Tag Archives: faith

Ten Thoughts on Validity

Society, contrary to the initial and understandable conclusion one might draw, is not going insane. It is, however, suffering a prolonged period of moral and intellectual degradation, one students of history will recognize as cyclical. This world, being drawn closer together by transportation, information technology, and the advances of globalism over national identity, also is becoming more prone to conflict as competing ideologies necessarily engage when previously they might have been free to ignore each other.

Quality of character is neither fixed nor inherent. We are each an impermanent and evolving vehicle for an eternal soul, one from moment to moment presented with opportunities to embrace growth or corroding temptation. What rules we determine for living will tally in their return at the end of our days, and until then choices made along the way reflect our priorities. The distinction between valid and invalid initiatives is necessarily a judgment call enabled by wisdom, an acquired ability to forecast the consequences of a given action. Intervening self-focus is the usual root of any inability to listen.

In the arena of ideas, answers to essential and unavoidable questions determine who achieves life and avoids death on both the physical and spiritual planes. Fundamental orientations are those where one will encounter a zero-sum game of natural law more often than any accommodation of preferential variance.

Even more so as the stakes increase to a worldwide pot, clarity remains a survival trait. Toward this ideal, let me offer ten observations in the same hope as was reflected in the naming of this blog after the motto of Single Candle Press:  of kindling a light somewhere in a predawn darkness. Feel free to meditate on each as you will.

One: Human effort is directed toward goals of excellence or lame advantage, as governed by the embrace of seven virtues or a like number of vices:

Humility is set against pride,
Contentment against envy,
Moderation against gluttony,
Chastity against lust,
Love against anger,
Generosity against greed,
and Diligence against sloth.

Two: The pursuit of lame advantage begins where expectations of excellence end, with the initial embrace of an intellectually dishonest and morally faulted false premise. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and sometimes ends quite badly.

Three: A morally faulted false premise is driven by one or more of the seven vices. Peeling back layers on the onion of folly is going to reveal a rotten core with amazing consistency.

Four: Achieving and afterward maintaining lame advantage depends on the support of a successfully advanced narrative. Usually, such propaganda manifests in an excuse or purportedly justifying equivocation. Resultant gratification is often instantaneous, though any short-term gains pale in comparison to their potential for cultivating enduring disaster. Power accrues to the collectivist lobe of our political spectrum and its affiliated broadcast contingent through agitating a targeted base or market. The dividends then are reinvested in magnified effort by malefactors who value accumulated influence over servant leadership.

Five: An indefensible narrative may only thrive in the absence of rational criticism. Dear God, do not even get me started on the current state of education. Those invested in collectivist thinking are grooming impressionable minds through strategies of indoctrination. Tyrants invest in producing followers rather than citizens out of self-interest, and disabling intellectual ability is a necessity … lest, as Sam Adams noted, a troublesome few realize their subjection and choose to light brush fires of freedom in the minds of their peers.

Six: Rational criticism cannot be overcome through intellectually honest means. Instead, it must be suppressed or overwhelmed by narrative. Neither should you get me going on the technological tyranny of social media giants or the propensity of higher education to coddle those to whom it should apply riot control agents instead. Volume is not a counterpoint and often is inversely proportional to the validity of one’s argument.

Seven: An essentially faulted premise cannot be rehabilitated, and any subsequent extension exacerbates whatever ill effects are endemic to its initial failing. Start over, Skippy. Study for awhile first.

Eight: The inevitable end result of extending a faulted premise, absent its abandonment followed by corrective action, is systemic collapse as in the allegory offered by this soon-to-be-classic haiku:

In the freezing mist
Blossom of chrysanthemum
Falls down and goes boom

Natural law says, “That’s the way it works, boys and girls.”

Nine: Systemic collapse resets this cycle, offering again the choice between excellence or lame advantage. Any dysfunctional progression may only be broken by adopting the extension of valid premises, i.e. the prevalence of individual and subsequently societal morality. There are limits to any progression of folly, as the ash layers of history testify when given an audience.

