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Publishing: What does it mean?

I have always been a writer, since before I could even read or write. It’s simply who I am and how I was born to be in this world. But that being said, I was not born into the type of social-economic privilege that nurtures and supports writers. I was born into the type of disadvantage that restrains and diminishes creative expression…the type of disadvantage that attempts to smother the talents and abilities of anyone born under that yoke. So even though I was born a writer, it has always been a fight to find a time and a place where I could free the stories bottled up inside of me.

Years ago, when I suddenly did have a time and a place to write, I decided I would try to ‘get published’ and I did everything “right”. I researched. I bought and studied the Canadian Writers’ Guide. I spoke with someone who had experience in the publishing business. I prepared.

Also, at that time, I believed all that I had been taught about the publishing industry. It was honourable, fair and professional. Those who worked there were enlightened people always on the search for something interesting and new…new talent…new stories…old stories never been told before. They were the ones bringing the ‘magic of books’ to our society…to our world.

So, I wrote a youth novel.

I sent that novel out to the appropriate publishing companies, making sure beforehand that they were indeed accepting unsolicited manuscripts. I made certain to have the correct postage and to include self-addressed postage-paid return envelopes if they wanted to send it back. But despite all the work I put into it, the response was not what I expected.

Sometimes they sent it back saying they were not accepting unsolicited manuscripts, despite their website stating the contrary. Sometimes they only sent a rejection letter without returning the manuscript. One company had my manuscript for over a year without any reply. When I contacted them about it, they finally sent it back. It looked as though it had been read many times but was accompanied with a rejection form letter.

Alright, so it wasn’t a particularly professional or respectful industry. That I had to accept. And I thought it would end there, but it didn’t.

One morning I was reading the newspaper and turned to the page with the book reviews. There was a review for a new youth novel by an author contracted to a Canadian publishing company. When I read it, I felt sick. This novel had the exact plot of my novel, but they had swapped out my characters of colour for some white people with easily solved saccharine problems. I was so upset, that I never even took the time to ensure that they hadn’t actually plagiarized my work. I just didn’t want to think about it anymore.

After that I gave up on the idea of publishing even though I still felt the need to write and to share that writing somehow.

A few years go by and self-publishing became a thing, so that’s what I did. I self-published despite the stigma attached to it. In the end, it makes me happy, and now my works are safely copyrighted and publicly visible. In a harsh and dishonest world, you need to find those little secret corners of comfort and contentment. You need to find those special places where you can be what you were born to be.

I Don’t Want To Be In A Coen Brothers Film: Mercenaries on the Cuban Beach

So, there is nothing I enjoy more than a boring vacation. No annoying adventure. No drama. No running from here to there or having to deal with crowds or noise. Just a calm relaxing boring uneventful vacation.

I also enjoy Cuba. For some reason I feel drawn there and it’s one of the safest tropical countries for tourists. Also, knowing a group of lovely ladies who like to travel there twice a year, gives me a perfect opportunity to just chill out boringly on the beach with an interesting book.

Earlier this year I travelled to the area of Santa Lucia, on the north coast of Cuba. My vacation was gloriously uneventful until the second last day.

In between my resort and the one beside it there was a plaza for tourists with several little shops. I had been to those shops a couple of times during my stay and wasn’t intending to go back but one of the ladies in the group wanted to return to purchase a handmade toy for her grandson, so I volunteered to go with her.

Jenny is in her seventies and although she appears frail, she has quite a lot of energy. She’s a regular world traveller and has seen far more places on this planet than I have. But Jenny is also a woman who has always lived in an ordinary white privilege bubble and so views the world through a glass rosily.

As we were a approaching the plaza, a shiny bright red classic car pulls up and parks on the grass facing the beach. Jenny was excited about the car.

Four men get out of the car and stand together on the driver’s side which was the direction from which we were coming. Immediately I get a bad feeling about them. They are not dressed like tourists and there is something cold and empty about their presence. I wanted to veer to the right to avoid them. Unfortunately for me, Jenny wanted to get a closer look at the car and started walking towards them, happily chirping about what a beautiful car it was.

One guy, who seemed to be in charge, was wearing a t-shirt with some sort of official looking crest corner. I couldn’t see it very clearly, but it looked like an American design. I noticed he had his phone out and seemed to be discreetly filming me and Jenny.

