5.26.2018

Prologue

Greetings, folks!

Having become more interested in novel writing, I'm going to start putting bits and pieces of what I have on here; totally would love feedback on everything from grammar to plot! Today, I've got a piece to be read to mood music, to be found here.
It works best if read slowly, like the narration of a scene, but should set the mood regardless.

*      *      *      *

When we first betrayed Aldstёr, we could not have fathomed the destruction that we would bring upon the mortal world. Our prince agreed to sell his lifeblood for the knowledge that the silver dragon promised, and no sooner had he accepted this dark pact, then we knew reality would be forever shifted for the worst.

There was a large crack, like the whip of a sky-god that split the sky, and through that fissure poured billowing smoke that, before it was upon us, caused our eyes to cry in pain. While we could hardly breathe, the elderly and young ones died around us. As we dropped to our knees to bid our loved ones farewell, we realized that the nightmare had only just begun.

Through the clouds of smoke flew the wyrms – not silver and grand like our perfidious charlatan, but black and rotting, as though death itself had taken on a form. And were the stench and their piercing screams not enough, from their gullets poured forth fountains of fire – liquid death that splashed across the ground, making rivers and canyons from their intense heat. From the silver dragon’s mouth came the death of our souls, and from the wyrms’ – the death of our world. Both were consumed by our folly.

Our people scattered, hunted by these monsters that ruled the sky. They seemed able to sense us, no matter how far we ran or how cleverly we hid. Even those who attempted to conceal themselves through their magik arts were instantly found  out; we heard their last cries for mercy, and we all knew that none would be given.

The sky is utterly black, save where columns of fire drop toward the ground, showing that another one of my brothers has been found by the wyrms. Our great tower has fallen, our cities are burned, and we have become vagabonds in this world. As I write this, I expect soon to die. All my comrades have succumbed to hunger, thirst, or fire, and I fear that I am not far to follow.

How could we have done this? In what arrogance did we think we knew better than our molder Himself? In what pride did we flirt with the idea that we could contain an enemy that had felled arch-champions? But the worst is not our arrogance – but the pain that we have caused our Father.
Oh, that we had perished before we could utter the words of the pact! I saw Aldstёr’s face when we agreed. The pain that engulfed him who had never known it – we were his pride, his joy, his love, and we scorned him. To mourn or regret what we have done is not enough; we have hurt him, and what crime is more deserving of the terrible death that is inevitable?

Even my tears are not long for this world, as I see them evaporate from this page. We are undone, and it is only our own doing. The fire is waiting for us all, and we who could not contain one dragon cannot hope to cope well with their master.

I see one coming.

2.22.2018

Red Herring Responses

Image result for red herring


Back in the old days (the actual era escapes me), a red herring was a fish that would be dragged across a hunting trail to divert the hounds from their course. The howling, excited canines would charge down the new trail, unaware that their real quarry was in fact far away from the object of their efforts. Thus, the red herring urged action, but never in the area that was effective.
The shooting in Florida is, unfortunately, no longer as shocking news as it might have been a few years ago. Amid the aftermath, people have come with different responses – some good, some bad, some relevant, some not. I admit I’ve fallen for some of the irrelevant responses, even by Christians whose point I agree with. However, I feel that two major red herrings need to be addressed.


Red Herring 1: Abortion

Image result for good beats evilThis is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed. Millions of babies have been murdered in this country, and the massacre does need to stop. Indeed, gun violence pales in comparison to abortion death tolls in the US (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/guns-vs-abortions/2013/02/07/eb24d0a0-6fd0-11e2-b3f3-b263d708ca37_story.html?utm_term=.a252ac6dbc37), but that doesn’t make the gun violence any less of an issue. If we want a conversation about abortion, don’t use the emotional atmosphere or death comparisons to advance a point. Again, this needs to be dealt with, but it is a separate issue from gun violence; let’s not confuse the two.


