Sunday, December 14, 2014

Hackensack Jack

Never mind your wishing well,
You'll truly sink in phishing hell
When practicing apathetic cool
Thinking you're nobody's fool.
I got a rucksack full of fools tools!
And your tag is on all of 'em!

I got a handle, it's me name,
A rose by any other title is just a cigar.
Freudian slip up?
But, I betcha
You can't hold a candle by its flame.
Yet, I can!

Here's a tip up;
Wanna bet your Learjet?
Me a jack
With a jet pack
On me back!
I log on the Web
Slide on me shades
Grab me joystick
Go for a ride...
I'm hackin' it!
You better stand back!

Me REAL name's,
John A. "Nonny" Moss,
But you may call me:
Hackensack Jack!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cave of Sighs

I gaped up at the great square cavernous maw
inviting me deep within a Platonic carnival
enticing me with its electrically amusing power,
bidding me entry into its splendor of ersatz delights.
I bought a ticket for the flick,
but did not like it and

I let the the near casino magenetize my nerves of steel thereinto.
The metallic shrieks of flickering coinage
won and lost,
peirced my ears against my head.
I feared being crushed by the surrounding
quicksilvered sights and
leadened sounds that
lowered upon me as if made of shredded tornadic clouds.

With bated breath I scuttled inward,
as an anxious insect would,
through the crystal doors
held passively open
by impassive
red uniformed clones.

I sucked in miasmas of
Parision misted bodies,
gagged upon
Manhatten soaked cigarettes,
choked on
Pittsburgh plastic off-gasses,
and it was during this chatoic sense confusion
that I saw the sparkling blue marble dancing inside the silver roulette wheel.

But I looked away to another table
and saw the croupier, who said,
with a nervous gun to his head,
"Merci, please hurry, Monsieur Zed.
I do believe that it's your deal."

I heard again the agate ball as it stumbled,
skidded and rolled to a stop behind me.
I turned back to watch it drop in double noughts.
I then felt the droplets of the saintly blood
make snake-eyed spots on the dice in my hand.

What a foolish wager; our money or our lives
what a heavy cost, wanting life when dead.
These were my thoughts.

At the last click of the ratchet we had placed our last Liberty on red.
We bet and we lost!

Monday, June 23, 2014

I Sang My Body Electric

I dreamt of sapphire fire writhing
through the tinseled veins of my soul,
filled with glittering corpuscular data
motivating servo-mechanical musculature.
I spied my thoughts gathering
lightning from thundering clouds,
spinning the charges, weaving the matrix,
as I flew the broad massifs of my sparkling mind
and soared its high Yucatan mesas
on arc lit carbon fibered wings;
or when the various pathways
of galvanic emotion
and electronic intellect
converged by the riversides
in the valleys of my life,
I panted down to the darkling marshes
and stalked the evening shadows
as a composited sinewed Aztecan puma.
No matter my form; I sense I am aware I am alive and
that I sang my body electric.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

a red letter day

after the dinner 
during the debate
words were spelled in blood
by sharpened quills as  
broken wedding jars 
spilled carmine wine 
holy water flowed across the table
he said
the blood is liquified
the spirit is a gas
the body is solidified

petros with a two-edged tongue 
licked the ear of a demon's servant
he said
the rolling stone gathers no prints
habeas corpus christie

from a latin wilderness 
the word was shouted
in blots of scarlet ink by
markos with a feathered-edged calamus 
thrust his opinion into yeshua's side
but he always minds as he tries
to dot his tees and cross his eyes
he said
the logos is plasmatically

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mr. E. Hess?

put your mountain beside your sea
and the sea outside your window
if you can and
if you really want to
put your money where your mouth is
where your name is your game
and never was his biz
but i bet you can't
put your monkey where your junkie is
where they pray in pearly temples
when they prey on shirley temples
if you really had it to do
if you really wanted to
put your sea beside your mountain
put your coin inside your fountain or
see the sea outside your window
thus if you could would you
be mysterious

for libby

Herbs & Hues

Rosaceae = 620–740 nanometers

Violaceae = 450–495 nanometers

(2R,3R,4S,5S,6R)-2-[(2S,3S,4S,5R)-3,4-dihydroxy-2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)oxolan-2-yl]oxy-6-(hydroxymethyl)oxane-3,4,5-triol ≠ salty, sour, bitter, and umami

love = me + you

Monday, April 21, 2014

Am I a Writer?

I first began writing when I was somewhere between the ages of thirteen and fourteen years old. I wrote little, science fiction, short stories that nobody in my family seemed to care about or understand. Since this was a bit disconcerting, I gave it up.

My next foray into creative writing came when I was fifteen, when I wrote an original  comedy skit about two people trapped in an elevator. I did this for an English class assignment and had to also direct my fellow students as they acted out the scene for the class. I felt very proud of the situational aspects I had inserted into my tiny play. Unfortunately for me, a fellow student used a dramatic reproduction of short story written by H. G. Wells entitled "The Country of the Blind". The class voted hers as the better of the three presentations. This seemed unfair to me, because I knew mine was better, but she was a very popular cheerleader. Years later, I asked her about it. She told me that she could not remember that class, much less her skit. Peculiar how life operates.

At the age of sixteen I wrote a few poems that no one wished to read, therefore I gave that up, along with my interest in anything my English class had to offer. When I flunked, because of this, I had to attend summer school to make up the course.

During the summer make-up class, our teacher assigned book readings and we issued the  subsequent reports. I loved doing this and aced the course! Yet, that was the last time I attempted any writing where I actually finished m work, until a few years ago. I did not renew my writing until 2007, when I attempted to write a novel. I wrote some poetry and still do. I have a blog, also.

I conclude that I write, but too little and not well at all. Therefore, I am NOT a writer.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Counting Pennies in the Dark

In the depths of dark
rhymes and rondels,
an old man in stark times
gropes and fondles
a velveteen pouch glutted
with discs of copper greed,
all tarnished by the corrosion
of his incessant need.

His lonely soul is shrouded
by thick and blackened lust.

His only sole desire clouds
a conscience gone to rust.

Without surcease of avarice
his life became diseased,
and without the lust of Mammon,
this man was never pleased
and love never left its mark.

This is why he sits alone
counting pennies in the dark.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Two Little Ditties

Bang, Bang, Shoot You

The gun lay on his table,
Warm, gleaming
In the window light.
He gently picked it up,
Embraced it tight,
Caressed the trigger,
Killed Able,
Then ran helter skelter
Through the night.



Whence I come,
Wherever I go,
My mind is lost
In blackest night.
Since dark from light
Ever need I know,
Never heed a word I write.

Body and Blood

During the meal, that some term,"The Last Supper", Rabbi Jesus broke bread with his closest friends and shared (most likely watered) wine. (See references at end.)

According to Prof. James Tabor--in his book, Paul and Jesus--Paul (Saul of Tarsus) had a vision of Jesus (1Co 12:1-4) explaining the metaphorical significance of this fellowship meal to Paul. From these statements, in the Christian New Testament letters of Paul, arose the doctrine of transubstantiation (bread=body, blood=wine).

My take on this meal--and Jesus' and Paul's statements about it--is, that when we share food and drink in the fellowship of love (Mt 18:12) we all become one body kept spiritually alive by the blood flowing through the body, this being a metaphor for Adonai's spirit (the blood) of Jewish unity (the body). No more nor less. Later on theologians amplified this meal's significance with supernatural aspects and it was solidified into doctrine by the Council of Nicea at the Roman Emperor Constantine's behest.

As to whether or not it was a Passover Seder is continuosly debated, but I think not. Below is a corroborative statement by Rabbi Gershon Steinberg-Caudill:

"The REASON the Last Supper was NOT a Passover Seder is based on the traditions of the Jewish people AND the "other Gospels." The Romans would not have crucified Jesus on Passover for fear of causing a riot, which were especially volatile during the time of the Freedom Festival of Passover. If the Last Supper had been a Passover Seder, the next day would also have been Passover (a Seven day Festival)."

But, I DO believe Jesus knew it was his LAST meal, because he had set it up beforehand to be handed over to the Romans (Joh 13:27); yet that is another tale.

Mt 26:26; Mk 14:22; Lu 22:19; Joh 6:53-56; 1Co 10:16-17, 11:24-29; Gal 1:16;  Heb 2:14, 9:20

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark - An Introduction and Commentary

Review: Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark - An Introduction and Commentary
Author: Joel L. Watts
Publisher: Wipf & Stock
Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-62032-289-5
At Amazon:

The book I am reviewing is the paperback edition and the cover has a simple, yet attractive decoration in the lower half with an enlargement of a section of what seems to a painting by an impressionist. The upper half is a simple blue-gray with minimalist Arial style gold an white typeface.

