Wednesday, July 13, 2022
Since January.Supernatural, Part One: Weapon of War
Wednesday, January 26, 2022
Most people say that they don’t want to be slaves. What they mean is that they don’t want to be subject to the will of another human being under pain of punishment or of death. But I believe that slavery and slavers are often subtler. And I also believe that many only give lip service to their abhorrence of slavery.
Many black Americans are still angry about the enslavement of our ancestors, but that anger is selective. They are only mad at white Americans; never the Europeans or the Arab/black Muslims of the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade, or the various African tribal rulers. And they certainly aren’t angry at any form of present-day slavery. So what gives?
White Americans are closer by than Europeans/Africans/Arabs; additionally, it's easier to shame the former. It's also much easier than extending forgiveness. (Anger perceived to be righteous is a heavy ball and a chain, but it's also like an opioid. You think you can't live without it.)
But no one is ever free, not really.
“(19) … You are not your own; (20) you were bought at a price.”
This is a partial quote from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 6: 19-20), an observation for all Christ-followers.
When someone is bought and paid for, what does that make them?
Many times, Paul referred to himself as a slave of Christ, though the word is often rendered as ‘servant’ in English versions of the Bible.
This truth is offensive to some people and that’s unsurprising. I mean, who wants to be a slave? But it’s not about what we want, but about what is.
An additional truth is this: those who refuse God’s yoke are captives to the opposing force, either actively or unwittingly.
And the question that each one of us needs to ask ourselves is this: who do we want to belong to?
There is no third choice.
Back to black Americans. Thinking about the conditions of our ancestors' bondage in the Western Hemisphere, something radical occurred to me.
Upon arrival in America, [our West African ancestors] were forbidden under pain of death, to speak their native languages or use the names with which they had been born. Unlike all other immigrants to America, the African slave was forcibly cut off from these vestiges of the Old Country -- essentially the black slave in America became a new creation.Also from me:
[God allowed our West African ancestors] to go into captivity into two areas of Christianity: Europe and North America. It is in both of those places that many of our ancestors first heard the Gospel, believed it, accepted it, and relied upon it; and, conversely, it is how we were rescued from the curses and the main snare of the Enemy: idolatry—the chief form of which is known as Islam.
Could it be that the reason our ancestors were sundered from their old names and beliefs was a spiritual one -- to remove the ancient ties of the principalities and powers that ruled in West Africa of the time, namely Vodun (voodoo) and other pagan gods?
Something to consider, once one gets past the conventional ways of thinking.
Longtime fans might notice that I am posting pieces that I have published before with different titles and some editing, and these are free to all readers; I don't believe in making things exclusive which people can access for free elsewhere. There are, perhaps, two or three posts here which are new, but that number and the percentage will become much higher.
I've been blogging for almost 20 years, so I have a lot of material, much of which had previously gone unread. My purpose is twofold: to show new audience members some of the things that they have missed and to prove my quality. Actually, my purpose is threefold … okay maybe it’s fourfold!
Right now, I have
My short-term goal is to build up to 200 and to offer more paid-subscriber-only material.
I have thousands of blog posts. Some are very short, others are three-parters. And I have one four-parter, but that series is not really writing, but documentation on the Illegal and Unconstitutional Actions of the Obama Administration. With that one, a well-known and generous man did the legwork and provided the framework
My future plans include offering exclusive content for paid subscribers, mostly those will be video and audio offerings. I’d still like to write about political topics, but readers can probably tell that my heart and focus are centered on my walk in faith with Jesus Christ and I have a ton of material about that! It won’t be the usual, since my journey has been a very unusual one. I'm not the kind of person who's going to shake my finger at you about you sin, since I have too many to repent of myself.
I am the kind of person who will risk being called crazy for publicizing things I’ve seen with my own two eyes.
These things have been bottled up in me for too long and it’s time to let them out.
With that in mind – remember audio and video content plans – I need to make a big funding push. Subscribers and donations.
Fire alarms and water piks broken. I desperately need these things.
It’s crazy around here! I had to pull both alarms out of the walls to concentrate and to get any sleep, praying, of course, that no fires would occur while I’m sleeping.
I’ve had two laptops just stop working. It’s as if spiritual forces are trying to hinder and discourage me.
