Megachurching

I admit not being a regular attendee of Christian services. I was raised Catholic, and the disillusionment of discovering—on my own—the depth of commitment to false doctrine in that faith caused me to move on.

Truth is what I craved. Bits and pieces of it surround us, pointing to the state of actuality our God wishes to display in His progressive revelation. To see it, one needs to look, so I did. I was, at the time, studying martial arts, and Eastern philosophy often is dominant there. Buddhism struck me as more of a philosophy, and the Zen flavor as practiced in Japan seemed an unworkable perspective of denial.

The image of Christ heading the sanctuary in every Catholic parish stuck with me, sanitized as the portrayal of the Crucifixion might be. From childhood I grasped its significance, and in my wandering my exposure to that basic truth—that the events relayed in the New Testament happened, and that the implications thereof are profound—never did entirely let me go.

Precept by precept I defined what I believed, tested those interrelationally, and remain satisfied the mission of Christ was actual, necessary, and personally needed. Step by step, my faith became R.E.A.L. I Realized my need, Explored for truth, Accepted God’s gift of forgiveness and now Live what I believe. Salvation is a simple message, really; it is so simple, a child can understand it. Its basics are all we need. What accumulates after is doctrine:  the good, bad, and cumbersome.

Because we need salvation, some, driven by fear or guilt, are desperate to have the assurance of it. Fear and faith are incompatible emotions. Of the two, opportunists leverage fear in exploitation.

I attend services to assuage the Editress or humor friends as politeness requires, and on this last occasion encountered just such a pastor, who I will not name here. I will not attending there again, as my exposure to the man leaves me with a vision of him at home, masturbating to a photo of a popular mega-church icon.

One must belong to a church to live as a Christian, you see. One must undergo baptism to belong to a church. One must tithe in support of one’s pastor. One must help the church grow so the cycle may repeat. The message with this organization is consistent, and tiring, when faith would like to hear less of obligation and more of divine love, saving grace, and the sufficiency of Christ.

While there is a Cross in each of the two locations of this growing organization I have attended, I find it significant that it displays off to the side of the sanctuary, almost as an afterthought. The messaging area is what holds prominence.

When someone tells you who he is, you should listen. Discernment, that gift of the Spirit, allows a faithful person to see others from the inside out. Followers need leaders, I guess. It is a pity that sometimes one encounters ambition in the search for edification.

As for belonging to a church, congratulations:  you have belonged to one since you accepted Christ as your savior and received Him into your heart. No one else did that. He did that, Paul tells us, so that no one should boast.

Paul also made a point that he had baptized no one but two disciples of his own and another household. The testimony of ceremonial water baptism is a beautiful thing. You should undertake it, if at all, on that basis rather than under coercion or sense of obligation.

Likewise, giving is evidence of how you live. There is no biblical obligation to allocate a given percentage to any organization, particularly when your own books have not balanced first. Your greatest contribution can be the satisfaction that you are a burden or debtor to no one. Following that happy circumstance, give as much as you wish.

Testify to what Christ has done for your soul out of the vital choice to love. Your faith will leave you no choice but to see the desperate need for clarity in the world surrounding you. God’s enemy is using pain, fear, and desperation to propagate disorder and hopelessness, in which the plans he influences will prosper for a time of trouble.

These days are necessary in God’s plan, as were every bad period for Israel, her diasporas, even the Holocaust. The world needs Christianity’s message as much here at the end of the Age of the Church as it did in the first century, and for the same reasons. Our need to find Him, the nature of truth, forgiveness, and the benefits of faith have changed not at all.

My character Jon Anthony spoke of his personal method of understanding being reduction to essence, where matters of faith become simpler when better understood. Such a mindset might not lend itself to achievement or ambition, but there is the peace of valid faith and a worthwhile way of life waiting for those who embrace it. It is my hope you will. If Jon’s, Sean’s, or Boone’s stories can help you, so much the better.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

KLH225x337DS
In production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is approaching the ninety-percent mark in Main Edit and remains on schedule for a late September release. Next month’s post here, God willing, will present how writing the novel personally affected me, and how this story, set in 1995, remains relevant today.

 

Cops

With the advent of tragedy elsewhere and in Dallas particularly, observers are again focusing on the role of law enforcement in civil society. As happens with any subject in free discussion, opinions in the marketplace of ideas exist in a range from reasoned, through the uninformed, to absurd.

