Fundraising help is needed

I generally try to separate my personal and writing lives on here, but life makes for interesting things. I have a need to raise funds to repair my vehicle, and I’m disabled. There’s other things, too, but please look at this link.

https://www.gofundme.com/disability-need-for-truck-repairs

I love to write, but frankly with chronic pain it is not easily done. Please share that link.

Thank you, my beloved fans.

My thoughts on the IG Report

My thoughts on the IG Report. Very long.

I finally got through the IG Report on the email investigation. I have some thoughts. As always, I am aware that there’s going to be people who disagree with me – that’s life. If there are comments to be made, please be respectful and thoughtful in your commentary.

So, yeah, I read all 568 pages, and boy was it dry sometimes. It’s a government document, so….

There was a good deal of repetition with calls to various chapters and footnotes to clarify this or that. I will be pulling out direct quotes from that document with my thoughts. I will not be editing what I pull out, for any reason. Some of the quotes have pretty salty language, so be advised and read accordingly.

First impressions:

Comey came off as disingenuous to me. I think that word came to me because I simply cannot, for the life of me, think of a person with that much intelligence could act with such ignorance.

Various ones in the Midyear investigation seem indecisive. Whether that comes from trying to cover legal bases or cover their asses, I don’t know.

Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, the unnamed FBI Agent 1 and FBI Agent 5, and the unnamed FBI Attorney 2. The actions of those five are disturbing – if only because if I were to be the subject of an FBI investigation, I would be wondering now just how impartial those in the the agency would be.

About the infamous Tarmac Meeting, all I’ll say is that Bill Clinton should have quit running his mouth and not stayed so long. That created an improper appearance which did not help the situation at all.

Hillary Clinton’s email server revelations – how in the world can someone in government service not want to ensure that sensitive information is secured at every point of transmission? I’m thinking about the concept of “chain-of-custody” in evidence gathering. If the evidence is unaccounted for at any point, it’s tainted, and unusable in court cases. I’m not saying that all the emails are evidence, but government needs to be accountable at all times. Frankly, I can’t help but wonder if this allowed for unaccountability.

Also, it seemed to me from reading this that there was a certain amount of foot-dragging going on, followed by the “all hands on deck” work near the end of the investigation. I know there’s a lot of bureaucracy in government, but if the “all hands” work could have been done with remarkable speed, then why so slow before?

Anthony Weiner was a weiner, and I don’t mean his last name.

Other stuff:

Thoughts on Strzok/Page comms:

” August 8, 2016: In a text message on August 8, 2016, Page stated,
“[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok responded,
“No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” “

I’m going to just get this one out of the way first. The “We’ll stop it” reply is disquieting. It makes me wonder if the ‘we’ referred to people in the government that looks for ways to negate the free votes of American citizens. And don’t start in on me with nattering about conspiracy theories or arguments about the electoral college. There’s been enough of that, and I really don’t want to see it here.

My thing here is the expectation that people involved in an investigation is going to be impartial – no matter their personal thoughts on the matter at hand. They were using FBI-provided devices to do this, too, so there’s no expectation of privacy.

There was a bunch of other things on those FBI-provided devices. Personal devices, sure, have at it. But work phones? There’s just too many exchances to get into for this post. I’m just disappointed.

Chapter 12, starting on page 395. You can read it for yourself. This Strzok fellow was put in charge of the Russia investigation at some point, and again, I really don’t see how you could send things like that and actually be impartial. How are you going to actually justify your actions against your work?

Thoughts on FBI Agent 1 and FBI Agent 5.

It was revealed that during the Midyear investigation, these two were romantically linked and later wed. I don’t really have a problem with that, but it was probably best that this fact be acknowledged in the report.

As for the messaging, the same thing as with Strzok/Page and use of FBI-provided devices.

” After the letter was sent by the FBI to Congress on October 28, Agent 1 sent a series of instant messages to other FBI employees about the reactivation of the Midyear investigation.

Beginning at 1:46 p.m., Agent 1 exchanged the following messages with Agent 5. The sender of each message is identified after the timestamp.

1:46 p.m., Agent 5: “jesus christ… Trump: Glad FBI is fixing ‘horrible mistake’ on clinton emails… for fuck’s sake.”

1:47 p.m., Agent 5: “the fuck’s sake part was me, the rest was Trump.”

1:49 p.m., Agent 1: “Not sure if Trump or the fifth floor is worse…”

1:49 p.m., Agent 5: “I’m so sick of both…”

1:50 p.m., Agent 5: “+o( TRUMP”

1:50 p.m., Agent 5: “+o( Fifth floor”

1:50 p.m., Agent 5: “+o( FBI”

1:50 p.m., Agent 5: “+o( Average American public”

We asked both Agent 1 and Agent 5 about these messages. Agent 1 and Agent 5 both stated the reference to “fifth floor” referred to the location of the FBI WFO’s itCounterintelligence Division. Agent 1 continued, “Again, you know, I think a general, general theme in a lot of this is some personal comment, or, you know, complaining about common topics and leadership and, and venting.” Agent 5 also described this as general complaining to Agent 1 and also as an example of her being “very tired of working” these types of cases. “

Again, you can look at the PDF file – do searches for “Agent 1” and “Agent 5.” I don’t know if these agents were approaching burn-out, like I did in retail, or what, but there’s distinct animus toward Trump and certain parts of their employer.