Also needed: vitamin refills and Angelpaste.
Back a few years ago, I had planned to build my video content. But when I looked at myself on camera, I looked fat and old. Well, I’m still old, but the loss of 35 pounds lessened the look somewhat, so I'll have to be content with that. The bottom line is that I want to look good on camera and replacing these things will contribute to that.
So, I implore you, hit one of my donation buttons below, subscribe, share and pray. Thanks.
UPDATE: Also need this. I’m into alternative methods of healing and maintaining good health.
A Christmas miracle
Many years ago, I experienced what I thought was the worst Christmas ever: my husband asked me for a divorce over the phone three weeks after I miscarried our child.
Ronald1 and I had been childhood friends; our parents were friends. We hadn’t seen each other in many years before we reconnected in 1991 and we got married that same year. I was active duty USAF and had been in for 10 years. During that time, I was stationed at DLI-FLC at the Presidio of Monterey, CA and attending the Russian Basic course. Ronald remained in LA before and after the wedding and we visited each other every two weeks.
When we discussed having a baby, I wanted to wait two years, but he wanted one right away. So, I went off the pill and we were successful immediately. But seven weeks later, we were in the hospital mourning.
That Christmas, I went to visit my family in Albuquerque – you can imagine how much I needed my parents. I wanted Ronald to come with me, but he refused, which I found strange at the time since it wasn’t as if he didn’t know my parents. I also sensed something else about Ronald: fear. He was afraid of my dad.
When I called him on Christmas Day from my grandparents’ house (pre-cell days), we were on the phone for a long time, though I don’t remember how long. I do know that I missed my family’s ritual holiday insult session – always hilarious -- due to being on the phone with him. He had asked me for a divorce, and I was trying to talk him out of it.
I reminded him that, before we married, he said that he didn’t believe in divorce and that it was one of the reasons I said “yes.” He claimed not to remember saying this. We ended the conversation not long after that and I cried in my dad’s arms.
Months later, I agreed to the divorce, but for reasons I didn’t understand back then, he was dragging his feet in filing. Then, one day, I was perusing a Monterey bookstore and my eyes “happened” to light upon an instruction manual: How to Do Your Own Divorce in California. It had all the instructions and forms that I needed!
Back then I didn’t have a computer or printer, so I went to a print shop to personalize all the forms. Everything was easy, since we had no children or community property. Neither of us wanted money from the other, at least not then; all I wanted my last name back. The lady at the store was impressed by my resourcefulness.
The entire process would cost us $180.
By the time I arrived at my next technical school, Goodfellow AFB, TX, Ronald still hadn’t filed, but I had my paperwork ready. I wanted to get this done because I was set to be stationed at Misawa AB, Japan and I didn’t want to have to deal with this matter from thousands of miles away.
So, I called him and told him what I planned to do. All he had to do was read the papers, sign them and send them back to me in the SASE that I would also send. Oh yes, and also a check for $90. I thought he’d be happy and grateful. Silly me.
He wanted to hear what the papers said, so I gave him a verbal overview, as stated above.
R: “You get more money for being married to me, so you should pay the whole fee.”
Me: “But you’re the one who wanted the divorce!”
R: “Well, I don’t have the money.”
Me: “Fine. I’ll pay it. I just want this finished.”
It was an inkling of what was to come in the conversation.
R: “What about your house?”
Me: “What about it?”
R: “California is a community property state.”
In an even tone, I explained to him the difference between community property and separate property, even as I felt my temper kindling.
Me: “You have no claim on my house because it is separate property. My maiden name is still on it.”
R: “What if I try to get a piece of the house anyway? What are you going to do then?”
I paused just for a few seconds, then spoke softly.
Me: “Well, California is also a state that favors women in divorce cases. So, if you find a lawyer dumb enough to take your case, we’ll go to court. Then when the judge rules in my favor, you’ll pay your lawyer fees, you’ll pay my lawyer fees, and you’ll give me $50,000 and whatever else I can think of.
“I will bend you over and butt-fuck you just for pissing me off.
“Now I’m going to put these papers in the mail. You do what you want to with them.”
I hung up. That was the last time we spoke to each other.
Three week later, the decree was back and signed. Six months later, I was Juliette Ochieng again.
