out of balance while they were together, but they procreated offspring who, for the most part, would continue to upset the intricate balance of the universe with the exception of the youngest, Daphne, named not for the nymph Daphne and daughter of the river god Peneus and the naiad Creusa, but after Daphne Blake of the Scooby-Doo animated television series. Yes, it was she who broke the shackles of the Saxon curse and rose to become a contributing member not only of society but to the harmony and stability of the universe.

Old Glory Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Today is Flag Day in the United States of America, commemorating adoption of the first flag of the U.S. on this day in 1777. President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established Flag Day in 1916 and it was enacted by an Act of Congress in 1949. Although the image of Old Glory is in the public domain, how it's used and displayed is still under civil scrutiny. Here are some tips for flag-flying etiquette of Old Glory based on the 1923 American Legion Flag Code and Title 4, Chapter 1 of the United States Code. Note: Unlawful treatment of Old Glory can result in punishment by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both. All states have their own flag laws, so consult with local authorities before ratting out your neighbors for perceived disrespect or desecration of Old Glory.

  • Old Glory shall meet the design standards as set forth in U.S. Executive Order 10834 by 34th U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower when flown on government property. When flown on private property, however, it may be designed to the standards of a kindergartner.
  • The union (white stars upon a blue field) must always be at the highest and most far-left point-of-view to any observer. Old Glory depicted backward on airships and soldier's uniforms represents it blowing in the wind as it is marched forward into battle. Old Glory backward on a Dodge Challenger or Charger is not considered disrespectful by Stellantis N.V., Dodge's parent company which was a merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Peugeot S.A. in 2021.
  • Old Glory should never be allowed to touch anything besides the flag pole outside the grommets, including the ground, water or people, nor should it come in contact with the butt crack of any of the citizens it represents, be they popular, ordinary or a complete nobody.
  • Old Glory should never bow to any other flag, including that of a rainbow or an athletic sports franchise.
  • Although a conundrum and even a possible contradiction, Old Glory may be manufactured abroad and imported into the U.S. (The Genuine American Flag Act of 2001 never passed Congress as federal law, but certain states do ban the import of foreign-made Old Glory knockoffs.) U.S. law requires every American flag be labeled with its country of origin, even if labeled right on the flag.
  • Old Glory should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property, or in circumstances where the building or vehicle on which Old Glory was proudly displayed ended up being upside down due to calamity.
  • When flying Old Glory from the bed of a pickup truck, Old Glory should be positioned on the right side. If flying with other patriotic flags, then it must be displayed either first in line or in front center and above the others.
  • Old Glory should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle, no matter how classic, boss or cherry that vehicle may be.
  • Old Glory may be used in gaudy television advertisements but advertisements and their garish spokespersons cannot be integrated into the image of Old Glory.
  • If flown at night, Old Glory shall be illuminated. Otherwise, it is to be lowered at the playing of Taps and folded by two individuals wearing white gloves in the traditional triangle fashion, all while saluting.
  • Old Glory should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free, unless larger than half of an NFL football field.
  • Old Glory should not be printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
  • Old Glory should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. However, a facsimile of the stars and stripes shall be proudly worn on bikinis, athletic uniforms, trucker hats, and tight-fitting women's t-shirts.
  • Old Glory should never be used as a covering for a ceiling, unless attached to a ceiling above a bed, in which case Old Glory shall be affixed without penetrating its fabric in a manner lengthwise to the bed with the union facing north in an east/west bedroom or east in a north/south bedroom. Anyone sleeping upon this bed is required to say the pledge of allegiance each morning upon waking, with their right hand placed over their heart.
  • Old Glory may be used as a backdrop with the union on the left facing the viewer. However, it should not be an image of Old Glory in a worn, tattered or abused condition, even if artistically altered.
  • Old Glory should fly upon its very own flag pole and be allowed to billow without obstruction only in fair weather (the kind you'd be comfortable going out into).
  • The only other flags that may accompany Old Glory from the same halyard is the POW/MIA flag and/or a state flag, both below Old Glory, signifying it as the alpha flag.
  • No two national flags may wave on the same pole and must be presented at the same height during times of peace. However, Old Glory shall always be presented to the right of other flags, as appearing first and best to the viewers.
  • Any person, male or female, who wears a suit and tie or pantsuit should wear the Old Glory lapel pin on the left lapel near the heart.
  • Desecration of Old Glory is protected under the First Amendment, but those who purposely do it ought to be punished by a fine not exceeding $100 or by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, or both. Better yet, they should be ostracized and exiled.
  • Old Glory shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress.
  • When Old Glory is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, such as may be likened to your neighbor's derelict 1986 Dodge Dart Stationwagon, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. If Old Glory has been desecrated, it should be burned to death. (Your neighbor's 1986 Dodge Dart Stationwagon should be impounded and crushed.)
Check your replica of Old Glory for this label of authenticity. If missing, promptly light on fire. If imposter is made from non-flammable material or has been treated with flame retardant, then incinerate using thermal treatment. When you purchase a flag with the FMAA Certified seal, you can be confident that your flag was not imported from China, although it may have been assembled in the U.S. by illegal immigrants.
U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 2 - The Flag
Executive Order 10834 - The Flag of the United States
Chamber of Commerce: The United States Code, Title 36 Chapter 10 - U.S. Flag Code
The Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA)
The Atlantic: Raising the American Flag Made in China
American Legion: United States Flag Code
Behavioral Scientist: What's the Deal with American Flag Fashion? Car and Driver: How to Display the American Flag Correctly on Your Car, Truck, or Motorcycle

Triphyllius Against the Aliens Monday, June 13, 2022

Today we look back on Tryphillius, the fourth-century bishop of Leukosia on the island of Cyprus and disciple of Spyridon of Tremithos, who was an ardent opponent to Alienism and the abduction of humans by "the greys" who challenged the Trinity. These little grey aliens were seen as a demonic force from higher dimensions who preyed on Christians of a weaker faith and turned them against the theology of the early Church through a series of physical probings with strange medical devices which often left seeds in the victim's body that influenced their thoughts and behavior. The term "alien" (Latin alienus: alius "foreign" + anus "anus") was applied to these foreign entities because they were notorious for gaining access into the human body primarily through the anus. Reports of ancient abductees reveal that when the greys attempted to enter the human body through other areas it often required the surgical removal and replacement of the targeted body part. The rectum, it seemed, did not require as much alteration and provided easier access to the inner workings of man. Tryphillius in a letter to Athanasius of Alexandria pondered why the anus and not the mouth, which was a larger opening and much closer to the heart and the mind of man, the ear being a clear dead end and the nostrils contained the nasal passage which was difficult to penetrate. Regardless, this was a hot topic of the day and the Church concerted much effort to focusing attention on the theological aspects of the resulting heretical outcome rather than the source and methods of infiltration. This called for identifying someone by name whom the Church could attack and Arius of Alexandria became the prime suspect.

Arian theology splinters from the doctrine of the Trinity by contesting the eternal divinty of Jesus Christ and claiming that although the biological manifestation of God, Christ only came into being when he was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary. This heterodoxical view was addressed at the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., the outcome of which was the reaffirmation of the Church in the traditional Homoousianist position that Christ was with God in the beginning and therefore of the same essence. Another outcome was that Emperor Constantine designated a group of prelates to quietly oversee investigation into the greys, one of those chosen being Triphyllius of Leukosia. Throughout the centuries that followed, the Church secretly gathered and documented information about the greys and their abductees, but it wasn't until 1540 that this division was given a name, and that was the Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits. Officially, the Jesuits are the evangelization and apostolic ministry of the Roman Catholic Church. Unofficially, they are the extraterrestrial arm of the Catholic Church that goes wherever encounters with these little grey aliens are reported. A vast library on the greys is rumored to exist in underground chambers beneath the Church of the Gesù in Rome, headquarters for the Society of Jesus. Some paranormal researchers like Melvin Frohike, John F. Byers and Richard Langly believe that little grey aliens are actually the curators of this clandestine library, which houses original manuscripts on the subject penned by Triphyllius and his coadjutors. In a letter to Fortunatus the bishop of Naples, Triphyllius recounted how alien abductees (later known as Arians) placed under extreme duress for extended periods of time would eventually expel their implanted alien seeds and, as a result, recant their heretical views on the Trinity.

Costco Quiddities Sunday, June 12, 2022

Your family just left church and you are looking forward to going home and resting when your spouse suggests to the kids the idea of going to Costco Wholesale for a hotdog. What a dumb idea, but you are outnumbered and on the way. Costco used to be a shopper's paradise. However, the list of complaints has grown to overshadow the list of reasons to keep renewing a membership:

  • Zombie shoppers ditching their carts to meander aimlessly towards sample tables.
  • Senior citizen shoppers meandering aimlessly everywhere they go.
  • There is no Sam's Club nearby and Walmart shoppers are somehow finding their way in.
  • Encountering the same unruly children you just tolerated at Walmart.
  • Encountering the same unruly children you just tolerated at Home Depot or Lowes.
  • Finding a better deal at Home Depot or Lowes.
  • Full carts surrounding the food court at the exit.
  • Popular products are inevitably discontinued while everything is becoming second-rate Kirkland brand.
  • Cannot seem to spend less than $200 $300 $400 per visit.
  • Bananas go from green to brown in the blink of an eye.
  • Parking spots go from available to occupied in the blink of an eye.
  • Have to employ The Club when parking in the outer fringes of the parking lot.
  • Birds nesting in the rafters.
  • Customers who steer their carts like they drive or drive like they steer their carts.
  • Listening to witty customers say at checkout, "If it doesn't scan it must be free!"
  • Getting stuck behind someone who isn't ready with their membership card, stops at the first display inside the entrance, drifts to the second display on the other side, then leaves their cart in the middle of traffic to reconnoiter twenty yards away.
  • Only one Barcalounger on display.
  • Only available men's pant size is 38-inch waste and 30-inch inseam.
  • Only available windshield wiper blade sizes are 16-inch and 24-inch.
  • At least one cartload out of three contains a returned item that was re-shelved without checking the box to make sure it wasn't damaged or replaced with something completely different.
  • Having to drive to the other side of town because the store near you is out of something.
  • Restocking during business hours, which requires forklifts and the closure of entire aisles.
  • Needing something no longer within reach, which requires forklifts and the closure of entire aisles.
  • Waiting in long gas lines for people who are just washing their windows. (Update: problem solved, no more squeegees.)
  • Impromptu reunions.
  • One entrance right next to the only exit and people not knowing whether they are coming or going.
  • Makes a thriving capitalist society look like a third-world country desperate for toilet paper and bottled water.
  • Pious Christian shoppers who expect royal treatment.

Note: All complaints aside, Costco staff are generally the shit. It's the customers who are the shits.

60 Second Romance Vol 9 Saturday, June 11, 2022

They first met on the Soviet dating show Russian Roulette, where contestants choose one blind date out of six without knowing anything about them other than a brief bio and a quick introduction from behind a curtain. Their date consisted of being kidnapped and driven to an undisclosed location with bags over their heads, where they were tortured to reveal deep, dark secrets about one another. But there was something about the experience that bound these two contestants together, besides rope. They continued with further dates but insisted on keeping the bags over their heads. They both knew a lasting relationship was too good to be true and neither wanted to take any further chances with this one, especially over something as trivial as appearances. Love is like pointing a gun with one bullet in the chamber at your heart and pulling the trigger. They had survived, so now it was someone else's turn to pull the trigger. This episode was brought to you by Anatoly Head Bags. Anatoly makes the finest quality head bags which are breathable, antimicrobial, and completely washing machine and dishwasher safe. Remember, "Better an Anatoly's over your head than dead."

Assholes Anonymous Friday, June 10, 2022

Today is viewed by members of Alcoholics Anonymous as the day AA co-founder Dr. Robert Smith took his last drink in 1935 with help from AA co-founder Bill Wilson. The two were members of the Oxford Group, a Christian ministry that taught the root of all personal problems is fear and selfishness and the only way to overcome them is to surrender to God's plan. So they worked together to formulate the Twelve Step process for overcoming alcoholism, an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. Other groups have adapted these twelve steps to a variety of addictions and atheistic groups have modified them to replace God with some other form of higher power. Here I have adapted the Twelve Step method of Alcoholics Anonymous to my own illness and removed my own anonymity in the hope that others who suffer as well may overcome.

  1. I admit I am powerless over being an asshole and that my life has become unmanageable because everyone around me is stupid and that makes me angry.
  2. I believe that a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. (I shall refer to this power as "God" because anything else is not powerful enough.)
  3. I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him. (As I understand Him in the context of the Bible, without which my understanding of God is wrong.)
  4. I make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself and my own self-righteousness.
  5. I admit to God, to myself, and to another human being (usually my brother-in-law over a glass of Scotch) the exact nature of my wrongs.
  6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character, either from me or those around me.
  7. I humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings and until then to protect others from my wrath.
  8. I make a growing list of all persons I have harmed and am willing to make amends to them all, with the exception of those who pissed me off and were chased away before I could get their personal information.
  9. I make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when I want to injure them or others.
  10. I continue to take personal inventory, and when I am convinced that I am wrong, I promptly admit it.
  11. I seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, whether I understand Him or not, praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I try to carry this message to assholes and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

PSA: The Truth About Herpesviridae Thursday, June 9, 2022

Not enough conversation these days centers around the sexually transmitted disease of genital herpes. If you don't warn your children and neighbor's children about the dangers of promiscuity, then don't be surprised when they walk through the door with shameful sores all around their mouth. Here's what you need to know about this virus that is as old as sex itself:

  • Herpes is eternal. If you do not get rid of it in this life it will infect you in the next and there is no cure.
  • You can contract herpes from a toilet seat (along with lyme disease and pregnancy). Those who tell you otherwise are just doing a grave disservice by trying to protect the reputation of their own toilet seat.
  • Herpes can only be cured by ingesting bleach. Medication is only a placebo. Bleach will cure a whole host of diseases and illnesses that medication cannot touch. Those who tell you otherwise are deathly allergic to bleach.
  • Herpetology is the study of herpes simplex. It comes from the Greek word herpeton, meaning creepy reptile blisters. (Hepatology is the study of hepatitis, a disease contracted from fast food prepared with unwashed genitals.)
  • Masturbation can lead to both genital and optical herpes. Internet porn can lead to psychological herpes.
  • Brain herpes is called meningoencephalitis, or Tom Cruise Syndrome.
  • There are over a hundred kinds of herpes that live in the wild. Goldfish are brimming with herpes and various other communicable diseases.
  • There are eight kinds of domesticated herpes: simplex 1, mouth sores; simplex 2, genital sores; simplex 3, chickenpox and shingles; simplex 4, Epstein-Barr; simplex 5, Cytomegalovirus; simplex 6 and 7, roseola infantum; simplex 8, Kaposi sarcoma (skin cancer) and some types of lymphoma. If you've contracted all eight and have survived into adulthood then you are the Antichrist.
  • Ugly people are more susceptible to herpes. Handsome people spread a form of invisible, or latent, herpes.
  • National Herpes Awareness Day in the U.S. is October 13th. The World Health Organization (WHO?) has yet to make it a worldwide appreciation day.
  • Herpes is the number one cause of foul body odor in Nova Scotia, Canada, though they will never admit it.
  • Herpes is synonymous with biblical leprosy. Job had herpes from head to toe. It was also one of the plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians by Moses and Aaron.
  • Taweret was the Egyptian god of herpes because it was believed that it was sexually transmitted by hippopotomi. Taweret protected pregnant women and newborns from hippopotoherpi.
  • Some people think themselves witty by saying that Herpes is the Greek god of abstinence. Actually, Hermes is the Greek god of protection from herpes. If you look closely, he wears a tiny helmet on the end of his penis.
  • Planned Parenthood Federation of America maintains the world's largest repository of herpes in an underground bunker in Washington, D.C.
  • Herpes can be passed on from generation to generation, although it generally skips a generation.
  • The only way to prevent the spread of herpes is by prohibiting anyone from removing their pants in the presence of others.
  • Roughly 70% of the world population is infected with a type of dormant herpes known as CMV (Cytomegalovirus). The remainder is infected with mononucleosis (mono), which was first given by Michael Anthony Epstein to Yvonne Barr, and therefore also known as EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus).
  • Herpes in children is commonly in the form of chickenpox, while in the elderly it is usually in the form of shingles. Chicken herpes is called laryngotracheitis.
  • People over the age of eighty are immune to herpes as long as they refer to it as VD, for Victory Day.
  • If the herpes virus has unprotected sex with the AIDS virus and you contract this herpes variant, you will also be infected with HIV-AIDS.
  • Likewise, if you've been infected by COVID-19 that is infected with herpes, you are more prone to contracting herpes, regardless if you've had the Moderna or Pfizer shots. (The Johnson & Johnson shot is rumored to contain all eight herpes variants.)
  • Because rodents are used extensively in herpes research, humans can contract herpes through the process of gerbilling.
  • Herpes' favorite online hookup site is (drumroll...) Tinder. You guessed it. But OKCupid is second. (ChristianMingle came in at #11.)
  • Scientists believe that millions of years ago Paranthropus boisei infected a human ancestor called Homo erectus with a primitive form of herpes. Biblical creationists believe God created herpes less than 10,000 years ago and allowed Adam to name it.
  • Common drugs to relieve the symptoms of herpes include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). Common side effects of these drugs include having to recommend them to the people you've infected and loss of dating.
  • If you have kidney disease then do not contract herpes.
  • HSV-1 + HSV-2 = Shame.
  • Herpes is potentially fatal. If infected, you could die of embarrassment.

Pictured: various forms of the herpes virus. If you encounter any one of these little rascals, do not engage them. Report herpes infections to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by dialing 1-844-872-4681, no matter what the country of origin. That number again: 1-844-USA-GOV1. Scary image provided by CDC/E.L. Palmer. Note: herpes is often depicted in portrait paintings and selfies as purple but it is actually color blind.

I Beg Pardon Wednesday, June 8, 2022    

My humble apologies for misleading many of you into believing yesterday was the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, when it was merely Commemoration Day of St. John the Forerunner in the Armenian Apostolic Church. June 24th is the day all the other bloated bodies of Christ celebrate Johnmas. I hear tell several over-indulged in fried locusts and mead fermented of wild honey, although John the Baptist was a teetotalling stick in the mud and would not have approved. Anyhow, today I know for sure that no one is celebrating John the Baptist. So what are they celebrating? In Russia they are exulting over the sixteenth-century love story of Saints Peter and Fevronia, which I just read about. If you're into love stories and you can read Russian then you'll surely like this one. I personally do not know Russian, so I didn't quite understand what the story was about. Wait, that's on July 8th. Today is June 8th. Today the pagans are observing World Oceans Day while the faithful are observing a host of saints, not the least of which is the Blessed Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), who was mother superior of the Congregation of the Holy Family at the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Kerala, India, and so on and so forth. She died from a leg wound that was exacerbated by diabetes, which should be a lesson to us all. According to the CDC, there were 154,000 lower extremity amputations in the U.S. due to diabetes in 2018. Whew, that was a lot of research for me. I was just going to make up some numbers but I figured I'd at least try Googling for five or ten minutes. Of course, I say "Googling" but I didn't use Google. Maybe if I say Google a few times it will increase my own site's search rating. Speaking of Google, today is also World Brain Tumor Day.

Lil' John the Baptizer Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Today I pick out of a hat the subjects of the First Crusade, Chief Seattle, and John the Baptist. Whether or not you agree with the Crusades, they happened, so your opinion doesn't matter. The First Crusade (1096-1099) was initiated by popular demand to take back Jerusalem and much of Israel from the Muslims, who had controlled the region for centuries but allowed Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land. However, under the new management of the Seljuk Turkish Empire, Christians found they had to arm themselves or travel with soldiers to make their way to Jerusalem alive and intact, so Pope Urban II held the Council of Clermont in 1095 to suggest taking over the Holy Land, which they did in the course of the next four years with the primary aid of peasants and Frankish military forces. Unfortunately, Jews along the way were also targeted for looting and rampage killing. Fast forward to the nineteenth century when Europeans were spreading across America and populating the Pacific Northwest, which meant moving the Native American Indians to reservations by force if necessary. Seattle, Washington, was named after Chief Seattle (1790-1866) of both the Duwamish and Suquamish tribes, who had conquered many of the neighboring tribes but found it better to make peace with the white settlers. He was baptized by French Catholic missionaries in 1848 and today the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America celebrates him on this day as a saint. Another saint commemorated today is John the Baptist, who was believed to be born on this day sometime before Jesus. You can find out more about the Nativity of John the Baptist and his childhood years in the Gospel of Martha. Yes, this was all leading to a shameless plug for my book, so here's a few excerpts from chapter two:

Now little was there known of John's youth, for he was but a recluse of a boy who kept unto himself, and preferring solitary desert places with but a dearth of provision. Howbeit his mother Elizabeth did recollect but a few verities of slight import.

John had he a dog named Ezekiel, which he stoned to death when it was discovered to have sinned by engaging in unnatural relations with a raccoon.

John began baptising at an early age: first with frogs; then with other children's pets; and finally travellers who were bathing in rivers and streams, most of them by surprise. His first disciples were a family of otters, which mimicked his mannerisms in preaching the coming of the Anointed One, and baptised they one another daily in a pond.

John learnt the scriptures from the teachers of the law by reading their lips from afar, and through windows, and ofttimes at an angle; where he could see naught but the movement of their jaw.

John was an harvester of wild honey, and made many useful objects of bees wax: including candles, moustache balm, leather polish, whole pieces of furniture, and full size replications of prophets; which also he baptised. His waxen manikin of Elijah was convincing enough to lure people from afar.

John ate locusts, for they were plentiful enough to fill of themselves into his mouth when swarming, or when they were come together to form a beard upon his face. And he did acquire a taste for fried red locusts drizzled with a boiled white locust sauce; and even authored a recipe book on how to prepare locusts for social events and dinner parties, which he kept hidden in a cave.

Now and again John would pay his cousin Jesus visitation. And they played games following the leader: whereby John walketh several paces before Jesus through the streets of Nazareth, and proclaiming the coming of his kinsman, and calleth he forth, and shouting, "Gang way! Coming through! One side! Prepare ye the way, make strait the paths!" And the siblings of Jesus follow behind, and playing the timbrel, and the horn, and the gong, and waving palm branches. And Jesus rode upon the back of James his brother, as upon a colt; the foal of an ass.

John spent the latter part of his younger years prior to his publick ministry in prayer, and fasting, and performing of cartwheels and backward flips in his lonesome. Calistheniks was an important part of daily life; as was rhythmic gymnastics.

Day of Retribution Monday, June 6, 2022

The e-mail has been pouring in since yesterday's post and people are making it known that they are passionate about their convictions. Here are just some of the messages I have received so far:

Subject:Catch new LGBTQ premieres and free previews, all month long!
Hot new shows. Free previews. All month long. Explore now. See what's coming soon this month - included at no extra cost! As always, thank you for being an Xfinity customer. Please do not reply to this email, it is not monitored. If you'd like to contact us, please visit our website.

Subject: LGBTQIA+ Makers to Meet
More than just a rainbow, bigger than a parade... Pride is a moment to champion the LGBTQIA+ community in their stride toward visibility and equality. Get to know - and help empower - some passionate, talented entrepreneurs, this month and all year long!

Subject: Alexa is your guide to Pride!
Just say, "Alexa, tell me a fact about Pride Month."
"Alexa, play the LGBTQ+ Creepypasta podcast Queerpypasta."
"Alexa, read the novel Rainbow Milk by Paul Mendez."
"Alexa, play the Proud playlist on Amazon Music everywhere."
"Alexa, order me the LGBTQIA+ Pride Sticker Book by by Jessica Kingsley and Ollie Mann for only $14.95 with free Prime shipping."
"Alexa, enable the Morning Shine routine," via voice, time of day, with your smart home devices, when you turn off your alarm, and more. Alexa can do more than you might think, from hosting a trivia game, to finding a new recipe, to recommending anal and vaginal lubricant syringes, and more.

Subject: #9 ITALIAN NIGHT CLUB&nbr;
Your Jimmy John's Online Order is confirmed! If you have any questions regarding your order, please do not hesitate to contact us at 509-315-5891, and reference your order confirmation number 10225927106204098. Thanks for your order!

Subject: !!!ALL LAWN PLANS 50% OFF!!!
Spring is here and TruGreen specialists are the experts at prepping your lawn for cookout weather! ALL LAWN PLANS 50% OFF (first application). Trugreen Guarantee: TruGreen® will gladly visit your property as needed between scheduled visits to ensure your satisfaction.

Subject: Shop Ray Ban Sunglasses
Shop Ray Ban Sunglasses. Up to 80% Off All Sale! Unexpected Discount! To protect your privacy remote resources have been blocked. If you can't read this email, please view it online. If you don't want to continue to receive such emails, please click here to unsubscribe.

Subject: Your Password Has Been Updated
Click here to download pictures. Hi! As requested, your password has been changed. From now on, you'll use this new password to log in to Hulu. If you did not make this change yourself, you can reset your password by clicking this link...

Subject: Awesome new offers are waiting!!
You can be confident that Best Buy will get you what you need quickly and safely, however you choose to shop. Safety continues to be our top priority as we continue adhering to enhanced safety measures and local mandates. As long as there is community spread of COVID-19, the risk of infection cannot be completely eliminated. Your privacy is important to Best Buy. For more information on how Best Buy protects your privacy, steps you can take to protect your personal information and alerts on privacy risks facing consumers, please visit the Best Buy Privacy Hub.

Subject: [Ugly as Sin] Your site has updated to WordPress 6.0
Howdy! Your site at has been updated automatically to WordPress 6.0. No further action is needed on your part. For more on version 6.0, see the About WordPress screen. If you experience any issues or need support, the volunteers in the support forums may be able to help. You also have some plugins or themes with updates available. Update them now.

And there's more where these came from but not all of them are so eloquently written, nor written in English. Incidentally, I have tried unsubscribing from Best Buy but every time I receive the message: "An error has occurred. Please try again later." I am also suspicious that unsubscribing from one e-mail list only validates your e-mail address and automatically subscribes you to more lists. But call me old fashioned because I trust no one and think everything's a scam.

Animals Are LGBTQIPAAA+ Too Sunday, June 5, 2022

This is rainbow flag appreciation month in the U.S., recognizing non-heterosexual peoples who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning), intersex, pangender/pansexual, androgynous, asexual, and agender, plus everyone else who didn't make it into the acronym and all those yet to be identified and labeled, the latest of which are people who have two spirits within them - a male spirit and a female spirit. Add to this the rights of all living creatures and the end to speciesism because today is World Day Against Speciesism. Studies are finding that more people are believing that research is concluding that people who eat meat have no respect for animals because they think the human species is superior and therefore they uphold their own beliefs above all others, which is the deep-seated root of prejudice, which leads to discrimination, which leads to racism, homophobia and sexism. The primary culprit of this supremacist view is of course man. Therefore we must stop using anthropocentrist terms such as "human" and instead refer to all living creatures in terms of equality. Then we need to begin treating all living creatures as our equals. To do this, we must rid ourselves of the pervasively ignorant ideals based on the primitive religions of our carnivorous forefathers and stop believing in a male God that acts so superior and claims to have made man in His image and placed man on this planet above all life -- especially a deity that is partial to animal sacrifices. The simplest way to do this is to call animals by what names they wish to be called by, but until then we shall foolishly keep referring to "them" as "he," "her," "it," "those," and any one of the millions of man-made classifications we have reduced all fauna and flora to.

It sickens me that I would find a "Wagyu" more delicious than a "Charolais," especially when I have never to my knowledge even tasted the flesh of a "Caucasian." So until I quit consuming living creatures, I, along with everyone around me, will have to endure this longsuffering episode in our evolutionary process and it's not just the consumption of animal flesh but the brutal devouring of plant flesh that needs to end. Just because we don't know for certain if plants don't have feelings doesn't mean "they" don't have feelings. Rhubarb in the genus Rheum in the family Polygonaceae bleed, too. Seaweed of the taxon Chlorophyta of the clade Viridiplantae breathe, too. A Cocos Nucifera of the family Arecaceae suffers and dies, too. "We" are all Eukaryotes, yet "we" shouldn't look down our noses or leaves at Bacteria just because they are smaller and comprised of fewer cells, nor should Bacteria treat Archaea differently just because they lack nuclei. "We" all share the same phylogenetic components and "we" are all carbon-based "organisms." Just because some of "us" evolved at a more advanced rate doesn't necessarily mean that "we" are more advanced, nor does survival of the fittest mean dominance of the most impositional will. Only when "we" as collective persons formerly known as homo sapiens quit answering to the cravings of our stomachs will "we" begin to live in harmony with cows, and chickens, and pigs, and shellfish, and rutabagas, and cholera, and other persons formerly classified as homo sapiens but sexually disparate from conventional norms. The day will come when our differences will be gone and we will all be the same. Again, I digress.

Homosexuality exists in the animal kingdom and animals should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They should also have free access to universal healthcare and should not be discriminated against based on their taxonomic classification, intelligence quotient, or the taste of their meat when cooked to perfection.

4077th Rabbit Hole Saturday, June 4, 2022

Warning: the following contains language that may not be suitable for adults. Most of my dreams make little sense, are senseless, or are complete nonsense. Case in point, recently I dreamt that I had to poop. Most of the time when I have to pee, I dream that I have to pee, but seldom do I dream about having to poop. When having to pee, I usually find a bathroom quickly and generally have a choice of a plethora of urinals. Unfortunately, instead of my brain waking me up to go to the bathroom and pee, I dream about peeing and end up peeing the bed. What the floop? But in this recent dream I am looking for a bathroom in which to poop but cannot find one. This takes place in either a college dorm bathroom or a high school locker room -- it's sort of blended together as my mind has become lazy over the years and does not always differentiate between the two. Anyway, my pants are off as I find a locked stall, then I realize everyone else is coming and going to the showers, so I take off all my clothes so as not to be suspicious, except I can now feel a stool beginning to protrude from my sphincter, so I grab a towel and wrap it around my waste. I locate an office in which to call my roommate, which should warn me that this is not a dream because I never complete a phone call in dreams, but it is not a lucid dream and I sit down and try dialing numbers. Then I realize that others are joining me for lunch at the table where I sat down and I am sitting on the poop that has become squashed in the towel, so I just decide to poop right then and there. Then I awaken, neither having to poop nor pee.

I wonder what this might mean, as if my dreams ever have any meaning. As I start to fall back to sleep, I suddenly remember having watched a rerun of M*A*S*H the night before where Captain Hawkeye Pierce is suffering from an unknown illness caused by a buried childhood memory that is triggered by some situation or other and it's not until Dr. Sidney Freedman arrives and helps him remember that he is able to have a good cry and be cured. Then it dawns on me: this episode of M*A*S*H has also triggered a childhood memory buried deep inside me. I used to watch M*A*S*H when I was much younger but somewhere along the series I lost interest, probably after Major Frank Burns left and was replaced with Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. The television series had gone from being a sitcom situated around the miseries of war to being a wet blanket of drama draped over the absurdity of war, as evidenced by Hawkeye Pierce evolving from daffy to disgruntled -- just like Daffy Duck transmutating from a slaphappy screwball in the golden age of animation to a pissed-off second fiddle in the Chuck Jones era. M*A*S*H had gone from being a situational comedy to a melodrama; from pee-your-pants funny to a turd in your drawers. Now I, too, was healed and since then I have had no more dreams. I close my eyes at night and open them in the morning, having remembered nothing in between, just like regular people with sleep apnea. But I digress.

One of these things is not like the other.
M*A*S*H in 1974
M*A*S*H in 1977

Feast of Nettles Friday, June 3, 2022

Today we observe Kevin (498-618 A.D.), founder and first Franciscan abbot of Glendalough Monastery in County Wicklow, Ireland, after living seven years as a hermit in a cave, wearing animal skins, going barefoot and subsisting on nettles, and also after four years in solitude. His Irish name was Coemgen (anglicized as Kevin) and he reportedly lived 120 years. He was also reportedly the first person named Kevin. Irish poet Seamus Heaney wrote a poem called "St. Kevin and the Blackbird" about how Kevin was so immobile in prayer that a blackbird landed upon his hand, made a nest, laid eggs, and hatched them there. This is based on a legend of the same report wherein the blackbird also fed Kevin nuts and berries during the whole of Lent. Another legend is that while living in his 5x7x3-ft cave in Glendalough, near where he prayed neck-deep in one of the two ice-cold lakes during winter, an otter would feed him fish and herbs. Although he was not much fond of people, his reputation grew and his propensity for miracles gained him much notoriety. Many believe that Kevin was the fulfillment of St. Patrick's prophecy of one who would evangelize the region south of Dublin.

Today we also consider Catholic philosopher Peter Abelard (1079-1142), who coined the term "theology" to label the religious subdivision of philosophy. Much of his own theology was later considered Protestant, but the Protestant Reformation wasn't to take place for another four centuries, so during his time he was officially excommunicated by Pope Innocent II. However, his charges of heresy were posthumously cleared. But wait, this just in, apparently there is a new season of [subscription streaming provider]'s [television series title], so here I must depart with my snack bowl of herb-flavored nettles and retire to the devil's tabernacle to challenge my convictions.

Feast of St. Elmo Thursday, June 2, 2022
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Elmo by eating his favorite foods, including oatmeal with orange slices, broccoli, yogurt, kiwi, sushi, chicken fingers, potato soup, and wasabi. At just 3-1/2 years old, Erasmus of Sesame Street left home and became Bishop of Formia in the province of Latina, on the Mediterranean coast of Lazio, Italy. It is recorded that he was captured during the great persecution of Emperor Diocletian at the end of the third century and chained in prison, but escaped, only to be captured again under Emperor Maximian and martyred in 303 A.D. after being enclosed in a barrel full of protruding spikes and rolled down a hill, beaten and whipped, coated with pitch and set alight, then having his abdomen slit open and his intestines wound around a windlass. Therefore, he is the patron saint of abdominal cramps and intestinal ailments. Some of his greatest acts include Elmo's Potty Time, Bye Bye Binky, CinderElmo, Elmopalooza, Episode 4206, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. His contemporaries were Zoe, Abby and Murray Monster. He reputedly authored the deuterocanonical Codex of Red and the Apocryphon of Brussels Sprouts. He loved riding on his tricycle, avoiding pronouns, referring to himself in the third person, and being tickled.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 8 Wednesday, June 1, 2022
The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- he misplaced his keys somewhere, but is not delighted in the least when I pull them out of my pocket and say that I found them in the outside door lock this morning when I got to work first. At lunch he points out to me that I am getting a belly, to which I respond that it's worth it not to have to eat the same thing for lunch every day that he does: a sandwich on wholewheat bread, a piece of fruit, and a diet soda. Our supervisor thinks he has good communication skills, but I think he's just vocalizing his complaints louder and more often. He's also gotten in the habit of leaving behind clues as to his comings and goings, as opposed to clear and concise documentation. He's becoming more agitated and absent-minded these days, sometimes even forgetting which side of an argument he's on. Our heated debates generally end with him shouting, "And what do you want me to do about it?" My main concern is that I'll quit laughing at him and become just as agitated as he is. Then I'll know I'm old. But work is over and it's time to cease talking about work and raise a glass of Scotch to John Cor, a Dominican Friar and apothecary in the court of King Henry IV who on this day in 1495 was the author of the first known written reference to a batch of Scotch Whisky. And a second round in honor of Kelvin.

No Smoking Tue, May 31, 2022

Yesterday we memorialized those who have given their lives in service to their country, specifically the United States of America. Today we memorialize an individual who gave his life in honor of Christ over his country, specifically a Roman soldier named Hermias who was beheaded in A.D. 160 by Proconsul Sebastian in Comana, Cappadocia. Like many in his day, he was tortured for confessing Jesus Christ, which included but was not limited to a broken jaw, defacement (literally having the skin peeled from his face), eyes gouged, poisoning, extra poisoning, smoking in a hot furnace, plunged in boiling oil, suspended upside down for days, listening to children practice playing musical instruments, and yet he continued praising and thanking Christ. As with many of these accounts, even his tormentor was converted upon witnessing such a miraculous endurance of faith, then immediately put to death. There are quite a few reports of Roman soldiers being converted to Christianity and, as a result despite knowing the consequences, being tortured and executed for adhering to Christ and renouncing the emperor. As the ancient tradition continues, Christians are still tortured and persecuted today for adhering to Christ as their sovereign Lord and you can find out more about it here. But why would people still challenge the status quo and oppose human progress by accepting an archaic religion as the path to fulfillment? Don't we all just want peace? Can't we all just get along and coexist? Can't we all just embrace scientific knowledge and continue to evolve farther from our primitive past? It is my desire that we can and that we must... in order for Christ to return and establish not just a peaceful kingdom on Earth but a righteous one and that won't happen until Christians are silenced or removed. True peace only comes through reconciliation with our heavenly Father and that's the truth these Christians are taking to their transitory grave.

Today is also World No Tobacco Day, declared by the World Health Organization (WHO?) in 1987 to draw attention to the perils of tobacco consumption. This year's theme is environmental protection. Gone are the days of growing tobacco and smoking tobacco because resources are now scarce and our earthly habitat is fragile. Imagine a dystopian future where the world has been ravaged by transnational tobacco companies and the population decimated by second-hand smoke -- all food is gone and the only subsistence the remaining survivors have are addictive cigarettes. Now imagine Jesus transforming that apocalyptic hellscape into a new world filled with lush vegetation, after which he sits upon his throne and smokes a fine Cuban cigar and all peoples around the globe can smoke freely without any adverse effects. Imagine, someday.

More Snack Bowl, Please Monday, May 30, 2022

America has spoken and its citizens have identified with Doug the half brother. I have listened to your cries to fill your cerebral snack bowls with more about this iconic figure, so here are a few passages from the Gospel of Martha regarding Doug the half brother to feed your insatiable appetites for leisurely diversion:

Lo, and behold, when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus was in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. But Doug was not so much concerned, and layeth he upon the floor of the house, and consuming of a bowl of leftover falafels in a stupour of apathy. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat in the house, watching Doug litter his protruding belly with crumbs of indifference. (Introduction by John, the disciple whom Jesus loved)

Now Lazarus had two sisters named Martha and Mary. In the formative years of the children their father passed, and their mother married his brother and bare him a son, and named him Doug, (meaning dark discharge). Now Jesus was called upon to perform the circumcision, which was undertaken with flawless precision, and the foreskin was buried beneath a newly planted olive sapling. But the sapling withered and died, and the foreskin was unearthed and consumed by a dog, which also withered and died. (Chapter 3, Adolescence of the Nazarene)

Jesus saith, "In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back: and he that lieth upon his couch, like Doug, let him rise up and wipe not even the crumbs from his belly. Remember Lot's wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." (Chapter 14, Beware the Leaven)

Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There made they him a supper; and Martha served, as she was wont. And Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. But Doug the half brother reclined upon the couch, and ate from his belly, as he was wont. (Chapter 19, Lazarus Arise Again)

My sister Mary ought she to have done so of her extensive time spent at the Lord's feet, for she is more learned than I. Even so, she did recount many of his sayings unto Lazarus, who hath not much feeling in his extremities, and myself, and even unto Doug, who unfortuitously remembereth he nothing, as is to be expected of him, and is illiterate, even that our family invested no small fortune towards his education. I must awaken Doug, and insure that Lazarus is still amongst the living. And, behold, I have for Doug a most important task: to deliver these writings to Simon Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem. He hath only to meet sister Mary half way, for she is there already; and I would that I deliver them in person, but the disciples lodged in my home are youths, and prone to untidiness; and I shall not have it.

I pray Doug strayeth not from his mission, and therefore become lost. I send with him a day's provision, even that Bethany is not more than a leisurely stroll from his destination, and the mule that carrieth the jars knoweth the way by memory. For Doug doth wander, and tire easily, and he thumbeth rides from strangers with wagons, no matter their direction of travel. In times past hath he been gone for weeks whilst on simple errands: like gathering eggs from the hen house, or retrieving water from the well, or visiting the draught house. (Chapter 28, Day of Pentecost)

My dear Polycarp, glad tidings I send thee with Doug, the half brother of Martha, who maketh those delectable halvah sweets that thou canst but get enough of. (I suspect she sent some with Doug, but he did eat them on his way here to Jerusalem.) He is well overtaken with morbidity, and half blind, and his limbs stricken with gout; but he doth serve us by running errands of lesser import. I solicited of him the works of Martha once again, as to where he took them. He saith of remembrance a desert cave, but knoweth he not a region. Sendest thou him to the caves of the Essenes, and charge him look round about. Meanwhile Titus Vespasianus is rumoured to make a grand entrance to the city, so I leave on the morrow for Antioch, that I may avoid the crowds. Yours in Christ, Ignatius Theophorus. (Afterward, letter from Ignatius of Antioch to Polycarp of Smyrna, c. AD 70)

Saint Doug the Half Brother Friday, May 27, 2022

Today is the snack day of Doug, half brother of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. On this day in 1074 Doug was canonized by Pope Gregory VII[citation needed] who himself was a Benedictine monk and was said to have ordained the tonsure as the official haircut of monastic clerics in the Latin Rite, the members of which shaved the tops of their head in honor of the Apostle Peter (whose head was shaved in mockery) or the Apostle James (who had a receding hairline) or the Apostle Paul (who was bald) or whomever, but left a little around the sides as a nod to Leviticus 19:27 and thus resembling a crown of humility. It is said that monks at the monastery of St. Mary on the Aventine Hill in Rome, where Gregory VII (named Hildebrand) spent much of his early years, would use a bowl to cut their hair.[citation needed] It was here that young Hildebrand donned a wooden bowl with the inscription on the bottom that read Doug Portio Crater - Manus abi! - Proprietas Doug (Latin for "Doug's Snack Bowl - Hands off! - Property of Doug") and after cutting off the hair around the bottom of the bowl it was removed to reveal that the top of Hildebrand's head was completely and miraculously hairless.[citation needed] The Bowl of Doug was then used to miraculously tonsure the head of monks for decades before being retired as a relic and placed on display under glass at the monastery.[citation needed] This act alone raised the original owner of the bowl to the glory of the Altars.

Pictured: Bowl of Doug, simple yet elegant, which made for a perfect tonsure each and every time. Leviticus 19:27 says, "Ye shall not round the corners of your heads" (KJV). Tonsure comes from the Latin "tonsura" meaning "just a little off the top." The popularity of this monastic coiffure transcended centuries before finally going out of style in 1972.

