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Hirelings

If you live in the world, you learn early not to trust worldly authority figures. Even if you have even-handed, loving parents, you find that the authorities in schools are unjust, biased, and operate off bad information. In fact, they often don’t want their bad information corrected, especially if it’s coming from a child they’re biased against. That kind of loss of trust can happen before children are out of kindergarten.

By the time children are in middle school, they will begin to notice that the media also operates off of bad information, intentionally spinning stories the way they want them to be perceived. It will probably take a few more years for them to distrust government in general, but it can and should happen. I suppose that’s the purpose of a two-party system, to change the general distrust into distrust solely toward the party one isn’t a member of.

There is something of the Stockholm Syndrome in all or most of us that allows us to align ourselves with our captors, as well. People realize if they shut up and toe the line, do the things asked of them, their lives will be okay. They can go home after their mandatory schooling and watch their favorite show, play their favorite videogame, eat their favorite junk food. That’s not bad in itself, especially if authority figures want the best for their constituents, despite being hypocritical humans. If people live rule- and law-abiding lives, things will go better for them. That’s the reality.

But it’s not always the reality. Our authority figures can go from being unjust and foolish but largely benign to evil in a heartbeat. And when that evil comes, people will be blindsided. They might try to find refuge in their churches, but they won’t find it because their churches are run by worldly authority figures. Jesus warned us of this: hired shepherds run away at the sign of a wolf. Jesus is the only trustworthy shepherd. I want to repeat this. I want to pound it in Christians’ skulls who are demoralized by Christian authorities who have let them down.

Go back and review what happened during Covid. The pastors who stood up and tried to keep their churches open were almost nonexistent. This was true of Protestants and Catholics alike. I view the Covid time as a warning. If your pastors ran away over something that small, be aware that they might not be there for you during harder times.

I have never trusted authority figures, and yet, I’m like most “decent” people: I want to live peaceably as far as is possible. I want to follow a moral code. I even want to follow a code of conduct that prevents chaos. Even though I understand that hirelings are humans and will fail, I recognize that God left us human authorities anyway. From the beginning, he left us church authorities — his apostles — who ran away when Jesus was sacrificed on the cross. They were terrified and concerned for their lives. Later, they were willing to be martyred for the Gospel, but they certainly weren’t so resigned at the beginning. They were probably confused as well as being terrified. They weren’t so much different from the rest of us, in other words.

I want to trust, and I believe it’s right to trust our God-given leaders. I have a hard time doing so, but I find I’ve become complacent over the years. I don’t want to be watchful because it’s exhausting. Besides, look what happened to Alex Jones. He was martyred in a way, his money stolen and reputation destroyed, simply for being watchful, mistrustful, researching and asking questions. Alex Jones was not and is not crazy, as people imply. I’ve never thought so. He’s never called himself a prophet, and I’m sure his theories are sometimes wrong, but his behavior resembles the prophets of old, wild-eyed and appearing deranged to those who don’t want to or can’t believe our authority figures could be so evil, could betray us to such an extent as he puts forth…due to our Stockholm Syndrome.

I don’t want to be watchful, but I would be a fool not to be. I would be a fool not to remember that all the church authorities in my so-called “red” county betrayed their people. The local sheriff was stronger in his willingness to stand up for the people than the church leaders were. I can’t forget this reality. I won’t forget it. I would like to think it was a situation of fear and confusion, and that they will be willing to sacrifice even their lives in the future, just like the apostles and many saints in history. That’s the hope. At the same time, I’d much rather put my hope in the Good Shepherd, whose image I hold in my heart.

This subject has been weighing on me lately, no matter the busy-ness of the past week and the other posts I was supposed to write. Those other posts will come, God willing. St. Augustine pray for me.

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The Devil’s Squeeze Box

Gentlemen Broncos is my longstanding favorite movie. It manages to combine weird comedy with good, heartfelt storytelling. When I watched the Weird Al biopic last night, I thought perhaps it could knock Gentlemen Broncos out of the top slot. The beginning of the movie hits all the right notes: a weird boy who plays the accordion, completely misunderstood by his family, sneaks out at night to be cool, man, and attend an illicit polka party. But before that, the door-to-door accordion salesman assures a young Al that he will be the most popular person in the room if he plays the accordion. I believe that. I STILL BELIEVE THAT; THAT MUST BE WHY I PLAY DEVOTEDLY EVERY DAY. When he gets caught, the moment is harrowing, as his father in slow-mo destroys his accordion. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and in fact choked on a chunk of potato in my soup, instead, and nearly lost my life. No movie has caused a near-death experience before. That must mean this will become top slot.

