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Archive for the ‘God’ Category

If You Didn’t Want me to Film You Naked, Why Did You Shower That Way?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

We’re All Exhibitionists Now

I did my time today working on Quickbooks, and then I relaxed with Herodotus, after which I flew the drone. People probably don’t believe me when I write about my thrilling life.

Accounting is still a horror. I’ve gotten to the point where I understand it well enough to enter things in Quickbooks, and I will be glad to have the skill and knowledge, but once again, I am reminded of one of my dad’s courtroom stories. His client passed out in the street drunk, and a man backed over him and broke his leg. The defendant’s lawyer testified that the man had no damages because a broken bone that has healed is stronger than a bone that has never been broken at all. My dad asked him how much he would charge to break the other leg.

That which has not killed me has made me stronger, but it definitely has not put a smile on my face.

Herodotus is surprisingly entertaining, but after Homer and Sappho, the phone book would be entertaining, so my perceptions may be distorted. I have the Robin Waterfield translation, and I would describe the tone as “folksy.” When you read it, the voice you hear in your head is like an American talk radio host. Somewhat irreverent, not altogether serious, and very informal.

I have been reading about the rise of Cyrus, the Persian emperor who helped the Jews. In case you don’t know, a prophet mentioned Cyrus by name in the Old Testament. I am too lazy to look it up, but the prophet spoke long before Cyrus was born.

I don’t know if Herodotus ever mentions the Jews, but he mentions lots of figures who are either in the Bible or separated from it by only one or two degrees. Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal, Darius, and a bunch of others.

Herodotus wrote about Cyaxares, a Median emperor who married a daughter off to Nebuchadnezzar II, who happens to be the guy who sacked the temple in 586 B.C. Cyaxares was the grandfather of Astyages, and Astyages was the grandfather of Cyrus. Herodotus says Astyages had two dreams that indicated that Cyrus, whose father was a Persian, not a Mede, would depose him and take his empire. Astyages told his consigliere Harpagus to kill the child, and Harpagus delegated the job to a herdsman. You can guess the rest. It’s a lot like the stories of Jesus and Moses. A deliverer is promised, so a heathen ruler tries to kill children.

Cyrus reminds me of Donald Trump. He was extremely bold and decisive, and things went well for him, as though a higher power had given him extraordinary favor. Of course, that’s the correct explanation.

I cant’ say I approve of Cyrus, any more than I completely approve of Trump. Cyrus was not a good person, but he served a purpose, and he did a job.

Herodotus is incomprehensible if you just read what he wrote; you have to look at external sources. I use the Internet to explain things and fill gaps. I use it to put dates beside things. For example, the Scythians ruled the area the Medes later ruled from around 553 B.C. to about 525 B.C., until Cyaxares got them. If you put dates next to things, you get a picture of what was happening outside of Israel when various things happened in the Bible. The dates are highly dubious, but they’re better than nothing.

I don’t know if I would call Herodotus a historian. To me, he’s more of a gossip. He can’t verify what he says, and he admits it, but he passes it along all the same.

It’s a funny coincidence (if that’s what it is), but a good friend of mine generously sent me two huge books about the Revelation, at about the time I started going back over the books from Columbia University’s Lit. Hum. course. I’ve written about this. Evangelist Rick Renner wrote the books, and they’re stuffed with information about the ancient world.

The neat thing about going back over the torment of Lit. Hum. is that it will help me understand Renner’s books. Herodotus will not cover the time period of the early church, which appears to be Renner’s focus; Herodotus died in the fifth century B.C. But he provides a lot of groundwork on the ancient world that provided the foundation of the world that existed in the time of Jesus and the disciples.

After the Greeks and Virgil, Lit. Hum. shoots directly to Augustine, who lived in the fourth and fifth centuries A.D.

I don’t know how anyone learned anything before the Internet. It makes this stuff so much easier.

Abusing my brain with accounting and ancient literature has to be countered with pleasure, so I keep working on my drone skills. Sometimes I’m able to stay aloft for maybe 20 seconds now. The drone doesn’t drop out of the air as often as it used to. Maybe something in the power trains has loosened up.

I made a fourth drone purchase. Revell, a company that makes the kind of plastic airplane models we all used to set on fire when we were 12, makes drones now, and they have a neat one with six props. It has lots of lights on it. Clearly I needed it.

Once my second drone arrives, I’ll have the ability to fly more or less continuously for maybe 15 minutes (my flights are lengthened by frequent pauses to retrieve the drone from behind furniture). That will help me practice efficiently. When I have four drones, I’ll be able to practice considerably more than I want to.

Some day I’ll get a drone with a camera. Sounds extravagant, but you can get all sorts of cool ones for under a hundred bucks. I don’t have any neighbors who sunbathe naked (as far as I know), so I don’t think I can be condemned for operating a camera drone.

Of course, I may get a surprise when I fly it. Hmm.

I think the most annoying thing about camera drones is that the punks who use them to torment us have put us on the defensive. When people complain about drones in their yards, the punks will actually say things like, “You can always stay inside and draw your blinds.”

Technology is going to get incredibly cool, and we will lose all semblance of privacy and liberty. Then Jesus will return. That’s my guess. So I feel like I need to get my droning in while I can.

As I have said before, I don’t think God will tolerate the destruction of privacy and free will. Without them, you can’t have judgment or reward. A world like that serves no purpose.

I’ll put up a Youtube of the hexacopter. I hope you like it. After all, we bought these toys with the rights we held precious.

Logorrhea

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

I Wish I had a Deformed Cat

Yesterday I got curious and looked around the web to see how hard writing is for other people. When I worked for my law school paper, I saw people lock up when they were asked to write a couple of hundred words, and when I was blogging and dealing with bloggers who wanted to write books, I knew people who couldn’t get more than a few pages done. Clearly, my situation is not like that.

On the web I saw people talking about the goal of writing a few hundred or a thousand words per day. It was like they were talking about learning to run ten miles per day; they seemed to consider it difficult enough to make achieving the goal unlikely.

This Saturday, I cranked out something like 3000 words just to relax. If I had to write 4000 per day as a 40-hour job, I would think nothing of it. I once wrote a 48-page legal brief in a day. I believe it was 48. Anyway, it was over 40. It made the judge mad. It was too long.

I wonder what the purpose of this facility is. The fact that you have an ability doesn’t mean you know what to do with it.

Whenever I’m with my dad, and we hear Rush Limbaugh on the radio, my dad says the same thing: he can’t believe a person can talk for three hours a day without running dry. Someone who used to have a radio show once complained to me about this. Apparently, this person dreaded having to come up with material.

It wouldn’t be a problem for me. There is always something to say or write. Life is a constant flow of experiences, insights, and ideas. You can’t say you lack stimulation.

You can’t choose your talents. If I had been given a choice, I would have held onto writing, but I would have traded cooking for something else. I have really enjoyed cooking extraordinary food, but it’s not an important gift. It’s trivial. And you can’t use it all the time. I get up every day and eat the same boring stuff: homemade vegetable soup. I almost never cook anything good for lunch. I grab a protein bar or a sandwich. If I really cooked, I would weigh 400 pounds, and it would slice two hours out of every day.

I am fairly good at a number of things, but the older I get, the more it looks like writing and cooking are the only areas where I really shine. It’s like being good at theoretical physics and tiddly winks. One gift that can have an impact on the world, and another which is more or less a novelty.

I envy people who have gifts that guarantee them a livelihood. Songwriters, in particular. If you write one hit song, you can retire. Even if you go into a coma right after you publish it, the money will continue coming in, and your heirs will also be able to benefit from the copyright.

Doctors are also fortunate. Their incomes may wax and wane, but no one will ever tell a doctor his job has been rendered obsolete. And doctors are welcome everywhere. Back when Haiti was in an uproar over the earthquake, people I knew were going there as volunteers, but I stayed here. I figured the Haitians could do anything I could do, just as well, except for practicing law. What was I supposed to do over there with my legal skills? Sue people? If I had been a doctor, I would have flown over and made myself useful. There would have been a purpose in it.

I can write, but cashing in on it is not that easy. I got some silly books published, but they did not make me rich. I have worked as a copywriter, but that kind of work comes and goes. I used to write for a newspaper magazine, but even if I had done that full-time, I would have pocketed a maximum of $800 a month.

To sell books, you have to write books people want. There has to be a waiting market. That’s not hard if you write novels; people will always want something to kill time on airplanes. But other types of books are harder to sell. And of course, editors are buried in complete garbage. People who absolutely cannot write refuse to stop sending their horrible manuscripts, so it’s hard to rise above the noise.

It’s not easy to cash in on cooking, either. Restaurants are a nightmare to run. There is a ton of regulation. There are piles of paperwork. You have to deal with cooks and waiters, who are right up there with musicians when it comes to honesty and responsibility. You have to deal with things that are totally unrelated to good cooking. Then when you get the business running, you gross $3 million per year and take home $30,000, working 15-hour days, six days a week. And even if your food is great, the public may simply get tired of it.

Lots of people get rich in the restaurant business, but you have to be a fool to risk your capital on it. Even with hard work and talent, it’s a lottery ticket.

I always hope God will arrange it so I will never have to practice law again. The responsibility is just too much, unless you’re the kind of person who doesn’t care. If I represent you one time, I am responsible to you for the rest of my life. And I can be sued for malpractice, at 90, for something I did when I was 40. The statute of limitations is short, but there are ways around it. In continuing legal education, I was taught that you should pay for malpractice insurance for as long as you live! How would you like to do that? You could easily pay out a third of what you earned in your career. Or you can trust your former clients to be nice to you. Yeah. That’s a sure thing.

The other day a friend asked me for legal advice, and I told him what I tell everyone: no way. I don’t care if they get mad. I’m not going to put myself in a position where I have to look over my shoulder for the next thirty years. Friends don’t sue friends, but then friends don’t stay friends, either. Former friends sue lawyers for malpractice every day.

Seriously, I think there is nothing like royalty income. You don’t have to manage property and be abused by tenants. You don’t have to buy and sell securities, risking a beating every time you trade. You don’t have to go to work. You can’t get fired. And copyright royalties are the best, because they never expire. Among copyright royalties, songwriting royalties are probably the best, because you don’t have to perform or promote, once a song gets noticed. You sit back and take money from other people. They do the performing. Their promoters do the promoting. You sit around at home, eating Cheetos.

Oh, well. I can write and I can cook. That’s how it is.

I could go ahead and write a book every three months and see what happens, but there’s a problem. I’m a Christian. You can’t just spew words out for money when God isn’t behind it. You have to wait for him. On top of that, what if I wrote a popular Christian book? Could I take money for that? If God gives you something for nothing, should you charge for it, especially when it’s possible to put it on the Internet and give it to billions of people free of charge?

You can say the laborer is worthy of his hire, but is that really apt, when you have almost no expenses? If you have to give up your job in order to serve God, you should be paid, but what if you don’t?

I think about that when I read Christian books. The writers have a conflict of interest: God versus Mammon.

Some books cost a lot of money to write, but most don’t. If I wrote a Christian book, it would cost me nothing, except for ISP fees. I wouldn’t have to travel or take photographs or pay for a cover design. Even before the Internet age, Paul wrote books, and all he did was dictate while someone scribbled. Worked out pretty well.

I should teach Marv to do something entertaining. Have you seen Grumpy Cat? I saw a news story that says he pulls in $50 million per year for his owners. God help those people if a dog gets him. I would keep him in a safe.

I won’t complain about what God gave me. It’s nice to be able to write, even if I have no idea what the value of it is. The cooking, I’ve pretty much given up on, but I will always want to communicate. And it’s going great guns. Like 50 people read this blog now.

I guess I’ve written enough; I’m procrastinating because I don’t want to study accounting. I better get in on it.

I’ll be back. You can count on that.

Let me Shower You With Wisdom

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Soap Scum and Ancient History

I have all sorts of fascinating wisdom and knowledge to impart, so gather around.

I know all five of my readers are wondering how things went with my homemade daily shower spray. I am finally ready to pronounce it a success.

I probably should have told you to sit down before reading that.

The recipe is dishwasher rinse agent, dishwashing liquid, scrub-free bath and shower cleaner, and water. I already posted it, but anyway:

INGREDIENTS

6 ounces no-scrub shower and tub cleaner
1 tbsp. dishwashing liquid
1 tbsp. dishwasher rinse agent, like Jet-Dry (exactly like Jet-Dry, since that’s what I use)

Put it in a 1-quart spray bottle, fill with water, and use. If you start with a Tilex Daily Shower spray bottle, you will be glad you did, because they suck from the bottom of the bottle, so you won’t have a spray that quits when you still have a pint of stuff left. Tilex molds a suction tube into the bottle itself, and it goes all the way down.

The shower is magnificent. Even the Florida-limestone scale is coming off of things over time. I use the spray on even-numbered days, and it lasts maybe ten days. Cheap and effective.