While it’s on my mind, the +o( emoticon is for “sick face.”

Thoughts on FBI Attorney 2:

” The second exchange we identified occurred on November 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election. FBI Attorney 2 and another FBI employee who was not involved in the Midyear investigation exchanged the following instant messages. Note that the sender of the instant message is identified after the timestamp and intervening messages that did not contribute to the understanding of this exchange are not included.

09:38:14, FBI Attorney 2: “I am numb.”

09:55:35, FBI Employee: “I can’t stop crying.”

10:00:13, FBI Attorney 2: “That makes me even more sad.”

10:43:20, FBI Employee: “Like, what happened?”

10:43:37, FBI Employee: “You promised me this wouldn’t happen. YOU PROMISED.”

10:43:43, FBI Employee: Okay, that might have been a lie…”

10:43:46, FBI Employee: “I’m very upset.”

10:43:47, FBI Employee: “haha”

10:51:48, FBI Attorney 2: “I am so stressed about what I could have done differently.”

10:54:29, FBI Employee: “Don’t stress. None of that mattered.”

10:54:31, FBI Employee: “The FBI’s influence.”

10:59:36, FBI Attorney 2: “I don’t know. We broke the momentum.”

11:00:03, FBI Employee: “That is not so.”

11:02:22, FBI Employee: “All the people who were initially voting for her would not, and were not, swayed by any decision the FBI put out. Trump’s supporters are all poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy POS that think he will magically grant them jobs for doing nothing. They probably didn’t watch the debates, aren’t fully educated on his policies, and are stupidly wrapped up in his unmerited enthusiasm.”

11:11:43, FBI Attorney 2: “I’m just devastated. I can’t wait until I can leave today and just shut off the world for the next four days.”

11:12:06, FBI Employee: “Why are you devastated?”

11:12:18, FBI Employee: “Yes, I’m not watching tv for four years.”

11:14:16, FBI Attorney 2: “I just can’t imagine the systematic disassembly of the progress we made over the last 8 years. ACA is gone. Who knows if the rhetoric about deporting people, walls, and crap is true. I honestly feel like there is going to be a lot more gun issues, too, the crazies won finally. This is the tea party on steroids. And the GOP is going to be lost, they have to deal with an incumbent in 4 years. We have to fight this again. Also Pence is stupid.”

11:14:58, FBI Employee: “Yes that’s all true.”

11:15:01, FBI Attorney 2: “And it’s just hard not to feel like the FBI caused some of this. It was razor thin in some states.”

11:15:09, FBI Employee: “Yes it was very thin.”

11:15:23, FBI Attorney 2: “Plus, my god damned name is all over the legal documents investigating his staff.”

11:15:24, FBI Employee: “But no I absolutely do not believe the FBI had any part.”

11:15:33, FBI Attorney 2: “So, who knows if that breaks to him what he is going to do.”

On this one, while they have the right to their opinions, and free speech, I think this exchange was captured on the FBI’s Lync system, and therefore government property. After the election, Trump is their ultimate boss. Complaining about the boss is nothing new, but this is more than complaints. Remember the Strzok “We’ll stop it” bit? “YOU PROMISED” makes me wonder about that again. The report goes on to say that the agent told the interviewers that this was “just the way we conversed,” but frankly I’m doubtful. Either you’re serious about a serious subject, or you’re too flippant about it. If flippant, then maybe you shouldn’t have been there, and if serious, then that’s another disturbing thing.

On July 6, 2016, the day after Comey’s Midyear declination announcement, Agent 1 and an FBI employee not involved with Midyear exchanged messages about the investigation. During the course of this discussion, Agent 1 described the prior weekend’s activities, which included the interview of Clinton. A portion of this instant message exchange follows. The sender of each message is noted after the timestamp.

15:07:41, Agent 1: “…I’m done interviewing the President – then type the 302. 18 hour day….”

15:13:32, FBI Employee: “you interviewed the president?”

15:17:09, Agent 1: “you know – HRC” [Hillary Rodham Clinton]

15:17:18, Agent 1: “future pres”

15:17:22, Agent 1: “Trump cant win”

15:17:31, Agent 1: “demographics dont line up”

15:17:37, Agent 1: “America has changed”

Maybe it’s me, but I can’t see myself making references like that. I thought there was only one president at a time.

On August 29, 2016, Agent 1 and Agent 5 exchanged the following instant messages as part of a discussion about their jobs. The sender of each message is noted after the timestamp.

10:39:49, Agent 1: “I find anyone who enjoys [this job] an absolute fucking idiot. If you dont think so, ask them one more question. Who are you voting for? I guarantee you it will be Donald Drumpf.”