Ten: The validity of any given personal, societal, or political ideology is reflected in demonstrating its long-term ability to achieve and sustain vitality. Sustainability is more than a millennial buzzword; it is an acknowledgement of the responsibilities of faith. In considering ourselves creatures whose purpose to live is implied by the fact of our appearance, it only follows that we seek to determine the goals of our Creator.

In summation, I would submit that any advocacy proceeds from one of two possible motivations. The more base is driven by a compulsion to direct the lives of others. The nobler offers advice on where life might be found, and our level of discernment is what will successfully determine one from the other. It is my continual hope that you have found already what is needed to choose wisely when the time arrives … as it surely shall.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production  news, Boone’s fifth and epic title, A Garden in Russia, is advancing through its middle chapters in production editing. Ranging from Virginia to the Aegean, going on to Asia, and taking with it most of my surviving characters, its anticipated September release remains on schedule.

 

 

 

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Animals

Defining moments are the lightning strikes of history. At times, the sudden flash of illumination passes to leave a smoking crater in the ground. So it was this past week with kerfuffle as the President’s opposition attempted, as is tiresome and usual, to spin one of his comments into a thread of advantageous narrative.

Mara Salvatrucha, composed largely of Salvadoran, Honduran, and Guatemalan thugs, are more commonly referred to as the notorious MS-13 gang. They are also a focus of immigration enforcement in the current administration. Their repertoire of people smuggling, robbery, larceny, human trafficking, extortion, murder, money laundering, prostitution (including child prostitution), racketeering, battery, kidnapping, and arms trafficking is international in scope. The premise that these bipedal targets care little for the rule of law as it relates to national borders is extrapolated from their demonstrated disdain for every other aspect of civilization.

So, when President Trump referred to them as animals, following his characteristic rhetorical idiom, the man’s political opposition jumped on another perceived opportunity to occupy unearned moral high ground and pander to an assumed voter base. It’s unlikely that the members of MS-13 are politically active to the point of voting. Regardless, if so their support for Democrats indeed would be expected. As with most positions of the political Left, though, imagining this stretches the boundaries of sanity, much less common sense.

True to form in competing with the man his country elected to oppose them, the blue cancer in our American political system as a result suffered another in a long and wonderful series of setbacks. Defining moments. Lightning. Smoking crater in the ground. Repeat as necessary, natural law whispers.

Leftists exist as a result of efforts from better folk. Strong people, as the cycle of history shows, produce good times. The vagaries of human nature ensure good times produce a preponderance of weak people, who afterward enable the bad times producing a saving number of leaders and doers to tow their fellows out of the ideological morass of extended, and afterward institutionalized, false premises. So do good times reappear … for awhile, at least.

Following its part in these processes, the Democratic Party found itself in the same week twice defending Nancy Pelosi’s feigned outrage. Once, it was over purported disrespect shown the “divine spark” present in members of deceased Hamas terrorists littering the border between Gaza and Israel, and again prompted by his denigrating a criminal gang whose members are documented to have killed a man’s family in front of him using a chainsaw. The apparent lack in comprehension of essential concepts marking an appreciated differentiation between philosophical alternatives has seldom been so starkly displayed.

Writing purposefully in vehicles of fiction as I do, contrasting the state of humanity and its antithesis is a constant. The guiding philosophies of my actors and the consequences of their decisions comprise the supporting structure of more than a dozen novels to date. Humans are found there, and animals in human form:

Muhammad Qasim al-Khafji dedicated to a faulted vision of revelation.
His brother Omar Ali served himself in the indulgence of revenge.
Abdur-Razzaq ibn Ali ruthlessly pursued power.
Ubayd Syed Sulayman made a more honorable man a prisoner for advantage.
Yameen Amjad al-Khobar and Mikhail Ivanovich Smolin chose greed.
Minister Liu Chunwang assumed highest the authority of his Central Committee.
Valka Gerard valued too much the same ideology of accumulated power.
Colonel Berislav Borojevic fully embraced ends justifying means.
Maxim Osip Kakhovsky made death a profession in a living world.
Nasir Murad Houthi yielded to a voice declaring him an arbiter of judgment.

