Monday, December 27, 2021

Kwanzaa and Christmas: Let Not Your Heart Be Hypocritical

Also at Substack

Originally posted in 2013 at my blog and re-posted intermittently in the intervening years. Inevitably, many links from the original post are dead.

Since the creation of Kwanzaa, many have correctly noted that it has no basis in black American history or heritage. For example, its seven core principles all have Swahili names and the Swahili language is predominant in East African countries -- Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, etc. -- but black Americans are almost all descended from West African cultures. (Disclaimer: Despite being one of the rare Americans who does have some East African heritage, I have never celebrated Kwanzaa.) 
Some have even opined that the celebration of Kwanzaa is an anathema to Christianity. On this I’m…ahem…agnostic, since Kwanzaa appears to have no religious or spiritual underpinnings -- not unless one counts the religious and spiritual underpinnings of its creator, Dr. Maulana Karenga née Ron Everett. 
However, since this black American sub-cultural phenomenon has been dissected and denounced far and wide, I think it’s important to examine aspects of our larger, overarching culture, its traditions, and to know the truth about them
And so, we turn to Christmas and its questionable foundations.

Saturnalia (1909) by Ernesto Biondi, in the Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens.

Nearly all religious scholars agree that Jesus the Christ wasn’t born on December 25th or the equivalent on the Jewish calendar. The reasons? Number one, it was too cold. 
  •  Shepherds would not have been in the field at night with their flocks after October. (Luke 2:8) 

  •  Romans would not have called for registration requiring travel in December because of the weather. (Matthew 24:20) 

At what actual time of year was Jesus born? Follow this timeline and don’t take my word for anything. 

  • Irenaeus, one of the early church fathers (second century A.D.), claimed that Jesus was born in the 41st year of the reign of Augustus Caesar.1 Augustus was born Gaius Octavius and called Octavian. Irenaues counted Augustus’ reign from the second year following the death of the latter’s great-uncle and adoptive father, Julius Caesar (44 B.C.). The principate — “a system of monarchy headed by an emperor holding power for life” -- did not exist until Octavian founded it in 27 B.C., subsequently taking on the name ‘Augustus.’  If that’s so, then Jesus was born in 2 B.C. rather than the generally accepted 4 B.C. 

  • Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest in the course of Abijah, which was the eighth course. (Luke 1:1)

  • Essential knowledge: The priestly caste was organized by King David into 24 courses. The length of each course was seven days, from Shabbat to the next Shabbat. (1 Chronicles 24: 1-19) 

  • The last Jewish Temple was destroyed by Roman military commander Titus -- later Emperor -- during the sacking of Jerusalem on Tish B’Av 3830, which on the Gregorian calendar was August 4, 70 A.D. At this time, the first priestly course had just taken office. 

  • Working backward from the previous two facts, one can see that the end of Zacharias’s course occurred on July 13, 3 B.C. In Luke 1, it is noted that his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant at that time. 

  • If the birth of John the Baptist occurred anywhere from 271 to 280 days after that, then he was born in early to mid-April of 2 B.C. And according to the Bible, Jesus the Christ was born five months later, in September. We know this because Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy when Mary -- pregnant with Jesus -- came to visit her (Luke 1:36). Some even think it might have been September 11th. (BTW, the good people at that last link have a slightly different and much more detailed time line than mine.) 

So, why do we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th? Here's why. 

The first Church experienced hundreds of years of persecution -- first from the Pharisees, then from the Roman Empire. But when Emperor Constantine (of the western part of the empire and who converted himself and his empire to Christianity) and Emperor Licinius (of the eastern part) agreed to the Edict of Milan, Christianity became legal.  

Constantine -- who conducted the First Council of Nicaea -- used pagan ideas and practices in order to make the newly condoned celebration of Christ’s birthday more palatable to his mostly pagan subjects. So it is that Christmas falls around the same time as two of pagan Rome's beloved festivals and had taken on the trappings of at least one. 


