In lieu of throwing any more fuel onto the fine fabulous furry freakout fire that is social media today )DACA! WALL! TRUMP! SCHUMER! PELOSI! ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM! Okay, I might have thrown that last one in there) let’s talk sports in a way even the asporting, this being to athletic competition what apolitical is for those not giving a hoot about government machinations, can appreciate. Or at least tolerate.

Yesterday, the Oakland Athletics, better known as the Oakland A’s, announced the selection of a preferred location for their much-needed new ballpark. If all goes according to plan, construction will begin in 2021 with occupancy in 2023. This might seem like an inordinately lengthy timespan, but given the need to buy and clear the property, deal with the NIMBYs living nearby plus the ninnys in local government – pardon the redundancy – plus all the usual California ridiculousness, it’s a decent plan.

The A’s have for years done everything wrong while trying to get a new ballpark: begging for government funding, looking to move elsewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area, and crying poor with ownership that had more money than Bill Gates’ piggy bank. Recently, changes have been made, with a new point man Dave Kaval put in charge. And oh, what a difference a Dave makes: major community outreach, major dressing up the perilously close to crumbling Oakland Coliseum, and a promise to the A’s longsuffering fan base that yes, we’ll stop always trading in lieu of resigning our young talent when they hit their stride. The Bat Pack, as A’s 110% made of awesome beat reporter Susan Slusser has dubbed the freshfaced crop of kids led by developing superstud third baseman Matt Chapman, will be breaking pitchers hearts and blasting homers for years to come. In new digs.

The veteran Christian arena rock band Petra once sang, “Good things come to those who wait / Not to those who hesitate / So hurry up and wait upon the Lord.” While baseball, its most fervent fans notwithstanding, is not comparable with faith in Christ on the importance list, there is a valuable lesson here. Put simply, it is this: in so many areas of life, momentary matters far too often are subjected to urgent tyranny rather than patient, encompassing thought.

Yes, it has taken a painfully long time to get to yesterday’s announcement regarding a new ballpark. Yes, it will seem like an eternity sweating out every step until construction starts. But it will happen. Baseball, the great American constant, will continue in Oakland as it has for forty-nine years.

The memories of victories and defeats, the last game I attended with my beloved beyond words late father; these will carry on. The empty feeling of sitting in the Coliseum stands after what turned out to be the 1994 season’s last game before the strike, when the A’s were for sale and their future in Oakland anything but certain, wondering if this would be the last time I would ever see my team … that feeling I will cheerfully forever banish.

Really, people who live on the eternal ragged edge, forever frothing and foaming at the mouth at every turn of the political wind. Will you relax? Very, very little is decided in an instant in politics or anywhere else. Breathe. Relax. Let it slide. Far more often than not, it will end up sliding in safe at home. So let it be.

And let’s play ball.

In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct — as irrational animals do — will destroy them.

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted — twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Jude 8-13

We live in troubled times. Domestically, horrific wildfires are ravaging Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Texas is still working on sufficiently drying out from Harvey to initiate rebuilding. Irma is inexorably marching toward Florida. Across the Pacific, a madman plays with thermonuclear toys, working daily to facilitate throwing them at us. Europe wonders not if, but when and where the next crazed jihadist will slaughter innocents. The watchwords of our time are love and peace, yet we are engulfed by hatred and war.

On the line dividing fact and fiction
You’d like to stake your reputation
But the natural man has an addiction
To believe the worst of fabrications
And when the rumor is on the wire
It will be trial by fire

It’s a test of any man’s endurance
Just to survive the castigations
You hope and pray for some deliverance
As you turn to face the accusations
And when your future is on the line
What will your answers be?
Come to the question and state your case

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

A mastermind of much illusion
Media controls the public reason
It terrifies with great confusion
And a power that fosters truth or treason

And when the rumor is on the wire
It will be trial by fire
And fact and fiction don’t mean a thing

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

And many good men have fallen
With no defense from the fatal word
Is this a part of the American dream

Will you make or break it?
Choose your weapons well
Make or break it
Soon the toll will tell
All freedom has its price
Is this your paradise?

– “Make Or Break It”; words and music by Kerry Livgren

We also live in a time where self-aggrandizing political prattle reigns supreme. Wisdom and experience’s still small voice is drowning beneath tidal waves of loud obnoxious buffoons restating the obvious with vapid feigned insight. We are called to speak the truth in love. Instead, we continue to slobber the trivial in lavish tongue baths.

