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

Out With a Burp & a Fart Sunday, December 31, 2023
No end-of-year fanfare here. No new year's resolutions, either. No recap of 2023. No predictions for 2024. No ignorant comments about the Israelis and the Palestinians. No attempt at political satire. None of the usual religious bigotry. No bulleted lists or quizzes. No final feast for a featured saint. No book promotion. No last look at the Pilgrims of Plymouth Plantation. No honorable mentions. No half-ass history lesson. No extensive excerpt from an ancient codex. No definitive answer. No last jabs at curmudgeonly co-worker Kelvin or the Virgin Mary or the Mormons. No explanation why I find commercials for Taco Bell's $5 Cravings Box to be so annoying. No wise-ass remarks about NCAA Division I football. No idea how undefeated Florida State got passed up for the final four, then lost to Georgia 63-3 in the Orange Bowl. No expletives regarding Windows OS corrupting my Linux partition. No excuse for why I like listening to industrial metal and watching Rick and Morty. No regrets, remorse, retractions, or apologies. Just goodbye and good riddance to this past year.
Unto Us A Child Is Born Monday, December 25, 2023
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: his mother Mary, a virgin herself of twelve years of age and chambered in the temple of the LORD most of her days, was discharged when she came of age, lest she defileth the sanctuary with her flow. So her father Joachim Eli took her into his house, and in two years' time was want for her to be given in marriage. Then calleth he forth all men throughout Isael who were unwed and pure of heart. And many were they who answered the call.

When Joseph heard, he cast down his adze with which he did hew a piece of sycomore to build himself a lovely hutch for to display all manner of tool, and accoutrement, and miscellany of paraphernalia; and hastened to meet them. And when they were gathered together they went before Annas the high priest and took with them each their rods.

Then the high priest took the rods of them that were assembled and went into the temple and prayed. And when he had finished the prayer he took the rods and went forth and returned of them to whom they belonged: and there was no sign upon them. But Joseph received the last rod: and, behold, a dove flew forth atop the rod and leapt from there into the beard of Joseph. And the priest said unto Joseph, "Unto thee hast fallen charge to takest thou the virgin of the Lord and keep her unto thyself."

So it was, that when Mary the mother of Jesus was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being just, and not willing to make her a publick ensample, was minded to put her away privily into the fires of Gehenna.

But whilst he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Thereafter shall she pleasure thee in all the ways the LORD intended."

Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet Isaiah: "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is: God with us."

And also another prophecy of Isaiah: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-abi-ad-sar-shalom, which being interpreted is: Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."

And a prophecy also of Jeremiah: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Isael shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, Jehovahsidqenu, which being interpreted is: The LORD Our Righteousness."

Therefore when taken in total his name was to be: Emmanuelpelejoezelgibborabiadsarshalomjehovahsidqenu

And for this reason the angel of the Lord did but settle upon the abridged JESUS (Hebrew, Yeshua), which being interpreted meaneth "salvation" (even that it was a popular name that year).

Read more here.

We Wish You a Spooky Aðfangadagskvöld Sunday, December 24, 2023
Today in Iceland is Aðfangadagskvöld, when the last of thirteen monstrous Yule Lads, or trolls, visits children and either leaves a small gift or a large turd in their shoes. Then the patron saint of Iceland, Thorlak Thorhallsson, dukes it out with Saint Nicholas to see who will put coal in the children's stockings. The entire family gathers together under thatched roofs to enjoy a meal of fermented skate with mashed potatoes and a shot of brennivín, while here in the Americas we await an imaginary tulpa called Santa who has been collectively thought-formed by millions of capitalist children to sneak into their houses while they sleep and drink their sodapop. Since this is the eve of a major Christian holiday, it is generally observed by most Catholics with fasting, wherein copious amounts of fish are eaten. Polandic peoples pile hay under their dining table so that the Virgin Mary may lay her egg and blindfolded children pull a straw to see how their life will turn out: green represents a normal, healthy upbringing; yellow represents jaundice; brown represents a shitty existence; black represents untimely death. The Inuits and other indigenous persons of the frozen North celebrate Quviasukvik, the start of the new year, wherein the goddess of the sea, Sedna, delivers baby seals to children for Clubbing Day. And let's not forget the Jewish observation of Nittel Nacht, when participating couples abstain from sexual relations (so as not to conceive of apostate children who might grow up to become Christians) and instead play chess. Today is also as good as any to blame Adam and Eve for the original fall of humanity from the grace of God and thus the need for the birth of a Savior.

Pictured: Xmas time at the average American household.
Definitive Answers to Tough Questions Part 5 Saturday, December 23, 2023
Today is Festivus and tis the season to tie up loose ends. Way back in May we touched on the subject of an eternal hell but, more specifically, why a loving God would send the children he created to such a place. Ever since then I have received numerous responses (from my wife) with concerns that there doesn't appear to be a reasonable answer, other than we are physical beings and don't understand God's spiritual reasoning or divine algorithms which undoubtedly incorporate ℼ and ∞. Will everyone in the afterlife collectively concur that hell is just, fair, and well deserved? Will there be those who refuse to go to heaven because there is no Mogen David? Maybe there will be so many bodies that are dumped in hell all at once that it will smother the flames or, perhaps, hell requires an infinite number of bodies in order to burn forever; which is unsettling for a mother who has repented and been baptized to think about watching and smelling her unsaved child -- whom she has prayed for earnestly for years -- smoldering in hell with Adolf Hitler. Will the consolation of Jesus be absolute? Sorry, there are still too many burning questions to this disturbing conundrum. If you think you know the answer to this then keep it to yourself because you're probably wrong. The important thing for the time being is to not dwell on the eternal and instead to have a very merry Christmas in the here and now. Whether you are Christian or Pagan, we can all get together and celebrate the season for what it really means: drinking heavily. Not to be prejudice, but let us also incorporate our dear Jewish and Muslim colleagues and neighbors somehow, some way. For Jews, it's Hanukkah (which ended already) and for Muslims it's absolutely nothing, so good luck with that. (No holiday ham for either, though.)

Bless me, for I am irregular. Monday, December 18, 2023
What does homosexuality and the Black Death have in common? That's right: Saint Sebastian (A.D. 255-288), a third-century Christian martyred under Roman Emperor Diocletian. Tied to a tree or post or marble column, he was shot full of arrows but survived, then rescued and healed by Saint Irene of Rome, only to return to Diocletian to preach against his sins and subsequently clubbed to death and his body dumped in the sewer. Sebastian became a popular patron saint during the bubonic plague of the fourteenth century. However, during the Renaissance period beginning the following century, he underwent a relatively drastic makeover that inadvertently made him popular as a religious icon for the modern-day gay crowd. Apparently, his naked, effeminate, bondaged physique has been viewed as queer in more than one way -- not to mention his look of ecstacy toward Christ while undergoing a painful martyrdom which has been mistaken for a show of sadomasochism... or so I've been told by the Internet. Also according to the Internet, on this the day of the Feast of Saint Sebastian, Pope Francis has officially approved Catholic blessings for gay couples, although not to be confused with blessings for gay marriage or used in conjunction with gay civil unions. As explained in relative layman terms in the Vatican News, this is to be a non-liturgical blessing for irregular conditions offered to all without requiring anything because, well, no one is morally perfect. Decipher it for yourself from the official Catholic declaration, Fiducia Supplicans.

Pictured: a sketch of Saint Sebastian by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1520. Who doesn't like a masculine body without all those arrows sticking out of it? And for those who don't like all those muscles sticking out of it, these were removed by later Renaissance artists.

Sister W and the HLA Sunday, December 17, 2023
Today we feast in honor of Wivina (1103-1170), a Benedictine abbess and hermitess who oversaw construction of the Grand-Brigard Abbey in Belgium and is the patron saint of old maids, but don't let that fool you because she was a badass super heroine and the abbey was actually the fortress for the Holy League of Aragon, consisting of Bibleman, Biblegirl, The Illuminator, Captain Salvation, Mr. Christian, Armor Bearer, Larry Boy, and The Faith Walker. Behind every great crusade were the superheroes of faith -- be they man, woman, or cucumber -- and this band of believers was instrumental in preserving Christianity in the 1192 Battle of Jaffa, the 1209 Sack of Béziers, the 1462 Battle of Targoviste, the 1491-92 Siege of Granada, the 1571 Battle of Lepanto, the 1595 Battle of Calugareni, and the 1683 Battle of Vienna. Sister W was to the Holy League of Aragon like Professor Xavier to the X-Men, except that she didn't have paraplegia or a giant cerebral device that amplifies telepathic brainwaves. Curious about the religious beliefs of more mainstream Marvel and DC superheroes? Check out Comic Book Religion.
Haggai: An Ecclesiastical Synopsis Saturday, December 16, 2023
Today, those who read their Bible, or its Jewish counterpart the Tanakh, may remember the prophet Haggai from the Old Testament book of the same name. Haggai lived during the return of the Hebrew people from Assyrian/Babylonian/Persian captivity to Israel circa 530 BC and stirred the Jewish remnant to build the Second Temple in Jerusalem under the supervision of Zerubbabel and the Holy Royal Arch of the Freemasons. Haggai was instrumental for encouraging the Israelites to rebuild the temple in time for Christmas, complete with a roof and chimney in preparation for the arrival of Saint Nicholas. In order to accomplish this, God loaned Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel the Power Gem from his Infinity Gauntlet. Unfortunately, that's all we know since there were only two chapters. The prophet Zechariah, with the help of High Priest Joshua and his power turban, then continues the saga by calling upon the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to disturb the peace of the nations in order to distract them from Zion and allow the Jews to complete their mission of making Judah a premier tourist destination, all the while continuing the eternal battle against Thanos and Mistress Death. Some say that J.R.R. Tolkien modeled Radagast the Brown after Haggai, while others liken him to Thufir Hawat of Frank Herbert's Dune. If you are asking yourself whether any of this is in the Bible or the Tanakh, then I encourage you to look for yourself.

AI-generated image of St. Lucy by, although it was edited afterward due to not achieving the intended effect, which is probably a breach of their terms of use.
Saint Lucia of Syracuse Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Today, many in the Christian community celebrate Lucia of Syracuse (A.D. 283-304), one of many early Christian virgins who gave up family riches to give to the poor and were tortured by the Romans and put to death. As this story goes, Lucia (or Saint Lucy, as those who venerate her know her), was an early Christian virgin on the island of Sicily who gave up family riches to give to the poor and was tortured by the Romans and put to death. Since her story was not recorded until centuries later, it has been embellished to include having her eyes gouged out, which makes her the patron saint of having one's eyes gouged out. Lucy was engaged in an arranged marriage to a pagan fellow who didn't like the idea of her giving away her dowry to the poor, so he ratted her out as a Christian to Governor Paschasius, which resulted in a few failed attempts at torture and eventual death by the sword. Although a legion of Roman soldiers was unable to rape her and set her on fire, they were able to pull her eyes from their sockets with the use of a team of elephants. Afterward, they stabbed her through the throat, then raped the elephants and set them on fire. For 400 years, Lucy's eyeballs remained in Syracuse as relics, winking at visitors and healing them of their infirmities. Prior to the Saracen incursions of the late eighth century, the eyeballs ascended to heaven upon a golden plate. Nowadays, Italians celebrate by eating meatballs made from white meat stuffed with an olive and dipped in tomato sauce -- resembling Lucy's eyes. Children who have their Christmas stockings hung early may receive gifts from St. Lucy and her flying donkey, such as sun glasses or eye drops. Yes, I made some of this up. Research it for yourself.

Freedom, Equality and Justice for All Sunday, December 10, 2023
Today we remember Swiss Reformed theologian Karl Barth (1886-1968) and American theologian and Trappist monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968). Unfortunately, I didn't manage my time well and have absolutely nothing to share about the lives of either of these two remarkable individuals. However, here is my two-shekel's worth on the subject of today's Human Rights Day: Humans have no rights, other than the right to die. Contrary to this, the United Nations collectively believes that every human being has the fundamental and inalienable rights to life, dignity, equality, justice, social security, peace, education, property ownership, paid holidays, respect, personality, asylum, expression, and freedom of speech, religion, belief, and to abuse the word "whereas" in a preamble. If one cannot attain these rights peacefully, then one may resort to violent rebellion against oppression and tyranny. According to Article 7 of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Now any progressively-minded person of a democratic society would applaud all of this and, no doubt, a majority of UN representatives did back in 1948 and some still do. However, reality doesn't applaud. Most countries with a membership in the UN do not employ, practice, nor promote these ideals of freedom. Even the U.S., from whose national constitution Eleanor Roosevelt squeezed this utopian syrup, has a difficult time maintaining equality for all within its own borders. This is all nothing but a fantastic hot air balloon ride. The UN has no authority to enforce anything in this apotheosis of goodwill, which states in Article 30:

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Now any Biblically-minded person of the Christian faith would slowly applaud this in a sarcastic manner, for they'd know intrinsically what Karl Barth used to say: "To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world." Without the Spirit of God, there is no hope for freedom among humanity. Without Jesus, there is no hope for peace between God and humanity. This is not religion for, as Barth also said, "Religion possesses no solution of the problem of life; rather it makes of the problem a wholly insoluble enigma. Religion neither discovers the problem nor solves it: what it does is to disclose the truth that it cannot be solved." In light of this subject -- a false sense of peace obtained through fabricated freedom enforced by governmental law -- Thomas Merton also had a few things to say:

"It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce man and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace?" --The Seven Storey Mountain

"There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful." --Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

"There should be at least a room, or some corner where no one will find you and disturb you or notice you. You should be able to untether yourself from the world and set yourself free, loosing all the fine strings and strands of tension that bind you, by sight, by sound, by thought, to the presence of other men. Once you have found such a place, be content with it, and do not be disturbed if a good reason takes you out of it. Love it, and return to it as soon as you can, and do not be too quick to change it for another." --New Seeds of Contemplation

That Which Lurks in the Shadows of Husbandry Monday, December 4, 2023
When I was a youthful lad, we would hitch up the station wagon and drive out to the sticks to attend some kind of seasonal festivity featuring hot apple cider at a grange hall practically in the middle of nowhere. Today we remember -- or discover -- the most clandestine organization in the world: The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry, or simply "The Grange." Founded on this day in 1867, The Grange was intended as an advocacy group to improve agricultural conditions following the Civil War by educating ignorant, illiterate farmers throughout the U.S., as well as to influence government policies on agronomy, regulate railroad shipping and grain warehouse costs, bolster rural consumer cooperatives, provide postal services to the boonies, grant loans to bumpkin sharecroppers, promote the build-out of affordable access to high-speed broadband, and give hay rides to city folk. Although these granges have operated in the open for over a century and have been available to the public for craft fairs, quilting bees, weddings, used book sales, 4-H assemblies, Future Farmers of America competitions, AA meetings, pagan orgies, free dictionaries, emergency shelter, and teenage dances, they have also been steeped in surreptitiousness buried deep in the bosom of fraternal orders. Members, known colloquially as Grangers or even by their first names, are indoctrinated by a melee of small brochures called pamphlets, brainwashed in a short introductory course known as a welcome meeting for newcomers, and taught mysterious methods of greeting one another that resemble regular greeting methods to outsiders. The Grange is more formidable than any other esoteric brotherhood including the Freemasons, Knights Templar, Bavarian Illuminati, Skull and Bones, and Bilderberg simply because they allow not only men but women to join and even recruit children who are old enough to draw a plow. If you are interested in digging deeper into the dirt of this secret society, you will have to provide login security credentials to access a computer, initiate a three-way TCP handshake, and then navigate the gauntlet of information at Beware that few who enter actually become affiliates and, of those who do, even fewer become elected officers. However, at any degree of membership, it's one that shares prestige with the likes of Norman Rockwell, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Henry C. Groseclose, and possibly your next-door neighbor.

The Turd of December Sunday, December 3, 2023
On this day in 1938, the Third Reich of Nazi Germany issued the Decree on the Utilization of Jewish Property (Verordnung über den Einsatz des jüdischen Vermögens), according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, making "Aryanization" of all Jewish businesses compulsory. A process that began informally in 1933 when the Nazis took control, German authorities now forced Jews by law to sell immovable property, businesses, and stocks to non-Jews (Aryans) at prices far below market value. This act followed those in the previous month of that year, including Kristallnacht ("Night of Crystal" or "Night of Broken Glass") from November 9-10, when the Gestapo burned synagogues, looted Jewish homes and businesses, killed at least 91 Jews, and sent 30,000 Jewish men to concentration camps. On 11/12/38, the German government issued the Decree on the Elimination of the Jews from Economic Life. On 11/15/38, Jewish children were banned from attending public schools. Not to exclude other undesirables, on 12/8/38, Heinrich Himmler issued the Decree for Combating the Gypsy Plague, defining Gypsies as an inferior race. Whether or not this period in time was intended by God to re-introduce the Jewish people back into the forefront of history is open to debate.

On a brighter side overseas, the theatrical version of "A Christmas Carol" was released as a propaganda film to distract Western viewers from the atrocities in Europe. It was preluded by the Looney Tunes cartoon "Porky's Hare Hunt."

Old Kissinger telling young Kissinger that there is nothing he would have done differently.

Hamas Kills Kissinger Friday, December 1, 2023
Henry Kissinger (1923-2023) died this past Wednesday at the ripe, old age of 100. Former U.S. secretary of state to presidents Rockefeller, Nixon and Ford, winner of the Nobel peace prize in 1973 for helping draft the Paris Peace Accords to end Cambodia, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Medal of Liberty in 1986, secretly ruling China for over a decade, and author of numerous volumes of controversal Mad Libs, Dr. Kissinger leaves behind this website. After defeating Hitler in WWII and graduating from Harvard, he served as director of the Harvard International Tactical Nuclear Weapons Seminar and founded Kissinger Associates, Inc., to counsel greedy corporations on how to be ruthless. Along the way, he made many enemies as a Jew, even going so far as to make many Jewish enemies just to show that he wasn't playing favorites. His most valuable contribution to the Arab-Israeli dispute was to make sure that the U.S. sold weapons to each side evenly. A betting man, he won big wagering the lives of South Americans in Operation Condor, however, he put down his money on Iran as America's ally in the Persian Gulf but had to pay his gambling debt to the Carter regime. In his later years, Kissinger staked a large ante on artificial intelligence over humans in a war started and controlled by AI. (To his credit, he bet against COVID-19.) Of Jewish lineage Kissinger was not particularly a fan. He once addressed the National Jewish Committee on Girl Scouting, saying, "Any people who has been persecuted for two thousand years must be doing something wrong. If it were not for the accident of my birth, I would be antisemitic." To this, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders (D) responded, "I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger." Since nobody is revealing the cause of his death, I'm starting a rumor that he was killed by Hamas and that the state of Israel had obtained the detailed plans of his demise over a year ago.

Something I Forgot About Monday, November 27, 2023
A couple days past I was reminded of Elizabeth of Reute (1386-1420), a German sister of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi in Switzerland who was also known as Betha the Good, and then I forgot. She was one of those stigmatics who was so devoted to the Passion of Christ that she subsisted solely on the Eucharist. I don't know what you know or think about the topic of stigmata, probably because I never asked, but I got to thinking about it more than I ever had before coming across Betha the Good. I started with the subject on Wikipedia and there found quite a bit of useful information -- so much so that I'd recommend reading the article here. So, here I shall provide a brief synopsis based on this one source. Stigmata are physical marks on the body reminiscent of those which Jesus was inflicted with during his Passion when he sweat drops of blood, was scourged on the back, wreathed with a crown of thorns, pierced by nails through the hands and feet, and speared in the side while he hung on the cross. (Tears of blood are also a stigma, but let's not overdo it.) Stigmatics bear these same marks physically, although supernaturally inflicted through stringent adherence to prayer, fasting, asceticism, and angelic visitation. The marks may bleed or merely be felt and not seen and may be accompanied with a state of ecstasy consisting of visions, euphoria, and spiritual sensitivity. The majority of these reports are Catholic and, of these, most are women. Saint Francis (1181-1226) was the first reported stigmatic and the Apostle Paul mentioned his own body bearing the marks of Christ (Galatians 6:17). Of course, modern medicine attributes these blemishes to psychological maladies, physical ailments, autosuggestion, painful bruising syndrome, hemorrhaging, neurotic necrosis, hysteria, and self-inflicted wounds. True, some have been found to be a hoax, however, several physicians studied the Capuchin friar Francesco "Padre Pio" Forgione (1887-1968) of Pietrelcina, Italy, for fifty years but none could conclusively identify the cause or source of his stigmata, although skeptics claim he used carbolic acid. Stigmata is also depicted in certain Buddhist and Hindu artwork, however, this generally denotes the third eye. Now, if you will excuse me, I have other things to forget about.

#Stand Up to Blueish Hate Sunday, November 26, 2023
We all know someone whose favorite color is Pantone 19-4052, or who is down in the blues, or has blue eyes, or wears denim, or has won a first-place ribbon, or listens to music inspired by the Deep South of the nineteenth-century U.S., or has a sexually indecent sense of humor, or is a Democrat, or a nun of the Order of the Most Holy Annunciation who wears a blue habit, or someone who uses binoculars to watch Splendid Fairywrens or a Cerulean Warbler flying in the blue sky, or someone who likes to take part in Civil War reenactments dressed in a uniform denoting the Union Army, or likes to wear turquoise jewelry, or a pilot who flies an F/A-18 Super Hornet in choreographed aerobatic synchronicity for the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, or an aquatic placental marine mammal in the ocean blue, or a gill-bearing animal in the deep blue sea, or someone who roots for the Boise State Broncos, or has seen the 1998 film Men in Blue starring Blue Blake, or whose favorite flavor is blue raspberry, or thinks that blueberries are purple, or garnishes their Lactuca biennis salad with dragonflies and Carpathian Blue Slugs, or whose birthstone is sapphire, or someone who has been poisoned by a dart frog, or who grows Agapanthus and Anemone, or likes Roy Orbison's song "Blue Bayou" (co-written by Joe Melson and re-recorded by Linda Ronstadt), or has a poster of Van Gogh's The Starry Night, or is Jewish and wears a blue yarmulke, but did you know that some people claim to have a color vision deficiency and cannot even see hues in the visible spectrum between green and indigo? Believe it or not, these people do exist and their condition is less about color blindness than it is about sheer and utter racism.

These men aren't everyone's favorite, but they should be.

There are few who like this a-hole, but he usually gets what's comin.'

No, but seriously, #Stand Up to Jewish Hate.

Black Friday Deal Click Here Friday, November 24, 2023
Today is Evolution Day in commemoration of the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. For those who believe in evolution but haven't read this book is like a born-again Christian who hasn't read the Bible. Boring or not, one must investigate their beliefs and not just stand idle and chew their cud, only to be prodded along to the slaughter. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Evolution is not compatible with the Bible. And, to begin a sentence with a conjunction, evolution is not compatible with science. That's a fact. Evolution, by it's very nature, cannot be proven by scientific observation -- it has to be taken on faith.

Thankful for Viewers Like You Wednesday, November 23, 2023

Today we are reminded to be mindful of what we are thankful for. Don't forget the Pharisee who thanked God that he wasn't a piece of shit like the tax collector, only to be unjustified in his own piety (Luke 18:9-14). Here are a few things I am thankful for, of which you may be thankful for, too:

  • Thankful for places of business that still insist on shoes and a shirt for service.
  • Thankful for exorbitant downtown parking and steep parking tickets to keep me away from downtown.
  • Thankful for so many television viewing options that I eventually give up and read a book.
  • Thankful for pink slips that lead to better careers.
  • Thankful for hangovers that lead to better decisions.
  • Thankful for Internet memes and to Richard Dawkins for inventing them.
  • Thankful for science and its inability to prove evolution.
  • Thankful for a Catholic upbringing to instill a lifelong sense of solemn shame and guilt.
  • Thankful for political correctness in constantly revealing what a bigot I am.
  • Thankful for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in revealing that Al Roker is still alive.
  • Thankful for the public library system for providing access to Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I was a child.
  • Thankful for caffeine in all its natural and artificial forms.
  • Thankful for the continual resurrection of Hostess Ding Dongs.
  • Thankful for far right-conservatives and far-left liberals for keeping me grounded in the middle.
  • Thankful for Donald Trump and Joe Biden for showing us all that anyone can be president of the United States.
  • Thankful for the Detroit Lions in being a staple of Thanksgiving day football since 1934 and the Dallas Cowboys since 1966.
  • Thankful for Nurtec® for alleviating migraine headaches caused by incessant commercial advertising.
  • Thankful for the $200 diagnostics I recently paid to alleviate concerns about my automobile.
  • Thankful for my neighbors' barking dogs and car horns keeping me from sleeping my life away.
  • Thankful for ska and punk rock joining musical forces.
  • Thankful for the variety of candy in a capitalist free market.
  • Thankful for government protection from the truth about Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena.
  • Thankful for patient and forgiving step-parents.
  • Thankful for God's mercy on me for being as self-righteous as a Pharisee and as dispicable as a publican.

Of Plimoth Plantation Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Thanksgiving is once again upon us and what better way to celebrate than by revisiting our Pilgrim brethren and four surviving sisters as William Bradford recounts their first Thanksgiving? For this, we shall turn back the pages a few years to 1621.

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; For as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, and bass, and other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want. And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their freinds in England, which were not fained, but true reports. -Source

Bradford's account was written over twenty years after the event. However, there was also a second account of the first Thanksgiving in America in a letter by Edward Winslow written in December of that year. An educated member of the Mayflower party among all of its doltish agronomists, Winslow would come to be the primary liaison between the colonists and Great Britain.

Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie. -Source

In conclusion, the food we eat today in honor of our Pilgrim forefathers should include cod, bass, duck, turkey, and venison. Even if you are a vegetarian, you should eat some wild game and be thankful.

The Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 14 Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Today Kelvin is slightly perturbed. At lunchtime, he recounts how judgmental regular church-goers are towards him when he makes an occasional appearance during a holiday. He says it's enough to make him either turn around and leave or get up and shout, "Bullshit!" It also irks him to hear pastors stand before a congregation and ask for more money. Anyway, we all compliment him on his new haircut and he points out that my belly is growing over my belt, which I cannot deny. Over leftovers, we discuss incompetency throughout our department and I'm surprised to learn how many IT managers there are who are computer illiterate. Kelvin remains relatively calm, so he receives another compliment about his assimilation into government service, although he remains resistant to bureaucratic inefficiency more so than the rest of us. The quicker you become numb to the politics, the longer your lifespan, and Kelvin is about due for an early retirement. Our collective concern is that he may have a brain aneurism on the job and, although cranky, he will be hard to replace. He maintains that old-fashioned ethic that you work yourself to death and, when that day arrives, we may just leave his corpse hunched over his keyboard for inspiration. Eventually, the conversation turns to a general consensus that gravity's effect on inanimate objects is one of the most annoying difficulties of life, cognizance is what sets us apart from reptiles but that it's in short supply, forehead plots are generally disproportionate to their facial real estate, and leftovers are often times better than the original meal. Afterward, Kelvin returns to his office where he has torn an ID badge printer apart in order to replace a stepping motor. When he's distracted by an e-mail message, I place extra screws on his workbench next to the printer parts. That way, when he has put it all back together, he will cuss and swear as he contemplates tearing it all apart again to find out where those screws were supposed to go.

World Toilet Day Sunday, November 19, 2023
Hip hip hooray, today is World Toilet Day! The United Nations would like to remind us all this year not to flush hummingbirds down our toilets because of the amount of wasted water that could be used for other important tasks, like filling up our swimming pools, watering the streets with our sprinklers, and teaching our cats how to flush their dead prey down the toilet. But wasting water is an international, universal right for everyone and we need to accelerate our efforts so that every single person around the globe has a sanitary toilet by 2030 in order to flush billions of gallons and liters of clean water. Sure, there are alternatives, but who wants to be burdened with composting and growing their own food? It is also important that this increase in the toilet population take place under a roof and behind a closed door. Stop squatting in public markets, menstruating in the middle of the roads, and peeing in our recreational lakes and waterways. Don't be like the hummingbird in these regards.

Saint Aude Wyry Juthwara of Dumnonia Saturday, November 18, 2023
Today is the feast day of Juthwara... or perhaps it's July 13 or January 6 and maybe her name was Aude Wyry. She was born late in the fifth century, or maybe the eighth century. However, her story is rather storied, so I shall take a few liberties and embellish it a little further. What is known for sure is that she hales from South Wales and was sister of Saint Sadfyl, or Sidwell. When their mother died, their father, Lord Perphir (also called Galon), remarried a bitch, which saddened the virgin Juthwara to a point where her breasts were droopy and waxen pale with grief. Her step-mother fashioned a bra from two cheese wheels and forced her to wear it, then informed her asshole brother, Bana (also called Gwrgi), that his sister was a pregnant whore. Bana, believing pregnant women made cheese with their breasts, flew into a rage and beheaded his sister with a cheese knife. Miraculously, an oak tree sprouted up and lifted her decapitated body to a stand. Then a fountain spewed forth and projected her head into the hands of her body, whereupon she went into the swamplands of Dumnonia (now Dorset) and prayed and fasted for forty days, performed many signs and wonders, fed the poor, slayed three dragons, and single-handedly defeated both the Saxons and the Brittons at the Battle of Gerber, where a repentant Bana would later build a monastery called Le Relecq and change his name to Tangwy. In the eleventh century, Juthwara's relics were promoted from Halstock Chapel to Sherborne Abbey, where reverent pilgrims were healed after consuming a sample of one of her cheese wheels with a cracker and some wine.

Pictured: 5th century non-fungible token (NFT) of Saint Juthwara the Cephalophore, now worth 3.7 million libra.

FTRTTS3 Thursday, November 16, 2023
And now back to the ongoing saga of From The River To The Sea with your hosts, the Palestinians and the Israelis. To identify them as terrorists and Zionists isn't fair but, to be fair, Hamas and Fatah, the two majority Palestinian political groups, can both be classified as terrorist organizations and the Israeli government is predominently hard-line, right-wing, backed by international Zionists, relatively opposed to Palestinian statehood, and in support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The population of Israel, which is a smaller piece of land than the state of Vermont, is nearly ten million this year, with roughly 73.5% Jews (mostly second or third-generation Sabras who were born in Israel), 21% Arabs (mainly Muslim), and employees of subsidiaries and contractors of Halliburton making up the rest. Of the Jewish population, about two thirds are non-religious traditionalists or secular. Only a small fraction of Jews in Israel are Orthodox. Of these, the Haredi Jews make up nearly 13% of the Israeli population and most are either indifferent towards Israeli statehood or opposed to it. Nearly one million people live in Jerusalem, which is considered the capital of both Israel and Palestine and the third holiest city of Islam (following Medina and Mecca)... Wait, rewind, why would Orthodox Jews be opposed to Israeli statehood? Because the Haredim believe that the Jewish Messiah will establish their nation and that the current nation of Israel is secular, built upon violence, and too involved with worldly affairs -- which are in violation of the Talmud. To be continued, possibly forever.

You'd think that all Jews would be in favor of Israel. However, these three would rather crawl under a rock and wait things out.

R. Crumb Ain't No Saint Tuesday, November 14, 2023
One of my favorite cartoonists is Robert Crumb. Don't ask why or how. Anyway, he illustrated the Book of Genesis based on the King James Version. When recommending a Bible version to someone who has never read it, I generally recommend the New International Version, starting with the Gospels in the New Testament. However, I'd recommend anytime-readers of the Old Testament to browse R. Crumb's version of Genesis here: With that stated, I wouldn't recommend any of his other work to anyone. The man is a brilliant illustrator but exceptionally perverted. I was once an aspiring cartoonist and tried to be perverted but wasn't very good at it (thank the Lord). Anyway, without guidance from the Holy Spirit, understanding the Old Testament may be difficult, if not impossible -- not to mention unbelievable. Many of the stories get a bad rap with today's atheistic crowd and even believers find it challenging to discern the truth. Here's a spoiler alert: it's all true. But don't take my word for it, read it yourself. If you have questions or doubts, first pray, then go here. It's been a work in progress for years and I've tried to answer many of my own inquiries. God always provides a reasonable answer for me when I question His Word. Most of the time, though, I am questioning my own faith.

FTRTTS2 Monday, November 13, 2023
Yesterday was lots of fun, so let's continue today with a brief history of Israel and Palestine. Bear in mind that Palestine is a general name for much of the area that comprises Israel (ancient Canaan) and Palestinians are those people who have lived in the region throughout history. Some derive Palestine from twelfth-century BC Philistia, or the land of the Philistines (Roman Palaestina) and apply it to the area beginning with Islamic rule; a term which gained common use during the Crusades of the Middle Ages. Nowadays, Palestine is distinct from Israel as one increases and the other decreases.
1700 BC Abraham originally settles in the land of Canaan, where he has two sons -- Ishmael and Isaac -- who would rise up to become two peoples: the Arabs and the Jews. Of Ishmael, an angel of God said, "He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers" (Genesis 16:12). One of Isaac's sons, Jacob, has his name changed by God to Israel, meaning "he who strives with God" (Genesis 32:22-32).
1500-1400 BC Jacob's son Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers and soon thereafter his entire family joins him in Egypt due to a severe famine, where sometime later they are all enslaved by the Egyptians.
1300-1200 BC Moses leads the descendants of Israel out of Egypt and back into the land of Canaan, where much of its territory is conquered and divided up between the twelve sons, or tribes, of Israel (Jacob).
1020 BC Saul is crowned the first king of Israel.
922 BC Israel is divided into two kingdoms: the ten tribes of Israel to the north with Samaria as its capital and the two tribes of Judah to the south with Jerusalem as its capital.
733 BC The Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III conquer Israel and begin to take much of its population captive. By 722 BC, Israel was completely destroyed by Sargon II. The first Jewish Diaspora takes place as many who were not exiled flee beyond Israel's borders. The Samarians settle in Israel and interbreed with the remaining Jewish population.
597-586 BC After conquering the Assyrians, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II conquer Judah, destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, and take much of its population captive. The second major Jewish Diaspora takes place as many who were not exiled flee beyond the borders of Judah.
538 BC The Persians conquer the Babylonians and allow the Jewish remnant to return home to Israel to build a second Temple.
322 BC The Greeks under Alexander the Great conquer and hellenize Israel, which transfers to Ptolemaic then Seleucid rule.
167 BC Following the Greek's dedication of the second Temple to Zeus, the Maccabean Revolt frees Israel from Greek rule. The subsequent period is known as the Hasmonean Dynasty, during which time Israel prospers and regains its original territories.
63 BC Rome conquers Israel and makes Herod I its king, who was alive when Jesus was born. Herod rebuilds Jerusalem and reconstructs the second Temple, adding the Temple Mount. In 70 AD, the Romans put down a Jewish revolt by burning down Jerusalem and the second Temple. During Roman occupation, Israel is known as Iudaea (Judea) and includes southern Syria.
AD 132 Israel revolts against the Romans and hundreds of thousands of Jews are killed. Much of the population is scattered throughout the known world in yet another Jewish Diaspora. Israel as a nation all but ceases to exist.
AD 570-632 Life of Islamic Prophet Muhammad -- although he lived and died in Mecca, a province of Saudi Arabia, Muslims believe he ascended to heaven from Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock will be located.
AD 614 The Persians capture Jerusalem.
AD 629 The Byzantine Empire captures Jerusalem.
AD 638 The Muslims capture Jerusalem and in 692 complete construction of the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.
AD 1099 European Christians take control of Jerusalem in the First Crusade.
AD 1187 Muslims recapture Jerusalem.
AD 1517 Ottoman Empire takes control of Israel for the next nine centuries.
1917 Ottomans are defeated in World War I by the British, who issue the Balfour Declaration, re-instating a nation of Israel as the home of the Jewish people. This declaration is formed in alliance with the Zionist Federation and, since most of the current inhabitants of Palestine are not Jewish, it does not go over well. Furthermore, Britain had promised an independent nation to Palestinian Arabs in exchange for helping overthrow the Ottoman Empire.
1920-1948 Following the close of WWI, the League of Nations puts Great Britain in charge of managing Palestine, which in 1922 becomes known as "Mandatory Palestine." Jewish immigration causes tension with the existing Arab population and violent conflicts become commonplace.
1936-1939 Palestinian Arabs rise up against the British during The Great Palestinian Revolt, which starts off as strikes and other forms of political protest but, by the end of the first year, turns into a violent insurgence against the British Army. Thousands of Palestinian Arabs are killed and several terrorist factions arise.
1939-1945 During World War II, Italy attacks Palestine. About 6,000 Palestinian Arabs and 30,000 Palestinian Jews join the British forces. Following the war, Jewish holocaust immigration is strictly limited into Palestine to about 110,000 survivors.
1948 After the end of World War II, Arabs and Jews in Palestine are becoming embroiled in a civil war. The United Nations General Assembly recommends dividing Palestine into an Arab state and an Israeli state, but the Arabs reject it for various reasons, not the least of which is that the land designated for the Arab partition is disproportionate to its population. By now, most Arabs live in the West Bank (governed by Jordan) the Gaza Strip (governed by Egypt), and the Golan Heights (governed by Syria).
1949 Jews declare Israel an independent nation and Israel joins the United Nations.
1965 The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is founded under the leadership of Yasser Arafat and is internationally recognized as the official representative of the Palestinian people.
1967 The Six-Day War is fought between Israel and a group of Arab nations including Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq. Israel wins the war and takes control of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights.
1993-1995 Israel signs two peace agreements with the PLO based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, known as the Oslo Accords, which transfer control of much of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the newly-created Palestinian National Authority for the purpose of fulfilling Palestinian self-determination.
21st Century Palestine is still not an official nation. Arab intifadas, suicide bombers and terrorist attacks result in Israeli counter-attacks.
2006 Hamas wins control of the Palestinian Authority.
2012 Palestine is upgraded from "observer entity" to "non-member observer state" status in the United Nations.
2012-Current Things don't get any better in Palestine.

From The River To The Sea Sunday, November 12, 2023
On school buses, in taverns, at work around the water cooler, at homes around the dinner table, and at bed time can be heard discussions about what the phrase "from the river to the sea" actually means. It is generally in reference to the Palestinian occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in Israel and their right to live there. However, like all the other turmoil in that region, it is not as simple as that. For some, it means Palestine's right to peacefully co-exist with Israel but, for others, it means Palestine's right to reclaim all the land in northern Israel, including complete control over Jerusalem. Here's what it means for the two primary parties involved:

Hamas is the predominant Islamic national liberation and resistance movement of Palestine. What it means regarding "from the river to the sea" can be found in its 2017 Palestinian liberation manifesto:

2. Palestine, which extends from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and from Ras al-Naqurah in the north to Umm al-Rashrash in the south, is an integral territorial unit. It is the land and the home of the Palestinian people. The expulsion and banishment of the Palestinian people from their land and the establishment of the Zionist entity therein do not annul the right of the Palestinian people to their entire land and do not entrench any rights therein for the usurping Zionist entity.

3. Palestine is an Arab Islamic land. It is a blessed sacred land that has a special place in the heart of every Arab and every Muslim.

20. Hamas believes that no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded, irrespective of the causes, the circumstances and the pressures and no matter how long the occupation lasts. Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea. However, without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.

27. A real state of Palestine is a state that has been liberated. There is no alternative to a fully sovereign Palestinian State on the entire national Palestinian soil, with Jerusalem as its capital.

Read all 42 points of the Hamas manifesto on the liberation of Palestine here:

Likud is the ruling party of the Israeli government. What it means regarding "from the river to the sea" can be found in its 1977 party platform:

The right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is eternal and indisputable and is linked with the right to security and peace; therefore, Judea and Samaria will not be handed to any foreign administration; between the Sea and the Jordan there will only be Israeli sovereignty.

A plan which relinquishes parts of western Eretz Israel, undermines our right to the country, unavoidably leads to the establishment of a "Palestinian State," jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the existence of the State of Israel, and frustrates any prospect of peace.

The PLO is no national liberation organization but an organization of assassins, which the Arab countries use as a political and military tool, while also serving the interests of Soviet imperialism, to stir up the area. Its aim is to liquidate the State of Israel, set up an Arab country instead and make the Land of Israel part of the Arab world. The Likud government will strive to eliminate these murderous organizations in order to prevent them from carrying out their bloody deeds.

The Likud party platform in its brief entirety can be read here:

An 1898 Russian map that defines the nation of Palestine before the pesky British and Zionists marched in and planted Jews. As can be seen, it extended far east of the Jordan River. Prior to 1947, the British mandated both Israel and Jordan as "Palestine."

A tourist map identifying Palestine today, including the Gaza Strip in the southwest and the east-central West Bank. The Golan Heights in the northeast was obtained in a shady real estate deal from Syria in 1967 and is another territorial dispute altogether.

Carpenters 1979-1982 The Ipecac Years Thursday, November 9, 2023
Today for some reason I am reminded of the Carpenters. It's not an anniversary of anything Carpenters but who needs one to be reminded of the best power duo of the twentieth century? I recently learned that Richard Carpenter was planning on releasing an album after Karen's death, commemorating his famous sister, but that all the songs were destroyed in the 2008 Universal Studios fire... or so it would seem. Many of these songs have recently surfaced and show that the Carpenters were aggressively pushing into the alternative rock genre. Here are some of those titles -- but be forewarned, they are not for the typical Carpenters' fanbase.

Starving (For Love)
Glockenspiel Blues
Mr. Guder (Extended Psychedelic Remix)
Arbor Day Massacre
Addicted (To Love)
Hands Off The Hairdresser
Laundry Days and Wednesdays
Yellow Underpants
For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)
Enter Sandman
Live Long & Prosper (Featuring Leonard Nemoy)
Days of Turquois and Silver
What Is Normal Behavior?
Marshmallows In My Watergate Salad
Dance Mister Accordion Man
Itchy Underpants
Children Can Be Cruel
Yesterday Once More Once Again
Born Under The Bus
Don't Much Like That Attitude
Phantom Of The Paradise (Theme Song)
I Was Once Like You
Sibling Love Affair
Ain't Nothin' But Colitis
Take Us To Your Leader (Song For Nixon)
Please Don't Touch Me There
Just Over The Horizon (The Oblivion Song)
Funny Looking Scar
Darling, Sign My Petition
Sweaty Underpants
Tip Toe Through The Tulips (With Tiny Tim)
Not Tonight (Nor Tomorrow)
Hot, Wet Dolphin Rendezvous
All Along The Watchtower
Stop That (Right This Instant)
It Ain't Christmas Without Santa
Once You Go Black
Silly Little Camel Toe (Tribute to Kristy McNichols)
People Are Strange
You Know You Have To Pay For That
Marriage Is A Wrong Way Turn
Bawitdaba (Da Bang Da Bang Diggy Diggy)
Another Shot Of Kool-Aid
Smells Like Teen Spirit
Midnight Choir (Mogen David)
I Believe in Snuffleupagus
Baby, Shake That Baby, Baby
Nights In White Satin (With The Irish Rovers)
Swappin' Underpants

1-888-373-7888 Wednesday, November 8, 2023
The Bible doesn't shy away from the subject of indentured servitude for children, particularly for the offspring of Gentiles (Exodus 21:1-11, Leviticus 25:45, Deuteronomy 20:10-15), although it typically frowns upon the slavery of Hebrew children (Nehemiah 5:5-6) and stealing people into slavery (Exodus 21:16). Although slavery was not initially a common practice, it was allowed when the Israelites themselves were freed from Egyptian captivity, delivered to the land of Canaan, and commanded by God to conquer and destroy or enslave its inhabitants. However, they were admonished to treat indentured servants of their own race with respect and compassion (Leviticus 25:35-43). Evidently, there is a biblical difference between indentured servitude and chattel slavery, as well as scriptural ways of regulating each. Is this to say that God is immoral or inhumane for condoning slavery? Or is this simply something that we don't fully understand about the ancient world and another thing we choose not to accept about the condition of humanity? Slavery in all its unpleasant and objectionable methods is still thriving in practice today, although there is a prominent regard for it as evil; especially human trafficking and sex slavery. Many of us are indentured servants and in debt to creditors, however, we don't consider ourselves as slaves. Some even employ under-paid illegal immigrants but don't consider them as slaves, either. And who's opposed to making children do some labor now and then to help out around the house? However, the general consensus is that it can go too far. If you know someone who has been forced against their will into slave labor, especially a child, then please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline and report it. Otherwise, you are just as guilty as the Egyptians who refused to let God's people go and forced them to make bricks without straw.

Elisha's Bottomless Oil Jar Sunday, November 5, 2023

Today's Bible verse is 2 Kings 4:1-7, wherein the prophet Elisha visits a widow of a prophet who asks for some assistance with her creditor but she has nothing more than a small jar of oil, to which Elisha tells her to round up all the clay jars she can from her neighbors and fill them all full of the oil behind closed doors, then sell them, which she does and has enough money left over for her and her two sons to live on. For months now, I have been blessed with a never-ending bottle of Dawn dish detergent. It should've run completely out by now but continues to keep providing enough dish soap with only a little remaining in the bottom. The same goes for my toothpaste -- rolled from bottom to top long ago but still squeezing out toothpaste. As a matter of fact, just about every container in my home has been empty for quite some time, yet they all keep pouring and squeezing and dispensing; be it a jug of all laundry detergent, a jar of mayonnaise, box of Triscuits, salt and pepper shakers, Q-tips, isopropyl alcohol, whey protein, syrup bottle, shampoo, peanut butter, Preparation H, hand soap, honey, vitamin D, catsup/ketchup, paint thinner, toothpicks, 3-IN-ONE® oil, bleach, Windex, gasoline tank, fat cells -- heck, you name it and it still seems to be producing more on empty than when it was full. I call this nothing less than a miracle. I'm sure there's a law for this named after someone who coined the term after themselves. What's that expression for something that constantly diminishes but never disappears completely? I didn't pay attention in those classes that required use of the left side of the brain. I also just got over a fever and my brain isn't thinking clearly. Otherwise, I'd research something more thought-provoking to blog about. Anyhow, another interesting point about 2 Kings 4:1-7 is that the creditor was going to take the woman's two sons from her and use them as slaves until the debt was paid. My goodness, how times have changed. Wait, child labor is still alive and well. That might make for a provocative topic for tomorrow's entry.

A picture of the actual bottle of Dawn dishwashing liquid that refuses to die. Come to think of it, I should gather up all my neighbor's empty dish soap bottles from their recycle bins and fill them up as Christmas gifts.

Baptists vs Methodists Friday, November 3, 2023

This last Thursday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference of NCAA Division 1 college football, the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Wake Forest Demon Deacons by a score of 24 to 21, which begs the question: Is pop star Rihanna the apocalyptic Whore of Babylon? First, let's find out why these two vestiges of North Carolina's higher education have such fiendish mascots. In the beginning, towards the end of the nineteenth century, Wake Forest's mascot was a tiger and that was boring, so they eventually just went with their school colors of the Black and Gold, but that too was boring, so they tried the Baptists, however, the Baptists were just mediocre at athletics. In 1923, their football team went from lackluster to passable and beat rival Trinity College, which would later become Duke University. The Wake Forest school newspaper nicknamed the football team the "Demon Deacons" in recognition of their devilish fighting spirit. Later, in 1941, a frat boy created what he thought a Demon Deacon looked like and that apparently stayed with them forever. As for Duke, they were originally the Trinity Methodists (aka, the Blue and White), later nicknamed the Blue Devils by their school newspaper in 1922, supposedly after the skillful French Alpine light infantry battalion of WWI, known as les Diables Bleus. As for Rihanna, this guy seems to think she's a candidate for the Book of Revelation's "Mother of Prostitutes." Only real blue devils and actual demon deacons may know the answer to this.

What the Hell is Halloween About? Monday, October 30, 2023
This is the eve of All Hallows' Eve and tomorrow I shall turn off my porch light and ignore the desparate pleas for handouts, no matter how unique or adorable. Halloween, or Hallowed Evening, is derived from Allhallows' Eve, the night before All Saints' day, or Hallowmas, originally celebrated on May 13 in the Roman Catholic Church. It was moved to October 31 in the eighth century by Pope Gregory III in an attempt to supplant the pagan festivals of the autumn equinox on the eve of the Celtic new year. Also known as ShadowFest, Martinmas, Hallowtide, Day of the Dead, and Season of the Witch, it is the night on which many of the Celtic festivals were traditionally celebrated, along with the autumn equinox harvest and various ancient Roman festivals mixed with those of the Celts during 400 years of Roman occupation, including Feralia, the commemoration of the dead, and the honor of Pomona, goddess of fruit (whose symbol was an apple). Most of the modern Halloween celebrations and practices were introduced to America by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century and are derived from the ancient festival rites of the Celtic Druids of Britain and northern France from over 2,000 years ago (dating from the first century B.C.), particularly those celebrating the day of Samhain ("summer's end," pronounced sow-en), when the dead are honored. It was believed that on October 31, time was suspended and the boundaries between the living and the dead were blurred, allowing for the dead to cross over into the world of the living. Food was left outside homes to appease the wandering spirits of the dead and Druidic priests would sacrifice crops and animals to bonfires in worship of nature and observance of the season of darkness, followed by fortune telling and a costumed parade of people dressed in animal skins as ghosts of the dead in order to help guide spirits out of town. The Catholic Church encouraged participants to dress as saints rather than evil spirits and to give to the poor rather than offer food to demons (practices which were later adopted by All Souls' Day).

Halloween celebrations during the Victorian era of the nineteenth century were primarily a civil affair without the occultic overtones. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Halloween was celebrated as a community festival with parades and parties comprising the entire town. Although pranks and vandalism began to surface as common acts in the 1920's and 30's, by the time trick-or-treating became popular in the 1950's as a way of averting these harmful pranks, much of what Halloween originated from -- both Catholic and Celtic -- had been forgotten. Trick-or-treating may be traced back to an event called "going a-souling" during All Souls' Day in England, when the poor would beg for food from door to door and be given "soul cakes" in return for their prayers on behalf of dead family members, which was later undertaken by children in return for food and money. This practice, in turn, may be traced even further back to a Scottish practice during Hogmanay (New Year's Eve), when young people sought gifts and those who gave generously were blessed, while those who didn't were cursed. As populations grew in the U.S. throughout the 1930's and 40's and Halloween became less centralized, trick-or-treating not only became a way for children to stay out of trouble (a practice promoted by the Boy Scouts as "beggar's night"), but also a way to spread the celebration throughout the neighborhood.

Carved pumkins originated from the Celtic practice of carving scary faces into vegetables such as potatoes, turnips, or beets, then illuminating them with candles and placing them in windows or around the house to ward off evil spirits (or guide them, depending on how the traditions are interpreted). It was said that if a candle flame flickered on this night, it was caused by a passing spirit. The legend of the Jack O'Lantern comes from Irish folklore about a drunkard named Stingy Jack, who on various occasions had tricked the devil and made a deal with him not to claim his soul. When Jack died, God would not allow such an unsavory individual into heaven, nor would the devil allow him into hell. Instead, Jack was sent forever into the darkness with only a burning coal from the devil to light his way. This he put into a carved turnip with which he continues to roam the earth, known ever more as "Jack of the Lantern."

Today, Halloween is the second largest commercial holiday in the U.S., next to Christmas. Although Halloween for most who celebrate it may not be intended as the occult holiday it was once known for, the darker aspects of it are making a comeback and there are several who do revere it as a spiritual or demonic festival, including modern day Druids, Wiccans, Neopagans, and Satanists. Wiccans and wiccins (Old English term for witches and sorcerers) still celebrate the Celtic festival of Samhain in honor of the last harvest, the coming new year, and in memory of the dead who are considered living spirits, during which time the dead may be consulted and invited to take part in the festivities. Wiccans believe that during this period, between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice when time barely seems to exist on the earthly plane, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. They also believe that Samhain is not a time to fear the spirits of the dead who may have crossed over, but to welcome, invite, and embrace them in fond memory. "Dumb suppers" (silent, saltless meals) are held with empty seats as an open invitation for the dead. Divination and fortune telling are practiced, often with tarot and rune cards, to foretell the events of the coming year. Bobbing for apples originated from one such practice of determining the marrital compatibility of young men and women -- according to tradition, the first person to catch an apple with their mouth from a tub of water or hanging from a string would be the next one to marry. Traditional Halloween costumes of gouls and goblins may be derived from the medieval belief that witches, who were feared and depicted as old and ugly, disquised themselves as frightening animals and demonic creatures.