The Saturnalia festival has an astronomical character, referring to the completion of the sun’s yearly course, and the commencement of a new cycle. Saturn, from whom we get the word for the day of the week, Saturday, represented by the sun at its lowest aspect at the winter solstice. The earth is cold, most plants are dead, and it was believed that the sun might also be approaching death. Today winter solstice is around December 21, but because of calendar changes, it was originally December 25th. Saturnalia celebrated the sun overcoming the power of winter, with hope of spring when life would be renewed. In Roman times Bacchus, the god of wine, became the lord of these festivals. (…) 

In the Greek myths, Kronos (Saturn) was the Roman Deity of Time and an ancient Italian Corn God known as the Sower. Male ruler of the Roman Gods prior to Jupiter, Saturn's weapon was a scythe or sickle.  Kronos was one of the twelve titans. Upon the advice of Gaea (who understood the changes of life and knew that Uranus would never, of his own accord, yield to the younger generation), Saturn castrated his father and thus separated Heaven from Earth. Gaea created out of flint...a mineral of her own substance...a sickle with which to complete the deed. It was the tool by which life was cut down at the time of harvest and was crescent-shaped like the moon, symbolic of cyclic rise and fall. It was believed that the spilled blood of Uranus formed such creatures as the Giants and the Furies, and that his genitals (which were tossed into the sea eventually produced the beautiful Venus/Aphrodite). 

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti [removed dead link]

But the actual choice of December 25 for Christmas was thought to have been made under the Emperor Aurelian because this was the date of the Winter Solstice and was the day devotees of Mithras celebrated the dies natalis solis invictus 'birthday of the invincible sun.’ 

There are two Mithrases [removed dead link]. One has origins in Persia-India; the other is Roman. Whether these are the same entity has long been in dispute. (Side note: Mithras and Saturn sound a whole lot like Osiris.) 

Oh and, by the way, early Christians who tried to worship according to the Bible -- that is, without the Saturnalia paraphernalia -- were excommunicated from Constantine’s Roman Church. 

And, finally, all the traditions conjured in our minds when we think of Christmas have their origins in various pagan practices. 

And then there’s this in Jeremiah 10:1-5

1 Hear ye the word which the Lord speaketh unto you, O house of Israel: 

2 Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. 

3 For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. 

They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. 

5 They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good. 

Emphasis mine. I think my point is made.  
Now, if people -- Christians specifically -- still want to celebrate the birth of Christ in the traditional manner, I don’t think there’s any harm in it as long as they know what they are doing and have knowledge of the foundations on which they conduct their celebrations. In Hosea 4:6, God said this about another set of His children: 

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

Additionally, bashing the foundation of something inconsequential like Kwanzaa while, simultaneously, adorning one's house with the pagan symbols of an empire which did not serve the Living God is hypocritical and, more importantly, spiritually dangerous. 
Just saying. 
(Thanks to Chuck Missler, 1934-2018) 


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God Does What He Wants, Part 1

Also at Substack 

Originally posted on January 24, 2014. Edited a bit because it’s my nature. Part Two will be at Substack for paid subscribers only. 

Does God make exceptions to His rules for humankind? Whether He does or not is the overarching theme of a friendly contention for the faith -- also known as argument -- that I've been having with several Christian men regarding women being pastors of churches. 

First let's cite the relevant passages: 

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 

 --1 Corinthians 14:34* 
Clearly, the apostle Paul did not want women to be leaders in churches or to even speak -- or so it appears. But what are we to make of the verse that follows? 

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 

The words 'woman' and 'wife' are the same in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament. One must know the context of the verse and chapter to know which one the writer means. Which one is Paul referring to? 
Here's a clue. Paul tells the Corinthian men to tell the women to ask their husbands questions at home if they want to learn anything about the church. So, who will the women who are not married ask? Who will widows go to in order to learn about being saved? What about unmarried daughters? Doesn’t Paul want unmarried ladies to be saved?
Or could it be that Paul was referring only to the wives of the men in the Corinthian church? 
And if Paul wanted no women to be deacons, what are we to make of these words written by him? 

1 I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea:  

2 That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also. 

 --Romans 16:1-2

The NIV translation renders it this way: 

1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchreae. 
2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me.

Was Phoebe a deacon or merely a church helper, a servant? And notice that she is to receive help, not give it. 
According to Strong's concordance, the Greek word used in the relevant passage is number 1249. Here's the definition: 

servant, minister, a person who renders help to others, in some contexts with an implication of lower status; also transliterated as "deacon," a trusted officer of helps and service in the local church 

(Emphasis mine.) 

