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Your Part of the Story

Or is it You’re Part of the Story? Either sense is correct. Interconnectedness is a vital aspect of the human experience, and without an appreciation of the precept, we would each develop into someone far below our potential.

You, however, are my readers. I’m not content to leave you there.

Many worthwhile things can be accomplished on an individual level, and some of those in no way else. Even the most independent achievement, however, is the culmination of capability fostered by affecting influences. Those are the drops and rivulets contributing to the flow of who we are and what we do … for better or worse.

Likewise, each event in the past contributes its part to the composition of the current scene. Frank Capra did a better than adequate job of illustrating totality in It’s a Wonderful Life, so I won’t bother to recap his conclusions here. It’s a pity, though, that sometimes this essential realization drops while reading fiction when we so wholeheartedly embrace it watching that film. I sometimes wonder if its absence also contributes to a less-than-sufficient grasp of history generally, much less the problems this can cause with dedicating attention to a novel.

I mention every so often how much I dislike encountering formulaic fiction. Emphases vary between plot-driven and character-driven structure such as mine. One won’t find action leading the way in a Dale Amidei novel, for the same reason that unanticipated, out-of-context conduct in real life generates confusion and anxiety in its witnesses. The ideal here is removed from pulpy exploits and steeped in substance instead, and the distinction sometimes requires the accumulation of momentum in defining a character’s situation.

Structure, done from farther out than a singular or first-person perspective, sometimes requires this. I’ve never written under the latter restriction, much preferring the weave of multiple points of view I encountered in my best formative reading. Reading first was a process that stretched across four decades before attempting my own serious novel, one that ran somewhere past thirty consecutive five-stars on Amazon and once was, by one website’s weighting, the second highest-rated fiction title in the Kindle store.

Character-driven fiction requires an investment on the part of the reader in the imaginary folk he or she is encountering. Its dividend must be paid by the author, but this takes time. It also, sometimes unfortunately, requires depositing a span of attention nearly every aspect of modern life seems intent on degrading. No one, if you’ve not noticed, ever dies in a Dale Amidei Chapter One. In Chapter Two and following all bets are off … but by then you will at least have an inkling of what’s happening and why.

What and Why, now that Boone is about to appear in her fourth novel, both play a vital role in her latest adventure. The interconnectedness to which I alluded in beginning this post is coming full circle; the cascading implications of fulfilled duty in her previous title, One Last Scent of Jasmine, extends from Washington to Moscow as two of the world’s most powerful men turn to ruthless pragmatism in seeking to distance themselves from their moral culpabilities.

Boone’s fourth is now set to appear on June 28, 2017. I hope you’ll be coming along on a trip not to be missed, whether you jumped into my interconnected character universe through Jon’s Trilogy, or Sean’s File, or with Boone’s debut in Absinthe and Chocolate. She and I need your reads, your reviews, and your help in boosting my signal on social media. You’re part of this story, and once it’s finished, I promise that Boone’s will remain part of you. To produce a novel that shakes the blessed earth is my prime motivation of course, but also to go forward with you from then on. Afterward, both of us will hopefully fulfill the clear vision of our Craftsman within the remainder of what He intends.

You do your part. I’ll do mine.

Choose to Love, -DA

*****

In production news, as mentioned above, Boone’s fourth novel, Meat for the Lion, is progressing through its final quality assurance steps before publishing later this month. Once retail pages are live, her Big List of Links will appear here as a separate post.

True Measure

If you want to learn what there is to know about a person, ask of them their definition of faith, the child of hope and conviction of things unseen. You might get an answer out of Sunday school, or from wanderings through the world looking for an answer to the same question you posed, or the sarcasm spilling from the wounds of a reprobate mind.

The many connotations of the word faith weaves itself through our language, marking the essential nature of its consideration. But this is Memorial Day, a remembrance highlighting a powerful demonstration of the concept. Its validity is marked in formations of simple white headstones, row on row, each standing guard over the resting place of a soldier.