It is imperative for those of faith to proclaim Christ’s message boldly, unfailingly, and primarily. The public voice enjoys no division between secular and sacred. Jesus is not a fire alarm, ignored save in emergency situations. Nor is He a trophy displayed when it serves our purposes. Jesus is Savior, or He is not. Jesus is Lord, or He is not. He does not serve us when we pull Him off the shelf and dust Him off because we need more blog post hits or a bigger audience share. We are commanded to serve Him. We are commanded to love others as He loves us. We are commanded to proclaim His message. And no, churning out echo chamber copy does not qualify. Certainly politics matter. Decisions made by government affect us all. There is room and time for informed debate. Cutting and pasting news stories is neither debate nor informed. It is weak coattail riding.

It should be a shot across the bow that three teenage sisters have done more in one three minute video to proclaim Christ crucified and risen by being real than has been achieved in thirty thousand political blog posts. The luxury of shoving Jesus into a corner because we are too busy shoving ourselves into the spotlight as self-proclaimed pundits is no longer affordable. Now is the time to prioritize. A hurting, bleeding, dying world does not need another DACA rehash. It needs Jesus. It needs us, each of us, spreading the Good News while directly helping each other and stranger alike.

This is our call. Will you make or break it?

There is a normal tendency, when faced with an event as vast and overwhelming as Hurricane Harvey, to, while not denying the disaster’s scope, pare it down to incidents and individuals more easily managed. The person helping a person; the rescuer with a beloved pet under each arm, wading through flood waters as he or she carries them to safety. These images we can digest, expanding outward from them to, as best we can, envision such a natural disaster’s immense scope.

Another normal tendency is, when events as momentous as what has besieged Houston and other cities in Texas, Louisiana, and elsewhere take place, kindly but firmly suggesting to others perpetually enveloped in their own personal drama that while (quoting Shakespeare) the quality of mercy is not strained (quoting no one I’m aware of) the amount of available sympathy is most likely severely rationed. It’s not that anyone stops caring about others when something heavy comes down, but you might have to accept a rain check and realize you’re not the universe’s center this week, with next week also in question. Spock noted in the second (and easily the best) Star Trek movie that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the individual or the few. This is a hard saying in today’s society, where self-definition demands the same glorification as self-glorification. Problem is, when everyone believes and acts like they are the star of the movie, the supporting cast is nowhere to be found and John Donne’s statement that no man is an island takes on a whole new meaning. The one-man or woman band quickly becomes a one-note samba providing no motivation for dancing.

This ties into the simultaneous beauty and horror of the Internet in general and social media in particular: fortunately, everyone can participate; unfortunately, so can anyone. Whether trolling others with differing views, hiding behind a screen name’s non-existent anonymity and deliberately provoking people in order to play the victim when they react, or constantly trolling for attention and/or sympathy while playing to the hilt the role of World’s Only Bereaved™, perpetually screaming online “look at MEEEEE” is the modern version of the boy who cried wolf: eventually, even if your complaint is legitimate, everyone else will have grown so tired of it and you that when you really need someone there will be no one around.

It may be utterly shocking to some – well, many – that were they to unplug once in a while the sun would rise the following morning. Equally astounding is the notion that there are other people in the world and they matter too. We all have our sorrows and our battles, this explaining why far more often than not pity party invitations are marked returned to sender. Even as it is improper to tell someone who is suffering they should get over it, it is inconsiderate to insist others allow themselves to be dragged with you as you wallow in your inability to get through it.

Loving someone is not manifested by there there-ing their perpetual plea for attention. It is manifested by knowing where sympathy is demonstrated via support. Don’t feed the attention-hungry trollers. Instead, suggest they shut up and go do something to uplift themselves other than be emotional vampires. Watch a Woody Woodpecker cartoon. Listen to some Grateful Dead. Turn off Facebook and Twitter in favor of feeling some sunshine on your face and listening to the birds tweet. Do something for someone.

There is enough rain falling on us all. Refuse to indulge your perpetual individual cloud. Embrace the sunshine daydream. Please.