10:40:13, Agent 5: “i forgot about drumpf…”

10:40:27, Agent 5: “that’s so sad and pathetic if they want to vote for him.”

10:40:43, Agent 5: “someone who can’t answer a question”

10:40:51, Agent 5: “someone who can’t be professional for even a second”

On September 9, 2016, Agent 1 and Agent 5 exchanged the following instant messages.

08:56:43, Agent 5: “i’m trying to think of a ‘would i rather’ instead of spending time with those people”

08:56:54, Agent 1: “stick your tongue in a fan??”

08:56:58, Agent 5: “i would rather have brunch with trump”

08:57:03, Agent 1: “ha”

08:57:15, Agent 1: “french toast with drumpf”

08:57:19, Agent 5: “i would rather have brunch with trump and a bunch of his supporters like the ones from ohio that are retarded”

08:57:23, Agent 5: “:)”

This is simply unprofessional.

The third exchange we identified was on November 22, 2016. FBI Attorney 2 sent an instant message to FBI Attorney 1 commenting on the amount of money the subject of an FBI investigation had been paid while working on the Trump campaign. FBI Attorney 1 responded, “Is it making you rethink your commitment to the Trump administration?” FBI Attorney 2 replied, “Hell no.” and then added, “Viva le resistance.” FBI Attorney 1 responded that Trump was “going to eliminate all of our pensions in order to pay for people like” the person discussed in the instant message exchange, and FBI Attorney 1 and FBI Attorney 2 then began a discussion of federal pension and retirement issues.

Hmmmmmmmm….. “Viva le resistance.” Remind you of all the #Resist45 stuff and Maxine Waters chanting “Impeach 45! Impeach 45!” to you?

This is a huge black eye for the FBI, in my opinion, and I’m saddened by it. The so-called IG 2.0 will look into the FISA stuff, and frankly I’m concerned about what will be revealed there.

My thoughts on conventions

So, I’ve got some thoughts.

Some of those thoughts are meaningless to some of my friends, so if they don’t seem to apply to you then let it pass by.

I’m thinking about conventions, and whether I’m really of a desire to attend one.

The closest I’ve ever been to attending a convention (science-fiction, gaming, book, movie, whatever) would be to visit the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire in Pensacola, in years past. To be honest, I’m unsure if that would be considered a ‘convention’ per se, but for the purposes of these thoughts I’ll go with ‘no.’ At least for now. I enjoyed it.

I have quite a few friends in The Royal Manticoran Navy – which is an official fan club for David Weber’s Honorverse series, and I want to attend a convention with them in full cosplay – time, money, and most importantly health allowing.

I also have friends in corresponding fandoms following the novels of Larry Correia and John Ringo. I’d like to attend cons with them, as well, with the same preconditions I have listed above.

Other authors, as well. I do admit that I’d love to find myself at a book signing for my books, too, but that’s a looooooooong way off – and irrelevant to my thoughts here.

Recent events give me pause to think about that desire. As you (meaning my friends in general) may known both Larry and John have not attended conventions that they had been expected at. One was disinvited, one was an agreement due to fears about personal security. Both were done as a result of online outcry of those with strong opinions.

Opinions that – and this is *my* opinion on the opinions – were wrong.

In today’s world, if there’s a public figure that someone disagrees with then there must be a posting, a Tweet, an email, and various other ways to express that disagreement. I don’t think there’s a single public figure of any stripe that has no dissent following them around.

Go look at politics, religion, or sports if you don’t believe me. If you can name one or even two, you’re doing better than me.

So Larry and John expected to attend those conventions. I’m not going to name which ones. Use your Google-fu to get that information, if you’re wondering. They decided to attend to meet fans, discuss their craft and hobbies, have family along, have fun. You know, hopefully like anyone going to something like that.

Before the events’ starting dates rolled around, quite a few with metaphorical axes to grind decided to avail themselves of the postings, Tweets, emails, and various other ways to make the people in charge of the conventions think twice. Unproven allegations, outright lies, and straight innuendo.

One didn’t give the best impression, and the other did have extenuating circumstances which have been ironed out. My concern isn’t really with them.

It’s with the ‘backlash.’

As the last few years have worn on, I’ve been watching protests, of varying degrees, actions from civil disobedience to outright riots, and verbiage from civil discussions to almost knock-down-drag-outs. Come to think of it, there comes to mind that there has been a time or two locally where the cops have been called over for-real fights started over things started online. Rough fights, too. Bloody, bent, bowed, and bad.

What reassurance do I have? Should I decide that I have the ability to go see my friends, assume my persona as Captain Barrow, Grayson Space Navy, or get my books signed by the authors that wrote them, what reassurance do I have that some unknown persons won’t try to wreak havoc like what was done in Berkeley, with the speaker and the supposed Antifa riot?

Or for that matter, after some basketball team won a game? That still makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’m not as strong as I used to be. I’ve got physical problems that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, and a chance of others popping up as I age. I do have a concealed carry license, plus training from previous employment, that in certain situations would allow me to efficiently defend myself or others. In a convention’s venue, I would adhere to their rules and not avail myself of my weapons. Like any school, bar, airport and so on. Still, I really don’t want to have to be creative in protecting. This sheepdog isn’t in the best form to do it.