To call them animals is a rhetorical device. I’ve known animals with souls. I saw that of G. Gordon Kitty through its windows, while he was sitting on my chest doing the same with me. I’ve known people whose lack of attendance to their essential questions generated the amalgam of decadence manifesting in my ability to write a despicable antagonist. They are not animals, but vessels of a corroding soul; indeed a spark of the divine, if only in the sense that they risk enduring forever the sentence of righteously rendered judgment.

The stewardship to which we were commissioned involves edification of upright folk and the management of those who refuse to take up the attributes of humanity: validation of the effort having gone into our appearance. Humanity is a cause taken up to hold and not an inheritance; it is, as faith, the evidence of things unseen.

To see, often we first need to look. Since trilobites scrounged the beds of primordial seas, creatures have acted on the information at hand to good and bad results. Humanity descends from clarity, the farsighted vision to which one’s ears also contribute. Clarity remains free from the deceptions of optics, engineered steering toward a deceptive narrative so often strategized by those whose obsession is to direct the lives of others.

To see what is, one must perceive the natural order accurately: One’s God and Creator, followed by allegiances to righteous government descending from his delegated principles and bestowed rights, followed by the love of family given to ordering and propagating healthy and vital society. It is a prioritization, in descent, of dedication.

Dismissing a slow-to-anger Divinity and replacing His authority with the self or the state comprises the sin of usurpation. As with all others, it pays in death rather than whatever other currency—power, pleasure, or plunder—is promised.

To be human is to tend the soul. Humanity manifests in undertaking a long work of life, one founded, as is that of our Source, in love when the alternatives are indifference and hate, a premise presented in my character Jon Anthony’s enduring tripartite.

The first assessment you should make of another human being is whether they truly are alive, or merely living. As I saw in Gordon, the eyes are where one may go for that, being the lamps of the body as Jesus taught in Matthew 6:22-23:

(22) “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. (23) But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Seeking guidance for the maintenance of one’s soul, the undertaking we generalize as the attribute of humanity, is the business of the spirit. Its gravitation toward the Creator is engineered, and the lifelong circle it travels homeward is an irresistible beckoning and destiny awaiting us each and every one. Some arrive to that court finding their shortcomings compensated by grace, while others encounter only the judgment reserved for the downside of free will. Enabling the choice of love through embrace of its rivals, those culpable find their unwilling place in a perfect plan to have been acting as the load-bearing work making His righteous souls strong. What lasts is best, and we have its promise from Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13:

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Life is found there, and in knowing this the dullest spark among us may share that much of the mind of God. Hold out your hope for them, for that is what will bring you joy … and the fulfillment of your treasure of true humanity.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, the fifth title of Boone’s File, A Garden in Russia, is approaching the halfway point in production editing and remains on schedule for a September release. Nearly every surviving character you remember from chronologically previous titles is there—contesting for the democratic process during a constitutional crisis in the Russian Federation—as the series approaches Maximum Boone in epic fashion. Our redheaded spitfire and dynamo of resilient feminine strength wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our Morally Integrated Universe

Of course, there’s a great deal of trouble everywhere one looks. Why do you think we’re here? The world, according to the laws of standard distribution, has always been half-filled with below-average people and somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-five percent reprobative thinkers. Society’s state of affairs, as a result, never has and never will manage itself.

Regardless, the place is what I’d like to call a Morally Integrated Universe. That is to say, a realm universally subject to predictable consequences, from which a reliable set of guidelines may emerge.

Of course, any discussion involving morality is problematic these days. This mostly is due to the vociferous commitment of those who reject established norms, and who oftentimes prove quick to anger at commonsense assertions regarded as judgmental in their camp.

Such irrationality, is, of course, itself a judgment, one made from what Andrew Breitbart used to call the occupation of unearned moral high ground. The heights of polarization being what they are, those who would best benefit from remedial lessons in conventional morality reject the notion in favor of preserving a precariously balanced world view.