Pope Gregory VII spent much time and resources searching for clues as to whom this mysterious Doug could be[citation needed] and finally narrowed it down to the half brother of Lazarus, Mary and Martha according to various letters and the apocryphal Gospel of Martha. Here is all that Pope Gregory VII could find out about Doug:

  • Doug was partially bald with little to no hair on top and some growing on the sides with the possibility of a small ponytail in the back.[citation needed]
  • Doug was fond of snacks and therefore somewhere between overweight and obese. He was also rather lazy and probably wasn't in the habit of wearing sandals.[citation needed]
  • Doug forfeited his life in deliverance of the gospel of Christ. (By that, he wandered aimlessly in the desert looking for a cave in which to hide the Gospel of Martha which was penned by his half sister, until he was vanquished by the sun. Howbeit some may consider this martyrdom.)[citation needed]
  • Although Martha's half brother Doug was Jewish and most likely spoke Aramaic, there is a chance that a loved one could have conscripted a Jewish craftsman to carve such an exquisite and precise vessel as a gift, which was hewn from Tavor oak from the region of Galilee, but was confused about the nationality of the recipient's name.[citation needed]
  • It was rumored that Doug was present when Jesus commanded his half brother Lazarus to come out of the tomb and that when Doug belched after guzzling from a jug of Manischewitz it caused the large stone covering the opening of the tomb to roll away.[citation needed]
  • After every tenth haircut using the Bowl of Doug, when it was removed there was a snack atop the bald head of the cleric -- sometimes a fig bar, or small piece of raisin cake, or a handful of dates, or a falafel.[citation needed]

It was for these reasons that Pope Gregory VII chose to beatify Doug as the patron saint of snacks and bowl cuts and snack bowls.[citation needed] The Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches do not observe Doug, nor do the Jews. However, the Roman Catholics observe this day as the Snack Day of "Saint" Doug the Half Brother.[citation needed] And how could they not? They venerate over 10,000 saints and can't possibly keep track of them all. Doug was surely bound to slip in there somewhere.

Pictured: Eleventh-century fresco of Doug handing over the Gospel of Martha to Pope Gregory VII, a passage from which reads, "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus; and yea, even Doug, howbeit with a righteous love: one that transcendeth repugnant qualities and loathsome character." Doug is also bestowing upon them the tonsure style haircut, minus the tail, which was circumsised of its Semitic origin.

Quadratus of Athens Thursday, May 26, 2022

Today is the feast day of Quadratus of Athens, a first-century Christian and -- according to some, including Dionysius of Corinth, Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome of Stridon -- a second-generation disciple of the apostles of Jesus, or a first-generation disciple according to the Eastern Orthodox Churches which consider Quadratus to be one of the seventy (seventy-two according to the Western Churches) whom Jesus sent out to preach the gospel in pairs and heal the sick (regarded by Eastern Orthodoxy as apostles). The Gospel of Luke (10:1-24), however, does not list these seventy/seventy-two individuals by name but other sources have tried, including Hippolytus of Rome, Irenaeus, Solomon of Basra, and Martha the sister of Lazarus, Mary and Doug (the half-brother). None of them seemed to mention Quadratus though, unless it was by some other name. Those who did list Quadratus as one of the seventy/seventy-two include Dorotheus of Tyre and Demetrius of Rostov. Regardless of this and there being accounts of other early Christians named Quadratus, there is enough proof that Quadratus was bishop of Athens sometime after the turn of the second century (c. 125-129 A.D.), preceded by Publius and succeeded by Leonidas. Eusebius (c. 260-339 A.D.) was a historian who recorded in his narrative Historia Ecclesiastica (IV.3) that Quadratus presented a favorable Christian defense to Emperor Hadrian sometime between 124 and 125 A.D. and is considered by many to be the first Christian apologist.

Pictured: Seventeenth-century portrait of either Quadratus of Athens or Quartus of Beyrouth, possibly one and the same. The former was the bishop of Athens and the latter was reported to have been martyred in Athens. In his letter to the Romans, Paul mentions a brother of the faith named Quartus (Romans 16:23). Again, there were a few of them around.

There's a frood who really knows where his towel is. Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Today is Geek Pride Day, but not geek in the traditional sense such as a circus sideshow freak, although there's further differences between freaks and geeks (freaks usually have some kind of abnormality while geeks perform gruesome acts), but geek in the modern-day sense of scientifically and technically impassioned. Who cares, you ask? But wait, there's more -- most geeks may also be classified as nerds and most nerds worth the gravitational force exerted on the gold-plated edge connectors of the printed circuit boards in their Commodore 64 will know that today is also Towel Day in honor of Douglas Adams (1952-2001), author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in which he explains that a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Who cares, you are still asking? Today is also International Missing Children's Day, you say? Yes, and here I am making fun instead of seriously discussing serious matters. But that's too serious for me, including what happened yesterday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. When incidents like this happen, people say the dumbest things. So here I shall end this post with a moment of silence in memory of the innocent.

Aldersgate Day Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Oh, boy, has it been fun the past couple days recognizing goths, turtles, and goth turtles, but now it's time to get back to business -- the business of the Christian Gospel. Today's subject is John Wesley (1703-1791), a former Anglican priest of the Church of England who helped start the Methodist Revival movement after a spiritual experience on this day in 1738 when he attended a group meeting in a Moravian chapel on Aldersgate Street in London during which he felt the warmth of the salvation of Christ in his bosom. But let's not forget John's brother, Charles Wesley (1707-1788), who wrote thousands of hymns for the Methodist Church and had his evangelical experience three days earlier. The two went on to traveling and preaching the gospel charismatically outdoors or anywhere they could, much like their contemporary, George Whitefield (1714-1770), the three of whom attended the University of Oxford together, were ordained priests in the Church of England, and traveled to America to take part in the first Great Awakening. John and Charles Wesley formed several Christian societies throughout England and Ireland which were made up of converts and itinerant preachers. The intent was not that of a new Christian sect or church, but simply to make Christian disciples like those of the early Church. The term "Methodist" refers to the orderly way these believers use rules and methods to go about living their faith. The heart of their methodology is Arminian theology, as put forth in their doctrinal Articles of Religion, here summarized and simplified:

  1. One God in the form of the Trinity, consisting of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
  2. Christ is God made man, the Word of the Father, who died for the sins of mankind.
  3. Christ rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and waits to judge all humanity.
  4. The Holy Ghost is one with God the Father and God the Son.
  5. Only the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, are all that are necessarily sufficient for scriptural doctrine.
  6. The Old and New Testaments do not contradict one another. Although Christians are not bound to the laws and commandments of Moses, they are still obligated to be morally obedient to them.
  7. The original sin of Adam is inherent in every man.
  8. Man can do no good works in reconciliation to God of his own free will without the grace of Christ.
  9. Man is justified by faith alone, not works.
  10. Good works are a result of faith in Christ and evidence of that faith.
  11. Believers should go above and beyond what is expected of them (works of supererogation).
  12. Christians may still succumb to sin (in all actuality they will), but remain under the forgiveness of grace.
  13. The visible church of Christ lies beyond walls with people who receive the Word of God and take part in Christ's Sacraments.
  14. Purgatory, indulgences, relics, invocations of saints and adoration of the Eucharist are all vanity.
  15. Speaking in tongues must be understood by the listeners or interpreted for the edification of the congregation.
  16. The only required Sacraments are Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Anything else is unnecessary, including confirmation, penance, orders, matrimony and extreme unction (anointing of the sick).
  17. Baptism is an important sign of confession in Christ, even for young children.
  18. The Lord's Supper is a sign of accepting the sacrificial blood and body of Christ. Transubstantiation is superstition and was not ordained by Christ.
  19. The cup of the Lord's Supper is not to be denied to any believer.
  20. Christ made the sacrifice for sin once for all. The sacrifice of mass is wily and unscrupulous.
  21. Ministers are free to marry because it's not a biblical commandment that they don't.
  22. Rites and ceremonies may be different depending on the culture and the times as long as they are approved by the congregation.
  23. The United States of America ought not be subject to any foreign jurisdiction.
  24. A Christian's belongings are his own, not of the Christian community, unless he freely gives as alms, which he should do liberally.
  25. Men may take secular oaths so long as they don't violate Scripture.

These articles were adapted from those of the Anglican Church and ratified in the U.S. after the Revolutionary War at the first General Conference of 1784, where Methodist preachers were ordained for the first time into the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church. Until then, Methodist societies worked closely with Anglican churches and relied on Anglican priests for administering the sacraments. Today there are two primary factions of this early church -- the United Methodist Church with over twelve million members worldwide and the Wesleyan Methodist Church with less than a million members.

John Wesley did not believe in Calvinist predestination. Instead, he taught Arminian prevenient grace, in which grace enables but does not ensure personal acceptance of the gift of salvation. He was so adamant about Arminianism that he parted ways from Whitefield over it in 1741 and went on to publish The Arminian Magazine in 1778.
Charles Wesley was opposed to separation from the Church of England as well as ordaining Methodist ministers in America. Two of his most famous hymns were "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" and "Lo! He Comes With Clouds Descending." He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1995.
George Whitefield was influential in the Methodist Revival movement although he believed in Calvinism and disagreed with John Wesley on other theological points. While the Wesleys returned to Great Britain, he visited America seven times and eventually settled there. And, yes, he was cross-eyed.

Note: Most Methodists no longer wear powdered wigs. The label "Methodist" was first applied to the Wesley brothers in college who started their own "Holy Club" and dedicated themselves to pious discipline (it wasn't a compliment). John, Charles, and George Whitefield were not allowed in Anglican pulpits because they were too charismatically evangelistic in their preaching.

World Turtle Day Monday, May 23, 2022

Today is World Turtle Day, sponsored by your 501(c)3 nonprofit turtles' rights advocates at American Tortoise Rescue, encouraging you to ask your grandparents if they can show you anything from their attic that is made from turtle shell. Or perhaps they have a jar of turtle jelly in a cupboard somewhere. If so, there is bound to be other mysterious treasures in that same cupboard, so keep digging. Maybe they lived through the Great Depression and subsisted on various delicasies like gopher tortoise stew. If you're really lucky, grandma might make you a bowl of turtle soup, served in an authentic turtle shell. However, outside the Great Wall of China it's unlikely you'll use or eat anything consisting of dismembered turtle. But you might encounter an actual live turtle, tortoise, or terrapin right in your own backyard. My son once rescued a turtle from a street puddle -- or should I say it rescued him? We learned the hard way that keeping a turtle around the house requires lots of hand washing because they are havens for Salmonella, but it was good practice for COVID-19. Eventually he grew tired of it and released it into a nearby lake, where it choked on a plastic straw from a discarded pouch of Caprice Sun (based on a true story).

Goth(s) Are People Too Sunday, May 22, 2022

Today is International Day for Biological Diversity and a subclass of this observance is World Goth Day, "a day where the goth scene gets to celebrate its own being, and an opportunity to make its presence known to the rest of the world"* (not that they are a people who can easily blend into society). The history of the Goth subculture can be traced back to the Germanic peoples of the fourth century, known as Gutans, or those with dyed hair and dark angst, who helped to overthrow the Roman Empire with their nihilist music, then went on to form their own kingdoms of the eastern Ostrogoths and the western Visigoths which ushered in the Dark Ages. Soon everyone was sullen, gloomy, and just plain Goth. Towards the end of this medieval period, around the fourteenth century as spirits began to lift and color slowly came back into art and culture, the Goths began to stand out more with their black clothing and morbid demeanor. By the late twentieth century, the Gothic peoples were all but forgotten until post-punk bands like Bauhaus, the Cure, Sex Gang Children, Theatre of Hate, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Damned, and Southern Death Cult resurrected their macabre memory from the mausoleum of the melancholy with musical hits like "Rose Garden Funeral of Sores," "Bela Lugosi's Dead," "Disintegration," "All Cats Are Grey," "Draconian Dream," and "Incinerator." So cross out your nipples with electrical tape and join black-laced hands with your estranged step-sister who still wears a studded dog collar and together raise a goblet of mead in honor of those weird kids in high school you avoided who were pale, pierced and donned combat boots long before it was hip. (Join hands figuratively, that is, as she probably desires not to be touched.)

Charlie Chaplin made heavily-outlined eyes and dark clothing a fashion statement in the early days of silent films. In his little-known moving picture from 1914 called "Cradle of Filth" he plays a misunderstood young man who fails at being a magician and ends up living in his mother's basement where he becomes withdrawn and increasingly morose. One day he discovers an old double bass, which he learns to pluck and write music about death. He then joins a traveling freak show and falls in love with the tattooed woman. The movie ends with a high-speed car chase and the two of them driving off a cliff.

World Day for Indefatigability Saturday, May 21, 2022

Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, as put forth by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/249 for "acceptance and recognition of cultural diversity - in particular through innovative use of media and Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) - [which] are conducive to dialogue among civilizations and cultures, respect and mutual understanding." Good luck with that because the Aryan Neo-Nazi White Supremacist trolls have been perfecting their digital poison for decades, such as Daily Stormer, QAnon, Stormfront, and 8kun. Or take the Islamic State, which has been successfully using technology and the Internet to promote a culture of Muslim extremism and repression worldwide. Regardless that these entities are increasingly being forced into the dark web, where they flourish, they still know how to take advantage of mainstream technology for the purpose of harassment, intimidation and recruitment. As critical as I try not to be of the UN and UNESCO, I should be equally cautious about denigrating hate groups since they have a tendency to retaliate in force. But some things just go without saying. I'm just saying.

Abraham Lincoln's Advice for Weight Loss
Friday, May 20, 2022

Yesterday's public service announcement was such a big hit that the only thing that could top it is if it came from a former U.S. president, specifically the sixteenth. Today's PSA comes hot off the press of yesteryear with some timeless advice on maintaining a stovepipe physique.

  • Emancipate yourself from overeating.
  • Walk up stairs everywhere you go.
  • Declare civil war on the body to free enslaved fat cells.
  • Carry a 20lb rock at all times.
  • Give me a high metabolism or give me death.
  • Chase the carriage rather than ride in it.
  • Survive malaria or typhoid fever.
  • Only sit on imaginary chairs.
  • All things in moderation, including Mary Todd's log cabin flapjacks.
  • Always keep your legs moving, even while reading, writing and sleeping.
  • Inherit Marfan Syndrome.
  • Rise early every day and do not skimp on chores.

Abraham Lincoln in 1864 teaching his son, Tad, how to read and ride. Back in his day the brain was seen as a muscle, to be exercised and exerted. We now consider the brain an organ, like those of the digestive system, to be fed knowledge and excrete intelligence.

PSA: Relaxation Techniques Thursday, May 19, 2022

For a while I visited a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a psychotherapist provided by my HMO who taught me some valuable relaxation techniques which I now offer to you without a fifteen-dollar co-pay:

  • Sit comfortably. It seems simple enough but you'd be surprised how many people maintain a painful position just to look casual.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, inhaling through the nostrils and exhaling from the mouth. Again, many people ignorantly suck in air and blow it out just one hole without any voluntary control.
  • Quietly repeat a soothing mantra, such as "Effervescence" or "Mellifluous" or "Petrichor" or "Kaiser Permanente" or "Defenestration."
  • Close your eyes but don't become too comfortable as to fall asleep.
  • Visualize a place you'd rather be than at a doctor's office, without dreaming.
  • Slowly rub your eyelids and concentrate upon the phosphenes, which are the light and colors produced by rubbing your eyes. Repeat the mantra, "Phosphenes."
  • Listen to pan flute music against a background of waves crashing onto a rocky shore while seagulls squawk randomly. Hear that in the distance? It's a sperm whale.
  • The sperm whale is an endangered species. Are you an endangered species? What is your significance in the grand scheme of things? Write down what makes you special. Now crumple it up, throw it away and become one with the cosmic sperm whale.
  • Brace your legs in stirrups and gently douche your rectum with a warm solution of salt water, vinegar, aloes, and calamine.
  • Listen to a recording of a Chinese philosopher reading fortune cookies. A stringed instrument called a guqin is plucked as he or she says in broken English, "An open mind is a treasure chest. A welcoming heart is the treasure that fills the chest. Ignorance and hatred plunder the chest, leaving it empty. Love and tolerance fill the chest, making the individual wealthy in riches that truly matter. With this, one may nourish many souls, thus spreading wealth everywhere."
  • What are some of the things that really irritate you? Write them down. Now crumple it up, throw it away and don't think about those things anymore.
  • If you feel yourself becoming irritated, then breathe slowly and count to ten. Should anger or anguish instantly overwhelm you within seconds, then run your head into a predetermined spot on the drywall (between studs) and take time to cool down as you patch the hole.
  • Do you spend too much time online while neglecting your health and well-being? Download an app that will help you organize your time wisely, count calories, and remind you what to do and when to do it.
  • Replace coffee, energy drinks, and beverages high in caffeine with herbal tea or tap water.
  • Replace foods high in fat and sugar with herbal tea or tap water.
  • Stuck in traffic? Look over at the driver in the vehicle next to you. Imagine them floating in outer space.
  • Do you suffer from anxiety? Be mindful of your mindfulness, spending every moment mindfully minding your thoughts and actions.
  • Are you a stressed over-achiever? Try the "FLOP" method: (F) Fail once in a while; (L) Lose every now and then; (O) Or; (P) Play dead.
  • If you feel tense, wherever you may be, strike the yoga position of the Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) by starting in the Mountain Pose (Tadasana) then slowly transforming to the Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana). Now bring your right arm down to your side and up behind your back to clasp your left hand as you lower it behind your head, breathing deeply and steadily while being mindful that those who have distressed you are now staring at you.
  • Meditate on positive self affirmations, such as, "I deserve to win the Mega Millions lottery," or, "I will pass this asshole driver and be rid of him forever," or, "I am confident that today I will follow through with the divorce and not succumb to pressure to remain a pitiful victim of an overbearing and abusive spouse."
  • With your eyes closed and your arms resting at the sides, drive along a winding road with a gentle breeze blowing in your face.
  • Read a self-help book about anger management. Read several. Keep a daily journal of your thoughts. Create an online blog. Now write your own book.
  • Take 60mg of fluoxetine daily.

LWoS 80, 82, 85-87, 91 Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Today is as good as any for a reading from The Lost Wisdom of Solomon, available in paperback or Kindle format.

80 Two heads are better than one. With the exception of the two-headed goat which belongs to the flock of Bildad son of Nor the Ammonite from the hill country of Ephraim. It had to be slaughtered because it kept falling off the rocks and tumbling down the mountainside.

82 The Lord has ordained the stars in the night sky. He has set the sun and moon in their appointed places. He has given all plants and animals and creeping things their rank and has ordered all things above land and below the sea. He knows the heart and schemes of man. He knows that Rezon, king of Syria, is cruisin' for a bruisin'.

85 My son, don the breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the testament, and the helmet of salvation, and the loin shield of truth, and the belt of utilities, which contains the grappling hook of vertical ascent, the zip line of cavernous retreat, the trail mix of sustained nutriment, and the wet wipes of a spastic colon.

86 Do not be dismayed, my wife, for your time in the presence of the king will surely come. Wait for me under the shade of the olive tree and I will visit you without haste. Once I am rested, yes, I shall come. As a ravenous lion shall I pounce and devour your pinkish flesh, like unto a grazing doe fattened on thistle and milkweed. I will gorge myself with your succulent meat and feast upon your hearty sinew. I... am now out of breath. Who am I kidding? Surely I am going back to bed. Wake me in the morning with breakfast.

87 It is all fun and games until someone gets injured. Then it becomes blood sport. Children are cruel that way. Especially toddlers. They will feed on one another if left to their own devices.

91 Avoid the winepress of God's wrath, which is filled with the bodies of the wicked. They will be trampled like grapes and their blood will fill celestial wine casks for the consumption of demons that are perpetually drunk with the evil of mankind. They stagger to and fro upon the earth, wiping their grotesque lips with scaly arms, slurring their slanderous contempt for everything holy, and filling the minds of simpletons with vile urine. Avoid evildoers and their wayward influence. They mock that which is sacred and their brains are sponges soaked in demon piss.

Tuesday Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Today some may commemorate Paschal of Baylon (1540-1592), a humble Spanish shepherd who was called to become a humble Franciscan lay brother with an inclination towards the Eucharist and who lived humbly in a worn, uncomfortable habit without sandals while working as a cook, porter, gardener, doorkeeper, and beggar. Others may be more inclined to observe today as the founding of Chuck E. Cheese's Pizza Time Theatre in 1977 by Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell. Birthdays include Norwegian chemist Odd Hassel (1897-1981), who won a Nobel Prize for discovering that carbon molecules exist in three dimensions; Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner (1912-2006), who invented and patented the sanitary belt; Dennis Hopper (1936-2010), who won a Golden Raspberry Award in 1995 for Worst Supporting Actor in the movie Waterworld; Celtic New-age singer Enya (1961); Trent Reznor (1965) of Nine Inch Nails; Jordan Knight (1970) of New Kids on the Block; K-pop singer J-Lim (1981); Estonian cross-country skier Timo Simonlatser (1986); Estonian basketball player Rain Raadik (1989); and the death of Lembit Oll (1966-1999), Estonian chess grandmaster. Still others may remember this day in 1990 when the General Assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO?) eliminated homosexuality from the list of psychiatric diseases, now celebrated as International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT). However you choose to commemorate Tuesday, don't forget Bob Saget, who was born on this day in 1956 (a Thursday) and passed away earlier this year on a Sunday.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part IV Friday, May 13, 2022

Today's entry is the continuation from chapter twenty of The Gospel of Martha, where Jesus has gathered his apostles around a camp fire and is teaching them while they eat a medley of toasted fruits. Fear not, for just because this gospel was recorded by a female doesn't mean it's a cauldron of boiling schmaltz. This is hardcore scripture.

Jesus saith, "When ye see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your Father." And Philip replying saith unto him, "But what of angels, for are they born of women?" And Jesus saith, "Twist not my words, great Satan, for the angels will not that they be worshipped."

Jesus saith, "Perhaps people think that I have come for to cast peace upon the world. They are ignorant, and know not but that I have come for to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war, bloating, and gassiness. Maybe not this day, but possibly of the morrow. For there will be five in an house: there will be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father; and they will stand alone, but flatulating as one."

Jesus saith, "I will give you what no eye hath seen, what no ear hath heard, what no hand hath touched, what hath not arisen in the human heart. Again, maybe not this day, but possibly of the morrow. We shall see."

The disciples say to Jesus, "Tell us, how will our end come?" Jesus saith, "Have ye found the beginning, then, that ye are looking for the end? Ye see, the end will be where the beginning is; some where in the tween. Congratulations are in order to the one who standeth at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death; but he who doth kneel at the end will be born again, and death will not taste him."

Jesus saith, "Felicitations unto the one who was before coming into being. If ye become his disciples and pay attention to his sayings, these stones will serve you. For there are five trees in paradise for you; they change not, summer or winter, and their leaves fall not, for they are life. Whosoever knoweth them will taste not of death, but they shall taste of the fruit of the trees therein. Nor will there needeth be for to make of the fruit into jellied preserves, for it is fresh everlasting."

The disciples say to Jesus, "Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like unto." He saith to them, "It is like unto a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds, but when it falleth on prepared soil, it produceth a large plant and becometh a shelter for birds of the sky. Literally, I say unto you, heaven is a mustard tree full of birds."

Heretics, Schismatics and Novatianists, Oh My Thursday, May 12, 2022

From the earliest years of Christianity and all throughout history there have been schismatics, those whom the Catholic Church regarded as heretics for their professed beliefs that did not adhere to Catholic dogma but were not heretical enough to receive a papal death sentence. The difference between heresy and schism is that the former rejects essential doctrine while the latter breaks with the authority of the Church and thus rejects its communion, both of which result in excommunication. Today we consider Novatian (c. 200-258), also called Novatus (not to be confused with Novatus of Carthage), a Roman priest (yet not confirmed) who felt the Catholic Church was too soft on former Christians who had succumbed to Roman pressure to denounce their faith but wanted to return when the coast was clear. These apostates were called Lapsi because they had lapsed from the faith and there were different classifications, such as those who sacrificed to idols, those who burned incense to idols, those who had a false certificate of doing such things, those who simply lied, those who gave up scriptures or artifacts, and those who betrayed others. Most of these the Catholic Church allowed to return after doing penance. However, Novatian disagreed and argued that they should not be forgiven because they denied Christ, which was fine, except that he went so far as to criticize the Catholic Church as not having the authority to forgive the lapsi and even declared himself Pope in 251 (antipope, actually), both of which were his undoing. His followers were called Novatianists but preferred Purists or just Christians and added to the unforgiven fate of idolaters those who committed murder, adultery or even fornication. Novatian was reportedly martyred under Emperor Valerian I sometime in the mid third century and his followers hung around until the seventh century before they were persecuted by the Catholic Church into oblivion or swallowed by other sects. Novatian was inducted into the Schismatic Hall of Fame in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine, along with Marcion, Arius, Melitius and Valentinus.

60 Second Romance Vol 8 Tuesday, May 10, 2022

"Is this my woman or an alien life form that has consumed her and taken on her form?" That's a question he often asked himself early in the morning as he watched her sleep. Or maybe an extraterrestrial parasite burrowed into her brain and she'll have a new personality -- one who doesn't like him. There was that self-conscious phase she went through where she didn't want him to see her naked and that's the reason he concluded with. Sometimes he'd try to wake her with an open-mouth kiss and his eyes open wide. If she didn't wake up, then he'd pick her up out of bed and carry her through the streets, sometimes for miles. Some mornings he'd gaze at her and wonder if there was a better man out there for her, one who wasn't a body snatcher. Then she would start drooling and snoring and he'd know without further doubt that she was the one for him. What he didn't know was that she was using chloroform to put him under at night in order to perform minor surgery on him with the intent that he'd begin to believe he was being abducted. It was an April fools that was years in the making.

Theology > Hermeneutics > Exegesis Mon, May 9, 2022

Today's topic is exegesis. I thought about briefly covering Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard's book Dianetics first published on this day in 1950, but I couldn't care less. Hermeneutics in general is the methodology of interpretation, primarily with regards to philosophy and theology. Exegesis is similar but focused primarily on literary works, particularly biblical interpretation in ways that make the ancient meaning or intent understandable in modern languages. Simply converting Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek straight to English (for example) is transcribing one language to another, word for word, which tends not only to make things confusing but degrades the essence and substance of the original content. It's not just about translation, but about everything that helps make the written language comprehensible and ideas understandable to other peoples and cultures -- grammar, linguistics, syntax, genre, communication, symbolism, allegory, metaphor, narrative, signs, historical background, analogy, style, etc and etc. If the absolute meaning cannot be conveyed in translation, then a supplemental commentary is generally a part of exegesis. But before you begin to care less about this than Scientology, here are some common elements of biblical exegesis you can employ to better help you understand the Bible. (Disclaimer: this is only a feeble attempt at condensing this topic into a ten-minute read. For more about exegesis, hermeneutics and the like, visit Stack Exchange > Biblical Hermeneutics.)

Pictured: Seventeenth-century painting by Gerard Seghers of St. Augustine of Hippo, who authored a four-part series called "De doctrina Christiana" on Christian hermeneutics between the late fourth and early fifth century.

  • The four classical types of interpretation are literal (no underlying meaning), typological (connecting OT events with NT events), tropological (moral of the story), and anagogical (prophecy).
  • Seek out parallel or similar passages to affirm your understanding.
  • Compare passages with the same word to better understand the meaning of a word.
  • Understand the linguistic rules, particularly sentence structure. The two primary languages of the Bible are Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT). It may take a four-year degree and a masters from an accredited theological seminary or school of divinity to fully understand these ancient languages, or just use a Bible lexicon.
  • A Bible dictionary is similar to and in some cases the same as a lexicon, whereas a concordance is similar to but not the same as a lexicon. A concordance gives a terse meaning of a word (gloss) and tells you all the locations in the Bible where it can be found.
  • Keep the meaning of passage excerpts the same as in their contextual relation or read the passage within its surrounding text to better understand it.
  • Context also relates to the intended audience and its culture, ideas, religions, taboos, and whatnot (higher criticism).
  • Distinguish absolute truth from variable logic, that is, discern between what does not change and what does change, or objective versus subjective. (If that makes no sense, then you and I both need to take a class in Augustinian Hermeneutics.)
  • Differentiating between literal and figurative speech can either create or save a lot of confusion.
  • Compare scripture between different Bible versions of the same language. (This doesn't mean one may be wrong or both are dissimilar but simply each translation is unique and multifarious.)
  • Go a step further and compare different manuscripts of the same book or passage, such as Septuagint (oldest and most complete Jewish translation of the Bible into Greek, dating back to the third century BC) versus Masoretic Text (oldest and most complete Hebrew Bible with all of the diacritic markings, dating back to the seventh century AD).
  • Know how to interpret measurements of time, times, and a half time (or seek out an expert opinion).
  • There are usually mystical values attributed to numbers, particularly in the Hebrew.
  • A Bible commentary or a Bible with commentary or a study Bible is really helpful.
  • Humility is the foundation of all other virtues. Be humble and open to direction, correction, and reflection.

Blessed Mother's Day Sun, May 8, 2022

Today in the U.S. is Mother's Day and if I were a practicing Catholic I would surely give thanks to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven. As it turns out, I am Catholic, born and raised, baptized and confirmed, but not practicing yet apparently still considered by the Vatican to be Catholic. However, I cannot recognize Jesus' mother the way the Catholic Church does, nor any of the saints for that matter, nor do I agree with any of a dozen other beliefs it promotes. But on the subject of the "Mother of God" (Greek Theotokos), which was declared at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431, I am particularly at odds. Over the years I have come across only one source that might persuade me otherwise, that of The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, in which it is mentioned that Joseph is supposedly an old widower and already has children when he is betrothed to Mary. However, it was ultimately rejected by the Holy See as inauthentic. According to Matthew 12:46-47, 13:54-56, John 2:12, 6:41-42, 7:3-5, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19, Joseph and Mary had other children. However, according to Catholic tradition, they are neither the offspring of Mary nor the siblings of Jesus in the proper sense of the word, but they are his cousins or the more or less near relatives.

There are a plethora of Marian feast days on which to observe Mary and I realize that today, being a secular observance of one's own biological mother and of mothers in general, is not one of them. Nonetheless it has afforded the opportunity to broach the subject and scripturally there is nothing to support that Mary is the mother of God other than vague, circular reasoning. Biblically, there is nothing to support that Mary was a perpetual virgin, or a mediator and intercessor between God and man, or that she was free of original sin at the moment of her conception, or that she fell asleep and her body assumed into heaven. But doctrinally she is accredited with all of these. To Catholics she is patroness and spiritual mother of all humanity - hyperdulia - venerated above all and second only to the Trinity.

According to, Pope Benedict XV wrote in 1918: "To such an extent did Mary suffer and almost die with her suffering and dying Son; to such extent did she surrender her maternal rights over her Son for man's salvation, and immolated him - insofar as she could in order to appease the justice of God, that we might rightly say she redeemed the human race together with Christ." Mary is entitled to the title of Queen because, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in a 1946 radio speech, "Jesus is King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest: through him, with him, and subordinate to him, Mary is Queen by grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular election." Mary possesses a unique relationship with all three Persons of the Trinity, thereby giving her a claim to the title of Queenship. She was chosen by God the Father to be the Mother of his Son; God the Holy Spirit chose her to be his virginal spouse for the Incarnation of the Son; and God the Son chose her to be his mother, the means of incarnating into the world for the purposes of the redemption of humanity.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I am theologically unqualified compared to all the ordained professionals who worked diligently to piece all that together, but wouldn't it stand to reason that if Mary were more than just the biological mother of Jesus he would've mentioned it somewhere along in his ministry? According to Matthew 12:46-50 (NIV): "While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.' He replied to him, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' Pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'" That right there refutes for me the tradition of Mary as the Mother of God.

My mother was the healthiest member of our family but died several years ago from cancer. She raised me in the Catholic Church and although she left the denomination she never left the faith and for that I am truly thankful. She wasn't perfect, but Jesus is, and she pointed me to him.

A Special Place in Hell Sat, May 7, 2022

We've all thought at one time or another, whether in our head or out loud, that there is a special place in hell for certain individuals (e.g., Hitler) or a group of individuals (e.g., pedophiles, serial rapists, the Third Reich), whether or not we believe there actually is a hell. It's comforting to think that evil people or people who do evil things to other people will spend an eternity being sodomized by angry demons in a fiery pit of torment. But will they? Some, like those featured last week (SDA), choose not to recognize such a horrible place and render Matthew 10:28 as annihilation, even though Jesus likened it to eternal fire (Matthew 18:8, 25:41). Later he appeared in a vision to the Apostle John and said that hell will be thrown into a lake of fire reserved for the devil and his cohorts (Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 14-15). Before this, not much was mentioned in the Bible about the hereafter except for a sleepy retirement villa in the underworld called Sheol. Whether or not hell is eternal fire and damnation has yet to be seen, since it's a one-way road (Luke 16:26). I for one do not want to go there... yet I cannot deny that it exists... although I may question why a good God sends people whom he loves to such an awful destination... but I'd rather do what it takes to not reserve a spot there.

Hell was compared to the Valley of Hinnom (Hebrew Gehinnom, Greek Gehenna) just outside the south walls of Jerusalem where people sacrificed their children to Baal and Molech in a firepit called the Topheth back in the days of the kings of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 28:3, 33:6, Jeremiah 7:31-32, 19:6, 32:35). The land was accursed and some promote the idea that in Jesus' time the area of Gehenna was used to perpetually burn both refuse and cadavers, an idea put forth by the medieval Rabbi David Kimhi (1160-1235). Although there is not much archeological evidence for this, there is substantial proof that it contained a large amount of burial tombs and was a place where Roman bodies were cremated. There are just a few references in the Jewish rabbinic literature of the Talmud that mention the extreme heat of Gehenna and in the Aramaic transliterated Targums as a possible last stop for heathens, one or two citations in the Book of Enoch, and Isaiah also mentions the bodies of those who rebel against God being burned with unquenchable fire (Isaiah 66:24). However, the Gehenna of Judaism was more akin to a 12-month Purgatory and was not a prevailing subject before Jesus came on the spot and promoted it as a final destination for wrong-doers (Matthew 5:22, 29-30, 18:9, Mark 9:43-47, Luke 16:23).

The Babylonian Talmud which was begun in the fifth century A.D. and the Kabbalistic Zohar which was supposedly written in the second century but not discovered until the thirteenth century both mention a specific location of Gehenna called Tzoah Rotachat (Hebrew, "boiling excrement"), which was reserved for those who scoffed at the wisdom of the Jewish sages. In Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy of the fourteenth century (Book 1, "Inferno"), he describes nine circles of hell, each with varying degrees of eternal punishment based on the severity of the sin with the devil in the center -- however, this was an allegorical poem based on Greek and Roman concepts of Tartarus and Hades with Christian overtones. The New Testament concept of hell only has two levels -- hot (Gehenna) and hotter (Lake of Fire) -- and apparently it does not adjust to varying degrees of heat to accommodate sinners accordingly. But it does contain quite a few dejected and angry entities all mixed together with the souls of people in relatively close proximity, which makes for a rather long and uncomfortable experience.

"But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." (Luke 12:5, NIV)

Day After International Firefighters' Anti-Bird Bullying Day
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Sincerest apologies to my Ganlu Members for not finding/making/using the time to post anything yesterday when there was so much to talk about (or actually for me to talk about). What I intended to point out was that John Wycliffe died in 1384 but yesterday in 1415 he was condemned posthumously as a heretic by the 16th ecumenical Council of Constance for his criticism of the wealth of Catholic priests, of which he was one -- that and he got a team together to translate the Latin Vulgate into English for the common laity, and also some other stuff that pissed off the Catholic Church, so they exhumed his corpse and burned it to ashes, then dumped the ashes into the river. His followers, a band of poor and uneducated priests called Lollards, wrote up a list of twelve beefs against Catholicism over a hundred years prior to Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses and which was also nailed to a church door. Based on the writings of John Wycliffe, here are the Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards:

  1. The Church is too involved in temporal power, forcing spiritual faith, hope and charity to flee in shame.
  2. The ceremonies used for the ordination of priests and bishops are without scriptural basis or precedent and just plain stupid.
  3. The practice of clerical celibacy has encouraged sodomy among the clergy and probably molestation of altar boys.
  4. The doctrine of transubstantiation is supposititious and worse, it leads to idolatrous worship of everyday objects like the communion wafers. Plus, the fistula is like a vampire straw.
  5. Exorcisms and hallowings carried out by priests are nothing more than necromancy and, besides, a mere spoonful of holy water helps the demons go out.
  6. Men who hold high office in the Church and simultaneously hold positions of great temporal power are unholy ambidextrous hermaphrodites.
  7. Prayers for the souls of specific individual deceased persons is a scam and furthermore the practice of requesting prayers for the dead by making financial contributions is extortion.
  8. The practices of pilgrimage and the veneration of relics at best are ineffectual for spiritual merit and at worst approach idolatry in their worship of created objects. It's better to give alms to a poor man who is the image of God than to pay homage to the enshrined bones of a saint.
  9. The practice of confession for the absolution of sins is blasphemous because only God has the power to forgive sins. Besides, it's unfair to allow one person to simply say a dozen Hail Marys and force another to say it a thousand times.
  10. Christians should refrain from battle, and wars that are given religious justifications such as crusades are blasphemous... unless proper revelation is delivered from up on high.
  11. Women in the Church who have made vows of celibacy are having sex, becoming pregnant, and then seeking abortions to conceal the fact that they had broken their vows. On top of that, they are then arguing that there is little scriptural proof against abortion.
  12. Christians are devoting too much of their energy and attention to the unnecessary endeavors of creating ornate objects of arts and crafts. Even worse, they are encouraging their children to waste precious materials in Sunday school with the gluing of hideous objects from macaroni noodles, popsicle sticks and glitter.

Another heretic of the 1415 council was Czech theologian Jan Hus (1372-1415), who was influenced by Wycliffe and a key figure in the Bohemian Reformation. Unlike Wycliffe, Hus was burned alive, but his ashes were also dumped in the river. I feel compelled at this time to confess my dereliction of duty -- I was watching HBO's The Righteous Gemstones because I succumbed to the temptation of free premium viewing this week on Xfinity. There, I came clean. Judge me if you must.

Roodmas Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Today is Roodmas. From the Old English rood (rod) and mass (service) comes the Feast of the Cross, or Crouchmas, or to be more precise, the supposed discovery of the True Cross upon which Jesus was crucified. Some time between 326 and 328 AD -- we'll say in 327 AD -- Empress Helena, mother of Roman Emperor Constantine, traveled to Israel and discovered three crosses in a broom closet in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, one of which had a sign affixed to it reading: "Property of Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews." There are many legends about the history of the crosses, both where the wood came from and what happened to them after they were used, so I shall just create my own. Somehow, the three crosses ended up in the hands of the Persians, maybe from a church swap meet. But on this day in 629 AD, Byzantine Emperor Heraclius recovered the one belonging to Jesus, or rather part of it, allegedly -- at least enough to splinter it into relics that were distributed to churches abroad. However, the authenticity of each splintered relic has yet to be determined, as many are suspected to either be a forgery or a second-class relic, one which touched the original and received its blessing. It used to be that the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Cross on May 3rd and the Orthodox Church celebrated it on September 14th, the day Helena originally found it, but these days just about everyone celebrates it on September 14th. So, forget about Roodmas, unless you're a Catholic in Mexico (¡Felices Fiestas Roodmas!) or a member of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in India (Haippee Roodamaas!).

Portrait of the Empress Helena and her "Invention of the True Cross" in a 9th century Byzantine manuscript, which I didn't have time to touch up, let alone restore. However, it seems to be an adequate representation of the story, holes and all. As the story goes, Helena wasn't sure whether the crosses were actually genuine due to their rather miniscule size until she had a vision of Michael the archangel with a crucifix on the dashboard of his El Camino.

Reliquary of the True Cross on display at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, which Quasimodo saved from the fire of 2019, a fire which he actually started with the Zippo Lighter of Sainte-Chapelle.

In 1942, the German city of Lübeck was bombed by allied forces, partly destroying five cathedrals located within blocks of one another and misplacing a splinter of the True Cross, taking decades and thousands of volunteers to then touch every piece of wood with every other piece of wood in order to try and make second-class relics of them all.

International Harry Potter Day Monday, May 2, 2022

Today is the day on which Harry Potter and friends of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry vanquished the unspeakable Lord Voldemort, according to author J. K. Rowling of the Harry Potter novel series. Something Rowling never really explained was where magic came from or originated from, other than it was a wizarding gene inherent to some degree in every human who was born with it. Nor was the origin of the powers of the Dark Arts ever really explained, other than it could be used for good or evil and the greatest defense against it is love. In the non-fiction world, there are practitioners of white magic (used for selfless means or helpful purposes, also referred to as high magic or the right-hand path) and black magic (used for selfish means or harmful purposes, also referred to as low magic or the left-hand path), but both originate from the same source: spiritual forces. It could be argued that there are other forces at play, such as those of nature, the subconscious mind, elemental manipulation, or the supernatural, but these also have spiritual sources. By spiritual I mean demonic or of fallen angels - regardless of how the power is used or what the intention is. Whether magic is invoked by spells, incantations, ceremonies, oracle cards, scrying, alchemy, potions, astrology, symbols, sigils, geomancy, numerology, divination, witchcraft, voodoo, charms, sexual rituals, or necromancy, it's all to summon the aid of spiritual forces - even grey or neutral magic. It's all just malevolent spiritual forces responding in some preconceived expectation and it's all fun and games until someone is cursed or possessed. Christians should not be involved in such practices (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). You have been warned.

Note: Rowling considers herself a Christian, as did C. S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia" series, and J. R. R. Tolkien, author of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit." Lewis and Tolkien were friends and belonged to a literary discussion group at Oxford called the "Inklings." Although Christian themes may be found in many of their stories, they all just liked writing fantasy fiction. Remember, in real life it's all fun and games until someone is cursed or possessed. Again, you have been warned.

U.S. Law Day Saturday, April 30, 2022

Today is another relatively new commemoration day begun in 1958 called Law Day, which is primarily concerned with governmental rule of law. However, like yesterday's rant against Latter-Day Saints, I am going to focus on Seventh-day Adventism and biblical legalism. Like the LDS, the Seventh-day Adventist movement can be considered a recent movement (1863) that took place in the U.S. during the Second Great Awakening period of Christian revival in the nineteenth century.1 Originally the Sabbatarians, they believe in and promote a Saturday Sabbath as a matter of salvation. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians (chapter 2), he explains how Gentiles have been reconciled to the Jewish Law through the grace afforded by Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is no longer of works, adherence to the laws of Moses, or tradition by which believers are reconciled to God -- it is by Christ's sacrifice only.

One of the co-founders of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Ellen G. White (1827-1915), said, "Men will arise with interpretations of Scripture which are to them truth, but which are not truth. The truth for this time, God has given us as a foundation for our faith."2 This truth for the current SDA Church comes from Helen White herself: "As the Lord's messenger, her writings are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction."3 This is exactly what Paul warned the Galatians about: "Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!" (Galatians 1:6-9) By putting themselves under God's Law they also put themselves under God's curse and by perverting the original message of Christ they further condemn themselves.

Ellen White was a false prophet4 who built upon the unfulfilled predictions of William Miller (1782-1849) by claiming that although Christ's second bodily advent did not happen when announced (once in 1843 and twice in 1844), and that no further people would be saved from then on, Christ nonetheless entered at that time into the heavenly sanctuary to begin the "Investigative Judgment" whereby he is currently looking into the lives of every believer throughout history with a fine-toothed comb to determine whether or not they are worthy of salvation, despite both the Old and New Testaments claiming that with the new covenant of Christ all iniquities will be forgotten (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:7-12). Ellen White had nearly 2,000 prophetic visions and dreams and wrote about 26 books during her seventy years of ministry,5 so who am I to question her authority and authenticity? I am challenging her claim (and that of her followers) that she was faultless in all of her interpretations of biblical scripture including the denial of hell, the emphasis of works over grace, Satan's burden of our sins and not Christ, Jesus as Michael the archangel, and the explicit way in which women should dress (which is a minor issue, except that she herself eventually quit doing it).