I’m just a guy who writes novels, but those titles result from of a lifetime of experience in a variety of environments, ones allowing me to present a storyline in plausible presentation. The details of where and what, put gently, are none of your business. A certain, significant amount of my store of witness, however, involves law enforcement. Particularly, familiarity with personalities who thrive, or at least function, in an entirely distinct existence from the overwhelming majority of the citizens they choose to serve.

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) are, because of their unique vocation, insular. One can attempt to understand or empathize with them, but you will not entirely succeed without stepping into that world. Until you are in, proven, and accepted, you are out. They are, as a stressed and intense breed, largely adverse to judgment by anyone whose perspective cannot encompass their existence as humanity’s garbage collectors.

Citizens cannot be aware of the children hurt or dead in accidents, abusive situations, or incidents of predation the officer at their driver’s window might have witnessed, memories with too little time passed in the interim to accommodate. Few of the unsworn have seen the expression of surprise in the dead eyes of a suicide, or smelled the odor of decomposition emitted by a body in an enclosed space, a plume that finally wafted into public to alert a neighbor. They likely have not been ready to kill another human being and had to decompress their physiology to continue doing their job.

LEOs reside in a very real world, where one cannot easily sweep aside actualities in favor of comforting beliefs. That lack of emotional cushioning can make then brusque, and direct, and even dysfunctional if uncounseled. Callused cynicism at times traps their perspective in a dedicated pessimism preferring a rare pleasant surprise to being caught unguarded.

They need continuous interaction with good people outside of their own bubble of perspective, and the nature of what they do denies them enough of it. In social settings, they are subject to hearing stories of supposedly undeserved citations. They watch people drink too much who might be planning to drive away from the venue into circumstances they have seen evoke tragedy. Afterward, they often choose instead to interact only with their own kind or set themselves into a cycle of isolation.

They are never free from their oath of office and duty binding them to uphold the law, and the responsibility fallen with the weight of a cast bronze badge dropped into the palm of their hand. They see things most people will never need to endure, and those visions chase them even after they manage to fall asleep after twelve hours on the job. Three days might follow to adjust their circadian rhythms for the next rotation on the shift schedule.

They remain people. Some of them are good at what they do because they were delinquents once, never caught or adjudicated, and so remained eligible for civil service. They are heroic, pathetic, brilliant, flawed, broken or absolute train wrecks just like the rest of us. They retain human weaknesses in an always-judging environment, one unforgiving of the least display of frailty, and the trial endures while they serve.

Law enforcement is also as political a job as can come along. LEOs wield the power of government entrusted to their office, and the appreciation of power increases as one ascends any hierarchy. After a point, the same organizational tree can lose touch with the concerns of those on the street, whose interaction with the citizenry comprises the face of the department. Political concerns at times outweigh the practical and add to the stress of the job already dangerous in armed people.

It is precisely the ever-present dangers inherent in their existence that should be in the forefront of anyone’s mind as they interact with law enforcement. They have a plan to kill you, because they are mindful of the law enforcement officers who themselves have been hurt or killed by people of all extractions and from all walks of life who turned on their brothers and sisters. No LEO plans on taking out a citizen at the beginning of any given shift. Every one of them, however, fully intends to go home once it is completed.

There is a growing, fundamental lack of respect in today’s society. Respect erodes with an increasing sense of entitlement stemming from the ease with which we survive. Our essential inabilities, supported by technology, modern conveniences, and the long supply lines of a first-world existence, at times make the best of us impatient and frustrated. Sometimes, the condition progresses past the point where compensating influences can keep everyone alive. Too often, a law enforcement officer is there when or after the narrative fails, the false premise collapses, and things finally go bad.

I understand them. They are members of a paramilitary organization with insanely constricted rules of engagement. At times, in the minds of their superiors, the reward for overcoming the odds against their survival is to fulfill their career as a human sandbag shielding their chain of command against incoming public opinion.

They continue to inspire, hold my admiration, and at times frighten me. Life is always the same, once you commit yourself to clarity. A clear vision will arrive at the end of days in any event, and is best adopted at the beginning of one’s journey. What comforts we can garner along the way proceed in one way or another from knowing this.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

KLH225x337DSIn production news, Ritter’s next is nearly two-thirds through primary editing and on schedule for a late-September release. On deck with him in this title is a portion of Terry Bradley’s back-story, prior to his appearance in Boone’s novels as Director of National Intelligence. You may also look forward to meeting Lucia Dorotea Crnjak, a young journalist and Bosnian caught in the maelstrom of 1995 with the rest of her emerging nation. The story woven around them, I promise, is one no reader will forget.

