Tagged: family

The Black Mask and The Executioner

“I am innocent!” the noble, righteous, and beautiful hero protested, unable to rain down his fist for emphasis. The blood dripped from where his finger nail used to be.

His hands were taped down to the kitchen table of his youth. He couldn’t get up. He couldn’t move. A whimper escaped his lips. The Black Mask did not notice.

He muffled an indignant and a righteous howl as the Black Mask unexpectedly reached across the table with both hands and tore the tape away with a speed that rivaled lightning.

Maybe it’s over.

The hero prayed, thanking his god for rescue. Almost imperceptibly, he lifted his head to get a better look at the masked man and the torture room, once his safe space.

The walls were charred black. The place where the stove used to be–the stove which received his mother’s love, meal after meal of his distant childhood–was now as empty as a reluctant warrior’s gaping chest cavity after receiving an RPG round on a foreign battlefield, in a forgotten war. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, she stood, stable as an oak tree, beautiful as a sunset–and apparently as fleeting–never so much as hinting that the effort she spent preparing his food should cost her more than the mere hours it took.

Before his hands had moved even an inch, an agonizing pain began at his left wrist and tore through his left arm like a tornado through a Texas trailer park.

Then he felt something moist smear across his face.

Then he heard the sound.

Then he saw the instrument.

The head of the ax was buried into the kitchen table. The handle stood cocked like the minute hand of his parents old wall clock, except that this cursed chronometer just announced Pain’s time of birth. And like a watch, it divided his wrist from his hand as cleanly as up from down, as permanently as left from right.

“Where do you think you’re going?!” barked the hot voice, smoke bellowing from beneath the Black Mask.

Time was running short. One hand already lost, coupled with the fact that the Black Mask was running out of torturous tools, the hero decided to sing out one final protest. His voice, his majestic, his chivalrous, his heavenly voice–the voice that had drowned forest fires as it chased them down mountains, the voice that had serenaded thunder back into the puffy clouds from where it came–his only weapon.

Attempting to use his body to help elevate his noble cause to the gates of heaven, he began to stand as he proclaimed, “I’m sorry!” He drew his next breath as if it might be his last. “But I am innocent! And I demand you cease these proceedings at once.”

Uninterrupted, he boldly continued his pathetic, and now somewhat benevolent, plea, “And what have you done with my moth-”

But before he could finish a button had been pressed. Straps of scalding, sinewy snakeskin sprung out from the floor beside his chair and wrapped painfully across his thighs. The wooden chair legs groaned under the new, nearly unbearable load.

The hero heard what he supposed was a laugh–but sounded more like enemy tank tracks grinding toddlers’ teething smiles into the wood-chips which fill schoolyard playgrounds–flap out from the bottom of the Black Mask as the eye holes sparked flame-red with delight.

The realization that there was no point in protesting hit him like thirteen jackhammers during a construction sign-studded summer drive at five.

Seeking, but seeing no disagreement, he stretched his right fingers out and felt for the brier-barbed pencil.

Did the Black Mask leak a solitary beam of light?” the hero wondered confusedly, his left stub likewise pulling the loose-leaf paper close.

The outside world could have fallen away, burned away, dried away, or shaken away and the Black Mask would not have noticed as he watched the boy sigh and write out for the sixtieth time, “I am responsible for my gloves. If I lose my gloves, it is my fault. I will not lose my gloves again.”

Pilots Die Too

Today I went to the funeral of a man whom I wish I had known.

He appeared to have been perpetually tickled while on this side of terra firma, which is to relate that the images presented on screen and the tales told by friends and family alike were not only composed of smiles, but passed on smiles, promoted smiles, and made me smile.

Up until today my main thought about this pilot pertained to the crash and, “Why’d he die?”

Death, however, is so final that after today’s service my main thought is, “The shining sun sure seems brighter today.” Followed by, “I’d sure love to be able to hug H- right now–with a little extra squeeze to boot. Does she know, really know, that she is loved?”

Review [Spoiler] of the New Avengers Movie and Biblical Critique of Your Newfound Love of Genealogy

Sobbing! You read that right. I’m telling you that the two women laid out in the theater seats beside mine were sobbing at various parts of the latest Avengers movie. Sobbing.

A few reasons this is odd include: they were middle-aged adults or older, they were the only ones I could hear performing this sonorous swan sonnet out of the entire theater (and I’m sure others could hear them too) and this was at an eleven thirty showing–eleven thirty in the morning–on a Monday! On. A. Monday.

Dear, faithful reader: you might be wondering, “What would you have them do, Pete? It was probably sad.”

My response? It was sad. Kinda. And I would have them stop sobbing. It was maybe a single and silent tear sad, not sobbing uncontrollably sad. And if they couldn’t stop from sheer self-control, I’d suggest to these sheez that they simply utter aloud the sobriquet of the superhero who died, as in, “Black Widow just died.”