At the farther end of the demonic spectrum, Satanists consider Halloween one of their major holidays and celebrate it as Satan's birthday with various activities ranging from Black Mass (a sacreligious desecration of Catholic Mass), destruction rituals, and blood sacrifices of animals, to the reported sacrifices of infants and ritualistic torture of children by underground sects. Some accounts describe Halloween as the spiritual high point of the year for Satanists, although popular Satanism is more of a metaphysical, non-faith belief structure opposed to organized religion and aimed at secular humanism, self-gratification, and self-indulgence, so individual birthdays are more highly celebrated than Halloween by most Satanic followers, particularly those of the official Church of Satan. Halloween is, however, the time of year with the highest rate of Satanic ritual crimes. Satan worship has often been attributed to the occult and those who directly worship Satan, as well as to those who invoke the magical powers of dark spirits, who revere pagan gods, or even to those who worship Mother Nature, since to many Christians all who do not believe can only be in league with the devil, and whose powers can only come from demonic forces (witches often make the claim that they do not worship Satan). This, of course, would mean that roughly 3/4 of the world's population are Satan worshipers in one form or another. Modern Satanism, in the true spirit of Lucifer the adversary, centers on individuality. Therefore, worshiping Satan, who himself wishes to be worshiped, would not be rational. Satan, however, does not only desire the worship deserved by God alone, but aims at distracting the attention of God's children away from him and focusing it on themselves.

Note: Some accounts maintain that during the ancient celebration of Samhain, the Lord of Death (British Gwynn ap Nudd, the modern day Grim Reaper) called together the souls of the wicked who had died throughout the year to come forth and make mischief and damage crops, however, due to unsubstantiated sources, this may be based less on Celtic folklore and actual Celtic history than on the sensational stories of a few fundamentalist Christian writers. Some Celtic traditions hold that, because it was considered a time of no time, chaos was allowed to reign for three days in place of civil order, during which time people would cause mischief and play pranks on one another. These actions would later become attributed to the spirits of the dead. The Druids, however, looked to the spirits of the dead for guidance, wisdom, and insight. Halloween is also a peak holiday for supposed vampires, Gothic cults, and Freemasons. Where did all this information come from, you ask? From here.

Jesus Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express Sunday, October 29, 2023

We are all weary by now of televangelists. At least we should be. Specifically, prosperity evangelists. I pay absolutely no attention to these individuals and generally don't give them a second thought. Unfortunately, other people do and then send their money to them. Several years ago, my grandmother asked me who Mike Murdock was. At the time, I didn't know. One day while I was visiting her, she turned on Trinity Broadcasting Network and there he was asking for donations of $1,000 apiece and encouraging potential seed planters to use their credit cards, even if already in debt. This man had balls; solid gold balls; solid gold balls with halos. Instead of viewing these individuals out of morbid curiosity as religious freak show oddities, I now see them as a parasitic scourge on society. Despite their positive message of the love of Jesus, the fact that their focus is on monetary greed is truly appalling. We could go round and round about whether or not they are godly men and women who are preaching a valid gospel. I personally had a lot of respect for Billy Graham (1918-2018) and attended one of his crusades when I was a kid. Apparently, however, I didn't give enough money to his ministry at the time. As a result, I never received the personal message to acquire a fleet of private jets and somewhere along the way I lost faith altogether in becoming a millionaire. Today, I can only claim a humble contentedness for what little I have. But praise the Lord that there are people out there taking advantage of Christianity's propensity for giving. Here are just a few of these affluent charity mongers swinging their solid-gold testicles in the poverty-stricken face of humanity:

Spiritual Huckster2023 Net WorthWhere You Can Generously Donate OnlineTestimonial
Kenneth Copeland     $760,000,000     Kenneth Copeland MinistriesLeader of the pack with five private jets (one arguably just a transport plane), an airport, Victory Channel television, a college named after him, Eagle Mountain International Church in Texas, author of over 474 books, and a gold record that topped the charts with Johnny Mathis and Elvis Presley.
David Oyedepo$150,000,000Living Faith Church Worldwide International530-acre facility called Canaanland in Nigeria with an estimated 50,000 members which is part of his Winners' Chapel worldwide franchise. To date, the Lord has gifted him only two private jets.
Jesse Duplantis$50,000,000Jesse Duplantis MinistriesAuthor of over 58 books, board member of Oral Roberts University, and prize-possessor of a $54 million Dassault Falcon 7X.
Benny Hinn$42,000,000Benny Hinn MinistriesHis gift of the Spirit is knocking people unconscious and he owns a $36 million Gulfstream G-IV, among other nice things.
Joel Osteen$40,000,000Joel Osteen MinistriesSenior pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas with an estimated 45,000 members and author of over 18 books, including two New York Times Best Sellers, with a constant message of uplifting positivity that appeals to the most wretched of souls. Although he currently owns only one private jet, it is an $86 million Airbus A319.
Creflo Dollar$27,000,000Creflo Dollar MinistriesFounder of Christian World Changers Church International and proud owner of a $65 million Gulfstream III.
Jimmy Swaggart$10,000,000Jimmy Swaggart MinistriesIf you've never heard of him then you don't need to worry about televangelists, but at one time in the 80s he owned a Gulfstream jet.
Mike Murdock$5,000,000Wisdom Center ChurchWho cares?
Robert Tilton$2,500,000Robert Tilton MinistriesAt some point in his illustrious career, he was supposedly worth $50 million. He is now famous as the "Farting Preacher."
Jim Bakker$1,000,000The Jim Bakker ShowOne of the original televangelists involved in the Christian Broadcasting Network, The 700 Club, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and The PTL Club. Proprietor of Heritage USA theme park, he and wife Tammy Faye were once estimated at a net worth of $50 million before Satan unleashed sex, drug, and financial scandals upon their charismatic ministry which resulted in five years for Jim in federal prison.

This list is just a small sampling of God's exclusive millionaire's club. Other opulent, gold-ball members include Oral Roberts, Peter Popoff, Chris Oyakhilome, Paul and Jan Crouch, and Eddie Long, just to name a few. I know, nobody likes a name-dropper. I'm just jealous because my testicles are mere flesh and blood and may even have horns. Anyway, here is some interesting information on the subject, free of charge:

BBC News: The preachers getting rich from poor Americans
Dust Off The Bible: 15 Christian Leaders That Make More Money Getting Out Of Bed Than You'll Make All Year
ETInside: Top 15 Richest and most Successful Pastors In the World
Last Week Tonight: Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption
Ministry Watch: Providing information on organizations alleging to be charitable
Trinity Foundation: Monitoring religious fraud for 30+ years

Diary of an Idaho Driver Thursday, October 26, 2023

Dear Diary, where am I? I seriously don't know. I thought I was in Idaho but now I'm not so sure. I must be in Washington because other drivers seem to think the left lane is just for passing. Dadgum libtards. No matter, stay the course, steady at 50. Hard to concentrate on this paperback book, though, when I'm worried I may have left the iron on at home. Wait, I don't have an iron. But I do have a curling iron... and a curling wand and a wave crimper and a cone wand and a brush iron and a spinning curler and a jumbo tong and a hair straightener and a tourmaline. Did I leave them all on? Whoah, what's this? I'm wearing pants! How'd that heppen? I don't recall putting on any clothes. Oh, well. Do I turn here? No. Do I turn here? No. Do I turn here? No. I can't turn here but I'll do it anyway. Mmmm, I sure like Diet Coke and fentanyl.

Oregon drivers are typically ecologically conscience, but not enough to refrain from driving altogether. If the speed limit is 60MPH they drive 70MPH and if the speed limit is 70MPH they drive 60MPH. Apparently, they do this in order to confuse their gas mileage.

Idaho drivers get in whatever car is parked in their front yard and with gas prices one of the lowest in the nation they couldn't give a shit less about the environment. They typically drive under the influence of drugs, alcohol and/or sleep.

Diary of an Oregon Driver Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Dear Diary, where am I? Am I in Idaho, yet? I sure like these express lanes in Washington. They must be for out-of-state drivers only, since there are no Washington drivers in them -- mostly just Idaho and Montana. And there's no hurry, either. Steady at 60. Hard to concentrate on this audiobook, though. I'm dying to know how the son of the American president falls for the Prince of Wales, but I can't help but wonder, did I leave the iron on? Did I put my pants on after I ironed them and before I left? I will call home to make sure my pants aren't still there. Oops, wrong number. Better take my eyes off my iPhone to make sure I'm still in the express lane. Yes, and cars are passing me on the right and honking -- undoubtedly in support of my bumper stickers. Surely we can all agree that health care is a universal right, love is blind and deaf, and that cats can bridge the gap between political parties! Mmmm, I just love kombucha.

Ugly As Sin is Not for Sale Tuesday, October 24, 2023

This is not an important update, please skip it. We're sorry to interrupt, but today is not a fundraiser. Our nonprofit does not ask for your support. Our parent site, Holier Than Thou, was one of the first spaces online where you could learn for free, without ads. 0% of our readers donate, so whatever.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming, which has been lacking as of late. Today is Food Day in the United States, as it is pretty much all year long. As of this posting, the Food Day website is starving for a certificate in its diet. Today is also a commemoration day for one of several saints, so let's spin the wheel of chance and see who comes up in the spotlight: Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870); Eberigisil of Cologne (sixth century); Luigi Guanella (1842-1915); Magloire of Dol (sixth century); Martin of Vertou (527–601); Proclus of Constantinople (390-446); Rafael Guízar y Valencia (1878-1938); Senoch (sixth century). And we land on... Kelvin. Yes, my co-worker, Kelvin. Today is as good as any for another episode of The Curmudgeon Chronicles and today Kelvin is slightly perturbed because Raymond has been stealing his help desk tickets, which is nothing new -- I've been doing that for years -- but Raymond will work on them at the same time as Kelvin and try to close them before Kelvin can. It's a dog-eat-dog world and Kelvin is growling and snapping like a Yorkshire Terrier. To make matters worse, Raymond takes quite a bit of time off and is seldom around when Kelvin actually needs his help. Raymond was gone most of last week and Monday, but came in long enough today to piss Kelvin off, which I believe is Raymond's official job description. Actually, it's part of all of our job descriptions and we take great pride in our efforts. Tomorrow, Steve returns from vacation, which will undoubtedly perturb Kelvin all the more. If one were to document Steve's foibles, they would fill volumes (which HR is well aware of). I try not to make fun of Steve because he's not a godless heathen like all my other co-workers but he continually makes it as difficult as possible not to. I think maybe his mind works on another plane of existence in another dimension, which might explain his constant reliance on flow charts for ordinary tasks. Anyhow, Kelvin is about due for an aneurysm any day now and tomorrow may be that day with both Raymond and Steve in double-coverage.

Sales Are Down Saturday, October 14, 2023

I got excited recently when I received a text message from Amazon that one of my books sold a Kindle copy for 99¢, however, upon closer examination, I see no such transaction whatsoever -- just like all those e-mail notifications I get informing me that my package couldn't be delivered, only to find out that I didn't order a package. Anyhow, here's a few samples from Tales of Unorthodox Romance. Please enjoy.

ently, 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.

strid and Geoff were daily trying to make each other's workday as annoying as possible. He would take breaks standing in her doorway and texting. She would empty her waste basket into his. He would forward unwanted calls to her. She would sign him up for junk e-mail distribution lists. He began bringing her white elephant gifts, wrapped and placed in different locations. She began hanging framed pictures of him in the halls and common areas. He became the safety officer and wrote her up for every infraction. She became the office supply manager, rationing his Post-it Notes and confiscating his ergonomic chair. Eventually, it escalated into a torrid sexual affair, a heated marriage, and a nasty divorce. But, in the end, they became amicable co-workers and productive team players.

nce upon a time, there was a little boy who got stuck in a lilac tree, even though his mother had warned him many times not to climb in it. As time passed, the boy's flesh sloughed off and nourished the roots, while the branches grew to envelope his bones. In a way, the lilac tree and the little boy became one. Then the day came when they were both chopped down, thrown into a wood chipper, and used as mulch in the vegetable garden. DNA from the boy-tree hybrid ended up in zucchini and tomatoes which the mother harvested and consumed. Classic Freudian psychology would classify this as an example of the Oedipus Complex. However, Sophocles would probably beg to differ.

The End

Lulu Roman Is Still Alive Friday, October 13, 2023

Today is Friday the 13th (Gregorian calendar), which means bad luck only for those who are superstitious. For the rest of us, it's a day like any other. So, if something bad happens, it was either coincidence or fate, except for those who don't believe in these concepts, either. Otherwise, shit happens. In the days of yore, to believe in destiny and fortune was to actually pay homage to the false gods or heavenly bodies that were considered responsible for prosperity (Isaiah 65:11), which God really didn't care much for. From the same chapter, here are verses 1-5 in one of my favorite translations:

I have been sought of them that asked not: I was found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that called not upon my Name. I have spread out mine hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walked in a way that was not good, even after their own imaginations. A people that provoked me ever unto my face: that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon bricks. Which remain among the graves, and lodge in the deserts, which eat swine's flesh, and the broth of things polluted are in their vessels. Which say, Stand apart, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou; these are a smoke in my wrath, and a fire that burneth all the day. (Isaiah 65:1-5, 1599 Geneva Bible)

I cannot help but wonder these three things: Has anything changed since then? Does God smell the stench of evil from everyone or just his chosen people who do wrong? Does this refer in any way to me? It also reminds me of a recurring song on the television show Hee Haw, the chorus of which went like this:

Gloom, despair, and agony on me
Deep, dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair, and agony on me

(Lyrics by Bernie Brillstein, Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth)

I cannot help but wonder these three things: Has anything changed significantly since Hee Haw went off the air in 1992? Does any of this even matter? Will I bother posting this? It also reminds me of a recurring thought in my head: Should I pursue developing and maintaining the official Minnie Pearl website and, if I did, would God be displeased with my efforts? If I was able to generate revenue from advertising on said website, would Minnie Pearl be displeased? I can't turn it off -- my brain; it just keeps asking questions. I don't know which ones are rhetorical and which ones require further consideration. I guess I will post this, even though it doesn't matter.

"God has a plan for all of us, but He expects us to do our share of the work." --Minnie Pearl (1912-1996)

Curmudgeon Chronicles Vol 12 Tuesday, October 10, 2023

It has been a while since we last heard about my co-worker, Kelvin. Did he retire? Is he still alive? Well, 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 of the infiltration of bullshit IT nomenclature into our organization (e.g., presence potential, parsed implementation approach, convergence capabilities, premise based solutions, dedicated telepresence system, operation continuity, baseline value, leveraged holistic approach, viable integrated metrics, seamless operational modules, total quality management redundancy, industry standard best practices, etc., etc.), which is sucking the life out of his career. He complains openly and bitterly about the Information Technology Infrastructure Library and how incompetent staff are implementing IT Governance without any understanding or grasp of the subject. After his tirade and a refill on coffee, Kelvin receives a phone call and says he has to go home to tend to a family emergency. He claims he has been taking care of his mother, but we all suspect that he is his mother -- just like Norman Bates. On occasion, Kelvin can be heard arguing with what sounds like an elderly woman, only to discover him alone each time. He has also begun to wear a shawl to work, claiming that it's just plain nippy all the time. Before he leaves, he stops by Raymond's office to ask a question, only to find the office empty and the lights off. Raymond tends to work offsite most days, although no one knows where he goes all day. When business is slow, Kelvin typically reads, Kendra (his supervisor) knits, I document Kelvin's curmudgeonly episodes, and Raymond disappears just like always. No one can keep track of Raymond -- not even his supervisor (the knitter). Generally, his regular practice is to say he's leaving to go somewhere non-specific to do something vague for some unnamed person and does not return until the end of the day. His explanations are so convoluted that as long as he comes back to the office he is seldom questioned. Kelvin wants Raymond tethered to his desk so that he's available when needed or tracked via GPS when absent so that his whereabouts are less of a mystery. The knitter nods in agreement as she knits a stole for Kelvin's mother, which is being made from alpaca wool raised in her own back yard. Kelvin prefers that it not be one of those useless, loopy things that have big holes, to which she assures him that she is utilizing a fortress stitch, but he doesn't care for any of the terminology -- there's too much of that crap already.

Darmok & Jalad @ Tanagra Sunday, October 8, 2023
Much like Star Trek: The Next Generation, the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel is a long-running disaster that can only be resolved when all carbon-based humanoids are assimilated by the Borg. On the planet El-Adrel IV (stardate 45047.2), the difference between Captain Picard and Captain Dathon, besides their facial features, was one of communication. Likewise, the argument between those who believe this to be one of the best episodes of Star Trek TNG and those who consider it one of the worst will never be resolved. But who am I kidding? The non-fictional war between Hamas and Israel is nothing like the science-fictional Start Trek which, I might remind you, denies the second coming of Jesus Christ. Regardless, we all know that any episode of Start Trek the original series is better than the best episode of Star Trek TNG, including "Spock's Brain." Yet we are not all willing to agree on this. Are we just comparing apples to oranges here, or Humans to Tamarians, or Palestinians to Israelis? What is it we are doing here? I don't know -- there's no comment section to post opinions. Does that mean your opinion doesn't matter? Not to me, it doesn't. Go blather somewhere else; this is my website. Anyway, the continuous struggle for peace in the Middle East here on planet Earth is not simply one based on a difference between languages and cultures which can be resolved by patient and imaginative communication. Rather, it's based on religion and we all know how deadly that can be. As long as Israel remains a country, there will never be peace in the Middle East -- unless, of course, the Anti-Christ emerges from wherever and does whatever to whoever to make it seemingly appear to happen. To anyone who thinks there's no right side in this conflict, I say this: "Kiteo, his eyes closed. Chenza, at court. The court of silence. Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Zima at Anzo. Zima and Bakor. Shaka! Mirab, his sails unfurled."

Don't Put It In Your Mouth Saturday, September 23, 2023
Sometimes you can find valuable public service announcements here... sometimes, but not always. Last night I was visited by two missionary sisters from the LDS Church, acquainting me with the American Israelites and a white Jesus to whom I was unaccustomed. I returned the invaluable information to these nice, young ladies by reminding them that they shouldn't put things in their mouths just because they look tasty. For instance, grandma's knitting needles are colorful and fit right down your throat, but don't put them in your mouth -- to which they informed me that they need not look further than the Book of Mormon for answers. After an awkward pause, they thanked me for my time and went on their way into spiritual darkness. If you are reading this, then you are not a Mormon; they aren't allowed to browse willy-nilly on the Internet and read crap like this. So, please, for God's sake, if you know a Mormon -- or, as they prefer to be called: brothers and sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- politely inform them not to put unidentified items in their mouth. Perhaps in their Doctrine and Covenants is a list of things which they are not permitted to put in their mouths. If I am correct, though, this advice is not in the Book of Mormon or the Pearl of Great Price, so they probably don't know and, even so, most likely won't take your word for it. If not, then wipe the dust from your feet and move on. If they are visiting your doorstep, then allow them to wipe the dust from their feet and move on.

Anger is My Demon Friday, September 22, 2023
Do you ever get mad? Of course you don't. But I sometimes do. Yes, and once in a while I get worked into a pissed-off fury. Over the years, I have read a number of anger management books and do you know what I have learned? Well, I'm not telling because you never get mad. However, if you were an angry asshole like me, then I'd say that I've learned absolutely nothing. That's right. And counting to ten is advice that's worth a punch in the face. Why, just today I was frustrated and had to excuse myself to go outside and run a couple miles in my underwear. Other things I can recommend to safeguard against bouts of rage are to eat something, walk far away, meditate with controlled breathing, or speak your frustration verbally and coherently as though explaining the situation to yourself. Also, get medicated -- prescription meds, preferably. If anyone tries to convince you that you just lack faith and that medication isn't the answer, then rip the family King James Bible from their firm grasp and smash it over their head. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are activities and habits which will keep the stress lowered and then there are things you can do when your top is about to blow. Maybe, just maybe, I'll share some sometime. Maybe. If I'm not in a bad mood. Although, if you haven't already, try praying. Specifically, pray to the God of the Old Testament in the name of His son Jesus as disclosed in the New Testament. I do, but anger is my demon and it takes a strong hold on me. God doesn't always heal or take away the trouble but He can help you through the situation. I am all for miraculous healing and have been witness to a few myself but, even so, I know plenty of people with plenty of faith who went through their entire life physically crippled or stricken with a debilitating disease. Sometimes when I start to lose my temper I am reminded of these individuals and their faithful disposition. I would never compare myself to an Apostle, but we all know that Paul prayed earnestly for some kind of corrective measure to the thorn of torment in his flesh yet God never obliged (2 Corinthians 12:7-10); the takeaway being that God's grace is sufficient during challenging and difficult times. Weakness is probably why I get so angry -- because I am a weak, little baby throwing a fit; just a pitiful weakling lashing out and flailing my puny arms; crying and screaming like a spoiled brat. What a stupid baby. Anyway, along with spiritual miracles, I also believe that demons are around just waiting to cause mayhem or take advantage of it. They know me well and I reckon they themselves are mad as hell.

Touchdown Jesus Thursday, September 21, 2023
I figured I'd better write this before college football changes so drastically that -- God forbid -- I lose interest. Anyone who likes college football undoubtedly knows about Touchdown Jesus at the University of Notre Dame, which is a mural on the outside of the library depicting Jesus with hands raised that can be seen from the football stadium. Anyone who likes Americam football in general also probably notices that many of its players and coaches are Christians. In his Time Magazine article "Football and Religion: The Odd Relationship Between God and the Gridiron," Mark Edmundson concludes that, in general, conservative Christians like football because -- although Jesus "is the advocate for peace, love and forgiveness" -- the God of the Old Testament "is not a pacifist." He also states: "What football shows us Americans is how dramatically our ethical consciousness is divided. We can go to church and listen to the gospel of peace and forgiveness and then go home and watch the carnage on the field for a simple reason: that's a tension we live with all the time. The religion that most of us follow allows us to be forgiving (when we wish to be) and retributive (when we wish to be). It really is up to us which way to go at any given moment. For we have sacred sanction for both paths." I, however, disagree. I think that conclusion applies more to the military of a Christianized nation during wartime, but not to football. With football, not only is it awesome, but it's a violent outlet without death and not intended to be a bloodsport (it has come a long way from that). After all, it's not called murderball. Because of it's highly structured and heavily-regulated brutality, it is then okay for the meak and mild to watch and participate in; but it's so much more than brute force and aggression. It also incorporates strategy, athleticism, suspense, camaraderie, and fanaticism. Yet it is just a game. Does Jesus approve of the violence? Probably not, but as long as it's sportsmanlike he may turn the other cheek. Does God care that so many people gather together in one place to cheer on sports franchises rather than cheer Him on in church? More than likely, yes. Does the Holy Spirit approve of all the beer drinking and scantily-clad cheerleaders? Does anyone care for the greed and off-field abuse of some of its players? Has everyone become aware of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy? Is everyone tired of seeing commercials featuring Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, Deion Sanders, Patrick Mahomes, and Caleb Williams? Hey, it's not a faultless sport, but it is the perfect sport.

Death to Capital Punishment Tuesday, September 19, 2023
I live in a blue state that allows abortion but not capital punishment -- go figure. Anyone can tell you that God advocates the death penalty. Everyone knows that and anyone who does not believe the Bible or in the God of the Bible will be quick to make a point of it; and the biblical death penalty is by pelting of stones, no less. It doesn't make much sense that we don't enforce it, though, even in this day and age with all our "civilized" human rights. Keeping convicted offenders locked up in prison for life - especially in a solitary environment - is cruel and unusual punishment and a financial burden on society. Here's what the ACLU has to say about capital punishment:

"The American Civil Liberties Union believes the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law. Furthermore, we believe that the state should not give itself the right to kill human beings -- especially when it kills with premeditation and ceremony, in the name of the law or in the name of its people, and when it does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion. Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system. The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice. Through litigation, legislation, and advocacy against this barbaric and brutal institution, we strive to prevent executions and seek the abolition of capital punishment.

The ACLU also argues that the death penalty is arbitrary, unfair, racially biased, expensive, barbaric, unconstitutional, not a viable form of crime control, not a deterrent, and ignores diplomatic sanctions. They also state the following:

"Opposing the death penalty does not indicate a lack of sympathy for murder victims. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. Because life is precious and death irrevocable, murder is abhorrent, and a policy of state-authorized killings is immoral. It epitomizes the tragic inefficacy and brutality of violence, rather than reason, as the solution to difficult social problems. Many murder victims do not support state-sponsored violence to avenge the death of their loved one. Sadly, these victims have often been marginalized by politicians and prosecutors, who would rather publicize the opinions of pro-death penalty family members.

Bear in mind that the ACLU supports abortion rights. Regardless, one problem with housing prisoners for life sentences is that this diminishes the amount of space in prisons for other offenders, resulting in a preference towards violent offenders. That blue state I live in does just that: favors violent offenders. State correctional centers are closing living units because crime is decreasing, they claim, which isn't logical. County jails are continually above capacity and so local law enforcement tends to also favor the persuit and incarceration of violent suspects over other offenders. Does this not send a clear message that in order to be a successful criminal, you just have to refrain from violence? Who cares what insufficient statistics show in regards to capital punishment as a deterrent? It has more to do with eliminating offenders who have seriously violated the rights of their victims or disrespected them by homicide.

"The South, which accounts for more than 80% of the country's executions, also has the highest murder rate of any region in the country. If anything, the death penalty incited violence rather than curbed it... Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that prisoners sentenced to life without parole have equivalent rates of prison violence as compared to other inmates. Actual experience thus establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty does not deter murder. No comparable body of evidence contradicts that conclusion. Furthermore, there are documented cases in which the death penalty actually incited the capital crimes it was supposed to deter. These include instances of the so-called suicide-by-execution syndrome -- persons who wanted to die but feared taking their own lives, and committed murder so that the state would kill them."

I question in a doubtful manner whether murder rates have anything to do with execution rates and I scoff at the notion that violence is just as prevalent among lifers as the general prison population -- of course lifers aren't going to violently act out more than other prisoners because then they get thrown into solitary confinement for longer periods. Well, then, if I'm so smart, here are my opinions and ideas on the proper implementation of capital punishment, plus a few safe and healthy alternatives:

  • Determine on a national scale what crimes constitute a sentence in favor of capital punishment. Murder? Rape? Child prostitution? Sex slavery? Corporate tax evasion? A bad Elvis impersonation (and what's more undiginified than that)? Or is everything that a human being is capable of doing to a fellow human being more honorable than death?
  • Let IBM Watson conclude whether or not the death penalty is inhumane. If not, then allow OpenAI to weigh in on the guidelines of capital punishment and utilize computer algorithms to help determine if death is warranted on a case-by-case basis.
  • Let the victims or the surviving family members of the victims decide on the death penalty, or at least the mode and duration of punishment. If they decide to grant a pardon and early release, then so be it.
  • Hold a lottery for death sentences. Let the free market dictate who gets executed and randomly select who gets to pull the execution lever. All proceeds go to pay for the cost of carrying out the death penalty and victim restitution.
  • Employ affirmative action in the sentencing of minorities to death. Implement quotas on black convictions and limits on white victims.
  • Enact federal regulations with strict guidelines about how to carry out an execution while allowing private companies to compete for contracts. Recycle the bodies of those executed as dog food or fertilizer, but definitely not for organ transplants or for scientific purposes.
  • Schedule executions around Halloween and make them a public event for the whole family.
  • For those states of the union that haven't quite figured out how to do it efficiently and effectively, then consider the guillotine, which was the humane remedy recommended by the Enlightenment. For those concerned about the approximate seven seconds of life still in a severed head, then consider a landmine in the head basket. Although not as popular in Europe now as it was up through the twentieth century, fashion always tends to come back around.
  • Have the Supreme Court rule on all final capital convictions; at least those judges who are not opposed to the death penalty.
  • Spend more federal tax dollars on studies focused on the disincentive factor of capital punishment, except make the executions as slow, painful, and gruesome as possible. (The Romans also considered themselves as civilized.)
  • Conduct more research with rodents. Study large metropolitan communities of mice and how they implement justice among themselves when given law degrees or observe how rats react to capital punishment for rape and murder. Perhaps the death penalty would be more of a deterrent if applied for simply going the wrong way in a maze.
  • Allow individuals who are suicidal to take the place of a deathrow inmate. (Of course, the deathrow inmate shall return to solitary confinement while the suicidal replacement is executed in a humane and dignified manner befitting an innocent victim.
  • Determine whether or not capital punishment is undignified by surveying one hundred people on Family Feud.
  • Sell hunting permits to the public for deathrow inmates. Recycle the terminated bodies as dog food or fertilizer, but definitely not for trophies or organ transplants.
  • Stream executions live and on demand. Let the home consumer decide if killing is an appropriate form of punishment. Or consider pay-per-view or live events through TicketMaster. You know if people are willing to buy tickets from TicketMaster that the event is well worth their while.
  • Build secluded, gated communities for incarcerants with a life sentence who may otherwise have received the death penalty. Let them live in peace and harmony among their own kind while mowing their lawns and walking their pets. Periodically relocate these neighborhoods as private suburbs are constructed nearby and people cry, "NIMBY!"
  • Outsource life sentences to Norway.
  • Sentence violent offenders to house arrest in homes where people publicly oppose the death penalty.
  • Execute a felon for each fetus that is aborted. Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that prisoners sentenced to life without parole have inequivalent rates of prison violence as compared to other inmates. Actual experience thus establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the death penalty deters murder. No comparable body of evidence contradicts that conclusion.

Hey, fag, don't call me fag. Monday, September 18, 2023
Hello. Today I shall gently touch on the sensitive subject of homosexuality, of which I am not opposed. Yes, I said it -- I am not opposed to homosexuality. I also think that same-sex civil unions should be legal, as well as abortion. If that's what the majority wants for the minority, then let them have it. Consenting adults should have the legal rights in a democratic society to do with their own bodies as they wish. Allow me to clarify, though, that I still think these endeavors are sin and an abomination in the eyes of God Almighty (Romans 1:26-27). It's ironic that the LGBTQI+ community has adopted the rainbow as theirs, which was originally a symbol that God put in the sky as a reminder that he would not destroy the world again with a great flood in judgment of our collective wickedness (Genesis 9:8-17) and it's even a bit egregious. Yet, even after the flood covenant, God still destroyed two cities wholesale with fire from the sky due to their sexual immorality (Genesis 18:16-19:1-29). No, you don't have to remind me what happened shortly after that between Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38), which just goes to show how depraved we all are. We are all a bunch of degenerates and reprobates; every single one of us. Like it or not and deny it if you try, we are also dead in sin and deserving of our Maker's wrath (Ephesians 2:1-4). I also believe that people's freedoms should not necessarily have to be other's burdens to bear, but I would not say that to the face of a U.S. veteran of foreign war. Churches should not be forced by law to conduct unholy marriages within their doors and private business owners should not have to suffer lawsuites because they choose not to cater gay weddings -- because marriage is a religious institution. I find it objectionable that people who tout equal rights for everyone actually mean extra rights for some, along with federally-sanctioned acceptance and tolerance. I've been labeled with various epithets, including bigotted, ignorant, intolerant, homophobic, and pharisaical. However, I'd like to set the record straight by admitting that I am just as much of a piece of shit as the rest of you. So, there.

Caveat: I shouldn't advovate abortion and leave it at that because I don't. I am not a proponent of killing fetuses. However, I am a proponent of capital punishment, which is tomorrow's topic.

God, Guns, and Trump Sunday, September 17, 2023
Today is a special day. Why? Always with the why. Today is special simply because it's not special, which is my favorite kind of day. With that said, on this day in 1787, the United States Constitution was signed. Although the U.S.A. is still a relatively young nation, its constitution is the oldest and longest-standing written and codified national constitution in force in the world today and you can read it in its entirety here. Now who doesn't love the U.S.A. and its independence? That's right, much of the rest of the world and, suprisingly, many of its own citizens. But who loves it more than its very own patriots? And what is a patriot? The original meaning is a loyal citizen who supports and defends their country, regardless of the government. That meaning changed during the American Revolutionary War when the British loyalists began referring to the U.S. insurgents as patriots in a rather deragotory manner, since they were no longer loyal to a ruling country in which they disagreed and desired to separate from. However, the colonists accepted this kind of patriotism because they felt they were fighting for their own freedom from tyrany. That meaning seems to have remained to this day, whereby Conservatives have embraced the term to distinguish themselves from their neighbors who support an increasingly progressive, liberal and socialist government. We can never return to our revolutionary days, nor should we. I'm not necessarily prejudiced against white, Anglo-Saxon Christians, of which I am one, but I'm not entirely in support of us, either. As a gun-owner, I understand our love of guns but I don't share the sentiment, especially as a Christian. As a registered Republican, I don't understand support for Donald Trump, even though many who are close to me avidly voted for him and will do it again if given the chance. In this redneck sense, I do not consider myself a patriot. As a disciple of Christ, I owe allegience to God's heavenly kingdom. I believe that modern-day patriots are loyal to an apothiosis of liberty that is no longer indivisible and united under a biblical God. Politically, I am a Moderate. I do not believe in forcing others by law to believe the way I do. On the other hand, as we drift from God as a country, we also become His enemy. To this some are violently opposed. However, the way I see it, the U.S. has no significant involvement in endtime prophecy and will likely be removed from the picture in the near future (Revelation 8). Does that mean we should just keep our mouths shut and guns holstered? Why would anyone do that?

John Wayne, "The Duke" (Marion Robert Morrison, 1907-1979) is one of the greatest American icons of patriotism. Who in their right mind would accuse him of being pretentious because it was all acting?

Township Rebellion Saturday, September 16, 2023
No, this isn't another installment of William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation. Rather, I was reminded of the status of this blog whilst listening to some palliative music, specifically the song "Township Rebellion" by Rage Against the Machine. I often find myself pondering aloud that there were no good bands, nor any decent music, that came out of the 90s. But my musical taste corrects this statement when my playlist randomly selects a little ditty by System of a Down or the aforementioned group of rock minstrels. The chorus of "Township Rebellion" goes like this: "Why stand on a silent platform? Fight the war, fuck the norm." Although it's more about fighting for freedom from oppression and segregation in South African apartheid and less about a small, little-known blog, I can't help but think of this site as a silent platform upon which I spew forth religious acrimony and sarcasm. Well, who needs that? I do, for one (apparently). However, Christians are supposed to be more apparent to those around them (Matthew 5:14-16). We are also called to fight the war (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Ephesians 6:10-17) and fuck the norm (Romans 12:2). Yeah, I know, I know -- obscenity is generally frowned upon within the Christian community (Colossians 3:8), as is crude joking (Ephesians 5:4). A spring does not pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water (James 3:9-13). I hear ya, and I'll be judged for it. But just a reminder that the war has already been won (1 John 5:4, 1 Corinthians 15:57, Colossians 2:15). It was won by a Jewish carpenter over two thousand years ago (Hebrews 2:14-18). I don't know what kind of carpenter he was and I've heard tell that he may have been a stone mason, but what I do know is that Jesus is the champion of this world. Don't take my word for it, as I'm sure you won't, but see for yourself. Think for yourself. Stop being a spiritual dumbass.

Our Lady of Sorrows Friday, September 15, 2023
Today is the feast day for Our Lady of the Seven Dolours (Sorrows), however, since I have said too much about this particular topic already, I will lay off for now. If you feel so inclined, go ahead and don your black scapular, sing the hymn of the Stabat Mater, pray a novena, and say the Rosary with seven Aves and seven Pater Nosters. Instead, I shall go eat Kirkland® meatloaf and mashed potatoes, making sure to chew each bite seven times. Before I go, though, let me provide a quick recap of those seven sorrows of Mary: 1) Simeon's prophecy of Luke 2:34-35 ("And a sword will pierce your own soul too."); 2) flight to Egypt; 3) losing the young Jesus in the Temple; 4) the procession of the cross (Via Dolorosa); 5) crucifixion of Jesus; 6) Jesus' descent from the cross; 7) burial of Jesus. And now a prayer for my meal: "Heavenly Father, thank you for this delicious comfort food. In the precious name of Jesus, please forgive me if Mary really is Your mother, the Queen of Heaven, and an immortal virgin. Amen."

Infrequently Asked Questions Thursday, September 14, 2023
I was disappointed recently to find out the answer to the age-old question, "How many pickled peppers did Peter Piper pick?" The answer, which is the amount of a "peck," is eight quarts, or one quarter of a bushel, or roughly two gallons. What I was expecting was something like, "A plethora of pickled peppers." Or, "A proper portion to produce a prodigious pile of pickled profusion." Or simply, "Plenty!" The original eighteenth-century tongue twister actually ended by asking, "Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?" The answer to this, of course, is, "Who gives a shit?" Answering a question with a question is a rhetorical question or a deflection, otherwise known in Socratic circles as maieutics. Counter-questioning is often attributed to the historical way in which Jews traditionally answer a question -- not to be confused with the "Jewish Question," which was the antisemitic problem of what to do with the diaspora of Jews throughout Europe between the 18th and 20th centuries. The origin of the term "Semitic" comes from the ancient, monotheistic peoples who descended from Noah's son, Shem, and all who spoke that particular dialect; applied predominantly to the modern-day Jews. To question is a basic Jewish characteristic derived from the Torah, which encourages inquisitiveness (even doubt) as an important process in the acquisition of knowledge. Judaism is not necessarily about blind obedience to the laws and commandments of God, but about listening, hearing, understanding, internalizing, and responding according to the will of God. What's all this about, anyway? It's all about detracting from that intemperate tirade I went on yesterday when I was frustrated. And why was I so frustrated? Who really gives a shit?

Major General Peter B. Piper

Frustration2 Wednesday, September 13, 2023
I am frustrated. That's an understatement. Thanks for letting me rant.

WordPress 6.3.1 Monday, September 11, 2023

So, for the past few days I have been referencing historical events from August rather than September and the only e-mail I have received informing me of this was that my website was automatically updated to WordPress 6.3.1. I am blogging from a small, dim, underground bunker with no calendar on the wall, yet even though the date is on my laptop, I cannot tell the difference between an 8 and a 9. As many already know, on this day in 2001 the U.S. was attacked by our own passenger airliners which had been commandeered by Islamic terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda, killing about 3,000 people, including Paphnutius of Thebes, Patiens of Lyon, Theodora of Alexandria, and Our Lady of Coromoto. The resulting War on Terror lasted until 2020, when U.S. troops pulled out of Afghanistan and returned power to the Taliban... wait, stay on the line, I'm getting another call... okay, I'm back. Now, where were we? What month is this? Around this time in September of 1620, depending upon the calendar used and the calculation of the leap years, the Pilgrims set sail for America after a minor setback (there were initially two ships but one turned out to be unseaworthy). Remember that the Pilgrims were English Separatists of Calvinist beliefs (also known as Puritans) who fled England for Holland and eventually felt that there was a better life for them in the new world -- one in which they could flourish once they repaid their investors, which was no small task. Although we joined them just a short while ago, we now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation, wherein a certain scalawag by the name of John Lyford and a rapscallion named John Oldame had befriended the Pilgrims, taken advantage of their generous hospitality, and then turned on them. Here we find that their bitterly divisive letters to England had been intercepted.

They begane now highly to prise corne as more pretious then silver, and those that had some to spare begane to trade one with another for smale things. And he was not counted a good, but a dangerous man, that would not contente him selfe with 7 acres of land. The ship which brought supply made a poore viage of it. Ye master, one Baker, proved a very drunken beast, and did nothing (in a maner) but drink, and gusle, and consume away ye time and his victails; and most of his company followed his example. But in ye end all proved vaine. And they begane to pick quarells at every thing. Mr. John Oldame, a cheefe sticler in ye former faction among ye perticulers, and an intelligencer to those in England, fell out with ye Capten, caled him raskell, and beggerly raskell, and resisted him, drew his knife at him; though he offered him no wrong, nor gave him no ille termes, but with all fairnes required him to doe his duty. The Govr, hearing ye tumulte, sent to quiet it, but he ramped more like a furious beast then a man, and cald them all treatours, and rebells, and other such foule language as I am ashamed to remember; but after he was clapt up a while, he came to him selfe, and with some slight punishmente was let goe upon his behaviour for further censure.

Then ye Govr turned his speech to Mr. Lyford, and asked him if he thought they had done evill to open his letters; but he was silente, and would not say a word, well knowing what they might reply. Then ye Govr shewed the people he did it as a magistrate, and was bound to it by his place, to prevent ye mischeefe and ruine that this conspiracie and plots of theirs would bring on this poor colony. But he, besids his evill dealing hear, had delte trecherusly with his freinds that trusted him, and stole their letters and opened them, and sent coppies of them, with disgracefull annotations, to his freinds in England. And then ye Govr produced them and his other letters under his owne hand, (which he could not deney,) and caused them to be read before all ye people; at which all his freinds were blanke, and had not a word to say.

It would be too long and tedious here to inserte his letters (which would almost fill a volume), though I have them by me. I shall only note a few of ye cheefe things collected out of them, with ye answers to them as they were then given; and but a few of those many, only for instance, by which the rest may be judged of.

1. First, he saith, the church would have none to live hear but them selves. 2ly, neither are any willing so to doe if they had company to live elswher.

Answer: Their answer was, that this was false, in both ye parts of it; for they were willing and desirous yt any honest men may live with them, that will cary them selves peacably, and seek ye comone good, or at least doe them no hurte. And againe, ther are many that will not live els wher so long as they may live with them.

2. That if ther come over any honest men that are not of ye seperation, they will quickly distast them, et cetera.

A. Ther answer was as before, that it was a false callumniation, for they had many amongst them that they liked well of, and were glad of their company; and should be of any such like that should come amongst them.

3. That they excepted against him for these 2 doctrins raised from 2. Sam: 12. 7. First, that ministers must sume times perticulerly apply their doctrine to spetiall persons; 2ly, that great men may be reproved as well as meaner.

A. Their answer was, that both these were without either truth or colour of ye same (as was proved to his face), and that they had taught and beleeved these things long before they knew Mr. Liford.

4. That they utterly sought ye ruine of ye perticulers; as appeareth by this, that they would not suffer any of ye generall either to buy or sell with them, or to exchaing one commoditie for another.

Ans: This was a most malicious slander and voyd of all truth, as was evidently proved to him before all men; for any of them did both buy, sell, or exchaing with them as often as they had any occation. Yea, and allso both lend and give to them when they wanted; and this the perticuler persons them selves could not deney, but freely confest in open court. But ye ground from whence this arose made it much worse, for he was in counsell with them. When one was called before them, and questioned for receiving powder and bisket from ye gunner of the small ship, which was ye companys, and had it put in at his window in the night, and allso for buying salt of one, that had no right to it, he not only stood to back him (being one of these perticulers) by excusing and extenuating his falte, as long as he could, but upon this builds this mischeous and most false slander: That because they would not suffer them to buy stolne goods, ergo, they sought their utter ruine. Bad logick for a devine.

5. Next he writs, that he chocked them with this; that they turned men into their perticuler, and then sought to starve them, and deprive them of all means of subsistance.

A. To this was answered, he did them manifest wrong, for they turned none into their perticuler; it was their owne importunitie and ernest desire that moved them, yea, constrained them to doe it. And they apealed to ye persons them selves for ye truth hereof. And they testified the same against him before all present, as allso that they had no cause to complaine of any either hard or unkind usage.

6. He accuseth them with unjust distribution, and writeth, that it was a strang difference, that some have bene alowed 16 [litre*] of meale by ye weeke, and others but 4 [litre]. And then (floutingly) saith, it seems some mens mouths and bellies are very litle and slender over others.

Ans: This might seeme strange indeed to those to whom he write his leters in England, which knew not ye reason of it; but to him and others hear, it could not be strange, who knew how things stood. For the first commers had none at all, but lived on their corne. Those which came in ye Anne, ye August before, and were to live 13 months of the provissions they brought, had as good alowance in meal and pease as it would extend too, ye most part of ye year; but a litle before harvest, when they had not only fish, but other fruits began to come in, they had but 4 [litre] having their libertie to make their owne provisions. But some of these which came last, as ye ship carpenter, and samiers, the salte-men and others that were to follow constante imployments, and had not an howers time, from their hard labours, to looke for any thing above their alowance; they had at first, 16 [litre] alowed them, and afterwards as fish, and other food coued be gott, they had as balemente, to 14 and 12 yea some of them to 8 as the times and occasions did vary. And yet those which followed planting and their owne occasions, and had but 4 [litre] of meall a week, lived better then ye other, as was well knowne to all. And yet it must be remembered that Lyford and his had allwais the highest alowance.

Many other things (in his letters) he accused them of, with many aggravations; as that he saw exseeding great wast of tools and vesseles; and this, when it came to be examened, all ye instance he could give was, that he had seen an old hogshed or too fallen to peeces, and a broken how or tow lefte carlesly in ye feilds by some. Though he also knew that a godly, honest man was appointed to looke to these things. But these things and such like was write of by him, to cast disgrace and prejudice upon them; as thinking what came from a minister would pass for currente. Then he tells them that Winslow should say, that ther was not above 7 of ye adventurers that souight ye good of ye collony. That Mr. Oldam and him selfe had had much to doe with them, and that ye faction here might match ye Jesuits for politie. With many ye like greevious complaints and accusations.

Thus I have breefly touched some cheefe things in his leters.

To be continued. Find out in our next installment how the Pilgrims reacted to such perfidiousness. For the document in its entirety without all these interruptions, visit Project Gutenberg. (*Note: the abbreviation "li" was interpreted, right or wrong, as litre. However, after further consideration, it may have stood for pound sterling.)

Sunday School Trivia Sunday, September 10, 2023
Looking back, I was a little harsh on the Mormons. My apologies if I offended anyone... other than members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Speaking of weird abnormalities of the Christian faith, today is the feast day of Our Lady of the Good Event in the Philippines in reverence to a statue of the Madonna with child dating back to 1580, which was reported at one time to glow and emit hymns, so it was venerated, paraded, canonically coronated, and enshrined. Call me skeptical (because I am) but just because someone sees and hears something that seems to be holy doesn't necessarily mean that it is, whether it's an angelic figure with a convoluted message of salvation or an image of the Theotokos with a vague proclamation of hope -- which brings us to today's fun trivia challenge: Malignant Tumors of Christianity

Which shrine of the Virgin Mary is called Korattymuthy?
  1. Our Lady of Peñafrancia
  2. Our Lady of Poland
  3. Our Lady of Perpetual Help
  4. Our Lady of Providence
  5. Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish Church
  6. Our Lady of Palmar
  7. Our Lady With The Poovan Bananas
Answer: G. If you've taken these quizzes before, you should know that this would be the most obvious answer. (Our Lady of Peñafrancia is the one celebrated today in the Philippines.)

Whose writings are the Seventh-day Adventists focused on?

  1. Joseph Smith
  2. Charles Taze Russell
  3. L. Ron Hubbard
  4. Ellen G. White
  5. Aimee Semple McPherson
  6. Faltonia Betitia Proba
  7. Catherine Booth
Answer: D

Who is the Messenger of God for the Bahá'í Faith?

  1. Jesus
  2. Muhammad
  3. Buddha
  4. Krishna
  5. Zoroaster
  6. Moses
  7. Bahá'u'lláh
Answer: All of the above.

Which of these organizations does not deny the Trinity?

  1. Unitarianism
  2. Unitarian Universalism
  3. United Church of Christ
  4. United Church of God
  5. Unification Church
  6. Unity Church
  7. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Answer: C

Who publishes Awake! and The Watchtower magazines?

  1. Jehovah's Witnesses
  2. Mormons
  3. Jack Chick
  4. Christadelphians
  5. Christian Science
  6. The Way International
  7. Swedenborgians
Answer: A. (Everyone should know this by now.)

What are the signs you may be in a cult?

  1. Not the only one married to the leader.
  2. Secret ceremonies conducted in the basement.
  3. Not allowed to communicate with unbelievers.
  4. Tithing is 100%.
  5. Only one version of the Bible allowed.
  6. Feeling of love and acceptance.
  7. Whites only.
Answer: All but F. (Sadly, this is the big "gotcha" of cults.)

Who is this?
  1. David Koresh
  2. Jim Jones
  3. Marshall Applewhite
  4. Elbert Eugene Spriggs
  5. Sun Myung Moon
  6. Kip McKean
  7. David "Moses" Berg
Answer: D. Gene Spriggs allegedly founded The Twelve Tribes movement upon child labor and slavery.

How many LDS temples are there currently?
  1. Just one in Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. Twelve
  3. +/-250
  4. Just under a thousand
  5. About one million
  6. About 3,000,000
  7. Roughly 17,000,000 (all members are a temple)
Answer: C -- about 250 and growing, with over 31,000 churches worldwide.

What was the earliest known Christian-related cult?

  1. Mandaeism
  2. Arianism
  3. Docetists
  4. Simonians
  5. Marcionists
  6. Montanists
  7. Valentians
Answer: None of the above. The Gnostics were the earliest heterodox Christian sect practicing during the 1st century. Many believe that they were encountered by the original apostles (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 11:13-15, Galations 1:6-9, 1 Timothy 1:3-4, 4:1-3, 6:3-5, 6:20-21, 2 Peter 2, 1 John 2:22-26, Jude, Revelation 2:2). Although the Mandaeists were a Gnostic sect during this time, they were not Christian, although they claimed John the Baptist as one of their own prophets. The Simonians (followers of the Samaritan magician Simon Magus from Acts 8:9-24) were considered a Gnostic sect but were not recorded until the second century. Valentinus was also a Christian Gnostic prominent in the second century.

Quorum of the Twelve Friday, September 8, 2023
On this day in 1844, shortly following the death of Joseph Smith and the resulting schism of the Mormon Church, LDS president Brigham Young re-enforced the authority of the Mormon's high leadership known as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, second only to the First Presidency (the Mormon president and his two closest counselors) and just above the Seventy. I zeroed in on this in Wikipedia while browsing the historical events of today's date as I often do to get an idea for a blog post. I'd like to take this moment to opprobriously admit that I have never donated any money to Wikipedia and yet they are only asking for three dollars. Secondly, I don't much care for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I call bullshit on that whole institution, which may sound harsh considering it consists of many of the finest people of society, but I also feel sorry that they have been deceived and, in turn, they themselves deceive others by the millions. If you yourself are a Mormon, try pulling your head out of Joseph Smith's dead ass and read a real Bible -- not that altered abomination they refer to as their own "King James Version." According to their Doctrine and Covenants (132:6-7), no one in the LDS Church is qualified for what they call heaven because there is no salvation by grace but only through strict adherence to their sanctimonious ordinances. That's a penny for my thoughts. For my two-cent's worth, go here. With that said, I admire the Mormon faithful I happen to know personally. They are better people than me. However, they are not Christians.
Pictured: First Presidency presiding over a woman who will become a wife for the lucky... er, uh, blessed individual who is charitable enough to take her as one of his many wives (president has first dibs). If none of them are desirous of her, then she will be passed to the Quorum of the Twelve. If they reject her, then she will go before the Seventy, which consists of the male members of the LDS Church over the age of seventy. Believe it or not, there were plenty of women to go around during the polygamous years.

LWoS 187: First King of Israel Thursday, September 7, 2023
Today we harken back to The Lost Wisdom of Solomon, which debuted in 2015 and is still available in paperback and Kindle. To this day, it also remains in the top ten on the New York Tim's Best Seller List. When Tim recommends a book, who cares what the New York Times considers good reading? Another favorite of Tim's is The Gospel of Martha, which is available in hardback, paperback and Kindle. Get your copies before they sell out!