Well, probably not, even though the movie doesn’t fail to deliver what it is: Weird Al all over the place. He wrote it; he approved it, which means any heartfelt storytelling is lost in one gag and punchline after another until the final punchline at the end. It’s both hilarious and disturbing, as one of his jokes is that a rock biopic must have ginormous drama involving sex, drug lords, and alcohol. He also loves gratuitous violence, which is either good or bad, depending on taste. His gratuitous violence has an edge of judgement to it. As in, I’m guessing Weird Al has a judgemental streak and uses gratuitous comedy violence to express his ire. To be fair, he does pull out the heartfelt reunification with the father who destroyed his accordion, but even that is a gag. Weird Al is a comedian more than he is a storyteller.

Therefore, Gentlemen Broncos will remain in the top slot. On the other hand, the Weird Al biopic will forever hold the distinction of nearly killing me via a potato.

What of my own devil’s squeeze box, you ask? I’ve been managing four or five hours of practice time a week. I have to concede that paranoia will prevent me from carting the accordion with me on out-of-town trips, which drives down my practice hours if I have to go to Albuquerque or Lubbock. I’m only half joking. My husband bought me my first accordion spontaneously when we were drunk on our anniversary one year, and no accordion could replace that. It was harrowing when it was irredeemably crunched in my crumpled car. It did not, however, cost $4000 like my new one.

On the listening front, I’ve been obsessed lately with a classic norteño band called Los Traileros. Their music is pure happiness, and the accordion parts are catchy and fun to play. I will, of course, leave you with a video.

Ambition vs Idolatry

I was tempted to write a lengthy comment responding to this post, which resonated with me. My pursuits tend to be all consuming, just as she describes her passion for running. My problem is that I don’t have one: I have many pursuits that I cling to. The difference between myself and other ambitious people, and why my idolatry might not be as easy to spot as someone living in a large house and driving a Porsche, is that I care very little about worldly acclaim and riches. I despise spending money and don’t have time to shop, don’t care for it. I’m a classic Scrooge, in other words. And Scrooge was ultimately idolatrous, even though he didn’t care about material things at all. That was part of his problem. That was his idolatry — caring only about his pursuit as a banker and caring nothing about material reality. He wasn’t lapping up the luxurious life while others starved. The man wouldn’t even heat his house. He was starving himself and still managed to be idolatrous. That is why when he gives up his idols, he doesn’t disappear inside his cell and eat bread and water; he emerges from it and buys the biggest goose in the market and puts more coal on the fire.

Hard work is valued in our culture. People see someone who can put the effort in, and they admire that. My son is in cross-country; his team recently made it to state. Because one of the moms had my cellphone number, I was suddenly added to the text group, in which they discussed what special gifts they could give the runners, how they would help decorate the school, and I ignored the noise of endless, endless texts. I was thinking to myself, either they win or they don’t. Either they get a medal or they don’t. All of this nonsense is just teaching them that they will be lavished with attention just for working hard, and it makes an idol of hard work. I was critical of these rather nice moms, and the double irony is that I did not want to waste my time or money because I was too busy making idols of my own pursuits. These moms were encouraging idolatry in their children, perhaps, but they were also being generous and giving of their hearts; I was not.

On Thursday evening, the class at my parish was studying St. Augustine. Something he wrote struck a serious chord with me, too, just like the post I linked to: he came across a man who was stumbling drunk, and instead of criticizing the drunkard for his obvious dissipation, he realized that the man would wake up sober, and that he (Augustine) would still wake up drunk on ambition. Ouch. This kind of drunkenness can’t be slept off, and unlike alcoholic drunkenness, it appears to be a moral good. Dedication, hard work — these are moral goods, especially if the hard work involves studying and writing rather than commerce, as mine does. Or exercise, of course, as that is one of my idols, too, and one that is vaunted by my culture. Augustine’s culture was not any different than ours. They, too, valued the lofty goals of philosophy and the physical specimens people could become through athletics. If you look around and see that there are entire industries trying to make you poor off selling high-priced educations and exercise equipment, routines, and supplements, you know that these “moral goods” are truly our society’s idols.