The bathroom is now a cinch to maintain. I never, ever scrub the shower now, so three-fourths of the work of cleaning the bathroom is gone. A couple of times a week I mop the floor and toilet with water, bleach, and dishwashing liquid, I use toilet cleaner inside the toilet, and I clean the counter with various things. I wipe everything down so I don’t get water spots and so on, and I’m done.

Except for the hairs. I seem to shed about a pound a day. I got a stick vacuum. It helps, but I never get ahead of the game.

Note to self: in future, buy flooring materials the same color as my hair.

Another major improvement: I finally got decent bathroom rugs.

I guess that will not impress female readers, but I am a man, so I don’t think in terms of luxury all that much. To me, it’s a big change. If the bathroom floor is clean, I’m happy. I had a crummy old cotton rug, and I thought it was swell, but it started to give out, so I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and got some fluffy synthetic rugs that look and feel like sheepskins. You can bleach them, because the fuzz is basically plastic.

Now whenever I go in the bathroom with bare feet, the pleasure of the sensation of the rug against my soles reminds me how stupid I was all my life. I should have gotten these rugs sooner.

Thank God for blogs. Without them, the world would be deprived of paradigm-changing posts like this one.

I finished The Odyssey. I’m very happy about that. It was a lot shorter than The Iliad, but it still took a long time. I read much faster than most people, and I still took days to get it done. It makes me wonder how college students survive, with their relatively tight deadlines.

More than ever, I feel certain I didn’t read it in college. Mr. Cliff, you are a foul temptress. You stole my education. Like glancing-eyed Circe, you drugged me and robbed me of my ambition, and I found myself dwelling among the lotus-eaters.

My verdict: The Odyssey is much, much better than The Iliad, and not just because it’s shorter, although that would suffice. The Odyssey has a plot. It has a limited number of characters. It has structure. It’s like a real book, whereas The Iliad is like a dull blogger live-blogging a dull war.

I still say every character in both books is a jerk. Odysseus is a murderer, pirate, thief, human trafficker, and Zeus knows what else. He deserves to suffer and die, and he deserves to lose his wife and his kingdom. But Homer is so full of utterly vile characters, you find yourself rooting for the merely despicable, so it works.

I don’t have a lot of boring deep insights about the book. Odysseus takes twenty years to come home from Troy, and on the way he kills all sorts of people, and then he gets home and kills even more people. That about sums it up.

It’s a lot like a Steven Seagal movie, now that I think about it. Steven Seagal is an enlightened semi-Buddhist pacifist cop who has also dedicated his life to learning how to murder and maim people. He has a partner/wife/dad/war buddy who gets killed, or someone puts him in a coma, or someone kidnaps his family or something. He spends roughly 80 minutes plotting against the people who wronged him, and then he exacts his unbelievably vicious, sadistic, gory Buddhist pacifist revenge.

I can see the trailer now. “Odysseus IS…MARKED for DEATH.”

I guess scholars will fume and fuss if they read this. Yes, okay, Homer is important. I read it, so leave me alone.

Today I started the next reading, which is the first 140 pages of Herodotus.

The book started out with a surprise. I probably knew this already, but I tend to forget boring things: Paris and Helen were real people, and so was Priam. The sacking of Troy actually happened. If Herodotus and his sources are right.

Reading Homer sets you up to read about the Persian Wars by telling the story of the woman-stealing that started them. Paris (AKA Alexander) was part of it. A bunch of Arabs stole a Greek princess, and the Greeks reciprocated, and eventually things got so bad, Alexander figured wife-stealing was acceptable behavior, so he stole Helen.

There is a certain amount of dispute as to whether “stealing” is the right term, since it is not unheard of for women to be sluts. It may be that some of the women actually ran off (one may have done so in order to cover her pregnancy) and then blamed their “abductors.”

No, that could never happen. A woman would never sleaze around and then claim she was forced. Women never blame men for their sexual indiscretions. Oh, no. Impossible!

Maybe Tawana Brawley or a Duke Lacrosse player will leave a comment here.

The funny thing about Herodotus is that he says the Persians, who were caught up in this mess, would not have started the wars themselves. It had to be the Greeks. The reason? The Persians didn’t think it was a big deal if a woman was stolen. Apparently they felt it was like having your dog kidnapped. Annoying, but you don’t go to war over it. You buy a new dog.

Don’t get mad at me. This is the Persians talking.

I guess the profs at Columbia University thought about all this when they put the Lit. Hum. syllabus together. They thought about the way Homer connected with Herodotus. In their off time from burning American flags, blaming Islamic aggression on Israel, and vilifying capitalism while occupying chairs endowed by capitalists.

For a few brief moments I thought about this stuff today, and I thought about the Hellenizing influence of reading all this Greek nonsense. I thought about the tension between Hellenism and the followers of Yahweh. It seemed to me that even today, the Western world is fundamentally Greek and Jewish.

If you walk down any street in any American city, what do you see? Roman architecture and Roman letters. Modern people use eagles as the symbols of their nation, just as the Romans did. Roman culture is all around us.

If we’re surrounded by Roman culture, why mention the Greeks? Because Roman culture is Greek culture (which may be Egyptian culture). The Romans stole Greek ideas. Roman temples look like Greek temples, and all over the US, we have buildings with ridiculous bits of Roman temple architecture tacked onto them. Ayn Rand made fun of it in The Fountainhead.

We have republics, just like the Romans. We have civil rights codified in law, just like the Romans. We have a moronic, idolatrous obsession with sports, just like the Romans. We even have their dangerous welfare system!

Opposing all this, we have Jewish religion. Jews don’t like to hear it, but Christianity is fundamentally Jewish. It’s not the same, and we have filled it with pagan ideas, but the God of our religion is Jewish. Our Messiah is Jewish. The underlying concepts are Jewish. We believe the Jewish Bible is true. Jews don’t like Christianity, but let’s face it. It entered the world as an entirely Jewish sect, founded by a Jew and spread by Jews, and centuries later, the connection can’t be erased.

Christianity is more Jewish than Islam. Jews think otherwise, but it’s true. Islam is cruel and silly. It’s carnal and juvenile. It denies the truth of the Jewish Tanakh. The Jewish and Christian notions of the afterlife are much more alike than the Jewish and Islamic notions.

So many centuries after the deaths of Jesus and Homer, westerners still have tension between Jewish thought and Greek thought. We are like the Jews of Greek-occupied Israel, who renounced the dietary laws and tried to undo their circumcisions. The Greek-influenced world pulls at us all the time, and we give in. Every day we cede more territory. This is why America is lost. We ceded too much.

Interesting stuff. But Homer is still boring.

I feel another Steven Seagal trailer coming on. “Paul IS…ABOVE the LAW.”

That’s all I have time for today. I have to go to Toys R Us and buy a drone. I’m going to my godson’s birthday party later.

Okay, I am trying to con you. My godson is two, so he can’t use a drone. I want one for myself.

As part of my online scuffling about the worthlessness of cordless tools, I Googled around and learned about drone batteries, and somehow I found out that you can get drones for thirty bucks. I didn’t know they were that cheap. I would like to get one and see what all the fuss is about.

I don’t plan to use it to film my neighbors naked, however. This is where I part company with most drone users. I just want to fiddle around with it and learn a bit about RC technology. “RC” means “radio-controlled,” although it also means a fine brand of cola which Pepsi and Coke have destroyed through predatory marketing practices.

Here’s how I see it. I know I’m going to spend the rest of my life shaking my cane at young punks and criticizing them and their technology. That’s a given. So I might as well learn a little bit about their technology, if only to insult them in a more insightful and scathing way.

Enjoy your Saturday. Even if it is named after Saturn.

Housecleaning Tips

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Keep the Rats on the Porch

The further I get into the process of becoming Spirit-led, the better things get.

For a long time, I’ve been trying to get better control of my flesh. I had given it all sorts of power over me. The thing that was supposed to be my obedient mule was telling me what to do, and it was a stronghold I could not break without help.

I’ve understood that for years, but progress has not been as fast as I would have liked. I have been very interested in getting God’s help with this problem, but I have not been not all that interested in giving myself to him completely, and I believe this slowed me down. Whether I admitted it to myself or not, I always thought more about fixing my problems than service to God. I worked in church, and I tried to clean up my life, but parts of the equation were missing.

Things are improving, and as usual, they are improving in discrete steps, not just gradually. As God shows me things and helps me to put them to use, I move from plateau to plateau.

You are like a house. In the house, there is only so much room.

Right now, your flesh and spirits that hate God are taking up most of the space. You may not want to hear that, but it’s a fact, unless you’re an extremely rare case. For this reason, God is limited. He gets the little bit of room you haven’t already filled. This cuts off his power, not to mention his motivation. You can’t expect him to keep giving up the dignity and honor he is owed. Going to the cross was a tremendous gift, and it required him to associate with beings that are vile, and to allow them to mistreat him. He has already humbled himself as much as anyone could want.

It’s not enough to go to church or give money or volunteer. I’m not sure giving money is necessary at all; at least not for everyone. Anyway, you have to treat God like God. You have to praise him before jumping in and asking for things. You have to pray in the Spirit to build yourself up. You have to agree to give yourself and everything you have to him.

When you start to see things this way, God is able to act without degrading himself or going against his principles.

God wants to give you control over your thoughts and emotions. In Judaism, it was a sin to commit adultery or fornication, or to violate other laws, but God didn’t give people the power to lose their tormenting desires. In Spirit-led Christianity, God puts the Holy Spirit inside you, and he gives you the potential to change your inner self. This is why Jesus seemed to hold people accountable for their thought life, not just their actions and words. He was foreshadowing the new powers he was going to buy for us with his life.

It’s good not to fornicate. It’s better not to ogle women. It’s even better to be able to stop thinking about them. The same principle applies to any sin. The more you give yourself to God, the more power he will have inside you, and you will be able to alter the way you behave internally.

Sins are generally born as repetitive thoughts we can’t help rolling around inside ourselves. If you can prevent that thought process from happening, it’s as if the sin is a baby, and you’re aborting it. You’re preventing implantation and gestation, so delivery is impossible.

Over the last day or so, I’ve been telling God to take more of me and to help me trust him. Trust is the fundamental issue. If you truly trust God to give you a blessed existence, you won’t hesitate to give him your keys and passwords. We hesitate because we’re afraid of what our lives will become if we let him take over.

Maybe you gossip. Maybe you steal. Maybe you overeat. Maybe you’re cruel. Whoever you are, you have some inner temptation you can’t get away from. Maybe you can avoid giving in, but the battle is inside the house, not at the gate, so you don’t have peace or true control.

Spirits are like salesmen. They put a foot in the door, and then they persuade, and first thing you know, they’re on the couch drinking coffee, giving you the full spiel. If you can keep them outside the door, you will be able to hold onto your peace, and God will be able to expand inside you.

I believe this is what the Psalms refer to when they say, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.” It’s not a good thing when your enemies come to your gate, but if you can keep them there instead of letting them in, you will be fine.

I feel a lot better than I did last week. I have more ability to keep stupid desires and drives outside of me. I hope it continues.

You really have to have a zero-tolerance policy. You have to slam the door fast. You can’t say, “Come in and show me your products in order to entertain me, and then you have to leave.” It has to be black or white. If you think in terms of shades of grey, you’re giving in to black.

If you understand this, it will help you.

The closer I get to God, the more I realize the world is a disaster. It’s not a place which is flawed but basically okay, where God runs things and watches over us. It’s a filthy, doomed slum, from which God has been evicted. He only shows up here and there, to pluck out people who can be saved or, better, repaired. Satan really is the God of this earth. It’s not an exaggeration. Jesus meant what he said.

The world is going to be destroyed, and it will never treat true Christians well. You might as well quit chasing the carrot now. You will definitely pay for it later, even if you don’t go to hell.

I will keep passing on anything that seems good. Let me know if it helps.

Filth is the New Righteousness

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Thoughts From a Boiling Frog

Over and over, I am surprised to find out how far I am from God. He gives me a revelation, and I think I get it. Then a week or two down the road, he tells me the situation is even worse.

It reminds me of dealing with house renovation. The contractor comes in and says he can fix your house for $60,000. Then work starts. A month later, you have a $15,000 surprise. You keep going. Two weeks later, another $20,000.

Contractors do it because they miss things at first, and because they’re dishonest. They like to hook you with low prices and then jack the cost up later, when you’re too committed to say no.

God does it–I think–because we can’t handle all of the truth at once. His criticism is life-giving, but receiving too much at once would be like injecting yourself with a whole bottle of insulin. You would be crushed by despair and self-condemnation.

Modern America is not as far as we think from the kind of corruption that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. We are extremely filthy these days. We are cruel and obsessed with sex. We are very arrogant. We lack empathy and patience. We celebrate sadism and abuse.

I want to think I’m above all that, but that is not the case. I participated in it with enthusiasm for decades. I worked to make myself prouder and less kind. The whole time, I felt I was a better person than I really was.

You can’t undo that process in a minute.

