Update

Sick like miserable dog. I’m on the margins of rational thought, and afraid that blogging this week will expose just what a moron I am when I have a fever.

See you next week.

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We Fear Too Much.

Before this one gets me exiled from your circle, I ask simply that you read the whole thing (it’s short) before rendering judgement.

Since the beginning of recorded time there has been an implicit threat that God is coming to judge us. I agree. He is coming, and He’s disappointed and angry. No doubt. He sent His Son to atone for our terrible behavior, and we turned around and held a party that night.

What we have also been doing, since the beginning of time, is pointing fingers and saying that this is the most evil time in history. “We are all skirting the edges of Hell every moment, and without a doubt the person in charge of our society is a huge example of the wickedness that envelops all of us.” Thus sayeth the prophets since time immemorial.

It is also, judging by popular culture, the most difficult time in history to be elderly, a teenager, a dog, or you name it.

Hogwash. Utter Hogwash in my opinion.

I will agree that we’re doing some terrible things as a species. Probably the worst of all is abortion. We kill millions of humans around the world each year because they are inconvenient. We create them in a moment of lust (99% of them anyway) and then dispose of them like trash because we are too short-sighted to plan properly. Planned Parenthood, indeed. How about “Convenient Murder” as an alternative, and more accurate, name?

But I digress. Travelling back through history we’ve had some real bad things. The Holocaust, slavery, genocide, The Hanson Brothers. Each generation has had some awful atrocity associated with their time on earth, whether it be Jonestown, Rwanda, or Pol Pot.

Popular culture has been decrying teenage angst since the first motion pictures. Gene Pitney famously said … well, you don’t want another Gene Pitney lecture, but his lyrics talked an awful lot about how badly teenagers were treated by the world.

None of this is new. It isn’t because Donald Trump is president. It isn’t because Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. It isn’t for any of the reasons your self-centered mind says are the cause of the world’s misery. (Well, Pelosi is suspect…)

It is simply because we’ve all fallen short in the eyes of God. (Romans 3:23). Go take a read of that book. People were cheating on each other and killing rivals for girls way back then. I mean, we never change, do we?

So lay off the “we’re all going to die” if we don’t defeat a politician at the ballot box. Lay off the rhetoric about how evil the opposition is – no matter your side. Let’s try to solve some problems and talk to each other instead.

Trust me: nobody knows the time nor the date. But we should be getting ready, and pointing fingers and screaming hasn’t done much so far ,has it?

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NEW BOOK IS OUT!

My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page.

Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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A Rather Large Bucket Of Lemonade

I’m quite sure all of you have heard the expression “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” It’s trite, and usually just the opposite of what we do with the bitter taste of defeat, the acid of anger, or the puckered mouth of distaste.

Instead, most of us bitch and moan for a while and then move on to the next thing in our struggle through life. Some grab on to that lemon and squeeze it for all of their days, the mist from the exploding fruit blinding them and choking their life out with the molecules thrown in the air each time they pound on the table and smash the fruit even harder.

A rare few actually look at the pile of lemons in front of them, find a pitcher and some sugar, and get to work making a beverage that will restore the balance in some lives, provide a needed drink in the desert of anger and sadness, and put their hands to the work that God has set before them.

One such man is my friend Clarence D. Castile.

A couple of years ago, on a hot summer night, his nephew was shot to death during a traffic stop by local police. Philando Castile was, by all accounts, a personable young man who was a giving person. I had never met him. Nor did I know the police officer who did the shooting. The point of this post is not to revisit the facts of the case, for a jury has already ruled.

What can be said with certainty is that a horrible event took place that night, and a number of lives were altered with the stain of blood. A community erupted in anger and outrage, and things were mighty tense in my hometown for a couple of months. The tension flared again as the trial of the police officer was held, and threatened to explode when the verdict of not guilty was returned.

I can’t say I knew Clarence at that time. We met the following year when I was teaching a class on writing at my church. Clarence is also a member of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, and the class was designed to help people explore their writing life.

During the class we got to know each other a little bit, and in the weeks following that morning we got together to talk about things and scarf some serious breakfast food. I was surprised to learn that Clarence, a guy my age, had applied to the Saint Paul Police Reserve, and was undergoing the training.

His goal? To find out what cops were taught, and see if he could make things better for all involved. He wanted to develop training for both police and civilians to help in the relationship issues that threatened to tear our city apart.

