The last four to five days have been much taken up with things that I found distracting, and, to some extent, useless.
Oh, I’ve had some important things in my life. Such as work around the house and yard on Saturday. Such as the weekly Wal-Mart run on Saturday. Such as church yesterday, including teaching adult Life Group. I spent a little time on the checkbook, and am pretty well caught up on that (though not on budgeting). Beyond that, truly meaningful things accomplished recently are few and far between.
I view the eclipse that will take place today as something similar. Big deal. We will be at about 92% eclipsed. Based on eclipses I remember from 1970 and 1979, that’s not really enough to get excited about. The amount of sunlight is lessened, and the sky looks eerie. But it doesn’t really get dark. I suspect you have to be at 99% for it to be really dark, to really see the disc of the moon covering the sun.
Our maximum eclipse is at 1:12 p.m. I’ll take my usual noon walk between 12:30 and 1:00. So I’ll be walking as the shadow is getting larger. I might glance up for a quick look just before I go inside. But, anything more? No. It’s just not worth it. One more thing useless and distracting.
Once again, removal of Confederate monuments, symbols, and references from the states that were part of the Confederacy is hot in the news, even in the city I work in, Bentonville, Arkansas. Actually, it’s not just the states of the Confederacy that have such monuments. The border states, the ones that were slave-holding but stayed in the Union, also have a fair number of Confederate monuments. And, a few such monuments exist in states that made up the Union side—not many, but a few.
In addition to monuments, you have: schools named for leaders of the Confederacy; military bases named for leaders of the Confederacy; US Navy ships named for leaders of the Confederacy; streets named for…you get the picture. These are everywhere, at the Federal, state, and local level.
Should they be removed? And, if so, how far should you go? In the city of Lowell, Arkansas, which is in the county where I live and work, a street is named for William Henry Harrison, 9th president of the USA. At two city council meetings I attended in that city, during public comment time, a certain man stood up and demanded that the street be renamed, because Harrison was a slave owner (I got the impression this man did this in every city council meeting). Is that a good idea? If so, you should also rename streets named after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, etc., who were also slave owners.
But focusing for a moment on the monument issue, should they be removed from public land? Most such monuments are to the leaders of the Confederacy, such as General Robert E. Lee and President Jefferson Davis. But not all of them are. The monument in the square in Bentonville is to a man named James H. Berry. Originally from Alabama, he was raised in Bentonville and eventually became a legislator, governor, and U.S. senator. But, before that, during the Civil War, he enlisted and became a junior officer. Being wounded in one of his first battles, he came home and took no further part in the war. The monument, however, isn’t really about him. The statue is of him, and his name appears, with a plaque that details his years of public service. But elsewhere on the monument is this inscription: “1861-1865 To the Southern soldiers” On the base of the monument, on each of the four sides, the word “Confederate” is prominently displayed. This was erected in 1908, forty-three years after the end of the Civil War. On the base of the statue, on all four sides, “CONFEDERATE” appears in the largest letters on the statue.
A movement is now afoot to remove this monument. Should it be removed? The funny thing about this, there was absolutely no clamor about removing this monument until Sunday, August 13, 2017. In light of what had happened in Charlottesville, Virginia on the two previous days, a group of concerned people got together in Bentonville to make a public statement against hate. They did this in the center of the city, which is the square in front of the courthouse, the square where this monument is. As they got together, they stood on the paved path that encircles monument. They held hands as they sang and prayed for unity, peace, and giving up hate. I was unable to go due to an after-church meeting. From what I can tell based on reports, the “demonstration” was beautiful. The venue, however, was the worst possible place in the city to hold such a gathering. You decry racism and hate while encircling a Confederate monument? The event organizers should have thought that one through a little more. At the end of the “demonstration,” a number of people started chanting “Tear it down!” What else could you expect?
But I ask again, should this monument be removed? As I said in an earlier post on this blog, I say no: don’t tear down this monument, or any other. I say that as a man of mixed race but who knew nothing of the black component of my heritage until I was 46 years old, who never faced racial prejudice, who was raised in the north but who has spent most of his adult life in the south. This monument wasn’t erected to be a symbol against me or my people. So I can certainly understand that the feelings of others that are contrary to mine are valid, and perhaps more valid than mine.
