It comes from a lifetime of writing and editing (rather my more than 50 years as a professional writer and not counting my childhood and adolescence). I hate having an editor using red ink on my page, correcting anything of which I should know better, mainly grammar, usage and style. Also spelling. Thus, the OCD nitpicking began. So, forgive me if I hair-split. (see a cliche, and I’m not going to bother to check if the hyphenated verb is correct, though I believe that it is).
Today, I observe that grammar has become the common blanket that covers usage and style too, thus the entire Handbook for Writers has become grammar.
That given, perhaps my most irritating thorn that has festered in my old skin for years is the misuse of words and use of non-words. At least words and non-words by my definition of them.
Much egregious to my dinosaur ways, appears the language drift from words to non-words to acronyms used as words caused by text messages and social media. A glance at my granddaughter’s text messages on my smartphone (and what makes it so smart?) and I realize that perhaps (more likely than not) I have probably joined Geoffrey Chaucer in the dark halls of language arts Valhalla. These days, I might as well be writing in the Middlesex Dialect of English.
Therefore, should I simply update my personal writers’ handbook and move forward? Language is communication, and if, “OBTW” or “IMHO,” finds meaning among today’s readers, then BAM, use them. For those who do not yet understand acronymic shorthand language, let me translate: OBTW = Oh By The Way; IMHO = In My Humble Opinion, and BAM = By All Means.
This thorn in my ancient writer’s hide festers from long ago when I began to take notice of the news anchor using words like “Flammable” in place of “Inflammable.” Flammable began existence as a non-word because when safety engineers painted Inflammable on the sides and backends of gasoline trucks, people misunderstood the word to mean that the fuel inside would not catch fire nor explode. If a company painted Non-Inflammable on their trucks, peoples’ heads exploded. To them, Inflammable meant not flammable, meaning that a thing would flam or not flam. The late comedian George Carlin also suffered from a similar thorn in his side when he too noticed that dumbness had now taken over the English language. Dick Cavett, who wrote jokes for Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson, alongside Carlin, likewise shared our language angst.
So, as a writer, I feel my age and I suffer for it. I don’t understand acronymic language, and I groan at the idea that when people use capital letters rather than words, they can often have a multiplicity of meanings. (I also note that I wince when someone uses the word Capitol when meaning Capital, or There when they meant Their, and Facebook’s automatic word checker automatically changes Their into There when Their was the correct word. Or from left field, They’re appears.)
All this rambling simply begs to ask the question: Has English-speaking society just become dumb? Have our communities of humanity just become too stupid to care? And there I go judging people. Another mark of the writing dinosaur. Move over, Mister Chaucer. Dust off a rock for me so that I can rest my weary nitpicking writer’s butt on it.
Oh, and regarding a common pet peeve of people writing endless verbiage in a story without paragraph breaks, I have to smile. Yes, breaking up long-winded diatribes into short paragraphs does greatly improve readability. But what makes me smile is that Jack Kerouac and his “Original Scroll” of his novel, On the Road, comes to my mind. I am a Kerouac devotee. I am part of the Dharma Bums wandering the hinterlands in search of something better.
I also began my professional writing career as a news reporter for a newspaper that printed its daily pages on a rotary press that used hot lead melted and poured into casts to make the printing plates. These casts came from Linotype machines that also spit out words on hot lead. We received our news stories on teletype machines (pre-computer era, not really that long ago), and they used large rolls of yellow paper.
As a reporter, rather than feeding sheet after sheet of typing paper into a typewriter (yes, a mechanical typewriter), I kept a large roll of teletype paper suspended with a coat hanger on the back of my typing table. The yellow paper fed the typewriter, and I typed endlessly. At the -30- mark, I ripped the paper off the typewriter, tossed it into the editor’s in-basket and began another take on an ongoing story or I wrote a new one.
I hated when my typewriter ribbon finally wore so dim that I had to change it. The interruption of thought transference to page seemed brutal to my being. But even then, I broke my stories into paragraphs, divided by logical thought (check out your handbook for writers regarding paragraphs, they do have logical breaks).
Jack Kerouac came from this same school of writing shared by many of us: Lazy. Well, not really Lazy but, let’s call it, Efficient. A roll of yellow teletype paper and a fresh ribbon in his Remington Standard or Underwood, and Jack was a free man. Free to let his thoughts flow through his fingers onto the yellow paper racked around the platen (rubber roller) of his typewriter. Thought transference! Pure and unfettered.
And Jack Kerouac could not be troubled by Strunk and White nor their ideas that addressed logical paragraph breaks and order. Jack thought and wrote and only took his right hand off the keys long enough to give the typewriter’s carriage return a hard whack to the left.
Kerouac’s first edition manuscript of On the Road was one long paragraph typed on a roll of yellow teletype paper. It represented his uplifted middle finger shoved skyward to the smug, judgmental publishing community of his day.
Although Viking Press, in 1957, published On the Road, editors broke the manuscript into logical paragraphs, conformed it to the Chicago Book of Style and published it regardless of the artistic meaning that Jack had tried to show to the world with no punctuation, no paragraph breaks and no place for a reader to take a breath–his virtual raised middle finger to conformity.
Years later, after Jack Kerouac had joined Lenny Bruce, Dylan Thomas and other nonconforming critics of society in the place where their spirits now dwell for eternity (I’m pretty sure that George Carlin and Charlie Bukowski reside there with them), some rebellious editors at the house of G. P. Putnam and Berkley books, which morphed into Penguin-Putnam, then Penguin USA, that has today become Penguin-Random House, fought for and succeeded in publishing Jack Kerouac’s Original Scroll of On the Road.
Kerouac’s resistance to conformity uplifts my soul. A nudist among fully-dressed literary compliance. I recommend reading it.
After all, I too am a rebel. I begin sentences with conjunctions. And that is that!
Not long ago, my friend and fellow writer, Kirk Ellis, posted his contribution to his friend Stuart Rosebrook’s challenge to post on Facebook banned books and drive Facebook censors crazy. Yes, a worthy cause.
Of course, my heart went straight to Harper Lee’s brilliant novel that won her the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1961 and was voted by the American people its favorite novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. A book that has been banned multiple times since 1968 through today with other people knowing best what a person ought to be ALLOWED to read. Set in a time when Jim Crow laws caused many innocent poor people to suffer terrible injustices, like the railroading of Tom Robinson, innocent but convicted anyway because he’s Black. That was a time when mentally challenged people like Boo Radley suffered persecution no different than Quasimodo. Scout and Jem and father, Atticus Finch, knew better, despite that ugly world that told an American truth that held up a mirror to our biased faces and helped make us better for it.
Oh, but why even enter such things in the mind? We must control the narrative that the people hear, so they can act pure and be pure and not hate. Right, that’s called brain washing. Censorship is in a way a means to wash the minds of the people, so they will agree on the prescribed politically correct path.
Me? I was always the kid who wondered why books got banned, so I searched out underground copies of the forbidden texts and read them.
Hate is hate. Thus, censors scurry today to rid us of such trash that perhaps might offend us or cause us hurt. So, they ban To Kill a Mockingbird, and of late, they remove from publication six books penned by Dr. Seuss, yanked by the sensitive publishers at Penguin Random House. Because they might be hurtful.
And that brings me to my entry of books best consumed in brown paper wrappers, for fear that the thought police might see us reading them.
As a writer, I find inspiration from an odd assortment of authors, poets and novelists, all tormented by inner demons, with which I use to mold myself into the writer I want to be, and perhaps explain why I share such demons with them. Among this sordid cast of mostly human trash, foreign to polite society, living in the shadow of down-looking noses, rises perhaps my all-time favorite, Charles Bukowski.
I find connection with such nihilistic social rejects as Hank Moody, the main character in Tom Kapinos’ creation, Californication. Totally depraved and yet inspiring. It did seven seasons on Showtime, so someone watched it. Besides me.
I liked it because I know Hank Moody’s heart. Since I have not talked to Tom Kapinos about his inspiration for Hank, I can’t say for sure. But I suspect that Kapinos, like me, draws much inspiration from the insufferable reprobate Charlie Bukowski and his even more deplorable alter-ego, Henry “Hank” Chinaski.
Hank Moody and Hank Chinaski are their own worst enemies. Very much alike. If you’ve watched the seven seasons of Californication, and related to Hank, then you must also read Bukowski’s five novels that take us through the life of Hank Chinaski.
Read the five novels in this order:
First, read Ham on Rye, then next slum your way through the pages of my offering for the list of books that offend the Facebook censors, Factotum. You’ll be hooked with Ham on Rye, and Factotum picks right up.
Then you can settle into the steamy drunk pages of Post Office, where we journey with Hank Chinaski, aspiring to be a novelist but needing to eat, gets a job delivering mail. That, and seducing women, and staying drunk as he tries to write, and keep afloat, resisting everything except temptation. Yet Hank finally reels out his first novel, as Post Office slides to a slow stop.
Next on the reading list we find Bukowski’s introspection of himself through Henry Chinaski in his novel called, Women. In it, life gets good for Henry Chinaski after his first novel takes him to stardom. Down on life, down on stardom, cynical yet fun-seeking, Hank Chinaski and Hank Moody would live well together, if they ever met. And somehow, I believe that Tom Kapinos probably did just that with these two howling mad writers.
A trail of lost loves in his own life, shown to us in the life of Hank Chinaski, I am not surprised that Charlie Bukowski wrote a book of poems entitled: Love is a Dog from Hell.
While the last in the life of Hank Chinaski, the novel Hollywood takes our hero to the land of crazy, phony and glitter, Los Angeles. Here we see Henry Chinaski write the screenplay called, Barfly.
And while Hank Chinaski lives the depraved, careless and self-absorbed life of a writer spinning out of emotional control in the novel, Hollywood, Charles Bukowski lives a similar, depraved life for real as he writes the screenplay for the 1987 feature film, Barfly, which starred Mickey Rourke and Faye Dunaway.
When you finish reading Hollywood, get a copy of the book form screenplay, Barfly. It’s the final edit of the script, all written by Charles Bukowski.