Red Herring 2: Guns

Image result for gun controlThe “right” (and, I suppose, libertarians… basically people who are neither liberals or fascists…) cling to their guns as though it was the constitution itself. While I am a proponent of the second amendment, I feel that many people take this too far. Statements like “The government had better not try to take my guns… or else…” carries more weight than I feel the speaker actually intends, as I doubt they would shoot the law enforcement officer who shows up to collect the weapon, and a Christian ought not lie about possession or location (Leviticus 19:11). If a ban on weapons occurred that affected my own firearms, I would give them up willingly, as a Christian ought to do (Romans 13:1). Even if it came down to a Revolutionary War situation (where we needed to protect ourselves from our own government) – AR-15s, AK-47s, etc., would not deter an Abrams tank, an F-35 fighter, or a combat UAV. The argument then that your firearm would protect you from your government is, therefore, irrelevant. Home defense against burglary or home invasion is a different matter, but Romans 13 exists despite this.
That said, I don’t believe guns are the problem, and the proposal to 1) impose background checks 2) restrict magazine size or even 3) ban all firearms entirely are ultimately not going to prevent atrocities such as school massacres. In the first place, every firearm involved in a school shooting was legally obtained at the time; there was nothing in a background check that would have prevented them from obtaining the weapon. In the second case, magazine size can be largely irrelevant, as even an unexperienced shooter can either have multiple weapons or switch out magazines with relative ease. Finally, the ban of firearms completely will still not prevent attacks like this, as we see terrorists effectively working in more gun restrictive countries such as Britain(http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40013040), Russia (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/03/the-recent-history-of-terrorist-attacks-in-russia/?utm_term=.e9d9d7b62ece), and China (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/33-dead-130-injured-china-knife-wielding-spree-n41966) and others using either knives, IEDs, or illegally obtained weapons. In fact, terrorist/homicide rates within the US appear to have no correlation to homicide rates (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2015/10/06/zero-correlation-between-state-homicide-rate-and-state-gun-laws/?utm_term=.5baba6951cd1)
Alright, so if we don’t overlook school shootings and focus on abortion, and guns don’t seem to be the problem, what is the solution? While people older and wiser than I already have their lists, I thought I’d propose mine.


Solution 1: Teach the Sanctity of Life

Image result for sanctity of life
The school system today teaches that there is no God; in an attempt to remove religion from the classroom, they have imposed the worldview of Atheism on the students therein. In Atheism, there is no purpose, no absolute morals, and we are simply intelligent animals. Nobody passes judgment on lions for fighting to the death – how is humanity any different? Is it any surprise that the very centers that propagate this philosophy are locations of these atrocities?
Christianity, however, says that life is valuable (because people are made in the image of God, Genesis 1:26), murder is wrong (It is destroying something precious to God, Exodus 20:13), and there will be a reckoning for your actions (Romans 14:12). When this belief is removed and even taught to be a lie, we should not be surprised when the students act on this belief.


Solution 2: Protect the Schools

Image result for israel armed school teachersScott Biegel died while letting students get into his classroom and keeping them safe. However, other than being a human shield, he was incapable of doing anything affective against an active shooter. How much more effective could he have been if he had been able to return fire? If Nikolas Cruz had known that teachers were armed, would he have even attempted such a thing?
Mr. Biegel is a hero – please do not think that I don’t recognize his bravery and concern for the students. I mourn, however, that he had to die, rather than defending himself and his students. I am not a proponent of killing, but if there had been stronger security at the school, as soon as Cruz became hostile, maybe only one kid would have had to die that day. There have been proposals to hire armed security guards or law enforcement – a cleared, proven, safe weapons handler is a much better alternative to a reckless youth with a death wish.


Solution 3: Protect the Kids

Image result for home educationThis is a harder one to discuss, as it appears to shift blame from Cruz to others. Parents immediately blamed school staff, law enforcement, and (of course) president Trump, forgetting that they were the ones who sent their kids to the school in the first place. I’ve always been an advocate of home education (more for religious reasons than safety), but at the end of the day, parents have opted to send their kids to the indoctrination centers that both teach this dangerous worldview, and have recently served as killing grounds.
I don’t mean to be indifferent – I can’t imagine losing my child to a monster like this. Many have never even considered that there is an alternative, but there is.


I don’t want anybody to be unsafe or injured. While I am opposed to the public education system overall, that is absolutely no reason to protect the kids therein any less. If it would keep people safe, I would be a proponent of gun control, but ultimately, we need a mentality shift. We have created a moral-less society, and until we give people a reason to believe in a universal right and wrong, we can likely expect this murderous worldview to prevail.


Image result for night vigil florida students

8.14.2017

Ultimate Identity


So... some thoughts on Charlottesville, and the general situation in the country:

1) Racism (a key element of Neo-Nazism and the KKK) is wrong - Christians, don't ignore this fact simply because it's always on the Left's agenda.

2) Just because these people supported Trump and Christians supported Trump does NOT mean Christians should ignore the issue.

3) Just because a non-Christian theology cannot speak to racism does not mean we should not.

4) Just because President Obama overlooked Islam does not mean Christians should overlook Neo-Nazism (which yes, is as full a worldview/religion as Islam)

5) A "See how it feels?" vengeful attitude in the wake of President Obama's presidency is not how Christians ought to act.