I don’t like the thought of going to see a certain author or entertainer with the intent of having fun, and then getting caught up in burning stuff, a riot, things getting thrown that could hurt me or others, just because people don’t like the certain author or entertainer.

Think I’m going straight to worse-case-scenario? Imagine how the security people feel about crap like this. Especially with past incidences and the very real possibility of ‘copy-cat syndrome.’

I don’t like it.

Oh, sure, I know the world is not safe and isn’t the best. I know I can’t hunker down and be a hermit. I’m saying people shouldn’t be jerks.

Yeah, I know. They will be anyway. Too many people on social media and the comment sections of online sources are… ‘judgemental’ is the best term I can think of. I can think of other terms, but like I said to Sharon, I’m usually civil. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to call a spade a spade.

So, sure. I can feel the joy and anticipation of attending a con sucked out by seeing what others do and justifying it as the Right Thing. I’ve seen the phrase “Hit ’em where it hurts – in the wallet” thrown around. The bullying of sponsors, too. That’s another thing. The vendors – just like at a Renaissance Faire – depend on people visiting their stalls or spaces and sampling their wares. How can someone justify steering potentally paying customers from a convention that they might not even be a part of anyway? If a man that handmakes widgets and a woman that handmakes gizmos make it part of their business plan to make the rounds – and takes unsold inventory back to the shop because of people online availing themselves of the posting, Tweets, emails, and various other ways to dampen enthusiasm because they don’t like a guest of the convention, then what exact point are they making?

That the small business owner is cannon fodder in the battle over What’s Pure and Right in the World?

Please.

I went to the Renaissance Faire for a few things. See the jousts, browse the stalls and buy stuff, get food I really enjoyed, watch the bellydancers (I liked this part,) and be entertained. I’d be willing to bet that those that visit conventions do it for just about the same reasons, depending on what kind of venue.

Not to be unwitting pawns in somebody else’s arguments.

So, yeah. I’ve decided to have my say on this. I don’t appreciate having to say it.

Respects

American Flag
See this flag?

It’s not as old as some of the other flags in the world. Like all the other flags, it’s loved by some, hated by others, ignored by the rest.

It’s my flag, though, and like all the others that denote nationalities, it is a part of the uniform of the military under it.

Memorial Day is coming up, and like I often do, I want to pay my respects to those in the service.

Wikipedia describes it as “Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.” It’s observed every year on the last Monday of May.

As those who follow me know, I didn’t serve in the military. I wasn’t able to go in, and the closest I ever got was Army JROTC in high school. Still, I am very aware of the sacrifices made in my stead.

There’s a monument in my hometown that lists the people from there who have died while serving, just as the description says a little earlier. It’s not a stupendous thing, since it’s a ‘small town’ and there’s not as many names to put on it. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of people to have served, because that’s not true.

One of the names on that list is someone that attended high school with me. Come to think of it, he may have been in one of my JROTC classes with me but frankly I can’t remember for sure. It’s been a looong time since then, but I do remember talking with him. As I recall now, his death came from the Khobar Towers bombing as a part of Hezbollah activities. Joseph Rimkus, I think of you wherever you may be and I thank you for making that decision to raise your right hand to swear your oath.

It’s not just him. It’s other service members, too. The US Flag has changed over time, its configuration modified as States entered the Union and the stripes changing in number. It is still the Flag we as schoolkids pledged allegiance to, generation by generation by generation.

As far as generations go, I’m thinking of all of them. From the Revolutionary War on down, there have been those that have given their lives for this country. I bow my head in respect for them, and my writer’s imagination can see the specters as they gather. In battlefields, in national cemeteries, on the seas, in the air, and in space. The specters observe the changes in our country, the changes in uniform from the newer ones to stand silent watch and the changes in the military from the beginning of the Republic to now.

Thank you, and I will not forget.

Red Poppies

Steele Writing Enterprises will be observing Memorial Day. The plugin I used to darken the website was removed, so I may have to do it manually.

Thoughts on Civility, random

Thoughts for today.

I’m sitting up with my wireless keyboard and it’s still working well. I decided to be lazy and hook my laptop up to the TV and use that big screen. The older I get, the harder it is to look at the relatively small screen. And, yes, it’s nice to be able to view from across the room.

Alexa is playing 80’s country music – Keith Whitley – and there’s a couple of the younger cats asleep by my feet. It’s quiet outside, with only the occasional vehicle going by. The new neighbor’s kids are playing in their yard and Sirius goes to the fence every so often to check on them and the puppies. He likes people, except at night when I put him on guard duty.

So my thoughts are on the state of the world. Here where I am, it’s quiet and I don’t want it to be otherwise. Aside from the kids going down the road blasting music. I did that at that age, so I really can’t complain too much. Maybe the kind of music I could.