Charlie Bukowski died in San Pedro, California on March 9, 1994, at the age of 74 years old. Same as my age now. And just as cranky and cynical.
He got his first story published in 1944 and never stopped smoking and drinking and living life with little to no control. His physical body’s worst enemy and his emotional being’s champion of self-abuse, Charlie never stopped writing for the next 50 years.
That’s when God stopped him.
In his tracks.
A few weeks before the Grim Reaper took Charlies Bukowski down for the count, Black Sparrow Press published the first edition hardcover of Charlie Bukowski’s (Hank Chinaski’s) final novel, Pulp.
While looking Lady Death square in the kisser, Bukowski dedicates his story told in Pulp to “bad writing.”
His novel, you see, takes dead center aim at writers and publishers and spoofs their pretentious, over-inflated, narcissistic world.
No ground is sacred.
Replete with everything vile and reviling, lewdness, drunkenness, debauched, hurtful, insulting, immoral but downright funny and heartbreaking.
No Facebook censor could ever allow any of these novels to appear on these hallowed, sensitive and politically woke webpages.
So, I offer to the Facebook censors Charlie Bukowski the man, and Hank Chinaski the fictional hero, and maybe his sidekick, Hank Moody. I guarantee them to be fairly and justly insensitive, insulting and hurtful to all.
But, God bless them, our world would be pretty sad without them.
How many of us are like the two disciples who walked along the road to Emmaus on the Sunday when Jesus rose from the grave? Some food for thought. It certainly stopped me as I read the 24th chapter of Luke to consider the possibility that I also may have met an Angel of God or even Jesus somewhere, and I didn’t recognize either the Angel or my Savior and Lord.
My morning Bible reading took me through the Book of Isaiah, chapters 65 and 66, the Book of Job, chapter 14, verses 11 through 22 and the Book of Luke, chapter 24. As I read from Luke and the event that Luke describes on the road to Emmaus, I recalled an experience a number of years ago when I believe that I met an Angel of the Lord, and I didn’t realize it at the time. But later, the idea of this person being an Angel grew in my heart with great confidence. It would explain many strange things about this young man.
At the time this happened, I taught a Thursday evening Bible study at my church. That evening, I arrived to meet a young man who joined our group for the night. He had a presence of peace about him, and he held a well-used Bible. He also knew the words of Scripture without looking, so I knew that he was no newcomer to God’s Word.
I do not recall the young man’s name, and it is not important for this story.
He said that he began his journey in Louisiana, where he lived, and that God had called him to go to California. Not by bus or train or even airplane, but on foot. Walking the entire distance with everything that he needed packed in a rucksack that he carried on his back.
Along his way, a coyote had joined him, walking at his side without a leash or any kind of controlling device, but devoted and friendly as any pet dog, and well-heeled and good mannered. The man told me that this was likely a mix of domestic dog and coyote but breed really wasn’t important. The animal was his companion and remained steadfastly at the fellow’s side.
The animal lay quietly under the table, where the man sat during our Bible study, and when we had finished and walked outside, the coyote came too, again at the man’s right side. The man had a length of rope that he could slip around the dog’s or coyote’s neck, if it being free to roam made people nervous, but with me as we walked and talked, the rope wasn’t necessary.
This fellow from Louisiana on mission for Christ told me that when he reached California, the Lord then sent the man eastward, down to Arizona, where he spent a few days in Tucson. Then God told him to pack up and go to Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and deliver a message to the congregation of that infamous church. This man would only say that the message was specific and important.
I wanted to know more, given the reputation of this church that seemed bent on judgment against everyone except themselves. But the young man only smiled and shook his head, no.
After delivering his message to the congregation of Westboro Baptist Church, the young fellow said that he would then go to Pennsylvania, again trekking the distance on foot with the coyote at his side. God had a plan for him there too. Perhaps he would return to Louisiana after that.
He told me fascinating stories of his journey across the western half of the United States. People and events happened that we could only agree that God had put this young fellow there for God’s purposes in helping specific people in crisis events.
For example, on the road outside Tucson, a couple in a pickup truck had stopped with their engine overheated. They had gotten out of their truck and stood with this man and his dog, when out of nowhere a speeding semi-tractor trailer rig came careening around the curve, and slammed through the couple’s pickup truck, demolishing it.
“You saved our lives!” the people had said to him. But he only answered that God had saved their lives by putting him there on the outskirts of Tucson at exactly the right moment. They should praise God, not him. To me, it sounded like something an Angel of the Lord would say. We are all servants of the same Lord.
In that meeting with the couple at Tucson, he led them to Christ, sharing the Gospel of our Lord with them. He led them in praying the “Sinner’s Prayer.”
This man’s goodness and purpose, selflessly walking across the nation, brought to my mind the Scripture recorded in the Book of Matthew, chapter 25, and what Jesus had said to His disciples when He told them about The Final Judgment in verses 31 through 46. The Scripture says that we all will be held into account, the King dividing the righteous from the wicked, just as a shepherd will divide the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Christ said to His disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked, and you clothed me, I was sick, and you visited me, I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” [Matthew 25:31-40 (ESV)]
This young man had asked if we would allow him to pitch his tent on our grounds, and one of our members who took care of the buildings and church maintenance had told the fellow that it was too cold outside at night. He should come inside one of our Sunday School classroom buildings to sleep, and that he would turn on the heat for him. Which he did.
I sized the man up and down: his hair was dusty, and he had a week’s worth of stubble on his face. While I never noticed any smell about the man, he nonetheless looked like he could use a bath and wash his clothes. So, rather than have him sleep in a classroom, I invited him and his pet to come to my home, have a good meal, spend the night in a bed, take a shower and wash his clothes.
His face seemed to beam light as he smiled and said that he would certainly like that very much. So, I took him and his coyote home with me.
The fellow had a couple of changes of clothes in his rucksack, all of them dirty, and he emptied them out from the pack, atop which he carried his tent and a rolled up thin mat made of foam rubber. He and his pet coyote-dog headed upstairs where he got himself clean and my wife washed and dried all his clothes. He borrowed a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt to wear in the meantime and slept in them too.
Interestingly about the coyote that may have been half dog but looked all coyote to me, it had no smell and its fur felt clean to the touch as I pet him. The animal had perfect manners and got along with my German Shepherd dogs and Jack Russell Terrier too. The cats also seemed fine with him being here.
The next day, after spending more time talking about our faith in Jesus Christ and how serving Him trumped all other priorities in our lives, the fellow asked me directions toward US Highway 24. I shook my head, no, and told him to get in my pickup truck, with his dog and his kit, and I would simply take them to it.
He thanked me and said that it would be great, if it wasn’t too much trouble.
“No trouble at all,” I said.
By the time that I had gotten to the Peyton, Colorado post office on Highway 24, God had already put it on my heart to take this young fellow and his pet coyote one more measure.
“How about I just take you up the road to Calhan?” I said, already turning onto Highway 24 and heading east. It was a rhetorical question, and I would not accept anything but agreement.
By the time we reached Calhan, a 14-mile jaunt from Peyton, I already knew that we needed to just go the distance to Limon, Colorado, where US Highway 24 meets Interstate Highway-70, the main expressway to and across Kansas. I just kept driving through the town and said nothing. The young fellow smiled.
I told him as Calhan grew small in my rearview mirror, “It’s not that much further to Limon.”
When we reached Limon, God had already put it on my heart that I needed to take this young man to the grocery store and get him some food for the road. Which I did, and the fellow thanked me even more. He had no money.
Then God also reminded me that I needed to give the young fellow a hundred dollars, for the road. So, I went to an automated teller machine, and got a hundred dollars cash, and just handed it to the fellow.
“What’s this for?” the young fellow asked as I laid the five $20-dollar bills in his hand.
“I believe you will need it for the road,” I said. “God put it on my heart to give it to you.”
By that time, it was late in the day as we pulled up to the place where US Highway 24 meets Interstate-70. I looked nearby and saw a KOA campground with a string of cabins alongside the many spaces for camper hookup.
“Will you try to travel this evening?” I asked him.
“No,” he said. “I’ll pitch my tent over here somewhere and take off at dawn.”
“How about I rent you one of those KOA cabins, and we pick up some hamburgers?” I suggested.
“You’ve done too much already,” he said.
“God says otherwise to me, son,” I told him.
So, we concluded our time together with hamburgers and French fries eaten at a picnic table by the rented cabin at the KOA campground in Limon, Colorado.
When I got up to leave, he came and embraced me, and then prayed with me. He asked our Lord to bless me, and I felt humbled to my knees.
As I drove homeward, bidding this very special person farewell, I felt a great joy not only in my heart but throughout my whole being. I had no doubt that God had used me to help His servant and knowing that was reward of its own.
Jesus through His Holy Spirit had gone with us that day, this traveler for God and his well-mannered coyote companion.
I have enjoyed other times in my life when the Lord has gone with me and used me for His purposes. As a member of Gideons International, taking the Gospel of Christ to the nations, to show people the way of Salvation. A simple matter of anyone believing in Jesus as God’s only begotten Son, who sacrificed his life as the Son of Man, to die on the cross and carry the weight of all the sins of humankind on His shoulders, because He so loved us. Then lain dead in a grave, Christ rose on the third day, demonstrating for all of us that this life may end with the death of the body, but that every person’s eternal soul can be saved by the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ and will live with Him in His Father’s Kingdom for all time. A very simple matter of believing in Jesus, as a child will believe. We are born again in Him, as Jesus told Nicodemus. Our trusting in Jesus and receiving His eternal grace justifies all of us from our sins. It is a joyous event in which all the angels in Heaven celebrate when even one person comes to Christ as his or her Savior and Lord.
I have knelt on a busy street in New York City, prayed with and tended to a homeless man, an African American US Air Force veteran, mentally ill, who I knew as Carl Blue, and he was a child of God despite his mental illness and alcoholism. I knelt there in my Marine Corps green service “Alpha” uniform as people frowned at me walking past, and I washed his filthy, badly infected feet. Cleansed them with hydrogen-peroxide and rubbed healing ointment on the boils that festered across both of his swollen ankles and arches. Clearly a result of alcohol and diabetes. And I gave him vitamins and other things he needed as time went forward, until I left New York City.
