My Fair Islam

Rep. Clay Higgins of Louisiana has posted a threat to “radicalized Islamists” (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Higgins claims that his words are being twisted by the left for political gain.

And what, my dear Mr. Higgins, do you think the ISIL propagandists are doing right now? Telling the impoverished Muslim world that they will find security if they recite the Pledge of Allegiance with marbles in their mouth?

After all, from their point of view, America sends special forces and fighter jets around the world to murder women and children.

There’s no tracing back to the origin of fault. Your job as a political leader is thus not only to fund security, but to build coalitions that reach across sectarian lines. That includes running incendiary words past Islamic leaders. They’re the ones that bear the brunt of hatred, and you damn well better ask permission before you claim the privilege of “free speech.”

The Solution to Sin


The Bible documents the human struggle with sin. It begins with Cain, who was forgiven for slaying his brother, and ends with Jesus, who forgave those that placed him on the cross. In between, we have a number of object lessons in failure. Each intermediate step serves the divine purpose in preparing human nature for the manifestation of Christ, but each step hits a dead end.

Each of these stages presents sin in terms that reflected the mechanisms used to control its expression. Prior to Noah, sin was a violation of intimacy with God – a choosing to seek our own path in the world, and thus to allow external influences (the serpent or the presence “crouching at the door”) into the sacred relationship. With Moses, sin took on a legalistic tone: only a chosen few were allowed into the divine presence, and forgiveness was something bought by sacrifice. With…

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Final Advice

Kevin – eldest son – is graduating in three weeks from UCLA. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for his graduation present. I’m conflicted, naturally, as he is heading off to Google and will probably be making more money than I do next year.

Overcoming that is the richness of the experience that I had parenting him. That role has attenuated over the last four years. But there are wonderful memories. They start with keeping the Legos sorted in the drawer organizers so that he could exercise his imagination knowing exactly where the perfect piece was waiting. They include the two boys whacking each other on the butt with tennis rackets after stuffing their Pokémon comforters into their one-piece jamies. They peak with him lecturing me on morality at dinner at UCLA during his sophomore year – myself taking great satisfaction that he had internalized the lessons that I offered him a decade earlier as we struggled through a destructive divorce. And they conclude with me becoming aware of his painful struggle as IEEE president trying to manage a 300% increase in membership, and wondering why he hadn’t called for advice.

My first intention was to put together a scrap book, but the memorabilia ends with elementary school. I considered buying him a piece of art, but that’s such a personal choice.

As I considered this problem over the last two weeks, I’ve had occasion to ride down into the crafts section on the Santa Barbara Art Walk, looking for Olga Hortujac and Rio, two new presenters. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what appeared to be Native American banners. That came with a strong pull to stop and take a look, but I pushed it off.

Yesterday, though, when I stopped to explain my quest to Steve Richardson, he recommended that I visit Neal Crosbie’s booth. His directions were explicit, and I found myself at just the booth I had been passing.

The first thing Neil asked me is what I did, and I told him “Love people.” Pause. “But if you mean ‘How do I make money?’ – writing software.”

Neal does primitive drawings with crayon – not pastels, but actual wax crayon. They are demanding pieces: crude stick-like outlines filled with delicate detail that is overlaid with chaotic sprays. The visual focus of each piece is a blocky figure with expressive eyes and knobbly knees.

Neal writes an aphorism onto each piece. Fittingly – as he labels the figure “Coyoteman” – most are tongue-in-check. That Amerindian god seems to channel through Neal. We spent a half an hour together while I picked two pieces for my son, laughing merrily. How good a time we were having was related to me later by Steve, who told me “the laughter in that booth went all up and down the Art Walk today.”

Primitive art has the quality of not imposing specifics on the viewer. It is thus a potent means of expressing relationships.

So I have these two pieces for my son.

The first “Fuck It Cross the Great River” evokes our scouting experiences, my pride in the courage he demonstrates, and an exhortation to project his virtues into the world.


The second “Art is a Form of Hypnotism. You’re Welcome” encapsulates my hope that he will learn to swim in the deep pool of mysticism that I navigate.


Congratulations on your accomplishments! I am a very proud father.

All the Vice of Jesus

Celebrating the power of love in the human greatest of Jesus.


Proponents of chaos theory love the story of the butterfly in Kansas. The butterfly flaps its wing, and a bird misses its prey. The bird banks, and in banking cools a column of hot, rising air. That decreases the pressure ever so slightly at higher elevation, which causes a slight change in the direction of a breeze. That breeze joins with a northerly gust along the coast, rather than merging with a sea-going breeze. That sea-going breeze then isn’t powerful enough to prevent the formation of a wind vortex in the Gulf Coast, and so a hurricane is born.

Does the butterfly “cause” the hurricane? No way in hell. A hurricane is enormously powerful, and the energy it contains must be dissipated somehow. All the butterfly does, in combination with a huge number of other actors, is influence the place and time of its occurrence.

Our lives are much like…

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Demons Like Us

I’ve shifted my exegetical dialog out to Until I finish the vlog series on Revelation (probably around the end of Fall), I’m going to repost material culled largely from my header pages.


When the Catholic exorcist Father Amorth confronted a demon (An Exorcist Tells His Story), he occasionally found one in a forthcoming mood. When asked what hell was like, their response was along the lines of “Hell is being absolutely alone.”

Now that may sound better than burning in a pit of eternal fire, but the preference tells us something about what it means to be a demon. Demons are demented, and they know it. Being alone means that they’re stuck with their insanity. It eats at them. They become their own torment.

The reason a demon longs to turn a person to their control is because it either provides validation of their sickness (“See: people like it, too!”) or it allows them to work towards healing. What’s interesting is that demons can’t take control of a person unless they are invited. It seems that the soul of a…

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A Demonstration of Strength

Fear rears it ugly head again this morning. I have no further wisdom to add to this, and last night’s events in Manchester do not shake my hope.


The juxtaposition could hardly have been more jarring: after completing today’s post, at morning break the lead story reported the attacks in France. In the worst violence since WW II, in coordinated attacks jihadists murdered as many as 120 people at three separate locations.

The reference to WW II is notable in revealing how much the world has changed. In relative terms, civil war and ISIL’s terrorist opportunism has brought Syrian suffering comparable to that of European populations during WW II. However, where indifference allowed Hitler to spread war across the continent from 1938 to 1944, cautious intervention in support of the rebels coupled with airstrikes and economic isolation has limited the spread of violence from Syria. As a result, to date the net cost to France of its intervention in the Middle East is tens of thousand of times fewer deaths than it suffered in WW II.

The natural…

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