Jenny happily approaches them to ask about the car. The assumed American and guy number two have no interest in talking to Jenny and head off to the beach leaving behind guy number three and guy number four. Jenny starts up a cheery conversation with guy number three. He’s a big smiley talker.

Immediately he starts telling us that he’s been away from Cuba for many years and they finally let him back in to see his mother. He tells it like it’s the story of the century, but the references to his mother always seem removed from emotion. Jenny likes his story.

He goes on to say he’s from Miami. Miami is where, since the 1960’s, the Americans keep an anti-Cuba militia/community to do their unsightly work. At this point, I really do not what to be around these people, but I can’t leave a woman in her seventies alone, so I just hope that Jenny wraps up her conversation quickly. Unfortunately, they keep talking.

He introduces guy number four, the quiet serious one who perhaps doesn’t speak English, as being from Brazil. That’s the country that not long ago had a right-wing coup where they installed a genuine anti-Cuba fascist as President. It’s also a country where people get assassinated frequently.

So now here I am, stuck with a chatty friendly psychopath and a silent stoic psychopath, hence the Coen Brothers reference in the title.

Miami guy liked talking about himself. He started going on about how he is American now. He’s not Cuban but American. He seemed to think we would be impressed by this over-zealous patriotism. That’s when Jenny said, “The Americans are my cousins, but we don’t always agree.” And that’s when the smile drained from his face and there it was…the killer face.

Luckily it only lasted for a moment and then he went back to his chatty smiley persona. Jenny never noticed.

Jenny then asked if she could take a photo of the car. For some reason this made the chatty smiley psychopath happy as he fully intended to be in her photo. You’d think a mercenary would be hesitant to being photographed but not this guy. Jenny handed me her phone and there I was tasked with the job of getting a lovely photo of her standing in front of a classic car while sandwiched between two smiling psychopathic killers.

After the photo was taken, they offered to take one with me. I politely declined.

Well, it was now time to go our separate ways, thank God, and they wanted to shake hands. I didn’t want to touch them. It was uncomfortable enough just feeling their presence. I didn’t want to touch the flesh of dying souls, but I had no choice in that situation. So, I reluctantly shook their doughy hands, my whole self recoiling at the touch of something that felt so bloated, dead and dirty.

Now, every once in a while, I think back to this experience and about the photo I took of Jenny and the killers. I wonder if she posted it. Jenny looking happy. The chatty one with a laughing smile. The stoic one with an awkward forced grin. Did all her friends and relatives click ‘like’? Perhaps some of them even wrote nice little comments underneath it. “So glad to see you having a great time.” “Wish I was there too.” “They seem like nice people.”

Ah! What a screwed-up world we live in.

 

John McCain is Dead

John McCain is dead

And the TV goes

“Lament people!

Lament for the power he embodied!”

And the obedient people go

“Bah wah wah

Bah wah wah wah”

Even though John McCain

Would not have cared if any

One of them were dead

And had in fact

Lined his pockets

Upon their misery

As he did to many

Around the world

And the devil

Slaps his belly in satisfaction

For not only does he

Get to crunch down

On John McCain’s rotted soul

But he gets to do it

To music he loves

“Bah wah wah

Wah…wah…wah…wah”

 

Cuba: My Recent Visit

Cuba is a miracle. Perhaps that is why I am drawn to it. I love miracles, and in every nanosecond of every day miracles are happening in this world. I try to keep my eyes open to see as many of them as possible because I know that far too many will go ignored or unseen. It’s very important to see a miracle when it happens. Recognizing miracles is fulfilling God’s hope in us, and when I look at Cuba, I see a big wonderful glorious miracle…the most precious and rare kind.

I know, I know, I’m not conforming to the narrative we are supposed to follow. The one where the Cuban people are poor and suffering, and require rescuing by ‘magnificent’ us from their scary government. That narrative is really an American creation, but is followed by many Canadians who, over the years, have simply come to repeat American egotistical ideas. Every once in a while, they may scream the word ‘hockey’ to create the illusion for themselves that they are unique and bold, but they are really silly parrots afraid of critical thought. My Canadian people need to grow a backbone and a stronger brain, but that’s another issue.