In a world seemingly gone mad, finding something or someone worth praising can be difficult. The old adage regarding the news media, namely “if it bleeds it leads,” has seldom been more accurate than it is today. Be the blood literal or figurative, the latter shed by those living in Perpetual Butthurtsville shaking with fear over killer statues, the crazies are crowding the stage. Those practicing normalcy, or working toward the betterment of others, receive scant if any attention. So let’s pay them some.

In Florida, there resides a household featuring three sisters, ages of same being seventeen, sixteen, and thirteen. (I’ll save you troubling yourself with the math; their collective age is twelve years lower than mine. Ouch.) As is easily imagined, said household can get a mite loud. Seriously loud.

Welcome to Gold Frankincense & Myrrh, three young women on a mission.

While the notion of three teenage girls playing and singing blistering metalcore (or, as they not inaccurately call it, beautycore) might seem a tad odd, they are not the first female hard rockers. However, they are one of the very few featuring substance rather than sex appeal and style. Tongue in cheek, quite modest cheerleader outfits are the band’s standard stage apparel, and offstage the members stay modest in all areas. Also, Gold Frankincense & Myrrh (GFM for short) might be the first all-woman metal band to include a mission statement on their website that would warm even the most cantankerous fundamentalist’s King James Version-bound heart.

Thankfully, mom is cool with her daughters musical adventures. In fact, she’s so cool she works with the band, her collegiate studies in finance and investment doubtless proving quite handy as she reps for them. And moms them without stage moming them, instead keeping the focus on her remarkable trio of offspring.

While I freely admit my current listening habits lean far more toward my beloved classic Christian rock plus excursions into Grateful Dead and Gentle Giant territory, I rather like GFM’s mix of muscle and meaning. It warms my heart to see young woman serving Christ without doing the same ol’ same ol’ worship recipe cut and paste pablum. Three plus decades after it started, there are still artists proclaiming the Message without compromise either spiritually or artistically. You better believe I’m going to do what I can to let people know they’re out there and need our support. GFM won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But for all believers, they are beautiful examples that the Spirit is still cranking it up to 11.

This is one of those “to tell the story I first have to tell you this story” posts, so please bear with.

During the early months of last year (February, to be precise), I posted a lengthy dissertation on my personal blog about my favorite guitar and its assorted adventures since coming into my possession a few years ago. Said guitar is a 1976 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, which as noted in the aforementioned post is pretty much the absolute low end of desirability among electric guitar players/collectors in general and Les Paul aficionados in particulari. This holds firm even with the Les Paul being rivaled only by the Fender Stratocaster in terms of popularity among six-string gunslingers. Nevertheless, it is my instrument of choice.

In my case, I bought my Les Paul off of ebay (some hard-earned wisdom when it comes to guitar buying and ebay: don’t mix the two). It arrived sorely in need of some tender loving care, which after being applied transformed the guitar into a genuinely superb instrument despite all the slagging said model, made during said time period, usually receives.

Although it seems impossible given how you cannot find a rock’n’roll band of any stripe from the past forty-five years without a Les Paul being close at, if not in, hand, there was a time when Gibson dropped it from its product line due to years of steadily declining sales. Throughout nearly the entirety of the 1960s, not a single one was built. It was only in 1969 that demand created by the Eric Claptons and Jimmy Pages of this world among others reached a sufficient level for the guitar’s reintroduction, and even then haltingly; it would be two decades before new ownership both rescued Gibson from imminent demise and brought the Les Paul back in anything close to its original, highly prized form. How highly prized? The ones made from 1957 to 1960, after which production was halted, routinely command six figures, often with a crooked number leading the way.

Which leads from this story to the story, namely A.J. Delgado.

Ms. Delgado was, until the end of last year, a longtime member of conservative new media’s upper echelon. The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Ms. Delgado was an established lawyer before she started routinely gracing assorted high flyer publications and becoming a regular guest on political television. In last year’s Presidential election – which, by the way, is still over – she threw her support to Donald Trump, going so far as to directly work for his campaign. It was during this time period she met a man who also worked for the campaign, and as happens (not excusing it, just stating the facts) an office romance ensued. Yes, the man was married, but he swore to Ms. Delgado that he and his wife were separated. It later became apparent the man’s interpretation of what entails being separated from one’s spouse was quite different than the norm, as when Ms. Delgado informed him she was unexpectedly expecting, he responded with, “So is my wife.” Awkward.