Carl Blue lived in a hovel outside my office building, and God put it on my heart to love this man, a beggar but a child of God, and the Lord asked me to tend to him.
It is not about me doing good for anyone. This is about God using you and me for His purposes! We give God the praise and glory that He sends us as His vessels to carry out His plans and will.
Our Father in Heaven’s Holy Spirit, who is the Holy Spirit of Christ and is the third Person of God is with us constantly. God walks with us through His presence indwelled in all who believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
We never know who the next stranger that we encounter might be, but we serve that person, that child of God, whether or not that person believes, because our Lord loves that child and sends us to him or her unconditionally.
Sometimes, that stranger that we encounter on our figurative journeys to Emmaus just might be an Angel of the Lord, or that person might be Jesus Himself, as He appeared to Abraham and Jacob and others in Biblical history, not simply as the Messiah sent by the Father to save humanity from our sins.
While Christ promises to come as lightning in the east and thunder in the west and will take up His church one day; as He will also do one day at the End Times when He returns with His saints and will crush the grapes of His wrath in His winepress, Jesus can also come to us quietly as a stranger in need in the meantime too.
And Christ or His Angel might be that person that we meet along our own road to Emmaus, where Jesus met two of His disciples walking, oblivious that our Lord and Savior had risen from the grave that morning and that He now walked alongside them.
The possibility is well worth pondering as we encounter the next person on our daily goings and comings, and something tugs at our souls and points us to that person.
So, gather your confidence and do not worry, just do as your heart urges you. The Holy Spirit is here and God will take care of everything.
Luke 24:1-53 (Christian Standard Bible)
24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground.
“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. 6 “He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, 7 saying, ‘It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day’?” 8 And they remembered his words.
9 Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths., So he went away, amazed at what had happened.
THE EMMAUS DISCIPLES
13 Now that same day two of them were on their way to a village called Emmaus, which was about seven miles, from Jerusalem. 14 Together they were discussing everything that had taken place. 15 And while they were discussing and arguing, Jesus himself came near and began to walk along with them. 16 But they were prevented from recognizing him. 17 Then he asked them, “What is this dispute that you’re having with each other as you are walking?” And they stopped walking and looked discouraged.
18 The one named Cleopas answered him, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked them.
So they said to him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in action and speech before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. 21 But we were hoping that he was the one who was about to redeem Israel. Besides all this, it’s the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women from our group astounded us. They arrived early at the tomb, 23 and when they didn’t find his body, they came and reported that they had seen a vision of angels who said he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they didn’t see him.”
25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.
28 They came near the village where they were going, and he gave the impression that he was going farther. 29 But they urged him, “Stay with us, because it’s almost evening, and now the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.
30 It was as he reclined at the table with them that he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts burning within us while he was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 That very hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and those with them gathered together, 34 who said, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they began to describe what had happened on the road and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
THE REALITY OF THE RISEN JESUS
36 As they were saying these things, he himself stood in their midst. He said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. 38 “Why are you troubled?” he asked them. “And why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself! Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” 40 Having said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 But while they still were amazed and in disbelief because of their joy, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 So they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
44 He told them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead the third day, 47 and repentance for forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. As for you, stay in the city until you are empowered, from on high.”
THE ASCENSION OF JESUS
50 Then he led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 And while he was blessing them, he left them and was carried up into heaven. 52 After worshiping him, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they were continually in the temple praising God.
A friend posted on his Facebook page some pictures of smoldering aircraft wreckage taken from the battlefields of Ukraine in past days. The caption read, “For those who have trouble identifying Russian aircraft.”
Each window in the display contained a wreckage photograph and a label of the type of aircraft the wreckage was: MI-8, MI-24/35, MI-35 or SU-34 or SU-25. In each picture, I could imagine the catastrophic event that occurred with the aircraft as the missile or exploding projectile took out the airplane and everyone inside it.
I have mixed feelings while I look at this wreckage.
Yes, enemy aircraft shot down by the good guys. Still, many of these wrecks hold the remains of a human being, the pilot, or in some cases of helicopters shot down, the wreckage contains the bodies of pilot, crew, and passengers. Enemies all.
Not long ago I watched a video of a young Russian soldier captured by Ukrainian forces. No more than a child in his late teens, the boy stood confused and scared to his core, fearful that at any second his captors might murder him. After all, the Russians are murdering noncombatant Ukrainian civilians hiding in their homes. Bombing them. So, why not murder Russian prisoners of war, some of whom may have committed the war crimes?
Righteous warriors do not murder.
We must treat our enemy prisoners with decency. Treat them as we wish that our enemy would treat our own soldiers when captured.
That terrified Russian soldier, a mere boy, now a prisoner by Ukraine forces was conscripted into Vladimir Putin’s army, not his choice but the choice of the despotic ruler who demanded this child’s presence with a rifle on the battlefront. Consider that fact before heaping wrathful vengeance upon this enemy.
Then, a few days ago, I saw a Russian pilot captured. He wore an orange flight pressure suit, typical of equipment worn by pilots flying fast-moving aircraft that draw a lot of Gs during maneuvers.
This fellow knelt, his hands with fingers laced behind his head, also terrified: Now in the hands of Ukrainian captors who could as easily murder him as take him prisoner.
This Russian pilot commanded an echelon of aircraft, like a squadron commander in America’s flying forces. Certainly, he had valuable intelligence his captors might gain, and so did the frightened conscript boy. Killing the man or the boy would be a tactical mistake, human ethics aside.
What I am reminded of while looking at the pictures of smoking aircraft wreckage, and something I was taught by my Marine Corps leaders is that we must respect our enemy.
Yes, we kill them in horrible ways, and he kills our brothers in equally horrible ways, but as warriors we must respect our enemy.
Major Jim Land, one of the founding fathers of the Marine Corps Scout-Sniper program instructed me with a valuable lesson about the idea of warrior ethics. It is a lesson that was doctrine during my active-duty days and still should be doctrine taught to Marine Corps Scout-Snipers and Critical Skills Operators today: We do not kill to punish our enemy, not to gain revenge or achieve retribution for his side’s war crimes. We respect life and do not take a life casually. We are about the mission.
Such emotion-driven attitudes and conduct will corrupt us as warriors.
We cannot be effective to the mission if we are corrupt.
We never know how treating the enemy that we capture with respect will turn out. It may come to nothing, or it could come to something of great value. Reinforcing the hatred of the enemy toward us by treating him with cruelty and abuse can only hurt us in every respect, during the war and afterwards.
Most importantly, we all must kneel before God and face judgment, regardless of whether a person believes in God or not.
We all must account for ourselves.
Furthermore, after war, as we live, as I do, as old men with memories of our better years, we must also live with ourselves and what we did.
When conscience is nearly all that an old warrior has to keep him company, it needs to be a good conscience. Not shame.
So, looking at this wreckage of enemy aircraft, I also see the human beings who were inside them and died because of the ideals and desires for power of the politicians who sent them to war to die or to kill, and in Vladimir Putin’s case, to commit murder of innocent noncombatants.
It is not the dead or captured warriors upon whom we should focus our wrath, but on the man who sent them.
Some 620 years before the time of Christ, the Prophet Daniel was born. When Daniel was a young man 15 to 21 years old, the Babylonian tyrant, King Nebuchadnezzar II, laid siege to the Kingdom of Judah, approximately between 605 and 598/7 BC. The battles lasted about 10 years, approximately until 587 BC, when the Babylonians finally overwhelmed Jerusalem. Judah’s King Jehoiakim died during the siege and his successor, his son Jeconiah (aka Jehoiachin), surrendered Jerusalem and became prisoner of Babylon. The Babylonian horde destroyed Solomon’s Temple, the First Temple of Israel, built around 950 BC, and pillaged all the gold artifacts within the Temple, except the Ark of the Covenant, which mysteriously disappeared.
Unsolved to this day, some historical data points to King Jeconiah selecting the most loyal and faithful to God of his warriors among the Levites (traditionally the priests of the Temple, chosen by God from the family of Levi), and sending them away with the Ark of the Covenant, to hide it from the Babylonians. One of the stories tells that these loyal soldiers took the Ark to Ethiopia and hid it in a secret tomb in the highlands, where a society of the heirs of the Levites keep it hidden to this day; its location known only to a select few, passed father to son, from generation to generation.
Many Ethiopian Christians claim that the Ark of the Covenant came to the small town of Aksum, in Ethiopia’s northern highlands, 3,000 years ago, and remains vaulted safely there, beneath stone over which a chapel stands today.
Now a man approximately 33 years old, (the same age of Jesus when He was crucified), Daniel became a slave to King Nebuchadnezzar II, who took more than 10,000 of the principal citizens of Jerusalem captive, along with Judah’s King Jeconiah, and marched them to Babylon as his slaves. (See 2 Kings 24 and 25)
Nebuchadnezzar assigned Daniel, who was a noble among the Jewish people, and his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to study the Chaldean language (a common language of Babylonia, from the region known as Chaldea, which was an ancient country in the marshy region of southeastern Mesopotamia, which lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, today Iraq and the area around Baghdad). Because the names were Hebrew, Nebuchadnezzar ordered that the names be changed to Chaldean. Thus, Hananiah became Shadrach, Mishael became Meshach, and Azariah became Abednego, their names commonly known today.
In the first three chapters of the Book of Daniel, we see Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace, because they would not deny God and bow down to the king, who regarded himself a god. And how the Angel of God stood in the fire with them, and God did not allow them to burn. Then the Book of Daniel continues with Daniel’s visions that foretold the fate of King Nebuchadnezzar, his going mad, being cast into chains in a dungeon and dying in 562 BC.
When Nebuchadnezzar went mad, King Belshazzar of Babylon replaced him. Not nearly the tyrant that his predecessor had been, Belshazzar valued the wisdom of Daniel, and held him in great esteem.
