The spirit of the words in the below picture, I believe, are best expressed by Rudyard Kipling in his poem, TOMMY.
As a journalist, he witnessed the valor and bloodshed of the British soldier, and then the disdain in which “proper British society” held their soldiers, whom he named Tommy Atkins, a common fellow among people of little worth or importance.
This incensed Kipling because no one among “proper British society” had sacrificed even a whet’s worth of their own value compared to the boy he called, Tommy Atkins, who gave up his life on the battlefields for King and Country.
The Scots Observer in Edinburgh first published Kipling’s poem, TOMMY, on March 1, 1890.
Some 25 years later, on September 27, 1915, Rudyard Kipling’s dearly loved son, John, went missing in action, fighting the Germans in the Battle of Loos in Northern France, bringing the poem TOMMY home to resonate with all of the English-speaking world. Kipling died on January 18, 1936, never knowing the fate of his beloved son, John Kipling, an 18 year old British lieutenant, cannon fodder they called them.
John Kipling shipped off to France on his 18th birthday, August 17, 1915, and six weeks later, he led a platoon of Irish Guards into the jaws of no-man’s land, in the Battle of Loos. More than a thousand British soldiers lay scattered on that killing field, many of them buried in mass graves, known only to God. Young Lieutenant Kipling was one of those Unknown Soldiers who died there.
In his youth, Kipling wrote of adventure, The Man Who Would Be King. But the loss of his son, John, left the great poet, novelist, journalist and critic of society in a dismal, gray pal.
He wrote great poetry, but they were always words of some sort of mourning.
Responding to the death of 16-year old Sailor, Jack Cornwell, Kipling was inspired to write, MY BOY JACK. Many say that the poem is a veiled commentary about the loss of his own son.
MY BOY JACK by Rudyard Kipling
“Have you news of my boy Jack? “ Not this tide. “When d’you think that he’ll come back?” Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?” Not this tide. For what is sunk will hardly swim, Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?” None this tide, Nor any tide, Except he did not shame his kind— Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more, This tide, And every tide; Because he was the son you bore, And gave to that wind blowing and that tide.
A supporter of the war effort in England, with the declared death of John Kipling, the great poet grew disgruntled with war and angry at “proper British society” in general. And angry with himself for supporting the war, which he believed helped motivate his boy, John, to join up and go to France.
Kipling’s very brief, single-sentence, COMMON FORM, slaps the face of British society, including himself.
COMMON FORM by Rudyard Kipling
If any questions why we died, Tell them, because our fathers lied.
Rudyard Kipling’s life-long passion of supporting all soldiers called to war, however, is perhaps best remembered by the world in his angry words in each stanza of TOMMY.
TOMMY by Rudyard Kipling
I went into a public ‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer, The publican ‘e up an’ sez, ” We serve no red-coats here.” The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I: O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, go away ” ; But it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it’s ” Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be, They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me; They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls, But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls! For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ” Tommy, wait outside “; But it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide, O it’s ” Special train for Atkins ” when the trooper’s on the tide.
Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap. An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit. Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul? “ But it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes ” when the drums begin to roll The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, O it’s ” Thin red line of ‘eroes, ” when the drums begin to roll.
We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints, Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints; While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Tommy, fall be’ind,” But it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind, O it’s ” Please to walk in front, sir,” when there’s trouble in the wind.
You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all: We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace. For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an` Chuck him out, the brute! “ But it’s ” Saviour of ‘is country ” when the guns begin to shoot; An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please; An ‘Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool – you bet that Tommy sees!
Here are some hard and true facts: As long as Vladimir Putin wants war in Ukraine or elsewhere too, any idea of a negotiated peace is a waste of time, and second of all, Vladimir Putin quit honoring the nuclear arms treaties with the United States and free world years ago. The fact that Tuesday, February 21, 2023, Putin officially proclaimed that the nuclear arms treaties no longer apply is good news for American defense strategy. America’s political hands are now untied. If it’s war Putin wants, then a Stinger missile up his tailpipe needs to happen. That or the free world braces for nuclear war.
A well-planned drone strike on Putin would solve many problems, and for most Russians, it would give them a reason to celebrate. Russian soldiers don’t want the war in Ukraine. They didn’t even know they had gone to war when Putin sent them to Ukraine, telling them it was a planned military exercise. Lots of Russians have died, and at home the bread lines remind Muscovites of days gone by when a different despot commanded the Soviet Union.
As for the nuclear arms treaties, many uninformed Americans now worry in their basements, including the President. However, the meat of the nuclear arms treaties had little purpose other than perhaps slowing down the ultimate destruction of entire Planet Earth. The real nuclear threat never received any mention in any nuclear arms treaties: the small nuclear bombs that the United States, China, Russia, and other allies of both sides, can fire from their field artillery pieces. Yes the so-called short-range weapons that all sides counted for use in theaters of contained warfare. Ukraine is such a theater of contained warfare, and field artillery, such as the Russian 2S19 152-millimeter self-propelled Howitzer or its big brother, the 2S7M Malka 203-millimeter self-propelled Howitzer, or the M109A7 Paladin 155-millimeter self-propelled Howitzers or any of the thousands of its towed brothers that US and NATO forces use. All of these weapon systems have nuclear capabilities. They use something called “wrap-rounds” that propel the nuclear projectile that they fire precisely onto targets anywhere nearby, a few miles distance, to 70 or even 100 miles away.