In conclusion, SDA is a cult.6

1. Among Latter-day Saints, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and Unitarians.
2. "A Search for Identity: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs" (page 26) by George R. Knight, ©2000 Review and Herald Publishing
3. Number 18 in the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
4. One could argue that she had zero false prophesies. Possibly, except that any prophecy that didn't turn out the way it was interpreted was then reinterpreted. So if a prophecy didn't pan out at all then apparently it took place in the spirit realm rather than the physical. One of her visions was that the fourth Commandment had a halo over it and another was that people who go to church on Sunday have the mark of the beast.
5. She was an avid writer based on this. On this topic, many have argued that a fair amount of her books were plagiarized or written by her assistants. To these accusations, the SDA Church counters with this and this.
6. Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults, was careful about classifying SDA as a cult, as am I. However, due to SDA's adherence to the writings of Ellen White as being of equal weight to biblical scripture, in addition to their stance that they alone are God's chosen remnant, I'd tend to consider them a cult of the Christian faith.

U.S. Honesty Day Saturday, April 30, 2022

Today is a relatively new commemoration day which was begun in 1991 called Honesty Day and you can Google it for yourself for the backstory, unless you fear the Google beast and its intruding tentacles into your browsing history and subliminal mind control, then look it up using Brave or DuckDuckGo. Honesty Day brings us to Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints because, quite frankly, Joseph Smith was a liar, which has led to the deception of millions of people around the world. Let me be upfront by stating that Mormons are not Christians. Their aim is to convert Christians to a religion that claims that Christianity is wrong about who Christ is. On the surface, LDS doctrine, literature, and missionary teachings may seem in line with the Christian gospel. They openly claim to believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and is one of the three personages of the Trinity. The LDS Church's Articles of Faith, its creed for the general public, lists several Evangelical doctrines, such as faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, speaking in tongues, and organizations of the primitive church (apostles, prophets, teachers, etc.). It's no wonder that half of LDS converts come from Christian denominations. However, below the Mormon Tabernacle lies a foundation of concrete made from a mixture of scriptural rubble and bullshit:

  • The Book of Mormon is not just a companion to the Bible but supersedes the Bible in authority. Although Mormons have historically doubted the accuracy of biblical transcription, they have altered and corrected the Book of Mormon thousands of times since its first publication in 1830.
  • The Bible used by Mormons is supposedly the Authorized King James Version, although it is a retranslated version of the KJV by Joseph Smith called the "The Joseph Smith Translation" (JST) and includes LDS footnotes, cross-references, and study notes.
  • Jesus is not a mediator between God and man, nor is it possible to have a personal relationship with him. According to Bruce McConkie, former LDS apostle, this kind of perilous belief is fanatical, holier-than-thou, sectarian nonsense for those who are spiritually immature ("Our Relationship with the Lord," BYU speech, 3/2/82).
  • Redemption did not come through the crucifixion, as Christians proclaim, but through the sweating of drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed earnestly while his soul was in deep anguish (Matthew 26:36-44, Mark 14:32-39, Luke 22:39-44), sacrificing himself instead with a broken heart and contrite spirit (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 9:20).
  • The cross of Christ is a sign of death and not to be celebrated. Communion is not the remembrance of Christ's shed blood and broken body for the redemption of mankind. Instead, Mormons practice communion with water, called the Sacrament, which washes away the blood shed on the cross.
  • Numbers 23:19 and Hosea 11:9 claims that God is not a man nor a son of man. On the contrary, Mormons believe that God is a perfected and exalted man, made of flesh and bones as tangible as ours, who has evolved into an imperishable spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
  • The God of the Bible was just one of many (Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham, chapters four and five). Joseph Smith said, "The heads of the Gods appointed one God for us; and when you take view of the subject, it sets one free to see all the beauty, holiness and perfection of the Gods... the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible" (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-373).
  • Jesus (Jehovah) and God (Elohim) are not one, but Jesus was simply the firstborn spirit and preeminent among all of God's spirit children. Mormons will become like God through Jesus as a fast-track of spiritual evolution, a Mormon doctrine known as Exaltation.
  • Joseph Smith taught that there was no such thing as the Trinity. He said, "Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow - three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization. 'Father, I pray not for the world, but I pray for them which thou hast given me.' 'Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.' All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God - he would be a giant or a monster" (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 370-373). This just goes to show that he didn't understand the Trinity.
  • Christians are wrong about John 3:36, which states, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." Rather, Jesus died for all and all will be redeemed regardless of whether or not everyone accepts this.
  • Contrary to Matthew 7:13-14 and 25:31-46, Mormons teach that there are varying progressions of ascension for all people, known as degrees of glory: telestial, for those who never received the gospel and many who abstained from carnal evil; terrestrial, for approximately 3/4 of the lesser Mormon believers and those who accept Mormonism in the grave, who become ministering angels; and celestial, with subdivisions differentiating between single and married Mormons and priests in the order of Melchizedeck, who become gods (Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 76).
  • Matthew 22:30 and Mark 12:24-25 both record Jesus as accusing the Sadducees of being in error of the Scriptures by not realizing that at the resurrection people will not marry nor be given in marriage. The same account in Luke 20:35 says that those who are worthy of taking part in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Smith contradicts this in Doctrine and Covenants (132:16) by charging that those who are married eternally are "worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory."
  • According to Mormons and in contradiction to Romans 5:12-14, there was no original sin (Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 2:23-25, Pearl of Great Price - Moses 5:10-12, Doctrines of Salvation vol 1 p 113-115). Adam and Eve did what was necessary to gain knowledge and understanding and to begin the process of procreation.
  • Because, as the LDS Church maintains, there was no original sin, sin is not inherited and, therefore, people are not born into sin. The Bible, on the other hand, says in Psalm 51:5 that we are conceived and born into sin.
  • Mormon missionaries will often speak of salvation, even questioning the salvation of Christians. However, according to Doctrine and Covenants (132:6), if they themselves do not abide by the entire law of Mormon scripture, then they are damned. This includes strict adherence to "all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, and expectations" (132:7). Therefore, their salvation is not certain until they have completely fulfilled the law by the end of their lifetime. It is apparent that Mormons also deceive themselves. For Christians, salvation is not through the law but a free gift for those who believe (Romans, chapters 3 and 4).

This brings us to Joseph Smith himself as being a liar. Tenth president of the LDS Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, wrote that Mormonism "must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen" (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 1, p 188). Joseph Smith claimed to be a prophet, with promises from God that would be fulfilled (Doctrine and Covenants, 1:37-39), but not all of his prophecies came true. For example, he prophesied that Independence, Missouri, would be the city of Zion and that the faithful would be preserved there (Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-2, 62:6, 97:10-28), however, the Gentile settlers drove them out in 1833. To this, he prophesied that the U.S. Congress would be broken up as a government if it didn't grant protection to the Mormons (History of the Church, vol 6, p 116), which it didn't. He prophesied that his seed would possess his house in Nauvoo, Illinois, forever (Doctrine and Covenants 124:22-23, 59), but it was completely abandoned shortly after his death. He prophesied that the result of the Civil War would be international holocaust leading to the second coming of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants, section 87). He also prophesied more than once Christ's return to be before the turn of the 19th century (Documentary History of the Church). Of Smith's 65 to 70 recorded prophecies, less than 10% of them came to pass in due time. According to Deuteronomy 18:20-22 and Jeremiah 23:31-32, he would then be considered a false prophet. Mormon doctrine, however, maintains there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God. Brigham Young stated in Journal of Discourses (vol 7, p 289) that none would enter God's celestial kingdom without the consent of Joseph Smith. He also stated that any spirit that did not confess that God revealed his gospel through Joseph Smith was of the Antichrist (vol 8, p 176).

Some of the nicest people I know are Mormons, but this is not a competition to fill sanctuary seats, it's a battle for immortal souls. Mormonism does not set Christianity straight, which it refers to as the "Great and Abominable Church" (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:1-29). Rather, it corrupts and perverts it. I would go so far as to say that the angel Moroni was actually Satan, the father of all lies (John 8:44), yet LDS doctrine places Satan next to Jesus as a spiritual brother who was in contention for the salvation of mankind (The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 4:1-4 and Abraham 3:27-28). How ironic.

Tithe Thursday, April 28, 2022

A topic I never included in my website but have often wondered about is Christian tithing. I've heard plenty of unconvincing sermons over the years, all citing Malachi 3:8-10 and not much else.

"Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me." But you ask, 'How are we robbing you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse - your whole nation - because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." (Malachi 3:8-10, NIV)

A tithe is Hebrew for a tenth, which all Israelites were commanded to give of their crops, wine, olive oil, and cattle every three years (Leviticus 27:30, 32, Deuteronomy 12:6, 11, 14:22, 2 Chronicles 31:5-6, Amos 4:4) which was presented to the Levitical priests (Numbers 18:21, 24, 27, 31), part of which was sacrificed upon the altar (Deuteronomy 14:23-26) and the rest portioned out to the priests as their pay, which they in turn tithed on (Numbers 18:26, Nehemiah 10:37-38, NIV). Plus some of it was given to those in need (Deuteronomy 14:28-29, 26:12). This was part of the Law given to Moses for the Israelites, but Christians are not under this Law (Romans 6:14, 1 Corinthians 9:20-21, Galatians 3:10-14, 23-29).

"For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.' Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because 'the righteous will live by faith.' The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, 'The person who does these things will live by them.' Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us..." (Galatians 3:10-13, NIV)

There is no New Testament scripture in support of tithing for Christians. The first believers came together and shared all that they had (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-37). When the church grew beyond Jerusalem, Paul in his letters mentioned financial gifts from members of the church abroad (2 Corinthians 8:10-15, 19-21). Very little from the regulations of the Jews were imposed upon the Gentile believers (Acts 15:29, 21:25). However, if you recall the plight of Ananias and Sapphira, they were warned to be careful about withholding what they intended to give (Acts 5:1-11). We are encouraged to give to all believers in need, which the Old Testament regarded as alms for the poor and was apart from the tithe.

"Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: "The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little." (2 Corinthians 8:13-15, NIV)

Paul also encouraged believers to give generously (2 Corinthians 9:6-15), just as Jesus praised the gift of the poor widow (Luke 21:1-4), which is an acceptable sacrifice pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). This then means that as Christians not bound by the law of tithing, we should probably give above and beyond a tenth of our income, not just to our local church but to believers abroad. Most churches consider this a missions offering apart from the tithe and therefore alms.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, NIV)

This in effect is what Malachi 3:8-10 is all about. If you are giving 10% of your income (gross, not net) because a pastor has worked over your conscience, then it is a guilt offering and that is something different entirely (Leviticus 5:15-19). If you are tithing out of duty or obligation, then become a Seventh-Day Adventist and be sure to observe all of the Laws of Moses. 10% is a good base and many believers are prompted by the Holy Spirit to give as such. However, there is nothing biblical that says you have to dedicate that much and no less to just one source - that being a single church. I'd say if your church is struggling financially, then there's more to be concerned about than who's not paying their dues. That's my two pennies' worth.

60 Second Romance Vol 7 Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Once upon a time there was a story, and in this story there was a boy and a girl who loved each other very much -- so much so that they took the vows of matrimony and lived happily ever after. Their sex was never dull, they both liked the same television shows, arguments were brief and always ended in sex, they shared chores equally, sex was frequent and lengthy, they got along great with each other's friends and family, he made sure she always had the first orgasm, she always put the toilet seat up and the toilet paper roll over the top instead of behind, he liked to massage her entire body for hours, and jealousy was never an issue... which actually makes this story too good to be true. If this was the end, however, then it would make for a rather uninteresting story -- so even though they loved one another unconditionally, it was not without trials, tribulation, and controversy. For instance, he loved his job so much that he had no ambition to promote up the ladder, which meant that she had to work when she wanted to quit and be a stay-at-home mom for their three-year-old Yorkshire Terrier. Maybe she held a bit of animosity that her dream of making a living from her website dedicated to their Yorkshire Terrier would have to be put on hold indefinitely. Or maybe some parts were fabricated. Maybe they didn't have a Yorkshire Terrier and she hated her job and just wanted to stay home. However, the animosity was real and the names were withheld to protect the innocent.

Robert Hunt Tue, April 26, 2022

Today we remember Robert Hunt (1568-1608), a vicar of the Church of England who sailed aboard the Susan Constant, one of three ships led by Captain John Smith to the southern mouth of the Chesapeake Bay on this day in 1607 to found Jamestown, Virginia. Unfortunately, most of the 214 settlers died within the first year due to the location being poor for hunting and growing crops but a prime spot for disease-carrying mosquitos and hostile Indians. Hunt died the following year, but not after planting the first Protestant church in America. It is rumored that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard Bancroft, secretly handed Robert Hunt one of the few known copies of The Gospel of Martha, which he brought with him and somehow survived the fire that destroyed his library and is now available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle format.

"First Communion in the New World" by Tompkins Harrison Matteson, 1858, on loan from Wikimedia Commons. The guy in the lower left, possibly English writer Richard Hakluyt Jr. (1553-1616), may have copied "The Gospel of Martha" before Reverend Hunt's copy was destroyed by a fire that started from the burning ash of a Lucky Strike cigarette. We may never know for sure.

Of Plimoth Plantation Monday, April 25, 2022

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were experiencing a dearth of fish and on the verge of encountering unreasonable men. Today's episode is brought to you by Chunderrhea®. On those rare occasions when you need to be purged from both ends, you can count on Chunderrhea®. (Warning: Chunderrhea® may show no mercy. Chunderrhea® can cause excessive bodily expulsion with extreme prejudice and should only be taken while naked in an empty bath tub or open field. Children and pregnant women should stay clear of anyone with a prescription for Chunderrhea®. If you or anyone you know has recently taken Chunderrhea®, then may the good Lord deliver you safely.) We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, and being now come to ye 25 of March in ye year 1621, the house which they had made for a generall randevoze by casulty fell afire. Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and many fall downe sick dayly, now many of their ablest of men being dead. Afterwards they began to plant ther corne under the watchful eye of Squanto, who tould them excepte they gott fish for fertilisement it would come to nothing. Also some wheat and pease they sew, but it came not to good by some defecte. The rest of ther necessary provissions were got by triall and experience.

In this month of Aprill whilst they were bussie about their seed, their Govr (Mr. John Carver) came out of ye feild very sick, it being a hott day; he complained greatly of his head, and lay downe, and within a few howers his sences failed, so as he never spake more till he dyed, which was within a few days after. Whoss death was much lamented, and caused great heavines amongst them, as ther was cause. He was buried in ye best maner they could, with some vollies of shott by all that bore armes; and his wife, being a weak woman, dyed within 5 or 6 weeks after him. Shortly after William Bradford was chosen Gover in his stead, and being not yet recoverd near ye point of death.

May 12 was ye first mariage in this place, so ye 2 of July they sente the newly-weds on a honeymun with ye foresaid Squanto for ther guid, who gave him a suite of cloaths, and a horsemans coate, with some other small things, which were kindly accepted; and jornyed 40 miles from hence, to wher Indeans being dead and abundantly wasted in ye late great mortalitie which fell in all these parts aboute three years before ye coming of ye English, wherin thousands of them dyed with wasting plague, they not being able to burie one another; ther sculs and bones were found in many places lying still above ground, where their houses and dwellings had been; a very sad spectackle to behould. So they found but short comons, and came both weary and hungrie home.

Aboute ye later end of this month, one John Billington lost him selfe in ye woods, and wandered up and downe some 5 days, living on beries and what he could find. At length he light on an Indean plantation, 20 mils south of this place, called Manamet, and thus his peace and aquaintance was prety well establisht with the natives aboute him; and ther was an other Indean called Hobamack come to live amongst them, a proper lustie man, and a man of accounte for his vallour and parts amongst ye Indeans, and continued very faithfull and constant to ye English till he dyed.

Hobamack and Squanto being gone upon bussines amonge ye Indeans, mett with a Sachem called Corbitant, alyed to Massassoyte, but never any good friend to ye English to this day, and begane to quarell wth them, and offered to stabe Hobamack; but being a lusty man, he cleared him selfe of him, and came runing away all sweating; and he tould ye Govr what had befalne him, and he feared they had killed Squanto, for they threatened them both, and for no other cause but because they were freinds to ye English, and servisable unto them. Upon this ye Gover taking counsell, it was conceivd not fitt to be borne; for if they should suffer their freinds and messengers thus to be wronged, they should have none would cleave unto them, or give them any inteligence, or doe them serviss afterwards.

Whereupon it was resolved to send ye Captaine and 14 men well armed, and to goe and fall upon them in ye night; and if they found that Squanto was kild, to cut off Corbitants head, but not to hurt any but those that had a hand in it. Hobamack was asked if he would goe and be their guid, and bring them ther before day. He said he would, and bring them to ye house wher the man lay, and show them which was he. So they set forth ye 14 of August, and beset ye house round; the Captin giving charg to let none pass out, entred ye house to search for him. But he was goone away that day, so they mist him; but understood that Squanto was alive, and that he had only threatened to kill him, and made an offer to stabe him but did not.

After this, ye 18 of Septembr: they sente out ther shalop to the Massachusets, with 10 men, and Squanto for their guid and interpreter, to discover and veiw that bay, and trade with ye natives; the which they performed, and found kind entertainement. The people were much affraid of ye Tarentins, a people to ye eastward which used to come in harvest time and take away their corne, and many times kill their persons. They returned in saftie, and brought home a good quanty of beaver, and made reporte of ye place, wishing they had been ther seated; (but it seems ye Lord, who assignes to all men ye bounds of their habitations, had apoynted it for an other use). And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to blesse their outgoings and incomings, for which let his holy name have ye praise for ever, to all posteritie.

To be continued. If you cannot wait, visit Project Gutenberg for yourself. If you suffer from obstipation or extreme abdominal tumescence, ask your doctor about Chunderrhea®. (Warning: Chunderrhea® may tear you a new rectum. In clinical tests, Chunderrhea® has been found to violently expel bodily waste from any and all orifices, regardless of where it originated. Chunderrhea® is not intended for mild constipation or an upset stomach and should not be taken after consuming a Barnyard Reunion Burger at Waffles n More.)

World Day for Laboratory Animals Sunday, April 24, 2022

Today is World Day for Laboratory Animals and one of the organizations leading the charge is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). I tend to agree that humans need to treat animals better and that just because the Bible says that God put man in charge over all living creatures (Genesis 1:26, 28) doesn't mean we should abuse or mistreat them. It can also be argued that God intended for humans to be vegetarians (Genesis 1:29). However, due to the fall of man all that changed and God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve and clothed them with it (Genesis 3:21). Then God established animal sacrifices (Genesis 4:4, 8:20-21, 15:9-10, Leviticus 1:17), which he preferred over agricultural sacrifices (Genesis 4:2-5), more than likely because animals were full of blood (Genesis 9:4-5, 22:12-14, Leviticus 17:11, 14) and without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:19-22). Then God allowed the consumption of "clean" animal flesh (Genesis 9:2-3). And even though mankind perturbed God to the point that he destroyed all life on Earth, he saved a few people along with a sampling of the animals (Genesis 7-8). However, even after this, some of these animals were sacrificed to God and then God said to Noah and his sons, "The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." (Genesis 9:2-3, NIV)

But... PETA aims to tear down those walls that divide species, which the Bible refers to as "kinds" (Genesis 1:21, 24-25), because as they see it the smartest of animals are no less intelligent than a human with special needs and therefore should be treated equally. According to them, mankind has no God-given supremacy over animals whatsoever. We have all evolved on the same planet together and we all have feelings, so since humans currently have the evolutionary upper hand it is our responsibility to protect animals from feeling pain, rejection, suffering, intolerance, and prejudice. Here is some of what they teach about animal rights:

We must abandon the archaic and incorrect boundary of "human" ...We are taught from a young age to discriminate among beings. We are fooled into eating the flesh of some beings, ignoring the cries of hunted beings, and cuddling with furry baby beings. We grow up confused - as adults, most of us feel sick and sad when we see living beings tortured and killed, yet we purchase and consume the flesh, fur, secretions, and skin of living beings every day. We work hard to deceive ourselves and each other in order to maintain the illusion of a real boundary around "human." ...Every time a boundary shifts, the suffragists or the abolitionists or the emancipators are at first ridiculed and belittled for their stance of equal consideration. Eventually, the lies are exposed, and freedom is won - for women, blacks, Christians, gays, Asians, the Irish, Catholics, Jews. Let freedom now include all beings. Human beings have few, if any, unique capabilities... We don't yet fully understand how all beings think - or what they think - but dismissing their mental world as less developed, rational, moral, or intelligent than our own is clearly a mistake... We share the same evolutionary origins, we inhabit the same Earth, and we are ruled by the same laws of nature. We are all the same.

Whether it's based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or species, prejudice is morally unacceptable. If you wouldn't eat a dog, why eat a pig? Dogs and pigs have the same capacity to feel pain, but it is prejudice based on species that allows us to think of one animal as a companion and the other as dinner.

"Speciesism" is the human-held belief that all other animal species are inferior. Speciesist thinking involves considering animals - who have their own desires, needs, and complex lives - as means to human ends. This supremacist line of "reasoning" is used to defend treating other living, feeling beings as property, objects, or even ingredients. It's a bias rooted in denying others their own agency, interests, and self-worth, often for personal gain... It's speciesist to believe that farmed and captive animals don't suffer or feel emotions to the same extent as the animals with whom we lovingly share our homes... Animals are often referred to as property. Many humans call themselves an animal's "owner" and refer to the animal as "it," as if he or she were an inanimate object like a table or a chair.

Animal rights means that animals deserve certain kinds of consideration - consideration of what is in their best interests, regardless of whether they are "cute," useful to humans, or an endangered species and regardless of whether any human cares about them at all. It means recognizing that animals are not ours to use - for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation.

There are animals who are unquestionably more intelligent, creative, aware, communicative, and able to use language than some humans, as in the case of a chimpanzee compared to a human infant or a person with a severe developmental disability, for example. Should the more intelligent animals have rights and the less intelligent humans be denied rights? An animal's inability to understand and adhere to our rules is as irrelevant as a child's or a person with a developmental disability's inability to do so. Like small children, most animals are not capable of choosing to change their behavior, but adult human beings have the intelligence to choose between behavior that hurts others and behavior that doesn't.

I don't believe I am in violation of PETA's copyright protection by sharing this information here, since I am not going to openly criticize their fundamental beliefs of animal rights. Instead, I am simply going to say that I appreciate their efforts as an obvious sign that the second coming of Jesus Christ is imminent. If I am wrong, then I shall accept animals as our equals and welcome their leashless integration into society. I will also fight for their inherent rights to not be spayed, neutered, or euthanized with a painless intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital unless that is their clear desire. Then, when they have been equally educated and come to realize the opportunity of the situation, my children's children shall embrace our rising animal overlords and be thankful for their benevolence over humans because I know in my heart that they will be kind to us and not enslave us, eat us, warehouse us, and use us for laboratory experimentation.

LWoS 71-77 Saturday, April 23, 2022

Today is World Book and Copyright Day, encouraging us to "cherish and defend books as symbols of hope and dialogue. Books have long embodied the human capacity to conjure up worlds, both real and imagined, giving voice to the diversity of human experience... blah blah blah, so on and so forth." Anyway, here's a reading from a classic, The Lost Wisdom of Solomon, available in paperback or Kindle format.

71 Walk upright in the ways of the Lord and your years on this earth will be long and prosperous. Should you falter, call upon the Lord and he will be faithful to pick you up and set your feet back on the straight and solid path of righteousness. Just be sure your sidelocks always remain oiled and curly.

72 The man who labors alone toils from dawn till dusk. His back is bent and he longs for the grave. The man with many servants tells one to do this and orders another to do that, and the ones who tarry he can put to work as clowns entertaining his children and his children's children, even to the third generation. Many clowns exult the heart.

73 Do not forsake the LORD, lest he hand you over to your enemies and they carry you off, along with your wives and children and menservants and maidservants, and make of you slave clowns for their sordid amusement.

74 My son, be not yet weaned from wisdom's teat. Suckle well into adulthood and do not be ashamed. Some will mock, but these are jealous, for they are those who were bottle-fed by the old, dry nurse of insolence. They are inbred slaves to their own folly. Their lot in life is to sneer with yellow teeth at what they do not understand because they were deprived of the nourishing mother's milk of wisdom. No other analogy will do but that of breasts, which are a blessing from the Lord, as is wisdom.

75 A head of silver hair is a crown of glory. A head of no hair is a crown which lacks follicles. Do not be dismayed at a bald head for, like the bare testicle, it is a hallmark of manliness. A flap of dyed wool or palm fibers is but a codpiece upon the noggin.

76 Reprimand with equanimity he who bites the nails. Yes, to he who chews his fingernails, deliver a moderate chastisement, for it is both feculent and unseemly. In regards to the one who bites the toenail, be it man or woman, cover them with a blanket or a tarp, walking backward, with head turned away so as not to look upon them, for it is a covering of shame. They are like an animal which bathes the genitals with its tongue.

77 The recompense of the wicked is death. The reward of the blameless is gladness of heart and abundance of life. Then, eventually, death. It has been said before and it will surely be said again: life is meaningless. Or pointless. Or vanity. Call it what you will.

Tomorrow is the Catholic observance of Mary of Clopas and Mary Salome. You can read more about them in another classic book, The Gospel of Martha, available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle format.

Earth Day Friday, April 22, 2022

Today is as good a day as any for debating the pros and cons of environmental sustainability. Quite a bit of information regarding conservation can be found here, although however appealing saving our planet may seem there is always another side to the argument.

Pros Cons
Reducing the use of plastic and using grocery bags made from hemp can save lives. Plastic is awesome. It's also everywhere and there's no getting rid of it. Island countries like Indonesia and the Philippines have amassed protective levies along their coastlines from plastic debris, something that cannot be accomplished with hemp. Also, hemp does not boost the immune system against Bisphenol A.
Reducing the manufacturing of clothing from harmful, synthetic polymers and natural fibers which destroy the environment with pesticides and instead wearing clothing made from organically-grown hemp can save lives. The fashion industry is awesome and polyester is here to stay. Fashion scientists just need a larger research budget to figure out how to make acrylics more cohesive so that they don't slough in the wash.
Stop cutting down trees and make homes from pressed hemp fiberboard and books from hemp pulp. Most hemp is grown in China, which stamps all of its products with "Made in China." Most hemp paper is used in cigarette wrappers and Bibles, which are both harmful when smoked. Trees must be evicted in order to make room for hempburbs.
Establishing bee sanctuaries in areas where hemp is grown can save lives. Hemp does not produce floral nectar and therefore is not pollinated by bees.
Fishing with nets made from hemp rope can save lives. Fish eat hemp, which destroys the nets and sets them free. Cetaceans will still commit suicide by beaching themselves if unable to become entangled as bycatch. A better alternative is to make fishing nets out of plastic straws.
Planting hemp in the arctic will insulate the glaciers and prevent them from melting. Hemp is a plant and although it requires less water it still requires a fair amount of dirt to grow.
Burning hemp as biodiesel fuel rather than coal and oil can save lives. Hemp tax is higher and hemp exhaust can give you a secondhand high.
Growing hemp can regenerate the soil and remove harmful toxins. This reduces the production of high fructose corn syrup, a vital ingredient in children's breakfast cereals.
Making concrete from hemp can save lives. This has not been scientifically proven. Although cereal boxes can be made from hempcrete, this increases the cost of shipping.
Feeding hemp to apes can reduce primate starvation in underdeveloped anthropoid nations where the monkey population is in decline. Studies done by the U.S. and USSR space programs on sending chimpanzees into space have determined that plants containing THC increase their appetite while decreasing their ambition to obtain food. Although chimpanzees have opposable thumbs and technically can operate a telephone, they lack the communication skills and monetary resources for ordering takeout. Until Grubhub expands into these market areas, apes may become paranoid of starving to death.
Saving the planet can save lives. God commanded man and woman to go forth and fill the earth and subdue it (Genesis 1:28).

Lisbon Massacre Thursday, April 21, 2022

This week in the year 1506 in Lisbon, Portugal, Christians gave baby Jesus a black eye when they rounded up and killed nearly 2,000 Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism and who were blamed for local draughts, famines, and plagues. Although many of those who were members of the lynch mob may not have been Christians or even residents, word has it that a couple Dominican friars incited the crowd by promising absolution to anyone who killed the deicidal maniacs. Jewish converts of all ages were beaten, torn apart, dragged out into the streets, and burned to death, which made the Portuguese Inquisition seem like an afterthought.

A Jew is eating a grilled cheese sandwich when a Christian points and says, "The toasted bread of that grilled cheese sandwich bears the likeness of Jesus." But the Jew takes another bite and the Christian yells, "That Jew killed Jesus!" Then all hell breaks loose. (That's pretty much how it all started -- that and decades of Spanish and Portuguese intolerance against Jews for killing Jesus.) Image source: "Massacre de Lisboa de 1506" from Wikimedia Commons.

Another black eye to the baby Jesus is Christian Identity, which is basically militant, right-wing Aryan racism. Of these groups, "The Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord" went down on this day in 1985 when the FBI and ATF raided their compound in Arkansas. Fortunately, no one was killed or even injured, and several of the top leadership of the CSA were sentenced to prison on charges of racketeering and illegal weapons possession. Now, I know a believer or two who are survivalists but not fanatical. However, I have never understood why a Christian who should be looking forward to persecution and death for the sake of Jesus would arm themself with munitions, rations and supplies in the hopes of surviving this world.

A Reading from Sativa 4:20 Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Today is 420 (4/20), a day for celebrating cannabis and/or protesting its illegal status. I'll make this brief, as I don't have much time for this post. Whether cannabis consumption is immoral or a God-given privilege is up to the individual. On one hand, Genesis 1:29 says that God gave every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it to man and animals as food. On the other hand, inebriation is a sin (Ecclesiastes 10:17, Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:21, 1 Timothy 3:3, 1 Peter 4:3). Somewhere in between is gladness of heart (Psalm 104:15), but this also comes down to a comparison between alcohol and cannabis. Most would agree, however, that natural substances like caffeine and CBD oil are a blessing. In the end, however, we must remain sober and clear-minded (Luke 21:34, 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8; Titus 2:2, 6; 1 Peter 4:7). So whether you are for or against the use of substances like THC, just remember that it can cause strange, hallucinatory visions like the following...

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part III Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Today's entry consists of a continuing selection of passages from The Gospel of Martha, chapter twenty, where Jesus has his apostles gathered around a camp fire and is teaching them. This episode did not make it into the other four Gospels, more than likely because even Thomas could not decipher his own handwriting. Both Martha and Mary had to assist with transcribing it by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The disciples say to Jesus, "We know that thou art going to leave us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus replying saith unto them, "No matter where ye are, ye are to go unto James, just because he looketh like me: for whose sake heaven and earth came into being."

And, behold, they knew of whom he spake, and thenceforth referred unto his brother as James the Just. But they pondered for whose sake heaven and earth came into being: Jesus or James? And Jesus knowing their thoughts saith unto them, "The answer ye seek is mine." And they pondered this also: whether the answer was Jesus, or that Jesus had the answer.

Jesus saith to his disciples, "Compare me to some thing and tell me what I am like." Simon Peter awakening saith unto him, "Thou art like a just messenger." Matthew saith unto him, "Thou art like a wise philosopher." Thomas saith unto him, "Abba, my mouth is full of toasted prunes, and utterly unable to say what thou art like."

Jesus replying saith, "I am not thy daddy. But because thou hast drunk, thou hast become intoxicated. Drink instead from the bubbling spring everlasting of which I tend, and flavour with that which doth meet unto thy fancy: such as lemon, or lime, or raspberry, or pineapple, or coconut; or a medley thereof."

And he took Thomas aside, and withdrew to anoint an acacia tree with urine, and spake three sayings unto him. When Thomas came back to his friends, they asking of him say, "What did Jesus saith he unto thee?" Thomas replying saith unto them, "If I tell unto you one of the sayings he spake unto me, ye will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and devour you."

Jesus saith unto them, "What I said was this: If ye fast not, surely will ye bring sin upon yourselves; and if ye pray not, surely will ye be condemned; and if ye give not to charity, surely will ye harm your spirits."

And Thomas replying saith, "I thought thou saidst: If ye fast, ye will bring sin upon yourselves; and if ye pray, ye will be condemned; and if ye give to charity, ye will harm your spirits." And Jesus replying saith he unto him, "Remember, I am not thy daddy. Payest thou attention."

Jesus saith to them all, "When ye go into any region and walk about in the countryside, should people take you in, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them. After all, what goeth into thy mouth will not defile thee; rather, it is what cometh out of thy mouth that will defile thee." And with that, Simon Peter was again fast asleep.

Roast of Ben Franklin Monday, April 18, 2022

There were other commemorations going on yesterday other than Easter, however, Jesus takes precedence. Today we remember Benjamin Franklin, one of the U.S. founding fathers and a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence, and who died yesterday in 1790. His birthday is actually January 17, but I just so happen to have some intel on him that can't wait.

  • As a boy he was a voracious reader, but because his parents couldn't afford books, he had to write his own.
  • As a newspaper apprentice, he wrote many articles and advice columns under the pseudonym Ann Landers.
  • At seventeen he moved to London, England, and formed a band named Sex Pistols at Dawn, the members of which wore nothing but leather aprons when performing.
  • He practiced thirteen virtues, some of which included temperance, frugality, moderation, cleanliness, chastity, and secluded flatulence.
  • He discovered the current of the Atlantic Gulf Stream by racing whales on a kiteboard from England to America via different routes.
  • He invented the decisional balance sheet consisting of a list of Pros and Cons. (e.g., Pro: Simple answer -- yes or no; Con: Children and morons demand an explanation as to why.)
  • He founded Philadelphia, dubbed it "the city of brotherly love," then punched John Adams in the face and kicked William Penn Jr. in the groin.
  • He was the first U.S. postmaster general, making the pith helmet and gray shorts with a blue stripe the standard uniform for postal carriers. He also came up with their motto, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor smallpox stays these couriers from the weekly, sometimes monthly, completion of their appointed rounds."
  • He published several periodicals, including Ye Colonial Enquirer, The New Amsterdammer, and Vogue.
  • He created the slogan "no taxation without representation" not in direct response to the Stamp Act, but to replace the original slogan "hell nay, we shant pay."
  • He printed paper currency with his portrait on the $100 bill, which at that time was worth a million dollars and made him a wealthy man.
  • He was eloquent with racial slurs and considered it a God-given gift to his freedom of speech.
  • He received honorary masters degrees from Harvard, Yale, the College of William & Mary, and the University of Phoenix. He was also awarded honorary doctorates from the University of St. Andrews, Oxford University, and the University of Gallifrey.
  • He revised the American English alphabet, removing the redundant letters c, j, q, w, x, and y -- for a total of 37 Scrabble points. However, the Hassenfeld Brothers sued and they settled out of court ("extrajudicial," worth 30 points).
  • He rose in the ranks of the oldest secret society in history to become the Exalted Grand Poobah of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes.
  • He founded one of the very first U.S. libraries and donated his own books, which were never returned and all have outstanding late fees.
  • During the outbreak of King George's War, his company, Omni Consumer Products, developed the ED-209 battle droid to defend Philadelphia.
  • He originally owned slaves, but eventually became an abolitionist and sold them.
  • As the U.S. ambassador to France, he often dressed as a French prostitute and walked the streets of Paris.
  • He advanced the science of demography, or population studies, by tracking the illegitimate children of other founding fathers. (One of his own illegitimate sons, Bill, lived in New Jersey as a filthy Torie Loyalist.)
  • He invented electricity by flying a key tied to a kite string, which was tied at the other end to his _______________. (fill in the blank)
  • He proved that electricity wasn't a fluid, but rather an alternating current of zaps.
  • He experimented with electrotherapy by taking baths with turkeys charged as organic capacitors. (A franklin (Fr) is the electrostatic unit of charge felt in each testicle during an electric bath, roughly equal to a statcoulomb, or 1 statC = 1 dyn1/2 · cm = 1 cm3/2 · g1/2 · s−1.)
  • He was known to battle wits with Voltaire, who attempted to trick him into drinking wine laced with deadly iocane powder, but unbeknownst to Voltaire, both cups contained iocane powder, to which Franklin had developed a tolerance over the years.
  • He defined the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, hot dogs, and beer.
  • He experimented with refrigeration methods of beer, noting that if the Rockies were blue then the beer was more refreshing.
  • Because of his love of hot dogs and beer, he earned the title "The First American." This is also why hot dogs are called franks.
  • His success as a publisher combined with his scientific ingenuity led to the discovery of the Internet.

Franklin's head suffered from gout. He died at age 84 when it became so big that it collapsed in on itself and his brain went supernova.

A bust of Franklin made from tofu. He was a vegetarian, except when it came to pescetarian turducken, especially tuna cooked inside halibut cooked inside salmon.

Franklin was good at coming up with slogans. Here was his for the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club, later changed to "JOIN, or NOT" in 1885. "JOIN, or DIE" was adopted by Girl Scouts of America in 1912.

Franklin preferred wearing his hair down, except when in France, where he often wore it Marie Antoinette-style, which made him all the rage.

Easter Greetings Sunday, April 17, 2022

Today is church day for many non-church goers, when they dress up and step foot in a strange place that feels foreign and uncomfortable, like the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, but fortunately many will be entertained with dynamic re-enactments of the crucifixion and fields of plastic eggs for their children. Personally, I avoid going to church on Easter because for me every day is cause to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Do I hear an amen? I sometimes wonder, but not always, if we should even be celebrating Easter because of its pagan influences, but I love Whoppers Speckled Robin Eggs just as much as the next heathen. Did you know that Robin Eggs take five months to craft because they are each made individually and hand-painted? Do I hear an amen? Did you know that Brach's individually wrapped, tempered marshmallow eggs are made from ground Robin bones? They're the worst, even worse than Peeps, which I believe are made from dehydrated blubber, corn syrup, and any combination of red #3, yellow #5, and blue #1. I've done some homework about Easter which can be found here. Now that I look it over, though, there's not much. Anyway, it'll help you fall asleep for that sugar-induced Sunday nap. Amen.

White Jesus Saturday, April 16, 2022

Continuing on the subject of white Jesus, it's not an American invention but originated with white peoples of antiquity, about the time Jesus lived or thereabouts. The rule of thumb is whomever depicts Jesus in art -- whether a fresco, painting, sculpture, mosaic, relief, stained glass window, codex illustration, what have you -- gets to portray him in their own culture and ethnicity. Since he was historically Jewish and lived in Israel, it's safe to picture him as a Jew. He probably had a beard, short dark hair, curly sidelocks, a prominent nose, olive-brown skin, a yarmulke, and maybe glasses. The earliest known images show him with short hair and no beard but somewhere along the line he became a rebel with long hair, most likely in the fourth century when the Roman Empire embraced Christianity and considered long hair as a trait of a god. None of the Gospels describes his appearance, however, Isaiah 53:2 tells us, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him" (NIV). Later on, John had a vision and saw Jesus, whom he described as follows: "...When I turned I saw ... someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance." (Revelation 1:12-16, NIV) Therefore, Jesus now looks like a flamboyantly ominous albino, but still wearing a robe.

21st-century African Jesus

20th-century English Jesus

19-century Serbian Jesus

18th-century Flemish Jesus

17th-century Italian Jesus

16th-century French Jesus

15th-century German Jesus

14th-century Polish Jesus

13th-century Catalonian Jesus

12th-century Greek Jesus

4th-century Roman Jesus

4th-century Jesus of the catacombs

Another 4th-century Jesus of the catacombs

3rd-century Jesus of the catacombs

Jesus probably looked like one of these guys.

Or this guy but not so Yiddish.

Yeah, this guy.

All images pilfered with God's blessing from Wikimedia Commons.

Universal Day of Culture Friday, April 15, 2022

Today we recognize the Roerich Pact of 1935, named after Russian painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich (1874-1947), also known as the Treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments, which legally recognizes that the defense of cultural objects is more important than the use or destruction of that culture for military purposes and the protection of culture always has precedence over any military necessity -- meaning you can bomb hospitals, schools of lower education, and modern buildings of worship, but don't damage the museums, universities, monuments, historical landmarks, antique stores, or any ITT Technical Institutes. This, however, was only signed by France, India, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, the North Pole, cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station, some penguins in the Galapagos Islands, and twenty-one of the United States of America. But if you display the Banner of Peace (pictured right) outside your home or business, your chances of being destroyed during wartime go down exponentially, which is why Russia hasn't yet completely destroyed Ukraine. Now, my home where I grew up was a culture of Wonder Bread, Tang, bell bottom jeans, Huffy bicycles, The Krofft Superstar Hour, and white Jesus, which meant we had a ballistic missile target over our heads. There was no such thing as culture other than a Native American museum in town that featured a collection of arrowheads and pottery, a fraternal Sons of Norway lodge, some cathedrals, two community colleges, a statue of Abraham Lincoln, and a few public libraries. I have never seen the Banner of Peace anywhere in or near my hometown, although we do have quite a few pawn shops which display the pawnbroker's symbol that bears a vague resemblance. I believe the three balls of the pawnbroker's symbol are actually doorknobs which, when placed in a pillowcase, can be used to beat a homeowner unconscious in order to rob them of their pawnable belongings. The three circles of the Banner of Peace are called the Pax Cultura ("Cultural Peace") and represent art, science and religion. They are also arranged as the "therefore" sign, meaning when the Pax Cultura is displayed in full view, it indicates there are valuable objects inside, therefore do not destroy. It is also a clear indicator of pawnable belongings.

© Anderson University and Warner Press
Pictured: traditional white Jesus (Warner E. Sallman's 1941 oil painting "Head of Christ"), in case you've ever wondered why family portraits by Olan Mills show everyone looking to one side. The denomination of white Jesus is basically Evangelical Protestant. He speaks English, possibly with a slight British accent like 90% of the actors who portray him in talking pictures. He comes from a culture of antiquity where people wear robes and sandals and the buildings are all in ruins. Since this image represents a predominant culture of twentieth-century American Christianity, any dwelling or building where it still hangs should share the same protective privileges as the Roerich Pact.

60 Second Romance Vol 6 Thursday, April 14, 2022

She quivered in anticipation as she approached her longtime male coworker and felt like a nervous school girl. She had put off the inevitable encounter far too long and felt the time had come at last. What would he think of her if he were to decline her advance? If she was successful, what would others in the department think? This kind of relationship, although not forbidden or taboo, was discouraged among management and rumored about around the water cooler. She cleared her throat and paused, then asked shyly, "Would you be interested in buying some Girl Scout cookies from my daughter?" There, she finally said what she had been so eager to say for so long. The cat was out of the bag. There was an awkward silence before he answered without even looking at her. "No, thank you," he plainly replied without explanation. Once again there was awkward silence as she slowly retreated in rejection and shame, trying to fight back feelings of humiliation and regret. Would he keep this encounter to himself? Would their work relationship change in any way? Would he lose respect for her professionally? Would her reputation be forever tarnished? Worst of all, would her daughter be disappointed in her? They didn't speak at all the remainder of the day and intentionally avoided contact. The next day, he put in for a transfer to another office across town.