Not all died in war, but all served. Some met their last measure of devotion in a contest on foreign soil, while others returned to resume the life that, for a time, they had set aside in obedient service to something more, for the sake of what they believed.

Those who passed out of this life in war did not necessarily do so because of a shortcoming, failing, or loss. It was, in many cases, a last victory instead, and a final assessment and testimony to what he or she valued above what could be seen with earthly eyes.

Faith produces an order of loyalty beyond the self. To do otherwise is to bear the mark of faithlessness, and trade the vast potential inherent to our condition for a mean and lowly shadow of what we can become only through the Spirit.

To preserve oneself at any cost is futile, buying time with precious currency bankrupting our character. We live a life marked by a beginning and an end regardless. The days between are available to be lived as a noble or a coward according to what philosophy we embrace.

Faith at times lends vision clear enough to pierce the veil of the world, to discard the illusions of deception and grant clarity through to even the mind of God. Love is one manifestation of insight, and from that grasp of truth might emerge the strength to accomplish any number of divine goals. Sometimes—faith says—those cannot be tallied by this world.

Faith is the oxygenated blood moving our willing spirit through to what purpose we are given. So it was with those we remember today, and in every quiet time laced with appreciation of what we have, who labored before, and how we’ve been blessed. To put it all aside in favor of lesser ideals would be a sin even greater than never realizing our bounty at all.

John McCrae, at the very end of his days, knew its power. Because of this, his poem In Flanders Fields, below in part, will be recited today in a uncounted places by thousands of voices as his vision of the concept carries on:

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

May it never be so. On some future Memorial Day and each to follow we will know the peace they strived to achieve … if we carry on and believe.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, the last chapters of the fourth title in Boone’s File, Meat for the Lion, now are passing under the eyes of the Editress. As the novel, my ninth, remains on schedule for an anticipated June release, there will be more to say next month, God willing.

From China, through Rome, to Hope

Writers are readers first and forever. Once we appreciate the mind-to-mind transmission of ideas and scenes as a craft, words take hold of us. Afterward, it’s our turn to draw from the inkwell and take up our own purpose. What results is a snapshot of sorts, at times representing very well its author’s essence, as preserved through transcription.

Lately, I’ve been working my way through Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, an emperor of Rome in the second century following the birth of Christ. Not an undertaking for the easily distracted or weak-willed, these twelve Books comprise the man’s personal notes, set down for no one but himself. In this they are similar to George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation, composed as a means of self-edification.

The nature of truth being what it is, the date of a valid premise is irrelevant. What is, in a broad enough sense, always has been and ever shall be. Yet today, we may reliably draw on the prim, intellectual propriety of Washington, the Stoic observations of Aurelius, and the selfless clarity of Lao Tzu, whose Tao Te Ching predated them all.

The study of history, apart from the rote memorization of timelines, is also a quest for past perspective. That, if you’ve not noticed, is a factor powering my fiction: the deep points of view relating the personal factors driving its characters—good, evil, strong, and unenduring—to act as they do.

It is something more than an arbitrary delineation dividing history in the period before the birth of Jesus and the epoch Anno Domini. Regardless of any secular designation as Before Common Era or CE, the point of demarcation is the same. To a lesser extent, the line of time in the ebb and flow of cultures, viewed as history, will be reflected in the microcosm of our personal experience. Each of us will have our predating, transformative, and later periods.

Washington, of course, wrote in the context of a Christian culture, one whose eventual adoption of our founding documents acknowledged rights given universally and an essential dependence on blessings bestowed to the reverent. Aurelius worked at the dawn of the Church and from the perspective of a pagan and Stoic, though his text alternates between poly- and monotheistic language. Lao Tzu penned his eighty-one chapters wholly in his own pre-revelation context and more than two thousand years ago.

