Saturday, September 30, 2023

A Generation Gone Bye--An Unforgettable Family Drama by Mary Lynn Plaisance Eliciting Many Responses For Me...


There are many, many stories about three sisters, one of which would be my own. But when I saw the cover of Mary Lynn Plaisance's latest novel, I really had no idea what would be covered other than that there were three women, wearing hats, and looking, well, like an older generation of just about anybody's family... For me, the above song seemed to complement the story that I actually found. Are there "Hungry Ghosts" living in your family--some now dead, but some, still alive?

For it is the memories that each of us have brought from the past into the future... A lot are good memories. Yet, those that hurt us, confused us, or downright angered us, hang around just like hungry ghosts who haunt us sometimes daily, occasionally, or, perhaps, all the time...

The family drama in A Generation Gone Bye has just six main characters. The three sisters who appears on the cover. And their husbands. For three of those, the ghosts of the past are lived daily--in their trying to help those who were also affected by what happened to them. That is the three husbands. Their secrets have been kept all of their lives, The Now being the book which, you, just may want to also read.

The other three characters are the three sisters. For the most part, just as when I and my two older sisters attended church, we were referred to as "The three sisters." Although my mother never had asked us for a promise, since she had ensured that all of us attended church every time the door opened, we also attended church, as the three sisters on the front cover did. They all wore hats each Sunday. I have to think that the difference was that we grew up in a protestant church, while the three women in the book grew up in the catholic church.

But one of the women attending the catholic church decided she was not happy there. For one, she hated wearing a hat, and would take it off as soon as she left the building. Second, she found what might be called the ritual of the church--repeating the same bits of prayer or scripture or doctrine each Sunday without cease--as, boring. She decided she didn't want to go any more.

This book set me back, memory-wise, to a time when I had just gone on medical leave, from job burnout. I spent the majority of my time either crying or sleeping. I was also totally withdrawn from the outside. I remember my older sister rapidly saying that I needed to get to church, go to the front to be blessed by holy water... While, at the same time, I had also talked with my pastor. He and his wife came to visit me, immediately came to me and prayed for me. As they talked, I listened, saying little. I do remember saying something like, "they have no right to treat people like they do..." My pastor quickly suggested that I needed to visit my doctor and seek assistance. I remember that I immediately noticed the difference in the two recommendations. One to turn to the church and one to turn to somebody who could help me physically, if possible. Having that happen, allowed me to know that I was able to trust my own feelings that I was beyond the point of "prayer..."

Now I quickly point out that I am not saying that prayer is not a very important part of religious belief. Rather, I am one who believes that God gave the gift of healing to many who are now helping us when our body needs attention...and that is a good and right thing to do and does not detract from God's position in our lives.

So, just as my first difference of opinion on a major thing affected me and my sister's relationship, frankly, from then on. So, too, did the relationship of the two sisters begin to change in the book. And, naturally, because there were three sisters, the other was soon involved in discussions related to how the first sister had changed her feelings about not wanting to attend mass again.

Since it was standard that the three couples would traditionally have Sunday dinner, it was during one of these gatherings that the family members started to share their secrets... And discussions began...

“Audrey, now that she’s calmed down, look in her dresser drawers for two slips. We’re going to shower her with all of us dressed in a slip. It’s better than seeing each other naked.” Charlotte giggled. “She’ll be okay. We’ll take our time. She’ll be okay. Don’t worry.” “I feel good helping her. I’m not worried anymore,” Audrey said as she took one of the pills from the bottle. There was no name on the bottle but she assumed it was the pills Barbara was taking because the word antidepressant was handwritten on the small bottle as Charlotte told her. When they began undressing Barbara in her shower and she saw that they were all wearing slips, she began to cry, openly. “I’ve hurt both of you and Mat terribly. I’m so sorry for the things I told all of you. I’m so sorry.” Charlotte and Audrey cried with her while Charlotte was washing her hair. Barbara was still woozy, but she knew what she was saying. All three of them were soaked. “Everything will be okay,” said Audrey. Charlotte told her that she might not remember what she said. Barbara’s answer in the shower echoed that she did know what she was saying. She was sorry. “We all have done wrong in our lives at one time or another,” Charlotte told Barbara. “Right now you’re showing us that you have a beautiful soul and heart, and that’s all that counts.” They all cried and kind of giggled as they showered Barbara singing a song they remembered playing loud in the car when they were young by Bob Marley. Three Little Birds… Mat and Maggie giggled as they could hear them singing in the shower but they didn’t enter the room.


But when you open up scars, wounds, often the real truth will come out...

You know, folks, it is not an easy situation to learn of when one or more family members share that they have been abused...and that ultimately it has perhaps affected their entire lives and how they are now living.

Mary Lynn Plaisance has taken a touchy, prevalent subject that has been hidden and supported by covering up the offenses for decades. I remember one of my uncles, a baptist minister, would visit and bring small pamphlets talking about the sexual abuse within the catholic church. And, now, this same offense has been discovered within the baptist convention as well...

I believe strongly that if we do not continue to expose the problem... I don't know, even as I write this, I cannot think that things will immediately, or ever, change. However, we must continue to try. Issues covered in this drama are: sexual abuse by religious leaders, family interpersonal relationships, assault victims and their lives,  mindless following (cult), suicide, drug use. Plaisance, with her own brand of writing, does an exceptional drama in exposing, discussing, and recognizing that some, unfortunately, can never accept that the lies they had been told by clergy were, indeed lies. Her ending spotlights, in my opinion, just how some Americans have entered into a cult where lies, hatred, prejudice and violence are part of the web of deceit that is woven by those who are powerful in our daily lives and who take advantage of that power to subjugate and control.

Audrey couldn’t wait for Maggie to come home on Monday to spend the week with her in her own home. Then, she began to wonder what she would do the week after that. “One day at a time…” Audrey thought. She decided to lie down on the sofa to think of things she could do without Luke in her life after Maggie left for her week. “I can’t think of anything I want right now but for Luke to be home with me. Everything should be back the way it was,” she cried, “but I know it can’t. I’m not insane or delusional. Everything will be different.”

One final comment, if you are ever in a position where you question what is happening, just stop and ask yourself: What would Jesus Do? If you do that, knowing of God's Love for Us, you just might know how to handle the many issues that face us, especially today, in a world that has never been so corrupt, at least in my own memory... 

