Tag Archives: faith

Mere Christianity

The themes of the holiday season, being appreciation in Thanksgiving and joy in celebration of the first Christmas, coincide with weather encouraging long, cozy nights indoors. Such times seem tailor made for books generally and edifying reads in particular, and as an author I hope all of you are indulging yourselves that way.

My November absorption was an overdue study of the 1952 classic by the renowned C.S. Lewis, titled in his devout understatement Mere Christianity. In this work, the masterful Lewis provides wonderful and insightful commentary on the basic tenets of Christian faith held in commonality by those who believe. It is rightly considered an essential read for all of us who realize ourselves to be between Here and There.

Substantive enough that it deserves to be taken on one chapter at a time, with each being followed by contemplation in turn, Lewis assures, convicts, and comforts. Personally, I perceived evident hints of his formative influence on another convincing apologist, Josh McDowell, who like Lewis also started from a base of skepticism.

Those recognizable precepts made clear that this book had influenced my own perspective years previous to my finally engaging the thing. In a sense, C.S. Lewis is another of my literary fathers, and with me, through McDowell, helped produce my catalog of novels. Expressing in fiction the seeds of faith I’ve been allowed to present through the lives of my characters Jon, Sean, and Boone is therefore partially their legacy as well. Such is the work of the Spirit.

Like Lewis, my character Jon Anthony sought to emphasize commonalities of faith rather than spur conflict in outlining divergence. Their respective efforts similarly proceeded from a peaceful nature, the bestowment of which is a core value and benefit of embracing Christianity. Such descends from the essential motivation of our Creator, which is love. Love was born in the mind of God, who then realized his desire for servants and souls with whom He could share the best of all emotions.

Everything else followed. Love, necessarily a choice, has a dependency on free will, the unfortunate application of which gives rise to sin rather than harmony. All things nurturing and charitable proceed from it, and we rightly celebrate those each holiday season and whenever else the proper mindset allows.

Mere Christianity is eminently worthwhile. Regardless of your state of belief you should read it for yourself as a life task and initiative of spiritual edification.

A personal side benefit of digesting the work was an insight as to the nature of truth. Actualities, you see, and particularly those from which Lewis constructs his arguments, are and were always here. Truth, as does the existence of a personal Creator, endures in an essential state of being. Those exist independent of discovery, acceptance, promulgation, or consensus. Truths of the physical plane discovered and undiscovered through science, for instance, are in effect independent of anyone being aware of them. In that way, physical and spiritual laws share an essential commonality. It is in their embrace that we grow our perspective and build a more useful outlook beyond the data set from which we previously proceeded.

It is this aspect of useful truth inviting embrace that led to the Great Commission, and the efforts of Lewis, and afterward McDowell, and then myself. Everything true directs toward sure knowledge of the nature of its Craftsman: the motivating love of the Father, the accommodating forgiveness of the Son, and the unrelenting outreach of the Spirit through whom we commune with Him from this world we know.

As is so eloquently expressed in Mere Christianity, what He does has the goal of successfully delivering us to our Creator. Should one understand nothing else of His Will, that would be enough of a beginning to launch a life lived as it should be. Remember one precept, descending from the apostle Paul’s commendation to the Bereans, who searched Scripture nightly to confirm the things he told them were so: truth fears nothing from inspection.

So it is each holiday season, as in the dawn of another day: a fresh chance to begin appears again. Like truth, the opportunity is always there, waiting to be picked up, held dear, and carried forward. You have our wishes for a Merry Christmas and the best of New Years from everyone here at Single Candle Press.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

Just a reminder that all three of my series—Jon’s Trilogy, Sean’s File, and Boone’s File—now have a free gateway title available through links on the sidebar if one uses an e-reader. Those collections of novels I have connived to support and enhance each other, as each takes place in its own decade of the same literary universe.

Reading material in any form, though, makes a great gift, one with the potential to move forward from then on with the mind it encounters. Should you think enough of my writing to pass it on to another, thank you in advance!

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Roads to Rome

Since at least the twelfth century, there has been a saying: “All Roads Lead to Rome.” Generally, this is taken to mean the same outcome may be reached by many methods or ideas. Once, though, it was literal truth.

