Paris, Beirut, Japan, Kenya,…

It’s been a world of hurt lately, and yet it always is.

It is always true that the poor are with us, that evil men and women plot against us to do us harm, from the personal level to the national.

We can be fearful and aggressive and return hate for hate, fire for fire, blow for blow.

We can also simultaneously live a confident life, right now, doing the right things, even when there are setbacks, because we know, we know, that doing the right thing is the right thing.

I’m perplexed, confused, and deeply saddened by the hatred expressed in acts of violence.

I can react as a praying man, a caring man, a thoughtful man.

And I can react as a doing man. In spite of the attempts to tear down and destroy, ruin and wreak and rage, I can continue to build up, to restore, to heal, to love, to trust.

By doing so I heal the world and I heal myself.

Do I Have Privilege?

The short answer is “Yes.”

The longer answer is more nuanced, because of course I don’t see or experience my privilege. It just is, because I live in a society and culture that by default caters to me and my own identity and my own sense of belonging here.

There is a great paper written by Peggy McIntosh in 1988, with an excerpt in this link.

Some things that stuck out:

  • When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  • I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
  • I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
  • I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race
  • I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
  • I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.
  • I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
  • f I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
  • I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

“White privilege” isn’t something you see or notice. It is, however, something you experience, and you usually  notice only if someone calls it to your attention, and then you claim you aren’t really experiencing it because of many reasons, chief among them that you are an OK person who doesn’t feel bad or have bad thoughts about others.

Christ-follower in All Things

I don’t get it that Christians claim they need guns to “protect” themselves in America.

We aren’t in Somalia or Burma or North Korea where the state has direct animus against us or the citizens are terrorized on the street by anarchy and a government that can’t govern.

We live in arguably one of the most powerful, safest nations in the world—and we as Christians appear to be terrified to the point where we leave all our reason and faith behind as we worship guns and violence ourselves.

Here’s my response to this video:

Theologically, orthodox Christianity taught that Jesus emptied himself of all his God-powers to become incarnate, and therefore used only his own gifts as a man (his intelligence, his moral suasion, his faith in God the Father) as a means to both teach and to do. So I can’t see him using a gun to accomplish God’s will, whether it is to fight the bad guys or to protect the good guys. During his ministry recorded in the New Testament he is shown as using his words, and he reserved his anger for those who were most religious and most likely to use their assumed godliness as a means to oppress other–not to fight back against Romans or thieves or the worst of the worst. Guns–useful maybe in the hands of the police. Useful maybe if you want to hunt. Guns don’t belong in the hands of the populace as a means to “protect” or assert authority. We have too many guns, and we have way too few Christians who are following the example of Christ in their actions and words.

Snoqualmie’s Bad Hire Puts North Bend at Risk

Officer Nicholas Hogan of the Snoqualmie Police Department was hired by Snoqualmie after being fired by the City of Tukwila due several payouts (totaling $425K) which resulted from his violent actions against civilians.

Per the Seattle Times article of October 25, 2015 (, the police commander of Tukwila questioned why any police department could hire him after these facts, contained in his personnel file, were known.

Now he’s working for the City of Snoqualmie’s police department, specifically to handle the police services North Bend contracted from Snoqualmie.

This is an officer with known history of violence against civilians. This is an officer with a connection to “Straight Edge,” a violent anti-drug movement. This officer collected “trophy” police reports where he was found to have used excessive force.

These are all known facts from his file and from court records.

There is no reason why he should have been hired by the City of Snoqualmie.

While he is on paid leave as Snoqualmie investigates his most recent actions, I’m asking the City of North Bend for three things for the financial and physical protection of its citizens:

  1. We need a civilian review board in place, immediately, to review the actions of police officers in our town. If Snoqualmie won’t do it, North Bend must.
  2. We need to have a voice in the oversight of hiring and overseeing police operations for North Bend. If we are not already having regular meetings with the police commander in Snoqualmie, we need to set these up, immediately.
  3. We need veto power over the officers selected to patrol North Bend.