God Bless,


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Alternative History, 30 Pieces of Silver By Carolyn McCray - Action/Adventure Challenges Traditional Christian Stories

You know, folks, sometimes I think that somebody up there is selecting which books I am to read, and when. This book was first published in 2010, well before the republicans decided to start monitoring our book reading... In fact, the book's cover acknowledges the story to be controversial... I've always enjoyed what I call "treasure hunt" action adventures... Think Indiana Jones and you're bound to picture what this story will include, right?!

BUT, let me first point out that what has many people running all over the world is--wait for it--Bones... So, I figured I might as well set the tone of the story using Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth, as the two main characters, even if the story is quite different. But, on the other hand, there is always a little romance in this type of book, right? So I'm good with these two because, I have to say that the roles these two play in the hit television series are very close to what the story is about, even including the ongoing disagreement between a scientist and a catholic...

Rebecca is a brilliant scientist who is first found in the jungle with a huge snake tightly enclosing her body, while natives look on... Enter Sergeant Brandt, who is there just in time to "save" her (he thought), but was quickly chastised for rushing in where he wasn't wanted or needed. Well, you can guess that there is going to be tension between these two for most of the book, which is over 500 pages (printed). In any event, Sergeant Brandt was sent there to bring Rebecca back from her own mission to help with a disaster that has occurred and for which she has the specific expertise needed... Besides her former professor has requested her specifically.

We are not very far in the book, so I am going to share a piece of information that you would quickly read. It sets up the whole book, but the information is shared with the readers. You see, once Rebecca is no longer "encumbered," and the snake is gone, in that same village where the natives were sad to have Rebecca leave, the two main villains enter. Tok and Petir are about six hours too late, but with the skill of torture that these two men possess, they soon have the needed location of Rebecca and proceed to kill all of the villagers. This key point of not knowing how the villains got the initial information soon puts Brandt in the position of having to worry that one of his own squad is an informant... This lack of information allows the tension of the book to include the potential that Rebecca may not even be safe with him!

“I’ll go ask at the main entrance what the scoop is,” Corey conceded. Kika nodded vigorously as one hand shoved him on his quest while the other punched the button in case her urgency could fix waterlogged wiring. Chuckling, Corey headed toward the east pillar. He spotted the overly modest woman, only now she was kneeling near a girder, having trouble with her purse. Feeling vaguely guilty for bad-mouthing her, he went outside of his comfort zone to sound chivalrous. “Can I help you?” When she didn’t respond, he gave it a stab in French. “Est-ce que je peux vous aider?” Still, she seemed intent on her baggage. He tapped her shoulder. “Est-ce que—” She turned, and Corey realized her sleeve was caught in her backpack. “Here, let me—” He stopped short as the contents of the pack became visible. It was chock-full of gray bricks with red and black wires sticking out at odd angles. Okay, he’d seen enough Alias episodes to know that it was C-4. 
“Bomb!” Corey spun on his heel toward the elevator. “Bomb!” In this day and age, it didn’t matter what language you spoke. Everyone knew “bomb” when they heard it. Tourists scattered as he turned the corner. “Run!” he yelled, but Kika was still pushing the button. “Get down!” He felt, more than heard, the explosion. The force was like wiping out on your surfboard inside a twenty-foot pipe, only worse. This blast knocked the wind from his lungs and threatened to break his back. He somehow found Kika in his arms. When had he grabbed her? The enormous gust of C-4-fueled air threw them past the girders, smashing them against the unforgiving ground. His ears rang a thousand notes, but he kept Kika’s head tucked under his shoulder as dust rained down. 
“What’s happening?” she asked, but her words sounded far off. Corey didn’t answer as terror transformed into anger. Who the f... bombed the Eiffel Tower? Of all the landmarks, why here? Why tonight? It wasn’t until he was reasonably certain that the danger of another blast was well past that he cautiously allowed them to rise. A strange silence greeted them, as if this moment were suspended outside of time and space. No shouts, no panic, and even Kika stopped crying. They, and the tower itself, were in shock after such a brutal attempt on its life. The other patrons hadn’t run off either. Instead, strangely enough, they were gathered around the bombing site. “Everybody okay?” he asked, but couldn’t really hear his own words. No one answered, only nodded as they dusted themselves off. Everyone seemed shocked to have survived with only minor cuts and scrapes. The tower’s structure was also in remarkably good shape. Its girders were only a little singed. A sob escaped the girl in his arms. Not even her Madison Avenue blush could bring color to poor Kika’s cheeks. Her mascara was smeared across her face. Cosmetic damage only, just like the tower. 
Corey kissed the top of her head. They were going to be fine, but if the effectiveness of a terrorist attack was based on civilian casualties and the destruction of an international monument, this baby was going to go down as the lamest suicide bombing ever. But he knew this was only the calm before the storm, as the Eiffel Tower suddenly had competition in the lights department. Red, blue, and yellow lights flashed as the police and fire trucks bore down on their location. Very soon, all hell was going to break loose. 
With his ears still ringing, Corey thought he heard someone say bodies. Releasing Kika from his embrace, he joined the German. “I thought everyone was okay?” “We’re fine, but…” the man said, then pointed to the hole. Corey carefully stepped toward the edge. Now it made sense why there was so little damage to the tower itself. When the chick was screwing around with the pack she must have accidentally focused the blast downward, creating a ragged opening in the stone. But why, after barely surviving a bombing, were these people making such a fuss about a stupid hole in the ground? Then, as the dust settled, Corey gasped. Buried beneath the most romantic landmark in the world was a crypt full of bodies. No, not bodies, skeletons. Lots and lots of skeletons, but after the explosion, they were just a tangle of rib cages and shattered leg bones. It was as though the Crypt Keeper had put them into a blender and then thrown them into the trash. “What the f...?” It didn’t make any sense. What terrorist wanted to blow up dead people? Way dead people? 
“Corey, help me.” It was Kika who spoke, but it sounded as if she were calling from another dimension. His head still rang, but past that, Corey heard sirens bearing down on them. It took a few seconds to locate his girlfriend next to the only piece of mangled metal around. Why the hell did she pick the one unstable area of the tower to set up shop? “Kika, keep back.” 
“I found someone!” Oh, shit! Corey rushed forward. The bomber. “Don’t!” But Kika decided this day, of all days, to be a Good Samaritan. She had already pulled the woman’s body out from under the twisted girder. “It’s the chick with the bomb,” Corey explained as he tried to tug her away, but she had her heels dug in. “It couldn’t be.” Kika looked up, confused. “She’s not even Muslim.” She pointed to the dead woman’s chest. “Look.” Hanging around the suicide bomber’s neck, gleaming under the tower’s twinkling lights, was a large silver cross.

