Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Clearing Up Confusion About Pilot Point, Pilot Point, and Pilot Point

My visit to Pilot Point with my novel Pilot Point this past Saturday may confuse slightly.  So I will now attempt to clear up any perplexity as well as give credit to where credit is due.

Pilot Point – A small town in Northeast Denton County, Texas.  I lived near it for twelve years and wrote the first drafts of my novel Pilot Point during this time in the 1990’s.  Most of said novel is set around the town although in the novel “Pilot Point” does not refer only to the town.  You will have to get the novel to find out more. ;)

Pilot Point – My Not-Best-Selling novel published late in 2014 and set along Interstate 20 in West Texas and near the town of Pilot Point decades ago.  Readers will find it both very Texan and very Anglican – yes, unusual.  I have posted frequently on it here and think it best not to repeat myself too much.  Here you may find some past posts concerning the novel.

Pilot Point – A pictorial history of the town of Pilot Point authored by Jay Melugin.  It is interesting and well done and gives a good flavor of the town’s past.  I own a copy and recommend you get yourself one at Amazon or where most convenient.

Jay was very gracious and beyond helpful in organizing and promoting my visit to the town of Pilot Point.  It would not have been near the success it was without him.  I concluded my visit by relaxing with him at his high class establishment, Lowbrows.  Here is a photo of us in front of Lowbrows.  He is holding my novel Pilot Point and I am holding his pictorial history Pilot Point.

Does that clear up any confusion about Pilot Point, Pilot Point, and Pilot Point?  Not necessarily?

Oh well.  At least I gave credit where credit is due.  Thanks again, Jay.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday at Smokey Matt’s

Before driving back home from a blessed visit to Denton, Dallas (The King’s College Choir concert with an old friend was blessed, but NOT the traffic.), and Pilot Point, I finally got to visit Smokey Matt’s for their Palm Sunday Solemn High Mass.

I say “finally” because I have not been able to visit in years.  Fr. Duncan was still the rector when I last visited.  Long time readers know I affectionately refer to this parish church as Smokey Matt’s because Fr. Duncan loved to use incense generously.  When I informed the current rector, Fr. Christopher Cantrell, of this before the main service, he remarked with some pride that he smokes things up more than ever.

The liturgy was of a high standard, of course, including my first outdoor Palm Sunday procession.  I know – shocking that I had not done a Palm Sunday procession before, and it was past time for that to be remedied.  It was pleasant weather for it, and I heartily enjoyed singing All Glory, Laud, and Honor as we processed around the front of the church holding our palm fronds.

During the Mass, particularly as I received, I felt a sense of gratitude and also of sorrow and of my own unworthiness as I reflected on the Passion. It is difficult to put into words, and I cannot recall feeling quite that way during Holy Communion.  As the sermon pointed out, Palm Sunday liturgy is jarring by design, moving quickly from the Triumphal Entry to the Passion of our Lord.  And it did jar me, as it should.

The parish has posted a number of photos from the procession and mass.

Afterwards, Fr. Cantrell asked if the use of incense lived up to the moniker of Smokey Matt’s.  I answered it did indeed.  He was quite pleased. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

An excerpt from Pilot Point for Passion Week

In many church traditions, including my traditional Anglican one, of course, this week is Passion Week, which focuses on the Passion of Christ.  It serves as good preparation for Holy Week, which begins this Palm Sunday.

I think this a good time to post the following excerpt from Pilot Point based on a location on Interstate 20.  For years, the Kendrick Religious Diorama portrayed Bible events, including the Passion.  And they placed on a mound just off the north side of I-20 in West Texas a freestanding portrayal of Jesus carrying his cross to remind people of Christ’s Passion and to make people aware of the diorama.

Here you may find some history concerning the Kendrick Diorama.  I’ve called a number I found to see if perhaps it has reopened.  But I received no answer.  So I guess it is still closed.  And, as it has been many years since I’ve driven that stretch of I-20, I do not know if any remains of the little statue remain on the mound.

Here is the passage in which the 13-year-old orphan Clayton Hays first sees the statue of Jesus in the midst of a dust storm.  Yes, this location is of significance to the novel more than once.  But I shall not say more.

Grains of sand blew away from him. He focused on them, following them until they disappeared. Then, he made out waves of dust and sand surrounding him. The waves blew past and away from him. He gazed at them, wave after wave. Soon, the sand blowing away from him looked to him like a tunnel of dust with never-ending walls. The walls of dust led to a point of nothingness. The point shifted around with the shifting wind. Laying his head against the seat, he kept gazing out his window at the dust blowing away from him in a tunnel of chaos. His mind drifted off with the dust. It seemed time and the world was being blown away past him into an infinity of dust.