If you are a resident of Snoqualmie, I urge you to contact your mayor, your city council, and your police department to enquire as to the hiring standards and practices of your city, and I strongly urge you to also set up a civilian review board over your police department.

Don’t wait until you’re liable for a settlement against the city due to the actions of your police department.

NaNoWriMo2015—I’m All In, and In It to Win It

#NaNoWriMo2015 – wasn’t going to do it this year, as last year’s effort petered out due to lack of inspiration and frankly, I was tired after switching to a new job with new responsibilities. (Same company; just a different team.)

And this year – well, I have a new job again – same company, same team, but increased responsibilities. But I think I just have more energy this year, plus I have some time off to recharge, plus I’m trying a different genre – science fiction. Previous novels have either been historic fiction or just plain ol’ fiction. Trying a new genre, I think, will help me challenge myself in a good way.

And here’s what I’ve learned from previous NaNoWriMos –

  1. Write, grasshopper, write. Don’t worry about much. Don’t worry whether you’re writing a novel or a story as much as you are writing something. Think of your work as a story comprising scenes. Write those scenes, as best you can, daily.
  2. Don’t abandon your work, but abandon a scene that’s not working. You have 31 days. Write stuff, every day, and if something isn’t working, drop it, and try another scene. Maybe you’ll come back to it later, maybe not – but the goal is to write.
  3. Write what comes to you. Don’t worry about whether your story hangs together yet. This is your draft stage. Get everything out, as you think of it.
  4. Editing and fixing is for later. Sure, your draft is a piece of – ahem – stuff that you might not show your mother. That’s OK. Just write it all, confusing POVs, stories/scenes that don’t go anywhere, stories that contradict other stories, characters that appear only for a scene and never appear again, scenes that conflict with known facts (not such a problem with science fiction – I can invent FTL travel, for instance).
  5. Risk something everyday. Don’t try to stay on tangent. Color outside the lines. Write stuff that you don’t even like. Try writing the same scene from two different POVs, and keep both scenes.

The goal here is to get it all out. Your mind is always working, behind the scenes (so to speak), so let it work while you are busy writing.

I found that a lot of what I write in my first drafts really isn’t usable as it—but it’s useful in that I’m developing the story and characters, and I will come back to rework the content later.

I have yet to write the Great American Novel. But – I’ve written five novels now through NaNoWriMo, and that’s five novels that didn’t exist before I tried.

(Hat Tip to my writing buddy Jenna Willett at Jen’s Pen Den for her encouragement. You can read her latest here.)

What About ‘Those People’? Why Don’t They Fix Their Own Lives?

“Why don’t ‘those people’ fix their own lives and culture instead of rioting all the time?”

I hear this question a lot.

Do you want to know the answer?

  1. First of all, ‘those people’ are exactly like you. People, humans, Americans, who lives lives, like you, largely unrecognized. They are doing what they’re doing without you seeing them.
  2. ‘Those people’ are already doing those things, and have been doing those things, for as many years as everyone else. Living their lives, falling in love, getting married, having kids, getting jobs, caring for their own, healing their sick, burying their dead. Just like anyone else.
  3. ‘Those people’ doing ordinary things, healing things, life-affirming things, doesn’t make the news. The news is about two things:
    1. What bleeds – news reports center around the spectacular and the frightening and the violent. Ordinary people doing ordinary things isn’t news.
    2. What affirms – we watch stories that affirm our viewpoint. If we believe ‘those people’ are cheats and liars, lazy and indolent, takers and grabbers and destroyers, then we will gravitate to news which affirms that viewpoint.

Did you know there is a #PeaceWalk going on, right now, in Houston, as citizens there are vocally and publicly protesting the violence in their community? This is on top of the everyday efforts to raise their families in peace, to send their kids to school, to continue at their jobs?

Did you know that right now #HandsUpUnited in Ferguson is sponsoring (and has been sponsoring) a “Books and Breakfast” on Saturday, where families come for breakfast and get books for their kids? They’re providing nourishment for the body, the mind, and the soul.

