Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder Press Release

Mandated Memoranda Publishing Announces Second Book

Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder, Edited by Ninja and Adolphus Writer, Exclusively on Amazon as a Kindle Edition, a Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC release.

Tragic Wonders - Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder cover image

Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder, Edited by Ninja and Adolphus Writer, Exclusively on Amazon as a Kindle Edition, a Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC release. (PRNewsFoto / Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC)

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Dec. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — We all love to be entertained. But, what if that entertainment has other ideas? We asked our pseudonymous authors to write stories, poems, and essays of tragedy and wonder that delve into our souls’ deepest fears and needs.


In the short stories, you’ll meet a serial killer, alien snails, a petulant eleven–year–old, a beloved astronaut, a laid–off worker, and many others. Two poems provide a transition from fiction to opinion. The essays castigate, decry, praise, and skewer our personal, local, national, world, and cosmic conditions.

These writings are meant to engage readers in a reality that we all deny daily, whether we profess faith in Christ, are ambivalent, or are hostilely opposed to religion.

What if this world we live in is set up as a diabolical trap meant to prevent us from seeing that which is truly necessary? The anthology focuses on themes, situations, and emotions that are tragic, full of wonder, or, combined in some way, both.

We hope you’ll suspend your disbelief and consider the possibility that there is a way out of the trap in which we find ourselves. And that way doesn’t involve choosing between two different color pills.


“Maybe there’s a message in what great scholars once called futility or vanity? Perhaps there’s only one thing truly necessary.”—Karen Monteverde


This isn’t an easy read, but it is a rewarding one, as the stories are crafted with great care. All in all, if you are the kind of reader who likes to have their own assumptions on how reality truly exists questioned by the written word, then this is sure to be an enjoyable book for you. –Red City Review, November 23, 2013

About the editors

Ninja (NEEN–yuh) S. Writer was born in Wolfsburg, West Germany. She majored in political science with a minor in mechanical engineering and volunteered for the Bundeswehr in 1994 when she learned a woman had attained the rank of general. She and Adolphus met while he was traveling in Germany. They married when she moved to the United States after completing her military service.

Adolphus Writer holds a doctorate in theoretical physics. After he graduated, he travelled to Europe, the Middle East, and Far East. Upon his return, he took a job at a large US defense firm applying his creative and analytical skills to pressing problems. He and Ninja corresponded extensively prior to their engagement.

In early 2012, Adolphus established Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC as a way to support the lifestyle to which he and his family had become accustomed. He says they like to eat on a daily basis and stay debt–free.

About the publisher

Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC published Tiānmìng – Mandate of Heaven as a Kindle edition in June 2013. It is an everyman’s spy adventure – a reluctant journalist’s tale of economic calamity, geologic catastrophe, geopolitical power shifts, and the beginnings of a hands–on surveillance state.

We plan to release a third Kindle edition, Who Shall Be God, a fictional account of the struggles between two families, the Stadists and the Libertas, who live in an east coast US city, north and south of the 38th parallel, respectively. Expect it on Amazon’s shelves in 2014 by the fall.

Book four, A Digital Carol, is a reimagining of the old Dickens’ favorite for a future generation. We are targeting it for Christmas, 2014. The working title for book five is China Dream. It’s still in process, as is the dream itself.

Book Details

Tragic Wonders – Stories, Poems, and Essays to Ponder

Edited by Ninja and Adolphus Writer

Anthology: realism, thriller, science fiction

1st edition, released December 15, 2013

By Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

Exclusively as an Amazon Kindle Edition


ISBN: 978-0-9855327-1-0

Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited

150 pages (estimated)

More Details Online

On Goodreads

On Shelfari

Adolphus Writer (@AdolphusWriter)

Ninja S. Writer (@NinjaSWriter)

Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC

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Tolerance – Based on What Standard?

We all think we know what’s right and wrong. It’s in the air; self–evident. But we hold ourselves and others to lax standards. We say: do not kill. That’s all well and good. But when the living God visited us He said:

But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. Matt. 5:22 (ESV)

Check out the Greek if you doubt the translation.

He also spoke on lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies.

But, how does what He said line up with the Ten Commandments? Many today will grudgingly concede that these encompass much to which a progressive society should aspire.