A few years later after that, I was out of active duty and back in LA. If Ronald crossed my mind, it was only to hope that I’d catch him in a crosswalk and turn him into a hood ornament. But the fun of that fantasy faded and, after Jesus got ahold of me, the fantasy was extinguished completely. I knew from talking to my former sister-in-law that Ronald had remarried and that was fine. I suspected that he had been involved with this woman when we were married and that it was the real reason that he wanted a divorce.
But I could not prove it.
I was commanded to forgive him and that’s what I did. No, not all at once certainly. It is my experience that when you have been grievously harmed by someone, you have to walk in forgiveness over a period of time. Compounding the burden of the harm which my ex-husband did to me was this:
32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
— Matthew 5:32
Since that time, I’ve had more than one opportunity to remarry, but I didn’t take them. There were other reasons, but Jesus’ words about divorce was the primary one.
Fast forward to 2018.
The decade of the 2010s was one of great upheaval for me. Loss of money and property, treacherous friends – worse than my ex-husband – homelessness. Death of beloveds.
By 2018, most of that was behind me … but not completely.
Part 2 will be for paid subscribers only!
One of the things which occurs when one becomes a Christian is that past sins come back up to hit you in the head like a hammer. All of the terrible stuff that you blocked out and had no intention of ever thinking about again breaks through that spiritual wall behind which it was imprisoned. I call it the Wall of Forgetfulness and Rationalization. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior bulldozes that barrier and crushes it to powder.
"Oh yes. Remember when you did that? And that? And what about that?" I was a particularly heinous person in that I did what was right for me first and foremost and to hell with who it hurt.
Have I changed? In a sense, no. My first inclination is to still do what’s right for me first and all others second (a particularly strong trait in the first-born). My second inclination, however, now is to remember what that can lead to — becoming the type of person who not only sees truth as relative, but whose method of thinking always makes her desires equivalent to what is good and real and makes the opposite true as well: what she doesn’t want becomes wrong and false.
The Bible says that Satan is the Father of Lies; these progeny include the lies that you tell yourself. And once you get into the habit of lying to yourself about yourself, it becomes instinctive. But when objective reality goes on offense against your instinct, it interrupts the play of the little DVD of self-serving scenarios running in your head. If you resist, you scream "no!" and try to turn your "truth" into reality … if you're really far gone into self-delusion, that is.
A genuine conversion to Christianity throws cold water on all of that fantasy and shows you what you are and were on your way to becoming. Then it points you in the opposite direction, aka repentance.
You still fall short sometimes but you know you have sinned and you don’t try to cover it up or rationalize it away. Simply becoming a Christian doesn’t put Big J’s approval on everything an individual Christian does. We still sin and, if the conversion is true, we feel the sting of guilt even more keenly because we know what the rules are.
But also we know that we are incapable of sticking to the rules perfectly. And, most importantly, we know that our adherence to the rules isn’t what has saved and will save us anyway.
But what happens to the person — especially the one who calls herself a Christian —who continues to willfully take the wrong turn, who consciously makes the choices dictated by her appetites? Or her pride?
There’s a reason that one’s Christianity is referred to as a "walk of faith." Every step of the way is still fraught with choices; "Do I take the road of faith or the road of sin?" is a question that has to be answered … a choice that has to be made every single day, sometimes every single moment.
C.S. Lewis was ever mindful of the fact that Christians believe in eternal life; that the soul lives forever. In one of the chapters of Mere Christianity, "Morality and Psychoanalysis," he estimates how a person’s morality affects the soul’s composition and its eventual fate.
People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do the other thing." I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage impotence and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or to the other.
That explains what always used to puzzle me about Christian writers; they seem to be so very strict at one moment and so very free and easy at another. They talk about mere sins of thought as if they were immensely important: and then they talk about the most frightful murders and treacheries as if you had only got to repent and all would be forgiven. But I have come to see that they are right. What they are always thinking of is the mark which the action leaves on that tiny central self which no one sees in this life but which each of us will have to endure—or enjoy—for ever.