The premise of a Morally Integrated Universe is simple: namely, an assertion that whatever is right or wrong remains so everywhere and for all time, regardless of any contravening consensus.

In varied settings, a given perspective might regard behavior to be right action when the same practice is considered reprehensible elsewhere. Who says which determinate factors are valid?

Wisdom is what does so. The ability to reliably anticipate consequences preserves those who acknowledge that life is hard, and gets worse the more often one does stupid things.

The likelihood of whether wisdom will be adopted has dependencies of its own, and those largely are determined by how an individual views his or her place in the order of things. Self has a valuation in creatures who consider their existence. For the purposes of this discussion, there are two primary perspectives: secular and faithful.

Universally, the egocentric, secular over-valuation of self tends toward indulgence in neglect of altruistic concepts such as duty and charity. Such selfish lifestyles give rise to the seven deadly sins and routinely suffer any number of unfortunate consequences. Whether the concept of sin enters into the equation is entirely dependent on intervening external influences, be they social or spiritual.

Faithfulness, conversely, is light against the darkness of self-absorption. This perspective perceives allegiance valued more than self and dedicates to it. It does not disregard personal considerations, but rather places them in an adopted hierarchy of ordered loyalties, some of which are prioritized while others are viewed as predominant.

This is the perspective, given the weight of proofs available, producing devotees with the greatest long-term rates of survival. We may objectively observe this in the worldly sense, and are told of its importance in the life to go on elsewhere.

Valid perspectives tend toward observation rather than consensus. Consensus necessarily includes faithless perspectives, overly influenced as they are by too narrow a focus on gratification. Thus, what seems fine from a myopic viewpoint can easily be revealed as a horrid decision after widening one’s considerations by a single order of loyalty.

Beyond the limit of consensus rules the court of natural law, from whose verdicts there are no avenues of appeal. Its judgments are final and levied in life or death.

Commitment to any sort of deceptively narrow focus—be it on the self, one’s identity, or a given philosophy—generates what I call an ideological bubble: an imagined state of reality prone to being popped by the collapse of an extended false premise. An armed malefactor walking into a designated Gun-Free Zone and turning a declared safe space into a shooting gallery instead is a prime and all-too-current example.

When sufficient offsetting support is available, ideological bubbles may become institutionalized, as is the tragic norm in Blue State America. I’m looking at you, too, London. Should their compensating influences evaporate, it is their inherently unsustainable nature making them suddenly dangerous.

There exists effective insulation against bad decision-making, that being found in conventional morality. This is no accident of culture. Rather, it descends from a long line of observations sifting What Works from What Kills. Valid perspectives, such as morality, are the product of a preserving sense of pragmatism having delivered its adherents through times too many others did not survive.

The assertion of faith is that God, in His beneficence, saw fit to reveal many of those guidelines ahead of time. He did so with the intent that more of us should go on than those who tend to learn things the hard way. This is more than blind hope. It is a conclusion an adequate study of available historical and legal proofs will deliver. That He loves is evident in a portfolio of works in life. The extent to which He does so can be extrapolated from a promise that we may go on with Him, forever, on His terms.

Your ordering of loyalties and consequent valuation of yourself await in an unavoidably essential choice between love, hate, and indifference. We will all see you on the other side, and sooner, perhaps, than any of us think.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s fifth title, A Garden In Russia, is just over thirty-three percent through production editing. It progresses on a road to publication in September.

Ritter’s fifth, Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight, with its chapters alternating between conflicts in Iraq set in 2003 and 2013 respectively, is somewhere in the neighborhood of the initial quarter of its first draft. 24HtM might appear in 2019 or early the following year, God willing.

 

Fear

Here, it is not yet a week since an addled young man shot up his former high school in Parkland, Florida. And people everywhere are afraid.