I was struck almost immediately by the similarity between Lao Tzu and Aurelius. Both depended on naturalistic observation in a moral presentation of natural laws. Likewise marked by a serene acceptance of the overall state of affairs, this is presented as one best lived within rather than striven against. Self recedes in such philosophy as perspective broadens. Each of these wise men, however, reached the limit of their individual vision. Though the What, Where, and When of their reporting is valid, it is also limited in supplying the Why.

Why is an important component of understanding, as it aids repeatability, which in turn helps assure a given lesson will be passed along. Why helps define the observations of validity resulting in the universal canon of natural law.

Why is also the reason we divide history at the point of the appearance of Christ. Without His mission to validate its prophecies, the testament of Judaism would have faded alongside the competing sects of the time in which it flourished, crumpling into the sands of history with the ruins of its Temple. Because He arrived, we can assign rational hope to scriptural promises yet to be fulfilled. In portraying Why on Calvary, He allowed us to assume our place in everything going on, just as Christ exemplified and proved a sure hope through demonstrating the Resurrection.

Absent this resultant Christian assurance, the benefits of anticipation are lost for the faithless. Life fades into nothingness with each year, day, hour and moment of time. Standards of behavior become relative without guiding moral absolutes, and wandering follows to varying ends.

Moral strength isn’t enough. Lao, once his calligraphy brush dried, rode into the desert to die, sick at heart of the ways of men. Aurelius found his end disappointed in a son whose upbringing failed to reflect in its results. Both were denied a sufficiently broad vision to bestow hope, yet allowed wisdom enough for their observations to endure through many centuries. To what end we can debate without knowing, but not without something to which we might, in our present era, hold onto.

God, in His essence as embodied in the mission of Christ, has an inclusive plan for those receptive to wisdom. His equations balance our inadequacy with overwhelming sufficiency in our favor, somewhere, I need to believe, past legalistic boundaries and strictures set in limited understanding. The brightest of us see only, as Paul said, through a mirror darkly, on a path toward clarity as starkly terrifying or joyously fulfilling as His just judgment or coverage in grace might decree.

Such questions on the way from here to there remain worthy of consideration. Truth remains what it is, now as in times past: a treasure sought by the living.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, my ninth novel and Boone’s fourth, now approaching the three-quarters mark in primary editing, continues toward an early summer release. We remain optimistic this will occur in June, but also are determined to hold off until it’s ready, and without applying arbitrary deadlines. You should expect a read worth the wait, once the second half of Boone’s File launches with Meat for the Lion.

Arma Virumque Cano

The news out of London today, regarding the attack on Parliament, is tiresome. Not so only from the repetitive nature of predictable aggression from adherents of an ideology of conquest and subjugation, but amplified by acculturated false premises enabling tragedy among the civilized.

Long gone are the days of the Victorian era, when Dr. Watson or a man of his bent walked the streets of London with a prudent revolver in his pocket. Restrictions on the rights of free folk to go armed began at the turn of the twentieth century, with the permitting processes progressing through ever-increasing requirements to show necessity. The necessity of free people possessing arms at all was deemed nonexistent by 1920, after which point the Brits were effectively disarmed before the advent of hostilities in the 1940s.

The inherent right to defend one’s person and property remains, of course, and by extension so does possessing the means. Those are qualities inherent in the human condition, not granted by consensus or through the beneficence of government. Yet in Britain those rights are denied in the name of civility. In our time, even police officers, save for a few widely dispersed armed response teams, are denied tools to address in an effective manner realities encountered wherever free will exists. They are, after all, policing a civil country.

The world, sad to say, does not function on the basis of civility, but on enforcing order. Civility is a luxury guarded by the capable, in whose absence the overly civil become cowards and then slaves. Released from the bonds of service, government out of bounds becomes a master when no one remains capable of returning it to its line.

The U.K. should learn from today. But then again, they should have learned already from readily available studies of days behind and ages past. Regardless of valued civility, subsequent lessons might be louder and closer to home until consequences deliver their common message: gentility does nothing to stop armed aggression. Strength does that.