Yep. The feeling accompanying that sentence should do it.

Secondly, for tonight, I want to call to your attention the wildly un-biblical hobby that is sweeping through Christendom–most aggressively through the Black Church’s iterations–in recent times: Genealogies. Stop. Just stop. Those of you engaging in this research are suckers. Worse, you are insulting all blood-redeemed sinners who read their Bibles, and worse-est, you’re actively undoing the work of Jesus the Christ–not for our lives, but for yours.

For your consideration, answer the following questions honestly:

  1. What is your intention in your quest to learn about your family-line?
  2. What possible, and/or relevant, good can come from knowing which blood-line you carry in your flesh?
  3. Moreover, what exactly did Paul mean by the following words: “all”, “sons”, “neither”, “one”, “descendants”, and “heirs”, when he wrote, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise”?
  4. And in this passage, what did Paul mean by the following words: “brethren”, “all”, “agree”, “no”, “divisions”, and “same”, when he wrote, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”?

Perishing non-believers do not respect unfocused belief–in anything.

So, Christians: Focus. And focus on Christ.

Here’s a Better Suggestion

What?! You’re kidding me, right? Dying newspapers are banding together against President Trump?

Most Americans cannot even read.

Even more do not read.

Rather than joining forces against perceived attacks, newspapers and other written news mediums would be more likely to defeat President Trump’s attacks by publishing early-readers like Dr. Seuss’s Fox in Socks. Or Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever.

The president’s words cannot possibly threaten the literate.

You Don’t Want To Pull A Hammy

My favorite stretch happens to not involve the lower body, per se, but I think it stretches my lower back. It’s like a standing, twisting thing where I cross one leg over the other, but then turn my torso the opposite way. Usually I pull against the wall or something stable to really work out the rust. Anyhow, for a complete list of stretches and warm-up movements, here is a link to a pre-loaded google search.

As far as good shoes, here is a link to Zappos. They have free shipping and returns. If you have some available credit, the best way I’ve found to use the site is you order six or seven pairs of shoes at once, or different sizes of the same pair if you’re unsure (or say it’s a new brand), and then after they all arrive you just return the ones that don’t fit. No muss, no fuss. Here, I’ll conclude with the reminder that style is at least as important as comfort–let’s not kid ourselves.

Oh, and don’t forget to take some pictures. Like last time, you couldn’t pay me to join you.

I hope this helped. I wouldn’t want you to think you’re the only ones who care.

A Few Notes on Friends, Cultures, and Blogging through the Lens of the Gun Control Debate

I fear I may have driven one good friend away during my week of slandering the marchers. That’s no good. Time will tell. Here I want to happily prove that I miraculously still have one or two remaining friends, address some white/black cultural issues, and comment on the value of blogging as distinct from other forms of writing.

Remember my proposed Amendment XXVIII? Here it is again, “In time of peace, arms shall no longer be secured by the people.”

I still love it, but the sense I get is that most folks think it is quite ridiculous, if not totally immature, willfully ignorant, and completely impractical. While it’s always nice to be encouraged, I don’t find generality particularly beneficial for philosophical debate.

Out of the blue, however, one pal responded with, “What about new citizens? Your amendment doesn’t seem to account for them. Seems like you’d be fine with them securing arms during peace time.”

Two things should be readily apparent by that rejoinder. First, you couldn’t know this, but he responded within, oh, less than a few seconds. To note this is important to me because at the seminary the word “smart” is passed around and desired as if a mantle of holiness. It isn’t. And frankly, I cannot get anyone, professor or student, to coherently describe what they mean by “smart.”

Sidebar: I recognize only two traits of the mind. Speed and retention. Some people think faster, and some people retain more, but I have yet to meet someone who is smart. Consequently, then, my friend demonstrated that he is at least a fast thinker. I like to think I, too, possess a mind which is je ne sais quoi, rapido? and that that’s why we’re friends. Who knows?

Second, his particular reply–unlike general criticisms and/or silent anger–demonstrates that he respects me enough to consider my idea. This feels good.

In addition to this, I think I have just today gained some clarity regarding what drives my posts of late, the ones wherein I cry out for the remnant of living souls who know what we have accomplished in the United States to speak up before it’s too late.

You see, I have purposefully been engaging with other cultures. What can I say? I like to learn. While we’re all Americans, we are definitely not all the same culture. And I now see that my reactionary writing (such as the last joint movie review) is likely the manifestation of my own culture gasping for air.

