Merry crispness to you . . .

So, it’s apparently going to be one of those winters.  As of now, snow has fallen more than a foot deep in places in Virginia where I grew up and was lucky to see four inches the whole season.  (And if any snow fell and stuck to the ground, it was completely gone two days later.)

In Rochester, New York, air is cold and piercingly dry, snow is fine like caster sugar, and I don’t need a Van de Graaff generator to have my head look like a dandelion puff.  When the sun is out, it’s gloriously bright  because leafless deciduous trees are not filtering the light, but after sunset . . . brrr.

This is definitely the time of year to contemplate the religious and cultural traditions that focus on themes of light, warmth, life, love, and growth.  I love listening to the Christmas carol derived from Christina Rosetti’s poem In the Bleak Midwinter.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain,
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty —
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom Cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom Angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and Archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His Mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am? —
If I were a Shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man
I would do my part, —
Yet what I can I give Him, —
Give my heart.

This year, my advent calendar of a sort, my reminder of the Incarnation and the harsh environment in which it occurred, is my daily care and feeding of Mr. Boo-boo, a semi-feral cat who is now living on my porch.  He is the father, I am pretty sure, of Mr. Jo, the three-week-old kitten I found under my porch in July of 2017.  Christmas in July?  Maybe.

Anyway, Mr. Boo-boo is an incredibly sweet, gentle, friendly suck-up cat.  Yet also alert and bouncy when the occasion calls for it.

I have no room for him in my house, but I desperately want him to find a home.  I am even willing to pay for shots and neutering, as long as some true cat person is willing to give him a home to be the overlord of . . .

Whose religion?




There is a current perception in the United States that Christianity is a “white man’s religion” and that people who are not white have, throughout history, been oppressed by this religion.

First, in the one human race of many colors, people who have truly white skin are generally people who suffer from a genetic disorder called albinism.  People from all sorts of cultural backgrounds can suffer from this disorder and thus be “white men.”  Or “white women.”

Second, given the revelations that keep cropping up on YouTube, the source of all things true, it is possible that individuals all over the world with this genetic disorder (which causes health issues and social stigmas), may be so physically and psychologically damaged that the only thing that keeps them going is adherence to what many people deem a cult.

It is possible to find all sorts of “proof” everywhere you look on the Internet, the universe of truth, that Christianity has been, since its founding by a crazy Jewish rabbi, actually devoted to demon worship and child enslavement.  (People who protest that genuine Christianity is about loving and serving God, loving and serving other people, standing against injustice, and being willing to sacrifice one’s life for truth and peace . . . they are of course evil liars.)

It’s really hard to tell these days, since everything can be edited and photoshopped, and every lovely-sounding meme you research on seems to turn out to be a lie.

However, a check of that source of all things true, YouTube, seems to indicate that there are human beings who do NOT have albino skin color AND who profess to be Christians AND who do not seem to be dangerous, evil perverts.

How is that possible?  Christianity has to be the most evil lie on the face of the earth for so man people to believe it . . . or . . . maybe not.  Maybe not.








Shocker revealed! Bitey baby fail! God says, “Oh, Hell no!”

pouting child


Because God made the world and everything and everyone in it, everything and everyone should be treated with respect.

Because everything and everyone is made to show something good about who God is. Not just some things and not just some people.

Fear, panic, anger, finger-pointing, blame-placing, and manipulation should NEVER characterize our responses to events and people. EVER.

Respect should always characterize our response to the world around us.

It seems to me that ALL the great religions and philosophies have said this since the beginning of time.  And . . . all people of faith and goodwill have FAILED MISERABLY by their own efforts to do this.  The fact that wars are included in history books seems to be a perfect example of this.

People of faith and good will (just like people who don’t believe in anything except themselves) have always instinctively reacted, “It’s not my fault; it’s your fault.” The perfect flame to set off all kinds of explosions.

And yet, people of faith and good will do manage, somehow, to pull their heads out of their butts, recognize their stupidity and sin, ask forgiveness from God and others, and find ways to stop living as if their hearts and minds are full of dog poop.