To me, this seems to be a particularly Catholic way of thinking — Catholics, feel free to argue — and though I have no intention of converting, it makes a lot of sense to me. If you’re going to be stuck with ‘you’ forever, it behooves you to try to become the type of person that you want to be stuck with for that long. After your threescore and ten are done (plus change, if you’re lucky/unlucky), all opportunities for modification will be past. To put it in geek-speak, in the eternal life realm, you'll have all the features and bugs that you’re ever going to have. Apart from radical change, a person is always headed in one direction or the other; therefore the time to make changes is now.
Because life is short. Well, this one is, anyway.
Thank you for your monetary and prayer support.
Original published in 2010.
A friend asked me about "black churches,” that is, churches which have majority black congregations and are, therefore, culturally black. She assumed that the church I attend is such and it is a fair assumption, just as it is fair to presume that I’m a Democrat. I no longer get mad at people for playing the odds if they are nice about it, as this great person was.
As it happens, however, the racial make-up of my church roughly reflects the racial make-up of the USA. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that the most segregated hour of Christian America is at eleven o'clock on Sunday morning. That may still be true in some places, but not in my world.
But that’s not why I have attended this church for nearly 20 years. Below, you will find out why.
A while back, I started thinking about how we Americans -- especially those of us who attended urban inner-city public schools -- have been short-changed with respect to our formal primary and secondary education. From that train of thought, I began to muse on how many of us black Protestant Christians have been cheated in the same manner.
When God the Father drew me to Jesus Christ and indicated to me that the latter had died for all my sins and for those of all humanity, it was the result of reading the Living Bible cover-to-cover. And, in addition, it was a beginning: the start of a learning process.
Some people remember the day on which they were saved, but I not. There was no lightning bolt of revelation. All I know is that, after being drawn to read the Bible, I began to believe what it said -- what God had done and what He promised. But, of course, I did not understand everything or even most things. However, it seems to me in hindsight that believing -- that having faith -- was the starting point. It is a point that many never get to because of bad childhood experiences both in church and out of it —experiences which are the fruit of ignorance, usually.
Most of us who are black and American were dragged to church as children -- if not by our parents, then by an older female relative, usually our grandmother. And, at best, it was an embarrassing spectacle. People would be screaming, sweating, and passing out. And when you asked your grandmother or your great-aunt what their problem was, she would say that they were having a “Holy Ghost experience.” (Well, my great-aunt would say that; some of my friends’ older female relatives were less patient with questions from children.)
I never stopped to ask my great-aunt what the scriptural basis was for having a “Holy Ghost experience” or whether that basis (it does), obviously because I did not know enough to ask such a question. All I knew is that I could not wait to get away from those crazy people.
Now I wonder whether the pastor of that church or any others of that day knew what a “Holy Ghost experience” really was or what it signified. Did they know what the precepts and principles were that under-girded their faith? Maybe. Maybe not. But if they did, they certainly were not imparting that knowledge to their flocks. Some may have tried and been told “hey, Preacher, if we want some of that book learning, we’ll go to school.” All I know is that, for me personally, the screaming, hollering, and falling out were off-putting. And let’s not even get started with .
Many years later, after my gradual conversion, I went looking for a place to regularly attend church services, found the same types of environments, and found myself feeling the same way as I did when I was a child. But I kept plugging forward and trying to stay with it. One church -- lead by a nationally known “bishop” here in LA -- featured on average one hour and ten minutes of floor-showing…er, praise and worship and about fifteen minutes of hollering…er, sermon on average. (Yes, I timed them.) After about five or six visits, I began to loath the place. My spiritual side asked, “what part of this is for our souls?” My carnal side asked, “why am I getting up on Sunday mornings, putting on a dress, pantyhose and make-up for this?”
Finally, I prayed about it and decided to stay home and make more decisions. From the day of that prayer, I was led to a local pastor who turned out to be steeped in biblical history. In addition, one of the pastor’s knowledge base pulled me in and that leads me to ask a rhetorical question: before the couple of decades or so, how many average, everyday American Protestant pastors mentioned, even in passing, that the Bible was originally written in three separate languages, none of them being English?
Not only did this pastor mention it, was also fluent in them—Ancient Hebrew and Aramaic for the Old Testament and Common (Koine) Greek for the New -- along with several other languages. Having been a German and Russian linguist in the Air Force, I felt like an idiot for never actively thinking about this before. However, the reason this pastor’s abilities piqued my interest is obvious.