Anyway, I’ve examined every aspect of it and have found that narrative about Cuba to be false. The Cuban people are not poor at all. I know this because I’ve known poverty and what it involves. It’s a parasitic beast that burrows its way inside of people then eats away at them slowly. It has a paralyzing sting that makes people afraid and unable to move…unable to look up…unable to grow. It is a destroyer of the will and a ruthless prison guard. Even if you escape its visible grasp, it will still remain inside, invisibly clawing away at you. It is an unrelenting monster. It’s a social thing, not a material one.

The truth is that in order for real poverty to exist, it requires a society with a base savage apish hierarchy, (like the Canadian-British hierarchy I grew up in.) It is a brutal thieving classist conspiracy…cruel especially to children. It involves a turning away from humanity for a lesser unevolved existence. It is a crude perverse social construct…an intentional thing birthed from pure avarice, and no one within a society that institutes poverty is left untouched by it. It tightens around the throat and emotionally deadens everyone no matter what your status.

The peace I feel around the Cuban people tells me that they have none of that. They are not poor at all. On the contrary, they have been made rich by what has not touched them. I noticed that the young men and women do not constantly fidget in neurotic worry about how they look. They do not carry themselves with a cruel bold exaggerated fake confidence as many do here. And they do not constantly peck at each other in competition like angry little chickens crowded into a small yard. They have been mostly protected from the warping consumerism that consumes us daily.

But within the calm centeredness of their world, I sensed that the “liberal” globalists are down there…trying to infiltrate. And with the help of the CIA they whisper, “The dollar is my shepherd, I will want, want, want, want”, into the ears of the young to try and turn them towards the Temple of Shame…to try to steal from them and bring them towards real poverty. They want to initiate one of those staged revolutions they are so fond of. I know that because I can smell those devils. They smell like sulfur.

This does worry me a little…the possibility that the Cuban people will be kept from self-determination by the piggishness of foreigners, but my faith reassures me that God did not create Cuba to simply be ravaged by the same knuckle-dragging rapists who greedily bumble through our world trying to possess everything they see. No, Cuba is the light that has resisted being put out. When I look at it and when I think of the warm confident smiles of the people there, I feel that Cuba was meant to be the miracle from which more miracles will come. I have prayed in their churches and in their streets for their safety, and can’t help but feel that God has heard.

You’re Not Jesus

(In this essay when I use the word ‘Jesus’, I am not talking about the thing they often call Jesus…the idol-thing religions will build and drag around to crush or control people…the thing individuals use to placate their egos, but the Free and Living Jesus Who can be neither institutionalized nor industrialized nor appropriated in any way to be used as a tool.)

You’d imagine it would be simple…people realizing that they are not Jesus. However, it doesn’t seem to happen that way. People just can’t seem to stop from thinking that they’re Jesus or some form of Jesus.

Now, I’m not talking about the mentally ill. For some of them, believing they are Jesus is all they’ve got, bless their battered minds. No, I’m talking about everyone else.

There are the obvious ones…the celebrities, of course. By celebrities, I not only mean the entertainment people but also politicians, mega-church preachers, “motivational” speakers, royalty; all those sort. These people live within the illusion of social hierarchical being where they are seduced into believing the constant accolades in their lives are not simply the results of the cultural worship of mammon, deceptive marketing and the support of various political and capitalist systems that make use of their celebrity, but something real and eternal. They are worshipped by crowds but only in the same way the ancients, to calm their angst, drew a face on a stick and then worshipped that. But, this is not Jesus, not even close to Jesus.

Then there are the subtle less grandiose ways people believe they are Jesus. I see it all the time in their interpretations of the stories handed down through the New Testament. They apply their own selves to the stories, covering over some things, eliminating important facts, taking the stories out of the context of place and time and oral tradition, all to become Jesus. They superimpose their own thoughts, feelings and personal deficiencies upon Jesus, ignoring His Nature. They replace Jesus with themselves to make Him personally useful to them. This is the main reason why Jesus is always portrayed as such an dull goof in movies and shows.

To firmly establish who is not Jesus, (or even like Jesus), let’s look at what we know about some of the Characteristics of Jesus:

  1. He had no respect for or even need of money or material possessions. Matthew 6:26

If you have even an ounce of this need or want, you’re not Jesus.