The hunt begins when a bomb goes off in Paris, right under the Eiffel Tower. Readers witness the action through the eyes of a young couple out for an evening, looking forward to dining at the famous restaurant at the top of the Tower. Instead, not only were they a witness to the bombing, but they became involved with the woman as she got caught in trying to set the bomb's location and she was killed. We do not know whether the result of the bombing was intentional or not. Only two clues were gained. The woman wore a silver cross... and the bomb uncovered a large ossuary where the blast had not only exposed, but tore apart the many human skeletons that had been placed in the ossuary. 

Later, as Rebecca Monroe and Sgt. Brandt finally get together, readers will learn that Rebecca is one of the few people who can "read" those bones! Yes, each bone had carvings which were telling a story... And, one of her previous professors has also been called in. Professor Lochum was much older, and, perhaps, even more fanatical about reading those bones and finding out what all of it meant. Monroe, on the other hand, had her own main research project, but soon realized that this could also be an end result for her. Needless to say, she chose not to announce that desire to anybody.

Out of my own curiosity, I searched "The Knot" and found that there is a world-wide organization that seeks to join those who care for others as they plan celebrations... Ironic? Yes, for this group, called "The Knot" had been formed at the time of when Jesus was alive, together with John The Baptist, and, of course, all of the Disciples. And, initially, that group took responsibility of the bones of those individuals as they were buried, but used each skeleton buried to lead on to another and another and another...

Because there was a secret that was meant to be kept. And The Knot had become a militarized unit trained to ensure that secret was kept. The action and search is interesting and exciting as each location is approached. Many remains had been hidden, for instance, in an area where another building had been built over the original structure. 

Thus Tok, an interesting character himself, was put in charge of following the officials who took responsibility for the skeletons which had been found under the Eiffel Tower! Tok was a deaf mute up until recently when new technology allowed him to hear for the first time. We develop a connection as he explores all the sounds he has never experienced... That is, until we learn that everywhere they went, nobody was alive when they left...

The hunt is fascinating as clues become known either through reading of the bones or taking leaps of action based upon earlier training by both Monroe and Lochum. In fact, Lochum is so well recognized that as soon as Tok learned that he was already involved, they started talking about his "extraction..."

On the other hand, those who may know even some of the story of the birth and early beginning of the ministry of Jesus will quickly begin to see alternative facts being inserted. Indeed, even the title which is traditionally derided in contempt, is portrayed in an alternative fashion.

Like I said, I've enjoyed this type of fact-finding stories by others. This book, however, and the series, is being billed as being controversial. So was the author intending to actually write an alternative historical novel (I've enjoyed many), or to purposely challenge historical Truth? I don't know the answer to that. However, I will confirm in this review that the book does question the original stories as documented in the Bible. Me, I found it, purely from a fictional rewrite to be lacking in credibility. The ending seems meant for purely shock value, perhaps? I found it a sad attempt. Even I could have considered many other options with which to conclude the book. Especially in relation to Rebecca's personal project...

More importantly, in my opinion, if you are unable to explore Truth in any and all ways, including about the Bible, don't read the book. I enjoyed 99% of the book, and would recommend it... If you are not? Then this and many other "truths" which are really misinformation, may be accepted as truth... You see, the alternative history is "possible" in concept... My only problem was the failure to achieve credibility for the alternative ending presented. Just as many are accepting lies as truth based upon lack of willingness to do the research...


Monday, September 25, 2023

Open Memoir - Emotionally Damaged: Living with Clinical Depression/PTSD/Job Burnout...Participating in a Public Place


Lying No longer is a Profitable Activity...for...Anybody?

When A Major Star Talks - Young Voters Will Listen...?

I live a hermit-life most of the time. It's for my own mental health that I do that... And for others, as well...

It's well over 20 years since I walked off the job with a medical leave that had been documented by my primary doctor, and the required psychiatric review... In general, I am fine, but I never know when something will happen to trigger me... Normally, I have one of two different emotional responses. I cry and withdraw. Or, I become overtly angry or aggressive...

Once I was diagnosed and had many different episodes, although more so immediately after I had retired. I still have flashbacks. I had one recently so decided to write about it... You see, once the trauma has occurred, your brain is never the same.

Amygdala. This 1-inch, almond-shaped area of the brain is considered the “fire alarm.” Once it senses danger, the amygdala is the part that kicks you into fight-or-flight mode.

If you’re living with trauma, research shows that your amygdala doesn’t recognize the difference between a threat then and a threat now. So, when you’re reminded of a past experience, it responds exactly as it would if you were experiencing the traumatic event for the first time, sending out a rush of stress hormones, like cortisol.

As a result, you may feel like you’re on edge, on high alert, or have high levels of stress or anxiety all the time.

Hippocampus Located at the back of the brain, the hippocampus is considered the learning center.

Research shows that the hippocampus is smaller and less active in people who’ve experienced trauma, which can create issues around memory and problem-solving.

This can make it hard for you to distinguish between the past and present, keeping you in a constant state of hypervigilance or strong emotional reactivity.

Prefrontal cortex. Located at the front of your brain, the prefrontal cortex is the rational, decision-making area. For those living with trauma, research shows that the prefrontal cortex is less active.

This suppression can slow down the learning of new information that could help you control your fear. Combined with an overactive amygdala, the prefrontal cortex can have a harder time overriding the fight, flight, or freeze response.

As such, you may feel like you have a hard time controlling your fear response or struggle with logical thinking.

Nervous system, When the nervous system is constantly in overdrive with PTSD, it can shrink your window of tolerance — that is, the amount of stress you can handle before it becomes unmanageable.