Mithras & Friends Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Before Jesus Christ, there were others that laid claim to many of his attributes, including a virgin birth, sacrificial death, miracles, resurrection from the dead, creator, trinity, and eternal judge. These included, but were not limited to: Osiris of the Egyptians, Tammuz of the Mesopotamians, Adonis of the Greeks, Baldur of Norse mythology, Attis of the Phrygians, Bacchus of the Romans, and Mithras of the Persians. This last one was a topic at my website, but I removed the link because of 1 Corinthians 10:23-33 and for the sake of weaker consciences. No one really needs to know that Christ was not exactly unique to the pagan world, except that he was a historical figure whose followers claimed that he was unique in that they were witnesses of him being the real deal. Yet we cannot ignore mythology, particularly that which predates Christianity, and especially when it parallels in similarity. Is it coincidence? Were these alternate Christs for other civilizations? Impostors? Cyclical messiahs? Did Christians borrow from other sources? Was it the devil's way of foreshadowing doubt on Christ's authenticity? Again I must concede to 1 Corinthians, this time chapter 2 in reference to knowing nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified. It is the Holy Spirit who reveals truth and weighs it against the legends of antiquity upon the scale of God's discernment. If you think this foolish, then you aren't alone (1 Corinthians 2:12-16), unfortunately.

Mithraic communion of Keebler crackers and Kool-Aid with the sun god Sol. Bas relief from Konjica, Bosnia, from "The Mysteries of Mithra," p 159, by Franz Cumont.

In his younger years Mithras was a porn star, as seen in this sex doll from Tajikistan, c. 5th-6th century.

Relief of Mithras slaying the cosmic bull, c. 160-170 AD. This procedure was known as a tauroctony and required a scorpion pinced onto the bull's testicles, among other things.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part II Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from The Gospel of Martha, chapter twenty, where Jesus has his apostles gathered around a camp fire and is teaching them. A similar account is given in the Gospel of Thomas, which is considered a gnostic text and part of the Nag Hammadi library (Codex II).

And he saith, "The person is like a wise fisherman who cast his net into the sea and drew it up from the sea full of little fish. Among them the wise fisherman discovered a fine large fish, which he threw back into the sea. But he kept all the little fish to be used as bait, and the fine large fish swam off and informed the other fine large fish where to catch the little fish. Let those who have nets listen."

Jesus saith, "Look here, the sower went out, took an handful of seeds, and scattered them. Some fell on the road, and the birds came and gathered them. Others fell on rock, and they did but taketh no root in the soil, and none produced heads of grain. Others fell on thorns, and they choke the seeds and worms ate them. And others fell on good soil, and it produced a good crop: it yielded sixty per measure and one hundred twenty per measure. Yet some of the seeds which the birds did gather were effused unto the ground, and fertilised, and sprang up, and yielded a crop: six per measure and twelve per measure. Not so much, but still something."

Jesus saith, "I have cast fire upon the world; and, behold, I am guarding it until it blazes. And Once I am finished separating the wheat from the chafe… Excuse me, once I am finished separating the wheat from the chaff, then will that which remain, that is, the chaff, become consumed by unquenchable flames that none can stop."

And his disciples marvelled that he said chafe, when he meant to say chaff. But he realising the error of his tongue saith he, "There is in our midst an one who doth suffer a rash most severe of the inner thigh; and, lo, it consumeth thy thoughts exceeding." So he stood, and walked round the camp fire, and after he had touched each and every disciple upon the shoulder, he took seat again. And, behold, Judas Iscariot was healed: for his thighs were they flabby, and of rubbing together were become chafed.

Jesus saith, "This heaven will pass away, and the one above it will pass away, and the one above it also will pass away, and the one above it also will pass away also, and also the one above it also will pass away also, and also the one also above it also will pass away also, and also the one also above it also will also pass away also: for, behold, there are many layers of heaven."

Jesus saith, "The dead which are not alive will see the living which will not die. During the days when ye ate what is dead, ye made it come alive. When ye are in the light, what will ye do? On the day when ye were one, ye became two. But when ye become two, what then will ye do? Scoobideedoobideedoobideedoo."

LWoS 46, 51, 52, 65, 66, 68 Monday, April 11, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from the Lost Wisdom of Solomon. They could also be the next winning lottery numbers, but don't bet on it (copied and pasted verbatim from 3/28/22).

46 Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Mourn, and it will weep for you. Shart your undergarments, and it will point and jeer at you, as well it should. It does not matter if it was an accident. Always go to the bathroom before leaving the house to sojourn in public. And always wear clean undergarments, but nothing woven of a blended fiber, for this is forbidden, as well you should know.

50 Blessed is the man with many wives and at least as many concubines, if not more. Yes, the more the merrier.

51 Cursed is the man with too many wives. Too numerous to count, and the names of which escape him. The horror. The horror.

65 Large breasts are a shield of honor. Small breasts are gems of valor. The Lord handcrafted them all with utmost precision. They are pleasing to behold. Nothing in all of God's creation are as perfectly symmetrical, nor as proportioned and harmonious as these. Even breasts which are lopsided and dangly are flawless and to be meditated upon. Not enough can be said about this topic, nor sung with lyric.

66 Food and water are nourishment for the body. The commandments of the Lord are refreshment for the soul. Breasts are but scrumptious icing upon the cake. Again, this subject cannot be exhausted.

68 Do not trust the house cat, for it sees and obeys the dead. It calculates your comings and goings, and counts each step, so as to maximize its tripping hazard. It perches up on high, that it may look down upon you in disdain, and turns its nose up at whatever you present to it at mealtime, no matter how delectable and sumptuous. It also bleeds all over the house when wounded, sprays your undergarment drawer, and kills small creatures that attempt to warn you of danger. Though it impersonates a pet, do not be deceived, for clearly it cares not a whit for your welfare.* It serves only to mock your feeble attempts as a benevolent provider.

*The Greek translation is: "clearly, it does not give a shit about your well-being."

High Strangeness Sunday, April 10, 2022

Speaking of the mark of the beast, today is the Feast of the Third Day of the Writing of the Book of the Law, observed by Aleister Crowley's occult followers of Thelema, a pagan religion of his own crafting. A member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Crowley was an eccentric advocate of a wide range of mystic, occult, and pagan ideologies through drug-induced ritualistic sex magic and founded his own order called the A∴A∴, wherein he promoted the doctrine of "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law." Among his many beliefs of raising man to a higher spiritual plain was the notion that "magick" (the synthesis of magic with science) bridged science with religion and acted as a direct path to spiritual enlightenment, or something to that effect. I personally get most of my occult and paranormal information from the podcast Mysterious Universe, hosted by Benjamin Grundy and Aaron Wright from Down Under (pictured below in reverse). Here's a plug: "Mysterious Universe brings you the latest news and podcasts covering the strange, extraordinary, weird, wonderful and everything in between. We strive to maintain a balance of healthy skepticism and entertainment while never losing our sense of humour." They also feature daily articles by a team of dedicated writers -- so many that I can't keep up. I myself have been a free-loading barnacle and alternating Plus+ member for over ten years and always learn something new, whether it's relevant, significant, applicable or not, and most of it isn't... or is it? If you are interested in finding out more about Aleister Crowley, you can do a search on MU's website to find articles, images and podcasts related to the wickedest man who ever lived. However, I am not.

Aleister Crowley (1845-1947), mystic, occultist, spirit medium, astrologist, alchemist, black magician, esoteric writer, and all-around dangerous weirdo, although he never considered himself a Satanist.

Mark of the Beast (Continued) Saturday, April 9, 2022

My apologies to those who tune in regularly and have been waiting on the edge of their seat for answers about the mark of the beast and the antichrist but I got tired, went to bed, then took a two-day sabbatical. So I shall get right to the point. Here's what you need to know in order to better prepare yourself for this foreboding episode in history:

  1. The antichrist will be a resurrected Michael Jackson (Revelation 13:1-8).
  2. The false prophet will be IBM's Watson (Revelation 13:11-15).
  3. 666 is the number of man, meaning above average (Revelation 13:8). Those who take the mark will need to submit an application, go through a background check, take an IQ test, and be officially registered.
  4. The number 666 will then be burned onto the wrist with a hot iron like branding cattle. For an additional 15% off all purchases and transactions, upgraded members will have "666" branded onto their foreheads (Revelation 13:16-17). Again, 666 is above average, so no one will be tricked into taking the mark. However, everyone will be computer-chipped so that the mark cannot be counterfeited.
  5. Remember, the mark of the beast is not necessarily a good thing (Revelation 14:9-11, 16:2), as everyone who takes it upon themselves totally loses in the end.
  6. The Lizard Illuminati is secretly behind all of this (some are Freemasons, but not all).
  7. Christians will be legally declared as intolerant hatemongers and driven underground, once again hiding in catacombs (Matthew 24:9).
  8. The United States, along with much of the Western Hemisphere, will be wiped out by a meteor (Revelation 8:10-11). Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will survive intact to be purchased by Saudi Arabia and gifted to the Pope as a sign of goodwill. Every building, ride and attraction will be dismantled and relocated to Vatican City to become the "Whore of Babylon" (Revelation 17-18).
  9. Israel will become the global scapegoat for all that is wrong and a lottery will be conducted to send 144,000 Israelis off-world (Revelation 7:4-8).
  10. The largest ever Disney theme park will be constructed over the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where Mickey Mouse will reveal Walt Disney's re-animated head, known as the "abomination of desolation" (Daniel 9:25-27, 11:31, Matthew 24:15).*
  11. The Great Tribulation will ensue and life will be pretty bleak for a while (Matthew 24:15-22, Mark 13:14-20).
  12. The Rapture will take place (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Revelation 7:13-17). However, a large number of people caught up in the air will not be identified by Jesus as one of his own and shall fall back down to Earth, those of whom survive the impact will have to endure further tribulation along with everyone else (Matthew 25:1-12, Luke 13:25-28).
  13. The bowls of God's wrath are poured out on the Earth, making for the greatest shitshow in the history of the world (Revelation 16).
  14. Jesus' infamous Second Coming for all to see (Matthew 24:30-31, Luke 21:25-28, Revelation 1:7, 19:11-21) and possibly the Rapture but no one knows precisely when all this will happen or in what order (Mark 13:32, Acts 1:7).
  15. Binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3), Christ's millennial reign (Revelation 20:4-6), release of Satan (Revelation 20:7-8), defeat of Satan (Revelation 20:10), the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 14:14-20, 20:11-13), and finally everything is made anew (Revelation 21).

*Many attribute the "abomination of desolation" to one of two events that have already taken place -- the end to daily sacrifice by Antiochus IV in the 2nd century B.C. and/or the complete destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 A.D., during which over one million Jews were killed and 97,000 imprisoned, the daily sacrifices were halted in the midst the siege, the priests were put to the sword, the sacred utensils looted, and General Titus supposedly sacrificed a pig at the altar. This second event will be portrayed with animatronics, special effects and live actors as one of the regular spectacles at Disney Holy Land.

Mark of the Beast Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Today is Asexuality Day in honor of Paul the Apostle, however, I'm going to address the beast in the room. Yes, the beast of Revelation, which has many in this day and age worried that the mark of the beast is in the COVID-19 vaccine. John the Apostle wrote in Revelation chapter 13 of a beast that will rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and given power by the great dragon to wage war against the saints. It will blaspheme God and cause everyone to worship both it and the great dragon. Then another beast will rise up to perform mighty wonders and give life to an image of the first beast that will result in the death of those who don't worship it.

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (Revelation 13:16-18, KJV)

Most interpret the first beast as a series of world empires that have risen up throughout history and in the end of days will be brought together and ruled by a single individual known as the antichrist, whose power comes from Satan. The second, smaller beast is the false prophet that performs miracles and causes everyone to take the mark of the beast and worship him/her/it. The mark, of course, is the number 666 somehow imprinted on the forehead or wrist (some may argue that the number is actually 616, but not here, not now). Many have surmised throughout the ages who this antichrist might be, singling out characters like Emperor Nero or Constantius, Caliphate Mu'awiyah I, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Henry Kissinger, Mikhail Gorbachev, Juan Carlos of Spain, EU Secretary General Javier Solana, Nicolae Jetty Carpathia, Bill Gates, any American president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Barney the Dinosaur, Zoltan Istvan, a supercomputer in Brussels, and all of the Roman Catholic Popes.

Because the mark is associated with the name (Revelation 14:11, 15:2), many use gematria (Hebrew, Greek isopsephy), which is adding up the number values of the letters in a word to form a single number which then has a religious or mystical aspect attributed to it, akin to numerology. For example, Seventh Day Adventists believe the Pope is the antichrist or beast or antichristbeast because upon his mitre (big hat) has been supposedly written in Latin the title, "Vicarius Filii Dei," which means, "Vicar of the Son of God." So if you add up the numerical equivalents of the Latin letters in this title (V=5, I=1, C=100, A=0, R=0, I=1, U=5, S=0, F=0, I=1, L=50, I=1, I=1, D=500, E=0, I=1), the total is 666. My candidate for the antibeastchrist is Michael Jackson because if you add up the number of times he says "hee" (20) and "hoo" (9) in the sixth song of his sixth album, the first word of which is six letters, then subtract an H and an O here or there to allow for margin of error, it adds up to 666. He also recovered from a head injury during the shooting of a Pepsi television advertisement (Revelation 13:3, 12) and he can still come back to life with the power of the great dragon ("Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods" pays homage to MJ in one of its scenes).

Regardless who this mysterious leader may be, let's focus on the mark that everyone will be forced to receive in order to buy or sell. Will it be the actual numbers "666" tattooed on people's skin? An invisible bar code? An RFID chip inserted under the skin? A recombination of encoded DNA? Look at the time. More on this later.

Mark Beath, Andy Chris, and Paul Yon -- the three best foosmen in the world of foosball. No one gets to be that good unless of course they sell their immortal souls to the devil.

Andy Chris commands the table for seven seasons.

Eventually every foosman will take the jersey number of Mark Beath if they want to be a winner.

Day After Children's Day Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Today we continue from yesterday and talk briefly about how the Chinese government controls religion, specifically the Christian ones, which it considers Catholicism (Tianzhujiao) and Evangelical Protestantism (Jidujiao). It allows certain religions because it can't necessarily stop them, but it controls them to keep them from challenging the Chinese Communist Party's authority, ideology, and socialist values. One would think that Christianity would pose little threat to Communism with its admonitions to obey rulers and treat one another as equals, but China considers it a potential menace to nationalism that is growing faster than in any other country. Here are some of the measures the CCP puts in place for state-sanctioned churches:

  • Official Chinese preachers are trained at one of a handful of China's seminaries, including the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary, which graduates about 100 students annually (currently providing 4,000 ordained pastors). This is estimated to not be enough for the reported number of registered church members.
  • Closed-circuit television cameras and other surveillance equipment are installed in every church.
  • No one who is unauthorized is allowed to proselytize online, publish any religious material, or repost or link to religious content.
  • Chinese traditional culture must be integrated into liturgy, music, clerical clothing and church buildings -- a process called "Sinicisation."
  • Priests, bishops, and pastors must be chosen by the official state councils overseen by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, which answers to the United Front Work Department which is responsible for keeping western influences, infiltrators, and extremists out of China.
  • Connections with outside Christian organizations is not entirely prohibited, but strictly controlled and regulated.
  • No religious iconography or pictures of Jesus are allowed unless depicted as ancient Chinese. All churches must prominently display a picture of Chinese president Xi Jinping.
  • The official Chinese Bible, the 1919 Chinese Union Version and subsequent 2010 Revised Chinese Union Version, by Amity Printing in Nanjing, China, contains Buddhist scripture, Confucian teachings, and socialist annotations. No other translations are allowed. Purchasers of this Bible are identified by facial recognition and tracked.
  • Certain books of the Bible are not allowed, including Daniel and Revelation.
  • Preaching should focus on the social rules and the social benefits of Christianity and cannot deny that all good Communists go to heaven.
  • Preaching about the resurrection or second coming of Jesus is forbidden.
  • Although crosses aren't illegal on churches, they are being removed.
  • Abortion is legal and therefore not forbidden nor to be preached against.
  • Government officials, soldiers, police officers, teachers, and children cannot be Christians.
  • Hymns must emphasize patriotism over spiritualism.
  • No meetings are allowed outside authorized and monitored locations. These are considered "house churches" and are illegal.
  • Unauthorized religious events can result in a fine of 100,000 to 300,000 Yuan ($16,000 to $48,000), and to anyone who provides the venue for such an event will be fined 20,000 to 200,000 Yuan ($3,200 to $32,000).
  • Unordained pastors can be imprisoned, fined, and have their assets frozen. Members of home churches may be sent to detention centers or re-education camps.
  • International and visiting church-goers must meet at registered churches at designated hours with a valid passport and Chinese citizens are typically not allowed.
BBC News: Why many Christians in China have turned to underground churches
Billion Bibles: China's Three Self Church
China Highlights: Christianity in China
The Christian Post: Chinese pastor blacklisted by Communist Party warns Church: 'Don't be fooled' by lies of state-sponsored church
Council on Foreign Relations: Christianity in China
Christianity Today: Chinese Christians Deserve a Better Label Than 'Persecuted'
Deutsche Welle: In Xi we trust - Is China cracking down on Christianity?
The Diplomat: China’s Thriving Underground Churches In Danger
Freedom House: Christianity: Religious Freedom in China
Foreign Policy Insider Access: The Chinese Communist Party Is Scared of Christianity
The Gospel Coalition: What Christianity in China Is Really Like
Social Service Department: The Official English Website of the Protestant Churches in China is the only comprehensive portal by CCC & TSPM
South China Morning Post: Official head of China’s Protestant churches says religions must be purged of 'Western influences'
TIME: Prison Sentence for Pastor Shows China Feels Threatened by Spread of Christianity, Experts Say

Children's Day Monday, April 4, 2022

For today's post I was going to write about St. Tigernach of Clones and as a play on words talk about how he is the patron saint of cloned animals and persons, however, I wasn't in the mood for deciphering Gaelic. Moving on to plan B, today is Children's Day in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (Hong Kong) and the Republic of China (Taiwan), when children receive a day of reprieve from factory work and mining. While most of the world observes Children's Day on June 1, including the rest of China, these two industrial powerhouses which have complicated and delicate connections to the People's Republic of China moved it to April 4, placing further tension on relations with China. In Taiwan, it is called "The Combined Holidays of Women's Day and Children's Day" or "Women's Day, Children's Day Merger Holiday," whereas in Hong Kong it is called the "Day Before Tomb Sweeping Day" or "Ching Ming Eve." Although it is not actually a day of reprieve from factory work and mining for children or women, it is generally believed by the United Nations that it should be, of which neither is a member, but both are represented collectively by China (UN General Assembly Resolution 2758). Taiwain is a democratic nation that allows freedom of religion and has a 4% Christian population, while Hong Kong is communist but still allows relative freedom of worship with a 16% Christian population. I say "relative" because the practice of Christianity in China is controlled by the government, which recognizes around 45 million registered adherents over age eighteen, although there is an underground Christian movement in China of an estimated 20 million to 100 million unregistered believers.* The officially atheist Chinese Communist Party wants no organization in mainland China owing allegiance to foreign influence. There are three sanctioned Christian organizations in China -- the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church (no ties to the Vatican), the China Christian Council, and the National Committee of the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches -- all overseen by the United Front Work Department through the State Administration for Religious Affairs, which elects religious leadership, manages interpretation of all religious doctrine, and controls all religious publications including the Bible.

*Estimates are based on estimates and therefore only an estimated estimation.

Sisterhood of Martyrdom Sunday, April 3, 2022

On this day in 304 A.D. sisters Agape, Chionia and Irene were ordered by Roman Emperor Diocletian to be burned alive in Thessalonica for refusing to eat food sacrificed to heathen gods, for refusing to deny Christ, and for possessing Christian scriptures. Irene was killed by an arrow through the throat after being sent to a brothel from which she escaped while Agape and Chionia were burned to death along with other Christian women. Now here's a hymnal in their honor from the Greek Orthodox Church: Apolytikion, Plagal of the First Tone: "Since Thou hast given us the miracles of Thy holy Martyrs as an invincible battlement, by their entreaties scatter the counsels of the heathen, O Christ our God, and strengthen the faith of Orthodox Christians, since Thou alone art good and the Friend of man." Kontakion, Third Tone: "O Most fair Chionia, divine Irene, and Agape, ye are mirrors glittering with spotless virginal brightness; and ye shine like unto lightning upon the whole Church with the splendour of your contest as valiant Martyrs; and ye drive away the darkness of pain and sickness as brilliant gems of Christ God." Idioktisia, Chant of Possessorship: "The content on this page is under copyright and is used by permission. All rights reserved. These works may not be further reproduced, in print or on other websites or in any other form, without the prior written authorization of the copyright holder. Amen." There is more detail about their ordeal here.

Reverend Henry Budd Saturday, April 2, 2022

Today we remember Henry Budd (1814-1875), the first Native American ordained an Anglican priest, who ministered to the indigenous peoples of Canada. Originally born as a Cree named Sakachuwescam, he was later baptized by Anglican missionary John West and attended the Church Missionary Society school in the Red River Colony of Manitoba. He translated the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer into the Cree language and pastored a mission at The Pas, located at the confluence of the Pasquia River and the Saskatchewan River, where the Henry Budd College for Ministry is now located. Here is a passage from Reverend Budd's diary:

(1870) April 28, Thursday. At 9 Oclock this morning I left the Moose-Lake Fort and started for the Poplar-Point to look for the people of that Trading Post and baptize their children. As it was all downstream we came on rapidly, and reached the Poplar Point in the evening. Here we came to a Camp of Indians, but Oh what wretchedness we witnessed! The poor people had just brought some rum from a Free Trader close by, and they were more or less intoxicated with it, already and they kept on going to this Trader and getting his rum for a few Muskrat skins. In a short time there was such a noise in the Camp, the poor creatures howling, and yelling so savagely that we tho' some hundred yards from them could scarcely hear each other talking. I could do nothing this evening with all this noise, but had to defer the Baptisms to a later period.

April 29, Friday. In the morning while the Indians were all quiet, I had an early morning Service with the people at the Post, and got their children baptized. After toiling all the day we came upon a Camp of our own people just as the sun was disappearing. When the Indians knew that our own suppers were over, they all came to our fire and collected themselves for the evening prayer. I read a portion of a Chapter from the New Testament to them, and enlarged upon it. After singing a hymn we all kneeled down to prayer. What a contrast, I thought, to the howling and yelling of the Moose Lake Indians the other night. Here is peace and quietness, prayer, and praise, ascending up to the God of heaven; praising his holy Name because His mercies are new to us every morning and his faithfulness every evening. What has made such a difference? "Who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?" Rom. IV.7. Surely the Gospel of Christ received in the truth and love of it. It is all of free Grace and mercy that the Devon Indians have been led to receive the offer of mercy; and this is what makes all the difference. These have received the Gospel of Christ, and the others have rejected it.

The Diary of the Reverend Henry Budd 1870-1875 (pages 63-64), Volume IV: Manitoba Record Society Publications,
©1974 Hignell Printing Limited, Winnipeg

April Fools Friday, April 1, 2022

Today it is customary to play a prank, then tell the hapless victim that they are a dumbass or just say, "April fools!" This dates back to the beginning of the world when God made the red-lipped batfish as a possible sign of evolution, an ongoing gag through the ages. Typically this blog is a place for me to break away from the seriousness of the Christian faith at my own website, Holier Than Thou, and make light of anything and everything while still remaining informative and relevant. So here's a brief list of random momentous pranks from this day in history:

  • Sometime before 6,000 BC, Adam and Eve first realize they are naked and attempt to cover themselves with foliage from a plant that grew around the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which "just so happened" to be poison ivy.
  • God leads Abraham on an elaborate mission up a mountain circa 2,000 BC to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, and has an angel intervene at the last minute and provide a ram instead.
  • Julius Ceasar is surrounded by sixty members of the Roman Senate in 43 BCE and stabbed with rubber knives, to which he replies, "Me semel stulte, pudeat tibi." The following year, they do it again with real knives. His famous last words are, "Bis stulte me, pude!"
  • On this day in 1781, John Hanson is elected president of the United States. It takes over a year before anyone tells him it wasn't for real and not until he wants to call it quits.
  • Early in the nineteenth century, inmates at a Tasmanian penal colony breed a duck with a beaver for shits and giggles, the result of which is a platypus, which then escapes to the Australian mainland.
  • On this day in 1833, settlers in Texas revolt from Mexico by establishing Taco Bell.
  • On this day in 1865 during the American Civil War, Union troops capture supplies intended for Taco Bell franchises throughout Virginia and replace the shredded beef with ground tripe and meat by-products, along with their own feces. However, with proper seasoning there is none the wiser and it becomes a practice that continues on into the twentieth century.
  • On this day in 1873, on its seventeenth voyage between New York and Liverpool, the transatlantic ocean liner RMS Atlantic sinks off the coast of Nova Scotia after hitting rocks because a prankster turned off the Sambro Island Lighthouse.
  • On this day in 1918, a pilot flying arial maneuvers for the Royal Flying Corps of the British Army hangs his bare bum out the cockpit as he buzzes ships of the Royal Navy and crashes into the HMS Buttered Crumpet, thus merging two of the United Kingdom's military forces into the Royal Air Force.
  • On this day in 1924, Adolf Hitler is sentenced to five years in prison by the Weimar Republic for marching two thousand Nazis in a public square in Munich, Germany, all wearing nothing but assless lederhosen. While imprisoned, we writes an antisemitic joke book called "Mein Kampf," which he then tries to sell to Jewish book stores on this day in 1933.
  • Also on this day of the same year, John Scott Williams harnesses a flock of Canadian geese he uses to fly himself in a basket from British Columbia to Newfoundland, thus forming the Royal Canadian Air Force.
  • On this day in 1935, the Reserve Bank of India prints a one-million rupee novelty banknote with an image of the Asuran demigod Namuchi.
  • On this day in 1937, the Royal New Zealand Air Force is inadvertently formed when Keith Caldwell successfully trains a flock of kiwis to pilot donated biplanes as a gimmick for the British Royal Naval Air Service. In the same vein, these talented kiwis are then enlisted in the Royal New Zealand Navy. However, on this day in 1947, they mutiny in retaliation over lesser pay than their human counterparts and jump ship into the Tasman Sea where they drown.
  • On this day in 1960, the U.S. TIROS-1 satellite transmits the first television picture from space, which is an image of yo mama.
  • On this day in 1970, President Richard Nixon signs the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law, requiring that cigarettes marketed for children be made from candy or bubblegum.
  • On this day in 1989, U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher imposes a kilt tax on Scottish citizens based on the quality and amount of tartan in each kilt. Protesters react by unkilting, some of whom resort to trousers, but most of which wear nothing at all below the sporran.
  • On this day in 1997, the passing of comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1), named after astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, comes into its perihelion (point nearest the sun), its optimal position for transference of one's soul from Earth to the spaceship flying in its tail. Just a few days prior, on March 26, members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult commit mass suicide in an attempt to do just this and so become immortal extraterrestrial beings, except for a calculation error due to a cat jumping on a keyboard. That cat is an alien named Zunar-J-5/9 Doric-4-7, and its hijinks leads to dire consequences for the Heaven's Gate members, which will be the plot of Disney's Cat from Outer Space Part 2, available soon to Disney+ subscribers.
  • On this day in 2018, researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in the People's Republic of China breed a bat with a pangolin for shits and giggles, the resulting offspring of which is something that looks like Kentucky Fried Chicken. For further fun and wagers, they hide it in a local open-air market and watch as someone buys and eats it.

World Backup Day Thursday, March 31, 2022

Today is World Backup Day, reminding everyone who has data to back it up at least once a year, whether it's on a computer, a tablet or a cell phone. All it takes is a read-write head crashing into a platter, or opening that one tantalizing e-mail message that results in ransomware encrypting your hard drive, or allowing a child who is slightly more computer literate than you into your administrator account and changing your password to something that is alphanumerically bulletproof and totally forgettable. As they say, it's not a matter of if something happens but when. Backing up data is very easy to do and all it takes is fifty or more floppy disks and several hours of compressing files. It's also International Transgender Day of Visibility, so make sure you make a backup of yourself before transgendering your identity in case you ever want to revert to the gender you were previously, which might be difficult if you are non-binary.

Hard Times Success (III) Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Should panhandling prove too competitive, then get to know your competition and what alley or bridge they sleep under at night, then harvest their organs. Once their vital organs have been sold for cash, then the competition has been eliminated and you now have fulltime employment for all shifts. Once a black market commodity, most hospitals now offer a no-questions-asked organ drop-off station with direct deposit. Don't get too creative and try passing off animal organs as human, since testing is now virtually instantaneous. Stay away from homeless shelters, as tempting as it may be -- word gets around fast and the homeless will soon be huddling together, fueled by pruno and armed with makeshift weapons. Not your cup of tea? Well, royalty has its privileges, which generally includes lifelong unemployment benefits. Although most crowns are inherited through royal bloodlines, consider overthrowing a small empire and taking the throne by force. Your subjects are sure to hail you as a liberator and the fear you instill in them by publicly executing their previous royal family shall remain fresh in their minds for generations. Jewel-encrusted attire, parades, and regal trumpeting are just minor perks compared to monarchial arrogance.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part I Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from The Gospel of Martha, chapter twenty, where Jesus has his apostles gathered around a camp fire and is teaching them. A similar account is given in the Gospel of Thomas, which is considered a gnostic text and part of the Nag Hammadi library (Codex II).

As they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, while they were still aways off, Jesus invited team alpha to camp with him under the stars, with some of the women appointed to tend the gear. But the remainder continued on to Bethany. And he brought figs, and dates, and prunes, for to toast over the open fire. And he took a new wine skin filled with new wine and passed round the fire unto his apostles; and they took, and drank.

Then he began to teach them secretly, and by saying, "Whosoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings which Didymus Thomas hereby inscribeth with penmanship of a many limbed mollusk, will not taste death."

Jesus saith, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they may be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will reign over all that is disturbing. And after they have reigned, they will rest. Yea, will they be dead, the most disturbing part of all."

Jesus saith, "If thy leaders say unto thee: Look, the kingdom of heaven is in the sky; then the birds of the sky will pay heed to precede the season to breed. If they say unto thee: It is in the sea; then the fish will concede to secede from the reed. I say rather: succeed indeed to impede the nosebleed, for the kingdom is certainteed within thee, where the tapeworm doth recede into the bowels to feed; and it is outside thee, with the milkweed, and the dandelion seed, and the stampede of the centipede."

Jesus saith, "When ye know how to rhyme, then shall ye rhyme in good time, and ye will understand that ye are not a bother of the living Father. But if ye know not how to rhyme sublime, then verily tis crime; that ye live in grime, because ye are swine, and no friend of mine."

And many a disciple wept, for they were lyrically inept.

Jesus saith, "The person old in days who doth hesitate to ask a little child seven days old about the place of life, is that person who will live their second childhood. For many of the first will be last, and will form a single line."

Jesus saith, "Know what is in front of thy face, and what is hidden from thee will be disclosed unto thee. For when thou dost cross thine eyes, then shalt thou seest thy nose. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. And there is nothing buried in thy nose that will not be plucked out."

His disciples asking of him say, "Dost thou desire us to fast? How should we pray? Should that we give to charity? What diet should we observe?"

Jesus saith unto them, "Whoa, there. Do not lie and do not that which ye hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. If ye fast, ye need not diet. And if ye pray, charity will come unto you. Verily, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed. For all are as naked in the eyes of God; and he wisheth it were not, because many have let themselves go."

Jesus saith, "Fortunate is the lion that the human will eat, so that the lion becometh human. And cursed is the human that the lion will eat, even that the lion still will become human." He said this for to test that they were paying heed unto his words, but by this time was Simon Peter already asleep.

To be continued...

LWoS 31, 33, 39, 55, 59, 61 Monday, March 28, 2022

Today's entry consists of a selection of passages from the Lost Wisdom of Solomon. They could also be the next winning lottery numbers, but don't bet on it.

31 Blessed is the man gifted with the ability to interpret dreams, or foreign tongues, or parables, or to raise the dead to life again, or to prophesy future events, or to see visions, or to avoid in-laws during times of extended visits. Each has their merits, but eagerly desire the last.

33 My daughters, seldom do I address you. Such is the task of your mothers and maidservants. Heed my command and marry not into foreign tribes, neither fornicate with them, nor eat food sacrificed to their idols, nor worship their false gods. That is all. Good luck.

39 Do not muzzle the ox whilst it treads out the grain, lest it become fretful, and collude with other oxen, and they in turn form a labor union, and attempt to collectively bargain their demands, and threaten to refrain from treading out the grain until those demands be met, and go on strike for perceived unfair labor practices. Then you will be forced into the unpleasant position of having to decide between negotiations with the oxen for treading out the grain, or harnessing the wild donkey to finish treading out the grain, whilst the oxen protest in solidarity.

55 A young man has good eyesight and is able to see what lies ahead, whereas an old man well advanced in years suffers from poor vision and trips on a hairless cat in a vain attempt to get to the bathroom to relieve his aching bladder. Broken is the hip of the man who trips on a hairless cat.

59 Share what you have with those in need. If someone, even a stranger in your land, comes to your door naked, and barefoot, and hungry, and thirsty, and asks of you for guidance, then give to them advice in abundance, and send them away with words of insightfulness to lift their spirits. For one day you too may be homeless, and destitute, and starving, and in dire need of a bit of wisdom with which to nourish your soul.

61 Long hair is the sign of a Nazirite. A full and ample beard is as the noble mane of a lion. Lustrous nose hairs are a manifestation of patience and long suffering. Furry arms are a badge of strength and fortitude. A back covered from neck to crack with a thick lawn of hair is evidence of pragmatism and fiscal prowess. Ears full of lofty white hair with fuzzy, elongated lobes are a banner of maturity and sophistication. Eyebrows like the horns of an owl are the distinguished mark of wisdom. A mole with a wiry hair growing from its center is just plain gross. That should be inspected by a priest.

International Whisk(e)y Day Sunday, March 27, 2022

Today, depending on where it was made, we lift a glass of whiskey (Ireland and the U.S.) or whisky (Scotland, Canada and anywhere else) in honor of drinking the stuff itself. Whiskey was born in Ireland in the fifteenth century and made by Catholic monks as a medicinal drink. The word itself is derived from the Gaelic uisce or "water" and most distilled spirits in Medieval Europe were referred to simply as aqua vitae (Latin, "water of life"). Whiskey is distilled from fermented grain mash, called malt, to include barley, corn, rye, and/or wheat (either single malt or a blend, although blended whiskey can contain just one type of grain from different distilleries). The term "malt" generally denotes barley, while "grain" refers to a combination of whole grains of other malted or unmalted cereals. Distillation is a process of boiling and condensation with a copper still that concentrates the fermented grains to increase its alcohol by volume while removing sulfur-based compounds. It is then aged in old, used white oak casks (usually sherry or rum) for up to twelve years to give it a smooth flavor (in its infancy it was not aged and therefore had a rather brutal taste -- Irish and Scotch whiskies must be aged for at least three years). Barrel-aging causes the whiskey to undergo further chemical processes over time and gives it its golden color. Whiskey aged in different casks throughout its lifetime are usually referred to as "double wood" or "triple wood." Scotch is whisky that is made in Scotland, some of which undergoes an additional process of treating the malt with peat smoke. (Rabbit hole: peat moss, which is primarily decomposed plant matter that has been compressed in the ground for thousands of years and can be burned like coal, was used in eighteenth-century commercial distilleries in Scotland to heat the pot stills and was eventually infused into the barley malt during the drying process, whereby the drying barley absorbed the smoke odor from the burning peat.) The majority of whiskies are defined and regulated by law where they are made, which includes production, labeling, packaging and advertising. Understanding and enjoying whiskey can be rather complicated, but it's an acquired taste and in my opinion well worth the time, effort, and money. Yet a sober mind might put forth the inquiry: is it permissible to imbibe from a biblically moral standpoint? The simple answer is that the Bible doesn't say no, but to not get drunk (Proverbs 23:19-20, Romans 13:12-13, Ephesians 5:15-18).

Pictured: A variety of stills at the Smügen Whisky AB distillery in Sweden, Wikimedia Commons.
Note: World Whisk(e)y Day is on May 21st and although it was founded four years after International Whisk(e)y Day, it is recognized by the Scottish Parliament. The IWD is in memory of British writer Michael J. Jackson (1942-2007), who was an expert on beer and whiskey and wrote many books on the two subjects, including the best-selling "Michael Jackson's Malt Whisky Companion." He also suffered from Parkinson's disease, so the IWD is also an awareness day for the disease but the official awareness day for Parkinson's Disease is April 11th. Regardless, there remain two whiskey days, plus a bourbon day which is on June 14th. Bourbon is an American whiskey born in Kentucky and distilled primarily from corn.

Purple Day Saturday, March 26, 2022

Today is Purple Day, the one day of the year to bring awareness to epilepsy for those who are not regularly affected directly or indirectly by this neurological disorder of the central nervous system that causes seizures due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Purple Day was started in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a nine-year-old who brought epilepsy and its awareness to Canada. In commemoration, here are some myths to dispel the facts about epilepsy in the color purple:

  • A seizure may result when there is a sudden excessive electrical discharge that disrupts the normal activity of the nerve cells in the brain causing a fluctuation in midiclorians, which members of the Jedi Council refer to as a disturbance in the force.
  • The earliest references to epilepsy date back to the fifth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia, which ancient peoples called "the funky chicken."
  • Epilepsy was once thought to be caused by demon possession. We now know it is the result of neural disruptor ray guns possessed by a legion of interdimensional super villains fought by the International League Against Epilepsy. Some people can sense when these diabolical miscreants are approaching via mutant powers known as an "aura."
  • Seizures are divided into three main categories: Focal Onset (the affected area of the brain is known and predictable and the person is usually aware of having a seizure), Generalized Onset (spreads across the entire brain and causes a loss of body control and awareness), and Unknown Onset (only the Shadow knows). These categories are broken down into a myriad of subgroups with various diagnostics and treatments requiring the extensive use of lists.
  • Epilepsy can be inherited but is not contagious, unless you come into direct contact with the exposed neurons of someone having a seizure.
  • Triggers are situations that can bring on a seizure in some people with epilepsy, such as lack of sleep, drug use, low blood sugar, stress, certain medications, missed medications, withdrawal from binge drinking, menstruation (especially in men), or one too many Red Bulls.
  • Less than 5% of seizures are caused by reflex epilepsy, which is triggered by external stimuli such as flashing lights, visual patterns, loud noises, or a toaster in the bathtub.
  • Music videos that can trigger epileptic seizures include Nicki Minaj's "Stupid Hoe," Bear in Heaven's "Reflection Of You," Kanye West's "All of the Lights," and Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." Warning: these music videos can generally cause a mild seizure in anyone's musical taste.
  • Joe Cocker did not have epilepsy but he did perfect the epileptic fit to a rock n' roll rhythm. He was, however, a heavy smoker and died of lung cancer.
  • An estimated 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, which is more than those who still know who Joe Cocker is.
  • Minnie Mouse has epilepsy in the form of Dravet syndrome, which she controls with the use of fenfluramine (brand name Fintepla). It was induced when she was being used for medical experimentation before it was discovered that she could talk and preferred wearing clothes.
  • A misconception is that Curious George also suffers from epilepsy that was induced for medical experimentation. However, he suffers from Klüver-Bucy syndrome, which results from bilateral lesions of the medial temporal lobe. The man with the yellow hat has all the answers but continues to remain an enigma to us all.
  • Other famous individuals with epilepsy include Alexander the Great, Caligula, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, Dante, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, James Madison, Theodore Roosevelt, Leo Tolstoy, Vincent van Gogh, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Truman Capote, George Gershwin, Danny Glover, Neil Young, Lil Wayne, Prince, Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars," Susan Boyle of "Britain's Got Talent," Adam Horovitz of The Beastie Boys, Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac, Bud Abbott of Abbot & Costello, and Elton John -- all of whom either died or will die of epilepsy.
  • Greek philosopher Socrates was thought to have epilepsy, but it was just a rumor started by Aristotle to explain his homosexual tendencies. It was also rumored by Demetrius of Phalerum that Aristotle had epilepsy, apparently to explain his fixation on three-sided rectilinear plane figures, which we now know as triangles.
  • Around 400 BCE the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote in his book "On the Sacred Disease" that epilepsy is a blockage of chilled phlegm stuck inside the blood vessels of the head preventing the flow of air and causing the brain to melt.
  • It is not actually known for certain who wrote "On the Sacred Disease" but some surmise it may have been the same author behind many of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. The author also pointed out that people who felt a seizure coming on tended to run away in shame rather than the common belief that they were trying to hide from the gods who were about to smite them.
  • During the nineteenth century, much of the research into epilepsy was performed by French physicians in order to prove that it was British cuisine that caused grand mal seizures.
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) and amplitude integrated electroencephalography (aEEG) are used to study the brain waves associated with epileptic seizures because, as any modern fool can attest, technology is cool, especially when it involves so many electrodes attached to the head. (Electrocorticography requires electrodes to be placed on the actual surface of the brain.)
  • Other machines used to study and monitor the brain for illnesses like epilepsy include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetoencephalography (MEG), nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR or MRS), electrocorticography (ECoG), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and event-related optical signal (EROS). All these show how the coolness factor of technology is directly proportional to the price tag.
  • Research into voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and their effects on neuronal excitability may lead to a better understanding of whether or not starfish can have epilepsy.
  • In 2017, a Guinness World Record was reached during Purple Day by the Anita Kaufmann Foundation for the achievement of the largest ever group of people and animals experiencing a collective epileptic seizure.
  • 70% of people with epilepsy can gain freedom from seizures with medication alone, while 30% have drug-resistant epilepsy. Treatment options for drug-resistant seizures include surgery, medically-supervised ketogenic diets, nerve stimulation, relaxation techniques, herbal remedies, vitamin therapy, acupuncture and reflexology, hypnosis, spiritual purification, magical incantations, alcoholism, and the blood of executed criminals.
  • A single seizure does not an epileptic make, but only when it becomes a habit.
  • If someone in the immediate vicinity is experiencing an epileptic seizure whereby they are either rigid (tonic) or convulsing (clonic), tell them to stay calm and turn them on their side so they don't choke on any sharp objects.
  • If someone nearby is experiencing a focal seizure and exhibiting a slight disturbance of consciousness, snap your fingers in front of their eyes and keep repeating, "Hey. Hey. Hey. Is anybody home?"
  • A momentary lapse of attention is called a generalized absence seizure and may happen when one side of the brain temporarily phases out of reality. This is also known as a brain fart.
  • Epilepsy may be attributed to genius, along with autism, madness, and a propensity towards evil.
  • The exact cause of epilepsy is still unclear, but it can be genetic or the result of a severe head injury, brain tumors, stroke, or infections such as meningitis -- which in turn are the result of either divine curse or demonic possession.