After dropping a few quite unsubtle hints about what had been/was going on, Ms. Delgado went silent on social media for several months while most everyone who had feted her just weeks before dropped her like a hot potato. No more writing gigs. No more television appearances. It got to the point where a now thoroughly unemployed Ms. Delgado was forced to move in with her mother. She recently gave birth to a son, and has now re-emerged on social media talking not politics, but personal matters related to being a new, single mother.

A third element now enters the story, that being a story in and of itself: Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. When you read John’s account, note that there was no question of whether the woman was being falsely accused. She was guilty. The penalty for adultery under Mosaic law was being stoned to death. The law called for both guilty parties to be stoned to death, but apparently the man involved in this affair was either considered insufficiently guilty or was deemed inadequate for this exercise’s primary purpose which had nothing to do with following the law. It was an effort to trap Jesus in His own words. Say let her go, and Jesus would be violating the law. Say stone her, and all of Jesus’ words about forgiving sin and such would be exposed as hollow rhetoric. Let’s see you get out of this one, carpenter boy!

Jesus, rather than responding, said nothing; instead (depending on which translation you read) stooping over or sitting down on the ground and beginning to write in the dust with His finger. What He wrote was not recorded. Most theologians and such over the ensuing centuries have surmised Jesus was writing down a list of the sins committed by the would-be rock chuck gang. Could well be. Could also be He was writing, “Get ready to be disappointed, boys; you’re about to get the first and last word in mic drop a couple of thousand years before there are any mics to drop.” At this point Jesus stood up, said His famous few words about whoever was there that was without sin could go right ahead and start turning the adulteress into a miniature quarry, and resumed his writing as the crowd one by one dropped their stones in more ways than one and walked away, eventually leaving only Jesus and the adulteress.

Jesus, doubtless thankful that Richard Rosenblatt and Ritchie Cordell had not yet written “I Think We’re Alone Now,” asked what to the woman most likely seemed like a bizarre question: where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you? She stifled the temptation of responding, “Uh … don’t you see there’s no one here? Why are you asking me the obvious?” Instead, she replied with a simple, “No, Lord.” Presumably she had heard of Jesus before this moment; He was the talk of the nation. Perhaps she had even heard Him speak, or heard one of His disciples when Jesus sent them out to evangelize. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, even in her utterly terrified state – remember, just a few minutes before this moment she was going to be brutally executed – she realized the Man before her was far, far more than just another itinerant preacher. Jesus had done what no mere man could have done. He had saved her life.

Jesus then said, “Neither do I (condemn you). Go and sin no more.” Mull this over for a moment. Jesus neither condemned the woman for her actions nor condoned them. Instead, he offered mercy and grace accompanied by a stern warning: leave your past life behind. No more adultery. You should be dead right now. Instead, this is your chance to begin life anew. Don’t blow it. (It has long and often been surmised the woman was Mary Magdalene, who would later reappear in the Gospels, but there is no hard Scriptural evidence for this either yea or nay.)

By now, the logical conclusion is, “Ah-HAH! He’s comparing the story of Jesus and the adulteress to A.J. Delgado’s story!” Actually, no, although it does serve a purpose of illustrating why people should lay off the judgmental junk. The real comparison is between Ms. Delgado and the Les Paul guitar in general, my Les Paul Deluxe in particular.

Like the Les Paul, Ms. Delgado’s glory days, if you will, came before she went offline to focus on her new role as a single mom. Like the Les Paul on its first go-around, Ms. Delgado was shunned. Like my Les Paul Deluxe, since her reentry into the public realm Ms. Delgado has been considered as quite the lesser to her former self, having had an affair with a married man and having birthed a child out of wedlock. This time last year she was the hot hand, the prominent feature. Now, she changes diapers in solitude, the cameras and clamor having long departed.

It is easy to say Ms. Delgado is reaping what she has sown, thus eliminating the need to extend any of that love, grace, and mercy stuff. Sure, give her credit for not murdering … er, aborting her son when it would have been all too easy to do so, deny all rumors of an affair, and carry on with everything as before. Other than that, forget about it. And her.

There is another option.