We have all felt fear, so there’s seldom a need to define dread. It’s burn graduates through degrees of apprehension to stark terror in every life, because we are fragile and fleeting creatures bounded in an uncertain existence by a beginning and an end, with our anticipated span between at best an assumption. Fear is natural once we witness hurt … or worse.

In our next release and Boone’s fifth novel, A Garden in Russia—currently editing—the wife of Russia’s FSB Director, my character Ana Lyubov, has this to say about the duty and responsibility for comporting oneself:

“Faith is given to overcome fear, girl, for those who live in righteousness. It is history’s lesson at every turn. This is our time to be strong … for your father’s sake.”

And again, to another:

“Let me tell you, Deborah Vosse … though my husband is in prison, and my daughter a captive, I feel no less the hand of God in these difficult days.”

And this from Boone:

“When fear keeps you from your promises, your duty, from accomplishing whatever it is you are tasked to do by your love for others … only then are you a coward.”

To fear is no dishonor. Fear can be motivating, as adrenaline is invigorating. What follows behind sometimes is problematic.

Fear exists as a tool for those whose main ambition is to direct the lives of others. Like  animal predators in nature rather than society, spiritually deficient personalities seek, sense, cultivate, and exploit it because they recognize the manipulative advantage of leveraging terror.

Terrorists use it as a means to an end. That the techniques of terror are more blatantly homicidal than a politician whose strategy is identical in its heartless essence marks only a matter of decrepit degree. The core value of both sociopathic subsets is dominance. In each case goal-oriented behavior exhibits to the exclusion of valued humanity.

In every case, fear depends on its acceptance in the targeted group embracing the emotion. Sometimes this occurs out of fatigue following relentless, propagandistic assault, but more often the cause is a perception of helplessness. Those manipulating the sensation of horror have some transition in mind, and often what presents as a solution is anything but.

Today the architects of fear are targeting the natural right of free people to possess the means of their defense. The framers of our Constitution recognized this before all but a few when delineating the rights its first ten amendments safeguard, because they were about setting down unchanging principles of governance unhindered by tyranny. In doing so, they were setting the boundaries of government free people would not need to fear.

Frank Herbert’s masterpiece Dune has his portrayed Bene Gesserit trainees recite their litany against fear as “the mind killer” and “the little death that brings total obliteration.” Herbert’s characters, so prepared, faced their emotion, let it go, and traced its path afterward to better understand themselves. So should we.

Fear stems from uncertainty, but certitude is a matter of education. It is infuriating that fear is being cultivated in our educational institutions these days. Its introduction is diminishing rather than edifying.

Malleability originates in a condition of essential incapability. Performance anxiety in vital aspects of life, such as assuring one’s personal safety, amplifies perceptions of dependency, whose end result is to make its subject weak rather then strong. Personal, emotional and physical strength should be the goal of worthwhile mentors. To do otherwise brings into question the motives and honor of those responsible for producing the next generation of citizens, and the ideological condition their curriculum is designed to produce.

I repeat: fear, in whatever condition one finds oneself, regardless needs to be embraced to have an influence. The strength to do otherwise is bestowed first in the spirit and then in the mind, where a decision to act must take place. This is why those whose sum displays in their ambition go to such lengths to assure its abundance in prospective subjects. Tyranny is never in the best interest of the oppressed, and tyrants know this better than anyone. It must be made to appear as the best choice, and to do so more noble aspects of the human experience must be put out of mind.

The fear of death, the scariest and most inevitable doorway we face in life, is the tool God’s enemy uses to turn us from His will. That the enemy and his plans are defeated already through the Resurrection of Christ is the treasure of faith and secret strength for those of us who believe, and freely available should it be sought. This realization is God’s goal, just as His enemy’s schemes intend to keep you from it.

So, here in the wake of another tragedy and in the midst of upset and proposed, agenda-based solutions on the political Left, I would encourage you. Find your faith and build your strength in the company of worthwhile teachers in whatever aspect of your personal development seems lacking. They are the ones whose goals are to make you strong, independent, reverent, and capable rather than a quailing thrall. They will teach you how to help yourself rather than carry or steer you into servitude. They will ask nothing but their due in exchange, if wishing anything at all but that you likewise pay forward the lessons accumulated from similarly happy, formative circumstances of their own in days gone by.