  1. He refused to placate the elite, (who would have definitely welcomed the use of Him.)

If you are quite able and willing to placate the elite, you’re not Jesus.

  1. He refused to be a part of the hierarchical social structure. John 6:15

If you could not refuse to be socially exalted, (humblebrag is the acceptance of social exaltation), you’re not Jesus.

  1. He could look past a face and see what was in a mind. Matthew 12:25 Luke 5:22 Luke 11:17 etc.

If you are stuck at the face, you’re not Jesus.

  1. He could see past, present and future. John 1:48 Matthew 26:25

If you do not live outside of time, you’re not Jesus.

  1. He could heal bodies and minds.

If you cannot keep sickness from even yourself let alone others, you’re not Jesus.

  1. Jesus was a human being, but yet alone and apart from the constructs of human beings. He existed upon the earth in a place He called The Kingdom of God, and He embodied the Kingdom. John 18:36 John 8:23

If you have a solid place of belonging within the constructs of this world, you’re not Jesus.

  1. He existed well beyond the unhealthy social conformities of his time and place.

If you live as part of any ‘group mentality’ of your time, even a supposed progressive group, you’re not Jesus.

 

When reading the stories of Jesus it’s important to remember three things:

  1. These are oral anecdotes about a Holy Presence in a particular place and time that were written down by people who were not actually there, (with the exception of maybe parts of the Book of John), who had no experience of the Presence and who wrote with a political-religious bias. (Even the people who walked beside Him struggled to understand Jesus.)

 

  1. As such anecdotes they cannot be whole. They are often missing details and intent. They do not come with any understanding of the verbal hermeneutic subtleties from which they originated. They provide only hints of Jesus’ sense of humour, and His wit. Ultimately, these skeletal stories are far from easy to properly interpret, and cannot be analyzed with any accuracy without looking at them as clues to a much larger puzzle.

 

  1. You’re not Jesus, so when reading these stories, don’t believe for a moment that He is anything like you. Think outside of yourself and look to God the One and Only for inspiration, and remember that Jesus was not laying out dogma for a church. He was trying to save the stupid blind souls that were in front of Him.

 

The Unbearable Being of Whiteness

Whiteness is something rarely contemplated by people who are white. Its contemplation makes white people very uncomfortable. Whiteness is not contemplated because whiteness is all about comfort and to question your own comfort, (which comes at the expense of others), is to threaten it.

When I think of all the places I have been where I would not have been welcome. When I think of how entirely different my life would look if I were socially defined as black. Not because my skin colour would change who I am, but because it would change how everyone I ever met in my entire life looked at me, treated me and related to me.

I was not born into privilege, but I was born into white privilege. This I understand completely. I have no illusions about this. But I don’t like being a part of it. I don’t like being white. White is not who I am. In fact, none of us should be white. White is a social disease that has been thrust upon us.

Too many times in my life I’ve been sitting there, looking all white in a world where white exists prominently, and everything is going along just smoothly when suddenly one of those other white people lets out a nasty foul racism-fart, assuming they are safe to do this in the presence of only whites. Being white among whites is considered safe. The social rules of any form of privilege dictate this.

Examples of racism-farts:

The old Farmer’s Market farmer, so nice and helpful, talking about breeds of chickens then suddenly begins to speculate on what would happen if you “mixed a Black with a Chinese.”

The in-laws who think dinner conversation includes pointing out that “all black people look the same” and “black on black crime is the problem.”

The acquaintance at a barbecue complaining about a co-worker then suddenly referring to her as the n-word. (And that was a normally very nice person!)

And in those kinds of situations we’ve been trained and pressured not to say anything because whiteness is all about comfort and order, and you don’t mess with comfort and order. It’s rude. And if you do, if you question it, they get angry; they get defensive; they will do anything to protect their comfort and order. They’ll try and turn it on you. They’ll attack, accuse you of being too sensitive, too ignorant, too disruptive, not being intelligent enough to understand their position.

Whiteness is a social construct born entirely from power politics. It is a lie of perpetual perfect comfort. Leave it to Beaver, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Lawrence Welk Show…the lie of perfect comfort. But perfect comfort, in a world where no such thing exists, is infantile, a childish thought. Infantilism is weakness. Imagined perfect comfort is, therefore, weakness.

