Sunday Shrine: Cathedra Petri

By Ricardo André Frantz (User:Tetraktys) (taken by Ricardo André Frantz) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

 Today is the feast of the Seat of St Peter. “Upon this Rock I build my Church.”  Ahh Bernini.  So glorious!  (Yeah, I needed a break from Lent, too. ;-) )

  ⇓Yes, this image depicts an on-going mass.  Dude, taking pictures during mass? Really?  But it is a nice picture, and gives you a sense of scale.

But  I can understand why some people go, “but why all the stuff? Wasn’t Jesus a humble carpenter? What are you people on?”

Well, it’s like this. Jesus is your buddy, (which is a pretty radical position for a deity) and I’m not denying that. But he’s also GOD. And God is the omnipotent omnipresent creator of the universe and everything in it. He is Existence Itself. The culmination of All that is Good. He is Love, yes, I can go on and on about this all day… even all eternity. But the point is… think about when this was built.  What was it’s purpose?

⇓⇑Nice closer image of the chair. 

By Antoine Taveneaux (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“To glorify the Pope?” snarks the peanut gallery.  Well, I’m sure the man who commissioned this had an ego problem or two, but it was designed, built and dedicated to the Greater Glory of God.  At least some people here had intent, and it was meant not as a palace for a king, but a palace for God HImself. Meaning it should surpass the beauty of all palaces, the personal wealth of all kings, both in the past, in the present, and in the future.  And that is why Bernini made it as he did. Even if you question the Pope’s motives… will you question that this artist did not want to give his absolute best to God?

⇓Below here, is the altar of sacrifice. That is why the pillars have a vaguely abominable appearance. This is Cavalry.  Cuddly putti aren’t called for in that context. That is why the angels on top of the roof cornice are mourning..

By Dnalor 01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 There were holy men working for the church, even back then. And they did not question it. It was built for the Faithful, and for God.  A church was the only establishment where ordinary people would see this kind of thing.

Furthermore, comparing a Pope to a king is ludicrous. The Papacy is the longest standing democratic institution on Earth.   How so? Look at the first picture.   It’s a shot from the Papal enclave that ultimately voted in Pope Francis.   Also, the Pope only teaches what Christ teaches, and cannot make up new teachings. He can reformulate rubrics and how things are done, but it must always conform to what Christ taught, or his teaching is invalid. So he does what Christ says, and is a servant of his Church, mostly to proclaim unity, arbitrate squabbles and represent her in the global theater.

Returning to the topic of elaborate and gilded churches, I have one last point. There is a tradition and teaching that a church is where heaven touches Earth, a place where God dwells amongst his people. (Hint: This is my body.) SO it reflects not only the glories of Heaven, the presence of God’s Glory on Earth, but also the Temple on the Mount. (Hint: He shall return in Glory.) If that isn’t reason to have glorious surroundings, I don’t know what is.

⇓Another attempt at scale and impact, backing off, trying to soak it  all in.

By Michael Day (St Peter’sUploaded by russavia) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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A Declaration of Purpose


This is a distillation of What SF and Fantasy are. This core philosophy is the reason why they alone have not forgotten what made the genre great in the first place.

Originally posted on :

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • Humanity is worth saving.
  • One planet is not enough for humans. 
  • Experiments and efforts to reach space are not a waste of money, but useful for life on earth, and reaching beyond it.
  • The government is incapable of reaching out to the stars, private endeavors will be the ones to drive that movement.
  • We write and publish to persuade others toward that goal of reaching out to the stars.
  • Science Fiction stories further that persuasion and expansion of imagination.
  • This is why science fiction needs to be based in hard science, and also why fantasy needs to create the understanding of what it is that heroes do.
  • This is no way interferes with belief in a higher power – or conversely, requires belief in a higher power.

I listened to Toni Weisskopf deliver that thrilling declaration of what science fiction is for on…

View original 629 more words

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Ash Wednesday







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Valentine’s Day

Feel the luv!

Part I

This image belongs to Jason Bach. He is awesome. Scroll down to get a link. Go love his site!

Part II

MORE Awesome! Starring Moses the Black! Thank you, Jason! Squee!

And, here’s a link that Jason helpfully provides for this last panel. Oh, and Jason Bach’s website. Go get him lots of hits!

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Not Dead Yet: The Final Chapter


By 04ashplantc01 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Zombie dancer from Spamalot.

I suppose I should have explained this series sooner.  Occasionally I am wowed by the wide array of images that comes across when I search a word or phrase in Wikimedia commons. Then I decide to do a series of web posts about them.  In this case, it was “I’m Not Dead Yet”.  The fact that I turn 40 in a few days is entirely coincidental.  I’m not used to having age related stuff matter to me, so please have patience while I sort it out.

What struck me more is how it all seemed to tell a story that was related to the phrase– more or less. I mean, sure, I stuck in a ‘random’ collapsing galaxy (that was yet another hit on the search), but who doesn’t like pretty NASA images? And even a collapsing galaxy seems small and artistic when seen in contrast with a small part of the greater universe. Call it perspective on the bigger questions. Yet even that was not the end.  Okay fine, the last image being a zombie is my sense of humor getting the better of me. (As well as being true to the search. At least it’s a relatively attractive zombie.)  Ending on the theme of resurrection was not an accident.  But beyond that I don’t feel the need to spell it out.