         He was almost drifting off to sleep when something caught his eye. He lifted his head and saw something to the left of the road that he had noticed on drives before. But seeing it through the dust made it strange and haunting. He turned toward it. On the side of a rough, steep mound were large letters stuck into the soil. Clayton could make out “KENDRICK RELIGIOUS DIORAMA.”

         On top of the hillock was a lone small statue of Jesus. The statue was draped in a light blue tunic—light hues out of place in the brown darkness—and crowned with a garland of thorns. His eyes were fixed downward on the dark way ahead of him. He was walking weighed down, carrying a cross amidst a field of crosses.

         Wind and dust were whipping around him. And the cross was heavy. But, though burdened and weary, he did not totter or waver.

         The boy had seen many paintings and statues of Jesus, but this one was different somehow. This Jesus was so forlorn and windblown, and so alone, as he carried his cross. Seeing the lonely shadow of Jesus bowed over through the dust, it seemed he was carrying the whole weight of the dust storm as well.

         The dust thickened and obscured the lonely hillock, and Clayton could see it no more.

         Before, the boy had always thought the mound was overly religious. But now he was strangely moved by it. He stared back into the dust toward the veiled hill.

         He turned back forward in his seat and let his mind wander.


Pilot Point is available in both print and Kindle on Amazon.

This Friday and Saturday, I will be doing book signings for Pilot Point in Denton and in the town of Pilot Point itself.  The schedule is as follows:

Friday, March 27th
3-6pm    Recycled Books  (A great used book and music store, by the way, where I’ve bought any number of books, including from the Victorian era.)

Pilot Point:
Saturday, March 28th
10am-noon Sweetwater Coffee House
1pm           Pilot Point Community Library
around 2pm  Lowbrows

And do be sure to like Pilot Point on Facebook.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ride On!

A favorite hymn of mine is Ride on! Ride on in majesty!, particularly by the tune of Winchester New.  (On Jordan’s Bank, another favorite, is a more well known hymn commonly sung to that tune.)

Since the subject of the hymn is the Triumphal Entry, it is associated with Palm Sunday.  But my parish sung it as the recessional hymn this Passion Sunday morning yesterday, and it indeed does meditate on the Passion of our Lord.

I’ve always found the contrast in the following lyrics brilliant and moving.

In lowly pomp ride on to die.

Christ’s Triumphal Entry is majestic, yet at the same time lowly, on a donkey even, and a ride to his death on the cross.  And Henry Milman captured that so well in so few yet clashing words.

I have to confess I could not quite finish the last verse yesterday.  The words of the hymn and my inability snuck up on me and suddenly caught me unawares.  Those darn allergies made me tear up, don’tcha know.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow your meek head to mortal pain;
then take, O Christ, your power and reign.

May you, too, find this Passion Week and the coming Palm Sunday and Holy Week moving with a fresh vision of the majesty, humility, love and Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Seeing the Choir of King’s College Cambridge Again

In addition to doing book signings for my novel Pilot Point next week in Denton and in the town of Pilot Point itself, I am looking forward to seeing the Choir of King’s College Cambridge again in Dallas on the 26th.  It is part of their U. S. Tour that I believe begins tonight in New York.

This, of course, reminds me of the very first time I saw this great choir just over ten years ago, also in Dallas.  It was a wonderful night.  And my attachment to the Choir has only grown through the years.

This will be the third time I’ve attended a U. S. Tour by this choir.  It has been excellent the past two times and surely will be again.  If you can get a ticket, I highly recommend attending.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Return to Pilot Point

I’ve long desired to return to the town of Pilot Point with my novel Pilot Point.  That time is now near!  Also, I will get to return to Denton as well to have a book signing in the very same building on the Square where I lived for four years.

Here’s the schedule:
Friday, March 27th
3-6pm    Recycled Books  (A great used book and music store, by the way, where I’ve bought any number of books, including from the Victorian era.)

Pilot Point:
Saturday, March 28th
10am-noon Sweetwater Coffee House
1pm           Pilot Point Community Library
around 2pm  Lowbrows

If you can make one of these appearances, be there!  If you cannot, Pilot Point is available in both Kindle and print at Amazon.  Also, do like Pilot Point on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

What Every Leftist Should Be Told

Ace of Spaces regularly has a comment of the day or two.  And one they picked for overnight probably should be Comment of the Month at least.

But first, a little background.  The People’s Republic of Seattle recently passed a $15 an hour minimum wage in the face of warnings that it would result in business closings, particularly restaurant closings, and lost jobs.

