Tales From the Apocalypse

These are my simple observations about people and the world we live in:

  1. People might wake up due to the Coronavirus — might. In my town, most do not prepare for the next 24 hours, let alone for the next week or month. They live day to day, working and coming home and wondering what they will eat for dinner. This is what keeps the pizza and fast food restaurants going. Pizza could loosely be described as reasonable food, but — and don’t argue with me on this — there is nothing appetizing about stale fries cooked in oil that tastes like fusty socks alongside a mediocre burger. In the first wave of clearing the store shelves, the shoppers purchased essential staples. Yes, unbelievably, they wiped out the beans and rice and frozen vegetables first, as well as salt and some popular spices such as garlic powder. Hey, if you’re stuck eating beans and rice, you’re going to want salt and flavor in it. I would add olive oil to the list of flavor-enhancers, but the oil aisle wasn’t as wiped out as the salt and garlic. In the following waves, locals cleared out everything else from shelves and freezers, such that we’ve been put on rationing. My generation does not know what rationing is. This is a blip, of course, and nothing like the rationing our grandparents experienced during World War II, but being only allowed two packets of meat total (of any variety) and one container of milk is kind of shocking to gen X and younger. At my last shopping trip, the lady in front of me had picked up two packages of every kind of meat only to be told, no, two total.
  2. The Democrats are really driving the nails in their own coffins when they put their feet down on Trump’s stimulus package. We have so much national debt — debt we should have dealt with years ago, perhaps even when a Democrat was in the White House — and now is the time they decide to stubbornly oppose more debt that will keep businesses going and give people money to pay their bills during a national crisis? The Democrat politicians are stupid, evil little shrews. Please believe me, I am not pro-debt. But for heaven’s sake, an economy built on smoke, mirrors, and positive attitudes will crumble when these tricks disappear. And this reminds me…
  3. …if there is a time for positivity, it is now. In fact, I’d go further than the economic stimulus package. That is a stop-gap measure to keep things moving along. What we need, what we actually need, is to erase the debts of the average American citizen. Just erase it. Set the people free, as Moses did in the Bible, from the debt lords. It has gotten to the point where nobody can obtain higher education, buy a non-luxury economy car, and sometimes even pay for non-budgeted items like school clothes for the children without going into debt. Erasing some of this debt would be a giant step forward for the people who’ve been enslaved by it. And for those who want to put their feet down on it (and be stubborn like the Dems) because people ought to just pull up their bootstraps and stop buying the lowest-end car on the lot unless they’ve managed to save the requisite $20,000, erasing debt is a biblical concept. It’s called the debt jubilee, and it frees up citizens to actually be productive again, and not just working to pay off debts. I was thinking about this yesterday. They were thoughts brought on by the stimulus package drama, and then this morning I found that I wasn’t alone in my thoughts on a debt jubilee to really stimulate the economy after this Coronavirus nightmare. Other people are thinking along the same lines. I can’t imagine it happening, though. The bankers would come unglued.
  4. On social media yesterday, some people were calling for tired and stressed grocery workers to take Sundays off for a while, as they used to do in the past. People were also calling for buying local to keep our local businesses from falling under after being forced by the governors of multiple states to close down temporarily. I like the way people are thinking. I don’t know that we can create an idealized Mayberry, but the closer we get to supporting our own communities, recreating the free market here rather than sending it abroad, the better. I have hope. I always have hope, as cynical as I am.

The Theotokos As a Balm

Before the social distancing, I had coffee with my Catholic confirmation sponsor. It was a lovely day; we sat outside at the coffee shop and had a good conversation. Later that weekend, my husband and I went to the art museum, and I attended Mass at the NMMI chapel with my sponsor and her family. I now cherish that weekend, as all city buildings have been shuttered temporarily, including the museum, and the coffee shop is only open for pickup through the drive-thru. Also, public Masses have been suspended in my diocese. Someday, a breezy sunny day on a patio drinking coffee will happen in a public place once again. For now, I’ll drink my coffee from home, on my own patio or indoors while looking out at the flowering apricot tree. The same goes for Mass. I love Mass; I miss it already, but I can be in fellowship with God at my home.