Elsewhere, well, there’s strife. I deliberately have not checked the news channels or newspapers today. Don’t really want to, honestly. People fighting over land, water, various insults both perceived and real. The Korean War might actually be over – there were documents signed at any rate, so we will see what happens. I hope so. I’ve heard about the residents not being able to really see family for the longest time, or work, or whatever. It’s not something that we as Americans may have experience with at home. I mean to say, we aren’t technically in a civil war.

We’re incivil to each other a lot, but that’s for another day and another set of thoughts.

Our Civil War from 1861 to 1865 was bad enough. I really don’t want another one to come around, and that’s why I worry about the things that happen here. People get nasty to each other. Sure, I could mention the role or roles social media and the 24-hour news cycle play. That isn’t insignificant, but my thoughts are with civility. It’s defined as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech,” and it’s something I fear is disappearing in day-to-day interactions. As yes, I am as guilty of this as the next person. Work with me here as I explore this thought.

  • ‘Formal.’
  • ‘Politeness and courtesy.’
  • ‘Behavior.’
  • ‘Speech.’

There’s been a lot made about the anonymity of the Internet. Twenty years ago, that was certainly the case. Someone insulted you online, and all you really had was an username and maybe an avatar of some type.

Now, with Google and various information aggregators, not to mention law enforcement resources, that’s not so much the case.

Insult someone on Facebook or something, well then there’s a distinct possibility that the someone might pull a detective cap out of the drawer, put it on and start tracking. Once your information has been ferreted out, then stuff could happen. Personal visits, getting SWATted, doxxed, one-star reviews if you own a business, lots of things.

Knowledge is power, you know.

Another thing I’m guilty of is taking things personally. I’m still aggravated about being called a slaver once when I mentioned that I used to work in the corrections field. The person in question that said that to me is not on my friends list anymore, and I haven’t tried to reestablish contact. That conversations was pretty fiery in a dripping-with-sarcasm way.

I try not to, and I suspect many other people try not too. When there’s a button or ten that can get pushed, best believe that there’s going to be someone that delights in pushing them.

Sometimes, those people are called trolls, sometimes they simply don’t care what your position on a given matter is.

‘Formal’ comes to mind. I’ve noticed a trend of people using Latin terms as one would in a debate. Some can do it and be evenminded and fair, but the ones that do it and use them as a cudgel to dismiss the opinions of others – well, there’s no point in continuing the fight a conversation has become. I listed four items in quotes above, and frankly, all four should be present to have civil discourse.

I had the idea once to start a website where people could argue all kinds of things, but Monty Python and Facebook beat me to the idea and the execution. One was parody and one wasn’t intended, but it is what it’s become.

I worry that the forked tongues out there will overrun the upstanding ones out there.

I’ve been keeping a mental list of topics that people feel particularly strong about and will be nasty about.

  • Politics or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Religion or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Gender or perception thereof, self or otherwise.
  • Orientation, sexual or otherwise.
  • Romantic prowess or lack thereof.
  • Color/Race/Ethnicity.
  • Sports.
  • Work/Job/Career.
  • Where one lives or comes from.
  • Leisure activities.
  • Amount or presence of ‘formal education.’
  • Appearance.
  • Clothes.
  • Pets.
  • Food choices, whether by desire or restrictions for diet or religion.
  • Guns.
  • Knives/Swords.
  • Language, whether natively spoken or otherwise.

I’m sure there’s others. In fact, I’m positive there’s others. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bunch I’ve never heard of. We’ve gotten insular, even with worldwide telecommunications and associated technology, and there’s the whole ‘fear of stranger’ thing, too. Or maybe the word ‘disdain’ is a better fit.

I could say ‘we need to improve’ but I fear that’s a lot easier said that done. And I’ll bet that there will be comments to these thoughts for today that involve sneering at anything listed above as causes for the need for improvement.

I think I’ll go check on my sunflowers. Be kind to each other, okay?

The Widow’s Mites

 

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.”

-Luke 21:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)

 

In the Gospels, The Book of Luke has always been the one that spoke to me the most. Some of that may be from reading a novel called “The Road to Bithyia” by Frank G. Slaughter, M.D. That work is not my focus here, but I do recommend it.

I’m thinking about the widow’s mites. In the recounting that Luke gives us, a widow is shown giving the two mites as her tithe. Now, there’s a lot of argument about how much does two mites equal in today’s wages. Frankly, the amount is beside the point. It’s more about what those two mites represented in the life of the widow than what it represented in what it could purchase.

We don’t know if the widow was aware of the presence of Jesus and his disciples. I’m not sure if she knew she was the focus of a ‘teachable moment’ for the followers of Christ. We can rely on accounts of Christ being able to perceive the heart and minds of those around him, including the widow. It may have been physically evident that she was poor from her style of dress, or her age, or possible undesirability for remarriage – we simply don’t know. Something drew His attention to her spiritual being.

We do know that there were those that bragged about their piety in the church, or other places. Of course, it stands to reason that those people were there too, and Christ was sure to contract those with the widow.

Her contribution was seen as having more spiritual value than its physical value. Sure, once the offering was totaled up by whomever had that job, the two mites probably went unnoticed in relation to the larger coins and such that the others put into the then-equivalent of a collection plate.