Now, lo and behold, popular restaurants are closing by the score amidst much handwringing.  Gosh, who would have seen that coming?

But at least one good thing is coming out of this debacle – an object lesson that feel-good “progressive” solutions do not work.  Of course, some (most?) Leftists refuse to get it and remain as self-righteous as ever, e.g.:

This thread and discussion has been hijacked by thoer [sic] who believe greed is a virtue. Those are the same sociopaths and trolls that are uncapable [sic] of having a [sic] intelligent discussion about community or society, the same unintelligent trolls who think socialism and communism as the same thing, the same people who think Obama is a American hating Muslim. You made my my [sic] point. See ya.

Which comment on a thread prompted the following comment.  And its application applies far beyond Seattle.  This should be read to everyone who voted for Obama twice and has otherwise acted to impose tyranny on those not as enlightened as they.

No you don’t get to get away with that. You don’t get to advocate policies which allow you to use force to deprive people of their jobs and their opportunities and then claim that those who would have provided the jobs are the heartless ones.

You don’t get to trot out the insipid, mindless, tendentious talking points about how you are morally or intellectually superior when every “solution” you proffer is destructive and is based upon forcing others to do your bidding. You don’t get to decide whose job is worth preserving and whose isn’t and still claim the moral high ground.

You have to own this. You have to accept responsibility for the suffering your ignorance has caused and you have to understand that there is no way forward as long as you remain ignorant. Until you can begin to think rationally instead of being so full of hate that you think the best solution to every problem is to use force against those you disagree with then you can’t be accepted into the company of decent people and will always be seen as supporting those who would oppress us because that is exactly what you are doing.

To which I can only say, “Hear! Hear!”

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lois Lerner, Lisa Jackson, Hillary, Eric Holder . . . Sense a Pattern?

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal comes word that Eric Holder used e-mail aliases to conduct business, not unlike former EPA czar Lisa Jackson.

But I’m sure “Henry Yearwood” has complied with all Congressional subpoenas.

And, of course, the IRS and Lois Lerner are still trying to cover up their attacks on the unapproved free speech of real Americans even though the IRS story of Lerner’s magically disappearing e-mails has been exposed as a big lie.

Sense a pattern?

This is a regime that conceals its misconduct and attacks on Americans by using secret e-mail accounts and aliases to evade accountability and violate the Open Records Act.  And then it “loses” or erases e-mails for good measure ala Lois and Hillary.

One does not have to be conspiratorial to see this.  It has become obvious by now.

This is a criminal regime disguised as an administration.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Enemies and the Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent

The traditional Anglican Collect for the Third Sunday in Lent reads as follows:

We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants, and stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Now, asking God to defend us “against all our enemies” may be off-putting to modern ears.  Some may write that clause off as backward and medieval.

They would be mistaken.  The medieval Sarum rite (i. e. the rite dominant in England just before Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer) contains no explicit mention of enemies here.  The Sarum collect simply asks God to “stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence [period].”

So Thomas Cranmer added “against all our enemies” - understandable given all the enemies he had!  His BCP also has us asking for God to “defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies” every Morning Prayer.

Again, in this post-modern age of moral equivalence, it may grate to hear prayers for God to deal with enemies.  But Jesus commanded us to love our enemies and to pray for them.  He did not ask us to pretend they do not exist.  And such an exercise would be pseudo-enlightened foolishness indeed.

One need only glance at the news to know Christians have plenty of enemies today, many of them deadly.  ISIS and Boko Harem are only the more notorious of them.  And although there have been times in the West when Christians could deceive themselves that their enemies were few and far between, that is certainly less and less the case today when, say, running one’s business in line with one’s faith can bring punitive fines, or when even running a charity in line with Christian principles can get it on the wrong side of the law.

Now, of course, the Bible reminds us, including in the Lent 3 Gospel from Luke 11:14 ff., that the chief enemies of Christians are spiritual, not “flesh and blood.” (Ephesians 6:12) 

Nonetheless, it is meet and right during such a time as this to keep on praying for God to defend us against enemies both spiritual and earthly.  For both are most certainly out there.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Brief Reflection on the Diocese of Ft. Worth’s Victory

Back in May of 2007, I happened to be at an Anglican ministry meeting at the Diocese of Ft. Worth’s Camp Crucis when word came out that the diocese was leaving The Episcopal Church.  I remember the excitement of the priests there that they manfully but not altogether successfully restrained.

Afterward, I had one of those small experiences that impress upon the memory.  I was driving on the narrow, pretty country road that leads out of Camp Crucis.  I reflected on the risk the Diocese of Ft. Worth was taking in order to be faithful.  I thought how awful it would be if the diocese were to lose the lovely camp and the rest of their property to the lawsuits that were sure to come.  And I hoped and prayed earnestly that it would not be so.