One could try the neither condoning nor condemning tack. You know, what would Jesus do. Or, in this case, did. He offered the adulteress a fresh start, bringing her back literally from the brink of death and telling her you have another chance; don’t throw it away by throwing yourself into the wrong man’s arms again. He offered her grace and mercy. All she had to do was accept it and, going forward, walk with Him figuratively by her side, following His teachings and allowing herself to be transformed by His love. You know … like my Les Paul Deluxe when it was properly treated, changing it from a somewhat battered and thoroughly unwanted relic to something of immense value. At least to me. And certainly Ms. Delgado is of infinitely greater value than any guitar.

So what do you say? Maybe extend the same love, grace, and mercy to her God has extended to each of us? Maybe send her some encouraging words and lift her up in prayer? Maybe, just maybe, acknowledge that in devoting herself to her son Ms. Delgado is doing something of great value, something that deserves a tip of the cap to the person doing this thing?

C’mon. We can do it.

Let’s do it.

It’s easy to get lost in this world even while pursuing a clear objective. Running into so many trees you lose perspective regarding the forest as a whole; unwillingly embodying the old joke about how when you’re up to your neck in alligators difficulty ensues remembering the original objective was draining the swamp. It happens.

At such times it helps referring not to what you should be doing, but why you should be doing it. Clarity comes from purpose; purpose is rooted in core beliefs. With this in mind, time to look at the oft neglected cornerstone that should be at the heart of what we do in this odd little realm of blogs and social media.

Some years ago, back when I harbored hallucinations of joining cyberspace’s high rollers, I came up with what I called the four tenets of the blogging evangel. They were:

  1. The ability to broadcast an opinion neither elevates nor validates said opinion.
  2. Blog from and for the heart, not the wallet.
  3. Answer your email every time all the time.
  4. Never become what you profess to oppose. Never.

These are quite self-explanatory, methinks. Especially in noting how following them permanently relegated me to the blogosphere’s, and social media’s, far sidelines. But I digress. To brusquely summarize, the eighty-fifth post/status update/tweet today yelling about how Obama is a poooyhead and/or Trump is a meanypants, all while offering rip and read analysis from the same ripped and read mainstream news story everyone else has ripped and read, doesn’t add anything to the public discourse. Neither did the other eighty-four. Try finding something worth your, and the reader’s, time. Something that matters. Something that gives something more than bait with which to lure sycophants into boosting your visibility within the echo chamber. Have a reason worth considering.

Here’s mine.

I’ve been a Christian since 1975, and a passionate fan/supporter of Jesus Music/contemporary Christian music/whatever you want to call it since then. I spent several years from the late 1980s through the mid 1990s as a journalist covering the music scene, this time period including numerous interviews with, and feature stories written about, many of the genre’s top artists, all published in the era’s leading magazines.

I drifted away from the scene in the mid 1990s, disillusioned by several people involved in it at different levels and also extremely unhappy with myself and how I had occasionally acted. I came back to the music, and into a walk with Christ that was something more than lip service, in 2005 at a concert featuring several of the ’80s-’90s bands I had loved back in the day. I later interviewed many of the artists from that era and published my work in book form; info at http://godsnotdeadbook.com I also have an online radio show, with info for same at http://cephashour.com

The bands and artists I loved – Larry Norman, Undercover, The 77s, Daniel Amos, The Choir, and dozens more – were bold both musically and lyrically. They addressed subjects like failed relationships, death, suicide, racism, sexual perversion, and other topics usually considered too hot for discussion within Christian circles. They did so understanding and accepting it would permanently put them on the outer fringe of Christian music; minimal airplay, far fewer concert opportunities, a lot fewer Christian bookstores carrying their records. But they did it anyway, because it was their calling.

I don’t listen to much current music of any genre; don’t have as much patience or time as once was the case to seek out the latest and greatest. I’m sure there’s some terrific new Christian rock and pop out there. But I will always hold on to my beloved classic Christian rock. It truly is the soundtrack of my life, and it has been a faithful companion in my walk with Christ. It remains vital and fresh. It can, and does, still bless people. Promoting it, getting and keeping it out there, is my purpose in the online world. It is my fundamental.

What’s yours?

This past Tuesday, the mysterious yet not mythical Mrs. Dude and I took in a one night only presentation of a concert film. Well, to be accurate I took it in; she endured it. Said film was a never-before shown Grateful Dead show recorded in the summer of 1989 at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Given how I’ve gotten into the band in recent years, this is as close as I’ll come to seeing them live (sorry, John Mayer, but Dead and Company doesn’t do it for me).