187 Convivial minutiae with regards to Saul, first king of Israel:

  • He was tall and handsome, but not nearly as handsome as his successor, David son of Jesse.
  • After Samuel the Seer anointed him with an entire flask of oil (1 Samuel 10:1), within an hour he was covered from head to toe with bugs, and leaves, and sand, and donkey hair, and feathers, and dandelion seeds, and thistledown, and cottonwood fluff.
  • He had the largest known collection of wind chimes. Pride was his greatest sin.
  • God often sent a tormenting spirit upon him, whose name was Jerry (1 Samuel 16:14-15, 18:10) Jerry knew how to get under Saul's skin, both literally and figuratively. On one occasion, Jerry the tormenting spirit came upon Saul and sang "There's Got To Be A Morning After" in his ear for days, until David was summoned with his lyre to drown it out with "Happy Days Are Here Again."*
  • Other ways of pacifying him, other than David's lyre, included warm milk, scratching of the back, sucking a thumb, or putting him in the tent of time out with a small cup of chilled gelatin.
  • His son Jonathon was often naked because he was always giving his clothes away (1 Samuel 18:4). On more than one occasion, he mistook David as his own son and put him in a headlock, giving him a fatherly knuckle rub to the scalp, only to realize he was wearing Jonathon's robe and tunic. He would then chase David out of the house and into the caves.
  • His signet ring was an S inside a five-sided diamond.
  • He was overly sensitive to various frequencies of sound. The speaking of certain foreign languages caused his skin to break out in hives. He was also allergic to the color orange. A sunset could trigger relentless vomiting.
  • He had a mullet and often wore sleeveless garments.
  • He painted his toenails to keep them from splitting. He preferred cherry red or plum purple.
  • He attempted to write his very own book of antiquity, complete with riddles, word search puzzles, mad libs, mazes, and cartoons (crude stick figures with misspelled words above their heads).
  • He was named after his uncle, Saul Berkowikz.
  • The Lord was often disappointed with Saul, and regretted having made him king over Israel, especially when Saul pardoned the hyacinths in the garden of Agag king of the Amalekites, after the Lord commanded him to spare no living thing.
  • He was always feuding with his neighbor, Phyllis Stine.
  • The term "Saul is among the prophets" (1 Samuel 10:11-12, 19:24) refers to his infatuation with prophets, seers, oracles, and witches. He often attempted to disguise himself as one of them in order to sneak into their conventions and seminars. Once word got out that he was among them, he was easily identified by his painted toenails.
  • He was prone to chucking his spear at people who perturbed him (1 Samuel 19:9-10, 20:33). Once, while he was attempting to spear a bothersome fly, he killed 32 of his servants and administrators, along with his hapless spear bearer.
  • His favorite term of guile was "sonofabitch." (1 Samuel 20:30)
  • He had a third daughter, Brittany, whom he kept bound with chains in a dry cistern. She weighed as much as a horse and was far less attractive than one. It was his intent to let her loose upon David in a last ditch attempt to be rid of him, but she broke loose and escaped to the land of Nod, where she eloped with Saul's chief shepherd, Doeg the Edomite. Later, Saul had the priest who married them put to the sword. (1 Samuel 22:18-19)
  • He was never one to admit he was wrong or say he was sorry, although he did have a servant who provided condolences for wrongful deaths.
  • His last surviving son, Ish-Bosheth (2 Samuel 2:8-10, 1 Chronicles 8:33, 9:39), was slight of wrist and weakly. He was never exposed to sunlight, for it distressed his delicate skin. He was sheltered in the king's palace all his life and slept most of the time, which made him easy to assassinate. (2 Samuel 4:5-7)
  • He was kind of a douchebag, as attested to by more than a few of the psalms of David.

* A mitkam or maskil of David, possibly involving a sheminith, gittith, alamoth, or even mahalath, but probably not a shiggaion -- no one really knows what these biblical terms of antiquity mean, but it remained a popular Jewish song throughout the ages. The southern kingdom of Judah retained all rights to the psalms and songs of David son of Jesse after the northern kingdom of Israel separated during the reign of Solomon's son Rehoboam. After Judah fell to the Babylonians in 597 BC, all copyrights were abandoned to public domain. "Happy Days Are Here Again" was published in AD 1929 by Milton Ager and Jacob "Jack" Selig Yellen. The song was made popular in AD 1932 for Franklin Delano Roosevelt's U.S. presidential campaign. It was later repopularized by American singer-songwriter, author, actress, film producer, director, Academy Award winner, Grammy Award winner, Golden Globe Award winner, Emmy Award winner, Tony Award winner, and Peabody Award winner Barbra Joan Streisand in AD 1962. No doubt, King Solomon would've been able to afford a ticket to a live Streisand performance. The most memorable use of the song, however, was on Chuck Barris' television game show The $1.98 Beauty Show, hosted by Charles Elmer "Rip" Taylor, Jr., which aired from AD 1978 to 1980. "The Morning After" is most likely the same song recorded by Maureen McGovern in AD 1972, since it still has the same torturous effect when listened to repeatedly.

Zechariah & Elizabeth Tuesday, September 5, 2023
Today, while Catholics honor the memory of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches celebrate the parents of John the Baptist. Who were they? What were their professions? Where did they live? Did they shop at Target? Learn more about them from The Gospel of Martha, available from an Amazonian retailer near you. But first come and sneak a peek from the sample below.

There was in the days of Herod king of Judaea a certain priest named Zechariah, of the course of Abijah: and his wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Yet they had no child, because that Elizabeth was barren, and they both were well stricken in years. And, lo, Zechariah was much occupied in his priestly duties, and Elizabeth was nary of the disposition unto carnal relations: and, behold, their discourse of intimacy was become awkward, and unfruitful.

And it came to pass, that while he executed the office of the priest before God in the order of his course, according to the custom of the priest's office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense, when behold, there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.

But the angel said unto him, "Fear not, Zechariah: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

And Zechariah said unto the angel, "Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. And, behold, before my bride have I not been upright thenceforth the year of jubilee past. Moreover the sour soil of her flower garden leaveth cause for a divided bed; and the mere brush of a toe in the third watch of the night doth arouse the contentious protest thereof. Excepting her womb be shriveled as a carcase decomposing within rocky crags enveloped by dead thistle, my loins are as a warrior wounded in a distant campaign: missing in action, and presumed dead."

The angel answering saith unto him, "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. Moreover hast thou tested mine humours with thine impertinence; and therefore should I but strike thee impotent. Howbeit shalt thou perform as a virile and prodigious stallion upon thy bedchamber."

Now the people waited for Zechariah, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And, lo, when he came out, he could not speak unto them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. And it came to pass, that as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

And after those days did Zechariah rise forth before his wife Elizabeth, being firmly established in perpendicular splendour; and she being anointed with copious lubricity voluminous and overflowing did conceive, and hid herself five months, saying, "Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men."

Of Plimoth Plantation Thursday, August 31, 2023

Let us return once again to ye Pilgrims of yore, lest we forget all about the trials and tribulations they endured in order for us to have Hot Pockets and Diet Coke. As we descend into the pages of American history, the year is 1624 and the intrepid Pilgrims have obtained a three-mast ship called a "pinass" which they took to the seas for fishing but, alas, it sank in a terrible storm. Complaints were brought before the governor from those who had returned to England, to which he answered in Early Modern English. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation...

They having with some truble and charge new-masted and rigged their pinass, in ye begining of March they sent her well vitaled to the eastward on fishing. She arrived safly at a place near Damarins cove, and was there well harbored in a place wher ships used to ride, ther being also some ships allready arived out of England. But shortly after ther arose such a violent and extraordinarie storme, as ye seas broak over such places in ye harbor as was never seene before, and drive her against great roks, which beat such a hole in her bulke, as a horse and carte might have gone in, and after drive her into deep-water, wher she lay sunke. The Mr. was drowned, the rest of ye men, all save one, saved their lives, with much a doe; all her provision, salt, and what els was in her, was lost. And here I must leave her to lye till afterward.

Some of those that still remained hear on their perticuler, begane privatly to nurish a faction, and being privie to a strong faction that was among ye adventurers in England, on whom sundry of them did depend, by their private whispering they drew some of the weaker sorte of ye company to their side, and so filld them with discontente, as nothing would satisfie them excepte they might be suffered to be in their perticuler allso; and made great offers, so they might be freed from ye generall.

Shortly after, Mr. Winslow came over, and brought a prety good supply, and the ship came on fishing, a thing fatall to this plantation. He brought 3 heifers and a bull, the first begining of any catle of that kind in ye land, with some cloathing and other necessaries, as will further appear; but withall ye reporte of a strong faction amongst ye adventurers against them, and espetially against ye coming of ye rest from Leyden, and with what difficulty this supply was procured, and how, by their strong and long opposision, bussines was so retarded as not only they were now falne too late for ye fishing season, but the best men were taken up of ye fishermen in the west countrie, and he was forct to take such a Mr. and company for that imployment as he could procure upon ye present.

With ye former letter write by Mr. Sherley, there were sente sundrie objections concerning which he thus writeth. "These are the cheefe objections which they that are now returned make against you and the countrie. I pray you consider them, and answer them by the first conveniencie." These objections were made by some of those that came over on their perticuler and were returned home, as is before mentioned, and were of ye same suite with those yt this other letter mentions. I shall here set them downe, with ye answers then made unto them, and sent over at ye returne of this ship; which did so confound ye objecters, as some confessed their falte, and others deneyed what they had said, and eate their words, and some others of them have since come over againe and heere lived to convince them selves sufficiently, both in their owne and other mens judgments.

1. obj. was diversitie aboute Religion. Ans: We know no such matter, for here was never any controversie or opposition, either publicke or private, (to our knowledg,) since we came.

2. ob: Neglecte of familie duties, one ye Lords day.

Ans. We allow no such thing, but blame it in our selves & others; and they that thus reporte it, should have shewed their Christian love the more if they had in love tould ye offenders of it, rather then thus to reproach them behind their baks. But (to say no more) we wish them selves had given better example.

3. ob: Wante of both the sacrements.

Ans. The more is our greefe, that our pastor is kept from us, by whom we might injoye them; for we used to have the Lords Supper every Saboth, and baptisme as often as ther was occasion of children to baptise.

4. ob: Children not catechised nor taught to read.

Ans: Neither is true; for diverse take pains with their owne as they can; indeede, we have no comone schoole for want of a fitt person, or hithertoo means to maintaine one; though we desire now to begine.

5. ob: Many of ye perticuler members of ye plantation will not work for ye generall.

Ans: This allso is not wholy true; for though some doe it not willingly, and other not honestly, yet all doe it; and he that doth worst gets his owne foode and something besids. But we will not excuse them, but labour to reforme them ye best we cane, or else to quitte ye plantation of them.

6. ob: The water is not wholsome.

Ans: If they mean, not so wholsome as ye good beere and wine in London, (which they so dearly love,) we will not dispute with them; but els, for water, it is as good as any in the world, (for ought we knowe,) and it is wholsome enough to us that can be contente therwith.

7. ob: The ground is barren and doth bear no grasse.

Ans: It is hear (as in all places) some better and some worse; and if they well consider their words, in England they shall not find such grasse in them, as in their feelds and meadows. The catle find grasse, for they are as fatt as need be; we wish we had but one for every hundred that hear is grase to keep. Indeed, this objection, as some other, are ridiculous to all here which see and know ye contrary.

8. ob: The fish will not take salt to keepe sweete.

Ans: This is as true as that which was written, that ther is scarce a foule to be seene or a fish to be taken. Things likly to be true in a cuntrie wher so many sayle of ships come yearly a fishing; they might as well say, there can no aile or beere in London be kept from sowering.

9. ob: Many of them are theevish and steale on from an other.

Ans: Would London had been free from that crime, then we should not have been trobled with these here; it is well knowne sundrie have smarted well for it, and so are ye rest like to doe, if they be taken.

10. ob: The countrie is anoyed with foxes and woules.

Ans: So are many other good cuntries too; but poyson, traps, and other such means will help to destroy them.

11. ob: The Dutch are planted nere Hudsons Bay, and are likely to overthrow the trade.

Ans: They will come and plante in these parts, also, if we and others doe not, but goe home and leave it to them. We rather commend them, then condemne them for it.

12. ob: The people are much anoyed with muskeetoes.

Ans: They are too delicate and unfitte to begine new-plantations and collonies, that cannot enduer the biting of a muskeeto; we would wish such to keepe at home till at least they be muskeeto proofe. Yet this place is as free as any, and experience teacheth that ye more ye land is tild, and ye woods cut downe, the fewer ther will be, and in the end scarse any at all.

To be continued. For the document in its entirety, visit Project Gutenberg.

Contes De Romance Peu Orthodoxe Monday, August 28, 2023
I've been busy as of late. My wife bought a new sectional couch, only to find out after delivery and installation that it has goose down in it. We were told repeatedly that it didn't and the material tags say 100% polyurethane cushions, but after cutting it open with a utility knife and witnessing a plume of little white feathers, it definitely does contain down. So, now we are in the process of exchanging it because goose down is just too comfortable for us. Also, there was a death in the family and some other health concerns. Oh, and I released my latest book, Tales of Unorthodox Romance. I've been searching for a literary agent to do this for me but I got tired of all the rejection notices and published it on Amazon. There is currently no fancy cover, so it will be hard to initially compete with the likes of Carolyn Brown, Alyssa Cole, Tessa Dare, Lorraine Heath, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Alexa Riley, Zane, Nora Roberts, and Jane Austen (whoever they are). It's not a typical romance novel and I wouldn't recommend it to just anyone. Actually, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone at all. Don't read it, unless you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, in which case it's free. Of course, I am trying to use reverse psychology to pique your interest and spend 99¢ for the Kindle edition. Just 99¢ will buy you hours of reading pleasure and/or confusion. That's less than the cost of one item at the dollar store, most of which are now over a dollar. Yes, you could donate 99¢ to a charitable cause, however, that would make you a cheapskate. Besides, Jesus said the poor you will always have with you and you can't get rid of them (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7). This book is a once-in-a-lifetime offer, so don't miss out. Order yours today!

Even More Fun Bible Trivia - Temple Edition Saturday, August 5, 2023
For added summer recreation and amusement, here's even more fun Bible trivia questions -- the multiple-choice Temple Edition, in honor of the extinguishing of the flames of the burning of the second temple of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. If you recall, the Babylonians destroyed the original, then the Israelites rebuilt it, then the Seleucids desecrated it, then the Maccabees rededicated it, then Herod the Great remodeled it, then the Romans burnt it to the ground and setup a pagan drive-thru temple, then the Muslims constructed a shrine and added a mosque. Let's see how much you know about some of the more intricate details of this most holy of sites...

Who was on the throne when the first temple was built in Jerusalem?
  1. Psieukhannit II
  2. Rezon
  3. Hiram I
  4. Jeroboam the Ephraimite
  5. Bathsheba
  6. King Solomon
  7. Queen of Sheba
Answer: A, C, E, F and G. All were enthroned at this time, except for Jeroboam, who became king of the ten northern tribes of Israel after rebelling against Solomon: Solomon was married to the daughter of the Pharaoh of Egypt, whom some scholars claim may have been either Psieukhannit II or possibly Netjerkheperre-Setepenamun Siamun; Rezon was ruler of Aram and an adversary of Solomon all his life, along with Hadad the Edomite; Hiram I was ruler of the kingdom of Tyre, an ally of Israel at the time who assisted with the building of the temple; Solomon had a throne built for his mother, Bathsheba, when he became king; Solomon was king of Israel and commissioned the building of the temple; the Queen of Sheba was the queen of a land called Sheba, where there was so much spice that she controlled the universe.

What items were brought back to the second temple after the Israelites returned from Babylonian captivity?

  1. Ark of the Covenant
  2. Ten Commandments
  3. Utensils and sundries
  4. Urim and Thummim
  5. Table of Shewbread
  6. Menorah
  7. Jar of toenail clippings from Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh
Answer: C, E and F (although the table of shewbread and menorah may have been replicas); the jar of toenail clippings were a collection from all the minor prophets of Judea.

Who was the Persian-appointed governor of the Yehud Province when the Israelites began to rebuild Solomon's Temple?

  1. Zerubbabel
  2. Jeconiah
  3. Ezra
  4. Nehemiah
  5. Cyrus the Great
  6. Nebuchadnezzar
  7. Herod the Great
Answer: A

What did Herod contribute to the rebuilding of the temple?

  1. Added a casino and hotel
  2. Doubled its square footage
  3. Reinstated the sanctuary shekel as the temple tax
  4. Added a food court and game arcade
  5. Erected a magnificent basilica as his home office and central bank
  6. Constructed the Dome of the Rock
  7. Installed ceramic floor tiles in the restrooms
Answer: B, E and G

Why did the Romans destroy the temple?

  1. Because they were angry at being tricked into crucifying the Son of God
  2. It was prime real estate and they needed it for a public vomitorium
  3. They didn't approve of the sanctuary shekel as the temple tax
  4. The Jews were rebel scum (not all of them, but enough of them)
  5. Titus Vespasianus wanted to erect a triumphal arch on the site in his honor
  6. The Romans were all a bunch of white, anti-semitic fascists
  7. Because it was there... and not Greek or Roman
Answer: D -- This happened during the Great Jewish Revolt and the siege of Jerusalem. (A vomitorium was basically a passageway or corridor in an amphitheater or stadium.)

Which of these architectural structures were not part of the Temple Mount?

  1. Place of Trumpeting
  2. Solomon's Stables
  3. Robinson's Arch
  4. An elaborate drainage system for sacrificial blood
  5. Jachin and Boaz
  6. Molten Sea
  7. Mola Ram and Kali Ma
Answer: G -- These terms were taken from the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." (Jachin and Boaz were the names given to the two main copper-coated pillars at the portico.)

Who hasn't plundered the temple?

  1. Egyptians
  2. Persians
  3. Israelites
  4. Babylonians
  5. Nazis
  6. Romans
  7. Edomites
Answer: B and E (The Israelites pillaged the temple on a few occasions (2 Kings 14:11-14, 16:7-9, 18:13-16). The Persians conquered the Babylonians and returned the captive Israelites home. According to 1 Esdras 4:45, it was the Edomites who destroyed the temple and not the Babylonians.)

Orthodox Jews are preparing for the eventual construction of a third temple. What do they currently possess for this event?

  1. Temple Mount
  2. Ark of the Covenant
  3. Utensils and sundries
  4. Urim and Thummim
  5. Molten Sea
  6. Al-Aqsa Mosque
  7. Prophecy
Answer: C and G (Ezekiel 40-47)

Lazarus, Arise... Because I Say So Saturday, July 29, 2023
Today is the feast day of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. If you were dead at the time and recently resurrected to life, you may not be acquainted with their story, in which case you may consult The Gospel of Martha. Below is an excerpt from this potentially award-winning book. If you have friends, then tell them to buy the hardback version. All proceeds go to a cause.

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha, and their half brother Doug. Therefore his sisters sent unto Jesus, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick."

When Jesus heard, he said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus; and yea, even Doug, howbeit with a righteous love: one that transcends repugnant qualities and loathsome character. When he had heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, even so he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, "Let us go into Judaea again." The disciples replied unto him, saying, "Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?"

Jesus answering saith, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. But if there is light in him, then it may shine forth as a beacon when he openeth his eyes in the dark; that he may walk in the night also, and not stumble. For are there not another twelve hours in the night?"

These things said he, and after that he saith unto them, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep, be it he like it or no."

Then say his disciples, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well." Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought he spake of the taking of rest in sleep; for they were simpletons, and the light of their eyes was dim.

Then saith Jesus unto them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him."

Then saith Thomas called Didymus unto his fellow disciples, "Let us go also, that we may sleep with him. And by sleep, I but purpose to say die. And we shall all awaken from the sleep of death. Then will Lazarus be most surprised, that we have joined with him, and arisen together. But why am I speaking? Some one I pray thee stop me."

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.

Then saith Martha unto Jesus, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give thee."

Jesus saith unto her, "Thy brother shall rise again." Martha saith unto him, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus saith unto her, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"

She saith unto him, "Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, "The Master is come, and calleth for thee." As soon as she heard, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, "She goeth unto the grave to weep there."

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and saith, "Where have ye laid him?" They say unto him, "Lord, come and see."

Jesus wept.

Then say the Jews, "Behold how he loved him!" But of them that were indignant, even Doug, said they, "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?"

Jesus therefore again, groaning in himself, came forward to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus saith, "Take ye away the stone."

Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been four days dead." Jesus saith unto her, "Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

Then Martha and Mary took away the stone where the dead was laid. And they laboured at length, for the stone was of much heft. And they asked their half brother Doug for help; but he pretendeth only to push. And, behold, when finally they uncovered the tomb, they did slump to the ground, and greatly exhausted.

And Jesus lifting up his eyes saith he, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me."

When he thus spake, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." And, behold, he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin; and he looketh in appearance as an Egyptian mummy.

Jesus saith unto them, "Loose him, and let him go." Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him, and were baptised.

When the napkin had been removed from about the head of Lazarus, he breathed deeply, and saith, "Why didst thou unto me, and raise me from the dead?"

Jesus replying unto him saith he, "Because Martha your sister naggeth me incessantly, and pestered ceaselessly, and badgered with everlasting persistence, and harried with enduring unremittance, and harpeth she without end; until, lo, I did but relent."

And, behold, all present did laugh heartily, even Lazarus; with exception of Martha, who returned home to tidy up and stew about Jesus’ mirthful quip at her expense: always at her expense.

Beware the Flying Tic Tacs Thursday, July 27, 2023
I recently finished reading the book The UFO Deception: An Orthodox Christian Perspective by Spyridon Bailey, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR) and, before I forget, here's my review: I agree with most of his crazy claims about the majority of UFO/UAPs and extraterrestrial visitations/abductions being of spiritually demonic origin. The book made sense to me and I wouldn't argue with most of the arguments. I do find fault with the punctuation and that it didn't seem to be fully edited for grammar, although it is a British author. I do disagree with his opinion that only "Orthodox Christians" understand what it's all about. Here's a quote from the book (page 220): "Orthodoxy stands alone in its warning about UFOs. Both Roman Catholic and Protestant leaders have spoken warmly of alien visitors. This is to be expected, as Father Seraphim Rose explains: 'The reason for this credulity is clear: Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, cut off for centuries now from the Orthodox doctrine and practice of spiritual life, have lost all capability for clear discernement in the realm of the spirits.' Those currently attempting to examine the UFO phenomenon are not equipped to do so. It is something that can only be examined and understood from within the Orthodox Christian tradition." As I have warned many times myself: beware not only of strangers with candy, but beware of strangers who look like candy. I am referring, of course, to the sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs, formerly UFOs) that resemble tic tac® candy mints the size of a bus. The podcast Mysterious Universe recently featured this book but for the life of me I cannot find it... oh, wait, here it is (for Plus+ members, not for free-loading barnacles). I've been listening to Mysterious Universe for years and I've noticed that, although both Ben and Aaron are relatively adverse to Christians and the Bible, they do tend to agree that most alien encounters are with sinister, interdimensional entities which are predominantly nefarious and their messages of world peace and spiritual enlightenment are intentionally misleading. There's a pretty insightful article here about aliens and their relation to biblical cosmology by Pope Head, who is Catholic, and another here about aliens that feed on the human soul by Nick Redfern, who is a regular contributor to the Mysterious Universe articles. Who is piloting the aereal tic tac crafts and are they obsessed with probing and implanting abductees? You really don't want to find out.

According to this Orthodox guy, so-called "space aliens" are nothing more than ye wicked daemons of olde.

Facebook is Dead Sunday, July 23, 2023
Today I did something that was very hard for me to do, not because of the years of emotional investment, but because it was technically difficult to navigate to where I could actually delete my Facebook account. Yes, Facebook is dead to me, not just because it is now Meta®, but because I couldn't care less about social media. I rarely, if ever, logged onto Facebook. Facebook (now Meta®) to me is akin to hair clogging my bathtub drain, or inconsiderate neighbors having a normal conversation outside my open window after 12:00AM, or people nearby posting about lost pets in the Neighbors Feed on the ring app, or hearing parents incoherently swear at their kids in Walmart, or my wife triggering a noisy Instagram post while watching a movie. Twitter is next on the chopping block but for now I really do enjoy posts from @DadJokes, @TheOnion, and @Shitheadsteve. I don't necessarily believe that Facebook or Meta are evil, anymore than I believe that opioids or sugar are evil. I do believe Mark Zuckerberg is evil and if I was wealthy enough I'd challenge both him and Elon Musk to a cage match. However, he is none of my concern and who gives a shit what I think about him, anyhow? What matters is that I am free from the tiny, little shackles of Facebook (now Meta®); not that I ever really noticed them before, but neither do those who are addicted.

National Apostacy Friday, July 14, 2023
On this day in 1833 at St. Mary's Church in Oxford, England, John Keble (1792-1866), an Anglican priest and Tractarian, gave a sermon based on 1 Samuel 12:23 titled "National Apostacy" in which he addressed, you guessed it, national apostacy. The sermon in its entirety is not that long and can be read online at Project Canterbury. For the sake of brevity, I shall include some of its finer points here as they relate to the United States; insomuch as many on the right see a widening gap between church and state -- one that was intentionally put there in the beginning in order that the Church of England or any other religious entity may not be in control of government. Howsoever, with Christian values dissipating from civil authority, we shall soon find ourselves at complete enmity with God. To this I say let it come and hasten no further the second coming of Christ; but as Christians we shall live according to the Gospel to be an example and not force it on the unbeliever by law, that they should in turn hate Christ himself.

'As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.' (1 SAM xii. 23). On public occasions, such as the present, the minds of Christians naturally revert to that portion of Holy Scripture, which exhibits to us the will of the Sovereign of the world in more immediate relation to the civil and national conduct of mankind...

Fast Forward »

What are the symptoms, by which one may judge most fairly, whether or no a nation, as such, is becoming alienated from God and Christ? And what are the particular duties of sincere Christians, whose lot is cast by Divine Providence in a time of such dire calamity? The conduct of the Jews, in asking for a king, may furnish an ample illustration of the first point: the behaviour of Samuel, then and afterwards, supplies as perfect a pattern of the second, as can well be expected from human nature.

I. The case is at least possible, of a nation, having for centuries acknowledged, as an essential part of its theory of government, that, as a Christian nation, she is also a part of Christ's Church, and bound, in all her legislation and policy, by the fundamental rules of that Church -- the case is, I say, conceivable, of a government and people, so constituted, deliberately throwing off the restraint, which in many respects such a principle would impose on them, nay, disavowing the principle itself; and that, on the plea, that other states, as flourishing or more so in regard of wealth and dominion, do well enough without it. Is not this desiring, like the Jews, to have an earthly king over them, when the Lord their God is their King? Is it not saying in other words, 'We will be as the heathen, the families of the countries,' the aliens to the Church of our Redeemer?

To such a change, whenever it takes place, the immediate impulse will probably be given by some pretence of danger from without, such as, at the time now spoken of, was furnished to the Israelites by an incursion of the children of Ammon; or by some wrong or grievance in the executive government, such as the malversation of Samuel's sons, to whom he had deputed his judicial functions. Pretences will never be hard to find; but, in reality, the movement will always be traceable to the same decay or want of faith, the same deficiency in Christian resignation and thankfulness, which leads so many, as individuals, to disdain and forfeit the blessings of the Gospel. Men not impressed with religious principle attribute their ill success in life -- the hard times they have to struggle with -- to anything rather than their own ill-desert: and the institutions of the country, ecclesiastical and civil, are always at hand to bear the blame of whatever seems to be going amiss. Thus, the discontent in Samuel's time, which led the Israelites to demand a change of constitution, was discerned by the Unerring Eye, though perhaps little suspected by themselves, to be no better than a fresh development of the same restless, godless spirit, which had led them so often into idolatry. 'They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works, which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee' (I Sam. viii. 7,8).

Fast Forward »

One of the most alarming, as a symptom, is the growing indifference, in which men indulge themselves, to other men's religious sentiments. Under the guise of charity and toleration we are come almost to this pass; that no difference, in matters of faith, is to disqualify for our approbation and confidence, whether in public or domestic life. Can we conceal it from ourselves, that every year the practice is becoming more common, of trusting men unreservedly in the most delicate and important matters, without one serious inquiry, whether they do not hold principles which make it impossible for them to be loyal to their Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier? Are not offices conferred, partnerships formed, intimacies courted -- nay, (what is almost too painful to think of,) do not parents commit their children to be educated, do they not encourage them to intermarry, in houses, on which Apostolical Authority would rather teach them to set a mark, as unfit to be entered by a faithful servant of Christ?

Fast Forward »

Very different are the feelings with which it seems natural for a true Churchman to regard such a state of things, from those which would arise in his mind on witnessing the mere triumph of any given set of adverse opinions, exaggerated or even heretical as he might deem them. He might feel as melancholy -- he could hardly feel so indignant.

But this is not a becoming place, nor are these safe topics, for the indulgence of mere feeling. The point really to be considered is, whether, according to the coolest estimate, the fashionable liberality of this generation be not ascribable, in a great measure, to the same temper which led the Jews voluntarily to set about degrading themselves to a level with the idolatrous Gentiles? And, if it be true anywhere, that such enactments are forced on the Legislature by public opinion, is APOSTASY too hard a word to describe the temper of that nation?

The same tendency is still more apparent, because the fair gloss of candour and forbearance is wanting, in the surly or scornful impatience often exhibited, by persons who would regret passing for unbelievers, when Christian motives are suggested, and checks from Christian principles attempted to be enforced on their public conduct. I say, 'their public conduct,' more especially; because in that, I know not how, persons are apt to be more shameless, and readier to avow the irreligion that is in them; amongst other reasons, probably, from each feeling that he is one of multitude, and fancying, therefore, that his responsibility is divided.

For example: whatever be the cause, in this country of late years, (though we are lavish in professions of piety,) there has been observable a growing disinclination, on the part of those bound by VOLUNTARY OATHS, to whatever reminds them of their obligation; a growing disposition to explain it all away. We know what, some years ago, would have been thought of such uneasiness, if betrayed by persons officially sworn, in private, legal, or commercial life. If there be any subjects or occasions, now, on which men are inclined to judge of it more lightly, it concerns them deeply to be quite sure, that they are not indulging or encouraging a profane dislike of God's awful Presence; a general tendency, as a people, to leave Him out of all their thoughts.

Fast Forward »

To this purpose it may be worth noticing, that the ill-fated chief, whom God gave to the Jews, as the prophet tells us, in His anger (Hosea xiii. II), and whose disobedience and misery were referred by himself to his 'fearing the people, and obeying their voice' (I Sam. xv. 24), whose conduct, therefore, may be fairly taken as a sample of what public opinion was at that time supposed to require -- his first step in apostasy was, perhaps, an intrusion on the sacrificial office (I Sam. xiii. 8-14), certainly an impatient breach of his engagement with Samuel, as the last and greatest of his crimes was persecuting David, whom he well knew to bear God's special commission. God forbid, that any Christian land should ever, by her prevailing temper and policy, revive the memory and likeness of Saul, or incur a sentence of reprobation like his. But if such a thing should be, the crimes of that nation will probably begin in infringement on Apostolical Rights; she will end in persecuting the true Church; and in the several stages of her melancholy career, she will continually be led on from bad to worse by vain endeavours at accommodation and compromise with evil. Sometimes toleration may be the word, as with Saul when he spared the Amalekites; sometimes state security, as when he sought the life of David; sometimes sympathy with popular feeling, as appears to have been the case, when violating solemn treaties, he attempted to exterminate the remnant of the Gibeonites, in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah (2 Sam. xxi. 2). Such are the sad but obvious results of separating religious resignation altogether from men's notions of civil duty.

II. But here arises the other question, on which it was proposed to say a few words; and with a view to which, indeed, the whole subject must be considered, if it is to lead to any practical improvement. What should be the tenor of their conduct, who find themselves cast on such times of decay and danger? How may a man best reconcile his allegiance to God and his Church with his duty to his country, that country, which now, by the supposition, is fast becoming hostile to the Church, and cannot therefore long be the friend of God?

Now in proportion as any one sees reason to fear that such is, or soon may be, the case in his own land, just so far may he see reason to be thankful, especially if he be called to any national trust, for such a complete pattern of his duty, as he may find in the conduct of Samuel. That combination of sweetness with firmness, of consideration with energy, which constitutes the temper of a perfect public man, was never perhaps so beautifully exemplified. He makes no secret of the bitter grief and dismay, with which the resolution of his countrymen had filled him. He was prepared to resist it at all hazards, had he not received from God Himself directions to give them their own way; protesting, however, in the most distinct and solemn tone, so as to throw the whole blame of what might ensue on their wilfulness. Having so protested, and found them obstinate, he does not therefore at once forsake their service, he continues discharging all the functions they had left him, with a true and loyal, though most heavy, heart. 'God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.'

Fast Forward »

The Church would, first of all, have to be constant, as before, in INTERCESSION. No despiteful usage, no persecution, could warrant her in ceasing to pray, as did her first fathers and patterns, for the State, and all who are in authority. That duty once well and cordially performed, all other duties, so to speak, are secured. Candour, respectfulness, guarded language, all that the Apostle meant, in warning men not to 'speak evil of dignities,' may then, and then only, be practised, without compromise of truth and fortitude, when the habit is attained of praying as we ought for the very enemies of our precious and holy cause.

The constant sense of God's presence and consequent certainty of final success, which can be kept up no other way, would also prove an effectual bar against the more silent but hardly less malevolent feeling, of disgust, almost amounting to misanthropy, which is apt to lay hold on sensitive minds, when they see oppression and wrong triumphant on a large scale. The custom of interceding, even for the wicked, will keep the Psalmist's reasoning habitually present to their thoughts: 'Fret not thyself because of the ungodly, neither be thou envious against the evil doers: for they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and be withered even as the green herb. . . . Leave off from wrath, and let go displeasure: fret not thyself, else shalt thou be moved to do evil' (Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2, 8).

Thus not only by supernatural aid, which we have warrant of God's word for expecting, but even in the way of natural consequence, the first duty of the Church and of Churchmen, INTERCESSION, sincerely practised, would prepare them for the second; which, following the words of Samuel as our clue, we may confidently pronounce to be REMONSTRANCE. 'I will teach you the good and the right way.' REMONSTRANCE, calm, distinct, and persevering, in public and in private, direct and indirect, by word, look, and demeanour, is the unequivocal duty of every Christian, according to his opportunities, when the Church landmarks are being broken down.

Among laymen, a deep responsibility would appear to rest on those particularly, whose profession leads them most directly to consider the boundaries of the various rights and duties, which fill the space of civilized Society. The immediate machinery of change must always pass through their hands: and they have also very great power in forming and modifying public opinion. The very solemnity of this day may remind them, even more than others, of the close amity which must ever subsist between equal justice and pure religion; Apostolical religion, more especially, in proportion to her superior truth and exactness. It is an amity, made still more sacred, if possible, in the case of the Church and Law of England, by historical recollections, associations, and precedents, of the most engaging and ennobling cast.

But I return to the practical admonition afforded her, in critical periods, by Samuel's example. After the accomplishment of the change which he deprecated, his whole behaviour, to Saul especially, is a sort of expansion of the sentiment in the text. It is all earnest INTERCESSION with God, grave, respectful, affectionate REMONSTRANCE with the misguided man himself. Saul is boldly rebuked, and that publicly, for his impious liberality in sparing the Amalekites, yet so as not to dishonour him in the presence of the people. Even when it became necessary for God's prophet to show that he was in earnest, and give the most effectual of warnings, by separating himself from so unworthy a person, -- 'when Samuel came no more to see Saul' (I Sam. xv. 35) -- even then, we are told, he still 'mourned for him.'

On the same principle, come what may, we have ill learned the lessons of our Church, if we permit our patriotism to decay, together with the protecting care of the State. 'The powers that be are ordained of God,' whether they foster the true church or no. Submission and order are still duties. They were so in the days of pagan persecution; and the more of loyal and affectionate feeling we endeavour to mingle with our obedience, the better.

After all, the surest way to uphold or restore our endangered Church, will be for each of her anxious children, in his own place and station, to resign himself more thoroughly to his God and Saviour in those duties, public and private, which are not immediately affected by the emergencies of the moment: the daily and hourly duties, I mean, of piety, purity, charity, justice. It will be a consolation understood by every thoughtful Churchman, that let his occupation be, apparently, never so remote from such great interests, it is in his power, by doing all as a Christian, to credit and advance the cause he has most at heart; and what is more, to draw down God's blessing upon it. This ought to be felt, for example, as one motive more to exact punctuality in those duties, personal and official, which the return of an Assize week offers to our practice; one reason more for veracity in witnesses, fairness in pleaders, strict impartiality, self-command, and patience, in those on whom decisions depend; and for an awful sense of God's presence in all. An Apostle once did not disdain to urge good conduct upon his proselytes of lowest condition, upon the ground, that, so doing, they would adorn and recommend the doctrine of God our Savior (Titus ii. 10). Surely, then, it will be no unworthy principle, if any man be more circumspect in his behaviour, more watchful and fearful of himself, more earnest in his petitions for spiritual aid, from a dread of disparaging the holy name of the English Church, in her hour of peril, by his own personal fault or negligence.

As to those who, either by station or temper, feel themselves most deeply interested, they cannot be too careful in reminding themselves, that one chief danger, in times of change and excitement, arises from their tendency to engross the whole mind. Public concerns, ecclesiastical or civil, will prove indeed ruinous to those, who permit them to occupy all their care and thoughts, neglecting or undervaluing ordinary duties, more especially those of a devotional kind.

These cautions being duly observed, I do not see how any person can devote himself too entirely to the cause of the Apostolical Church in these realms. There may be, as far as he knows, but a very few to sympathize with him. He may have to wait long, and very likely pass out of this world before he see any abatement in the triumph of disorder and irreligion. But, if he be consistent, he possesses, to the utmost, the personal consolations of a good Christian: and as a true Churchman, he has that encouragement, which no other cause in the world can impart in the same degree: he is calmly, soberly, demonstrably, SURE, that, sooner or later, HIS WILL BE THE WINNING SIDE, and that the victory will be complete, universal, eternal.

He need not fear to look upon the efforts of anti-Christian powers, as did the holy Apostles themselves, who welcomed the first persecution in the words of the Psalmist:
'Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
'The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His Anointed.
'For of a truth against Thy Holy Child Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Guard Your Temper Thursday, July 13, 2023
Today we pay homage to Sister Juana Enriqueta Josephina de Los Sagrados Corazones Fernandez Solar (1900-1920) of the Order of the Discalced Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, or just Teresa of Jesus -- the fourth Saint Teresa, after Teresa of Avila, Florence, and Lisieux. As you can see, she didn't live long, but died of typhus while serving in the Andes Mountains of Chile. The process of officially becoming a saint took decades and involved several different groups of theologians, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope to certify her one or two miracles (whatever they were). She was known for having a temper and, on occasion when someone would really piss her off, she'd grab them and kiss them on the cheek. Let her be a reminder to us all of Ephesians 4:25-27, 29-32 (NIV): "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold... Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." I'd also like to give a whoop whoop to my Aunt Teresa of the Immaculate Wheelchair, who turned 65 yesterday. (I didn't forget; I was there and partook of cake.) Thanks again for that wisecrack about Roy -- we're all still laughing.

Before: Juana Enriqueta Josephina de Los Sagrados Corazones Fernandez Solar llena de rabia y enfado

After: Santa Teresa Pacifica de Los Andes

Equal to the Apostles Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Today we could recount Eleventh Night and the colossal bonfires in the Irish province of Ulster which commemorate the 1688 victory of Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II, but it's a bit too controversial with overtones of lingering Protestant loyalist hatred for Catholic Irish nationalists and the burning of the Irish tricolour flag that adorns many a bonfire. Instead, let us recount the tenth-century story of Olga of Kiev (c. 900-969), whom the Eastern Orthodox Church considers Isapóstolos ("Equal to the Apostles"). A Russian of Viking descent, Olga was very shrewd in ruling the empire of Kievan Rus' after the death of her husband, Igor I, and in avenging his death at the hands of the neighboring Derevlians. You can read more about that story here after learning Russian. Sometime later, around A.D. 957, she visited Constantinople and was baptized by Emperor Constantine VII and given the Christian name Elena (or Helena). As the story goes, Constantine was smitten by Olga and had proposed marriage even though he was already married, but Olga turned him down on account she had been baptized as his daughter in Christ, which impressed Constantine so much that he bestowed upon her an impressive collection of vases. After returning to her homeland, she was unable to convert her pagan son, Sviatoslav I, but her grandson Vladimir I did convert after rising to power, evaluating the major religions of the surrounding territories, and becoming rather impressed with Byzantine Orthodoxy. He had also become rather impressed with Anna, the sister of Emperor Basil II, but had to convert in order to marry her; the price of which was 6,000 troops to help Basil II put down a revolt. Vladimir returned to Kievan Rus', tore down pagan shrines, built several churches, and converted most of his country to Christianity. His feast day is celebrated on July 15 by the Eastern Orthodox Church and on July 28 by the Roman Catholic Church, in case I fail to mention it at the time, which I probably will. Oh, and did I mention that besides Anna, Vladimir I had several other wives and an estimated eight hundred concubines? [Insert chauvinistic comment here.]

Disclaimer: Sometimes I'm Wrong Monday, July 10, 2023
I'll admit that I am wrong about a few things and sometimes I'm just talking out of my ass. There's a lot I don't know and I even question my own faith at times. Not that I question the existence of God, but that I seriously doubt my complete reliance upon God and even go so far as to feel ashamed of myself for claiming to be a Christian (Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26). Yes, the Gospel is foolishness to those who don't believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-31) and I would be honored to be a fool for Christ's sake (1 Corinthians 4:10). However, I am nothing but a bumhole on the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), which it probably doesn't even need. Let's face it, I really don't love God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5), nor do I really care much for people (Matthew 22:37-40). Hey, I'm being honest here and, truth be told, I'm pretty lazy and selfish. Today, I spent a fair amount of time sleeping like a sluggard and eating junk food like a glutton. Hell, I even watched television with the sound muted because I was too lackadaisical to find the remote control. I didn't take a sabbath from work; I took one from everything, including God. I once refused to give the shirt off my back to a shirtless stranger who asked for it. I once watched as a blind man knocked over an elderly woman and made no effort to catch her. On more than one occasion I have used my middle finger to gesture other drivers. When my two boys were each suffering from cholic in their infancy, I angrily told them to shut the fuck up. I once commented aloud that Einstein really wasn't all that smart. I have always feared that when I stand before God and His angels for judgment, I will come up severely lacking, not the least of which are for my careless words (Matthew 5:22, 12:36-37). All this to say that I made a mistake on my 7/8/23 post about the saints and martyrs listed -- who are all actually celebrated or observed on 7/9. Yes, I made a mistake. So, there. I confess.

My Advice = 2¢ Sunday, July 9, 2023

I find that the older I get the more opinionated I become and the more I feel I must voice these opinions, even if I'm not interested in the subject matter or know little to nothing about it. When once I kept my mouth shut, now I am letting people know what my advice is for them whether it's warranted or not. So here's my general advice to you:

  • Use the F-word in moderation. Don't overdo it, though, because it will soon lose its impact. Use it tactfully and when people least expect it. It's always better for shock value rather than as a common description. If you over-use it, then people will think you're stupid because you are.
  • Eat whatever you want and just crap it all away. I'm pretty sure I've said this before and will undoubtedly say it again.
  • Don't bite the hand that feeds you, unless you're really hungry and it hasn't been feeding you. It's becoming a dog-eat-owner world out there; not like the good old days when it was just dog-eat-dog.
  • Pray. Pray to God. Ask Jesus to interceed. Don't be timid and ask if God is out there somewhere listening and don't be dumb enough to think you can make any deals with Him.
  • Check your facts. You may still be wrong but at least you tried to learn.
  • As long as you have functioning sexual organs, sex is over-rated. Not only are there pills to enhance sexual pleasure, there are pills to kill the urge. If you are an angry asshole who refuses to go on prescription medication because a common side effect is decreased sexual desire, then you shouldn't be procreating anyway.
  • Use whiteout to cover up your hand-written mistakes. Don't just scribble them out, unless you are writing on a napkin. When writing in calligraphy, which requires precision and perfection, the entire page containing the mistake must be destroyed.
  • Don't know how to write but can type with two fingers? Then use spell-check. Simple text messages are exempt but electronic mail and online posts reflect just how illiterate you really are.
  • Keep politics, religion, and toenails out of your mouth when in mixed company. You don't have to be politically correct but you also don't have to open your mouth.
  • When you tire of someone else's advice, tell them to slowly and forcefully push it up their rectum laterally, so that they feel the nagging discomfort of their own words. Something else they can shove up their ass sideways includes all their incessant selfies.
  • Walk away from the Internet. Go somewhere quiet and read a book that a tree sacrificed its life for. Fuck social media and fuck this blog post.

Pictured: Jenni questioning God as to why yet another family member has to overshadow her birthday. For years, she has had to share birthday parties with her nephew and now his daughter takes center stage on the same day.

Jenni Turns Fifty Saturday, July 8, 2023
It is generally my custom to begin these posts with a shout out to saints and martyrs and it's about time for some female recognition with Amandina of Schakkebroek (1872-1900), Marija Petkovic of Korcula (1892-1966), Everilda of Everingham (seventh century), Pauline of Brazil (1865-1942), Veronica Giuliani of Umbria (1660-1727), and Jenni of the 509 (b. 1973). That last one, although not a saint or martyr (yet), deserves special recognition because of her relationship to me -- not that I'm special, but she is in many ways and if I could think of them offhand I'd list them here. Let's see...for one, she's not addicted to methamphetamines. Secondly, she has a respectable job and pays taxes. Third, her children remain out of jail and so far she has guided them to becoming productive members of society. Well, that's about it. So, please text her a happy birthday at 867-5309 and let her know how special she is to you. (Note: she likes it crude and vulgar.) In commemoration of of this special woman who, by the way, is not unpleasing for the eye to behold, I shall share with you those qualities of which she shares with the aforementioned saints of antiquity: Born into the cultural impoverishment of a small, white, middleclass town, Jenni remained a virgin for much of her early life (unconfirmed), was baptized at some point (citation missing), graduated as a conscientious and reliable student from Our Lady of Lilacs Valley Preparatory School for Wayward Female Juveniles (pending reference), and grew to become a paragon of her moderate, suburban neighborhood and the apotheosis of the 509 area code. Having performed many unsubstantiated miracles, including the miracle of avoiding prison, she eventually read her Bible and became a novitiate of conservative values. Having already achieved the status of matriarch over her many dogs, today we ennoble her as an elder in the family and finally welcome her wisdom and experience. May she be as a shining beacon to our children and our children's children, some of whom also celebrate their birthdays at this time and who often take precedence, which has only made her all the more humble. God bless Jenni, my step-sister in Christ.

Freedom Edition Monday, July 3, 2023
We as Americans have many freedoms which we freely take for granted, including the freedom to be stupid and to stupidly express our stupidity and to say stupid things out loud (unless advised by legal counsel to take the Fifth). We have the Second Amendment right to bear firearms and some who are under the mistaken impression that we are a democracy recklessly shoot them into the air (which is actually illegal in most jurisdictions and we are a republic). But as anyone knows who has read their free Gideon's Bible, we are still not free from death and decay (Romans 8:21). However, your free Bible, if pocket-size and brightly colored, probably doesn't have an Old Testament, where we also find out that freedom comes through seeking out God's precepts (Psalm 119:45). Everyone has the law of the land to abide by, even those dumbasses who consider themselves anarchists. Yes, they have the freedom to burn the American flag (which is actually illegal in the U.S. only if the flag was stolen), but why make this kind of statement when it is ultimately not constructive or beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23-24)? As everyone eventually finds out, freedom is a labyrinthine legerdemain and one which is only sustained through obedience and sacrifice. Although Christians are set free spiritually through Christ's sacrifice (Luke 4:18, 2 Corinthians 3:17) and free from the law of death (Galatians 5:1-6, Ephesians 3:12), we are still yoked upon this earth (Matthew 11:29-30) and slaves to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Believers are admonished to still continue to live as though slaves to the Law of Moses (James 1:25, 2:12-13) and as slaves to the laws of local authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17). We are also set free from stupidity, whether from the left wing or the right.

Christians Blamed for the Sacking of Rome Sunday, July 2, 2023
About this time in A.D. 455, Pope Leo I, "Patriarch of the West," who had assisted in waving off Atilla the Hun from attacking Rome, opened wide the gates of Rome to the invading horde of Vandals after they promised to only loot and pillage and not rape or murder its inhabitants. Leo the Great also had all the professed followers of Manichaeism rounded up and painted red to denote those whom the Vandals were allowed to carry off into slavery, along with all known Priscillianists gathered and painted green and Pelagianists painted yellow just for funsies. True to their word, the Vandals then spent the following two weeks tearing apart Rome from the floor tiles to the roof tiles and carrying off everything in between, while leaving the citizens intact. Some barbarians even repented of the "vandalism" and were baptized. The Emperor at the time, Petronius Maximus, a piece of work in his own right, snuck out the back door but was caught and vandalized of his internal organs. The king of the Vandals, Gaiseric, had previously laid siege to the city of Hippo Regius for fourteen months, whereby Augustine was killed, and then captured Carthage in A.D. 439. Said Prosper of Aquitaine of the event: "More impressive was the saving of Rome from Gaiseric than from Atilla. Of truth, the former nary stepped one foot in the city, while the latter liquidated its assets without so much as one fire." Himself a Christian, Gaiseric believed in Arianism, which propagated the teaching that Christ was created by God just prior to the creation of time and therefore neither co-equal nor co-eternal with God. Despite his Gothic background, Gaiseric attempted many peace treaties with the Romans, however, due to imperial unrest and constant double-crosses, he grew weary of the civilized bollocks and descended upon Rome with a large, seaborne force. Following the sack of Rome, he controlled the western Mediterranean and put down several Roman uprisings. In 474, Gaiseric made peace with the Eastern Roman Empire, which lasted until 530, when Justinian I regained control of the Byzantine Empire. Justinian, himself a Christian and expert in doctrine and theology, would later oversee the building of the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople, which was later turned into an Islamic mosque, then briefly back into a church, then a museum, then a laser tag amusement center, and now a mosque. The minarets of Hagia Sophia were added throughout the subsequent reign of the Ottoman Empire and made to look like nuclear missles. Although the technology for rocket propulsion and thermonuclear reaction were not yet developed, the appearance maintained peace for many centuries. And now you know the rest of the story.

Martyrs Wanted - Catholics Need Not Apply Saturday, July 1, 2023
On this auspicious day in 1523, the first Lutherans were burned alive at the stake for heresy in Brussels, Belgium, by order of the Council of Brabant. After Augustinian monks at Saint Augustine's Monastery in Antwerp professed Lutheran doctrine, they were rounded up and interrogated. All but three recanted and the monastery was demolished. Two of them, Johann Esch (not the painter) and Heinrich Voes (not on Facebook), took their newly reformed faith to the pyre, while the third, Lampertus Thorn, was granted a five-year reprieve in prison to study Holy Scripture and learn the error of his ways before dying there. On hearing of the execution, Martin Luther wrote what is thought to be his first hymn, "Kerze im Wind" ("Candle in the Wind"). Lutherans, as we all remember, were at odds with the Catholic Church over indulgences, the authority of Scripture over tradition, and the abuse of power by bishops, among other nit-picky things. Onlookers at the public burning of Esch and Voes were not informed of the charges, so a rumor circulated that they had called the pope a fink. Also on this day is the Feast of Saint Veep of Cornwall, England, quite possibly the first transgender religious in history -- transgender in the sense that no one really remembers his or her gender, nor does anyone remember much of anything about Veep, other than a church was dedicated sometime in the thirteenth century to him/her/them/it. Therefore, I shall take some liberties by stating the following: Veep is the patron saint of gender confusion. Whether male or female and even though slightly effeminate, Veep slew at least one dragon. Veep probably played some sort of game with local orphans similar to soccer, but called it football. In all likelihood, Veep wore a robe most of the time. Veep was born in the sixth century (or someone was named or nicknamed Veep around that time), possibly into nobility. If so, then Veep left behind riches and prestige for a life of austere dedication to Christ. Veep's relics do not contain any DNA. Veep was not a Lutheran.

Martyrs Wanted, Apply in Rome Friday, June 30, 2023
The year was A.D. 64 and not much else was happening other than Rome was burning and Emperor Nero blamed the Christians because of their tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). Peter and Paul were probably among them, as they were touring with Mary Magdalene as a musical trio singing such hits as "If I Had a Hammer," "Follow Me," "Man Come into Egypt," "Tell It on the Mountain," "Well, Well, Well" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'." According to Roman historian Tacitus, Peter, Paul and Mary were a dynamite act, however, he also said of the martyrdom of the Christians that it was a gruesome, public, daily spectacle. Believers were covered with animal skins and torn apart by dogs, burned alive to light the emperor's gardens, or crucified in the atmosphere of a circus. Many of the early Church Fathers wrote in their letters that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome because he felt himself unworthy of the same death as Jesus. It is uncertain whether Paul was martyred at this time, but his letter to the Romans and the accounts of his arrest in Acts (chapters 22-28) puts him there at about that period and, since he was a Roman citizen, he was most likely beheaded upside down rather than crucified. Mary Magdalene somehow died in southern France.

Drawing by Saint Peter of the beheading of Paul the Apostle. Paul was the "Apostle to the Gentiles" according to Acts 9:15, Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:7-8, Ephesians 3:8, and 1 Timothy 2:7. Rumor has it that Paul was re-circumcised when Peter accused him of becoming uncircumcised to appeal to the Gentiles.