Paul uses the 1249 version translated as 'deacons' or servant in Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:8 and 1 Timothy 3:12. That word in the Greek is diakonos. But there is another word which is translated as deacon or servant that Paul uses to describe deacons, even his servant Timothy, and it's almost the same word: diakoneo. So, what's the difference? 
Was Phoebe "just" a servant or was she a leader to boot? What if Paul made an exception to his rule about suffering women to speak and teach in the church? Could he do that? Was he allowed by his master, The Lord Jesus the Christ to do that? 
Let's see by concentrating on what we know to be true and by inferring from that. 
Paul was a servant of our Lord Jesus the Christ who was God, come down from Heaven, and made flesh. Did God make exceptions to His prescriptions for His servants? Let's check it out. 
In Exodus 13, God says that the eldest child (male) is the anointed one--the heir of a given family. This concept is called primogeniture. 
But was Isaac Abraham's eldest? No. Ishmael was. 
Was Jacob/Israel Isaac's eldest? No. Esau was. 
Was Judah Jacob's eldest? No. Reuben was. (1 Chron. 5:1) 
Was David Jesse's eldest? No. 
Were either Solomon or Nathan David's eldest? No. David had many other older sons. 
And was Jesus the Christ's earthly line from the eldest male child of David? No. He was descended from David's youngest, Nathan. 
Let's see if God made exceptions to some of His other rules. 
In Deuteronomy 7:1-3, God told the Israelites not to marry the Gentiles in the area. 
But what of Rahab the harlot -- an Ammonite and David's great grandmother -- and of Ruth the Moabitess, David's grandmother who, by the way, is the only Gentile who has a book in the Old Testament named after her? 
God does what He wants to do when necessary, especially when He wants to demonstrate a principle to humankind (c.f. the marriage of Ruth and Boaz which can be analogized with the relationship between Christ and His gentile bride: the Church). And because He gave human beings free will, sometimes the human beings who are anointed by Him will fail Him. When that happens, God moves to Plan B--and God always has a Plan B. 
With respect to female pastors, I think that most women are not suited to for that role. Most of us are too emotional--the way God made us. And even those of us who are not too emotional to be pastors have higher, God-prescribed callings: to be wives and mothers. 
But there are a very few women who are able to keep their emotions in check and who don't have responsibilities to husbands or their children. I think that God sometimes calls those very few to lead. 
Here's how you know who they are: 
1. They are not beset by the previously mentioned higher responsibilities, and, 
2. Their subject matter is the Word of God, topics related and that only. 
That last requirement is a must for male pastors as well, of course. 
For the most part, Paul was right about women, in his time, in modern times, and in every time period in between. But Paul wasn't God and the former most certainly knew his limitations.  

God can do what He wants with whom He wants -- this is inherent in the concept of sovereignty. It's up to each follower of Jesus the Christ to see what God's will is and His will is determined by talking (prayer) and, most importantly, listening (reading the Bible). Mix that with a huge dose of humility. 
Here's a revelation, one that is not so original: God is not a legalist; He is the Law. 

*All Bible quotes are KJV except where indicated otherwise. 


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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Expecting the Good

 Also posted at Substack.

It's always a pleasure and a blessing to be linked by Glenn Reynolds. My post, A Californian’s Day, received that honor. However after reading comments, I found that the Organized Left’s brainwashing efforts are quite advanced on the side of the Right. At least five commenters presumed that nobody approached me about a mask or lack of same in Trader Joe's because I'm black and female. 

I responded several times that I know that black privilege exists, but this was not one of those situations. But I wish I had responded differently.

As I think about it more, I wish I had pointed out that race did not even belong in that conversation. I wish I had noted how too many of us on the right — we who have been complaining about the Organized Left and the mainstream media and others using the cudgel of race — have become what we hate.  

It certainly isn't the first time I've seen white conservatives insert race into a conversation out of the blue and I don't feel offended or even sad about it. Why not? Because I've talked many, many times about how the Organized Left and its spiritual backers are shaping the battlefield for a coast-to-coast racial conflagration. And that battlefield begins in the mind. 

Jesus himself said that, in the last days, there will be ethnic wars -- nation against nation. I've pointed out in other posts that the Devil is the prince of the power of the air, and that what he puts forth on this air that we breathe, on the air in which our missives travel back and forth via Wi-Fi, are lies. He also puts forth anger, misconceptions, misinterpretation, acrimony, and his specialty: fear.  

As I said on Glenn's thread, sometimes it's about growing a pair, being brave and standing up for what you believe in and not about race.

It’s also about expecting good things to happen.  

In the original Californian post, I didn't mention that the young man who was happy to see my maskless face was white for one reason: it wasn't important. What was important was the fact that his eyes were open -- his intellectual eyes, possibly his spiritual ones and I wanted to share that. 

Today I read two articles in which the authors outlined what a shit-hole California has become, especially in my city Los Angeles and in San Francisco. San Francisco sounds worse than LA, but maybe I need to get out more. 

