The Snowman Cometh

Snow Shovelling

Snow Shoveling – Photo in the Public Domain by Jeff the quiet

I prepare this morning for battle with liner gloves. I think no frostbite for me. Valiantly, I shovel my way to the mailbox, around the cars, and into the lawn as a path for the meter woman. One of my outer gloves jumps off my hand; perhaps to frolic in the newly raised banks? I coax it back to service. The liners approve. And I heave another shovelful through the air.

Midway, I stand back to assess my progress and realize I’ve made the snow fort of my adolescent dreams. Towering battlements rise here and there. They guard the castle entryway. However, white powdery missiles fly my way no longer, once directed by a cohort on to better things now. But really, what could be better than a snow fort. Then I shovel a little more reality over the embankment.

Looking back at my masterpiece of excavation, I dread the snow still overhanging my head. The many feet of it huddled in a corner of the roof over the front porch. I can hear it crying out for quarter. Yet I intend it no quarter, it must fall, all convention’s judgment flung aside. In all this play, I harbor no maudlin or nefarious secrets from that Broadway stage. Oh, Neil, how sad you could not dream harder of better days to come.

Redeemed Regret – Macon Georgia

Ecclesia and the Three Sons of Noah - medieval...

Ecclesia and the Three Sons of Noah – medieval stained glass detail, Canterbury Cathedral (Photo credit: chrisjohnbeckett)

It was a cold night, and I was running through a neighborhood I feared to walk in during the day. The sun was coming up as I reached the main drag. I was almost home. Just a few more miles to go.

When I reached my toasty–warm one–room apartment, I found it as I had left it so many weeks before. The boarder she asked me to house had left it in pretty good shape. Better than I deserved. She, though, did not leave me in very good shape. I collapsed on my bed.

I was bought and sold as you would a loaf of bread, maybe half a loaf, when all was said and done. We met by arrangement of our mutual friends at the time. They had thoughts of what each of us wanted and saw a match worth making. It took a few strikes of that match to ignite a spark.

I thought one thing and she thought another. I was headed toward the idea of marriage and she was headed toward her former lover. However, her way lay through me. I was trapped by an unrealizable idea that she had no intention of bringing to fruition. She got what she wanted. I should have known better. I was so infatuated with the romance of Hollywood that I ignored the warning signs of disaffection and entrapment.

The prophets say, “More bitter than death: the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and whose hands are fetters. He who pleases God escapes her…” Well, that escape wasn’t my doing. Not long afterward, I was captured by the Sovereign One, who, alone, was deserving of my utmost allegiance. He drew me as surely as a parent draws their child to what is good. I was now free indeed.

There, in new surroundings with much to learn and unlearn, I was barely coping with all the changes I needed to make. I was juggling responsibilities that I had so long neglected. Folks were having their doubts about whether I was having doubts. Things were taken away as well as given. I was experiencing the Ecclesia firsthand. Having searched for a new place to lay my head, I found myself in the company of a diverse and chastening crowd.

My time was up so soon. I had gained my employment from one and ceded my bedroom to another. I needed to find a new residence quickly. That’s when I fell into a trap again. Not of the same kind, thankfully, but entrapped nevertheless. I should have seen the warning signs. I should have fled my obligations (but I wouldn’t on principle). Only Mercy rescued me once more.

In the midst of the turmoil and strife, I did not notice a rare opportunity escape overseas. I was too bound by my unsophistication and numbed by the rapid–fire changes in my life. I was dislocated from a proper response. In a parking lot, on another cold night, I bid farewell to someone I should have known better.

I imagine her happily married and blessed with children, prosperous and satisfied with her life. A better path than I could have given. I must tread alone toward our mutual upward goal. For I have no doubts about her.

Platitudes Have Consequences – Wilma Terretts

“You’re going to do what?”

“Turn you in as an illegal alien, hon. With this 9/11 hysteria, you’ll be tied up…for a while.”

“But I’m a naturalized citizen according to my mother’s papers. Why are you doing this to me, Harry?”

“Because you wouldn’t do as I say. Let’s see how you get out of this one, Mildred.”

“Okay, I’ll do it, I’ll do it…Please don’t bring this down on me.”