Civility, though a worthy goal, does nothing to curtail the compulsions of the predatory and tyrannical to direct the lives of others. To those, civility marks nothing more than a target for domination, because such seems a reasonable outcome of aggression. Evil discounts the admonitions of humanity with mocking laughter, neither appreciating the beauty and fragility of life nor wishing and hoping for its abundance. Where gentle people see reflections of themselves, evil sees a food chain, and that is a condition imagined universal amenity will never change. Just as love is a choice, so are works of death instead.

Writing of such things as I do, out of convenience I termed the resulting philosophy The Amidei Doctrine, which states that whoever sets aside humanity loses the consideration of civilized folk. There’s nothing new in this, as it merely recognizes the way things have always been. Truth is like that, as whatever solid premise exists has always been and ever will be so.

Unwanted fire must be extinguished, unless one is willing to watch its depredation eventually run out of fuel. Likewise, violence needs to be met with countervailing force to bring about an early end to it, ideally before any of the goals of evil are met. One need not be brutish, or relish the process, or strut in the aftermath. One need not lay down civility in being capable. One does, however, require the means to work whatever noble purpose is set in place by destiny. Lacking such, one’s end may be ignoble rather than inspiring, and victimhood anywhere does nothing to improve the general state of affairs.

It was, unfortunately, the case in London today, and in 2015 Paris, where another unarmed police officer was executed in submission on a sidewalk outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo. Similar tragedies have occurred in many other places where people “didn’t feel right” about keeping weapons close at hand. Obliviousness, cowardice, and abrogation of responsibility have an effect wherever they are allowed, and always to the detriment of those subject to abrupt disillusion. Reality can be a harsh schoolmaster, and some of its worst lessons are appreciated only at a distance by observers after the dust settles. We can and should do better. Nothing is so uncivil as unhindered homicide.

Choose to love. Choose strength as well. -DA

*****

In production news, my ninth novel and Boone’s fourth, Meat for the Lion, has passed the halfway point in primary editing. As predicted, tax season is hampering progress. Yet, the good Doctor and company—Terry Bradley, Sean Ritter, General Peter McAllen, and the returning Deborah Vosse—should be back in time for summer beach reading, in June or shortly after.

The Power of Disruption

Yesterday, the President initiated a kerfuffle in conducting an extended beating of the White House Press Corps / news conference. Many were horrified, with others just as delighted in the result. I choose not to engage in political cheerleading here, as Vae Obscurum is a place for ideas, and secondarily for promotion of where you can find more of mine. But as is evident today, many fail to understand what Donald Trump accomplished in those couple of hours, and related implications going forward. Let’s try.

The credo is: Always Cheat. Always Win.

Among the naturalistic rules regulating conflict, this is one of the more important. When winning is the objective, the means to the desired end are secondary. A fight is not a philosophy. The latter justifies in the mind action before it arises, and, as my characters often discover, either provides the strength carrying one through to a successful resolution or weights the crush of karma comprising a spectacular demise.

So why would anyone play by someone else’s rules? Often, it’s because another someone, who got there first, wishes it so. Bruce Lee once opined life to be combat, and at times he is correct. Given the essential choice between the pursuit of lame advantage and excellence, the laws of standard deviation decree a population will always split down the middle between these two camps.

There are a variety of interests to be encountered throughout the world. Self-interest is one. Ideology is another. Humanitarianism is a choice as well. One orients depending on the quality of character engaged in setting one’s priorities, choosing—as Jon Anthony proclaimed in The Anvil of the Craftsman—between love, hate, and indifference.

But once established, a solid set of values and tested beliefs need to be put into action to do anyone any good. And that’s where upright people need to be strong enough to win against the immature, idiotic, barbaric, tyrannical, and reprobative mindsets who comprise the usual suspects of their opposition.