The Roman network of roads constructed in the days of empire covered 120,000 kilometers from Portugal to Constantinople. They projected the power of the emperor, connected nodes of commerce, and assured Rome’s legions had a straight road to wherever trouble might arise. All roads, indeed, led back to that center of civilization … if such was the direction taken. With one’s course reversed, they all eventually ended as far as possible from it.

But Vae Obscurum isn’t about history, though such is always a consideration. It is about thinking. Analogous to the directions available to the Roman pilgrim, two modes of philosophical thought beckon the intellectual traveler: extension and reduction. Toward Rome, representing clarity, and away into the wilderness of false premises diffusing into irrelevance.

There are a vastly greater number of ways to be wrong than right. This is one reason why, for the sake of example, the LGBT∞ pantheon of delusions will never—short of divine intervention—cease adding its addendum letters. Philosophy seems too often concerned with muddying rather than clarifying thought, and theology likewise has its share of overblown and under-supported doctrines (speaking of Rome). Such in the nature of human ego, fed by needs to make oneself more than might be objectively justified, and to build sustaining institutions and hierarchies to afterward enjoy the advantage or other comforts they generate.

My deep-thinking character Jon Anthony, in Killing Doctor Jon, called his intellectual antithesis

“‘reduction to essence,’ where we stop believing and start seeing. The valid precepts of all the great religions are found there … because things real have always been real, and are just as they will always remain.” (KDJ, 2013)

Another great philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, opined that it is always best to begin at the beginning. Christopher Robin’s friend intuited truth at a primal level, and so realized a truism of logic: a false premise cannot be successfully extended. To correct child paradigms, one must start fresh from a justified foundation of thought. A reliable frame of reference reflects clarity and aligns with the state of actuality from which all natural endurance draws vitality.

Another of my characters, Boone’s mentor and Chinese pastor Lin Shun Lun, noted in his likewise naturalistic orientation the tripartite nature in much of God’s creation:

“We live in the bounds of our material existence, yet we sense, as Lao did, something more. Those, as so many things do upon reflection, often divide themselves into threes: Father, Son, and Spirit … beginning, middle and ending … Heaven, Earth and Man.” (The Bonus Pool, 2015)

Applying Jon’s approach of simplifying rather than extending makes for a more penetrating message, which in the way matters are considered here ought to be the focus of Christian outreach. Taken to the beginning, one arrives at the point of origin, the Creator, manifesting Himself as He sees fit and to our eyes as the Father, representing his essential unity and love. He also appears as the Son, to embody His grace and represent the creative force of the Right Hand of the Craftsman. His ministry of the Spirit resides in divine communication and inspiration that projects His will into the world among those who will listen and live what they believe.

Sets of three become one and accumulate into work, and works into a portfolio, and somewhere beyond into the sum total of what He is doing in a plan held close and beyond our sight. Faith is the window into that far green country Professor Tolkien envisioned.

What do we need to know? Taken back to essence as Jon would approve, divine love, saving grace, and the sufficiency of Christ comprise the essential tripartite of the Christian faith. One or another duty follows from these three concepts, and life is found along whichever occupies our minds at any given moment. These are real, and may be successfully extended so long as we do not lose line of sight to our home. Doing so, we can never truly become lost.

Begin with clarity, and end with success. Be R.E.A.L. before it gets real:

Realize your need
Explore for truth
Accept God’s gift of forgiveness
Live what you believe

You will find other concepts along the way worth holding onto. Remember that in most endeavors, methodology is everything. Deliberating is no exception.

Choose to love, -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s sixth title and one split with Daniel Sean Ritter, Ghosts of the Republic, is currently undergoing Content Edit. The process is not easily forecast due to the nature of the Editress’s work. GOTR will, God willing, appear sometime next year depending on what else He sets us toward doing in the meantime.

HBD, America

Pop. There’s a reason we celebrate this country’s Declaration of Independence with fireworks. Doing so serves to remind that independence, ironically enough, has a continual dependency on being enforced by those on whom it is bestowed.