6) Just because the Left may not act as Christians ought does not mean that Christians should do the same.

7) Christians should not address this issue with phrases like "The African-American population is oppressed" or "The Caucasian population is privileged", but rather "So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female He created them." (Gen. 1:27) or "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all." Colossians 3:8-11

Christians do not ultimately identify with the Republican Party. Christians do not ultimately identify with Donald Trump. Christians ultimately identify with Christ - don't get Him confused with the first two.

7.10.2017

Men and Modesty, or a Clarification on Modesty Pieces



Good day to you, ladies and gentlemen!

I must, perhaps, rephrase my greeting, as the principle audience for this particular memorandum is the ladies. By no means, gentlemen, is it my desire that you remove yourself from the audience. Rather, I should like to attempt, in the most exceptional language possible, to convey a particular thought – ever present on the mind of my fellow gentlemen – to the ladies who may, or may not, be aware of our rather particular plight.

Ladies, I wish to address the issue of modesty, coverage, and accountability. In vain I have struggled, it will not do: I am aware that many a piece has been written on the subject (truly, the existence of this letter is a direct response to one such opinion), but they all fall short in addressing the real problems at hand. If you will indulge me, I shall attempt to explain our situation using examples from your very own Jane Austen.

This is a response, in part, to Miss Bailey’s piece “I Don’t Accommodate Uncontrolled Men”. (Though gentlemen, I must warn you should you proceed to investigate the article, as the cover photo prominently displays a lady who is hardly dressed). In this piece, Miss Bailey says, in essence, women are not responsible for what men do with their eyes and thoughts. She goes on to say that men should be able to admire and deem women’s bodies as attractive. Furthermore, she conveys that, since men can fight lust, they should; if they don’t, that is solely the concern of the gentleman, not hers. The predominant heart in the article is, in her own words:

 “I’m going to stand up and look that man in the eye and tell him… I have no sympathy for his struggles.”

If you are taking a turn about the room, do ensure that a fainting sofa is available, not due to the desperate nature of this elegy, but I fear this may be quite a lengthy discussion. Do not be alarmed at receiving this letter, but I must be allowed to express my opinion. At least on that account, I may defend myself. Now, once you are comfortably situated, allow me to recount tales from Miss Austen’s work, hopefully for both the education and the entertainment of all concerned parties.

I must confess, one of Austen’s most despicable character creations is that of John Willoughby. Perhaps even regardless of his most inexcusable past, his manner toward Miss Marianne Dashwood was most appalling. His appearance of honorable intention was most deceptive, and we are all duly heart-broken when we discover the disreputable character that he is. To lead somebody on, encourage them to have feelings that are not reciprocated, or to imply something false are villainous actions, to say the very least.

Women may, in the same way, lead on a man with her dress (or lack thereof): where Marianne was provoked into attraction through kind words and gallant deeds, men are quite often provoked by visual stimulation. While we are all most aware that the random bikini-ist on the beach has no intentions toward us, there is instantly an attraction on the part of the man; be this defined as biology, instinct, or other, it is a most common occurrence amongst gentlemen. While Miss Bailey claims to know such a man for whom this is not true, I have never met a man for whom this is not the case.

Now, should the man be able to avert his eyes, guard his thoughts, and not conjure up the image later? Indeed, this power is granted to Him through the grace of our Lord, but it is an intense struggle not to do so. Should Miss Marianne have been able to avert her attentions, guard her heart, and not conjure up feelings for John? A resounding “yes” ought be heard (and truly we wish that she had taken such a course of action), but it was a struggle not to do so. I am not removing the blame of the individual who, under intense pressure, caved to the temptation, but in the same way we would condemn John Willoughby for taking advantage of Miss Marianne’s weakness, may we not do the same for women who treat men as such by their dress?

As another anecdotal example, may I recall to your memory the scandal of Captain Frederick Tilney and Isabella Thorpe? Again, one of Miss Austen’s more vulgar characters, to say the least, Captain Tilney made it his mission to involve Miss Thorpe in scandal, to which she succumbed (and arguably, not unwillingly). Now, was Miss Thorpe completely capable of rejecting Captain Tilney’s advances? Indeed she was, and she is rightfully condemned for not doing so. However, let us not forget the object of her provocation, for indeed we condemn the captain just as much, if not more so, as an aggressor that encouraged Miss Thorpe to fall.

May I again reverse the roles here, if you will permit me, to make the point? While women may not be intending to fell young men (as Captain Tilney intended for Miss Thorpe), they may still do so through their dress. Now the young man is to blame for giving into the temptation to lust (archaic words, perhaps, but potent ones), but is the source of his provocation blameless? While she may have not sinned, was she not an accomplice?