Did you know that right now people in Ferguson are trying to build a training center, a food distribution center, a “safe for kids” zone in response to the violence by police against their community — and that their efforts have been repeatedly vandalized and destroyed by residents who don’t want them to succeed?

None of this makes the news because none of this is “interesting” or “newsworthy” and it does not affirm our viewpoint of ‘those people’. We want to believe ‘those people’ are inherently shiftless and violent and not worthy of the blessings of America until they hitch their pants up and get a job.

But your ignorance is what’s wrong here, not what ‘those people’ do. ‘Those people’ are doing just fine without your support or even your acknowledgement.

The Book Is Free

At last (again), the Kindle book download for “Stars in the Texas Sky” is free for four days (18-September – 21 September, 2015)













Asia & Pacific




When We Would Tell Others

There is an awesome story in the Christian New Testament where Peter and Jesus (post-resurrected, not-yet-ascended) have an interaction about John, a pesky disciple who gets all the press and attention, when as we know, Peter is the rock of the church:

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” ~ John 21:20-23, NIV

I love this story so much, because it is yet another example of the fine storytelling of the Gospel of John, a romance written 1800 years before we had the idea of a romance expressed as a novel. (By “romance” of course I do not mean an erotic story, but a story based upon the emotional connection of people as opposed to a story of pure details, a personal letter compared to a stolid biography.)

After all the time John and Peter had spent together with Jesus, and after the astonishing events of the crucifixion and resurrection (let’s remember, Peter and John were there and saw the events, and they are now dealing with a Jesus who is up and walking around, talking with them), Peter comes to his senses, reverts to his old self, and starts asking Jesus why his so-called “friend” isn’t getting the what-for from Jesus.

“What about him?”

“What about my brother? He gonna get a whipping, too?”

“But how come I’m getting spanked if my brother did it, too?”

“Officer, what about all the other people who were speeding when I passed them?”

The list of examples can’t be contained in a book, I imagine.

I think that desire to ask God about what he’s gonna do about those other people who are sinning, too! is a common desire.

“What about those gays over there, God!? They’re sinning!

“What about those heathen?”

“What about those immigrants?”

“What about those wimmin walking around without a man covering them as a father or a husband, making their own decisions!?

It’s common, and a pleasant emotion to feel. God, I thank you that I am not like them, said one person in the New Testament. There’s the story elsewhere in the gospels that the “Sons of Thunder” wanted to call down destruction upon a city that rejected Jesus. God, you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah¸ the thinking went, so why don’t you destroy this city, too? We’ll just sit here and watch.

We want, as faithful Christians, to be sure that all the work we do, and all the sacrifices we make, and all the unpleasantness we endure in our obedience means something. We should be rewarded for our hard work, our privations, our giving. We give so much up for the kingdom. Surely it’s for good because it is for God.

We don’t get much in the way of reward, to be honest. Being obedient to the gospel isn’t a means of assured success, and we don’t always (or even often!) get a recognizable return, much less even an acknowledgement. Just doing our jobs, just being obedient, just being followers of Jesus simply is no guarantee of success here on Earth, and it’s a long time until our reward in heaven.

Of course we’re patient, and we trust God, so we wait.

But in the meantime—what about those sinners over there!? They’re having a great time, doing things we won’t or can’t or shouldn’t do.

They’re getting away with it! we say.

And so we are tempted to not only ask God what in blazes he’s doing by not responding, by not burning down the cities and calling destruction upon the people, but to take matters in our own hands.

To bring about destruction and ruin and penalty and judgment because God is oddly slow to answer our prayers for the destruction and ruin of sinners.

We are terribly tempted to tell others of their ruin, and to ensure that they feel an early penalty, now, here on earth, as long as we have the power to enact and implement that penalty.

Which brings me to the sad case of Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky.

Kim Davis, bless her heart, is a Christian who struggles with the same kinds of things we all struggle with, the common and ordinary temptations of life. After a long time of not knowing Christ and the gospel, she has come to Jesus.

As a fellow believer, I am glad for her to know the saving power of Christ. Well done, sister, I say.

But what she has done with that salvation and with her official power of office is not praiseworthy. It is not honest, it is not godly, and it is not an example of obedience to Christ.