The Christian faith calls this common grace. God is the one who enables ALL people to somehow get out of their sacks of self and get beyond fear, panic, anger, finger-pointing, blame-placing, and manipulation.

Why then, are there ever any moments when people clash, accuse, wound, seek revenge? Does a supposedly good God not care?

The Christian faith also teaches that God respects free will. If people have a moment where they really don’t want God in their lives, if they choose to try and make life safe and perfect by clashing, accusing, wounding, and seeking revenge . . . God says, “Okay, fine. You want to do this yourselves? Great. I’ll leave you to it. When you get tired of this, let me know.”

Clearly, events going on in the United States right now indicate that, on levels both personal and national, people of faith and goodwill, and people of no faith and bad will, are BOTH not tired yet.

So God has no problem keeping his hands off of things and letting them play out however they will.

Sadly, right now, it seems that, before the whiny, pouting, shrieking, hitting, biting babies of planet Earth start collapsing on the floor and begging to be put to bed . . . we will have broken a lot of vases and burned ourselves with a lot of matches.

The universe is my shepherd; I shall not want because I bleat to it regularly.

William Blake's illustration of his poem

[From Wikipedia:]

From my perspective, people who espouse no traditional, historical faith of any kind, and who see being grateful to an immaterial divine being as fearful suck-up-ness . . . these people are basically ignoring reality every time they express gratitude to the material universe and the laws by which it operates.  In reality, it seems to me, they are acting as if there *were* an immaterial divine being. but they are intensely ignoring that possibility so as to avoid the panic that always comes with confronting things beyond human comprehension.

This from the C. S. Lewis official website says it nicely for me . . .

Over half a century ago (in “The Laws of Nature,” 1945), C. S. Lewis asked readers to consider more carefully what we mean by the laws of physics. He noted that there are observed regularities in nature. If billiard ball A strikes billiard ball B in a certain way, then the second ball will move off at a predictable angle and rate of speed. But it was not any law of physics that set the second ball in motion; it was presumably the player who shot the first ball. As Lewis concludes, “In the whole history of the universe, the laws of Nature have never produced a single event” (God in the Dock, 77).

When Hawking and Mlodinow observe that “the laws of gravity and quantum mechanics allow universes to appear,” they are surely not asserting intention or agency, as if laws of physics allow universes to appear the same way parents might allow their children to go outside and play. But they seem to beg the prior question: from whence arose the laws of gravity and quantum mechanics? Who passed those laws?

Ironically, C. S. Lewis was not an early proponent of Intelligent Design. His book The Problem of Pain (1940) begins with one of the most forceful cases for atheism that has ever been made. After describing the universe as understood by contemporary science, Lewis concludes: “All stories will come to nothing: all life will turn out in the end to have been a transitory and senseless contortion upon the idiotic face of infinite matter. If you ask me to believe this is the work of a benevolent and omnipotent spirit, I reply that all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Either there is no spirit behind the universe, or else a spirit indifferent to good and evil, or else an evil spirit” (1-2). Lewis goes on to build his case for faith not upon unexpected features of the physical universe but rather upon nature of human consciousness and the revelations of the Divine that have emerged in human history.

Charlottesville, the failure of live and let live, and babies from Hell


For a long time now, rational dialog has been a basic coping skill of “civilized” people, organizations, and societies trying to get along. You know, two heads of state or two ambassadors or just two average folks having one of those famous “wide-ranging and productive” conversations.

It should be enough to present ideas clearly and neutrally, without reference to personal feelings, beliefs, or cultural biases.

Also, education and exposure to different ideas should be enough to neutralize existing threats to civilized life, whatever that may mean.

Where is that basic coping skill now? A lot of people I know who live in the United States appear to be in panic mode all the time about everything, especially things political.

I recently read that events in Charlottesville, Virginia should “scare the piss” out of everyone. I also read a comment that “it’s time for everyone to unite,” (meaning people of a particular political view, not people of differing views; it appeared that people of differing views were not welcome to unite).