Now, I should like to make a brief clarification. In both of Miss Austen’s tales, the provocateur was intentionally malicious. I do not believe that my sisters in Christ have such ill-will against her Christian brothers, but, unfortunately, the effect is the same, intended or not. For those women who do indeed dress to “catch men” or “show off sexiness”, I have a different address, but not outlined here.

Miss Austen’s anecdotes concluded, may I call two verses to mind, from which I may build a conclusion and a plea:

“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:8)

“But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak… Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.” (I Corinthians 8:9, 12-13)

In regards to the first verse, may I simply inform ladies of a very blunt fact: a man can sin just by looking. While Miss Bailey claims time and again that this is not a problem for her (may I first point out that she is not a man?), and that it therefore should not be a problem for all men, Jesus Himself recognized this as a very real and dangerous sin. Adultery was punishable by death, and that judgement could be incriminated by one lustful thought. Miss Bailey’s continual insistence about cultural conditioning leading to this weakness of men does not change the fact that men are indeed weak here.

Paying heed now to the second verse: Paul here speaks that actions (moral or even amoral) that can cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble is a terrible offense. This verse speaks about brothers in Christ when who are susceptible when their conscience is weak. May I be blunt? All men (whom the Lord has not called to singleness), regardless of age, spiritual maturity, or culture, are weak in this area of life, and always will be. Yes, some may put up a better fight through the grace of our Lord, but it is still a point of weakness that haunts every man. Miss Bailey’s attitude of I have no sympathy for his struggles could not be more contrary to Scripture, where Jesus says “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

Miss Bailey claims that our “conservative purity” culture has trained men to be guilty when seeing cleavage, curves, or other features of a woman’s body. Her claim is that, if conditioned differently, men could purely admire a woman’s physical form without fear of lust. To be blunt, this idea is total bunk – if that were true, clothing would eventually become obsolete and a command that Jesus Himself gave would no longer be relevant. We would have, in essence, evolved beyond a point of sin. The battle against sin is always a struggle, and changing the culture will not change that fact. Furthermore, this does not address the men who are still of the world, currently powerless against the enemy, unstrengthened by the Holy Spirit – they ought be considered helpless, as lust is not even considered wrong, and may, therefore, be indulged in with no regret.

The statement “cover up” or “dress more modestly” is not by any means an attempt at patriarchal control, body shaming, or the like. If I may speak with the utmost honesty, ladies: we as Christ-seeking gentlemen are all too aware of our weaknesses and shortcomings. We struggle with them when walking on a summer beach; we fight them during our daily gym visit; and many a “God, help me!” prayer is sent when trying to fall asleep and our minds wander. It is disrespectful to you as a daughter of God, it is harmful to us in our own relationships, and it is a blow to God to see our mental purity tainted. The request to cover up is not a demand for dominance, but a plea for mercy. Please do not answer our cries for help with “I have no sympathy for your struggles.”

In short, I hope that I clarified the original intent of pieces similar to this that, unfortunately, fall short of their desired intent. I do not excuse men (myself included) for falling; I do not say that we are not to ultimately blame for the sin into which we fall. May I ask, nay, beg that you grant us a boon: we are sinners; we struggle; we often fail. Do not treat our struggle with contempt or indifference. Please help us.


Post Scriptum – Gentlemen, this conversation is not over. I currently am devising a letter to you all in regards to this matter. Asking for assistance from the womenfolk is by no means an invitation to licentiousness. Prepare yourselves, as the next pieces will be much more personal, and – I believe – much more potent. I shall publish the letter upon its completion.

Post Post Scriptum – all, I do understand that, despite my best attempts at eloquence and congeniality, this topic is extremely personal and of great import. Do, should you feel the leading to comment or contribute, do so with the greatest respect for others. I do not mean to be condemning here – I simply seek to clarify a common misconception and, hopefully, commincate clearly a commonly misunderstood request.


Post Post ScriptumSoli Deo gloria

3.02.2016

Trump Card

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
And rely on horses,
Who trust in chariots because they are many,
And in horsemen because they are very strong,
But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
Nor seek the Lord!
Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster,
And will not call back His words,
But will arise against the house of evildoers,
And against the help of those who work iniquity.
Now the Egyptians are men, and not God;
And their horses are flesh, and not spirit
When the Lord stretches out His hand,
Both he who helps will fall,
And when he who is helped will fall down;
They all will perish together.” – Isaiah 31:1-3

Israel was in trouble. They’d already lost 10 tribes to the rampaging of the Assyrians, who inflicted unspeakable evil and suffering upon their victims. The southern 2 tribes that comprised the Kingdom of Judah were struggling to survive. Their previous rulers had weakened the country on every level, and morality was at an all-time low.