During the first year of Belshazzar’s rein, Daniel beheld in a dream his prophetic vision of The Four Beasts, which depicts the End of the Age and the Coming of the Lord. What Danial saw in his prophecy (the interpretation of his vision or dream) compares remarkably well with the prophecies contained in the New Testament, Book of Revelation.
We read of the wicked ruling of the kings, depicted by the beasts, and the lordship of Earth by Satan, depicted by the fourth beast with ten horns and then the great horn with eyes and that spoke “arrogant words.” Then we have the coming of who Daniel called, “the son of man,” which is the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, who in Daniel’s vision delivers the holy ones from evil and defeats the beast.
It is interesting that Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, also referred to Himself as the Son of Man, consistent with Daniel’s prophecy. Jesus, as one of the Three Persons of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) became human flesh or the Son of Man through His miraculous human birth from His mother, Mary, a virgin.
Also consider the beloved disciple of Christ, John, son of Zebedee, who as an apostle of Christ near the end of his life recorded the Revelation that Jesus Christ showed to him, now the prophetic final Book of the New Testament, Revelation. Interestingly, all the books of the New Testament are regarded as didactic (history and teaching) except for Revelation, considered an apocalyptic prophesy.
The Apostle John was a man who Jesus named with John’s brother, James (see Mark 3:17), Boanerges, Hebrew that translates in English, “Sons of Thunder.” Christ called James and John this inspiring nickname because they were rough-hewn, salt of the earth, rugged men whose love, conviction, faith in and loyalty to Christ was unshakable and fierce.
They were fishermen alongside Simon, who Jesus called by his Roman name, Peter, and his brother Andrew, both great disciples of Christ and His apostles after the Day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came as the Helper who Jesus said would take His place on Earth, after Christ ascended to Heaven and now sits at the right side of the Father, holding all power over Heaven and Earth. One God in three Persons.
The Apostle John was the last of Christ’s disciples to die. More than 70 years after Jesus had suffered crucifixion, death and risen, alive again, on the third day, on Sunday, the first day of the week, as foretold of the Messiah. Then Jesus remained on Earth for about 40 days, which He spent with His disciples, charging them with what they must now do to carry out His plan, and what lay ahead for each of them–hardship, persecution, and terrible deaths.
When Christ came to John with His Revelation, this, the last living disciple of Jesus, now a very old man, toiled in a stone quarry, a prisoner of Rome on the Island of Patmos. His life was a miserable and hard existence of constant labor, horrible food, and terrible living conditions. Yet John, still a Son of Thunder, did not waiver in his love for Jesus nor in his unshakable faith in Him.
And in that awful place, Christ came to John and showed him His vision, the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which told all believers in Jesus from then until the final day of this world, the prophecy of what will come. The End of the Age and the Return of the Lord.
Consider that John was not an educated man, except for his basic Hebrew schooling. He and his brother, James, alongside their father, Zebedee, and often with Simon (Peter) and Andrew were fishermen. Not much different than commercial fishermen today: Men who face a harsh life filled with hard work. Salt of the earth, Jesus said of them in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, chapters 5 through 7).
John had no access to libraries or any kind of reference resources. Raised as Jewish boys and men, they knew of God only in simple terms. They knew what they heard the Rabbi tell them at the Temple, when they went, when they were not toiling away in a fishing boat, except on Sabbath. And sometimes they even cheated a bit, when times were lean and fishing was poor, fishing on the Sabbath or the night before when they were supposed to be indoors, at home.
Yet when we read the Book of Revelation, we see the consistency and strong parallels of the prophecies in Revelation with the prophecies of Daniel, especially in the 7th chapter of the Book of Daniel. Also, in the prophecy that Daniel told of the Seventy Weeks of Years and the Seventieth Week of Years, which the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 30:7) called, the time of Jacob’s trouble (distress). The reference to Jacob means Israel, since God named Jacob, Israel, father of the twelve tribes that comprise the Jewish nation.
Consider now what we see today. What is happening around us. Do we see the buds on the trees, as Jesus described the coming of the End of the Age, and know that springtime is near?
The kings of this world are denying God. People are falling away, as foretold.
Christianity no longer holds a place of respect among popular culture. In fact, popular, politically correct society condemns Christian faith and Christian values as archaic, led by ignorance, and often misogynist and homophobic. More and more we see Christians persecuted and murdered in the streets, such as we saw ISIS and Al-Qaeda executing Christians in Kabul as American presence departed. The kings of the world embrace evil and condemn Christ.
Jesus told of what we see happening in our world today nearly 2,000 years ago, as He walked with His disciples past the Second Temple in Jerusalem, and as He said to His disciples and others later as they sat on the Mount of Olives and Christ told them of the signs of the times and the End of the Age in Matthew 24:
1Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
3Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
4And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The Great Tribulation
15“Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16“then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
23“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. 24For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25See, I have told you beforehand.
26“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. 27For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.
The Coming of the Son of Man
29“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
32“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
36“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. 37But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect….”
Jesus continues His preview of the End of the Age in Matthew 25, with His parable of the ten virgins, five of them wise and five of them foolish. The five wise virgins took vessels of oil with them when they went out to meet their bridegroom. The foolish ones took no oil. The bridegroom was delayed until after midnight. The wise virgins trimmed their wicks and had their lamps lit while the foolish virgins had their lamps go out because they had not prepared. The foolish virgins had to go for more oil while the bridegroom came. He took the five wise virgins into the wedding with him, and the door was shut.
The foolish virgins returned and cried out, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” However, he answered to the foolish virgins shut outside, “Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.”
Jesus tells us, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming….”
Christ underscores this parable with another, The Parable of the Talents. A man traveling to a far country called his own servants and delivered his goods to them, while he would be gone. To one, he gave five talents and to another he gave two, and another he gave one talent, each according to his own ability. Then he immediately went on his journey.
After a long time, the lord of the servants returned and settled accounts with them. The one with five talents returned with five additional talents. He showed his lord what he had gained, and his lord was pleased.
The master said, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
The servant with two talents likewise returned to his lord and showed him that in addition to the two talents he had also gained two more talents.
Like the servant with five talents, the lord was pleased in his servant and said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
The Scripture in Matthew 25, beginning with verse 24 reads:
24“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
26“But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. 27So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
29‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. 30And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
God blesses each of us with talents, blessings, abilities that we must use to serve Him, to glorify God. He made humanity for His purposes and for His glory. We are not talking about material wealth but Spiritual wealth. Spiritual talents and abilities given to us for God’s purposes. For us to not use them, develop them and make them flower is to do what the servant who hid his one talent did. Not serve the Lord’s purposes.
This becomes vividly important as Christ continues.
Jesus concludes His telling of what will come at the End of the Age and what we as His believers should be doing in the Scripture beginning with Matthew 25, verses 31 through 46:
The Son of Man Will Judge the Nations
31“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
41“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Jesus vividly tells us of what will come and gives us every precaution and direction. As a father counselling his son before his son departs the home to pursue his life as a man, Christ cannot be more complete and more revealing in His words to us. We are His children, children of God, and He loves us just as we love our own children, and even more than we love our own children or our own lives. Our Lord cannot be clearer to us!
Christ could be that person standing on the corner, needing you to stop and talk to him or her. Needing a friend. Needing comfort. Needing you to love him.
God blessed us with those Spiritual talents that come from not only our hearts, but from the Spirit of the Lord Himself. All of them surrounded in God’s great and unyielding love.
Our Spiritual talents do not make us rich on Earth, but enrich us with our Creator, our Lord, our Savior, our most devoted Friend.
Thus, we come back to the vision of Daniel and The Four Beasts, and to the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John, His devoted and greatly beloved apostle on the island of Patmos, laboring as a prisoner of Rome, and the direct parallels that underscore the prophecies told by Christ.
Then even more profoundly, we read these very same prophesied warnings from Daniel nearly 600 years before the coming of the Messiah, telling of the coming of “The Son of Man,” to which Jesus Himself refers as He cautions us and teaches us of what will come. And how we must prepare for Him.
The messages told over and over and over again, not just by Daniel, but by the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah and many others give us the very same instructions and warnings.
I close this commentary with the vision that Daniel experienced nearly 3,000 years ago and is repeated to us by prophets and disciples and apostles and by God Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ.
I believe that the End of the Age is at hand. It can come at any time. Today, tomorrow, a year from now, ten years or more from now. Only the Father knows, and He didn’t even let Jesus in on His secret. But nonetheless, we need to be ready for Christ when He comes, just as He tells us that He will come.
It will not be some guy on television or some celebrity. There will be no parades or sold-out football stadiums filled with music, entertainment, and baskets of money. Christ will come just as He departed. From above.
As the lightning flashes in the east and thunders in the west, so will be the coming of the Lord. His angels will take up “His elect” (believers in Christ) and the rest of the world will mourn.
While Daniel’s vision frightened him terribly, as he writes in the Scripture, and what he describes of his vision is certainly terrifying indeed, the lost people who Christ leaves behind will sadly face far worse.
I leave you with what the ancient prophet says in Daniel, chapter 7:
CHAPTER 7—DANIEL’S VISION OF THE FOUR BEASTS
1In the first year of King Belshazzar of Babylon, Daniel had a dream with visions in his mind as he was lying in his bed. He wrote down the dream, and here is the summary of his account. 2Daniel said, “In my vision at night I was watching, and suddenly the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea. 3Four huge beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other.
4“The first was like a lion but had eagle’s wings. I continued watching until its wings were torn off. It was lifted up from the ground, set on its feet like a man, and given a human mind.
5“Suddenly, another beast appeared, a second one, that looked like a bear. It was raised up on one side, with three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. It was told, ‘Get up! Gorge yourself on flesh.’
6“After this, while I was watching, suddenly another beast appeared. It was like a leopard with four wings of a bird on its back. It had four heads, and it was given dominion.
7“After this, while I was watching in the night visions, suddenly a fourth beast appeared, frightening and dreadful, and incredibly strong, with large iron teeth. It devoured and crushed, and it trampled with its feet whatever was left. It was different from all the beasts before it, and it had ten horns.
8“While I was considering the horns, suddenly another horn, a little one, came up among them, and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. And suddenly in this horn there were eyes like the eyes of a human and a mouth that was speaking arrogantly.