“We’ll see.”


“But I have to get my papers in order.”

“We’re swamped, ma’am, with the government shutdown and all. You’ll have to go across the state to get any speedy action. You sure you can’t wait?”

“No, my husband threa—No.”

“We’ll arrange an appointment. You’ll have to get there by the date set.”


“I found my army papers; I was honorably discharged. He hid them on me, Wilma.”

“Those prove you’re a citizen, Mom.”

“It’s not enough. He’s still threatening deportation.”

“Well, come up here and we’ll go together. It’s a fairly short drive.”


“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity…and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

“You are now citizens of the United States of America.”


“How’d it go?”

“Fine, I’ve got it.”

“That must be a relief.”

“I’ve got to go back, Wilma.”

“Please spend a few days up here with me.”

“I have to go back before he does something else.”

“You can’t keep living in fear, Mom.”

“What do you expect me to do?”

“Sometimes God sends a boat to rescue us when we expect miracles, Mom.”


“I’ve been preparing him for a few months. I’ve made sure he has everything he’ll need.”

“What are you talking about, Mom?”

“Can I come up? I’d like to see you.”

“Sure, I’ll take vacation. I’ve been under a lot of pressure at work and I need time off.”


“I’ve come up here to make sure you have everything you need, and I find you’ve been taking care of me.”

“What do you mean? Of course I want you to be happy, Mom.”

“Don’t hug me when I go. I don’t think I can take that. Just leave when the train comes in.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Just do it for me.”


“She’s what?”

“In the hospital. I’m sorry, Wilma.”

“What have you done, Dad?”

“She had a stroke.”

“Did you call 911 in time?”


“I’ll be down.”

“Stay here.”

“No, I’ll stay in a hotel.”


“So, how are you doing, Wilma?”

“It seems she was hiding her condition for months, maybe years, Maud.”

“Why didn’t her doctors see it?”

“They didn’t find the first cancer for five years. It showed up in the earlier radiographs only when they knew where to look.”

“So the prognosis isn’t good?”

“She died last night, Maud. We’re having the funeral as soon as possible.”

“I’m so sorry, Wilma.”

“Me too. I feel something I said caused all this to happen.”

“You can’t blame yourself. Your father’s relentless brutality took its toll. She simply took the opportunity that presented itself. Look, she might have died even if she did everything medical science knows to do. Our lives really are in His hands.”

“Yeah, it’s just that I said, sometimes God rescues us from our circumstances through common means. But, I didn’t mean this.”


No, I’m not referring to the song by Stevie Wonder (as much as I like the instrumental version). But, instead, I refer to the prevalent bias against true religion. When we see religion as moral and ethical obedience to God–given law that is beneficial to us and to others, I’m not sure how we justify anything else. Except, of course, in order to avoid our responsibility and laugh in the face of our inevitable accountability.

English: The Flammarion engraving is a wood en...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

And we do the latter in everything we do in this scientific age. The art work in this post, Flammarion (Photo credit: Wikipedia), shows a medieval missionary delving into heaven through the firmament to see the workings of God. I think that our sciences expand the firmament to the extent that we shut out the possibility that the immaterial has place in our thoughts and contemplations. This “expansion” is seen not merely in our astrophysics but in our neuroscience and in all the other scientific disciplines. This is a mistake.

Calvin, in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, says:

With regard to inanimate objects again we must hold that though each is possessed of its peculiar properties, yet all of them exert their force only in so far as directed by the immediate hand of God. Hence they are merely instruments, into which God constantly infuses what energy he sees meet, and turns and converts to any purpose at his pleasure. No created object makes a more wonderful or glorious display than the sun. …No pious man, therefore, will make the sun either the necessary or principal cause of those things which existed before the creation of the sun, but only the instrument which God employs, because he so pleases; though he can lay it aside, and act equally well by himself: Again, when we read, that at the prayer of Joshua the sun was stayed in its course; that as a favor to Hezekiah, its shadow receded ten degrees; by these miracles God declared that the sun does not daily rise and set by a blind instinct of nature, but is governed by Him in its course, that he may renew the remembrance of his paternal favor toward us…

So, our Principle of Least Action, applied to quantum fields (if they turn out to be fields, except in approximation, as a result of the coming paradigm shift), is falsified by these “superstitious beliefs” put forth by scripture and exposited by John Calvin. Our entire mode of living, apart from reverential awe due to God, is falsified. Call scripture superstition if you must, but God is simply accommodating our finiteness as he calls us to into account before it’s too late for you or for me.