Compared to a person without a history of trauma, you may find that you’re set off by smaller events or have a trauma response around an event when others might not. See entire article:

PTSD is most associated with veterans who have suffered major trauma in their lives, often resulting with flashbacks into a war-like situation.

But, for me, and perhaps many others who do not know it, PTSD can evolve as a part of your job. Commonly referred to as Job Burnout. Thankfully this has now been recognized as an individual issue, as opposed to being umbrellaed under Clinical Depression, which, often, has no basis of understanding as to what issues you are experiencing.

When I was first diagnosed, I had almost nightly dreams, waking up to find myself in the midst of doing some tedious job at work that never seemed to end. It was something simple, like copying a report. Yet the loss of control, the feeling of the task never getting done magnified through a simple, boring job that continues in your head, even after waking up. A feeling of failure is often an adjective that could be used. One for me is frustration... Why? Because I knew that it wasn't my fault that I was now living with job burnout...

Or Was It?

At this time in my life, I waver about that answer... so I'm going to bypass that for now and just share my latest...explosion...

I have been in Physical Therapy for many weeks and looking forward to closing out these sessions, and, thinking about continuing with fitness exercising which is less formal but at the same location.

At any given session, it has ranged so that I was the only one there up to there being around ten on the various machines. Every once in a while, I find myself tensing up--there are people talking, loudly. I'm thinking they should be exercising... Even as I write, I realize that the setting puts me into a work environment where I am constantly thinking about performance--and being tested on it... 

As with most activities, I tend to get totally involved and am watching how things operate--whether they are efficient, friendly but professional. Some of you may remember reading about what I went through while having my roof replaced... It had set me back into trauma, big time... Anyway, sometimes, depending on a day in general, guys might get into talking sports. And, for some reason, some men refuse to consider exactly where they are and, LOL, "don't use their inside voices..." Ok, I'm not a sports fan, but really, somebody talking loudly so that everybody else in the room can hear it bothers me. I consider it impolite--so sue me for feeling...

Other times politics has come up. Here's the thing for me. If I am talking politics with somebody I know and feel safe in expressing my views, I am okay. Other times, like recently, I think there were six of us there. All of a sudden, one man started talking about immigrants by the busload. Another added a comment I couldn't exactly hear (I was in a room having heat applied and in the dark and couldn't see who was talking and what was being said exactly.)

There is no way around it. In my mind. helping any immigrant seeking help brings to mind a scripture: Jesus saying, "What you do until the least of these, you do unto me..."

Now before you want to say something in response of this belief I have, I want to quickly say to you that if all people acted on these words, then there would be no need to turn people away. There are always ways to be more efficient in getting the work done to make these people feel accepted, then there would not be all the confusion...all the talk about a wall...because we would seek to feed and give as needed...

We all remember when Trump/Sessions called for a separation of children and parents. It received world-wide criticism because in doing this, there was absolutely NO planning on how it would be handled, nor the separations accounted for, or tracked. Can we blame the parents or the children who were afraid. No, it was the past president who acted to deter those, claiming that all were criminals... yet, we know that it was based on prejudice--prejudice of the republican party. No? How else can we explain that the DACA children have never been dealt with because of the republican party's unwillingness or procrastination. These individuals are already in America, doing jobs, paying taxes...yet they are forced to remain in fear, anger, frustration, because of a political party who refuses to work in support of America's needs, our goals...

And then I heard a female voice say, "I don't believe that anything they say about Trump is true..."


Zap! I moved in Aggression, slid off the table--with the heating elements with me and the Physical Therapist running in to get them off of me...

I remember that I said something like, "I must speak Truth..."

One guy was pointing to me to say who said it... then commenting he didn't like Trump or up and moved somewhere else... I did have the presence to stop and thank the PT and said I was feeling better...

And I moved toward the individual who in her opinion, felt that Trump was blameless... I could feel myself flashback as I turned in my sister's kitchen and saw that she had a picture of Trump's entire family on her refrigerator and could feel myself stunned. It was that same sister who said when I mentioned I was going to sign up to vote and told me that I would have to vote a Christian! I responded I had already signed up as an Independent to allow myself to make my own decisions.

Just how many times do we, who have done the research, do we who have heard Trump himself saying awful things about people, do we who have knowledge of the many criminal acts for which he had already been charged, seem to be swept away by somebody saying, "I don't care, I like him..." I started telling about the fact that his former financial officer was now in jail, for didn't phase her. Finally she brought up the one thing I'd heard before. I calmed down and told her I'd already checked out the issue and I could plainly see that the pic had been photoshopped... and in another that the mother was the one who took action...

But, let's face it, if somebody is willing to take things that are said and accept it as truth, then how can I, or anybody else, succeed in sharing what is actually happening and that millions are seeing what I see, but some, for whatever reason, cannot.

So, to's the issue that started when Jeffrey Epstein was arrested... Even though research has been done and verified by Reuters, people took a false piece of salacious material and moved it forward to indict Biden as a pedophile. Of course he's not the only one... Don Lemon, who already lost his job... Adam Schiff, and who knows how many others? Just how far can lies and prejudicial information travel? Well, if you have no desire to confirm it yourself, it goes very far...

But then, as many of my readers know, I have already identified myself as an individual who was a victim of incest. And, believe me, I would be very sure before I even suggested it of somebody I hardly knew... Yet millions are doing it. I have watched Joe Biden in crowds. It has been pointed out to him that he was too touchy--since we are about the same age, I point to the fact that in early years of my life, touching and hugging was routinely done among friends and acquaintances. I even studied it in non-verbal communication...

And, now, a man who has been devastated by the loss of his first wife and a child is being accused, in my opinion, falsely. Indeed, the fact that Hunter Biden, who was the lone survivor of that accident, is now being accused of all sorts of things involving money and the Biden family... Doesn't that sound familiar? So, when I heard about Biden/Hunter's money, after stating the minor legal issues for which he was accused, I immediately point out the significant activities, probably criminal, done by Trump's daughter and son-in-law which is in the millions... that is pushed aside with an agreement to disagree...

But, you see, folks, I can't accept lies and opinions. If I am wrong about Biden, I want to know the truth. Yet, even after I check it out, it is not enough... Truth is not what is being sought... Trump followers want to be...right...even if they are wrong and it is hurting the country...