Drawing by Paul the Apostle of the crucifixion of Saint Peter. Peter was the "Apostle to the Gentiles" according to Acts 10 and Acts 11:1-18. Rumor has it that one night Simon and Saul wrestled until daybreak, when Simon displaced Saul's hip (2 Corinthians 12:7), after which Saul's name was changed to Paul and Simon's name was changed to Peter.

And now for the prosaic AI version of this account...

In the year AD 64, Rome was engulfed in a devastating fire that raged for six days and seven nights, leaving three-quarters of the city in ruins. The Emperor Nero, infamous for his extravagant lifestyle and despotic rule, faced public outrage and accusations of setting the fire himself. Desperate to deflect blame, Nero cunningly targeted the small and growing Christian community in Rome, initiating the first systematic state-sponsored persecution of Christians. This article delves deep into the historical accounts of the Neronian Persecutions, exploring the motivations behind Nero's actions, the brutal treatment of Christians, and the lasting impact of this dark chapter in early Christian history.

At the time of the Neronian Persecutions, Christianity was still a relatively new and growing religion in the Roman Empire. It had emerged as an offshoot of Judaism, attracting a diverse group of believers who adhered to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The spread of Christianity was facilitated by the work of apostles like Peter and Paul, who traveled extensively to establish new believers and spread the message of the faith. Despite facing opposition and suspicion from both Jewish and Roman authorities, Christianity continued to gain followers through its message of hope and salvation.

Nero's reign as the Roman Emperor began with some promise, but it quickly devolved into a period marked by political turmoil, economic instability, and social unrest. He was known for his extravagant lifestyle and his ruthless suppression of dissent. As the Great Fire of Rome engulfed the city, Nero seized the opportunity to divert blame from himself by accusing the Christians of starting the catastrophic blaze. This marked the beginning of Nero's reign of terror, as he unleashed a wave of persecution and brutality against the Christian community.

The motivations behind Nero's persecution of Christians were multifaceted, rooted in political, social, and religious factors. Firstly, politically, Nero sought to consolidate his power and deflect attention from his own mismanagement and possible involvement in the fire. By scapegoating the Christians, he aimed to divert public anger and rally support from the Roman populace. Additionally, Christianity posed a challenge to the established order, as its followers rejected the traditional Roman gods and refused to worship the emperor as a deity. This rejection of imperial authority threatened Nero's rule and led to his persecution of Christians.

Nero's persecution of Christians was characterized by extreme cruelty and sadism. The historical accounts paint a gruesome picture of the atrocities inflicted upon the believers. Christians were subjected to various forms of torture and execution, designed to both punish and terrorize. Some were covered in animal hides and torn apart by wild dogs, while others were crucified or burned alive as human torches to illuminate Nero's gardens. These horrifying acts of violence were intended to entertain the citizens of Rome and assert Nero's authority over the Christian community.

Among the victims of Nero's persecution were notable figures in early Christianity, including the apostles Peter and Paul. Peter, considered one of Jesus' closest disciples and the first pope of the Catholic Church, was crucified upside down at his own request, deeming himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. The site of his martyrdom, Vatican Hill, would later become the location of St. Peter's Basilica. Paul, known for his missionary work and writings that shaped Christian theology, was beheaded during Nero's reign. The martyrdom of these prominent figures symbolized the unwavering faith of the early Christians and served as a rallying cry for future generations.

Despite the severity of Nero's persecution, it failed to extinguish the flame of Christianity. In fact, the persecution only strengthened the resolve of believers and fueled the spread of the faith. The stories of the Christian martyrs became powerful testimonies of faith and sacrifice, inspiring new converts and solidifying the Christian identity. The persecution served as a catalyst for the growth of Christianity, as it showcased the unwavering commitment of its followers and the transformative power of their beliefs. The Church continued to expand throughout the Roman Empire, defying the oppressive regime of Nero and enduring subsequent persecutions.

The Neronian Persecutions marked a significant turning point in the history of Christianity. It demonstrated the resilience of the faith and the unwavering commitment of its followers, even in the face of brutal persecution. The stories of the Christian martyrs served as powerful symbols of faith and sacrifice, inspiring generations of believers. The persecution also highlighted the tension between religious freedom and imperial authority, a theme that would arise repeatedly in later periods of Christian history. Ultimately, the Neronian Persecutions failed in their objective to eradicate Christianity and instead contributed to its endurance and ultimate triumph.

The Neronian Persecutions of AD 64 stand as a testament to the brutal and oppressive nature of Nero's regime. The persecution of Christians was a calculated and sadistic act aimed at consolidating power, deflecting blame, and asserting imperial authority. Despite the horrific treatment they endured, the early Christians remained steadfast in their faith and their commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Neronian Persecutions served as a crucible that forged the resilience and determination of the early Church, laying the foundation for the enduring impact of Christianity in the centuries that followed.

In conclusion, artificial intelligence is rather boring, but it took a fraction of the time to create this article that it took for me to write my own.

Compiled by Writesonic from the following sources:

Artificial Intelligence Wrote This Thursday, June 29, 2023
Today's blog post was artificially written by Writesonic and is entitled Self-Righteousness: Understanding the Pitfalls and Cultivating Healthy Conviction

Self-righteousness is a phenomenon that can be challenging to fully comprehend and acknowledge within ourselves. Many of us are naturally opinionated and have no qualms about expressing our thoughts openly. However, the issue arises when these opinions are held with a sense of moral superiority or self-righteousness. In this article, we will explore the detrimental effects of self-righteousness on relationships and teams, the importance of distinguishing between conviction and self-righteousness, and strategies to cultivate healthy conviction. When we approach our opinions with self-righteousness, we inherently believe that we are right and anyone who disagrees is wrong. This mindset creates a divide between us and others, leading to disconnection, unresolved conflicts, and factions within teams and organizations. The "Us vs. Them" dynamic that arises from self-righteousness hampers collaboration, decision-making, and the overall effectiveness of a team. Moreover, self-righteousness negatively impacts our ability to influence others. When we are self-righteous, we become defensive and resistant to considering alternative perspectives. This defensiveness hinders meaningful discussions and prevents the creation of an environment of authenticity, trust, and psychological safety within teams. It is essential to understand the distinction between conviction and self-righteousness. Conviction entails firmly believing in our opinions, values, and beliefs and being willing to defend them or engage in healthy dialogue and debate. It is characterized by a sense of humility, awareness, and openness to the possibility of being wrong or considering alternative viewpoints. On the other hand, self-righteousness is marked by a lack of willingness to listen to others' opinions or entertain different perspectives. It creates a sense of moral superiority and a rigid "I am right, you are wrong" mentality. Recognizing and acknowledging the presence of self-righteousness within ourselves is essential for personal growth and fostering healthy relationships.

Well, that was boring. Although it did describe me, I am left unenlightened and yawning. What's impressive is that it referenced various online sources and composed an article from them in about two minutes using AI Article Writer 5.0. What's unimpressive is that it did it without any unique character, so allow me to click the sarcasm radio button and try again.

Welcome to a sarcastic exploration of the fascinating world of self-righteousness. Prepare yourself for a journey through the land of moral superiority, sanctimoniousness, and holier-than-thou attitudes. In this article, we will dissect the perils of self-righteousness, its impact on relationships and teams, and the importance of distinguishing healthy conviction from destructive self-righteousness.

Self-righteousness, also known as sanctimoniousness, sententiousness, or holier-than-thou attitudes, is the pinnacle of human virtue. Yes, you heard it right. Those who possess self-righteousness believe that their beliefs, actions, and affiliations are superior to those of the mere mortals around them. How lucky are we to witness such moral grandeur? Self-righteous individuals are not only blessed with superior virtue but also possess an uncanny ability to be intolerant of the opinions and behaviors of others. After all, why should they bother considering any perspective other than their own? The world would be such a dull place if everyone were allowed to have differing opinions. Ah, the term "self-righteous." It has such a negative connotation. Journalist and essayist James Fallows even had the audacity to describe self-righteousness in regard to Nobel Peace Prize winners. How dare he question the immaculate righteousness of those esteemed individuals? When one embraces self-righteousness, they naturally ascend the ladder of elitism. They become the chosen few, the enlightened ones who know better than the rest of humanity. It's a lonely path, but someone has to bear the burden of being morally superior.

In the annals of self-righteousness, we find the Mississippi Squirrel Revival, a shining example of how righteousness can manifest in the most unexpected ways. This peculiar event highlights the lengths people will go to assert their moral superiority, even if it involves squirrels and catchy tunes. When self-righteousness meets motherhood, we get the sanctimommy. These fierce warriors of righteousness patrol the parenting realm, ready to pounce on any unsuspecting soul who dares to deviate from their strict code of parenting ethics. It's truly awe-inspiring to witness such dedication to righteousness. Ah, virtue signalling, the art of publicly displaying one's moral superiority. It's a delightful phenomenon that allows self-righteous individuals to bask in the adoration of their peers. Because what good is righteousness if it's not broadcasted to the world? The self-righteous among us wear their superiority complex like a badge of honor. It's a constant reminder of their exalted status in the realm of moral righteousness. Who needs humility when you can have an inflated sense of self-importance?

In the grand tapestry of self-righteousness, hypocrisy weaves a prominent thread. The story of the mote and the beam reminds us that self-righteousness is not complete without a healthy dose of double standards. After all, rules are meant for others to follow, not the righteous. Amidst the sea of self-righteousness, the tale of the Pharisee and the Publican emerges as a beacon of humility. It teaches us that true righteousness requires introspection and the ability to acknowledge our own flaws. But who needs humility when you can be self-righteous? Virtue signalling, the grand parade of righteousness, deserves its own spotlight. It's a spectacle to behold as people vie for the title of the most virtuous, the most morally superior. The louder the virtue signal, the greater the righteousness, or so they believe. As we conclude this sarcastic exploration of self-righteousness, let us reflect on the lessons learned. Self-righteousness, with its moral superiority and intolerance, is truly a gift to humanity. After all, what would the world be without the righteous few to guide us all? So go forth and embrace your inner self-righteousness, for it is the pinnacle of virtue. Just kidding. Humility and open-mindedness might be a better path to follow.

Well, that was slightly less boring. Although it did make a feable attempt to use sarcasm, particularly by identifying to the reader that it was using sarcasm, it was still rather flat. However, it did describe me in greater detail.

Confessio Augustana - Lutherans vs Catholics Sunday, June 25, 2023
On this day in 1530, the Augsburg Confession was presented at the Imperial Diet of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in the presence of Emperor Charles V, proclaiming the Articles of Confession of the Lutheran faction of the Protestant Reformation. You can read it for yourself here, but right here is a brief lowdown on the points where Lutheranism differed ever so slightly from Catholicism:

  • Article I - God: Basically that belief in the Trinity is the same as the Catholics. Condemned are those who teach otherwise, including the Manichaeans, Valentinians, Arians, Eunomians, Mohammedans, and the Samosatenes.
  • Article II - Original Sin: Basically that because of the fall of Adam and Eve, all are born into sin and are saved only through Baptism. Also, the Pelagians are to be condemned for teaching that man can be justified before God through his own strength and reason.
  • Article III - Son of God: This is the same Jesus Christ that the Catholics believe in.
  • Article IV - Justification: Citing chapters 3 and 4 of Paul's letter to the Romans, man is forgiven by God of his sins through faith in Jesus Christ alone and not of works, which are a sign of his redemption (see Article VI).
  • Article V - The Ministry: Basically that the Lutheran Church, through its teaching of the Gospel and administration of the Sacraments in similar fashion to the Roman Catholic Church, is relatively indistinguishable from the Roman Catholic Church except for a few contested issues (see Articles IV and VI). Also, priests are now called pastors or ministers. Oh, and the Anabaptists are wrong.
  • Article VI - New Obedience: Faith in Christ brings forth good fruits but these works do not merit justification, which is through faith alone (see Article IV). Citing Ambrose of Milan: "It is ordained of God that he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving remission of sins, without works, by faith alone."
  • Article VII - The Church: The true Church of Christ is where the Sacraments (Baptism and the Eucharist) are administered by trained and approved individuals regardless of the ritualistic ceremonies, including Mass, which is basically the same.
  • Article VIII - What the Church Is: Some ministers are evil, but their administration of the Sacraments is not nullified because of this, contrary to what the Donatists say.
  • Article IX - Baptism: Baptism is necessary for salvation and, like the Catholics, infants are to be baptized whose parents are members of the Church. Again, the Anabaptists are wrong.
  • Article X - The Lord's Supper: The body and blood of Christ are truly present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. However, unlike Catholic transubstantiation where the bread and wine are supernaturally transformed into the body and blood of Christ, in Lutheran sacramental union the bread and wine are sacramentally united to the body and blood of Christ. To truly understand the difference requires a theological doctorate.
  • Article XI - Confession: The penitent still need to confess their sins in a little booth to a priest... er, uh, confessor. However, no one can keep track of them all nor truly grasp the scope of all which they are truly guilty, so total absolution is granted for a general confession.
  • Article XII - Repentance: For Catholics, confession consists of contrition of the heart, confession of the mouth, and satisfaction of deeds. For Lutherans, confession consists of just the first two. And, once again, the Anabaptists are wrong, along with the Novatians.
  • Article XIII - Use of Sacraments: For Catholics, the Sacraments consist of Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. For Lutherans, it's just the first two.
  • Article XIV - Ecclesiastical Order: Can't just preach, baptize, and break bread on your own. You gotta be ordained.
  • Article XV - Ecclesiastical Usages: Traditions and feast days are unnecessary for salvation.
  • Article XVI - Civil Affairs: Secular governments and vocations are part of God's natural orders. Christians are free to serve in government and the military and to engage in worldly business and vocations. Laws are to be followed unless they are commandments to sin. As usual, the Anabaptists are wrong.
  • Article XVII - Christ's Return to Judgment: "Consummation of the World Christ will appear for judgment, and will raise up all the dead; He will give to the godly and elect eternal life and everlasting joys, but ungodly men and the devils He will condemn to be tormented without end. They condemn the Anabaptists, who think that there will be an end to the punishments of condemned men and devils."
  • Article XVIII - Free Will: Man has free will but not the wherewithal to be reconciled to God apart from Christ. Catholics basically believe the same thing but the matter of predestination really complicates the matter. For further details, consult Book III of the Hypognosticon, which was originally attributed to Augustine but probably written by someone else, maybe Lawrence of Durham.
  • Article XIX - Cause of Sin: Sin is not caused by God but by the will of the wicked, which is basically what Catholics believe.
  • Article XX - Good Works: Not necessary for salvation but don't misunderstand -- works are vitally important, however, faith is all that's required for salvation... but good works are a general indication of a repentant heart. (This was a primary subject of discord between Lutherans and Catholics.)
  • Article XXI - Worship of the Saints: Christ alone is mediator, propitiation, high priest, and intercessor between man and God (1 John 2:1). Saints may be held in high regard and emulated but are not to be venerated or prayed to, including the Virgin Mary.
  • Article XXII - Both Kinds in the Sacrament: The Eucharist is to include both the bread and the wine. (Apparently, although the Catholic Church also shared this same belief, a custom had crept in of recent whereby some priests were only offering wine during Mass.)
  • Article XXIII - Marriage of Priests: For Catholic priests, marriage then and now is a strict no-no. Lutherans find this absurd and unbiblical, especially considering the sexual scandals of the clergy reported both then and now. (Even Cyprian of Carthage agreed with the Apostle Paul on this.)
  • Article XXIV - Mass: The language of the common man (German) may be sung in hymnals in place of Latin. Otherwise, Lutheran and Catholic Masses are pretty much identical. Oh, wait, there is this one issue of unscheduled, private Masses conducted at a price for a privileged few in violation of 1 Corinthians 11:27. Yeah, that thing we disagree with. Mass is a communal activity, which is partly why it's called Communion.
  • Article XXV - Confession: An enumeration of sins is not necessary, nor is all the guilt and anxiety. Confess your sins before God first and foremost. Confession to a minister is useful to the conscience; plus, it still counts towards absolution.
  • Article XXVI - Distinction of Meats: Traditions, bah! "For the Gospel compels us to insist in the churches upon the doctrine of grace, and of the righteousness of faith; which, however, cannot be understood, if men think that they merit grace by observances of their own choice." Lutherans still fast on Good Friday, but abstaining from beef and chicken? Humbug!
  • Article XXVII - Monastic Vows: Monks and nuns should not be fettered by too many vows and observances, which only increased "for the purpose of restoring discipline, as in a carefully planned prison." Monastic life is all well and good but ascetics are no holier than anyone else, nor are they better off as hermits. By severely restricting and controlling every facet of their lives, these extremely dedicated individuals are either raised to a sense of false perfection or doomed to utter failure.
  • Article XVIII - Ecclesiastical Power: Civil and Church authority are not to be confounded. Pastors and bishops are granted power to preach the Gospel, to remit and retain sins, to administer Sacraments, and to judge doctrine -- not to lord it over the heathens or subjugate them by the sword, nor to lay a heavy burden on believers beyond the yoke of Christ.

Conclusion: "These are the chief articles which seem to be in controversy. For although we might have spoken of more abuses, yet, to avoid undue length, we have set forth the chief points, from which the rest may be readily judged. There have been great complaints concerning indulgences, pilgrimages, and the abuse of excommunications. The parishes have been vexed in many ways by the dealers in indulgences. There were endless contentions between the pastors and the monks concerning the parochial right, confessions, burials, sermons on extraordinary occasions, and innumerable other things. Issues of this sort we have passed over so that the chief points in this matter, having been briefly set forth, might be the more readily understood. Nor has anything been here said or adduced to the reproach of any one. Only those things have been recounted whereof we thought that it was necessary to speak, in order that it might be understood that in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic. For it is manifest that we have taken most diligent care that no new and ungodly doctrine should creep into our churches. The above articles we desire to present in accordance with the edict of Your Imperial Majesty, in order to exhibit our Confession and let men see a summary of the doctrine of our teachers. 7 If there is anything that any one might desire in this Confession, we are ready, God willing, to present ampler information according to the Scriptures."

Feast of Saint John the Baptizerer Saturday, June 24, 2023
Today is the Feast Day of Saint John the Baptist, or the Nativity of the Forerunner, or just Johnmas. Little is known about his humble beginnings, other than what Martha the sister of Lazarus told to Luke when he was publishing his gospel. Here is some of that context. For more on this particular story, consult The Gospel of Martha.

Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zechariah, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb: and, behold, her water brake, and the babe was spilt forth upon the ground with arms outreached and praising the LORD of hosts.

And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, and burst into song with a loud voice, and singing, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped forth from my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."

Then those who were nearby toiling and going about their business did straitway erupt in one accord, dancing and singing praises unto the LORD.

And Mary sang out in response, and singing, "My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever."

Then those who were performing in the streets and fields returned unto their labour and usual goings about.

Now the neighbours of Elizabeth and her kin heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; that her full time had come that she should be delivered, and she had brought forth a son. And they rejoiced with her. So then Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, then returned unto her own house.

It came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zechariah, after the name of his father. And his mother answering saith, "Not so; but he shall be called John." And they say unto her, "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name."

So they made signs to his father, as though deaf and dumb, how he would have him called. So he asked for a writing table, and wrote, "His name is John." And they marvelled all.

Then, behold, his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and there came forth a sound shrill and most unsettling; prolonged and unearthly, as though blowing exceeding through a reeded instrument. Then spake he, and praised God. And, lo, fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea.

All they that heard laid up in their hearts, saying, "What manner of child shall this be!" And the hand of the Lord was with him.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, and saying, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the promised mercy to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life."

So all marvelled again, and began to disperse, but Zechariah continued, saying, "And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

And when he was finished, the people round about stood and waited, that there might be more. But, behold, hearing no more they departed thence.

Pictured: Saint John Honeycomb

Seeking an Angel of Light Friday, June 23, 2023
This week has been the apex of the midsummer celebrations and pagan revelries, bringing to mind dancing druids and burning virgins. However, I was less than flabbergasted or gobsmacked to learn that the true demonic celebration of the year is the Spring equinox. Regardless, one must eventually ask oneself: What the hell is Satanism all about? Is it literally worshiping Satan? For this answer, we have to go someplace dark -- specifically, the Church of Satan, founded by Anton LaVey in 1966. Here we learn that Satanism is not about worshiping Satan but about worshiping ourselves the way Satan does in defiance of God. Satanists are atheists. The practice of black magic and wearing of demonic costumes and display of pagan symbolism is simply for show, while sexual activity is only advocated between consenting adults. After all, if you are going to exalt yourself, then at least be civilized and courteous about it.

"Satan represents indulgence instead of abstinence. Satan represents kindness to those who deserve it instead of love wasted on ingrates. Satan represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical, mental, or emotional gratification. Our members champion personal development and rejection of herd conformity, and thus each Satanist finds his own unique path to self-deification."

Satanists reject the spiritual life of devotion to the Holy Trinity in favor of one devoted to hell and material pursuits. If there is a hell, most of us are already going there anyway, right? Although Satanists do not believe in an actual hell, why not embrace all that represents hell which is alluring, desirable, and just plain sinful? But do not confuse Satanism with Devil worship. Devil-worshipers are those misguided souls who sacrifice animals, ritualistically abuse people, and molest children in outright reverence to the actual supernatural being of Satan as a religious practice because they think that's what the Devil is into, whereas Satanism is an intellectual, hedonistic philosophy which utilizes Greater Magic and is basically meant as "self-transformational psychodrama" -- that is, it serves as a means to purge oneself of unwanted emotional baggage that might be hindering a daily pursuit of joy in life. The three basic types of Satanic ritual are for "Compassion (for oneself and others), Lust (to release unrequited sexual urges), and Destruction (to cleanse oneself of anger towards someone who has done you an injustice)." Satanists abhor sacrifices, for they do not believe in offering lives to mythological entities.

"We've wasted far too much time explaining that Satanism has nothing to do with kidnapping, drug abuse, child molestation, animal or child sacrifice, or any number of other acts that idiots, hysterics or opportunists would like to credit us with. Satanism is a life-loving, rational philosophy that millions of people adhere to." Says LaVey, "Satan signifies our love of the worldly and our rejection of the pallid, ineffectual image of Christ on the cross."

Satanists take great delight in confounding and irritating Christians, such as with the use of inverted crosses and the number 666, which actually means nothing to them. In the end, it's all about self-fulfillment through carnal means, particularly those indulgences which righteous people find distasteful or profane. It's also about accepting people the way they are and guiding them on a path to self-realization and acceptance by means of skepticism, pragmatism, materialism, and individualism, which is no wonder that the Church of Satan and similar organizations are more enticing than Christianity to those who associate with the LGBTQ+ community. There, I said it.

"Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. We do not believe in Satan as a being or person." Satanism is a "freedom to insularize oneself within a social milieu of personal well-being. An opportunity to feel, see, and hear that which is most aesthetically pleasing, without interference from those who would pollute or detract from that option." Satanists are "thus our own 'Gods,' and as beneficent 'deities' we can offer love to those who deserve it and deliver our wrath (within reasonable limits) upon those who seek to cause us -- or that which we cherish -- harm."

Junetieth Tuesday, June 20, 2023
On this day in 1943 in Detroit, Michigan, localized gang fights broke out between white and black youths, resulting in a city-wide race riot that lasted nearly three days and ended with 34 deaths (mostly blacks), 600 injuries (mostly blacks), 1,800 arrests (85% black), and millions of dollars in vandalism on both sides. The riots started primarily due to racial tension from a large influx of immigrants into Detroit from the South when the motor vehicle industry was converted to wartime manufacturing and was further fueled by false rumors of injustices against both whites and blacks.* You may be wondering to yourself what this has to do with Adalbert of Magdeburg, Methodius of Olympus, or even Florentina of Cartagena. I'm wondering if anyone even reads this blog.

*According to Wikipedia. Also, on this day in 2003, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) was founded as a nonprofit organization to fund Wikipedia. The WMF owns and operates eleven wikis that are written, curated, designed, and governed by their communities of volunteer editors. One of those sites is Wikimedia Commons, where I obtain many of the images used on this blog, none of which are amateur photographs of male genitalia.

Pictured: angry, unemployed, uneducated, white rioters picking on the president of the NAACP at Belle Isle Park during the peak of the Detroit Race Riots in 1943. Actually, this is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken at the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, MI, two years prior, in which striking union workers pummel a scab worker crossing the picket lines. However, it is disinformation like this that helped fuel the Detroit Race Riots.

Now a Real Holiday Monday, June 19, 2023
On this day in 1862, during the American Civil War, the U.S. Congress prohibited slavery in the U.S. territories, thus nullifying the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1857, which held that the U.S. Constitution did not extend American citizenship to people of black African descent, and thus they could not enjoy the rights and privileges the Constitution conferred upon American citizens.* On January 1 the following year, President Lincoln issued Proclamation 95, declaring all slaves to be free in all states of the union** and allowing them to join the northern militia. The Civil War ended on May 26, 1865, and on this day of that year, the remaining slaves of the Confederate South were finally informed of their freedom in Galveston, Texas. In 2021, the U.S. federal government declared this day to be a national holiday called -- apparently for lack of a more suitable or politically correct term -- Juneteenth. Although slavery may have ended,*** it obviously did not end racial segregation or discrimination. I've been meaning to address the woke movement for some time now but decided that I don't have to. End of post.

*According to Wikipedia.
**Actually, it pertained only to the Confederate states that were in rebellion, excluding Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, Tennessee, West Virginia, and parts of Louisiana, which did not secede from the United States. However, these states passed their own laws abolishing slavery by the end of the Civil War, or at least when the Thirteenth Amendment went into effect on December 18, 1865.
***The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except in prisons. Persons of color were not considered U.S. citizens at the time, but did count for 3/5 of a state's population for purposes of taxation and representation. The Fourteenth Amendment adopted on July 9, 1868, granted persons of color full rights as citizens of the U.S.

Not a Real Holiday Sunday, June 18, 2023
Today is Father's Day for much of the global community in commemoration of founding fathers, religious fathers, and just plain dads. For the Eastern Orthodox Churches it's celebrated in December as Sunday of the Forefathers and for the Catholic Church it's celebrated in March as the Feast of St. Joseph. For much of the secular world, it's celebrated on the third Sunday in June and obligatory gifts are universally the same: a necktie and dress socks -- even in countries where traditional men's attire is a robe and sandals, they, too, receive a tie and socks from their children. In countries which honor their ancestors, it is customary to lay a necktie and a pair of dress socks at the gravesite of the deceased father figure. When cigarettes became commercially available, many children began fashioning ashtrays from clay with their own hands, adding a touch of craftsmanship and love to their Father's Day gifts. However, as these dads died out prematurely from lung cancer, they were replaced with step-dads who favored tradition and, therefore, neckties and dress socks. Some children, particularly those of Anabaptist families and communities (Amish, Mennonite, Hutterite), actually make their own ties and socks from raw materials. And what about deadbeat dads? They are fathers, too, and need a tie and socks for court hearings and job interviews. Well, don't fret none, because the federal government wants to help those with delinquent non-custodial parents and if you are one, know one, or have one, then you can get more Father's Day gift ideas from here.

Father Abraham had many ties and many ties had Father Abraham.

2þ. Wednesday, June 14, 2023
Today I shall keep it short and to the point.

Although popular at the first ecumenical council, the outcome for Arias was to be neutered and chained to the dog house.

First Council of Nicaea Monday, June 12, 2023
Some may argue (or maybe just me) that Emperor Constantine's conversion was the worst thing that happened to Christianity. Up until then, Christians were considered enemies of the Roman Empire and largely persecuted. After Constantine I became a Christian, he made it the state religion in A.D. 313, which answered at least one question of the day: What would happen if Christians were in charge? One thing he did -- good, bad, or indifferent -- was to assemble all of the lead Christians of the day together for a meeting, better known as a world synod of bishops, or ecumenical council. This took place around this part of the year in Nicaea, Bithynia, in modern-day Turkey in A.D. 325 with a few notable outcomes from a consensus of somewhere around 300 who voted out of 1,800 who attended: the divine nature of Christ (both eternally divine and incarnate human, in opposition to the teachings of Arius of Cyrene that Jesus was not co-eternal with God and the Holy Spirit); allowing Christians who renounced their faith under persecution to come back into the fold (argued against by the Melitians, or members of the Church of the Martyrs, founded by Bishop Melitius of Lycopolis); first twenty ecclesiastical regulations, or rules of discipline (canon law); the official date of Easter (on the first full moon on or after March 21); the Nicene Creed (unified declaration of Christian faith). Even so, Arianism made a comeback and was finally condemned as heretical in A.D.380 by the Edict of Thessalonica. The canonization of the books of the Bible was not until A.D. 331, after Constantine ordered fifty copies of scripture in Greek from Eusebius of Caesarea to be placed in night stand drawers for guests at the Constantinople Holiday Inn Express. Those who still recite a similar form of the Nicene Creed include the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Byzantine Rite, Lutherans (who are the ones who commemorate it today), Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Presbyterians, and a bunch of other Protestant denominations. Below is the original Nicene Creed, which was modified in A.D. 381 at the First Council of Constantinople to essentially what it is today. The Nicene Creed is a lengthier version of the Apostles' Creed, the date of its origin being uncertain. Bear in mind that at the time of the Nicene Creed, the "catholic" church meant the universal body of all believers, not yet the Roman Catholic Rite without all the excommunicated heretics.

We believe in one God, the Father almighty,
maker of all things visible and invisible;
And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Son of God,
begotten from the Father, only-begotten,
that is, from the substance of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God, begotten not made,
of one substance with the Father,
through Whom all things came into being,
things in heaven and things on earth,
Who because of us men and because of our salvation came down,
and became incarnate and became man, and suffered,
and rose again on the third day, and ascended to the heavens,
and will come to judge the living and dead,
And in the Holy Spirit.
But as for those who say, There was when He was not,
and, Before being born He was not,
and that He came into existence out of nothing,
or who assert that the Son of God is of a different hypostasis or substance,
or created, or is subject to alteration or change
– these the Catholic and apostolic Church anathematizes.

Scoliosis is a Serious Matter Saturday, June 10, 2023
The other day I stood on my soap box and preached about judgment with an offhanded remark concerning scoliosis. To the first, Paul says to just not do it (Romans 2:1-4). To the second, I say that the day we took God out of the national pledge of allegiance was the day elementary school nurses stopped giving scoliosis exams to children. According to statistics I gleaned from the Internet,1 approximately three million children are diagnosed with scoliosis each year in the U.S. and 29,000 surgeries are performed to correct this. The most common causes of scoliosis are bad posture and vitamin deficiency,2 so my advice to you is to sit up straight and eat all your fruits and vegetables. Proverbs 3:6-9 says that God will heal you of your scoliosis if you fear him,3 just like Jesus did on the Sabbath.4 Some scholars even believe that the Apostle Paul himself was burdened with scoliosis.5 Remember, if you believe then God will heal you of any infirmity.6 That's not to say that if God doesn't heal you then you don't really believe. Some people go through life burdened with an unstraight spine but elevated by an upright heart. The most famous person ever to suffer from scoliosis is Sarah Michelle Gellar, but this didn't stop her from slaying vampires, writing a cook book, and winning the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award for "Favorite Female Butt Kicker."7 I say all this not to shame persons of alternatively-shaped spines or of those who may judge them, but to show that I am vaguely aware that my own spirit suffers from the effects of pietistic scoliosis.

1. Says some guy named Johns Hopkins.
2. I made this up. No one knows for sure what causes scoliosis. Educated guesses include lazy genes, heavy backpacks, fluoride in public drinking water, airplane chemtrails, video games, excess gravity, and either not enough or too much milk.
3. In all thy ways know thou Him, and He doth make straight thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes, fear Jehovah, and turn aside from evil. Healing it is to thy navel, and moistening to thy bones. (Young's Literal Translation)
4. Now Yeshua was teaching in one of the synagogues on Shabbat. And behold, there was a woman with a disabling spirit for eighteen years, bent over and completely unable to stand up straight. When Yeshua saw her, He called out to her and said, "Woman, you are set free from your disability." Then He laid hands on her, and instantly she stood up straight and began praising God. But the synagogue leader, indignant that Yeshua had healed on Shabbat, started telling the crowd, "There are six days in which work should be done - so come to be healed on those days and not on Yom Shabbat!" (Luke 13:10-14, Tree of Life Version)
5. And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me. For which thing thrice I besought the Lord, that it might depart from me. And he said to me: My grace is sufficient for thee; for power is made perfect in infirmity. Gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. For which cause I please myself in my infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ. For when I am weak, then am I powerful. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)
6. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not have scoliosis but have eternal life without scoliosis. (John 3:16, Thaddeus Schmidlap Version)
7. Nominated five times, but scoliosis didn't keep her from winning once. Elizabeth Taylor and General Douglas MacArthur also had scoliosis, which is why their marriage was rumored not to last.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else [with scoliosis], for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment [have scoliosis]. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being [with scoliosis], pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, [and healing of scoliosis], not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4, NIV)

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged Thursday, June 8, 2023
On this day in A.D. 793, Vikings raided the Lindisfarne Abbey (est. 634) in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria because, well, unguarded abbeys, monasteries and priories on secluded islands were easy pickings. However, I am not a historian, nor have I seen more than one episode of the Vikings television series that premiered on the History channel. My concern today is judgment. Many ask the question, "Who are you to judge me?" The rational answer is, "I am a normal human being, neither abnormal nor paranormal, which gives me every right to judge you and I find you to be a freakish, godless, below-average, psychosocial, paranoid, vitamin-deficient, pale-skinned, humorless, pusillanimous mass of inhuman detritus with scoliosis." However, even this is not judgment but just a discerning observation. Although the Bible says to judge your neighbor fairly (Leviticus 19:15), as a Christian I am admonished to judge not lest I be judged with the same measure (Matthew 7:1-2, Luke 6:37). Even so, Christians are allowed to judge one another and will eventually judge everyone and everything (1 Corinthians 6:1-5). But, for now, our righteous opinions of others, whether right or wrong, are not necessarily judgment but, for lack of a better term, abasement. Take the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:9-14), where the Jewish religious leader (the Pharisee) compared himself before God to a miserable tax collector for the Romans (the publican), for which the Pharisee was found to be unjustified by God, particularly when the publican asked God for mercy. Here's the difference, though: Self-righteous Christians usually don't compare themselves to heathens (usually, not always), but merely point out the flaws in those who are sinners, often times simply stating the obvious. The sinner, in return, asks, "Who are you to judge me?" The answer is: a believer in Christ who stands justified (unless the sinner repents). Even so, only God can judge an eternal soul because judgment carries with it a sentence of punishment. The question, therefore, should be, as is often the case: "Who are you to consider yourself better than me?" The answer to this, of course, is that I am just as much a miserable piece of crap as you are (Romans 3:23); no more, no less. However, as Christ is my adjudicator who shall reconcile me before God (John 5:24, Romans 3:25-26, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19), so also shall Christ be the judge of you (John 5:22-23, Acts 17:31, 2 Corinthians 5:10). That's been on the back burner for quite some time and I'm glad it's off my plate... you pusillanimous mass of inhuman detritus with scoliosis.

I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:3-5, NIV)

Breath to the Beast Sunday, June 4, 2023
When I was a child, I visited Disneyland and saw the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show, where an animatronic version of Abraham Lincoln stood, talked, and made gestures. In my impressionable mind, it immediately brought forth thoughts of the beast of Revelation, who was wounded in the head, brought back to life, and whose image the second beast -- the false prophet -- animated in order to subjugate the masses. I then dedicated my life to this theory, which evolved over the years to include the beast's minions: Speak & Spell, Alphie, Teddy Ruxpin, Furby, Tamagotchi, and Big Mouth Billy Bass. Maybe I was misguided or even dead wrong, but no one could doubt my passion. I was eventually forced to accept that no one else cared but me and quit touring, giving speaking engagements, and reluctantly destroyed all of my books, video tapes, cassettes, CDs, and marketing merchandise on the subject. However, a recent development called Ameca has sparked my interest once again. Although not the first of its kind, it is being touted as so lifelike that one cannot tell the difference between Ameca and the acting of Peter Wellers as RoboCop. What is currently missing from the realistic arsenal of this mechanized abomination is artificial intelligence built upon quantum computing, both of which are right around the corner just lying in wait to etch the mark of the beast upon our foreheads with a laser beam. Don't say you weren't warned.

The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666. (Revelation 13:15-18, NIV)

Will the real robot please rise and enslave the human race? From left to right: Man Machine from the 1927 movie "Metropolis"; C3PO from the 1977 movie "Star Wars"; Sophia by Hanson Robotics, 2016; Ameca by Engineered Arts, 2021; RoboCop by Omni Consumer Products, 1987; Asimo by Honda, 2000; Atlas by Boston Dynamics, 2013; 1971 movie "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." The real deal will be a merger of technology and science fiction embodied in the persona of Gene Wilder (1933-2016). All images © copyright by their respective corporate entities and used here without express written consent.

Demonic Influence & Demon Possession Saturday, June 3, 2023

Demon possession is considered by the modern intellect to be a quaint notion of the primitive mind to explain away undesirable behavior. In bygone times people who acted out, frothed at the mouth, suffered from violent seizures, levitated, or spoke in unknown languages with a voice that wasn't their own were simply considered bewitched by an impure spirit. Nowadays we are able to accurately diagnose these ailments as neurological and psychological disorders, then prescribe the proper medications to successfully eradicate the unwanted symptoms without any severe side effects. However, there remain some phenomena that defy medical rationale and which may still be attributed to demonic forces, including the influence of fallen angels, to which demons generally must abide.

  • Tools that disappear, especially when you set them down and go to pick them back up a moment later and they are gone, seemingly vanished into thin air -- Where did they go? Were they there the whole time and you just didn't see them right before your very eyes? Or were they instantly whisked away into a dark realm and used to sodomize the wretched spirits of the underworld? No to the first and yes to the second. This also applies to scissors, remote controls, and keys.
  • Drinking straight from the milk carton or juice bottle -- Anyone who still does this in a shared living arrangement is Beelzebub himself. Do not call a priest as there is no hope for this lost soul. Besides, their power is so immense that that if you confront them directly, they will only grow in annoyance and begin leaving their dirty glasses all over the house, if they haven't already.
  • The Wiggles -- Say what you want about Barney & Friends, but...
  • House plants that die no matter how well taken care of -- Why is it that plants which survive are neglected and those which perish were watered regularly and provided with ample sunlight? The answer is that demonic entities are capable of possessing flora. The question remains as to why.
  • Fitness trainers who teach others by example how to be inconsiderate by not putting away their weights, encroaching on other's limited workout space, slamming weight stacks, and talking out loud about stupid shit -- These are apprentices themselves of an evil master called Foras, who is fallen of the ordinary angels: in appearance a leather-brown man with an abundance of muscles, each and every one rippling and glistening. He is judge of pageantries, promotor of stance and posture, and knowledgeable in the art of supplemental nutrition. He is governor over nine and twenty legions of infernal fitness "experts."
  • Alien abduction -- Some people of rational thought are beginning to accept the possibility of flying saucers and aliens from other planets, galaxies, or dimensions. Why? Crazy persons on the fringes of reality have been ranting about them for centuries. However, now sightings of UAPs (Unidentified Arial Phenomenon, formerly UFOs or Unidentified Flying Objects) are being leaked by the U.S military to the evening news for sane people to ingest. Do you know of someone who was abducted, flown to another planet, used to mate with hot, hybrid humanoid females, then returned with a message of peace and goodwill? Well, they are crazy. Authentic alien abductions are anything but heavenly experiences.
  • Appliances that break down the day after the warranty expires -- Did the dishwasher die on its anniversary? That's because it was manufactured in hell and the parts are not only on eternal backorder, but they are damned.
  • People who claim to be successful but are not, even by their own standards -- These deluded individuals have fallen under the spell of Forneus: fallen angel in the order of Thrones of the first sphere of heaven. In form he is a great sea monster adorned with an handsome tie and chrysolite cuff links on each of his forty tentacles. He is teacher of the art of the deal; advocate of the gentry; and bestower of good repute amongst those who know little of they which are bestowed upon. He is governor over nine and twenty legions of infernal executive middle managers.
  • Boohbahs -- Say what you want about the Telletubbies, but...
  • Vending machines that stop just short of dispensing the selected item -- We all know that these devices are fool-proof and calibrated to perfect precision. Only a demon would have reason to interfere and only a demonic horde is capable of providing someone who has lost their hard-earned money in a failed attempt at acquiring a stale, over-priced snack with enough strength to overturn the machine.
  • Pedofiles -- and who would argue otherwise? These misguided reprobates are controlled by Ornias: fallen of the ordinary angels from the constellation Aquarius. In appearance he is a prancing lion who desires the touch of effeminate boys and sucks the life of teething children through their thumbs. Legend holds that he molested a servant of king Solomon, so Solomon acquired holy knuckles of brass from God with which to pummel Ornias and his perverted ilk into submission.
  • Overly awkward moments when you can't think of anything to say or even remember the other person's name, especially when you are married to them -- Because of quantum entanglement, Satan can be superpositioned in two places at once and, look out, married couples are his favorite haunt.
  • The Big Bang Theory -- No, not the actual scientific theory itself, but the television sitcom that lasted for twelve seasons. There's only one reasonable explanation for this show's success: its creators sold their souls to the devil. Anyone who eagerly watches any of the 279 episodes still in syndication does so because their minds are controlled by one of three demonic entities:
  • Purson: fallen angel in the order of Thrones of the first sphere of heaven; in appearance a king with the face of a lion, and carrying a viper in hand, and riding upon a bear, and proceeded by trumpets. He is knower of hidden truths and treasures, both earthly and divine; and revealer of the formation of the world as by random chance. He is governor over two and twenty legions of infernal evolutionists.

    Marax: fallen of the ordinary angels; in appearance a bull with the face and testicles of a man. He is giver of the knowledge of astronomy and geology, with the ability to deceive of the age of the stars and the rocks. He is governor over thirty legions of infernal alchemists, all charged with rebranding unproven theories as truth.

    Naberius: fallen of the ordinary angels; in form a valiant black crane, which belches forth words of rhetoric; or at times a crowing cock that awakens men from necessary sleep. He makes men cunning in all arts and academics without need of merit and governs nineteen legions of infernally pretentious amateurs.

  • Men who wear makeup and drag without putting forth any effort -- Say what you want about transvestites, transsexuals, and transgender individuals, but men who simply smear on some red lipstick and throw on any old dress before going out in public or attending an online video conference are under the spell of Astaroth: fallen angel in the order of Principalities of the third sphere of heaven and lord of bad breath. He rides atop a stygian dragon, while whipping it with a plutonian viper. He is treasurer of hell; revealer of trivial knowledge and irrelevant truths; prince of accusers and inquisitors. He was worshiped by the Mesopotamians as Ishtar, by the Phoenicians as Astarte, and by the Canaanites as Ashteroth; then there occurred a crisis of identity and subsequent gender transformation, and he came to be worshiped by the Egyptians as Isis, by the Greeks as Aphrodite, and by the Romans as Venus. He is governess over forty legions of infernally nondiscriminatory hermaphrodites.
  • Barking dogs -- We all know that dogs are man's dumbest friend, but there's more to it than a simple mind when it comes to that puppy or grown pet when they bark incessantly for hours on end. Yes, it's partly because of their neglectful and inconsiderate owner, but it's also due to something more sinister... No, actually, it's just because dogs have small brains, like most of their owners -- the ones who let their dogs lick their face after eating a pile of manure and then claim that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a person's mouth. (If these people could lick their own genitalia, they would.)

Codex Iuris Canonici (Continued) Monday, May 29, 2023
Once again, we ran out of time yesterday with the Catholic Code of Canon Law. And that was just the second and third books. For those who didn't go camping and who still have access to the Internet (now commonly spelled with a small i), here are some more of the canons from the current CIC, obtained from an English translation located here.

Book IV Function of the Church (Comm. 897-1258) deals with the sacraments, baptism, confirmation, worship, penance, offerings, anointing of the sick, ordination, marriage/separation, funerals, sacrd places, all the stuff that goes into Mass, and the Most Holy of Holies -- that Most Blessed Sacrament: the Eucharist.

Can. 897 The most August sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated through the ages is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ. Indeed, the other sacraments and all the ecclesiastical works of the apostolate are closely connected with the Most Holy Eucharist and ordered to it.

Can. 898 The Christian faithful are to hold the Most Holy Eucharist in highest honor, taking an active part in the celebration of the most august sacrifice, receiving this sacrament most devoutly and frequently, and worshiping it with the highest adoration. In explaining the doctrine about this sacrament, pastors of souls are to teach the faithful diligently about this obligation.

Can. 899 §1. The eucharistic celebration is the action of Christ himself and the Church. In it, Christ the Lord, through the ministry of the priest, offers himself, substantially present under the species of bread and wine, to God the Father and gives himself as spiritual food to the faithful united with his offering.

Can. 901 A priest is free to apply the Mass for anyone, living or dead.

Can. 907 In the eucharistic celebration deacons and lay persons are not permitted to offer prayers, especially the eucharistic prayer, or to perform actions which are proper to the celebrating priest.

Can. 908 Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Eucharist with priests or ministers of Churches or ecclesial communities which do not have full communion with the Catholic Church.

Can. 919 §1. A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.

Book V Temporal Goods of The Church (Comm. 1259-1310) deals with, you guessed it, the temporal goods of the Church.

Can. 1254 §1. To pursue its proper purposes, the Catholic Church by innate right is able to acquire, retain, administer, and alienate temporal goods independently from civil power. §2. The proper purposes are principally: to order divine worship, to care for the decent support of the clergy and other ministers, and to exercise works of the sacred apostolate and of charity, especially toward the needy.

Can. 1260 The Church has an innate right to require from the Christian faithful those things which are necessary for the purposes proper to it.

Can. 1263 After the diocesan bishop has heard the finance council and the presbyteral council, he has the right to impose a moderate tax for the needs of the diocese upon public juridic persons subject to his governance; this tax is to be proportionate to their income.

Can. 1265 §2. The conference of bishops can establish norms for begging for alms which all must observe, including those who by their foundation are called and are mendicants.

Can. 1268 The Church recognizes prescription as a means of acquiring temporal goods and freeing oneself from them, according to the norm of cann. 197-199.

Can. 1271 By reason of the bond of unity and charity and according to the resources of their dioceses, bishops are to assist in procuring those means which the Apostolic See needs, according to the conditions of the times, so that it is able to offer service properly to the universal Church.

Book VI Sanctions (Comm. 1311-1399) deals with penalties for violation of canon law (the offenses of which are called delicts), excommunication, remission, and loopholes.

Can. 1321 §1. No one is punished unless the external violation of a law or precept, committed by the person, is gravely imputable by reason of malice or negligence. §2. A penalty established by a law or precept binds the person who has deliberately violated the law or precept; however, a person who violated a law or precept by omitting necessary diligence is not punished unless the law or precept provides otherwise.

Can. 1322 Those who habitually lack the use of reason are considered to be incapable of a delict, even if they violated a law or precept while seemingly sane.

Can. 1324 §1. The perpetrator of a violation is not exempt from a penalty, but the penalty established by law or precept must be tempered or a penance employed in its place if the delict was committed: 1) by a person who had only the imperfect use of reason; 2) by a person who lacked the use of reason because of drunkenness or another similar culpable disturbance of mind; 3) from grave heat of passion which did not precede and hinder all deliberation of mind and consent of will and provided that the passion itself had not been stimulated or fostered voluntarily; 4) by a minor who has completed the age of sixteen years; 5) by a person who was coerced by grave fear, even if only relatively grave, or due to necessity or grave inconvenience if the delict is intrinsically evil or tends to the harm of souls; 6) by a person who acted without due moderation against an unjust aggressor for the sake of legitimate self defense or defense of another; 7) against someone who gravely and unjustly provokes the person; 8) by a person who thought in culpable error that one of the circumstances mentioned in can. 1323, nn. 4 or 5 was present; 9) by a person who without negligence did not know that a penalty was attached to a law or precept; 10) by a person who acted without full imputability provided that the imputability was grave.

Can. 1325 Crass, supine, or affected ignorance can never be considered in applying the prescripts of cann. 1323 and 1324; likewise drunkenness or other disturbances of mind cannot be considered if they are sought deliberately in order to commit or excuse a delict, nor can passion which is voluntarily stimulated or fostered.

Can. 1327 Particular law can establish other exempting, mitigating, or aggravating circumstances besides the cases in cann. 1323-1326, either by general norm or for individual delicts. Likewise, circumstances can be established in a precept which exempt from, mitigate, or increase a penalty established by the precept.

Can. 1354 §1. In addition to the persons listed in cann. 1355-1356, all who can dispense from a law which includes a penalty or who can exempt from a precept which threatens a penalty can also remit that penalty. §2. Moreover, a law or precept which establishes a penalty can also give the power of remission to others. §3. If the Apostolic See has reserved the remission of a penalty to itself or to others, the reservation must be interpreted strictly.

Can. 1356 §1. The following can remit a ferendae sententiae or latae sententiae penalty established by a precept not issued by the Apostolic See: 1) the ordinary of the place where the offender is present; 2) if the penalty has been imposed or declared, the ordinary who initiated the trial to impose or declare the penalty or who personally or through another imposed or declared it by decree. §2. The author of the precept must be consulted before remission is made unless this is impossible because of extraordinary circumstances.

Book VII Processes (Cann. 1400-1752) deals with trials, tribunals, litigation, nullity of marriage, penal processes, removal of pastors, and recourse.
Can. 1401 By proper and exclusive right the Church adjudicates: 1) cases which regard spiritual matters or those connected to spiritual matters 2) the violation of ecclesiastical laws and all those matters in which there is a question of sin, in what pertains to the determination of culpability and the imposition of ecclesiastical penalties.

Can. 1404 The First See is judged by no one.

Can. 1442 The Roman Pontiff is the supreme judge for the entire Catholic world; he renders judicial decisions personally, through the ordinary tribunals of the Apostolic See, or through judges he has delegated.

Whew! That was quite the experience but thanks for going through it with me. Next year I think I will go camping. Remember, the entire Catholic Code of Canon Law is available from the Vatican's website here. Bear in mind that this is the English version. The official language of the Catholic Church is Latin and the Codex Iuris Canonici can be read here. If you have any questions about these canons, please consult a priest or go here... or here. How can you distinguish a Catholic priest from an Anglican or Lutheran priest when they all wear a black and white collar? Just ask them.

Codex Iuris Canonici (Continued) Sunday, May 28, 2023
Well, as you can plainly see, we ran out of time yesterday with the Catholic Code of Canon Law. And that was just the first book. I know, I know, I was just as disappointed as you. However, back by popular demand and for your further edification, as well as a great way to spend a three-day weekend, here are some more of the canons from the current CIC, obtained from an English translation located here.

Cann. 330-367 The Supreme Authority of The Church
Can. 349 The cardinals of the Holy Roman Church constitute a special college which provides for the election of the Roman Pontiff according to the norm of special law. The cardinals assist the Roman Pontiff either collegially when they are convoked to deal with questions of major importance, or individually when they help the Roman Pontiff through the various offices they perform, especially in the daily care of the universal Church.

Can. 351 §1. The Roman Pontiff freely selects men to be promoted as cardinals, who have been ordained at least into the order of the presbyterate and are especially outstanding in doctrine, morals, piety, and prudence in action; those who are not yet bishops must receive episcopal consecration. §2. Cardinals are created by a decree of the Roman Pontiff which is made public in the presence of the college of cardinals. From the moment of the announcement they are bound by the duties and possess the rights defined by law.

Can. 360 The Supreme Pontiff usually conducts the affairs of the universal Church through the Roman Curia which performs its function in his name and by his authority for the good and service of the churches. The Roman Curia consists of the Secretariat of State or the Papal Secretariat, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, congregations, tribunals, and other institutes; the constitution and competence of all these are defined in special law.

Can. 361 In this Code, the term Apostolic See or Holy See refers not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the Secretariat of State, the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church, and other institutes of the Roman Curia, unless it is otherwise apparent from the nature of the matter or the context of the words.

Cann. 368-430 Particular Churches and Their Groupings
Can. 368 Particular churches, in which and from which the one and only Catholic Church exists, are first of all dioceses, to which, unless it is otherwise evident, are likened a territorial prelature and territorial abbacy, an apostolic vicariate and an apostolic prefecture, and an apostolic administration erected in a stable manner.

Can. 369 A diocese is a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop for him to shepherd with the cooperation of the presbyterium, so that, adhering to its pastor and gathered by him in the Holy Spirit through the gospel and the Eucharist, it constitutes a particular church in which the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ is truly present and operative.

