On being a Christian nation May 22, 2015Posted by lawrencemerithew in non-fiction, Opinion.
Tags: Christian nation, Christianity, lessons in hypocrisy, religion
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Every so often, my Facebook page fills up with comments from well-meaning people posting links to photos proclaiming the US as being a Christian nation.
Understand, I have no issues with Christianity as a religion and personal belief system.
My issue is with those that hide behind it while trying to promote other, less noble agendas.
Let’s look at some of the implications of these reminders about America’s Christian heritage.
First, the American population (primarily derived from white European ancestry) forget that we’re, in a sense, the new kids on the block. There were a number of indigenous peoples here before us. The Inuit in Alaska. Polynesians in Hawaii. Iroquois in the region of present-day New York. Seminoles in the Florida region. Sioux in the northern plains region of the Dakotas. Apache and Anasazi in the Southwest regions. To place Christianity at the forefront is to imply that the beliefs of these peoples are subordinate to Jesus, if they have any legitimacy at all.
Few, if any, of these “Christian nation” screamers seem willing to allow an exception for such civilizations.
Who would they grant an exception for?
Obviously, the Jews. Christ was a Jew, so we have to allow them entrance to the club.
The challenge is that the more orthodox sects of Judaism deny the divinity of Christ, as far as I understand. Do we disallow those sects, thus continuing to pick and choose who qualifies? Or do we admit them, even if they see Christ as another prophet of God at best?
And if we do accept them, it forces us to accept Muslims, since they also see Christ as a prophet, rather than as Messiah.
Ah, there’s the rub. The “Christian nation” crowd is, in reality, searching for a way to portray Christians as the good guys and Muslims/Islamists as the villains.
We haven’t even begun to look at eastern beliefs, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto …
Let’s set that aside for the moment and look at things from a Constitutional perspective.
To officially name the US as a Christian nation would call for a Constitutional amendment. This amendment would require the following, at a minimum:
— repeal of the First Amendment, or at least the establishment and free exercise clauses regarding religious rights.
— altering the Constitutional prohibition against office holders not being subject to any kind of religious test.
In effect, it would require paving the way for a religious mandate to hold high office. There’s a name for that mixture of church and state: theocracy.
Seemingly, we are led to believe that we would support such a theocracy, as long as it were a Christian one. However, the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, realized the danger that lie in that direction, thus the Constitutional prohibition and amendment.
Too, if we want to allow our nation to become a theocracy, why should we deny other nations the same right of self-determination? At one time, India was a Hindu state, but we remained silent when Great Britain tried to subjugate the Hindus to the ideals of the Anglican Church. Iran is a Muslim theocracy, and we condemn it for being such. ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State is another, and we condemn them even louder.
No, proclaiming the US a Christian nation is not about religion, it’s about trying to subjugate other people/cultures to our way of thinking, using religion as a smokescreen to justify it, and military might to impose it.
Funny, I keep hearing everyone say that’s what Islamic extremists are doing.
Being Where Life Needs Us to Be August 12, 2014Posted by lawrencemerithew in a life lived best as possible.
Tags: being, life shortly described, Southwest, where we need to be
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So often, we end up in a place not of our choosing. We find ourselves being where life needs us to be, at least at that particular time in our lives.
So it is with me. I first moved out to the US Southwest almost 2 decades ago. At the time, it was simply to satisfy a wanderlust curiosity of what it was like in another part of the country.
I’ve come to realize there was a larger purpose to the relocation. Learning to survive without leaning so heavily on family members. Discovering that there was a place that I wanted to be, instead of having to be. Experiencing a connection with my environment, rather than an alienation from it.
After 10 years, life insisted I move back East.
I thought it was a matter of not being able to handle the new home.
It turned out I had some unfinished business to attend to. Coming to terms with a major change in my health status. Being there for a sibling when a rare form of cancer attacked, and eventually won.
Learning the fact that sometimes, it’s best to follow your heart, not your head.
Once the dust settled from the shock of my sibling’s passing, I found that the Southwest was calling once more. This time, as a place to settle, not just visit.
When the opportunity presented itself, I obeyed the voice within. Once more, I’m here. Now, my soul is calmed, the wanderlust fading. I’m where I want to be.
At the same time, it’s an opportunity for a new beginning. Moving forward in dealing with my own health issues, not because I have to, but because I want to.