Israel’s Muslim enemies know that the Messiah is supposed to enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate, also known as the Golden Gate. They also know Elijah is supposed to be his herald; he shows up first. In a childish gesture, the Muslim ruler Saladin bricked up the Golden Gate, and the Ottomans established a Muslim cemetery just outside it. They believed a Jewish priest could not pass through a graveyard, and they apparently thought Elijah was a priest. No Elijah, no Messiah.

This is a classic physical illustration of what the Bible calls “a stronghold.” Strongholds are barriers that seem impregnable. They are big and intimidating. They defeat people who have no faith.

The devil uses strongholds all the time. Slavery in Egypt was a stronghold. Jericho was literally a stronghold; it was a massive walled structure designed to prevent enemies from coming in and taking over. The other walled cities of Canaan were strongholds.

For Jesus, death was a stronghold. Satan killed his flesh, and he thought the job was done. The barrier between the dead and the living is a pretty serious barrier. Satan didn’t realize it was impossible to keep a sinless man in hell.

Satan–with our eager participation–builds strongholds in us. He causes bad things to happen to us, and he gets us to blame God, so we will never turn to him and be saved. He tempts us to do evil, and then he convinces us God will never want us, or that God has given up on us. He puts filthy habits in us to grieve the Holy Spirit. He makes salvation and victory seem impossible.

Over a period of decades, you can build walls of petrified filth around yourself, so deep and so high you can’t see any way past them. This is what I did. I am still in the process of getting free. I still slip. I still do things I hate.

God is wonderful after I fail. At the very moment when I think he will surely give up on me and let me be destroyed, he comes to me with more power than usual, as if I had just done something that pleased him greatly. The process continues. It can’t be stopped. It’s very strange. It’s hard to get used to receiving that kind of charity.

Our values and our knowledge of God are not adequate. We are very backward. We are lost. We are jaded. We aren’t disturbed by things that should shock and disgust us. We’re in our necks in sewage all day; we think it’s normal. When we make a few small moves in God’s direction, we think we’ve done a great deal, and we wonder why he’s still distant. We wonder why things go wrong. We don’t realize we’re still standing on the dock, in a land across an ocean from God.

People–especially liberals–use the term “slippery slope” with contempt in their voices, the way they used to say “domino theory.” Christians say our values and beliefs move gradually toward depravity. We say abortion cheapens life. We say condoning perversion will lead to the approval of things like incest and bestiality. We’re right, but our enemies can’t see it.

I was driving on I-95 the other day, and I saw a sign advertising something, and in big letters, it used the common slang term for testicles. Like that’s okay. Kids ride past the sign in cars and see it. No problem.

When I go to serious news sites on the web, I see sexual clickbait. Fox News and The Daily Mail, to name but two of many such sites, have little photo links with sexual content. A current Fox ad says, “Wardrobe whoopsies: On purpose, or an accident?” It shows a woman’s rear end in a see-through dress. A Daily Mail ad says, “Leggy blonde Victoria Silvstedt struggles to control her flirty mini-dress and flashes her behind as she boards a boat in Cannes.” Another Fox ad says, “Khloe’s wardrobe whoops.” Thanks to major news organizations, grandmothers now know what “nip-slip” means.

Imagine yourself in 1975, when things were already pretty bad. Try to picture news organizations and advertisers behaving this way back then.

If you could move someone from 1975 to 2016 instantly, he would be shocked and disgusted. We made the journey gradually, so we became acclimated.

We can’t even imagine how God-fearing people are supposed to live. We’re completely unfamiliar with their mindset. We eat excrement and think it’s caviar, because our frame of reference has shifted.

I am part of this. I can’t claim to be exceptional. When I slip, and when things go badly for me, I have to admit that I still belong to the class of people who live filthy lives. I am not a finished work. I have barely started. The walls of the stronghold are thick, and I’ve barely scratched a depression in them.

I write this in order to understand my situation better, and to give hope to other people. It may sound strange, telling people they’re filthy in order to give them hope. But it means there is room for improvement and increased victory. How would you feel if I said you were doing everything right, and that this is as good as it gets? That’s not a blessing. It’s a statement of despair.

My advice is to give up the idea that you can belong to the world and still get along with God. It’s the fountain of youth. It’s a perpetual motion machine. It’s a mirage you will never reach. TV ministers keep dangling the carrot in front of us in order to get our money and admiration, but it’s a lie. It will never, never happen. It never has.

Being filthy is bad. It’s terrible to know that the things you’ve done can never be undone. But think about it. If you’ve risen above it, how can it harm you? It’s terrible if you call yourself a Christian, yet you’ve beaten your wife or you’ve used prostitutes. But what if it’s behind you, and you can say so with certainty? Whatever you used to be, you don’t have to be ashamed of it if God has given you victory over it. That’s possible, and it’s something to pursue.

It would be painful to have to tell people you’re a junkie, but telling people you used to be a junkie wouldn’t be so bad.

I plan to keep going forward. Things are being removed from my life; it’s as if God were digging up the bodies outside the Golden Gate. The more things are removed, the better life will be. I don’t have to be perfect or even very good right now, as long as I keep going. As God has told me many times, location is nothing; direction is everything.

I think this will help you if you apply it. It is certainly helping me.

I’ll Have the Sparkling Water

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

Rum Wears Out its Welcome

I had a lot of fun fooling around with tiki drinks this week, but I think I’m done for a while. I’m starting to think there is something poisonous in rum.

When I was in college, I thought drunkenness was a good thing, and I worked at it. It was very unusual for me to get sick, but I managed it a few times. I also got sick once after I graduated from law school. The two worst hangovers I ever had were from dark rum. It won’t just make you sick the day you drink it; it will make you sick for half of the following day.

I had some Jamaican friends when I was in law school, and one of them told me they don’t drink dark rum. She said it was for the tourists. I guess the Jamaicans know something.

Anyway, I had maybe four rum drinks this week, which is not exactly binge drinking, and today I feel sort of off. I really think there is something in that stuff, apart from alcohol, which the body does not like.

I didn’t use dark rum; I used Flor de Cana golden rum, which is about the color of brandy.

Interesting.

I had a few days of nostalgia, and I really enjoyed cooling off after working on plumbing and so on, but I would not want to drink this stuff every week.

A lot of Christians are very worked up about alcohol. I don’t worry about it. Every once in a while, I have a drink. On rare occasions, I have two. I think I’ll be okay. I would not encourage anyone else to drink, if it’s a problem.

Some people rewrite history. They claim Jesus was a teetotaler who drank fresh grape juice and called it wine. Yeah, okay. And for five bucks I’ll sell you a keychain made from a fragment of the cross.

I used to brew my own beer, and it was wonderful, but I don’t do it any more. When you barely drink, what do you do with five-gallon kegs of beer? They sit and go to waste. The extra fridge takes up space.

The down side of giving up brewing is that it’s nearly impossible for me to get a really good beer. There are a few beers that are good; I like Flying Dog Snake Dog ale and Dogfish 60 Minute IPA. But it’s nothing like having four or five utterly magnificent beers on tap.

It’s not a big sacrifice. I don’t care much about it.

I did a lot more work on the house yesterday. I removed a lot of useless PVC from the pool pump, and I replumbed it. I broke down and bought a reciprocating saw, like a Sawzall. I got a DeWalt. They get good reviews. It did a wonderful job of hacking pipes out so they could be thrown on the trash heap.

I’m still bummed out that I can’t find anyone competent to take my money. I would be satisfied with work that is merely good. It doesn’t have to be fantastic. Good is too much to ask in Miami. Everything is done to the Latin American standard, which is very low. There is a reason why BMWs are made in Germany instead of Honduras.

Call me a racist if you want. Cultural differences are not imaginary. Defending your stupid culture is a sure path to loserhood. Admitting its faults is the beginning of improvement. If you want to hear some heavy criticism, ask me about the backward, defeat-oriented culture I came from.

Yesterday one of my Cuban friends used vile language in a text message to tell me how much he hates Miami. He has plans for bookshelves, and he can’t find anyone who can build them. Ridiculous.

I’m trying to figure out what to do about the pumphouse’s electrical ground. There is a bar hammered into the ground outside the pumphouse, and there’s a big wire next to it. It’s not connected. Is that because some idiot knocked the clamp off, or is it because it’s bad for the pumphouse to have its own ground? I’m trying to find out. I’m tempted to call an electrician, but then I think about all the potentially deadly electrician errors I’ve found and fixed.

As far as I know, there are only two wires connecting the house and the pumphouse, and neither is a ground.

I am Googling around, and it looks like the ground rod should be connected. I think I’ll hook it up and see if anything explodes. I would rather have grounding than no grounding, even if it causes some comparatively minor issue with the electrical service. When I say “comparatively minor,” I am using “instant death on the pumphouse floor” as a reference.

The plumbing is not right. The pipes are generally on the floor or close to it, inviting breakage. People step on things. Also, the pipes are not supported. I looked it up, and PVC at 100 degrees has to be supported every five feet. I’m going to figure out how to do that. Whatever I do may not be the recommended method, but it will work, and it will be better than nothing.

Things keep going well in my prayer life and personal development. God keeps moving me to higher levels.

I’ve started to get a better feel for the degree of brainwashing mankind has experienced. We feel self-conscious about God. Why is that? Why don’t we think God is cool? He creates galaxies. He confers invulnerability and power. He is in charge, and if you’re aligned with him, you’re in charge, too. Why do we think that’s something to be ashamed of?

Being right is cool. Being powerful is cool. Not wasting your life is cool.

Our perceptions are completely warped. But with time, prayer, and submission, it changes.

The longer I live, the more I realize the people around me are idiots. I suppose that doesn’t sound Christlike. Look at this place, though. We run around in circles, doing things that don’t matter. We devote our lives to things God is eventually going to burn. We love man’s temporary, cobbled-together solutions to problems. We hate God’s solutions, which are perfect and come without regret. This place is horrible. It’s like Sodom. We can’t do anything right. We hate the very notion of doing things right.

I can’t respect humanity. It’s too much to ask. I was a mistake to try. It was a rabbit trail. People have a lot of knowledge, and you shouldn’t ignore all of it, but it’s stupid to put human beings on pedestals. As far as we know, Buddha is in hell. Alexander the Great is in hell. Albert Einstein. Aristotle. All sorts of human beings we think of as superhuman. You can push respect way too far.

We ruin everything down here. The worst part about it is that we destroy human beings.

I thought about that this morning while I was watching a show about technology. They were talking about a special ship that upends itself and turns into a research platform. It reminded me of an experience I had when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why.

My dad represented the Alcoa aluminum company. They had a special aluminum ship which was built for research. It was docked in the Bahamas or somewhere–I forget–and they invited my dad to bring me to see it. They took us on board and gave us a tour.

Today I thought about how little I got out of that experience, which should have been very rich.

When I was a kid, I was afraid of everyone. I had no self-confidence. I could not talk to people. I had been raised in a house of abuse, and my response was to wilt and hide.

Some kids are not like that. They choose to be as aggressive as their abusers. I believe Freud called this “aggressor identification.” You could also call it a generational curse or a cycle of abuse. Kids decide it’s better to be the abuser than the abused, so that’s the path they take. My sister went that way.

I couldn’t cope with life. Mainly, I wanted to be left alone. I was so used to losing, I was highly motivated to avoid trying. A lot of my encounters with my dad consisted of him verbally abusing me until I gave up and left him alone, which was what he wanted, so you can imagine how I felt about approaching people. He actively, deliberately worked to make me back down, feel bad about myself, and leave in fear.

I think this is why I love tools so much. Tools represent power and success. They counter feelings of being unable to cope.

Parents are supposed to prevent kids from growing up to be as I was. When a kid falters, his parents are supposed to notice it and take him aside and teach him how to stand up and respond to life’s challenges. I was afraid of my dad, and my mother was not much better off than I was, so I just sat back and decayed. When I was in my twenties, I started trying to compensate, but change was extremely gradual. The chains we put inside ourselves are heavy, and it takes a lot of time to cut them and push them out.

My dad didn’t seem to realize he was supposed to do anything to help me or my sister in life. As long as food was on the table, he felt like his job was done and that everyone should be grateful and obedient. It’s strange, because his own father was not like that.

I wonder if the men on the ship noticed the destruction in me. I notice it when I meet kids who can’t engage. I wonder if they tried to interest me in the ship and the research and then pulled back, realizing I had been ruined.

I don’t think shyness is normal. I think it’s a flag that exposes abuse. No matter how much you pretend in public, if your kids are shy, there has to be a reason, and you’re probably it.

You can have sympathy for other people’s kids, but usually, your ability to help them is limited. If you want to help, you have to look for opportunities to do or say something effective. Vigilance is important.

We ruin our children. We don’t submit to God. We put our flesh in charge. Our flesh puts Satan in charge. The result is that we become poisonous to people we are supposed to help.

I’ve been thinking about that a lot today. I can’t undo my childhood. I have been able to help a few younger people, though. Maybe that’s an acceptable exchange. Satan screwed up my youth, so I am being used to screw up his plans and help several other people. His evil is being multiplied back to him.