Patriot Day

As an expat New Yorker, I have to say something to commemorate this day. I no longer have family ties to the city; but I just learned that a faithful friend has taken a job with the City in emergency communications. His role is vital and he’s doing something for the City that was lacking in 2001.

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: View of the World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty. (Image: US National Park Service ) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can still hear the firemen’s communications that day (we’ve all heard the tapes). How heroic they all were. Because of those firemen’s efforts, relatively few people perished in the Tower collapses. However, as with all the crises ongoing around the world today, a few is too many.

Will we let this tragedy fade into our collective memory of wars past (and this was war)? I’m afraid the answer is yes. Our country is too good at letting its memories fade. Distracted by the latest gadget or game, movie or spectacle, we neglect the important things.

What important things do we neglect? Things like judging each other by the content of our characters and not by the color of our skin (or any other wrong distinctions). Or is our country saying that Malcolm, Martin, and Medgar died in vain? Character takes the right stuff. Stuff we don’t seem to have any more.

We are all broken in some way. Some count just seven: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Some cite the Ten Commandments. However, God said: “…Whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

If everything we do is suspect, then we need a Savior that is greater than we are to save us from our neglectfulness, lack of character, and brokenness. We need Him to build in us heroic character or else we perish.

Inflammation – Tomarick Fescidia

We Can Do It poster for Westinghouse, closely ...We used to be people who fulfilled our needs before our wants. We valued those things necessary for life. We saved for things we’d like to have if we were able. Sometimes we provided for needs to the exclusion of our wants so we’d have enough to share with others. Now we can’t wait to put on credit the newest electronics we saw unboxed online. We hold down multiple jobs to “sacrifice” for what we think we want. All the while, our families, relationships, and community fall by the wayside.

We used to live in places that had stories to tell. We valued the historical diversity of our nation. Now we all go down for our morning pick–me–up to the local franchise, offering the same experience in every city and town across the nation. We shop when we’re anxious, burn with passion for the latest trends, and forsake human companionship for electronic simulations of various forms and intensities.

When did we give up our culture? How did we become a consumer society? Why have we given ourselves over to our invisible overlords? To those who, however ineffectively, pull the strings which control our collective thoughts and actions. To them, it turns out, we, the American public, had a problem in need of a solution. What was our problem? Instability.

The solution was the active use of propaganda to direct the American collective unconscious towards social stability. You may remember, propaganda is the use of psychological manipulation or coercion to influence opinions and actions of individuals and groups toward stated or unstated goals. This was their chosen method to engineer the “consent of the governed.” Not the means that our founders intended when they penned those words, I’m afraid.

Propaganda in the twentieth century proved effective to promote democracy during World War I and the Final Solution during World War II. The same techniques were effective in regimenting and controlling the American public. Plans were instituted without many of us being aware of their influence. And there was money to be made for those who caught on. Lots of money.

Consent engineers, also known as public relations specialists, maintained that we Americans inherently distorted any information we took in. We made up our minds before we gathered and analyzed the relevant facts. We operated with partial facts corrupted by our preconceived prejudices and were unable to reach sound conclusions. Because of this situation, we were deemed incompetent to direct the public affairs of our democracy. An elite would rule the nation.

The specialists envisioned a utopia where individuals’ otherwise unconscious instinctual biological urges were controlled and directed by the elite to the service of some purposeful goal. Over the centuries, some societies built pyramids, some constructed hanging gardens, and many tried to rule the world. In our nation’s case, the goal was economic prosperity. The elites, which the specialists served, happened to own the means of mass production and directed the irrational desires of citizens to consume their wares. This had the simultaneous effect of satisfying the biological forces that might tear society apart.