You can call it destiny. Maybe God’s Will if your inclinations run in that direction.
I call it a case of life telling me it’s time for something different, something more.
I call it one more time of being where life needs me to be, for the next phase of this mortal journey.
Technorati test October 16, 2012Posted by lawrencemerithew in Uncategorized.
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Call Him … October 12, 2012Posted by lawrencemerithew in Fiction.
Tags: everyone has some good in them, fiction, life shortly described, microfiction, minisaga
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He entered the world a red-faced, shitting, puking mess. Call him, “Hell’s child.”
In school, he was disruptive with an engaging flair. Call him, “Irresponsible.”
He left the world when he was hit by a bus while saving a child. Call him, “Hero.”
(I originally posted this at another blog site – Bearly Artistic. It was written in response to a challenge to write a “minisaga”, using 50 words or less.)
Cristian Mihai’s Advice (Reblog) October 3, 2012Posted by lawrencemerithew in reblog.
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One night someone knocks at your door. A tall, black man. He speaks with a Jamaican accent. This man tells you that you have to pick one of your many ideas, works in progress, and finish it. That story’s the last one you’ll ever write. He tells you that you have until tomorrow to write as much as you can. He doesn’t tell you what’s going to happen after that.
You have 24 hours to write your story. You have no future, which makes the present that much more important. You can’t tell yourself, “I’ll wait until I become a better writer.” All your ideas, they mean nothing now. Because, whether you like it or not, you won’t get a chance to write them.
This story you’re writing right now, the one the tall man made you choose, is the last thing you’re ever going to write. And you pour everything you have in that story. You want to make it the best thing you ever write. Just in case tomorrow never comes.
So you write and write, your fingers fueled by a passion you didn’t know had. There’s nothing more important than the words you’re writing now. Procrastination is no longer a part of your dictionary.
Of course, I could have just said, “Write like there’s no tomorrow. Write as if you’ve only got this one chance to leave your mark upon the world.” But, hey, I like bizarre analogies.
(I plan to follow this advice, especially since NaNoWriMo is coming up soon.)
Social Media September 29, 2012Posted by lawrencemerithew in reposting.
Tags: advice, cristian mihali, information, re-posted with permission, self-publishing
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A lot of self-publishers are approaching social media with the vague hope of it being a sort of wonder solution to marketing and promoting. They’ve been told that social media sells stuff. But I think that they don’t understand how social media actually works.
Social media, social networks, in a way the Internet, can be defined as a continuous flow of INFORMATION. Also, social media enables easy access to ENTERTAINMENT. And lastly, social media is a way for people to interact with each other.
That being said, if you, as a self-publisher, as a writer, can’t offer people these things, social media isn’t going to help you very much.
If you use your blog, your Facebook page, your Twitter account just to dump info about your books and buy links, and do all that shameless promoting stuff, people have no reason to stick around.
That should be your number one priority. To give people a reason to like your Facebook page, to follow you on Twitter. The only way you can build an audience is to offer people what they’re looking for. Information, entertainment, and interaction. Or something like that.
I blog about writing, self-publishing, and books. More or less. The thing is that when I started blogging, I wasn’t exactly thinking about this whole platform building thing… I just set out to write the type of blog I’d enjoy reading.
That way some people might enjoy reading it as well.
Your approach can be different, but the idea is that you should blog about something you’re interested in. Yeah, blogging about the subject matter of your books is easier to do when you write non-fiction.
The idea is that I’m offering people information. Valuable or not, it’s their decision. But I want them to come back. I don’t want to spam people with a ton of shameless promotional posts.
Indeed, my blog is a place where I can freely showcase my novels (I can actually use the plural now). When I release something new, I tell people about it. Sometimes I mention my books, when this is relevant. I also try not to overdo this part. Sometimes, just before a new release, I write posts about some of the elements/aspects found in the story.
And then I try to engage this audience. If you remember, before I released Jazz, I did a cover-off where people could choose the cover they liked best. I host giveaways, contests, stuff that’s supposed to be fun and entertaining. At least, I try to.
Then there’s the part that really sells books. Or anything, actually. I interact with this audience. I write a post, they comment, I answer, stuff like that.
People love buying stuff from other people. From real people.
I build relationships. It’s a fun thing to do, and I do it because I get a lot of pleasure out of this alone. Of course, some of them might buy my books. That’s one of the perks of building this type of relationship. Make people more willing to pay $2.99 for a book.