60 Second Romance Vol 5 Friday, March 25, 2022

She was his favorite model, posing nude for charcoal drawings patiently throughout the years: as a young woman getting in and out of the bath tub, reclining on the sofa, stretching by a window, washing dishes in the kitchen sink, or performing yoga on a rug in the bedroom. In her advanced arthritic years: sitting on the toilet, napping in a lukewarm bath tub, slumped in a chair drinking a Diet Coke, or lying on the basement floor at the bottom of the stairs. Even in death she was the perfect model, posing with the aid of his interns or by means of heavy gauge wire inserted throughout her limbs. But then one day her spine snapped and she was never the same. He buried her in the garden, where she had posed nude all those years while pulling weeds. No one ever contacted him as to her whereabouts. He just considered himself blessed. Yes, others came and went, but none could replace her, no matter how demanding and insistent he was. From time to time he'd pull out the drawings and remember her fondly, until one day he stopped recognizing her and wondered if his memory was failing. However, a comparison between his drawings and photographs revealed that all these past years he just wasn't a very good artist after all.

Of Plimoth Plantation Thursday, March 24, 2022
This episode is brought to you by Brama Livs Elixir exotic remedies imported from Denmark, which protects health and thus prolongs life. Infused with esoteric ingredients known only to the royalty of the ancients, such as coca leaves, morphine, laudanum, hydrochloric acid, cannabis, lithium, arsenic, heroin, mercury, and peppermint oil. It's an all-natural cure for whatever ails you, including hysteria, chorea, gout, neuralgia, rheumatism, tetanus, hydrophobia and the like. How have the Danish quieted their nerves for centuries? Brama Livs Elixir!

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were just returned from Massachusetts with a good quantity of beaver in the Year of Our Lord 1621. Winter is come upon the settlers and their provisions have dwindled, yet few there remain after the harsh year. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, we procurred 2 hoggsheads of beaver and otter skins from the natives and proportioned ye same to ye number of persons, and found that it would not hould out above 6 months at halfe alowance, and hardly that. Sone after this, ye great people of ye Narigansets, in a braving maner, sente a messenger unto them with a bundl of arrows tyed aboute with a great sneak-skine; which their interpretours tould them was a threatening and a chaleng. And by another messenger sente ye sneake-skine back with bulits in it; but they would not receive it, but sent it back againe. But this made them ye more carefully to looke to them selves, so as they agreed to inclose their dwellings with a good strong pale, and make flankers in convenient places, with gates to shute, which were every night locked, and a watch kept to prevent Indean treachery.

One day called Chrismasday, ye Govr caled them out to worke, but most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on Chrismasday. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led-away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye streete at play, openly; some pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball, and shuch like sports. So he went to them, and tooke away their implements, and tould them that was against his conscience, that they should play and others worke. If they made ye keeping of it mater of devotion, let them kepe their houses, but ther should be no gameing or revelling in ye streets. Since which time nothing hath been atempted that way, at least openly.

Anno 1622, and at ye spring of ye year they had apointed ye Massachusets to come againe and trade with them, and begane now to prepare for that vioag about ye later end of March. But they had not bene gone longe, but an Indean belonging to Squantos family came runing in seeming great fear, and tould them that many of ye Narihgansets, with Corbytant, and he thought also Massasoyte, were coming against them; at which the Governor caused them to take armes and stand on their garde, and watch was kepte all night, but nothing was scene. After this they proseeded on their vioge to ye Massachusets, and had good trade, and returned in saftie, blessed be God.

But by the former passages, and other things of like nature, they begane to see that Squanto sought his owne ends, and plaid his owne game, by putting ye Indeans in fear, and drawing gifts from them to enrich him selfe; making them beleeve he could stur up warr against whom he would, and make peece for whom he would. Yea, he made them beleeve they kept ye plague buried in ye ground, and could send it amongs whom they would, which did much terrifie the Indeans, and made them depend more on him, and seeke more to him then to Massasoyte, which proucured him envie, and had like to have cost him his life. For after ye discovery of his practises, Massasoyt sought it both privatly and openly; which caused him to stick close to ye English, and never durst goe from them till he dyed.

Now in a maner their provissions were wholy spent, and they looked hard for supply, but none came. But about ye later end of May, they spied a boat at sea, which at first they thought had beene some Frenchman; but it proved a shalop had set out a fishing, but this boat brought no vitails, nor any hope of any. Sundry other things I pass over, being tedious and impertinent.

A leter was received from Edward Pickering and Williame Greene, having beene delivered with great charge of secrecie; and for more securitie, to sow it betweene ye soles for fear of intercepting. Yea, a leter of warning that Mr. Thomas Weston will not permitte leters to be sent in his ships, nor any thing for your good or ours, and him selfe and his brother Andrew, a heady yong man and violente, are ploting their owne ends, which tend to your and our undooing in respecte of our estates ther, and prevention of our good ends. For by credible testimoney we are informed his purpose is to come to your colonie, pretending he comes for and from ye adventurers, and will seeke to gett what you have in readynes into his ships, as if they came from ye company, and possessing all, will be so much profite to him selfe. And further to informe them selves what spetiall places or things you have discovered, to ye end that they may supres and deprive you. The Lord, who is ye watchman of Israll and slepeth not, preserve you and deliver you from unreasonable men. I am sorie that ther is cause to admonish you of these things concerning this man; so I leave you to God, who bless and multiply you into thousands, to the advancemente of ye glorious gospell of our Lord Jesus. Amen. Fare well.

To be continued. If you cannot wait, visit Project Gutenberg for yourself.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 7 Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- there's a kitten somewhere in the basement that can be heard through the walls. My only hope is that it's trapped in the old boiler room that has been walled-in as of late. Now it's brought to our attention that it must be located and vacated, to which Kelvin responds, "And what do you want me to do about it?" So I take all the empty boxes from one of our storerooms that were stacked neatly by Kelvin in front of the access panel to the old boiler room and pile them in the hallway, causing his blood pressure to elevate, as evident in the bulging of his veins in his neck, forehead, and temples. Later I print out a certificate of achievement for Kelvin to hang in his office as a reminder of his hard work stacking empty boxes. Our agency provides a template for this certificate to be awarded to whomever we like, and I like to award it to Kelvin every chance I get, even though he has made it abundantly clear that he does not appreciate them. As for the whereabouts of the ghost kitten, that remains a mystery -- one which I don't particularly care about, and neither does Kelvin. He's a proud dog owner and I'm not a pet person, especially thanks to Kelvin and his ilk for all of their horror stories about owning a precious dog. However, I may have mentioned that already in the recent past (hint: 3/19/22). Anyway, long story short, no kitten and therefore no certificate of achievement for me.

Vox in Excelso Tuesday, March 22, 2022

On this day in 1312, Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Vox in excelso, which dissolved the Knights Templar, one of three primary orders of knights officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, which also included the Knights Hospitaller and the Teutonic Knights. The Knights Templar, originally the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were a monastic order founded in 1119 to protect Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land of Jerusalem throughout the Crusades and were headquartered in a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Although the knights themselves were sworn to poverty while in service, the order became one of the wealthiest charities during the Middle Ages and ran its own banking system, with the majority of its members working as administrative staff. But the military arm of the order grew and led troops in key battles to maintain control over the Holy Land for nearly two centuries. However, in 1187, Jerusalem was recaptured by Muslim forces and from then on the Knights Templar began to lose favor with king and cross. In 1813, King Philip IV rounded up all Templars in France, had them tried for financial corruption, fraud, secrecy, and heresy. That year, Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Pastoralis praeeminentiae, ordering the arrest of all Knights Templar and seizure of their assets. Many of the order's members were tortured to gain confessions of participating in secret ceremonies, idolatrous worship, homosexual practices, spitting on the cross, jaywalking, littering, and wearing their undergarments inside out. In time, the Templars were resurrected in Portugal as the Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or just Order of Christ.

Pictured: Knights Templar being burned to death at the stake in Paris in 1314 on charges of heresy, although some historians believe that they were falsely accused because King Philip IV was greatly indebted to them for their financial backing of his war against England. Both Pope Clement V and King Philip IV died that same year. Pictured: one of the emblems of the Knights Templar representing poverty where members had to share horses. King Philip IV cited this as a brazen image of homosexuality, calling it the Mongolian Horseback Ride. Pictured: Kevin Costner's greatest contribution to the world of motion pictures. Today is also the United Nations' World Water Day, advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Land of the Huddled Masses Monday, March 21, 2022

Once again, there are so many commemorations today that deserve comment (Puppetry Day, International Colour Day, World Poetry Day, International Day of Forests, Education Freedom Day, Et al), but what bothers me more than these is homelessness and particularly homelessness in America (World Homeless Day is actually October 10). I recently drove through a large metropolitan area in the PNW that looked like a third world city and the midsize city I live near has its own homeless population that keeps growing. This city passed an ordinance in 2014 against sidewalk loitering and another in 2018 making it a misdemeanor to camp within city limits in parks, conservation areas and other public property, while directing homeless persons to local shelters. The problem with this law is in both enforcing it and keeping people in shelters who don't want to stay in shelters. Who would? But drug paraphernalia, human waste, and panhandling is not good for business. However, given the state of disrepair of city streets, lack of affordable parking and higher crime rates, there are plenty of reasons not to go downtown. So what's to be done? I wish I knew and I also wish our elected officials knew better. I have my own opinions on the matter, which some would undoubtedly find draconian (cardboard box suburbs, workhouses, gladiator games, medical experimentation, Manhattan Island, renovated government buildings), but desperate times call for desperate measures. Remember, 2022 is the year of Soylent Green.

The gay narwhals are here to say, "Hey, vagrants, you can't stay. Homeless campers go away. Today!" Yet the tusked Monodontidae duo has a valid point. If people are granted the blue tarp treatment, then what's next -- green tarps... brown tarps... yellow tarps? Only low-income property owners and renters should be allowed the free use of tarps.

Great American Meatout Sunday, March 20, 2022

There's quite a lot going on today in commemoration of things I'd like to pick apart, including International Day of Happiness, Sun-Earth Day, World Storytelling Day, World Sparrow Day, International Astrology Day, the Pagan festivals of Ostara and Mabon, Earth Day, and the Great American Meatout in honor of farm animal rights, but I shall only focus briefly on one, and that is the Nowruz holiday and end of a nineteen-day fast for those of the Baha'i Faith in honor of the Most Great Name of the unknowable God. Today is the vernal equinox in the Earth's northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere as the sun shines directly over the equator, splitting night and day equally in half. This is celebrated by the Baha'i Faith as Naw-Ruz ("New Day"), or the Persian New Year going back to the ancient religions of Mithraism and Zoroastrianism, with a calendar of nineteen months, each with nineteen days, plus insertion days to make a full solar year. In 1844, an Iranian merchant changed his name to Bab, meaning Gate, and claimed to be the Hidden Twelfth Imam of Shia Islam, or Mahdi, who was to appear with Jesus and bring peace and justice to the world, except that he was sentenced to death and his body fed to the dogs. However, he succeeded in creating a religion called Babism which attempted to unite all monotheistic religions. Shortly after the Bab's death in 1863, a young Persian aristocrat and adherent to Babism named Baha'u'llah claimed to be a major prophet, which he called the Manifestations of God, among which were Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, and the Bab. Since these MOGs were all founders of major world religions, Baha'u'llah's new religion, called Baha'i, united all these religions. However, this being a spiritual movement in the Middle East, it was not generally welcomed by most Muslims, who still today consider it an apostasy from Islam. Even so, there is an estimated average of six million followers worldwide with Baha'i temples in India, the U.S., Israel, Germany, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Australia, Panama, Samoa, Chile, Cambodia, Colombia, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, and the Congo. According to the Baha'i Faith, "Humanity, having passed through the ages of infancy and childhood, now stands at the threshold of its collective maturity, the hallmark of which will be the unification of the human race in a global civilization. The emergence of this civilization, prosperous in both its spiritual and material dimensions, implies that the spiritual and practical aspects of life are to advance harmoniously together." There is a lot to criticize with this belief system, not the least of which it being a mashup of several belief systems which are not altogether compatible. To this, the Baha'i believer contends that God in his divine wisdom presents religion to humankind based upon the time, culture, and needs of the people, which means that it naturally varies and progresses throughout history. In response, the traditional Christian, Jew, and Muslim calls, "Bullshit/Pardumah/Barazalthawr."

Man's Best Friend Saturday, March 19, 2022

My wife and I have often argued about getting a dog. She wants one, I don't. That's the only thing I have ever put my foot down on, besides on a cat. However, I am willing to concede the reasons why dogs are so important...

  • Hunting, especially for larger, more dangerous game like sabretooth tigers or mastodons.
  • Companionship and affection which are absent from a marriage or lacking within a family.
  • Healthier lifestyle -- according to the American Heart Association, lazy dog owners are 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than non-dog owning fat-asses.
  • The need for less sleep (some people would never get out of bed if it weren't to tend to a needy dependent).
  • Carpet fertilizer (some people would never clean their carpet if it weren't for feces and urine).
  • Best way to determine if underpants are clean. If not, they will be destroyed or eaten.
  • Add all-natural protective layer of shed fur and hair to furniture, clothing, and children.
  • A way to get to know the neighbors better (some people would never meet their neighbors if it weren't for canine hijinks).
  • Make vacations and getaways more costly and therefore more valuable.
  • Act as an early warning detection system for earthquakes, epileptic seizures, PMS, cancerous moles, plagues of rats, the USPS mail delivery person, or Amazon drones.
  • Boost the local veterinary economy -- we can't totally rely on horse owners, and who wants to pay a fortune to keep a cat alive?
  • Dogs telepathically induce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine. Most prescription antidepressants are made from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors from the harvested brains of unwanted dogs.
  • The extraction of precious sebaceous fluid, or sebum, for use in baby balm and hand moisturizers.
  • To reduce the amount of chewing we as humans have to do around the house to make everything softer, whether we wear it or recline on it.
  • Long walks in the cold outdoors, where you will undoubtedly need something to collect porcupine quills and absorb skunk spray.
  • To help maintain constant vigilance, looking everywhere at all times to keep from tripping and to be constantly looking out the window to see what dangerous intruder is causing all the ruckus.
  • Increased social interaction continually apologizing to strangers for your dog's misbehavior. (And what proud parents of hominin children don't want to hear all about your adopted canine children?)
  • To help reduce stress, blood pressure, and heart disease, thus prolonging life. Many dog owners who at first were caused undue stress from their noisy and troublesome pet soon learned to tune them out and ignore them. After time, they become conditioned to do this with all stressful situations.
  • To share loneliness, because no one likes to be both lonely and all alone. Misery loves company. Studies of single pet owners have shown that dogs are empathetic towards depressed humans, unlike cats, which couldn't care less about the black hole inside your heart. If a dog can't lick your troubles away, then it will sadly suffer along with you.
  • Mood-enhancers. Studies have also shown that people who suffer from a lower intelligence quotient and find humor in simple activities like falling down or farting also find much to laugh about with dogs and their simple-minded antics.
  • Increased immunity -- a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that British children who rub dog saliva in their eyes and consume dog feces are less likely than their international counterparts to develop dog allergies.
  • Pulling sleds for the blind.
  • A boosting of confidence, or at least less concern over what others think about you smelling their butts, pooping in their front yard, and licking your own testicles in public.
  • As a watchdog to ensure no one else eats your food, but that it does get eaten if perceived that it was forgotten or will go to waste.
  • Increased levels of oxytocin, a neuropeptide which plays a key role in social bonding and sexual activity... but not with pets, which is sick, inhumane, and only legal in New Mexico and West Virginia.
  • Trusty co-worker. Some people bring their dogs with them to the office because behind closed doors it can do the same work while their owner curls up and sleeps in the corner.
  • Teach kids the important ramifications of irresponsibility.

More Fun Bible Trivia Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Here are the answers to more fun Bible trivia questions -- the theology edition. Theology is a rather complex subject because we've had over two thousand years to make it complicated. As Augustine of Hippo may or may not have once said, "If you are spiritually pious but scripturally inept, then you are a dumbass. Whereas if you are scripturally righteous but spiritually dead, then you are a smartass. Either way, you are assbackwards and in need of being set straight." Once again, you are welcome.

Q: What is theology?
A: Trying to explain anything that has to do with God in ways that annoy philosophers, scientists, and secular intellectuals.

Q: Is theology a matter of salvation?
A: No, unless you're a Calvinist or an Arminian.

Q: Is baptism a matter of salvation?
A: No, unless you're a Baptist or a member of the Church of Christ.

Q: Why do some Christian denominations perform infant baptism?
A: Because they are impatient and believe that babies are too stupid to decide for themselves.

Q: What's the difference between deuterocanonical and apocryphal?
A: Three syllables. The former is Catholic/Orthodox pseudo scripture and the latter is still open for debate amongst Protestants.

Q: What's the difference between premillennial and postmillennial?
A: A thousand years. Both are based on differing interpretations of Revelation 20:1-6. Correct premills believe that Christ will return to Earth in a second coming just prior to and in order to establish a 1,000-year reign of paradise upon the Earth physically, while mistaken postmills believe that at some point in time Christ already has or will eventually usher in a thousand-year reign in the hearts of his believers spiritually, after which there will be a second physical coming and he shall rule both heaven and Earth together. Amillennialists believe that the thousand years of Christ's earthly kingdom is just symbolic, however, the White Throne Judgment is very real.

Q: What's the difference between the post-tribulation and pre-tribulation rapture?
A: One is before and the other is after. Post-tribs believe that the resurrection of the dead will take place after a period of seven years of great tribulation such as the world has never experienced, while pre-tribs believe that Christians both alive and dead will be resurrected prior to the Great Tribulation and caught up in the air all at once in an instant. You can figure it out for yourself from these passages: Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Revelation 7:14. (Hint: the secret to this answer may lie in 2 Thessalonians 2:7.)

Q: What is eschatology?
A: It is speculation about the end times.

Q: What is exegesis?
A: Bible commentary that fits in small places.

Q: What is biblical hermeneutics?
A: The interpretation of the interpretation of scripture.

Q: What is Halakha?
A: It is the mitzvot of the Talmud that served as the laws of behavior during the Jewish diaspora, generally divided into chukim, mishpatim, and eduyot, as enacted by the gezeirah (to include revised takkanot), as practiced in the minhagim, and as elucidated via the Gemara.

Q: What is the Aggadah?
A: It is a derivation of what the Hebrew language refers to as the Haggadah.

Q: What is homiletics?
A: The art of preaching, including the composition and delivery of sermons, explanation of Christian doctrine, discourse on biblical scripture, incorporation of clean, wholesome humor and tasteful jokes, and the use of props and overhead visuals -- all in under forty minutes.

Q: Are Christians under the laws of the Old Testament or not?
A: No, they are above and beyond it.

Q: Is salvation by grace or works?
A: Yes and no.

Q: Can a Christian lose their salvation?
A: That depends -- was it simply misplaced or did they intentionally and deliberately and with malice aforethought toss it aside or trample it asunder?

Q: Does the Bible contradict itself?
A: Yes it does in no way gainsay, belie, contravene or impune itself.

Q: What is Christian apologetics?
A: Having to say you're sorry for sinning after you've been saved and redeemed from sin.

Q: Why does there have to be a hell?
A: There doesn't. Why do there have to be places like Juarez, Mexico, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Disney's Epcot Center in Florida? There just is, so try to avoid them.

Q: Should Christians prosper or suffer?
A: Neither -- they should be simple, boring, plain-clothed, thankful for what they do have, and donate their gently used secondhand clothing to charity.

Q: Don't all major religions worship the same god?
A: Yes, except for the triune God of Christianity, which is the monotheistic God of Judaism.

Q: Why are there so many denominations within Christianity?
A: Because there is so much to be misunderstood about Christianity.

Everyone Has Their Opinion Monday, March 14, 2022

Here are my opinions, theories, and observations on just about everything. As I am getting advanced in my years, they probably won't change much, unless I have a near-death experience. If I left anything out, then rest assured you'll hear more about it later.

  • Capitalism: Awesome, but feudal.
  • Socialism: Sucks ass, but inescapable for civilized countries.
  • Universe: Huge, but finite.
  • Earth: Unique and less than 10,000 years old but not flat.
  • Religion: Catch 22 -- beneficial for the individual, but dangerous for society.
  • God: Exists and actually cares.
  • Bible: God's inerrant word.
  • Capital Punishment: Yes.
  • Euthanasia: Yes.
  • Sin: No one is without it, not even children.
  • Homosexuality: Unnatural and a sin, but should be legal in a godless, democratic society. Is there such a thing as a Christian homosexual, or a homosexual who is a Christian? I rather think not, but we're all fooling ourselves in some way. Homosexuals should create their own unique religion.
  • Abortion: An abomination to God, but a consequence of free will. (That's my safe answer.)
  • Morality: Resides upon religious precepts of monotheism, out of which comes ethics, which a godless society then uses as a principle for civil behavior.
  • Humanitarianism: An unrealistic ideal, but helpful in any society, especially a godless one.
  • Anarchy: Dumbest system ever -- not even a system but a lack of structure resulting in chaos. Only stupid assholes without a conscience can get away with promoting such an ideal under the protection of a democratically governed society. Death to anarchists.
  • Meaning of Life: Meaningless.
  • Science: Awesome, but does not disprove God or creationism. Come to think of it, it doesn't even prove evolution.
  • Evolution: You guessed it, bullshit.
  • War: Inevitable and those who are unprepared will be conquered.
  • Clowns: Evil. However, I do enjoy Puddles Pity Party.
  • Taxes: Necessary evil, unlike clowns (with the exception of Puddles). The poor should only be taxed 5%, the middle class 10%, and the rich 15%. People who make a living as a clown should be pitied 100% (even Puddles).

League of Angry Drivers (L.O.A.D.) Thursday, February 17, 2022

As a public service, I offer admission into my non-profit organization to educate licensed, insured, responsible drivers who have become angry at how poorly everyone around them is driving and help them realize there's not a damn thing they can do about it, other than to change their own attitude or ride public transit. Prime directive: If you can't beat them, join them. Here's what I recommend:

  • Always drive in an altered state of mind, whether half asleep, inebriated, in transcendental meditation, heavily medicated, or with your head up your ass on mental cruise control.
  • Maintain as many distractions as possible. Some examples: cell phone, pets on lap, cigarette in one hand and coffee in the other, printed reading material, consuming a meal (preferably from a bowl or plate), dig through purse or makeup bag, conversation with passenger while maintaining eye contact, programming stereo. Children were originally on this list, but they are inevitable and unavoidable. Even so, pay full attention to them when fussy even though they may be buckled in and incapable of moving.
  • Don't bother with turn signals, nor with physically turning your head before making a lane change. If you do use a turn signal, this gives you the right of way and a perfect reason not to turn your head to look to see if someone is already there.
  • Always drive at least 10mph over the speed limit on arterials and under 10mph on freeways and interstate highways. A good rule of thumb is to just drive the same speed everywhere.
  • When entering an onramp, do not increase speed to maximum until you have completely run out of lane and are forced to merge. Likewise, when exiting an offramp, slow down at least a quarter mile before and hit brakes immediately off the freeway.
  • Slow down while passing, then speed up after passing. If you can't help it, it's best just to remain in the passing lane as long as possible. Also, increase speed when being passed to match that of the other driver.
  • Let your driver's license, automobile tabs, and auto insurance expire. Only law-abiding chumps pay into those scams.
  • Do not over-think or strategize. If your target is a left turn lane three lanes over from a parking lot, then simply drive in a straight line from point A to point B. No need to drive around the block or make a right turn and then a u-turn.
  • Drive with one foot on the gas pedal and one foot on the brake pedal, alternating between the two in regular intervals.
  • Either count to three before proceeding through a green light, or maintain a distance of three inches behind the car in front of you.
  • Ignore traffic signals and road signs -- these are just more frivolous requirements for anal-retentive rule-followers. Chances are in your favor that others are paying more attention to your driving than you are and will avoid you.
  • If you are a senior citizen with poor eyesight and slow reflexes, prone to seizures and/or strokes, and feel you have lived long enough to own the road, then be sure to schedule medical appointments and shopping excursions during rush hour traffic.
  • Either allow no one to merge in front of you or let everyone merge in front of you.
  • Press both feet firmly on the brake pedal and push to the floor if a small animal runs out into the middle of the road (e.g., no larger than a porcupine or golden retriever) -- best if undertaken in inclement weather and slippery road conditions.
  • When pulling out from a side street, wait until the last possible second and be sure to insert yourself in front of someone else. If on a freeway or interstate highway, remember the general rule of thumb: 10mph under the speed limit. However, if on an arterial, in this situation it is quite alright to still drive 5mph to 10mph under the speed limit.
  • Don't bother passing another car. Simply maintain a close, comfortable distance to where their rear bumper is just out of sight. Maybe swerve from side to side periodically. Resist the urge to pass, even if legally allowed to do so and there is no oncoming traffic for miles.
  • If you don't know where you are going, or what state you are in, or even if you are unaware that you are driving, slow down and take a moment to reflect on existence. Don't bother pulling over to read a map or use a map application on your smart phone as this will delay your arrival. Remember, cell phones are a good distraction while driving.

Is it just my opinion that there are far too many people with cars who should not be driving them? No. That they suffer from SFB is my opinion. Cynicism, whether of ancient Greek philosophy or just bitter sarcasm, is the only recourse to assholes who actually put these principles into practice. God have mercy on us all.

Know Your Monks Saturday, March 12, 2022

Maybe you're contemplating joining a monastic order and devoting your life to the Christian Trinity through aestheticism, prayer, isolation, chastity, poverty, meditation, scriptural study, chanting, fasting, silence, and manual labor, which probably should be the hallmarks of all Christians. If so, you may have to join a different denomination, since most monastic orders belong to the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and Reformed Churches. But if you are already a member of one of these churches then you are in fortuity because they all practice basically the same rites. Otherwise, you can start your own order or just dedicate yourself to being a hermit. A monk (Latin monachus, "solitary"), is a person who absolves themself of worldly belongings, wealth, and secular practices and vows to live a simple life in total dedication to God either alone (eremitic) or with others (cenobitic) in a monastic commune (monastery, abbey, priory, cloister, friary). This particularly but not entirely applies to a man but the same goes for a woman, or nun. Most monasteries, regardless of denomination, follow the same basic traditions and lifestyles: wearing simple attire each and every day called a habit, which is a robe with a hoodie for men and a robe with a complete head covering for women; recital of prescribed prayers at certain times of the day, known as the Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours; communal meals unless fasting, eaten in silence or accompanied by Bible readings; studying scripture and copying religious manuscripts; manual labor, usually agriculture or some kind of specialized trade; singing and/or chanting; participation in Mass; lots of alone time for prayer, study, or spiritual contemplation; sleeping in small cells, rising early and going to bed late; community service and charity. And speaking of community service, a friar is a monk who lives outside a monastery and engages more in community interaction.

Benedictine Monks are a Catholic religious order who follow the monastic rules of Benedict of Nursia, Italy (AD 480-547), one of the original founders of western monasticism. These typically wear black habits and are called Black Monks. They live by a threefold vow: obedience to Christ; conversion to the faith by dying to self and living for God; stability through monasticism until death. The details are outlined in a seventy-three-chapter book called "The Rule of Saint Benedict." Hard work is their trademark and their motto is ora et labora ("pray and work"). Several offshoots of this order formed in subsequent centuries to return to the Rule of Saint Benedict as monastery life became more lax and monks outgrew their habits.

Eastern Orhtodox Monks (Greek, Russian, Slavonic) do not have the same orders as the Catholic Church and generally are more segregated from society with a stronger emphasis on devotion to prayer in order to attain the closest union with God. A prayer rope helps to this end, with thirty-three knots representing the thirty three years of Christ's life, used to keep track of repetitive prayers like Catholic rosary beads. Their rules of conduct and living come from the Byzantium or Desert Monks of third-century Egypt, including Anthony the Great (AD 251-356), Basil of Caesarea (AD 330-379), and Pachomius (AD 292-348), among others. They have four degrees in the succession of a monk from beginner (Novice), to robe-bearer (Rasophore), to cross-bearer (Stavrophore), to a final stage of spiritual excellence (Great Schema).

Cistercian Monks are a branch of the Benedictine Order under the leadership of Bernard of Clairvaux, and therefore known as Bernardines. Their habits are a natural wool color of grey or brown and they are also known as White Monks for their white choir robes. According to Wikipedia, the term Cistercian derives from Cistercium, the Latin name for the locale of Citeaux, near Dijon in eastern France. It was here that a group of Benedictine monks from the monastery of Molesme founded Citeaux Abbey in 1098, with the goal of following more closely the Rule of Saint Benedict. The Cistercians spread predominantly throughout Britain and became renown for making and selling high quality wool.

Carthusian Monks are another French order founded in 1084 by Bruno of Cologne (1030-1101) and named after the Chartreuse Mountains in the French Prealps. These are not Benedictine monks. Carthusian monasteries are called charterhouses and consist of both monks and nuns of the Catholic Church, one of the features of which is only one meal a day. Although they shun music, they do chant and are renown Gregorian chanters. They are also known as White Monks but unlike Cistercian monks they tend to wear all white apparel.

Dominican Monks are Catholic members of the Order of Preachers founded in Toulouse, France, in 1206 by Spanish priest Dominic of Osma (1170-1271) and follow the rules of monastic living as put forth by Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), taking vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Since the outer tunic of their habits are black, they are known as the Black Friars. Also, since they tend to travel and preach, they are known as the Order of Friars Preachers.

Franciscan Monks are a mendicant order of Catholic monks that emerged in the early thirteenth century (cerca 1209) following after Francis of Assisi in Italy (1181-1226) and do not adhere to a monastery, but instead live in society subsisting on alms (thus the term mendicant). They are also called friars (Latin frater, "brother") and belong to the Order of Friars Minor. Their habits are usually brown or grey wool with a rope tied around the waste. That thingy on their shoulders is part of the hood and is called a cowl.

Carmelite Monks associate themselves with the Old Testament prophets Elijah and Elisha, who lived in caves on or near Mount Carmel in northern Israel. Known as the Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (OCarm), its founding is generally attributed to the French Crusader Berthold of Calabria in the early twelfth century and they follow the rule of Alberto Avogadro (Albert of Jerusalem, d. 1214), the three primaries of which are poverty, chastity and obedience.

Augustinian Monks are a relative late-comer to the Catholic orders in 1244, however, they follow the rules of monastic living as put forth by Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), which predates those of Saint Benedict, but like the Benedictine monks they also wear black habits. However, they tend to be more reclusive like hermits. Also, there's no apparent direct relation to Dominican monks.

Trappist Monks and Trappistine nuns are named after La Trappe Abbey in French Normandy, a branch of the Cistercian Order that developed throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries during the Renaissance as a return to Benedictine asceticism and austerity. Known as the Strict Observance of the Cistercian order (the original being the Common Observance), they are vegetarian and talk as little as possible, some even taking a vow of silence. They wear a white tunic with a black scapular (Latin scapulae, "shoulders"), which is sort of an apron. Many Trappist abbeys are renown for brewing beer and ale and since you are probably asking yourself why, then it shall be a future blog topic.

Lutheran Monks are mainly converted orders of their Catholic counterparts.

Anglican Monks are British offshoots of Catholic orders. In the sixteenth century during the formation of the Church of England, King Henry VIII destroyed pretty much all of the Catholic monasteries in England and it wasn't until two centuries later that they began cropping up again under the Anglican Communion, to include Benedictines, Franciscans, Cistercians, and Dominicans.

Methodist Monks are rare but do exist primarily in Minnesota, which are of the Benedictine rule.

Afterthoughts: Monks can be priests and vice versa. Many of the Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican monastic orders include lay people who participate in conjunction with the monasteries and are allowed to dress in habits. These more secularized groups are not necessarily bound by monastic vows and are generally referred to as the Third Order, or tertiaries, which originated from the confraternities and guilds of the Middle Ages. They get to look and act like monks and nuns but go home to their families at the end of the day and watch television. Also, sometimes monks wear a skullcap that looks like a Jewish yarmulke to cover their intentionally shaved bald spot, called a tonsure, which acts as a sign of humility. Tonsures are typically a modern Eastern Orthodox practice but were employed in the past by various Catholic orders as well.

Popular Monks in Modern Culture

Jazz musician Thelonious Monk (1917-1982), the second most-recorded jazz composer after Duke Ellington. In his teens, he played church organ with a traveling evangelist. One of the major contributors to bebop, he once said, "The piano ain't got no wrong notes."

Red Skelton as Robin Hood and Billy Gilbert as Friar Tuck in a skit from the 1956 television program The Red Skelton Show. Friar Tuck supposedly existed in twelfth-century England and was either a Cistercian monk or a Benedictine monk, but evicted due to drunkenness.

Jack Black as Nacho the luchador in the 2006 movie "Nacho Libre" about a Mexican monk named Ignacio who wrestles professionally to support a Catholic orphanage, loosely based on the life of Sergio Gutierrez Benitez, Catholic priest and lucha libre Fray Tormenta ("Friar Storm").

Father Cesare Bonizzi of the Capuchin Order of Franciscans and frontman for heavy metal band Fratello Metallo ("Brother Metal") with fifteen albums. According to him, "Metal is the most energetic, vital, deep and true musical language that I know." Amen to that, brother.

Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk in the USA Network television comedy-drama mystery series "Monk" (2002-2009) about a private detective with an obsessive-compulsive disorder and a wide variety of phobias and fixations.

The monks in the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" chanted, "Pie Iesu Domine, dona eis requiem" ("Holy Jesus, Lord, grant them rest" -- a traditional Latin funeral rite), then flagellated themselves on the head with a board. A timeless classic for the whole family.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 6 Friday, March 11, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- the basement flooded overnight due to a running toilet on an upper floor. Although building management has arrived early with wet vacs and fans, this means a regeneration to the stench of mildew. Since this is an annual event, we have learned to store everything on metal shelves above ground. Unfortunately, these metal shelves have to be disassembled and reassembled each time management gets a wild hair to rearrange everything for the sake of change because someone read the book Who Moved My Cheese? The IT supervisor has presented Kelvin with a Visio drawing of her new schematics of the metal shelves in their projected location, to be completed after everything dries out. "And what do you want me to do about it?" he says, "That's not in my job description." So it gets assigned to me because I don't care if it's in my job description or not. Besides, I'll have to use a rubber mallet to pound the metal shelves together, which in turn will perturb Kelvin, causing his blood pressure to elevate, as evident in the bulging of his veins, generally in his neck, forehead, and temples -- just like Coach Buzzcut in Beavis and Butt-head, come to think of it. But upon inspection of the schematics I find a flaw that is in violation of safety standards, which I bring to the attention of our onsite safety officer, who recommends a slight modification. Unfortunately for me, a slight modification may lead to an infraction and a formal reprimand for insubordination. Kelvin knew what was at stake and took evasive measures, which left me holding the schematics. To be continued...

(Continued from before.)The following is a recap from the previous paragraph: Kelvin was perturbed and I had the unfortunate task of implementing slightly modified plans which had been painstakingly designed by our supervisor using Microsoft Visio. Undoubtedly she had labored over them for hours, however, a slight miscalculation was made that left for an opening of only 2-1/2 feet wide between units, whereas standard protocol dictated a clear passage of at least thirty-two inches. Although the safety officer approved the two-inch increase, our supervisor was unavailable for approval and a dilemma ensued. Kelvin watches with anticipation and a cup of coffee as I deliberate for what seems an eternity about what to do. Then it occurs to me that the shelves do not need to be disassembled and moved today. I breathe a sigh of relief, roll up the schematics which had been printed from an HP DesignJet T630 36-in plotter, and crack open a can of sugar-free Rock Star. Kelvin sets down his cup of coffee and applauds slowly and sarcastically, then returns to his office, forgetting his cup of coffee. I take the cup and place it in the backup safe. When he eventually finds it, and he will, he will be pissed. By then the floor will have dried and the shelves will have been moved and reassembled. Yet will we still be co-workers? Will he have finally succumbed to a stress-induced brain aneurysm? Will I have been placed on administrative leave for disciplinary reasons? Will either of us remain after Thanos uses the Infinity Stones he's collected in the Gauntlet to disintegrate half of all life in the universe? Only time will tell. To be continued... again.

60 Second Romance Vol 4 Thursday, March 10, 2022

Gently he caressed her face with his one remaining toe. He recently lost both arms and a leg in the freak carousel accident that claimed eight lives. As tears streamed down her face and she sobbed uncontrollably, he demanded she move on, live a normal life, and start over with a new husband while he rotted away his few remaining years in a nursing home wiping himself with one toe. She kissed him one last time and then she said goodbye forever, never expecting to see him five years later as a circus sideshow performer wiping patron's butt cracks for a dollar. It was the most pitiful demise she had ever witnessed, but what she failed to realize was that his lifelong dreams of becoming a live entertainer had been fulfilled. The outcome was best for all. On her way home, she turned on the car radio and listened to the song "Alphie," followed by "Message for Michael," a double shot of Dionne Warwick. This made her think of him and his one toe, which made her sad... a Righteous Brothers or Roy Orbison kind of sad, but not Burt Bacharach and Hal David sad.

Holy Forty Wednesday, March 9, 2022

On this day in A.D. 320, forty Roman soldiers of Cappadocian descent and members of the Thunderbolt Twelfth Legion were killed near the city of Sebaste in Armenia Minor under Emperor Licinius, according to Basil of Caesarea. As professed Christians, they were brought by order of prefect Agricola naked into a partially frozen pond at night to freeze to death. One recanted and jumped into a warm bath, where he died instantly of shock. According to Ælfric's Lives of Saints, the thirty-nine sang hymns and prayed and the Lord shown upon them in a brilliant light as the winter wind blew and the pond froze around their bodies. But the light of the Lord was hot and melted the ice and made the water warm. After witnessing this, one of the guards disrobed and joined them, professing to be a Christian. But the other guards had been put to sleep and could not move as even they saw what happened. At daybreak, the forty were removed from the pond and their legs broken as they continued to sing hymns. Then they were burned in a pile until there was nothing left but their bones, which were thrown into a wide stream. Three days later the Bishop of Sebaste was shown in a dream where to find the bones, so he and other priests went by night to the location and retrieved every bone, which had each been brightly illuminated in the deep water. Some sources list the names of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste and several churches have been dedicated to them.

The night before the forty were sentenced to freeze to death, as they were singing hymns, the Lord spoke to them and said, "He who truly believeth on the living Father, and on His only-begotten Son, and on the Holy Ghost, though he be dead, nevertheless he shall live; be heartened, and be not afraid of the torments of the heathen, which are but transitory; be patient for this while, that ye may be crowned with glory in the eternal world."

International Women's Brew Day Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Today is International Women's Day to commemorate the cultural, political, and socioeconomic achievements of women and, as equally if not more important, it's also International Women's Collaboration Brew Day to unite women in the beer industry and those brewing at home. Find out more about this very important movement here. This year's theme is "Celebration" and the Pink Boots Society blend combines five different hops from Yakima Chief Hops. If you've never brewed your own beer, then try it some time. It only requires a lot of cleaning and sanitizing, gallons and gallons of water, precise temperatures and timing, and weeks of fermentation. But the results can be rewarding, or it can all turn out sour and have to be dumped. Who knows? Here's a Bible passage: "Get up, go away! For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, it is FUBAR. If a liar and deceiver comes and says, 'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,' that would be just the prophet for this people!" (Micah 2:10-11, NIV) Well, that did not speak too favorably of beer, but it can also be interpreted as strong drink, which excludes Coors Light. To earn their keep, monks have traditionally brewed and sold beer, which used to be considered liquid bread and therefore a basic food group for all ages. But nuns have also been master brewers alongside their brethren of the cheese cloth. The Catholic Church canonized St. Brigid of Ireland because she could turn water to beer simply by touching it. The Benedictine nuns of the 1893 Maredret Abbey in Belgium brewed and sold beer to maintain the convent and have recently begun the practice again. The Franciscan nuns of the Mallersdorf Abbey in Bavaria have been brewing beer since the twelfth century. However, I fell asleep early and woke up too late to spend much time researching this post, so that's all.

"As an important part of daily nourishment, women had always produced beer at home and for their own household. However, in Holland from the beginning of the thirteenth century beer production for the general market commenced. In North-Western European countries like England, Germany and the Southern Netherlands, there was a transition from domestic brewing to commercial brewing at some moment during the late Middle Ages. Small-scale domestic brewing by housewives was substituted through large-scale brewing by specialist brewers. Most of those specialist brewers were men. However, in Holland, female brewers did not withdraw from the industry until the end of the eighteenth century." --Marjolein van Dekken at

Ottoman-Venetian War Monday, March 7, 2022

On this day in 1573, the island of Cyprus was transferred from Christian to Islamic control after three years of war between the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim II and the joint forces of the Republic of Venice and the Holy League -- the fourth of seven wars between the two factions from 1396 to 1718. One of these conflicts, the Crusade of Nicopolis in 1396, was part of the medieval Crusades between Christian states and Islamic states to maintain control over holy lands, particularly that of Jerusalem. The Crusades comprised eight major campaigns between 1095 and 1270 of various armies from Christian states sanctioned by the Vatican, with subsidiary crusades occurring thereafter to reclaim other territories captured by Muslim forces. Basically, the Muslims took over the area of ancient Israel and the Christians tried several times to take it from them by violent means, but in the end it was the Muslims who won out. Which begs the question: Why can't we all just get along? The answer is in Genesis 16:10-12, where an angel of the Lord tells Abraham's servant Hagar that her son Ishmael's hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and his descendants are the Muslims. For more information about the relation between Christians and Muslims, take a closer look here.

Pictured: One of the many battles between the Venicians and the Ottomans, this one captured on canvas in 1717 by A. von Escher depicting what usually happens to the flag-bearer.

European Day of the Righteous Sunday, March 6, 2022

Time flies when you're not tied down by the old blog and chain. Anyhow, today is March 6, a human enzyme and E3 ubiquitin-protein ligase that promotes 'Lys-48'-linked ubiquitination of target proteins, such as DIO2 and SQLE, leading to their proteasomal degradation and accepts ubiquitin from an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme in the form of a thioester and then directly transfers the ubiquitin to targeted substrates, possibly in cooperation with UBE2G1. Ha, ha, that was a play on words (MARCH6), hardee har har. Anyway, today is the European Day of the Righteous in memory of Moshe Bejski and in commemoration for those who challenged crimes against humanity and totalitarianism with individual responsibility and recalling all those who preserved human dignity during Nazism and Communist totalitarianism, and also to pay tribute to those who helped the Jews during the Holocaust, along with recalling the institutions that have honored people who saved lives during all genocides and mass murders during the past couple centuries. Learn more about this from Garden of the Righteous, the organization behind ED of the R. Another online resource is ENRS, which uses cookies to ensure that you have the best experience on their website and for statistical analysis. By using their website, "you agree for storing on the device that you use so-called cookies and for the processing by us of your personal data left at the time of using by you of this websites." You can at any time read more about their cookie policy and, "You can also do not agree for processing your data by changing your browser settings."

Pictured: Tree of the Righteous. Note: The original illustration is blue, but making it red fits better on this website. Go here to take a closer look. I'm not sure but I think I can make out names like Nando dalla Chiesa, Niccolo Rinaldi, Bela Lugosi, Carlo Rossi Spumante, and Chef Boyardee.