That is why I was up late trying to get past the fact that I lost control, in a public place...and I don't regret it because I am sick and tired of being told lies upon lies upon lies and then get excuses that they don't have the time... And, yes, of course, I'm not talking just about this incident...but with my family...

Right now, I'm not sure what to do. Can I afford to go back to a place where the general public openly get into discussions, which may result in somebody being upset when I speak truth? BTW, in another smaller episode, I had one lady come to me and quietly looked around, saying "They don't understand, do they?" I shook my head no. Then she said, I think Trump is evil..." I told her I did too...and then we quietly separated, at least knowing that others saw what we saw but were sometimes afraid to speak about it... After all, MAGA individuals have been known to either harass or actually harm those who speak out; and I knew that there were Pennsylvanians who were part of the mob on January 6th...

And that, folks, is living with a brain that has been affected by trauma--mine through job burnout--and  dealing with all the chaos that followed 2016, which was, as now being told about, started long before then.

I Support
Operation Saving Democracy

God Bless,



Thursday, September 21, 2023

Jesus Is Not Republican: A Secular Liberal's Adventures With Religion, Politics and Sex by Kate Rice

Look for New Group of Security professionals,  Retired Military Staff,,
 Speaking Truth!

Note: I will be adding relevant supportive videos as we are now also in a war--Against Trumpism...
Free America from Lies, Prejudice and Violence!

It was a hot and sultry July afternoon deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where cellphone signals can’t penetrate and sun-faded Confederate flags fly. I was part of a sweating crowd listening to a preacher. We sat in a big white tent with the sides rolled up, the type of tent religious revivalists might use when they’re crying out to the Lord to save us sinners from eternal hellfire. But this preacher was very different from that stereotype. In fact, that stereotypical pastor probably would have tried to exorcise what he would consider the demons possessing the crowd I sat with. And he would have started with our preacher — one Nadia-Bolz Weber, all six feet of her, dramatic streaks of gray in her dark hair, and a big Mary Magdalene tattoo on a bicep muscular enough to make Michelle Obama jealous. She is a Lutheran minister who says crazy things like sex is good. Even if you’re not married, even if you’re gay or trans or bi. A preacher who asks, “Isn’t forgiving abusive men over and over what keeps battered women battered?” A minister whose congregants don’t fit the cookie cutter that my Holy Roller preacher — and a lot of conservative Christians — would try to make us all fit into. No, her flock included straight, gay, trans, the newly sober, the-trying-to-be-sober, the eternally — and humanly — imperfect. As she wound up her talk, the crowd stayed with her, cheering and clapping. And then she said, “C’mon up and dance with me!” My new friend Jes, her asymmetrically cut hair swinging, a wicked glint in her eye, grabbed my hand and pulled a hesitant me out of my chair. “Okay, Kate, let’s go!” she said. And we ran up to the stage together, joining dozens of others as the loudspeakers blasted Prince’s Kiss. There I was dancing and singing, surprised at how many of the lyrics I knew by this artistic genius who transcended conventional boundaries of gender, sex and identity. It was the perfect soundtrack for this crowd, some straight, some gay, some transgender, some Christian, and some, like me, not Christian at all. Whatever I had expected of a progressive Christian festival, this was definitely not it. I had had no idea of what I’d be getting into when I’d left my triplex apartment on Manhattan’s deep blue Upper West Side two days earlier. I’d taken an early morning flight out of LaGuardia to Atlanta, then boarded a zippy little Bombardier for the quick hop to the Asheville, North Carolina, airport where I picked up a rental car. Driving out of Asheville, I wound north and west on US-25, my rented Chevy Spark's feeble but valiant engine laboring up the first hills leading into the Blue Ridge Mountains, That’s when I lost my internet connection for the bulk of the weekend. My route took me through a green-as-a-tropical-jungle landscape, occasionally passing a weather-beaten house with a tattered Confederate flag rippling in a hot breeze. C’mon, man, I thought, having internal monologues with the owners of homes flying those flags. It’s been more than 150 years! You lost! Then I realized we’re still fighting that battle. And I was headed toward a very different rebel enclave, one that fights against all that that flag stands for. My destination: Hot Springs, North Carolina., so named for the 100-degree-plus mineral springs that have attracted people for centuries. It's a small town that's a handful of one- and two-story buildings on one side of a railroad track. On the other side, the Hot Springs Resort & Spa and a giant campground. That big campground was the staging area for the Wild Goose Festival, part Woodstock, part Burning Man, part South by Southwest (SXSW) and 100 percent progressive Christian. 