And these were comments from extremely educated, extremely intelligent human beings.

Why are people, left, right, and central, abandoning a core belief of modern civilization, that being rational and neutral in public discourse is the way to avoid conflict?

What happened to the cool superiority of trusting in the intellect, avoiding sensitive issues, and respecting (but not mentioning) differences of belief and practice in various areas?

They have apparently been abandoned. Why? For one of two reasons:

1. People have been discovering (and been shocked by the discovery) that merely being rational and merely being inoffensive doesn’t work.

That’s because some threatening people are not rational, and enlightened self-interest is not part of their game plan.

Take the leader of North Korea as an example. He is doing whatever he wants, no matter what happens to the people he supposedly leads, and no matter what happens to the people he is threatening. He doesn’t give a barbecued rat’s butt about any of that. Smiling and having lunch and having a photo op with Kim Jong Un . . . not going to make a difference.

2. People have been lying about their belief in and reliance on rational dialog. They are spouting it because they are cynical and manipulative and selfish and frightened, and “rational dialog” is their way of hiding their sense of weakness behind a mask of intellectual superiority.

Their belief in rational dialog is situational. If it gives them an advantage to be publicly thoughtful and wise, they will be. If it doesn’t work, they have no problem being threatening, bullying, and nasty. They may be gun-toters; they may be tree-huggers; they may be aliens from Mars; if pasting a smile on their face and being polite doesn’t get them what they want, they are more than willing to shout, panic, point fingers, and demonize.

It’s not the behavior of mature human beings; it’s the behavior of children on a playground who are still, deep inside, toddlers clinging to all the toys, screaming if anyone says, “Share,” or “That’s not yours.”

Years ago, I read that it’s good that children are born small and helpless. If they were born, somehow, fully adult-sized, with adult mental and physical co-ordination, they would be monsters. A small child thwarted is inevitably a ball of frustration and anger and lashing out that could kill if it had adult thought and strength behind it.

From my perspective, the biggest problem is that the world today seems to be full of people of all sorts, from all sorts of places, with all sorts of beliefs (atheist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Bahai, Buddhist, whatever), who have on masks of maturity, but inside they are still powerless, frightened infants.

They don’t really care about anything outside themselves; they can’t even conceive of what it means to truly love and care for another human being. Self-sacrifice is a horrible punishment. Self-restraint is a doctrine from Hell.

So when something occurs, as it often does in life, that is outside their control, many people abandon their supposed commitment to civilized, peaceful, rational dialog and start smashing, verbally and physically, and other people smash back.

My inner toddler is certainly screaming right now. She has a deep desire to lash out and shout, “No, no, no!”

They say that we should always be the change we want to see in the world. I am more than a little horrified to discover that the change my inner toddler wants is to bite, throw things, and flail my arms and legs.

I am sometimes afraid to go out in my own neighborhood these days. I realized this morning that it is not because anyone else is the problem; often it is because, in responding to unsettling life events, I discover that I am still largely a toddler in many ways, thus a potential problem and threat to other human beings.

Note from the Hufflepuff Common Room*

*Hufflepuff is a less-well known house from the Harry Potter book and movie series; I think of them as the average wizards, not the National Honor Society wizards. The picture of the Hufflepuff common room is from Playstation by way of Pinterest.

I am the perfect example of fakery.  I think of myself as a sort of middling wizard in the Harry Potter saga who has never had the guts to stop trying to pass as a Muggle because, while Muggles are clueless, my fellow wizards are unwilling to cut me slack.

Because I have certain skills at communicating in writing, other people expect that I should be able to put my thoughts together and spit them out of my mouth quickly in a coherent, consistent, compelling way, perfectly edited, not hard to follow, and never unwittingly offensive.

I have no such ability in any social situation where I am called on to do more than make a very superficial comment about anything. I never have.