Interesting stuff.

I should have done better, but here I am, as I am, so I work with what I have.

Today I plan to make some adjustments to the pool pipes and put a clamp out the pumphouse ground. After that, I think I’ll relax and knock off some more of The Odyssey.

I have to say, I’m disgusted with mythology and the characters of Greek literature. People like Odysseus and Achilles were the scum of the earth. They were pirates, and “pirate” is not a flattering term. They were murderers, rapists, thieves, and slave masters. They were sadistic. They were greedy. They thought nothing of pitching babies off of city walls. It’s strange that we see them in a positive light. If there is a significant difference between these characters and the drug gangs in Mexico, I am hard-pressed to see it. The more I read, the more I root for them to lose.

I hope you’re enjoying your Saturday. Go easy on demon rum.

Praise Breaks Barriers

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Get Off That Plateau

As exciting as Trader Vic’s, irrigation systems, and Greek epics are, I think it’s time to get back to something important.

A while back I got a big revelation on the importance of praise. I realized we don’t give it enough emphasis. It’s like a key to the door of God’s throne room. It’s the tool you use to get into his presence.

I put this knowledge to work, and I was instantly bumped up a level in prayer power. VERY nice. Christians are like bodybuilders and dieters; we get stuck on plateaus, and when that happens, you don’t move until you find out what’s wrong. Increasing praise got me moving forward again.

Last night I got another promotion.

Jesus has manifested himself to me, actually touching me, twice. I’ve written about it. His presence had a physical location, and although I could not see him, there was astounding peace and joy in the area he occupied.

Once he appeared as a beam of invisible supernatural energy, and the joy and peace in him were so strong, any part of my body it touched felt happy and protected, even if the rest of me did not. Very odd.

This is one of the reasons why I can never give up my faith. You should not demand signs and wonders and depend on them, but they can provide valuable footholds that prevent you from slipping back. When you feel like God has given up on you, or that you were wrong to believe in him, the memory of a sign or miracle can make it impossible for you to quit.

It won’t work if you’re dishonest. A dishonest person will tell himself he imagined the sign or miracle, and he will make himself believe the lie. An honest person will not be able to pull that off.

Lately I’ve been starting my prayer sessions with a lot of praise, and with time, it can become somewhat repetitive and unsatisfying. You can only say, “I praise you in the highest,” so many times without wondering if you’re doing a good job. It never stops working, but you may start to feel the plateau under you.

Very often, what seems like revelation is just God giving you a fresh look at something you already know. He’ll drop a powerful bombshell on you, and you’ll start thanking him, and then you’ll realize you already knew what he just told you, but you didn’t feel it with your heart, or you didn’t believe it with the correct intensity.

We are separated from God the way the princess in the famous story was separated from the pea. She lay on a tall pile of mattresses, and an ordinary person would not have been able to feel the pea buried under the column. God’s truth is like the pea, and the lies and nonsense Satan and the world spread are like the mattresses. As you continue in your prayer life, the mattresses–the misconceptions and inabilities to perceive–disappear, one by one.

Why doesn’t God just drop the truth on us all at once? He’s God, right? How can a loving God withhold good things from us?

Look, he’s God. We are evil. He doesn’t owe us anything; not even air. In order to be God, he has to be exalted. We have to be humble. He can’t just forget justice and give us everything all at once. It’s a process; a series of partial ascents. We grow in increments. If you don’t like it, well, tough. Who are you to judge God?

We improve bit by bit, and as we do, we draw closer to him. That’s how it works. It’s not your place to change that.

When Jesus manifested himself to me, his presence, which is an extension of him, was by far the most beautiful, most desirable thing I had ever perceived. Think about it. I had perfect peace. I had complete assurance that no evil could touch me, and that my future was guaranteed. While he was there, I knew nothing could go wrong.

I knew this, but until last night, somehow it didn’t click inside me. I didn’t realize it was a good basis for powerful, unforced praise.

I miss his presence. There is nothing I wouldn’t give to get it back. It was complete victory and complete peace. When he was fully with me, I knew I had won, for all eternity.

When I remembered this and felt it in my heart, I incorporated it into my praise. I felt like an idiot for not seeing it sooner, but I had had a supernatural blindness. There was nothing I could do. I had to wait until God, who deserves the glory, removed that particular mattress.

I got up today and prayed, and the supernatural faith that comes from the Holy Spirit was dramatically increased. It’s a tremendous gift. Better than a billion dollars.

When things like this happen, it helps you understand why the early martyrs chose fire and knives over renouncing God. He is just too good to give up, and this world is a stinking cesspool run by morons. It’s not a close call. Getting out of this world isn’t something to fear. It’s a bonus.

When you pray, spend a while in praise. Give it ten or fifteen minutes. Then go into tongues. Wait on God; don’t expect him to wait for you and jump up to serve you as soon as you start praying. He’s God; you’re basically a redeemed monkey. He is not your valet or chambermaid, so get off your high horse and honor him. Stop resenting him for not being your fairy godmother.

The main purpose of prayer is to get God to change you internally. If you remember that, and you quit making a priority of begging for money and houses and a husband or wife, you will move faster in the kingdom.

This information will help you if you put it to work. When God said his people perished for lack of knowledge, this is the kind of knowledge he was talking about. Don’t wait to learn it from painful experience. Benefit from my testimony and try it now. Why should both of us suffer? The concept of inheritance is important in the kingdom. We’re not supposed to reinvent the wheel in every generation. What one person builds up, he passes on to others, and that way, the riches accumulate.

If we don’t learn from others, life becomes a cycle instead of a linear progression. We repeat the mistakes of the people who came before us instead of building on their victories, and overall, there is no progress. This is how people in the United States of America got stupid enough to support a socialist in the presidential race.

Whenever I read, “Feel the Bern,” I think of the flames of hell. It’s too perfect.

If you get results with this, let me know. And more importantly, let someone else know.

Lesbos: the Coachella of 600 B.C.

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Songs Without Music Without Words

My progress through the Columbia College Lit. Hum. syllabus continues.

This weekend I knocked off Sappho’s Lyrics. This is about 340 pages of song fragments. The original Greek is included. The book is arranged so you see Greek on one page and the English translation on the other.

Here is my verdict: I don’t get it.

Take 340 pages and divide it by two. That gives you 170. Then jack up the margins so they take up half the page. Then lose maybe two thirds of the original material. You end up with a very short work. On top of that, many of the fragments are completely incomprehensible. Some lines contain only one word.

There isn’t a lot of meat here. There are some full paragraphs and pages, but they are separated by big gulfs of emptiness. You pretty much have to take it one line at a time.

Here is how page 15 reads, if you string the words together: “. . . so . . . Go . . . so we may see . . . lady . . . of golden arms . . . doom . . .”

This is not just literature; it’s archaeology. It’s like trying to guess what a pharaoh’s tomb looked like after 75% of the contents were removed.

There are some pleasant bits of poetry, and there is information that tells us a little bit about Greek culture. All in all, I would say it’s a lot like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You visit just so you can say you saw it, not so you can praise it as a coherent, useful work. Have I used that analogy before? I like it.

I think Mr. Cliff agrees with me. He never wrote notes for Lyrics. If Cliff don’t care, I don’t care.

I looked around for information, and I learned a few things about Sappho. It looks like she was the Madonna of her time, except without the tastelessness and lack of talent. She was a sort of rock star. She wrote songs that were so popular, they were disseminated around the Mediterranean during her lifetime.

In the ancient world, Sappho was a big deal. She was mentioned by many ancient authors. They thought she was swell.

That’s great, but her melodies are long gone, and most of her words have also disappeared. It’s as if we were trying to reconstruct the Beatles using LP’s with big wedges cut out of them. Actually, it’s worse. It’s like trying to reconstruct them by looking at old captures of Leo’s Lyrics (a webpage that contains popular song lyrics) with half of the words corrupted: “Rocky Raccoon . . . checked into . . . Gideon’s . . . legs.” To say that finding meaning in this stuff requires value added is a gross understatement. If a scholar isn’t careful, he will end up publishing his own thoughts and feelings instead of Sappho’s.

Not that a scholar would ever do a thing like that. Oh, no.

I have to wonder: are the scholars who seem excited about Sappho just overheated? Are they letting their emotions drive them to make more of the ruins than they should? Probably.

If someone found the feet of the Colossus of Rhodes and started giving tours in a glass-bottomed boat, I wouldn’t sit in the boat shrieking that it was the most beautiful statue I had ever seen. I would probably say, “Wow, it must have been neat before it was destroyed.” That seems like a realistic reaction to reading Sappho.

I can’t find the fierce lesbianism modern scholars impute to her. She was apparently married, and she makes references to children. It sure looks like she was a mom. There are lesbian moms, but they’re generally not homosexual icons.

Human beings used to have a thing called “platonic love,” which seems a little creepy by modern standards. It was okay for two men to hold hands and tell each other how beautiful they were; it didn’t mean they were sneaking around. The Iliad is full of this stuff. The men get excited and talk effusively about their love and admiration for each other, but there are no gay relationships.

The men of The Iliad are heterosexual to a fault. At worst, they’re on the down-low. They are enthusiastic about taking female sex slaves, and they seem to view rape as a healthy, liberating hobby. They are like goats on Viagra and bath salts. Their emotional behavior toward other men seems to stop at the bedroom door. Maybe it was the same with Sappho.

Platonic love is pretty much dead (whew) among modern American men, but it’s very much alive among women. Young women get together for sleepovers, do each other’s hair, lie in the same beds, and dance together in their underwear. Doesn’t make them lesbians.

So they claim.

Anyway, platonic love more than suffices to explain the things Sappho wrote.

Sappho says a number of clever things about human nature, but I don’t think that, by itself, makes her a genius. Human beings had been around for a very long time before she was born, and it doesn’t take a million years for us to size each other up. Being the first recorded person to say this or that doesn’t make you the first person to say it.

I will read up on her a little more, but I don’t think there’s that much to learn.

Currently, I’m reading The Odyssey, which is the story of Odysseus’ return from Troy. It was translated by Richmond Lattimore, the same guy who wrote the translation of The Iliad Columbia uses.

The Odyssey has two important virtues The Iliad lacks: 1) there is an actual story, and 2) it’s shorter.

The Iliad runs around 900 pages, and almost nothing happens. There is no structure whatsoever. Scholars pretend there is, but there isn’t. The Achaians do well against the Trojans. The Trojans get discouraged. The god start helping the Trojans. The Trojans do well against the Achaians. The Achaians get discouraged. The gods start helping the Achaians. Repeat this about fifty times, and you have The Iliad.

Spoiler: the Trojans lose. But the action stops abruptly before Brad Pitt gets shot in the foot.

The Odyssey is different in that things occasionally happen. It’s not an endless cycle of alternating favor. Odysseus gets captured by a nymph. He gets freed. He has adventures on the way home. When you read The Odyssey, you feel like you’re making progress.

In the end (SPOILER), Odysseus wins. You have closure. Real closure, not the crappy kind you get in The Iliad, which ends with Hektor’s pincushiony, not-so-godlike body going home in a wagon. Even the coke-sniffers in Hollywood knew The Iliad needed punching up. That’s why they added the stuff about sacking Troy. If they had pulled the plug when Peter O’Toole got on the wagon, there would have been riots.

Here’s a theory which I would like to contribute to Iliad scholarship: The Iliad ends abruptly because the people who were subjected to Homer’s seemingly endless droning chose Hektor’s return as a good excuse to get up and leave. Or maybe they hit Homer in the head with a club at that point, to shut him up.

If anyone wants to offer me a university chair, I am open to negotiation. A chair may not be enough. I may hold out for an ottoman.

It will be hard to choose among the offers. Universities are clamoring to get conservative Christian professors who carry loaded pistols.

The next book in the syllabus is Genesis. I plan to skip that. I feel like I have that one under control. I’ve even read supplementary materials, such as Jubilees, Enoch, and The Modern Fundamentalist Fascist’s Guide to Homophobia, which I co-authored.

After that comes The Histories, by Herodotus. This book bears the distinction of having been not read by me in two different courses. I took an ancient history course in high school, and I’m pretty sure I avoided reading Herodotus, and then I almost certainly skipped it at Columbia.

Herodotus contains the story of the battle of Thermopylae, better known to Beyonce fans as 300. I watched 300 the other day, and I was highly annoyed to see bare breasts pop out for no good reason. You never know when nudity will reach out and grab you. I watched a movie about Beethoven the other day, and Ed Harris mooned the camera.

I think that was harmless. My feelings for Ed Harris aren’t even platonic.

As I so often do, I will go out on a limb and speculate. Because it’s easier than finding out the truth. I speculate that Xerxes was not an eight-foot-tall circus morphodite whose palace was actually a body modification parlor, and I further speculate that he wore actual pants. I doubt he had a ten-foot-tall giant that could fight even after you shoved a spearhead six inches into his skull (via the eyeball). I doubt the Spartan army dressed like a dance team from La Bare, and that they went on long journeys equipped only with spears, velvet cloaks, and dark red Speedos.