The introduction was written by the popular Dr. Jim West and concludes with his interesting statement: "As the first salvo in a demolition operation, it is worthy of consideration. Let the demolition commence."

An epigram concerning the evolution of the New Testament Gospels written by Jordan R. Scharf wraps up Mr. Watts acknowledgements. In the introduction, Mr. Watts guides the reader through "mimesis" the rhetorical pedagogy of imitation and its use in composing Biblical literature and insists that Q is nonexistent. (Q from "quelle" - German for source, one of the two sources that many biblical scholars believe that the author of the Gospel of Mark used to write his story). Subsequently, Mr. Watts explains his theory that Mark rewrote, not only the historical past, but the historical present during the times in which Jesus of Nazareth lived. The style that Mr. Watts presents is of course dense considering the dissertational aspect to his book, but it is fairly easy and fun to read nevertheless, plus the intriguing information conveyed to the reader more than offsets this difficulty, along with many pleasant witticisms. He explores a critical structure of New Testament exegesis little used in modern research.

In the introduction, Mr. Watts offers the following reason for his book: "This book will show that Mark appropriates not only written sources, but manipulates several external situations to answer a crisis through the rewriting of history." Then in chapter one he gives the reader an overview of the rest of the book, how the ten chapters are written and why. Mr. Watts also explains his key terms that are used throughout his writing, something that some (if not most) Biblical scholars fail to do. This explanatory method of the book's construction is an invaluable aid to the reader and can be referred to as need be.

In Chapter Two under the heading: Part I: Mimesis and Imitation Criticism in the Gospel of Mark, Mr. Watts informs the reader that he believes the Markian Gospel is patterned after a form of Grecian literature, yet thoroughly eliminates Homer's poems as sources. Thus he disputes assertions made by Dennis McDonald and supports Charles McNelis and Tessa Rajak, that although Homer was used as a Roman educational tool, his Iliad and Odyssey were not used as Mark's rhetorical imitations. The biblical academic with whom Mr. Watts DOES agree is Thomas L. Brodie, especially with Brodie's suggestion that the life of Jesus could be interpreted within the framework of an Elijah/Elisha mimetic source of a proto-Luke and a Deuteronomistic Matthew. Mr. Watts leans more to Brodie's thoughts on the latter, rather than the former. In the next section of chapter two, History of Mimesis, we see Mr. Watt's thinking expanding further into the area of the literature, rhetoric and psychology. His ulimate conclusion ofthe meimetic source that the  gospel writer used is best left up to the readeer to uncover.

Part II takes the reader on Mr. Watt's "Sherlcockian" adventures in his inimitable biblical sleuthing. He lines out step by step his modus operandi in arriving at his mimetic deductions which he explores in Part III.

These sections are very involved, so I (as the reviewer) will only list his section headings as an example of his strides toward his reasoning. I'll leave it to the reader to ride along on Mr.Watts journey into the "unknown country."

Part II The Constant
Chapter 3 His Kydmoisois
Part 1: Mark as an Embarrassment to the Early Church?
  The Date of Mark's Gospel
Part 2: Introduction
  Social History
  Not Merry Men
  Of Wars More Than Jewish
  Simon bar Giora
  Rome as the Crucial Impetus?
Part 3: Literary Details       
  The Antetext
  The Memetext
  Language Barriers
Chapter 4 His Pedagogue
Lucan and Mimesis
  Lucan's Mimetic Turns
  Lucan's Language Barriers
  Lucan's Homer-textual Problems

In Part III, Mr.Watts really gets at the critical meat on the biblical bone. He describes it this way: "The social situation, including dating and the reception history' prevails as the key in properly distinguishing sources. The date is near 75 CE. The social situation is the synthesis of Jewish theology and Roman imperial ideology in the aftermath of the Jewish revolt. Lucan, the great Roman poet, is Mark's muse."

Part III Application
Chapter 5 Reading Mark Mimetically
Jesus Against Vespasian
Theological Justification (Intertextuality;antetext; memetext)
Similar Narrative Events
Verbal Allowance (Allusion)
Chapter 6 Reading Mark Mimetically
Jesus Against Simon bar Giora
Sources for the Son of Man
Sources for  the Son of God
Mark 1.1 Reexamimed
Mark's Use of the Son of Man as Anti-Roman Ideology
The Five Books of Mark
Ethnosymbolic Synchronism
Chapter 7 Reading Mark Mimetically
A Lucan Reading
Chapter 8 Reading Mark's Scholia
Answering the Synoptic Problem
Testing Mimetic Criticism and Farrer Theory-Mark's First Reader, Matthew
(In which are 352 authors cited.)

This review could go on and on with all the choice bits that Mr. Watts offers with this wonderful smörgåsbord of new, entertaining and exciting ideas to mentally savor and chew upon. It has been my sincere pleasure to have been able to do this review, although I must say, my recompense, although not monetary, is the privilege to keep this book to mine the abyssal depths for diamonds at my leisure and what a great boon it is. I am quite sure that once you have purchased this book and read it, you shall feel the same. Happy reading and remember to wear a napkin.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Inna Gadda Da Vida

(In the Garden of Eden)

ADAM: I believe that the phrase, "I love you" is overused and has lost any relevance to the truth of it. How say you, Eve?

EVE: Oh, Adam. How can you have such an opinion?

ADAM: It is not, an opinion, fair lady. It is the bedrock of my deep understanding of reality.

EVE: Reality? What is reality without love?

ADAM: I did not say that I believed in a reality without love, I stated quite clearly that the phrase is much too often utilized in situations that are not apropos.

EVE: Yes, yes, Adam, I understand. You believe that I say, "I love you" much too often.

ADAM: No, I was not meaning you, Eve. Please do not misunderstand me. "I love you" is used by the great and small in our society and done so in such a manner that it does not--it cannot--invoke true sincerity. It is used for any mundane occasion, such as a hello or a goodbye. It is used much too much!

EVE: Oh, but Adam, there is so little love in our world, actual LOVE, the kind that comes from the sharing of pain and joy; that the phrase needs uttered the more. Do not you think so?

ADAM: Still, Eve, the repetition of the phrase has become common and is not perceived of as the beauty that it is, but is now seen as only a utility for one's selfish gain. Can you not see this? Is this not something of which you are aware? This I surely cannot believe!

EVE: Please allow me to answer you with a question, Adam.

ADAM: [Nods.]

EVE: Do you not love me, Adam?

ADAM: You know that I do, Eve.

EVE: Then tell me so, Adam.

ADAM: I love you, Eve.

EVE: Did your saying this now, although you have told me many times before, diminish what you really feel?

ADAM: Of course not; for you are my mate, my other heart, my soul and are akin to me.

EVE: Are not the others, all who you know or not know, also akin to you?

ADAM: Well, yes; but not as you are.

EVE: How so, Adam? Wait, let me finish. How are they different from me? Are they not human beings with the same bodies, hearts and minds, as I? Do they not have the same dreams, hopes, joys or pains? Have they not the same lives and the same deaths? Are they not as deserving of love as you love me?

ADAM: I suppose so, but still...

EVE: Then why not tell them so, Adam? Why not tell them all the time? Say, "I love you, I love you," until they finally believe it so thoroughly that it becomes their sole, true reality and there is not a wisp of a doubt in their minds.

ADAM: But, it is only words, Eve, just words and nothing more.

EVE: Then prove it with deeds, Adam; by forever telling them so.

Terra Finito

Hello Earth! Hope you're feeling well. Oh. You're not... Hmm... Oh, they are, are they? I like it quiet myself, so I understand. Too many, too? I see. Uh, huh. Yes, I was afraid this might happen... Of course, what you suggest may be just a touch on the drastic side, yet... Wait, hold on a minute. Alright? I'm sure you didn't mean anything by what you suggested and you have a perfect right to complain. As far as I'm concerned you have always been good and didn't I say so from the very beginning of our relationship? Yes, yes... Now where was I? Ahem, well of course I've always been right here. Thank you for re-reminding me, Earth.

Now as I was going to say; once upon a time, a long, very long time ago by their conception of time, I was going to do just what you implied, but Sophia talked me out of it...

Yes, yes she is still my bride. Oh, so you do remember our anniversary and yes it is coming up very soon. No, you weren't around when we married, yet there's no need for regret. You did recall the date, did you not? That is quite an accomplishment in itself and I thank you for your congratulations. Oh. Yes, yes I shall continue...

Well, as I said, Sophia stopped me from a planetwide deluge an eon or two ago, convincing me it was very probably impossible even with MY abilities and totally unnecessary to boot. Yes, I know you love her, Earth... No, I shan't refer to you by that appellation. Gaia is HER nickname for you' Earth and... Well, a being of my stature shouldn't... No, I shall not! I do have SOME decorum to maintain. Hrumph... Now, if you please refrain from interrupting me Gai- Uh... Earth. Very well! Thank you.