THE ANCIENT OF DAYS AND THE SON OF MAN
9“As I kept watching,
thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was white like snow,
and the hair of his head like whitest wool.
His throne was flaming fire;
its wheels were blazing fire.
10A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from his presence.
Thousands upon thousands served him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was convened,
and the books were opened.
11“I watched, then, because of the sound of the arrogant words the horn was speaking. As I continued watching, the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to the burning fire. 12As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was removed, but an extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time. 13I continued watching in the night visions,
and suddenly one like a son of man
was coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was escorted before him.
14He was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
so that those of every people,
nation, and language
should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one
that will not be destroyed.
INTERPRETATION OF THE VISION
15“As for me, Daniel, my spirit was deeply distressed within me, and the visions in my mind terrified me. 16I approached one of those who were standing by and asked him to clarify all this. So he let me know the interpretation of these things: 17‘These huge beasts, four in number, are four kings who will rise from the earth. 18But the holy ones of the Most High will receive the kingdom and possess it forever, yes, forever and ever.’
19 “Then I wanted to be clear about the fourth beast, the one different from all the others, extremely terrifying, with iron teeth and bronze claws, devouring, crushing, and trampling with its feet whatever was left. 20I also wanted to know about the ten horns on its head and about the other horn that came up, before which three fell—the horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke arrogantly, and that looked bigger than the others. 21As I was watching, this horn waged war against the holy ones and was prevailing over them 22until the Ancient of Days arrived and a judgment was given in favor of the holy ones of the Most High, for the time had come, and the holy ones took possession of the kingdom.
23“This is what he said: ‘The fourth beast will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, different from all the other kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth, trample it down, and crush it. 24The ten horns are ten kings who will rise from this kingdom. Another king, different from the previous ones, will rise after them and subdue three kings. 25He will speak words against the Most High and oppress the holy ones of the Most High. He will intend to change religious festivals and laws, and the holy ones will be handed over to him for a time, times, and half a time. 26But the court will convene, and his dominion will be taken away, to be completely destroyed forever. 27The kingdom, dominion, and greatness of the kingdoms under all of heaven will be given to the people, the holy ones of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will serve and obey him.’
28“This is the end of the account. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts terrified me greatly, and my face turned pale, but I kept the matter to myself.”
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Da 7:1–28). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
Today, I watched in horror and agony as thousands swarmed the Kabul airport hopelessly trying to escape the wrath of the Taliban with their bare-rock tyranny and unbridled cruelty that lies ahead for all Afghan people who did not side with the Muslim extremist rulers. My stomach twisted as I saw Afghan people clinging to the wheel wells of a US Air Force C17 transport aircraft as it taxied to the runway and took off. What happened to those who helplessly clung to the wheel wells and any other surface of the aircraft’s exterior where they could take a handhold?
President Joe Biden denies that this is another American war won by US Warriors but lost by America’s political leaders who lacked the fortitude nor the will to arm and equip the Afghan people and transition to their own defense. A process that takes years and cannot be done in a matter of a few months. It is just like the way that the United States Congress tied the hands of the President and quit and ran from Viet Nam in 1975.
President Gerald R. Ford told me in 1994, when I spent time with him in New York, working on my book, Goodnight Saigon, (Berkley Books, Penguin-Random House, 2005, New York, NY) that the fall of Saigon was the most tragic day of his life. He said, “It was terrible to be President of the United States and sit and watch as America quit and ran.”
No, America should not have gotten ensnared in Afghanistan, just as they should not have gotten ensnared in Viet Nam. Not with the weakness of a Congress of men and women who have no idea of the cost of war, and the horrors that the innocent people caught in the jaws of that war suffer.
When we see our beloved brothers in arms die at our sides; when we see the innocent people caught in that war suffer and get maimed and killed, collateral damage sloughed off no better than flotsam and jetsam in the wake of a war waged by cowards and prosecuted by the valiant who believe their rhetoric, it brands the memories with a hot iron of we who were there to see these things while we fought the war and endure it.
We veterans keep saying, “Never again.” But the fools in Congress and the White House keep doing it. We keep warning that the cost of going to war is not in money but in blood, and not just an enemy’s blood but the blood of the innocent and blood of the loyal. Yet those cautions go ignored when the politicians have a political status to keep, and votes to get.
For those narcissistic wastes of skin who sit in high office, basking in their self-aggrandizing glory, human life and human misery do not affect their souls, because they have no souls.
A nation cannot go to war and still go shopping at the mall, as if there is no war. Going to war means total commitment by the nation, not just the warriors that the nation treats like disposable hired help who matter for nothing. All of the people of the nation that goes to war must put themselves into the effort, share the bleeding. That is, if they desire to win it.
The last war where America totally committed to war was World War II. Every conflict, every military action in which America has stuck its big toe in the water, since World War II has failed.
President George W. Bush should have listened to his father, who warned him sternly against getting America entangled in the nation building that takes place after America quashes an enemy. He should have pounded Afghanistan into submission for the crime that they helped Osama bin Laden and his zealots commit, but instead of remaining in the country, nation building, winning the hearts and minds of the populous, he should have just left them to their misery and the Taliban to continue governing. If the Taliban hosted more terrorists, bomb them again and again and again.
That’s why President George H. W. Bush left the boss thug in charge in Iraq when America blew his armies back to Baghdad when they invaded Kuwait. No nation building. And President father warned President son to leave Iraq alone.
But son did not listen to the wisdom of his father.
Thus, with the ouster of Saddam Hussain, radical zealot armies like ISIS emerged.
Once the blood bath in Kabul ends, as the Taliban exercises its wrath on all those who supported the Americans, filling the gutters with blood, I fully expect to see Afghanistan rise up as the Phoenix of Islamic terror, home base for ISIS and others who live to kill Americans and destroy the Christian nations and the Christians wherever they exist.
Yes, America should have departed Afghanistan long ago, but with an exit strategy that gave the people at least a fighting chance. What President Biden has done is cowardly and cruel. The blood of these people is on him today. It is not just like Viet Nam. No. The North Vietnamese were a nicer bunch.
On this day–PALM SUNDAY–in the approximate year of 32 AD, Jesus of Nazareth rode a donkey colt through a throng of people cheering His arrival in Jerusalem, laying palm fronds on the path, praising Him.
Jesus came here to die for all the sins of humanity, for all time. The Only Begotten Son of God, one of the Three Persons that is our One True God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, had come to fulfill the prophesies that foretold His persecution, unjust prosecution in a mockery of a trial, His death on the cross, not one bone being broken, and His resurrection on the third day, the first Easter Sunday. Since that day, Christians around the world have without fail celebrated the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, just as Christians worldwide will do next Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Christ gave His life in human form to save each of our eternal souls from damnation for our corruption and sin. By doing this, His Grace shields us from the wages of our sins, Jesus taking them on Himself. He saves us by our belief in Him: Our admission of sin and repentance of them, and our declaration of Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior, thus for the rest of our lives following Him as we are born again of the Spirit.
Thus Scripture reads in the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus’s dialogue with the Pharisee, Nicodemus, days before He would be tried:
John 3:5-8 (New King James Version)
5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Thus on that first Palm Sunday, Jesus stopped on the hills outside Jerusalem, as His disciples went ahead, as prophecy had foretold, to find the donkey colt tied outside a stable, awaiting Him to ride into Jerusalem, Jesus knelt and wept. And He lamented:
Matthew 23:37-39 (New King James Version)
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
That last week of His human-form life, as the Son of Man, Jesus gathered throngs of people, preaching to them and teaching them His Truth. All the while, as He is One with the Father and the Father with Him, knowing all, Jesus knew that Judas Iscariot would betray Him for 30 pieces of silver (believed to be 30 shekels, since it was the preferred silver for offerings at the Temple, nearly pure silver as opposed to the Roman Denarius made of 70 percent silver and other alloys). He would be taken into chains, mocked, tortured, scourged, then unjustly tried and crucified. Jesus knew how horrific, how painful and terrible, His suffering would be in His human body.
On the night of the Passover, when He had led His disciples near the Mount of Olives, Jesus was greatly filled with agony, knowing what would come. So, He stepped away from His disciples and told them to pray that they would not be led into temptation. However, they soon fell asleep.
Alone, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus dropped to His knees and wept as He spoke to the Father.
Beginning in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 22, verse 41 (NKJV), Scripture reads: “…He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
After praying, Jesus returned to His disciples and found them asleep. So, he awakened them. Theses would be His last hours with them before He would be arrested and taken to be crucified.
Jesus’s disciples truly could not grasp the gravity of what was about to happen that night. They knew that our Lord, Jesus was troubled and it troubled them, since He had said that He would soon be gone from them. Yet the idea that they literally lived in the presence of God Himself in the form of human flesh was something far beyond their capacities of understanding.
On that night, before they had gone to the place near the Mount of Olives, where Jesus knew that He would be arrested, they had gathered with Him to eat the Passover meal, Christ’s Last Supper with them. That night as they reclined around the table, Jesus told them how He loved them. And told them that one of them would betray Him too, telling the traitor to hurry and get it done, His disciples oblivious to what He meant, except for Judas.
Jesus said to them that night at the table some of His most profound words of hope, promise and instruction not just for His disciples but for all who believe in Him then and today and tomorrow, until He returns and fulfills the rest of His promises to humanity.
From the Gospel of John, chapter 14 and chapter 15, verses 1 through 17 (Christian Standard Bible) the Scripture reads:
Gospel of John, Chapter 14–
THE WAY TO THE FATHER
1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you may be also. 4 You know the way to where I am going.”,
5 “Lord,” Thomas said, “we don’t know where you’re going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
JESUS REVEALS THE FATHER
8 “Lord,” said Philip, “show us the Father, and that’s enough for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time and you do not know me, Philip? The one who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who lives in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.
PRAYING IN JESUS’S NAME
12 “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.,
ANOTHER COUNSELOR PROMISED
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. 17 He is the Spirit of truth. The world is unable to receive him because it doesn’t see him or know him. But you do know him, because he remains with you and will be in you.
THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. 21 The one who has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.
JESUS’S GIFT OF PEACE
27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. 30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me., 31 On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me.
“Get up; let’s leave this place.”
From the room where Jesus and His disciples had gathered for the meal, they went out, walking to a place they knew near the Mount of Olives, in the garden called Gethsemane. As they walked, Jesus told them, as Scripture continues:
Gospel of John, Chapter 15–
THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
12 “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master, is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
17 “This is what I command you: Love one another.”
Christian Standard Bible. (2020). (Jn 14:1–15:17). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
If you are an American, you should watch it. If you are an immigrant, legal or not, you should watch it. And especially, if you are an African American, you absolutely should watch it!
Uncle Tom is the raw, unvarnished, unapologetic TRUTH.
Elder and every person whose voices we hear in this nearly two hours of facts and testimony unashamedly speak the TRUTH. Yes, TRUTH with all capital letters.
As parents, what do you suppose will happen to our children if we raise them under a constant berating of: You’re too stupid. You will never accomplish anything because the cards are stacked against you. You might as well give up because the oppressors will keep you in your place. And the negativity goes on and on.
What kind of person will that child grow up to be? A great success? Doubtful.
Very likely that child will grow into a person not expecting anything of himself, not trying because it is of no use. He might turn to drugs and alcohol to sooth his bereavement of a useless life. Made useless because his parents did not believe in him from the beginning and oppressed him with hopelessness. That child will also likely grow up outraged, bent on vengeance against his envisioned oppressors. That child may take to the streets with his outrage and become violent against everyone who confronts him.
What kind of person will the child grow up to be if his parents praise him? If his father stands tall in his household, beside his mother. And together they teach the child good ethics of working hard and accomplishing goals. They set an example of high values. They teach their son and daughter that accomplishment does not come for free, but requires dedication, effort, persistence, never quitting, and most importantly, those parents reinforce to the child that he or she is not stupid but has a beautiful mind, filled with potential that is capable of wondrous vision and greatness.
What kind of person will that child grow up to be? A beaten dog? A violent, outraged person? A criminal?
Not very likely. More likely, this child surrounded with love and encouragement from his or her parents, despite the ugliness that confronts most, if not all, people of color, will grow into a person who does find success. Success grown from parents who set the example of high standards, high moral values, desire for achievement and education, and belief in God and in him or her self.
In his documentary, Uncle Tom, Larry Elder shows us an array of testimony, good examples of success and well-founded facts and examples that should leave every American furious. Filled with contempt.
Slavery and Jim Crow laws were horrible, and those ugly pages of American history must be remembered. Must be taught to our children so we can raise them better.
But is that America today?
Yes, we have horrible crime and danger in the minority communities of America, not just African American but in Latino, Chinese, Korean Arab, Indian, Native American, and in white impoverished communities too. And what is the common denominator of their despair? Oppression. Much of it made real by the conditions that not just surround them but bury them.
Oppression by whom?
By those who seek to keep these mostly minority people in the ghettos, keep those people ignorant, unread. Keep them not filled with hope but hopelessly angry with their despair.
Hitler learned that if he repeated a lie often enough that the people will believe it as truth. They will join his line of thinking–his narrative.
Here is the lie that we realize while watching Uncle Tom: The oppressive lie is that if you are born from African ancestry, you have no hope. The white man has everything, all the power, and he is keeping you in this place that you hate. And you hate him for it. You have no opportunity because of systemic racism, where people like you are deprived of reaching levels of decision-making power. Positions where you can make change and a difference.
Filled with this outrage, you believe that your only course of action to make change possible is to take to the streets and burn the cities to the ground. Meanwhile, you need to depend on a benevolent, overseeing government who will give you money, take care of your abortions, and perpetuate families with single mothers and lost fathers who live somewhere else.
Uncle Tom shows us how the same people that used Jim Crow laws and slavery to keep Black America deprived of opportunity, deprived of education, deprived of hope, those same people continue to do it today, but with filters and politics and rhetoric that convinces the people that they need the government to take care of their needs, because they have no opportunity to do anything for themselves.
And how is that so much different in this way of life from how your African ancestors lived in slavery?
You will have no Constitutional Freedom if you believe you do not have Constitutional Freedom!
You will simply be angry. Very angry!
I challenge every American and especially Americans with African heritage, and I likewise challenge every Latino and other minority to watch Uncle Tom. From beginning to end.
I promise that you will want to shut off the show. Because these people will contradict nearly everything you believe to be true. And it is NOT.
Watch Uncle Tom to the bitter end. Then sit and stew. Think about it. Think a lot about it. And ask yourself this: Is there anything that Elder or anyone else in this documentary say that is not the bitter, unvarnished, cold truth?
Two things that I realized after watching Uncle Tom are these:
1. Every student in every school in America, every person in America must watch Uncle Tom. Take it to heart, and realize that all of us must do better by each other. All of us!
2. Every student in every school in America, as well as every person in America, should read the biography of Booker T. Washington. Mister Washington shows us how a man born as a slave can rise to greatness. In his life we deplore his suffering as a fellow human being, as a child of God who told all of us to love each other as He loves us. But in his life we also cheer his heroism, his determination against daunting challenges to rise to greatness. Not simply as a former slave, a man of African heritage, but as an American. A great American.
We must do better. We must set up the ladders for our minority American brothers and sisters to climb to the heights, along with everyone else. And we as a society and a government must stop oppressing minorities by convincing them that they are hopelessly mired in oppression, have no hope except to fall in line with slaves behind a government that will provide for all their needs, and encourages their poverty and dispair.
One other thing that I realized after watching Uncle Tom: The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, if he lived today, given his values and his great faith, would likely get branded an Uncle Tom. Because he too believed that Black America needed equal rights, equal access and all the Constitutional Guarantees that every citizen of the USA is given. Opportunity to obtain a good education. Opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and realize them by his or her own hard work. Opportunity to achieve success in life.
I know that my left-bank friends will greatly criticize me for the stand that I take. It flies in the face of much of what they believe is true. How can I know anything about this subject, I am not Black?
No, I am not Black. I can never know what that life feels like. I can only try to help and not stand in the way.
But I do know this: Facts are Facts. Truth is Truth. Like them or not, Truth and Facts are Truth and Facts.
It is the liars and cheats and corrupt villains in our world who will try to convince you otherwise.
Don’t believe me. But watch Uncle Tom. It will make you angry, but it will also give you hope.
God bless Larry Elder for making this documentary, Uncle Tom. It is a beacon of light, and the darkness of oppression and hate cannot hide from the Truth that it shows us.
While India may today celebrate its so-called “democracy,” according to its own definition of modern India’s “democratic” government, it sags heavily with socialist tyranny. Such as controlling the press, ensuring that the narrative supports the government’s agenda, and that controlled narrative is the only perspective of India’s government that the people see and hear.
Not a lot different than the controls on media enforced by communist states such as the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or as the Russian Federation continues currently with authorized media vehicles like Russia Today. India’s controlled political narrative is as communist China and North Korea likewise do today.
After all, the first victim of tyranny is free speech. This includes a free press and the people’s freedom to peacefully assemble and express dissent against their governments.
Today, in America, we see an increased and often casually overt effort by the ruling powers of government to likewise control, if not popularize the narrative by stifling voices of dissent. This repression of dissent finds blind and willing collusion among the so-called American free press that today appears to voluntarily help control the narrative, spinning a version of truth that supports the ruling political power’s agenda.
To voice words of criticism of policy or political ideals of the ruling power, to disagree with any perspective, or to express dissent against the system today, that person who fails to see the world as the narrative says we should see it finds himself or herself branded despicable, deplorable, labeled with insults such as bully, Nazi, bigot, racist, domestic terrorist and worse. All for simply uttering dissent against those in power who now control the public agenda and narrative.
For example, the Biden Administration ordered an investigation of Major Andrew Calvert, an Army chaplain with the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, after he made a dissenting comment critical of a change in Defense Department policy on the Army Times’ Facebook page. The chaplain suggested that someone who is transgender is mentally unfit for military service, responding to an Army Times article about President Joe Biden’s executive order to drop the ban against allowing transgender people to openly serve in the military.
Major Calvert wrote, “How is rejecting reality not evidence that a person is mentally unfit, and thus making that person unqualified to serve? There is little difference in this than over those who believe and argue for a ‘flat earth,’ despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The motivation is different, but the argument is the same. This person is a Med-Board for Mental Wellness waiting to happen. What a waste of military resources and funding!”
Bear in mind that Chaplain Calvert did not direct his word at any person, but at a policy change directed by President Biden.
Major Jefferson Grimes, Public Affairs Officer for the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade issued the following statement after Chaplain Calvert’s post on the Army Times Facebook page stirred attention from on high: “Major Calvert’s social media post on the Army Times Facebook page is currently under investigation. We support the Commander in Chief, Secretary of Defense and all DoD policies and directives.”
Grimes added, “We are soldiers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and that means always treating others with dignity and respect. This includes online communication. We direct our soldiers to Think, Type, Post when engaging in conversations on social media platforms and to follow DoD policies and regulations. When our online conduct does not follow these rules and regulations, we investigate and hold individuals accountable if they are found to be in violation.”
What is damning about the official government statement made by Major Grimes is that everything that a soldier says on social media must follow the government’s rules and regulations, and “when our online conduct does not follow these rules and regulations, we investigate and hold individuals accountable if they are found to be in violation.”
While all people in military service fall under rules of good order and discipline, those rules do not void a person in military service from retaining his or her rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. Military people must follow Lawful Orders, however, prohibiting Free Speech and Expression of Dissent when speaking as a private person, not speaking for an agency of the government, violates the First Amendment. No different than the government prohibiting that person from his or her free exercises of religious freedom, such as personal expressions of religious faith and exercises of prayer and worship.
This is not to confuse free speech and expressions of dissent with vulgarness, rudeness, insubordination or insults, nor of acts of violence or mutiny. Just as the Constitution provides for Free Speech, it likewise requires that freedom to gather and dissent to be peaceful and orderly. The right to free speech is not a right to riot or stand on the public square and shout profanity and obscenity.