Because this is supposed to be the year I am finally confirmed (with the Coronavirus shut-downs, that’s up in the air, of course), my sponsor asked me if there were any questions that weren’t fully answered for me in RCIA. She gave the example of Marian doctrines as being a stumbling block for her initially. It’s that way for many Protestants or former Protestants, she said. Surprisingly, Marian doctrines have attracted me to Catholicism rather than the other way around. Long before I considered attending RCIA, I had done my due diligence. I had read the relevant parts of the RC catechism to learn what Catholics actually believe. I did have some hesitations going in, mainly about indulgences. RCIA, unfortunately, didn’t provide a clear and concise answer to my question about what indulgences were and why the church practiced them, mainly because they are rarely used anymore, at least in mainstream American churches. The RCIA teacher said as much. I already knew the church had never officially supported the selling of them; what I was after was a definition of what they were in the first place. And I wanted that answer given in plain language, rather than in the language of the catechism. But I digress (as usual).

To reiterate, Marian doctrines weren’t a stumbling block for me. Let me explain why. Growing up in Protestant churches, there was always the sense that women were inferior to men, that it was more shameful to be a woman than to be a man. I believe that’s the reason a Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was conducted by the Evangelical Theological Society in the first place. Feminism had changed the way women and men interacted in society, and the ripples of it had reached the Christian churches. There was going to be some push-back, obviously. The church had a history of treating women as inferior beings. As far as I’m concerned, Christ offered a different perspective for Christians, and the scathing attitudes towards women largely came from the surrounding pagan cultures. You can find these attitudes reflected in some of the greats of the church, the most influential being St. Augustine. To be more specific, women were considered to be apt helpers to men in so much as they were the bearers of offspring. They were rarely valued for their intelligence or spirituality; men were superior in that regard, so what was the worth of womankind beyond her ability to keep families going? Some explored the idea that women were not created in God’s image as man was, using 1 Corinthians 11:7 as a starting point. Augustine was one — however, I use the word ‘explored’ because Augustine was a philosopher who sought the truth, and the truth of the Bible did not lend itself to this idea.

It is often very difficult for us to shake off the cultural ideas that we’ve been inculcated with from birth. Most of us don’t, really. Even those who seek truth don’t always recognize when our accepted cultural truths have influenced our ideas. Although Augustine-bashing is a trend among more feminist leaning Christians, credit where credit is due: Augustine unpacked his cultural ideas and examined them against the Bible using logic to do so. By the way, you have to be very careful when finding shocking quotes by historical greats on the internet; they are generally ripped from context and/or translated in such a way as to make them appear worse than they actually are. E.g., when Augustine is quoted as saying that women are only a complete image of God when they are joined with a man, but that a man is complete without a woman (a quote often used against him), it is at the beginning of a logical progression that concludes thus: “Why, then, is the man on that account not bound to cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, while the woman is bound to do so, because she is the glory of the man; as though the woman were not renewed in the spirit of her mind, which spirit is renewed to the knowledge of God after the image of Him who created him? But because she differs from the man in bodily sex, it was possible rightly to represent under her bodily covering that part of the reason which is diverted to the government of temporal things; so that the image of God may remain on that side of the mind of man on which it cleaves to the beholding or the consulting of the eternal reasons of things; and this, it is clear, not men only, but also women have.”

Unfortunately, the average person will not be able to parse these sentences. I have difficulty parsing them, and parsing is a skill I possess. However, it is obvious he’s attempting to parse Paul’s words on men being the image and glory of God and women being the glory of man, which created the original difficulty. Paul is not easy at the best of times. Nevertheless, Augustine comes to the right conclusion, that women have a mind that is able to consult the “eternal reasons of things” just as men have. Augustine did not come down on the side of women lacking the image of God, as far as I can tell. Yet, his initial starting point — that of the inferiority of women — still remains in churches despite the feminist movement. Most people are not as intelligent as Augustine; most aren’t as learned in logic. And remember, his starting point was that of female inferiority. I doubt he fully eradicated those ideas from his thinking, though I’m not an Augustine scholar by any stretch. My point is that having to debate this in the first place says something about the thinking in Christianity. That most people aren’t intelligent and lack the basic tenets of logic and come from a position of female inferiority owing to our emphasis on “classical thinking” means women still have the poisonous seeds of self-loathing inside them. When that is combined with modern feminism, it creates cognitive dissonance, which is painful to our souls. Most people will end up choosing one or the other path to avoid the cognitive dissonance.