Balance points are a subject of study in the martial arts. Centered, one stands. Taken outside the means of support, one is sometimes airborne and almost always vulnerable immediately after. It is the same everywhere conflict arises. Whether in debate, in governance, in sports, or in the pages of a novel, the same principles of stance and support apply.

Strength arises from testing the foundations of what we believe. Truth is rewarded by success, and delusion by disaster, and each outcome is inevitable subject to the long proof of time in revealing their obvious consequences.

There exist constructs—heavily defended—in society today with the sole objective of securing lame advantage. Discussions are steered and chilled by those unable to rationally defend their premise. Through rally words, social pressures, and even legislation, the effect is to produce a safe zone for indefensible thinking. Standing rules, in effect, are all they have, and once the Oz curtain drops around a pseudo-intellectual alcove, we can see the person behind it is little indeed.

So the President, a businessman rather than a politician, decided to set the rules instead. When Donald Trump showed up packing a rhetorical sledgehammer, people accustomed to previously existing parameters of the bout couldn’t handle what happened next. They were, in effect, disrupted. Antagonists were excoriated, fairness was rewarded, and lessons were learned throughout.

Deconstruction, the ultimate disrupter of a faulted premise and any equally illegitimate extensions, need to become a way of life for free people. The only rehabilitative action available to deal with untruth is rejection and reconstruction. Put off through compromise and “agreeing to disagree,” the initial dysfunction remains instead of resolves, and society continues to suffer as a result.

We are encountering disruption in America via the political process and in the presidency. That this is causing a good deal of anxiety in weak minds is, in the long term, a good thing. Reset in society may come about in two ways. One is reform, where a preponderance of adult thinking imposes order on chaos. The other is the much more painful and brutal correction of natural law, which decrees systemic collapse as the penalty for delusion before everyone begins again, regardless of affiliation.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

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In production news, the fourth title of Boone’s File, Meat for the Lion, is thirty-eight percent complete in primary editing. We are suspecting a June delivery, depending on how tax season goes. The Editress, also the Single Candle Press CFO, is given a considerable amount of leeway in scheduling. There are certain lessons one learns experiencing thirty years of marriage, and patience is one of them.

What have we learned, America?

Eight years is a long wait for something to be over. Faith leads to endurance by the promise of James 1:3, and so those who hope also cultivate patience for the sake of what will become apparent eventually.

What have we learned in the interim of what is so close to being a lost decade? Left to drift away, these lessons will be lost, and we will have further diminished rather than rallied. That is not the American way.

Historically, societies trend downward in a cycle leading from decline to slavery. Through revolution and revitalization, perhaps, a people may rise again. The efforts and achievements of the capable produce comfortable complacency and lay the seedbed of decline anew through overproducing the idiot children of success. People survive such times, but nations of the past in many instances have not. This, supposedly, is the Information Age, though; we need not follow the same stumbling path yet again. Toward that end and amongst many others:

Lesson One:  Angry crowds do surprising things
We’ve learned that the American people, put to the hard choice, will choose the deeply crass over the utterly corrupt. Such impertinence is the fruit of having the GOP elephant and the Democrat donkey morph into the statist ass-weasel, an invasive species currently dominating the swamp habitat of Washington, D.C. Legislators, rediscover integrity and heal yourselves.

Lesson Two: Iconography is a poor substitute for competence
Going forward, the electorate needs to demand results from the beneficiaries of its populism, rather than serve as cheerleaders for any cult of personality. To take up the duty of preserving our constitutional ideals in the face of arrogant elitism of whatever stripe must become a consuming, national passion. The spice of Americanism must flow.

Lesson Three: Do Not Feed The Tyrants
Empowerment will only intensify a compulsion to direct the lives of others. Affliction with ideology assigning citizens servitude to government rather than the reverse cannot be sated, only isolated, vilified, and shunned by honorable folk. Meeting or failing recurring challenges of the magnitude encountered in the outgoing administration will define us for future generations. Those defective souls who eventually lead government past the bounds of humanity may only be put down by force of arms, and technology is leaving good men with rifles nearly out of contention on the modern battlefield.