Over the past year, he has been a member of the Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) board for the state of Minnesota. He has become a reserve officer with all the excitement that offers. (He got to guard a rockslide at one point. But that’s what reserves sometimes do!)

More importantly, he stepped up to the plate and brought about a community forum this last week, aimed at informing the public of what is going on with law enforcement, how they are struggling in their own ways, and how to successfully handle a traffic stop so that you get to go home, and not to the hospital or jail – or morgue.

You see, Clarence has taken that gigantic pile of lemons that were dumped on him when Philando died and made lemonade. He’s offering it to anyone who would like to quench their thirst for justice and transparency. He’s following the way of a peacemaker by doing this great service.

The forum was excellent. It was something that the local public television station filmed, and I sincerely look forward to it airing in the future. Most of all, I know Clarence is hoping that his hard work might save an innocent life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a black life, a blue life, or any other color: we are all God’s children and that’s how he’s judging the line for lemonade.

I’m proud to call him my friend. And when Black History month rolls around down the road, I suspect Clarence D. Castile will be a person young people read about and admire. For he is truly a good man.

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NEW BOOK IS OUT!

My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page.

Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

Posted in law enforcement, Love, Sincere Stuff, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Black History Month Is For Henry

Anyone that reads this blog regularly knows that I’m not big on hyphenated Americanism. I truly feel that you’re an American unless you’re previously from somewhere else, and have recently gained your citizenship. After some reasonable period, say five years, you should (in my opinion) just shift to being an American.

My identity is just that: American. There’s some Minnesotan, and some Saint Paul in that mix, even, perhaps, some neighborhood loyalty. But it is as an American that I frame my reference to the world.

The exception to that is Black History Month.

I’ve felt, since I first gave it any deep thought, that since whites wrote most of the history books, blacks got short shrift on the ink volume. A number of great accomplishments were either overlooked, or attributed to a white person in error. (Sometimes a malicious act, sometimes not.) But as time went by, it seemed that many of these injustices were being corrected and the histories were reflecting the actual accomplishments of black and white people without regard to color, but by dint of historical fact.

Settled, right? It was until one dinner this past year.

I have been blessed to have a new and great friend in my church. His name is Henry, and if I know him at all, I think he’d be a bit reluctant to see his name in print here today. But this great man of God, and impeccable character, is responsible for the shift in my perception.

What happened at dinner? We were talking about our teen years, and found out that we both participated in public speaking programs in high school. Henry is 10 years older than I am. That means he grew up in Jim Crow Dixie, and I grew up in Minnesota. He graduated from high school when water fountains were still marked by race. I graduated following the tumult of the Civil Rights movement, and had never seen such a thing.

Henry told me about a speech competition where he had a strong competitor. A white kid. They were both very good, but Henry was better. Enough so that after a couple of rounds to break the ties, it was clear that he should advance to the next round. But that didn’t happen. You see, no black kid could beat a white kid in this intellectual pursuit and move on toward the trophy for the state competition. So the white kid moved on, and Henry did not.

Most stories like that are self-serving crap. This one was not. It was conveyed with a sense of joy at the struggle, and a sense of wistful sadness at the inevitable (in 1967 Alabama) result. Henry didn’t dwell on it, we moved on to the next topic and had an excellent meal.

The meal, and the story, changed my outlook. What if instead of Black History Month being perceived of as an alternative history, it instead became an emphasis of lost history, lost opportunities, and lost dreams? The kinds of things that Henry could have brought to the world in a better time, with a fair set of rules for everyone.

Let’s make it just that: an opportunity to explore the rich parts of people, and history, that were subdued and cheated because of racism. The sparkling genius of a young man that was kept under a blanket so as not to upset the apple cart. Celebrate the light that God imbued in each of us, and is equally as brilliant in a white or black set of skin.

Henry did well in life. He’s a respected, educated, successful man. But what if Henry had been afforded his dues in life at age 17/18? Might he not be sitting in the White House? A captain of industry?

I am blessed to know Henry. I blessed to count him as my friend. And if I could travel back in time and change the judge’s decision that day I would. But since I can’t travel time, I will take today to honor my friend and his accomplishments. Realized and dreamed of both.

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NEW BOOK IS OUT!

My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page.

Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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Minnesota Is A Winter Wonderland For Dolts

Og, one of the prehistoric inhabitants of the area that would become Minnesota turned to his wife one day and said, “It is cold. I never would have expected this when the days have grown so short.”