They are the ones you will remember on the day you’re able to say, “I’m not afraid, I am free.”

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, as mentioned, the fifth installment of Boone’s File is editing and anticipating a September release. As always, whether you have read in Jon’s Trilogy, or Sean’s File, or followed Boone’s progress, we depend on your recommendations and your reviews to get out the word.

“If you’ve read something, I hope you said something.” Your few words, describing to prospective readers how my novel made you feel, will never stop helping me … or go unappreciated here.

Ends and Beginnings

Ends and beginnings. They are the stuff of December.

One year ends, and another begins. Perennially it is a time of fresh starts, new plans, and renewed contemplation provided by the short days and cozy nights of the winter quarter.

These twelve days of the Christmas season find Novel10/Sean4 The Yemeni Package in the last stages of editing, with external proofreading to take place as the first order of business in 2018. Ritter’s fourth should follow by the end of January, if we are so blessed. As ever, one project ends and another begins.

Ritter’s story documents the building of a remarkable man, whose appearance in each of  my novels marks him as the singular character to do so. Ends and beginnings mark his life as they do everyone’s. His story, like ours—and Jon Anthony’s, and Boone’s in their own titles for that matter—concerns itself as much with the people who contribute to the main character’s life as it is about the protagonist of any particular title.

Where does Daniel Sean Ritter fit into the catalog? Ritter is goal-oriented where Jon is contemplative. Ritter’s emotions are tightly held against the flood that sometimes releases from Boone. His strength, dominant physically, matches the other two sometimes and lags in other measures. It is his whole, his balance, that makes the man indispensable.

Mick returns in Sean’s fourth title as his mentor, Blade again as his pragmatic balance, and General Peter McAllen as ever to broaden his perspective and apply the leverage of his talents where the beam between good and evil tips most effectively. You’ll meet Samir Ibrahim, an apostate Muslim scholar upon his conversion to Christianity, and one with his own agenda in pursuing the target of the adventure.

And … Thalia. A case officer tasked with the retrieval of a known terrorist by a marginally resolute National Command Authority, Thalia Kebauet is a woman who can only be adequately described after the fact. Ritter to this day is unlikely to disagree, and that is what can be said of her for the time being.

Ends and beginnings. There is perhaps one more episode of Sean’s File in the catalog timeline between The Yemeni Package, which takes place largely in 1999,  and the 2006 pre-Surge setting of The Anvil of the Craftsman. If undertaken, it would be supplemental, not necessary. Worthwhile and necessary are not dependent attributes, though, in any but the most austere life.

Ritter’s back-story leads the chronology of my novels, with Jon’s Trilogy set in the middle as my common character universe merges into Boone’s File. Those episodes are, as I discovered along the way, all parts of the same tale taking place across three series, each in its respective decade.

All of our lives proceed in similar fashions. We too have our contributing characters, because none of us do any of this alone. One encounters them in chapters and titles while self-designating the most significant markers of one’s own timeline. Let us, as did Ben Franklin, credit its plot structure to our Author and Finisher.

Life lived well is a work of reality rather than fiction. Moment after moment is presented as part of the Whole to build we who pay attention or bless us, but never to break us. We who believe are made of God’s stuff and cannot be undone. That we exit the timeline after our designated interval marks only an end and another beginning. It will be wonderful for the faithful and horrid for the unadvocated, respective to each resultant and individual destination.

Our burden ends, you see, where His sufficiency begins. Mark your milestones and lessons along the way toward a successful conclusion and in the great hope revealed in the first Christmas season, for the appearance of Jesus is His Father’s testimony that the least life is far too precious a treasure to live accidentally. Ritter, in embracing his Pararescue Creed’s maxim, That Others May Live, says as much with his heroics.