Many firecrackers, bottle rockets and other pyrotechnics are charged with a smaller granulation of the same sort of black powder that filled the horns of minutemen. If they were particularly well equipped, the same fine FFFg from a miniature horn might have primed their flintlock muskets, rifles, and pistols. Those discharges sending your cat under the bed are a microcosm of history repeating itself, as it will always.

Pop. Pop-pop. Men lined up at the Concord, Massachusetts North Bridge because they’d had their fill of the assumptive imposition of authority by other men. It was a time given to the long contemplation of ideas and the study of consequences exhibited in natural law, and in those ruminations arrived a realization:  folk, by their nature, are free.

Society has organized itself in various ways since civilization began. Uneven distribution of advantage, for most of history, led to those who have it and those who serve them. Life, too has its dependencies, and when ambition combines with the compulsion to direct the lives of others it seeks to control the distribution of necessities and restrict the means of resistance. The result of controls and restrictions imposed rather than adopted in consensus is tyranny.

Bad ideas are often institutionalized in the attempt to legitimize an indefensible precept, or to justify those arrangements which, for a time at least, prevent society from descending into chaos. So evolved the supposedly divine right of kings. Such led to inherited leadership, good or bad, and the tradition of being protected by those who, in turn, most enjoyed advantage. This particular vision of governance—that of nobles by subjects—endured for centuries, established colonies in foreign lands, and built empires.

Pop. People colonizing a new continent, folk who had to build for themselves, and protect themselves, and provide for themselves shared their challenges with others having identical attribute requirements for survival. They prospered, and their prosperity led to easement in the general standard of living. After some decades an era of enlightenment, fed by newly discovered time to read and think, had arrived.

They began to watch, and learn, and discern the natural rules of faithful living. Knowing as they did the will of God revealed in Scripture, they nurtured in long-held traditions whose utility was the preservation of reliable conventions through time rather than a single lifespan. Premises tested for soundness and then extended on the basis of merit rather than whim began to transmit from one mind to another through the printing press. Some of those questioned the dominant paradigm of monarchy.

Pop-pop. Men realized that just power derives from the consent of the governed. They perceived that souls kindled by their Creator were on equal footing at their appearance, each with the same moral responsibilities to each other and the God who created them, and with an identical duty to assert those in times when overly presumptive authority thought otherwise.

Pop. One shot was heard around the world, and the diametric opposition of ideas formed camps as patriots lit brushfires of freedom in the minds of their peers against the status quo. Ideological Americanism began to spread, fueled by the light of liberties promised to those who adopted morally upright and responsible living … the only sort that endures. In time, the Founders declared their right to govern themselves as they saw fit, and the ideology of America manifested in a new nation. Its citizens had to assert its independence against those who thought otherwise lest their freedom again degrade to subjection, and free folk took up a fight that will never end.

God’s enemy whispers egotism and self-aggrandizing false premises into the ears of those who’ve not guarded their minds, and therefore their souls, yet today. The voice of the enemy is like water. It seeps, then puddles, stagnates, and finally breaks out into a flood of evil when spiritual dams let loose. We are seeing this happen now, in the acting out of those lacking any clear vision of how to preserve themselves, their freedoms, or anything else.

Evil has not left us, for the same reason we exercise by lifting weights. God’s voice is in the arena as well, fortifying those who listen and lending the strength to stand upright in any flood. Those who clearly perceive their nature and that of their Creator will value gifts descending from Him over offerings of a world tempting us away with false premise and promise.

People must learn the same lessons as their forebears from time to time until reliable paradigms again solidify. To be free of each other, we must first be freed of sin beyond our own means, and only faith in a loving Creator leads to the lifting of that yoke through His grace. Freedom in all realms comes by listening, and studying, and discerning truths and solid ideas from those fatally flawed.

One may know when enlightenment arrives. It pops.

Happy Birthday, America. Choose to love. -DA

*****

In production news, Boone’s fifth adventure, A Garden in Russia, is nearing the three-quarters mark in production editing and on schedule to appear in September, God willing. If you’ve not started in on the titles of Boone’s File, there is no better time to catch up than before an epic drops.

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.

 

 

 

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.