We find He did not itemize how His statements lined up, but His intent was evident throughout the scriptures. Wiser folk than me searched these manuscripts. Highly analytic statesmen convened to discuss and codify the ramifications of the Ten Commandments and the Old and New Testaments. The Westminster Larger Catechism, Q.91-150, is a good place to start to investigate His standards.

Here’s a table that touches only a few of the seemingly minor offenses “worthy of hell fire.” The reference to the Catechism, above, is comprehensive. I must warn, however, I have a problem with summarization.

Commandment (abridged) Our Duties (abridged) Sins Forbidden (abridged)
Thou shall have no other gods before me. Honoring, adoring, loving, desiring, fearing, believing him Self-love, self-seeking, unbelief, heresy, misbelief, hardness of heart, pride, presumption
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image… Thou shalt not bow down   thyself to them, nor serve them… Reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; church government and discipline; opposing all false worship Devising, counselling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain: for the Lord   will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. The name of God, his titles, attributes, ordinances, the Word, …and whatsoever else there is whereby he makes himself known, be holily and reverently used in thought, …word, and writing Not using of God’s name as is required; and the abuse of it in an ignorant, vain, irreverent, profane, superstitious …or any way perverting the Word, …or the maintaining of false doctrines
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. …Resting all the day, …and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship All omissions of the duties required… all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land   which the Lord thy God gives thee. Honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence…, prayer and   thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing   obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; …bearing with their   infirmities, and covering them in love… Sins of superiors are, besides the neglect of the duties required of them… commanding things unlawful, or not in the power of inferiors to perform; …correcting them unduly; careless exposing, or leaving them to wrong, temptation, and danger; provoking them to wrath…
Thou shalt not kill. …Preserve the life of ourselves and others…patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; …mild and courteous   speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent. …Taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.
Thou shalt not commit adultery. Chastity in body, mind, affections, words, and behavior; and the preservation of it in ourselves and others; watchfulness over the eyes and all the senses; temperance, keeping of chaste company, modesty in apparel; marriage by those that have not the gift of continency…; diligent labor in our callings; shunning all occasions of uncleanness, and resisting temptations thereunto. …Adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, and immodest apparel; …and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.
Thou shalt not steal. …Truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to everyone his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; …and an endeavor, by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own. …Theft, robbery, man-stealing, and receiving any thing that is stolen; fraudulent dealing, …injustice and unfaithfulness in contracts…, or in matters of trust; oppression, extortion, usury, …and all other unjust or sinful ways of taking or withholding from our neighbor what belongs to him, or of enriching ourselves; covetousness; inordinate prizing and affecting worldly goods; …envying the prosperity of others…
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Preserving and promoting of truth between man and man, and the good name of our neighbor, as well as our own; appearing and standing for the truth; and from the heart, sincerely, freely, clearly, and fully, speaking the truth, and only the truth, in matters of judgment and justice, and in all other things whatsoever; a charitable esteem of our neighbors; loving, desiring, and rejoicing in their good name; sorrowing for, and covering of their infirmities; freely acknowledging of their gifts and graces, defending their innocence;  a ready receiving of a good report, and unwillingness to admit of an evil report, concerning them; discouraging tale-bearers, flatterers, and slanderers; love and care of our own good name, and defending it when need requires; keeping of lawful promises; studying and practicing of whatsoever things are true, honest, lovely, and of good report. All prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature; giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth; passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil; …forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others; speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice; …misconstructing intentions, words, and actions; …hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;  unnecessary discovering of infirmities; raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense; evil suspicion; envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy…
Thou shalt not covet …anything that is thy neighbor’s. …Full contentment with our own condition, and such a charitable frame of the whole soul toward our neighbor, as that all our inward motions and affections touching him, tend unto, and further all that good which is his. …Discontentment with our own estate; envying and grieving at the good of our neighbor, together with all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Lest anyone think I, or those like me, are any better than anyone else, I like to recall this event:

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]] John 8:3-11 (ESV)

Some say He was writing out the names of the guilty in the crowd. Others say He was writing out the Ten Commandments. Perhaps it was both, cross referenced. And, where was the man if the woman was caught in the act? I would have been one of the last to have walked away, I think, not because I measured up, but because I didn’t.