You and I and Sean are characters each in the other’s story, and for that I am thankful. If my writing helps you along your way, so much the better. I hope to learn it was so, once we meet in endless better and brighter days.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, next month’s Vae Obscurum will be the go-live announcement for Daniel Sean Ritter’s fourth title, The Yemeni Package, God willing. Now is a great time to begin the novels of Sean’s File.

Ours

The granddaughter of an author friend is going through a well-documented process of discovering the names of things, words and concepts that will define her world from now on. It’s always best, as the Taoist master Pooh observed, to begin at the beginning. Sometimes, it’s a place to return in reduction to essence, as my character Jon Anthony terms his method of understanding.

One of the foundational concepts this youngling is encountering includes the idea of Mine. Sometimes a child’s assertion is a plausible premise, as in the case of pointing to her foot. Sometimes it is less so and warrants correction. How we go about that vital process depends entirely on the validity of our own orientation and perspective.

At the appropriate time we need to take away the object in a childish claim of Mine and pass it along to a co-owner, pointing out the concept of Ours. Then to another, repeating in demonstration the higher ideal. Finally, the object lesson may pass back to the child, but again with the admonition: Ours. In most things, we are in this together.

Nearer the age of accountability, and once the essential choice between love and hate and indifference has been incorporated into a young life, the time arrives to encounter in faith another concept: His. A successful journey is an ordering of loyalties as our capacity permits. Faith, commitments, and self. This involves one descending in priority rather than retaining the juvenile self-focus marking our starting point, and in that perfect balance of acknowledging our place in the natural order diminishment equals growth.

In the Christian perspective, the closed circle of our Creator’s revelation, God took Mine and Ours and made it His. Our transgressions, our shortcomings, our just punishments earned in lifetimes and generations falling short of the Glory of God. He gathered those to Himself and placed the burden forever on the Cross. When it was over, he returned with the treasure and declared as a good parent: Ours. We are in this together.

One sees the concepts of Mine and Ours and His in play throughout life and society and politics. Sometimes those are embraced in solid premises, and in other times less or tragically not, and only the acid test of deconstruction will reveal one from the other.

Mine can be a prison of false liberation, where vicious manipulation in presumably self-serving politics of identity promise gain and instead diminish one’s American heritage. Mine can be the justification for the pursuit of lame advantage, where lust and envy, fostered by assumptions of due accommodation and reparation stunt the lifelong edification of a healthy intellect and vital spirit.

Ours, embraced in violation of natural laws, becomes an immoral process of conversion. There, the individual entitlement of Mine metastasizes into communitarianism or worse travesties of economic and political ideology stripping the return from one’s labor and collectivizing achievement. Ideological platitudes aside, have no doubt there will always be those at the top of such an order who fully retain the empowering and individual concept of Mine.

Even His can be subverted to serve purposes other than worship. Assumed delegation assures some servants will be held in higher regard and position than others, with the privileges and advantage of Mine cloaked in tradition and esteem and hierarchy preserving what ambition—having lost its focus previously—has established to perpetuate a comfortable arrangement instead.

His and Ours and Mine exist in the balance that Pastor Lin Shun Lun perceived in the second novel of Boone’s File, The Bonus Pool: another tripartite reality of Heaven and Earth with Man between. It remains our challenge to sort one from another day by day, a process by which we are winnowed as well. It’s good to keep this in mind.

Choose to love, -DA.

*****

In production news, Daniel Sean Ritter’s next, The Yemeni Package being the fourth title of Sean’s File, is approaching the three-quarters mark in production editing and on schedule to appear in January, 2018. Now is a good time to begin, if you’ve neglected the story of the man who has yet to miss his appearance in one of my novels. You will, I promise, discover why.

Pondering ‘Blade Runner 2049’

The Editress and I screened Blade Runner 2049 soon enough that we avoided exposure to spoilers per the advice of someone who saw it even earlier. I have no intention of including such here. The film was a presentation of depth on a scale still seeming slow to fully assimilate days later. Worth encountering for fans of 1982’s origin property, the film is not to be entered lightly. I have little doubt its returns, financial and otherwise, will be of a longer term than perhaps its studios initially anticipated.