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Not Dead Yet, Part VI: “Dead Man’s Grave”?

From Author Evelyn Simak License: Creative Commons

So Evelyn tells us she does not know why Norfolk (or this part of Norfolk) was once called “Dead Man’s Grave”.   I have a theory.  If you search for the phrase, “Dead Man’s Grave” using the googles (presumably not a resource had back when) you find a reference to 2 Kings 13:21.  OR, if you are a student of the Douay Rheims or older standard texts, 4 Kings 13:21.  So it might be an accident of Wikimedia Search that this image comes up under “Not Dead Yet”, OR… somebody knows more than they are telling.

For the benefit of tired click fingers  (I’ll start at 20 to give a BIT more context):

[20] And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year.

[21] And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life, and stood upon his feet.

To have this area called “Dead Man’s Grave”  in context of this reading, hints at miracles.  If you think that’s crazy, keep in mind folks were far more versed in the readings than we are today. Even if they couldn’t read, the majority went to Mass every Sunday (presumably, if the name is well and truly ancient, it comes from a time before Henry the 8th, when England was Catholic) and heard the scriptures read, in total, once every three years.

Contrary to popular belief, scripture was read in the vernacular in Church, in England, in the medieval period.  There was a popular movement to evangelize the masses, up to and including creating a style of Gregorian chant accessible to the average layman. Those were not sung in Latin as one would expect, but in English, and are also chock full of references to scripture.

People were wont to memorize things more often, because paper was expensive. Also the monks taught that sort of thing to young smart fellows.  The merchant class had to come from somewhere.  So if someone nearly dies on the road, but seems to come back to life miraculously, remembering the place by a reference to the book of Second (or Fourth) Book of Kings seems fitting.

But what do I know, I’m just a writer.  :)

One book I want to write, was one from the perspective of a medieval atheist walking  on a ‘pilgrimage’ to Aquinas’ Paris. He wants to argue with The Angelic Doctor, and has many encounters along the way. Think a cross between Mindwalk and The Canterbury Tales.  Here’s hoping I learn enough history to make that happen. Buty that one is on the back, back burner. This stove is getting ridiculous!

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Not Dead Yet: Part III

This is what a dying galaxy looks like.  Uploaders filed it under “Not Dead Yet”.

It’s awfully pretty, though. What a way to go.


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Not Dead Yet: Part II

Photographer: CC Kaylaborg Artist: Tony Trowbridge? Location Chance Street, Shoreditch, London

Yep. Hit a wall. But I’m digging my way out.  It’s hard to explain.  Not exactly blog hate, more like… what the hell am I doing, part MCXVII.

I can’t tell if those are pigtails or horns.  It works for me either way. I’m also perversely fond of woodcuts done well, and this fits that bill even if it’s technically a stencil.

Also, distracted with travel right now.  I will explain later, I promise.

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I’m Not Dead Yet

CC: Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK

There’s a fascinating story here, graciously included by Tony Hisggett with this enigmatic picture.

Back in 1861 several tenement buildings (at that point over 200 years old) collapsed, killing people inside. Thirty two souls were lost. All who were inside perished, save for one man. His name was Paisley Close.  (That is an awesome name that I will be stealing for the right purpose.) He was standing in a doorway, saying goodbye to his fiancee. His fiancee was sadly lost, as the room she sat in was demolished. Yet the archway over his head still stood, preserving him.  He was trapped inside by the rest of the building. He cried out to the digging crews, “Heave away, chaps, I ain’t dead yet.”

So they built a memorial to the Man who Lived.  So… connections to the famous dead parrot sketch, AND Harry Potter.

This whole thing is paraphrased by yours truly: the original text can be found here.


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Writer’s Block– My 2 cents (bring your own coffee)

By César Astudillo from Collado Villalba, Spain (Suddenly, a black rose) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons cropped by @mea culpa

By César Astudillo from Collado Villalba, Spain (Suddenly, a black rose) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
cropped by @mea culpa

Some have said that writer’s block doesn’t exist.  Writers like Terry Pratchett have said this, and one ignores such wisdom at your peril. But, because I’m me, I can’t take that at face value, and his pronouncement bothered me in some way.  Not because I believe, full stop in the common conception, but because there’s something to be taken from it. So I thought I’d use this blogpost to spew out my ideas and see if anything sticks.

The common conception of writer’s block is a misunderstanding of a writing process.  For each writer, that is different. For example, I know (by anecdote if nothing else) that John Ringo cannot write in the summertime. He needs the deep freeze of winter to get the writer thing running. Surely, for a time he thought that it was just writer’s block– and he’d be wrong, no matter how accurate the common conception feelz.

On top of this, you can’t argue he isn’t a “real author”.  Um, have you seen his list of titles? I haven’t seen the whole thing and what I know is impressive. So even with three months dry he can make a good living. That’s a reason right there to not give up the next time crap spews from the fingers for a considerable period.

