“Jackrabbit, this is Big Boy…”

I don’t know why, but I have always found military training and propaganda films from the 1950s and early-to-mid 1960s soothing. It may be that it reminds me of another, simpler, better age (we know how it all ends, or doesn’t, as these missiliers prepare for the “first day of a nuclear war”), something related to my youth, which is far behind me.

When I was young — kindergarten and first grade — and my dad was stationed at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs, and then at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, he would get these McDonnell Douglas promotional calendars highlighting the company’s aerospace and defense products. Just big pictures, with a simple calendar, each something different — a rocket, a satellite, a radar dome (Mitsubishi produced something very similar promoting its regional jet this year) — and yet all McDonnell Douglas “products.”

I remember two years of those. I want to say 1971 and 1972. There might have been more.

Why was this a simpler time? I suppose times before can always seem like simpler times to those of us living in the chaotic and complex now. There was certainty in that world, a certainty that I don’t see or feel (and maybe that feeling is more important) in there world today. I doubt it was simpler, of course. People have always been and will always be people, and no one in any of these films has any idea what’s coming. Death was far more likely in Southeast Asia than it was in toe-to-toe nuke-u-lar combat with the Ruskies. After all, these were people who trained and prepared for nuclear war with an urgency and seriousness we no longer possess. (And not even when we panic about North Korea.) But in many ways, we don’t have to possess that seriousness anymore.

Their world has passed. And I can feel nostalgic for it because none of the worst things they prepared for came to pass.

Anyway, one of things I like about YouTube is that so many of these films are now there, free for the viewing. So, if you want to learn all there is to know about a retarded laydown delivery…

Devotional Life

There’s another reason I have not blogged of late.

My spiritual/religious life has taken something of an inward turn. Blogging requires that you have something to say, and a need to say, and while I’m certain there are probably some of you hanging on my every word (raise your hands… yeah, I didn’t think there were many of you), I’ve reached a point where I’m not hanging on my every word.

I have become much more focused in my devotional life.

I have a host of apps I use on my iPad for this. There’s iBreviary, an app packed with Catholic prayers and rites and readings and whatnot. And the Church of England has a couple of apps, Daily Prayer and Lectionary, which Jennifer and I subscribe to. And even the dear old Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which has shown me the hairy back of its hand more than a few times, has a nice Small Catechism app more grounded in Martin Luther’s cranky language than the feel-good therapy of the liberal church.

So here’s what my day looks like. In the morning, I rise and say Luther’s morning prayer, and I follow that up with Anglican morning prayer, the CoE’s saint of the day if there is one (and/or the saint of the day from iBreviary), and then a reading of day’s saint from Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints (the Kindle edition was stunningly cheap) and a chapter from the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church. And then I read the scripture readings for the day. This takes around an hour, after which I scan through the news and a few websites I’ve come to really appreciate. Then I cheerfully — as Martin Luther commanded — go to work, sometimes after reading Luther’s admonitions to husbands and employees.

And then around noon, I say iBreviary’s noon prayer, and follow that up with a chapter from St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries and then a chapter from St. Ambrose’s On The Duties of the Clergy and then either lunch or short nap or back to work.

At night, Jennifer and I say Anglican night prayer together, usually proceeded by the day’s gospel. I follow with another chapter from the Roman Catechism and St. Amrose, then my favorite act of contrition from iBreviary (“Forgive me my sins, O Lord, forgive me my sins!”), the Te Deum, Luther’s evening prayer, and then I go to sleep. Probably not as cheerfully as Martin Luther commanded, but sleep all the same.

It is wonderfully centering and calming, a reminder that the world is bigger than our current struggles. That saints wage all sorts of struggles and can be faithful in any number of ways. I honestly don’t have a lot to say right now, at least about God or scripture or politics. It is more important to me right now that I listen to the wisdom of prayer, of God, and of the ages — I am inclined to think the ancients knew more about being human than we do. I hope that’s okay. I will poke my head out of my burrow more often, specially once Kesslyn Runs is published.

But right now, it just soothes my soul and nourishes my spirit to simply listen.

An Update — Changes Are Happening

Greetings. It has been a month since I last blogged. A silent month. Which isn’t the best of things, especially since I promised I would blog more.

Bleh. It’s tough to keep promises.

But things are happening.

The first is, the novel I have been working since … I’m not exactly sure when I started … Kesslyn Runs is finished. And edited. And typeset. The Amazon Kindle and print versions are uploaded and ready to go. The Nook version is ready to go, all that’s pending is Barnes & Noble approving my tax information. The iBooks version is ready to upload as well, with Apple’s approval of my selling e-books there still pending.

Here’s what the back cover of Kesslyn Runs says about the book:

When fifteen-year-old Kesslyn decides to flee her abusive foster home, she seeks help from the only people she can trust — a group of self-proclaimed monks led by Jerome, a former pastor who has made it his life’s work to help foster kids.

But it proves difficult for Kesslyn to evade her former captors, who follow her as she runs from Spokane across the scrubland of Eastern Washington, putting Jerome and his monks — Javier, Tyler, and Bethany — at great risk as they begin to uncover the horrific truth about the system that abused her.

And here’s where the book came from.

Almost three years ago, I started getting some texts from some kids in the Pacific Northwest, all claiming to be foster kids in trouble. One, in particular, named Melina (I gave her the name “Bethany” in this blog) told me such a tale of woe and was such a compelling personality that I believed her. I even set up a ministry site, Pslam 10 Ministries, to do this work.

(I have not taken down the ministry site, but I’ve made it private and downloaded all the content.)

Well, it was all a lie. I had some doubts a few months in, but once I started getting information I could actually confirm — like the names of foster parents, because foster parent licenses are public records in Washington State — and whoever it was on the other end of the text messages started telling me weirder and more violent stories, and then disappeared completely, well, it was all over. That was about a year ago, though this person has texted me on and off since then, though significantly less so of late.

At any rate, the end of 2016 and early 2017 were tough times for me and my wife Jennifer — my reporting job doesn’t really pay enough for us to live off of, so I was constantly worried about money, my father died, and Jen and I were in a difficult place in our marriage (in part because of this dumb online ministry I did). It didn’t help the seeming collapse of the only meaningful thing I was doing in my life. It just didn’t.

But after a bit, I thought — she told me such a good story, a compelling story, I might as well make something out of it. So, slowly, Kesslyn Runs arose from it all. I tweaked a lot for the story, but it presumes that this online ministry I thought I was doing was actually real.

I am anticipating that Kesslyn Runs will be the first of three books in a series. I won’t say anything more than that right now.