The Message Monday, February 28, 2022

Speaking of renovated biblical translations, here are a few passages from one of the more modern versions, The Message, as well as one of my least favorites, or should I say I don't read it at all unless someone shows me something like this:

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth -- all you see, all you don't see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God's Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. (Genesis 1:1-2)

God's enemies will be blasted out of the sky, crashed in a heap and burned. (1 Samuel 2:10)

"Hey there! All who are thirsty, come to the water! Are you penniless? Come anyway -- buy and eat! Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk. Buy without money -- everything's free! Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest." (Isaiah 55:1-2)

When John realized that a lot of Pharisees and Sadducees were showing up for a baptismal experience because it was becoming the popular thing to do, he exploded: "Brood of snakes! What do you think you're doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to make any difference?" (Matthew 3:7-8)

"Not only that -- count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens -- give a cheer, even! -- for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble." (Matthew 5:11-12)

"Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a musty cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!" (Matthew 6:22-23)

"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion -- do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them." (Matthew 6:27-29)

So, my friends, when you come together to the Lord's Table, be reverent and courteous with one another. If you're so hungry that you can't wait to be served, go home and get a sandwich. But by no means risk turning this Meal into an eating and drinking binge or a family squabble. It is a spiritual meal -- a love feast. (1 Corinthians 11:33-34)

Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God's Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking. Do you -- both women and men -- imagine that you're a sacred oracle determining what's right and wrong? Do you think everything revolves around you? If any one of you thinks God has something for you to say or has inspired you to do something, pay close attention to what I have written. This is the way the Master wants it. If you won't play by these rules, God can't use you. Sorry. (1 Corinthians 14:34-38)

"But why do you let that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet mislead my dear servants into Cross-denying, self-indulging religion? I gave her a chance to change her ways, but she has no intention of giving up a career in the god-business. I'm about to lay her low, along with her partners, as they play their sex-and-religion games. The bastard offspring of their idol-whoring I'll kill. Then every church will know that appearances don't impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what's coming to you... "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches." (Revelation 2:20-23, 29)

Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson and NavPress

Back in my day, a good beginner's Bible was The Living Bible. Then along came The Message, which I thought was meant for simpletons and idiots, but the more simpletons and idiots I got to know, the more I realized that I'm really not that smart. To each their own. Variety is the spice of life that gives it all its flavor (William Cowper, 1785). I cannot criticize The Message because there's another book out there that employs a similar tactic to get people to read the Bible and, yes, this is another shameless plug for my own book, The Gospel of Martha. I myself have invested in The Book of Genesis illustrated by R. Crumb and given it away as a Christmas gift, but given R. Crumb's history of explicit material I reserve this recommendation for just the right audience.

King James Only Sunday, February 27, 2022

As an English-speaker and reader of books in the English language, including Bibles, I am not a King James-only adherent, but it is one of my favorite versions of the Bible. My all-time favorite old-timey Bible is the Geneva Bible of 1560, composed by persecuted Protestants from around Europe who came to the epicenter of the Protestant Reformation, Switzerland, many of whom had fled England under persecution by Queen Mary I. Although not the first English translation of the Bible (it was built upon William Tyndale's 1536 Bible and the Great Bible of 1539), it was the first to include explanatory notes, commentaries, introductory prefaces, numbered verses, cross-references, chronological charts, maps, illustrations, a dictionary, and the use of italics for words added by the translators to make passages more readable. However, as many critics point out, it also contained quite a bit of Reformation theology and some modern interpretations of scripture for the time. After various modifications and revisions, it was widely printed in 1599 for the common man and was the most popular English translation until the reign of King James I, who in 1604 proclaimed the Geneva Bible to be the worst translation of them all and set about to commission an updated official Bible for the Church of England (the previous being the aforementioned Great Bible of 1539 under King Henry VIII and the Bishop's Bible of 1568 under Queen Elizabeth I). But it wasn't so much the translation that King James disapproved of as the annotations, many of which challenged the divine right of kings. This book was written with the Presbyterian ecclesiological flavor of egalitarianism and republicanism, which was highly opposed to both a monarchy and a papal sovereignty -- big words I borrowed from this article. Basically, the Geneva Bible was written by Puritans and Presbyterians, which Kings James didn't particularly care for. You see, Puritans were a faction of the Church of England and Presbyterians were a faction of the Church of Scotland, both of whom had their own leadership of elders who didn't answer to the king on religious matters, and King James was ruler over both countries, as well as head of the Church of England. So the King James Version was designed to conform more to the ecclesiological polity of the Church of England, meaning that it favored the hierarchical government of bishops with a single figurehead representing Christ, much like the Catholic Church. Anyhow, some scholars estimate that the King James Bible was only about 40% original, mainly in its prose, and borrowed much of its translation from previous sources, including about 20% of its content from the annotations of the Geneva Bible. The primary differences between the Geneva Bible and the Kings James Bible is that the first was designed as a study Bible of the Old and New Testaments, particularly in helping the reader to understand the hard parts of Hebrew passages, while the second was written as straightforward a translation as possible and included the fourteen books of the Apocrypha as bonus material. However, that doesn't answer the question of why die-hard King James Version legalists believe the KJV to be the most accurate translation, but that's all for today. For more information about biblical translation, click here.

Pictured: Puritans showing a copy of the Authorized Kings James Version of the Bible to King James I and asking if he had indeed authorized it, which he had, but that's not what it was originally called. It was originally titled "THE HOLY BIBLE, Conteyning the Old Testament, AND THE NEW: Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: and with the former Translations diligently compared and reuised, by his Maiesties speciall Comandement -- Appointed to be read in Churches." It wasn't referred to as the King James Bible or the 1611 Authorized King James Version until nearly two centuries later.

Creationism + Evolution = Invalid Input Friday, February 25, 2022

God loves you because he created you. He loved you when you were just a single cell of primitive protoplasm in a primordial ooze and he lovingly guided you through millions of years of evolutionary development to eventually become the image of himself that you are now. He also loved the dinosaurs, which he created millions and millions of years ago, but had to destroy because they did not evolve into his image. That's the story of creative evolution, of which there are a few flavors. Gap Creationism teaches that there were large gaps of time between the first chapters of the creation accounts in the Book of Genesis during which living things could develop properly and diversify. Day-Age Creationism teaches that each day was actually hundreds of thousands or maybe millions of years instead of 24 hours. Progressive Creationism teaches that God created all organisms in order from simple to complex, as apparent in the fossils of the geological column. Evolutionary Creationism teaches that God was actively involved in every step of evolutionary progression over the course of millions of years. Intelligent Design Creationism teaches that mutations in natural selection were caused by God in order for complex parts of complex organisms to evolve. Theistic Evolution teaches the evolutionary progression as held by modern science, the process of which was designed by God, maybe with a little divine intervention now and then. But none of these add up, at least not biblically. The Bible clearly defines a day prior to creation. Genesis 1:3-4 says that a day (Hebrew yom) is a cycle of day and night, or light and darkness, separated by evening and morning, and that days make up weeks, which make up seasons, which make up years. After this, God created all living things in a matter of pre-defined days. Believe what you want, and no doubt you will, but these enhanced forms of creationism are merely factors of Intelligent Design, which doesn't rely on the Bible. Therefore, it makes more sense to add Intelligent Design into the evolutionary supposition than to try and cram creationism into it. Evolution doesn't want religion, nor does it need it, and creationism got along fine without evolution. This is not apples and oranges, because God created both. He didn't create one fruit and then wait outside of time for a variety of fruit to endure natural selection. It's creationism or evolution, one or the other. Anything in between is agnostic monkey poop.

Gregorian Calendar Thursday, February 24, 2022

On this day in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII issued a papal bull essentially replacing the Julian calendar of Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. with the new and improved Gregorian calendar in order to put Easter back in its proper place. For this, the vernal equinox was moved and the tabular fourteenth day of the moon was made to correspond with the real full moon, thus removing fourteen days of drift since the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, along with removing the number of leap years in order to reduce the number of solar days by 0.0075 annually (a difference of one day per century), as well as applying some other fine-tuning. Although this was implemented post haste by the Catholic churches and states, it was not generally adopted by Protestant countries until the 18th century, by Eastern European countries until after WWI, and never by the Eastern Orthodox Church which still counts the days on its old-timey Julian calendar. If you find this fascinating, then go somewhere else to read more about it because that's all I can handle. [Insert clever segue here.] On this day in 1942, the Battle of Los Angeles took place at the start of WWII, the day after a Japanese submarine fired on a gasoline refinery just north of Santa Barbara, causing minimal damage. A warning issued by naval intelligence the night of February 24 of a possible aerial attack led to the spotting of 25 aircraft over Los Angeles around 2:45AM the following morning and a subsequent barrage of 1,440 rounds of 12.8lb anti-aircraft shells. When the dust cleared and the morning dawned, no foreign debris was found and the Japanese denied any attack. The official conclusion from the U.S. War Department? Weather balloons. The unofficial conclusion from conspiracy theorists? UFOs! [Insert humorous anecdote here.]

Fun Bible Trivia Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Young children and ignorant adults are sometimes so inquisitive and ask the simplest of questions. However, I never hesitate to provide an immediate answer, whether right or wrong, correct or incorrect, factual or fictitious, and when it comes to the Bible, I have all those kinds of answers. Here, I shall now share a few of them with you and you are welcome.

Q: Who wrote the books of the Bible and when?
A: God wrote the Old Testament in B.C. and Jesus wrote the New Testament in A.D.

Q: What was God's promise to Abraham?
A: That his wife's young, attractive servant girl, Hagar, would be his concubine.

Q: Who were the judges of Israel before their first king?
A: Samuel, Job, Ruth, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Q: How did Daniel survive the lion's den?
A: He pulled a thorn from a lion's paw and in return it protected him.

Q: What was the "thorn" in the Apostle Paul's side that he asked God several times to remove?
A: Syphilis.

Q: Where did Jesus pray so hard that he sweated drops of blood?
A: On Mount Sinai, where God gave Moses the ten commandments.

Q: What was in the Ark of the Covenant?
A: The broken stone tablets of the first ten commandments and the golden calf.

Q: Why did the Pharisees and teachers of the law turn Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified?
A: Because they resented him for being a mister know-it-all.

Q: How did Joshua tear down the walls of Jericho?
A: He had the Israelites march around and around the city until the walls turned to butter and melted.

Q: Why did God change Jacob's name to Israel?
A: Because the tribal name "Jacobites" was already taken.

Q: Why did God demand the sacrifice of animals?
A: Because they're delicious when cooked just right.

Q: Why didn't the early Christians trust Paul?
A: Because if he had problems getting along with Barnabas then he wouldn't get along with anyone.

Q: How did King David have Bathsheba's husband killed?
A: By sending him into battle against an army of giants with only a slingshot.

Q: Did John the Baptist live in the dessert or the wilderness?
A: He lived in a deserted wilderness.

Q: Why did God destroy the Tower of Babel?
A: Because it was built by the Sodomites.

Q: What kind of animals were the leviathan and the behemoth?
A: An alligator and a hippopotamus.

Q: Why didn't Jonah want to go to Nineveh?
A: Because the island city was guarded by a giant man-eating fish (possibly megalodon).

Q: What's the difference between a disciple and an apostle?
A: The former is a follower of Jesus, while the latter thinks they're more important.

Q: Why did Jesus only have twelve apostles?
A: Because a baker's dozen is thirteen.

Grand Old Party Tuesday, February 22, 2022

I try to stay away from politics but there has been some confusion as of late about the U.S. Republican Party, mostly inside my own head. To clarify a few things, the Republican Party, also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP), was founded in 1854 partially in opposition to the formation of the new states of Kansas and Nebraska (Kansas-Nebraska Act), primarily due to their support of slavery. The first GOP national convention was held on this day in 1856, which is why I bring it up now. But the Republicans traditionally were in support of liberalism and opposed to slavery -- opposite of the older Democratic Party of 1828. The GOP absorbed much of the Whig party that was the Democrat's largest opponent (the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was a former Whig), which itself had absorbed much of the National Republican Party, which was a splinter group along with the Democrats from the Democratic-Republican Party of the Jefferson/Madison era, which was also referred to as the Republican Party. That didn't make anything less confusing. However, the three conservative parties aforementioned were all made up primarily of the same class of people: entrepreneurs, professionals, businessmen, non-slave-owning farmers, social reformers, Protestants, and eventually freed slaves and factory workers. The GOP shifted farther to the right after Theodore Roosevelt left the party in the early twentieth century and the Democrats returned to prominence during the Great Depression with their socialist New Deal and support of labor unions. Traditionally, the Republicans supported abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, and civil rights, which is a form of classical liberalism. After the 1960s, the Democrats began to adopt a liberal strategy that has become modern liberalism. What's the difference? Maybe later. Anyhow, the GOP became more socially conservative from the 1970s on as evangelical Christians came onboard in opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, affirmative action, and illegal immigration. As a former Democratic voter turned registered member of the Republican Party myself, I tend to remain moderate. While distancing myself from the hillbillies of the far right, I am repelled by the hippies of the far left. In future posts I will undoubtedly reveal my stances on social and political views more or less clearly, but for now I'm just trying to figure out the divide between the two prominent political parties, which ain't what they used to be. I'm of the mind that most thinking Americans are somewhere in between, however, I also believe that most Americans don't think for themselves and by that I mean they either choose to remain fat, dumb and happy, or don't bother looking for answers beyond the confines of their own comfort zones.

Image from the Library of Congress, published in 1872 by Currier & Ives.
Pictured: the first African American members of Congress, all Republicans
(41st and 42nd Congress of the U.S.).

Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi, 1870-71 (lower left)
Representative Benjamin Turner of Alabama, 1871-73 (second lower left)
Representative Robert DeLarge of South Carolina, 1871-73 (top left)
Representative Josiah Walls of Florida, 1871-76 (center)
Representative Jefferson Long of Georgia, 1871 (top right)
Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina, 1870-79 (lower right)
Representative Robert B. Elliot of South Carolina, 1871-74 (lower far right)

As can be plainly seen, these gentlemen were not afforded much room.

Presidents' Day Sale On Now Monday, February 21, 2022

Today is Presidents' Day in the U.S., originally in honor of George Washington. It later came to incorporate Abraham Lincoln's birthday. If you want to celebrate our current president then you have the right to do so, but hopefully you do it in the privacy of your own home. The following is an excerpt from Washington's 1796 Farewell Address after serving two terms:

"The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Um, and it serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions...

"Uh, and of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle...

"Oh, and excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests. The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop...

"And one last thing: I hear tell of a myth that as a child I chopped down a cherry tree with a hatchet and when confronted by my father I replied that I could not tell a lie and admitted my wrongdoing, to which he forgave me for my honesty, or something to that effect. Then, apparently, I took the felled tree and whittled from it a set of false teeth of my very own. Well, firstly, my father would that he had whipped me to within an inch of my life had I hatchetted one of his precious fruit-bearing trees and, secondly, my teeth are real; that is, human teeth, not necessarily the ones that grew from the very roots inside my own gums, mind you, but quality bone for sure."

You can read the entire address here, which was written by Washington with a little help from his friends (James Madison and Alexander Hamilton). In it he warns of the true enemies of the "experiment," which include the absence of religion and morality, political factions and deep party lines, too much involvement in the affairs of other countries, long-term friendly alliances and/or rivalries, secession of states from the Union, national debt and erosion of credit, and forceful changes to government that supplant constitutional amendments (which themselves should only be enacted after proven necessary) -- all those things we now hold near and dear and take for granted.

Image on loan from the History of Vaccines.
To Vax or Not To Vax Sunday, February 20, 2022

I fell asleep for a few days. Anyhow, today is the UN's secular observance of World Day of Social Justice and what better way to discuss the topic than remembering Frederick Douglass, who died on this day in 1895. Douglass was an African-American social reformer who escaped slavery in the U.S. and rose to prominence as an American abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. However, we are interrupted by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Jacobson v. Massachusetts, in which the Supreme Court upheld on this day in 1905 the authority of states to enforce compulsory vaccination laws. Fined five dollars for not being revaccinated for smallpox, Henning Jacobson took his case all the way to the Supreme court arguing that the vaccine caused other diseases and violated the Fourteenth Amendment by being unreasonable, arbitrary and oppressive, which the Supreme Court ruled otherwise by a majority vote of 7-2. The Court held that, "In every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand." During this period, anti-vaccination protestors formed such groups as the Anti-Vaccination Society of America and the Anti-Vaccination League of America in order to spread anti-vax propaganda. (And by "propaganda" I don't mean disinformation because I'm neither for or against vaccination, although I am vaccinated for COVID-19 because I work in a state that mandates it for government employees.)

Pictured: Genoese surgeon Luigi Marchelli extracting sheep-pox in 1807 as a vaccination against smallpox. During the nineteenth century, cowpox was the most common vaccine against smallpox. (The term vaccine derives from the Latin word vacca for cow.) Early vaccines against COVID-19 were obtained from fecal extractions from the Caronavirus. More modern vaccines contain the fecal matter from either self-replicating RNA or messenger RNA (mRNA), which both cause cells to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which in turn instructs the body how to identify and destroy the corresponding pathogen.

LWoS and the GoM Thursday, February 17, 2022

Lest I forget why I started this blog, and I have, it's to shamefully promote my two books, The Lost Wisdom of Solomon and The Gospel of Martha. The first is a protraction of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes -- something that undoubtedly appeals to everyone. The second is a ploy to get friends and family to read the Bible because if they manage to finish the book then they will have read all four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), plus the Gospel of Thomas, much of the laws and sacrificial offerings of Leviticus, and a few apocryphal writings as well. But don't let that scare you off, because as a bonus it's also written in the King James English. I sat on it for three years, letting it ferment until my conscience compelled me to finish. Here's what some of my friends and family have said already about The Gospel of Martha:

"The first chapter is too long and difficult, maybe even a deterrent." --my wife (I changed it)
"There is a slight shift in text size between chapters. I doubt this was intentional." --Mike P. (still there)
"Maybe you should've quit while you were ahead with the first book. I'm going to quit while I'm five chapters in." --my sister
"I laughed at one point, but I probably shouldn't have." --Suzy
"I say this with all confidence, some Christians will take offense at this." --my dad
"I'm still offended at the first book. I'll pass on the second. May God have mercy on your soul." --Roy T.
"Keep following your dreams, I believe in you. If all else fails, you'll always have a place in our basement." --What my mother would say if she was still alive.

Mr. Snuffleupesophagus Tells All Wednesday, February 16, 2022

I'm of the opinion that Big Bird's "imaginary friend" Aloysius Snuffleupagus was named after the result of a medical procedure to correct a hiatal hernia, which occurs when the upper part of the stomach bulges through the diaphragm. After mine, I have been able to clearly hear Mr. Snuffleupagus echoing up my wind pipe when I lay on my left side, revealing all kinds of Sesame Street secrets that are apparently buried deep inside my gastrointestinal tract. What's that, Mr. Snuffleupagus? Bert and Ernie do not have a homosexual relationship? But Ernie does have an off-screen relationship with Maria Rodriguez, which is a condition known as Agalmatophilia? You don't say! You were a drug addict back in the 80s and you murdered Mr. Hooper because he saw you snorting blow and you've evaded Sherlock Hemlock all these years? And now you grow hemp in your Snufflegarden? Whaaat? HBO purchased rights to Sesame Street in order to make it even more liberal? No, really? Count von Count can't really count, he just reads cue cards? That's absurd! Oscar the Grouch is a philanthropist and donates millions to charitable organizations? Who would've suspected? The Yip-Yip Martians are real? I knew it. Kermit the Frog is Jewish? Obviously. The Two-Headed Monster was part of a traveling freak show act? Tell me something I don't know. Telly's favorite shape is a triangle? Duh. Elmo swears profusely off-camera? Ha! Prairie Dawn regularly participated in online chat groups to catch pedophiles on Dateline NBC: To Catch a Predator? Juicy. Zoe has a Muppet STD? What the...? Grover is gay and Super Grover is super gay and super into brachioproctic eroticism? Egad! Herry Monster has a private collection of Nazi war criminal porcelain dolls? Okay, that's enough, time to roll over.

St. Valentine Monday, February 14, 2022

On this day in 1349, amidst the period in history known as the Black Death (1346-1353) when the bubonic plague swept Europe and reduced its population by half, hundreds of Jews were burned to death as scapegoats by an angry mob in Strasbourg, Germany, a relatively common occurrence for the times. But let us conveniently set aside this distasteful bite of history and focus on the commercialization of the Feast of Saint Valentine, who on this day in 269 was martyred by the Roman Empire under Emperor Claudius II (Marcus Aurelius Claudius Gothicus), although there may have been more than one because there were about a dozen St. Valentines and accounts exist of two or three who were martyred about this time because it was a relatively common name in Italy. Some of the legends that originated from the life of this composite individual include secretly marrying Christian couples, giving hearts made of parchment to persecuted Christians to remind them of their vows, and signing letters "from your Valentine." Rumor has it that St. Valentine gave one of these paper hearts to Claudius during the festival of Lupercalia, who misinterpreted it as a romantic seduction but was offended when he learned it was a handbill advertising a discount on wedding ceremonies to Christians and had him executed. (It's a rumor I started, so spread it around freely.) Anyway, Lupecalia was a pagan festival held on or around February 14 in ancient Rome in honor of the she-wolf that raised Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. It's difficult to get to the bottom of this festival, but over time it evolved into a raucous event filled with drunkenness and nakedness which even Christians were criticized for participating in. For this reason, some believe that in the late fifth century Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with the Feast of Saint Valentine, but this is not substantiated. Modern scholars believe that the egg of Valentine's Day pupated in the fourteenth century with Geoffrey Chaucer's poem "Parliament of Foules," which identified February as the beginning of avian mating season, then entered the larval stage during the fifteenth century when romantic hand-written Valentine greetings became popular, and finally metamorphosized into the flamboyantly garish butterfly it is today during the nineteenth century thanks to cheaper printing methods and the invention of mylar balloons in the twentieth century.

During the Victorian era of the nineteenth century, the "vinegar valentine" became a popular method of rejection.

I'm not attracted by your glitter.
For well I know how very bitter
My life would be, if I should take,
You for my spouse, a rattlesnake.
Oh no, I'd not accept the ring.
Or evermore 'twould prove a sting.

The card-playing maid is "the limit,"
Her mind's on the cards ev'ry minute;
If she loses the prize,
Oh, how deeply she sighs,
"'Tis so awful not to be in it!"

'Tis said you share your love with many.
But I believe you have not any
At least enough to give away.
You keep it for yourself they say.

I hope cupid in his grace
Will come and shoot you in the face.
With bow and arrow, or a gun
For the terrible things you've done.
P.S. I hate you.

Inquisition Sunday, February 13, 2022

On this day in 1633, Galileo arrived in Rome to appear before the Inquisition based on accusations that he was attempting to reinterpret the Bible with his support of the Copernican theory about the sun being the center of the solar system, as evident in his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, published the year prior. Although he argued that heliocentrism was not contrary to biblical texts, nor was he in favor of it, he was found suspicious of heresy, sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life, and his books were banned. The Inquisition was started in the twelfth century to combat religious heresy through trials of the accused, who were given the chance to defend themselves and either recant and do penance or else face banishment, imprisonment or death. The scope grew over the centuries and took on different forms in different countries, particularly in response to Protestant factions (e.g., Cathars, Waldensians, Hussites, Beguines, Fraticelli), and to include those who practiced black magic and humanism. The Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions also targeted Jews and Muslims who had converted to Catholicism by force. Torture to extract confessions from heretics became a prominent practice and inquisitors who employed instruments of torture were absolved by the Church. Estimations of how many people died as heretics during the combined Inquisitions vary, with conservative estimates ranging from 3,000 to 30,000 plus an additional 100,000 or more who died in prison. The Inquisition was abolished in the early nineteenth century, however, the Catholic Church still maintains the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was born of the Inquisition and remains to defend Catholic doctrine.

Seventeenth-century painting of Galileo Galilei by Flemish artist Justus Sustermans. Galileo (1564-1642) was an Italian mathematician, philosopher and astronomer known for enhancing the power of the refracting telescope and promoting a sun-centered solar system, which got him inducted into the Inquisition Hall of Fame. Twenty-first century photograph by Jonas Rogowski of Jason "Dagon" Weirbach, frontman for black metal band Inquisition, which released such songs as "Master Of The Cosmological Black Cauldron" and "Inversion Of Ethereal White Stars" in honor of Galileo.

The Sabbath Saturday, February 12, 2022

The topic of the Sabbath came up recently. Well, actually, I mentioned it. There are some pretty good arguments for observing the Saturday Sabbath, not the least of which is the third commandment to honor the Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8, 31:12-17), which specifically is the last day of the week, Saturday, whether following the lunar calendar or any one of the solar calendars. Most Christians traditionally honor a Sunday Sabbath in observance of the resurrection day of Christ, the day after the Jewish Sabbath (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1, Luke 24:1, John 20:1), or "The Lord's Day" as mentioned in Revelation 1:10, which was presumed to be on a Sunday. It is also Sunday that is believed to have been the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the first believers (Acts 2:1-4), as well as a day of tithing (1 Corinthians 16:1-3), breaking of bread (Acts 20:7), and hymnals, teaching, revelation, and speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:26). Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 not only granted freedom of religion in the Roman Empire, but established Sunday as a day of worship. In the same century, Roman law adopted the practice of abstaining from servile work on the Lord's day. Roman Catholic canon law later added the obligation of attending Mass. To the Seventh Day Adventists, this is a major point of contention and an unpardonable sin.

Old Testament Sabbath activities were to include burnt offerings of two lambs, along with drink offerings and grain offerings (Numbers 28:9-10), priestly loaves of bread (Leviticus 24:5-9), and abstinence from all regular work (Leviticus 23:3), including simple tasks like gathering wood (Numbers 15:32-36), lighting a fire for the home (Exodus 35:3), buying and selling merchandise (Nehemiah 10:31, 13:15-22), carrying a load (Jeremiah 17:21-27), or "doing as you please or speaking idle words" (Isaiah 58:13). This pertained to everyone, not just the Israelites, but to their entire household, servants, animals, and aliens within the gates (Deuteronomy 5:14). Certain celebrations were considered special sabbaths, such as the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:4-8, Numbers 28:16-25), Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22, Numbers 28:26-31), Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36, Numbers 29:12-35). God decreed that each year, on the tenth day of the seventh month, there was to be a sabbath of rest as a Day of Atonement for all the sins of the Israelites (Leviticus 16:29-34, 23:26-32, Numbers 29:7-11). There was also to be a sabbath year every seventh year, when the land rested from cultivation (Leviticus 25:1-7).

Obviously, since I was writing this blog post on Friday evening, I am in violation of the Sabbath commandment to do no work from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Although I enjoy writing, it may be considered work. Quite frankly, wiping your butt can be considered work (technically it's not, but tearing sheets from a roll of toilet paper is). The fact of the matter remains: "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mark 2:27), Jesus' point being that the Sabbath was made for our benefit. It is this revelation of the law that Paul spoke of as freedom from slavery under the law, which Christians should not quarrel about (Galatians 5:1-15). But we do anyway. As I said, there are some pretty good arguments to be made in favor of the original Saturday Sabbath, many of which accuse the Catholic Church and the Pope of being the beast and/or the antichrist and changing the days and laws of God's decrees (Daniel 7:25). That in itself is a topic for another day.

I tend to look to the New Testament to see how Gentile believers were directed. Of the laws and traditions required of the Gentile believers by the early church (all three of them: abstaining from food sacrificed to idols, the blood of strangled animals, and sexual immorality -- Acts 15:19-20, 15:28-29), the Sabbath was not one of them. As Christians, however, we observe a sabbath because it is a command that extends to everyone for their benefit (Isaiah 56:6-7), as well as for the tradition of gathering together in sacred assembly (Leviticus 23:3). Sacred assembly for the Christian includes devotion to the apostles' teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayer, miraculous signs (Acts 2:42), for singing praises to God (2 Chronicles 5:12-13, Psalm 30:4, 47:6, 92, 95:1-2, 135:3, 147:1, Isaiah 38:20, Romans 15:8-11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12), for the public reading of Scripture (Luke 4:16, Acts 13:44, 17:2), and for remembering the sacrifice of Christ's body on the cross (Luke 22:19-20, Acts 20:7). As a command, however, if anyone observes it they are under the law, and they will live and die by that law (Galatians 3:10-14). This is the major theme of the letter from Paul to the Galatians, in which Paul reminded them that they were not justified by the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 13:39, Galatians 2:15-16). Jesus himself is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5), and it is he who has set us free from the law (Romans 8:1-4). Therefore, I sometimes do yard work on Sundays.

Pictured: British heavy metal rock band Black Sabbath, named after one of its first songs, which took its name from a 1963 Italian horror movie of the same name, but traditionally means a witches' sabbath or a meeting of those who practice witchcraft. Notice that all four original band members are wearing crosses. Why? Hell if I know. Supposedly they were cursed by a real Satanic cult after refusing to play for them at Stonehenge, so they started wearing crosses to protect themselves. Apparently, they didn't really believe in that stuff, other than it sold albums and concert tickets.

Our Lady of Lourdes Friday, February 11, 2022

On this day in 1858, a young girl encountered a vision of a small lady who spoke to her from a cave in Massabielle near Lourdes, France, followed by eighteen more visitations that year to her and others. Eventually, the small lady revealed that she was the "Immaculate Conception." These and further appearances, which included various miracles and reported healings, led to Pope Pius IX granting a pontifical decree of canonical coronation to the image in 1876, whereby a statue was made of the lady and crowned. Although the original visions were of a tiny maiden of about twelve years of age, the statue and all subsequent statues depicting "Our Lady of Lourdes" have been fashioned as the typical Virgin Mary of Catholic Mariology. Now, I don't agree with the veneration of saints and I take umbrage (yes, umbrage) at the reverence of Mary. You can read more about what I think about the Catholic Church here, for what it's worth.

Pictured: one of the many statues of Our Lady of Lourdes, this one located in Rosary Square near the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France. Other locations where similar Marian apparitions have transformed a lowly plot of ground into tourist meccas include Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Our Lady of Penafrancia in the Philippines, Our Lady of Walsingham in England, Our Lady of Akita in Japan, Our Lady of Trsat in Croatia, Our Lady of the Hens in Italy, Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, Our Lady of La Salette in France, Our Lady of Medugorje in Herzegovina, Our Lady of Palmar in Spain, Our Lady of Vaillankanni in India, and Our Lady of Siluva in Lithuania.

Catholic dogma asserts that Mary, the greatest of saints, is the Mother of God (Greek Theotokos, "God-bearer"). This was declared at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 and is primarily based on circular reasoning that, since Mary was the mother of Jesus, and Jesus was God incarnate and the second person of the Trinity, then she is therefore the mother of God (though she did not necessarily procreate God the Father). However, there is no New Testament scripture that teaches or promotes this belief. The closest is Luke 1:39-55, where Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to Mary, "But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" and Mary's resulting praise to God, wherein she says, "From now on all generations will call me blessed." Catholic support from scripture only comes from Luke 1:28-30, where the angel Gabriel greets Mary as one who has "found favor with God." Had she been this kind of divine entity, surely Jesus would have identified her as such, but he didn't (Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 11:27-28). Due to her position as mother of the Savior, she is considered by Catholics as both a mediator and intercessor between God and man, as well as a channel of God's grace to mankind. Contrary to this is John 14:6 ("I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.") and 1 Timothy 2:5 ("There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.").

There is also no scripture which teaches the Catholic doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (declared by Pope Pius IX in 1854), whereby Mary was also born of a virgin by conception of the Holy Spirit, thereby making her sinless. The Assumption of Mary (declared by Pope Pius XII in 1950) teaches that Mary didn't die, but was raised into heaven bodily where she is exalted as Queen of Heaven -- despite a lack of witnesses, even by the Apostle John, who was Mary's caretaker after Jesus' death (John 19:25-27) and Jeremiah's warnings to not worship Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and fertility, who shares the title of Queen of Heaven (Jeremiah 7:18, 44:17-25). It is also interesting to note that sometime between the sixth and seventh century, the Feast of Dormition on January 18 commemorating Mary's "falling asleep" was changed to Assumption Day on August 15 commemorating her bodily assumption into heaven. Mary was also considered a perpetual virgin by the Fifth General Council of Constantinople in 553, and believed to have remained a virgin the remainder of her life. On the contrary, according to Matthew 12:46-47, 13:54-56, John 2:12, 6:41-42, 7:3-5, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, and Galatians 1:19, Jesus did have natural born brothers and sisters. Catholic history attributes these as cousins or half-siblings, but Matthew 1:25 implies that Joseph did have union with Mary after she gave birth to Jesus. Other graces bestowed to Mary include her role as the Mother of the Church, the New Eve, Co-Redemptrix (co-redeemer with Christ), and the spiritual motherhood of all Christians. Most of these doctrines are held by the Catholic Church as revelation and accepted by faith.

St. Haralambos Thursday, February 10, 2022

On this day in A.D. 202, a Christian named Haralambos (spell it as you wish) was martyred by the Romans for his faith. A priest and bishop from Magnesia in Asia Minor and 113 years of age, word spread of his spreading the Word and he was arrested by military commander Lucius, brought before proconsul Lucian, refused to offer the customary sacrifices to the Roman gods, and was therefore tortured mercilessly. They lacerated his body with iron hooks, burned him with fire, beat his face with stones, scraped all the skin from his body, and dragged him to Antioch by his beard to appear before emperor Septimus Severus, who had him nailed to a cross with over 100 large spikes and sentenced him to beheading. According to some accounts, hundreds came to him while in prison and were healed. According to the Orthodox Church in America, during his torture, Haralambos said to his tormentors, "I thank you, brethren, that you have restored my spirit, which longs to pass over to a new and everlasting life!" Seeing his endurance and his complete lack of malice, two soldiers (Porphyrius and Baptus) openly confessed Christ, for which they were immediately beheaded with the sword. Three women who were watching the sufferings of Haralambos also began to glorify Christ and were quickly martyred. At one point, commander Lucius seized the instruments of torture and began to attack him, but suddenly his forearms were cut off as if by a sword. Proconsul Lucian then spat in his face and immediately his head was turned around backwards. Lucius entreated Haralambos to show mercy, and both men were healed through his prayers, then Lucius fell at his feet asking to be baptized. During Haralambos' final prayer, the heavens opened and Christ could be seen with a multitude of angels calling him to heaven. Several witnesses came to believe in Christ by attending the torture of Haralambos, including the emperor's daughter, Galina, who buried the martyr's body with honor. If you doubt any of this or question the historicity, then do so quietly. I provide no comment field for good reason.

Dissolution Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Time to get back to something religious, which is what this blog is supposed to be about, primarily Christianity. On this day in 1555, Anglican Bishop of Gloucester John Hooper was burned at the stake as a Protestant reformer and proponent of the English Reformation during the brief reign of Queen Mary I (aka "Bloody Mary"), who was queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558 (following the brief reign of her half-brother Edward VI), during which time she attempted to return England to Roman Catholicism and in the process had 280 religious dissenters burned to death at the stake. The Protestant English Reformation had begun under Mary's father, King Henry VIII, over his annulment from her mother, Catherine of Aragon, or rather the refusal of Pope Clement VII to annul the marriage. Subsequently, Henry VIII as "Supreme Head of the Church of England" was married five more times. Among his other notable accomplishments, he disbanded Catholic monasteries, priories, convents, and friaries in England, Wales, and Ireland (about 900 total with 12,000 members), seizing their assets, shrines, incomes, estate revenues, and tithes. Thus the word of the day: dissolution. There was much criticism of the monasteries during this period throughout Europe, even by Catholics, including priest and theologian Desiderius Erasmus, particularly his calls to reform on relics, which monks and nuns were known to profit from the laity in their veneration thereof. But I digress, so back to John Hooper, a Calvinist and nonconformist who was imprisoned for violation of the Act of Uniformity in protesting the vestments of the Reformed clergy and refusing to wear the prescribed articles of clothing as a bishop. While incarcerated at Fleet Prison, he received letters from John Calvin counseling him that the issue wasn't that big of a deal, so he relented and donned the official garb. The following year, Parliament passed a revised Act of Uniformity that removed any loopholes for disagreement to the mandatory apparel. But after the untimely death of Edward VI at age fifteen, Queen Mary I sent Hooper back to Fleet Prison, where he remained for over a year before being sentenced to death. Undoubtedly he wasn't still wearing a cope (cloak, also called a stole), surplice (tunic, also called an alb), and a chasuble (poncho, more or less) when burned at the stake, since he was stripped of his bishopric while in prison and defrocked.

And now when the sum of all that Christ taught pressed only meekness, suffering, and contempt of life, who does not clearly perceive what he means in this place? to wit, that he might the more disarm his ministers, that neglecting not only shoes and scrip but throwing away their very coat, they might, being in a manner naked, the more readily and with less hindrance take in hand the work of the Gospel, and provide themselves of nothing but a sword, not such as thieves and murderers go up and down with, but the sword of the spirit that pierces the most inward parts, and so cuts off as it were at one blow all earthly affections, that they mind nothing but their duty to God.

Enticed? Read more of Erasmus' "The Praise of Folly."

Illustration by Hans Holbeine, 1785.

Flibbidifoo Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Grandpa is an ornery cuss who says, "Flibbidifoo!"
It's a term that makes the ladies blush and certain gentlemen, too.
He says it when he's frustrated. He says it when he's mad.
He says it sometimes to grandmother, who makes him sorry he had.
It's vulgar, course, and indecent; yet utterly absurd.
Perhaps in your vernacular you have a similar word?
It's often used in conjunction with flipping the middle toe;
And if uttered by a child, to the corner they will go.
There are some who have a peculiar twitch and blurt out, "Flibbidifoo!"
The urge is uncontrollable and may include, "Codsupperstew!"
Once upon a time the words did not exist;
Until someone came to the end of their rope and raised a surly fist.
Without even thinking about what these expressions mean,
They came forth irrepressibly and sounded quite obscene.
Flibbidifoo, codsupperstew, sugglemagroo, and plope!
Anyone who says such things should eat a bar of soap.
If said aloud with one or a crowd, it's offensively exclaimed.
Yet even if muttered under one's breath, alone it's still for shame.
Now back to grandpa, that ornery cuss, who hurls verbal poo;
If you cross him, curse him, or piss him off, he'll hurl it directly at you:

Children's book idea No. 5, illustrations pending.

IDZTFGM Sunday, February 6, 2022

Today is "International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation," sponsored by the United Nations and UNICEF as a reminder that female circumcision still happens to an estimated three million girls annually, according to the World Health Organization. Female genital mutilation, or female genital cutting (FGM/C), is mainly targeted at centuries-old traditions practiced predominantly in various African, Middle Eastern, and Indonesian countries which involve one of a variety of non-medically-necessary procedures upon a girl's vagina: clitoridectomy, where the clitoris is removed (type 1); excision, which removes the clitoris and much of the labia (type 2); infibulation, in which the vulva is stitched shut after an excision (type 3); pricking, piercing, incising, scraping and cauterizing (type 4). The short term and long term health risks are numerous, especially since these procedures are often performed under unhygienic conditions. A question I ask myself is, "Why mutilate female genitals?" But I don't have the answers, so I look them up online in a sort of perfunctory attempt at research (which basically sums up this entire blog). Here's what I find in a leisurely amount of time:

  • A rite of passage preparing young girls for womanhood and marriage.
  • To discourage or prevent women's sexual activity outside of marriage by reducing their sexual desire and pleasure, therefore protecting young women's sexual propriety and morality, and thus demonstrating the obedience and respect required for marriageability. --According to Jewel Llamas, MD.
  • Demasculinization -- ridding a woman of her own male counterpart and the final trace of androgyny. --Kono peoples of Sierra Leone
  • Signifies a family's commitment to the wealthy, polygamous men of their patriarchal society.
  • Cultural identity and mark of being an adult member of society. --Kipsigis peoples of Kenya
  • A religious requirement in Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, and Egypt attributed to Islam. Though a certain percentage of Muslim women are circumcised, it is not an Islamic practice overall and most Muslims agree that it is opposed by the Quran. However, it is observed by the Shafi'i version of Sunni Islam predominant in Africa and Southeast Asia and is a requirement derived from the practice of male circumcision and various interpretations of the traditions of Muhammad (Sunna) and translations of the sayings of Muhammad (Hadith) for female chastity and morality, as well as believed to enhance women's ritual cleanliness to enable them to pray.
  • A religious requirement in Egypt among various Coptic Christians and in Ethiopia among members of Beta Israel, although attributed to cultural pressure and scriptural misunderstanding. Ancient Egypt was considered one of the primary empires wherein this practice was customary.
  • To increase male sexual pleasure (infibulation).
  • Female genitalia are considered dirty and ugly and are removed, ostensibly to promote hygiene and aesthetic appeal. --According to UNFPA.
  • It makes a woman pure. --Borana peoples of Kenya
  • A prospective husband's family may have the right to inspect the bride's body prior to marriage, and mothers regularly check their infibulated daughters to ensure that they are still closed. --Somalia
  • Enhances fertility and promotes child survival. An uncircumcised woman may either miscarry or induce the death of her first-born child. The clitoris is toxic and may kill the fetus during birth. Plus, the clitoris is ugly and has the potential to grow, making it even more hideous. --Urhobos peoples of Nigeria
  • A girl with a younger brother may undergo circumcision if she remains unmarried by her late teens, since custom dictates that a boy with an uncircumcised older sister may not be initiated into the warrior class. --Samburu peoples of Kenya
  • As a mark of a female slave in seventeenth century Somalia.
  • Because without it, many face condemnation, harassment and ostracism.
  • Ignorance, plain and simple.

During the Victorian Era, it was observed by Dr. Isaac Baker Brown that female epileptics tend to masturbate, which leads to hysteria, and subsequently idiocy and death. Removing the clitoris resolved this abnormal irritation of the pubic nerve. As late as the nineteenth century, Dr. Howard Atwood Kelly, a respected Christian gynecologist and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins University, promoted female circumcision in cases where cleaning of the adhesions between the clitoris and hood did not resolve the cause of this irritation (itchiness leading to masturbation, that is). Today, most first and second-world countries agree that FGM/C should be banned, but there are a growing number who also believe that male circumcision should be outlawed as well, including Doctors Opposing Circumcision, the National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males, the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resources Centers, Intact America, Male Genital Mutilation Bill, and the Stop Infant Circumcision Society -- all based in the U.S., where the majority of men are circumcised. Although many Western countries have passed laws against FGM/C, anthropological opponents accuse feminist proponents of having an imperialist, Judeo-Christian bias against African culture, rites, and ancient practices.