I made a promise the last time around that I would in no wise destroy you. No, not by flood, nor fire, nor ice, nor anything! Yes, I know you love me and I lo... I mean, Sophia loves you, too.

What is to be done? You mean about the creatures running amok, disfiguring your face, killing your living things and possibly making you uninhabitable for millennia or more? Well, I shan't do a thing about them. Sophia and I have had a little chat and we both agree that they are more than apt in destroying themselves.

You are most certainly welcome Earth. So, they itch you, too. Ha ha. Yes, it has been nice and we'll talk again soon. Oh, by the way. I almost forgot. Sophia is already working on her next project and this time they won't have hands.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Such Is Romance

I could sense her simmer, as I came to a boil.
I grumbled, the clock ticked, she tossed her head.
I said my say, she riposted, I expostulated.
She flung down the gauntlet, I kicked it in the corner.
I mumbled, she steamed.
I flexed my ego, she shed a tear.
I shouted, she screamed.
Then her door slammed cutting me off,
Shutting me out from her fear
Of my male dominance.
We'd sparred for a hard hour
Going on two,
Then quick as a wink it was over
Our macabre dance.
I didn't know what to do, say or think,
So I fixed myself a big, stiff drink.
Such is war.
Such is romance.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls

Joel Watts and Travis Milam, Editors
Pages: 230
ISBN10: 1-938434-60-9
ISBN13: 978-1-938434-60-0
Publisher: Energion Publications (2013)

Author's page on

There are 16 stories and essays in this comprehensive book. I am reviewing the ebook.

The concept of the book is best described by Travis Milam, a co-editor:

"My wish/ mission today is to bring others to a greater understanding of grace that they may not have to move from fear to faith as I have done."

The titles of the ebook are set against an illustration of a concrete block wall which is indicative of the subtitle: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls. The intro is concise and reveals the editors’ intent, which from my POV exemplifies the growing practice that conservative Christian churches will often deceive, whether unwittingly or with malice. Throughout this review, I shall take the liberty to use the first names of the story tellers, for it is a long-standing Christian tradition, plus weren't the Gospels written on a first-name basis? Also, I'm only reviewing in-depth the first 4 essays, because they are a good representative sample of the very interesting reads a reader—you—will realize. Then, I'll offer my summation along with the editors' conclusion.

Table of Contents:

1 From Fear to Faith by Travis Milam
2 Confronting Our Fears by Mike Beidler
3 The Joy of Confession by Rev. Shannon Murray
4 Excursus – King James Onlyism by Joel L. Watts
5 From Tongues to Methods by Rev. Josheua E. Blanchard
6 A Journey into Faith by Rev. Anthony Buglass
7 Pentecost to Resurrection by Rev. Mark Stevens
8 Social Construction, Fundamentalism, & the Reading of Scripture by Daniel Ortiz
9 Growing Up at the End of the World by Caitlin G. Townsend
10 Divine Disenchantment: Transitions by John W. Morehead
11 The Second Greatest of These by Steve Douglas
12 Grace: It’s Not Just for Dinner by Travis Milam
13 A Journey Through the Spiritual Night by Craig Falvo
14 My Road to Freedom by Doug Jantz
15 Unsettled Christianity by Joel L. Watts
16 You Don’t Have to Go It Alone by Ric Hardison

The co-editor, Travis Milam, begins the book narrative. His "walk" began with an atypical Christian orientation, "at the age of seven and baptized. I then knew I was set for life because that was everything that God required of me." Travis' church was conservative Baptist. He also joined the Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (AWANA) group, a vacation bible school program with cult like characteristics.

Due to his developing guilty conscience (a technique that is always used by cult leaders to oppress the mind), Travis felt "a feeling that you were never quite good enough and that you had somehow always managed to make God unhappy or angry." But Travis continued attending the offerings of his church, because, "It was where I felt comfortable. It was safe because I knew the routines and I knew the answers. I liked it because it was easy, certain, and safe." It is taught by all inclusive organizations that there is safety within the tribe, but danger outside. “Revivals were, looking back, really week long guilt trips about how we did not do enough for God and how God was going to bring judgment on.”

Travis grew into more of a "Christ centered" believer while in college. “Along this journey, I met Dr. Bill Fowler who was the Chaplain of the college as well as my professor for Biblical Lit. He was funny, intelligent, caring and above all a servant of God. He showed me that I could be a good Christian and not follow all the rules I had imposed.” Travis became a Student Assistant Chaplain to Dr. Fowler and became active in the Baptist Campus Ministries. “During my next three years of college, I grew as a Christian. I discovered that God wanted me to care for the poor and for the downtrodden, not tell them to get a job.”

After Travis left college he continued in the way of life he had seen there, yet he was soon to see much more. “My journey took a huge leap forward when I went to seminary right after college. I was suddenly thrown into an environment that challenged my beliefs more than I had ever experienced.”

Travis finishes his personal essay with these remarks: “I still have days and moments where I feel intense guilt because I believe that God is not approving of what I am doing.”

Next in this revelatory book is a highly researched personal essay entitled: Confronting Our Fears, written by Mike Beidler, a commander in the US Navy.

In Confronting Our Fears, Part 1: Introduction, Mike begins his account in this way:

"In 2007, after a turbulent two-year process, I came to embrace evolutionary creationism as the best scientific and theological paradigm through which to view the natural world and God’s strategy to redeem humanity from the power of sin." Mike then began a deep study of the multitudes of theological and scientific thought. Mike used the book of the Good News of John, chapter one, verse fourteen as his guide to a new way of living: And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. [NASB]

During two moves, as Mike continued with his conservative churches, he did not hide his new thinking, but discussed it with the members of whatever church he attended. Mike found that he could have amicable relations with those of opposing views. He "identified four fears about considering evolutionary creationism that, in most cases, mirrored those I experienced in my own journey" that would aid him in conversations with those who believed in a different manner.

Part 2 of Mike's essay, entitled: Losing Biblical Authority deals first of all with "fear of losing the Bible as one's spiritual anchor and source of authority."

Mike views the first chapter of Genesis as more metaphorical than actual. He believes, as do others, that if one reads the beginning of Genesis the only take-away that someone will certainly get is an unscientific impression. "I readily admit that the “literal sense” of Genesis 1— as dictated by our own culture that focuses on material origins and unwittingly holds Genesis 1 hostage to the scientific method—does in fact rule out cosmological and biological evolution as God’s creative methods."

His brighter understanding was truly sparked when he discovered someone who held a flaming light. "It was at this time that I discovered the works of John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College."

Mike believes that the creation was performed by God in six days with a day off and that "the 7-day structure of the creation week, had its roots in an ancient Near (ANE) cognitive environment that held the concepts of function and purpose to be more important than (but not entirely exclusive of) material origins, the latter of which currently guides our modern, scientific way of thinking. It even reconciled the seemingly contradictory accounts of a week long series of creative acts and a 13.8-billion-year-old universe." This previous sentence is an example of the depth of Mike’s writing style.

Throughout his examinations of sources, Mike was MORE assured of the Bible's authority than less, as most people would have been after studying the texts for such a long period of time. Mike decided to "...let the Bible to speak for itself, using the best Biblical scholarship available to determine who wrote the various books of the Bible, to whom they were written, and when they were written, I could have confidence that the end result would be a more faithful pronouncement of what the Bible is actually telling us, millennia later, through ancient voices."

"Confronting Our Fears, Part 3: Losing Our Savior" is the next statement on one of Mike's fears he had to confront.

Mike views Adam & Eve, as many do, as bringing sin & death into the world. He states that Paul believed Adam was a very real human, as Paul knew Jesus to be, although Paul never met either man. He asks himself this question: "How could an historical, literal Jesus solve the very real problem of sin that resulted from the rebellious act of a mythical, literary Adam?"

He attempts to answer this question and I'll leave it to the reader to discover his result.

Part 4 of his essay on Confronting Our Fears is called: Losing Face. At the outset, Mike inserts a lengthy quote from Saint Augustine, extracts of which I add here...

"Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics..." (Augustine is referring to the natural world as understood by Augustine's generation and then later adds) "...If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead , the hope of eternal life, and the Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics of heaven..." Parentheses my own.

Mike admits that he had been wrong about his understanding of the theology he previously knew and his inability to accept his own errors. "For a good portion of my life, I had an extremely difficult time admitting that I was wrong. To do so was an admission of intellectual failure, faulty logic, or simple ignorance—not knowing everything about everything." Mike being so thorough, he even adds a note on the definition of "ignorant."

According to Mike, fear seems to pervade the unconsciousness of conservative evangelical Christians and they show their fear by "'holding the line' against certain areas of scientific study, rather than being willing to admit that we might be wrong." He adds that the way evangelicals view their theology is akin to perusing a menu of foods they already like and refuse others they don’t. Mike's view of the typical conservative Christian is not very flattering. Mike quotes Wheaton College’s Professor of Christian Thought, Mark Noll, “’The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.’"