This may be only peripherally related, but a week or so ago, Vox Day answered a “mailvox” question, in which a woman asked how she was supposed to stay intellectually stimulated as a housewife raising children. Some people are gluttons for punishment — maybe that is an idol? — because Vox is only going to give an abusive answer. It was mildly abusive, something akin to read a damn book, and then when you finish it, read another one. In today’s world, unlike Augustine’s, these idols actually come cheaply. Nobody needs to pay a high price or come from a wealthy household in order to be intellectually stimulated. This makes it very difficult for true idolators to give up this pursuit. They can remain Scrooges and cling to them — they don’t even have to leave their homes! This, of course, made the woman’s question seem utterly ridiculous to me, a person in the thrall of my addiction. I buy books on Amazon in a matter of seconds and read them on my smart phone every day. Perhaps his answer should have been, “You aren’t an idolator. Good job. Now teach your children math. That will intellectually stimulate you and keep you a decent, generous person at the same time.” But Mailvox the Advice Column was probably a doomed proposition from the get-go.

I have written before about being at the parish twelve hours in a day. Thursday was one of those days. I had promised to unlock and then lock the church up for the Sanctity of Life group that had planned a prayer and worship time in front of the Tabernacle (for non Catholics, the Tabernacle is where the blessed hosts are kept). Still pondering St. Augustine’s story, I went to the prayer time. But as usual, I couldn’t focus because I was thinking about how I would have the time and energy to complete my daily pursuits. I exercise at 6 AM before work, study Spanish at lunch time; there is an hour in between my clock-off time and the class, in which I can write 1000 words towards my books. However, I still had 50 minutes of accordion playing and my last exercise, an evening walk, before me. And don’t be mistaken: I always go to bed with a book. What if my son had math homework? What if my husband wanted to speak more than five words to me?

As the prayers proceeded, I lost myself to those instead. There is something about the rosary that stills my thoughts and puts me in a meditative mindset. Don’t follow your pursuits tonight, I heard the Holy Spirit speak. By the time the last prayers had been spoken, I was overwhelmed by grief. I don’t know how not to follow my pursuits. That’s what I do. Even my relationships are all bound up in doing things, like helping my son with his math homework. It turned out to be simple. I went home and ate the dinner my husband had cooked, and then he shared a podcast with me that he wanted me to listen to. And then we talked. I didn’t eschew this as I so often do; I didn’t try to talk while doing things. If I keep this up, I’ll be buying a fat goose soon or going Christmas shopping. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, though…

Journal of an Obsessed Acordeoniciado

Yes, I did make up that word in the title; it’s a mix of acordeonista and aficionado. Obviously — what else could it be? I made it to five hours’ accordion practice last week. I did this by checking with my son’s math schedule and playing longer on days sans homework. This meant 45 minutes on Mon and Tue and 30 min on the other weekdays. On weekends, I can manage an hour a day.

At work, I found myself humming a song called Hay Unos Ojos. The janitor then got it in his head and hummed it while vacuuming; I went home and played the song on the accordion multiple days in a row, firmly lodging the song in my head and everyone else’s for the rest of the week. It’s a fun song and not difficult to play. I enjoy songs that are catchy but I can pick up easily on my instrument. Maybe I’m lazy, or maybe I would like a few moments of pure simple joy.

The irony is I woke up with a different song in my head on Sunday. That part isn’t ironic. In the afternoon, my husband and I did our grocery shopping, but we chose Walmart instead of our usual store. In a distant section of parking lot, four white buses sat gleaming in the setting sun. My husband quipped that these were the buses Albuquerque organizations were using to send their homeless to Roswell. Yes, Albuquerque is doing this. Nobody knows which organizations; it’s all hush-hush. Consequently, our local homeless population has quadrupled in the last few months. But these were shiny upscale white buses. They looked like they could contain…. a Mexican music tour.

We parked nearby to get a closer look. Sure enough, it was an Andaluz Music tour with four bands (grupos). Now, finally, the ironic part: the song firmly stuck in my head was by one of the grupos. Had my soul sensed their presence in Roswell?! I’m kidding, but it was a strange sensation, and weirder universal alignments happen all the time. As we were shopping, we spotted some of the crew buying a whole cart of Takis. The men could be spotted instantly because they were all wearing new black t-shirts, some emblazoned with Andaluz Music, and jeans. In case you wanted to know, they weren’t playing in town that I’m aware of; they had stopped here on their way to WI (according to their tour schedule).

It’s slightly disappointing that the highlight of my week was to exist in the same Walmart parking lot as a grupo I enjoy (the one whose song was in my head). A less viscerally exciting but more important aspect of my week was taking part in a pro-life prayer vigil in front of the county courthouse. If you don’t know, New Mexico is one of the most progressive states regarding up to birth abortion, and they are pouring millions of dollars into building new kill factories to process all the babies coming from TX. Thankfully, there are New Mexicans willing to fight against it, and perhaps God will have mercy on us.

