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The Fourth

“and the rockets’ red glare”
had lost some of its luster
over the years.

Once they were the high point
of family outings.

He would run around
the local park
with his siblings
chasing fireflies
until the first loud boom
signaled
it was time to settle down
on the itchy old wool
army surplus blanket
they always sat on
at family events.

Once they punctuated
adolescent dreams of romance.

He would stroll around
the town fair grounds
with his friends
chasing girls
or more accurately
talking about who they liked
who they wished
they could talk to
maybe put an arm around
or even kiss.
Standing as close
as possible
to the fireworks
and the girl he had his eye on,
he would feel each explosion
in his gut, in his heart.

Once they were big extravaganzas
during his early career.

He would dance around
the city park
with his coworkers
enjoying the day off,
the music,
the street food,
and the spectacular show
which signaled
the great opportunities
ahead.

Once they were obligations
he would take his young kids to.

He would push the stroller
to the country club
with his family.
Dolling out crackers
and juice,
he would make sure
the kids stayed close
stayed safe
and had comforting arms
if the explosions were
too loud.

Now,
he sat at home,
thinking about the nephew
who lost his legs
in his second tour.
He thought about a friend’s
son
who suffered
visions of Fallujah
when he heard
the distant explosions.
He patted his dog
cowering on the couch
with each burst
and waited
for the long night
to be over.

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Ingress Level 16 and more…

Today, I reached Level 16 in Ingress. For those who don’t know Ingress, it is sort of like a 21st century version of capture the flag played on mobile devices. Level 16 is currently the highest level you can reach.

There are two teams in Ingress, the Enlightened and the Resistance. I play for the Enlightened and was the third Enlightened player in Connecticut to reach Level 16. I ended up reaching Level 16 when I captured the portal at the church I attend.

I takes forty million points to reach level 16, and I was about three hundred thousand points away. So, I spent much of the day walking around capturing different portals in different towns.

Also in Ingress, they’ve added a new item, a MUFG capsule. If you put other items in the capsule, over time, they earn interest, although the details appear uncertain. I’ve now got eleven MUFG capsules which I’ve loaded with various items over the days. I’ve been observing the results.

For me, it seems like all of my dupes come in the evening. I have yet to see dupes come at other times. It also seems that I've had to have a full cycle with no adds or deletions before I get any dupes. I've seen capsules with as few as 15 of a given item dupe, but I've had to have over 40 to get more than 1 dupe of an item. If there are different types of items in a capsule, it seems like only one (randomly selected) dupes.

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Loving the Racist Sinner

Recently, I shared a picture on Facebook, which suggested the correct Christian response to different people depending on their gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, whether or not they had a substance abuse problem, etc. The correct Christian response for each was to love them.

One person responded with the old saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin” to which another person replied that this is too often just an excuse to hate the sinner.

From my days running for office and working in social media, I’ve started trying to focus on Psalm 19:14 whenever I speak

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I’m normally one to avoid confrontation, but I’m balancing this out with the confession:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.

What about the sin of being the bystander that doesn’t speak up, sinning against God for words left unsaid?

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to a rant about Dukes of Hazzard being canceled from TV Land. I don’t have any opinion about Dukes of Hazzard. I think I saw part of an episode once, many years ago, and found it about as interesting as all the other stuff I chose not to watch on television. In my mind, it seemed like a financial decision. Airing Dukes of Hazzard creates an image of TVLand that they may not want, and that may not be helpful in attracting advertising revenue.

Yet my facebook friend who shared the post, lumped the issues around the Confederate flag in with this. He applauded a friend of his who is flying a Confederate Flag in East Haven.

What is the right response in a situation like this? Do I simply walk away, perhaps unfriending him? Do I say something? If I do, how do I say it in a way that he will hear, that loves the sinner, and hates the sin?

I ended up thanking him for sharing let everyone know his opinions and suggested that I, and others, would keep it in mind if we ever needed services from his company. From the stuff he posts, I didn’t suspect he was a Christian, so I thought responding with free speech and Adam Smith’s invisible hand would be more effective.

He unfriended me. However, his friend, who posted about flying a confederate flag in East Haven, changed his avatar from that of a confederate flag, to something less offensive.

Did my comments contribute to him rethinking how he presents himself? Were my words acceptable in the sight of my Lord?

I don’t know. It is a hard thing to work out. Yet it seems important to speak up against the sin of racism, especially when the sinner is not aware of their own racism.

Conservative Preachers: Now is the Time to Condemn Sin!

Over the past few days, white conservative 'christian' preachers have talked about Christianity being under attack, about Christians being persecuted. My friends here on Facebook have dismissed these comments. Yet the preachers are partly right. Christianity in the United States is under attack. Christians are under attack. Last night, another Christian house of worship was burned.

Mike Huckabee, Bryan Fischer, and the whole lot of them need to stand up boldly and lead the fight against the sin of racism, the sin of not loving our brothers as ourselves, the sin of burning down the houses of worship of our brothers and sisters.

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