I don’t think the Spartans built a mountaintop temple on a crag so steep a fit man could barely climb it. How would you get the construction materials up there? How about food and water? What about wifi?

Anyway, that’s next.

I’ve learned one nice thing about the ancient Greeks. They treated their gods better than we do. They didn’t just hop in boats and sail off to kill people. They prayed and sacrificed beforehand. They were constantly asking the gods what they were doing wrong, so they could fix it. Imagine how much easier our lives would be if we treated the actual, real-life God that way.

I also noticed a major problem with the Greek religion. Well, two problems. First, the official name of the religion appears to be “mythology.” When you’re a Greek, that has to be bad for your faith. But also, the Greek gods do not get along.

Imagine that. Imagine you pray to Jehovah, and he gives you the okay, and then Jesus says, “Yeah, right, we’ll see about that,” and then he sneaks around behind the scenes, shipwrecking you on islands populated by one-eyed giant cannibals. That’s not how Christianity works. Christianity says, “God is one,” meaning, “God is unified.” The Spirit-led are unified. If we disagree about anything, it means someone is doing it wrong.

In mythology, you can’t make all the gods happy. Please one, and another one is on your case. That’s no way to run a godhead.

Another major problem: the Greek gods are a bit thick. None of them ever says anything intelligent or mature. Dealing with them is like placating huge, armed children. It’s like the segment of the old Twilight Zone movie, where adults had to kiss the rear end of an omnipotent little kid in order to keep him from projecting them into the violent horror of “Cartoon World.”

If stupid, immature gods are your thing, mythology is for you. And don’t believe the lies. It’s not the national religion of Mexico, no matter how many times you think you hear them say, “Yay, Zeus.”

That’s all I have for now. I am officially in charge of doing my elderly father’s taxes now, so I have to go and immerse myself in the new level of Tartarus known as Quickbooks. Odd name for the program, since “quick” means “alive,” which is the opposite how how I expect it to make me feel.

They say only death and taxes are inevitable. If only death came first.

Suit Up or Die

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Pleading and Sweet Talk are for Calmer Times

I keep waking up every morning, considerably earlier than I would like to, and when I do, I go into prayer. I learn a lot during these sessions.

Today it happened again. I found myself talking to God about the world and myself.

The closer I get to God, the better I understand how far away I am. I really messed things up. Over several decades, I forged myself into a useless tool, and it’s taking God quite a while to shape me into something useful.

That’s okay. As long as you have breath in you, all criticism is opportunity. It’s someone showing you the door that leads out of your problems. You just have to walk through. I ask God to criticize me every day.

Unfortunately, the news for the world at large is not as good.

Most human beings are going nowhere; Christians know that. A big portion of the world belongs to Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. There are many other cults out there that compete with the truth. Many people are atheists, so they have no faith at all.

That’s not news. It wouldn’t surprise most Christians. The thing that would shock them is the utter uselessness of the church.

It would be bad if church doctrine were wrong about 5% of its claims, but I would say 5% is closer to the percentage of things we get right.

One of the worst things we’ve done has been to turn Christianity into the new Judaism. The Jews had hundreds of laws to obey, and modern rabbinical Judaism teaches that God weighs your obedience against your disobedience and decides whether to save you. Most Christians believe something like that. They think “good” people (everyone except serial killers and child rapists) go to heaven and extremely “bad” people go to hell.

The single biggest gift we received as a result of the crucifixion is freedom from the law. We don’t have to stay home and refrain from work on Saturday. We can eat bread during Passover. We don’t have to tithe. We don’t have to put in years of study just to have some idea what the law actually means. All that stuff was swept off our plates, but traditional churches pulled it out of storage and set it before us again.

Most of us think we have to earn our way into heaven. That leads to a couple of major consequences. If you think you have to earn your salvation, you’re not saved; salvation comes by faith. It also makes you proud. Anyone foolish enough to think he is so good he can put God in a position where he owes us salvation is mired in pride.

We keep telling God we’re supposed to fix our own problems. We think it’s selfish and wrong to ask for help, so we say, “I got this.” When you say you don’t need help, God stops helping you. Satan, however, keeps right on attacking. It’s a bad situation to be in, and many churches encourage it.

The new legalism is bizarre. In many denominations, it tells us God doesn’t care about horrendous sins like sodomy and fornication, but it says he saves nice people because they’re good to others. That’s a lot of nonsense. Hell is full of nice people who didn’t believe in Jesus.

We have the insane idea that Christianity is about what we do. We think there’s a big scoreboard, and we have to rack up points. That notion came from Satan, not God. Christianity is about what we ARE. It’s about inner change that comes from the Holy Spirit.

The ancient Jews were very interested in sin. They wanted people to obey the rules. Jesus came along, took the burden of obeying rules off of us, and gave us a new burden: we were supposed to change the way we felt. We were supposed to change our desires. Judaism didn’t make these demands because without the Holy Spirit, we could not comply. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to clean us out and change our natures.

The new legalists don’t care that much about what you are. They just want you to act nice.

Yes, Jesus said people should obey his commandments. The problem is that he was not referring to the Ten Commandments or the rest of the fixed law. He was talking about the real-time commandments relayed to us by the Holy Spirit.

How could the apostles teach that we were under the law while telling us to obey it? It’s facially absurd.

A lot of the time, the Holy Spirit will agree with the written law, but often he won’t. He probably won’t require you to circumcise a son or give up pork. The Jews had hundreds of commandments, not just ten. If Jesus was talking about the law when he said we should obey his commandments, he was telling us to become Jews. That’s not what he meant. It should be obvious.

The church has denied the Holy Spirit for almost two thousand years. We have been cut off from the source of our power and growth. There are almost no preachers who can teach you anything useful. Almost all of them are like goalkeepers; they will do nearly anything to keep you from winning.

A typical preacher will help you receive salvation and then let you starve. Actually, it’s worse than starving. He will not feed you anything good, but he will fill you with poison. He may tell you to pray to dead people. He may tell you God will make you rich for sending him money. You’ll think he’s giving you treasure, and you’ll stuff yourself with it. The poison will take up the space the truth is supposed to fill.

The church isn’t experiencing a setback. It’s suffering a catastrophe.

The devil won. We had a few decades of freedom, and we gave it back. The Catholics ousted the Holy Spirit and turned the church into the biggest terrorist organization on earth, in order to intimidate people who might bring the Holy Spirit back. Now we have little pockets of people who are on the right path, but on a percentage basis, just about all of the world’s Christians are backward. They serve Satan all day and all night, even when they think they’re serving God.

Constantine made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire. Maybe that’s when things went to hell. The world hates all true children of God, and it hates their ways. When Christianity becomes the world’s religion, something has to give.

It’s not possible to serve God and be accepted by the world. Read the New Testament and see. For that matter, read the Old Testament. The prophets were hated. The king who was greatest in worldly terms was Solomon, and he was a disgusting failure who practiced Satanic religions.

I thought about the state of the world this morning, and more than ever, I saw its corruption and hopelessness. We are at the point where the world is so filthy, God is going to have to start pulling his children aside. Just as he could not let Lot live in Sodom his entire life, he is going to have to put some distance between Spirit-led Christians and the stinking, vicious world of Satan.

When people insist on loving excrement, there comes a time when merely being in their presence is intolerable. That day is just about here. We will soon reach a point where the negative effects of keeping Christians in the world will outweigh the desirability of saving more souls.

I can’t believe the gross things people say on TV these days. I can’t believe we have entire cities where public nudity is legal. I can’t believe the government is forcing us to allow unvetted male perverts into locker rooms and bathrooms set aside for women. Humanity has become deranged. Up is down, and black is white. And because we don’t know the Holy Spirit, we can’t fight the world. Instead, we assimilate and fight God. When you can’t fight evil, you make good the problem.

I wish there were more time, and I wish more of us had the knowledge and power to help others. I wish the free will of those who hate God wasn’t set against him. But wishes aren’t horses, so I guess I won’t ride.

All you can do now is carve out a bubble of prayer and obedience and stay in it. If you’re not trying, you’re going to suffer a lot. God is kind, but history shows that he will allow believers to be tortured and killed almost without limitation if they’re not doing things his way.

We still perish for lack of knowledge. It’s not a joke.

There is hope for you. The world can’t be fixed, but you are not the world. Get with the program ASAP if you don’t want a lifestyle of defeat and despair. Don’t let the smooth seas fool you; they will kick up again before you know it. We’re not receiving a reward. We’re receiving time to arm ourselves.

Maybe someone will listen and apply my advice. I hope so. Maybe this blog will be up after the church has been removed from the world, and someone will read it and see the truth in it.

Whatever happens down here, God is still in heaven, and as long as there is blood in your veins, he is willing to change your destiny. Think it over. There is no alternative.

Birds of the Air and Beasts of the Field

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

Scavengers are Here to Pick Our Bones

I wonder how many people watched Larry Wilmore’s performance at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I listened to it on Youtube today. It was creepy and disturbing.

Larry Wilmore is the host of a cable offering called The Nightly Show. I haven’t seen it. I assume it’s similar to The Daily Show, which means it’s a comedy show that takes potshots at politicians, with most of the ammunition spent on conservatives.

Wilmore is black. I don’t know where he came from. Probaby a former Jon Stewart staffer?

From the standpoints of writing and performance, he did a great job. Most of the jokes were smart, and to people with lowered sensitivities, they were funny. But if the measure is kindness or good taste, he scored pretty low.

He used the word “jigaboo” in a joke about Ben Carson. He called the President “nigger” on national TV.

Things like that show our nation has turned a corner.

The dinner is an annual affair. It isn’t a government event. The White House doesn’t host it. But as the name shows, it is closely associated with the presidency, and the president sits in an honored place beside the podium, lending credibility. The journalists who attend supposedly represent a very select cross-section of the press. In a more ideal word, you would call them “dignitaries.”

Hired speakers who appear at the dinner are supposed to be funny, and they have to be critical. Nonetheless, you expect them to hold to a certain level of decorum. People all over the world see this event, and they see our president and vice president sitting there grinning. You don’t expect speakers to humiliate them or drag them down to the schoolyard level.

Wilmore said some things no one should say at this type of event. He said the people at Morning Joe had their heads “up Trump’s ass.” I’m sorry, but those are his actual words.

He said some harsh things about journalists, and some of his insults were appropriate and well-deserved, by our society’s standards. On the other hand, he was crass, and sometimes he was cruel, and at least one of his guests was just as boorish.

He called liberal TV head Don Lemon an “alleged journalist,” and Lemon held up his hand and gave him the finger for the cameras, proving Wilmore’s point. Try to imagine David Brinkley doing that.

Try to imagine a performance like this taking place in 1970. It could not have happened. We are no longer restrained by God. We have been given over to immaturity, cruelty, and poor judgment.

The tide has changed in this country. People who used to lose now win, and that’s a problem, because they are people who can’t handle power. Whatever errors and misdeeds we can lay at the feet of the old guard, they weren’t stupid enough to welcome foreigners who want to come here illegally and vote. They were generally aware that socialism destroyed nations. They were not supportive of sexual confusion and sexual sin; they knew these things caused terrible problems. They at least paid lip service to the idea that pride and cruelty are evil.

I suppose I’ll look bad when I say this, but suddenly, groups that screw up a lot have too much power.

In the past, women, minorities and sexually confused individuals had less power than they do now, and they suffered abuse. Their suffering matters, and it was never right to mistreat them. But now they have a lot of clout, and they’re showing they are going to be worse masters than the old mostly white men who used to be in charge.

If men could not vote, we would literally have communism and gulags. Just about everything would be “free.” Putting dangerous criminals in jail would be nearly impossible. Running a business would be nearly impossible. As a bloc, women vote for anyone who promises to take care of them, and in doing so, they make government their husband and god. They are extremely supportive of left-wing candidates, and they are the main reason we have abhorrent policies on things like convenience abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, environmental extremism, and socialism. They crave authoritarianism.

Minorities vote just like women. Anyone who will promise to help them “get even” gets their votes. People with gender problems are the same way.

The big danger used to be that we would put Caesars and Nebuchadnezzars in the White House. Now we vote for Nurse Ratched, Angela Davis, and Bill Ayres.

In the long term, people cause their own problems. I know a lot of blacks and Hispanics, and I’m sorry to tell you, the ones who do what everyone else does do pretty well. Generally, the ones who have hard lives are doing everything wrong. In 2016, you can’t claim you didn’t know felony arrests and face tattoos would make you unemployable. You can’t claim you didn’t know bad credit would cripple you economically.

I know former pimps. I know prostitutes. I know drug dealers and thieves. I know people who don’t pay their bills. I know a guy with a giant tattoo on his neck. Come on. Your skin color or your Spanish last name is not the problem. Being white won’t rocket you to success. White people who do all the wrong things end up on the bottom, too.