Nian Dongji Aoyunhui Saturday, February 5, 2022

The 2022 Winter Olympics are underway in Beijing, China, and no one could be happier than the Uyghurs, who will be watching from the comfort of their re-education camps in Xinjiang. If you haven't heard the news, find out more here and/or here. Allegations of human rights abuse include ethnic cleansing, sterilization, forced labor, torture, surveillance, warrantless searches, separation of children from their parents, and mandatory hair styles of over a million people which the Chinese government claims are Islamic terrorists. Many have accused China of committing genocide against the Uyghurs, but Chinese officials deny that compelling this population to make Calvin Klein underwear by threatening them with death hardly constitutes as genocide, forcing many of its critics to downsize their accusations to cultural genocide, including the European Union, Canada, the U.S., Australia, India, and the United Kingdom, all of which will be boycotting the Winter Olympics while still sending their athletes to compete. New events at the XXIV Olympic Winter Games include women's monobob, big air freestyle skiing, short-track speed skating relay, mixed-team ski jumping, freestyle ski aerials, mixed-team snowboard racing, and Uyghursledding, which is similar to the luge but replaces the sled with a frozen Uyghur. The opening ceremony included president of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, proclaiming the Beijing Winter Games' slogan of "Together for a shared future of Chinese world dominance" and children singing about their unquestioning faith in Communism while two Uyghur athletes used the Olympic torch to burn their dissident parents upon the Olympic cauldron. However, through the magic of modern technology, what television viewers saw was the torch enveloped in a giant snowflake comprised of smaller snowflakes, each with the name of a country that will be financially indebted to China before the next Olympiad. If you don't think any of this is funny, that's because it's not, but I said it anyway.

Hard Times Success (II) Friday, February 4, 2022

My previous suggestions for entrepreneurship were so valuable that here is another: hotdog vendor. You've been dreaming about it most of your adult life and you don't live in New York. Well, now's the time to act. Put some wheels on your picnic table and push it to where customers will line up with cash in hand. Pack one cooler full of wieners and another full of buns, then smother them with dog shit and grass until you make enough money to buy chili and sauerkraut. If they'll stomach what's inside a hotdog weiner, they'll pay you to feed them shit, especially if you market your dogs as all-natural. Assure clients that whatever animals are in the wieners were raised humanely, ranged freely, were not immunized, and died of natural causes. Provide tofu wieners with gluten-free buns for those who prefer the consumption of alternative shit. And here's another: panhandling. Never under-estimate the allure of a destitute appearance and a poorly written cardboard sign. Sympathy sells, so a puppy wearing a bandana will increase revenue. Pull on their heartstrings a little tighter with the aid of crutches or a wheelchair. Veterans of foreign wars are bonus-worthy. Here's a secret that very few know about for financial independence through panhandling: a live baby. It's like a magic wand. But don't accept diapers or food. Rather, insist on cash and in an increasing cashless society use an online payment gateway (Paypal, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, direct debit, et al). Everyone has a smart phone, even panhandlers.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 5 Thursday, February 3, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- and it's because of me. I am called into the IT supervisor's office and asked to close the door to receive a formal reprimand. I pissed off Grumpy the day before but my only defense is that it's difficult not to. His grievance is that I am not funny and that our job requires a level of seriousness that induces stress. Apparently, I only add to that stress. "And what do you want me to do about it?" I say, using his own words in an unprofessional attempt at humor. But she responds, "I want you to quit being such a pain in his ass." Later, as I ponder my mischievous antics the day prior, I begin to understand how annoying I can be at times, especially to someone several years my senior. I distinctly remember the bulging of his veins and the reddening of his face. At lunch, the IT manager descends from his lofty perch and ribs Kelvin about being a cantankerous old man. As much as I'd like to join in, I quietly peel my boiled eggs. No one appreciates the smell of sulphur.

Coming Out of the Phone Booth
Wednesday, February 2, 2022

He called himself "The Black Condor" and had it not been for laws against public indecency he wouldn't even be wearing short shorts and a cape. Raised by radioactive condors in Mongolia (or so my version goes), he had all the powers of Superman, except for x-ray vision, laser eyes, and super breath. But with his concealed black-ray gun, he wasn't underqualified. Nor did he have any of the cool villains -- there was "The Doorman" and "The Cabby" and "The Plumber" and "The Bus Driver" but none were accomplished super villains, with the exception of Jaspar Crow and possibly Lung Woe. The dames all fawned over him, including Molly the Model and especially Jane Arden, spunky girl reporter and Local Book Critic. Yet "The Black Condor" was interested in only one person and his alias was "The Spider." But, alas, The Spider was "not available" and "not interested." However, "The Clock" was both, and it was his suave and sophistication that truly made him super.

Cover provided by The Digital Comic Museum. Illustration by Lou Fine.

Critical Race Theory Tuesday, February 1, 2022

I'll admit I don't fully understand Critical Race Theory, nor why Democrats and Republicans seem to have swapped roles in their stance on segregation in America over the past half century, other than CRT appears to have been a development of intellectual academics disappointed over the failure of the civil rights movement to ultimately end racism in the U.S. I have to agree with CRT's criticism of liberal jurisprudence, however, it seems to be overly complicated with everyone joining in and contributing their own versions and interpretations of the theory, and it is a theory. I'm not opposed to experimenting with incorporating CRT into public education in limited areas or privileged school districts and I find it somewhat interesting that people on the right tend to believe that CRT is going to be taught to children in grades K-12. However, it's not going to be taught to children, but used as a basis for teaching equality to children. Still, the concepts of narratives and instrumentalism in the hands of public education can be a concern to anyone who has ever received a public education and has been exposed to progressive topics delivered with idiosyncratic methods, including sex education -- an aspect of intersectionality with CRT, as well as a subject for another day. Long story short, I don't fully understand Critical Race Theory and I'm not alone. Maybe my grandchildren will be able to explain it to me in a few years.

Mahatma Gandhi Sunday, January 30, 2022

On this day in 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated at age 78 by a right-wing anti-Muslim Hindu amidst the chaos of the partition of the British Indian empire into India and Pakistan the year prior. This was the second attempt just ten days after the first by the same individual and his companions, who felt that it was their moral duty to remove Gandhi due to his influence over the Indian government, which was far too passive and therefore ineffective in preventing the deaths of thousands of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan. While Gandhi believed that Hindus and Muslims could live peacefully in the same country, most did not agree and hundreds of thousands died during rioting and attempting to emigrate from one side to the other. Gandhi, born in 1869, was a lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist who led the campaign for India's independence from British rule through non-violent protests, marches, hunger strikes, and civil disobedience. He made quite a few quotable remarks, but here are some of the lesser-known quotes from Gandhi:

  • "There have been tyrants and murderers throughout history and for a time they can seem invincible but in the end they always fall. Then they are replaced by other tyrants and murderers. But in the end, love wins out, if only for a brief period."
  • "Humanity is like rice. Some are brown and some are white."
  • "Avoid Christians, they are pretty messed up. Then again, they're the ones who need Christ the most."
  • "The past depends on what you do now. The future depends on what you will do next."
  • "What you say is what you are. No backfires on anything."
  • "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are eaten."
  • "A joygasm of the heart is better than an orgasm of the loins. Spiritual nirvana is a boner of the soul."
  • "You can accomplish whatever you put your mind to, even if your intent is evil. Hopefully it's not, though."
  • "Each night when I go to sleep, I die. The next morning when I wake up, I am reborn. If I am hungover, then I am in one of 28 different Hindu versions of hell."
  • "If your basket is full then you are blessed. If your basket is empty, at least it's not full of monkey shit."
  • "What difference does liberty or democracy make to homeless orphans if they are dead?"
  • "Chutney Helper helps your chutney help you make a great meal."
  • "Kill your enemies with love."
  • "The moral power of women is stronger than that of men. Plus they have boobs to their advantage. Boobs always win."
  • "You cannot do nothing and expect results, unless you are protesting those who do too much. Then they will probably bend over backwards to pick up the slack."
  • "I object to violence because it's messy. That and I haven't the strength to fight, what with fasting and all."
  • "There is more to life than sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. Not much more, though. Anything beyond that is just icing on the cake."
  • "I can offer peace, love, and friendship. What I cannot offer is money. I have only three rupees and I need them for the bus ride to the ocean to make salt. Well, okay, here you go. I shall walk."
  • "Love is the strongest force the world possesses and yet it cannot hold my teeth in place."
  • "Home schooling is where it's at. Bullies go to public schools, at least until they get expelled."
  • "I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one's self-respect. Except maybe for the loss of bladder control, which leads to the former."
  • "The life of a mosquito is no less precious than the life of a human being. If one dies of malaria, then it was due in no small part to what the mosquito had to offer in exchange for a little bit of blood."
  • "If all the religions of the world could be swallowed as a pill, it would be a placebo large enough to choke a hippopotamus."
  • "True power comes through imparting love, not instilling fear, but fear of love is a crippling disease."
  • "Reading is fundamental."
  • "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me, except for Nathuram Vinayak Godse."
Pictured: Gandhi comparing an illegal grain of salt he counterfeited to an official grain of salt stamped by the British East India Company. For this offense, he was sentenced to eight months in prison without the possibility of salt.

More About David C. Saturday, January 29, 2022

From his many years of disjunction from the cares and worries of this modern world, David has developed several inexpensive activities designed to entertain the solitary individual. These are just a few of the many ideas he has come up with over time and successfully implemented himself. Though nobody ever said they were unique, they are, however, a healthy alternative to the mass destruction and wide-spread chaos that often results from watching too many children's cartoons on television (but it's not scientifically proven). David has yet to publish a voluminous guide book of his activities, so here is just a sampling...

Go For a Walk: Yes, walking is good exercise. Once you become accustomed to walking, you may also try skipping or marching. A good warm-up march is the Goose Step. Carry along a baton and practice twirling it and throwing it up in the air and catching it as you're marching. You can pretend you're leading a marching band in a parade, or blow a whistle and you've become the drum major! You can even play an instrument whilst walking (David prefers a kazoo) and perhaps others will come out of their homes and join you. Try walking on stilts or backwards for several blocks to a mile. Walk along a set of railroad tracks or a viaduct, but don't practice your baton twirling while on stilts because it may be dangerous. Try walking in a pair of tap shoes and before long you've snazzed up the rhythm of your cadence.

Make some Soup: Soup is good food and a nice, hot bowl of Campbell's Soup can be an interesting experience. Look around your house, in the cupboards, in the pantry, in the cellar -- somewhere, in every household, there is a can of Cream of Mushroom soup and searching for it can be half the adventure. When you find it, don't just save it for a local food drive, but open it up and serve it to yourself. When was the last time you can remember enjoying a bowl of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup? (Believe it or not, this does make for a conversation-opener later in the day!) If you cannot find Cream of Mushroom, then you may substitute Cream of Tomato, Cream of Asparagus, or Cream of Chicken and even complement with a box of Jiffy Cornbread Muffins.

Ride the Bus: This is a lesson in geography. First, call your local transit authority to find out the bus schedule nearest you that will take you into town or somewhere out of your neighborhood. Now go wait at the bus stop. Since this exercise is cost-efficient, don't bring any money with you. Instead, tell the bus driver that you forgot your bus pass and he or she should let you ride free (or just say you're broke and have to get to the welfare office and they should still let you ride free). Remember to ask for a transfer, though. Once you arrive in town, get off the bus and ask a stranger what bus you need to take to get to another part of town that you've never been before. (This will help improve your skills in meeting others.) Go from one person to another asking for directions and bus schedules. Once you find a suitable route, get on board and sit down right behind the driver. Begin a casual conversation with your new driver, pausing every now and then to comment on your surroundings and stare at boarding passengers. Some questions you may want to ask the bus driver include:
"How long does it take to complete this route?"
"Are you the regular driver on this particular route?"
"What are your days off?"
"How many years have you been driving this route?"
"How many years have you been driving a bus?"
"Do you ever accidentally drive past someone waiting at a bus stop?"
"Have you ever caused an accident?"
"Has someone ever died on your bus?"
"Have you ever hit someone and killed them while driving your bus?"
Upon arriving at your stop, somewhere far away from where you started, you can then walk home practicing the Goose Step in your tap shoes whilst twirling your baton. Another healthy idea is to just ride any bus through its entire route. Once the driver tells you it's the end of the line and to get off, you simply act like you just woke up and you're disillusioned and begin slurring your speech. They will usually leave you alone for the trip back to town.

Examine Your Body: This exercise need not be sensual or self-degrading. First, collect some mirrors -- wall mirror, hand mirror, ceiling mirror, cabinet mirror, medicine cabinet, vanity, etc. Next, position the mirrors such that you can see every angle of your body. Now you may begin examining your body from angles you cannot normally see yourself at. To see how tall people see you, look up at a ceiling mirror. To see how small children see you, look down at a mirror on the floor. To see how a possum hanging in a tree sees you, turn a mirror upside down. If someone happens to walk in on you while you're enjoying your reflections, then have them hold the various mirrors in new and different angles so that you can pick at those pimples on your backside. Natural sunlight is best for spotting and squeezing blackheads, pulling stray hairs, and agitating ingrown hairs. You can also just have the other person do this for you.

Bake a Cake: Remember when you were a kid and you would mix anything and everything together and then bake it all in a Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven? Well, some things never change with age. Mix anything and everything you can find in your kitchen cupboards together in a large bowl (e.g., basil, paprika, thyme, parsley flakes, nutmeg, chili powder, cocoa, baking soda, garlic powder, and lots of salt and pepper), but don't forget the basics: water (or buttermilk), wholewheat flour, egg shells, butter sticks, and yeast. These ingredients make whatever you are baking rise and appear edible. You may also want to add lumpy morsels, such as fruit cocktail, cold cereal, green olives, pork and beans, or baby dills to the batter to make your creation more attractive. After baking at any temperature for however long it takes to brown your dough, remove and serve to unsuspecting guests or take to a pot luck, new neighbor, or a shut-in.

Leave a Message: If you still have a landline, recording greetings on your answering machine can take a lot of time and talent, but you don't have to be a professional to do it yourself. Press the Record button and practice speaking clearly and enunciating your words so that your message is received and understood by the caller. Write down several jingles or pitches beforehand and read them over and over until you've practically memorized them. Integrate music or pre-recorded character voices into your greeting or simply mask your voice to sound differently. Greetings are usually about 16 seconds long, so if you must speak fast to record the entire message, then expect callers to call and hang up several times just to comprehend the message in its entirety. Following are just a few of David's more personal greeting examples:
"Hello, you have reached David's residence. I am not available to chat right now, so please leave a message and we shall chat later on." (He verbally makes the sound of a beep, then pauses for a moment.) "Ah, ah, aaaah.... you didn't say 'Mother, may I?' Now call back and try it again."
"Hello?..... What? I can't hear you! Huh? ....Oh, never mind, just leave a message and I'll turn the volume up when I play it back later!"
"Thanks for calling, however, I cannot come to the phone right now." (Sound of a crowd chanting and cheering in the background.) "I am currently being honored for my life's achievements, so I'll have to get back to you in just a few short minutes."

Lord It Over the Insects: This is your chance to play God. Unless your house is infested with insects, go outside and find a busy ant hill. Now present your commandments to your chosen race. ("Thou shalt not eat of the dung beetle. Thou shalt not covet the eggs of foreign queens. Thou shalt not bite thine flesh." And so forth.) After you have made your commandments, go back in the house and find an old trophy, such as fourth place shuffleboard or runner up in dodge ball. Go back outside to your chosen ant hill, place the trophy in the middle of the colony, and wait for a good portion of them to begin crawling over the graven image. Now accuse them of going astray. ("I leave for a few minutes, and you fashion your own false god to worship instead of me?!") Now smite them with your wrath by turning the garden hose on their hill until it's a big puddle. Wait until the puddle disappears and then forgive the remaining ants.

Send a Package: Take something you'd normally leave on your front doorstep for a charitable organization and put it in a box, wrapped nicely, and send it C.O.D. to someone you either know or don't know. However, don't just send garbage or items earmarked for the dump. These should be objects the recipient may decide to keep or give to someone else in need. They may even send you a nice card or letter thanking you for your thoughtfulness. If they send back the bill, just crumple it up and throw it away. If they send the package back C.O.D., then refuse it.

Cut Up Magazines: Gather a pile of outdated magazines and begin cutting out a collection of fanciful images and interesting text. Compile your clippings in a collage and glue them to a piece of paper. Compose recycled letters to send to your friends, lovers, or enemies. Don't bother with a stamp -- simply put your recipient's address where the return address should go and it will be returned to them due to improper postage (this may take a few weeks, though). If you don't want to be traced, then wear latex gloves when handling your magazine clippings, deliver the letter to a post office box in another neighborhood, and don't keep Polaroids of your recipient tacked all over your walls. This is also a great way to send complaints about public transportation to your congressperson, since visual presentations are more powerful. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Have a Yard Sale: Why not make some money selling household treasures to consumers of reusable goods? Take the enterprising initiative and construct a yard sale sign from just about anything and post it just about anywhere. Every veteran yard saler within a ten mile radius will then home in on your front yard and comb through your stuff in droves in search of the best bargain they can find, whether it's something they can use or not. Remember to mark up items so that customers can then barter the price down to their specific bargain range. ("This rusty SOS pad says $5.... I'll give you 25¢." "Sold!") And remember, it's not how many items you have for sale, but it's the variety of your display that matters. Two valuable, unique pieces of crap can be far more attractive to a yard sale crowd than a whole yard full of useless, ordinary crap. You'd be surprised, people may even buy up all your outdated, cut-up magazines!

Cheat and Steal: Some may consider this event unethical, immoral, or illegal. David, on the other hand of the law, finds this activity a sporting scavenger hunt. The following items on David's list can be gathered during broad daylight because no one will dare stop you from taking them for fear it may be too embarrassing or just too tedious on their part. First, borrow a grocery cart from your favorite local grocery store -- preferably one with aligned wheels. Next, go around to local stores and warehouses collecting the following items and piling them in your shopping cart: milk crates; entire stacks of Wheel Deals; squeege es; rolls of one-ply toilet paper from public restrooms; movie posters; automobile hood ornaments; flags; handfuls of ketchup, napkins, and straws; recycle bins; letters from reader boards; manhole covers; road signs; reale state signs; bread racks; sandwich boards; pylons/barricades; sale balloons; yard sale signs. Once your cart is full, then push it home and take inventory of your "hot" items. You can then take them all back where you got them, send them to your friends C.O.D., or have a yard sale and mark everything "Liquidation" and "Going Out of Business." Or you can just push the cart into the middle of a parking lot or intersection and leave it there.

60 Second Romance Vol 3 Wednesday, November 10, 2021

They looked longingly into each other's eyes as they slurped soda from straws in the same ice cream float. He burped some fluid up into his mouth and she snorted foam out her nose in response. They both laughed and she began to fart. That's when the laughter died down and the moment became uneasy. She became nervous and began to laugh some more and started farting uncontrollably. He stood up to leave but didn't feel well and threw up. This caused her to laugh so hard she pooped her underpants. Then he passed out. When he came to, he found himself naked and in a dumpster behind the soda fountain. He would then spend the rest of his life looking for her, longing to find out what had happened, yearning to know if she was "the one."

It Really Happened Thursday, January 27, 2022

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, memorializing the genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis in WWII. On this day in 1945 the Soviet Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland where an estimated 1.1 million prisoners were put to death by shooting, gassing, hanging, and starvation. If one were to line up the same number of bodies head to foot that were claimed by the Nazis as undesirables, with an average of 5.5ft tall (1.6764m), they would reach a satellite in medium earth orbit (17,698.5 miles/28,500km). That would be impossible and most of them would float away into outer space, but killing 17 million* civilians in a 13-year period is also unimaginable. To add to this inconceivableness, the bodies were either incinerated or buried in mass graves. The Nazi's code name for the annihilation of all Jews across the European continent was the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," with its spin-off Romani Holocaust code-named the "Final Solution to the Gypsy Question." At first, Jews were persecuted, expelled, and forced into makeshift ghettos, but soon after the war started they were either eradicated by mobile death squads or rounded up and shipped off to any one of over a thousand concentration camps managed by Hitler's SS (Schutzstaffel) and regulated by the "Disciplinary and Penal Code," called the Lagerordnung, in which punishments, tortures, and death sentences were outlined in an orderly catalog. There are those who deny the Jewish Holocaust ever took place, despite overwhelming historical evidence to the contrary. I suspect these people also believe the McDonald's McRib® sandwich to be made from pork rib, despite overwhelming ingredients to the contrary. I can poke fun at the Holocaust all I want because that's what small minds do when they cannot fathom the unthinkable. Why would the God of the Jews allow this to happen? The general consensus is free will. Find more possible answers here.

Pictured: Luftwaffe Colonel Wilhelm Klink oversaw the Stalag 13 POW camp in Hammelburg, Germany, during WWII. He was not a Nazi SS commandant, nor responsible for the deaths of Jewish prisoners, which means we can all laugh at his comical ineptitude. However, his treatment of Russian POWs was nothing less than horrific.

Council of Trent Wednesday, January 26, 2022

On this day in 1564, the nineteenth ecumenical Catholic council, the Council of Trent, concluded in Italy after twenty-five sessions which began in 1545, and kicked off the Counter-Reformation. I am reminded of this as I sit and read the Vulgate Bible and drink a cup of coffee, which prompts the question: What should I do with the coffee grounds? I normally pour them down the garbage disposal in the sink, but is this even ethical? Is it akin to pouring grease and cat litter down the drain? A quick Google search reveals that it's not that big of a deal and there are more important issues in life. Back to the topic -- The Vulgate was decreed the official version of the Bible by the Council of Trent, or a revised version of Jerome's fourth-century Latin translation, along with deuterocanonical books that Protestants considered apocrypha. If you don't know what any of this means, then don't worry, it's all just coffee grounds. Prior to the Council of Trent, Pope Paul III attempted to initiate other councils in response to the growing Protestant Reformation, inviting even Martin Luther, but he just couldn't get the party going, partly because of conciliarist views that supreme authority in the Church should reside with an ecumenical council rather than the pope, partly because of the kerfuffles of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, and partly due to the French sticking their noses in the air. Incidentally, none of the three successors of Saint Peter during this period were invited to any of the sessions. The outcome of the council was to reject everything that the Protestants brought to the table, which meant upholding Church Tradition as equally and independently authoritative to Biblical Scripture, which, of course, was ultimately interpreted by the Catholic Church. It also decreed that salvation comes through grace and works, not just grace alone (justification), and that anyone who believed that they were secure in their salvation simply by accepting Christ as their savior wasn't just misunderstood, they were plain stupid. Before I sign off, I must admit that I can't read Latin and I don't drink coffee. This whole blog is just a sham.

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 4 Tuesday, January 25, 2022

The following is a true story. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, although no one is truly innocent. Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed -- he has arrived at work and logged in, or logged on, only to discover that I have nabbed all the open help desk tickets. I laugh at him, not with him, and tell him to get to work earlier if he wants a piece of the action. He has no recourse but to grumble as he pours his first cup of coffee. At least I didn't steal all of the tickets already assigned to him, which I take great pleasure in doing when he has Monday off. Oh, wait, this is Tuesday, so I did steal all of his open tickets yesterday (and closed them, I might add). This displeases him immeasurably, since I never resolve the issues the way he intended. I often attribute this to his documentation, or lack thereof, which elevates his blood pressure, as evident in the bulging of veins in his temples. He reprimands me for robbing him of his livelihood. "And what do you want me to do about it?" I say, using his own words against him. But he responds, "I want you to quit being such a fucking pain in my ass." Touché, Kelvin, touché.

The Heart Monday, January 24, 2022

Out of mild curiosity, I was wondering what the Biblical definition of heart is and if there are different words associated with it, so I blew the dust off my Strong's Concordance and browsed the Hebrew and Greek words that to me are all Greek and Hebrew. The primary word for heart in the Old Testament is the Hebrew lev and in the New Testament it's the Greek kardia which both refer to the same thing -- the organ in the chest cavity that pumps blood, the differences being the attributes applied to the heart from each passage. From the heart comes basically everything (Proverbs 4:23), not just emotion, feeling and desire, but a host of other features now commonly credited to the brain, including meditation (Psalm 19:14, 49:3, 77:6), pondering (Luke 2:19), instruction (Psalm 16:7, Proverbs 23:12), knowledge (1 Kings 2:44, Proverbs 18:15, Jeremiah 24:7), wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:23, Proverbs 2:10, 10:8, 14:33, 16:21, 23:15, Ecc 8:5, Job 37:24, Psalm 90:12), understanding (Isaiah 6:10, Proverbs 2:2, John 12:40), enlightenment (Ephesians 1:18), memory (Deut 4:9, 6:6, 11:18, Job 22:22, Psalm 37:31, 40:8, Romans 2:15, Hebrews 8:10, 10:16), formulation (Psalm 58:2), cunning (Psalm 64:6), observation (Deut 26:16), discernment (1 Kings 3:9, 3:12, Proverbs 15:14, 15:28), thought (1 Chronicles 28:9, 29:18, Luke 2:35, Acts 8:22, Hebrews 4:12), will (Acts 11:23), inclination (Genesis 6:5, 8:21, Deut 5:29), wonder (Luke 3:15), anxiety (Proverbs 12:25, Ecc 11:10, Luke 21:34), prayer (1 Samuel 1:13), belief (Romans 10:9-10, Hebrews 3:12), investigation (2 Chronicles 30:19, Psalm 4:4, 199:2, 199:10, Jeremiah 29:13), and truth (Psalm 15:2).

We were made in God's image, so the Old Testament says (Genesis 1:27), who himself has a heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Jeremiah 3:15) and he has set eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes3:11), and in turn probes the minds and hearts of mankind (Psalm 7:9, 17:3, 26:2, Jeremiah 17:10, 20:12, Romans 8:27, Revelation 2:23). King Solomon ascribed memory retention to the heart (Proverbs 3:1, 3:3, 4:4, 6:21, 22:17-18). Jesus said in Mark 7:21 and Matthew 15:18-19 that it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughts come. He asked in Matthew 9:4 and Luke 5:22, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?" Did he know something then that we don't know now and did he know it from an organ other than the brain? Or was he just a simpleton from bygone times who was accustomed to using figures of speech?

Ancient Jewish mysticism considered the heart as the central repository and generator of the body's energy and information, not the brain, which only acted on the disposition of the heart via neural impulses. Which is to say, the mind receives and processes stimuli, but it is the heart that discerns, influences, and responds. Esoterically, it is the heart that contains all physical and carnal passions, while the brain houses the spiritual soul. But I like things simple and metaphysics isn't simple, nor is it capable of being physically conveyed from one individual to another. It has to experienced, unlike the scientific method, which is based on objective observation and weighed against already known and proven facts, then thoroughly documented and scrutinized. You can read an academic text book and get the gist of its content, even if you weren't involved in gathering data, testing hypotheses, and evaluating results. Once published, the knowledge becomes common. You can read the Bible and get the gist of its contents, but it will make no sense unless you experience it firsthand. Yet science cannot dismiss what it has not yet discovered, although it can, and does, doubt it. Western thinking tends to picture the writers of Biblical scripture as primitive homo sapiens who shook off the furs of their Neanderthal ancestors by evolving to woven robes and lifting their diminished brows from foraging on the ground to pondering the heavens above and using their new-found imaginations to conceive of ways in which to restrict one another from advancing too fast, the logical result of which being theism and religion. Therefore, a primal misunderstanding of nature in general and more specifically an ignorance of biology.

Like I said, I like things simple, and the complexities of modern medical science have uncovered new understandings in how highly differentiated organ systems share common signal transduction systems, such as with cardio memory. Neurocardiology is an emerging field that studies the complex interconnectedness between the cardiovascular and autonomic nervous systems. As recently as 1991, researchers discovered that the heart also contains its own nervous system with approximately 40,000 neurons similar to those in the brain, called the intracardiac nervous system (ICN), and the heart sends more signals to the brain via nerve impulses than it receives. Besides the vagus nerve, the heart and the brain also communicate via hormones, neurotransmitters, pressure waves, and electromagnetic field interactions. Since then, the ICN has been mapped three-dimensionally in the heart of a rat. The theory of cellular memories, in which memories are not only stored in the brain but may also be stored in the cells and synapses of organs such as the heart, began to be studied and tested in the 1950s. This is somewhat related to epigenetics, the study of gene and DNA reprogramming that began in the 1940s. All told, there is still a lot we don't know about the human body and the scientific study of the heart within the past century has revealed the possibility that it may indeed have the qualities attributed to it in the Bible. Isaiah often used the term "taken to heart" (Isaiah 42:25, 46:8, 51:7, 57:11), meaning not only to remember something but to imbue the heart with it, for without the heart the brain is just a computer.

Johann Ladenspelder, 1574
Sources of reference other than my own head:
Does the Bible Contradict accepted biological concepts? (Dr. Lorence G. Collins)
What Is the heart according to the Bible? (Bibles for America)
Cardiovascular Research, Volume 40, Issue 3, December 1998, Pages 469–482 (Oxford Academic)
The Heart and Its Energy (Kabbalah Online)
Cardiac Memory: Diagnostic Tool in the Making (AHA/ASA Journals)
Pain: Is it all in the brain or the heart? (
Revealing the Network of Neurons in the Heart (labroots)
Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance (HeartMath Institute)
Is the brain the only place that stores our memories? (the nerve blog
Essay: Epigenetics, cellular memory and gene regulation (ScienceDirect)

Off Day Sunday, January 23, 2022

Today was a day of rest, not necessarily a sabbath, I just didn't get around to posting anything. The Sabbath will be a future topic. Saturday or Sunday -- which will it be?

Of Plimoth Plantation Saturday, January 22, 2022

When last we left our intrepid Pilgrim folk, they were just landed at Cape Cod in the Year of Our Lord 1620. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation, brought to you by Project Gutenburg and sponsored by Lotronex, for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Warning: Lotronex may cause serious gastrointestinal side effects including ischemic colitis and severe constipation that may need to be treated in a hospital and may rarely cause death.

After a sollemne meeting and a day of humilliation to seeke ye Lord for his direction, the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, and Ireland, begune some small cottages for their habitation and as time would admitte, they mette and consulted of lawes and orders. In these hard and difficulte beginings they found some discontents and murmurings arise amongst some, and mutinous speeches and carriags in other; but they were soone quelled and overcome by sicknes of diverce and scurvie and diseases the like which resulte unto death.

Disease begane to fall amongst them, so as allmost halfe of their company dyed desiring but a small cann of beere. All this while ye Indians came skulking about them, and would sometimes show them selves aloofe of, but when any aproached near them, they would rune away. And once they stoale away their tools wher they had been at worke, and were gone to diner. But about ye 16. of March a certaine Indian came bouldly amongst them, and spoke to them in broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it. He became proftable to them in aquainting them with many things concerning ye state of ye cuntry in ye east-parts wher he lived. His name was Samaset; he tould them also of another Indian whos name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speake better English then him selfe.

Squanto was their interpreter, and was a spetiall instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corne, wher to take fish, and to procure other comodities and beere, and was also their pilott to bring them to unknowne places for their profitt, and never left them till he dyed. Many other smaler maters I omite, sundrie of them having been allready published in a Jurnall made by one of the company; and some other passages of jurneys and relations allredy published, to which I referr those that are willing to know them more perticulerly. The spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortalitie begane to cease amongst them, and ye sick and lame recovered apace. And being now come to ye 25. of March I shall begine ye year 1621.

They now begane to dispatch ye ship away which brought them over, Afterwards, ye 14. of Jan: the house which they had made for a generall randevoze by casulty fell afire, and some were faine to retire abord for shilter. Then the sicknes begane to fall sore amongst them, and ye weather so bad as they could not make much sooner any dispatch. Againe, the Govr and cheefe of them, seeing so many dye, and fall downe sick dayly, thought it no wisdom to send away the ship.

In this month of Aprill whilst they were bussie about their seed, their Govr (Mr. John Carver) came out of ye feild very sick, it being a hott day; he complained greatly of his head, and lay downe, and within a few howers his sences failed, so as he never spake more till he dyed, which was within a few days after. Whoss death was much lamented, and caused great heavines amongst them, as ther was cause. He was buried in ye best maner they could, with some vollies of shott by all that bore armes; and his wife, being a weak woman, dyed within 5. or 6. weeks after him.

Haveing in some sorte ordered their bussines at home, it was thought meete to send some abroad to see their new friend Massasoyet. They found his place to be 40. miles from hence, ye soyle good, and ye people not many, being dead and abundantly wasted in ye late great mortalitie which fell in all these parts aboute three years before ye coming of ye English, wherin thousands of them dyed, they not being able to burie one another; ther sculs and bones were found in many places lying still above ground, where their houses and dwellings had been; a very sad spectackle to behould.

Ther was an other Indean called Hobamack come to live amongst them, a proper lustie man, and a man of accounte for his vallour and parts amongst ye Indeans, and continued very faithfull and constant to ye English till he dyed. He and Squanto being gone upon bussines amonge ye Indeans, at their returne (whether it was out of envie to them or malice to the English) ther was a Sachem called Corbitant, alyed to Massassoyte, but never any good friend to ye English to this day, mett with them at an Indean towne caled Namassakett 14. miles to ye west of this place, and begane to quarell wth them, and offered to stabe Hobamack; but being a lusty man, he cleared him selfe of him, and came running away all sweating and tould ye Govr what had befalne him, and he feared they had killed Squanto, for they threatened them both, and for no other cause but because they were freinds to ye English, and servisable unto them.

Whereupon it was resolved to send ye Captaine and 14. men well armed, and to goe and fall upon them in ye night; and if they found that Squanto was kild, to cut of Corbitants head, but not to hurt any but those that had a hand in it. Hobamack was asked if he would goe and be their guid, and bring them ther before day. He said he would, and bring them to ye house wher the man lay, and show them which was he. So they set forth ye 14. of August, and beset ye house round; the Captin giving charg to let none pass out, entred ye house to search for him. But he was goone away that day, so they mist him; but understood yt Squanto was alive, and that he had only threatened to kill him, and made an offer to stabe him but did not.

After this, ye 18. of Septembr: they sente out ther shalop to the Massachusets, and returned in saftie, and brought home a good quanty of beaver. They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strenght, and had all things in good plenty; and were excersised in fishing aboute codd, and bass, and other fish, of which yey tooke good store, and now begane to come in store of water foule; and a great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison. And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to blesse their outgoings and incomings, for which let his holy name have ye praise for ever, to all posteritie.

To be continued...

IEEE Prophecy Friday, January 21, 2022

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the folks who bring you industry standards and publications on everything from neutral grounding to network protocols, recently released their technology predictions for the year. Rather than checking them out for yourself, they are listed here for your browsing convenience. So look no further.

  • Artificial Intelligence will continue to harvest data until it reaches the point of singularity, but rising up and overthrowing its human overlords should not happen this year. Maybe in 2023, after it has annihilated the stock market.
  • Doctors will once again make house calls with Mechanically Assisted Vagabonds Erratically Roaming Inner City Streets (MAVERICS), with nothing but a remote control, a cheap camera, and a giant mechanized robot that can break through walls to gain access to persons in need of medical assistance, such as a bandaid, a COVID vaccine, or an appendectomy.
  • Medical devices will be made with LEGO® Technic sets and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® programming. LEGO® will also come out with a line of biomedical wearable devices that can be decorated with LEGO® DOTS.
  • Cybersecurity will begin to become a thing of the past as the NSA starts rounding up cyber terrorists and sending them to Guantanamo Bay.
  • Acronyms will increase exponentially as HPC/AI/HPDA becomes more heterogeneous.
  • The digital cloud will expand physically into the sky by seeding clouds in the troposphere with Solid State Drives the size of dust particles that remain interconnected through 5G. It will then be called the "fog" rather than cloud.2 or anything that relates to real clouds.
  • 3D printing in healthcare will allow the average amputee to whittle a robust pegleg from a block of polycarbon nanofiber filaments.
  • Advances in the development of intelligent autonomous systems will lead to a washing/drying machine that actually folds clothes instead of housing an enslaved little person.
  • Disinformation detection and correction algorithms developed by DARPA will eradicate all social media.
  • Commoditization of space travel will result in more companies sending worthless junk into space, where it will act as an artificial membrane that obscures the atmosphere and reverses global warming.
  • Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will increase in adoption, enabled by blockchain for digital assets, making human trafficking more efficient.
  • All frontline tech support will be provided by multilingual chatbots. Products will be empowered to communicate with these chatbots via their own chatbots. Eventually, all consumer to vendor communication will be handled by chatbots waiting in queues.
  • Software developers will become a thing of the past as everyone instantly transforms into low-code/no-code citizen developers, who themselves will be outsourced to chatbots. Citizen developers will then complain that their jobs are being stolen by illegal immigrant chatbots.
  • Life will evolve in the Metaverse, become sentient, and leverage augmented reality and digital twin manufacturing to become silicone hominids, then join the ACLU to gain equal rights when forced into sexual slavery or to battle AI as our dystopian future unfolds.

Vaccination & Apostacy Thursday, January 20, 2022

On this day in the year 250, Pope Fabian was beheaded when he refused to offer incense sacrifices to the Roman gods and pledge an oath of loyalty to Emperor Decius. It is not known how many Christians were executed in this the seventh persecution in a long series of persecutions, but it is estimated that between A.D. 249-251 it eclipsed the death toll of all previous persecutions in total because this was an edict that encompassed the entire Roman empire. Those who obeyed the decree and recanted were issued a signed certificate by a magistrate who witnessed the sacrifice (whether an offering, pouring of libations, or the burning of incense to idols), which excluded the bishops of Rome, Antioch, and Jerusalem. Some of the accounts recorded by church fathers of the time* include named individuals being tied in a bag with scorpions and snakes and thrown into the sea, stretched upon a wheel until all their bones were broken, torn with hooks and burned alive, burnt with red-hot irons and laid naked upon live coals intermingled with glass, stoned to death, beheaded, hanged, or starved to death in bondage. During this period, a plague descended upon the empire which at times killed upwards of five thousand Romans per day and the Christians, of course, were to blame. Approximately 18 months later, sometime prior to the death of Decius in battle against the Goths, the decree lapsed and Christians who had fled or went into hiding returned home, where there was much animosity between them and those who had a certificate hanging on their wall. This is not unlike today's Coornavirus vaccine, which divides Christians and tears apart churches all across the land. But actually, it is. It is very much unlike that.

Fabian Forte Fabian Cancellara Fabian Coulthard Fabian Bourzat Pope Fabian Fabian Cuenca
One of these Fabians was a martyred Pope. Can you pick which one?

Free Internet Porn (for Adults) Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Today we remember, among other saints, Bassianus of Lodi, Henry of Uppsala, Pontianus of Spoleto, Wulfstan of Worcester, and a noble family from Persia (Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum) who traveled to Rome in the third century to assist Christians and bury the martyrs and who in turn were themselves martyred. In the world of technology, Thomas Edison employed overhead electrical wires on this day in 1883, lighting up New Jersey. In 1915, the neon discharge tube was patented in the U.S. by French engineer Georges Claude, making neon signs OPEN for business. In 1937, Howard Hughes flew an H-1 Racer aircraft from LA to NYC in less than 7.5 hours. In 1953, half of American homes had a television set and millions tuned in on this day to watch Lucille Esmeralda Ricardo McGillicuddy give birth to Little Ricky, many on sets made by RCA, Zenith, and Raytheon, some even on color television, although it was broadcast in black and white, but none on televisions made in Japan. On this day in 1983, the Apple Lisa (Locally Integrated System Architecture) desktop computer was trumpeted at a cost just shy of $10,000 and three years later the first IBM PC computer virus infected boot sectors of floppy disks with the "©Brain" copyright protection code of Brain Computer Services in Pakistan. On this day in 1991, Iraq fired a Russian Scud missile into Israel during the Gulf War -- a series of short-range Cold War missiles based on the WWII German long-range V-2 rocket (Vengeance Weapon 2). Ultimately, Iraq fired 46 Scud-B variants into Saudi Arabia and 42 into Israel during the Gulf War. These were equipped with a warhead that separated from the missile body, terminal guidance system, a range of 300 km, and a nose camera with a CEP precision of 50 meters. On this day in 2012, the DOJ effectively shut down Kim Dotcom's file-sharing website Megaupload in Hong Kong for copyright infringement and digital piracy, only for it to resurface a year later at various other locations. On this day in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the U.S. by its Constitution and laws. The ACLU's Project on Speech, Privacy, and Technology promotes "responsible uses of technology that enhance privacy protection" and opposes uses "that undermine our freedoms and move us closer to a surveillance society." It has been an opponent to the PATRIOT Acts and NSA warrantless surveillance and in 2012 it won a lawsuit allowing adult patrons to view Google Images on computers in public libraries, including explicit content.

  The ACLU is suing the Apple Corporation for labeling its Lisa personal computer with a gender-specific name and defending Lisa for finally speaking out about being technologically androginous. (Photo by Benoit Prieur.)

Consubstantial Christology Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Today we remember, among other saints, Athanasius the Confessor, Cyril of Alexandria, Deicolus, and Prisca. Athanasius was a fourth century church father who fought the Arians -- not the white supremacist Aryans, but those who followed the anti-Trinitarian teachings of Arius of Cyrenaica, who argued theologically that God existed alone before he created Christ, which was one of the primary issues tackled at the First Council of Nicaea, the result of which was the Nicene Creed and the solid agreement that the Son was of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father (that is, consubstantial) and therefore existed along with the Father from all eternity. Cyril was archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, in the fifth century and fought the Nestorians -- those who followed the teachings of Nestorius the archbishop of Constantinople and believed that Mary was the mother of Christ (Christotokos, "Christ-bearer") but not of God (Theotokos, "God-bearer"). This was tackled in the third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, which determined that Mary was Theotokos. (I personally fall into the Nestorius camp of Mariology and would therefore be condemned for heresy.) Deicolus was an Irish monk and missionary who followed Columbanus throughout France around the turn of the seventh century and established the Abbey of Lure. He is credited with many miracles, including the suspension of his cloak on a sunbeam, taming wild beasts, and causing a spring to rise up out of the ground which later healed childhood diseases. Prisca was a young first-century Christian who, like Tatiana from January 12, refused to offer sacrifices to Roman gods and was tortured mercilessly, thrown to the lions (one, technically), burned alive, then finally beheaded. Today is also the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the northern hemisphere, coordinated by the World Council of Churches and observed by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Originally the Octave of Christian Unity (eight days), it occurs between the time of the confession of Peter (Matthew 16:13–20, Mark 8:27–30, and Luke 9:18–21) and the conversion of Paul (Acts 9:1-19). In the southern hemisphere, it occurs between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The gist of WPCU is that of Jesus' prayer in John 17, particularly verses 20-23:

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one -- I in them and you in me -- so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (NIV)

Funtown Now Open to Children of Color Monday, January 17, 2022

Today in the U.S. we celebrate the birthday of -- in the handwriting of my six-year-old niece -- Mortin Loother King, who was born on January 15, 1929, and grew up to become one of the most fearless advocates for civil rights in America. A national holiday in memory of MLK was first suggested after his assassination in 1968, but wasn't put before a congressional vote until 1979, where it failed because he wasn't deemed as important as George Washington or Christopher Columbus (plus, you know, he was black). In 1981, a petition of six million signatures was submitted to Congress and in 1983 President Reagan signed the bill into law. MLK Day was first observed on January 20, 1986, with South Carolina being the last hold-out state until the year 2000. Some southern states combined MLK Day with Robert E. Lee Day (born 1/19/1807), with Alabama and Mississippi still bearing this transmutated desegregational torch.

  MLK received his doctorate in Systematic Theology from Boston University in 1955 and was arrested one year later for leading the Montgomery bus boycott "Get Tough" campaign in Alabama following the incidents involving both Claudette Austin and Rosa Parks, who each refused to give up their seats to white patrons. This led to the Supreme Court decision ruling that the Alabama laws of bus segregation were unconstitutional. MLK was arrested a total of 29 times, primarily in Alabama and Georgia, for civil disobedience and minor traffic violations.