By directing our own desires, the elites built a stable society. Citizens could work off their frustrations by spending on self-gratifying goods and services. These goods and services represented a common identity to which citizens were to adapt their self-images. Each citizen would acquire from what they consumed a sense of self, purpose, and history reflecting current attitudes and social patterns. The society and environment at large would also take on this immediacy and impermanence. No longer would we inherit our self–images or environs from previous generations.

Conscious and intelligent control was deemed important for democracy. Those who performed this duty were the real rulers who directed of the country. They used media tools to manipulate an unsuspecting public. The press release informed readers of the ‘news’ about events, products, or attitudes to adopt. Leaders were used, with or without their agreement, to sway those who followed them. Polling, focus groups, or other “democratic” means were employed to shape opinion rather than just measure it. Events, or better, spectacles, were created that purported to inform or celebrate when what was intended was to influence acceptance of new concepts and perceptions by the unconscious minds of many.

But weren’t they really tapping into humans’ ancient underlying motives. The scriptures say that the fear of death brings lifelong slavery. It was really this fear into which modern propaganda taps. Do I need to explain the concept of “duck and cover?”

They thought scientific manipulation of public opinion was necessary to overcome chaos and conflict in society. However, they knew that public relations propaganda could be used to subvert democracy as easily as it could be used to resolve conflict. It is in use to this day and we find ourselves at a crossroads.

None of this is new. It has been happening for millennia. All I did was gather the information in one place for you to read. I urge you to decouple from the hype, search your conscience and a Bible, if you’ve got one, and make changes starting with yourself first. Skip the hearty breakfast and don’t go shopping! Instead, find a church to participate in that reveres Christ, our only savior from our bodies of death. And let the love of Christ rule your reason and passions. Maybe we can still recover the life and community we’ve surely lost, before it’s too late.

Every Good Story – Thysdor Ya’Rosel

Dorothy L. Sayers offered a very interesting hypothesis in an essay she wrote long ago. It goes something like this.

Description: Front side (obverse) of one of th...

Nobel Prize Medal (Wikipedia)

Every story has a beginning, middle, and end. If the author is a good one then the story fits within a self-consistent world. Each character and setting has a backstory that supports the plot. Characters are born, are shaped by childhood experiences, become educated or not, and venture out into the world where we meet them. The settings that the characters inhabit have histories and origins. Someone had to dig the foundations, build the walls and pave the roads. These beginnings are often untold but are clearly important and materially affect the story.

Although also untold, the characters have futures. Some could rise to great heights while others come to ignoble ends. The settings might tumble to ruin or rise to new grandeur. They might be swept up by titanic forces of destruction or innovation or remain just as the author portrayed them in the story. Ultimately, the backstory influences and carries the story as if it already happened or will happen in the future.

A good author desires that we enter into and identify with the story and characters. The author starts their story as late as possible in the action to enhance the story’s drama. They prevent unnecessary author intrusion by introducing materials through view-point characters. They craft clear transitions from scene to scene and chapter to chapter to enhance the story’s momentum. All these techniques aid our understanding and appreciation of the author’s story.

Classical analysis suggests the story must follow a narrative arc where the main character, or protagonist, comes to understand their goal and the penalty for not attaining it. The protagonist then struggles to attain the goal while overcoming obstacles. He or she makes a key decision or performs a heroic act to ultimately realize the goal or fail tragically, sometimes in opposition to a key adversary. Next, the protagonist uses the results of the decision or act to progress toward the goal while contending against adversaries or unfavorable circumstances. Finally, the protagonist confronts the adversary and either wins or loses bringing about resulting consequences.


With this background, what if a perfect Author existed with a completely consistent imagination? An Author, unlike human ones of limited capability, who was able to bring forth Their story with substance and overwhelming power. Suppose They decided to create an immense and ancient universe with a comprehensive history. Within that universe, they formed our Earth. And in, on and around it, They placed all that we have or will ever find: minerals, gems, fossils, fuels, animals, water, air and such. And They did all this so that everything created pointed to the Author’s eternal power and divine nature. No mere cosmos written on paper but in reality.

What if They decided to skip ahead for drama’s sake and populated the Earth with us — actually, just with our original parents — and gave them one rule to obey in a garden they would tend. Suppose They provided our parents with an adversary who hated their very existence and wanted them to disobey that rule?