Surely there were a difference in the people doing the giving. The ones with wealth probably didn’t agonize over whether to tithe or eat, after all. If they did so, then they had problems that the widow was blessed to not have, anyway.

I’m wondering now how many kinds of ‘sacrificial giving’ there are in today’s world. In the widow’s case, it was financial. Nowadays, there’s a lot that I can think of. Doing things for the church, like cutting the grass and washing the windows, and helping with the parsonage, if there’s one. Babysitting kids during services, if that’s what the church does. Helping to run a food truck for people who are more unfortunate. Visit with people who are homebound. Help kids with things that their parents need help with, even though they’re working their fingers to the bone to provide for – something.

Find a strength in yourself and utilize it, in service to others. The widow gave her two mites in service.

You might not be rewarded with fame or fortune by doing it – but frankly, why would you want that?

The widow didn’t give her two mites with the intention of becoming someone famous in history or celebrated. I’m pretty sure of that. She most likely wanted to put her mites in the box without others seeing her and making fun of the paltry sum she had.

Good thing for us she was seen anyway and by Someone who could see more than any of us.

I’m grateful for that unsuspecting widow, far removed in time from me, with her two mites. She reminds me to be humble. Her treasures were stored up in heaven and I hope she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.

So, do things for others even if you are less than financially stable. Your actions can be a mite – good works, it’s sometimes called – but know that good works alone won’t guarantee you a spot on the Heavenly roster. I’m not going into the rest of those details here. For that, start with John 3:16.

Be kind to each other, okay?

Thoughts (again)

I can’t take credit for this, but I heard someone say God is not a cosmic vending machine when it comes to thoughts and prayers.

It’s true.

God will always answer your prayers. It might not be what you want, might not be obvious, but here’s a thought. If you’re mad because you didn’t get the thing you prayed for, then maybe your focus wasn’t on God to begin with. It was on that thing.

Thoughts and prayers are good if they are in line with God. If you’re doing the thoughts and prayers thing because that’s what everyone does in a given situation, then you could be a Pharisee.

If you’re genuine in what you’re thinking and praying about, then cool. That leads to another thing, If you’re in a position to do something about whatever you’re thinking and praying about – and here’s the key – if that doing is in line with God’s will, then you need to be doing some work.

Doesn’t matter what it is.

Doesn’t matter what the argument du jour is.

Doesn’t matter what’s happened.

We have free will, but it’s not our place to impose our will upon God. Our place is to have the will to follow the things He has for us. And it was never predicted to be an easy thing to do, either. If it were easy, then something’s not right.

God is not a cosmic vending machine. Don’t treat Him like one.

There’s an old saying about God helping those that help themselves. I’ve always interpreted that to refer to a walk in faith. Others use a different meterstick. I won’t go into those differences. If you want to start an argument with people, on social media for example, inquire about those differences. I’m not interested in that kind of arguing. Not when there’s people in this world that need love more than they need arguing. ‘Love thy neighbor,’ it’s said.

Do you love your neighbor?

I wouldn’t presume to think that it’s me with the ability to argue. I’m not important enough in this world to make those with supposed power to listen to me. In fact, I doubt that those in power would agree with me, because if they’re agreeing with me then that means they haven’t bothered to find a way to agree with each other.

Sad thought, isn’t it? And some use the phrase ‘thoughts and prayers.’ I have to wonder how many have forked tongues shaping the words.

I don’t want that kind of influence anyway. It’s sad that I feel I need to say these things that should be evident anyway. I despair that I have to remind people about the more important things – and yes, for that matter, I have to be reminded too when I’m down.

I love you all. Be kind to each other, ok?

RIP Michael Churchill

My sensitivity to the Spirit has not diminished with age. I can be irritable, grumpy, rough-edged and blunt. I know I’ll never be a St. Theresa or any of the number of those with phenomenal forbearance.

I wouldn’t try to be one of those, just to mold into something useless.

Now, the question is ‘useless to who?’

I would say instead, ‘useless to Who?’ No one is useless to the Creator. We just don’t know what we can be used for.

I’m currently sitting in the fellowship hall of a country church I haven’t visited before. There’s coffee and cookies and well, I like cookies. I came tonight to pay respects to an old friend that fought cancer, and his funeral is tomorrow. This is his church.

I don’t really attend ‘church’ in a building per se, as I’ve gotten older. I look around at the woods, the grass, the sky, the weather and I thank the Creator Himself for it. The parts of my mind that enjoys the scientific method and logical observation note the things in nature that make up this world, the various observable facts, and the things that remain a mystery.

That part rejoices, along with the other part that watches for the Spirit’s presence. All parts agree.

The moment I crossed the threshold of this church, I felt that Presence. I knew It was here as I drove by the setting sun and saw the illumination of the building.

Firefighters are here, turned out in dress uniforms to honor their comrade, and Michael’s turnout coat and helmet is at his casket. Family and friends are here, some sad and showing it and some not.