Below is the song that was stuck in my head on Sunday. Obviously, my politics have nothing to do with their music. One must be circumspect these days.

Journal of a Week

Because my obsession with the accordion is growing rather than shrinking, I’ve been trying to find ways to increase my practice time to 5 hours a week. This is not as easy as it sounds, as I work full-time, still try to write books, and am the only available person to help my son with his math homework. I’m in that middling spot, though, where I will remain as a musician if I don’t up my game. How did I do this week? I probably hit about 4. There are various ways to work the math; for future reference, the easiest might be 2 hours on weekends and 36 minutes on busy weekdays. I must do this, as I find myself playing accordion music at work so I don’t go out of my mind.

In addition to the usual routine, I’ve been attending a church history class on Thursday evenings. This week, however, there was a Sanctity of Life presentation followed by an Adoration for Life. I went to that, instead, and while it was worth it, it meant I was on the parish campus for 12 hours. That is too long. This is a general problem for me when considering getting involved in parish groups. The ones most valuable to me are the adult education and pro-life, and so I will not join any others. Adoration is a very special and beautiful Catholic devotion, but I will, again, not be able to take part more than about once a month.

One evening, my husband carried off the Firestick, and I searched madly for it at 6 a.m. the following morning for my exercise habit, but was unable to find it. Desperate not to make up my own workout while braindead at dawn, I quickly clicked on a video I found on my phone. The number of squats, curtsy lunges and back lunges were so numerous, I could barely walk by nightfall and suffered for the next two days. My husband promised to hide the Firestick more often. I was going to explain that my phone YouTube would eventually figure out my preferred workouts, which would not include that one, but I chose not to speak the obvious. Also, it was a good workout. I might do it once a week as the exercise lady suggested.

I have not been writing, even though I indicated that I was still doing so. This is because I told my sister I would edit something for her — only my sister, though. Please don’t get any ideas. I took the editing page off this blog for a reason. This plus spending a couple hours a night helping my son with math has led to restlessness. Restlessness is not a good look for me. When I’m restless, I ponder running away to Mexico. The only problem is our responsibilities here are too great, and it would be impossible, which would lead to more restlessness. It’s one of those life things that once one’s husband retires and most of the children have moved out, that an elderly parent moves in. That is life as it should be, but the spirit tends to rebel and desire change, new scenery, a way to speak Spanish. It would be far better to make sure I start writing again than to long for things I can’t have.

The weekend has been quiet and rainy. Last night, I put on the kind of movie that is crack for me, called The Perfect Game. It’s an inspirational true story of the underdogs winning. I like these true stories because when they’re fiction, I become cynical and proclaim that good things never happen to underdogs in real life, which is true … most of the time. The mores of the world don’t favor invisible people, but sometimes the invisible people work hard and overcome. In this case, there was a strong faith and relationship component (faith in God and relationship with their priest and each other) that helped them achieve. I highly recommend the movie if you’re into that kind of crack, too.

Stay Awake

There is no cure for insomnia. Sure, I’ve heard success stories, but usually the successes are from people who corrected their genuinely bad life habits, such as staring at their phones instead of logging off, being sedentary, or eating a poor diet. When it comes to chronic insomnia with no known cause, I’m here to suggest there isn’t a way out. Pharmaceuticals aren’t a legitimate way out. And no supplement will help, either. I know; I’ve tried them all. So has every chronic insomniac I know.

When a doctor was trying to convince me to take sleeping pills, she explained that it wouldn’t be the same as normal sleep, but I’d get a few hours and get up and drink my coffee and get on with my day. Congratulations, you just reinvented alcohol, I thought. The pep talk reminded me of the mean millennial memes from five or so years ago: Congratulations, you just reinvented the sandwich! To which, I generally scratched my head because if millennials don’t know how to make a sandwich it’s the older generations’ fault. On a serious note, sleeping pills as a whole are more damaging to the health than alcohol, and you might as well glug the vodka if you want to take that route.

This has all been a lead up to my current very bad insomniac episode, and what lengthy bad episodes do to my soul. I can plod along until I can’t. Then I turn nihilistic and skip going to Mass and curse out a human being I shouldn’t and generally let my thoughtlife slip into chaos. Of course, at that point I realize that, more than sleep, I need Confession.