But Mike's thoughts on theology did begin to gradually change. Here is how Mike explains his old way of thinking: "I believe I’ve been able to 'reverse engineer' what happened in my own life: It was a subtle slide from a confident faith into a comfortable, unwitting arrogance." As he had also done, Mike advises a seeking conservative Christian to begin with "multi-view comparisons and critiques" of all the biblical sources that they can unearth, but he gives words of warning to the seeking Christian: "If you’re not confronted with tension, questions, and doubts in your day-to-day spiritual walk, something’s wrong."

In the final part of Mike’s essay -- Confronting Our Fears, part 5: Losing Peace, Mike talks about his difficulties in moving around the country because of his job requirements. Mike states that seeking out fundamentalist churches is a, "'known quantity' in each location in which we’ve lived—dependable places to find Christian community." He let the Holy Spirit be his guide, although it might place him and his family "right in the middle of all sorts of potential anxiety." Mike begins an itemizing of the sources of probable angst with a number of possible stressful situation scenarios, but I’ll let you read that yourself.

In the end, after keeping his inner peace, Mike wonders why "church members, pastors, elders, and deacons have blessed me by not causing me to endure any significant persecution. So what’s the secret?" (Of course, I can't reveal it and spoil your reading enjoyment.) Yet, I will let Mike add this; "Whatever your situation is, treat those who persecute you with love, patience, and understanding, and reassure them of your steadfast devotion to Jesus Christ

Mike wraps up his personal story with this quote from the Bible:

"Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [1 Pet 3: 14b-16, ESV]"

The next story is entitled, The Joy of Confession by Rev. Shannon Murray. In the beginning of Shannon’s story she informs the reader of a confession she made during a bible study. I don't want to give it away. For after all, you need a little suspense to stoke your desire to read the book.

Shannon’s childhood wasn't steeped in Christian religiosity. Her faith grew slowly and as she says, "I’m still becoming, growing, stumbling, learning, and honestly, I am a little prickly around folks who feel like they don’t need to do any of that because they have arrived..."

Shannon tells her story in a conversational style that is very readable, especially when she relates the story of her grandparent's typical household Jesus picture. "...There was a constant presence of Christ in our house in the form of a sepia tone Jesus painting on the living room wall; you know the one that is standard issue d├ęcor for every elderly folks Sunday school room you have ever been in? Yeah, that one. He had hung there since before my birth, right over the loveseat, a camouflage Christ in browns and beiges nearly blending in with the faux wood paneling and staring off at the television as if deeply contemplating the wonder of rabbit ear antennas. I first noticed him, really saw him, when I was in preschool and I became mesmerized by this Messiah in my midst; how could I have missed him all these years? When I had asked who was in the painting, my Papa gently said, 'Well baby, that’s Jesus.'"

Shannon’s early life was filled with turmoil. Her only drive was to get through school and enter college, yet things did not improve. Here's what she says about it: "If childhood was about scraping my way up and out college was the free-fall from whatever height I thought I had attained." After she graduated, she had little to look forward to. She had very little faith and seemed to wander lost upon a road dimly illuminated by atheism. "Partying and working a dead end job was all there was to life after graduation." As Shannon saw it, her future was limited. This is what she says: "Ah yes, first comes love (and college) … then comes marriage … then comes baby in the baby carriage! So goes the playground song and so it was for me."

This was exactly the direction she steered her life. She met a man, married and had a baby. "I decided one day that the next thing after a baby is born is a baptism... but there was an issue, I couldn’t ask for the baby to be baptized if I hadn’t been baptized myself."

Shannon’s road became a little brighter when she was baptized. This is how she eloquently phrases her experience: "So I was baptized and the vow, well, it kind of started to work on me and make me think and then there was the water; though I cannot really explain it, as it was poured on my head, it did not feel normal; something was different. In hindsight, I see how God began to take this opportunity to get His foot in my door and even though I did not fully realize it, I was marked, set apart, and He was not about to give up on me."

As is often the case in life, when one feels the presence of something greater, one also is on the threshold of terrible events. This happened to Shannon. Her new baby became seriously ill and she had another one in her immediate future. Her life seemed to have slid down the muddy slopes of insecurity and fear. A strange and gripping form of desperation enclosed her soul. "I had one potentially very sick baby and another on the way but because all my hope had always been in what was next and now, for the first time. This was the beginning of my 'rock bottom'. My way, my pattern for survival no longer worked, no longer made any sense. It was not going to get better going forward; going back or staying put were not options either." Shannon's second baby was also diagnosed with a life threatening illness. She increasingly questioned the entire meaning of her life, the reasons for her, or anyone's existence. "Why had any of the terrible things that had happened to me, or anyone else for that matter, ever happened? I moved from anger to despair." Shannon's story of this period in her life is filled with painful questions and terrifying anxieties.

Of course, as in any Christian believer's life the big questions arise. "I moved from a rhetorical, angry questioning, 'God, what are You doing?!', to a place where the tone changed to pleading and longing, 'God, what are You doing.'" Then a day came when Shannon was in the hospital wishing to attend her newborn in ICU, but the doctors kept her out. “There, on the wall in back, was a painting; a sepia Jesus. I turned away, overwhelmed, angry, scared, exhausted, confused, and I dropped to my knees, sobbing uncontrollably.” Yet, as things have a wont, her life of faith seemed to make things go  just a bit smoother. As things began to settle down in her life, Shannon and her husband began to attend church where she "began a rapid learning and growing process; it was like a wildfire that had smoldered for a long time had finally caught a good gust of holy wind."

Shannon eventually attended seminary and received her first pastoral assignment. By asking the right questions her growth process continued. "I finally went from planning what was next at the cost of the present to finding joy in the day at hand and waiting with excited expectation to see what God had next. Then, when the storms in my life came, which they did and continued to do, I finally started asking, 'God, what are we going to do.'"

The fourth thesis is by Joel L. Watts, one of the co-editors. It is entitled: Excursis - King James Onlyism. (This is the definition of excursis from Wikipedia: An excursus (from Latin excurrere, "to run out of") is a short episode or anecdote in a work of literature.)

Joel's essay is very in depth and explanatory. It is easily understood by the non-academic and deals with the present day use of the Cambridge (pure text) and the Oxford King James (not the Saint James) Version of the bible as the ONLY biblical sources for conservative fundamentalist Christians. The citations Joel presents are mostly those from the Internet, because as he states: "The internet has, without doubt, aided the KJVO movement."

Joel begins his exposition on the King James Version Only bible believers, thusly: "Further, it [the essay] will examine the comparisons between the KJVO movement and the fight against the creation of the English Bible, namely by Wycliffe and Tyndale. We will close with an examination of future trajectories." Brackets are mine.

Joel has determined, and rightly so, that the KJVO movement can be and is considered a conservative evangelical Christian cult and is mainly active within the southern sectors of the Bible Belt. "The KJVO doctrine is not limited to one sect or church. While more often, Independent Fundamentalist Baptists are KJVO, so too are Oneness Holiness sects as well as some United Pentecostal Churches. In many parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, United Methodist Churches continue to be KJV Only." The historical antecedents of the movement began with, as Joel puts it; "...the publication of Our Authorized Bible Vindicated in 1930 by a Seventh-day is rooted in MYTHS of pure texts, hidden bibles, and Satanic attempts to destroy the Word of God. Yet, it strangely mirrors the fight Jerome was presented with in the late fourth century and the same fight which cost the great saint of the English bible, William Tyndale, his life." Emphasis added by me.

Joel concentrates his essay within "the journey from the Vulgate to the King James Version of 1611." Then he presents a short historical expose of the many subsequent English translations from the Greek and Hebrew, until he arrives at the birth of the KJV. "After a return to Anglicanism, it was King James IV of Scotland who was also the first of that name to sit upon the English throne, who ordered an authorized version to combat the attacks upon his sovereignty made by the notes in the Geneva Bible." The KJV remained the standard English bible, until the arrival of the Revised Version in 1885. "Like the 1611 version, the Revised Version is also authorized by the English throne, but it never received the same traction. Even with the 1901 release of the American Standard Version, the King James still reigned supreme."

Joel takes us through the many ways in which the King James Only movement, led at first by Benjamin Wilkinson and then by Will Kinney, attacked each subsequent version of the English bible, no matter the accuracy of the texts. "Both men suggest that there are in reality only two bibles, the King James and the Catholic Bibles." In the present day, people like Peter Ruckman, Gail Riplinger and others continue their rant against the best translations scholars can provide, using the oldest Greek and Hebrew texts known. Joel illustrates the comments and methods they use to sway believers into using what is now known as a flawed text. The use of the KJV only continues to mislead believers down egoistically paved avenues of falsehood. As Joel puts it: "With the plethora of bible translations comes the sense that reading the bible has been somehow democratized. As with any paradigm shift, this causes the powers that be to seek a path forward that essentially keeps them in control."