Latin Americans aren’t coming here because white people ruined Latin America. They ruined it themselves. They’re actually coming to flee other Latin Americans. Think about that.

They continue ruining their countries every day. The ones who had bad values at home bring those bad values here, and they live in neighborhoods that are a lot like their home countries: dangerous and poor. They even bring low wages with them by ignoring our wage-hour laws.

People from unsuccessful sectors of society should be copying the rest of us. It worked for Asians who came here as slaves. It works pretty well for anyone. Instead, many have decided to proclaim themselves victims and persecute everyone who disagrees with them.

There is a pattern in America; in the world, for that matter. People with old-fashioned beliefs build things up. Then they decay. Then people from unsuccessful groups move in to distribute the goodies, and everything falls apart.

I thought about this when Obama was elected in 2004. It was like watching people with bad values move into a suburb and turn it into a slum.

Obama has the most counterproductive ideas of any modern US president. He is a whiner who lives to make excuses and blame others falsely. He persecutes people who work. He rewards the lazy. He encourages racism against whites. He has the heart of a looter. He doesn’t build. He just mines the accumulated wealth earlier generations built up. He destroys it and passes it out.

The things Wilmore said seemed to have supernatural significance. There was a deeper message. I would sum it up thus: “Our side runs things now. We haven’t changed our ways. We insist on having power without self-examination or growth. We have no respect. We have no gratitude, compassion, or humility. We will show you how to run this country, and we will punish you.”

“We’ll take it from here.”

The old guard blew it. No doubt about that. People of European extraction committed genocide and atrocities. They bought millions of slaves from Africans and brought them here and made their lives hell. They did all sorts of bad things. But we’re about to find out that the people who come after them are a lot worse. They are less educated, and they perceive themselves as victims. There is no limit to the cruelty and barbarism of a self-proclaimed victim. A lot of their motivation comes not from a desire to reform, but a desire to make the other guy suffer.

What do we do about it? Nothing. Don’t put me on a list of possible insurgents. If I’m on one, take me off. I give up. I don’t care. It can’t be fixed, so to the looters and invaders, I say, “Go ahead and have your fun, and let me know if I’m in your way so I can move farther away from your power centers.” I don’t plan to do anything except talk about it. Eventually, that, itself, will be considered treason. One day, committees will go through old Internet posts. The Wayback Machine will be used to prepare evidence for criminal trials. You wait and see.

America’s goose is cooked. I don’t intend to get worked up about it. We made our choice. The people on the top, the people on the bottom…every segment of America chose destruction over God. I accept it. You should, too. When David’s baby son was dying, he fasted and prayed until the boy died, and then he got up and went on with his life. Part of Christianity is acknowledging finality and closure. You don’t want to become a pillar of salt.

The nation is finished, but some people can change. If you want to accomplish something, focus on the individual, starting with yourself. We are never going to see a day when huge crowds in America assemble simultaneously, repent, and beg God to bring back his favor. Shoot for targets you can actually hit. Choose your battles.

Wilmore makes me glad I didn’t get any attention when I was working as a humorist. If I had gotten everything I wanted, I would be just like him. Conceited beyond belief. Stuffed with success, yet eager for more promotion. Utterly insensitive. I would have made cruelty my profession; I was well on the way.

I wonder who will come after Larry Wilmore and his generation. Things can still get worse. They could do what the Romans did; they could torture people to death for laughs.

That’s probably coming. I shouldn’t say it lightly. We’re just like the Romans, the Germans, the Austrians, the Cambodians…

Keep repenting. Keep praising. Keep thanking God. You’re going to need his help more and more as time passes, and it will take time for you to grow into a warrior. On the job training doesn’t work well for combat soldiers.

It’s very sad to see a society develop tools that should propel it forward like never before, and then move backward. But we keep improving technology instead of ourselves. A monkey with an Internet connection and Google Glass is still a monkey.

Guess I’ll go outside and wave at the drones now.

Over Here, we Have the Horse’s Mouth

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

And on the Other End…

I have to put in some Iliad time today. That book is like a prison. I feel like I can’t read anything else until I finish it. I cheat, but not much.

Yesterday was obliterated by the sprinkler pump debacle. When it was done, and I was finished stooping in a filthy place, running a vibrating tool that nearly blistered my palms, the last thing I felt like doing was wading through more turgid simile soup. I could have killed 40 more pages had I not underestimated the stubbornness of the bolts holding the pump on.

After 40 or 50 pages, my mind shuts down, as though to punish me. Or maybe it’s a warning, like the gag reflex kicking in after you drink a tumbler of straight vodka.

Last time I looked, Patroklos was about to meet Jesus. Of course, he didn’t expect Jesus. He expected Charon. But heathens are wrong about the afterlife. Boy, was he in for a surprise. Anyway, Hektor (the Lattimore spelling) was getting ready to turn Patroklos into a kebab, and then, judging from the movie, Achilles (not the Lattimore spelling) would stop pouting, join the battle, and die.

The lesson is that it pays to pout.

I wonder how much the ancient Greeks knew about economics. I wonder if they realized it was a bad idea to take all the successful men in the world and have them hack each other to death with bronze swords. Imagine what would happen if we did that today. The productive, helpful 1% would be gone, and the ignorant Bern-feeling rabble would be picking through the ruins, destroying anything good that had been left behind.

In short, it would be a lot like 2020. Or Detroit.

A good friend got me a couple of books which I would rather be reading than The Iliad. A preacher named Rick Renner wrote them. They’re about the early church. I think. Thanks to Homer, I’m only about 15 pages in.

Renner studies history, and he looks at the original texts of the Bible. He seems to get revelation. He’s a lot like Perry Stone. He connects dots. He corrects our understanding of things in the Bible, and he shows us that things that seem trivial actually have meaning.

I enjoy that kind of stuff, but I don’t want to dedicate my life to studying it. If you spend a lot of time in prayer, God tells you things directly, and if you wander off and bury yourself in things other people have written, you can end up robbing God to pay Perry Stone.

John said we didn’t need men to teach us. He said the Holy Spirit would do it. That sounds radical and rebellious, and it could be dangerous in the hands of someone who isn’t ready, but it’s in the Bible, so what does that make it?

“True.”

Learning is great, but if you know God personally, it’s a mistake to regress and go back to depending on human beings for your understanding. Most people need human beings to introduce them to God, but after that, it should be a direct connection. Human beings should drop back and assume a minor role.

You never know who will fall, or who will make a bad mistake. If you’re following a man instead of the Holy Spirit, you’re taking a big chance. Well, that’s not true. It’s not a chance. That implies that you might succeed. If you trust a man, you have assured that you will have serious problems.

Once you start hearing from God, you don’t go to other people for instruction all that much. You go for confirmation of what you’ve already heard. If you haven’t heard anything, you’re not doing your homework, and homework, not the lectures, is the actual course.

It’s not good to be ignorant, but you have a limited amount of time here, and if you spend too much of it on man’s hit-or-miss teaching, you will neglect the pure and correct teaching of God.

I can’t remember the last time I made a point of listening to a preacher. They’re so disappointing. They’ll say a few things I know to be true, and then out will pop something like, “And it’s so important to TITHE.” Then I’ll realize I’m listening to a hack who sees preaching as a job.

I decided to quote John here, and I thought I would just quote the verse about how we don’t need men to teach us, but I looked at the context and realized it was important to quote more of the book.

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.

These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.

What is he saying here? He’s saying the world is full of false preachers who came out of the church. These men went out on their own, in human knowledge and effort, without the Holy Spirit. They fell into error, and they teach garbage that actually comes from Satan.

He’s saying that if you hear from God directly, you won’t have to worry about believing lies. If you know the truth, you’ll stay on the path, and when Jesus returns you won’t be ashamed.

It’s exactly what I’m experiencing. It’s what I was trying to say, above.

Many of the people who are misleading us are mostly right. They teach a lot of good things. But they’re wrong about enough things to derail the train. The devil loves to bake a beautiful cake and put a tiny chunk of poo deep in the middle of it; people only see the good 99%, and they swallow the poo whole. The Holy Spirit isn’t like that. His product is pure.

Here’s how I feel about it: I’ll start relying on men again when God starts refusing to tell me anything. I’ll let you know when that happens. Don’t hold your breath.

It reminds me of what my great uncle said when someone asked him why he didn’t give money to the Lord. He said he couldn’t find anyone he could trust to take it to him. There are a lot of people out there wearing God’s uniform and playing for the other team, and without the Holy Spirit, you’re not smart enough to pick them out.

These people are going to fool you, just as they’ve fooled me. Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t care how many ancient authors you’ve studied, and I don’t care if you’ve explored the ruins at Ephesus so many times the clerk at the Motel 6 sends you birthday cards. Any, ANY man can be fooled. Only the Spirit knows what you should believe.

I know a lot of people who think T.D. Jakes is great. He’s a big, chubby, fatherly figure, and he yells a lot, so he seems like he’s correcting people. But he teaches the prosperity gospel, which is a black hole where faith dies. He pals around with the slime of the earth; either he can’t tell the wolves from the sheep, or he thinks it’s okay to hang out with wolves.

A lot of people love Joel Osteen. Unfortunately, the man teaches self-confidence, which is evil, and he doesn’t correct people. He doesn’t teach people to be Spirit-led. Like Jakes, he associates with rich preachers who rob people who want to know God.

Salvation alone will not enable you to pick out the losers, and neither will the advice of other people.

When you move toward God, you go through a succession of preachers. The first ones you encounter know a little bit about God, and it impresses you. Then you start to see their errors. You move on to better preachers, and eventually, you see they’ve dropped the ball, too. As you get closer to God, you will pass people who are closer to God than the people you knew before them. You will PASS them. Don’t be disturbed by that. Embrace it. If it’s not happening, something is wrong.

It reminds me of my experience with Scotch. When I was about 22, someone introduced me to Scotch, and I loved it. I enjoyed every glass of Scotch anyone put in front of me, no matter how cheap it was. Then I started not liking the cheap stuff. Within a year, I could only drink good Scotch. Now, if it’s not at least 12 years old, don’t even bother serving it to me. I can tell the difference. I even know 16-year-old Macallan 16 is better than 18-year-old Macallan.

Discernment increases with time, and the things you reject later on look much better than the things you rejected at the start.

I’m not recommending anyone drink Scotch. It’s just an analogy.

As you spend time with the Holy Spirit, you will find you want better and better things. Joel Osteen may seem fine today, but six months from now, you might want to slam the door if he showed up at your house.

I used to subscribe to Perry Stone’s monthly CD’s. They were very informative. I eventually quit. Jentezen Franklin, the prosperity preacher, is one of his best buddies. Stone endorses Joyce Meyer. He’s angry all the time. He loves to argue. If I want to learn why the poles in the tabernacle were made of cedar wood (or whatever), he’s the guy to ask, but if you only develop as much as he has, you will regret it. You need all the growth you can get.

I used to listen to Andrew Wommack, but he’s tight with the wolves, too. I can’t read his mind, but he seems proud. That’s a very fundamental problem; it’s the worst fault you can have. If he can’t show you how to overcome that, he’s not that useful.

You don’t need these people. You don’t need me. You can even survive without the Bible, if you have to. But you do need the Holy Spirit.

So I look forward to reading Rick Renner’s books, but I am too busy to study his teaching. Like I said, I have another source which takes priority. I have the tailor; I’m not going to buy off-the-rack at Macy’s.

It’s not pride. It’s just fear of stepping off the path and onto a landmine. I’ve done that many times in the past. Think of the fools I trusted.

Forget that. Never again. Never.

Jesus didn’t die so I could have a secondhand relationship with God.

What a tangent. Even for me, that was pretty bad. I thought I was writing about boring books about dimwitted sword-swingers.

I have to get that sprinkler pump loose from the wall. I don’t think I can procrastinate any longer.

Maybe I can. If I try.

After all, the feel-good preachers say I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

I hope this stuff is useful to you, especially if you’re reading this in the future and you have no Christians you can talk to. It will still work. You are still important.

The Weeding Continues

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Plus a Grim Reminder

I got off social media, and God cut back my prayer list. My social circle is tightening up. I came up with a name for it. I call it “the little Rapture.”

It has been very peaceful. Sometimes I feel a little isolated, but in this world, the concentration of people whom I consider like-minded is pretty low. The closer you get to God, the fewer people you will want to spend time with. It’s a consequence of seeing people more clearly.

When I was highly active in church, my time was wasted. My money was wasted. My good intentions were wasted. I served childish, greedy, rude people who had no class and not a whole lot going on upstairs. I was surrounded by people who were very insincere, and they pretended to be serious, so I spent time fertilizing plants that were determined not to grow. If I choose, I can be more social and have more “friends,” but there is no way I can significantly increase the number of people who are pulling with me instead of dragging their feet.

In other words, the sensation of deprivation is an illusion.

I remember the prayer sessions my little group used to have in the conference room at Trinity Church. I used to tell people to imagine what the parking lot would look like if all the cars that weren’t paid for disappeared. That was how the congregation would look if the hypocrites vanished. The place would be nearly deserted. That’s how life is. I don’t care who you are; you have almost no friends.