Every time I go to Confession, I receive a different type of penance. This last time, I was quite surprised at the penance; I assume it’s okay to break the seal of confession from my end. It’s only the priest who can’t. Anyway, this is too funny not to share. Or ironic. My priest told me to ask Jesus to speak to me and then just open the Bible and read everything on both pages. I’m going to take a screenshot* of what I opened to, but I also want to pull some quotes. Please remember that this confession was inspired by behavior brought on by intense insomnia. I was also angry with God for not meeting my physical needs — angry and nihilistic and wondering what the point was of life.

First page:

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, (BK)no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, (BL)nor the Son, (BM)but only the Father. 33 (BN)Be on guard, (BO)keep awake.[a] For you do not know when the time will come. 34 (BP)It is like a man (BQ)going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants[b] in charge, (BR)each with his work, and commands (BS)the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 (BT)Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, (BU)in the evening, or (BV)at midnight, or (BW)when the rooster crows,[c] or (BX)in the morning— 36 lest (BY)he come suddenly and (BZ)find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: (CA)Stay awake.”

Second page:

34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”[d]35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 

36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” *

*This is ESV because it was the only physical Bible I could find when I did this penance. Usually, I read RSVCE or NAB (the latter because it’s used in the liturgy).

I’ve heard Protestant pastors mock the concept that God speaks to us this way. They bring up the classic joke of a person opening the Bible to Judas’ suicide, and then turning to the spot where it reads “Now go and do likewise.” But that is a made up story that leaves God out of the picture. It is for this kind of story and more that I’m not a Protestant. True, God doesn’t always give us a direct answer. And when he does, it isn’t always the most clear-cut variety. And sometimes, it isn’t what we want to hear. No doubt, I was hoping for words of comfort. Instead, I received a reminder that I cannot allow my spirit to fall asleep and become complacent.

*I will fix the screenshot when I have time. I only meant for the range of verses to show at the top of the pages, but even that is not readable.

Just a Few Minutes to Say…

An accordion legend passed away in September. Look, I don’t know what it is lately about life causing death but…oh, wait. The problem is I’m surrounded by death right now, as I must help people plan funeral Masses as a part of my job. There is a pattern to deaths recorded in our registry: a moderate death year is followed by a low death year which is followed by a high death year. However, the deaths in 2021 are significantly higher than preceding years. Oddly, 2020 was a low death year. The deaths skyrocketed after and are concurrent with ___. I’ll let you fill in the blank. I don’t have a good sense of 2022 yet; I don’t know how it fits, though if the pattern continues, it will be end up as the moderate year. That is simply not the way it appears when in the middle of an uptick of funerals. [Yes, I did just use one of the media’s catchwords. Please note that I avoided their rhetorical “surge.”]

Being surrounded by death is quite literally the way we live in this world. It’s inevitable. We’re uneasy with this reality in our culture, which does not like to carry on with lengthy wakes and viewings. I wrote about this years ago when I was examining the corpses of saints that have been displayed for ages in churches. Modern Americans, I’ve read, find that weird. But the truth is death is always there waiting, and it is sad for the living as we lose the people we love. They leave holes in our lives.

This can happen even at the level of celebrity. When a musician or author we love passes, the world loses some of its sparkle. Sorry, I have to digress. My coworker related a story about his special lowrider truck and a woman who complimented him for the “sparkles” he’d incorporated on the back window. Confused, he did a double-take and gasped: “Those aren’t sparkles! That’s broken glass.” His back window had been shattered while he was working. I’m sure there’s a corollary philosophical tie-in with life, death, and broken glass, but I’ll let the poets discover it.

The accordion legend Paulino Bernal passed away in September; his son died only days after him. That family has to be hurting double time right now. However, they were Christian men, and our hope as Christians is in eternal life with our creator. Let me tell you about Paulino Bernal: he was a tejano accordionist who initially went down the path musicians will, of alcohol, drugs, and not enough time with their families. That was before God got a hold of him and turned his life around. He became an evangelist and began to record praise music. Paulino Bernal was not a young man when he died; he was in his eighties. Still, it’s sad for the world to lose a legend such as that. His son was a pastor, which might not be as glamorous as an accordion player (I’m glamorous, right?) but is obviously a vital life role.

It is hard to describe the impact human beings have on one another; just our presence in the world changes things for the good or bad around us. If you know anything about tejano music, you probably know Paulino Bernal was the man who discovered Ramon Ayala’s accordion skills. After he became transformed through Christ, eventually so did Ramon Ayala. And that is a story I know because I read news articles about the musicians I love. Who knows how many non newsworthy lives Señor Bernal affected positively because his heart was transformed through Jesus? Who knows how many lives his son, the pastor, impacted?