I’ve been attending this for 18 years now and, while the original pastor has moved on to his reward, the new pastor has carried on in the same vein. Word studies, translation corrections and conceptual corrections, debunking the need for modern, unbiblical traditions like public testimonies and altar calls, illuminating the concept of what Paul said about women in the church — they are all a part of the services of this church. There I have relearned what I found out while learning foreign languages at the behest of the U.S. military -- that sometimes ideas get lost in the translation and, in this case, ideas that can make or break one’s faith.
In addition, the history of the Church, its struggles and its foundation in Judaism sit at the forefront of the sermons. It’s more like being a student of the church—a student of the person who is God.
The following is a cursory list of some personalities, topics and source materials that the two pastors have used and discussed. It certainly is only the beginning:
- Proto Indo-European language patterns
- Pentateuch (aka the first five books of the Torah/Old Testament)
- The Tabernacle
- Jewish Feasts
- Day of the Pentecost
- Origen Adamantius
- Septuagint (translation of the Torah from Hebrew to Greek; 2nd-3rd Centuries B.C.)
- Nicene Creed (4th century A.D.)
- Augustine (354- 430)1
- Pelagius (ca. AD 354 – ca. AD 420/440)
- St. Jerome (4th-5th centuries A.D) and the Latin Vulgate
- Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
- John Wycliffe (c.1324-1384)
- About how the publication of the Gutenberg Bible changed the path of Christianity (1450s).
- The importance of the Protestant Reformation and, thereby, about Martin Luther (1483-1546) and his Ninety-five Theses.
- William Tyndale (1494-1563).
- John Calvin (1509-1564)
- Council of Trent (1545-1563)
- About John Locke, Natural Law and how the idea of such is reflected in the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. (1600s)
- Walton’s Polyglot
- John Wesley (1703-1781)
- E.M. Bounds (1835-1913)
- G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
- My beloved C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), who went from hardcore atheist to ardent Christian believer and one of its most convincing apologists.
- Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
- Harvey Cox
And, of course, how these people, these councils, these concepts and these documents relate to the Word of God as originally handed down by Him to His prophets and recorded by them and how these relate to our being saved through faith in Jesus Christ.
Yes, I learned these topics in church. Do you think that this is a lot for Sunday church services?2 Well, apparently, many Christian ministers do as well and are content to feed their flocks the religious and intellectual equivalent of candy. No wonder so many who still say they are Christians and who really do believe in the saving power of Jesus Christ are not willing to get up on Sunday mornings and go to church. Why should they for a little singing, a little dancing and little hollering?
My point is that it seems that, while American secular education has been for the masses, it is certain that the same has happened to religious education. I, for one, hadn’t even known that the Jewish Torah and the Old Testament were one and the same.
We as adults spend time and money mastering the concepts and use of the tools needed in order to make a living. Why is it that too many of us Christians can’t be bothered or don’t know enough to be bothered to learn about the history -- good and bad -- of our faith? If we say that we are Christians and we believe in an afterlife,3 then our faith is of the utmost importance.
Remember what eternity means? It means ‘never ending.’ When we learn about our faith, we are gaining knowledge about our forever. And while there is nothing wrong with getting emotional about one faith, Christianity is not emotional at all and is, in fact, very logical. But don’t take my word for it; check it out for yourself.
My pastor asserts that a person need not leave his/her brain at the door when passing through the threshold of the church entrance. Well, thank God for that.
Thank you for your monetary and prayer support!
The great thing about doing what God wants you to do is that sometimes he has provided the tools for you to do it before you even ask. Twenty-five years ago, when I was a young USAF NCO/student at the Defense Language Institute learning the German language, an encyclopedia salesman was allowed to market to the troops, and I bought his wares. These included: the encyclopedia set, a huge three-volume dictionary (whose print has become smaller, strangely enough), a humongous Bible and the crown jewel…a fifty-four-volume set of the Great Thinkers, to include the works of St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
Unfortunately, I lost the whole set when my storage was auctioned off in 2015.
About half of the names, etc. came off the top of my head from what I remember from sermons at my church. The rest came from a review of notes taken during the sermons just from the past two years.
A very perceptive Christian pointed out to me that the afterlife is this life—just not in this type of body. It’s reminiscent of a C.S. Lewis quote: "You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body."