Having planned the outcome, the Author provided means for our parents to be restored once they failed, yet outside their former relationship – separated from the Author – experiencing death even while they lived. Why would the Author have done all this to have it end in tragedy? Perhaps the Author had a greater plan in mind.

Our first parents offspring did amazing things, some good and some desperately evil. The adversary ruled through death and each generation died one by one when their time was up. After a cataclysmic flood wiped the Earth clean, eight souls repopulated it. Later, one man, although past his prime and as good as dead, believed the Author’s word that in his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

Later still, the Author established a people from that one man to represent Themselves to the world. These people received laws and ordinances which set them apart from all other nations. Failure to obey these laws meant certain death. The people failed to see that the laws were impossible to keep apart from the kind of trust in the Author that their ancestor had shown. They rejected call after call from the Author’s representatives to trust and obey the Author.

After the Author’s people rejected all the representatives who had come before, the Author sent the Son in the world as one of them. The Author always planned on entering directly into the story when the time was right. The Son perfectly obeyed the laws given to Their people and thereby deserved life and not death. However, the Son took the evil of those who were His upon Himself in a death perpetrated by that hateful adversary from the garden long ago.

Having overcome death through an indestructible life, the Author created a new people. At first, They drew from the original people. But soon, They called out new ones throughout the world. All of these followed the Author through the Author’s written words and the Author’s Spirit. The adversary, knowing his time was limited, raised up opposition to the new people and sought to lead them astray. Perhaps the adversary could still win?

However, the Author has given Their people aid against their adversaries. And They enter once more at the end of this story to rescue Their people, mete out justice to the opposition and vanquish the adversary. Finally, the Author promises sequels filled with peace and rest for those who trusted and obeyed and filled with never-ending torment to those who opposed.


The scientific among us would declare this position is unfalsifiable. Some call it the ‘Last Thursday’ hypothesis as if that terminology were derisive. However, one of their own declared a theory is only unfalsifiable to those without the imagination to figure out how to do so. I would claim you are undertaking the test at this very moment and its conclusion awaits only your demise. Then you will know the outcome. Then, of course, it will be too late to change your bet. The die would be cast and the case closed. No study grant or Nobel Prize for you.


Maybe, on the other hand, you realize that you are part of the Author’s story. It is happening all around and in you this very moment. Now that you know the Author’s ending, what will you decide to do? Every good story has a beginning, middle, and end. How will yours end?

Nothing to See Here – Pearl Thanes

I conspired once with my son to cover-up an incident. I broke a treasured ship-in-a-bottle that my husband constructed as a gift to me for our fifteenth wedding anniversary. We blamed it on the dog, for years. My husband never much liked the dog after that. Poor dog died without knowing why he was on the outs. Sorry, hon, I should have told you; it was a good dog.

English: President of the United States Richar...

Nixon was purported to have said that without Martha Mitchell there wouldn’t even have been a Watergate scandal. Almost foolish in its goals: securing information from the Democratic National Committee in the effort to reelect the president; these events brought Nixon down. Conspiracy turned to cover-up and scandal. If no one spoke up, it would be a conspiracy today.

Many things go on every day in the world. Most of it results in nothing. Some leads to tragedy or triumph. These consequential events cause a few to wonder what lies behind the veil. Is there a secret cabal ruling the world, did someone stand to gain, or was it all planned to the last detail?

Why do we ascribe bad motives and devious planning to others? Well, first, we don’t know what they intended and we hate not knowing. And second, we know what we might do in their place and it is usually not good. We violate the golden rule in thought and deed.

Professor Emeritus M. Barkun says conspiracies can be grouped as: event, systemic, or super conspiracy. A mysterious assassination is an example of an event conspiracy. Infiltration of a group with broad goals into an organization is a systemic conspiracy. And multiple event and  systemic conspiracies linked in complex, hierarchical ways extending over time and distance is a super conspiracy.

Job, an Old Testament poet, was subjected to a conspiracy of sorts. God sought to prove Job’s goodness to the adversary, Satan. God allowed the adversary to destroy all but Job’s life and his wife. We witness the transactions in heaven, but Job doesn’t.