When I think of death, and I have done that more than I expected lately, this is what I ponder: what kind of world will I leave behind me? I know that I’ve been petty and have hurt people. We all have. But I don’t want that to be the sum total of my life. I want my heart to cry out instead, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” I want to be of true utility to the world. Is that selfish? It almost sounds selfish, but it’s actually more childish than it is selfish. Anyone who’s been in a classroom knows there will always be a handful of enthusiastic children who fling their arms in the air because they desperately want to be chosen by Teacher, even if they can’t answer Teacher’s question without help… probably because they were daydreaming instead of paying attention. Well, I am that child, waving my hand up to God. The daydreaming part is sadly true, too.

RIP Paulino Bernal and his son. May their family feel God’s blessings.

Nobody Cares About My Religious Opinions, Part I

If you suspect there will never be a Part II, you are correct. I doubt there will be a simple Part II to my political post, either. That’s what comes from having too many interests and a schedule I force myself to adhere to like a crazy person. I’m a crazy person. Digression on being a crazy person below. It’s wrapped in asterisks so you can skip it if you choose and get to the point.

***It’s crazy to adhere to a schedule so tightly that I allow for no movement in my life. How can I move, though? I had my eyes on specific end goals, and what happens when I change to another end goal? I leave unfinished projects and unmet goals. When I do that, I cease to trust in my ability to follow through. I become a failure.

But what if God is asking me to do something else, and I won’t budge from my goals because I’ve had them for so long? I have three, count them, 1-2-3, fiction books in process; I’ve purchased a $4000-dollar accordion and therefore must play it every day; I can’t stop studying Spanish because I’m addicted and want to be truly fluent; I’m also trying to reach that elusive 100% fit state instead of simply accepting that it’s not necessary to have rock-hard abs.

At a certain point, the tension inside built up so much last night that I couldn’t cope with it any longer. I thought about talking it out with someone but quickly rejected that idea. Instead, I prayed for resolve, drank two shots of vodka, and fell asleep. Vodka alleviates tension — temporarily. Today, though, I sat down to work on what I thought God wanted me to work on and now the tension inside is erased. Of course, it’s a holiday weekend. What will happen when I’m back at work tomorrow, rising before six a.m. to meet my goals?

The truth is God is not asking me to give up my goals. Instead, he’s telling me to do something purposeful and necessary. I just don’t want to do it because it’s more hard work on top of all the other work in my life.***

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, I wanted to return to contract law and its moral significance. In my last post, I discussed Scripture and the morality behind debt forgiveness. God commands it. He commands it because, otherwise, no lender is going to forgive debts. Why would he? When people could be indentured servants to pay off their debts, the lender had a laborer he didn’t have to pay. In our modern system, people pay their debts off through any means of work possible, and they are in a sense operating as indentured servants if their earnings are going only toward debt repayment and basic living costs. In a broader sense, it was more beneficial to society in Old Testament days to have a debt jubilee so that all the people in debt slavery could now earn an income and take part in the economy, even paying those pesky little things known as taxes. Times really haven’t changed that much, except in the modern system, when people get overwhelmed, they drop out of the system and cease paying their debts back, as well as not paying much in the way of taxes.

So, God commanded a way for people to be released from their contracts when those contracts were overly burdensome. From the perspective of a debtor, yes, that person should always honor the contracts they sign, and they should consider it a true mercy if their debts are forgiven. Still, God gave a way out of onerous contracts.

It’s a bit crazy to me that in our modern day we are more willing to allow people out of their marriage contracts than we are willing to give them debt relief. In both instances, the contracts should have been signed with utmost seriousness, with an understanding that it’s a grave matter to violate contracts. Again, God did make a way for married people to get out of their marriage contracts through a bill of divorce. Jesus has some strong words to say about that, though: He said it was only for the hardness of men’s hearts that Moses allowed divorce at all. He had more to say than that. Go look it up for yourself, if you don’t believe me.

To reiterate, God commanded a debt jubilee, something we believe is completely wrong, or at the very least unconstitutional, in our modern day, as we believe that people should honor the contracts they entered into. On the other hand, we engage in marriages and divorces and hardly anyone bats an eye over the breaking of contracts. And yet, God didn’t command divorce as he did a debt jubilee. He allowed it; he didn’t command it. Do you see the difference there. I suppose many Christians will claim they’re hardliners on marriage, just as they are with debt, and don’t believe in divorce. I don’t see that around me, though. As a Catholic, I know the official position is that divorces aren’t allowed by church law at all. Catholics are true hardliners…in their words and dogma only. They change the word divorce to annulment and pretend the words mean one and the same thing, while many, many Catholics still get divorces through the court system long before they seek an annulment through the church. They take it just as lightly as the rest of the world in actual practice.

