by baldilocks

The church I regularly attend is multi-racial, but I didn’t choose it because of that. I chose it because of other churches and other pastors. I chose it because of situations like the following.

From Lloyd Marcus:

My brother Jerry is a deacon in his all-black church. Jerry called to tell me he confronted his pastor, telling him it is unchristian to include a hateful rant against Trump in every sermon. His pastor firmly believes Trump is a rabid racist. I asked Jerry, “What was your pastor’s response?”

Jerry said his pastor gave him the same blank stare he always receives from fellow blacks when he states commonsense views that are contrary to Democrat lies believed by that most blacks. Condescendingly, Jerry’s pastor said he understood his concerns. Meanwhile, his attacks on Trump from the pulpit continue. Jerry said every guest speaker at his church includes trashing Trump in their sermon.

I want to be clear about this: it isn’t the bashing of Republicans or of Trump in particular that bothers me. It’s that is being done from the pulpit as a part of the sermon. A pastor’s job is to tend to the sheep: to lead them in their walk with and toward Christ. Any other purpose is leading the flock astray.

In fact, the church belongs to Christ, not to individual pastors/reverends/priests, etc.; it is entrusted to these individuals, but it’s not theirs. When these leaders stoke and provoke anger as opposed to faith and prayer about any person or any topic, they have become wolves in pastor’s clothing.

But we all know that, for many of these people, it’s about getting butts in the seats. And most people are comfortable with having their anger and victimhood nourished.

Meanwhile, who is exhorting these people to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?

The Bible says that we will all give account for our words and actions, but pastor, etc. have a special standard to meet. I don’t even want to think about what’s in store for these misleaders of God’s church if they don’t do a 180.

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by baldilocks

Fran Poretto is an old blog friend of mine and, while I read his many excellent essays, I’d like to present a sample.

 In the Decalogue, we find the propositions that for many centuries constituted the definition of moral / ethical law for Western man:

  • Thou shalt not murder.
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery.
  • Thou shalt not steal.
  • Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
  • Thou shalt not covet.

That handful of proscriptions, which are also known as the Noachide Commandments, was the basis of Western Civilization. Yes, we’ve added a few things along the way – no sex with animals, no crossing a double-yellow line, no wearing white after Labor Day or mixing primary colors during daylight hours, and so forth – but those had more to do with what’s seemly or tasteful than with what must be forbidden. You might not be willing to have dinner with someone who wears white after Labor Day, but you wouldn’t want to see him imprisoned or executed. (Would you?)

“Our Superiors” have discarded all of those proscriptions – on the basis of their claim of superior morality! They hold that our inferiority entitles them to do all those forbidden things to us…again, in the name of what they call “morality.”

You don’t think so? Have you listened to any of the Left’s media figures defend AntiFa? Have you heard them justify deliberate lying if it helps them to win power, or to put over some proposition about race, gender, or “climate change?” Have you totted up the number that have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar…or in the panties of some lissome young thing other than their wives?

This “superior morality” the Left claims bears no relation to the moral precepts on which our society is founded. That makes it difficult to evaluate…unless, that is, you consider American society to be largely good and worthy of defense.

There are some opinions of Fran’s with which I don’t agree – this one is not among that number — but he hasn’t lost his touch.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Get out of here
You crazy voice
You’re the devil
Not my Father
Or some evil
Flesh desire
Let me be
I am free

Back in the dim and distant past known as last year, upon its rerelease yours truly wrote a review of contemporary Christian music pioneer Oden Fong’s 1979 classic record Come For The Children. Not so much a concept as timeline record, as Fong detailed life on earth spent following Christ as Lord and Savior prior to His return he noted, in the song “Crazy Voices,” how satanic and worldly distractions do their best to lure believers off course, with predictably disastrous consequences.

In a world seemingly gone completely mad, one where instant sports millionaires claim oppression while hellhounds murder innocents for the crime of concert attendance, what is good and acceptable finds itself drowning beneath torrents of vile social media and public discourse rage. The anger over what is happening is understandable by anyone with a heart. The expressions and ideas set forth to prevent future horrors are regrettably often as steeped in lunacy as the acts bringing on these outbursts, for they fail to address the root cause of evil, namely humanity’s inhumanity. Acts of violence are seemingly paradoxically properly addressed solely by an act of violence: a lone figure nailed to a bloody cross so none need descend from this earth into perpetual utter isolation and agony. We do not need more gun control. We need more Spirit-led self-control.

The crazy voices surround us all, sometimes screaming and sometimes whispering their lies. They proclaim they have the answers, the solutions to prevent future evil played out by bullets sprayed about, or bombs or transportation vessels or whatever weapons are available used with murderous intent. They have neither. The only answer is holding on to Christ’s nail-scarred Hand, emulating as best we can in our stubborn state of rumbling fumbling tumbling stumbling bumbling imperfect humanity Jesus’ love. Nothing else works.

Nothing.

by baldilocks

Back in May, I said this.

When we think of lies, we tend to think of them as linear one-dimensional, straight-out falsehoods: 2+2=57, for example—a thing so outrageously false as to be laughable.

And this.