I’m not the first person who has conjectured that Mary is the answer to this cognitive dissonance. The fact that God chose her cuts through the errors in mankind and the sinfulness of our thoughts. Mary was a woman who said yes to God, which is not an easy thing to do. In this regard, she is a model for men and women alike. She is, therefore, worthy of an appropriate level of honor. The Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches have honored her for centuries in a right way, and Protestants lost much when they chose to cast her aside. That doesn’t mean Marian idolatry doesn’t occur, but idolatry is hardly a sin that is confined to Catholicism and Orthodoxy. It’s a sin all humans are prone to.* It’s a fine line we walk when we honor great men and women of the faith. And it doesn’t stop at Mary. Honoring the saints can bring much to our lives, but can also cause us to stumble into worship and undo reverence for other human beings. In the end, I still think it’s worth it to use these people as models for us, allowing their lives and stories to soothe our souls from modernity. Among those honored saints, there are numerous women and girls. Mary is the peak of female sainthood, perhaps, but she is followed by many more. As far as I know, Catholicism has adopted the complementarian philosophy, but in name only. They don’t really need it. They’ve been giving women due respect for centuries, for the same reason they give respect to men: having the simple faith to say yes to whatever God has given them to do.

*Idolatry being a general human failing, a bigger problem for me is remaining unconvinced on the necessity for such doctrines as Mary’s perpetual virginity or her assumption into heaven. And yes, I mean necessity, not veracity. They might or might not be true, but they are irrelevant to me. Apparently, they seemed very relevant to someone at some point — I often call this “kicking the can farther down the road.” These are not primary doctrines; that is why I consider them irrelevant. They have nothing to do with the salvation of the believer or how he is to live his life after salvation. They are, at best, secondary or even tertiary doctrines. And until or unless my status in the church is dependent on them, or God gives me deeper insight, they will remain in that status.


The End Is In Sight

No, not the end of the world. My book, Order of the PenTriagon. I know there have been many people claiming the rapture will happen at any moment now due to the stores being empty of toilet paper, but I’m not one of them. Even though I have weird glimpses into the future (see previous post), I’m not a prophet. I’m just weird.

I’ve been busy working on the tail end of my book the past couple days, which accounts for no warm-up post. I’m on a roll, you see. Today, I want to be able to give the happy news in an edited update to this post that I’ve finished the final scene. Of course, being a loose plotter, I will have to go back through and change a few things near the beginning. I don’t need to change anything major, however, just a few little things. So when I hit the end, I’ll still throw myself a party.

I have a number of books in the works, but as I was listening to Daft Punk’s Give Yourself to Dance yesterday (Random Access Memories is my favorite album for writing), I decided I would focus on my breakdancing cyber punk novel next. I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions this year; I already discussed this in a post a while back. But in order to make it through my fit of pique (brought on by my own onslaught of self-berating), I incorporated a bare minimum of writing 1000 words a day, Monday through Friday. Now that my 1000 daily words is a developed habit, I have hopefully worked my way into finishing a second book this year rather than waiting for another three to finish the next. By the way, 1000 words a day, five days a week is approximately 20,000 words a month. That’s plenty to finish the first draft of a novel in about four months. It doesn’t take that much effort to write a book, after all. Depending on the day, 1000 words will take between a half hour and three hours. Oh, sure, the sweating through pre-plotting and post-editing might seem like an extreme effort, but the actual rough-draft writing is fairly breezy.

I don’t have much else to say; all my work has been cancelled for three weeks due to Coronavirus. My tutoring work is cancelled as schools are closed down, but I don’t have an editing project scheduled for another three weeks (one doesn’t usually need to quarantine oneself from e-documents). It’s almost as if I’m being given a break from on high, as if God really can work things together for the good of those who love him and are called to his purpose. Please believe me, I don’t think the Coronavirus is a punishment by God to an ungodly world. It is an effect of nature, which God created. If you believe in conspiracy theories, it was created by humans…who are given to evil human nature. Whatever the source of the virus, I don’t believe God reaches down his hand and intervenes in nature, even though he can. From what I see around me, his hand in the lives of the saints is a bit more fluid than that. He gives us the opportunity to complete our purpose(s), even if we are ultimately not immune to the tragedies of nature. I’m going to use this time to restart my YouTube channel and edit PenTriagon because that is what I believe I’m supposed to do at this time. And pray. God wants all of us to pray.