However, as a long-term result of more people opening their eyes, I expect good things to happen here. In fact, I’m counting on it. 

What’s the revelation? The truth and the Truth. But, in order for those to reign, hatred and fear must be conquered.

Our minds must be renewed. 

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Saturday, December 18, 2021

Remembering Philip Ochieng

I've put it off long enough, but now that I'm back to writing regularly, I can feel the weight of it. 

My biological father, Phillip Ochieng, passed away back on April 27th at 83. For those who know my history, you can imagine the difficulty I'm having with it. It's not the usual difficulty -- grief. It's difficult to grieve for someone who was never a real part of your life.  

Though I know that my Kenyan siblings, nieces and nephews and many others miss him, I think they know this to be true of me. And though it's probably painful for them to hear it, it had to be said.  

After a lifetime of being different from other black Americans, I'd like to try to make this elegy not about me, though it's almost inescapable.  

My father came to America in 1959 via the Mboya Airlift.  

When the students of the Mboya Airlift were hand-picked to come to America, it was for a specific purpose: to educate demonstrably gifted Kenyan and Tanzanian students in the Western tradition and to send them home to be the leaders and information venders of their countries in preparation for independence from the European colonial powers. One of these students was my biological father, journalist Philip Ochieng. 
That was in the late fifties to early sixties and most of the students did return home. The Airlift was a privately funded endeavor by the likes of the Ford Foundation, the Kennedy Foundation, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harry Belafonte. I’m sure that there have been other experiments like it. 

My father was famous, though I didn’t know it until I was 35, nearly at the beginning of the Internet Age, when I had the tools to search for him. It was then that I discovered that he was one of most celebrated writers in Kenya, possibly in all of Africa. I had no memory of him because he and my mom divorced when I was a baby, he returned to his native country, and there had been no contact since then. That story might sound familiar.  

If I listed all the things that happened since then and now that I am 60, this post would be much longer than it’s already going to be. 

In 2016, courtesy of a friend and fan of my blog, I got to make my first trip to Kenya, meet my father, my Kenyan siblings and a goodly portion of the rest of my family in the country. It was a joyous, blessed occasion and I hope to make the trip again, even though my father is gone. 

His second wife, Jeniffer Dawa, preceded him into the next world not long after my visit. My brother Charles says that Father seemed to lose his spark of life after she was gone.  

His funeral was public and online. Many tributes were paid by Kenyan dignitaries and other notables-- and by the many persons that my father helped in their writing careers. 

It was a sight to see. 

His body was interred at the family compound near Manyatta, Kenya.  

Father had two weekly columns; he was very prolific for a long time up until 2020.  

One column was on Kenya politics and the other was a treatise — often an erudite rant — on English grammar. It wasn't so much that regular, everyday Kenyans were using bad grammar, it was that Kenyan journalists were using it. I enjoyed that column very much and saw so much of myself every time I read it. 

I've always known what my calling was. Remember those times in school when you were about 10 or 11 and the teacher asked everyone what they wanted to be when they grew up? My fellow students offered the standards: doctor, nurse, policeman, fireman, or some other admirable profession.  

I didn't want to be any of those. When the teacher got around to me, my answer was almost reflexive: writer. I hadn't even given it any thought.  

By the time I discovered that my father was a celebrated writer, I was writing for myself, mostly just to get things off my chest. Then when blogging came along, I began writing for the public and was getting good responses.  

It's amazing how alike two people can be when one is descended from the other but there has been no contact between them. 

We've both written books. His are: I accuse the press: An insider's view of the media and politics in Africa and The Kenyatta Succession. Additionally, he was the uncredited editor of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

I have only one so far, but here it is next to one of his.  

The color scheme is purely “coincidental.” He was impressed that I dabbled in fiction. 

His biography, The 5th Columnist, was penned by Liz Gitonga-Wanjohi and published by Longhorn Publishers in 2015. 

Here’s a good summary of his life – despite the sensational headline and aside from the fact that there are some grammar errors in it. My mother and I are mentioned.  

Wherever he went, Father seemed to have a penchant for pissing off the powers that be.

It is as good a legacy as any. 

As I do for all my family members, I prayed for my father – that he would come to know Christ in this life and follow Him. Father was a public atheist, denouncing the existence of God at least once a year in his political column. But Charles says that Father asked the clergyman attending him in his last days to pray for him. So, I’ll have to be content with that.  

God saw fit to give me more than one father (three) and more than one mother (two), and I am grateful for all of them. But I know for a fact that many of the gifts I have I came by honestly. 