Lesson Four: Situational awareness
Enemies domestic thrive on the disinterest of honorable folk. Matters recently progressed to the edge of tolerance because the majority of the population had their heads down and their eyes closed. Our founders constructed this system of government with the assumption its citizenry would look after their own interests, as would the co-equal branches of limited government. Patterns of power leaving this righteous construct must be corrected or excised going forward and without exception, despite any lure of contrarian pragmatism.

Lesson Five: Be the People
Character remains the primary issue in politics and life generally, and needs to be cultivated in expectations held for ourselves and others. A disciplined population will elevate substantive people, following the advice of Jethro to Moses. Those fear God, are trustworthy, hate dishonest gain, and enter public service appreciating the duty of servant leadership. While they are empowered we must watch them carefully, and, should the lure of privilege take hold, dismiss them as warranted. Term limiting is a great place to begin, but will need to be enacted over the squalls of currently entrenched officeholders.

So here we are, at another end and beginning as has been the construct of history since we became a literate species. But who reads, right? Beyond prayerful supplication, one may only hope for the best, check the household inventories for shortfall, and know that God will be glorified at the conclusion of our days.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

MFTL_225x337DS
In production news, the fourth title of Boone’s File, Meat for the Lion, has passed through story-line refinement in Content Edit and now stands twenty percent complete in primary editing. We currently anticipate a summer release!

Because He Arrived

It’s a continual challenge in an overly accessorized world to effectively relay the significance of the mission of Christ. People, by and large blessed by a successful society and subject to many distractions, are able to ignore their primal nature and focus on less significant matters. But that Jesus appeared is a historical actuality, and one should understand why.

The Christ Child didn’t arrive because God changed in any way, but because He chose to manifest Himself in the person of a begotten son. The Craftsman is the same from age to age, existing outside the line of time in what can only be termed as nontemporal superdimensionalism. It is an altogether singular existence, dependent on nothing else. He is, and so he told Moses His name: I Am.

He Is today as He was then. We, as a portion of His portfolio, observe what He is doing as our limits allow. Time passes, because we are encapsulated and subject to the Line of Time, while we learn and grow to His purpose. In the fullness of our days, we will return to Him—going back under the Hand and the Eye of the Craftsman—to be evaluated.

My first novel, The Anvil of the Craftsman, led with His promise from Isaiah 43:25 that “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” That’s Who He is.

God’s covenantal promise is to reconcile the difference between who He is and who we are in the only way He is able. He needs to balance His equation, working in a manner that is representable mathematically. He chose to do so in a way that in its nature addresses another of our predictable failures.

Nontemporal superdimensionalism was not a term likely to flourish in the first century, let alone the times before the Hebrews became Israel. Though the concept is intuitive, humanity’s grasp of the universe was limited. We had an excuse, seeded by doubt from His enemy, that God didn’t know what it was like to be alone and abused and dying. From the beginning, in the crossroads of our minds where our voice and that of God and the deceiver meet, there was the premise planted of our Creator as a tyrant rather than a Father.

Jesus arrived, because our last excuse could be countered in no other way. I emphasize again: nothing changed then. This is the way God Is. His revelation is progressive, not His nature, and he judges men and women today on the same basis He has ever.

We are judged on a perfect standard, as He is perfect, for the reason that He must maintain, as we are told, what He creates. To do so, He must remain as He is, undiminished. It is our great opportunity and danger to arrive in eternity as a child of God or a castaway perceiving too late the nature of our existence and His.

So it is we initially fear God, and do so in our clarity. By His will, we come closer to see a message being not one of tyranny, but relaying His motivation of divine love, and His saving grace, and the overwhelming sufficiency of Christ.

Because Jesus arrived, we may understand. Join us in celebration if this is your first season of realization, and be blessed this Christmas as we remember again.

Choose to love, -DA