But this is not a movie review. As always, the waters run deeper here.

Surface impressions are the draw of a product. Less evident themes, I suspect, comprise its payload. Some of those might be intentional and others not, possibly included through darker inspiration to which the world has been subject since the minds of men and women in antiquity first encountered voices divine and despairing.

The film is, partially at least, an exploration of the nature of humanity as a designator of achievement rather than mere classification. Replicants, the artificial yet sentient beings of the franchise, are portrayed in this latest installment as sometimes displaying the virtue to a greater extent than presumably biological characters.

With that stage being set, dialogue later speculates on the nature of the soul as existentially bestowed only to products of reproduction rather than biotechnology. As such, possessing the hope of being something more is resented by engineered beings craving the same validation as any of us. By implication, humanity, being embraced by sentience following circumstantial and self-development, is presented as the superior condition. This is the point, for me at least, where the most subtle secular messaging of the movie begins to emerge.

Segue from the previous film includes the acquisition of the formerly dominant Tyrell Corporation, commercial creators and engineers of the Replicants, by the developer of synthetic food production Niander Wallace. Credited with preserving humanity in the wake of multiple environmental disasters, the character’s portrayal as the savior of humankind is messianic enough to evoke a physical resemblance to Jesus in the actor cast. I doubt this was an accident, for reasons we’ll explore next.

Wallace is projected as an intelligent, cruel, visionary pragmatist utterly unconcerned with the moral responsibilities of producing the sentient creations emerging from his product development. He’s set against K, the current-generation replicant protagonist, with the resultant, problematic premise being that the creation has evolved to a higher moral condition than its creator.

The corporatist, posturing as a deity to his synthetic life forms, in one soliloquy expounds on the historical need for slaves—such as is his business to create—as necessary to project and preserve the power of empires. The theme of Cartesian resistance to an unloving, malevolent, manipulative creator runs throughout the remainder of the experience. It’s not the first work to emerge from a resentful, myopic, spiritually dangerous, egotistic, and insular perspective assessing our role and perceiving our stratum in the natural order as being oppressed subjects of divine tyranny, should it acknowledge our Creator at all.

Being that Blade Runner 2049 was a product of Hollywood, it ought to be approached cautiously from a Christian standpoint. The town, as the recent kerfuffle surrounding producer Harvey Weinstein aptly illustrates, is hardly possessed of a culture discerning people would find edifying or superversive.

Humanity, in its taxonomical context, may judge itself as a pinnacle rather than a portfolio. Doing so adopts a false premise that, as always, cannot be successfully rehabilitated except by starting over, lest its devotees extend its unbalanced folly to disastrous systemic collapse. The process is insidious enough to take a lifetime, because the enemy is supernaturally patient when making continual progress in the deluded.

So what do we do with the movie? Despite what in the opinion of the Editress is overthinking the film, I don’t regret the experience and will probably end up owning a copy. As an effort of cinematography it is beautiful, and the storyline revitalizes and extends the dystopian backdrop of its lead-in. The first Blade Runner is one of our most viewed favorites here. Its follow-up, likewise a product of the time and culture that produced the thing, might exceed the original in its presentation and extent, if not the validity of what it is trying to say. Decide those things for yourself.

We Christians are commissioned ministers of faith to the world, a blessing precluding domination by—or fear of—worldly influences. Encountering or observing the gradient of wretchedness in fallen surroundings doesn’t equate to embracing, affiliating with, or endorsing the same. We by grace are greater than these things crossing our path.

Sometimes a movie is just a movie. What one will take away from Blade Runner 2049 depends on one’s capacity and vision, as with everything.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Novel10/Sean4, The Yemeni Package, is at midpoint in production editing. The USAF’s taciturn vessel for opportune karma is projected to appear again with his associated supporting cast in January 2018, with another installment of Sean’s File, the back-story responsible for building a man named Daniel Sean Ritter.