Although the Dead are commonly and not inaccurately associated with San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury, hippies, the Summer of Love, etc etc etc (translation: sex, drugs, rock’n’roll), many non-fans are surprised to learn the band had a huge and fiercely loyal following on the east coast. And I do mean following, with multitudes piling into their VW microbuses and following the Dead from show to show, selling anything available – including themselves if need be – in order to score concert tickets. It truly was a long, strange trip.

Musically, either you get the Grateful Dead’s free-flowing mix of easy blues, Americana, roots rock, folk, free-form jazz, and whatever else came to mind during assorted lengthy improvisation sessions, or you find them quite possibly the most boring rock band in history. Either is okay. I don’t possess 1800 different concert tapes, pouring obsessively over each one and thus able to immediately tell whether a song is from Watkins Glen in 1973 or Boise in 1982. Further, I couldn’t tell you if the band played either of those locations during said years. Or at all. I listen to live shows on Sirius XM’s Grateful Dead channel, I own a few live CDs, and I have all of the band’s studio efforts. That’s good enough for me, sugaree.

Anyway, back to the concert film. It was magic. The band was on that night both musically and personally, with shared smiles the norm from start to finish (i.e. from “Touch of Grey” to “Black Muddy River”). It was good to pretend, at least for a couple of hours, that time had reversed itself and Jerry Garcia along with keyboardist Brent Mydland were still with us instead of Mydland having overdosed a year and five days after the concert in question, followed by Garcia succumbing to the ravages of drug use along with diabetes and other health complications in 1995. They are missed.

The next day, having one of those modest perks of working in retail known as a day off during the week, I took myself into San Francisco. Allow me to backtrack a bit: over the decades, I have loved, absolutely loved, walking around San Francisco. Avoiding certain neighborhoods such as the Tenderloin District, I have luxuriated in the city’s vibrant energy, sampling the multitude of one-off shops and restaurants. It has been an exhilarating time most every time for this hybrid boy comfortable in both pastoral rural settings and amidst concrete and steel.

Yesterday I hated most every minute of it.

One is always best advised to be on high alert in every section of San Francisco, practicing full streetwise caution techniques and staying aware at all times. That said, yesterday I felt not the energy of times before, but rather tremendous disquiet. The street people no longer seemed sadly amusing. Now, they felt threatening, emboldened by a city government blissfully ignoring their excesses and public excrement while labeling any who dare complain as haters, or worse yet in their eyes Trump supporters.

This discomfort is not solely confined to San Francisco, of course. It permeates most every city out here in the San Francisco Bay Area, and as friends around the country report, most every major and not a few minor metropolitan areas. There is a palpable anger, a defiant edge marinated in by many on both left and right. It is one that can easy explode into violence, and not just the occasional Antifa versus Trump supporters clash. This is something far worse.

I believe there is a genuine danger of widespread civil disobedience in the very near future. No, not the cartoon kind practiced by those who believe waving a sign and getting “arrested” constitutes making a stand against the evil corporate oppressors who made the phones with which all involved are filming things. This is the kind that lobs live ammunition, and lots of it. Should the current deep state plus establishment (no party line delineation needed) open war against President Trump succeed in forcing him out of office, there will be blood and lots of it as the deplorables embrace a call to arms. I pray it will not come to this, and I pray I am wrong. But I don’t believe I am.

All I can do is pray and be a witness for Christ. His love and life-changing, along with saving, power can change even the hardest hearts into acceptance of others without compromising beliefs. This is what our country needs. Only then will San Francisco and all like it again vibrate with natural energy, not the dark energy of a city and country teetering on anarchy’s edge.

It would help if more people listened to the Grateful Dead too.

This past Sunday marked my fifty-eighth anniversary on this planet. As birthdays go it went all right; a far sight better than has been the unfortunate norm the past several years. Skipping the gory details, suffice it to say the acronym ASB has oft been used to describe another birthday. I add that if you genuinely need me to spell out what the S stands for, you are quite the innocent little waif.

Not that this year’s birthday was entirely minus angst and anxiety, with a dash of aggravation plus animus thrown in for good nature. The days leading toward the event featured several unpleasant moments on multiple fronts, this coming to a head one afternoon when a workplace incident left me quite angry and not a little frightened. I was not a happy camper.