My sister, who is so verbally competent that she is the only wizard ever to be sorted for both Gryffindor and Ravenclaw, declared a couple of years ago, “You are exhausting.” Yes, waiting for me to answer a “simple” question, make a point, come to a conclusion . . . really, it exhausts *me* to try to find, streamline, and deliver an appropriate response out of the landfill of my brain.

If the right brain is the gas pedal on the backhoe of thought, and the left brain is the brake pedal, for me the gas pedal is almost always to the floor, and the brake pedal works only intermittently.  It is nearly impossible for me to scoop up any mental material with efficiency and precision.

It has always been this way. Always.

In science class, in seventh grade, I learned very well that the way I think and speak is not appropriate in most social settings.

The teacher had a prism and showed us how what we perceive as white light is actually made up of different colors, different wavelengths of light combined. When we see white objects, we see all the wavelengths of light reflected from that object. When we see an object of a certain color, such as a red apple, we are seeing only certain wavelengths of light.

I impulsively shot up my hand and was called on. I said, “That takes away all the magic [of color]!” (Said before I came to understand that magic is simply science that has not been correctly articulated yet.)

I basically responded to information the way I would have at home, in the safety of my neurodiverse family.

However, when my fellow students heard my comment, the whole crowd guffawed. The teacher rolled her eyes.

Score another one for the kid who, from first grade, collected many, many report card comments: “Does not pay attention” and “does not work up to potential.”

Since then, I have learned a lot about putting on a façade of some kind of vaguely snotty superiority–intellectual or creative or whatever–in order to keep that kind of ridicule at bay.

The reality is that we are all gifted and interesting and not ordinary in some way, and we all hide it or dumb it down or whatever in order to fit into our social environment, in order to find acceptance, in order not to be alone and afraid.

But sometimes the natural human reaction to things that are unexpected sends a powerful message, “You are not just unexpected, you have no place or purpose whatsoever.”

I spent most of junior high school and high school alone or with a very, very small number of people I thought I could trust, and I never got to know people who (I know now) would have made the best, most trustworthy friends . . . partly because of my overweening pride, and partly because I perceived there was no place in the public school environment of the day for someone with my verbal challenges.

(If I were in junior high today, I probably would have an IEP [Individualized Education Program] and therapy of some kind on a regular basis. Rather than be completely misunderstood by many, I would probably be understood to death by many and would have zero motivation to find ways to overcome misunderstanding through the best written communication possible.)

As it stands now, I will continue to exhaust, bewilder, and annoy.

Time has taught me that some people will always fidget and look at their watches when I am trying to get my words out in a straight line.

At this point in my existence, while my selfishness and cluelessness will *absolutely* always need to be measured against God’s standards for human kindness (and his standard is always more generous than human standards), I will never abandon my desire to communicate clearly merely because it is inconvenient.

Someone will always think of me as exhausting and inconvenient.  Oh, well.

After sixty-plus years, I am not yet in a place to say, “That’s okay,” but I pray I will be one day before I die.

Plenty of talk-talk. Damned little walk-walk.

Kim Kardashian’s Butt (55 pics)

I have come to embrace the term “value-signaling” as a perfect way to express a lot in myself and my culture that at times makes me want to rip my own face off and slap somebody with it.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?   If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.”  Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  And he was called the friend of God.  You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

–James 2:14-26 (NKJV)

I believe Jesus died so I could get up off my fat ass and walk.  But there are days when I love my fat ass as much as Kim Kardashian loves hers.  Not the way it is supposed to be.

Give me your tired, your poor, your hungry . . . so I can shame them to death.


So, the Christian worldview (and some other worldviews as well) holds that we are in a war, a real though invisible war between light and dark. It’s daily and lifelong. And I usually think of it as a sort of symbolic thing.

It struck me yesterday that, in a very concrete way, I am a witness to the third World War that everyone was always anticipating when I was a child.

Armies have been mobilized for years now. The world is full of spies, counter-spies, allies, enemies, victories, defeats, advances, retreats, large areas of land being blown up, wounded vets and wounded civilians, torture, treaties, cease-fires, sympathizers, and refugees.