I hope to see you again, Father. 

Thursday, December 16, 2021

A Californian's Day

 Over a year ago, I walked into Trader Joe’s without donning a mask and no one said a thing. 

Since then, I’ve never put on a mask there, though almost all other customers do, as does the entire staff. Keep in mind that we’re talking about Los Angeles here. 

Every member of the staff has said nothing about my maskless face and has been unfailingly polite and friendly, as was so before January 2020. One might call TJ’s the Chick Fil A of grocery stores. At least that’s been my experience. 

Customers give me the occasional side-eye, but I’ve never been Karen-ed. 

And then today there was Joel,*a young man with friendly brown eyes. As he rang up my groceries, he said: 
“It’s so nice to see a smiling face after a day filled with masks.” 

I was pleasantly shocked. 

Me: “Not many know that Trader Joe’s doesn’t enforce mask wearing.” 

Joel: “That’s going to change soon. Some people are going to get fined and arrested, Even though there’s no law on the books for it.” 

Well Holy Cow! The kid knows the truth! 

I told him my name and that I'd look for him –- his eyes actually — when I come back to the store. 

I bet there are many more working men and women in CA who make their money quietly and keep their mouths shut until the right time. 

I think we should find a way to encourage them. 

*Not his real name. 


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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Nothing Better To Do

Also posted at Substack. 

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Warning: Bible quotes ahead. Sharper than any two-edged sword.

Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea. 

Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. 

Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 

And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God. 

10 And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. 

11 As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. 

12 Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said. 

13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance.  

-- Joshua 14:6-13* 

30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 

31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.  

-- Isaiah 40:30-31 

I’ve never been shy about telling others my age – or my weight. The only time I was depressed about getting older was on my 30th birthday. On that day, I walked from my apartment to the corner liquor store to buy a bottle of wine. When I went to pay for it, the man behind the counter demanded – rather rudely – to see my ID. Puzzled, I handed it to him, and his face changed. 

“Wow. Today is your thirtieth birthday.” 


“I thought you were some teenager, in here trying to illegally buy some booze.” 

I smiled. “Oh.” 

“Happy Birthday.” 

I went away considerably less depressed, and I’ve never been concerned about my age since. 

It was only a few years after that birthday when Jesus got ahold of me. 

A couple of months ago, weeks after my 60th birthday, I got into a disagreement with a random person on Twitter. Be advised: generally, I toy with randos on social media for my own amusement, though, blessedly, sometimes we come to an understanding and end up following each other. The latter, of course, are in the minority of cases. This was not one of those. 

I was enjoying the exchange, however, it happened on a Sunday morning. So, without notice, I left off troll-chewing and began to get ready and soon the conversation was forgotten. I got ready, got moving, arrived, and was in my seat for regular Sunday worship with my mind on the Lord. 

Hours later when I returned home and got back on Twitter, the person was lambasting me for “being a coward “and not answering whatever question he/she had offered. 

“Dude. I have higher priorities on Sundays: church.” 

Troll: “Well what else do old-ass women have to do?” 

I have since added the hashtag #OldAssWoman to my Twitter profile. This is proof that trolls have uses. 

It wasn’t the first time that I have been “criticized” for failing to have died young. And what is that about, really? 

This missive isn’t intended to celebrate the greatness of old people in general or old women in particular. It’s to celebrate the greatness of God and some of His blessings available when we walk His way. 

Caleb and Joshua were the only two ancient Hebrews who had been born in Egypt and who got to live in the land promised to their tribe. That’s two out of millions. How they got there: faith and obedience. As mentioned in the passage, Caleb was 85 when he made his request to Joshua – the leader of the tribe – and Joshua was roughly the same age. Both had all their marbles and Caleb says that he was as bad a motherfather at 85 as he was at 40. Faith and no processed foods.

And the prophet Isaiah points to God's promise that if we wait on the Lord for [insert thing waited for here], He will renew our strength in whatever form that strength takes. 

Now we all know that there are faithful people who have died relatively young or who have suffered from physical/mental maladies in old age. This tells me that the strength mentioned isn’t necessarily physical or mental. And one thing we have to all keep in mind is this: those who die and go to Heaven always have their strength made new. Always. 

This includes our crazy, delusional ways of thinking while we are here on this earth — things like the notion that it’s bad to be old and that old people don’t have choices.

However, it is indeed true that I have nothing better to do on any given Sunday than to corporately worship my God, in addition to privately worshiping Him on the other six days. 