 The Devil is building his multi-dimensional kingdom of lies—in counterpoint to the Kingdom of God.

And in imitation of it.

Usually, the word ‘dialectic’ causes my eyes to glaze over, but that didn’t happen while I was reading this intro for a site I plan to explore further.

In 1847 the London Communist League (Karl Marx and Frederick Engels) used Hegel’s theory of the dialectic to back up their economic theory of communism. Now, in the 21st century, Hegelian-Marxist thinking affects our entire social and political structure. The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution. If we do not understand how the Hegelian dialectic shapes our perceptions of the world, then we do not know how we are helping to implement the visionWhen we remain locked into dialectical thinking, we cannot see out of the box.

Hegel

Hegel’s dialectic is the tool which manipulates us into a frenzied circular pattern of thought and action. Every time we fight for or defend against an ideology we are playing a necessary role in Marx and Engels’ grand design to advance humanity into a dictatorship of the proletariat. The synthetic Hegelian solution to all these conflicts can’t be introduced unless we all take a side that will advance the agenda. The Marxist’s global agenda is moving along at breakneck speed. The only way to completely stop the privacy invasions, expanding domestic police powers, land grabs, insane wars against inanimate objects (and transient verbs), covert actions, and outright assaults on individual liberty, is to step outside the dialectic. This releases us from the limitations of controlled and guided thought.

The emphasis belongs to the author and rightly so. I have called this “binary thinking” – the idea that only two opposing choices are available when solving a problem; or the idea that a person must always choose one of two and only two sides in any dispute; or the idea that no “thinking” person could conceive of more than two choices. And so on.

If I didn’t have such an aversion to most of the Great Philosophers, I might have identified dialectical thinking earlier. Blessedly, I have an innate aversion to dialectical thinking even if I didn’t know what to call it before now.

But I’ve sensed for a long time that we are being herded into a totalitarian space. Outrages of the day –especially those involving race or gender issues — are distraction from this herding and, ironically, prodding toward it.

The Hegelian Dialectic is part of the Devil’s kingdom of lies. And it is a very small part of it, but the pattern is a simple one. And, once you recognize the pattern, you’ll see it everywhere.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

by baldilocks

As a few people may have noticed, I’ve been going back over posts from my old blog, which I started in 2003. One of the things which has hindered me in deciding what to write about is that, often, I feel like I’m repeating myself. But a long-time fan turned that notion around for me by reminding me that repetition is the vehicle of learning.

The following, from 2004,  is apropos of nothing popular in Social Media right now. Who knows when that will change? It could be seconds after you read it.


A guest asked the following questions about Islam, and the Koran.

juliette i’m not that familiar with the qu’ran. could you give me a citation for your reference?

could you also tell me if this type of activity is a constant over the history of the region? if we go back to 1905 for example, would we see someone lynched then?

finally, could you tell me how lynching and mass terrorism against african americans was able to continue for a full 100 years, without reference to the judeo-christian ethic?

Are Muslims following the tenets of their religion or ignoring same?

Let’s turn it around. During the heyday of white American terrorism of black Americans in the South, were white American Christians following the tenets of Jesus the Christ or ignoring them? If the latter was true, it isn’t too hard to figure it out how it could be so: the same way that present-day Christians ignore the tenets of their religion. You may be familiar with some of the “lesser” ways: lying, cheating, stealing, committing adultery, dishonoring one’s parents, etc. Or even worse, twisting the tenets of their religion to suit their own purposes.

This last sort of behavior shouldn’t have to be explained to anyone who steps out of his/her door in the morning. And failure to live up to one’s professed standards or twisting those standards to self-serving purposes isn’t a failing unique to those who are religious.

It took men of the Christian and Jewish faiths — black men, white men and others — to shame the bulk of white Americans into living up to the spiritual and secular ideals they professed to revere and cherish, whether it was “love thy neighbor as thyself” or the idea spawned from that, “all Men are created equal.”

Back to your first question: does it matter whether jihad started 35 years ago or three years ago? Here’s my point: there is nothing in Islamic doctrine that can be used to shame the Islamists to stop using terror in the attempt to achieve their aims. No Dr. Malik Shakir will come out of the Mosque holding up Muhammad as the “Prince of Peace” who commanded believers to turn the other cheek or take the two-by-four out of his own eye first. Why not? This is why:

“Slay the infidels wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (Koran 9:5)

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [Islam], until they are subdued. (Surat At-Taubah 9:29)

Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection. Allah is an enemy to unbelievers. (Koran 2: 98)

Again, Muslims who terrorize, lynch, burn, and enslave are merely living up to their credo, not ignoring or going against it. That’s why (besides fear of other Muslims) you haven’t seen any Muslims in large numbers publicly repudiating terror. (There are one billion Muslims, right?)

As a wise person said, when someone tells you that they want to kill you, believe them.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

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.

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.

by baldilocks

A real environmental crisis: it’s Raining Needles. Alternate title: Why I Stopped Wearing Flip-flops in Public.

They hide in weeds along hiking trails and in playground grass. They wash into rivers and float downstream to land on beaches. They pepper baseball dugouts, sidewalks and streets. Syringes left by drug users amid the heroin crisis are turning up everywhere.