The Presence is also here, guarding a good man before we commit his body back to the earth from where it came. I have no doubt that at the hour of his death and escape from the ravages of that demon cancer, he heard the words “Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enjoy thou into the glory of your Lord.”

No doubts.

Sadness? Yes, there’s sadness. But there’s a greater joy.

I’m glad my old friend is no longer suffering. Before he left us, I held his hand and whispered in his ear that I loved him and that I wanted him to save a place for me.

We’ll meet again, one day. On that day my sensitivity to the Spirit will be in full force.

Godspeed, old friend.

More thoughts

Sigh.

I’m here again with another thought. Actually, more thoughts.

So, I got blocked today, apparently for asking a simple question. Again, I’m not going to make a direct reference to the person, same as the one from the last Facebook post and frankly I don’t care now. If that person doesn’t like it, then I am genuinely sorry.

I’m venting here.

So I was catching up with my friends on Facebook, and I come across a post congratulating Sweden for getting the first gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics. That made me smile, since I consider Sweden to be a pretty competent participant in either version of the Olympics. Let’s be honest – if you’re on any of the Olympics-level teams, you’re something special. I admit to some confusion about the viewing schedules on TV, and wish I could see the judo and taekwondo competitions more often, but that’s beside the point.

My smile was gone with the next sentence that said “MAGA supporters can suck it.” MAGA presumably refers to ‘Make America Great Again,’ which is a catchphrase that then-candidate Donald Trump used in the 2016 US Presidential Elections. Still uses, I should say. It worked then to reach those feeling left out.

My response was that this had started out as a good congratulatory note, and it was. I went on to call this person out – gently – and ask why did politics have to be put in it? Plus, I didn’t think that had bearing to the Olympics, and said that. I’m sure the athletes have their opinions, too, but when they get out on the field, or slopes or ice or whatever, they’re thinking of the competition, the stress of competing at that level, and what they need to do. I really don’t think they have time for whatever their country’s politics are.

That’s why I like the Olympics, because politics presumably aren’t necessary, and world-class athletes can compete. I get so tired of political grandstanding, arguing, sniping, and everything about it. Religion, too, as you probably remember from my post the other way. Politics, from my point of view, is just another form of power and influence that corrupts, and I dimly remember that the Founding Fathers had that same worry as they hammered out the Articles of Federation and later the Constitution.

So, for my question, I got blocked. My question, that failed to line up with this person’s views, wasn’t responded to with an answer other than a peremptory blocking. I won’t go so far as to say ‘dictatorial,’ since that is a privilege that all of us with Facebook pages have, but it brings up a troubling thought. This thought is not in specific reference, but it’s a trend I’ve observed in more people than I want to admit.

If one slashes away any differing points of view for the sake of a question, then what’s left? If there’s only one point of view allowed, then how can one be accepting of others?

I don’t go into my specific political choices – my family doesn’t alway know my thinking on this – but I’m generally centrist-right. I’m not registered Democrat or Republican, and if I had my say about it, I wouldn’t ever be. However, in order to vote in primaries, I have to temporarily pick one. When I do that, I get crap in my mailbox I’d rather not.

I wasn’t pleased with the selection that finally shook out in 2016. With the things coming to light and things left to come to light about supposed meddling
by technical, political, and other means by foreign agents, I am concerned about a redirection of will. A political judo throw, if you will. I don’t know how many of those reading this have been on the mat, but if your ukemi ability sucks, you ain’t going to feel real good as that mat rises up to meet you.

Out of breath? Achy? Unable to get up quickly and continue sparring? Considering how much arguing and backbiting there is (watch C-SPAN if you don’t believe me) after that judo throw of the elections, I don’t blame you. Use jiu-jitsu as the example if you want to, or any of the grappling systems.

Ever notice that the gun debate has gotten a little more quiet, now that there’s politics to argue about? After that politician was nearly killed on the field playing ball, there was an outcry and support for him, but now? Back to business as usual, and he’s still having some issues. It was a Bernie supporter that shot him, too. There’s people that say he should have shot straighter.

Or the sexual assault on college campuses thing there was a lot of talk about recently? Fraternities doing a pig roast, which I’m not going to define here. The stuff about rape – or the stuff about the false accusations.

What about the arguments about police or protestors? Want to touch off a real big one. Stand up on one side or the other. I well remember being called a slaver by someone on Facebook simply for having worked in the prison system. “Prison-industrial slaver,” it was. Refuses to ride along with cops to see what it’s like to be a cop. Protestors – sure, protest injustice if it exists, but the moment stuff starts burning, gets broken up by a mob, or someone get hurt by the mob, you’re no longer protestors. If the cops give a lawful order like “go this way, but not here, then take a right up to Walmart and disperse from there,” then do it. Somebody throws a brick or a Molotov cocktail at the cops, well, so much for that.

But no, there has to be politics.

I’d never ever want to be President. I’d tell the long term Senators and Representives that they need to quit using twenty-five words where seven would do.

I don’t want to be in politics, period. If it’s disappointment in our “leaders,” who either contradict themselves or find carefully measured but gleeful delight in finding contradiction, it’s the people who vote them in.