That makes me think of Prince and other entourage-dependent celebrities. Those people have fewer friends than anyone, yet they are surrounded by people who claim they will lay down their lives for them. In an entourage hive, the queen bee is unaware of reality or refuses to face it. The workers and drones insulate her from it, because reality is a threat to their income and prestige.

The false comfort provided by the crowd seems worth it to the queen. Prince, Elvis, Muhammad Ali, and others like them were or are queen bees, not leaders.

People like John and Paul had adherents, but I doubt they allowed themselves to have entourages or cults.

I envy John. His type of ministry is the kind I would like to have. As far as I know, he wasn’t always caught up in the mosh pit. He lived in the country, and then he ended up on an island full of political prisoners. Maybe he didn’t have to suit up and force-feed the swine every day.

If what we are told is right, John was rare among early church leaders in that he died peacefully. The emperor Domitian had him placed in a pot of hot oil and fried for refusing to worship him, and John came out unhurt. It would be nice to have that kind of dominion and safety in the years ahead, when silly, underdeveloped people with tattoos and piercings start murdering Christians and Jews in America.

Paul was beheaded, which is not too bad, but he was also stoned and flogged. A lot of horrendous things happened to early Christian leaders, including skinning and grilling. Death from natural causes would be a privilege, although I still like the meteor idea. One second, you’re here, and the next second, you’re rising to heaven, leaving a big mess behind on the sidewalk.

The older you get, the less you fear death. Your eyes go. Your mind goes. You realize things will only get worse, and then you will die. You start to think about your future plans, and by that, I mean your plans for the next life.

You can be like Madonna and Cher and live in frantic, unseemly denial. You can cover everything up with putty and paint, but underneath it all, it’s still you. Cher is a senior citizen, and Madonna is nearly there. They are post-menopausal women whose wrinkled bodies produce only grey hairs, regardless of the bleach and dye. They have brittle bones and fading eyesight. They are no longer attractive to men under 70. Things aren’t going to improve, so they might as well think about a better place and a new start. I’m a little younger, but time will pass for me just as it has for them, so I am adjusting.

I am glad to be retreating from things. I thought Trinity was a fine church, and then I got understanding, and I left. I thought New Dawn was a fine church, and then God showed me their pride and their refusal to listen, and I left. I dumped a number of friends. My own sister was removed from my life. I can’t complain about any of it. Every new step has made life better.

Yesterday I got a reminder that the years were passing. My dad got lost on the way to a dental appointment. He uses Mapquest to print directions to places he’s been dozens of times, and yesterday he couldn’t get it to work, so he used Google. He couldn’t understand the map. He was gone four and a half hours.

I found out he had missed the appointment. I could not reach him on his chintzy flip phone, which sent calls straight to voicemail, which he can’t operate correctly. I had to call the cops and local hospitals. It doesn’t disturb me every time he’s out of touch for a few hours, but when he disappears on the way to an important appointment, it’s another story. It suggests incapacitation, not whimsy.

He finally turned up, after I had started thinking I was going to have to donate his clothes to charity. That’s what I did the week my mother died. You don’t turn a home into a museum. You get the personal items out fast, accept the loss, and keep on living. You don’t want to go into the bathroom two weeks after someone dies and see their toothbrush.

I’m going to get him an Android phone so I can track him, and he now has my contact information in his wallet, where it should have been twenty years ago.

A lot of older people have cheap phones and cheap cell plans. Sounds smart, but wait until one disappears on you and you can’t locate them.

I asked the cops if there was some kind of database for checking hospital admissions, figuring I was behind the times, but they said there is not. If you’re trying to find someone, you will have to call every hospital in your area. You would think ER admissions would be uploaded to a central directory, but they’re not.

I didn’t know the number on his vehicle tag. I’m going to have to make a list of useful information and put it in my computer.

Yesterday was a drill. When the real thing comes, I’ll have some idea what to do. That’s the sad payoff.

It’s an odd reflection of the Prince situation. Prince had no will and no plan, and no one cared about him. My dad has his papers in order, and he has me. When the baton passes, it should be simple and orderly.

Don’t be upset if you have to dump some cargo on your journey. Eventually you’ll have to dump yourself, so it’s best to accustom yourself to the pattern.

Let the Looting Begin

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

Race to the Bottom

I keep checking on the Prince story, because it’s so interesting.

Someone has told The National Enquirer Prince had AIDS, and that it caused his death. They say he refused treatment because he was depending on prayer.

A lot of people have suddenly decided Prince was tight with God. The Washington Post ran a ridiculous story labeling Prince a “conservative Christian.”

When he died, Prince was not a Christian. Early in his life, he was a Seventh-Day Adventist, and later on, he became a Jehovah’s Witness. Seventh-Day Adventists are Christians with some strange but probably harmless beliefs thrown in. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, so in becoming one, Prince exited the faith.

Christians believe Jesus is God. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not. They think he’s the archangel Gabriel. They also believe you have to belong to their organization in order to be saved. They burden people with various “essential” works. You can’t have beliefs like that and be a Christian.

The Washington Post is a liberal publication which is biased against God, so you wouldn’t expect them to be all that knowledgeable about Christianity, but it’s a little surprising that they think JW’s are part of the crew. The staff of the paper probably contains a large number of lapsed Catholics; the Pope’s followers and former followers are represented pretty heavily among the ranks of leftists. They should know a few things. The error still got out.

Prince was a tireless and extremely effective promoter of sexual sin and rebellion. Maybe he hated high taxes. Maybe he was against destructive social programs. Maybe he was a conservative, and maybe he prayed a lot. But you would have to be nuts to think he served God or was anything but a spiritual disaster. If you think he was a Christian, go stand in front of a mirror and slap your own face; you’re in a coma.

The AIDS story got me thinking. All the entourage members who clung to him are treading water right now; their life preserver was snatched away. They need food and shelter. What do they have to exchange for it? Skills? Probably not. Appealing resumes? Doubtful. But they have one valuable asset: information. Surely they’re trading it now, if only to put groceries on the table.

Prince was not a planner. He didn’t have to be. He had tons of money, and he was surrounded by eager lickspittles, so he did as he pleased. What are the odds he made any provision for this time? He has no will, so there’s a clue for you. If a person worth tens of millions of dollars dies intestate, you can pretty well bet he never thought about nondisclosure agreements or postmortem benefits for his minions.

The entourage members probably had to wrestle with themselves as they watched the food on the compound shelves disappear, each trying to decide whether he should betray Prince before one of the others got in ahead of him and devalued the information they held in common. TMZ or The Enquirer will pay a lot to the first person who tells them Robin Williams hanged himself; the second person, not so much.

The AIDS story may or may not be true, but anyone trying to find out where it came from knows a good place to start.

Prince was supposedly against homosexuality. On the other hand, he was about as effeminate as a man can get without spontaneously combusting. If, for some reason, you had to entice another man to violate you, and you didn’t know what to do, imitating Prince would be a good strategy.

If the drug-hater who overdosed twice in one week was also a homosexuality opponent who got AIDS from another man, it wouldn’t be the biggest shock ever to hit the airwaves.

It’s not that easy for a man to get AIDS from a woman. Only about 6% of straight men who get AIDS get it from sex with women. If the AIDS story is true, I would be a little surprised if it turned out a woman gave him the disease.

To get back to the issue of his religious status, plenty of Christians use drugs. Plenty of us get AIDS. Not many are world-famous, unrepentant, gender-boundary-smashing, crusading icons in the battle to promote promiscuity. If you can behave that way and expect God to save you from hell, it’s news to me, because it’s willful, systematic, public rebellion.

If the people around Prince aren’t handled and pacified, and unless they are truly loyal, we can expect a rash of hurriedly-published tell-all books in the near future, and I would expect a sensational movie within two years.

My guess is that the AIDS story is false. At least, I don’t think it killed him. Right now, a lot of people have motivation to say crazy things for money, and I don’t think a person who is about to die from AIDS would feel well enough to pace around a drugstore parking lot on the eve of his demise. The drug story appears to be gaining strength, however. The DEA is now investigating.

When so-called “Christians” all across America get on their high horses and self-righteously vilify anyone who suggests Prince was not a servant of God, you know our country has marched off a cliff. Anyone can be wrong, but to believe something so patently stupid is a new kind of crazy. We used to be smarter than this. Sixty years ago, we were highly suspicious of anyone who got divorced. Now we have homosexuals leading churches. Lunacy.

The facts will get progressively weirder as they unfold, and so will the irrational responses.

I don’t know where it will lead, but I know this: if I were Madonna or Lady Gaga, I would be hiding in a closet begging God to change me. This has not been a great year for secular worship leaders.

The Earth Still Turns Without Disco

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Don’t Party Like it’s 1979

My Internet friend Heather noticed I was gone from Facebook and came by to comment, saying this:

Be glad you stepped away from Facebook, the deification of Prince has been just insane.
You would not believe the ugly things that have been said to me because I pointed out that the man was a Jehovah Witness, thus destroying their fantasy that Prince did not immediately ascend to the throne at the right hand of God.

I have seen very little Prince worship on the Internet, but that’s because I’ve avoided it. It must be a nauseating, discouraging spectacle. I can’t even guess what Facebook looks like this week. In some circles, it must be bigger than the death of FDR.

I thought his music was boring. I can’t understand why anyone ever sat through an entire song. But that may be because I simply didn’t have the particular supernatural influence that convinces people he’s wonderful.

If you’re not protected by the Holy Spirit, all the other spirits can make you believe or perceive nearly whatever they want. They shape our desires and reactions all day. Surely they can convince you Prince was better than Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday.

People are still talking about his “clean” lifestyle. The man was treated for a drug overdose and then died several days later in a manner entirely consistent with a second overdose. Okay, sure, his cousin says he was clean. What would your cousins say about you a day after you died? That you were a jerk?

The world is hopelessly screwed up. If you want proof, just consider this: Satan is the god of this world. What more do I have to say? When the lowest, most foolish creature in the universe is a world’s god, things are pretty bad.

Our perceptions are very distorted. We are raised in a soup of spirits that lie to us constantly, and we are surrounded by their human stooges, who repeat the lies around the clock. One of the benefits of being Spirit-led is that the deception starts to fall away from you. When that happens, the world and its values start to look insane and depressing.

My desires keep changing. I want that to continue. I don’t want to desire poison and death any more.

A long time ago, I had a comic strip in development with an editor. I knew I was good at what I did; I had no self-deprecating illusions about it. I expected to succeed. As motivation, I cut photos of fishing yachts out of magazines and taped them in places where I could see them. I figured I would get one if I got rich.

Today, you could not pay me to deal with a yacht. A nice one burns around 150 gallons of diesel per hour, or maybe $450. It takes three people to run one well, and it takes four to fish one. Every year, it has to go to the yard, and you will pay thousands just for basic maintenance. Dockage is expensive. Where I live, the sea is too rough for fishing maybe 40% of the time. Also, a yacht attracts shallow people who think about nothing but drunkenness, money, and sex.

I used to watch Top Gear all the time. I enjoyed watching them try out million-dollar Ferraris and Bugattis. Would I want to own such a vehicle? Never. I’m not even interested in driving one. I’m content to watch other people.

You can only get two people into a supercar. Every time you park it, you provide a target for envious vandals. Everything associated with it is ruinously expensive. You can’t even drive it legally; not if you want to use a significant portion of its capabilities.

I know people who have gotten rich. They probably think they have the world by the tail. It’s really the other way around. They have to deal with employees, lawyers, economic fluctuations, regulators…forget that. They also have to deal with tremendous temptation. Businesses run into potentially fatal challenges all the time, and very often, there is an unethical or illegal way out. I don’t want to face that.

I’ve had designs on really atrocious women. One was an atheist. Others were shallow. None really cared about God. I was looking for stupid things like chemistry. Attraction and psychological compatibility are important, but if both partners aren’t Spirit-led, they will grow apart, and one will draw the other away from God. Once you’re away from God, you’re the tail, not the head. You suffer defeat after defeat. You’re exposed. I don’t need that in my life.

My musical tastes have changed. I have a big collection of albums, and I got an Ipod so I could play them in my truck. I rarely use the stereo now. I want to talk to God while I drive, and the stereo distracts me. At home, I listen to secular music from time to time, but I can’t take it for long periods. The only thing I can put up with for hours at a time is praise music. Or silence.

I don’t see the world as my oyster. I see it as a cesspool I have to wade in for a while. It’s the roof of hell. The only way to do well down here is to focus on what’s above. The presence of God is like a pair of waders.

I seriously believe people who like Prince’s disco music and his image are supernaturally deluded. He played guitar extremely well, and he did arrangements, but that makes him a highly skilled technician, not a real artist.