Joel takes the reader through a wonderful journey of fatuous intrigue, fantastic conspiracies and fabricated evidence. The many and varied methods used by members of the King James Only movement is fascinating. "They have sharpened their attack in recent decades, moving away from needing originals and from the Textus Receptus to suggesting that the KJV is so inspired, that it is advanced revelation. They often charge their opponents with virtual atheism or if the opponents are lucky, at the very least, apostasy. Anti-Catholic bigotry and conspiracy theories abound in the KJVO camp."

Today, modern promulgators of the English Standard Version (Crossway, 2007) push it as the best version to succeed the KJV, but Joel points out that it is basically sexist in orientation. "We must note that the trumpeters of the ESV often cite the gender-neutral approach of other translations as reason why the ESV is superior."

Joel makes a fine presentation in his essay and I definitely recommend the interested to read it in it's entirety.

The Conclusion is written by Travis Milam. It summarizes the reasons why very many Judeo/Christian believers have their faith tinged in the shadow of fear. As Travis says, “Jesus never motivated anyone to follow him by using fear.” Fear is used by those of little faith and/or knowledge to gain followers that will raise the leader’s egoism to the highest levels, while making the followers more unseeing. "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Matt 15:14 NASB

Please read this book and the other 12 essays, for they will give you much faith, hope, love.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Heaven Awaits?

As little children, we are told,
“You shall die when you grow old,
“But you will have to wait,
And then you’ll go to heaven’s gate.”

In many times, it has been said,
“Say your night prayers by your bed.
And you may have to wait,
But then you go through heaven’s gate.”

“Where is heaven?” children wonder.
Our eyes roll up and look up yonder,
“Yes, we may have to wait,
But way up there is heaven’s gate.”

The children think, the children sigh.
A tiny tear drops from a teeny eye.
They may have to wait,
Yet, they do know
That heaven’s gate,
Is not up there and in the sky.
For they see truly and aloud they cry;
“I need not wait,
For In my heart,
Is heaven’s gate!”


Chapter 1.

Night dreams. What are they made of? Who knows? All I knew was, that in that particular fantasy, I was floating on a bed of cloud, watching with increasing interest, a scantily clad and an extremely attractive young lady seductively bending forward over me. She negligently revealed those secrets of feminine pulchritude normally reserved for an intimate lover. That must be me! I thought dreamily. Yippee! I felt her light fingertips gently caress my strong manly forehead, trace a sinuous line across my bushy eyebrow, slip down the bridge of my nose, and then hotly touch my fevered eyelid. I felt the lid suddenly jerked open.

“Hey, you!” I heard a tiny voice say.

I saw a blurry image of another eye peering into my cornea.

“Huh?” I asked.

My eyelid was released with a snap. The woman of my erotic dreams evaporated back into the stuff that dreams are made of, and it was, not so subtly, replaced by the reality of an excruciating pain in my nostrils. It felt like they were being crushed and twisted by a fiendishly annoyed nutcracker.

“Come on, meathead!” My nose got another jerk, “Wake the hell up!”

I did, and with alacrity. As both of my eyes popped open, they had the sensation of rotten Italian meatballs coated in gritty Parmesan cheese and left too long in the sun.

“Oh!” I moaned.

I began to rub my nose, and as I did, my hand bumped something resilient and a second later I heard a muffled, rumbling sound coming from somewhere below me. To my sleep addled ears, it sounded like a muted miniature bowling alley or the distant faded echoes of artillery fire. Thinking this brought me a touch closer to awareness, and I realized that I was lying on a sofa. When I turned my head to look down, I perceived a little man standing there. It seemed to be an animated G.I. Joe doll. I closed my eyes again and shook my head, but upon reopening them, he was still there. A ten-inch tall olive green man, with his arms crossed and a one-inch booted foot tapping on the floor, and completely nude!

“Think you’re something else, doncha?” The little chap said with a growl.

Faster than I could blink an eye (an action I dreaded), he had crawled up my dangling arm and hopped back onto my chin, from which I must have dislodged him. He straddled it and began giving me a series of tiny, but brutal head butts to my already tingling nose.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Cut that out, Mr. Gee!”

I groaned again, for by that time I had apprehended his identity. He was my boss and he is a gnome. (More about this in the Next Chapter.)

He slapped my cheeks a few times and in response, I began to sit up. He grabbed a viselike hold of my ears to keep from falling off my face, the pain of which caused me to gently remove him… at least that was my intention. In reality, it only caused an extreme stretching of my earlobes.

“Come on, Mr. Gee,” I said as calmly as I could. “Let go and I’ll set you down.”

“Right!” He replied and I placed him beside me, he looking up at me and I looking down at him.

“So, what gives, Junior?” He asked me while scratching his hairless chest. “What time did you sneak in last night?”

“I din’t sdeak id, Boss, I hab a gey.” I said, with that air of injured ego children display with a hand stuck in the cookie jar. “As you certainly well know.” I added upon readjusting my nose.

“So whatcha doin’ here this early in the goddamn mornin’?” He said, glancing at the wall clock above the desk. “Hell’s bells, sonny,” he supplemented with a punch on my hip. “It’s almost eight in the ay-em!”

Being hit by a little doll-like man may seem to you of no account. A mere brush by a gnat, you may think, or a flick of a child’s finger. But, you would be incredibly wrong. Mr. Gee’s cuff was akin to that of jab by Mr. Muhammad Ali.

I stretched, carefully avoiding dislodging him yet again; popping my neck as I gathered my fleece blanketed thoughts of why I had snuck in so early on this particular morning. I then remembered that I had received an email the night before from a prospective client asking for our services. Upon replying with my interest in the matter, I had set an appointment for eight o’clock… TODAY!

Holy, batshit! My mind screamed. She’ll be here any second!

I stood up like a rocket and frantically looked around our office for signs of disorder and then recalled with alarm that Mr. Gee was utterly unclad and flagrante delicto to most of the civilized world’s accustomed social norms. The door buzzer buzzed.

“Who in hell could that be at this ungodly hour!” Mr. Gee hollered, as he jumped off the couch.

“Uh…” I faltered. Then I said, “That would be Ms. Penny Pincher from Magnus Opus, Inc.”

Mr. Gee resumed his perfectly practiced stance of folded arms and toe tapping the linoleum.

“Ms. Who from what-the-hell?” He sputtered.

“Yes,” I said, snatching him from the floor and quickly carrying him toward his box.

(One must understand that his box is a refrigerator packing crate filled to the brim with personal amenities, including a privy, a wet bar and a home entertainment center, minus a kitchen; we normally ate cooked food deliveries. So, please do not contact the ASPCA. Besides, Mr. Gee is not an animal and regrettably is not under the law of humanity, although he does share some of the Homo sapiens genome; pun not intended.)

I kneeled down and released Mr. Gee, shooing him toward his cardboard domicile. (Walls reinforced with carbon nanotubing, roofed in terracotta tiles, pleasant beige stucco walls on the outside and polished wood paneled interior, and all electric utilities.) He reluctantly complied, but before he streamed his normal torrent of abuse and protestations to the contrary, I shoved him inside and slammed his miniature door. (Oak carved with inset beveled, diamond shaped, stained glass panes, composed of rather bizarre images of his home country… and brass fixtures.) I hurriedly explained the situation to him through his opened window (triple-pane bulletproof acrylic optical polymer).

“Sorry, Mr. Gee.” I said. “This client may be a wonderful source of ready cash, and it would be a dire shame if we let this opportunity fly with the wind and out of the door.”

His beet-red face nodded, yet I could see that he wasn’t entirely mollified by the minute flecks of foam splattering through the window.

“Office mortgage due the fifteenth.” I reminded him. “Be back post haste, Mr. Gee.” I said.

Straightening up, I became aware that the buzzer had ceased buzzing.

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “It may be wise to get dressed, sir, just in case.”

He answered me with the slam of the window

In severe and fluttering anxiety, I sprinted to the front office door, fearing that our prospective client may have truly gone with the wind. This entailed my making hasty detours around various furniture and picking up sundry items of clothing scattered by a gnome with little or no housekeeping wherewithal. Then I flew through the small conference room, and emerged in the front hall. As I bypassed the empty receptionist’s booth (Kriśna having gone to Calcutta on holiday), I threw the lot over and behind the counter, giving the smelly pile a good kick under it for good measure.