Here’s the thing. Both cultures which I interact with, while I maintain that I am not fully a member of either (White Evangelicals and the Black Community), both of them believe in the Word of God in the dual senses of “…bread alone but every word that comes out of the mouth of God” and “…and the Word became flesh.” However, I reject the White Evangelicals because they preach that the Bible supports that mathematical truth is God’s truth. (Nowhere in scripture does any writer indicate that the LORD cares if one plus one equals two.) And I struggle with the Black Community because they preach that the Bible supports the notion that extra-biblical knowledge has no value. (These are sweeping generalizations. Rest assured, more are on the way. Rerax! It’s a blog post.)

By my thinking, the only important thing, the thing that the Bible explicitly states over and over again, is that there is a difference between the two. It’s not that man’s knowledge isn’t important, it’s just that it can’t possibly all be the LORD’s knowledge. There must be two types. And, point of fact, the word “holy” itself is just the church-ified version of the word “separate.” Again, the Word of God says that there are two types. Just don’t unify the two and you’re fine. (Seriously, don’t.)

The real question is how to get the White Evangelicals to stop insisting Christianity is the “smart choice,” and how to get the Black Community to care about math. As for me, I’m the smartypants who uses google for algebra problems. Bet the Arabs didn’t see that coming!

This takes me to blogging.

For me, it is holy catharsis. How about for you?

I Love Conversation

My good friend and I are trying to civilly gain some understanding of each other’s opposed views which have surfaced alongside this whole “March for Our Lives” thing. If you didn’t see, he left a much-welcomed and presumably expensive comment on yesterday’s post.

We belong to the same Toastmaster’s club, having serendipitously met there some six years ago. Tomorrow morning after the meeting we both have time to chat. In order to make the short time we have most fruitful, I wanted to respond to his thoughts here. I also cannot deny that I think our back-and-forth is the best one on the internet at the moment. Enjoy!

To begin, a word of caution. Please, please do not hear my assertions in the tone of, “I am god.” Instead, here me say, “This is how I see it.” We clearly disagree on many things; I am aware of this. Even after your thorough comment though, I am not sure you understand how I see it. My reasons for not being sure include that you didn’t say, “Well, Pete, we’re coming at this from two totally different angles. You’re taking a more philosophical approach, and I’m operating within the practical, legal approach. I’m also not even sure we are addressing the same problem.” Or some such thing. Maybe that’s what you do think. Time will tell.

That said, to be as clear as I can be, for me (and the status quo which I portend to represent) the issue is not gun violence. Moreover, I don’t think stating this makes me incompetent or ignorant or any other unbecoming trait. Nor do I think anything you have written marks you in such a way.

When I write, “I want these shootings to stop too,” I do not have in mind that I would prefer the violence to be committed by some other weaponry. More specifically, I guess I could have said, “I want the instances of unarmed, unprepared, and unsuspecting deaths of any size group of Americans (or any folks standing on American soil) who are attempting to better themselves to stop.”

It’s intriguing to discover that I fight my seminary professors’ views on the Bible for the same reason that I debate you about the second amendment.

While I am happy to see such a thought-out defense of some position on an issue that it would include taking into consideration grammar conventions of the late eighteenth century, I would never go that route. I would never go that route for the foremost reason that grammar conventions are nothing more than completely baseless speculations, unless you can show me that the writers included a legend or key of some sort–in which case the very conventions you highlight are no longer unfounded and speculative conventions but actual fact.

If the Constitution (icapitalizedtheenglishlettercatthebeginningofthewordconstitutiontoindicateimeanamericas), if the Constitution included some sort of definition of terms similar to what you wrote, then I have no way to disagree with what you wrote about the value of capitalization in interpretation. (And perhaps they did, though I have not ever heard of that section). If they did not, then I, and everyone with my point of view, am free to say, “I’m sorry, friend, but people do not live or die because of capital letters, and neither did the founders want us to think they thought so.”

Words matter, not their shape on paper.

Additionally, when I say, “the amendment,” I do not meant to claim that I know what the second amendment means in the sense with which you shared in your self-declared legal opinion. Besides what I wrote in that post, I believe that (philosophically) the law is the act of people giving up their rights in order to be free. With the so-called Bill of Rights, and specifically the second amendment, I believe we have, within the law and as one particular law, some one designated arena which the law is not–that being arms. In other words, I believe that in the act of people giving up their rights in order to be free, the second amendment declares that when it comes to arms, the law has no place. Put another way, I believe that the second amendment (along with the other amendments in the Bill of Rights) declares (both philosophically and actually) that there are some rights which if given up do not beget freedom.

The beautiful part of the Constitution, and by beautiful I mean spectacular, is that it provides for change. And here is the pay dirt.