If you want to hear a good keyboard player, listen to Oscar Peterson. If you want to hear a truly superb guitarist, listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you want to hear a top-notch singer, listen to Etta James. If you want to hear good songs, listen to Cole Porter, Hoagie Carmichael, or Hank Williams. Then go back and listen to Prince and see if you still think he’s superhuman.

The feeling I get when I think about going back to the low tastes of this world is like the feeling a college student has when he wakes up at two p.m. with a hangover, in a bed with dirty sheets, surrounded by the smell of spilled bong water. I don’t want it any more; I get the feeling parolees have when they think about going back to prison. You have to put away childish things.

This world is not a good place or a place where you can build a permanent home. It’s the second-lowest level of creation. It’s so low God doesn’t even keep a throne here. It’s the Section 8 trailer park of the universe. Enoch tells us heaven has seven levels, and we’re under the lowest one. That’s not a good place to site a future.

Prince was a little picture of Satan. He led the musical worship of himself. He focused attention on himself, not God. He was effeminate and spoiled. He devoted his life to bringing himself glory. He corrupted other people as hard as he could. He turned other musicians into little replicas of himself. If that appeals to you, fantastic, but there is nothing about it I like.

It’s so strange that our culture was simultaneously infected by two entertainers named Prince and Madonna, who attacked Christianity while displaying Christian symbols. And those are their real first names, which makes it even weirder.

I’m glad I’m off Facebook. I’m glad I have fewer hard little heads to contend with. It seems like America just turned a downward corner, like a ship upending itself before it sinks. I don’t want to be close enough to get pulled down by the suction.

And Now With a Rebuttal: Marge

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Release the Hounds

I made a giant mistake.

A while back, I was thinking about my undergraduate “education” from Columbia College of Columbia University. I felt like it was a big joke. I did a little work in some of my classes, but I also read my share of Cliff’s Notes (not “Cliff notes”). My class attendance was not too good. I blew off the second semester of Literature Humanities (a core course) almost in its entirety.

I give the professor half of the blame. His name was James Russell. He was a scholar who did something or other related to Armenia. You can look him up. He’s still well-known. Among the 350 people who know where Armenia is. Cher and the Kardashian family.

He studied a bunch of languages from places that, annoyingly, seem to lack a group designation that would save me typing. I think Iran, Armenia, and Turkey were among these nations. What do you call them? Not “Middle Eastern.” At least I don’t think so. Maybe they are. How about “too-much-facial-hair countries”? “Potential-New-York-Cab-driver countries.”

Places where Borat was banned in order to prevent riots.

He did something fairly dumb early in the semester. He told us he didn’t care if we came to class as long as we did the work.

It was quite some time before he saw me again, and he was really, really angry that I had called his bluff.

He thought I had an excellent mind. Go me, I guess. He wrote some extremely flattering stuff on my papers. When I disappeared and then turned up again right before the final, he appeared to be quite upset that I had zero interest in being his student.

He should not have taken that personally. For one thing, he brought it on himself. For another, I was an idiot. I was only interested in things like eating and waking up. I was miserable, and I had no plans for my life. I just wanted to stay alive and not be out in the street, and I knew that if you stay in college, your parents are likely to help you with those modest goals.

I think he gave me a C or B-, so I didn’t fail or anything. I should send him a ham this Christmas.

He seemed like a great teacher. You would have to ask someone who actually went to class. My loss.

I only cheated once or twice the whole time I was in school, from kindergarten on. I may have cheated on a Lit. Hum. final. I can’t recall. It was either Lit. Hum. or an equally exciting core course, Contemporary Civilization. I had done virtually nothing all semester, and I figured I was going to fail my exam and be expelled. Then a friend took his exam early and gave me the test questions.

That definitely helped.

The system was not very smart. Some teachers tested earlier than others, so it was sometimes possible for groups of students to get their hands on tests. Ordinarily, I would not have even considered cheating. I hate cheating. But I saw a difference between vanity cheating and survival cheating. I was not cheating to get a better GPA than the guy in the next seat. I was cheating to avoid the horror of being thrown out of college.

It was still wrong, but at least I could say I was in a bad situation that made me highly motivated. The other guys who looked at the test with me…not so much.

I feel superior to them as I think about those days, but that’s denial. We were little rats. All of us.

If you want to turn me in so they can revoke my diploma, go right ahead. They never gave me one, because I dropped out and had to finish up at the University of Miami. I know, because I have that diploma today. In my closet. In the box it came in. Unless that’s my law degree.

What a digression.

To get back to the point, the other day I was feeling guilty about learning almost nothing as an undergrad at Columbia, and I started thinking about the books in the core curriculum. There was no reason why I couldn’t download them or buy used copies (because I am cheap) and study on my own.

This was the mistake I referred to in my opening sentence.

I am now 500-misery-odd pages into The Iliad, translated by some guy who probably gets maced when he tries to walk into cocktail parties. Lattimore! I just remembered. It’s Lattimore. I don’t know whose translation Columbia used, but they use Lattimore now, so I decided to read it.

Wow, is it horrible. Reading it is like physical pain. Here’s an important fact you never hear people say: writing has gotten much, much better since ancient times.

As far as I can tell, The Iliad has no paragraphs. It’s broken up into chapters, which are called “books,” which actually means “chapters.” It’s over 900 pages long, and I suppose there are something like 20 books, and once you start a book, there are no brakes. You go until you hit the end of the book.

Man was not made to read long paragraphs. I don’t care who you are or what you write about; if you can’t find a way to shorten your paragraphs, you are doing it wrong.

Even worse, Homer is incredibly windy within his general-admission-style, festival seating books. He loves inserting horrible similes that take half a page. Torture yourself with this example:

And not even then might the Trojans and glorious Hektor have broken in the gates of the rampart, and the long door-bar, had not Zeus of the counsels driven his own son, Sarpedon, upon the Argives, like a lion among horn-curved cattle. Presently he held before him the perfect circle of his shield, a lovely thing of beaten bronze, which the bronze-smith hammered out for him, and on the inward side had stitched ox-hides in close folds with golden staples clean round the circle. Holding this shield in front of him, and shaking two spears, he went onward like some hill-kept lion, who for a long time has gone lacking meat, and the proud heart is urgent upon him to get inside of a close steading and go for the sheepflocks. And even though he finds herdsmen in that place, who are watching about their sheepflocks, armed with spears, and with dogs, even so he has no thought of being driven from the steading without some attack made, and either makes his spring and seizes a sheep, or else himself is hit in the first attack by a spear from a swift hand thrown. So now his spirit drove on godlike Sarpedon to make a rush at the wall and break apart the battlements.

This underscores a very important point about the ancients: they did not have TV.

In 2016, people consider the value of other people’s time, because we’re all very busy playing video games and looking at cat pictures on Facebook. In 5000 B.C., this was not the case. There were no cable boxes. There were no channels. Zero. People had absolutely nothing to do once the sun went down. This explains why they were willing to let wandering vagrants recite poems to them for hours at a stretch. Paradoxically, they died when they were fifteen years old, yet they felt their time had no value whatsoever.

If Homer decided to spend 900 words comparing the thighs of “godlike” Aeneas (half of the characters are “godlike”) to rippling waves on the storm-tossed Aegean, that was just fine. People didn’t mind. Me, I have other things to do. I would appreciate an occasional nod to concision.

So that’s bad.

Another problem: Lattimore uses English words in ways I never thought possible.

I have a huge vocabulary. I understand that the meanings of words have changed. I don’t have trouble with Shakespeare or the King James. But Lattimore comes up with stuff I never saw before. Nobody calls a beach “a strand.” Nobody calls a hill “a barrow.” Nobody calls a bench “a settle.” So every ten minutes, I have to go on the Internet to find out what he’s talking about.

If Homer were in this guy’s class, he’d pin him to the blackboard with a bronze spear.

What else can I complain about? Oh, yes. The story and the characters.

The story is ridiculous. There is no plot. Paris of Troy stole the wife of Menelaus (or Menelaos, depending on which pedant translated your version), and Menelaus and his buddies sail to Troy to destroy it and take her back. Troy is a big city with steep walls. You saw it in the movie.

His buddies are the Danaans. Or the Achaians. Or the Argives. They have like 4 dozen names. They’re a bunch of criminals from all around Greece. Athena, Poseidon, Hera, and various other immortals are on their side. I think. Zeus is behind the Trojans. Some days, the Trojans do well. Some days, the Achaians do well. And the Achaians can’t finish the job because Achilles the ringer is pouting in his ship.

That’s about it. There is no pace or structure, because, again…time had no value.

The characters are like two-year-olds. They make the Kardashians (again I poke the Armenians) look deep. They talk about honor, but whenever they feel like it, they break promises, use unfair help from the gods to kill people, and even go back to their houses to barbecue while everyone else fights. They steal everything they see. They have no compassion or empathy whatsoever; maybe those things hadn’t been invented yet. They are stupid. They never say or do anything intelligent.

Now that I think about it, the reality TV comparison is dead accurate. Nothing ever happens. There is no rhyme or reason. The people are basically clowns.

When I was about 24, I pretty much gave up on literature. I felt like the message was almost always the same: self-pity and whining. “The world isn’t fair.” “There is no God.” “You owe me because I’m a Marxist lesbian.” I thought it was extremely unrealistic and unhealthy, and it was written from a viewpoint with which I couldn’t identify. I live in a world which is more than fair. I know God is here, and I know he treats us much better than we deserve. I know things aren’t hopeless; quite the contrary. We are assured of success, not just here but in eternity, if we do a few simple things. The miserable, mistreated figures of literature seem like creatures from Mars to me. I don’t want the infectious pus of a victim mentality to fill me up and destroy me.

Do I see things this way because I’m a white male, and every day is like paradise when you’re white? No. I screwed my life up very badly, and believe it or not, being white is not early admission to heaven. I have my sanguine worldview because I’ve weighed the evidence, and because I’ve received faith and revelation. Even Marxist lesbians are eligible.

Feel bad if it makes you feel good, but don’t try to tell yourself it’s right.

I gave up reading literature, with occasional exceptions, and it was a good decision. Reading Homer serves to remind me how foreign the godless world (okay…the non-Christian world) is. But you have to make certain concessions to your culture in order to avoid being utterly ignorant, so even though I facetiously called it a mistake, reading this botched spinal tap of a book was a good idea.

I can get through about 50 pages per day, in around half an hour, and then my brain sets up like cold oatmeal and refuses to absorb any more. At this pace, it should be about thirteen centuries, magically crammed into ten actual days, before I finish.

After I read, I have to turn my brain off and let it rest, which is why I’m here. I sat down about 30 minutes ago after a painful Homer session, and I’m writing this to unwind.

I found Cliff’s Notes online, and I found the one for The Iliad. I can now proudly announce that I’m the first person on earth to use Cliff’s Notes as a study guide instead of a substitute for the pain of reading the actual book.

The people who put the notes out put a totally hypocritical warning up front, about making sure you go to class and read the book, because if you don’t, you’re denying yourself the benefit of the education for which you’re paying.

Couple of points.

1. The warning is about as credible as the one on the Q-Tip box that says not to put them in your ears. Yeah, we all run the swab gently around the rim of our ear, where it accomplishes nothing whatsoever. Cliff, who owns his own country in the South Pacific, knows exactly why you bought his notes. By the way, a translation is not the real Iliad. Think about that for a while. You’re already reading a fake.

2. You’re probably not paying for your education. It’s probably the taxpayer, your parents, or the lender who gave you the student loan you are hoping to default on.

3. The question of whether there is a “benefit” to reading Homer is still up in the air. Okay, I just said that to be mean.

Let me say something horrible, which will make professors incontinent with rage; even more angry than the knowledge that they can be completely replaced by iPhone videos: the notes are pretty good, and for most people, they’re a completely acceptable (even superior) substitute for a $9000 lecture from an old socialist in corduroy pants. It’s not like your professor at Texas A&M has some secret inside Homeric poop the Cliff’s people can’t get their hands on. It’s all the same poop. You’re not going to learn that much at the undergrad level anyway, and five years later, a person who used Cliff’s Notes will not be at a detectable disadvantage to someone who paid his parents’ life savings to a trite old bolshevik wearing a “Feel the Bern” button.

It’s kind of amazing. When I was taking easy humanities courses, I cheated once or twice, and I did no work I could avoid. When I got my physics degree, which is about 3000 times as hard as basket-weaving liberal arts pabulum (Latin word!), I never thought about cheating, and I did my own work. When I got my law degree, which is only about 5 times as hard as advanced navel-gazing liberal arts courses, I never thought about cheating, and I did my own (very little) work.

Life is funny. Funnier than Homer’s jokes, anyway.

I am hoping things get better as I progress. Hopefully other translators will be more humane. If not, I can always look for old copies of Classic Comics. I’ll just have to be careful and realize something is amiss when the Achaians are defeated by Wolverine and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Godlike Sonic the Hedgehog.

By the way, we need to acknowledge something. MOST liberal arts students don’t learn much as undergrads. What I went through was basically normal, although probably 25% worse than average. So get off your high horse already.

Or, if you’re a Danaan, out of it.