The numbers of these nuclear weapons are a mystery. The United States has a highly classified count of them, along with locations, however, the Russians have no idea how many nuclear projectiles exist in their bunkers nor where they exist. But they do exist and they exist in large numbers.
With Vladimir Putin announcing that the nuclear arms treaties today are no longer valid, clears the decks for him to employ nuclear artillery and rockets, within the contained battlefield of Ukraine, without concern of violating any treaty anywhere. With the nuclear weapons employed in Ukraine, in addition to wantonly killing hundreds of thousands more innocent people (a war crime against humanity) the nuclear fallout will salt the highly productive farmlands of Ukraine, rendering them useless for decades if not centuries. Putin’s only drawback to the nukes are the prevailing westerly winds that will blow any nuclear clouds back into Mother Russia.
But does he really care? Most likely, he does not. Russian lives mean nothing to the dysfunctionally narcissistic leader.
What should the United States do? Probably our leaders won’t, but this approaching horror story will require leadership with resolve and iron courage, the likes of which Winston Churchill and a few others possessed. Not some blowhard loudmouth and certainly not some soft-spoken lily of the valley who waffles and worries about political winds and elections.
With the announcement of Vladimir Putin that Russia no longer regards any nuclear arms treaties valid, represents the big red banner of nuclear war standing at the threshold. Western leaders, not just Joe Biden but all leaders of NATO and the free world should stand in resolve, and gird their nations for nuclear war. Unless someone can engineer a drone strike that can penetrate the bunker where Vladimir Putin hides today.
America’s second President, John Adams, would be elated with the dramatic increase of the strong central government in Washington, DC more stringently controlling the states and the people. Adams likened the Federalist Government to act in the same respect that a King would rule in a monarchy. Of course, Thomas Jefferson and his cohorts in the Republican Party (later called Democratic-Republican Party) led the Opposition to Adams and his Federalists who had cut their teeth on Thomas Hobbes Leviathan.
Generally speaking, most Americans embrace the ideals of Jefferson’s opposition to federalism, because it holds that Freedom is born with the People and Limited Powers are given to the Government by the People as the People determine that the Government needs to adequately operate. Yet, free money waved at the hungry masses always wins over sound thinking. So, the people take the money without considering the consequences of Socialism taking away their Freedom of Choice, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Faith and Freedom to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
An overriding Federal Government, by its very nature, dictates to the People what the Government believes that the People ought to have and not have. It sees itself as the benevolent Great White Father, and Joe Biden is the embodiment of the Great White Father. And he knows best. Just ask him and he will tell you.
Hold on. So will Donald Trump. He is outspoken about being the smartest man in the nation, and he has no doubts that he can dictate to you how best you can live your life.
So, what’s the difference between Joe Biden and Donald Trump? Biden is soft spoken. However, as individual presidents, they are both driven by much the same engine. Neither man has many morals or scruples, and both men subscribe to any ideals that rewards them with power and dominion.
It would be nice to just elect a government rather than a person as President. Because it is the government that surrounds the President that matters. A collective mindset, Conservative or Liberal or a Blend of Both, that guides Economic Policy, National Defense, Foreign Policy and Domestic Policy (which includes Energy Policy).
Trump’s policies embraced many of President Ronald Reagan’s blend of Conservative and Middle-of-the-Road politics. Trump’s government was a long way left of Libertarian while still embracing Conservative ideals. It netted a result of a powerful economy and growing industry in America with lowering fuel and energy prices. However, the Chinese economic attack on the world, the COVID-19 Pandemic, derailed even the most powerful and energetic economies. It crippled the Trump government’s economic boom, and it paved the way for a far-left led, so-called Progressive (more Socialist than Democratic) victory in the 2020 election that made Joe Biden President.
Removing the Politics from the view, and just looking at the bare facts, the Biden Presidency has claimed the future happiness of most Americans, leaving nearly everyone deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet even with minimum wages set above $15 dollars an hour. Inflation is the cruelest of Poor Taxes. It robs families of food, warmth and clothing. It leaves working people enslaved to just surviving. And the wealthy, blind bastards who lead this government have not one clue.
Biden’s government brags today that they have heralded great success for America. Voters need to re-elect this presidency to keep the successes rolling.
Joseph Goebbels mentored Adolf Hitler in the 1920s and gave the Austrian paper hanger the central idea of Mein Kampf (My Fight): Say a Big Lie and keep repeating it as Truth. If we repeat the Big Lie long enough and people begin to believe it as Truth and repeat it as Truth then The Big Lie becomes Truth.