Related to this, it’s sadly noted a lot of people I deeply care about have been wading through some deep mire lately. Relationships, employment/financial struggles, you name it. With no disrespect meant to the divine, it has been one of those times when individually and collectively it has been wondered aloud whether God is out on an extended cigarette break and His answering machine isn’t accepting any more incoming messages. People, good people, are hurting. Bad.

Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a mustard seed, the mountains would obey their command to move. Many of us have faith, yet it seems as whoever may be ordering the mountains about as of late has decreed they fall on top of us. When you are angry and scared; when you keep crashing into dead ends in your job search, when your love life consists of striking out before you can so much as emerge from the dugout, when your loved ones (as Terry Scott Taylor so brilliantly put it) mounted up like eagles but now are dropping like flies, when you see the loudmouth cretin down the road luxuriating with the gorgeous spouse and perfect kids and well lined bank account while you have none of the above … yes, you do start to wonder, even with promised eternity in Christ, what’s the deal. And, how are we supposed to deal with a bitter, seemingly endless losing streak.

Sometimes the only way to deal is burying our face in Jesus’ bloodstained robe and crying our eyes out, asking for comfort and asking Him why. We know the Scripture about how now we see through a glass darkly, but there are times when it seems like the glass is shattered and its shards are slicing us to ribbons. We just want it to end. We need tangible relief. We need something we can grab onto.

The other night, following the aforementioned afternoon when elements both longstanding and sudden were kicking the stuffings out of me, what came to me as a lifeline was a song from over forty years ago.

It was a song straightforwardly declaring faith’s fundamental, calling the seeker home to the One who loves him or her.

The song reminded me of the joy I once knew as a new believer, bursting with love and joy and terrible naïveté about how in so many things not only did I not have the answer, I most likely didn’t so much as have the question right.

It reminded me that through the years, through the high and lows, the doubts and fears, the anger and tears, as well as through all the moments when I felt God’s presence in every fiber of my being, Jesus had remained faithful.

The song reminded me that even in the hurting times He has been and is there, His seeming indifference an illusion belayed by the truth that this, too, shall pass even though in the immediate it hurts like hell.

It reminded me that there is an ending to all this, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with whispering, “Come quickly, Lord; I’ve had enough.”

The song reminded me to trim my sails and turn my ship to the Lord.

It was quite the pleasant early birthday present.

I’ll take it.

My late father was fond of many truisms. One of his favorites was, “Keep your words sweet; you might have to eat them.” Being one who has far too many times made a meal out of self-baked Alpha Bits, I fully testify to the aforementioned statement’s accuracy.

This came to mind yesterday when learning of John McCain’s battle with brain cancer. Cancer in any form is hideous; brain cancer is an unspeakable obscenity. Given McCain’s age and health history, it is impossible to envision this being anything but a brief, final battle before his ascending into eternity.

As a career moderate, one willing to work both sides of the aisle, McCain has garnered more than a few detractors at each end of both aisles. On the right, McCain has been routinely pilloried as the RINOs RINO, a squish benignly or actively bulldozing every hill upon which red pill poppers choose to make today’s final stand; tune in tomorrow for the new indignation du jour. On the left … eh, it’s the left. What aren’t they indignant about? But I digress.

It’s sadly predictable how, in a world where “Obama is a POOPYHEAD!” and “Trump is a MEANYPANTS!” passes as political discourse, the armchair politicians have not universally disarmed themselves in favor of prayer and support for a man now fighting his greatest battle. Be it damning with faint praise via tacking a grievance diatribe onto a get-well wish, or proclaiming McCain’s condition as karma come home to roost, haters gonna hate. And how. Hope they never take ill.

Like it or not, we are known by the company we keep. Those who herald the snarkbelcher for being cool and edgy and speaking truth to power abandon all claims of innocent bystanding when the worm turns. Make no mistake; the worm will turn … after it metamorphosises into a dragon.