What am I to make of this? It appears we care more about money than we do about marriage. There are a few ways to destroy a society, and an entire population strapped to debt is one of them. When people can’t buy houses, cars, or educations without going into crushing debt, it makes them feel hopeless. They might very well reach a point, as they already have, where they know they will never be able to buy a house and they no longer believe an education is valuable compared to the wages earned at the end. There are still some jobs where the wages earned are commensurate to the amount of university debt, and I don’t mean being an MD — a computer scientist or a nurse, maybe — but not everyone is cut out for that kind of work. So, education no longer makes sense to many young people. I see that in my four children, the two eldest being millenials who have degrees, and my two youngest being zoomers who show no inclination towards college. What will they do? I don’t know.

Another way to destroy society is to no longer value marriage. That one is actually much, much worse. A poor, uneducated society with intact families is more stable than a society in which the young people no longer value marriage and have stopped getting married, even as they’ve stopped hoping to buy a house or improve their lot through higher education. Along with the mix of too-much debt, no hope for improvement, and no faith in marriages, is a complete lack of care or interest in having children. All of these issues plague us, they are all knotted up together in a complex web we’ve created ourselves over the last sixty or so years. And I can guarantee you that the ease of breaking a marriage contract and the ease of signing a debt contract are two big contributors.

Because of the time we’ve spent getting in this mess, I don’t perceive an easy way out. I spent a lot of years in the homeschool community, where many idealists thought they could find a way out by going “traditional” or “patriarchal”. The problem with that is nobody really knows what traditional or patriarchal means any longer, and the manner in which they try to reinvent a system they don’t understand ends up destroying their own attempt at an intact family! It’s truly heartbreaking. By the way, speaking of Catholicism, I’ve seen a new popularity for the patriarchal family system in traditional Catholic circles that mimics the Protestant fundamentalists. Given the state of our society right now, I understand it. It gives purpose to the idea of family — it gives purpose to the man, to the woman, and largely keeps them out of the debt system. From what I’ve seen of families that went this direction, I just hope and pray that the Trad Caths can pull it off. Or do I hope that? I’m not sure. The patriarchal lifestyle is the last-ditch effort of a drowning man, clinging to a phantom life raft and pulling his family down with him.

Nobody Cares About My Political Opinions Part I

And yet, sometimes I’m going to tell you, anyway. In general, I’m conservative. I wouldn’t call myself progressive. Progressives are soul-crushers. They crush anything of value. They call evil good and good evil. This is a known reality. Conservatives tend to value goodness more than progressives do. Thus, I align more closely with conservatives. Of course, I’m not defining terms. I’m not defining what is good and of true value. There are some concepts that should be so universal as to not need defining.

But there is one area where I despise both conservatives and progressives, and that is regarding our debt economy. Conservatives love it — I guess. I’m not sure progressives do, but they support people who love our debt economy, such as President Biden. It’s frustrating to realize that progressives will accept what Biden has put on offer regarding the forgiveness of debts without questioning why he isn’t truly erasing debt.

I understand why he isn’t. The erasure of debt is a biblical value, not a value of the international banking syndicate that sacrifices entire nations and their people to Ba’al, or whatever it is they call their ruling legion of demons. And Biden is certainly no Catholic, despite the rosary he wears. He’s not invested in a biblical worldview; that is certain.

Why are conservatives, who often purport to believe in biblical values, not pro debt relief? This is a question I’ve often pondered. From the Old Testament law, which mandated a year of Jubilee for Israelites when all debt was forgiven, to the examples of debt erasure in Jesus’s own parables, it’s quite obvious debt forgiveness is a biblical concept. The conservatives begin to sound like the responsible brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In case you need a reminder, this is what I mean:

25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

The story ends there; it isn’t about the responsible brother. For that reason, we know the younger brother has a change of heart. He repents of his behavior and begs for mercy from his father. We see the father have mercy and chastise the responsible brother for his stinginess and bitterness. Whether he changes his outlook is beyond the scope of the story. In my experience, it’s difficult to convince people who are convinced of their own rightness that they aren’t always right, even when they stand up for what they view as justice and truth. God certainly does have a sense of justice, and his sense of justice is broader than ours. It’s based off the understanding that not releasing the largest debts creates empty seats in society. In a spiritual sense, the father’s table was previously absent of one son. In an economical sense, it means there are people who can’t operate in the normal business of commerce because they can barely pay back what they owe.