The founders lived in a pre-hyrdogen bomb world. Yesterday former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens advocated repealing the second amendment in a NY Times op-ed piece which featured an image of a musket juxtaposed against an AR-15. Ultimately the ex-Justice and I see the same reality. But he did not make the not the proper comparison. The proper comparison would have been that of the most destructive weapon of 1791 and the most destructive weapon of 2018. I’m imagining an image of a cannon vs. a mushroom cloud. One reason the second amendment could be repealed these days (and along these lines I think I might be fine with it being repealed) is because guns are melted by hydrogen bombs. Life is, I believe, fundamentally and irrevocably different today. The American people do not stand a chance against some dystopian American tyranny. Who are we fooling?

Do I think the American founders knew that future battlefields would be able to be melted by the heat equivalent to that of the surface of the sun when I support the Constitution so dogmatically? Do folks who think these weekend marches are pointless think the Constitution should never be changed? No to both questions. But I do think that the Constitution writers showed almost divine philosophical foresight in their writing, and I kindly ask that you re-consider whether these shootings (or, “these instances of unarmed, unprepared, and unsuspecting deaths of any size group of Americans ((or folks on American soil)) who are attempting to better themselves”) can be stopped by anything less than a re-evaluation of whether the overall arms circumstance on planet Earth has changed since the Constitution was written.

If so, amend.

If not, look in a different direction to stop the shootings.

Perhaps towards Christ.

Response to Comment from Friend about the March

(You’ll have to read this morning’s post to catch up. Apologies, but you can do it!)

My friend responded, “Your analysis or logic and certainly the conclusion escapes me. But, then again, in 1999 my two children were attending high school in Littleton, Colorado. Our home was less than fives miles from Columbine. The massacre that took place on April 20th, 1999 at Columbine High School cannot and will not be subject to the cavalier dismissal of your post. The millions of synchronous marchers, worldwide on March 24th are the empirical proof. That is a stronger, better conclusion… one guided by a light of hope… that last Saturday’s “March for our Lives” in Denver, is part of a larger, grander plan; one that this mortal can only guess at.”

My pastor is the man whom, nearly weekly, publicly declares the above conclusion in his prayers (assuming you’re referencing the LORD/battle/army sentence). As a veteran with first-hand battle and army (Air Force) experience, I cringed for the first two years of hearing the man say it. But for some reason I stuck around and gave him the benefit of the doubt. This past year of hearing it brought the payoff (and essentially re-reading the entire Bible). Similar to Aquinas’ thoughts on the law (i.e. counterfeit law), there is only one way that the conclusion makes sense and it involves re-orienting your understanding of reality. No small thing–and only possible with Christ.

I try to keep posts around 300 words, and so I cut out about half of what I initially wrote and hoped the meaning would still be clear. I am responding here because it seems to me that you may not feel confident in stating my point of view accurately, which I humbly submit is near the status quo’s point of view. Do you think you understand our point of view?

In short, assuming we agree that I have faithfully re-stated the claims made last weekend, I think the situation as more similar to calling for the end of cruel and unusual punishment or the end of certain forms of the death penalty than it is similar the Civil Rights movement wherein the African-Americans simply saw no reason why they weren’t allowed to vote. The call today is to restrict rights, not promote them. This is a very unique cry in human history in my reading of human history (unique in one sense, in another sense, it is the most common cry).

I’m not sure how my use of Columbine was seen to fit into the cavalier analogy of the big picture. I fully mean that I can see a future where historians in the future may find themselves describing all these “lone wolf” type mass shootings as early guerrilla warfare type acts of war which led to…

Regarding empirical proof, either more than seven billion four hundred million people worldwide, or more than three hundred twenty million in the United States did not get up from their couch. Empirically, in my mind, single-digit millions are not enough anymore.

On the whole, I still think (but might be wrong) that my analogy is an accurate assessment of the marchers’ claims, if a bit cavalier, in that it admits that the marchers’ are not calling to stop playing the game (which would be calling for an end to violence or the like, Beatles style). My point in getting to the root of the claim is to show that simply desiring things go in their proper place is not something that can be legislated. Instead, that desire is merely the call for the law to come into existence.

But it is possible that I do not understand what the marchers really want.

Pete

The Right Brothers

“Read it.”

H- slowly read, “United States of America.”

I took back the card and scanned for the line I intended her to read and be impressed by, and then reattempted my quest, this time with my finger as a guide for her eyes.

“Flight Instruction.”

“Flight Instructor, H-. Flight Instructor. I can teach people how to fly.”

She was not impressed.

“Oh, look at this. These are the two guys who invented flight,” I said, showing her the back of the license.

She scanned it, displaying deep resolve to not feed my ego.

“Wait,” she finally said as I took it away. “Let me see it again.”

This time her eyes studied the images.

Her turn to impress, she dispassionately declared, “They look like the Wright brothers.”