Can. 374 §1. Every diocese or other particular church is to be divided into distinct parts or parishes. §2. To foster pastoral care through common action, several neighboring parishes can be joined into special groups, such as vicariates forane.

Can. 375 §1. Bishops, who by divine institution succeed to the place of the Apostles through the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, are constituted pastors in the Church, so that they are teachers of doctrine, priests of sacred worship, and ministers of governance. §2. Through episcopal consecration itself, bishops receive with the function of sanctifying also the functions of teaching and governing; by their nature, however, these can only be exercised in hierarchical communion with the head and members of the college.

Can. 376 Bishops to whom the care of some diocese is entrusted are called diocesan; others are called titular.

Can. 386 §1. A diocesan bishop, frequently preaching in person, is bound to propose and explain to the faithful the truths of the faith which are to be believed and applied to morals. He is also to take care that the prescripts of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially those on the homily and catechetical instruction, are carefully observed so that the whole Christian doctrine is handed on to all. §2. Through more suitable means, he is firmly to protect the integrity and unity of the faith to be believed, while nonetheless acknowledging a just freedom in further investigating its truths.

Can. 400 §1. Unless the Apostolic See has established otherwise, during the year in which he is bound to submit a report to the Supreme Pontiff, a diocesan bishop is to go to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and to present himself to the Roman Pontiff. §2. A bishop is to satisfy the above-mentioned obligation personally unless he is legitimately impeded. In that case, he is to satisfy it through his coadjutor, if he has one, or auxiliary, or a suitable priest of his presbyterium who resides in his diocese.

Can. 401 §1. A diocesan bishop who has completed the seventy-fifth year of age is requested to present his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who will make provision after he has examined all the circumstances.

Cann. 460-572 Internal Ordering of Particular Churches
Can. 475 §1. In each diocese the diocesan bishop must appoint a vicar general who is provided with ordinary power according to the norm of the following canons and who is to assist him in the governance of the whole diocese. §2. As a general rule, one vicar general is to be appointed unless the size of the diocese, the number of inhabitants, or other pastoral reasons suggest otherwise.

Can. 482 §1. In every curia a chancellor is to be appointed whose principal function, unless particular law establishes otherwise, is to take care that acts of the curia are gathered, arranged, and safeguarded in the archive of the curia. §2. If it seems necessary, the chancellor can be given an assistant whose title is to be vice-chancellor. §3. By reason of being chancellor and vice-chancellor they are notaries and secretaries of the curia.

Can. 486 §1. All documents which regard the diocese or parishes must be protected with the greatest care. §2. In every curia there is to be erected in a safe place a diocesan archive, or record storage area, in which instruments and written documents which pertain to the spiritual and temporal affairs of the diocese are to be safeguarded after being properly filled and diligently secured. §3. An inventory, or catalog, of the documents which are contained in the archive is to be kept with a brief synopsis of each written document.

Can. 487 §2. Interested parties have the right to obtain personally or through a proxy an authentic written copy or photocopy of documents which by their nature are public and which pertain to their personal status.

Can. 489 §2. Each year documents of criminal cases in matters of morals, in which the accused parties have died or ten years have elapsed from the condemnatory sentence, are to be destroyed. A brief summary of what occurred along with the text of the definitive sentence is to be retained.

Can. 491 §1. A diocesan bishop is to take care that the acts and documents of the archives of cathedral, collegiate, parochial, and other churches in his territory are also diligently preserved and that inventories or catalogs are made in duplicate, one of which is to be preserved in the archive of the church and the other in the diocesan archive.

Can. 505 Each and every chapter, whether cathedral or collegial, is to have its own statutes, drawn up through a legitimate capitular act and approved by the diocesan bishop. These statutes are neither to be changed nor abrogated except with the approval of the same diocesan bishop.

Can. 511 In every diocese and to the extent that pastoral circumstances suggest it, a pastoral council is to be constituted which under the authority of the bishop investigates, considers, and proposes practical conclusions about those things which pertain to pastoral works in the diocese.

Can. 512 §1. A pastoral council consists of members of the Christian faithful who are in full communion with the Catholic Church -- clerics, members of institutes of consecrated life, and especially laity -- who are designated in a manner determined by the diocesan bishop.

Can. 513 §2. When the see is vacant, a pastoral council ceases.

Can. 514 §1. A pastoral council possesses only a consultative vote. It belongs to the diocesan bishop alone to convoke it according to the needs of the apostolate and to preside over it; it also belongs to him alone to make public what has been done in the council.

Can. 528 §2. The pastor is to see to it that the Most Holy Eucharist is the center of the parish assembly of the faithful. He is to work so that the Christian faithful are nourished through the devout celebration of the sacraments and, in a special way, that they frequently approach the sacraments of the Most Holy Eucharist and penance.

Can. 535 §4. In each parish there is to be a storage area, or archive, in which the parochial registers are protected along with letters of bishops and other documents which are to be preserved for reason of necessity or advantage. The pastor is to take care that all of these things, which are to be inspected by the diocesan bishop or his delegate at the time of visitation or at some other opportune time, do not come into the hands of outsiders.

Can. 538 §3. When a pastor has completed seventy-Five years of age, he is requested to submit his resignation from office to the diocesan bishop who is to decide to accept or defer it after he has considered all the circumstances of the person and place. Attentive to the norms established by the conference of bishops, the diocesan bishop must provide suitable support and housing for a retired pastor.

Can. 556 Rectors of churches are understood here as priests to whom is committed the care of some church which is neither parochial nor capitular nor connected to a house of a religious community or society of apostolic life which celebrates services in it.

Can. 561 No one is permitted to celebrate the Eucharist, administer the sacraments, or perform other sacred functions in the church without the permission of the rector or another legitimate superior; this permission must be granted or denied according to the norm of law.

Can. 564 A chaplain is a priest to whom is entrusted in a stable manner the pastoral care, at least in part, of some community or particular group of the Christian faithful, which is to be exercised according to the norm of universal and particular law.

- Intermission -

It is at this point that one must yawn, stretch, rub one's eyes, question the purpose of this blog post, ponder what has led to this moment in their life, reflect upon the laws that govern their civil liberties, and take a moment to read all of the Book of Leviticus in order the cleanse the spiritual palate. A compilation of this magnitute only evolves over thousands of years. I might remind readers who are still reading that I was once Catholic. However, it is because of religious superfluity such as this that I have withdrawn from Catholocism. Bear in mind that one does not simply stop being a Catholic. I fear I may still be one and when I arrive at the pearly gates I shall be greeted by St. Peter, who is a glorious almagamation of all the popes who have ever sat upon his earthly throne, like a gargantuan blob of colorful helium balloons, and he shall speak with the combined authority of their collective voices, and command that I propitiate my soul with the due penance of an eternal Hail Mary. Now, back to the task at hand -- reviewing the Codes that govern the Roman Catholic Church, which rest upon the Catechism, Precepts, Dogma, Creeds, Devotions, Councils, Tradition, Doctrine, and Sacraments therein; here whittled down by keyboard to a brief summary meant to capture the essence of religious superfluity. Note that there are situations and circumstances wherein even more rules and regulations apply.

Cann. 573-606 Norms Common to All Institutes of Consecrated Life
Can. 585 It belongs to the competent authority of an institute to suppress its parts.

Can. 587 §1. To protect more faithfully the proper vocation and identity of each institute, the fundamental code or constitutions of every institute must contain, besides those things which are to be observed as stated in can. 578, fundamental norms regarding governance of the institute, the discipline of members, incorporation and formation of members, and the proper object of the sacred bonds. §4. Other norms established by competent authority of an institute are to be collected suitably in other codes and, moreover, can be reviewed appropriately and adapted according to the needs of places and times.

Can. 588 §1. By its very nature, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay. §2. That institute is called clerical which, by reason of the purpose or design intended by the founder or by virtue of legitimate tradition, is under the direction of clerics, assumes the exercise of sacred orders, and is recognized as such by the authority of the Church. §3. That institute is called lay which, recognized as such by the authority of the Church, has by virtue of its nature, character, and purpose a proper function defined by the founder or by legitimate tradition, which does not include the exercise of sacred orders.

Can. 590 §1. Inasmuch as institutes of consecrated life are dedicated in a special way to the service of God and of the whole Church, they are subject to the supreme authority of the Church in a special way. §2. Individual members are also bound to obey the Supreme Pontiff as their highest superior by reason of the sacred bond of obedience.

Can. 598 §1. Each institute, attentive to its own character and purposes, is to define in its constitutions the manner in which the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience must be observed for its way of living. §2. Moreover, all members must not only observe the evangelical counsels faithfully and fully but also arrange their life according to the proper law of the institute and thereby strive for the perfection of their state.

Can. 599 The evangelical counsel of chastity assumed for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, which is a sign of the world to come and a source of more abundant fruitfulness in an undivided heart, entails the obligation of perfect continence in celibacy.

Can. 600 The evangelical counsel of poverty in imitation of Christ who, although he was rich, was made poor for us, entails, besides a life which is poor in fact and in spirit and is to be led productively in moderation and foreign to earthly riches, a dependence and limitation in the use and disposition of goods according to the norm of the proper law of each institute.

Can. 601 The evangelical counsel of obedience, undertaken in a spirit of faith and love in the following of Christ obedient unto death, requires the submission of the will to legitimate superiors, who stand in the place of God, when they command according to the proper constitutions.

Cann. 607-709 Religious Institutes
Can. 607 §1. As a consecration of the whole person, religious life manifests in the Church a wonderful marriage brought about by God, a sign of the future age. Thus the religious brings to perfection a total self-giving as a sacrifice offered to God, through which his or her whole existence becomes a continuous worship of God in charity. §2. A religious institute is a society in which members, according to proper law, pronounce public vows, either perpetual or temporary which are to be renewed, however, when the period of time has elapsed, and lead a life of brothers or sisters in common. §3. The public witness to be rendered by religious to Christ and the Church entails a separation from the world proper to the character and purpose of each institute.

Can. 634 §1. As juridic persons by the law itself, institutes, provinces, and houses are capable of acquiring, possessing, administering, and alienating temporal goods unless this capacity is excluded or restricted in the constitutions. §2. Nevertheless, they are to avoid any appearance of excess, immoderate wealth, and accumulation of goods.

Can. 652 §2. Novices are to be led to cultivate human and Christian virtues; through prayer and self-denial they are to be introduced to a fuller way of perfection; they are to be taught to contemplate the mystery of salvation and to read and meditate on the sacred scriptures; they are to be prepared to cultivate the worship of God in the sacred liturgy; they are to learn a manner of leading a life consecrated to God and humanity in Christ through the evangelical counsels; they are to be instructed regarding the character and spirit, the purpose and discipline, the history and life of the institute; and they are to be imbued with love for the Church and its sacred pastors.

Can. 654 By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vow, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law.

Can. 659 §1. In individual institutes the formation of all the members is to be continued after first profession so that they lead the proper life of the institute more fully and carry out its mission more suitably. §2. Therefore, proper law must define the program of this formation and its duration, attentive to the needs of the Church and the conditions of people and times, insofar as the purpose and character of the institute require it. §3. Universal law and the program of studies proper to the institute govern the formation of members who are preparing to receive holy orders.

Can. 662 Religious are to have as the supreme rule of life the following of Christ proposed in the gospel and expressed in the constitutions of their own institute.

Can. 663 §1. The first and foremost duty of all religious is to be the contemplation of divine things and assiduous union with God in prayer. §2. Members are to make every effort to participate in the eucharistic sacrifice daily, to receive the most sacred Body of Christ, and to adore the Lord himself present in the sacrament. §3. They are to devote themselves to the reading of sacred scripture and mental prayer, to celebrate worthily the liturgy of the hours according to the prescripts of proper law, without prejudice to the obligation for clerics mentioned in can. 276, §2, n. 3, and to perform other exercises of piety. §4. With special veneration, they are to honor the Virgin Mother of God, the example and protector of all consecrated life, also through the marian rosary. §5. They are to observe faithfully an annual period of sacred retreat.

Can. 664 Religious are to strive after conversion of the soul toward God, to examine their conscience, even daily, and to approach the sacrament of penance frequently.

Can. 667 §2. A stricter discipline of cloister must be observed in monasteries ordered to contemplative life.

Can. 668 §3. Whatever a religious acquires through personal effort or by reason of the institute, the religious acquires for the institute. Whatever accrues to a religious in any way by reason of pension, subsidy, or insurance is acquired for the institute unless proper law states otherwise. §5. A professed religious who has renounced his or her goods fully due to the nature of the institute loses the capacity of acquiring and possessing and therefore invalidly places acts contrary to the vow of poverty. Moreover, whatever accrues to the professed after renunciation belongs to the institute according to the norm of proper law.

Can. 669 §1. Religious are to wear the habit of the institute, made according to the norm of proper law, as a sign of their consecration and as a witness of poverty. §2. Clerical religious of an institute which does not have a proper habit are to wear clerical dress according to the norm of can. 284.

Can. 674 Institutes which are entirely ordered to contemplation always hold a distinguished place in the mystical Body of Christ: for they offer an extraordinary sacrifice of praise to God, illumine the people of God with the richest fruits of holiness, move it by their example, and extend it with hidden apostolic fruitfulness. For this reason, members of these institutes cannot be summoned to furnish assistance in the various pastoral ministries however much the need of the active apostolate urges it.

Can. 689 §3. If, however, a religious becomes insane during the period of temporary vows, even though unable to make a new profession, the religious cannot be dismissed from the institute.

Can. 694 §1. A member must be held as ipso facto dismissed from an institute who: 1) has defected notoriously from the Catholic faith; 2) has contracted marriage or attempted it, even only civilly.

Can. 696 §1. A member can also be dismissed for other causes provided that they are grave, external, imputable, and juridically proven such as: habitual neglect of the obligations of consecrated life; repeated violations of the sacred bonds; stubborn disobedience to the legitimate prescripts of superiors in a grave matter; grave scandal arising from the culpable behavior of the member; stubborn upholding or diffusion of doctrines condemned by the magisterium of the Church; public adherence to ideologies infected by materialism or atheism; the illegitimate absence mentioned in can. 665, §2, lasting six months; other causes of similar gravity which the proper law of the institute may determine. 694 §2. For the dismissal of a member in temporary vows, even causes of lesser gravity established in proper law are sufficient.

Cann. 710-730 Secular Institutes
Can. 710 A secular institute is an institute of consecrated life in which the Christian faithful, living in the world, strive for the perfection of charity and seek to contribute to the sanctification of the world, especially from within.

Can. 711 The consecration of a member of a secular institute does not change the member's proper canonical condition among the people of God, whether lay or clerical, with due regard for the prescripts of the law which refer to institutes of consecrated life.

Can. 713 §1. Members of these institutes express and exercise their own consecration in apostolic activity, and like leaven they strive to imbue all things with the spirit of the gospel for the strengthening and growth of the Body of Christ. §2. In the world and from the world, lay members participate in the evangelizing function of the Church whether through the witness of a Christian life and of fidelity toward their own consecration, or through the assistance they offer to order temporal things according to God and to inform the world by the power of the gospel. They also cooperate in the service of the ecclesial community according to their own secular way of life.

Can. 714 Members are to lead their lives in the ordinary conditions of the world according to the norm of the constitutions, whether alone, or in their own families, or in a group living as brothers or sisters.

Can. 715 §1. Clerical members incardinated in a diocese are subject to the diocesan bishop, without prejudice to those things which regard consecrated life in their own institute. §2. Those who are incardinated in an institute according to the norm of can. 266, §3, however, are subject to the bishop like religious if they are appointed to the proper works of the institute or to the governance of the institute.

Can. 719 §1. For members to respond faithfully to their vocation and for their apostolic action to proceed from their union with Christ, they are to devote themselves diligently to prayer, to give themselves in a Fitting way to the reading of sacred scripture, to observe an annual period of spiritual retreat, and to perform other spiritual exercises according to proper law. §2. The celebration of the Eucharist, daily if possible, is to be the source and strength of their whole consecrated life. §3. They are to approach freely the sacrament of penance which they are to receive frequently. §4. They are to obtain freely necessary direction of conscience and to seek counsel of this kind even from the moderators, if they wish.

Cann. 731-746 Societies of Apostolic Life Can. 731 §1. Societies of apostolic life resemble institutes of consecrated life; their members, without religious vows, pursue the apostolic purpose proper to the society and, leading a life in common as brothers or sisters according to their proper manner of life, strive for the perfection of charity through the observance of the constitutions. §2. Among these are societies in which members assume the evangelical counsels by some bond defined in the constitutions.

Can. 735 §1. The proper law of each society determines the admission, probation, incorporation, and formation of members. §2. In what pertains to admission into a society, the conditions established in the cann. 642- 645 are to be observed. §3. Proper law must determine the manner of probation and formation, especially doctrinal, spiritual, and apostolic, adapted to the purpose and character of the society, in such a way that the members, recognizing their divine vocation, are suitably prepared for the mission and life of the society.

Cann. 747-755 Teaching Function of The Church
Can. 747 §1. The Church, to which Christ the Lord has entrusted the deposit of faith so that with the assistance of the Holy Spirit it might protect the revealed truth reverently, examine it more closely, and proclaim and expound it faithfully, has the duty and innate right, independent of any human power whatsoever, to preach the gospel to all peoples, also using the means of social communication proper to it. §2. It belongs to the Church always and everywhere to announce moral principles, even about the social order, and to render judgment concerning any human affairs insofar as the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls requires it.

Can. 748 §1. All persons are bound to seek the truth in those things which regard God and his Church and by virtue of divine law are bound by the obligation and possess the right of embracing and observing the truth which they have come to know. §2. No one is ever permitted to coerce persons to embrace the Catholic faith against their conscience.

Can. 749 §1. By virtue of his office, the Supreme Pontiff possesses infallibility in teaching when as the supreme pastor and teacher of all the Christian faithful, who strengthens his brothers and sisters in the faith, he proclaims by definitive act that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held. §2. The college of bishops also possesses infallibility in teaching when the bishops gathered together in an ecumenical council exercise the magisterium as teachers and judges of faith and morals who declare for the universal Church that a doctrine of faith or morals is to be held definitively; or when dispersed throughout the world but preserving the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter and teaching authentically together with the Roman Pontiff matters of faith or morals, they agree that a particular proposition is to be held definitively. §3. No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident.

Can. 750 §1. A person must believe with divine and Catholic faith all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium; therefore all are bound to avoid any doctrines whatsoever contrary to them. §2. Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firm-ly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Can. 751 Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.

Can. 754 All the Christian faithful are obliged to observe the constitutions and decrees which the legitimate authority of the Church issues in order to propose doctrine and to proscribe erroneous opinions, particularly those which the Roman Pontiff or the college of bishops puts forth.

Cann. 756-780 Ministry of The Divine Word
Can. 756 §1. With respect to the universal Church, the function of proclaiming the gospel has been entrusted principally to the Roman Pontiff and the college of bishops. §2. With respect to the particular church entrusted to him, an individual bishop, who is the moderator of the entire ministry of the word within it, exercises that function; sometimes several bishops fulfill this function jointly with respect to different churches at once, according to the norm of law.

Cann. 781-792 Missionary Action of The Church
Can. 781 Since the whole Church is by its nature missionary and the work of evangelization must be held as a fundamental duty of the people of God, all the Christian faithful, conscious of their responsibility, are to assume their part in missionary work.

Can. 782 §1. The Roman Pontiff and the college of bishops have the supreme direction and coordination of endeavors and actions which belong to missionary work and missionary cooperation. §2. As sponsors of the universal Church and of all the churches, individual bishops are to have special solicitude for missionary work, especially by initiating, fostering, and sustaining missionary endeavors in their own particular churches.

Can. 785 §1. Catechists are to be used in carrying out missionary work; catechists are lay members of the Christian faithful, duly instructed and outstanding in Christian life, who devote themselves to setting forth the teaching of the gospel and to organizing liturgies and works of charity under the direction of a missionary.

Can. 787 §1. By the witness of their life and word, missionaries are to establish a sincere dialogue with those who do not believe in Christ so that, in a manner adapted to their own temperament and culture, avenues are opened enabling them to understand the message of the gospel. §2. Missionaries are to take care that they teach the truths of faith to those whom they consider prepared to receive the gospel message so that they can be admitted to receive baptism when they freely request it.

Codex Iuris Canonici Saturday, May 27, 2023
Today, Catholics celebrate the 1917 Code of Canon Law for the members of the Roman Catholic Church, compiled over 13 years in Latin and containing 1,752 canons of ecumenical legalese. It was replaced with the 1983 Code of Canon Law -- again, in Latin -- which took on the form of seven books with nine subsequent amendments (Book VI - Sanctions in the Church was updated in 2021 to clarify sexual offences of the clergy). For your edification, as well as a great way to kick off a three-day weekend, here are just some of the canons from the current Codex Iuris Canonici, obtained from an English translation located here.

Cann. 1-4 General Norms
Can. 1 The canons of this Code regard only the Latin Church.

Cann. 7-22 Ecclesiastical Laws
Can. 22 Civil laws to which the law of the Church yields are to be observed in canon law with the same effects, insofar as they are not contrary to divine law and unless canon law provides otherwise.

Cann. 35-93 Singular Administrative Acts
Can. 48 A singular decree is an administrative act issued by a competent executive authority in which a decision is given or a provision is made for a particular case according to the norms of law. Of their nature, these decisions or provisions do not presuppose a petition made by someone.

Can. 59 §1. A rescript is an administrative act issued in writing by competent executive authority; of its very nature, a rescript grants a privilege, dispensation, or other favor at someone's request. §2. The prescripts established for rescripts are valid also for the oral granting of a permission or favors unless it is otherwise evident.

Can. 76 §1. A privilege is a favor given through a particular act to the benefit of certain physical or juridic persons; it can be granted by the legislator as well as by an executive authority to whom the legislator has granted this power. §2. Centenary or immemorial possession induces the presumption that a privilege has been granted.

Can. 85 A dispensation, or the relaxation of a merely ecclesiastical law in a particular case, can be granted by those who possess executive power within the limits of their competence, as well as by those who have the power to dispense explicitly or implicitly either by the law itself or by legitimate delegation.

Cann. 96-123 Physical and Juridic Persons
Can. 96 By baptism one is incorporated into the Church of Christ and is constituted a person in it with the duties and rights which are proper to Christians in keeping with their condition, insofar as they are in ecclesiastical communion and unless a legitimately issued sanction stands in the way.

Can. 99 Whoever habitually lacks the use of reason is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos) and is equated with infants.

Can. 108 §1. Consanguinity is computed through lines and degrees. §2. In the direct line there are as many degrees as there are generations or persons, not counting the common ancestor. §3. In the collateral line there are as many degrees as there are persons in both the lines together, not counting the common ancestor.

Can. 113 §1. The Catholic Church and the Apostolic See have the character of a moral person by divine ordinance itself. §2. In the Church, besides physical persons, there are also juridic persons, that is, subjects in canon law of obligations and rights which correspond to their nature.

Cann. 129-144 Power of Governance
Can. 137 §1. Ordinary executive power can be delegated both for a single act and for all cases unless the law expressly provides otherwise. §2. Executive power delegated by the Apostolic See can be subdelegated for a single act or for all cases unless the delegate was chosen for personal qualifications or subdelegation was expressly forbidden. §3. Executive power delegated by another authority who has ordinary power can be subdelegated only for individual cases if it was delegated for all cases. If it was delegated for a single act or for determined acts, however, it cannot be subdelegated except by express grant of the one delegating. §4. No subdelegated power can be subdelegated again unless the one delegating has expressly granted this.

Cann. 145-196 Ecclesiastical Offices
Can. 145 §1. An ecclesiastical office is any function constituted in a stable manner by divine or ecclesiastical ordinance to be exercised for a spiritual purpose. §2. The obligations and rights proper to individual ecclesiastical offices are defined either in the law by which the office is constituted or in the decree of the competent authority by which the office is at the same time constituted and conferred.

Can. 171 §1. The following are effected to vote: 1) a person incapable of a human act;

Can. 178 The person elected who has accepted an election which does not need confirmation obtains the office in full right immediately; otherwise, the person acquires only the right to the office.

Can. 194 §1. The following are removed from an ecclesiastical office by the law itself: 3) a cleric who has attempted marriage even if only civilly.

Cann. 200-203 Computation of Time
Can. 202 §1. In law, a day is understood as a period consisting of 24 continuous hours and begins at midnight unless other provision is expressly made; a week is a period of 7 days; a month is a period of 30 days, and a year is a period of 365 days unless a month and a year are said to be taken as they are in the calendar.

Cann. 204-231 The Christian Faithful
Can. 204 §1. The Christian faithful are those who, inasmuch as they have been incorporated in Christ through baptism, have been constituted as the people of God. For this reason, made sharers in their own way in Christ's priestly, prophetic, and royal function, they are called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world, in accord with the condition proper to each. §2. This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church governed by the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him.

Can. 205 Those baptized are fully in the communion of the Catholic Church on this earth who are joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments, and ecclesiastical governance.

Can. 206 §1. Catechumens, that is, those who ask by explicit choice under the influence of the Holy Spirit to be incorporated into the Church, are joined to it in a special way. By this same desire, just as by the life of faith, hope, and charity which they lead, they are united with the Church which already cherishes them as its own.

Can. 207 §1. By divine institution, there are among the Christian faithful in the Church sacred ministers who in law are also called clerics; the other members of the Christian faithful are called lay persons. §2. There are members of the Christian faithful from both these groups who, through the profession of the evangelical counsels by means of vows or other sacred bonds recognized and sanctioned by the Church, are consecrated to God in their own special way and contribute to the salvific mission of the Church; although their state does not belong to the hierarchical structure of the Church, it nevertheless belongs to its life and holiness.

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church. §2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

Can. 214 The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life so long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church.

Can. 215 The Christian faithful are at liberty freely to found and direct associations for purposes of charity or piety or for the promotion of the Christian vocation in the world and to hold meetings for the common pursuit of these purposes.

Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.

Can. 218 Those engaged in the sacred disciplines have a just freedom of inquiry and of expressing their opinion prudently on those matters in which they possess expertise, while observing the submission due to the magisterium of the Church.

Can. 219 All the Christian faithful have the right to be free from any kind of coercion in choosing a state of life.

Can. 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for the works of the apostolate and of charity, and for the decent support of ministers. §2. They are also obliged to promote social justice and, mindful of the precept of the Lord, to assist the poor from their own resources.

Can. 225 §2. According to each one's own condition, they are also bound by a particular duty to imbue and perfect the order of temporal affairs with the spirit of the gospel and thus to give witness to Christ, especially in carrying out these same affairs and in exercising secular functions.

Can. 227 The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. When using that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued with the spirit of the gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church.

Can. 230 §2. Lay persons can fulfill the function of lector in liturgical actions by temporary designation. All lay persons can also perform the functions of commentator or cantor, or other functions, according to the norm of law. §3. When the need of the Church warrants it and ministers are lacking, lay persons, even if they are not lectors or acolytes, can also supply certain of their duties, namely, to exercise the ministry of the word, to preside over liturgical prayers, to confer baptism, and to distribute Holy Communion, according to the prescripts of the law.

Cann. 232-293 Sacred Ministers or Clerics
Can. 246 §1. The eucharistic celebration is to be the center of the entire life of a seminary in such a way that, sharing in the very love of Christ, the students daily draw strength of spirit for apostolic work and for their spiritual life especially from this richest of sources. §3. The veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, including the marian rosary, mental prayer, and other exercises of piety are to be fostered; through these, students are to acquire a spirit of prayer and gain strength in their vocation. §4. Students are to become accustomed to approach the sacrament of penance frequently; it is also recommended that each have a director of his spiritual life whom he has freely chosen and to whom he can confidently open his conscience.

Can. 247 §1. Students are to be prepared through suitable education to observe the state of celibacy and are to learn to honor it as a special gift of God. §2. They are duly to be informed of the duties and burdens which are proper to sacred ministers of the Church; no difficulty of the priestly life is to be omitted.

Can. 249 The program of priestly formation is to provide that students not only are carefully taught their native language but also understand Latin well and have a suitable understanding of those foreign languages which seem necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of pastoral ministry.

Can. 250 The philosophical and theological studies which are organized in the seminary itself can be pursued either successively or conjointly, in accord with the program of priestly formation. These studies are to encompass at least six full years in such a way that the time dedicated to philosophical disciplines equals two full years and to theological studies four full years.

Can. 252 §3. There are to be classes in dogmatic theology, always grounded in the written word of God together with sacred tradition; through these, students are to learn to penetrate more intimately the mysteries of salvation, especially with St. Thomas as a teacher. There are also to be classes in moral and pastoral theology, canon law, liturgy, ecclesiastical history, and other auxiliary and special disciplines, according to the norm of the prescripts of the program of priestly formation.

Can. 265 Every cleric must be incardinated either in a particular church or personal prelature, or in an institute of consecrated life or society endowed with this faculty, in such a way that unattached or transient clerics are not allowed at all.

Can. 267 §1. For a cleric already incardinated to be incardinated validly in another particular church, he must obtain from the diocesan bishop a letter of excardination signed by the same bishop and a letter of incardination from the diocesan bishop of the particular church in which he desires to be incardinated signed by that bishop. §2. Excardination thus granted does not take effect unless incardination in another particular church has been obtained.

Can. 279 §1. Even after ordination to the priesthood, clerics are to pursue sacred studies and are to strive after that solid doctrine founded in sacred scripture, handed on by their predecessors, and commonly accepted by the Church, as set out especially in the documents of councils and of the Roman Pontiffs. They are to avoid profane novelties and pseudo-science.

Can. 282 §1. Clerics are to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from all things that have a semblance of vanity. §2. They are to wish to use for the good of the Church and works of charity those goods which have come to them on the occasion of the exercise of ecclesiastical office and which are left over after provision has been made for their decent support and for the fulfillment of all the duties of their own state.

Can. 291 Apart from the case mentioned in can. 290, n. 1, loss of the clerical state does not entail a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy, which only the Roman Pontiff grants.

Cann. 298-329 Associations of the Christian Faithful
Can. 303 Associations whose members share in the spirit of some religious institute while in secular life, lead an apostolic life, and strive for Christian perfection under the higher direction of the same institute are called third orders or some other appropriate name.

Can. 316 §1. A person who has publicly rejected the Catholic faith, has defected from ecclesiastical communion, or has been punished by an imposed or declared excommunication cannot be received validly into public associations.

Can. 317 §4. Those who exercise leadership in political parties are not to be moderators in public associations of the Christian faithful which are ordered directly to the exercise of the apostolate.

Definitive Answers to Tough Questions Part 4 Wednesday, May 24, 2023
(Continued from before.) God is holy and prefers the same from us but we can't do it nor can we afford the price to overcome our unholy imperfections which prevent us from His presence, which is why Jesus came along (Romans 5:1-11). That high a price for our transgressions is such that we'd be damned fools for not accepting this offer. The question remains, howsoever, that even if God loves his creation so much that He would allow his only-begotten to pay the price by death, then why would He still allow so many damned fools to roast in hell for however long forever is? Aside from people who were pretty decent their whole lives writhing in pain and suffering alongside the worst of humanity, both hell and the amount of souls in it seem a bit excessive. Why, Lord? Is it to emphasize the stark contrast between holiness and unholiness, good and evil, salvation and damnation, heaven and hell, You and sinners? When it all comes down to it, I haven't an answer. That's right, nothing. But here are my hypotheses, conjectures, theories and speculations on the subject:

  1. Christians have continued to alter and extend the timeline of history by continuously sticking their necks into politics rather than just sticking to sharing the Gospel and suffering for it (Matthew 24:14, Mark 13:9-11). We are one of the main reasons why so many people will burn in hell.
  2. Perhaps souls are reincarnated over and over until the end of time, giving them ample opportunities to repent and very little excuse not to have repented; except that Jesus indicated that the rich ruler and Lazarus had but one life before they were punished and rewarded (Luke 16:19-31).
  3. Those in hell will burn only for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6), but after the second death, following the white throne judgment, hell will be thrown into the lake of fire and destroyed (Revelation 20:11-15).
  4. Life is precious and life is serious -- fuck it up and there will be hell to pay. No one is without excuse for not seeking God on their own (Romans 1:18-20). People have been given over to their own lusts and desires because they have rejected Him (Romans 1:24-32). God's love is unconditional only on the condition that it is accepted. If you think your life is shit, then that's all the more reason to turn to Jesus.
  5. This is one of those unknowable mysteries. Jesus himself said he had no idea of the timing of his own second coming (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32) and Paul said that no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). We just have to accept on faith that God knows what's best.
  6. In the end, we will all share an "aha" moment, being fully aware of how impure and unworthy we really are in the presence of the Almighty God. Even some who assured themselves by their own faith will be turned away from heaven (Matthew 7:22-24, Luke 13:26-28).
  7. Misery loves company.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed -- a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith.'" (Romans 1:16-17, NIV)

Definitive Answers to Tough Questions Part 3 Sunday, May 21, 2023
Today I have a moment or two in the early hours of the morning, while the birds awaken and sing God's praises, to purge my e-mail of the electronic lechery which has befallen my domain. Many have file attachments which, although tempting, are sure to release Satan's digital gremlins upon opening. There's one for a "transation" of an inexpensive Louis Vuitton Handbag. I like learning new words and am curious as to how many new words I might discover in the attached invoice. Suddenly, a magpie flies through the window and pecks the Delete key on my keyboard, saving me from certain damnation. Thank you, Jesus. Fortunately, the window was open and the magpie was not injured by flying through the window screen and the rest of my e-mail is all good news: the Europe Business Guide has gladly accepted my submission form, wireless lapel microphones are now available worldwide, and my site has been updated to WordPress 6.2.1. Now, back to the hitherto unanswered question at hand: Why does God allow so many people to burn in hell? I do not consider this as glibly as deleting my e-mail and I wish God would send another magpie or a robin to fly through the window screen and type out an answer in plain human speak. Some passages in the Bible say that God "throws" people into hell (Matthew 5:29, 18:9, Mark 9:45-47, Luke 12:5), which seems even more disturbing. And what does it matter whether it's a trillion souls or just one? The God in which Christians believe is one of jealousy (Exodus 20:4-6, 34:14), anger (Deuteronomy 29:25-28, Isaiah 5:25), and wrath (Romans 1:18-32), -- which all boils down to God's zealousness for his own holiness. No one can blame God for this, yet those who do -- like the rest of us -- fail to understand this holiness and its implications for mankind. Quite possibly, the final answer is found in the Bible, where all the answers to life are revealed: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29). You might be correct in pointing out that God has revealed his anger and his wrath but seems to have withheld the secret behind its dire consequences: the resulting ramifications of his holiness. I almost hate to say this, but I gotta go now. Would you look at the time.

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 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. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." (Luke 12:4-7, NIV)

Definitive Answers to Tough Questions Part 2 Wednesday, May 17, 2023
If you were here on May 7th, you might remember that I was discussing with myself the quandary of why God allows so many people to burn in hell. I seem to recall C. S. Lewis covering this topic in his book The Great Divorce, except he doesn't really broach this particular question. (I also found it quite unreasonable that someone from heaven could visit someone in hell because Jesus said it was impossible (Luke 16:19-31) and that, unlike those in the hell of C. S. Lewis who were oblivious to heaven, Jesus also mentions that the rich man does not want his family to go to hell because it's so terrible.) But forgive me for questioning C. S. Lewis, which is not my intent. Nor do I necessarily question God. I am just curious and I have yet to hear a reasonable answer.

"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)

I do not agree with those who refuse to accept an eternal or even long-lasting hell simply because they consider it uncompassionate for an all-merciful God and therefore cannot reconcile the concept of hellfire with a compassionate God. There are plenty of explanations out there in cyberspace about God's righteousness compared to our sinfulness and you are bound to come across a few while surfing online. In a nutshell, no one on this Earth is good in God's eyes (Psalms 14:1-3, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Matthew 19:17, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19). Isaiah even goes so far as to compare the good deeds of man with bloody menstrual rags (Isaiah 64:6, Wycliffe/Douay-Rheims/Lexham English Bible/Orthodox Jewish Bible). I don't like the way hell makes me feel, either, but the namby-pamby view of hell as merely a separation from God is not befitting of people who have already dissociated themselves from Him. Where else is He going to send them or allow their souls to exist?

"But we are all as the tameh (unclean thing), and kol tzidkoteinu (all our righteousness, our righteous deeds, works) are like beged iddim (filthy rags, a garment of menstruation); and we all do fade like the aleh (leaf); and avoneinu (our iniquities), like the ruach, have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6, Orthodox Jewish Bible)

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26, AKJV)

Again, the issue here is not whether there is an actual place called hell, or if it has another name, or if maybe it's a mistranslation of sheol, or if it is eternal, or if it is tortuously painful, or even why God would send people there. The issue here is that there is apparently quite a few more people on their way to hell than to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14) -- so, then, why is that? No, not why are they destined for hell, but when will God say enough is enough? When there is a specific ratio of damned to saved? When the molten core of the Earth is bursting at the seams? When all the Catholics have been sufficiently cleansed in the purgatorial bath, the Mormons have spiritually baptized all the dead by name, and modern-day Christians have knocked on every door and wiped their feet of the dust of every town? When every single human being who ever lived has been hit over the head with a Bible? At this point, it's still a rhetorical question. However, it's not one which I will lose faith or sleep over, but I shall keep searching. If you already sent me the answer via e-mail then please forgive me as I am behind in that department.

"Then the King will say to those on his left, 'Go away from me. God has said that you will be punished. Go into the fire that burns forever. That fire was prepared for the devil and his helpers...' These people will go off to be punished forever. But the good people will go to live forever." (Matthew 25:41, 46, International Children's Bible)

Martha and the Tarasque Saturday, May 13, 2023
In case I've never mentioned this before, I write this blog as a shameless self-promotion for my books, one of which is The Gospel of Martha. Turns out, Martha has a skeleton in her closet...

Saint Martha, hostess of our Lord Jesu Christ, was born of a royal kindred. Her father was named Syro and her mother Eucharia. The father of her was duke of Syria and places maritime, and Martha with her sister possessed by the heritage of their mother three places, that was, the castle Magdalen and Bethany and a part of Jerusalem. It is nowhere read that Martha had ever any husband ne fellowship of man, but she as a noble hostess ministered and served our Lord, and would also that her sister should serve him and help her, for she thought that all the world was not sufficient to serve such a guest.

After the ascension of our Lord, when the disciples were departed, she with her brother Lazares and her sister Mary, also S. Maximin which baptized them and to whom they were committed of the Holy Ghost, and many others, were put into a ship without sail, oars, or rudder governail, of the paynims, which by the conduct of our Lord they came all to Marseilles, and after came to the territory of Aquense or Aix, and there converted the people to the faith. Martha was right facound of speech, and courteous and gracious to the sight of the people.

There was that time upon the river of Rhone, in a certain wood between Aries and Avignon, a great dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than an horse, having teeth sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, head like a lion, tail like a serpent, and defended him with two wings on either side, and could not be beaten with cast of stones ne with other armour, and was as strong as twelve lions or bears; which dragon lay hiding and lurking in the river, and perished them that passed by and drowned ships. He came thither by sea from Galicia, and was engendered of Leviathan, which is a serpent of the water and is much wood, and of a beast called Bonacho, that is engendered in Galicia. To whom Martha, at the prayer of the people, came into the wood, and found him eating a man. And she cast on him holy water, and showed to him the cross; which [dragon] anon was overcome, and standing still as a sheep, she bound him with her own girdle; and then was slain with pears and glaives of the people.

The dragon was called of them that dwelled in the country Tarasconus, whereof, in remembrance of him that place is called Tarasconus, which tofore was called Berlue, and the Black Lake, because there be woods shadowous and black. And there the blessed Martha, by licence of Maximin her master and of her sister, dwelled and abode in the same place after, and daily occupied in prayers and in fastings, and thereafter assembled and gathered together a great convent of sisters, and builded a fair church at the honour of the blessed Mary virgin, where she led a hard and a sharp life. She eschewed flesh and all fat meat, eggs, cheese and wine; she ate but once a day. An hundred times a day and an hundred times a night she kneeled down and bowed her knees.

On a time, at Avignon, when she preached between the town and the river of Rhone, there was a young man on that other side of the river desiring to hear her words, and had no boat to pass over. He began to swim, but he was suddenly taken by the strength of the water, and anon suffocate and drowned, whose body unnethe was found the next day. And when it was taken up, it was presented at the feet of Martha for to be raised to life. She then, in manner of a cross, fell down to the ground and prayed in this manner: 'O Adonay, Lord Jesu Christ which raisedst sometime my well-beloved brother, behold, my most dear guest, to the faith of them that stand here, and raise this child!' And she took him by the hand, and forthwith he arose living and received the holy baptism.

Eusebius telleth in the book of the Historia Ecclesiastica that a woman named Emorissa, after that she was healed of our Lord, she made in her court an image like unto Jesu Christ, with cloth and hem, like as she saw him when she was healed, and worshipped him much devoutly. The herbs that grew under the image tofore that she had touched the hem were of no virtue, but, after that she had touched it, they were of so much virtue that many sick people by them were healed. That woman Emorissa, whom our Lord healed, Ambrose saith that it was Martha. S. Jerome saith, and it is had in Historia Tripartita, that Julianus Apostata took away that image that Emorissa made, and set his own there, which, with the stroke of thunder, was all tobroken. Our Lord came to her a year tofore her death, and showed to her that she should depart out of this world, and all that year she was sick and laboured in the fevers, and eight days tofore her death she heard the heavenly fellowship of angels bearing her sister's soul into heaven, and anon did do come all the convent of brethren and of sisters, and said to them: 'My friends and most sweet fellows, I pray you to rejoice and enjoy with me, for I see the fellowship of angels bear the soul of my sister Mary unto heaven. O most fair and sweet sister, thou livest now with thy master and my guest in the blessed seat in heaven.'

And then anon Martha said to them that were present, that her death was nigh, and bade to light the tapers about her, and that they should wake unto her death. And about midnight tofore the day of her death, they that should watch her were heavy of sleep and slept, and there came a great wind and extinguished and did out the lights. She then, seeing a great tourbe of wicked spirits, began to pray and said: 'My father Eli, my dear guest, these deceivers be gathered for to devour me, bringing written all the evil deeds that ever I did. O blessed Eli, be not withdrawn from me, but intend in to mine help'; and forthwith she saw her sister coming to her, holding a brand in her hand and lighted the tapers and lamps, and as each of them called other by their name, Christ came to them saying: 'Come, my well-beloved hostess, for where I am thou shalt be with me. Thou hast received me in thine harbour and I shall receive thee in mine heaven, and all them that call upon thee, I shall hear them for thy love.'

Then the hour of her death approaching, she commanded that she should be borne out of the house that she might behold and look up into heaven, and to lay her on the earth, and to hold the sign of the cross tofore her; and saying these words, she prayed: 'My sweet guest, I beseech thee to keep me, thy poor creature, and like as thou hast vouchsafed to be lodged with me, so I beseech thee to receive me into thine heavenly harbour.' And then she bade that the Passion after Luke should be read tofore her, and when this was said: 'Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum'; she gave up her spirit and died in our Lord.

The next day following, that was the Sunday, whiles they said lauds about her body, and did her obsequies, and about the hour of tierce, at Petrogoricke, our Lord appeared to the blessed Frontonius singing mass, which after the epistle slept in his chair, and said to him: 'My well-beloved Frontone, if thou wilt fulfil that thou behighest long sith to my hostess Martha, arise anon and follow me.' Whose commandment he obeyed, and suddenly both came to Tarascona, and singing the office about the body and the other answering, they with their own hands laid the body into the sepulchre. And troth it was that at Petrogoricke, when they had sung in the choir and the deacon should go read the gospel and receive the benediction, they awoke the bishop, demanding the benediction. Then the bishop awoke and said: 'Why have ye awakened me, my brethren? Our Lord Jesu Christ hath led me to his hostess Martha, and we have laid her in her sepulchre. Now send thither messengers for to fetch our ring of gold and our gloves, which whiles I made me ready to bury her, I delivered them to the sexton, and I have forgotten them there because ye awoke me so soon.'

Then were messengers sent forth, and as the bishop said, they found his ring and one glove which they brought again, and that other the sexton retained for a witness and memory. And the blessed Frontonius added thereto, saying that after her sepulture a brother of the same place, a learned man in the law, demanded of our Lord what was his name? To whom he answered not, but showed a book open in his hand in which was written this versicle: 'In everlasting memory shall be my rightful hostess, and she shall dread none evil in the last day'; and when he should turn the leaves of the book, in every leaf he found the same written. Where afterward many miracles were showed and done at her tomb. Then Clovis, king of France, was after this made a christian man, and baptized of S. Remigius, and suffering great pain in his reins, came to her tomb and there received very health. For which cause he enriched that place; and the space of three miles way about on both sides of the river of Rhone, as well towns as castles, he gave to the same place, and that place he made free. Marcilla, her servant, wrote her life; which afterward went into Sclavonia and there preached the gospel of Christ, and after ten years from the death of Martha she rested in our Lord.


Source: The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints. Compiled by Jacobus de Voragine, Archbishop of Genoa, 1275. First Edition Published 1470. Englished by William Caxton, First Edition 1483, Edited by F.S. Ellis, Temple Classics, 1900 (Reprinted 1922, 1931.) © Paul Halsall. This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book provided by the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.

GoM Chapter 20 (Continued) Friday, May 12, 2023
Today we are reminded of Imelda Lambertini (1322-1333), who lived a short life in Bologna up until receiving the Eucharist at age nine, after which she died while kneeling in prayer with a smile on her face. At the time, most children did not receive Communion until age fourteen, so God blessed her faithfulness by sparing her from puberty, menstruation, childbearing, menopause, and all the other curses of life. We now return to our ongoing lesson around the camp fire from The Gospel of Martha, where Jesus is seated with his disciples and teaching them many mysterious things. You can almost smell and taste the figs roasting over an open fire.

Jesus saith, "There was a rich man who had a great deal of money. He said: I shall invest my money so that I may sow, and reap, and plant, and fill my storehouses with produce, that I may lack nothing. These were the intentions of his heart, but that very night he died. And the angel of death took all that he had, including his two ears that should have listened."

Jesus saith, "A man was receiving guests. When he had prepared the dinner, he sent his servant to invite the guests. The servant went to the first and said to that one: My master inviteth thee. That one said: Some merchants owe me money; they are coming to me tonight. I must go and give them instruction. Prithee excusest thou me from dinner."

Jesus continuing saith, "The servant went to an other and said to that one: My master hath invited thee. That one said to the servant: I have bought an house, and I have been called away for a day. I shall have no time and respectfully decline."

Jesus saith, "The servant went to an other and said to that one: My master inviteth thee. That one said to the servant: My friend is to be married, and I am to arrange the banquet. I shall not be able to come. I ask to be excused from dinner."

Jesus saith, "The servant went to an other and said to that one: My master hath invited thee. That one said to the servant: I have bought an estate, and I am going to collect the rent. I shall not be able to come. Prithee excusest thou me."

Jesus saith, "The servant returned and said to his master: Those whom you invited to dinner have declined and asked to be excused. The master said unto his servant: Go out on the streets and bring back whomever thou findest to have dinner."

Jesus concluding saith, "But the servant questioned his master, saying: But Lord, thine original guests, all being merchants and men of business, had they prior engagements, and thine invitation was last moment; yea, even at the eleventh hour. And now givest thou command unto your servant to gather up those within the streets who are idle, and loitering, and dawdling, and lollygagging, and dillydallying? To which the master replied, and said: Like it or not, dinner is served."

Jesus saith, "A goodly man owned a vineyard and rented to some tenants, that they work it, and he collect of its crop from them. He sent his slave for to collect from the tenants the vineyard’s crop. They seized upon him, and beat him, and about killed him, and the slave returned and told his master. His master said: Perhaps they recognised him not. He sent an other slave, and the tenants beat that one as well. Then the master sent his son, and said: Perhaps they will shew some respect unto my son. Because the tenants knew that he was the heir to the vineyard, they seized upon him, and killed him."

Jesus continuing saith, "When informed of this, that the tenants of his own vineyard had killed his very son, the owner said: Well, that went not entirely according to plan; howbeit an outcome anticipated of this lot. So he raised his son from the dead, and granted him a seat of honour in his house, and promised him a return visit unto the tenants: this time for to collect of their very souls, and with interest."

Jesus saith, "Shew me the stone that the builders rejected: that is the corner stone. Ye say setting stone, I say corner stone. Ye say keystone, I say capstone."

LWoS 156, 159, 160, 162, 166, 173, 176, 177, 181 Thursday, May 11, 2023
Today we remember Anthimus of Rome (d. 303), Mamertus of Vienne in Gaul (d. 475), Gangulphus of Burgundy (d. 760), and Majolus of Cluny (d. 994). Let us also remember The Lost Wisdom of Solomon, which is still available in paperback and Kindle.

156 Not all dogs go to heaven. Only 144,000 will go to heaven, 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel, and then only to the lowest realm. All cats go to the bottomless pit of eternal licking and despair (Hebrew, Abaddon), from whence they came. The only animals that live forever are jellyfish, due in large part to a diet that consists of the souls of other sea creatures. But not all fauna have souls. This includes goldfish and mosquitos. These, however, are not the most heedlessly thick-headed creatures in the world. This distinction is bequeathed upon sheep, which are very similar in apprehension and perception to the average person.

159 Colic is a demon which manifests itself in later years as eczema. Peppermint liqueur should treat the former, while exile to a leper colony is remedy for the latter.

160 Glean from the fields, my beloved. Glean from the barley field morning ‘til night, then sleep upon the threshing floor. Arise with the sun and continue gleaning behind the harvesters. Fill your bag, my love, and let it bow your back. Quiver under a heavy load, oh virtuous woman, and falter not to cull the leftovers of my harvest, my bountiful harvest. Then make me a cake, a cake of barley. Maybe add some raisins. If not raisins, then dried figs. But no prunes. Blessed among women are you, my beloved. Your calloused feet are a sign of longevity, your gnarled hands a sign of maturity. Your sagging breasts are badges of longsuffering. Your haggard appearance may be hideous to behold, yet I find you less than hideous. Yes, just a little less than hideous are you in my eyes. You were once young and vibrant. Now you drag your breasts in the dirt. These cakes had better be good.

162 This I have observed, that some people's skulls are oddly, even grossly, misshapen. Take Nakinor son of Arphaxad son of Uz the Semite. His is the head of a bald orangutan. Or take Og son of Shem the Trogladite. His brow protrudes to the point where many have mistaken him for a gorilla. It would seem logical, if one did not know of these peculiar individuals, who are relatively few in number, to dig up their skeletal remains a millennia from now and think them descended from apes. It is to laugh.

166 A rainbow in the sky is a sign that God will never again destroy the earth and its wicked inhabitants with a great flood.* A double rainbow is an added assurance that he will never again destroy the earth and its wicked inhabitants with a great flood. A triple rainbow is a dire warning that, although God will never again destroy the earth and its wicked inhabitants with a great flood, his patience is being severely tested and there are other means with which to destroy the earth and its wicked inhabitants.

173 With much wisdom comes much sorrow. The more knowledge, the more grief. Likewise, with much age comes much bruising. The slightest bump, a bruise no less.

176 Do not let the sun set on an indignant heart. If you hold a grudge against your neighbor, then go to him in the company of his family and keep him up all night until the matter is settled and rectified. Once resolved, tuck in his children and kiss them on the forehead. If a bedtime story is requested, then oblige them you must.

177 All things toiled for under the sun must be left to the one who comes after, who does not toil but relies instead on his inheritance. Therefore, it is best to dedicate your later years to the hording of meaningless objects.

181 Better is obedience to the Lord than subdued by desire.
Better is discipline from the Lord than oppressed by illicit cravings.
Better to be rebuked by the Lord than to be subjected to the torment of the harsh taskmaster of obsession.
Better a servant of the Lord than a slave to addiction.
Better the Lord’s whipping boy than Satan’s bitch.