Avoiding Reset

There is a particular, nonexclusive disconnect, which prominently shapes policy at the Left end of the political spectrum. It now also affects the middle-right to the point where a once-distinct, two-party system in the United States has merged into a conglomerate of statist thinking. Such has returned us near to where we began in July 1776.

In April, I touched on the foundation of normative thinking supporting a functional individual mindset, the prevalence of which results in stable society. Dysfunction, however, is becoming an increasing concern, particularly after the tragedies in Orlando this week.

My character Jon Anthony’s premise, one asserting we all will choose a fundamental orientation to love, hate or indifference, remains. What I’ve come to call the Tripartite has dependencies, though, and those plot in a matrix of good, evil, strength, weakness, intelligence, and passivity of intellect. We fulfill each to our limit, and define ourselves by the overall score achieved.

Take matters backward yet another layer. Our success or failure in reaching potential in turn follows another, vital indicator of progress; we all have a primary tendency to learn from direct or indirect experience.

Direct experience collects during a lifetime, limited by the number of trips around the sun we managed to our present state. Indirect experience is a store of wisdom from ages past, available, as are so many lessons, to discover but remaining unseen without an effort made to look.

Self-discovered waypoints lead to a realm of ego, arrogance, defining sin, and hedonism. It produces gratification on demand and thinks nothing of tomorrow. This mindset pays no attention at all to the natural laws April’s post touched. Its focus is on consensus, even if the only input available is insular. Dedicated delusion constructs a bubble of dreaming and is a dangerous place to reside.

Yes, I said dangerous. Death’s baits are adventure, pleasure, and self-indulgence. Inattention to natural laws, those observed rather than settled upon, leaves the individual or the society gone astray vulnerable to disaster.

Natural law abhors a false premise. Its reset for dysfunction is systemic collapse. Commitment to folly puts off this reckoning through repeated extensions and bitter defenses into the terminal stage:  blaming other influences for unavoidable consequences. All liberal positions exhibit one or more fundamental disconnects from reality, as their deplorable results testify.

KCEYPUnless one commits to continual examination of perspective in an orientation toward actuality, reviews the experiences of lifetimes past, and in Bruce Lee’s philosophy adopts what is useful and rejects what is useless, one limits his or her data set to individual observation. We are all vulnerable to incorrect conclusions. It is best not to settle and live there, because people die doing that.

Paul, in Romans 10:17, declares faith as delivered by hearing, and hearing by news of Christ. A long chain of experience, reaching back to the initiation by our Creator of a personal revelation of His will to His people, remains a well of wisdom, of observation, of example, of experience available to draw. What has been true, false, wholesome, and dangerous is yet today, and for the same reasons. Life and death follow wisdom and folly, and shall while free will endures. Natural law does not change with the times. Those are merely the markers of where we stand, or fall before the next generation tries again.

Choose to Love, -DA

*****

KLH225x337DSIn production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is approaching midpoint in its primary edit. Ritter and company’s Bosnian experience remains scheduled for a late September release.

Currently, the three titles in Boone’s File are on sale during Boone June. If you’d care to recommend our spunky redhead to a new reader, there’s no better time. Buy links, as always, are on the sidebar.

Special Edition: Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

We are pleased to be included in a special offer from a number of talented authors, including dear friends Anna Erishkigal and Kristy K. James.
Please check out the available titles at the link below!

Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

Clean Reads Spring Giveaway

http://www.seraphim-press.com/special-offers-2/clean-reads/

That Works

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller

True that, Ferris. But what do we see when we look? It depends on how we approach observation, doesn’t it?

I grew up in what retrospect paints as a difficult environment. Namely, a farm located miles out in the country. I came late to the Greatest Generation, and my father lasted ten more years. Afterward, I had another eight to live with people who were dealing with too many of their own issues to provide any nurturing an ideal situation would offer.

Those years made me retreat to reading, they made me strong to the Glory of God, and I have no complaints. Most of all, they taught me to think about what I saw rather than take information for granted. What I heard about myself and about the world was, at times, demonstrably false, and presented by people who derived comfort from disparaging others to fortify their self-image.