To him, his entire calamity seems without justice. If only he could argue his case. If only a mediator would step in between God and man to reconcile them. He knows his redeemer lives and that he will see Him in the flesh after his death. And Job displays this confidence without having beheld God at any time.

After God reveals Himself in the whirlwind, Job retracts his charge of God’s injustice and repents in dust and ashes. God thereby proves His claim about Job to the adversary through Job’s faithful obedience and repentance from sin.

It is never clear if Job finds out why he was tested. To him, it was a trial for endurance. And, yet, we are told that unseen powers and principalities were contending for his downfall and their supremacy over him and God.

Job’s trial presages another trial that happened at a more opportune time, the very fullness of time. Many kingdoms rose and fell through conspiracy and intrigue in the intervening period. These came to bitter ends; unremembered, except through equivocal stone monuments to greatness and squalor. All that is now hidden will be revealed at the Judgment throne. Dead men will tell tales. At that time, will you be like Job or his adversary?

People Are Human – Richard Grinnell

People are human, a fact which we may forget in the course of doing our jobs. Obviously, we expect the person with antisocial personality disorder to forget this fact in the course of doing her job. But this omission is also perpetrated every day by many knowledge workers, service providers, and even manufacturing laborers. People are not to be fixed (or destroyed), plied, maligned, underestimated, or any of a myriad of things. They are to be given dignity and sought after by digging (figuratively) beneath the surface. Dale Carnegie advocated this very position.

We dig below the surface to find out who they are, what they want, and how we can help them get it. Sounds like a marketing ploy, doesn’t it. Well, it doesn’t have to be. Asking caring, discerning questions of someone shows we care about them. Following up at a later date shows we value them as a person. Helping them meet deep-seated needs shows them they are meaningful participants in our community. Our ends come too quickly to neglect this obligation. For many in the US, we live an average of only 28,600 days plus or minus 950 days from start to finish. We try and fail to prolong it much beyond 43,830 days.

What happens after a rain when you dig in a garden, in your lawn or at a playground? You bring up mud and maybe things a lot worse. There are a few persons in every circumstance who are not safe with which to interact. Turn these in to the authorities, if possible. If not, flee them. There are some others who will cling to the attention giver. These must be told that they are responsible for their own wellbeing and that no one person on earth can fill their need. You must maintain boundaries for their good and your own. The majority will want to be known and will appreciate the attention and care. To the contrary of the exceptions, the majority may not reciprocate the gesture seeing no need to do so towards you.

Life is the one opportunity we have to make a positive difference both in our own lives and that of others. Are we taught to be indifferent, to objectify others, or to hold others at arm’s length even while we might provide care, service, or labor? Yes and no. We are afraid to get hurt so we say it doesn’t matter. We face so many needs in a day, perhaps life and death ones, that we disassociate the needy from their humanity so we can cope without our total emotional collapse. Perhaps we recognize the need and seek to serve it so far but no further. We definitely train ourselves in these behaviors through repeated practice.

However, and more fundamentally, we can change our behaviors and feelings of authenticity will follow. This requires us to exert our wills, knowing what must be changed in our behavior and doing it. Through practice it will ‘take’. Get up from failure and try again. This is the way we’ve been made.

You may not accept it but we were made by a righteous Maker who expects perfectly right behavior. He went so far to free us from the ties that bind us to wrong behavior that he paid the penalty for our actions. The cost to Him was the death of His Son as a substitution for our own so that we might live. His Son’s death was payment for an infinite debt each of us owes to a just God. He will attribute the merit due His Son to us if only we surrender to Him from our hearts.

Mean Ends – Luxe Hso-Dualy

Paraphrasing Aldous Huxley, let’s be clear, most of us are ignorant of certain, uncomfortable concepts because we choose not to inquire of them. In this age, when information exudes from every surface, we consciously reject it.

Like Huxley, if it suits our desires then we proclaim that the world has no meaning. Because we decide this, we strip our adversaries of reasonable ways to refute our premise. This position gives us license to do what we want without opposition. We use the levers of power we have available to make our choices rule the world.

So long as we can do whatever it is that we want in the here and now, what do we care for the consequences to others or ourselves in some supernatural eternity? We declare there is no eternity and it must be so.

We are gods and nothing will be impossible for us to do.