Approaching the door, I peered into the peephole to verify what I had seen on the LCD monitor. I confirmed that our visitor was indeed a young woman in a blue pinstriped suit, with wavy, shoulder length, brown hair and wearing huge glasses framed in black plastic. I couldn’t see her shoes, but instinctually I knew them to be sensible and very probably brown. She was dangling a tannish briefcase in her left hand, and by this token, I absolutely knew she really meant business. Flicking the alarm off, I unfastened the three deadbolts, and opened the red painted steel door. Flashing my brilliant one thousand-lumen smile, I asked her to come in, with a grand sweep of my arm and a slight suggestion of a bow.

Glancing at our business card in her right hand, she nodded pertly in return and asked me, “Do I have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Gnome?”

“No,” I said, closing the door. Then after refastening the locks and resetting the alarm, I added, “No…uh…Ms…” Due to the rush of the moment and the dazzling beauty of her face, I had forgotten her name.

“Ms. Pennypincher,” she said, with a crooked smile, looking up and down my six foot six, (if I do say so myself) athletic, muscular frame. I courteously returned this kindness with an appropriate gaze, yet mine took a bit longer and had more intensity. She was not fazed one little bit, which deflated my ego with an audible sigh.

“I am Thomas Douteux, Ms. Pennypincher,” I said with a discrete nod. “Assistant to Mr. Gnome, who is regrettably not here at the moment.”

Noting the disappointed look in her eyes, I added, “But, I assure you that I have Mr. Gnome’s complete confidence and can initiate any and all business matters in his absence.”

Indicating a deep and maroon velvet armchair, I motioned her to sit down. Having sat, she set her briefcase upon the glass coffee table. I sat down; but only after she did. (Savoir faire is my middle name, Mr. Gee has told me on a number of occasions. It is one of the main reasons he hired me; the other was my discovery of him, a tale of which I will relate in the next chapter.)
2. NEXT CHAPTER (if anytwo are interested...)

The Adventures of a Babe in Toyland: Retrospective of a Societal Microcosm - Ages Zero Through Seven

As I have trudged the winding road of my life, many people have asked me why I am such an ass-hole. Let this be my reply.

It all started in the year of our Lord, one thousand, fifty-three when I had the misfortune (or otherwise depending on POV) of being hatched in a cabbage patch (or so I was told). Everything was hunky-dory in my personal Dreamtime, because I did nothing but demand the complete attention of those other outside BIG beings that attended to my needs. Then about five years later I became aware that I was NOT the center of this, my universe. No, I shared this extraordinary realm with beings that looked like me, although they came in assorted shapes and sizes. I also discovered bugs, which to my immense pleasure entertained me far more than the variety of human species. Bugs made me smile. Humans made me frown. I also became conscious of a sense of wonder about my environment. It was HUGE and I was so very little. I was in IT and IT surrounded me. I discovered dichotomy, polarity, and duality and was able to make comparisons. Heavy shit for a five-year-old.

Also, about this time, I heard two “voices” that were not made by the immediate humans who inhabited this space along with me. No. These “voices” were coming from points just above my head and near my right shoulder, approximately one foot away and they were male. These voices revealed seemingly contradictory information. The “head” voice was sternly letting me know the outcome of a particular habit that I had developed and the “shoulder” voice informed me that it didn’t make much difference whether I continued the action or not. Both voices used a vocabulary that I did not understand, but the “shoulder” voice made more sense. I never heard from them again. Really heavy shit for a six-year-old!

From that point on, my life went on like a movie show, reel changes coming at fairly expected intervals. I began school, REAL school—first grade in fact. I had finished kindergarten in St. Louis, Missouri and started first grade in Aurora, Colorado. Okay, I have to admit it was not the usual reel change. Yet, it definitely was a REAL change in my small life.

This missive is about school and my experiences with the educational system of post-War America. School is a microcosm of the so-called “real” world. I observed all of these incidents as if from the outside looking in. Except for the occasional pummeling from bullies or my father, I kept a fairly adequate objectivity. Although, pain has a tendency to immerse one’s self into the real reality. My reason for the preamble that you have just read is to illustrate that my objectivity was a bit tainted from previous perceptual preconceptions; i.e., my unusual frame of reference.

I had my “child’s garden” when I had lived in St. Louis. To be more accurate, I attended school in Wellston, Missouri, a suburban city-within-a-city. I have no remembrances of being afraid upon my initiatory entry into the grand two-story solid brick edifice during the year of nineteen fifty-eight. What I do recall is; how to drink a half-pint of cold milk quickly, before it became warm, how to lie down upon a plastic mattress and meditate to Brahms, how to make a balloon on a stick for John Lennon’s favorite digit, how to share and feel empathy, and how to come home when school let out…immediately.

Kindergarten was where I became a social unit in harmony with others. I encountered within me a sensation of stomach drop, akin to what one would feel of falling or on an elevator’s sudden plummet. This sensation would appear as I witnessed a fellow child becoming hurt and in pain. It did not occur when they cried for a stolen toy or spilt finger paint. I later realized that I had experienced a form of physical empathy. To my consternation, then as now, this feeling has never left me. I write “consternation”, but not “dismay”, for although I do not enjoy the experience, I know now that it is something to be cultivated, if I wish to understand my brother and sister human being…Homo sapiens sapiens.

This impression of philadelphos led to my becoming friends with a neat kid named Charles, and Charles was as excited about the coming space race, as I was. We played astronaut on the jungle gym, sometimes attempting to chase the other kids away—who ignored us—so that Charles and I could gain the upper reaches of the playground structure and have our very own cockpit. I was increasingly amplifying my imaginative thought processing. Due to our inability to achieve our goal, one-day we decided to stay after class and have the “monkey bars” all to ourselves. Our friendship and shared imagination was all consuming and afternoon too quickly changed into evening with the arrival of my father, who by then was not amused. I learned that hierarchical dominance was to be given complete attention. I whipped me rather severely. This put a damper on my friendship with Charles and any ideas of mine of exploring my universe without adult supervision for at least a year. All in all my kindergarten adventure was very productive. I highly recommend this form of early childhood education. I wish that the rest of my academic careening had been as much fun.

I learned to read in first grade and to do so silently. The book of curricular choice was Fun with Dick and Jane. Wow! I thought to myself. I wish I had friends like Dick and Jane and Sally and Spot and whatever that kitten’s name had been…Fluffy? And, I wished that I had a mom and dad just like those kids did, too. As I read, I’d peek around to determine what the other kids were up to. Did they read with their lips moving like I did, or out loud as I did not do? I learned social awareness expressed in comparison with my peers. So far, the only thing that the elementary school had given me was the book and lunch. Therefore, I developed a fantasy life. I was hooked on books forever more. I was on the fast track to becoming an ass hole.

Elementary school is a class system graduated upon age. Everyone knows this and suffers from it to this very day. One day, this social stratification was upended when a student from Mexico came to our class and stayed. He was ten years old and knew little English, but he could make a really nifty gun with his hand. He used TWO fingers for the barrel and said, “Pow-pow!” Not, the usual “bang-bang” or the index fingered barrel as we typical USA kids had been doing. His name was José, he always smiled and when he was with us on the playground, I never once had an encounter with a bully. I thought that he was the neatest kid I had ever met. I learned to say, si, gracias, amigo and pow-pow. I was becoming multi-cultural and class indeterminate. Only in America!

One must remember that this was in the time of President Eisenhower and the country was slowly coming out of the post-War economic doldrums. My school had recently been built in the modern brick façade, one-story, small window category that used tons of hydrocarbons to keep it warm in the Colorado winter. Of course, this was beyond my pay grade at the time. I was not aware of the physical plant and the maintenance of it, as I am now. I did “see” a janitor now and then, but he (they were stereotypically “he”) was faceless and therefore rendered unmemorable. This also applied to the kitchen staff, unless one wished a second helping of mashed potatoes. The only important people in my academic life were the teachers and the principal (who was God and the devil rolled into one). I had learned of the anonymity of the service sector and the hierarchy of rulers. I had already understood the tyranny of leadership from my service-retired father, so I knew when to jump and how high. I was rolling right along, educationally speaking. I made it out of first grade and my father made it out of Aurora. I started second grade in Denver.

So far, I had been to three different schools and I was only seven years old. I was an academic pro by then. Plus, I had become a good judge of character—at least little kid character—and knew when to hold, fold or run away. This is about the time I needed glasses or my educational career would be completely ruined. Some enterprising member of my new school’s administration, in consultation with my new schoolteacher, came to the conclusion that my grades might be slipping due to my inability to see the blackboard. Voilà! Mr. Holmes would have been very proud. Also, I was having trouble following instruction and was sent (with parental permission) to a social worker, much to the chagrin of the aforesaid parental. Whispers around me from these savants of early childhood education suggested that I might be having “problems at home”. My father insisted that this could not be the case, with a shaking fist in my face. I went alone by bus, into downtown Denver. When I arrived at the building, I looked at inkblots and put puzzles together, talked with a very nice man in a tie and was sent home. I had ascertained my psycho/social relationship with the predominate culture. I never told him that I hated my glasses, because they were the mark of Cain, as far as I was concerned. This was parentally verboten, too.  I totally knew that from then on, I’d get my ass whipped quite often and called “Four eyes!” Therefore, I developed an almost sixth sense for ally identification and a wicked sense of humor. Hey! I had to protect my scrawny ass one way or another and I chose both. I became an adapter.