***I did finish the final scene today, at around 10 p.m. MT. It needs an epilogue and some minor additions and rewrites, but it is done.***


Future Memory

My husband just texted me that I should watch the latest Scott Adams Periscope because he discusses future memory in it. If you go to Adams’ Twitter page, you will easily find the video near the top (obviously, this is time-sensitive to this day, 3-16-2020), and then you will find the future memory bit starting about 47 minutes in. Here’s a link for those who are search-impaired: https://twitter.com/ScottAdamsSays/status/1239552289037156352.

I’m a little stunned by the video. Well, not exactly stunned. I already knew that Adams believes in the power of positive thinking, that if you speak something to the universe long enough, it has a greater chance of coming to be. This is esoteric thinking, and he has no problem with it. He discusses it in his book on success. Thus, I’m not so much stunned as intrigued by this segment on future memory. Adams is an odd mix of high intelligence, atheism (at least in the past; in this video he mentions God as a concept that might be true), and curiosity. He isn’t a scientist, but if he were, I imagine he would stick to a basis of what is known to be true but would veer from it where his mind and ideas led him. He would not make his ideas public until he had cause to do so. That is my assessment, anyway.

Regarding the esoteric concept of future memory, he brings it up hesitantly at the end of the hour long video. To be fair, I can only take his word for it that he does indeed possess the ability to have visions of the future. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt for a couple of reasons: anybody who puts themselves out there as a kind of “prophet” will only be successful temporarily if his statements don’t turn out to be true; I have experienced future memories myself. As for the first reason, many false “prophets” have not let the temporariness of their fame stop them from dishing out their visions, but Adams is the type of person who looks at the long view. He’s not a rash person, in other words, who is willing to go down in a bath of poisoned Kool Aid with his followers. The second is my personal weakness. If I’m willing to believe in esoteric ideas — that they are in fact real in my life — I’m more willing to believe them in another person if that person is reputable. By the way, I’ve put prophet in quotes above because prophecy isn’t simply knowing the future. It’s essentially speaking God’s word, which might include future edicts. I don’t think that future memories are necessarily something that come from God. Rather, they seem to be part of the reality of a universe we don’t fully understand.

I believe in future memories as a concept because, as I said, I’ve experienced them. I might have written blog posts on this in the past. I have more than ten years worth of blog posts; I can never remember what I’ve written and what I have not. Scott Adams calls his future memories “visions.” I don’t know that I’d call mine visions as much as I’d call them obsessions. I get obsessed with an extraneous detail that seems irrelevant. One example I like to give is the Ford Fiesta. I became obsessed with the idea of having a Ford Fiesta when all I had was a gas-guzzling SUV. I guess you could say I had a vision of a blue Ford Fiesta, but that is a sorry sort of vision. One would hope a vision would be more exciting than an economy car. I didn’t tell anyone I was obsessed with Ford Fiestas. I might have told my husband I wished I had an economy car like a Fiesta so that I could drive to the big city and visit museums and health food stores. I was stagnating in our small town, and I was ready to move on and see the world. The car was a symbol of mobility to me and that is all. But I didn’t tell anyone else. In other words, I didn’t plant the idea of it in anyone’s head. Later, when my husband was given an unexpected job opportunity in Roswell, he asked his brother to find him an economy car that would help him commute to Roswell until we were able to move. His brother picked a blue Ford Fiesta. The car is extraneous because my future memory was really about moving. I could sense a move, and the car represented that. Also, the car was a piece of crap. It caught on fire last summer and the engine burned up. It had problems. P.s. don’t buy a 2013 Ford Fiesta.

Other visions I’ve had have been similar: obsessions with certain types of houses or of meeting people I hadn’t yet met. Some of these obsessions set me up for disappointment because in some cases, I thought that God was directing me. Those have been few and far between — generally the visions of meeting people before I had actual conversations with them. Looking back, I no longer believe God directed me to those people. Not that I don’t believe God orders my steps. It’s as the Bible says, “[His] word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” I believe he will also direct us to people for specific purposes of spreading the gospel. In those cases of future memory, I saw events that were going to happen, but those events weren’t necessarily earth-shattering and didn’t involve spreading the gospel. They were just weird pre-cognitive glimpses of the future that I couldn’t put into context until later. I gave the example of the Ford Fiesta, but there was also the vision of a mid-century brick home, of tearing up carpet and finding original asbestos tile flooring that had to be cleaned up as a secondary layer. Actually, that was a dream rather than an awake vision. At the time, I thought my subconscious was telling me I had many layers to tear up inside my mind before I could reach a clean, bare state. When we eventually were in the market to purchase a home, we looked for houses with the flooring already done, but we didn’t find one (oil industry has narrowed the housing market). We instead found a house that looked like my dream, which had the original asbestos tile under the carpeting. To be honest, I wouldn’t have wanted to guess this context because I didn’t want a huge fixer-upper project.