So I became analytical as a means of emotional survival. I learned to think, and I discovered the gift of discernment, and both benefit my life and my writing to this day.

So, what do people see when they look? Short answer:  they see what is there, or they see what they wish.

My working premise says ‘what is there’ is discoverable by design and definable in actuality. Dependable discoveries stand after examination and relate to supporting truths subjected to the same process previously. In this way, knowledge grows. After sufficient experience, one may anticipate consequences with a degree of accuracy to allow us a claim to dependable, guiding wisdom.

That is the good road. It’s taken if we see what’s there.

The other choice is to see what we wish. Premise and extension play no part in a perspective based on convenience.

Indulgence? It feels good. Do that. Unearned moral high ground? Occupy it. One pursues advantage rather than achievement, because it is easier. One craves the feeling of well-being rather than circumstances beneficial in the long term.

One turns inward instead of outward. One stops looking around, and misses something vital as a result.

Most folly in current affairs results from ignoring the most vital aspect of reality, namely the will of The God Who Is. Faithful people have no obligation to argue morals or policy or any other subject from a secular perspective.

If, for the purpose of outreach, one must, I would lead with a simple observation: whatever goes against its nature does not endure. Natural law states one circumstance follows another in emotionless causality. Function outperforms dysfunction, and increasing the volume of conversation does nothing to alter this vital dynamic.

Nature does not support pretentious thinking. As things are what they are, so are we, within the limits we are set. If we accept our situation and adopt normative thinking instead, function builds on function to a satisfying experience.

The price of pretentious thinking is an essential state of dissatisfaction. A flawed premise must extend repeatedly in the pursuit of a utopian vision only existing as a mirage of philosophy. As such, it is incontrovertible to those dedicated to normative, healthy, functional thinking, and breeds conflict. The process, unless abandoned, can continue to the point of systemic collapse, whether it is on a personal level or societal, and that is why such must be rejected as an act of love rather than enabled.

Natural law favors function over dysfunction. It nurtures the former and abhors the last. In the end, it wins every time. The process can be less painful when better understood.

John, in the tenth chapter of his Gospel, relates the words of Christ: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Seen as it is, marriage becomes something understood rather than self-defined, as does sexuality, and gender, and any number of other topics available to view as one wishes instead of observe and accept. Natural law, satisfied, promotes life over death, love over hate, and peace above conflict. Dissatisfaction dissipates as function calms dysfunction, and finally, life is good. One would expect such from the work of a loving God.

Look around to see if I am correct. Life moves pretty fast; if you don’t, you could miss it.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

KLH225x337DSIn production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is out of Content Edit and progressing through the first chapters  of primary editing for a late summer/early fall release. Ritter and company’s adventure in Bosnia and Herzegovina promises to be an experience you will not forget. For humanity’s sake, some events never should be.

‘Merica

We need a town hall discussion on Americanism. Imagine our nation as the unifying experience our Constitution was designed to provide: sans the scheming demographic manipulations of those empowering themselves through divisive identity politics, collectivist fantasies, and the soulless, modern-day slave-keeping mentality which cultivates fearful dependence.

We would indeed be one nation under God, wholly populated by citizens made Americans by their ability to define their distinctiveness, and what is unique and exceptional about each closely held national value. No one can deceive such people, because living after truth makes disingenuity obvious and abhorrent.

Imagine a population with moral strength and confidence enough to ignore ineffectual propositioning by blustering blowhards, insufferably arrogant hipsters, and utterly corrupt bags of meat masquerading as our abuela. No one could rationally aspire to make such people submit to any contrivance of tyranny.

The many successes of American society at times breed gentle people. There is a disadvantage to an unchallenging, comfortable environment, though; predators societal, ideological, and political gravitate toward those who are weak, unaware, afraid, or who have been hurt already. It is important not to project the aura of a victim; confidence one holds in being able to defend oneself on demand is an important component in avoiding the appearance of prey.

This is a difficult world, but one need not become a harsh person to live here successfully. One need only be strong. Physically, morally, socially, ideologically, and politically, edification begins in the strength of the Spirit, and that is found through valid faith. To live otherwise is to invite disaster.

If you are tracking the migrant crises across Europe—and you should be—you realize the societal embrace of multiculturalism necessarily degrades resident identity. Europe has cause to be wary of nationalism due to the conflict such generated in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. The answer, as they are discovering, is something other than unilateral surrender of identity.