It’s a place where you see banners like “Who Would Jesus Torture?” and “Recovering From Religion.” Another intertwined hearts and the words “Jesus and Darwin” in a line drawing of a fish used to symbolize Christianity. Religion has always wrestled with sex in this nation. Sex is something that tempts you, gets you in to trouble. So if there were anywhere in the country where I would hear a minister talk about the joy of sex, this was it. And Bolz-Weber did not fail me. She is the founder of the House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado, which caters to those on the margins, and a New York Times best-selling author. She gave a deliciously profanity-laced talk about her latest book, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation. Martin Luther must be spinning in his grave! I’d thought when I first saw that title. Her take on sex and Christianity was music to my ears. Christianity, in my experience, has always had a big problem with sex. You need it to propagate the species, but it’s just a little too much fun to be good on its own. At the festival, Bolz-Weber did a major league deep dive into talking about the joys of shame-free sex, cutting the bonds that religion has tied around the joy of sex. Some parts of her talk were painful. That was when she described the end of her marriage and the start of a relationship with her new boyfriend. One reason she ended her marriage was because of sex. Or rather, lack of it. Or not enough of it. I actually can't remember exactly what she said because, instead of her voice, I heard my soon-to-be ex-husband’s voice telling me roughly the same thing about our sex life and that he had no more time to put into it. Or our marriage. That hurt. Because I had put so much time and effort into that marriage. And into him. And that included trying to revive our sex life. Because I love sex. In high school, my wiry, blond, Norwegian Lutheran boyfriend and I had torrid make-out sessions in his red Barracuda on county trunk roads up on the Ridge, hills that ringed Sparta, the small Wisconsin farm town where I grew up. We’d drive up Highway 71 towards Norwalk or Highway 27 toward Cashton, two little villages, passing barns, farmyards and fields of corn and hay. Heading uphill to the Ridge, the highways pass through stands of scrub pine and oak trees and then to the top, where the roads travel along the spine of the Ridge. It’s a stupendous view of seemingly endless sky, rolling farmland dipping down into forested valleys, with the occasional Amish horse-drawn buggy clip-clopping along. Of course, we weren’t up there for the view. At the drive-in movies, we were horizontal in the front seat and making out before the previews had ended, oblivious to whatever the couple double dating with us was doing in the back seat. His older sister let us use her apartment! Major score for high schoolers! I’d bought some book packed with ideas like squirting Reddi wip on each other for a little additional fun during oral sex. It made us both giggle. We were two small-town kids too afraid to buy condoms at the local drugstore, which sat on the main intersection of downtown Sparta next to the town’s only stop-and-go light. My family’s next-door neighbor ran that drugstore. So, blow jobs and oral sex were as far as we would go. There were more boyfriends after that, in college, in the small town where I had my first full-time job as a reporter, in Aspen where one of my best friends from college and I spent a season ski bumming and, finally, grad school in New York. There, I dated a couple of Columbia College English majors looking for their Molly Bloom, heroine of James Joyce’s Ulysses. It seemed to have been a core part of their curriculum. One of them thought he’d found her in me. Except that once I discovered what I thought was the high calorie count of seminal fluid (it’s apparently fairly low in calories, I’ve since learned), I started to spit it out. A very un-Molly move, he told me, laughing. I was also very un-Molly in that I only took one lover at a time. Finally, at a party, I met the guy I would eventually marry. He was slim and tautly muscled, olive skinned, with curly black hair and gorgeous hazel eyes. He was funny, sarcastic and totally unlike any of my other boyfriends. We met once and then, not again, for months. But we became part of an informal group of twenty- and thirty-somethings who loved concerts in Central Park, hiking, skiing, cooking, eating and drinking. I called us the Outdoors Sports and Photo Op Club because we’d have parties to look at photos after our weekend adventures in those pre-digital photo days. And, boy, was he an emotionally armored guy. But when we first kissed in his apartment, I stuck my tongue in his mouth. I got his attention. He already had mine. I loved him, blindly. We moved in together and bought our first apartment. I bored my coworkers as I rhapsodized about him and my adventures with New York real estate. It was fun and wonderful. There were lots of evenings of stopping for a bottle of wine on the way home from work and cooking dinner together before crashing into bed. I loved sitting at my desk at work and smelling his musky maleness on my skin. It came from a quick morning tumble that dictated a too quick shower that couldn’t quite wash away his scent. Years went by. Marriage, kids, mortgages. I had always felt that sex in the morning would guarantee a solid marriage. I just hadn’t factored in the exhaustion of work, freelance writing, cooking, lick-and-a-promise cleaning and getting kids to skating lessons, swimming lessons, horseback riding lessons, Hebrew school and on and on and on. The result? Those encounters didn’t happen nearly often enough. And it wasn’t just kids, too many hours at work, too little time at home and not enough money. It was all the baggage we all carry. Things can be falling apart and you can still have good sex short term. But sooner or later, what’s happening in other parts of your relationship catches up with sex and overtakes it. And that is what had happened between me and the driven, sexy, funny, depressed, angry and, in his deepest depths, terrified man I’d married. Those memories kept playing in the back of my head as I listened to Bolz-Weber. A lot of what she said went straight to my wounded heart and made it feel better. She talked about an ex-boyfriend who would routinely insult her — and then worry that the squirrels in a park wouldn’t have enough to eat. I knew that bewildering combination of cruelty and kindness all too well. This talk riveted me. Bolz-Weber was fearless enough to talk — and write — about her abortion. In one of her books (I read Shameless and Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People over the weekend and on my flight home, and Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and a Saint as soon as I got home) she wrote about how she had always loved babies...

Kate Rice is a runner, ex-ski bum, java junkie, loyal Green Bay Packer fan and a rock’n roll singer and stand up comic who performs mostly in the shower but sometimes on stage. She is a prizewinning reporter and an activist who believes that to be a citizen of this great country is both a gift and a responsibility.

After I finished this book, I thought if I ever won the Lottery, which, of course, I wouldn't ever because I don't believe in gambling... well, anyway, if I had the money, I would buy a copy of this book for every woman and teen girl in America. While the title is somewhat misleading--it's not all about politics--and when it is about politics, it's a good book to read...LOL

Actually, much of this book is a memoir, much like I've been doing in writing my own... That is, Kate Rice travels all over the world as a reporter and activist. She writes as a secular liberal, which you may have a hard time actually knowing what that means, as you read. For, like most of all, Kate Rice grew up in church but when she begins to talk about sex, she talks exactly as I might, or you, and you, and, yes, you.
Christianity, in my experience, has always had a big problem with sex. You need it to propagate the species, but it’s just a little too much fun to be good on its own. At the festival, Bolz-Weber did a major league deep dive into talking about the joys of shame-free sex, cutting the bonds that religion has tied around the joy of sex...

And that's about when I perked up and wanted to learn more, right? Because America is so filled with sex--sexual movies, books, even ads for bread can have a sexy woman holding the slice of bread, or maybe even, spreading it thick with honey, licking her lips as she tells us that Wonder Bread is the best bread ever! Or, seriously, do we really need a female in a short skirt, dancing around a golf course, right where the ball is supposed to go in... Yes, there is such an ad, and I have no idea what it is supposed to advertise. Neither does the man's wife who takes one look at what her husband is staring at through his binoculars and walks away...

And, to me, that's exactly the point... When something involves some type of sexual innuendo, most individuals either walk away, turn the TV off...OR, sit down and watch! How many of you would say that you've never watched anything in which sexuality is part of the program? I certainly can't. Me, I'm even old enough to see how television, in particular, has moved more and more to include sex as openly as possible... So here's the basic question. If you are white, single and find yourself turned off of a church because, while chastity is the only course for teens, at the same time you hear of those in the church, who are acting on their own sexual interests, while, say, the same preacher or priest is counseling abstinence? Or you see your parents involved in parties where somebody might get a little drunk...and...

Or, is it the issue that some have a different type of preference of who to love and , heaven forbid, that individual is your own daughter or son? Do you hide in shame, refusing to accept that child or allow them to be what they tell you that they are? Homophobe?