Because whether one is old or young, there is nothing better. 

*Bible quotes are KJV.

This is not me, but these are my Old Ass Woman goals.

Sunday, December 12, 2021


Though I want to move out of Los Angeles, I’m still staying in California. My desire is to move closer to my church. It’s not in LA. 

A friend lambasted Christians who are moving out of this state, pointing to the presumably large amount of its inhabitants that are in need of the Gospel. When I agreed with him, another participant in the conversation laughed at me and listed some of the various bad things about this state, as if I didn’t know about them already. Basically, the dude California-splained me. 

Back in 2014, I had a choice. After I lost my house I could have moved to Albuquerque where my parents live. Had I made that choice it's likely that I would have had a place to live and a job before I even got there. But I loved my church. my pastor, and my fellow congregants and I didn't want to leave them. So, I asked God what to do. 

The next day when I went to church my pastor said: “I know it's getting difficult to live here in California, but I need you to stay here and help me build the church.” 

So, I had my answer. I kept on talking to God. 

“You know I'm going to be homeless right? OK. But I have some requests of you, Lord. If I have to be homeless, can you make it so that I don't have to live on the street, that I have a clean, safe place to live and that I will have food to eat?” 

 And God made that happen. For nine months of 2015, I lived in housing for the homeless, courtesy of the VA. It wasn't paradise to be sure; I got to see some things that I hope I never see again. 

But I look around my city now in 2021 and realize how blessed I was and am. I did what the Lord wanted me to do and he's blessed me for it -- not just once, but many, many times. 

If my pastor decides to uproot the church from California and move to a new state, I will go. Seems to me, though, that we and every other church preaching the Gospel in California are right where we are supposed to be. 

Are we missionaries? I suppose we are. Who would have thought that American Christians would have to reach out to the unsaved in our own country? So, laugh all you want, but if you are more inclined to pray for me, I appreciate it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

That Such Men Lived

Originally posted on December 7, 2019 at DaTechGuy Blog. Peter's old domain name has been corrupted and his new link is here. You can help Peter with his blog travails by donating to his account.

Doris “Dorie” Miller has always been my favorite Pearl Harbor hero. Is it because he was black? Partially.

Simply, it’s impossible to separate his race from his heroism, considering that the US. Military was segregated back then, that black servicemen and women were mostly assigned to segregated units, and that most were tasked with servant and “menial” jobs. Miller, himself, was a cook — Messman Third Class and Ship’s Cook Third class — aboard the USS West Virginia. Way back when I was in kindergarten, he was the first war hero to enter into my consciousness.

Miller was the recipient of the Navy Cross – at that time, the third highest award behind the Medal of Honor and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal  — for the following:

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Miller was doing laundry below decks on the USS West Virginia. When the alarm called the ship’s crew to battle stations, Miller headed a gun  magazine amidships [sic]. A torpedo had damaged the magazine, so the physically strong Miller began carrying the wounded to safety. Among those he attended to was the ship’s commander, Capt. Mervyn Bennion, who was mortally wounded. Miller then manned a .50-calibre antiaircraft gun, for which he had no training, and continued firing on the enemy until he ran out of ammunition and received the order to abandon ship.

Admiral Chester Nimitz himself pinned the Navy Cross to the young man’s chest. Miller died in 1943 when his subsequent ship, the USS Liscome Bay, was sunk by the Japanese. He was 24.

There was a Navy destroyer escort/frigate named in Miller’s honor – the USS Doris Miller (FF-!091), service date 1973 to 1991. [UPDATE 2021: A new USS Doris Miller (CVN-81) -- an aircraft carrier -- was commissioned in 2020. She's set to sail in 2026.]

What I love about Doris Miller’s existence is that the man was here for only a short time and was merely playing the cards that life dealt him when he performed the action that will long outlive him. When the challenge came, he stepped to it and met it — something intrinsic in heroes and heroism.

And this may seem like a change of topic, but it isn’t. Back when Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV; ironically) passed away in 2010, I remembered writing — prior to his passing — about his actions during WWII:

Byrd refused to serve in World War Two due to blacks being a part of the force, even in their lowly status before the desegregation of the US Armed Forces in 1948.  I cited that here using Wiki, but the reference has been cleaned up.

If, by some chance Byrd got to go to Heaven, I hope he gets to be Dorie Miller’s butler.

Whoever Miller’s Heavenly Cook and Messman is, I’m sure he’s just happy to be there serving a great man and is doing so with a smile.