More willing, you say? Well, yeah, ’cause contrary to popular belief, people aren’t using the Internet because they just can’t figure out what to buy next. They aren’t searching precisely for your book. In fact, you can assume that they don’t want to buy your book. They don’t care about it, they don’t need it.
And you have to change their minds.
This is what most self-publishers get wrong. They think that there are millions and millions of credit cards out there on the lookout for something to buy. All you need is exposure. Give them a buy link, and they’ll spend every single dollar on your books.
Exposure alone is not enough. A million people visiting your Amazon page isn’t going to translate into sales. Or, at least, not a hell lot of them.
Readers want a reason to buy your book. Or one not to buy it.
One more thing about blogging. No matter how good you are at it, you’ll never make everyone who follows your blog buy your books. It’s just impossible. I mean, you can’t have an entire following composed of people who can’t wait to buy your books. In fact, most of them will never buy your books.
FACEBOOK AND TWITTER
The same principle applies. Offer people something in exchange for their time, whether it is just funny pictures or philosophical quotes.
I use Facebook to post quotes, relevant news, some interesting pictures. Stuff like that. I use Twitter for the same thing.
The only sensible rule is that social media can’t be used effectively when your only interest is to sell stuff.
Somewhere in the beginning of this post I said something about building relationships. The type of relationship that develops between a fan and an artist… that alone is a reason to become one. It’s something that can’t be replicated. People read your stuff and they feel connected to you. They get a chance to see into your brain. That’s magic.
Like I said, social media can also help you build relationships with potential readers. Makes finding an audience easier. But you can’t build fake relationships.
I always like to use Neil Gaiman as an example for all this. He’s, of course, a great writer, and this helps a lot. But there are far better writers out there. What makes him so successful, or at least a part of it, is the fact that he’s willing to spend a lot of time with his fans.
He’s built one of the most impressive fan bases in the industry. He replies to his fans, he answers questions, he’s funny. That’s why that Twitter account of his is worth millions of dollars. Because people respond to what he has to say; he’s built so many genuine relationships that people react and respond to anything he has to say.
He has influence. And that can’t be bought.
One more thing before this post becomes too long. Numbers are not that important. You can have, let’s say, 500 followers. Just 500. But you can have 90% of them truly interested in your books. You can publish a book, and in a matter of hours, sell 450 books. So it’s all about how engaged your audience really is.
A hundred true fans are better than a million strangers.
(This post was reprinted with permission of the original author. Be sure to check his blog for additional articles related to self-publishing.)
Soul Music September 21, 2012Posted by lawrencemerithew in reposting.
Tags: magnum opus, music of the ages, philosophy, soul music, the eternal symphony
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There exists a Universal Symphony. Within that Magnum Opus, there are smaller cantatas to which we are born.
At first, like so many, my line of music was a series of rests. One day, I began to sound my notes. Tentative ones to start, followed by more rests. Gradually, my notes became more certain of themselves. More frequent. More varied. Trills and arpeggios. Glissandi. Here staccato, there legato.
As time passed, I settled into my assigned register. Some voices in the Grand Concert are meant to soar. Others provide nuances and grace notes.
For me, I happily accepted my role as a root line of harmony.
There was another line nearby that encouraged me to play, to dance. It was a time of innocence, pleasure with all that surrounded me.
At times, I seemed more and more often to sound a note that was a slight amount flat. One comma off-key. The other lines seemed at times to mock me; at others, chastise.
I began to hear another song calling me. I left my birth song to investigate.
The harmonies were so much sweeter, so much easier to create. I experienced a joy far beyond anything before.
But the new lines convinced me there were some needs in my birth song yet to fulfill.
I returned home to find my melody had changed. What once was mere flatness had become complete discordance. My rhythm no longer matched. The line I had danced with for so long begged me to take up the dance once more. Harmonizing with it was difficult.
I soon noticed the partner line of my youth faltered. The rests came more often, the notes became more staccato. The voice faded from a brave forte to a whispering pianissimo.
One day, it fell silent; a caesura of rest.
I no longer felt I belonged in this song.
The other called again. I hungered for its pure harmonies. I was welcomed unconditionally.
(This was originally posted to my blog at Open Salon 10 March 2011. Reposted here for a fresh audience.)