So the news that the lawsuit is virtually over and that the (real) Diocese of Ft. Worth has won increases my thankfulness to God.  Thanks be to God indeed.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Closer to Permanent Tyranny . . . and a Third Party

I have several observations about Boehner’s cave on funding DHS and Obama’s illegal Immigration Action.

First, let there be no doubt about it – Boehner and McConnell planned to cave on this all along.  They and their Chamber of Commerce masters want to import cheap labor as much as Obama wants to import Democrats.  And although the Failure Twins were put in their positions by voters wanting to stop Obama, they do not share that priority, not much anyway.  Ace has it right:

Each of Boehner's and McConnell's "defeats" are in fact planned in advance. They are not trying to advance the conservative agenda; they are attempting to con conservatives into believing they have attempted to implement conservative policy, when in fact they were delivering their political deliverables to their Donor Class paymasters all along.

Second, because of this cave, we are closer to a prolonged to permanent tyranny voted for by imported and bought Democrats.  The venerable Phyllis Schlafly is as right as always:

The Obama Democrats have an audacious scheme for winning future elections. They just plan to import 5 million non-citizens and credential them as voters who will, in gratitude, vote Democratic.

The way this devious formula works is stunningly simple. Just get the new Republican Congress (under Speaker John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell) to pass a full-funding bill for Homeland Security without any exception for the funding of Obama's illegal executive amnesty, which will allow Obama to give work permits, Social Security numbers and driver's licenses to 5 million illegal aliens.

Once the 5 million so-called undocumented persons are given those valuable documents, there is no way to stop them from voting. That conclusion is drawn from the testimony of voting experts such as Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who told the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Feb. 12, "It's a guarantee it will happen."

Kobach's warning was reinforced by testimony before the same committee by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who noted that the 5 million non-citizens would receive the "same documents that federal law requires the states to recognize as valid forms of identification for voter registration." And once an alien registers to vote, Kobach said, it is "virtually impossible" to remove him from the voter rolls.

And, as Schlafly goes on to say, the imported Democrats will get lots of welfare goodies, paid for by us sucker taxpayers, of course, to keep them voting Democrat.

Third, we are now that much closer to a strong third party in America.  The Republican base, including me, is fed up.  We voted strong in 2014 and gave a clear mandate to the new Republican Congress: S.T.O.P.  O.B.A.M.A.  Yet we get this?  We still get Republicans lying down and enabling Obama’s tyranny?

As I noted in December, the Republican establishment does not get the political danger.  They do not get the breadth of the anger.  But if they nominate a Jeb Bush after caving again and again to Obama, they will get it all right.  They will get a third party/independent run as has not been seen for decades. 

Monday, March 02, 2015

The New Intolerance, Self-Censorship, and this Humble Blogger

Probably the best piece I have ever read on the intolerance of the “tolerant” “inclusive” etc. crowd is Mary Eberstadt’s “The New Intolerance” just now published in the March ‘15 issue of First Things.  It is not yet available for free to non-subscribers.  But a video of the lecture upon which it is based is available for viewing.

One of Eberstadt’s points is that the new intolerance is bringing about a poisonous atmosphere in which Christians among others choose to self-censor.

…It makes people think twice about what they say in a bad way.  And it makes some of them press “mute.”

[The new intolerance] is dangerous not only for the obvious reason that it spells censorship, but even more because it spells self-censorship.

To illustrate how strong the pressure to self-censor has become, I am (You may need to sit down now.) considering some self-censorship myself.  Yes, I know.  Me, of all people, self-censoring?

No, there have not been any recent incidents or significant threats, attacks, etc. in retaliation for my speaking the truth (at least none that I know of.  Some recent computer/traffic behavior is strange.).

But, as you may have noticed, I am considering some future changes in my life and focus.  And making myself a fat [Self-censorship there. – Ed.] target for those with a totalitarian mentality does not fit well with those future possibilities, particularly when the totalitarians enlightened are in power to a large extent.  And those not having any official power are all too willing to use brownshirt activist tactics against the BIGOTS.

Admittedly, I am not a particularly big target – for once, I am thankful traffic at this blog is not what it once was.  But it still very tempting to say I have done my duty; now I am going to retire from political/cultural combat and move on to quieter, more rewarding pursuits.

Yes, quite a bit different than this post six years ago.  But life change in the midst of pressure to self-censor can do that to a man, and to a culture for that matter.

Please pray for the West, for the United States . . . and for wisdom for me while you are at it.