It is, instead, a despicable set of actions, especially because she is using her office to enforce her own, peculiar interpretation of the gospel on others who are not following Christ and who are also not following her.

She has taken the role of Peter here, in asking God “What are you going to do about all those sinners getting married in my county when you, God, have assured me that there is no such thing as ‘gay marriage’?”

Those people, God, what about them?

I’m afraid that our sister in Christ is horribly mistaken in her actions to obey the gospel. She has turned something that is liberation for her into a tool of oppression for others.

The residents of her county in Kentucky are subject to laws of the United States, which are the highest authority citizens must obey.

The Supreme Court of the United States, on 26-Jun-15, declared that same-sex couples may marry in exactly the same way as opposite-sex couples may marry.

Ms. Davis, as an oath-taking member of the state government, is an agent of the government which must obey the laws and the Constitution.

If she feels that same-sex marriage is wrong, then as a government official she has only a few options:

  • She can do her job as a clerk and issue licenses
  • She can resign her job

Those are the only two options.

There is no third option, that as a “Christian” she can continue her job as a government official and refuse to do her job.

If she feels that she cannot, as a Christian, support same-sex marriage—well, then, fine for her. She doesn’t have to go to a same-sex wedding, she doesn’t have to leave her husband and join with another woman in same-sex marriage, and she does not have to officiate at a religious ceremony for a same-sex wedding.

Those are all her choices.

What she has no choice over is in the performance of her duties as a secular government official.

Kim Davis is not operating as a religious enactor of religious laws for members of her church.

She is a secular clerk who, as part of her tasks that she voluntarily swore by oath to do, must perform certain actions, including granting marriage licenses.

She is not participating in the wedding.

She is not getting married.

She is not officiating.

She is free, as a Christian who is attempting to follow Jesus, to dislike same-sex couples and even to avoid socializing with them.

But in the performance of her duties, she is not “Christian” or “Hindu” or even “atheist”: she is simply hired staff, paid by the citizens of Kentucky to perform the duties of her office according to the laws of her state and the laws and Constitution of the United States.

I am sorry she has taken it upon herself to judge others, and to enforce her ideas on others.

I am sorry she has fallen into the same trap Peter fell into, the trap of wanting to know why God isn’t dealing with those people the way she thinks He should.

Peter was lucky, I suppose, in that Jesus was able to stop him from the next foolish action, which would be to make sure that John had to do the same things Peter had to do.

Kim Davis simply needs to heed that example.

She can continue in her duties, a faithful Christian, or she can resign.

She just can’t be telling others how to live their lives, and she can’t expect God himself to back her up.

Scrivener – Why It’s What You Want to Use

Scrivener is a program to write long-form documents of various types: novels, short stories, blog posts, dissertations, scripts, legal documents, and so on.

A common question that comes up, though, is “Why would I use Scrivener when I have Microsoft Word?”

Here are some reasons why Scrivener works better for you than Word.

Long-form documents

Long-form documents are easy to create and lay out in Scrivener. You create a large project, such as a novel or a script, as a set of individual sections, such as scenes or events. You can create a hierarchical structure, moving pieces around as you need them, and then when done, create the final publication, such as a PDF or Word document, with everything you want in the format you want.


This is a feature of Scrivener which is perhaps the most interesting thing to use when reviewing your documents.

As you create content, you can tag it with keywords, which is something you can do with Word, of course.

But then you can select just the pieces you want and review just them. Want to see just the scenes in the Wizard of Oz where Auntie Em appears? Select her as the keyword, and then only those scenes will appear, so you can check that the Auntie Em in the first part of document has the same character and speech patterns as the last part.

Types of Input

You can bring in lots of types of documents into your project, Word docs, text files, images, PDFs, even videos, and have them around for research as you develop your content.

Types of Output

You can take your document/project and produce output for your needs. If you are creating a book for the Kindle platform, you can create a .mobi file. You can create a .epub file for other e-book readers. You can create a PDF for distribution to your readers, or a Word file if you want to distribute your file for editing and review.

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