In Portland, Maine, officials have collected more than 700 needles so far this year, putting them on track to handily exceed the nearly 900 gathered in all of 2016. In March alone, San Francisco collected more than 13,000 syringes, compared with only about 2,900 in the same month in 2016.

People, often children, risk getting stuck by discarded needles, raising the prospect they could contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis or HIV or be exposed to remnants of heroin or other drugs.

(…)

Needles turn up in places like parks, baseball diamonds, trails and beaches — isolated spots where drug users can gather and attract little attention, and often the same spots used by the public for recreation. The needles are tossed out of carelessness or the fear of being prosecuted for possessing them.

One child was poked by a needle left on the grounds of a Utah elementary school. Another youngster stepped on one while playing on a beach in New Hampshire.

Even if adults or children don’t get sick, they still must endure an unsettling battery of tests to make sure they didn’t catch anything. The girl who put a syringe in her mouth was not poked but had to be tested for hepatitis B and C, her mother said.

Some community advocates are trying to sweep up the pollution.

Rocky Morrison leads a cleanup effort along the Merrimack River, which winds through the old milling city of Lowell, and has recovered hundreds of needles in abandoned homeless camps that dot the banks, as well as in piles of debris that collect in floating booms he recently started setting.

In truth, this is merely a physical manifestation of the inner crises of all too many. These people want to escape from reality, become trapped by their escape route, then become heedless of all things — except for the next time they get a ride along the escape route. There are many means of being set free from this trap. One of them is death. In the meantime, more escape, more death and more discarded needles.

The most sinister spiritual component to heroin and many other drugs does not inhabit the users, however, but the providers. Even if all drugs were to become legal tomorrow, that would not change.

The question is this: what can be done for those who are caught up in this web? I think most solutions of the earthly variety are already available. These people need the Great Healer. Their inner environment needs to be made clean.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

This past weekend, the mysterious albeit not mythical Mrs. Dude and I did a quick trip down Southern California way for the primary purpose of attending a beloved friend’s daughter’s baby shower. And, as long as we were in the neighborhood, swinging by to visit the mice and the ducks and the dogs and the chipmunks. In other words, Disneyland. The two events made for an interesting comparison, to say the least.

While at the House of Mouse, it was difficult to look in any given direction without immediately being assaulted by the sordid phenomenon known as matching T-shirts. For those of you who’ve managed to avoid this scenario up until now, this does not refer to everybody in a group wearing the exact same park or character shirt. Rather, it refers to a gaggle of people wearing cheap homemade shirts, said purpose being informing one and all that they, and/or someone in their party, is so special, and so meriting attention, special clothing must be worn so that they may be properly hailed.

Doubtless it is a special occasion to those involved that little Timmy is having his fifth birthday, or the whole family is taking a vacation, or the bridal party has decided to stop by here before running off to Vegas and getting wasted together. Why the rest of the world should know, or care, above and beyond maybe someone saying something so someone else can congratulate them, remains a mystery.

Somehow, in a amusement park dedicated to the realm of fantasy, with tens of thousands of people in attendance seeking escape from their daily reality in said fantasy, the notion that your everyday events (and you) are so incredibly special, and unique, that everyone should take note both amuses and saddens. Frankly, folks, no one else cares, nor should they be expected to care, nor can they be made to care. You and/or your child and/or your grandchild and/or your family event is neither so cute, nor so smart, nor so unique, that the rest of humanity should take special note. The most egregious example of this witnessed to date was a family wearing matching shirts memorializing grandma, for nothing speaks of sincerity like trolling for sympathy at the happiest place on earth.

Now, you are special and unique to God. However, careful Scriptural research has yet to reveal any indication that drawing attention to yourself is a worthwhile, noble, and altogether pleasant procedure. You’re in Disneyland, okay? No one is there to see, or pay attention to, you. They are there to see Mickey and Minnie and Donald and assorted princesses and superheroes. Besides, if you really wanted to be honest, you’d wear a T-shirt saying something like TEAM 37th IN LINE FOR A DOLE WHIP.

Fast forward to the next day and the baby shower. I freely admit baby showers aren’t my thing, but given the family involved attending this one was a pleasure. Besides, someone had to get the baby the right professional sports team apparel to wear. #LetsGoSharks

What most marked the event wasn’t, thankfully, a gaggle of women trading labor pains stories. Rather, it was the outpouring of sheer, unadulterated, unfiltered, pure love. The radiant glow of the mom to be. The floating on air joy of the soon to be first time grandmother. The equally floating on air joy of the soon to be first time great-grandparents. The love for the Lord; the love for each other flowed from and to all who were there. It was a truly special, blessed occasion. Moments like these provide much needed refreshment in a self-obsessed world.

True love never calls artificial attention to itself. It instead flows naturally, any notice of same coming as a normal byproduct of its presence. The expression “true love waits” is often bandied about in relation to abstaining from sex before marriage. This is true, but it has another meaning. True love also waits until the world has exhausted itself with its endless horn blowing and tub thumping. Then, and only then, does it reveal itself to be the genuine.

Seek the genuine. And lose the stupid T-shirts.