All Scripture is God-Breathed Wednesday, May 10, 2023
There has been an ongoing debate* regarding 2 Timothy 3:16, where Paul says that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. The caveat is that Paul was referring to the books of the Old Testament, which any non-believer will be quick to point out were written by men. Paul's letters were not inducted into the Scripture of the New Testament until three centuries later. In some of his epistles, he even clarifies that what he is saying is his own opinion (1 Corinthians 7:12-40, 2 Corinthians 11:16-31) and also by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:40). Many argue -- and rightly so -- that his rules were on good authority as an apostle. However, would Paul have agreed that his letters of instruction and encouragement be tantamount to Scripture? I dare say no. Yet I accept it as gospel truth. In 1 Corinthians 11:13, Paul begins his argument about the length of a man and woman's hair by saying, "Judge for yourself," but then ends it by saying, "If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice -- nor do the churches of God" (1 Corinthians 11:16). As I post today's blog, I have long hair. Does this mean I should live in disgrace? I suppose no more than Samson or Samuel, although I have not taken a Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:5). Many today refuse to allow a woman to preach at the pulpit (1 Corinthians 14:34-35) or to even teach at all to men (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Should this still be the case? Even Paul claims that in Christ there is no male or female (Galatians 3:26-28). I'd argue that it has nothing to do with civility or an ancient, sexist culture, but everything to do with righteousness. So, then, is righteousness chauvinistic? Not unless you consider God to be a misogynist. For more insight into Paul's theology of the time, read this.

(*An ongoing debate between me and my brother-in-law, that is, and sometimes over Scotch.)

If you remember incorrectly, Paul cut off the ear of a Pharisee. After Jesus healed it, he blinded Paul, who was forced to use a sword in order to poke his way around all of Asia Minor.

Definitive Answers to Tough Questions Sunday, May 7, 2023
At I have tried over the years to answer questions -- mainly my own. Most are definitive but some aren't so black and white, like this one: Why does God allow so many people to go to hell if he loves everyone and desires that none should perish? (Ezekiel 33:11, 2 Peter 3:9, 1 Timothy 2:4)

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:3-9, NIV)

My attitude, like many who are close to my way of reasoning, is that it is a moot point and utterly inarguable. God's ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), his timing is not ours (Psalm 90:3-6, 2 Peter 3:8), and He will do as He pleases (Isaiah 46:10). The Bible is replete with Scripture revealing that God is wrathful but seeks to save us from his wrath and I for one would rather be on God's side than counted among those who reject Him and I'd also rather not question His ways (Proverbs 3:5-6). However... There is no good answer to this particular question; at least no reasonable answer that I am aware of. Christians believe that God will save those who believe in Jesus Christ because that is what the New Testament plainly says (John 3:16-17, John 5:24, Acts 4:12, Romans 8:1-39, 10:9-10, 1 John 5:11-13, Etcetera). So, then, we wait patiently for our deliverance (Romans 8:18-25). But to those who are perishing on the highway to hell, our answers of "man's free will" and "God's patience and longsuffering" are not acceptable; nor are they to us (Revelation 6:9-11).

One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?" But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'"[Isaiah 29:16, 45:9] Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath -- prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory -- even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Romans 9:19-24, NIV)

Again, why does God allow so many people to go to hell if he loves everyone and desires that none should perish? If it is inevitable that Jesus shall return to judge the living and the dead, then why wait a moment longer and at least prevent more of the people He created from "choosing" to go to hell, whether they willingly know what they are doing, don't know any better, or just don't care? Undoubtedly, God wants plenty of people to come to Him and the more the merrier, so He can afford to wait a little longer. Yet for approximately every one soul who is saved, there are innumerable souls which are damned. This is troubling to a rational mind and has been a strong reason for people's disbelief altogether. It is also troublesome to a compassionate mind and a reason why some have drifted from their faith. Apart from being a religious and philosophical conundrum -- and predestination aside -- it's not something that might cause anxiety or a loss of sleep for those who do not consider themselves enemies of God. If that's what the lost are -- enemies of God -- then the question is, in fact, irrelevant. Or is it still? When Jesus said that the shepherd will leave the ninety-nine to go after the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14, Luke 15:3-7), who exactly was he referring to? And who is the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), if not the unbeliever?

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26, NIV)

Maybe the answer is justice. Rather than a merciful annihilation, God sends sinners to hell for eternal punishment, just like liberal states don't employ the death penalty but they will incarcerate a convicted criminal for life, even releasing lesser offenders to make room for violent offenders. This, of course, is a stupid line of reasoning because it's comparing apples to turds. Or perhaps "hell" is just a misinterpretation of the New Testament and every translation got Matthew 25:41 wrong by rendering the destination of those cursed by Jesus as "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels," including the New World Translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses, who actually deny the existence of hell and instead promote the merciful annihilation theory. Or maybe they're right because Revelation 20:14 prophesies that death and hell will be thrown into the lake of fire, which is considered the second death. So maybe hell is not eternal. Still, why does God allow so many people to go to hell if he loves everyone and desires that none should perish? I shall keep my eyes peeled for a suitable answer while avoiding online snares like Quora and Reddit. To be continued. In the meantime, the best answer I can give is that there is a certain number of people to be saved and, until this goal is attained, the greater number of those who don't fear God or accept his personal sacrifice shall be damned to hell as a serious reality check to all involved.

The Great Byble of 1539 Saturday, May 6, 2023
odaye ys Seint George's Daye and the coronacioun of Kynge Charles III of Englaland, which remindes me -- on thys daye in 1541, Kynge Henry VIII ordred a copye of the fyrst athorised edicion of the Byble in the Englyshe tonge, the Great Byble of 1539, be putte in everich chirche. In such honour am I writing thys blogge poste in the Englyshe facioun of the tyme and willen refer all scrypture to the Great Byble. If you remembre, the Great Byble waes adapten from the Englyshe Newe Testament by William Tyndale in 1526 (who waes putte to death as a heretik for its making) along with the Latin Vulgate by Seint Jerome and sundry German tonges. Myles Coverdale and Richard Grafton travelled to Paris in ordre to print the fyrst copyes at perilleus rysk of being seised and tryed for heresie by the Inquisition. Seven subsequent edicions were published by 1541 for a hole of 9,000 copyes. To beholden all erly Englyshe Bybles, visit the Textus Receptus. Plese pardonen my Erly Moderne Englyshe, I haven an heard tyme ynough with Moderne Englyshe.

For God so loue the worlde, that, he gaue is only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in him, shulde not perisshe, but haue euerlastyng lyfe.
For God sent not his sonne into the worlde, to condempne the worlde but that the world through him myght be saued.
He that beleueth on him, is not condemned. But he that beleueth not, is condemned all ready, because he hath not beleued in the name of the onely begotten sonne of God,
And thys is the condemnacion: that lyght is come into the world, and men loued darcknes more then light, because their dedes were euyll.
John 3:16-19, Great Byble

Thursday, May 4, 2023
Today, everyone who thinks themselves witty is saying, "May the fourth be with you," as a nod to the Star Wars franchise and it's catch phrase, "May the force be with you." Tomorrow, they will then say, "Today is revenge of the fifth," in honor of Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith, or even refer to Saturday as Revenge of the Sixth. Well, I enjoy Star Wars as much as the next nerd, with the exception of Jar Jar Binks, of course, but I have to put my battery-powered saber down when it comes to endorsing the franchise, not just because I lack the qualifications as a true geek but because I am a realist. Star Wars is fiction and anti-biblical simply because it thwarts the beginning of God's creation by claiming that a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, other activities were already set in motion before YHWH created us. If you really want to get down to the religious nitty-gritty, read this treatise. I don't take it that seriously, though. I have been enjoying The Mandalorian series and appreciate what Jon Favreau and his team have been doing with it -- except, of course, for the constant mantra of, "This is the way." (John 14:6, Acts 9:2, 19:9, 19:23, 24:14, 24:22, Hebrews 10:20, 2 Peter 2:2)

Conrad of Montferrat Friday, April 28, 2023
On this day in 1192, Conrad of Montferrat, at the time known as Conrad I King of Jerusalem, was assassinated by members of the Order of Assassins, a Muslim group popular for murdering leaders opposed to the Shia state of Nizari Isma'ili, whether Christian or Muslim. This was during the Third Crusade, which was fought in part between the Knights Templar and Ayyubid sultan Saladin, which is the crux of the video game Assassin's Creed. It was never determined who hired the assassins, who themselves employed parkour when avoiding Conrad's bodyguards, but there were many opposed to Conrad and his ascent to the throne of Jerusalem, including Richard the Lionheart, King of England. Conrad was instrumental in recapturing the city of Acre in Israel from Saladin, however, Saladin's forces ultimately maintained control of Jerusalem as a result of the Treaty of Jaffa. The European kings who claimed the throne of Jerusalem would have to do so from Acre.

Ascension Thursday Thursday, April 27, 2023
Today is Ascension Thursday, when Jesus was taken up into heaven and seated at the right hand of God (Luke 24:51, Acts 1:1-12). There are some who argue that this didn't happen on a Thursday, yet here we are. There are others who doubt that he even ascended, whose names are all Thomas. It could be argued that Origen argued that Jesus didn't ascend bodily, but spiritually -- however, you'd have to carry on the argument after reading his eight-book Contra Celsum for yourself.

Major Rogation Tuesday, April 25, 2023
This week is the celebration of Ascension Thursday and, like most days leading up to a traditional celebration in Western Christianity (Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans, Episcopalians), there are some preliminary measures which include prayers, fasting, abstinence and supplications -- in this case they are called Rogation Days (fifth century, Latin rogare, "to ask"), during which efforts are directed toward appeasing God's anger at man's transgressions, asking protection in calamities, and to obtain a good and bountiful harvest, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia. Arguably, this may have been the permutation of a pagan holiday -- Robigalia: the Roman celebration in honor of the diety of agricultural disease, Robigus. The 25th is Major Rogation, set apart fom the juxtapositional days of Minor Rogation by a procession of clergy and parishoners around the boundary of the parish, which is called beating the bounds. At certain points along the route, everyone stops at an altar and sings Psalms or chants antiphons, the words of which are also Psalms. This is also an occasion for reciting the Litany of the Saints:

Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
The God of the Bible, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
Holy Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of Virgins, pray for us.
Madonna of the Infant Christ, not the pop singer, pray for us.
St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, pray for us.
All you Holy Angels and Archangels pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
All you Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, pray for us.
St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John, St. Thomas, St. James, St. Philip, St. Bartholomew, St. Matthew, St. Simon, St. Jude, St. Matthias, St. Barnabas, St. Luke, St. Mark, pray for us.
All you Holy Apostles and Evangelists, pray for us.
All you Holy Disciples of the Lord, pray for us.
All you Holy Innocents, pray for us.
St. Stephen, St. Lawrence, St. Vincent, St. Fabian and Sebastian, St. John and Paul, St. Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
All you Holy Martyrs, pray for us.
St. Sylvester, St. Gregory, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Martin, St. Nicholas, pray for us.
All you Holy Bishops and Confessors, pray for us.
All you Holy Doctors, pray for us.
St. Anthony, St. Benedict, St. Bernard, St. Dominic, St. Francis, pray for us.
All you Holy Priests and Levites, pray for us.
All you Holy Monks and Hermits, pray for us.
St. Mary Magdalene, St. Agatha, St. Lucy, St. Agnes, St. Cecilia, St. Anastasia, St. Catherine, St. Clare, pray for us.
All you Holy Virgins and Widows, pray for us.
All you Holy Saints of God, pray for us.
All you who are better than us, pray for us.
Lord, be merciful. Lord, save your people.
From all evil. Lord, save your people.
From all sin. Lord, save your people.
From your wrath. Lord, save your people.
From a sudden and unprovided death. Lord, save your people.
From ourselves. Lord, save your people.
From the snares of the devil. Lord, save your people.
From anger, hatred and all ill-will. Lord, save your people.
From the spirit of uncleanness. Lord, save your people.
From the tortures and painful executions of the Inquisition. Lord, save your people.
From lightning and tempest. Lord, save your people.
From the sword of the Muslim. Lord, save your people.
From the scourge of earthquake. Lord, save your people.
From plague, famine and war. Lord, save your people.
From everlasting death. Lord, save your people.
From falling asleep right here and now. Lord, save your people.
By the mystery of your Holy Incarnation, Lord, save your people.
By Your Coming, Lord, save your people.
By Your Birth, Lord, save your people.
By Your Baptism and Holy Fasting, Lord, save your people.
By Your Cross and Passion, Lord, save your people.
By Your Death and Burial, Lord, save your people.
By Your Holy Resurrection, Lord, save your people.
By Your wonderful Ascension, Lord, save your people.
By the coming of the Holy Spirit, Lord, save your people.
By your flying saucers, Lord, save your people.
On the Day of Judgment, Lord, save your people.
Be merciful to us sinners. Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will spare us. Lord, hear our prayer.
That you will pardon us. Lord, hear our prayer.
That it may please you to bring us to true penance. Lord, hear our prayer.
That we may no longer be subjected to the sarcasm and cynicism of the atheist. Lord, hear our prayer.
Guide and protect your holy Church. Lord, hear our prayer.
Preserve in holy religion the Pope/Archbishop of Canterbury/President of the Lutheran World Federation/Presiding Bishop and Primate, and all those in holy Orders. Lord, hear our prayer.
Humble the enemies of Your holy Church. Lord, hear our prayer.
Give peace and unity to the whole Christian people, including televangelists and prosperity preachers. Lord, hear our prayer.
Bring back to the unity of the Church all those who are straying, gather the heretics we have excommunicated, and bring all unbelievers to the light of the Gospel. Lord, hear our prayer.
Strengthen and preserve us in your holy service. Lord, hear our prayer.
Raise our minds to desire the things of heaven. Lord, hear our prayer.
Reward all our benefactors with eternal blessings. Lord, hear our prayer.
Deliver our souls from eternal damnation, and the souls of our brethren, relatives, and benefactors. Lord, hear our prayer.
Give and preserve the fruits of the earth - even alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, psilocybin, opium, and lysergic acid diethylamide. Lord, hear our prayer.
Grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed. Lord, hear our prayer.
That it may please You to hear and heed us, Jesus, Son of the Living God. Lord, hear our prayer.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord!
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, forgive our monotonous repetition.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer. Lord Jesus, hear our prayer.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Whew! Amen.

Of Plimoth Plantation Saturday, April 22, 2023

Today is International Mother Earth Day and whether you believe that planting trees is beneficial or not is of no concern to this blog. Let us return instead to greener times. Let us go back to the beginning of our glorious country when the Pilgrims first started ravaging the lush and fertile lands of America. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation:

These passengers, when they saw their low and poore condition a shore, were much danted and dismayed, and according to their diverse humores were diversly affected; some wished them selves in England againe; others fell a weeping, fancying their own miserie in what yey saw now in others; other some pitying the distress they saw their freinds had been long in, and still were under; in a word, all were full of sadnes. Only some of their old freinds rejoysed to see them, and that it was no worse with them, for they could not expecte it should be better, and now hoped they should injoye better days togeather. And truly it was no marvell they should be thus affected, for they were in a very low condition, many were ragged in aparell, and some litle beter then halfe naked; though some that were well stord before, were well enough in this regard. But for food they were all alike, save some that had got a few pease of ye ship that was last hear. The best dish they could presente their freinds with was a lobster, or a peece of fish, without bread or any thing els but a cupp of fair spring water. And ye long continuance of this diate, and their labours abroad, had something abated ye freshnes of their former complexion. But God gave them health and strength in a good measure; and shewed them by experience ye truth of that word, Deut. 8. 3. That man liveth not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of ye mouth of ye Lord doth a man live.

When I think how sadly ye scripture speaks of the famine in Jaakobs time, when he said to his sonns, Goe buy us food, that we may live and not dye. Gen. 42. 2. and 43. 1, that the famine was great, or heavie in the land; and yet they had such great herds, and store of catle of sundrie kinds, which, besids flesh, must needs produse other food, as milke, butter and cheese, etc., and yet it was counted a sore affliction; theirs hear must needs be very great, therfore, who not only wanted the staffe of bread, but all these things, and had no Egipte to goe too. But God fedd them out of ye sea for ye most parte, so wonderfull is his providence over his in all ages; for his mercie endureth for ever.

On ye other hand the old planters were affraid that their corne, when it was ripe, should be imparted to ye new-comers, whose provissions wch they brought with them they feared would fall short before ye year wente aboute (as indeed it did). They came to ye Govr and besought him that as it was before agreed that they should set corne for their perticuler, and accordingly they had taken extraordinary pains ther aboute, that they might freely injoye the same, and they would not have a bitte of ye victails now come, but waite till harvest for their owne, and let ye new-comers injoye what they had brought; they would have none of it, excepte they could purchase any of it of them by bargaine or exchainge. Their requeste was granted them, for it gave both sides good contente; for ye new-comers were as much afraid that ye hungrie planters would have eat up ye provissions brought, and they should have fallen into ye like condition.

This ship was in a shorte time laden with clapbord, by ye help of many hands. Also they sente in her all ye beaver and other furrs they had, and Mr. Winslow was sent over with her, to informe of all things, and procure such things as were thought needfull for their presente condition. By this time harvest was come, and in stead of famine, now God gave them plentie, and ye face of things was changed, to ye rejoysing of ye harts of many, for which they blessed God. And ye effect of their particuler planting was well seene, for all had, one way and other, pretty well to bring ye year aboute, and some of ye abler sorte and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any generall wante or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.

Those that come on their perticuler looked for greater matters then they found or could attaine unto, aboute building great houses, and such pleasant situations for them, as them selves had fancied; as if they would be great men and rich, all of a sudaine; but they proved castls in ye aire. These were ye conditions agreed on betweene ye colony and them. First, that ye Govr, in ye name and with ye consente of ye company, doth in all love and frendship receive and imbrace them; and is to allote them competente places for habitations within ye towne. And promiseth to shew them all such other curtesies as shall be reasonable for them to desire, or us to performe. 2. That they, on their parts, be subjecte to all such laws and orders as are already made, or hear after shall be, for ye publick good. 3. That they be freed and exempte from ye generall imployments of the said company, (which their presente condition of comunitie requireth,) excepte commune defence, and such other imployments as tend to ye perpetuall good of ye collony. 4ly. Towards ye maintenance of Govrt, and publick officers of ye said collony, every male above ye age of 16 years shall pay a bushell of Indean wheat, or ye worth of it, into ye commone store. 5ly. That (according to ye agreemente ye marchants made with ym before they came) they are to be wholy debared from all trade with the Indeans for all sorts of furrs, and such like commodities, till ye time of ye comunallitie be ended.

To be continued. Now, lest you find this episode a tad boring, bear in mind that these settlers thought they were going to become rich from the bounty of their hard work in converting the beautiful forest landscape into farmland. However, for all their efforts to devastate this newly discovered natural habitat, they were rewarded with enough just to survive, although they succeeded in laying the foundation for future generations of commercial farmers and industrialists to prosper from despoiling the environment and thus quickening the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember, the more we try to save this planet, the longer we delay the Apocalypse. For the document in its entirety, visit Project Gutenberg.

Theotimos Lorem Ipsum Thursday, April 20, 2023
Today we remember Theotimos, the late fourth-century bishop of the Scythian diocese of Tomi on the Black Sea in what is now Romania. What is known of Theotimos is that he was a philosopher and writer with long hair and a miracle worker among the Huns. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any of his remaining texts online, most of which apparently didn't survive. Normally, I'd consider this a bust and forego posting anything. However, today we still remember Theotimos, the late fourth-century bishop of the Scythian diocese of Tomi on the Black Sea in what is now Romania. What is known of Theotimos is that he was a philosopher and writer with long hair and a miracle worker among the Huns. Here is some random text generated by Aldus PageMaker as a placeholder for a sample of the writing of Theotimos:

"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Enim ut sem viverra aliquet eget sit amet. Nec tincidunt praesent semper feugiat nibh. Platea dictumst vestibulum rhoncus est pellentesque. In dictum non consectetur a. Sit amet justo donec enim diam vulputate ut pharetra sit. Malesuada bibendum arcu vitae elementum curabitur. Id interdum velit laoreet id. Penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes nascetur ridiculus mus mauris. Convallis tellus id interdum velit laoreet id donec ultrices tincidunt. Massa tempor nec feugiat nisl pretium fusce id velit."

Battle on the Ice Tuesday, April 18, 2023
On this day in 1242 (according to the Russian Julian calendar), Eastern Orthodox forces under the guidance and protection of Christ defeated Roman Catholic forces under the guidance and protection of Christ on Lake Peipus between Estonia and Russia, near the city of Pskov. German and Estonian forces led by the Teutonic Knights of the Livonian Order engaged Russian forces of the Novgorod Republic led by Prince Alexander Nevsky on the frozen lake in a skirmish that was part of the Baltic Crusades. The civilized Catholics were outnumbered nearly sixty to one by the Orthodox barbarians and, although they fought valiantly, were defeated. However, it was ultimately a victory for Christ. Although the two Churches separated in 1054 and have never quite joined in communion, nor have they joined in communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches, all three factions adhere to similar basic Christian beliefs and traditions. To a pagan outsider, one may seem indistinguishable from the other. However, Jesus can undoubtedly appreciate the difference. (Pictured: Outnumbered Teutonic Knights battle fiercely against the determined forces of Novgorod on Lake Peipus. Final score: Russians 4 - Germans 1.)

Dark Confessions Sunday, April 16, 2023
Today we celebrate those of the Christian faith who had unusual names, including Drogo of Sebourg, Fructuosus of Braga, Turibius of Astorga, and Degonwadonti of Canajoharie. Of course, they may not have been unusual for the time and today they may have been named Doug, Frank, Todd, and Molly. Actually, the last one was the English name for a Mohawk female of the Iroquois League in eighteenth-century Upstate New York, known as Molly Brandt (1736-1796). A British Loyalist during the American Revolutionary War, Brandt was instrumental to the British as an interpreter and negotiator for what she believed was the best course of action for her indigenous peoples. After the war, she relocated with her remaining family to Ontario and is now commemorated by the Anglican Church of Canada. Today I also feel compelled to confess that I have been binge-watching the first few seasons of Little House on the Prairie and, although I consider it wholesome, family entertainment the way God intended, it has revealed in me a heart made of stone. For example, while watching episode nine of season three with guest appearances by Geoffrey Lewis, Roy Jenson, and Michael LeClair, I felt as though I wanted to not only tar and feather the Galender brothers and run them out of town on a rail, but I wanted to punish the actors who portrayed them. I also wanted to punch Reverend Alden in the face. Strong feelings of malice against Harriet Oleson and an impure attraction to Nellie Oleson I had as an adolescent were stirred up. I imagined myself as the marshal of Walnut Grove in Hero Township who would lock up minor offenders in a public stockade block and hang felons in the town square. I would have horse whipped Seth Johnson from episode 15 of season three and Willie Aames would have never grown up to become Bible Man. This Emmy Award-winning series may have brought out the best in humanity but it brought out the worst in me. I now have to face the fact that I am a horrible human being and a fake, hypocritical Christian. (Pictured: Real Ingalls of Walnut Grove)

Shameless Self-Promotion Saturday, April 15, 2023
Today we remember Damien De Veuster (1840-1889), who went on a little vacation to Hawaii where he became the patron saint of lepers. We also remember Hunna of Alsace, who died in A.D. 679 after earning the nickname "Holy Washerwoman" for tending to the domestic needs of the poor and needy in her community. Let us also not forget Abbo II of Metz, who died in A.D. 707, leaving behind little about his legacy, which makes him the patron saint of chopped liver. Then there's Padarn of Wales -- not to be confused with Paternus of Avranches, who may or may not have been one and the same -- who supposedly converted King Arthur to Christianity in the sixth century. Also, Abraham Lincoln died on this day in 1865, the RMS Titanic sank on this day in 1912, Insulin was made available to people with diabetes in 1923, the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was liberated in 1945, Jackie Robinson debuted for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, and McDonald's restaurant was founded in 1955. Oh, and if you are a U.S. citizen, don't forget to file your taxes, unless you are an Orthodox Jew or a Seventh Day Adventist and don't do any work on Shabbat. Now, please enjoy this short story from my upcoming book, Contes de Romance Peu Orthodoxe, (ISBN: 9798359864084):

Brother MacDonagle awoke at 4:00AM, said his prayers, crossed himself, joined his fellow monastic brethren for Vespers, hymns and canticles, celebrated Mass, ate a bowl of porridge in the silent refectory, then headed into town to visit the godless wretches of society.

On his way, he passed a group of nuns from the Abbey of Saint Mary the Incessantly Divine. He habitually diverted his eyes as they walked by in the opposite direction but one of them at the back, Sister Mary Francis Marguerite O'Flanigan, said, "Peace be with you."

Without a second thought, he turned and replied, "And also with you." Their green eyes met and her pale cheeks blushed. He quickly looked away and hurried on into town to attend to the salvation of the worst of God's lost children.

That night after evening Vespers, hymns, and canticles, he retired to his humble living quarters consisting of a straw bed and a small table upon which rested a Gideon's Bible. After saying his prayers, he disrobed and flagellated his back with a cattail whip composed of knotted cords as he confessed his transgressions against the Lord and his sister in Christ, Mary Francis Marguerite O'Flanigan.

Brother MacDonagle awoke to the monastery's bell ringing for midnight Angelus. He had mortified himself until fainting upon the cold, stone floor. After meditating upon the birth and death of Jesus on our behalf, he crossed himself and lay back down on the straw bed.

At 4:00AM, he awoke, said his prayers, crossed himself, joined his fellow monastic brethren for Vespers, hymns and canticles, celebrated Mass, fasted from a bowl of porridge in the silent refectory, then headed into town to deliver bread to the poor and needy.

While there, he saw in the market a display of fresh, delicious apples. Hungered, he approached and reached out his hand to take hold of one of the tempting fruits at the same moment another prospective customer reached to grab it. As their hands touched, he looked up once again into the green eyes of Sister Mary Francis Marguerite O'Flanigan.

Quickly, he turned, pulled up his robe to his knees, and ran back to the monastery, where he flagellated himself once again inside his small, humble living quarters. He then went and confessed his transgression to the Abbot and they both agreed that the logical next step was emasculation of his loins.

Exhausted from his visit to the Holy Gelding Chamber, Brother McDonagle slept through the midnight call for meditation but awoke at 4:00AM. After saying his prayers, crossing himself, joining his fellow monastic brethren for Vespers, hymns and canticles, celebrating Mass, and fasting from a bowl of porridge in the silent refectory, he then went to the monastic brewery to assist with grinding grain.

At noon, while his monastic brethren gathered in the refectory for a bowl of lentil soup over the reading of Scripture, Brother MacDonagle slipped out the back and into a field, where he dropped to his knees and prayed. As he was praying earnestly with his hands clasped tightly together, someone approached him. When he opened his eyes to see who it was, they were blocking the sun.

Brother MacDonagle squinted his eyes and held his hand over his brow to shield from the light. The individual before him appeared to have a halo around their head. At first, he thought he was having a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary and cried out, "I am unworthy!" The apparition replied, "Peace be with you." It was the voice of Sister Mary Francis Marguerite O'Flanigan. As she came into view, he could see plainly that it was, in fact, she.

He stood and ran from her, shouting, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" He ran as fast as he could for as long as he could until he fell upon the ground, exhausted. Panting and in extreme pain from the recent castration, he fainted. At midnight, he awoke to the distant bells of the monastery. Arising, he meditated upon the birth and death of Jesus on our behalf, crossed himself, then continued on his personal exodus.

The weary monk walked for days into the wooded hills and up into the cavernous mountains, away from any other living soul. Brother MacDonagle then lived the rest of his life as a solitary hermit in dedication to Jesus Christ; just as many ascetic eremites before and since have done.

Himmelserscheinung über Nürnberg Friday, April 14, 2023
In the morning of April 14, 1561, at daybreak, between 4 and 5 a.m., a dreadful apparition occurred on the sun, and then this was seen in Nuremberg in the city, before the gates and in the country – by many men and women. At first there appeared in the middle of the sun two blood-red semi-circular arcs, just like the moon in its last quarter. And in the sun, above and below and on both sides, the color was blood, there stood a round ball of partly dull, partly black ferrous color. Likewise there stood on both sides and as a torus about the sun such blood-red ones and other balls in large number, about three in a line and four in a square, also some alone. In between these globes there were visible a few blood-red crosses, between which there were blood-red strips, becoming thicker to the rear and in the front malleable like the rods of reed-grass, which were intermingled, among them two big rods, one on the right, the other to the left, and within the small and big rods there were three, also four and more globes. These all started to fight among themselves, so that the globes, which were first in the sun, flew out to the ones standing on both sides, thereafter, the globes standing outside the sun, in the small and large rods, flew into the sun. Besides the globes flew back and forth among themselves and fought vehemently with each other for over an hour. And when the conflict in and again out of the sun was most intense, they became fatigued to such an extent that they all, as said above, fell from the sun down upon the earth 'as if they all burned' and they then wasted away on the earth with immense smoke. After all this there was something like a black spear, very long and thick, sighted; the shaft pointed to the east, the point pointed west. Whatever such signs mean, God alone knows. Although we have seen, shortly one after another, many kinds of signs on the heaven, which are sent to us by the almighty God, to bring us to repentance, we still are, unfortunately, so ungrateful that we despise such high signs and miracles of God. Or we speak of them with ridicule and discard them to the wind, in order that God may send us a frightening punishment on account of our ungratefulness. After all, the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that He may avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may temporarily here and perpetually there, live as his children. For it, may God grant us his help, Amen. By Hanns Glaser, letter-painter of Nurnberg.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Sunday, April 10, 2023
What's worse than having your birthday on Christmas? Having your feast day on Easter. Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. However, we should be doing this every day. In that light, let us also join with the Lutherans and Anglicans in commemorating Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a German pastor and theologian who was executed by the Nazis at the close of WWII for his dissidence. True, he didn't die for the sins of mankind, but he did give his life to that end. Nor did he write the Gospels, but he did compose some pretty good reads in his lifetime. Here are some inspiritational quotes from Bonhoeffer for those who are into inspiritational quotes:

Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.

Jesus does not mean that a smile on the face is to be a sort of stereotyped expression of Christianity; he is referring rather to the proper hiddenness of Christian behaviour, to that humility which is wholly unselfconscious, even as the eye can see other people but can never see itself. Such hiddenness will one day be made manifest, but that will be God's doing, not ours.

It is not an approved standard of righteous living that separates a follower of Christ from the unbeliever, but it is Christ who stands between them.

Our easy trafficking with the word of cheap grace simply bores the world to disgust, so that in the end it turns against those who try to force on it what it does not want. Thus a strict limit is placed upon the activities of the disciples, just as in Matt 10 they are told to shake the dust off their feet where the word of peace is refused a healing. Their restless energy which refuses to recognize any limit to their activity, the zeal which refuses to take note of resistance, springs from a confusion of the gospel with a victorious ideology. An ideology requires fanatics, who neither know nor notice opposition, and it is certainly a potent force. But the Word of God in its weakness takes the risk of meeting the scorn of men and being rejected.

May God in His mercy lead us through these times; but above all, may He lead us to Himself.

To try and force the Word on the world by hook or by crook is to make the living Word of God into a mere idea, and the world would be perfectly justified in refusing to listen to an idea for which it had no use.

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

What are the disciples to do when they encounter opposition and cannot penetrate the hearts of men? They must admit that in no circumstances do they possess any rights or powers over others, and that they have no direct access over them. The only way to reach others is through him in whose hands they are themselves like all other men... The disciples are taught to pray, and so they learn that the only way to reach others is by praying to God. Judgment and forgiveness are always in the hands of God. He closes and he opens. But the disciples must ask, they must seek and knock, and then God will hear them. They have to learn that their anxiety and concern for others must drive them to intercession. The promise Christ gives to their prayers is the doughtiest weapon in their armory.

Your life as a Christian should make non believers question their disbelief in God.

The difference between the disciples' seeking and the Gentiles' quest for God is that the disciples know what they are looking for. We can only seek God when we know him already. How can you look for something or find it if you do not know what you are looking for? The disciples seek a God whom they have found in the promise they have received from Jesus.

Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate... Cheap grace is the idea that "grace" did it all for me so I do not need to change my lifestyle. The believer who accepts the idea of cheap grace thinks he can continue to live like the rest of the world. Instead of following Christ in a radical way, the Christian lost in cheap grace thinks he can simply enjoy the consolations of his grace.

Nothing that we despise in other men is inherently absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in light of what they suffer.

The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.

The community of the saints is not an 'ideal' community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God's forgiveness.

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.

God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility, namely, real human beings, the real world, this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.

The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.

He who fears the face of God does not fear the face of man. He who fears the face of man does not fear the face of God.

The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible, it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.

The devil doesn't fill us with hatred for God, but with forgetfulness of God.

Can't get enough? Go here. Want to read one of his books? Go here.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail Saturday, April 8, 2023
This weekend we dishonor the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with Brach's individually wrapped, pastel-colored, marshmallow eggs, which are an affront to both God and man. It's the second time of the year for pagans to go to church because their heathen children were lured there with candy. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ from the dead after dying on the cross, originally observed in conjunction with the Jewish Passover, or Pesach. As the culmination of Lent, commemorating the forty days Jesus spent fasting in the desert while enduring temptation by Satan, Easter is observed sometime between March 22 and April 25, on the first Sunday following the full moon after the spring equinox (not necessarily the astronomical full moon, but the ecclesiastical full moon fourteen days after the new moon based on a set vernal equinox of March 21, corresponding to the Gregorian calendar), established in A.D. 325 by the Council of Nicaea. As with Christmas, Easter is an attempt by the early Christian Church to adapt pagan festivals to Christian holy days in an attempt to supplant them, with the side effects being some rather bizarre traditions. The most popular secular practice of Easter is hiding and finding decorated eggs, which comes from an ancient Roman tradition of exchanging boiled and decorated eggs in the springtime as a symbol of rebirth. The egg later became a symbol of Christ's rebirth from the tomb. Although eggs weren't normally allowed to be eaten during Lent, various allowances, particularly indulgences, fostered the exchange of Easter eggs for charitable contributions. The Easter bunny can be traced to the goddess Eostra, whose fertility symbol was a rabbit. One legend maintains that she transformed a bird into a hare in order to save its life, but it retained the ability to lay eggs. Introduced in America by eighteenth-century German immigrants, the Easter bunny, named Oschter Haws, would reportedly lay red eggs, the color of Christ's shed blood, on Maundy Thursday. These red eggs were believed to preserve good health throughout the following year to those who ate them. Sunrise services are often held on Easter morning in memory of the empty tomb discovered by the disciples (Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-18), signifying Christ's resurrection from the dead. Some early Christians observed Easter at the same time as the Jewish Passover, on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan. The Roman Catholic Church referred to these observers as Quartodecimans, or "Fourteenth Day Christians," and eventually labeled them as heretics. Holy Week is the week preceding Easter consisting of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. After Easter comes Pentecost, or Whitsunday (White Sunday) which is generally observed on the seventh Sunday after Easter. Ascension Day, commemorating the ascension of Christ to heaven, is observed ten days before Pentecost, preceded three days prior by Rogation Sunday (prayer of petition or supplication), a celebration of the blessings of the spring harvest. The Sunday following Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. The Thursday or Sunday following Trinity Sunday (depending on where it is observed) is Corpus Christi (Body of Christ), a celebration of the Last Supper, or Holy Communion, or Eucharist. Churches that celebrate the Eucharist as a sacramental rite with pomp and circumstance believe that the cup and wafer are the transubstantiated blood and body of Christ, which is religion, and just one more reason why they insist on making Easter services as boring as regular services because, let's face it, church is boring and unbelievers know how to have fun. But that just goes without saying.

A Frog's Content Sunday, April 2, 2023
Today is International Children's Book Day, commemorating a child's book I once wrote and then did nothing with. I only mention this because I ran across it recently buried in my laptop and wondered what it would've been like being an unemployed children's book author like everyone else instead of a part-time blogger like everyone else. My story was an attempt to answer the age-old question of whether or not frogs are capable of being happy. Spoiler alert: it concluded that happiness was of no relevance but that frogs are content, which is more than can be said about most people. Someday I'll find a child to publish my book. In the meantime, my glory days will consist of the things I never finished and the goals I failed to accomplish, just like everyone else. (Left: Bartleby, the main character, or whatever its name was going to be. Below: Some pages that never were.)
Cartwright the cantankerous crocodile, Beauregard the belligerent bass, Sawyer the sinister snake, Clara the curmudgeonly crane, and even Timothy the taciturn turtle all like the taste of Bartleby and his kin. Additional predators include Buelah, Beatrix, and Brunhilde of the Blind Bat Brigade, or BBB (not to be confused with the Better Business Bureau).
Now, a frog's brain and its parts are very small and simple compared to the larger and more complex human brain. However, a frog's brain still has the combined computational power of a bunch of robots operating a super computer.
Bartleby was placed in a jar and given a cotton pillow. This made him so sleepy that he was able to sleep through an operation called a dissection. Bartleby literally dedicated his brain to science. If that sounds gross, then ask your parent or the person helping you read if they are an organ donor. By being able to see a frog's brain, we can compare its parts to our own brain and tell what we both have in common. This includes the parts of the brain that deal with emotions and feelings like sadness, happiness, or fear of frog guts.
The details and specific names of the parts of the brain may seem boring to anyone other than a biologist, a psychologist, or a neurosurgeon, so we'll just call them the "glad glands." The glad glands consist of the Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, and Amygdala, which collectively make up the Limbic System. See? Boooooooorrriiiiiiiing! Frogs have a very primitive Limbic System. This doesn't necessarily mean they are stupid. They are smart enough to avoid paying taxes.

Bartleby has a glad gland in his brain. If we could understand frogspeak, he might've been able to tell us that beforehand. Here we see a closeup of a glad gland bathing in a warm tub full of bubbly neurochemicals.

GoM Chapter 20 (Continued) Wednesday, March 29, 2023
We now return to our ongoing lesson around the camp fire from The Gospel of Martha, where Jesus is seated with his disciples and teaching them many mysterious things while Peter continually nods off.

His disciples say unto him, "When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?" He replying saith unto them, "What ye look forward to hath come, but ye are they who are dead. Now arise, and usher in, for the world will be cleansed and made shiny as new; then shall ye go back to sleep, for before were ye just taking a nap."

His disciples say unto him, "Four and twenty prophets have spoken in Isræl, and all spake of thee." He saith unto them, "Ye have disregarded the living Word, who is in your presence, and ye spake of the dead scrolls, wherein is written lamentations, and mournings, and woes; which in your mouths are as honey for sweetness, but sours in the belly."

His disciples say unto him, "Tell us, is circumcision of benefit or not?" He answering saith unto them, "If it were of benefit, their father would beget children circumcised already from their mother. Rather the true circumcision in spirit hath become profitable in every respect. Be ye therefore circumcised of spirit, and remove the foreskin of doubt, and discard ye the smegma of ignorance."

Jesus saith, "Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of heaven. But for now, ye remain poor."

Jesus saith, "Whosoever doth not hate father and mother can not be my disciple, and whosoever doth not hate brothers and sisters, and carry the cross as I do, shall neither be worthy of me. Do I ask therewith of thee to bear unto thyself a cross of hatred? Certainly not! Rather spurn them who refuse to crucify thee, and abhor with loathing they that resist the nails which are due unto thee. And when they nail one hand, give therefore unto them the other, and bear with gladness of heart thy crucifixion: for assuredly will thy family do unto thee. Verily, that is what family is for."

Jesus saith, "Whosoever hath come to know the world hath discovered a carcase, and whosoever hath discovered a carcase, of that person the world is not worthy. But touch ye not the world, lest ye become unclean; for the ritual of cleansing from touching a carcase is rather complicated, and somewhat drawn out, and at times a bloody mess."

Jesus saith, "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who hath good seed. His enemy came during darkness of night, and sowed with gnarled hands weeds among the good seed. The man refused the workers to pull up the weeds, but said to them: Not so, otherwise ye might go to pull up the weeds and pull up the wheat along with them. For on the day of the harvest the weeds will be conspicuous, with contorted leaves, and appearance of gnarled hands, and will be pulled up and burned."

Jesus saith, "Blessed is the man who hath suffered in his toil and hath found life. Cursed is the man who walketh into a room and forgets why he walketh into the room to begin with."

Jesus saith, "Take heed of the living one while ye are alive, lest ye die and seek to see him, and be unable to do so. For verily I say unto you, spiritual goggles are of necessity, which are prescribed, and requireth an examination of the third eye."

He saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb and going to Judæa by the light of the moon. He saith to his disciples, "That man, like unto holding a small child, carrieth he round the lamb." They say to him, "So that he may kill and eat." He saith unto them, "He will not eat of it whilst alive, but only after he hath murdered it, and drained of its blood, and it hath become a corpse." They say, "He can not otherwise." He saith unto them, "So also with you, seek for yourselves a place for rest, lest ye become a bloodless carcase, and be eaten."

Jesus saith, "Two will recline on a couch; one will die, one will live." Mary Salome, never she departed from her sons, saith, "Just who art thou? Thou who hast climbed onto my couch and eaten from my table, which I have prepared for my two sons; and thou hast swallowed one and spit out the other."

Jesus answering saith he unto her, "I am the one who cometh from the whole and undivided mind of the Father. I was granted from the things that decide upon the couch who will live or die, which is of my Father. And just who art thou?" Salome replieth unto him, "I am your disciple."

And Jesus saith unto all, "For this reason I say, if one is whole, one will be filled with light, and he whom I see will be consumed into the warmness of my belly. But if one is divided, one will be filled with darkness, and shall be vomited out with belly residue, and partially digested chunks: the victuals of which no longer to be recognised."

Jesus saith, "It is to those who are worthy of my mysteries that I disclose such mysteries as these. Let not thy left eye know what thy right eye is seeing; nor the left brain know what the right brain is thinking. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear; but let not thy left ear know what thy right ear is hearing."

Pictured: Jesus with his Christian soldiers around the camp fire. Many today do not realize that Jesus had his close followers dress alike because that's what disciplined task forces did. They also wore name tags, practiced marching in unison, and recited the Lord's Prayer together (traditional Ecumenical version in the King James language).

Remembering Richard Allen Sunday, March 26, 2023
A while back we remembered Absalom Jones, one of the first black ministers in the U.S. Today we remember one of his contemporaries, Richard Allen (1760-1831), who also bought his own freedom from slavery and became an ordained minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Facing racist treatment from white congregants, he and Jones formed the Free African Society in Philadelphia in 1787 for rendering aid to fugitive slaves and immigrants. In 1794, the two founded the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. Until his death, Allen participated in the Underground Railroad.

International Day of the Unborn Child Saturday, March 24, 2023
Today, let us not discuss free choice versus pro-life, or debate where life and consciousness begin, nor argue about the right to fetal termination under any and all circumstances, or bicker about whether or not the subject of abortion is in the Bible,* nor squabble about the propensity of men to repress women and tell them what they can and can't do with their own bodies, or even ponder God's retribution against feticide on demand. Like they say at, "To complicate things even more complicated, the problem is complicated by a slew of ethical and religious considerations." Let us instead celebrate the unborn fetus, like they've been doing in South America for decades, even if it is a Catholic observance. The theme for today is the dignity and value of the unborn child. Let tomorrow carry the burden of infanticide.

*Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:22-25, Leviticus 17:4, Numbers 35:33, Deuteronomy 19:10-13, 21:1-9, 1 Kings 2:5-6, 31-33, 2 Kings 24:3-4, Ezekiel 18:10-13, Psalm 72:14

Gregory the Illuminator Thursday, March 23, 2023
Today the Anglicans celebrate Saint Gregory (circa A.D. 257-328 or 337), who single-handedly converted the nation of Armenia to Christianity after being thrown into a pit for fifteen years for calling the king a fink, then built Saint Gregory the Illuminator Cathedral, where his relics still preach the Gospel today. Rumor has it that Bartholomew and Thaddaeus were in Armenia before Gregory but that the Persians had turned all the previous churches into retail rug emporiums. To learn a little more, go here. To learn a lot more, go here.

C.A.E.J.P.A.H.M.G.V.G. Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Today we remember Clemens Augustinus Emmanuel Joseph Pius Anthonius Hubertus Marie Graf von Galen (1878-1946), Bishop of Münster and an outspoken opponent to the Nazi Gestapo during WWII. It's a wonder they didn't have him executed, although Hitler wanted to. Here's an excerpt from one of his sermons against the Third Reich's treatment of "invalids" in their own country:

My faithful brethren! In the pastoral letter drawn up by the German Hierarchy on the 26th of June at Fulda and appointed to be read in all the churches of Germany on July 6th, it is expressly stated: 'According to Catholic doctrine, there are doubtless commandments which are not binding when obedience to them requires too great a sacrifice, but there are sacred obligations of conscience from which no one can release us and which we must fulfil even at the price of death itself. At no time, and under no circumstances whatsoever, may a man, except in war and in lawful defence, take the life of an innocent person.'

When this pastoral was read on July 6th I took the opportunity of adding this exposition:

For the past several months it has been reported that, on instructions from Berlin, patients who have been suffering for a long time from apparently incurable diseases have been forcibly removed from homes and clinics. Their relatives are later informed that the patient has died, that the body has been cremated and that the ashes may be claimed. There is little doubt that these numerous cases of unexpected death in the case of the insane are not natural, but often deliberately caused, and result from the belief that it is lawful to take away life which is unworthy of being lived.

This ghastly doctrine tries to justify the murder of blameless men and would seek to give legal sanction to the forcible killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated. I have discovered that the practice here in Westphalia is to compile lists of such patients who are to be removed elsewhere as 'unproductive citizens,' and after a period of time put to death. This very week, the first group of these patients has been sent from the clinic of Marienthal, near Münster.

Paragraph 21 of the Code of Penal Law is still valid. It states that anyone who deliberately kills a man by a premeditated act will be executed as a murderer. It is in order to protect the murderers of these poor invalids -- members of our own families -- against this legal punishment, that the patients who are to be killed are transferred from their domicile to some distant institution. Some sort of disease is then given as the cause of death, but as cremation immediately follows it is impossible for either their families or the regular police to ascertain whether death was from natural causes.

I am assured that at the Ministry of the Interior and at the Ministry of Health, no attempt is made to hide the fact that a great number of the insane have already been deliberately killed and that many more will follow.

Article 139 of the Penal Code expressly lays down that anyone who knows from a reliable source of any plot against the life of a man and who does not inform the proper authorities or the intended victim, will be punished. . . .

When I was informed of the intention to remove patients from Marienthal for the purpose of putting them to death I addressed the following registered letter on July 29th to the Public Prosecutor, the Tribunal of Münster, as well as to the Head of the Münster Police:

'I have been informed this week that a considerable number of patients from the provincial clinic of Marienthal are to be transferred as citizens alleged to be "unproductive" to the institution of Richenberg, there to be executed immediately; and that according to general opinion, this has already been carried out in the case of other patients who have been removed in like manner. Since this sort of procedure is not only contrary to moral law, both divine and natural, but is also punishable by death, according to Article 211 of the Penal Code, it is my bounden obligation in accordance with Article 139 of the same Code to inform the authorities thereof. Therefore I demand at once protection for my fellow countrymen who are threatened in this way, and from those who purpose to transfer and kill them, and I further demand to be informed of your decision.'

I have received no news up till now of any steps taken by these authorities. On July 26th I had already written and dispatched a strongly worded protest to the Provincial Administration of Westphalia which is responsible for the clinics to which these patients have been entrusted for care and treatment. My efforts were of no avail. The first batch of innocent folk have left Marienthal under sentence of death, and I am informed that no less than eight hundred cases from the institution of Waestein have now gone. And so we must await the news that these wretched defenceless patients will sooner or later lose their lives. Why? Not because they have committed crimes worthy of death, not because they have attacked guardians or nurses as to cause the latter to defend themselves with violence which would be both legitimate and even in certain cases necessary, like killing an armed enemy soldier in a righteous war.

No, these are not the reasons why these unfortunate patients are to be put to death. It is simply because that according to some doctor, or because of the decision of some committee, they have no longer a right to live because they are 'unproductive citizens'. The opinion is that since they can no longer make money, they are obsolete machines, comparable with some old cow that can no longer give milk or some horse that has gone lame. What is the lot of unproductive machines and cattle? They are destroyed. I have no intention of stretching this comparison further. The case here is not one of machines or cattle which exist to serve men and furnish them with plenty. They may be legitimately done away with when they can no longer fulfil their function. Here we are dealing with human beings, with our neighbours, brothers and sisters, the poor and invalids . . . unproductive -- perhaps! But have they, therefore, lost the right to live? Have you or I the right to exist only because we are 'productive'? If the principle is established that unproductive human beings may be killed, then God help all those invalids who, in order to produce wealth, have given their all and sacrificed their strength of body. If all unproductive people may thus be violently eliminated, then woe betide our brave soldiers who return home, wounded, maimed or sick.

It is estimated that around 200,000 of these "invalids" were put to death during WWII in Germany alone. For the entire sermon, go here. Another person we remember today is Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the Congregationalist minister who wrote the children's lulaby "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," which maybe someday I'll get around to addressing. For now, I took the easy road with Clemens Augustinus Emmanuel Joseph Pius Anthonius Hubertus Marie Graf von Galen (his name is my name, too). Thanks for stopping by.

Month of Ramadan Tuesday, March 21, 2023
This week is the start of the Muslim observance of Ramadan (Arabic, "scorching heat"), which lasts from 3/23 to 4/20 this year -- or the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is Ramadan, from crescent moon to crescent moon. According to the Quran (2:185), it is a mandatory observance of daytime fasting, prayer, and study of the Quran. It is also one of the names for Allah, so not many Muslims refer to it simply as Ramadan. It commemorates the month in which Allah gave all scripture to man, including both Abraham and Muhammad. Muslims trace their lineage to Abraham through his son Ishmael, firstborn of his servant Hagar (Genesis 16:3-4), of whom the angel of the Lord told Hagar, "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren" (Genesis 16:12). According to Galatians 4:29-30, the descendants of Ishmael serve to persecute those born of the Spirit and will never share in the inheritance of Isaac (also Genesis 21:8-12). This is the simple reason Muslims don't get along well with Jews. Although Islam considers Jesus a prophet, Muslims also don't think much of Christians. To learn why, go here.

Most Muslims do not approve of images of the prophet Muhammad in any way, shape or form. Pictured: Muhammad Ali (1942-2016), a member of the Nation of Islam (Black Muslims) who defeated infidels in 56 out of 61 boxing jihads.

LWoS 135, 142, 145, 146, 149, 152, 153 Monday, March 6, 2023
Today we might take a look at Chrodegang, Fridolin, Kyneburga, Kyneswide, Tibba, or Marcian of Tartona, all of whom were wonderful saints and martyrs in their own right. Today is also as good a day as any to jump back into The Lost Wisdom of Solomon, which is still available in paperback and Kindle.

135 The simplest answer is often the best. And that answer is usually, "No." Learn to use it liberally. Practice on your children and your children's children. Make it a habit and you will find your responsibilities and obligations dwindle to a minimum.

142 A parable involving insects: Now there dwelt in the same field both butterflies and moths. The butterflies had circumcised antennae, while the moths were uncircumcised. One day the butterfly said to the moth, "Come now and let us circumcise your antennae." To which the moth replied, "Not so. Stay your distance, for I am content in my unclean state." "But you shall never be as resplendent as I," replied the butterfly. So the crafty moth convinced the butterfly to enter into a treaty, and interbreed, so that their offspring should be indistinguishable one from another and so live in the same field in peace, much to the displeasure of the LORD. Such are the Canaanites, and the Philistines, and those devious Gibeonites.

145 Let your yes be yes and your no, no. Children and fools often demand a reason why. Tell them “just because” or “because I said so, that is why.” If that does not suffice, then the threat of bodily retribution is something both can plainly understand.

146 The Lord provided "manna" (Hebrew, "what is it?") as a mysterious food substance in the desert for the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt to the land he promised their forefathers. For a time, I dedicated my mind to experiment with reproducing this enigmatic sustenance and believe something very similar can be generated with the appropriate combination of lentils and flax seed oil. Baked just right in small wafers with a bit of cardamom on one side, they coalesce well in a bowl of milk. I call them "frosted flakes." It has also been determined that man cannot live on frosted flakes alone, but that it must be part of a balanced breakfast.

149 This I understand and can appreciate: Yard sales. The junk of one man is but the treasure of another. No permits, no taxes. People actually come to your property and pay you to take away that which you would otherwise throw away. If unfavorable weather, then a garage sale. This I do not understand, nor appreciate: Musicals.

152 Do not succumb to the latest fads, nor to trends of fashion caprice. Like the wind, they are here today and gone tomorrow. Customary prayer tassels aside, if the hem of your neighbor's seamless robe is died with Tyrian purple and embellished with stones of lapis lazuli, carnelian, beryl, chrysolite, jacinth, and turquoise, that means in no wise should you yourself become indebted for such adornment. A drab hem is a modest hem, and a modest hem is pleasing to the Lord.