Take your pick of the side. If it’s a “hard-whatever,” then there’s someone else that’s got to take it upon themselves to respond. Snippily, snottily, with various curses and insinuations that make me wonder if they’d talk to their mother that way.

But no. Ask a question about why is politics getting put in a post about something that’s supposed to be above politics and its strife, and get blocked. I see that politics is more important than answering a simple question given without accusatory tones at all.

I know the Founding Fathers got pretty rough, but I really do think they’d be disappointed.

Personal thoughts

Thoughts

“Fictitious Sky Man.”

This phrase has been on my mind since a Facebook friend went on what seems to be a semi-regular rant about spiritual belief. This particular diatribe was concerning the players/fans/whatever following a higher power to their team or whatever, and asking why they thank the fictitious sky man for their wins?

And yes, that person will probably know exactly who I am referring to – the post was deleted later, but still. I’m not making any direct references, because this post is a general observation.

It still bothers me.

As for the players, the genuine ones with faith anyway, they probably grew up being told that they have a talent for whatever ability they show on the field. Or diamond, or rink, or whatever their sport is played on. The genuine ones with faith give the glory they receive for those talent to whom they feel gave it to them instead of keeping it for themselves.

The “fictitious sky man.”

Now, this is a matter of belief. Some have it, some don’t. Nowadays, it has become common to ridicule those of belief, if someone else doesn’t believe. It could be belief in anything.

If you don’t believe in something, make fun of it. If you don’t like something, make fun of it. If you hate something, make fun of it.

Someone’s belief in a sports team.

Their favorite brand of car or truck.

What they like to eat.

The genre of books, movies or music they like.

Their religious preferences or their lack thereof.

Whatever it might be. Tear it down and dismiss it as quaint or stupid. It seems there’s a lot of “fictitious sky man” going on.

For that matter, there of those that profess to believe that tear down those that don’t. For that particular instance, I say “love your fellow man.” That doesn’t mean run them over or let yourself get run over. And as a note, the term “man” isn’t used in a sexist way – it’s used in general, as in “human.”

So, yeah, the term “fictitious sky man” bothers me. It’s most commonly used as a derision of Christ, and that derision is therefore placed squarely on anyone who is a Christian – whatever denomination or branch. Or, whoever places his or her belief in Christ no matter the role that person plays in the Church. And whoever made the comment about not secure in beliefs and scrolling by, reminded me of others talking about turning a blind eye to the things that need fixing in the world. Just ignore it.

I can’t.

I’m not a minister. I’m not a teacher of Christian theology. I don’t have a substantive role in the general body, and I haven’t received a call for any of that. I’m still a Christian, baptized in a little Pentecostal church – that was a personal matter. And I do mean little, too. The back yard was bigger than the building.

I don’t make fun of others’ beliefs or lack thereof. I’ve done it in my younger days, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t done it in a long time. I’ve reached a point in my life that doing that is just not fun and frankly I feel like it reflects badly on me and whoever I happen to represent. Or whatever I happen to represent. I’m not a CEO of a company for instance. Unless you count Steele Writing Enterprises, but that’s my website that I haven’t felt well enough to contribute to lately. Frankly, the feelings roiling around inside me writing this is bad enough.

So yeah – I feel it’s pretty immature to throw around “fictitious sky man.” Perfectly up to someone to choose not to believe. That’s a personal choice, just like mine for baptism. Still, I have to ask – why has it become acceptable to ridicule practice of faith?

And don’t get me started on those people that think killing others for what they think is their spiritual right is what they should do.

In a way, it’s disrespectful. Respect is another term that feels like its definition has fallen by the wayside. Don’t agree with my way of thinking, then you’re disrespecting me and must be attacked.

Different forms of attack in today’s world. Physical, of course. I hope never ever to see that, but of course it happens. Attack by words? Most prevalent, especially on Facebook.

“But that’s my freedom of speech!”

True, it is. I’ve also noticed that it’s a lot easier to type something out on a keyboard, just like I’m doing now, without fear of an immediate physical reaction. In other words, I see a lot of stuff online that people wouldn’t say to another person standing in punching range. Sort of like the kids that wait until they have a good head start before they turn around and yell “And your mama speaks Wookiee!”

It still isn’t a good practice.

I’d ask that whoever reads this – if you don’t hold the same beliefs I or others do, can you tone down the “fictitious sky man” bit, at least? I have to ask, does it raise your stature to do it, and if so, stature in whose eyes?

Now, I’m waiting to see who’s going to bring up the Crusades or the Spanish Inquisition, and wants to fight that fight all over again. As for those two examples, that’s long in the past and not my circus or monkeys. I don’t have any guilt from that – because I wasn’t in that decision making process. So, leave those two alone.

In fact, I’m waiting to see who’s going to bring up what.

These are my early morning thoughts – no editing, no weighing of points, no fakeness. Just a flow of thinking, after a night of tossing and turning. That’s how I feel about this.

Be kind to each other, okay?