Herein lies the paradox. White is the weakness of comfort yet white is the strongest. How can it be both at the same time? How can the minds of white people reconcile these two things? The answer is that it can’t be done. That’s part of the reason why 87% of U.S. mass shooting are committed by Caucasian males. White people are a mess because of what whiteness entails.

It’s not in the skin colour. You must remember that. It has nothing to do with what our bodies look like or what is in our DNA. It’s in the mind and the thinking within our social collective. Our minds and the thought of whiteness is what defeats us and eats away at our spirits. We have been inundated from an early age with overt and covert lies about the existence of whiteness and its superiority, and this has deeply damaged us. It keeps us in a state of defensiveness and fear, and denies us the ability to recognize that this is not normal.

Whiteness is a myth of purity…of perfection. In other words, it is unattainable. As it is with anyone trying to live up to perfection, the white person is left with an underlying anxiety, and a constant sense of failure at never being able to achieve that which the myth tells us we are supposed to be. This frustration results in an exaggeration and generalization of the perceived failures of those defined as not-white. As a defensive mechanism, white people project their own perceived failures elsewhere. Self-righteousness and judgement are what we use to delude and comfort ourselves…to make ourselves feel all lily white.

So how do we fix this? It’s simple, and it’s incredibly complicated. We stop being white. We were not born white. This is something learned. Let’s get rid of white. If we get rid of white everything else will eventually fall into place. Not overnight, mind you. It will take time…a long time and a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it to be finally free because the real White Man’s Burden is in fact the White Man.

On The Subject of Beauty Pageants

First, I must say that this is not an article to debate the worth of beauty pageants. Anyone with a quarter of a brain can see that there is absolutely no social merit whatsoever to them. They are harmful on many levels. To discuss such a thing is a futile exercise and a complete waste of time. And anyway, they shouldn’t even be called beauty pageants anymore. They should be called plastic surgery pageants because…really.

Instead, I’d like to examine these setbacks of progress in light of their historical significance…the beauty pageant as a sign…a terrible sign. You see, it wasn’t that long ago we had almost eliminated this blight. For a brief moment, we almost evolved past such a backward pastime. Beauty contests had begun to die off. In the late 1970’s they became a joke from the past…a ridiculous foolish thing only good for a laugh. Yes, for a time, it appeared that the ape was straightening its spine and, GLORY HALLELUJAH, the knuckles were raised from the ground. We were moving…moving beyond this. We were more intelligent than this. We were better.

But in the midst of all this hope, something terrible happened…something horribly wickedly terrible. It was called 1980! Was it in the number? Was it how the planets were aligned? Was a dangerous soul-killing virus unleashed by the devil himself? I don’t know. All I know for sure is that 1980 came, and yes, the spine buckled, the knuckles dropped, and the dull stupid beast began to drag itself slowly along once again. The hope of evolution was dashed, and beauty contest started to return. 1980 was the beginning of a sad and tragic descent for humankind.

BUT…

Don’t despair.

I see signs of hope.

Everywhere I look, I see signs of hope.

It’s a struggle. That’s for darned sure. But it’s undeniably hope.

Actually…come to think of it…I’ll go even further than that. This is more than hope…much more. It’s bigger and stronger than hope. Hope is but a spark, whereas this…this is a bright burning flame. It’s a great promise…a mighty pledge…an unbreakable covenant. No power on earth has the strength to move against it. It will make the waters roar and the mountains quake. The earth will give way to the heavens. That’s what I see coming. Something that will snap that stupid ape spine into place with such force, it will never ever buckle again.

On The Subject of Love

While talking about love, I don’t want to get sappy. I really hate sappy. It seems so disingenuous. People going on and on about it…trying to pin love to their lapels like a badge of honor or wear it like a new pair of ‘look-at-me’ expensive shoes. And those speeches at weddings? Doesn’t it often seem like they are trying a bit too hard to convince the guests? These days everybody wants to declare their love publicly as if it’ll make it more real. Often it appears to be more about marketing an image of love or an event of love rather than nurturing the real thing. Remember those ‘love is’ sayings? Well, sometimes love is just shutting the hell up about it.