Those who blog, post, and tweet as they please with total disregard for the humanity of others will in time discover that which they believed granted immunity from their own words’ consequences was transitory. The day will come when that rock solid, self-made (to whatever degree it actually was, this as opposed to whatever degree we perceive it to be) career will both blow up and throw up in our faces. That immovable object of a third party or outside corporation we’ve built upon? It will move, downsize, change direction, or simply fold altogether. That in-demand, on-demand skill set we have laboriously acquired? Seemingly overnight it will become faded fish wrap, dated and discarded. Your status as the hot hand, the heartthrob, the heavy hitter? As The Eagles succinctly put it decades ago, where’ve you been lately? There’s a new kid in town. Everybody loves him, don’t they. And he’s holding her … and you’re still around.

Remember conservative new media’s early days when all were welcome? Now, CNM is CNN minus a spot on the local cable network, stratified and tied to a totem pole. Used to be we called ourselves an army of Davids. Well, Goliath is still standing, and our slingshot ammo consists of yelling at Jake Tapper on Twitter.

Relying on the new corporation, same as the old corporation (ratings/website hits are KING!) albeit with a different philosophical core as long as it is a solid business model for attracting advertisers, is a risky proposition. An endless drone of opinion pieces makes for an entirely unsatisfying intellectual meal and a dwindling marketplace. Now, there are people in CNM who practice fundamental journalism. They read the bill. They study the transcript. They attend the meeting. They ask direct questions to those directly involved. But these people are the rare exceptions in a morass of clip and comment sludge.

The failure to treat political opponents as people instead of crash test dummies will inevitably consume both its creators and its supporters. As surely as if we signed it ourselves, that which we sign off on will be attached to our names. Therefore, be cautious and circumspect. Fire; a cleansing one but fire nonetheless, is coming. Don’t get burned.

Be careful what you sign.

As anyone who has read more than one of my modest little scribbles here has doubtless noticed, I have a warm spot in my heart for classic Christian rock and the artists who created same, many of whom are still making great music. Doing my best to inform as many people as possible about these artists and their work is, at its core, a holy obligation; one I willingly embrace. At the very least, it’s a far more productive time utilization than spending all day on social media yelling Obama is a poopyhead and/or Trump is a meanypants.

This came into focus earlier today while perusing a Facebook thread involving Mike Roe (77s, solo work, Lost Dogs). Now, if you’re looking for Good Good Father Part II, you’ll most likely be disappointed in Roe’s body of work. If you’re looking for superb songwriting in both the shimmering guitar pop and earthy blues realms, laced with genuine heart laid bare lyrics discussing relationships and philosophical matters as seen through (to borrow a phrase from Roe’s Lost Dogs compatriot Terry Scott Taylor) the tired eyes of faith, Roe is your man. He also plays Clapton-level lead guitar. He’s that good.

Back to the aforementioned thread. A fan had passed along some of Roe’s ’80s work to Stephen Fellows, in days gone by leader of English alt band The Comsat Angels. Roe is a huge fan of Fellows’ work. Fellows had high praise for Roe’s work. Everybody happy happy happy, correct? Not so fast, as said fan after several lengthy dissertations on what kind of music Roe should be doing and which musicians he should be playing with next threw this at him:

Commence butthurt!

Aside from the minor detail Roe has decades worth of work amply exhibiting he doesn’t need anyone telling him what to do, the exchange reveals a mindset far too prevalent on both sides of the political aisle. Namely, that unless an artist is playing monkey dancing to an approved organ grinder’s tune they’re doing it wrong. How DARE you not worship at my sacred cow’s altar!

It’s not that politics are unimportant. But are they that important? The single mom scrambling and ofttimes struggling to keep a roof over her children’s heads is often, doubtless to the surprise of political junkies, perhaps not nearly as concerned about the new menu items at that fine French restaurant Outrage du Jour as she is about silly stuff like paying bills and raising her kids right. People and their priorities; go figure.

It also may come as an utter shock, but some folk are actually cognizant of the fact that life on this planet comes with a firm, albeit unknown, expiration date. This should induce neither morbid resignation nor frenetic efforts to fulfill all life goals by 2 PM next Tuesday. It should help bring matters into focus. Is what any one of us is accomplishing authentic progress toward our goals? If our goal is self-glorification and browbeating others into bending toward our political whim, what are we actually accomplishing? Unless Ozymandias is your role model, kinda spinning your wheels there.

Be mindful of what truly matters: faith, hope, and love. The latter is the most important. We, and one day the memories of us, will pass from this earth. Love is eternal, even as Christ is eternal. The years indeed go down. Live and love accordingly.