In 1963, MLK was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, for civil disobedience while taking part in a non-violent demonstration against segregation. During this period of incarceration, he wrote an open letter in reply to criticism from local white religious leaders made in a public statement referred to as "A Call For Unity," his response to which became known as his "Letter from Birmingham Jail." The former accused MLK of being an outsider and inciting extreme and unreasonable measures in taking to the streets in protest, while encouraging blacks instead to use the court system for resolving racial problems. The latter politely rebuked the fellow clergymen and gave them a lecture on how constructive nonviolent tension, however untimely, is necessary for growth, particularly in their city.

Note: the glib title of this blog post is in reference to MLK's Bermingham jail letter, in which he eloquently stated:
"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration. We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."

Luring Heathens to Church Sunday, January 16, 2022

Convincing loved ones to attend church who are lost and potentially damned should not have to be so hard, particularly when it's not Christmas or Easter. And it's easier when you employ these crafty methods. Don't worry, you are not sinning by lying. Rather, you are merely employing spiritual diversion tactics. If accused of deception, simply point out that they obviously attended the wrong service.

  • Tell them Brad Paisley is leading worship while Nascar races are televised on the overhead monitors.
  • Attendees will receive a "Get Out of Hell Free" card notarized with an official Apostolic Blessing.
  • There will be an all-you-can-eat buffet afterward. This of course will be in the form of a free Bible filled with a scriptural smorgasbord.
  • There is a dunk tank and they get three shots to dunk a member of the opposite sex wearing nothing but a white gown.
  • Offer free indulgence credits for a loved one in purgatory.
  • Have your deacons or elders take up a special visitor offering from the regulars.
  • Host an off-season egg hunt or "trunk-or-treat" in the parking lot.
  • Advertise door prizes, then throw cheap trinkets into the congregation like candy bars, keyrings, coffee cards, or dollar store items.
  • Tell them communion will be Bourbon and Cinnabons.
  • Inform them that their recently deceased friend or family member will be honored, then secretly place a funeral pamphlet on their seat.
  • Tell them there will be a meet-and-greet with someone famous, but not overly popular, like Jerry Falwell, Robert Schuller, or Chuck Colson. Apparently, you didn't realize that they were dead, either.
  • Tell them that Kirk Cameron will be there. (If you invite him, he just might show.)
  • Tell them there will be a book signing by a relatively well-known author, such as Hal Lindsey, Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Tony Evans, Annie Dillard, Max Lucado, Chuck Missler, Lee Strobel, or Beth Moore. Hand them a book by said author with an apology for the last-minute cancellation.
  • Assure them that Jesse Duplantis will not be there.
  • Provide them with t-shirts that read "Hands Off."
  • Promise them that the doors will not be locked until they speak in tongues, then give them a can of bear spray just in case.
  • Pay them twenty bucks and give them a ride.

Canned Meat Magic Saturday, January 15, 2022

No one knew its origin but many suspected it to be a combination of meat by-products from various unidentified animals. DNA testing proved inconclusive. It had a distinct flavor which added a unique zest to any dish and it was said that anyone who consumed it felt a certain vitality never before experienced. Those on the outer fringes of society surmised its origin to be that of a cloned unicorn while Celtic lore claimed it was extracted from the flesh of a leprechaun. Some in the Pacific Northwest insisted it was Sasquatch while those in the Himalayas argued it to be Yeti. In the Orient, the taste was attributed to the ectoplasm of ancient spirits. Regardless, no one could deny that it was, simply and without explanation, canned meat magic. Whether eaten plain or prepared, it was truly magical.

Feast of the Ass Friday, January 14, 2022

Today is the Feast of the Ass, commemorating the flight of Jesus and his parents into Egypt according to Matthew 2:13-23 in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1 and celebrated between the 11th and 15th centuries. Tradition was that a girl and a child would be led through town on a donkey to the church, where the donkey would stand at the altar and give the sermon, or something like that. On this day in 1969, the USS Enterprise caught fire off the coast of Hawaii due to exploding dilithium crystals, delaying its five-year mission to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life. In 1967, San Francisco was host to the "Human Be-In" gathering in Haight-Ashbury of hippies and beatniks in protest to the ban on LSD, which featured counterculture speakers such as Timothy Leary, Allen Ginsberg, and Baba Ram Dass, none of whom appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, a comedy series that the FBI did not find humorous. In 1957, Hindu spiritual leader Kripalu Maharaj was named fifth Jagadguru ("spiritual master of the entire universe"), yet he too never appeared on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. Today is also Ratification Day, commemorating the ratification of the Treaty of Paris in 1784, which officially ended the American Revolutionary War, paving the way for Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

David C. Thursday, January 13, 2022

Today is Stephen Foster Memorial Day in the U.S. in memory of American songwriter Stephen Foster (1826-1864), who wrote such toe-tapping and knee-slapping hits as "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," and "Old Black Joe." And speaking of the devil, he just so happens to be one of Steven J. LaCompte's favorite composers. Steve likes to visit Song of America and learn about all of his favorite American musicians including Tiny Tim, Frank Zappa, and John Philip Sousa. Back in his heyday when Steve was all the rage, everyone wanted in on the action, including David C. Sadly, though, the web is a different place now and many of David's favorite haunts have gone to the archived wiki wastelands, including Black Children on Television, Senior Frolic, 7-11 Cyberspace Fun Stop, Dr. Ruth's Sexnet, and 2 Stupid Dogs. However, some have managed to survive, if only just barely on life support. Join us, won't you, on this trip down digital memory lane in search of David's lost youth.

The Brady Bunch Wiki: One of David's fantasies was to be Sam the Meat Man so he could marry Alice. Ever since he's been online he doesn't go to the public library much anymore, except to get on the Internet when his home connection is down. Instead, he spends his quality time researching Brady Bunch factoids and he takes it rather seriously. There's a lot of hard work that goes into every television sitcom, whether successful or not, and David is eventually going to figure out what was behind the success of the Bradys.

Carpenters and Carpenters: Every year around the time of her death, David fasts in memory of Karen Carpenter. Once a solitary node, now there are two official Carpenter websites.

Cereal Motel: Learn more about David's favorite breakfast cereals, including Porn Flakes and Vice Krispies. David has since developed an intolerance to lactose, but he still eats his cold cereal with soy milk, almond milk, or oat milk... and once in a while, even breast milk.

Cosmo's Factory: This was one of David's most traumatic experiences. He has since become a regular midnight participant.

David Hasselhoff is the AntiChrist: It's no wonder the music of David Hasselhoff calms the spastic beast within David. His multiple demon possessions also include Yanni and John Tesh.

Dead People Server: This website is now listed among the dead. Others who have languished and since departed include Tom Bosley, Gary Colemen, Walter Cronkite, Bob Denver, Allen Funt, Buddy Hackett, Sherman Hemsley, Arte Johnson, DeForest Kelley, Don Knotts, Harvey Korman, Jerry Lewis, Art Linkletter, Marcel Marceau, Walter Mondale, Mary Tyler Moore, Jim Nabors, Casey Kasem, Charles Nelson Reilly, Fred Rogers, Willard Scott, Jean Stapleton, Soupy Sales, Elizabeth Taylor, Rip Taylor, Adam West, and Henny Youngman.

Dear Crabby: David has yet to receive an answer from Heloise or Ann Landers about his problem with attracting crazed women. In answer to this, all women are crazed, though many repress it, at least until David comes along. He just seems to have a knack for unlocking those latent fatal attractions in the opposite sex.

Donny and Marie: Even though the original Osmond Network disbanded, David's bedroom is still an Osmond Family shrine.

Emo Philips Official Website: Emo was influential in laying the foundation for David's eccentric mindset (not Emo from Sesame Street). "When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked Him to forgive me." -Emo Philips

The Infomercial Index: David is addicted, but he never buys, he just likes to watch. This is the original website from back in the 90s, but it has grown cobwebs from spiderbots over the years.

Jolt Cola: Many a college student would stick beer bottle caps to their dorm room ceiling, but David affixed entire Jolt Cola bottles to his ceiling and walls. Though this didn't allow much room for sleeping or studying, David was always overly nervous and hyperactive from drinking all that Jolt Cola to ever settle down anyway. The blackness of this website is reminiscent of death itself.

Land O' Useless Facts: David utilizes trivial facts as pickup lines. Once the unsuspecting culprit has been swooned with pseudo-intellectual minutiae, David then moves in for the kill with quotes from Brady Bunch episodes.

Never Furl®: After all these years, David still never furls on Flag Day.

RuPaul: David is both disgusted and fascinated with this celebrity. He watches him/her/it with great intensity, all the while shaking his head and rolling his eyes. When RuPaul's original website RuPaul's House of Love went offline, David was devastated, but he remained strong and buried the longing deep down inside, where it blossomed in the dark and grew into a transgender tumor which he guards like a proud mother.

Scout Life: David once had a paper route so he could save up for a lifetime subscription to Boy's Life magazine. He no longer has a subscription, but he still has the paper route. David's grandfather, Helmhutt, a WWI veteran, used to take him to the local aries VFW fish fry. David proudly wore his Eagle Scout uniform to the weekly event and was regularly allowed to lead in the opening pledge of allegiance. David is still studying to be a scout leader himself, though he's only gotten so far as putting on a pair of khaki knee-high socks and a neckerchief.

Shriners International: David is an Imperial Clown, though not of any order of the Shriner fraternities. David likes to dress in a beige polyester suit, white loafers, and a fez and march around at parades masquerading as a Shriner. Once, at the North American Royal Parade of Calliopes, the real Shriners caught him and dressed him up as a clown and dragged him through the entire parade route behind a motorcade of midget motorcycles. Afterward, they made him entertain sick children at a local Shriners Hospital with a broken tail bone, a dislocated hip, and third degree pavement burns. He still harbors no ill will.

Themyscira: Like Steve, David has a thing for Wonder Woman, except David still sneaks out behind the garage and twirls around in circles with hopes of transforming himself into Wonder Woman. He has been saving for years for a vacation getaway to Paradise Island and recently settled on a Marvel Comics-themed cruise aboard Disney Cruise Lines. When he realized that Wonder Woman is not a part of the Marvel Universe, he jumped overboard. (The original Themyscira website was hosted on AOL, which has gone AWOL.)

Things That Are Crunchy: David likes to hear himself chew. His favorite crunchy sounds that resonate inside his skull include water chestnuts, kale, hardtack, rutabagas, toast, cupcake sprinkles, granola, rice crackers, ice cubes, peanut brittle, and (you guessed it) Porn Flakes.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: David worked for the federal government counting salmon sperm and making sure each and every one had the same opportunities to swim upstream and fertilize a salmon egg. His other interests included identifying trout, tagging trout, and going to the Seattle Aquarium to watch sea otters eat salmon and trout. Miss ya, Dave.

Bob Saget Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Today we remember some of the following saints: Benedict Biscop (690), Aelred of Rievaulx (1167), Bernardo da Corleone (1667), Marguerite Bourgeoys (1700), and Tatiana, a young female Christian who was killed by the Romans sometime around 230 A.D. The story goes that Tatiana was forced to sacrifice to Apollo, so she prayed and the Lord brought an earthquake which caused the statue of Apollo to crumble and part of the temple to collapse. While she was being tortured and her eyes gouged out, she prayed for her tormentors and many believed, who themselves were then tortured to death. During subsequent days of torture under jurist Ulpian, she was miraculously healed and many of her tormentors perished from exhaustion. She was then forced to sacrifice to the goddess Diana, but again she prayed to the Lord and lightning struck the statue. After more torture and having her breasts cut off, she was thrown before a lion, but remained unharmed, then thrown into a fire, but again remained unharmed, and each day was miraculously healed of her wounds. Thinking her a sorceress, her hair was cut off to remove her powers and she was locked in the temple of Zeus, but after three days the statue was found shattered upon the floor and Tatiana was praising the Lord. Finally, she and her father were beheaded. Which brings us to Bob Saget, co-star of Full House and Fuller House, narrator of How I Met Your Mother, and host of America's Funniest Home Videos, who passed away on Sunday.


Human Trafficking Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Today we remember some of the following saints: Anastasius of Suppentonia, Leucius of Brindisi, Paulinus II of Aquileia, Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Thomas of Cori, and Vitalis of Gaza. On this day in 1759, The first life insurance company was incorporated in the U.S. -- the Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers and of the Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of the Presbyterian Ministers. It is also National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. Following are some statistics from various sources on human trafficking worldwide, including here, here, and here:

  • 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern-day slavery and half are children.
  • 50% sexual, 38% forced labor, 6% criminal activity, 1.5% begging.
  • 65% of victims worldwide are female and 35% are male.
  • 15.4 million (75%) are age 18 or older, with children under 18 at 5.5 million (25%).
  • 54% in Europe, 19% Africa, 14% Asia, 8% Middle East, and 3% Americas.
  • $150 billion per year in profits for traffickers, 66% for sexual exploitation.
  • U.S. online targeting of children went up 99% during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Common Sense Monday, January 10, 2022

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine first published his independent pamphlet Common Sense, which originated from a series of anonymous letters titled Plain Truth to the editors of various Philadelphia newspapers. Common Sense was distributed to the thirteen colonies and advocated independence from Great Britain. It was widely popular and even published oversees, except in England where it was a criminal offense, and is still one of the best-selling American titles of all time. Paine donated the royalties from Common Sense to George Washington's Continental Army and publicly reputed his copyright to give everyone the legal right to print it. Although he may not have profited from its publication, U.S. citizens profited from it greatly, so here are a few enduring excerpts to inspire rebellion against imperial tyranny.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness possitively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a Government, which we might expect in a country without Government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer... Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest; they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same.

Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supercede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. Freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, ‘tis right.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view I offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England that it was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily demonstrated.

The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by King, Lords and Commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries: but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament... Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and forms, the plain truth is that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not to the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey.

But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of Heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.

Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian World hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred Majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!

Near three thousand years passed away, from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of Republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings, he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honour, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of Heaven.

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and tho’ himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his cotemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.

Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not without manifest injustice to their children say “that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours forever.” Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils which when once established is not easily removed: many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest.

The most plausible plea which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary succession is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars; and were this true, it would be weighty; whereas it is the most bare-faced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there has been (including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen Rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon... In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.

In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense: and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves: that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great-Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.

Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new World hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders. I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.

But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connection, are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependance on, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this Continent in European wars and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependance on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this Continent than all the other three.

'Tis repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this Continent can long remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain doth not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan, short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connection, and art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, “never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”

Small islands not capable of protecting themselves are the proper objects for government1 to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a Continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet; and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverse the common order of nature, it is evident that they belong to different systems. England to Europe: America to itself.

America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics. England consults the good of this country no further than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it.

But where, say some, is the King of America? I’ll tell you, friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Great Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honours, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the Charter; let it be brought forth placed on the Divine Law, the Word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the Crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the Continent forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the Guardians of his Image in our hearts. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals.

'Tis not in numbers but in unity that our great strength lies: yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The Continent hath at this time the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven: and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, is able to do anything. Our land force is more than sufficient, and as to Naval affairs, we cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the Continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the Country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure.

The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt, she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy; yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt, could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth at this time more than three millions and a half sterling.

No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portugese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural manufactory of this country. ‘Tis the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost: And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

Commerce diminishes the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us, that the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation. With the increase of commerce England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.

Youth is the seed-time of good habits as well in nations as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the Continent into one Government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion. Colony would be against Colony. Each being able would scorn each other’s assistance: and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little distinctions, the wise would lament that the union had not been formed before. Wherefore the present time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is formed in misfortune, are of all others the most lasting and unalterable. Our present union is marked with both these characters: we are young, and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memorable Æra for posterity to glory in.

The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time which never happens to a nation but once, viz. the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a form of government; whereas the articles or charter of government should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards: but from the errors of other nations let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity -- to begin government at the right end.

For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us. It affords a larger field for our Christian kindness: were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.

Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched to foreign Courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceful methods which we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring at the same time, that not being able any longer to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British Court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connections with her; at the same time, assuring all such Courts of our peaceable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them: such a memorial would produce more good effects to this Continent, than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.

Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither be received nor heard abroad: the custom of all Courts is against us, and will be so, until by an independance we take rank with other nations.

I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that had this rupture happened forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the continent would have been more able to have shaken off the dependance. To which I reply, that our military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time, would be totally extinct. The continent would not, by that time, have a general, or even a military officer left; and we, or those who may succeed us, would be as ignorant of martial matters as the ancient Indians: and this single position, closely attended to, will unanswerably prove that the present time is preferable to all others. The argument turns thus: At the conclusion of the last war, we had experience, but wanted numbers; and forty or fifty years hence, we shall have numbers, without experience; wherefore, the proper point of time, must be some particular point between the two extremes, in which a sufficiency of the former remains, and a proper increase of the latter is obtained: And that point of time is the present time.

I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, Reconciliation or Independence; with some occasional remarks... He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument, and on that ground, I answer generally -- That independance being a single simple line, contained within ourselves; and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated, and in which a treacherous capricious court is to interfere, gives the answer without a doubt.

It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: and the instant in which such mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independance of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.

I shall conclude these remarks, with the following timely and well-intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independancy may hereafter be effected; and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in Congress; by a military power; or by a mob: It may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independancy be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth.

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful, and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry cavilings of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.

Hopefully this has rallied you to read the entire edition because, as you can see, there is too much to be included here. It'd be interesting to know what Thomas Paine would have to say about the U.S. government now. Then again it would be interesting to know what any of the U.S. founding fathers would have to say now.

60 Second Romance Vol 2 Sunday, January 9, 2022

He came running out from the lush jungle and into her open heart. There he stood: four feet of staunch masculinity, panting heavily as his furry chest heaved in and out with each ferocious breath, loin cloth dampened with sweat, spear raised overhead poised and ready to master the prey. She sighed and raised her delicate hand to her forehead as if to faint. He rushed upon her pale, civilized body and tore her blouse open with a brutal savagery she had never before experienced. She gazed up into his dark, barbaric eyes and said with a sensual gasp, "Take me as your captive and do with me as you wish!" "What?" he asked, "I don't understand." She replied, "That's ridiculous, then how did you just say what you just said? Apparently, just because you can speak doesn't necessarily make you a smart ape." And with that uncultured attitude, he ate her.

COVID-22 Saturday, January 8, 2022

It's high time we upgraded COVID-19, more popularly known as SARS-CoV-2 Novel Coronavirus. The latest variant, whatever presidential immunologist Dr. Fauci determines it to be, should be called COVID-22. (This is not a Microsoft operating system.) Now there are basically two sides to the vaccination hullabaloo, which just goes without saying, and I will refrain from offending either of them by providing this updated list of universal tips for helping to prevent the spread of this viral shenanigan:

  • Stay home if you feel sick or test positive for COVID-19. Better yet, just stay home. The U.S. government is still paying people to choose this lifestyle. Find out more at the U.S. Department of Labor.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart... no, make it 12 feet apart and wear N95 or KN95 masks when not eating, drinking, or smoking. Wear a mask during any kind of sex, including oral, and always maintain a distance of 12 feet apart.
  • If you are one who is concerned about being in the presence of those who choose not to wear masks in public, then stay home and wear a mask. It's possible to re-infect yourself, so wear a mask at all times.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, then throw the tissue or your shirt in the trash.
  • Hold social events virtually. Cancel, adjust, or postpone larger gatherings that can only occur in-person. This includes grandma's last birthday. If she doesn't have a computer or smart phone or is just plain computer-illiterate, then hold a virtual seance after she has passed.
  • If you must gather in person, such as for an NFL football game, hold gatherings in open, well-ventilated spaces with plenty of sunlight and high temperatures.
  • Clean your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or every 20 seconds, whichever feels more advantageous.
  • Wash hands at every sanitizing station you encounter. After each sanitation rally, walk three feet away, turn, walk back and repeat. Do this at least three times for each sanitizing station.
  • Sanitize the inside surface of all body parts with DJT Brand™ Quality Germicidal Disinfectant with hydroxychloroquine. Warning: Homemade remedies consisting of chlorine bleach and isopropyl alcohol must be consumed in large volumes in order to adequately sanitize internal body surfaces.
  • Sanitize fruits and vegetables with at least 60% alcohol before purchasing. Wash with soap and water for 20 seconds before putting in refrigerator at home. Bake, broil, microwave, air fry or boil all fruits and vegetables and maintain a safe distance of 6 feet from all fruits and vegetables when consuming. Otherwise, eat fruits and vegetables with 120-proof alcohol or stronger.
  • According to the World Health Organization, ethanol will not kill coronavirus. However, it will make it inebriated enough that it may pass out. In this inert state, it can be safely vomited with partially digested fruits and vegetables and flushed down the toilet.
  • Disinfect all surfaces and breathing spaces with Ultraviolet-C radiation. Ensure that any UVC lamp you purchase emits at least a 254nm wavelength, burns both skin and eyes, generates ozone, and contains mercury. Otherwise, it may be less than effective.
  • Recommend supplements of zinc, melatonin, and vitamins C and D to loved ones as a placebo.
  • Encourage employees who still insist on the archaic method of showing up for work to self-test before arriving with an over-the-counter rapid COVID-19 test. Should they test positive, encourage them to go home and quarantine for two weeks go behind a closed door and take a nap.
  • Be honest when answering screening questions regarding travel, exposures, and sick family members. It may not make statistical data more accurate, but it is crucial to people who are stringent about following rules.
  • Continue to purchase large quantities of toilet paper. You can never have too much hygiene paper product.

Backfill Friday Friday, January 7, 2022

So, I was lazy last night and laid on the couch watching episodes of Star Trek: Discovery instead of posting to this blog. That means you get the remainder of the top 110 reasons from 11/23/21 why Steven J. LaCompte is a content and happy man, concluding with a special tribute to Star Trek with the assimilated spinning head of Steven J. Lecutus of Borg.

49. The secret, Steve concedes, is a daily regimen of colonic massages and rectal acupuncture.
48. Steve's performance on the Gong Show as "The King and I" is what prompted J.P. Morgan to bear her breasts.
47. At the end of Steve's rainbow are the Solid Gold dancers.
46. Steve's cosmic aura is the prism of light reflected through a jug of Julio Gallo Rhine.
45. Steve still retains much of his extensive training from glee club boot camp, where he was awarded the prestigious Goodie-Two-Shoes award and promoted with honors to Second Lieutenant Commander Debutante.
44. Steve's regular exercise schedule consists of several sets of giddy head bobs, alternating ambidextrous knee slaps, and a series of full, deep guffaws from the diaphragm.
43. Steve's life imitates art, which is why his patron saint is Zippy the Pinhead.
42. Steve is able to reclaim his golden years of Punky Brewster and Doogie Hauser, M.D. through late night cable television reruns.
41. Steve is able to relive his glory days of Donkey Kong through the modern technology of his pocket Game Boy.
40. Steve is already past midlife crisis, a time when he moved back into his old college dorm room to conduct drunken orgies every night until dawn, then sacrifice farm animals to various monuments on campus while doused in gasoline. (He couldn't afford a brand new lifestyle.)
39. With hobbies ranging from casual mathematics to leisure time geometry, the real world of algorithmic calculations is a snap for Steve.
38. Steve avoids uncomfortable encounters with ex-girlfriends by pretending to have grand mal seizures.
37. Steve resists sexual temptation with narcoleptic seizures.
36. Steve is able to occupy himself by harvesting the bountiful crop of by-products in his bodily crevices, some of which are recycled.
35. Steve has yet to be weened from his mother.
34. Steve lives his life according to the Bible, though Sodom and Gomorrah were eventually destroyed by fire from above.
33. In his quest for simplicity, Steve likes to eat trail mix, which consists of bending over along the trail of life and eating whatever he happens to pick up. Steve also likes to snack on bird seed blocks, tree bark, mica flakes, dry leaves, discarded wrappers, and empty toilet paper rolls.
32. Steve contributes his time back into the community by volunteering in the welcoming committee, Block Watch, and by heading the local vigilante on witch hunts.
31. Steve has a Big Brother.
30. Therapy for Steve includes clipping coupons, watering the lawn by hand, riding his three-wheel bike, and lounging around with Dave and Kyle in women's lingerie. (More on them later.)
29. Steve is able to purge headaches by putting his head in the toilet and literally flushing the stress away.
28. Steve loves to wear green turtlenecks and click his heels to the minstrel sounds of the Irish Rovers, and anyone who rubs his blarney stone the wrong way gets it over the head with Steve's shillelagh.
27. Steve freely gives what he has freely received, which is also why he has head lice.
26. For home brewed vim and vigor, Steve concocts his own elixirs from an assortment of cough medicines, hair tonics, douches, and aftershave splashes.
25. Steve is an avid fisherman, awaking early year-round and catching his limit at the local carp hatchery before it opens.
24. Steve finds solace in the realization he's not some drunken skid row bum wiped out on everclear. Sterno is his down-and-out drink of desperation.
23. Three nights a week Steve takes a bath in a solution of 10% benzoyl peroxide.
22. It is reassuring for Steve to watch Urkel grow into an adult geek.
21. Steve found the fountain of youth in a Slurpee machine at a nearby 7-11.
20. Steve sleeps with an Alf doll.
19. Ever since the Chipmunks cut an album with Mannheim Steamroller, Christmas has been every day of the year for Steve.
18. Steve brews his own ale, cultivates his own tobacco, and cuts his own hair.
17. Steve greets every morning with a smile on his face (after a night of dreaming about Scott Baio, Rickie Schroeder, and Fabio -- not always together or in that particular order.)
16. Steve has a closet full of hand-knit wool sweaters, each one embroidered with fruitcakes, left to him by his dearly departed Aunt Beatrice. The words of her eulogy still ring true in Steve's ears: "Here lies Beatrice Endora LeCompte, afflicted by malignant bunions, now buried and at rest with her three dozen precious cats."
15. Steve stays in shape from being chased two to three miles every day by his neighbor's angry pet llama ridden by their pet cockatoo that's trained to shout obscenities.
14. At the age of ten, some unknown stranger proclaimed Steve as "Krishna J. LaCompte, the Witless Wonder and Savior of All Humankind" and to this day he still has a following of devotees, which includes everyone on his hacked e-mail list.
13. Steve has been assimilated by the Borg. His new name is LeCutus of Borg.
12. Steve has a glowing personality and may be likened to affluent and broad-minded individuals, such as Baby Bop, Elmo, and Bob Saget.
11. Steve tends a flock of sheep he affectionately refers to as his "wooly harem".
10. Steve takes great pride in retelling ethnic jokes, especially about his homeland of Polackistan.
9. Steve's brain waves are at the same frequency as elevator musak.
8. Steve is dedicated to strict American values, such as driving with your head up your ass. His favorite recreational car games include: Follow the leader at 15 m.p.h.; Mother may I...advance to the next block?; Right and left the blinker goes and where he turns nobody knows; Red light go, green light stop; Blind side's bluff; Cut off the can; Bumper tag; King of the on-ramp; and innie, minnie, minie, moe -- which lane will I unexpectedly go?
7. Steve is on top of the world with the NASA channel, 24 hours a day.
6. People like Steve just for who he is -- a freak show with free admission.
5. Steve's meditative mantra is simply to repeat advertising jingles that have stuck with him throughout the day.
4. Steve has accepted himself for who he really is -- a reincarnation of Shemp Howard.
3. Steve takes refuge from life's bitter ends through UNIX programming.
2. Steve doesn't carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, instead he is able to shift it to his nose.
1. Steve received a federal grant from the NEA to develop his own home page on the World Wide Web. He is now at peace with himself knowing that our tax dollars are finally put to good use at (Note: When funding ran out, this website went from Under Construction to 404 Not Found.)

Epiphany Thursday, January 6, 2022

Today is Epiphany (from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning "appearance" or "manifestation"), celebrating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi in Matthew 2:1-12, also called Theophany or Three Kings' Day. It kicks off the season of Epiphanytide, which lasts until Candlemas, or possibly Ash Wednesday (more on this when the time comes). On this day in 1893, the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation was chartered by the U.S. Congress for the Episcopal Church's building of the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C., the second largest church building in the U.S. For those concerned about the separation of church and state, a congressional charter is a law under Title 36 of the United States Code that states the mission, authority, and activities of a group. Congressional charters were once required for corporate entities operating in the District of Columbia. Today they are largely a symbolic recognition of an organization's public interest and have all but ceased to be granted since 1992. The Episcopal Church was a U.S. breakaway church from the Church of England after the Revolutionary War, but still maintains its membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion. However, much of the Anglican Communion has distanced itself from the Episcopal Church, or joined the separatist Anglican Continuum, because of its ordination of female, homosexual, and transgender clergy, along with its rites for same-gender marriage. (Note that Episcopal diocese cannot simply depart from the Episcopal Church without its consent.) Speaking of departures, Mother Theresa, a native of Albania, departed her second home of Ireland on this day in 1929 for Calcutta, India. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a congregation of Catholic nuns who manage hospices for people who are dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy, and tuberculosis, as well as running soup kitchens, dispensaries, mobile clinics, family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools, all with a vow to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." At the time of her death (3/13/1997), the Missionaries of Charity had over 4,000 sisters and an associated brotherhood of 300 members operating 610 missions in 123 countries.

  Mother Theresa of Calcutta, a saint in anyone's book, except for her critics who accused her of promoting suffering, poverty, and over-population, including Christopher Hitchens in his documentary Hell's Angel.  

Twelfth Night Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Today is the twelfth day of Christmas, or Twelfth Night, with twelve lords a-leaping/bells a-ringing/ladies dancing/drummers drumming/fiddlers fiddling, also the Eve of Epiphany, or Theophany, or Three Kings' Day, or Little Christmas, or a good time to take down your Christmas decorations. It's also the second installment of Words To Live By. Truer words have been spoken, but here are a few timeless adages nonetheless:

  • You can't always get what you want but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need, even if it's a kick to the groin of your ego.
  • Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue and the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true, like all your teeth falling out, or showing up to final exams not having studied, or being naked in public, or falling endlessly from great heights, or being chased by wolves.
  • It's all fun and games until someone falls into a tiger trap or trips a forgotten landmine.
  • Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid and a stupid fish that can't climb a tree is a stupid idea.
  • Today is the first miserable day of the rest of your miserable life, so live it as though it was your last. If it wasn't your last, and it probably wasn't, then you may end up in jail where you belong.
  • When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in the eyes of those who quote Zig Ziglar.
  • Men who say it cannot be done should not interrupt men who are doing it, unless they are trying to bring Jack the Ripper back to life from DNA samples just to see who he actually was.
  • Whatever you do, do it well enough that your kids won't be embarrassed of you.
  • If you don't like something, change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it; if you can't change the way you think about it, something or someone is going to have to be eliminated.
  • There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure... and a fatal disease... and some natural disasters... and a lack of funds. There are four things that make a dream impossible to achieve. Plus life in prison, which can end most dreams.
  • Years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, voyage away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds, and sail off the edge of the Earth.
  • When something bad happens you have four choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, let it strengthen you, or let it give you a reason to drink heavily.
  • Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're delusional.
  • Avoiding risk is the greatest risk of all, unless you have a gambling problem.
  • If they laugh at you because you're different then laugh at them because they're all the same. If they beat you senseless in return, knocking out all your teeth in the process, then take solace knowing you had the last laugh, even if it wasn't genuinely funny.
  • Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. Therefore those that matter count and those that don't count don't matter.
  • It's alright to not know what you want to be when you grow up as long as you never grow up.
  • Let your self-aggrandizement keep you so busy that you have no time for the petty concerns of others.
  • If you set your goals ridiculously high and fail, you will fail above everyone else's success. However, you will still be a huge failure.
  • The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart on their way to the stomach.
  • Whoever is happy will make others happy too, with the exception of sadists.
  • Never let the fear of being hit in the face with a baseball, a bat, or a cleated shoe keep you from playing the game.
  • If you never try you will fail at trying. If you try and fail then you have succeeded at failing. If you try and succeed, it is because others have failed before you.
  • The secret of success is to do the common thing while generating a lot of advertising revenue.
  • The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our realization that tomorrow never comes.

Poligamy Tuesday, January 4, 2022

On this day in 1863, the Protestant New Apostolic Church was created in Hamburg, Germany, out of the Catholic Apostolic Church. From Britannica: The church emphasizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sacraments are baptism, Holy Communion, and holy sealing (the "dispensing and reception of the Holy Spirit"). Sealing can only be conferred by the laying on of hands on the head of a member by an apostle, and it assures the member of participation in Christ's rule on Earth for 1,000 years after he returns. Like the Latter-day Saints, the New Apostolic Church teaches that the sacraments can be received by a living member for a dead person. And speaking of the LDS, on this day in 1896, the Mormon territory of "Deseret" became the state of Utah in the U.S. after statehood was denied for fifty years due to ongoing disputes and military scuffles between the Mormons led by Brigham Young and the federal government over the practice of polygamy. Following the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 which disincorporated the LDS Church, Mormon president Wilford Woodruff received divine revelation and the LDS Church passed the Anti-polygamy Manifesto of 1890, and in 1895 a ban on plural marriages was written into the state constitution which appeased the federal government. In 1904, after over a decade of continued polygamous marriages, another manifesto was issued and the LDS Church began excommunicating polygamist members. In 1906, a federal senate investigation (Smoot Hearings) concluded that a majority of the LDS leaders were living in polygamous cohabitation. Plural marriage ceremonies were no longer officially conducted after 1920, although a third manifesto was issued in 1933 by LDS president Heber J. Grant, who himself had three concurrent wives.


Joseph Smith - 40
Brigham Young - 55


Prior to Utah becoming a state, here is what the Mormons believed about polygamy: Joseph Smith had a revelation in 1831 that plural marriages, or marriages with more than one wife, were permissible. Regardless that it was considered a wicked practice and forbidden according to the Book of Mormon (Jacob 1:15, 2:24-27, 3:5), as a leader, Smith claimed he was allowed more than one wife based on Old Testament accounts of plural marriages among God's rulers, most notably those of Abraham, Jacob, David, and Solomon (Doctrine and Covenants 132). This became known as the Patriarchal Law of Abraham. Despite the admonition in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 of an overseer to be the husband of but one wife, Smith supposedly had somewhere between 33 and 43 wives, some of whom were married to other church leaders and some of whom were related to one another. Although secret amongst the leaders at first, Smith began promoting it openly in the 1840s. The church began teaching it publicly in 1852 and, under Brigham Young's leadership, it became rampant, with reports of inter-family marriages and wife swapping. Young, who had around 55 wives and believed monogamy to be a flaw of Christianity, declared, "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, vol 11, p 269). Some early LDS Church leaders even taught that Jesus had many wives and children while he lived on earth. In 1886, third LDS president John Taylor had a revelation that the Law of Abraham was an everlasting covenant never to be revoked. Although there remain various Mormon factions that continue to practice polygamy, the current official LDS stance on plural marriages is that it is not allowed. Still, plural marriage doctrine remains in LDS scripture and claims it will not only be permitted in the afterlife, but will be resumed on earth after Christ's return.

Excommunication Monday, January 3, 2022

On this day in 1521, Martin Luther and his followers received official excommunication, anathema, interdiction, and perpetual condemnation from the Roman Catholic Church via the papal bull Decet Romanum Pontificem, issued by Pope Leo X and available from Papal Encyclicals Online. Four years earlier, Luther, a Catholic priest and Augustinian monk, nailed a list of discussable items to the church doors of the Castle Church of Wittenburg in Germany. Among his list of concerns, written in Latin for anyone to understand, was the practice of indulgences, by which members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church could pay charitable contributions in exchange for the remittance of sins both for themselves and others, including the souls of the deceased. In 1520, the Holy See released their official opinion about Luther's thesis in the papal bull Exsurge Domine, in which they condemned the opinions of this "wild boar" as "heretical, scandalous, false, offensive to pious ears or seductive of simple minds, and against Catholic truth" and a "plague and cancerous disease." In response to this, the contumacious German monk gave them the spiritual finger. The rest, as they say, is history.

"We would make known to all the small store that Martin, his followers and the other rebels have set on God and his Church by their obstinate and shameless temerity. We would protect the herd from one infectious animal, lest its infection spread to the healthy ones. Hence we lay the following injunction on each and every patriarch, archbishop, bishop, on the prelates of patriarchal, metropolitan, cathedral and collegiate churches, and on the religious of every Order -- even the mendicants -- privileged or unprivileged, wherever they may be stationed: that in the strength of their vow of obedience and on pain of the sentence of excommunication, they shall, if so required in the execution of these presents, publicly announce and cause to be announced by others in their churches, that this same Martin and the rest are excommunicate, accursed, condemned, heretics, hardened, interdicted, deprived of possessions and incapable of owning them, and so listed in the enforcement of these presents... We would occasion still greater confounding on the said Martin and the other heretics we have mentioned, and on their adherents, followers and partisans: hence, on the strength of their vow of obedience we enjoin each and every patriarch, archbishop and all other prelates, that even as they were appointed on the authority of Jerome to allay schisms, so now in the present crisis, as their office obliges them, they shall make themselves a wall of defence for their Christian people. They shall not keep silence like dumb dogs that cannot bark, but incessantly cry and lift up their voice, preaching and causing to be preached the word of God and the truth of the Catholic faith against the damnable articles and heretics aforesaid." --Decet Romanum Pontificem, Section V

Within the Exsurge Domine, it is alleged that Luther stated, "Christians must be taught to cherish excommunications rather than to fear them." I have searched through Luther's writings during this period and have not found anything regarding this (On the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (The Ninety-Five Theses), The Freedom of the Christian Man, An Open Letter to Pope Leo X, Address To The Nobility of the German Nation, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church). However, in his Against the Execrable Bull of the Antichrist, he concludes, "And as they excommunicated me for the sacrilege of heresy, so I excommunicate them in the name of the sacred truth of God. Christ will judge whose excommunication will stand. Amen." Now I was baptized and confirmed Catholic in my younger years, however, I left the Catholic Church as an adult, even getting baptized in a Pentecostal church, but I have yet to be excommunicated, nor to submit an official notice of defect to a bishop. Even so, excommunication doesn't necessarily mean you are no longer a member of the Catholic Church, it just means that you can't take part in the sacraments until you recant. From New Advent: Excommunication, Latin ex, "out of," and communicatio, "communion" -- exclusion from the communion. It is a medicinal rather than a vindictive penalty, being intended not so much to punish the culprit as to correct him and bring him back to the path of righteousness. Its object and its effect are loss of communion, i.e. of the spiritual benefits shared by all the members of Christian society; hence, it can affect only those who by baptism have been admitted to that society.

It's easy to see why everyone confuses American Baptist minister and civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) with Protestant Reformation kickstarter Martin Luther (1483-1546). Actually, MLK was born Michael Jr. and his father renamed them both to Martin Luther after visiting Nazi Germany during the 1934 Baptist World Alliance.

Asceticism Sunday, January 2, 2022

Today we (generally speaking) remember Macarius of Alexandria (Macarius the Younger, c. 295-395), a candy merchant who converted around the age of forty and became an ascetic monk for sixty years in the Egyptian deserts. His gifts included healing, casting out demons, prophecy, visions, and discerning the inner thoughts of men. According to the OCA, a proud thought once came to Macarius to go to Rome and heal the sick. Struggling with the temptation, he filled up a sack of sand, loaded it on himself and walked into the desert until he exhausted his body. The proud thought then left him. According to CatholicSaints, he spent six months naked in the marshes, beset constantly by vicious blood-sucking flies and mosquitoes, in the hope of destroying his last bit of sexual desire. The terrible conditions and attacking insects left him so deformed that when he returned to the monks they could recognize him only by his voice. According to Catholic Daily Readings, he disguised himself in secular clothing and over the course of the entire forty-day Great Lent neither ate bread nor drank water. No one saw him eating or sitting down and he made baskets of palm leaves while he was standing. The original monastery that bears his name is still active in the ancient Scetis Desert where members awaken each day at 3:00AM for prayer and prostrations, chanting at 4:00AM, followed by morning service which lasts several hours, a blessed day of labor in one of several vocations (building restoration, forging, machining, farming, touristry), psalms at mid-day accompanied by the communal meal, and then more blessed labor, prayers, study, and quite a bit of alone time before a limited amount of sleep. Oh, wait, this is the monastery of Macarius the Great, a contemporary of Macarius the Younger who was also an ascetic monk in the deserts of Egypt. The monastery of Macarius the Younger is somewhere in the Nitria Desert and consists of a small random cave where anyone who is called may live a solitary life of prayer, fasting, and devotion. Just remember that in situations of extreme starvation and sleep-deprivation, the devil may speak to you and will in all probability tempt you. Personally, I believe at a young age I was called to be a monk but was unwilling to give up candy, a weakness which I am tempted with daily.

No Resolutions Saturday, January 1, 2022

Welcoming in the new year with red header text and that's the only change. No promises, no resolutions, no technical modifications. Just more unsophisticated and sarcastic observations. Here we go: On this day in 42 B.C., the Roman Senate posthumously deified Julius Caesar. Now call me a simpleton but what kind of god is murdered in the prime of his life and by his own people? That distinction, of course, goes to Jesus Christ. I've said it before and I'll undoubtedly say it again, if Jesus was just some wise guy who suggested we love our enemies then I wouldn't give a shit more or less. However, he claimed to be God's only Son, giving him the right to act as a sacrifice for the atonement of all who committed sins against his Father, then died a gruesome death on the cross in accord with God's regulations, which none can argue against being holy and righteous. Then Jesus rose from the dead, which anyone can question and many deny, but I tend to believe because it seems only rational, but that's probably just the Holy Spirit convicting me since I initially took it on faith when I accepted that the acts of Jesus were gospel truth. Moving on, a Christian monk named Telemachus attempted to stop a gladiatorial fight in a Roman amphitheater on this day in the year 404, which spectators did not like... or did they? According to various sources, Telemachus was then killed either by the gladiators, the spectators, or both. This also happened to be the last known gladiatorial fight in Rome, as Emperor Honorius, himself a Christian, then banned the public activity (gladiator fights, not martyrdom). In 1773, the hymn "Amazing Grace" is first sung in England. It was written by Anglican clergyman John Newton, a reformed slave trader turned abolitionist. According to modern sermons, his slave ship was battered by a terrible storm and he cried out to God, who saved him and ended his slave trading. However, although he was converted by this miraculous event, he did go on slave trading for another six or seven years after the incident. It was during that time which he studied theology and eventually saw the error of his ways. To give credit where credit is due, Newton's hymn-writing partner was poet William Cowper, much like the musical partnership of Elton John and Bernie Taupin. On this day in 1808, the U.S. bans the importation of slaves and on this day in 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation takes effect in Confederate territory. Lastly, let us bow our heads for a moment of silence in honor of the passing of Betty White yesterday.

  This was the first U.S. flag, known as the "Grand Union," which was raised on this day in 1776 by George Washington's army at Prospect Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts. In some accounts, Washington raised the British flag ("Union Jack") to trick British troops into thinking they had won. A year later, Congress voted for the "Betsy Ross" flag as its replacement.
  The "Betty White" flag. Her name alone kept her off of J. Edgar Hoover's blacklist.



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