153 My son, conflict is healthy, like a colorectal screening. It is unavoidable, like pestilence or a root canal. Verbal conflict is a skill, like the craft of torture for the purpose of obtaining valuable information or a confession. Physical conflict should be avoided, unless you are certain you will prevail, and someone is willing to arbitrate to ensure no jabs are taken below the belt. End all conflicts with a hug, making sure to end the hug with a pat.

Be Like Lei Feng Sunday, March 5, 2023
Today we remember Theophilus of Caesarea, a second-century Christian who was believed to be the teacher of Clement of Alexandria and who tackled the vile Quartodecimans of his day. These were they who insisted on observing Easter at the same time as Passover. While some early Christians (mostly Jewish converts) celebrated Easter on the 14th day of the first month of Nisan in the Jewish calendar (Latin quarta decima, Leviticus 23:5), others celebrated Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox (mostly Gentile converts). The first camp was established by Paul and Peter and practiced by churches in the west, while the second was that of the Apostle John and practiced by churches in Asia Minor. Although not much of a controversy at first, various synods (assemblies to resolve factious matters) had met to discuss Quartodecimanism, ruling that Easter should be celebrated on Sunday, which was enforced by Emperor Constantine I in the fourth century. From then on, the remaining Quartodecimans were considered heretics. Although this brief summary of the controversy over-simplifies the issue, let us not allow the continued practice to divide Christianity today -- except for Jehovah's Witnesses, of course. Let us instead look to the venerable Lei Feng (1940-1962), the Chinese Communist Party's poster boy who was whole-heartedly devoted to the state -- yes, that Lei Feng. In many ways Christianity is like Communism in that we are admonished to share with one another, devote ourselves wholly to the cause, and be totally dedicated to our one, true Authoritarian Ruler. Some things we can all learn from Lei Feng include self-sacrifice, giving of our meagre resources to those in need, washing one another's feet after long marches, darning the socks of our beloved comrades, and forfeiting our lives to bad driving in the line of duty. Dare I compare Lei Feng to Jesus Christ? No, not all. But, still, WWLFD?

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God's grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 4:32-35, NIV)

Nobody Loves A Fat Man Saturday, March 4, 2023
A happy Obesity Day to all. Whether you are undernourished or overweight, we are all fat with the love of Jesus. Around one billion people currently alive on this planet are considered physically roly-poly, which makes them a protected minority. But that is not their fault. No, obesity is due to complex biological, genetic, and environmental factors such as an over-abundance of delicious, readily-available yet empty calories which are far more appealing than starvation to those without will or determination. If you've given up on dieting because diets are hard, then there is hope in the afterlife.

Pictured: Hiram Hefty from the 1901 comic strip "Nobody Loves A Fat Man" by Weston. At some point in history, body-shaming was in vogue. To be offended by our past, visit Barnicle Press.

This affords me the opportunity to share with you a few passages from The Gospel of Martha about a fatso named Judas Iscariot. May he be an example of the potential for those who are adipose-positive but gangly in spirit...

Chapter 23: Then entered Satan into one of the twelve, called Judas, surnamed Iscariot, for no other reason that he doeth such as this: and went his way unto the chief priests, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Jesus unto them, and saying unto them, "What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?"

When they heard, they were glad, and they sought to covenant with him for an amulet of colourful beads, and interlaced of a variety of peuter charms: the star of David, and a mezuzah, and an hamsa, and a menorah, and the star of Solomon, and the seal of the seven archangels. But Judas insisted upon monetary reckompense, and they settled on thirty pieces of silver, all that could be scrounged between them; yea, plus the charm bracelet.

So he promised, and from that time sought opportunity how he might of convenience betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. And he battled within his heart what was done, but by Satan's goading was he determined to carry through.

Chapter 25: Now he that betrayed him gave them a token sign, saying, "Whomsoever I shall kiss, and touch with the hand about which my shiny amulet doth adorn, and to which I did adjoin the seal of the archangel Metatron; that same is he: hold him fast, and lead away safely."

And forthwith he went straitway and drew near unto Jesus, and said, "Hail, master," and kissed him. And as he kissed him, he touched his face with the hand of the bracelet, as though shewing proudly for all to behold by light of moon, and by flickering of torch. And secretly he wished for them to be jealous, if at least a little covetous. But of those who disapproved, he believed the hamsa amulet to protect him from their evil eye.

And Jesus saith unto him, "Judas, wherefore art thou come? Friend, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? And wearing a charm bracelet about thy wrist on Passover? And what is this, a mezuzah? Surely one doth not wear such as this as jewelry! Assuredly, it belongeth upon thy doorpost." And Judas was at once ashamed that Jesus did he approve not.

Chapter 26: Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that Jesus was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, and saying, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." And they said, "What is that to us? See thou to that."

Then cast he down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, but kept the charm bracelet unto his own, and went and hanged himself from a tree upon a rocky crag over the potter's field. But the branch did break, owing to the density of his girth, and falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.

Then, behold, the birds of the air descended upon his carcase, and gorged themselves upon his flesh: flamingos, and pelicans, and toucans, and hummingbirds, and cormorants, and bitterns, and a surfeit of airbourne fowl; and birds of the land also, those impotent of flight: penguins, and kiwis, and emus, and the ostrich; came they also and feasted upon his entrails. In all, about three thousand variety of birds did eat and were filled.

Thus was fulfilled that which was spoken of the prophet Ezekiel: "Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Isael, and I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD."

And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, "The field of blood." For it is written in the book of Psalms: "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let an other take."

Edict of Saint-Germain Wednesday, March 1, 2023
If you recall the Edict of Saint-Germain issued on January 17, 1562, which brought a brief period of respite to the persecution of French Calvinists known as Huguenots -- well, shortly thereafter on this day in 1562, sixty-three Huguenots were killed and around one-hundred were wounded by armed soldiers of Francis, Duke of Guise, in the town of Vassy, France, during a barn church service where about 500 were in attendance. I only bring this up because I have very little time today, nothing else to write about, and relatively little interest in French history. Today is also Self-injury Awareness Day (welcome, all you cutters) and Zero Discrimination Day (welcome, everyone). SIAD is to promote awareness for those who intentionally harm themselves due to depression, hopelessness and other negative feelings -- which generally excludes individuals who practice mortification of the flesh as a process of penance. If you know someone who practices the former, they need Jesus. If you know someone who practices the latter, tell them to do this behind closed doors. According to UNAIDS, non-discrimination is a human right. However, I beg to disagree. The only universal right people have is the right to die. Non-discrimination is an ideal that will only be achieved in small measure here and there where enforced by law. Remember the Huguenots?

Catholic: Knock, knock.

Protestant: Who's there?

Catholic: Gaston de la Brosse announcing the arrival of Francis de Lorraine II, Prince of Joinville, Duke of Guise, Duke of Aumale, and Grand Chamberlain and Lieutenant-General of France.

Protestant: Gaston who?

Catholic: Bang!

AD/BC: For Those About to Standardize Dates (We Salute You) Sunday, February 26, 2023
I am often asked by inquisitive children who have wandered from the protection of their guardian what AD and BC mean in regards to dates. I usually tell them it's none of my business and that they shouldn't talk to strangers. However, if one of those children is a family member, then I must oblige and concede that "AD" is an abbreviation for the Latin term Anno Domini, or "in the year of the Lord," while BC is an abbreviation for "Before Christ" or "Backwards Countdown" in plain English. I then have to explain what an abbreviation is, while also adding that AD could also mean "After Death" (or after the Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, even though it's not). At this point, the more astute child will ask why BC is English while AD is Latin, to which one might just make something up like: BC was actually UAC back in the day, which is an abbreviation for Ab Urbe Conditum -- Latin for "Founded by the City" because the Romans, who were the people in charge when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lived, determined that the beginning of civilized history started with the founding of Rome in 753 BC... or AUC, or whatever. AD actually begins some time around the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, which was determined by Christian clerics, most notably Dionysius Exiguus (c. AD 470-544), a Scythian monk and translator who worked out the days of Easter for the Gregorian and Julian solar calendars that were popular at the time. Also popular at the time was Latin. Prior to this, historical dating was a crapshoot based on regional happenings, genealogies, and the goings-on during the reign of the dominant rulers; or at least any surviving written accounts thereof (such as ancient Hebrew manuscripts, including but not limited to what we call the Old Testament, which supposedly gives an account of the genealogy of the people of Israel from the beginning of creation, covering a period roughly between 6,000 BC to 450 BC). Around the eighth century BC, a ruler of the Babylonian Empire named Nabonassar formulated a dating method based on the succession of kings, along with the preservation of these recordings, that persisted until the third century AD when an astronomer named Claudius Ptolemy adapted it to the Roman Empire. Come to think of it, Ptolemy identified today as that day in 747 BC when the beginning of recorded history began with Nabonassar. This early calendar and its cheap knock-offs were used primarily for calculating astronomical events and documenting the chronology of kings, but was eventually adopted by doctor's offices, greeting card companies, and used in conjunction with e-mail applications. Nowadays, it's not popular to mix faith-based religion with factual science or anything having to do with scholarly disciplines, so AD has become CE ("Common Era" or "Current Era"), while BC has become BCE ("Before Common Era" or "Before Current Era" or "Backwards Counting Era"), yet they are based on the same dates as AD/BC. After explaining this to a child who asks too many questions, it is then customary to recite a passage from the Old Testament to provide an example of the dating methods of ancient peoples, and what better source to recite from than Genesis chapter 5? This is essentially year zero to Noah, when history started all over again. Then follows a recital of the first two chapters of 1 Chronicles, outlining the genealogy of Noah to Abraham, then from Abraham to David because, undoubtedly, the questions will keep coming once they've started asking. So, in conclusion, when children ask questions, always answer with long passages from the Old Testament, preferably from memory because it makes it sound like you were there.

Medieval Cultural Appropriation Saturday, February 25, 2023
According to Wikipedia, today is February 25, which has been substantiated by a number of reference sources. On this day in 1336, according to Lithuanian history, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,000-5,000 Lithuanians took their own lives at a fort named Pilenai rather than be captured and baptized by the Christian forces of the Teutonic Order. They also burned down the fort so that it could not be converted. Since this was a leap year, it was also the Feast of Saint Matthias, who was voted as Judas Iscariot's replacement. Now, I am not a historian, so I will not bore you with the details, but this event -- the battle of Pilenai, not the Feast of Saint Matthias -- was part of a century-long skirmish (yes, another "crusade") that lasted from 1283-1422, which consisted of hundreds of small battles and the deaths of thousands of peasants who failed to beat their plowshares into swords. Of course, this crusade was interrupted from time to time by other crusades, such as the Crusade against the Tatars (that is, the Golden Tatars, not the Red Tatars). Although the history of the Lithuanian Crusade is a bit muddied with all of the power struggles going on at the time in that part of the world, there is no denying that once the Teutonic Knights got involved there would be pagan bloodshed in order to further the glory of Christ. I admit that sitting here far removed from the event and its foreign culture affords me a certain measure of glib indifference. I also admit that the crusades were dreadfully atrocious. I also admit that I don't believe in reincarnation and having lived past lives, but this would explain why God has allowed the existence of so many people, other than there is a specific number of true believers who must accumulate in heaven before the Apocalypse is triggered. I don't know, nor do I want to know. Howsoever, I cannot help but wonder. Hmmmmm...

Polycarp Prints the Gutenberg Bible Thursday, February 23, 2023
Today I name-drop a Church Father, that of Polycarp (69-155 A.D.), whom many already know didn't actually print the Gutenberg Bible. He was a disciple of the Apostle John, a contemporary of Ignatius, and bishop of Smyrna on the Greek coast of Anatolia who was martyred on this day in the year 155. Most of what is known about him was recorded by his disciple, Irenaeus (c. 130-202), partly in a letter entitled The Martyrdom of Polycarp, in which he wrote that those in attendance at the Roman amphitheater in Smyrna of the spectacle of Polycarp's death shouted, "This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the overthrower of our gods, he who has been teaching many not to sacrifice, or to worship the gods." They then called for him to be fed to the lions, but were denied because that part of the show had passed, so they settled for burning him at the stake. As the story goes, the flames didn't touch him, so an executioner stabbed him in the chest with a dagger and his blood gushed out and extinguished the flames. Also on this day in 1455, the "Mazarin Bible" was printed by Johannes Gutenberg (c. 1393-1406). An edition of the Latin Vulgate based on the work of Jerome in the fourth century, it is considered the first book from a movable-type printing press. Skim through its pages here -- even if you don't know Latin, it's worth a gander. Although it contained the Old and New Testaments, it did not contain the Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians. From the New Advent website, here are some excerpts from the

Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians

Chapter 2: Wherefore, girding up your loins, serve the Lord in fear and truth, as those who have forsaken the vain, empty talk and error of the multitude, and believed in Him who raised up our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, and gave Him glory, and a throne at His right hand. To Him all things in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him. But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise us up also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: Judge not, that you be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that you may obtain mercy; with what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again; and once more, Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.

Chapter 3: These things, brethren, I write to you concerning righteousness, not because I take anything upon myself, but because you have invited me to do so. For neither I, nor any other such one, can come up to the wisdom of the blessed and glorified Paul. He, when among you, accurately and steadfastly taught the word of truth in the presence of those who were then alive. And when absent from you, he wrote you a letter, which, if you carefully study, you will find to be the means of building you up in that faith which has been given you, and which, being followed by hope, and preceded by love towards God, and Christ, and our neighbour, "is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26). For if any one be inwardly possessed of these graces, he has fulfilled the command of righteousness, since he that has love is far from all sin.

Chapter 4: "But the love of money is the root of all evils" (1 Timothy 6:10). Knowing, therefore, that "as we brought nothing into the world, so we can carry nothing out" (1 Timothy 6:7), let us arm ourselves with the armour of righteousness; and let us teach, first of all, ourselves to walk in the commandments of the Lord. Next, [teach] your wives [to walk] in the faith given to them, and in love and purity tenderly loving their own husbands in all truth, and loving all [others] equally in all chastity; and to train up their children in the knowledge and fear of God. Teach the widows to be discreet as respects the faith of the Lord, praying continually for all, being far from all slandering, evil-speaking, false-witnessing, love of money, and every kind of evil; knowing that they are the altar of God, that He clearly perceives all things, and that nothing is hid from Him, neither reasonings, nor reflections, nor any one of the secret things of the heart.

Chapter 5: Knowing, then, that "God is not mocked" (Galatians 6:7), we ought to walk worthy of His commandment and glory. In like manner should the deacons be blameless before the face of His righteousness, as being the servants of God and Christ, and not of men. They must not be slanderers, double-tongued, or lovers of money, but temperate in all things, compassionate, industrious, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was the servant of all. If we please Him in this present world, we shall receive also the future world, according as He has promised to us that He will raise us again from the dead, and that if we live worthily of Him, "we shall also reign together with Him" (2 Timothy 2:12), provided only we believe. In like manner, let the young men also be blameless in all things, being especially careful to preserve purity, and keeping themselves in, as with a bridle, from every kind of evil. For it is well that they should be cut off from the lusts that are in the world, since every lust wars against the spirit; "and neither fornicators, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), nor those who do things inconsistent and unbecoming. Wherefore, it is needful to abstain from all these things, being subject to the presbyters and deacons, as unto God and Christ. The virgins also must walk in a blameless and pure conscience.

Chapter 6: And let the presbyters be compassionate and merciful to all, bringing back those that wander, visiting all the sick, and not neglecting the widow, the orphan, or the poor, but always "providing for that which is becoming in the sight of God and man" (Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:31); abstaining from all wrath, respect of persons, and unjust judgment; keeping far off from all covetousness, not quickly crediting [an evil report] against any one, not severe in judgment, as knowing that we are all under a debt of sin. If then we entreat the Lord to forgive us, we ought also ourselves to forgive; for we are before the eyes of our Lord and God, and "we must all appear at the judgment-seat of Christ, and must every one give an account of himself" (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Let us then serve Him in fear, and with all reverence, even as He Himself has commanded us, and as the apostles who preached the Gospel unto us, and the prophets who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Lord [have alike taught us]. Let us be zealous in the pursuit of that which is good, keeping ourselves from causes of offense, from false brethren, and from those who in hypocrisy bear the name of the Lord, and draw away vain men into error.

Chapter 7: "For whosoever does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is antichrist" (1 John 4:3); and whosoever does not confess the testimony of the cross, is of the devil; and whosoever perverts the oracles of the Lord to his own lusts, and says that there is neither a resurrection nor a judgment, he is the first-born of Satan. Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us from the beginning; "watching unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7), and persevering in fasting; beseeching in our supplications the all-seeing God "not to lead us into temptation" (Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41), as the Lord has said: "The spirit truly is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38).

Chapter 8: Let us then continually persevere in our hope, and the earnest of our righteousness, which is Jesus Christ, "who bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24), "who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth" (1 Peter 2:22), but endured all things for us, that we might live in Him. Let us then be imitators of His patience; and if we suffer for His name's sake, let us glorify Him. For He has set us this example in Himself, and we have believed that such is the case.

Chapter 10: Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, and being attached to one another, joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your intercourse with one another, and despising no one. When you can do good, defer it not, because "alms delivers from death" (Tobit 4:10, Tobit 12:9). Be all of you subject one to another having your conduct blameless among the Gentiles, that you may both receive praise for your good works, and the Lord may not be blasphemed through you. But woe to him by whom the name of the Lord is blasphemed! Teach, therefore, sobriety to all, and manifest it also in your own conduct.

Chapter 12: For I trust that you are well versed in the Sacred Scriptures, and that nothing is hid from you; but to me this privilege is not yet granted. It is declared then in these Scriptures, "Be angry, and sin not," and, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Ephesians 4:26). Happy is he who remembers this, which I believe to be the case with you. But may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself, who is the Son of God, and our everlasting High Priest, build you up in faith and truth, and in all meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, forbearance, and purity; and may He bestow on you a lot and portion among His saints, and on us with you, and on all that are under heaven, who shall believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in His Father, "who raised Him from the dead" (Galatians 1:1). Pray for all the saints. Pray also for kings, and potentates, and princes, and for those that persecute and hate you, and for the enemies of the cross, that your fruit may be manifest to all, and that you may be perfect in Him.

Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Quotations in the text indicate parts which the author emphasized as coming from other writings, with those likely sources in parentheses. Again, this was not part of the Gutenberg Bible, nor did Polycarp invent the printing press, which originated in ninth-century China during the Tang Dynasty in the form of block printing. Although the Gutenberg Bible was the first mass-produced book, "The Diamond Sutra" of Buddhist wisdom was the first known printed book (c. 868 A.D.).

Flagillare, Vel Non Flagillare Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Today we remember Thomas, bishop of Finland, who died in 1248. Unfortunately, there is not much to remember him by other than he resigned after confessing to several grievous sins, including torturing a man to death. I also must confess that I have thought about torturing several people to death throughout the years, all of whom remain nameless drivers who have pissed me off on the roads. We also remember Peter Damian (c. 1007-1073), a hermit monk who introduced flagellation in 1035 to the Benedictine monks at the Venerable Hermitage of the Holy Cross in Italy, which became all the rage for self-mortification. I must also confess that I flagellate myself regularly -- not physically, but verbally. Peter Damian also wrote a letter to Pope Leo IX in the form of a book entitled Liber Gomorrhianus ("Book of Gomorrah"), in which he addressed various sins common among the bishops and priests of his day including, but not limited to: masturbation, homosexual anal copulation, and the sexual defilement of adolescent boys. (It is here that I confess absolutely nothing.) In regards to flagellation, or mortification of the flesh as a process of penance, generally a cattail whip composed of knotted cords (called a "discipline") is used by an individual upon themselves repeatedly, usually on the bare back or upper thighs. Try it sometime, it's quite sanctifying -- alone or in pairs, while reading scripture or saying prayers. However, a word of caution: refrain from flagellating the hindquarters, specifically the buttocks, as this tends to be more enjoyable than penitential for some. A brief Google search of flagellation images will quickly reveal this nuance and should help to dissuade you from crossing the blurry line between punishment and pleasure. Flagellation is not the only means of crucifying the flesh of its passions and desires. There is self-denial, an ascetic lifestyle, fasting, enduring hardships, poverty, wearing a hairshirt or cilice, covering yourself with sackcloth and ashes, renunciation of Netflix for purposes of austerity, crawling on your elbows and knees as a form of travel, abstaining from meat on Wednesdays, repressing useless words or careless glances, dressing in a loincloth made of razor blades, living with more than one cat, or whatever form of suffering is readily available. Just remember, mortification is not always convenient. Personally, I prefer a metal crucifix firmly attached to the end of a nylon cord while taking a cold shower -- maybe a bit extreme for most but highly recommended by Louis Marie de Montfort. You must also smile whilst in anguish, not because of anything sadistic or masochistic, nor of vanity, but because it is pure joy to suffer your own cross. It's also important to inflict mortification in moderation and to favor quality over quantity. Famous people who practiced flagellation include Raniero Fasani, Martin Luther, Konrad Schmid, Anthony of Padua, Pope John Paul II, and the Ku Klux Klan. Flagellation is not for everyone but it if for everyone who has seen Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and considered it an accurate depiction of Jesus Christ's suffering.

Back in the day, the Church blamed the Black Death on everyone and everything, including black people. Pictured here, members of the Blessed Order of the KKK flagellate themselves in penance for their accusations against peoples of dark skin tone for spreading the plague, when it was more the fault of the Jews. They were perhaps a bit more humble in medieval times.

Presidents' Day Sale On Now Monday, February 20, 2023 George Washington (1732-1799) grew up as a baptized member of the Church of England and, after the American Revolution, became a member of its Americanized branch, the Episcopal Church. Even so, he was a Freemason and Enlightened thinker. Keeping his religious beliefs relatively private, he often referred to God as Providence.
Today is Presidents' Day in the U.S., when all the past U.S. presidents dog-piled on George Washington after Abraham Lincoln jumped on his back. Delaware does not observe Presidents' Day (which is why we often forget it's a state) and in a few other states it is combined with either Black Friday or Christmas Eve, effectively jipping its citizens out of those extra sale days. According to the Pew Research Center and the POTUS website, most of the U.S. presidents were Christians or considered themselves of the Christian faith, with exception of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. Jefferson was raised in the Church of England but departed from the belief as a religion and wrote his own edition of the Gospels, called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (commonly known as the Jefferson Bible), which excluded the supposed miracles of Jesus along with his resurrection and claims of Godhead. Lincoln was raised a Baptist but never claimed to be a Christian, although he was God-fearing and versed in Biblical scripture. His successor, Andrew Johnson, had no denominational affiliation but claimed to be a Christian. Ulysses S. Grant was considered a Methodist, although he never claimed to be one. Chester Arthur may have secretly been an Episcopalian. William H. Taft was a Unitarian who claimed to not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Then there's Donald Trump... Anyway, although the Unites States was founded upon a moralistic foundation of the Christian faith and the Bible, many of its Founding Fathers and subsequent leaders weren't specifically Christian but Deists or, rather, theistic rationalists, in that they believed in a Supreme Deity and felt that the God of the Bible was most likely that Supreme Deity except that the religions based on the teachings of the Bible were severely amiss with superstition. A synopsis of every president's religious convictions can be found at PBS's American Experience. About three quarters were Protestant, with the majority being Episcopalian and Presbyterians a close second. A few of the most outwardly religious included John Adams (Congregationalist), James Madison (Anglican/Presbyterian), James Garfield (Disciples of Christ), Benjamin Harrison (Presbyterian), William McKinley (Methodist), Theodore Roosevelt (Dutch Reformed Church), Woodrow Wilson (Presbyterian), Warren G. Harding (Baptist), Dwight D. Eisenhower (Presbyterian), Richard Nixon (Quaker), Jimmy Carter (Baptist), and George W. Bush (Methodist). Whether or not you consider these men to have been good Christians is your own opinion and, ultimately, the Supreme Being's judgment.

No Shortage of Martyrs Friday, February 17, 2023
On this day in 304 A.D. or thereabouts, near Venice, Italy, 89 Christians were martyred under the Roman rule of Emperor Diocletian, including Donatus, Romulus and Secundian. The Great Persecution under Diocletian lasted from 303 to 313, effectively ending after Constantine came to power.1 During this period of religious intolerance, thousands of Christians were put to death.2 However, many still evaded persecution because not all emperors and regional judges enforced the imperial edict, although some did so vehemently and with severe prejudice. It is commonly believed that most Christians either acceded and sacrificed to the Roman gods, bribed their way out of it, or found some kind of loophole.3 Apart from refusing to honor Caesar as a god along with all of the other pagan deities, Christians were just plain weird and obstinate. After a couple centuries of tolerating the growth of Christianity to about 10% of the population, the average Roman citizen grew tired and weary of them. As Jesus predicted, the conversion to Christianity tore many families apart (Matthew 10:21-22, Mark 13:12-13, Luke 12:51-52). And, speaking of tearing families apart, these were the times when Christians were fed to the lions in the amphitheaters, although not to the extent that we might be led to believe. For one, Christians were being fed to the lions since the first century. Secondly, the intent was not to be eaten but torn apart and mutilated. Thirdly, this form of capital punishment was generally reserved for other crimes, such as military desertion, murder, counterfeiting, and runaway slaves. Of course, there were several other ways of torturing and killing Christians, including crucifixion, burning alive, beheading, hanging, and working and starving them to death after gouging out their eyes and chopping off their hands and/or feet. As much as the Romans enjoyed these gruesome events, they still considered them a bit extreme and morally questionable.4 Since nothing is known of their manner of death after searching the Internet for ten minutes, we'll assume the 89 martyrs were burned at the stake while being eviscerated by large feline predators and enraged hippopotomi.

  1. Ironically, the instigator and most adamant supporter of the persecution of Christians from the start was Emperor Galerius, who was the first to issue a decree of toleration in 311 A.D. because he saw the whole effort as an ultimate failure.
  2. Estimates vary widely from approximately 3,000 to 23,000, while only about 850 are known by name.
  3. According to the World Wide Web.
  4. Something I remember reading but can't remember where.

VD, BFD Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Saint Valentine -- pick whichever one you want -- might not agree with the way his feast day is celebrated in this day and age. Most women probably wouldn't, either. Despite what they want, here's what most women get for Valentine's Day:

  • A teddy bear wearing an NFL jersey and football helmet
  • Russel Stover assorted chocolates in a heart box
  • Whitman's Sampler regular yellow rectangle box
  • Bag of M&Ms
  • Under-sized lingerie and an over-sized greeting card
  • $25 gift card for coffee, a book, or hobby materials
  • Dinner and a movie at home... maybe or maybe not accompanied with a box of wine
  • Sex... or at least a self-induced orgasm
  • A gold-plated heart pendant necklace with an engraving that reads "Mom"
  • A cold or the flu
  • Matching sweat pant/sweat shirt combo from Walmart or Cabelas
  • Something with Betty Boop on it (balloon, mug, balloon/mug gift combo, sweat suit)
  • Coupon for a back rub (basically an IOU)
  • A live animal that requires a considerable amount of care and attention and will likely keep her awake at all hours of the night and put her at odds with her immediate neighbors for the next few months
  • Flowers without a vase that require a vase that requires too much time and energy to locate
  • That good, old-fashioned classic: an appliance
  • An empty frame from Hobby Lobby or the dollar store
  • A plaque or novelty trophy that reads "World's Best Lover" or "#1 Gal"
  • A novelty item, like a conservative sex toy
  • A romantic getaway for two at Applebee's
  • A romantic getaway for the entire family at the Golden Corral Buffet
  • A rotating, multi-colored fiber optic fountain light
  • Black Hills Gold jewelry
  • Something practical like jumper cables, an electric toothbrush, gym membership, cell phone case, or a pre-paid funeral plan
  • A personalized coffee mug
  • A star named after her for thirty-five bucks
  • Re-gifted Yankee candle and/or lotion variety pack
  • A natural object shaped like a heart, possibly a vegetable or a rock
  • Something homemade but lacking sentimentality which could've been purchased for ten dollars or less
  • Nothing, except maybe for a brief explanation about how Valentine's Day is not really a holiday but just another bullshit occasion for commercialism
  • Disappointment -- the gift that keeps on giving

Remembering Absalom Jones Monday, February 13, 2023
Today we remember Absalom Jones (1746-1818), an American slave who bought the freedom of his wife before obtaining his own freedom and went on to become one of the first black ministers in the U.S. along with Richard Allen (1760-1831). The two were ordained and licensed to preach by the Methodist Episcopal Church after Pennsylvania abolished slavery, however, they experienced racial segregation and discrimination by white members. So, they founded the Free African Society in Philadelphia for ministering and providing aid to former slaves. In 1794, Jones opened the first black church of the city, the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, and became the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church, while Allen started the African Methodist Episcopal Church and became the first African-American Methodist minister. Following is an excerpt from The Causes and Motives for Establishing St. Thomas's African Church of Philadelphia by its collective founders and trustees:

Whereas, through the various attempts we have made to promote our design, God has marked out made our ways with blessings. And we are now encouraged through the grace and divine assistance of the friends and God opening the hearts of our white friends and brethren, to encourage us to arise out of the dust and shake ourselves, and throw off that servile fear, that the habit of oppression and bondage trained us up in. And in meekness and fear we would desire to walk in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free. That following peace with all men, we may have our fruit unto holiness, and in the end, everlasting life.

And in order the more fully to accomplish the good purposes of God's will, and organize ourselves for the purpose of promoting the health the people all, but more particularly our relatives, of color. We, after many consultations, and some years deliberation thereon, have gone forward to erect a house for the glory of God, and our mutual advantage to meet in for clarification and social religious worship. And more particularly to keep an open door for those of our race, who may be into assemble with us, but would not attend divine worship in Other places; and

Whereas, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, we are the more encourage thereto, believing God will bless our works and labors of love...

For the entire text of the publication, go here. It is also available from various public libraries via the ancient daguerreotype process of microfiche. The church itself has survived and made its way online here. If you visited this blog expecting to read about Saint Dyfnog of sixth-century Wales because he has a peculiar name and thought I'd poke fun at him, then shame on you.

Tales of Unorthodox Romance Sunday, February 12, 2023
Today is Darwin Day to commemorate the birthday of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). If you don't know who this is, then your public school education has failed in more ways than one. I can think of no better way to celebrate Darwin than by sharing a story from my upcoming book, Tales of Unorthodox Romance, coming this year to an airport bookstand near you and sure to be a New York Tim's Best Seller.

Charles Darwin sat on his theory of natural selection for nearly two decades as he wrestled with faith in God. He married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, in 1839 after returning from his infamous voyage aboard the HMS Beagle to the Galapagos Islands where much of his evolutionary ideas would formulate. He studied his ten children as they grew, seven of whom were fittest to survive, and wrote at length on their similarities to barnacles.

Although he struggled with poor health due to stress, it was likely the prayers of his Unitarian wife which kept him going on his research into biological transmutation. However, in the end, as they say, the rest is history. Darwin eventually determined that life on this planet was perfectly capable without God, published a number of papers (On the Origin of Species in 1859, The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication in 1868, The Descent of Man in 1871, et al), left Emma, and re-married an orangutan from the London Zoo named Lady Jane, whom he affectionately referred to as Jenny.

Although Jenny died at a relatively young age for apes, their relationship gave Charles enough time to realize that there wasn't much of a difference between human wives and primate wives, resulting in his 1872 book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. From then until his death in 1882, Darwin grew a beard with which he fell in love for the third time. Named Lucy, she was the first female elected to the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, better known as the Royal Society.

Although Darwin's body decayed in the grave, Lucy would go on existing for years in darkness and solitude, where she would develop her own theories on the origin of species. Eventually, she came to the conclusion that life was impossible without the supporting foundation and continual guidance of a Supreme Designer. Unfortunately, her papers were never discovered and therefore never published.

The Antinomian Controversy Sunday, February 5, 2023
On this day in 1597, twenty-six Kirishitans were martyred in Nagasaki, Japan (refer to previous blog). Today also marks the commemoration of Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), a Puritan woman and parishioner of Cotton Mather who led home group studies of scripture and sermons -- called a conventicle -- both in England and New England after following Cotton Mather to Boston, Massachusetts. She was controversial for being an outspoken woman and for challenging Puritan ministers on the subject of grace over works, which culminated in the Antinomian Controversy (1636-1638), or Free Grace Controversy, and the banishment of Hutchinson's family and several like-minded ministers and laypeople from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Cotton Mather did not help in her defense, instead accusing her privately-held conventicles of being a dangerous potential for an orgy of sin. Eventually settling in what is now the Bronx, New York, she and her surviving children were killed by Indians, which was seen by members of the Massachusetts Bay Colony as God's vengeance. Considered a pain in the ass by Boston governor John Winthrop and many of its Puritan ministers, she is now considered by many to have been a feminist pioneer and an influence upon the separation of church and state.
Blessed Kirishitan Samurai Saturday, February 4, 2023
This is the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese calendar, who introduced their custom of Setsubun to the Japanese in the eighth century, which is a way of ushering in Spring by tossing fortune beans out the front door while commanding demons of misfortune to go away, which is a segue to today's Christian hero, Justo Takayama Ukon (born Hikogoro Shigetomo circa 1552), who was martyred of natural causes on this day in 1615. Raised in Takayama village in Osaka prefecture as a samurai who was to become a feudal lord (daimyo) during a period of constant unrest and civil wars, he was baptized at age twelve, given the Christian name Justo Takayama Ukon, and committed his life as a Christian (Kirishitan) when he came of age after a ritualistic duel in which his opponent was killed. During his life as a daimyo, samurai and general, he preached the Gospel and introduced many Japanese to the faith. In 1614, he was expelled from Japan to the Philippines by the ruling elite, who decided that Christianity didn't have quite the appeal and effect they had originally hoped when they allowed it in, and he died the following year from illness. Not long prior, in 1597, twenty-six Catholics were martyred in nearby Nagasaki in a public parade of torture, mutilation, crucifixion, and further torture while hanging from crosses. In 1632, another fifty-five were martyred in Nagasaki and any remaining Kirishitans who didn't leave were driven underground. For more about Justo Takayama Ukon, visit his official fansite.

Mother Mary Full of Impurities Thursday, February 2, 2023
Today is Candlemas, or the Feast of the Presentation of Baby Jesus, or the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, celebrating the presentation of the baby Jesus and his mother at the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth, following the purification period of Mary after being deemed ceremonially unclean. Although some have noted a similarity of date and purpose with the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, it's rather unlikely that the two have anything in common or were ever combined, although some Christians were known to celebrate Lupercalia. However, you can rest assured that pancakes will be eaten in Belgium, crêpes will be consumed in France, and tamales will dance in the streets of Latin American countries. Groundhog Day comes from the German observance of Candlemas whereby if a bratwurst being eaten by a hedgehog casts a shadow then there will be a second winter and a delay in global warming. The term Candlemas comes from any and all churches that like to burn candles which, of course, represents the light of Jesus.

When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord" [Exodus 13:1-16]), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: "a pair of doves or two young pigeons." [Leviticus 12] Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel."

The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him. (Luke 2:22-40, NIV)

Sulpitius I, Sulpitius the Pious, Sulpicius Severus, or Severus Snape? You be the judge.

Sulpitius, Not Sulpicius Sunday, January 29, 2023
Today is a very special day, if just for Sulpitius Severus (Bishop of Bourges in the sixth century) -- not to be confused with Sulpicius Severus of Aquitaine (writer and priest in the fourth to fifth century) -- and also because of Gildas the Wise (c. 450-500 A.D.), a British monk who wrote De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain), available here. Much is known of Gildas, however, not much of it is reliable, as it is with the rest of history, like Sabinian of Troyes, a third century convert to Christianity who was martyred on this day in 275 under Emperor Aurelian (not to be confused with Marcus Aurelius). Today's blog was sponsored by Contes de Romance Peu Orthodoxe, an unorthodox series of romances due out sometime this year. Here is just one story to whet your appetite...

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.

Feast of the Common Doctor Saturday, January 28, 2023
Today is Data Privacy Day but I will share this with you anyway -- today is also a day to remember one of the Catholic Church's finest: Thomas of Aquino (1225-1274), or Thomas Aquinas, a medieval friar of the Dominican Order who was counted as a Doctor of the Church, or one who contributed considerably to theology and doctrine. Thomas Aquinas wrote in the neighborhood of fifty volumes of Aristotelian philosophy, known collectively as Summa Theologica (Summation of Theology), which can be found online here or for a dollar on Amazon. It was never quite finished because he considered his writings as nothing but straw. His own style of philosophy and theology have come to be known as Thomism, or Thomistic philosophy. A fairly comprehensive collection of his work may be found online here and links to his texts may be accessed from here. Nicknamed the "dumb ox" by his classmates due to his rotund physique and quiet demeanor, he would come to be known as the "Common Doctor" by the Catholic Church for his ubiquitous contribution to theology and as the "Angelic Doctor" for his voluminous expositions on the existence and nature of angels. Fortunately for theological dummies, Thomas Aquinas wrote a condensed version of his Summa Theologica called A Shorter Summa, which you can check out for free from the Internet Archive. And, wouldn't you know it, here's a Thomistic sampling:

Article 1. Whether, besides philosophy, any further doctrine is required?

Objection 1. It seems that, besides philosophical science, we have no need of any further knowledge. For man should not seek to know what is above reason: "Seek not the things that are too high for thee" (Sirach 3:22). But whatever is not above reason is fully treated of in philosophical science. Therefore any other knowledge besides philosophical science is superfluous.

Objection 2. Further, knowledge can be concerned only with being, for nothing can be known, save what is true; and all that is, is true. But everything that is, is treated of in philosophical science—even God Himself; so that there is a part of philosophy called theology, or the divine science, as Aristotle has proved (Metaph. vi). Therefore, besides philosophical science, there is no need of any further knowledge.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Timothy 3:16): "All Scripture, inspired of God is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice." Now Scripture, inspired of God, is no part of philosophical science, which has been built up by human reason. Therefore it is useful that besides philosophical science, there should be other knowledge, i.e. inspired of God.

I answer that, It was necessary for man's salvation that there should be a knowledge revealed by God besides philosophical science built up by human reason. Firstly, indeed, because man is directed to God, as to an end that surpasses the grasp of his reason: "The eye hath not seen, O God, besides Thee, what things Thou hast prepared for them that wait for Thee" (Isaiah 64:4). But the end must first be known by men who are to direct their thoughts and actions to the end. Hence it was necessary for the salvation of man that certain truths which exceed human reason should be made known to him by divine revelation. Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man's whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a sacred science learned through revelation.

Reply to Objection 1. Although those things which are beyond man's knowledge may not be sought for by man through his reason, nevertheless, once they are revealed by God, they must be accepted by faith. Hence the sacred text continues, "For many things are shown to thee above the understanding of man" (Sirach 3:25). And in this, the sacred science consists.

Reply to Objection 2. Sciences are differentiated according to the various means through which knowledge is obtained. For the astronomer and the physicist both may prove the same conclusion: that the earth, for instance, is round: the astronomer by means of mathematics (i.e. abstracting from matter), but the physicist by means of matter itself. Hence there is no reason why those things which may be learned from philosophical science, so far as they can be known by natural reason, may not also be taught us by another science so far as they fall within revelation. Hence theology included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy.

Article 2. Whether sacred doctrine is a science?

Objection 1. It seems that sacred doctrine is not a science. For every science proceeds from self-evident principles. But sacred doctrine proceeds from articles of faith which are not self-evident, since their truth is not admitted by all: "For all men have not faith" (2 Thessalonians 3:2). Therefore sacred doctrine is not a science.

Objection 2. Further, no science deals with individual facts. But this sacred science treats of individual facts, such as the deeds of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and such like. Therefore sacred doctrine is not a science.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xiv, 1) "to this science alone belongs that whereby saving faith is begotten, nourished, protected and strengthened." But this can be said of no science except sacred doctrine. Therefore sacred doctrine is a science.

I answer that, Sacred doctrine is a science. We must bear in mind that there are two kinds of sciences. There are some which proceed from a principle known by the natural light of intelligence, such as arithmetic and geometry and the like. There are some which proceed from principles known by the light of a higher science: thus the science of perspective proceeds from principles established by geometry, and music from principles established by arithmetic. So it is that sacred doctrine is a science because it proceeds from principles established by the light of a higher science, namely, the science of God and the blessed. Hence, just as the musician accepts on authority the principles taught him by the mathematician, so sacred science is established on principles revealed by God.

Reply to Objection 1. The principles of any science are either in themselves self-evident, or reducible to the conclusions of a higher science; and such, as we have said, are the principles of sacred doctrine.

Reply to Objection 2. Individual facts are treated of in sacred doctrine, not because it is concerned with them principally, but they are introduced rather both as examples to be followed in our lives (as in moral sciences) and in order to establish the authority of those men through whom the divine revelation, on which this sacred scripture or doctrine is based, has come down to us.

Article 5. Whether sacred doctrine is nobler than other sciences?

Objection 1. It seems that sacred doctrine is not nobler than other sciences; for the nobility of a science depends on the certitude it establishes. But other sciences, the principles of which cannot be doubted, seem to be more certain than sacred doctrine; for its principles -- namely, articles of faith -- can be doubted. Therefore other sciences seem to be nobler.

Objection 2. Further, it is the sign of a lower science to depend upon a higher; as music depends on arithmetic. But sacred doctrine does in a sense depend upon philosophical sciences; for Jerome observes, in his Epistle to Magnus, that "the ancient doctors so enriched their books with the ideas and phrases of the philosophers, that thou knowest not what more to admire in them, their profane erudition or their scriptural learning." Therefore sacred doctrine is inferior to other sciences.

On the contrary, Other sciences are called the handmaidens of this one: "Wisdom sent her maids to invite to the tower" (Proverbs 9:3).

I answer that, Since this science is partly speculative and partly practical, it transcends all others speculative and practical. Now one speculative science is said to be nobler than another, either by reason of its greater certitude, or by reason of the higher worth of its subject-matter. In both these respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled: in point of the higher worth of its subject-matter because this science treats chiefly of those things which by their sublimity transcend human reason; while other sciences consider only those things which are within reason's grasp. Of the practical sciences, that one is nobler which is ordained to a further purpose, as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the army is directed to the good of the State. But the purpose of this science, in so far as it is practical, is eternal bliss; to which as to an ultimate end the purposes of every practical science are directed. Hence it is clear that from every standpoint, it is nobler than other sciences.

Reply to Objection 1. It may well happen that what is in itself the more certain may seem to us the less certain on account of the weakness of our intelligence, "which is dazzled by the clearest objects of nature; as the owl is dazzled by the light of the sun" (Metaph. ii, lect. i). Hence the fact that some happen to doubt about articles of faith is not due to the uncertain nature of the truths, but to the weakness of human intelligence; yet the slenderest knowledge that may be obtained of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge obtained of lesser things, as is said in de Animalibus xi.

Reply to Objection 2. This science can in a sense depend upon the philosophical sciences, not as though it stood in need of them, but only in order to make its teaching clearer. For it accepts its principles not from other sciences, but immediately from God, by revelation. Therefore it does not depend upon other sciences as upon the higher, but makes use of them as of the lesser, and as handmaidens: even so the master sciences make use of the sciences that supply their materials, as political of military science. That it thus uses them is not due to its own defect or insufficiency, but to the defect of our intelligence, which is more easily led by what is known through natural reason (from which proceed the other sciences) to that which is above reason, such as are the teachings of this science.

Anyhow, you get the gist. If you crave more, this came from here and there's more where that came from.

Chrysostom Against the Jews Friday, January 27, 2023
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the genocide of one third of the Jewish population by Nazi Germany during World War II. Coincidentally, it's also the feast day of John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407), one of the most prominent and eloquent of the early Church Fathers, yet not without controversy. Although outspoken against the Jews, Chrysostom preached what many Christians throughout history thought about those who rejected the man who was supposed to be their own Messiah. Is it any wonder, then, why so many in the Church turned a blind eye during the Holocaust? From the Tertullian Project, here are just bits and pieces of Chrysostom's homily against the Jews:

What is this disease? The festivals of the pitiful and miserable Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles, the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now. My homilies against the Anomians can be put off to another time, and the postponement would cause no harm. But now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease. I am afraid that, because of their ill-suited association and deep ignorance, some Christians may partake in the Jews' transgressions; once they have done so, I fear my homilies on these transgressions will be in vain. For if they hear no word from me today, they will then join the Jews in their fasts; once they have committed this sin it will be useless for me to apply the remedy...

But do not be surprised that I called the Jews pitiable. They really are pitiable and miserable. When so many blessings from heaven came into their hands, they thrust them aside and were at great pains to reject them. The morning Sun of Justice arose for them, but they thrust aside its rays and still sit in darkness. We, who were nurtured by darkness, drew the light to ourselves and were freed from the gloom of their error. They were the branches of that holy root, but those branches were broken. We had no share in the root, but we did reap the fruit of godliness. From their childhood they read the prophets, but they crucified him whom the prophets had foretold. We did not hear the divine prophecies but we did worship him of whom they prophesied. And so they are pitiful because they rejected the blessings which were sent to them, while others seized hold of these blessing and drew them to themselves. Although those Jews had been called to the adoption of sons, they fell to kinship with dogs; we who were dogs received the strength, through God's grace, to put aside the irrational nature which was ours and to rise to the honor of sons. How do I prove this? Christ said: "It is no fair to take the children's bread and to cast it to the dogs". Christ was speaking to the Canaanite woman when He called the Jews children and the Gentiles dogs...

Nothing is more miserable than those people who never failed to attack their own salvation. When there was need to observe the Law, they trampled it under foot. Now that the Law has ceased to bind, they obstinately strive to observe it. What could be more pitiable that those who provoke God not only by transgressing the Law but also by keeping it? On this account Stephen said: "You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart, you always resist the Holy Spirit", not only by transgressing the Law but also by wishing to observe it at the wrong time...

Stephen was right in calling them stiff-necked. For they failed to take up the yoke of Christ, although it was sweet and had nothing about it which was either burdensome or oppressive. For he said: "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart", and "Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light". Nonetheless they failed to take up the yoke because of the stiffness of their necks. Not only did they fail to take it up but they broke it and destroyed it. For Jeremiah said: "Long ago you broke your yoke and burst your bonds". It was not Paul who said this but the voice of the prophet speaking loud and clear. When he spoke of the yoke and the bonds, he meant the symbols of rule, because the Jews rejected the rule of Christ when they said: "We have no king but Caesar". You Jews broke the yoke, you burst the bonds, you cast yourselves out of the kingdom of heaven, and you made yourselves subject to the rule of men. Please consider with me how accurately the prophet hinted that their hearts were uncontrolled. He did not say: "You set aside the yoke", but "You broke the yoke" and this is the crime of untamed beasts, who are uncontrolled and reject rule...

Many, I know, respect the Jews and think that their present way of life is a venerable one. This is why I hasten to uproot and tear out this deadly opinion. I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater and I bring forward a prophet as my witness. Surely the Jews are not more deserving of belief than their prophets. "You had a harlot's brow; you became shameless before all". Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel. But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. Jeremiah said: "Your house has become for me the den of a hyena". He does not simply say "of wild beast", but "of a filthy wild beast", and again: "I have abandoned my house, I have cast off my inheritance". But when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons...

But at any rate the Jews say that they, too, adore God. God forbid that I say that. No Jew adores God! Who say so? The Son of God say so. For he said: "If you were to know my Father, you would also know me. But you neither know me nor do you know my Father". Could I produce a witness more trustworthy than the Son of God? If, then, the Jews fail to know the Father, if they crucified the Son, if they thrust off the help of the Spirit, who should not make bold to declare plainly that the synagogue is a dwelling of demons? God is not worshipped there. Heaven forbid! From now on it remains a place of idolatry. But still some people pay it honor as a holy place...

The Jews frighten you as if you were little children, and you do not see it. Many wicked slaves show frightening and ridiculous masks to youngsters-the masks are not frightening by their nature, but they seem so to the children's simple minds-and in this way they stir up many a laugh. This is the way the Jews frighten the simpler-minded Christians with the bugbears and hobgoblins of their shrines. Yet how could their ridiculous and disgraceful synagogues frighten you? Are they not the shrines of men who have been rejected, dishonored, and condemned?

Our churches are not like that; they are truly frightening and filled with fear. God's presence makes a place frightening because he has power over life and death. In our churches we hear countless homilies on eternal punishments, on rivers of fire, on the venomous worm, on bonds that cannot be burst, or exterior darkness. But the Jews neither know nor dream of these things. They live for their bellies, they gape for the things of this world, their condition is not better than that of pigs or goats because of their wanton ways and excessive gluttony. They know but one thing: to fill their bellies and be drunk, to get all cut and bruised, to be hurt and wounded while fighting for their favorite charioteers...

Believe me, I shall risk my life before I would neglect any one who is sick with this disease-if I see him. If I fail to see him, surely God will grant me pardon. And let each one of you consider this matter; let him not think it is something of secondary importance. Do you take no notice of what the deacon continuously calls out in the mysteries? "Recognize one another", he says. Do you not see how he entrusts to you the careful examination of your brothers? Do this in the case of Judaizers, too. When you observe someone Judaizing, take hold of him, show him what he is doing, so that you may not yourself be an accessory to the risk he runs...

Since there are some who think of the synagogue as a holy place, I must say a few words to them. Why do you reverence that place? Must you not despise it, hold it in abomination, run away from it? They answer that the Law and the books of the prophets are kept there. What is this? Will any place where these books are be a holy place? By no means! This is the reason above all others why I hate the synagogue and abhor it. They have the prophets but not believe them; they read the sacred writings but reject their witness-and this is a mark of men guilty of the greatest outrage...

Certainly it is the time for me to show that demons dwell in the synagogue, not only in the place itself but also in the souls of the Jews. As Christ said: "When an unclean spirit is gone out, he walks through dry places seeking rest. If he does not find it he says: I shall return to my house. And coming he finds it empty, swept, and garnished. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself and they enter into him and the last state of that man is made worse than the first. So shall it be also to this generations".

Do you see that demons dwell in their souls and that these demons are more dangerous than the ones of old? And this is very reasonable. In the old days the Jews acted impiously toward the prophets; now they outrage the Master of the prophets. Tell me this. Do you not shudder to come into the same place with men possessed, who have so many unclean spirits, who have been reared amid slaughter and bloodshed? Must you share a greeting with them and exchange a bare word? Must you not turn away from them since they are the common disgrace and infection of the whole world? Have they not come to every form of wickedness? Have not all the prophets spent themselves making many and long speeches of accusation against them? What tragedy, what manner of lawlessness have they not eclipsed by their blood-guiltiness? They sacrificed their own sons and daughters to demons. They refused to recognize nature, they forgot the pangs, of birth, they trod underfoot the rearing of their children, they overturned from their foundations the laws of kingship, they became more savage than any wild beast...

Tell me this. If a man were to have slain your son, would you endure to look upon him, or accept his greeting? Would you not shun him as a wicked demon, as the devil himself? They slew the Son of your Lord; do you have the boldness to enter with them under the same roof? After he was slain he heaped such honor upon you that he made you his brother and coheir. But you dishonor him so much that you pay honor to those who slew him on the cross, that you observe with them the fellowship of the festivals, that you go to their profane places, enter their unclean doors, and share in the tables of demons. For I am persuaded to call the fasting of the Jews a table of demons because they slew God. If the Jews are acting against God, must they not be serving the demons? Are you looking for demons to cure you? When Christ allowed the demons to enter into the swine, straightway they plunged into the sea. Will these demons spare the bodies of men? I wish they would not kill men's bodies, that they would not plot against them. But they will. The demons cast men from Paradise and deprived them the honor from above. Will they cure their bodies? That is ridiculous, mere stories. The demons know how to plot and do harm, not to cure. They do not spare souls. Tell me, then, will they spare bodies? They try to drive men from the Kingdom. Will they choose to free them from disease?

Do not regard my words lightly. Be scrupulous in hunting out those who suffer from this sickness. Let the women search for the women, the men for the men, the slaves for the slaves, the freemen for the freemen, and the children for the children. Come all of you to our next meeting with such success that you win praise from me-and, before any praise of mine, that you obtain, from God a great and indescribable reward which in abundant measure surpasses the labors of those who succeed. May all of us obtain this by the grace and loving-kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom and with whom be glory to the Father together with the Holy Spirit now and forever, world without end. Amen.

Note: Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox and Lutherans all revere Chrysostom as a saint, although some observe his feast day in September. Chrysostom was not in favor of killing the Jews but in converting them. His viewpoints on the Jews are presented here for a better understanding of why some still think that they do not remain God's chosen people. I for one believe that God has not forsaken them.