Here, our culture is Americanism, the distinct mindset advocating for citizen-controlled, constitutionally limited government. A century ago, assimilation into our culture was expected and embraced. Today, populations import for quite the opposite reason: to degrade the ideal.

Multiculturalism by design results in separate and distinct demographics rather than a unified citizenry. Statist government, then, is likely to be more successful in metastasizing to address the problems it creates. This progression sucks always more capital out of the economy to benefit most a self-defined political class seeking to entrench themselves in taxpayer-funded cush.

Embracing or rejecting Americanism is the essential choice you will make this year. One is healthy and the other horrid. We are one Supreme Court Justice away from the candle going out in this last shining city on the hill. We have only a short time to address the deficit spending set to degrade our currency into worthlessness. Fiscal irresponsibility is, in the views of some, merely another strategy to transform a once-proud nation into a population of serfs who, if they want something to eat on any given day, will follow orders.

Free people do not follow orders from their government. They do not tolerate an appointed official wielding a pretense of unconstitutional power. Instead, they return overly assumptive leaders to their place. Throughout history, at times such has manifested in a return to the private sector, a term in a correctional facility, exile, or the ignominy of an unmarked grave.

As Will Smith said in Men in Black: “Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.”

*****

KLH225x337DS

 

In production news, Novel8/Sean3, King of a Lesser Hill, is halfway through Content Edit, which precedes the heavy lifting of primary editing. Ritter’s experience in the maelstrom of the Bosnian civil war will, God willing, publish in late summer or early fall 2016.

Choose to Love, -DA

Why Boone?

I’m not sure, really. The good Doctor appeared nearly fully formed in my mind sometime before finishing Sean Ritter’s first dedicated novel, Operation Naji. She was a red-haired woman drinking alone in a hotel room, and it became my task to discover why. Her character and her story followed quickly and wonderfully during my Year in the Chair of writing full time.

As I need to remind readers and colleagues from time to time, I am not my characters. I embody neither the patience or grace of Jon Anthony, nor do I possess the heroism and steadfastness of Daniel Sean Ritter. I certainly am not Boone, with her Mensa-level quotient and unflagging spirit. So why is she here?

Not even creatives understand creativity, and perhaps seeking to understand the process would alter it irrevocably. I’m content to consider myself a channel for these storylines, and take them as my muse wishes to impart the things. Certainly, this was about having things to say, otherwise the million-plus words written so far for Single Candle Press would never have been. But I have done so, and  in my mind this is good enough.

Boone’s third, One Last Scent of Jasmine, is out and available nearly everywhere, as you will find linked in the sidebar and below. Her contest with elements of our government is 96,000-plus words of Level Zero action for the Office of the Director of National Security (ODNI). The implications of her dilemmas are relevant to the present day, and her struggle to balance duty and the other foundational considerations of her evolving perspective is an admirable effort, to say the least.

The title is the best to date of both hers and mine, as were her previous two in Boone’s File. I hope you will enjoy them all if you’ve not started already. Afterward, perhaps you can help me find the answer I posed as the head of this post. I suspect Boone is here because she matters in ways essential to my purpose. Such is a matter of faith in all things done for the Glory of God.

Here is the blurb:

Buy The Bonus Pool!
 In the aftermath of a midnight raid on a critical defense contractor, Boone Hildebrandt finds herself entangled in a covert plot: one meant to transfer missile defense technology to a foreign power. When a White House Senior Staffer dies, Executive Branch players become suspect in a budding case of international intrigue.

Deducing the international intelligence agency InterLynk has involved itself in negating the initiative, a Senior Advisor to the President orders the Director of National Intelligence to bring the private firm under control. The task falls to his new Senior Case Officer and on-again love interest: call her Boone.

Torn between conflicting loyalties, she is challenged to balance duty, secrets, and developing faith as events test her personal and professional fortitude. Powers romantic, domestic, and international emerge equally determined to overcome any opposition. Boone and InterLynk must press forward in a dangerous contest; in threatening the peace of the Northern Hemisphere, the stakes allow no choice other than playing to win.

Approx. 96,250 words / 330 pp. print length,

And this is the Big List of Links for Boone’s File No.3, One Last Scent of Jasmine:
KindleNookiTunesKobo – SmashwordsScribdpaperback

Choose to love, -DA