We do not portend that Biden nor Trump presidencies are anything akin to Hitler or his mentor Goebbels ideals, but both politicians do embrace the notion of selling America on their own Big Lie. And when people believe the Big Lie as Truth then it is always bad. Politicians since Caesar have had difficulty with Truth, especially when it gets in the way of their garnering power and dominion. However, the constant problem with The Big Lie is that it always hurts the People.
Just as in America today, The Big Lie has resulted in a nation polarized with Hate. And in the past three years, The Big Lie has resulted in a nation of people suffering under higher taxes, higher cost of living, less opportunity, borders in crisis, and a record national debt with no hope of ever turning it around. Most importantly, The Big Lie has resulted in Less Freedom by the railroading of Federal Laws and misguided State Laws, all written in the name of keeping people safe.
Here’s a secret: Laws do NOT keep people safe. People keep People safe.
Several years ago, I watched a movie about the great golf legend, Bobby Jones. In one scene, Jones vied for a British Open championship at the Old Course at Saint Andrews, Scotland, and his ball had landed in a bunker with a high, green-side cliff. In several years past, when he had hit his ball into the bunker with the near-impossible green-side shot that required him chipping his ball straight up and landing it on the green, he lost the championship because he pressed himself to make the impossible shot. The multiple strokes he took each of the previous times had cost him the championship. This time, his caddy saw him about to take yet the same impossible shot once again and stopped him before he took the stroke.
The caddy said, “The definition of insanity is to keep repeating the same mistake, and each time expecting a different outcome.”
The Denver Broncos appear to be trapped in that same bunker with the high cliff on the green side, and they seem determined to repeat the same mistake over and over while expecting a different outcome.
San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, DeMeco Ryans, is without question a brilliant football coach, and at 38 years old, with his brilliance and great opportunities laid before him, he should only get better. Should, being to operative word. No one has a crystal ball, and no one can say that as a brilliant defensive coordinator of a team packed with talent and having the best defense in the NFL, would DeMeco Ryans expand that brilliance on the next level as a head football coach? Yet all the football pundits on television, radio and Sirius XM tout him today as the second coming of Mike Shanahan, the last great head football coach that the Denver Broncos have had.
Yes, John Fox and Wade Phillips were pretty good too. But Mike Shanahan is one of 13 head coaches in Super Bowl history to have won at least two Super Bowls. He is the winningest coach in Broncos history with a record of 146 wins against 91 losses, a career winning percentage of .616.
Broncos head coaching candidate, Sean Payton, as a head football coach in the NFL has over a 15-year career as head coach amassed a winning percentage of .631, with 152 wins against 89 losses. Just a tad better than Mike Shanahan. And from 1988 through 2021, a 33-year coaching career beginning at San Diego State University, he has had only 11 losing seasons. In other words, in 33 years from quarterbacks coach and assistant coach to head coach, he has been part of or as head coach produced 22 winning seasons. Most of the losing seasons, 7 of them in 11, he was not head coach but an assistant or a specialties coach. As head football coach, Peyton has had only 4 losing seasons.
It has been 6 years since the Denver Broncos have had a winning season. In 2016, the year after the Super Bowl win, the Broncos finished 3rd in the AFC West with a 9 and 7 record. Gary Kubiak and Joe DeCamillis coached the team, and this was the year after Peyton Manning retired with the 2015 Super Bowl 50 victory.
In those Broncos losing seasons across the past 6 years, Denver has languished with head coaches with no head coaching experience before their jobs leading the Broncos. Since Mike Shanahan, and not counting Gary Kubiak, who stepped in to fill the game for John Fox when his heart trouble took him off the field, Denver has had Josh McDaniels, John Fox and Jack DelRio (a tandem), Joe DeCamillis (who filled the gap when Gary Kubiak’s health failed), Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio, Nathaniel Hackett, and Jerry Rosburg (who stepped in as interim coach when Hackett was fired).
What jumps off the page is that all these coaches who busted their humps trying, were all out of their depths as a head coach who could lead a team to the Super Bowl. And it is the Super Bowl that Denver Broncos fans expect. So do the owners in the Penner-Walton Group too.
So, why does the leadership of the Denver Broncos appear hell-bent to hire yet another head coach with no NFL head coaching experience? Why?
Especially when standing at the threshold is none other than Sean Payton who has an even more impressive career record as NFL head coach than Mike Shanahan?
It is like the Denver Broncos are back in that bunker with Bobby Jones at Saint Andrews, sitting in that deep bunker with the high cliff on the green side and can only see the top of the flagstick on the green, waving above the Super Bowl hole, and they contemplate chipping that impossible shot from the bunker. Yes, that instead of laying out an easy shot onto the fairway at the entrance of the green, and making a reasonable putt from there. One more stroke but still finishing Par instead of another bogey or double-bogey or even triple-bogey or more?
Going for another candidate with zero NFL head coaching experience instead of making the obvious, logical choice to hire a head coach with a solid NFL career and a Super Bowl under his belt, a head coach that even surpasses Mike Shanahan, the winningest coach in Broncos history?
For the Broncos to pass on Sean Payton and hire DeMeco Ryans is literally the definition of insanity!
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.