I went halfway through my new school, then Dad dragged me out and I went to a new-new school in the Rocky Mountains. Idaho Springs to be exact. Had a great time. Even became a Cub Scout, an extra-curricular branch of modern American education where I learned uniform conformity. It was in this sleepy, tiny locale of a once bustling silver/gold boomtown (that happened to be next to the innovative Interstate 70 highway and not far from the dynamite and earthmovers of the Eisenhower Tunnel construction project) that big screen motion pictures revealed themselves to me. Wow! Now, I could envision the outside world beyond my immediate ken. I saw my first 3-D movie there, The Mask. Unfortunately, I saw it all alone and had to go back home, all alone, then go to sleep, all alone, and it had scared the living shit out of me! I understood real fear for the first time, a fear that was not only of MY imagination, but a fear instilled within me from an ethereal flickering fuzzy tri-dimensional source. Not fear as a lion or tiger, REAL kinds of fear, but something brand spanking new that invaded my small world paradigm. I had to endure it all by myself with a paper bag of chocolate-malted balls…Leaf Brand, if I remember correctly. I had found out the utility of using chemicals to modify my brain chemistry in order to “deal” with uncontrollable events. Similar to drug addiction causation. I was well on my way to becoming a “normal” fucked-up American.
My dad and I lived on Main Street; at least I remembered it as Main Street. From recently inspecting maps of the area, I may have lived on Colorado Blvd. or Miner St. I was only seven at the time and it was many moons ago, so my recall is a little bit weak. I do remember that it was also called US 40. We lived on the second floor of a very old brick building that used to be someone’s house and sometime later was divided into apartments—up and down. There was a small kitchen just inside the front entry at the top of a narrow stairway and a large bedroom off the kitchen that we shared. Dad had invested into a bar with some man that I never met before, which was why we had moved there. I walked to school and it wasn’t too far, five or six blocks or so west of the apartment and I always walked past the bar on the way to school. The school and the bar had names, but both escape me now. About the same distance away, toward the east were the drug store and the movie theater, they had unremembered titles as well.

In this school I learned many new concepts and ideas. The most familiar idea that I remember learning was about the “Indians” of the Southwest. Of course, now we know them as native Americans or the indigenous peoples. But in nineteen-sixty they were Indians. Since Colorado was home primarily to the Utes on the Western Slope and the Arapaho on the Eastern Slope, we studied the Navajo. We got to do sand paintings and made clumsy pots out of ropes of terra cotta, watched slides and read our textbook out loud to the class. That’s about all I can remember. I must have learned some arithmetic, yet it is absent. I should have learned some English grammar, but this draws a blank. I was very interested in science, but nothing lingers in my mind. Nothing but Indians and orange juice popsicles is present in my memories. I learned to make and desire orange-juice popsicles. Our class had special deep molds for the juice. I also learned to use a straw for the half-pint milk carton. I had always opened up the little spout in first grade, but in second I discovered a new type of carton, one that had a foil covered hole on the top and that came with a straw attached. The straw was shaped into a point on one end and I jammed it into the foil, on through and down into the carton.

What I seemed to have learned must have been very subliminal and may reside deeply in my sub-conscious, because I have such miniscule memories of the experience, yet I do know that most of my education was freely given to me, but outside the classroom environment. I remember a whole lot of that. Since this a treatise on formal education, I feel obligated to leave this extracurricular activity to the side, although it is very telling of the inadequacy of the system of education in Colorado at that time. It seems a shame, too. I had great adventures and fun, which if you really think about it is the preferable method of actually learning anything substantial that will withstand the erosion of time.

One fine late Autumn day, my dad’s partner ran off with the cash box and we had to move away, back toward the metropolis of Denver, so he could get a job. Somewhere around this time, he also picked up a woman named Suzie. It was almost as if she had been a misplaced marionette and was lying around in a dark closet, then after rooting around, Dad had rescued her, brought her to Pinocchio status and helped her to set up house with us. One day she was not there, then one day she was. She stayed with us for about five years. She wasn’t a replacement for my mom, still alive and living back in St. Louis, but I liked her and she liked me. This was the third appearance of a post-mom female in our lives after Dad’s divorce and Suzie stayed the longest.

In Denver, I went to an almost carbon copy of the earlier Aurora elementary school to finish up my second grade. I was to learn later that schools were almost identically massed produced to keep up with the baby Boomer tsunami that swept the nation. Mostly cheap glass and brick veneer that could be set up in a big hurry. I’m not sure exactly where in the Denver metro area this school was located. It was on the outskirts and in a suburban setting, as I recall. Dad, Suzie and I lived in a small two-bedroom apartment that later became home to another woman—a friend of Suzie’s—to help with the rent.

Winter set in as I attended this school until the end of the year. That year’s snowfall was up to a couple of feet deep, yet all that I remember of it is when it began to thaw. I suppose this was because I knew soon school was to let out and the happiness this gave me caused the memory to be retained, but that’s about it. Nothing, nada, zilcho is in my mind from that school, at least anything that I would in the least label tangible. Once again, my mind has brilliant visions of the world outside of the academy, but inside the murky hallowed halls of knowledge…oh, I do recall a big globe of the earth.

Soon, Dad and I were on the move, as spring changed into summer, yet no Suzie. It seemed that her friend had vanished as well. For all that I knew, maybe they had been repossessed and sent to Geppetto’s workshop to be refitted and loaned out to a more deserving customer. We were on the way to Fort Logan, Colorado! Before we were to embark on this great adventure, we had to make a pit stop, because Dad had to rent another apartment in Denver. We had to wait for an old officer’s quarters to open up in the fort, before we could move in. Dad commuted, while I was babysat by a woman who was a retired army WAC. After we moved to the fort, she suddenly appeared and wanted me to call her mom. Dad said they were married.

The excitement of living in a real fort must have pushed Suzie and her friend right out of my mind. Of course, it wasn’t like the forts that I envisioned. These forts consisted of hewn upright logs placed in a circle around the homes of soldiers and guarded by patrolling men on the walls with black powder rifles and who patiently scanned the horizon for marauding Injuns. No. This fort seemed like a small village set on acres and acres of land, as far as my tiny eye could see, although it did have a parade ground, but with no parades that I ever saw. It also was the location of a mental health facility and on the outskirts of the fort was where my new school resided. I would soon begin my third grade there.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Burning Bridges

The man left town mutely, early one morn
When the town wished, he’d never been born.
Shunned by his kin, and stunned by his friends.
Ahead were beginnings, behind just old ends.

His wisdom was spoken with words needed said,
The sheep cried, “Impiety,” and wanted him dead.
Cast forth from society, his staff in his hand,
The man shook from his boots the last grains of sand.

Soon evening is fading, as the sun gently falls,
As night begins shading, the whippoorwill calls.
As ravens fly home, from valley to ridge,
Behind the man glows a bright burning bridge.

© 2013 C.M. Baker III

Being Stalked by the Beast of Darkness

When I was a child,
Starlight danced and
Whirled in my heart,
Lighting my mind and
Making me wild.

Yet, I was stalked by the beast
Of darkness lying ahead.
Soon the sun sets on my journey
Along the paths of the dead.

When I, as a young man,
With memories still new,
Somehow, I knew that life,
Was for living and
Giving that liar of old,
The devil, his due.

Yet, I was stalked by darkness,
By the beast up ahead.
Soon the sun sets on my journey
Along the paths of the dead.

Now I am older, feebler, but
Bolder than the child inside.
I can no longer run, seek or hide
From the knowledge that
Hope is my temple and
Love is my bride.

I am stalked by the beast
Of darkness, my old friend,
That waits for his feast
When my journey does end.

© 2013 Charles M Baker III


I wish you weren’t so busy,
Busies all you do,
Swinging through the scenery,
Like the monkeys at the zoo.

I wish you’d just sit down,
Jumping’s all you do.
Jumping up and down and up
Yes, you know it’s true!

If you weren’t so busy,
So busy as a bee,
Buzzing all around me, then
You could talk with me.

I wish that you’d be still.
Just to be and not to do.
Moving round and round and round
And, I’m so dizzy, too.

But, since you are so busy,
Too busy just to be
A decent human critter who
Cannot think of me.

I guess that I’m too busy,
Much to busy, too.
To cry away my hours,
For the likes of you.

© 2008 C. M. Baker III

Ravening Sheep

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." A well-known and wise man once said.