While it’s tempting for conservatives to paint all these debtors as irresponsible, this is quite literally not true. Some are no doubt sons (and daughters) who have gone astray as in Jesus’ parable, living off the largesse of loans with no thoughts to the future, but many signed their college loans out of duty and honor to their parents. They were doing what their elders told them was best. The nastiness of you’ve made your bed; now you need to lie in it regarding student loans is no different from the older generation’s disgust for the ignorance of a generation they failed to teach anything of value to. The debt crisis is partly your fault, in other words — if you happen to be the kind of parent who encouraged your children to go to college, all the while knowing that the pricing system was an absolute scam created by universities and lending institutions. You knew that, right, parents? You knew encouraging your children to sign on to inappropriately priced education wouldn’t necessarily mean they’d go on to get a great job and pay it off in a couple years — right? If parents were this delusional once upon a time, how can anyone blame eighteen-year-olds for being delusional, as well?

The only problem is Biden isn’t offering to write off all student loan debt. He’s putting a bit of candy in our mouths to tantalize us. Along those lines, I’ll be astonished if he actually cancels the debt rather than disbursing the debt onto taxpayers. Cancelling the debt, erasing it, pretending as if it never existed, is the only way forward for our economy. Cancelling the debt would be to remove so-called money from the system at the same time that the debt is cancelled. That magic $20k that was created on paper can just as magically be erased, and the crazy part is it doesn’t even require magic. It requires making the lenders hurt and hurt hard. They should hurt hard. The other group that should hurt hard is the universities. Don’t allow them to live off the largesse of the FAFSA system any longer. Make them go bankrupt, for all I care, until a new type of university rises from the ashes that offers competitive prices.

I have zero faith in Biden because he’s immoral. I doubt he cares that much about the economy. His free money to the Ukraine says how much he cares for our economy. He cares nothing for the people here. In other words, he’s not trying balance inflation through erasing debt. I don’t know why he’s doing it. It’s not to buy votes. When even the FBI openly admits they intentionally throw elections, we know votes don’t matter. Perhaps he’s only looking for good media spin to keep up appearances for the time being. I really don’t know. It’s hard for an ordinary sinful person like myself to get in the head of the truly wacked satanic types in power. We should still be asking ourselves why, even if his little sweeties taste delicious in the moment.

We Are the World

Every time I hear political moderates pretend to be very profound and truth telling when they point out that the media is trying to divide us, I want to start singing We Are the World, or at least the handful of lines I remember from it. I actually liked that song when I was elevenish, but mostly for Cindy Lauper. I would listen for her line and get quickly bored.

I get bored with political moderates too, or perhaps just the average wishy-washy conservative. The truth is the media doesn’t have to divide our nation; our nation naturally divides along ideological lines. We have no natural foundation, no basis on which to be aligned, except on meaningless ideals such as “liberty.” But what is liberty to this century was absolutely censored and censured when the Bill of Rights and Constitution were drafted — pornography and homosexuality, for example. Liberty is far too malleable a concept to form a nation.

And so the nation has divided along very natural fault lines between those holding to Christian morality and those who have traded it for drag queen story hour and pornography in public libraries. Librarians are ridiculous. They’re all about freedom of the press for material that would have been illegal to print up until about the 1960s. They’re so full of ideals that they stand for twisted adults with sexual kinks telling our children all about it.

Please just stop with the fits of fainting over “they’re just trying to divide us.” Who is? Our propagandist media organizations? Or perhaps the Holy Spirit will do that all on his own. After all, that’s what Jesus told us in Luke 12: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; 53 they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

We are divided because Christians can’t stand for evil, and our nation really has nothing to hold it together. We have no common culture, no common religion, no common morality. Call me unamerican; call me any pejorative you want, but I do not seek union with those who call good evil and evil good. I therefore do not seek to repair the divisions except through the only means Jesus gave us, which was to spread the gospel and help those in need. That’s what matters, not pretending that those who oppose the slaughter of children can align with those who support it.

In summary: stop trying to pretend that you are a special kind of truth teller by pointing out that the media creates division. The media is part of the evil deceivers of the world, and apart from that, Jesus told us how it would be 2000 years ago. The only difference is he didn’t tell us to repair the divisions through wishy-washy politics.