…but I am not cynical. Not me. I believe wholeheartedly in the incredible Force that is Love. At its purest, there is nothing greater. Unfortunately, as old Billy Idol still sings, “there’s nothin’ pure in this world.” No, this world is full of impurities like liars, thieves, murderers, money grubbers…and those are just the ‘respectable’ citizens. And the funny thing is that every one of those liars, thieves, murders and money grubbers clings to some semblance of love. The wicked possess love too because we all require it to survive. Hitler loved his dogs and that Eva whatsit. Being capable of some degree of love is not enough to make you a decent human being, and simply needing love does not get you into Heaven. There is so much more to it than that.

I once dreamt about True Love. I saw it in an image. I felt it in an image. And so, within the limitations of language, this is how I best describe what I saw and felt:

Love, in its truest form, is normally hidden beneath all the things of this world, but in the dream, all that heaviness that usually covered it was pulled back so that I could see what Love looked like. It had five characteristics.

First, Love was a light in the darkness, but more than a light. It glowed beautifully bright surrounded by the dull greys and blacks and off-blacks and off-greys of this world…and within its magnificent glow was essential nourishment. Like food to the body, air to the lungs, it would mean pain and absolute death without it.

Second, Love was porous…porous because it was soft and warm and welcoming to the weary soul.

Third, Love was metal…metal because it was unbreakable. It was fixed and unmovable. Stronger than anything ever imagined…eternal, as long as the soul held onto it.

Fourth, by its very nature it connected…unified. It turns what is separate into One.

Fifth, it was in the shape of a drop because a drop originates from a source and the Source of all Love is God.

One of the most underrated metaphysicians in history once explained Love like this: I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:23

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

It’s Good Friday, and I never really liked it. Even as a child, I could never see what was good about it. It was a tragic day. A horrible day. A day of mourning. And now that it’s become ‘a thing’ to re-enact the crucifixion, it’s even worse. All those so-called Christians indulging in what is essentially sadomasochistic porn, and not even bothering to get the nails in the correct places.

“Don’t you know?” I want to scream at them. “That’s not what it’s about! It’s not about what they did physically! That’s nothing. None of that matters. They couldn’t hurt Him. It’s what they did spiritually. Can’t you see? It’s what they did to themselves and to this world. They were given a great Gift…a wonderful miraculous Gift, and they rejected Him. They rejected truth, love, progress, faith, life, potency, God. They rejected everything we needed for this world to become a better place and all because He interfered with their petty wants and desires…because He challenged their convenient self-aggrandizing identities…because He was proof that their fabricated self-serving narratives were wrong.” That’s exactly what I want to scream at them.

And when I look around and see people worshiping money and class, clinging to man-made politically motivated dogmas, even using the name of Jesus to placate their own soul-eating egos, I wonder, would it be any different today? If He came back as He was, not as many imagine Him to be, would anyone recognize the precious Gift or would it all be the same thing over again? Would people look down at Him for not driving a fancy car or being a botox-filled celebrity on Letterman? Would they turn away from every wonderful thing He offered because none of it made the list of Oprah’s favourite things? Would they ridicule Him because His clothes were not as fancy as Kate Middleton’s? Would they believe He was not a real man of God because, unlike Osteen, Jake, Hagee, Robertson, He didn’t make Himself rich by exploiting religion? Would they do it again? Would they throw away their only hope once more? Would they?

A Few Facts About Jesus

-born to an unwed mother in a sexually oppressive society where both mother and child would have been stigmatized (whether you believe in Immaculate Conception or not, this was His social status)

-born into the lower class of a highly structured class system

-shunned wealth and the wealthy

-shunned power and the powerful

-spoke out for the poor and helpless

-chose truth over making friends

-most of the friends He did make were from the bottom rungs of society

-publicly challenged social injustices and hypocrisies

-publicly challenged oppressive religious traditions and rituals

-publicly challenged social hierarchy

-never bowed to a king, high priest, military leader or wealthy official

-never allowed them to crown Him as an idolized king

-never made alliances with or manipulated people for political or personal gain

-never tried to sell God as a commodity

-was questioned, ridiculed and scapegoated for being from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’

-never turned away from God because more people would like Him and it would make things a whole lot easier

(If He were here today, would you side with Him?)