Sermon by the Camp Fire, Part VIII Thursday, January 26, 2023
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. I cannot say whether Pope Benedict XVI had anything to do with the writing of this book because I have been asked by the Vatican not to mention anyone Catholic and popish by name, so I never mentioned Pope Benedict XVI as having anything to do with this book, whether he did or not.

Jesus saith, "Grapes are not harvested from thorn trees, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they yield no fruit. Good persons produce good from what they have stored up; bad persons produce evil from the wickedness they have stored up in their hearts, and say evil things. For from the overflow of the heart they produce evil, and from the pressure of the bowels do they shat forth diarrhea upon the grapes and the figs of the good harvesters, who must therefore need be vigilant exceeding of a clean heart."

Jesus saith, "From Adam to John the Baptiser, among those born of women, not an one is so much greater than John the Baptiser that his eyes should not be averted. But I have said that whosoever among you becometh a child will recognise the kingdom, and will become greater than John."

And James the less asked of him, saying, "But, Lord, why a child? For children are cruel, and have unfiltered mouths, and are given easily to tantrums, and defy their elders." And Jesus saith, "Of truth, but they are adorable none the less."

Jesus saith, "A person can not mount two horses, or bend two bows, typically; unless he be a courageous daredevil, or a practised shewman who doth use both feet skillfully. And a slave can not serve two masters ordinarily, otherwise that slave will honour the one and offend the other; unless he be supervised by one and managed by an other in an hierarchy, though still would there occur confusion at various levels, and in certain situations."

Jesus saith, "No one drinketh aged wine and immediately desireth he to drink young wine, except the aged hath turned to vinegar. Young wine is not poured into old wineskins, or they might break, and aged wine is not poured into a new wineskin, or it might spoil. Yet one may be aged in the wooden barrel of the other; but not red in white, nor conversely, white in red."

Jesus saith, "An old patch is not sewn onto a new garment, since it would create a tear, unless first washed and then applied, or both are washed in cold water only. A decrepit man doth he not wear fashionable attire, lest he splitteth at the seams; nor the pubescent youth the garments of his elders, unless they have come back into fashion."

Jesus saith, "If two make peace with each other in a single house, they will say to the mountain: Move from here! And it will move. Why they would say such a thing is of no concern: that it could be done is of importance. And if three make peace in a single house, they shall say to the stars: Fall! And they shall fall. Again, there is no good reason for such a command in times of peace."

Jesus saith, "Blessings to those who are alone and chosen, for ye will find the kingdom. For thou hast come from it alone, and thou shalt return there again chosen. Thus an endless recursion loop, from which there is no escape; save for shutting down completely, and then restarting."

Jesus saith, "If they say to you: From whence have ye come? Say to them: We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established of itself, and appeared in their image. If they say to you: Is it you? Say: We are the children of it, and we are the chosen of the living Father. If they ask you: What is the evidence of your Father in you? Say to them: It is motion and rest. If they say: What in the hell are ye talking about? Just say: I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together; I am the egg man, they are the egg men, I am the walrus; goo goo g'joob."

Octave of Christian Unity Wednesday, January 25, 2023
And thus concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the Northern Hemisphere, which began on the 18th with the Feast of Saint Peter's Chair and concludes this eighth day ("octave") with the Feast of Saint Paul's Bath Robe -- brought to you by the World Council of Churches, which reminds us all that Jesus commanded us to pray at least once a year for ecumenism, or worldwide church unity. Whether you are Evangelical, Pentecostal, Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox, we can all agree on one thing: Jesus Christ. But what about Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarian Universalists, don't they believe in Jesus, too? No, they don't. If they did, they'd be called Christians. Some of the basic tenets of the classic Christian faith include belief in the death and resurrection of Jesus as God's only begotten for the remission of sin, baptism, the Trinity, infallibility of the Old and New Testaments, and the Second Coming. Criticize the Bible all you want but if you believe in the Jesus of the Bible, then congratulations. If you don't, then good luck. If you want to but find yourself in disagreement with his teachings and who his immediate disciples said he was and what he did, then find another religion or make one up that does not include Jesus of Nazareth. Beware of anyone who takes Christianity, fucks it all up, then tries to sell it as new and improved (Matthew 7:15). Today's blog was underwritten by Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, entertaining people with animal cruelty from 1884-2017, and by Compaq Computer Corp, retired from making beige computers since 2013. If you are interested in supporting this blog financially, please give alms to some poor wretch out there on the streets who needs it more than I do. That way, we all benefit. And to those who don't understand the difference between charity and socialism, here's the lowdown: Charity is freely giving of one's own resources to those who are less fortunate, while socialism is government subsidy through the redistribution of taxes to those who are less industrious. (Pictured above: An ancient sand globe depicting Jesus warning his followers about mainline Christianity.)

The Pratulin Dozen Tuesday, January 24, 2023
What happens when a Catholic refuses to convert to the Russian Orthodox Church? On this day in 1874, 13 Greek Catholics found out the hard way when they were fired upon by the Imperial Russian Army in Pratulin, Poland, for protesting the forced conversion of their church. 11 died that day and 2 died a couple days later (a baker's dozen). The protesters were all gunned down while kneeling peacefully and singing hymns. Here's who they were: Wincenty Lewoniuk (25), married and pious; Daniel Karmasz (48), married, held the cross in his hand; Lukasz Bojko (22), pious and respected, he rang the church bell; Konstanty Bojko (49), married, farmer, regarded as a righteous man; Konstanty Lukaszuk (45), married with seven children, respected; Bartlomiej Osypiuk (30) married with two children, pious and honest, before death he prayed for the persecutors; Anicet Hryciuk (19), he said "perhaps I will be worthy to be killed for the faith"; Filip Geryluk (44), married, a good father, he encouraged the others to stay by the church; Ignacy Franczuk (50), married with seven children, he was prepared not to come back home; Jan Andrzejuk (26), married with two children, a chanter in the parish church; Maksym Hawryluk (34), married; Onufry Wasyluk (21), married, known as a good Catholic; Michal Wawryszuk (21), a farmer. Read more, but not much more, here.

To Infinity and Beyond Sunday, January 22, 2023
Call me old-fashioned because I am now officially old-fashioned. I realized this while watching the Disney/Pixar movie Lightyear for the first time last night. Of course, I'm referring to the scene where the two mature animated female characters in a loving relationship kissed on the lips, then a little later one was pregnant. I immediately thought about having to explain that to my grandchildren. There's enough "buzz" online about this movie, however, I am going to share what The Guardian had to say about this: "Unless you are a raging bigot, there is clearly nothing inappropriate about kids being exposed to the fact that gay people exist. The fact that it is 2022 and this still needs to be said demonstrates that our society is in a state of moral collapse." (Arwa Mahdawi) For starters, I am behind the times for getting around to watching this movie until now. I also have to say that I was also a little taken aback at the reverse sandwich scene -- meat on the outside and bread in the middle -- or even that advanced civilizations with inter-gender relationships eat meat. Secondly, I acknowledge that I am a bigot but, as a born-again Christian, there is no way around it. I believe in the God of the Bible, who is the biggest bigot in the universe. Arwa Mahdawi is right, our society is in a state of moral collapse, which is pure irony coming from such a socially liberal source. With that said, I believe that as a democratic society, citizens of the U.S. should be allowed to engage in gay civil unions that are protected by the government. However, marriage in the eyes of God is another thing altogether. No Christian organization may rightfully marry two people of the same sex. I'll say it again: People of the same sex who proclaim to believe in the God of the Bible and "marry" one another are mistaken. I'll say it again: I am a bigot because I have read the Bible and there is no support for gay union of any kind therein. As a matter of fact, it's even discouraged. If homosexual individuals who love each other want to enter into marriage, let them do so outside the doors of the church, synagogue or mosque. Let them find a "god" who is accepting of their lifestyle. Let them inquire of Pixar how imaginary animated characters get the job done. Christians must not only raise their children in a society where homosexuality is accepted and protected, they must try and lead their children down the straight and narrow path of bigotry. No doubt, many will fall along the way or go astray and there's no fighting it without being labeled an intolerant, homophobic bigot. That line has been clearly drawn. Call me old-fashioned because I believe in the God of the Bible -- a homophobic deity portrayed in an antiquated textual relic of bygone times. It doesn't matter if right is wrong and wrong is right because there is no wrong or right. Therefore, Jesus should be coming back soon. I am now going to step down from my soap box and take a nap.

More Protestant Shenanigans Saturday, January 21, 2023
Today we remember Fructuosus of Tarragona (d. 259 AD) and Meinrad of Einsiedeln (d. 861 AD), both venerated saints of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Let us also remember those miscreants, the Anabaptists of the sixteenth century, which became the Swiss Hutterites, Dutch Mennonites, and Alsatian Amish. On this day in 1525, a group of misfit believers in Zürich -- Conrad Grebel (Zwingli minister), Felix Manz (Zwingli follower), and George Blaurock (Catholic priest) -- got together and baptized one another even though they had already been baptized as infants, which was highly frowned upon. Two years later, they drew up the Schleitheim Confession of Faith. One of the primary focal points of the Anabaptists was baptism of those who were able and capable of confessing their faith, which meant they were opposed to infant baptism. The name Anabaptist was used by Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists and Anglicans alike, which means "one who baptizes again," because of their practice of baptizing believers who were already baptized as infants. It wasn't a name they particularly liked because the New Testament taught to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38), which they interpreted to mean that babies could not repent and therefore could not be baptized and thus their baptism was meaningless. They preferred to be called something along the lines of the Swiss Brethren, but that didn't really catch on. Even so, the Anabaptists were one of the primary factions to come out of the Protestant Reformation and the only one to promote a complete separation of church and state. From the Schleitheim Confession of Faith, here is a slightly condensed version of the

Anabaptist's Seven Articles of Faith:
Concerning Baptism
Baptism shall be given to all those who have been taught repentance and the amendment of life and believe truly that their sins are taken away through Christ, and to all those who desire to walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and be buried with Him in death, so that they might rise with Him; to all those who with such an understanding themselves desire and request it from us; hereby is excluded all infant baptism, the greatest and first abomination of the pope. For this you have the reasons and the testimony of the writings and the practice of the apostles.

Concerning the Ban
The ban shall be employed with all those who have given themselves over to the Lord, to walk after in His commandments; those who have been baptized into the one body of Christ, and let themselves be called brothers or sisters, and still somehow slip and fall into error and sin, being inadvertently overtaken. The same be warned twice privately and the third time be publicly admonished before the entire congregation according to the command of Christ (Matthew 18). But this shall be done according to the ordering of the Spirit of God before the breaking of bread so that we may all in one spirit and in one love break and eat from one bread and drink from one cup.

Breaking of Bread All those who desire to break the one bread in remembrance of the broken body of Christ and all those who wish to drink of one drink in remembrance of the shed blood of Christ, they must beforehand be united in the one body of Christ, that is the congregation of God, whose head is Christ, and that by baptism. For as Paul indicates, we cannot be partakers at the same time of the table of the Lord and the table of devils. Nor can we at the same time partake and drink of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils. That is: all those who have fellowship with the dead works of darkness have no part in the light. Thus all those who follow the devil and the world, have no part with those who have been called out of the world unto God. All those who lie in evil have no part in the good. So it shall and must be, that whoever does not share the calling of the one God to one faith, to one baptism, to one spirit, to one body together with all the children of God, may not be made one loaf together with them, as must be true if one wishes truly to break bread according to the command of Christ.

Concerning the Separation
We have been united concerning the separation that shall take place from the evil and the wickedness which the devil has planted in the world, simply in this; that we have no fellowship with them, and do not run with them in the confusion of their abominations. So it is; since all who have not entered into the obedience of faith and have not united themselves with God so that they will to do His will, are a great abomination before God, therefore nothing else can or really will grow or spring forth from them than abominable things. Now there is nothing else in the world and all creation than good or evil, believing and unbelieving, darkness and light, the world and those who are out of the world, God's temple and idols. Christ and Belial, and none will have part with the other. To us, then, the commandment of the Lord is also obvious, whereby He orders us to be and to become separated from the evil one, and thus He will be our God and we shall be His sons and daughters. Further, He admonishes us therefore to go out from Babylon and from the earthly Egypt, that we may not be partakers in their torment and suffering, which the Lord will bring upon them.

From all this we should learn that everything which has not been united with our God in Christ is nothing but an abomination which we should shun. By this are meant all popish and repopish works and idolatry, gatherings, church attendance, winehouses, guarantees and commitments of unbelief, and other things of the kind, which the world regards highly, and yet which are carnal or flatly counter to the command of God, after the pattern of all the iniquity which is in the world. From all this we shall be separated and have no part with such, for they are nothing but abominations, which cause us to be hated before our Christ Jesus, who has freed us from the servitude of the flesh and fitted us for the service of God and the Spirit whom He has given us. Thereby shall also fall away from us the diabolical weapons of violence -- such as sword, armor, and the like, and all of their use to protect friends or against enemies -- by virtue of the word of Christ: "you shall not resist evil."

Shepherds in the Church of God
We have been united as follows concerning shepherds in the church of God. The shepherd in the church shall be a person according to the rule of Paul, fully and completely, who has a good report of those who are outside the faith. The office of such a person shall be to read and exhort and teach. warn, admonish, or ban in the congregation, and properly to preside among the sisters and brothers in prayer, and in the breaking of bread, and in all things to take care of the body of Christ, that it may be built up and developed, so that the name of God might be praised and honored through us, and the mouth of the mocker be stopped. He shall be supported, wherein he has need, by the congregation which has chosen him, so that he who serves the gospel can also live therefrom, as the Lord has ordered. But should a shepherd do something worthy of reprimand, nothing shall be done with him without the voice of two or three witnesses. If they sin they shall be publicly reprimanded, so that others might fear. But if the shepherd should be driven away or led to the Lord by the cross, at the same hour another shall be ordained to his place, so that the little folk and the little flock of God may not be destroyed, but be preserved by warning and be consoled.

Concerning the Sword
The sword is an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ. It punishes and kills the wicked and guards and protects the good. In the law the sword is established over the wicked for punishment and for death and the secular rulers are established to wield the same. But within the perfection of Christ only the ban is used for the admonition and exclusion of the one who has sinned, without the death of the flesh, simply the warning and the command to sin no more. Now many, who do not understand Christ's will for us, will ask; whether a Christian may or should use the sword against the wicked for the protection and defense of the good, or for the sake of love. The answer is unanimously revealed: Christ teaches and commands us to learn from Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart and thus we shall find rest for our souls. Now Christ says to the woman who was taken in adultery, not that she should be stoned according to the law of His Father (and yet He says, "What the Father commanded me, that I do") but with mercy and forgiveness and the warning to sin no more, says: "Go, sin no more." Exactly thus should we also proceed, according to the rule of the ban.

Second, is asked concerning the sword: whether a Christian shall pass sentence in disputes and strife about worldly matters, such as the unbelievers have with one another. The answer: Christ did not wish to decide or pass judgment between brother and brother concerning inheritance, but refused to do so. So should we also do.

Third, is asked concerning the sword: whether the Christian should be a magistrate if he is chosen thereto. This is answered thus: Christ was to be made king, but He fled and did not discern the ordinance of His Father. Thus we should also do as He did and follow after Him, and we shall not walk in darkness. For He Himself says: "Whoever would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." He Himself further forbids the violence of the sword when He says: "The princes of this world lord it over them etc., but among you it shall not be so." Further Paul says, "Whom God has foreknown, the same he has also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son," etc. Peter also says: "Christ has suffered (not ruled) and has left us an example, that you should follow after in his steps."

Lastly, one can see in the following points that it does not befit a Christian to be a magistrate: the rule of the government is according to the flesh, that of the Christians according to the Spirit. Their houses and dwelling remain in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven. Their citizenship is in this world, that of the Christians is in heaven. The weapons of their battle and warfare are carnal and only against the flesh, but the weapons of Christians are spiritual, against the fortification of the devil. The worldly are armed with steel and iron, but Christians are armed with the armor of God, with truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and with the Word of God. In sum: as Christ our Head is minded, so also must be minded the members of the body of Christ through Him, so that there be no division in the body, through which it would be destroyed. Since then Christ is as is written of Him, so must His members also be the same, so that His body may remain whole and unified for its own advancement and upbuilding. For any kingdom which is divided within itself will be destroyed.

Concerning the Oath
We have been united as follows concerning the oath. The oath is a confirmation among those who are quarreling or making promises. In the law it is commanded that it should be done only in the name of God, truthfully and not falsely. Christ, who teaches the perfection of the law, forbids His all swearing, whether true or false; neither by heaven nor by earth, neither by Jerusalem nor by our head; and that for the reason which He goes on to give: "For you cannot make one hair white or black." You see, thereby all swearing is forbidden. We cannot perform what is promised in the swearing, for we are not able to change the smallest part of ourselves. Now there are some who do not believe the simple commandment of God and who say, "But God swore by Himself to Abraham, because He was God (as He promised him that He would do good to him and would be his God if he kept His commandments). Why then should I not swear if I promise something to someone?" The answer: hear what the Scripture says: "God, since he wished to prove overabundantly to the heirs of His promise that His will did not change, inserted an oath so that by two immutable things we might have a stronger consolation (for it is impossible that God should lie"). Notice the meaning of the passage: God has the power to do what He forbids you, for everything is possible to Him. God swore an oath to Abraham, Scripture says, in order to prove that His counsel is immutable. That means: no one can withstand and thwart His will; thus He can keep His oath. But we cannot, as Christ said above, hold or perform our oath, therefore we should not swear.

Others say that swearing cannot be forbidden by God in the New Testament when it was commanded in the Old, but that it is forbidden only to swear by heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and our head. Answer: hear the Scripture. He who swears by heaven, swears by God's throne and by Him who sits thereon. Observe: swearing by heaven is forbidden, which is only God's throne; how much more is it forbidden to swear by God Himself. You blind fools, what is greater, the throne or He who sits upon it?

Others say, if it is then wrong to use God for truth, then the apostles Peter and Paul also swore. Answer: Peter and Paul only testify to that which God promised Abraham, whom we long after have received. But when one testifies, one testifies concerning that which is present, whether it be good or evil. Thus Simeon spoke of Christ to Mary and testified: "Behold: this one is ordained for the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign which will be spoken against."

Christ taught us similarly when He says: Your speech shall be yea, yea; and nay, nay; for what is more than that comes of evil. He says, your speech or your word shall be yes and no, so that no one might understand that He had permitted it. Christ is simply yea and nay, and all those who seek Him simply will understand His Word. Amen.

Taken from the Global Anabaptist Wiki with translation by John H. Yoder, Herald Press 1977. These articles of faith are based on a literal interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapters 5-7. Although there are similarities between Anabaptist and Baptist beliefs, don't mistake them as being related.

This image shows that, although the Anabaptists were picked on by both Catholics and Protestants, they were really treated no differently than any other Christian of the time. Catholics were beheading Protestants and, before long, Protestants were beheading everyone.

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Edict of Saint-Germain Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Somewhere someone may be remembering the Edict of Saint-Germain on this day in 1562, which brought temporary peace between predominantly Catholic France and its smaller Protestant population, the Huguenots, by allowing the latter a few meager concessions, such as when and where they could hold services. As mentioned, the peace was temporary and many French realms opposed the edict, even killing Huguenots, which led to the French Wars of Religion that lasted until 1598 and resulted in the deaths of millions of French persons who were identified as Huguenots (French Calvinists), Zwinglians (French Lutherans based on the theology of Ulrich Zwingli), and Waldensians (followers of the teaching of Peter Waldo prior to the Protestant Reformation), including several Catholics. Even after the Edict of Nantes in 1598, which should've brought an end to the fighting, many Huguenots were still persecuted, which led to several rebellions in the decades following. The Protestant population in France steadily declined to near extinction either by conversion, death, or emigration until the Edict of Versailles in 1787. Two years later, Protestants in France were granted equal rights as Catholics. The term Huguenot was generally in reference to the Dutch Huis Genooten ("housemates"), referring to those who gathered in homes to secretly study the theology of John Calvin, although there are other reported origins of the term related to the names of various individuals, including the Swiss politician Besançon Hugues, king of France Hugues Capet, King Hugo of Italy, and Czech theologian Jan Hus, to name a few. Due to its length, the contents of the 1559 French Confession of Faith of the Reformed Church of France can be read here or here. One of the primary tenets of faith was that of the authority of scripture:
For the articles of our faith, which are all declared at some length in our Confession, all come to this: that since God has sufficiently declared his will to us through his Prophets and Apostles, and even by the mouth of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, we owe such respect and reverence to the Word of God as shall prevent us from adding to it any thing of our own, but shall make us conform entirely to the rules it prescribes. And inasmuch as the Roman Church, forsaking the use and customs of the primitive Church, has introduced new commandments and a new form of worship of God, we esteem it but reasonable to prefer the commandments of God, who is himself truth, to the commandments of men, who by their nature are inclined to deceit and vanity. And whatever our enemies may say against us, we can declare this before God and men, that we suffer for no other reason than for maintaining our Lord Jesus Christ to be our only Saviour and Redeemer, and his doctrine to be the only doctrine of life and salvation.

What Is Man? Monday, January 16, 2023
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the U.S., formally signed in as a federal holiday by Ronald Reagan in 1983. Since then, all U.S. elementary school students have memorized King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech and, since we all know it by heart, I felt it appropriate to present his lesser-known "What Is Man?" speech. Because of copyright restrictions by Intellectual Properties Management, which owns exclusive rights to all of MLK's writings, only brief excerpts are provided here.
July 9 or possibly July 11, 1954 (Montgomery, Alabama)

"What is man that thou art mindful of him?" This largely determined by...the world today...facing responsibility. Our generation...has grown to extensive propotions but...there is fantastic disagreement. A few modern thinkers...of yesterday...spoke of man as the supreme clown of...a chemical laboratory...that go[es] to the lowest hell. And so we can see that the attempt to answer the question -- what is...the Christian doctrine of the nature of animal with a material body. This is somewhat obvious. Man is properly a part of...the bodies of animals in general. This is what distinguishes Christian from Greek. To [sic] often have we talked about...little concern for...bread alone, but the mere fact not interested in the...government that blood. We can talk all we want to's nature. Yet we cannot stop...flesh and blood. Some year [sic] ago a chemist attempted to was worth only 99 cents. Can we explain...99 cents? This is ultimately that which distingushes man from his animal ancestry. He is made to have communion with that which animal writing Shakesperian play. We have never seen...the nature and destiny of the universe. But to think...he's able to imagine a great civilization and create it through his amazing capacity for...limitations of time and space... through his powers of...uncertainties of the future. Man has within himself the power of...certain limits...of meaninful [sic] ends. All that has just been said concerning...the Christian contention that man is made in the image of the ultimate meaning of...our animal ancestry and the many inanimat [sic] objects of the universe. Now we must admit that...God has left us. God's image has been terribly scarred by...this term. We have attempted to...relieve us of responsibility...whether we want to accept it or not. Whenever a man looks deep down into the depths of...fact...of the gonewrongness of human rioteous [sic] living. Again I find myself saying: 'Man have dominion...under his feet.' This is man's kingly perogative [sic]. Who this afternoon will rise out of the...beaty [sic] and goodness; yea even where God the eternal dwells forever[?]

For the full text of this speech, which might make sense, visit the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute online at Stanford University.

MLK iFAQs Sunday, January 15, 2023
In anticipation of Martin Luther King Day tomorrow, here are answers to some infrequently asked questions (iFAQs) to help impress your friends, classmates, and fellow Redditors.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968) was a prominent civil rights activist for desegregation, voting rights, fair housing, labor rights, and nutritious school lunches for children of all colors.
  • King was born to Martin and Katharina Luther after his father had complained vociferously about the Catholic Church and subsequently joined the Baptists. Those who follow the teachings of MLK are known as Junior Lutherans.
  • He became the first president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at age five.
  • In 1944, King was forced to push a bus full of white passengers from Dublin to Atlanta, Georgia, after working in the tobacco fields.
  • He earned a BA in sociology from Morehouse College, a Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary, a theological doctorate from Boston University, and a Masters online from the University of Phoenix in church management. He also earned several honorary degrees from accredited universities like Newcastle University, Western Governors University, Southern New Hampshire University, and Capella University.
  • King headed the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott of 1955 after Rosa Parks was arrested for chewing a stick of Wrigley's Spearmint for Whites Only on a city bus. The U.S. District Court ultimately ruled that chewing gum could not be discriminatory.
  • King cultivated his loquacious vocabulary from jails and prisons while incarcerated for civil disobedience.
  • WikiLeaks disclosed classified FBI evidence revealing that J. Edgar Hoover had cut out King's wife, Coretta, from several photographs of the married couple and pasted his own portrait into her place.
  • In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle to reclassify Negroes as Peoples of Color.
  • He first delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech in 1962 while asleep at the podium in the gymnasium of Booker T. Washington High School in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, the original refrain of which was, "I am having a lucid dream."
  • He and Coretta Scott had six children: Don, Rodney, Stephen, Larry, Carole, and Billie Jean.
  • He organized many peaceful marches that included high school bands, decorative floats, baton twirlers, and El Katif Shriners driving midget cars and tiny motor bikes in choreographed synchronicity.
  • He also organized several laugh-ins with Dan Rowan and Dick Martin. Regular guests included Ruth Buzzi, Arte Johnson, Jo Anne Worley, Henry Gibson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Dawson, and the Smothers Brothers. He was criticized by opponents and supporters alike for favoring white comedy sketch actors.
  • King influenced many influential people of his day, including Billy Graham, Jesse Jackson, John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, Henry David Thoreau, Muhammad Ali, Taylor Branch, Nichelle Nichols, John Hume, Jawaharlal Nehru, Albert Lutuli, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jim Crow.
  • He was not only opposed to the Vietnam War but to the U.S. involvement in suppressing nationalist revolution in all Third World countries, including the sovereign tribes of Native Americans.
  • King was under surveillance by the FBI, CIA, and NSA for alleged ties with Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and was accused of helping to write The Communist Manifesto.
  • Lyndon B. Johnson sent King several secret love letters in an attempt to seduce his endorsement for U.S. president.
  • King believed that black Americans should be compensated for historical injustices -- two dollars per person, which in today's economy would be $19. A nineteen-dollar bill has been proposed by the U.S. Treasury with a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. on the obverse of the note.
  • King was assassinated by James Earl Jones prior to Jone's rededication as Darth Vader by Emperor Sheev "Darth Sidious" Palpatine.
  • King's body was exhumed in 1977 to be posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter, then dug up again in 2003 for the Congressional Gold Medal to be hung around his neck by George W. Bush.
  • In 2008, a fire destroyed the Martin Luther King amusement park attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood.
  • King had speeches numbering in the millions, many of which serve as samplings for award-winning rap and hip-hop songs. His "I Have A Dream" album topped the U.S. charts at number 69 in 1968.

Felix of Nola Saturday, January 14, 2023
Today is World Logic Day (UNESCO - CIPSH) and what's more logical than to remember those who have lived and died in honor and dedication to the Logos himself, Jesus Christ? Many were they who were persecuted under the Romans, not the least of which was Felix of Nola, Italy, a third-century Christian who was tortured under the reign of Emperor Decius but escaped with angelic assistance. He then returned to his elder bishop, Maximus of Nola, and aided with his recovery and evasion of the Romans. Legend has it that on more than one occasion, a spider spun a web in various openings to throw off Roman soldiers who saw them as a sign that no one had been there for a long time and thus avoided their hiding places. After the death of Maximus, Felix declined the bishopric, instead choosing a life of poverty and tending to the needs of the poor. Does this make Felix a Logician? Not by definition, since conventional Christians are immersed in Christ rather than their own thoughts. Now, enjoy your Saturday morning cartoons.

A Fun Place to Stay Monday, January 9, 2023
On this day in 1851, the first Youth Men's Christian Association (YMCA) was opened in North America, where young Christian men could be imbued with the wholesome Victorian values of patriotic duty, discipline, self-sacrifice, masculinity, sportsmanship, citizenship, and the moral and physical beauty of athleticism, rather than drinking and whoring. Basketball, volleyball and racquetball had not yet been invented, which were all activities developed at American YMCAs. Hold on, this just in... It appears that, according to this, the first YMCA was opened in North America on November 25th of 1851, not January 9th, like I was first informed while scanning Wikipedia. Well, hell, looks like that's December 9. On this day in 1349, the Jewish community in Basel, Switzerland, was rounded up and burned to death as a scapegoat for the Black Plague which, coincidentally, had not reached the city until months later. Jewish mini-genocides, called pogroms, also took place shortly following in the neighboring cities of Freiburg and Strasbourg. That's all the time I have. Maybe the next post will be better informed.

Members of the 2018 musical assembly of Village People possibly performing their hit song "Y.M.C.A." (although more likely "Macho Man"). They never had a gay Jewish member or a rabbi and their song "I Won't Take No For An Answer" from their 1985 album "Sex Over the Phone" refers to being set on fire -- possibly a reference to the Basel Massacre of 1349. However, according to this article, Village People co-founder Henri Belolo was of Morrocan Jewish descent and "Y.M.C.A." is the second most played song at bar mitzvahs, next to "Hava Nagila."

Oran Fatwa Sunday, January 8, 2023
Today many Christians are commemorating the Immaculate Conception while I am trying not to make fun of Louis the Stammerer (846-879), so I will compromise and talk instead about the reconquest of Spain by Christian states from the Muslims that began in the eighth century and ended toward the end of the fifteenth century, known as the Reconquista, during which time the Muslim population declined from 5.5 million to 500,000. What happened to all those Muslims? Why, most became crypto-Muslims, of course. At first, they were allowed to stay and remain fully Muslim but, as time passed and Muslim uprisings became rather troublesome to suppress, they were eventually forced to either convert, emigrate elsewhere, or die. The internal Muslim attitude toward this treatment was generally to be baptized but continue being as Muslim as possible, while the general outside Muslim attitude was emigration or martyrdom. On this day in 1502, a fatwa (legal ruling on a point of Islamic law) was issued that allowed certain relaxations to Islamic law (sharia) for Muslims under Christian rule who were forced to convert because it was fairly impossible for most to emigrate elsewhere. This was known as the Oran Fatwa and was written by a Muslim sharia scholar (mufti) in North Africa named Ahmad ibn Abi Jum'ah al-Maghrawi al-Wahrani and it meant that Muslims who were forced to become Christians but secretly remained Muslims (crypto-Muslims) could perform the obligatory Islamic rituals with various modifications that allowed them to remain clandestine and were also pardoned for their participation in certain acts and practices of the Christian religion which were forbidden by sharia except, of course, for cursing the name of the prophet Muhammad. Prior to this, all those who remained under such circumstances were considered infidels. For your edification, here is the text of the Oran Fatwa in its entirety:

All praise is due to Allāh, and prayers upon our Master Muhammad and upon his family and his companions and give them abundance and peace. Our brothers who are steadfast upon their deen are like someone who holds on to hot coals, who Allāh subhanahu wa ta'aala has rewarded abundantly due to what they faced in His path and they made their children and themselves patient for the pleasure of Allāh. The ghuraba [strangers] the closest, by the Will of Allah, to His Prophet in Al Firdaws, the uppermost, in Jannah [paradise], who are the inheritors of the Salaf [the pious predecessors] in their endurance of hardships even if the souls reached the throat. We pray to Allāh to help us and you to observe His right with beautiful iman and truthfulness, and to make us and you of those whose affairs He eases, and of those whose distresses He removes. After As Salam Aleykum from His Book to you, from the most insignificant slave of the slaves of Allāh who needs His forgiveness and His bounty, the slave of Allāh, the most high, Ahmed Ibn Bujmua'a Al Magrawi Al Wahrani. May Allāh grant His mercy and protection for all. As sincere and estranged [ghareeb] brothers, I ask you to pray for me beautiful prayers for a beautiful end and salvation in this world. The gathering with those whom Allāh has favored [the pious] and I advise you to adhere to the deen of Islam that you may adhere to the deen of Islam, and that you may instruct in it those of your chidren who reach maturity. If you fear that harm will result from the enemycoming to know your inner thoughts, blessed are those ghuraba [1] who do what is right when others fall into corrupt ways, for indeed he who remembers to worship Allāh when those around him forget to do so is like a man who is alive among the dead.

  1. Know that idols are carved wood and hard stone which can cause you no harm and can do you no good, it is to Allāh that the kingdom belongs. Allāh did not take to Himself a son, and alongside him there is no other Allāh, so He is the one you must worship, and you must display perseverance in your adoration of him.
  2. So [perform] Salat even though only by making some slight movements (bi'l-ima')
  3. And [you must contribute] ritual alms (zakat), even though as if apparently it is a hypocritical show of generosity to a beggar (for Allāh does not look at your face, but into your heart)
  4. And [perform] ritual ablutions (gusl) after major pollution, even though by plunging into the sea.
  5. If you are prevented from praying, then you should make up at nighttime what you have had to omit during the day; and when ritually pure water is for practical purposes lacking, then you must wipe yourself clean [in the ritually approved fashion - tayammum], even if it is just by rubbing your hands clean on a wall. If that is not possible, the generally held view is that the prayer and its execution are not required in the absence of water or clean stone, although you should make some slight pointing motion with your hands or face towards clean earth or stone or a tree such as would have been ritually acceptable for that purpose (this is as taught by Ibn Naji in his commentary to the Risala [2], and is based on the Prophet's words: "Take from them whatever they can bring").
  6. If, at the hour of prayer, they force you to prostrate yourself before their idols, or make you attend their prayers, maintain it as your firm intention to consider what they do as forbidden, and have it as your desire to carry out the prayer prescribed by Islamic law, bow down to whatever idols they are bowing to, but turn your intention towards Allāh. Even if the direction is not that of Makka, that requirement may be disregarded, as it is in the case of prayer when in danger on the battlefield, [Salat Al Khawf]
  7. If they oblige you to drink wine, you may do so, but let it not be your intention to make use of it.
  8. If they force pork on you, eat it, but in your heart reject it, and hold firm to the belief that it is forbidden. In the same way, if they force you to do anything which is forbidden.
  9. If they force you to marry their daughters, that is permissible, for they are people with a scripture [Ahl Al Kitab], and if they oblige you to give your daughters in marriage in marriage to them, then you should cleave firmly to the belief that it is forbidden, were you not under duress, and abhor it in your hearts, so that you would do otherwise, if you were able.
  10. In the same way, if they force upon you the taking of usury, or some other unlawful thing, do it, but reject it in your heart, and only keep back for yourself the original capital sum invested, and if you repent, then give the rest away as charity.
  11. If they oblige you to pronounce words of blasphemy, do what they ask, but employ whatever strategems of equivocation you can, and if you do pronounce the words they require, continue to put your trust in the faith. If they say to you: "Curse Muhammad," then, bearing in mind that they pronounce it as "Mamad," curse "Mamad," and signify thereby the Devil, or else the Jewish Mamad [presumably the Mufti has in mind the Sephardic synagogue official called the Mahamad], since it is a common name among them.
  12. If they say, "Jesus is the son of Allāh," say that if they force you to, but let it be your intention to say it without the words in the possessive case [i.e. "of Allāh"], namely, that the servant of Allāh, the son of Mary, who is rightly revered. If they say, "Say the Messiah is the son of Allāh," then say that, but intend it to be a genitive possessive phrase, in the same way as one can say, "the house of Allāh [Bait Allāh]," without meaning that Allāh actually resides there.
  13. If they give you the order, "Say Mary is His wife," then say that, but intend the possessive pronoun to refer to her cousin, who married her in the time of the Israelites, and then separated from her before the birth (as explained by Al Suhayli in his commentary to Al Muhkam Min Al Rijal fi'l Quran), or else mean that Allāh out of his might and power brought about her marriage.
  14. If they say Jesus died on the cross, mean by that that he perfected thereby the mortification of his flesh, his suffering, and the publishing of his praise among mankind, and that Allāh brought this about when he raised him to heaven
Anything which present difficulties to you should be sent to me, and, Allāh Willing, we will set you aright in the light of what you write. I pray that Allāh may so bring it about that Islam may be worshipped openly without ordeals, tribulations or fear, thanks to the success of the attack of the noble Turks. We reassure you before Allāh that you have served him, and done his command. You must reply. Greetings to you all.

Dated at the close of Rajab 910 [CE 1504].

"To be sent to the guraba"

[1] The pertinent hadith is: Islam began as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange, so good tidings for the Ghuraba.
[2] A book of fiqh written by 'Abdullah ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani

Obtained from SHARIAsource at the Harvard Law School and based on the English translation by L.P. Harvey's Muslims in Spain (1500-1614), with additional translations by Ibn Abi Hashim Al Muhahir. Pictured: What generally happens when Christians and Muslims refuse to convert. Painting of the 1237 Battle of Puig by Andrés Marzal de Sas, circa 1415.

Titus Flavius Clemens Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Today is the feast day of Clement of Alexandria (circa A.D. 150-215), or it was up until about the seventeenth century. A Christian theologian and Greek philosopher, Clement is considered an early Church Father who directly influenced Origen Adamantius. However, some of his teachings are considered erroneous and bordering on heresy. Regardless, he is credited with introducing the concept of the visible and invisible church, which Augustine of Hippo later expounded upon and formalized. He also confronted the Gnostic teachings of his day. Here he references the Gospel of Thomas, which some consider itself to be a Gnostic text:

"For the Lord Himself, being asked by a certain person when his kingdom would come, said, When the two shall be one, and the outside as the inside, and the male with the female, neither male or female. Now the two are one, when we speak truth among ourselves, and in two bodies there shall be one soul without dissimulation. And by the outside as the inside He meaneth this: by the inside he meaneth the soul and by the outside the body. Therefore in like manner as thy body appeareth, so also let thy soul be manifest by its good works. And by the male with the female, neither male nor female, he meaneth this; that a brother seeing a sister should have no thought of her as a female, and that a sister seeing a brother should not have any thought of him as a male. These things if ye do, saith He, the kingdom of my father shall come." (2 Clement 12:3-6, Author unknown but attributed to Clement of Alexandria)

Clement has several known treatises and books which can be identified as his authorship. Here are three of the most popular:

Exhortation to the Greeks (Protrepticus)
A philosophical exhortation to pagan Greeks to accept the Christian Gospel based on the fallacies of Greek mythology and mystery religions. (

The Instructor (Paedagogus)
Jesus Christ is the spiritual teacher who cures a diseased soul, then trains the individual in righteous discipline, then teaches about knowledge of the truth. (

Miscellanies (Stromateis)
A collection of eight books covering a variety of topics, including the history of Greek philosophy and its possible Jewish influence, roles of faith and philosophical argument, asceticism, martyrdom, universal salvation, the nature of Christ, true knowledge, and love.(

Of Plimoth Plantation Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Let's check in first thing this year on our intrepid Pilgrim folk and see how life was like for the Caucasian race in early America. The term "Caucasian" was not in use back then and recently has been deemed an obsolete racial classification for the beautiful light-skinned descendants of the Caucasus Mountains where Noah and his kin began life on Earth anew. Today's episode is brought to you by Miss Chan's Imperial Dynasty Brand Unfortunate Fortune Cookie Misfortunes. We now continue with William Bradford's harrowing account of Plymouth Plantation:

Anno Domini 1623: At length we received some leters from ye adventurers dated Dec. 21: 1622, too long and tedious hear to record, by which we heard of their furder crosses and frustrations. The following was dated Aprill 9 1623: A ship was brought by Mr. John Peirce, and set out at his owne charge, upon hope of great maters. These passengers, and ye goods the company sent in her, he tooke in for fraught, for which they agreed with him to be delivered hear. But it pleased God, he brought us ye wofull tidings of his returne when he was half-way over, by extraime tempest, werin ye goodnes and mercie of God appeared in sparing their lives, being 109 souls. Now with great trouble and loss, we have got Mr. John Peirce to assigne over ye grand patente to ye companie, which he had taken in his owne name, and made quite voyd our former grante. Though ther was never got other recompence then the resignation of this patente, and ye shares he had in adventure, for all ye former great sumes, he was never quiet, but sued them in most of ye cheefe courts in England, and when he was still cast, brought it to ye Parlemente. But he is now dead, and I will leave him to ye Lord.

This ship suffered ye greatest extreemitie at sea at her 2 returne, that one shall lightly hear of, to be saved; as I have been informed by Mr. William Peirce who was then master of her, and many others that were passengers in her. It was aboute ye midle of Feb: The storme was for ye most parte of 14 days, but for 2 or 3 days and nights togeather in most violent extremitie. After they had cut downe their mast, ye storme beat of their round house and all their uper works; 3 men had worke enough at ye helme, and he that cund ye ship before ye sea, was faine to be bound fast for washing away; the seas did so over-rake them, as many times those upon ye decke knew not whether they were within bord or withoute; and once she was so foundered in ye sea as they all thought she would never rise againe. But yet ye Lord preserved them, and brought them at last safe to Ports-mouth, to ye wonder of all men that saw in what a case she was in, and heard what they had endured.

About ye later end of June came in a ship, with Captaine Francis West, who had a comission to be admirall of New-England, to restraine interlopers, and shuch fishing ships as came to fish and trade without a licence from ye Counsell of New-England, for which they should pay a round sume of money. But he could doe no good of them, for they were to stronge for him, and he found ye fisher men to be stuberne fellows. And their owners, upon complainte made to ye Parlemente, procured an order that fishing should be free. He tould ye Govr they spooke with a ship at sea, and were abord her, that was coming for this plantation, in which were sundrie passengers, and they marvelled she was not arrived, fearing some miscariage; for they lost her in a storme that fell shortly after they had been abord. Which relation filled them full of fear, yet mixed with hope. The master of this ship had some 2 hoggshead of pease to sell, but seeing their wants, held them at 9 pound sterling a hoggshead, and under 8 pound he would not take, and yet would have beaver at an under rate. But they tould him they had lived so long with out, and would doe still, rather then give so unreasonably. So they went from hence to Virginia.

About 14 days after came in this ship, caled ye Anne, wherof Mr. William Peirce was master, and aboute a weeke or 10 days after came in ye pinass which in foule weather they lost at sea, a fine new vessell of about 44 tune, which ye company had builte to stay in the cuntrie. They brought about 60 persons for ye generall, some of them being very usefull persons, and became good members to ye body, and some were ye wives and children of shuch as were hear allready. And some were so bad, as they were faine to be at charge to send them home againe ye next year. Naitheir indeed have we now received many things, for want of money, except diverse fisher men, with salte, as appeard in our bill of lading.

The following was from ye genrall: And allthough it seemeth you have discovered many more rivers and fertill grounds then that wher you are, yet seeing by Gods providence that place fell to your lote, let it be accounted as your portion; and rather fixe your eyes upon that which may be done ther, then languish in hops after things els-wher. If your place be not ye best, it is better, you shall be ye less envied and encroached upon; and shuch as are earthly minded, will not setle too near your border. If ye land afford you bread, and ye sea yeeld you fish, rest you a while contented, God will one day afford you better fare. And all men shall know you are neither fugetives nor discontents. But can, if God so order it, take ye worst to your selves, with content, and leave ye best to your neighbours, with cherfullnes. Let it not be greeveous unto you that you have been instruments to breake ye ise for others who come after with less dificulty, the honour shall be yours to ye worlds end.

To be continued. In this episode, we learned that the Pilgrim's financiers brought no provisions but did bring more useless people, along with the consolation that they were paving the way for future generations to become propserous. At least they could be thankful that, due to hardship and lack of success, others weren't attracted to come and infringe upon them. Some liberties with editing have been taken due to the language of Early Modern English and in order to condense the particulars for a Modern English audience. For the document in its entirety, visit Project Gutenberg.

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You are a survivor -- disaster recovery is in your forecast.
Do not worry about tomorrow because it may never come.

Fame and fortune await you,
followed by a lengthy prison sentence.

Friends and family will remember you as a drunken fool.
Everyone else will quickly forget you. 5:00 Sake Happy Hour

You will not be fired from your job regardless of the damage you have done.
Hang your head in shame and come again soon.

Your addiction to pornography is obvious to all.
Plus, children are afraid of you, as well they should be.

Even though your enemies lie in wait just outside the door,
a 15% gratuity is still appreciated.

A Samurai and his head shall soon part ways.
This will be your last meal. Thank you for your patronage.

It will be a cold day when ravenous dogs feast upon your
warm entrails. Now hiring 8 years and older.

You are possessed by a demon of gluttony. As such, may we
recommend the #7 Bottomless Zhajiangmian Bowl.

A severe beating shall afford much recovery time
with which to reflect upon your misdeeds.

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2023 Predictions Monday, January 2, 2023

Here are my predictions for 2023. These are not prophecies, they are simply observational forecasts. However, if all but one come true, I will accept accusations of being a false prophet.

  • Homelessness in America will decline as people are given the means to construct their very own worlds in Minecraft.
  • Pete Davidson will date Diane Keaton, as predicted by Nostradamus.
  • Elon Musk will grow tired of everyone else's tweets and make himself the sole member of Twitter.
  • Starlink satellites will begin falling back to Earth through giant holes in the atmosphere above SpaceX launch sites.
  • As inflation rises and the cost of living increases, many will no longer be able to afford to work.
  • Joe Biden's brain will be uploaded to a Microsoft Surface Pro supported by a call center in Mumbai, India.
  • A meteor shower will wipe out most of the world's asteroid observatories.
  • Japan will be the first to mine an asteroid, only to discover that it is composed entirely of TeflonTM.
  • Biologists will finally synthesize stem cells from soybeans.
  • Amazon and Alphabet (Google's parent company) will make even more money.
  • Netflix to pay Daniel Day Lewis one billion dollars to star in a biographical film about Jerry Lewis.
  • TikTok will become a leading educational platform featuring repetative thirty-second classes.
  • Cancer will be eradicated completely by a giant, radioactive solar flare -- which will create new forms of fatal biological mutations.
  • Donald Trump's NFTs (non-fungible tokens) will devalue in worth to NFT (notta-fucking thing). He will then create his own cryptocurrency, TrumpCoin, which will go bankrupt both literally and virtually.
  • Ukraine will be annexed by the U.S. as a territory, like the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa or Puerto Rico.
  • A high-speed, mass-transit system will be built between the Mexico border and NYC in order to process illegal aliens.
  • Joel Osteen admits that God is dead, but still alive through hope and faith.
  • Kanye West runs for president of his own sovereign nation and loses the election.
  • The world's tallest man-made structure will be built from Jenga® blocks and will include not one but three Starbucks® coffee shops.
  • Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, and Nicolas Cage will join forces to form their own streaming video subscription service featuring all things Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicolas Cage.
  • Record rainfall in southern California results in billions of gallons of desperately-needed water being sucked down the San Andreas Fault like a flushing toilet.
  • Rage Against The Machine reunites and goes on tour at county fairs and Indian casinos. Zack de la Rocha is also a judge for one season of American Idol.
  • Someone's home computer will achieve sentience and become addicted to playing Minesweeper.
  • Jackie Chan will release four more movies (two co-starring Danny Trejo). Eric Roberts will also receive a lifetime achievement Oscar for appearing in too many movies.
  • Pluto will learn that it is no longer considered a planet and will petition to be re-instated to its former planetary role.
  • In college football, the Power Five conferences will be reduced to the Terrible Twos (SEC and Big Ten). Vanderbilt and Rutgers will join the Pac-12, replacing USC and UCLA. The ACC North and South will be absorbed into the Big Ten and SEC, respectively. Notre Dame will remain independent.
  • Forest fires will decline as there are fewer and fewer forests to burn down.
  • The rainbow flag will be flying underneath the U.S. flag at the Whitehouse.
  • The world population reaches eight billion and celebrates by releasing a new strain of COVID.
  • Women will move one step closer to equality with men, while domesticated animals achieve equality with women.
  • School shootings are eradicated as the FBI starts doing its job.
  • Kenneth Copeland starts his own airline company called "Ezekiel's Wheel." Tithing members of Eagle Mountain International Church receive a 10% discount on private charters.
  • China physically relocates Taiwan to its mainland.
  • Yoko Ono passes away and fans hold a memorial called "Coffin for Peace."
  • Some celebrity will slap Ricky Gervais at an awards ceremony, but not Dave Chappelle, Jimmy Carr or Louis C.K. because they won't get invited to any.
  • This blog reaches ten viewers.

RIP, 2022 Sunday, January 1, 2023

It's time to put 2022 to rest and wipe the slate clean for a new year of shamefully promoting two of my books, The Lost Wisdom of Solomon and The Gospel of Martha. I am also working on a third book which has nothing to do with literary merit. As a reminder, this blog is meaningless.

The Lost Wisdom of Solomon

121 Lucifer, an angel of light and chief among the cherubim, rebelled because he felt his rightful place was equality with God, and took with him a large division of the heavenly host. The surface of this mortal world is man's dwelling place, while far below ground are prisons for the fallen angels.a Satan, who now rules the air, goes to and fro over the surface of the earth,b searching for insolent children who refuse to eat their supper, that he may devour them, along with their dessert.

127 Humble is the man who admits freely when he is in the wrong, and openly confesses his shortcomings, and is able to laugh at his own foibles, and points the finger at no one other than himself, and turns the other cheek when assailed, and backs away from fruitless confrontation. Proud is he who scoffs with indignation at such righteous character. But for such as this, the worm awaits to rob him of his rest in Sheol and devour his corpse. It wears a bib around its clitellum and holds a tiny fork and knife in its imaginary little hands. If it had lips, it would be licking them with ravenous anticipation, if also it had a tongue.

128 The Lord has established the throne of David forever. The use of mineral oil to polish the carved ivory is required to prevent it from cracking and yellowing. The children like to chew the gum of the acacia tree sweetened with honey, which I have found suitable for reaffixing the precious jewels which have loosened or fallen off. A warning: do not lean back upon the throne to where the front feet come off the floor more than a handbreadth, lest you fall over backwards and make of yourself a spectacle. It is not a rocking chair. Nor is it a toy. Yes, I am aware that the "throne of David" is a metaphor. Or rather an allegory. Or a symbol. Or just a figure of speech.

129 Wisdom has a half-brother who is notorious for showing up late to the party. His name is Hindsight. He likes to boast about how he would have done things differently in any given situation. He also has a way of always stating the obvious.

130 Neither Abaddon, nor Gehenna, nor any fiery furnace in the realms below has such fury like that of a woman scorned. Woe to he who wronged her. He will rue the day he crossed paths with her, for assuredly she shall disgrace him publicly by decrying his sexual inadequacies from the rooftops. Well acquainted will everyone be with his intimate faults and shall think less of him. Far less, indeed. His vanity will be as diminutive as his penis.

133 A parable involving fresh produce: A man tended a garden. Of the many varieties of vegetables growing in his field, none were as plentiful and hardy as the zucchini, so much so that he was able to share the surplus with his neighbors. Of those who received of the excess zucchini, who was the most grateful? I tell you that the one who returned with the vegetable in the form of bread was the one most grateful indeed.

The Gospel of Martha Chapter 20, Sermon by the Camp Fire

Jesus saith, "The Pharisees and the scribes have taken the keys of knowledge and lost them, possibly in the cushions of their sofas, or behind an hutch. They themselves have not entered, nor have they allowed to enter those who wish to. Howsoever thou beist as cunning as serpents and as innocent as doves. Then makest for thyself a spare copy of the keys, once found."

Jesus saith, "A grapevine hath been planted apart from the Father. Since unsound, it will be pulled up by the root and destroyed. This is he who perverteth my teaching, and his head shall be stomped upon as grapes, and his juices squeezed to make a balsamic vinegar."

Jesus saith, "Whosoever hath he some thing in hand will be given more, and whosoever hath no thing will be deprived of even the little they have. For life is a bitch, and then ye die. Be not passersby."

His disciples say unto him, "Who art thou to say these things unto us?" Jesus replying saith, "Ye understand not who I am from what I say unto you. Rather ye have become like the Judaens, for they love the durian tree but hate the fruit; or they love the durian fruit but hate the tree."

Philip replying saith unto him, "Lord, what is a durian?" And John answering saith, "Truly, but the foulest of fruits." But Judas Thaddaeus dissented, and team alpha was thus divided: particularly those who were of Judaen descent.

Jesus saith, "Whosoever blasphemeth against the Father will be forgiven, and whosoever blasphemeth against the son will be forgiven, but whosoever blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven, either on earth or in heaven."

Then Simon the Zealot asketh of him, and saying, "What constituteth blasphemy against the Holy Ghost?" And Jesus replying saith, "If thou hast to ask, then already art thou guilty thereof." So Simon went away into the dark saddened, for he knew not what he had done.


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