This man was part of the original planning group of Evangelical Christians...who walked away when he saw what was planned... Is Now 

an Activist!



Seriously, can any of us really believe that any teenager watching television will accept religious training that claims that there is to be no sex prior to marriage? Or that if you've realized that you see yourself different in any way related to your sexuality, you can bet that you will be ostracized, perhaps even physically hurt or killed--in the name of religion?

Kate Rice, early in her life, did what many young people who have and are doing daily. Turning away from the church. But that doesn't stop her from going where things are happening--strange things! Like, the attendees may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, or they are gay and with their spouses, or they are secular, but interested? Well, as you can see above, Kate went to visit what was to be a Christian event. One that she soon realized was not in any way what she had thought it would be--especially those who had gathered there! And, especially, what was discussed there!

The Love of Jesus for All...

I was once again reminded of the recent book which proclaims that Jesus does not judge (things of the earth) He loves us as we are, whether we've made bad decisions or even decided to reject some things that they had been taught in their old home church, which they had left or, perhaps, had never even been inside a church in their lives, but merely wanted to listen and maybe get a little food or fellowship...

And as I continue to explore, just as Kate Rice is doing through traveling--mine through books--(My next read is Jesus and John Wayne!) I am finding that there are many patches of those who are trying to do what they believed was their mission. To spread the word of the love of Jesus...

Rice tackles Racism, White Nationalism, Anti-Vaxers, Sexuality--various issues, Progressive Christianity and more... She writes in the first person, often adding personal anecdotes of the people who she met along the way and who added "more color" to her own perceptions and opinions. As we move toward the close, she hones in on the topic of the Evangelical Exodus. Indeed, this topic might not have been covered if it wasn't for Kate meeting Kayla Cannon who she met as they sat in a jet waiting...

Kate remembered that she was lost in thought thinking about proceeding to write this book, but then realized that the woman sitting by her wanted to chat. All of a sudden, Kate was thinking to herself, "God, did you arrange these seating arrangements?" Well, you all know that I would have called this a God Incident. But then, since Kate considered herself a secular liberal (LOL), I chuckled when I read that internal question to God...

Kayla was on her way to a business conference, leaving her baby for the first time, yet happy to have a little time for herself. As they talked Kayla openly told that she had been an Evangelical Christian, but had rejected it. 

She talked freely about her horror when ICE conducted a raid and people she worked with at a restaurant in Telluride suddenly disappeared. Anyone with half an eye in any resort area knows how many workers are Hispanic and may be undocumented, or afraid of exposing a friend or relative who is undocumented. I sat up in my seat. “ICE conducted a raid in Telluride?” I was equally horror-struck. ICE is a constant in New York, packed as it is with people of color and immigrants. But in a remote mountain town like Telluride? Only 2,500 people live there. But it is a blue enclave. People in Cortez, which is seventy miles away and also blue, but surrounded by a lot of red, talk about the Telluride hippies — although in a town where the median home price is about a million dollars, you’ve got to be a pretty capitalist hippie. ICE strikes tactically — resort towns and meatpacking towns as well as in big cities, which usually have far more diverse populations. It’s all part of its strategy to terrorize and intimidate. Kayla wasn’t afraid to talk about that, or anything else, as it turned out. Going to a secular high school and American University clearly opened her eyes to a much broader world than the one she’d been raised in. Early on, she had begun questioning the credos she’d been taught. She had an outgoing personality. She wanted to run for student council, but her conservative brethren talked her out of it. Why? She was a woman. That kind of leadership position was for men. She was realizing that “I’m a strong woman who does not fit the biblical interpretation of what a woman should be.” She pushed her parents to let her go to Rutland Public High School in Vermont because the religious school she attended did not offer the advanced placement courses she wanted to take. When she won her scholarship to American University, her parents were supportive. But, she said, they clearly worried about her move to a liberal school. Once she began attending American University, which is in Washington, D.C., she found herself intensely studying bills that were going before Congress. “Being Republican was against everything I stood for and cared about,” she realized. One of her first friends at American University was flamboyantly gay. Her religion had taught her that it was her job to tell him that his lifestyle would land him in hell. She did not. And then there were the gaping holes in the theology she’d been raised on. “The Bible talks about divine intervention,” she told me. But in a world where children starve and can be sold into the sex trade, she saw no divine intervention at all. Growing up, expressing any kind of doubt was forbidden. To doubt was to sin. She quit going to church while at college, although she continued to believe in God and still identified as a Christian. Then came the 2016 election and the swell of support among evangelical churches and their congregants for Trump. “The way the Church championed Trump, that was when I could not associate with Christianity. Period. I was also angry at how many of my friends and family didn’t talk to me for supporting Hillary,” meaning Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race. Kayla lasted only two years at American University. She had long been plagued by anxiety and it peaked while she attended college. Her evangelical upbringing had taught her that everything, including things like anxiety and other emotional distress could be overcome by prayer. If she was suffering, it was because of her personal failure to fully embrace her faith. She left American to stay with a cousin attending a conservative religious school, to try praying her mental health problems away. There she met her future husband, who was attending the school. His calmness and rationality helped her enormously. They fell in love and planned to marry. He went home to Telluride, Colorado, and she returned to her family in Vermont, where her anxiety spiked. And there, with her mother’s support, despite evangelical doctrine, she finally got the professional help she needed. She and her husband continued to wrestle with faith, personally and as a couple. She sees this a lot among millennials, and some are leaving their churches. “They are sick of having to hate because of their church,” she said. And here is the problem for the religious right. Once these young people question one thing, the whole house of cards falls apart. Because, as Kayla sees it, conservative Christianity is based on absolutism and blind faith. So once there is room to question one thing, everything is open to debate. Kayla stopped associating with any kind of religion and considers herself agnostic. She is not alone. Her best friend, whom she met at a Bible school she attended, has also renounced organized religion. Twitter is a great way to find this community, she told me. Just use the hashtag #exvangelical. That hashtag reminded me of Rebeca and Charlie Seitz and their podcast, Freevangelic. These are two more people who told me the same thing. Once you ask one question, a torrent follows. I found Rebeca and Charlie on Instagram just before I went to Wild Goose. I had been using social media to connect with Wild Goose attendees, but we didn’t manage to meet during the festival. Having been reminded of the podcasters I missed at Wild Goose, I contacted Rebeca through Instagram. She is a blast, funny as hell. She can find the humor in terrible things. She told me how her parents became evangelicals. By age nineteen, her mother was married for the second time with two kids of her own plus stepchildren. It was a rough situation, Rebeca said. Neither of her parents were churchgoers, but Rebeca’s mom found a conservative church that gave her a much-needed framework to help her handle her chaotic life. Her mother does nothing halfway, Rebeca told me. She quit wearing shorts. Makeup was verboten. Rebeca compared it to someone going on a diet and throwing out everything in the pantry that has sugar or carbs. In her mom’s case, it meant every book in the house was about religion and every song she sang was religious. “My mom’s finding faith was never going to be Lutheran,” Rebeca said. This embrace of a very conservative religion startled Rebeca’s father. So he went down to the church to give that pastor a piece of his mind, or maybe even a punch in the face, according to the family story, Rebeca said. Instead, the pastor converted her father and baptized him. It was such a drastic change that it alienated almost all of Rebeca’s relatives. But it was the world into which Rebeca was born, and she knew nothing else. Rebeca grew up memorizing the Bible. When she hit adolescence, her mother handed her a book by the right-wing guru James Dobson, Everything You Need to Know About Adolescence, and it was all about female subservience, Rebeca recalled. ) You may recall, I've reviewed another of his books, Dare to Discipline, where he encourages use of physical punishment for children.) You can’t call boys or ask boys out. You can’t wear anything low cut. Your makeup has to look natural. There was an emphasis on your body because it was the temple of the Lord. But your sexuality was not about women, it was about how women related to men. Rebeca matured physically early. “I was very well-endowed from sixth grade on,” she remembered. Ultimately, she had a breast reduction. But throughout her childhood and adolescence, her family lectured her on her appearance. “Don’t put on lipstick; don’t look like a hussy.” A man sexually abused her when she was eleven. “What were you wearing?” her mother asked when Rebeca went to her. And it happened again and again, in high school and in college. The response was always something to the tune of “you probably asked for it...” 