We ARE caught up in World War III.

During WWII, people got freaked out about the Germans. The Japanese. The Italians. Jewish refugees were denied entry into the U.S.

During WWI, Americans in America killed a German man because he was German.

I live in a neigbhorhood in which the majority of people I know are survivors of religious persecution, genocide, and all the other delights of war.

They are desperate to put the pain, suffering, and death behind them.

They are desperate to sleep at night and to see their children (the ones who have survived bombing, freezing, and starving) thrive and grow up to have a safe, prosperous future.

And what do we Americans, who so far are only vaguely touched by the carnage, do for people who have genuinely suffered what we can only imagine?

It’s the old abuse victim denial story. “You must be exaggerating. You must have some bad agenda to come here and stir up trouble. It’s your fault. Nothing bad would happen to you if you would just stop being on the wrong side.”

I am absolutely opposed to running the U.S. in such a way that truly awful human beings have an easy time of infiltrating and subverting. But I am also opposed to treating victims of World War III as if they caused it.

I hate junk mail.


I hate junk mail because I get so much stuff from people who want me to respond to their mail with great passion. However, they don’t know or care (or want to know or care) where my passion is focused.

Today in the mail I got a flyer asking me to support the New York State Reproductive Health Act.

The stupid statement that prompted me to write/message the groups that paid for the flyer was this: “When Washington fails us, N.Y. can protect us . . .”

Washington politicians, New York politicians . . . what have they ever protected except their right to frank mail and get better retirement than I’ll ever have?

So, I got some addresses and found some Facebook pages, and I responded to NIRH Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, Planned Parenthood of New York City Action Fund, and the New York City Civil Liberties Union as follows:

Today in the mail, I received a flyer, paid in part by your organization (see attached copy).

I certainly do believe that New York State should do all in its power to protect my right to live freely and safely, unmolested in my mind and in my body by individuals as well as governments who do not care about the way I personally choose to live.

However, as far as I am concerned, your organization and similar ones for years have done an excruciatingly bad job supporting me in my concerns.

You’ve done a bad job teaching girls and women to respect their bodies, value their sexuality, and have the confidence to say “get the hell away from me” when anyone, male or female, tries to convince them they are freaks for wanting sex to mean more than genital stimulation.

When you champion women who want to keep their unborn babies as much as you champion women who don’t give a crap about destroying human potential (especially female–look at China), I will certainly support you.

When you do all you can to reduce the footprint of on-demand abortion in vulnerable minority neighborhoods, I will certainly support you.

When you spend as much money helping at-risk women to get pap smears, well-baby visits, and hormone replacement therapy as you do funding all your current activities, I will certainly support you.

Until then, please don’t pay to have my name slapped on a card that assumes solidarity with your goals. And if you can do anything about it, please get my name off any mailing list you have.

Thanks . . .

Cat, hat, pat, mat and all that.


I am pretty freaking excited. I discovered that Reading Horizons, a fantastic program for learning English reading, writing, and speaking is available in a hard copy format that would allow me to work one-on-one with a student without needing a computer.
It is a program I encountered in a digital format about seven years ago. At that time, the program was used primarily to help English-speaking middle-school and high-school students to improve their skills in reading, writing, and comprehension.
However, somebody got the bright idea to use the program with people just learning English who were not at all familiar with the craziness of English pronunciation OR the craziness of the English alphabet. And, as a volunteer, I was absolutely impressed.
When I learned to read and write my native English as a child, I made endless mental lists of rules and exceptions and variations and whatnot.
But this program sorted out and made sense of every strangeness that English spelling and pronunciation offers.
And in order to use the program with multiple students on multiple computers, lots of money for licenses was required.
The program in hard-copy format is not cheap, $500 for teacher materials plus $19.99 per student workbook. But it is sooooo worth the investment. So I’m going to make it.

And by the way, this is not an invitation for anyone else to do likewise.  What the poop would you do with a box full of manuals?  And the compensation I want from this is the satisfaction of seeing students kick butt when it comes to learning English.