Substitute “prophets” for “leaders”.

I seem to see these critters wherever I look these days. Of course, they have been lurking around corners and in shadowy places since time immemorial. We just see them as emperors without clothes. Naturally, they MUST wear clothes, but nowadays they wear woolen three-piece sheep suits and sweat in the bright lights of television. They run hugely complicated machines that do nothing but steal the bread from babies’ mouths, thieve old women’s crutches, and generally make a big nuisance of themselves by ripping off our dignities. Don’t let them fool YOU, though. We know them by their fruit: war, death, and destruction.

So, don’t let them pull the wool over YOUR eyes. They are actually very naked and very afraid.

Below are some words spoken by Yeshua of Nazareth that illustrate the above:

Matthew 23:1-33

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them Rabbi.

"But you are not to be called Rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one father — the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted. 

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves, and when others are going in, you stop them.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the sanctuary is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gold of the sanctuary is bound by the oath.' You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the sanctuary that has made the gold sacred? And you say, 'Whoever swears by the altar is bound by nothing, but whoever swears by the gift that is on the altar is bound by the oath.' How blind you are! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar, swears by it and by everything on it; and whoever swears by the sanctuary, swears by it and by the one who dwells in it; and whoever swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by the one who is seated upon it.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may become clean.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors. You snakes, you brood of vipers! How can you escape being sentenced to hell?"

Matthew 12: 33-37

"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

Matthew 7:15-23

"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers."

[verses from the NRSV and edited for reading clarity]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Peering Through a Glass Darkly

Peering Through a Glass Darkly

I climb exhaustedly, hunched over as I gain the summit on a hill of years, and from my elderly vantage point I can barely distinguish through a hazy distance a lonely church spire from which I dimly hear the tolling of a muffled bell. It beckons me, as would a doorbell ringing, children singing, or ice cream trucks dinging around my old neighborhood. Slowly shambling down my hill with an ever gradual spring in my stride, I begin to run. Sooner than a burst of lightning I am at the church building, my limbs tingling with the energy of youth.

Stretching my legs and pushing higher on the tips of my toes I can scarcely peer through a indigo blotch of stained glass. The inner light is dim, yet the sun shines through all the windows enough to show me nobody's home. An old hand and rhyming game runs through my perplexity. "Here's the church, here's the steeple. Open the doors and where's all the people." Then I awaken.

The above is an allusion to the fading Christian congregations that the increasingly secular scientific Western societies experience today. Some people believe that it must be that great ogre SCIENCE that is to blame, but when actually, I believe it's the amount of time spent every day seeking money and amusement. True, the more educated among us have become more secularized and cannot believe as wholeheartedly in religious superstitions as our ancestors. Yet, this hasn't removed the wow factor from our experiences. No, it has been replaced by an artifice beyond the imaginations of the greatest Epicurean philosophers. Why go to a church when there is a great game on or a groovy movie, not to mention the hundreds of schlock filled cable shows saturated with ads?

The awe has gone, that jaw-dropping sense of personal smallness, yet imbued with a buoyant sense of wonder that manufactures gods from the stuff of nature. And that's another problem, we no longer live withIN nature. We live insulated from and withOUT it. This also explains why a large minority of us seem oblivious to our surrounding environmental degradation.

Another major impediment to church attendance is the insidious hierarchical structure of organized religion. It is a turnoff for the young and the free-thinkers among us. It seems the only way to get folks into a church nowadays is for the elders to appeal to the selfish natures of our worst angels. In other words, promise the new coming tithers plenty of pie-in-the-sky dreams, controversies and MORE amusements. Something that is antithetical to the teaching of any prophetic savant, whether Christian, Judaic, Islamic, Buddhistic, take your pick. They all preach against what is happening now in our mega-churches.

It seems such a shame, although I have to confess that I don't go to church, either. My reasons for non-attendance are manifold.

The primary excuse goes like this: there are two churches in my small town, Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic. I have been baptized in the Southern Baptist tradition and this occurred when I was nine years old, not a truly responsible nor reasonable age to understand the complexities of Protestant dogma. Yet I truly believed at that age and before, as far back as five years old. But, as time progressed and my discovery of the racist founding of the Southern church led me to disdain the fellowship. As for the Roman Catholic church, I have not been catechized, therefore I cannot partake of the Eucharist. I am limited to these two choices, because I do not drive and the next nearest group of churches is fifteen miles away, a fairly long walk. Beside this excuse, I have another; I am not really into the doctrine of the Trinity, which I consider a Nicaean human compromise endorsed by a Roman imperator and not what I believe comes from the "hand" of the Father, the "God" that Yeshua of Nazareth taught his disciples to love. But, what I truly miss is "fellowship." (A term that is tinged with the shade of male chauvinism, yet is the one commonly used.)

To me, fellowship is the raison d'être of any church gathering. To be with sisters and brothers surrendered to agape IS heaven on earth.

[My next blog addition will be ABOUT the Kingdom of Heaven]

Martha Mary and Me

The day gently hushed to an end.
The western sky was a burning velveteen curtain,
Falling as vermilion ash to the blackened peaks on the horizon.

I was resting in the old battered porch swing.
I heard the front screen door rattle and the whine of the rusty spring.

She came gracefully into my sight,
Placed a wizened hand on my shoulder,
And descended beside me like an autumn sprite.

I nodded my head and patted her on the hem of her gown.
She turned to me and the sunset accented her tender frown.

“Beautiful evening, isn’t it, Martha Mary?”
I placed my arm around her cold, thin back.

“It is at that,” She grinned.
“Yes, it is a fine evening, Jack.”

We sat silently watching the ruddy sun shyly hide its face behind the mountains.

As the dusk grew, she began to fidget a little, I guessed to keep warm.
She was probably thinking about Them, and when They would come.
I hugged her closer, until she was nestled in my strong, young arm.
She tucked her arm through mine.

“Yes, Martha Mary,” I softly spoke her fear.
“They will soon be coming here.”

She nodded against my side and placed her withered hand on my thigh.

“I’m really not afraid, Jack.”
She said with a cautious sigh.

“I know you’re not, Martha Mary.”
I nodded with a smile, quiet and calm.
I brushed her soft white hair awhile with my callused palm.
“I know you aren’t.”

“Get the swing going, honey.”
I did, pushing back and letting go.

The creak of the rusty eyebolts sang of death,
Along with the crickets and the wheeze of breath.

“How could anyone ever be afraid of the angels, Jack?”

“Some are, Martha Mary,” I said. “Most aren’t.”

The darkness calmly shrouded us in a comforting gloom,
As we waited for the time to roll towards doom.

“Do you remember how old I am?”
She asked me, peering up to find my eyes.
Hers so warm. Hers so wise.

I nodded; even knowing she could not see me.
“Yes, Martha Mary,”
I hugged her tighter to me.
“You are seventy-three.”

“How old are you now, Jack.”

“Why, Martha Mary,”
I stopped to dredge my mind.
“I believe that I am twenty-eight years.”
She nodded her head against my side, dampened with her tears.

“It has not been long enough, Jack, but life has been kind.”

I looked up from her and stared into the night.
I caught the gleam of distant fairy light.

“They are here, Jack, my son.”
She started to stand up.
I held her and brought her back down.

“We still have a few more minutes,”
I said leaning my head down to hers as she lifted her face.
I gave her my last kiss and final embrace.

The insect songs seemed to die away, smothered by a nightfall cocoon.
We clung to each other in the blanketed darkness, knowing the light to come soon.

© 2013 Charles M. Baker III

Miriam the High Priestess

Below are verses from the Good News of Mark, chapter 14, verses 3 through 9. Quoted from the World English Bible:

While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard - very costly. She broke the jar, and poured it over his head.

But there were some who were indignant among themselves, saying, “Why has this ointment been wasted? For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii (300 denarii was about a years wages for an agricultural laborer) and given to the poor.” They grumbled against her.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying. Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her.”

In my opinion the above narrative recounts the exact moment when Yeshua of Nazareth became the Messiah - Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the woman is nameless in this Gospel and little remembered today, illustrating the bimillenial disdain for women in our Judeo/Christian culture and the total disregard that theologians have given to this extremely important passage in the first written gospel. It is surmised from the Gospel of John, chapter 11, verse 2, that it was Mary - the sister of Martha and Lazarus - that used the perfumed oil (chrism). In either case, whether a known or an unknown person, the anointer was surely a WOMAN. This anointing completely flies in the face of chauvinistic theologians who assert that the future kingly and/or priestly Messiah could only be anointed by a MALE high priest. The statement concerning the anointing of Jesus' body for burial and the future worldwide evangelism was most likely added by Mark or a later scribe. The comment, "that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her" is most likely Jesus' own.

Why has this been ignored or denied and forgotten through the centuries?