If you’ve read my book The Minäverse, you know I dealt with this concept of future memory in my main character, Oso. The original (working) title of the book was Future Instinct. While I don’t think it’s a great book — the plot barely hangs together and it could use another editing pass — it will always have my heart in it: redemption, humor, and future memory. My next book is much better as far as plotting and (hopefully) reaching an audience, albeit it isn’t humorous. And there are prophecies rather than future memories and characters I don’t love nearly as much as Oso and Gillilander. Ah, well. That’s the way it is.

I don’t know what you make of future memory. I have no expectation that you consider me anything but crazy at this point. I’m guessing, though, that most people have these little glimpses into the future without knowing the context or seeing any importance to them. Most people might not even remember or acknowledge these little glimpses. I happen to be an obsessive person, and hence my remembering them. Scott Adams might be, too. Focused is the complimentary term for it. Go listen to the end of his video if you don’t think we’re crazy. You might find his story fascinating.


Because We All Needed Another Coronavirus Post

For being such a skinny person all my life, I’m like a slow-moving giant. It’s a good thing not everybody is like me. The world needs people who can respond in an instant to crises. Crises might require slow and measured thought at some point, but not when it is time to act.

New Mexico has shut down all its public schools for several weeks. They did this almost immediately after three people in the state tested positive for the Coronavirus. Knowing New Mexico, they were not testing at all for Coronavirus before these travelers from abroad came staggering back across our border with respiratory illnesses. That’s the way New Mexico operates. New Mexico is perhaps the biggest slow-moving giant (there’s a reason I fit in here), until you poke her.

And then we’re still a slow-moving giant. I doubt anyone is actively testing for further cases of Coronavirus. It is partly the nature of New Mexicans to be lax about such things, but we also simply don’t have the medical personnel to cope with a fast-acting disease. So those in charge did what made sense to them: they shut down public gatherings, with an exemption for schools, and then quickly turned around and shut down schools. It makes sense. Schools are disease incubators. It makes perfect sense, except when you consider that New Mexicans are one paycheck away from not being able to pay their bills and thus won’t stop going to work unless they’re forced to stay home. The kids will be babysat by their grandparents, the parents will bring their diseases home to the kids, and then everybody will get sick anyway.

I’ve never been inclined towards panic or doomsdayism. My sense of fear doesn’t operate as it should. Yet, I’m not a fool and can look at the picture of what is happening around the world. Coronavirus infects people quickly, and while I don’t think I should dress up in a black cape and beaked nose and run a wheelbarrow up the street shouting Bring out your dead!, it does appear to have a higher death rate than the average flu virus. It is smart to try to keep it in check and be prepared for quarantines.

If I do have a panic button, it will occur out of annoyance when I go to the store and find empty shelves. Stocking up is a good thing, but I know how this works already. A handful of people will clear the shelves of everything because, hey, if you’re going to be prepared, you might as well make sure you have five year’s worth of water, toilet paper, etc. — and everybody else be damned. One middle-school student told me her dad had done just that, cleared everything off the shelves of Wal Mart. Carts full of stuff. Because he can. New Mexicans are like that, too. That’s the funny thing. They operate paycheck to paycheck and still manage to single-handedly scrape store shelves clean.

I’d better stop. I’m finding I like these writing warmups on my blog, but this particular one is making me cynical and grumpy, and I haven’t even begun to imagine what it’s going to be like for the next few weeks, as I will no longer have a few morning hours to work in the quiet by myself. I do not want the flavor of cynicism in my book. As of now, my two main female characters are in the kaleidoscope viewing room and have just realized the viewers are actually portals to…! And the male hero is about to slay…! That would be giving things away. Have a great Friday.