Og’s wife, Julie, said, “For the sake of your fat head, Og, it’s like this every year. You have been here many years, cold is followed by cool, then hot, then cool, and then cold again. EVERY year you babble about the unexpected weather. Go back to skinning your bear and leave me alone.”

This may, or may not have actually happened. But Og is alive and well in modern Minnesota.

I present as my evidence the fact that people “don’t expect a winter this bad” when it hits.

I have been around this neighborhood for over 90% of my life. Yet each year I am forced to deal with millions of others who appear to have slicked their memory banks from the previous year.

On Friday it zoomed down to -6 Fahrenheit during the day. I was ready for up to 20 minutes of exposure to the cold with multiple layers. That would allow me to exit the house/workplace when the bus-tracking software showed him 10 minutes out, and leave me some margin. I did not expect that the Metropolitan Transit Commission would fail to get a bus there in a 50 minute period. Yes, not 10, 20, or even 30 minutes, but 50 minutes between buses. My little toes got cold to the point of numb, and I started to shiver as I stood there, the big dummy I am, in the darkness waiting for my ride home. 4 other buses on the nearest route went by during that time. When I contacted the bus company, they said, “Oh. He’s not reporting any data. That’s not good.”

Seriously? You have two missing buses out there in sub-zero cold and you’re not aware of it? Nobody called in and said, “Hey, Mikey, I’m broken down on the east side. Send help.” Two of them off the radar and … well, I guess the MTC doesn’t plan on winter being an issue.

The same lack of preparedness goes for a lot of hipster types I see downtown. No hat, no heavy coat, no gloves. They dash from their office to the bus when it pulls up and board without the encumbering Carhartt coat. The’d best hope they aren’t on the bus that fails on my route.

Once the bus got me a few blocks from home, I had to navigate the ice-packed sidewalks on the way to my house. I am, admittedly, more than a bit OCD regarding winter preparations: I go to Menards in August and get my salt limit up to 20 bags. 10 on the front porch, 10 in the garage. This year I had 24 bags ready to go, and three 5 gallon pails that were already set to go! Consequently, I’m not very sympathetic when the “surprise” ice storm hits, and people say, “Well, they were out of salt at the store.”

Here’s a newsflash: the stuff keeps literally forever. A couple of the bags at the bottom of the pile are probably 10 years old.

Almost enough salt to make it through a Minnesota winter. This is my personal pile.

This wouldn’t be a huge deal if it wasn’t every year that the same mopes didn’t shovel/salt their sidewalk. This year, in some kind of bonus round to accompany the extreme cold, several downtown buildings (worth hundreds of millions of dollars) have failed to shovel their sidewalks/pedestrian plazas, and completely neglected the application of salt. Consequently, you are taking your life in your hands walking around the capitol city of Minnesota.

I do have a solution: appoint me the Czar of winter in Minnesota. In order for you to get your tax refund, or occupancy certificate, I must be satisfied that you have a good hat for your head, a decent shovel/snowblower (those broom things that just push the snow into the street will be outlawed), and 40 pounds of salt for every 50 square feet of sidewalk/steps. That should cover you for the full year.

In addition, as Czar, if you wish to drive between September and June, you must have new wipers, a battery that tests properly, tread on your tires, cold weather washer fluid in the tank, and 1/4 of a tank of gas at all times. You are also prohibited from operating your vehicle until the snow is removed from all windows, the hood, and the roof of your car.

Failure to comply will result in your car being crushed while you watch. With your groceries inside.

See, all this prep stuff I do each year is easy as can be. I can be very helpful if you’ll just let me.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on my long underwear and stocking cap: I’ve got a formal banquet to attend tonight.

*********************** *********************** ************************ ************************ **************************
NEW BOOK IS OUT!

My second novel, Nicholas of Haiti, is now available. Go fetch your credit card for the Kindle, print, and audio book versions. This is not a sequel to Assault on Saint Agnes, but a unique book in the speculative Christian fiction world.

Audio book cover on the left, Kindle cover on the right.

Please follow me on Twitter, and “Like” the Facebook author page.

Don’t forget to subscribe (the box is on the right side of the page) to be eligible for free e-books and other benefits! Oh yeah – grab a copy of Assault on Saint Agnes if you’re of a mind.

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