Consider that all branches of the United States military services have privately operated foundations and affiliated organizations not part of the government or military command that publish journals and magazines aimed at audiences that include both leadership and rank and file service members. Active duty, reserve and retired officers and enlisted men and women, along with many civilians who have military interests, regularly author essays, articles and even commentary that is critical of military policy as well as critical of strategy and tactics and leadership. The Marines have Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck magazines, published by the Marine Corps Association and Historical Foundation. They encourage dissent and criticism of policy, strategy and tactics. Because quite often from criticism comes improvement.
In fact, Marines are noted for their freely expressed honest words that criticize or bring ideas to debate and greater critical examination.
In the past, numerous articles that were not only critical of policy but controversial in position were published and read by the highest among leaders as well as the broad base of Marines. Topics such as women serving in combat or in combat arms occupations addressed all sides of criticism as well as advocacy. A sharp contrast with today’s investigation of a Fort Hood chaplain who criticized a popular progressive left agenda carried out by executive order. He dared to express a dissenting opinion of a policy that could well disrupt the good order and discipline among the front-line combat organizations and affect the outcome of missions.
Another example of the government controlling the narrative and violating constitutional free speech appeared in the Denver Post on January 8, 2021, when University of Colorado at Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano chastised constitutional scholar, Professor John Eastman, for “spreading conspiracy theories about election fraud,” but, at that time, held short of firing the former Chapman University law professor.
Eastman teaches at the University of Colorado, Boulder campus as a visiting scholar from Colorado’s Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization.
Professor John Eastman is not merely a constitutional scholar but a constitutional nerd who has spent his adult life as a scholar studying the Constitution and its legal and social impacts on the history of the United States. He is an outspoken conservative among a sea of avowed progressive liberals at the University of Colorado, Boulder. And he has a history of expressing his conservative perspective publicly and addressing it to large audiences that include appearing on national media.
However, following months of emotionally charged complaints, campus protests and boycotts of Professor Eastman among the largely progressive-left student body and faculty, then exacerbated by a controversial constitutional essay published in Newsweek magazine in August and further inflamed by Eastman’s pro-Trump words and appearance at the Trump rally on the National Mall in Washington, DC on January 6, the University of Colorado leadership finally banned Professor Eastman after cancelling all of his classes on January 13, 2021.
University leaders cited that no one on campus had enrolled in any of Eastman’s classes, therefore, they cancelled them. However, a week later, Chancellor DiStefano announced that the University of Colorado, Boulder had banned John Eastman from performing any outreach (public speaking) or speaking anywhere at the University for the duration of his association with the institution. Only recently, prior to his virtual firing, Professor Chapman officially resigned his tenured faculty position as a law professor at Chapman University, which would allow him to officially join the University of Colorado faculty.
On January 21 Andrew Sorensen, a University of Colorado, Boulder spokesman, issued this statement: “The University of Colorado Boulder relieved John Eastman of duties related to outreach and speaking as a representative of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. University officials determined Eastman’s continued pursuit of these duties would likely be disruptive and damage the interests of the campus and the Benson Center.”
While technically retaining Eastman on faculty at the Benson Center, the university leadership has formally silenced Professor Eastman. His narrative sharply disagrees with the university’s own narrative and agenda. So much for free speech and freedom of diverse thought at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Since the university, as a state-owned public institution, is a branch of the State of Colorado government, it represents a government action that silences a voice that often criticizes politically left ideals, because his dissent and critical commentary disagrees with the progressive left agenda. The government shut up Professor John Eastman to control the left-dominant university narrative, citing his words as damaging and “disruptive.”
It does not matter if the majority of students at the University of Colorado disagree with Eastman’s politics or ideals of Constitutional Law, the professor still has the right, protected by the First Amendment, to freely express his opinion in the public forum, such as he expressed in Newsweek magazine or at a Republican rally in Colorado or the one on January 6 at the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Eastman’s very presence on the Boulder campus immediately raised progressive left hackles. He is a person who voices strong conservative views, citing the United States Constitution as the superior law of the nation, and as Justice Antonin Scalia had held, Eastman agrees that “It says what it says, and does not say what it does not say.” However, the University of Colorado, Boulder is not a welcoming place for anyone who does not subscribe to the progressive left world view. Thus, in a sea of gasoline, he represented a thimble full of nitroglycerine and a match.
Igniting the first firestorm of campus controversy, Professor Eastman wrote an essay published on August 12, 2020 in Newsweek magazine. The constitutional scholar questioned whether vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris was eligible to serve as Vice President because her parents were not born in the United States. In the essay, Eastman based his argument on the fact that while Harris was born in the United States, her parents resided in the United States on visas. Eastman questioned whether Harris’ parents were lawful permanent residents at the time of her birth, or were they merely temporary visitors?
The constitutional argument addressed at Harris stems from the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that states, “…all persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens.”
The question raised by Eastman and other constitutional scholars and lawyers alike, asks if this 14th Amendment clause includes visitors who are not residents of the United States and others who live in the United States illegally? The United States Supreme Court has not addressed this question, nor has it issued any clarifying opinions. Thus, the debate continues.
After a wave of highly vocal outcries against the opinion essay written by Eastman, on August 14, Newsweek editors, trying to divest themselves from the article published two days prior, apologized for publishing Eastman’s opinion, and said:
“This op-ed is being used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia. We apologize. The essay, by John Eastman, was intended to explore a minority legal argument about the definition of who is a “natural-born citizen” in the United States. But to many readers, the essay inevitably conveyed the ugly message that Senator Kamala Harris, a woman of color and the child of immigrants, was somehow not truly American.”
Newsweek editors did not say that Professor Eastman had expressed any racist or xenophobic views but had addressed the question of citizenship of a child born in the United States of parents who are not citizens but reside in the United States as visitors or as illegal immigrants. However, the inflammatory words, Racist and Xenophobe had now surfaced. Thus, Professor Eastman automatically received the racist and xenophobe brand too.
This despite the fact that Professor Eastman’s opposing editorial opinion had addressed the question of citizenship based on matters of legal argument. A debate that continues today and will likely finally find argument before the United States Supreme Court for resolution. However, to suggest that perhaps vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, a woman of color and daughter of immigrant parents, might not qualify as Vice President, to the progressive left represented racist bigotry and xenophobia. How dare he even raise the question?
On August 24, 2020, an article published in The Denver Post described the upheaval stirred on the Boulder campus resulting from the published article that brought outcries against Professor Eastman. They accused him of floating a conspiracy theory akin to the so-called, “Birther” accusations leveled against President Barak Obama by then presidential candidate Donald Trump and many other strong-right leaning conservatives.
Chancellor DiStefano wrote in a faculty memorandum distributed by email that Monday (August 17) following the Newsweek publication of Eastman’s essay, “Even if he did not intend it, Professor Eastman’s op-ed has marginalized members of our CU Boulder community and sown doubts in our commitment to anti-racism, diversity, equality and inclusion.”
In fact, Newsweek even said that Eastman did not express racist or xenophobic views, but that his op-ed essay was being used as a tool by some to perpetuate racism and xenophobia.
Interestingly, the Newsweek opinion essay credits did not cite Professor Eastman’s association with the University of Colorado, Boulder nor with Colorado’s Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization, but cited his credentials as “Professor of Law, Chapman University and Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute.”
One must wonder how the publication of Eastman’s essay in Newsweek sullied the reputation of the University of Colorado when it nor the Benson Center do not have mention in the article or in Eastman’s credentials or professional citations. Thus, one must conclude that the University of Colorado used the admonition to try and gag Eastman from publicly expressing his opinions which do not support the university’s political tilt. A preemptive step to silence his dissent.
Citing Professor Eastman’s right to free speech, Chancellor DiStefano wrote: “Without minimizing those harms, and recognizing that we must repair that trust, I must speak to those who have asked whether I will rescind Professor Eastman’s appointment or silence him. I will not, for doing so would falsely feed a narrative that our university suppresses speech it does not like and would undermine the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom that make it possible for us to fulfill our mission.”
However, the actions against Professor Eastman stand in stark contradiction to Chancellor DiStefano’s statement. Judging from the matters of fact and historical record, it appears that the University of Colorado, Boulder does suppress speech that it does not like, thus undermining (utterly quashing) the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom. The Chancellor’s words clearly do not align with the university’s actions against Professor Eastman, which stand testament to the University of Colorado’s suppression of free speech and academic freedom.
As to Professor Eastman’s response after reading Chancellor DiStefano’s email, in which the Chancellor had said that Eastman’s argument for Ms. Harris’ potential ineligibility did not align with the Constitution, Eastman said that it seemed to him that perhaps Chancellor DiStefano has never read the original debates about the Constitution’s citizenship clause.
Professor Eastman commented to The Denver Post, when interviewed about the controversy, spurring the CU Buffalo even harder, “That seems to me to be an admission that he (DiStefano) has not read the original materials himself, nor the significant amount of scholarship that has come to the same conclusion (that) I have. Pity. He might have learned that there is a serious constitutional dispute here, one that remains unresolved by the Supreme Court.”
Then on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the day that thousands of conservative protesters gathered on The National Mall in Washington, DC, the same day that some of the people in the protest moved on the United States Capitol, broke across barriers and violently laid siege to the Capitol Building and Halls of Congress, Professor Eastman spoke at a rally in support of President Donald Trump on the National Mall. In Eastman’s remarks, he alleged that there was widespread voter fraud in the November 3, 2020 election and in the January 5, 2021 runoff election in Georgia. Millions of people who voted for President Trump share this viewpoint.
Following the protests and riot in Washington, DC, Chancellor DiStefano again criticized Professor Eastman for his public statements but stopped short of firing Eastman for his remarks: Expressions that the majority of students and faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder regarded as advocating conspiracy theories. They demanded that the Chancellor fire Eastman for his inflammatory public statements.