Enter Babylon – the kingdom that bucked the Assyrians and completely conquered the heartland of Mesopotamia. Everything had been subdued… save Judah. The small kingdom stood with, basically, no defense against the onslaught. Previous rulers had been bad, but the Babylonians would take oppression and destruction of morality to a whole new level.

Judah was afraid.

Just across the Sinai Peninsula from Judah stood another country – Egypt. This country had thrown off their previous Assyrian overlords, and was, on all accounts, a powerful ally. They retained their own culture and defied Babylonian military, preparing for the oncoming war.

It totally made sense for Judah and Egypt to unite. Therefore, in spite of Isaiah’s warning, they did. As it turns out, Necho II, the Pharaoh of Egypt, was allied with the remnant Assyrian empire. Traveling north to face the Babylonians alongside the Assyrians, the Egyptians were completely overrun by the Babylonian army. With nothing else in their way, the Babylonians marched to Jerusalem where, in 586 B.C., the Hebrew army was completely defeated, Jerusalem leveled, and the people carried away captive.

Now we look at this account and say, “Well, of course; God told them not to rely on Egypt because ultimately, as God knew, Egypt couldn’t stand against Babylon, and it meant that people were placing their trust in men, not God.” Now Egypt was no “nice” kingdom either. Egypt’s own pagan, polytheistic culture was just as morally depraved and oppressive as Babylon’s, the only difference between the two was that, at the moment, Egypt wasn’t trying to conquer Judah; Babylon was. Egypt was “the enemy of my enemy,” so Israel aligned itself with a kingdom that, while they had some similar surface goals, was just as dangerous as Babylon was.

May I be blunt – why would we trust in the Egypt that is Donald Trump because of our fear of the Babylon that is the Democratic Party? I have heard time and time again, “Anybody but the Democrats!” at trainings and caucuses leading up to the selection of the Republican nominee. People are always quoting statistics and chances as though humans were scientific entities that are always predictable. I’ve heard things like “A vote for Carson is a vote for Trump,” or “If Trump is nominated, a vote for a third-party candidate is a vote for Hillary.” Folks, if statistics were the only factor, then Israel did the right thing! It would have been “suicide” to try and stand against the Babylonian army alone.

You can almost hear the commanders of the Judean Army discussing the options.
“Egypt can provide the firepower that we need to defeat the Babylonians.”
“But… that would mean aligning ourselves with somebody just as bad as Babylon…”
“I don’t care; anybody but the Babylonians.”
“What if we only subscribed to Jehovah’s principles and only aligned with and supported people who do the same?”
“That’s suicide; get Egypt on the phone.”

Now, I’m not actually here to promote a particular candidate (though it may be obvious that there are some of whom I disapprove), but let me ask – why would a Christian, who is doing his or her best to reflect the character of Christ, support a man who owns and promotes immoral institutions such as strip clubs, verbally attacks people of whom he has a low opinion, and has no biblical rooting for his current belief system?

“Well, he’s better than Hillary.”

I’m sorry – say again? Just because a Democratic president might force more things upon Christians does not mean that the country’s leader is a better or worse person.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
‘I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.’
 Therefore, ‘Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.’
‘I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,'
Says the Lord Almighty." – II Corinthians 6:14-18

Folks, if it comes down to Trump vs. Democrats, why would we associate with the moral darkness that is Donald Trump? Because he’ll take less of our money – I would hope we have a better reason to associate with darkness than that; we are explicitly told to love God more than money (Matt. 6:24). Because he doesn’t support abortion – at the moment; he’s changed his stance multiple times, because he has no absolute foundation for his belief; a double-minded man is dangerous (James 1:8-9). Because he’ll strengthen our military – because that always stops terrorism; God doesn’t apply (Deut. 3:22). We are told to be separate from those in darkness, not to make an alliance when it’s pertinent or helpful.

I’ve also heard that we are the instruments that God uses to work, but we should never intentionally violate a Scriptural principle. To be honest, folks, God doesn’t need our help (case in point… He killed 185,000 invading Assyrians with an angel in one night… no humans necessary; II Kings 19:35). That’s not to say He can’t work through our mistakes (Gen. 50:20), but they are still that – mistakes, and it grieves Him when we make them.

Think about it when it comes to voting – are you aligning yourself with the lesser of two evils, or are you living your life and stamping Christ’s name (via your support) on somebody directly opposed to Him?

Odds don’t stand a chance against God. Egypt or Babylon don’t stand against God.

God’s our trump card.