Some hold this passage in doubt, but it rings true and many quote excerpts of it often. Never–the–less, our toleration must be based on the fact that everyone, Christian and non-Christian, is guilty of violating the Ten Commandments daily, if not minute by minute.

And we need to realize we’re hurting one another and our nation when we pull away into our huddles, holy or secular. Of harmful words and deeds, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

…The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

And, as Mr. Taunton recently wrote:

Speaking on the issue of tolerance, mega-church pastor and bestselling author Rick Warren observed:

Our culture has accepted two huge lies.  The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them.  The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do.  Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Tolerance is not the same thing as acceptance, and acceptance is not the same thing as an endorsement…We stand at a crossroads. The country must decide. Is the endgame here to be that orthodox Christians will henceforth have no voice within their own culture? If so, does this mean we have become a nation of bullies, forcing conformity while calling it tolerance? [early version (12-22-13, 10:55 pm) of Atlantic Magazine article]

If today’s target for intolerance is Christians, ask yourself, who’s next?

News Flash: Nothing. New. Under. Sun

We are bombarded every day in the news with scandals, calamities, wars, and impending doom and gloom. If this one thing were done (or not done) then everything would be all right (or disastrous) for the poor, the rich, the middle class, the environment, the economy, or this poor little kitten.


Young Cat (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported – Maxo)

It even seems scheduled. The news apparatus can’t mention health insurance cancellations until there’s a groundswell (I noted it weeks earlier when I received my cancellation through the mail). And you get the impression that it’s all new, it’s never happened before, and no one knows what to do.

This guy by the name of Solomon seemed to have a clue. He said:

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9, ESV]

But, if it’s understood, then why do we cast about, wring our hands anxiously, and worry needlessly? And why do those, who purport to be leaders, do the same?

Recently, I ran across some interesting precursors to some things we take for granted. These might seem to be mundane things, but they are informative none-the-less. And they point out some important ideas to which we might pay attention.

Everyone knows that Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543, the year he died. In it, he maintained that the Earth orbited the sun and not vice versa. However, Michelle Thaller points out that Aristarchus of Samos knew the rough sizes of the Earth, Moon and Sun. He knew the Sun was much larger than the Earth over two thousand years ago. If you check on Aristarchus (310 BC – ca. 230 BC) you find he propounded heliocentricity. You also find Aristarchus’s estimate for the length of a month had a relative accuracy of 1 part in millions (off by a fraction of a second).

Aristarchus's 3rd century BC calculations on t...

Aristarchus’s 3rd century BC calculations on the relative sizes of the Earth, Sun and Moon, from a 10th century AD Greek copy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His estimate agreed with the Babylonian value to 1 part in tens of millions, decades before Babylon is known to have used it. This suggests that one party obtained it from the other or from a common source. His month estimate was contained in a calculation of the great year. The great year is associated with the precession of the equinoxes and takes about 25,800 years to complete.

This knowledge of precession was likely passed down to Hipparchus (c. 190 BC – c. 120 BC) and Ptolemy (c. AD 90 – c. AD 168). Hipparchus originated one of the models embodied by the Antikythera Mechanism. The knowledge likely originated from the ancient Egyptians who rebuilt a key temple in 3200 BC, 1600 BC and 100 BC to realign it with ‘fixed” stars. Aristarchus and Hipparchus were said to have visited Alexandria in Egypt, famed for its library of ancient texts (organized between the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (c.367 BC—c.283 BC) or his son Ptolemy II (283–246 BC)). Turns out Ptolemy lived there while some of the library collection remained unharmed.

As a second example, we think the “robber barons” of our day are bad. However, Fisk and Gould were the ones who “re-coined” the name in the eighteen hundreds. Turns out that Fisk and Gould used undue influence and an inside government man to game the gold market, corner it, and make obscene profits. President Grant and his treasury secretary, Boutwell, got wind of the scheme and dumped government gold on the market drastically lowering the artificially inflated price.