Even though not firing Eastman at that time but later virtually firing him by silencing his voice on or off campus, Chancellor DiStefano spoke harshly against the conservative Constitutional scholar and said, “His (Eastman’s) continued advocacy of conspiracy theories is repugnant, and he will bear the shame of his role in undermining confidence in the rule of law.”
These two instances serve as examples of the government Controlling the Narrative to support the ideals of the ruling agenda. If anyone raises a voice or publishes words against them, they punish and ridicule those voices of dissent.
In India, police shot and killed a protester who spoke in dissent of the government while on the same day the government celebrated its “democracy.” The Indian media published the official statement that the protester, twenty-five-year-old farmer, Navreet Singh, had died during the protest because of a so-called, “tractor accident.”
Tyrants and dictators control the narrative and quash dissent, either with a bullet shot from a policeman’s gun or by gagging the outspoken voice while he or she suffers through powerful ridicule and shame hurled by the minions of that tyrant who sit in positions of power and control the public narrative with it, serving the national agenda.
For tyrants, the press is the handmaiden of government. Free speech represents the narrative supporting the agenda that they control.
Today, I read an article about how Nike, Coca Cola, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Apple, Adidas, The North Face, Abercrombie, GAP, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Land Rover, General Motors and several other worldwide corporations with strong China manufacturing ties make a big public show of how they deplore all forms of racism and discrimination, pitching millions into the PR effort, but behind corporate doors are not shy about exploiting forced labor of slaves in China, most notably the enslaved Uighur Muslims of northwest China, a heavily oppressed racial minority of Turkic people.
For many of us, this news is not at all surprising. It is the stock and trade of the “limousine liberal” progressive left elitists. They have lots of money, and want to put on a good face to the flotsam and jetsam of common working people who spend their hard-earned dollars in support these villians’ markets and profits. So, they make a public and highly hypocritical showing of their tender hearts for the plight of oppressed people, and throw money and promises at the causes. But in truth, their hearts are very dark indeed.
Black lives really do matter, in my opinion. So do cop lives and all other walks of society. As do Latino lives matter as well, and the plight of these and other struggling people who seek to feed their families and at least have what America’s Constitution and Declaration of Independence states, and promises. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” (happiness meaning that you have your basic human needs met of hearth, home, food and family security). God created all of His children (humanity) equally in His eyes and in His love.
Yet, these progressive left elitists speak with “forked tongues,” much like the prominent Southern Cheyenne chieftain, Black Kettle, said of the American government, after seeing the “great white father” break the Pine Lodge Treaty–broken as a matter of expedience for the way west, the rail roads and other profit motives of the puppet-string pullers.
While talking publicly out of the left side of their mouths, saying how everyone needs to open all the doors for all people, especially those who suffer discrimination (true indeed), yet from the other side of their mouths they probably whisper among their boards of directors, “we need the slave labor of China to ensure that our profits increase while we fleece American consumers and other world markets by charging the people with few competitive options more money for increasingly inferior goods and delivering less and less.”
They have taken out all the screws that they can eliminate and trimmed off all the engineered support parts of their products, resulting in poorer quality but another penny or two in profit. However, their biggest profit gains come from not paying for labor, skilled labor. Skills cost dollars, and workers with greater manufacturing skills bring home more dollars per hour. So the companies close their American factories and go offshore where poor, desperate people, including children, will work for pennies instead of dollars. Skills matter less too, because if the product lasts past its flimsy warranty, that they make purposefully difficult for consumers to use when needed, then that is all that matters. In fact, it is good. The consumer has to buy a new one.
So, these companies not only use slave labor in China, maximizing profits like ancient Egyptians, but they also lobby Congress to keep the slave labor operating and fulfilling their American market needs. Yes!
These are the friends and supporters of the Joe Biden Administration–heavily supporting China. Congress even passed a bill in the House of Representatives that would prohibit the purchase of any goods to sell on the American market if those goods were manufactured by Chinese slaves, like the Turkic Muslims of Northwest China, the Uighur people. Downtrodden souls enduring endless “re-education,” working as slaves in forced labor camps turning out goods for American brands. However, the guilty parties–at last count, 83 major corporations with dirty hands using slave labor to spin out the parts for assembly plants elsewhere, or making shoes, shirts, trousers and other similar goods–put up big bucks in political candidate campaigns to kill the bill. A bill that had passed the United States House of Representatives with only 6 nay votes.
Bottom line–Money is Power.
And while we talk of Slave Labor, let us not forget America’s own version of Slave Labor: The poor people from Latin America who risk their lives to slip into los Estados Unidos (the United States) just to make a living and feed their starving families. Because they do not have legal status in the USA, they must work under the covers of secrecy and subterfuge. False documents and phony identifications that enable them to work and get paid something, usually cash with no benefits. And what do they get paid? Not nearly what the employer might report.
For example, I went to a temporary labor agency in Colorado Springs not that many years ago seeking two laborers to perform cleanup and barn repairs for me. The two men came to my home, neither of them speaking English, so I thankfully spoke enough Spanish to get the job done. During our work, for which I thought I was paying each man $14 dollars an hour, I discovered that each man actually received a little less than $6 dollars an hour, and they were glad to get it.
Yes, the temporary labor service does collect a fee for connecting me with the laborers. It should be no more than a couple of dollars, though. So, I asked the men if they received a pay stub that showed their deductions, such as FICA, Social Security and Medicare. But the truth was ugly.
Both men got paid cash at day’s end when they checked out of work for the day at the service. They got a little less than $6 dollars an hour, for which I paid $14 dollars an hour, and they got no explanation of deductions.
Neither man had a social security number, nor even knew what or where to get one. One man’s wife had an American drivers license, and she drove them out here to work at my place in the country and then drove them home again at days end. A 45 minute drive each direction in an old car that did not get good gas mileage. So, fuel costs were another deduction from their daily earnings.
Learning the truth they innocently told to me, I telephoned the temporary labor service, to whom I had given a check in advance, as they required, to cover the wages–eight hours a day for five days for two men at $14 dollars an hour.
The woman with whom I spoke, a boss there, started out her lies by telling me that the men were legal, documented workers, and that they got paid net wages after federal and state deductions were collected plus the company’s 10-percent commission for finding employment for the men and maintaining the wage and work documents required by federal and state law. To which I responded that I spoke to both men with my admittedly limited Spanish language abilities, but communicated well enough to fully understand that the men were not American citizens, had no documentation and that her company was ripping the men off with false deductions that were greater than the men’s net earnings. How could either man collect any Social Security or Medicare benefits when they became eligible if they had no clue of a Social Security number or even get a tax refund?
The woman hung up the phone without saying another word. And the company never cashed my check. They destroyed the paper trail that led to these two men and to my doorstep. Fine with me!
Next morning, the two men came for work and told me that they were fired, but that they had made a commitment to me to do the work and were keeping their promises. Standing by their word!
I said fine. But I insist on giving you each $10 dollars an hour cash for every hour that you work.
They worked through the week and most of the next week too. I paid them cash each day. Exactly as they wanted me to do. Just like ranchers out here did when I was a boy, and Braceros regularly and legally crossed the border to work, get paid cash, and went home to Mexico at season’s end. What happened to that system that worked well in the American Southwest until the mid-1960s? Politics and corruption.
When the men showed up for work the first day, and it was pretty cold weather, heavy frost covering this part of Colorado, only one of them had a coat. An old Army field jacket with no liner.
“Where’s your coat?” I asked the man in shirt sleeves. He shook his head, no and said, “No tiene.”
The other fellow smiled and showed me his Army jacket with no liner. Little better than him wearing a canvas shirt over his shirt. But he was a lot better off than the other guy.
So, without a word, I went in the house and pulled out two good, warm barn coats, each with wool flannel lining over a layer of insulation, to keep the men warm. After handing each man a coat to put on, I got in my truck while the men now happily worked, saying nothing again, and drove to the Big R ranch store where I bought good winter work coats for each man. Each a gift, not tied to their work.
As I exchanged their new coats for my loaners, that were well worn, I told the two fellows that it was part of the benefits package at my ranch. Everybody that works for me gets a coat. No charity. Just the right thing to do.
Besides, I could not bear the idea of either man working in cold weather without a coat! And what kind of cruel and heartless person would allow anyone to work in the cold with no coat?
Next day, after I had gotten the men coats of their very own. New coats, not worn out or thrown away items. The one man’s wife brought homemade breakfast burritos for my wife and me as well as the men. We ate breakfast together as men with mutual respect, and went to work afterward. Then one day, as a gift, she also brought us a sack full of homemade tamales, which I love. It’s a regular winter thing in a Latin household, making tamales. A family time. It warmed my heart and my stomach too.
When we finished our work, a little more than a week later, after working together and my Spanish language skills improving daily, I asked the men what they would do next?
They said that they had saved a good deal of money during the year and were heading back to central Mexico. The man with his wife would drive there, and give the other man a ride home to his wife and four children. The money would give them a start in a construction business of their own down there.
They hugged me goodbye and I never saw them again, nor have heard from either man.
But the bottom line here is a clear example of doing what is only right in the face of what is blatantly wrong, and remains wrong today: Exploitation of the poor and desperate by the wealthy. It is common in America and openly done in China as outright slavery!
Slavery is the reason for human trafficking. It is big business. Bigger business and even more profitable than the drug business. That is why the underworld of China and the Mexican cartels exploit human trafficking as a major source of their profits.
And these so-called respectable international corporations like Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola and all the 80 or so other hypocrites, are not one bit better than the underworld crime organizations in China and Latin America, and in the United States.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. Slavery and exploitation of the poor and desperate people struggling to simply survive and hold their families together is perhaps the most wrong of all wrongs done in the world today.
It stands against the ideals of the United States Constitution and Declaration of Independence, the very foundation of America.
And it stands against God! An affront to God! It goes against everything that Jesus Christ stated in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12) that begins His Sermon on the Mount.
Mark my words, regardless of whether any of these corporate leaders believe in God, the Lord God Almighty will hold these people who exploit and enslave God’s children accountable. Just as God will hold us all accountable on Judgment Day.
Plus, there is this thing that some people call, “Karma.” I call it, God gets even. And He does. Just stand by.