Then there are people like Sarah Hoyt, who can’t write when emotions get the better of her. It sounds like i’m giving away deep dark secrets, but you only have to read her blog with a bit of self awareness to pick up on this fact, so I think I’m safe.  (Huns, spare me! There will be chocolate and beer, and… bribes. lots of bribes.  I see carp in my future.)

I think I fit into this latter camp.  Though for me, it’s not so much about being emotionally tweaked, but NOT being emotionally tweaked.  If I’m *not* tweaked, I’m not writing. Nope, I’m depressed. While it’s not unpleasant, it’s not productive and it REALLY sucks later.  The only other possibility is that I’m dead, and I don’t know any vampire writers. Oh wait, I do. And they all SUCK!

First, a minor digression about depression. It’s actually important to my point, so I’m going to examine the idea in some detail.

I’m one of those people who says depression is NOT an emotion. The real depression is  a lack of emotion, and a psychological defense mechanism to just stop emotions entirely. It’s really important if you are, say, a surgeon, a first responder, or basically have to deal with the shit in life without freaking out about it.  (Welcome to the world.)  It’s a fine thing in the short term, but when your body doesn’t stop or,  rather, doesn’t know WHEN to stop, that’s when that ‘disease’ we call Depression actually strikes.

The bitter will say it sounds great, except that this state is unsustainable. (Unless you are wired that way, but that’s another show.) For most of us, it’s marked by long bouts of misery, which happen when you get OUT of depression. Because you eventually have to get through all that crap that you were putting off. Why? Because the healthy response is to move on. Your body knows that even if you don’t, so it keeps coming back until you deal with it.

Sure, you could protect and nurture this misery, and we are all trained to do that to some degree. But, it has a purpose, it has a sense, and fighting the coping process leads to yet MORE misery.  And that, ladies and gentleman, grrls and nerds, is why writer’s block is not what it’s cracked up to be.

If you aren’t writing, that could mean there’s something you aren’t dealing with, and the best thing you can do is to get ass in chair, eyes OFF of the facebook and onto that scary blank surface that cries out to be marked with your life’s blood. Bleed on the page, and this too shall pass.  This is the basis for the standard advice.  Sadly, it’s not always applicable.

The worst thing is to just wait it out.  But you have to know yourself, because there could be other factors. So a certain degree of observation about your patterns and  stick-to-it-ness (oh so rare these days) is required to figure out the puzzle.

Sometimes, you have to go back to the brainstorming portion of your process and find that scrap of backstory that’s hiding from you.  More often than not (keeping in mind I speak of MY experience..) it’s also about YOUR past.  You listen to your characters through your own experience. If there is some part of your past you are avoiding or ignoring — for reasons, even good and sufficient– chances are that’s what’s standing in your way.

Sometimes, you have to read through your work in triplicate, to figure out what you have to see to move on with the story. Sometimes the characters aren’t just screaming in your head, but screaming through those words you put down months ago and forgot. Sometimes, it’s an old story that’s woken back up, and is trying to tell you something important. No, not speaking just for itself, but for a different story on the back burner.

Sometimes that message is just for you, and it brings you back to life after a long dark teatime. Perhaps it returns treasures from memories you’ve lost track of, or ignored. It unearths stuff you never dreamed would be important to anyone or anything yet are key to that next bit of prose, plot, or story.

Yet other times, it’s a sign that you have to get your ass OUT of the chair, and get your undead carcass outside. Maybe you need to see elephants. Maybe you need to do research about the business mores in Kazakhstan, or the armaments popular among the SS in WW II.  Maybe it’s about how alcoholics deal with unrequited love, or deep sea divers deal with the bends, or what a spaceship would really look like if it exploded– in space. First question, would it?  Aaaand, you are off to the races.

When I was a visual artist, I would get start feeling inadequate pretty quickly. Pretty much everybody was more talented than I was, and it was… just obvious. Sooner or later I’d complain about that, then withdraw into my own inactive stupidity.

That is when my best friend at the time would drag me kicking and screaming to the nearest art gallery for an opening of the most brazen, modern, and craptastic art he could find.  Because he knew that the moment I started spitting– ranting and raving about how not only could I do better, but a retarded five year old on crack could do better with half a crayon– chances are I’d beg off on our evening date and start working again. Sure, he’d be alone for the night, but I’d be alive, and he was sweet enough to care more about that than his own immediate comfort.

I’d like to say things have changed for me as a writer, but… not really. Except my set of inspirations are different. Handing me the worst book in history is just depressing, and doesn’t inspire me one bit.  It is good writing that inspires me.  I can’t hold a candle to it, but I HAVE to try. Otherwise that wacky cast of characters in my head will NEVER shut up, and I’ll just have to live with it. Misery to no purpose is the ultimate waste.  They want to live forever, after all, and the least I can do is try to make that happen.

Obviously, it may be different for you.  But don’t just try the first bunch of advice you come across. Go through the whole writing process and see where you need to be. Trust your gut, and don’t ever give up.

If there’s a log jam in the works, there’s a damn good reason.  It’s probably you, and there’s ample reason to look deeper until you find that reason. Keep in mind, sometimes it’s just the weather.



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