And, of course, Kate had to include the personal thoughts of the Reverend about the time when Trump had protestors gassed so he could have a photo op...

Rev. Gerbasi was there. She had been on St. John’s patio, which had become a refuge and an aid station for demonstrators. She’d been handing out water to demonstrators when riot police descended upon her, chasing her from her own church. Shortly after the incident, she talked about her experience in an interview on Unholier Than Thou. This was a podcast produced by Crooked Media, originators of Pod Save America, whose politically savvy (they’re former Obama staffers) and bitingly funny hosts have had some fun remembering times when Democratic candidates have clumsily tried to assert that God guides them. In that podcast. she told host Phillip Picardi about her anger. She was coldly angry about the way Trump subverted her church and I think she epitomized the anger driving many Christians who are outraged at how the right has co-opted Christianity. Gerbasi trained first as a lawyer and had to overcome a lot of interior resistance in order to become a priest — it sounds as though one part of her dragged the other part of her kicking and screaming into the holy orders. I think it was that same voice that Sylvia Clahchischilli heard, the nilch’iyazhi. Gerbasi described those conversations as talking with God, who, she said, has a sense of humor. Hey, I like that!

There is so much we don't know about our God Almighty! But there are many people talking, writing and sharing about what their personal experiences have brought into their lives. And, many, like Kate Rice concluded, Jesus is Not Republican.

God Bless,


Monday, September 18, 2023

It's Monday, Time to Hear from Robert Sells Providing His Political Thoughts! Hate, Violence--Primary Acts of GOP Supporters?

An event recently occurred that should cause shivers of fear in every American. There was a Nazi rally in Florida.
Because Donald has adopted many of the techniques of Hitler, he has endeared himself to the ultra-right. Donald has done nothing to decry their support. In fact, he has actually openly courted their support. For example, he invited Nick Fuentes, a neo-Nazi to dinner.
When pressed to disavow a Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Donald said there were “good people” on both sides. When pushed to condemn white supremacist and militia groups during a presidential debate, he actually said "Proud Boys, stand back and STAND BY." Presently many of this group are serving long prison sentences for their role in the January 6th insurrection. Regarding that insurrection, Donald has frequently referred to the ultra-right criminal participants as “good people” and said that, when elected in 2024, he would pardon many, perhaps most of the criminals who violently participated in trying to overturn our democracy.
Many in the GOP (Gross Oligarch Party) will say that this Nazi rally had nothing to do with Donald. Wrong! It had much to do with Donald. His violent rhetoric and ugly name-calling resonates with and empowers these demented people. If they didn’t have the backing of Der Fuhrer, they would be less numerous and less open about their hatred of Jews, people of color, and immigrants.
Oh, and by the way, this Nazi rally took place in front of the Disney Springs entry-way with anti-LGBTQ flags and signs. Really. They were demonstrating in front of Disney! Later a larger group marched through the streets of Orlando wearing matching uniforms (red shirts, black masks and black pants), waving swastika flags, performing Hitler salutes and shouting hateful messages that included “White power” and “Jews will not replace us.”
Yes, Donald. There must have been “good people” in these groups as well.


l rea

Here is the man who MAGA cheers for and wants to have back as our president--Violence, Lies and Prejudice:

Prosecutors of the indictments: “If You Go After Me, I'm Coming After You!”
Soccer star: “Nice shot Megan, the USA is going to Hell!!!”
Pelosi: “She is a Wicked Witch whose husband’s journey from hell starts and finishes with her. She is a sick & demented psycho who will someday live in HELL!”

His former VP: “'Liddle' Mike Pence, a man who was about to be ousted as Governor of Indiana until I came along and made him V.P., has gone to the Dark Side.”

Women: “Grab ‘em by the pussy.”
Employee: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”
Then, of course, there is Donald being unquestionably the greatest poor loser of all time: “THE ELECTION WAS RIGGED!”

Ahh, MAGA this is your man, your savior, your Fuhrer. MAGA. Be proud. Because the rest of America and the world find him despicable and dangerous to our democracy.

On the Other Hand...

Robert Sells, Author and Political Commentator is a regular contributor to Book Readers Heaven