Only shady lawyers and a corrupt state judiciary let Fisk and Gould go. The damage to commodities, brokers, and the stock market took months to sort out. Some brokerages went bankrupt. Neither lived very well after their heydays. Fisk died as a result of a gunshot wound on January 7, 1872 in New York City’s Grand Central Hotel after refusing to pay extortion money to cover-up alleged illegal doings. Gould died of tuberculosis on December 2, 1892, roughly twenty years later.

Finally, product development at Apple is not what it seemed. Every technique was borrowed from somewhere else. So contends this videographer. Insanely great, wouldn’t you say?

So what do we make of it all? Everyone borrows, no one is original, and doing the right thing is better than doing evil. The man behind the curtain will be found out. If we search for tried and true solutions, we are certain to find them. Honesty and hard work are ultimately satisfying even if you look like a chump to those around you.

Wait until January 1, 2014 and folks are still without coverage. Worse still, when the corporate exemptions run out and those folk’s health insurance changes. What hollering we’ll hear then. Why doesn’t someone do the right thing and get it fixed now. The answers are out there.

Is God Mostly Dead?

In this month’s SciAm magazine, skeptic Michael Shermer writes a department feature article titled: Is God Dying? He cites the 2013 Bertelsmann Foundation survey of 14,000 people in 13 democratic nations for the foundation’s Religion Monitor. The study concludes that there is both widespread approval for the separation of church and state and a decline in religiosity over time and across generations.

Dr. Shermer claims the spread of democracy leads to the decline. He says that no one in religiously pluralistic countries can claim special status by faith membership. Also, since democracies have higher literacy rates and mass education, these lead to tolerance for others beliefs. Greater tolerance, in turn, lowers religious absolutism thereby undermining truth claims of any one religion over others.

Secondly, he claims open economic borders replace zero-sum religious tribalism with nonzero financial exchange. Citing the Bertelsmann report:

“Socio-economic well–being generally results in a decline in the social significance of religion in society and a decrease in the numbers of people who base their life praxis on religious norms and rules,”

Dr. Shermer explains that as a country’s impoverished declines, so, too, does religiosity since that is one of religion’s social functions.

He points out that the study authors do not go so far to say that “God is dead,” the Nietzschean conclusion. However, Dr. Shermer concludes the essay by citing a Pew Research Center survey that found the fastest–growing religious cohort in America is the “nones.” Out of 240 million Americans over 18 years of age, 14.4 million are atheist/agnostic and 33.6 million are religiously unaffiliated. He concludes this is a powerful voting block.

But what was he trying to say? Perhaps something like this: Democracy produces a decline of religiosity through mass education and social welfare. Education produces tolerance and tolerance undermines religious truth. Since the poor are relieved via secular means, there is no need for religious community services. Though he portrays the study he cites as not advocating “God is dead,” he then says the rise of the non-religious and unaffiliated form a powerful voting block. The purpose, left unsaid, for the voting block is the secularization of morality in democratic society.

Why didn’t he just come out and say that? I could have edited his essay for him so it would have been much clearer. Perhaps he’ll ask me to do so next time?

I’m sure Dr. Shermer knows the implications of his arguments with his head, if not his heart. True religion is controlling one’s actions and doing good, things to which no state can object. It is not mere tribalism as if one could select one’s god on the same basis one selects one’s political affiliation. Faith is God’s gift, no human attainment of faith is possible. Therefore, education can only strengthen one’s belief if one has it, whether for no god or the one true God.

I do concur with Dr. Shermer that democracy holds, at its core, the seeds of its destruction. As Kenneth Minogue (Sept. 11, 1930 – June 28, 2013), political theorist and Professor Emeritus of Political Science, writes:

My concern with democracy…begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them…Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism…Yet decisions about how we live are what we mean by “freedom,” and freedom is incompatible with a moralizing state. That is why I am provoked to ask the question: can the moral life survive democracy? …It is this element of dehumanization that has produced what I am calling “the servile mind.” The charge of servility or slavishness is a serious one.

Finally, and perhaps Dr. Shermer forgets, God was once dead, not “mostly dead” as the title of the article purports. He is right, though, in believing that faith will likely diminish as the centuries pass. In fact, the Lord, commenting on the inevitability of His justice when he returns, says: “I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

"Consumed," by Jennifer Hansen

“Consumed,” by Jennifer Hansen (19 April 2012) CCA-SA 3.0 Unported