Again I suggest that we not tear down this monument in Bentonville, or those in other places. Rather, add to them to tell the full history. To this monument in Bentonville, I suggest adding these words. If they won’t fit on the monument itself, find another way to prominently display them so that they will be seen equally with what’s already there.
This man, while honorable and a public servant, fought to preserve slavery. That may or may not have been his intent, but that’s what he did. That’s what all the enlisted soldiers did. They fought to preserve white ownership of blacks for no other reason than skin color. Remember this. Learn from it. Never let such an injustice happen again.
Do that in Bentonville. Do that in Charlottesville. Do that in Richmond. Do that at Stone Mountain, Georgia, along with an image of a white overseer whipping black slaves. Do this, and the full history will be told. Do this, and maybe, just maybe, we will make sure no such injustice happens again. And maybe, just maybe, the hate that these monuments seem to promote will be lessened, or even done away with.
We won’t expunge history, but will tell it fully and openly. We won’t forget it. And learn from it.
My book on the civil war, Documenting America: The Civil War Edition, had much to say about race relations. How could it not, when the war, despite revisionist history to the contrary, was about perpetuating slavery?
I’ve made some posts about the contents of that book (such as this one: On Confederate Civil War Monuments). This weekend, with the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia, but without time to watch the news enough to take in a full picture of what was happening, I can’t help but be saddened by what I saw and heard about. Clearly, something has gone wrong in this country. Progress we had made has disappeared, and we are back to the 1960s, or even the 1950s, in terms of race relations.
Yet, perhaps that’s an overly negative reaction to what happened, and what is happening. I think the number of people who would take us backwards is relatively small, certainly smaller than it was in those earlier decades. At least, I hope it’s smaller. Nowadays even a small group of nut jobs can get press out of proportion to the strength of their numbers, and certainly to the strength of their cause. So, although some groups are not even close to representative of barely aligned groups, the whackos get all the press.
In my book, one chapter deals with the views of Louis Agassiz on what would happen—what should be done with—the emancipated slaves once the war came to an end. Agassiz was a Harvard professor. He wrote three letters to a colleague who had solicited his views. Agassiz’s reply boils down to this: The blacks should be kept separated from the whites, and the two not be allowed to reproduce together; and those who are already mixed-race (half-breeds as he called them) should be allowed to die out. He said that intermingling of the races was “repugnant to my feelings”.
I found Agassiz’s views repugnant. That was the basis of my chapter. Here is some of what I wrote in terms of the modern lesson to be drawn from those old letters.
What is to be done? How do we change the hearts of mankind to drive racism into the abyss where it belongs? It’s said that, if you change yourself, you can change your family. If you change your family, you can change your neighborhood. If you change your neighborhood you can change your city. If you change your city you can change your county. If you change your county you can change your state—and your nation, and the world. It’s a big task, but it starts with me.
I’m glad my parents raised me without prejudice. Yet, I still need to be careful, less latent racism creep in and, without my realizing it, cause me to alter my behavior. To let that happen would truly be “repugnant to my feelings”, and something I—and we all—must diligently guard against.
Yesterday I posted that to Facebooks, to many likes, and no negative comments. Maybe, just maybe, it will have done some books. Nevertheless, at present, I remain saddened.
As I said in my last post, the weekend just passed was full of publishing tasks. I made good progress on them, but that will be a subject for a future post.
In terms of writing, one of my current tasks is research on the next book in my Church History series of novels. Tentatively titled Adam Of Jerusalem, it will be the prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. All this I have mentioned before.
My plan is to have Augustus’ father, Adam, as a junior scribe in the high priest’s employ. On the night when Jesus is brought in for questioning and trial, Adam will be sent on an errand to gather members of the Sanhedrin for the illegal nighttime trial. Later, after Jesus’ death and the early growth of the Christian movement, Adam is assigned to gather information on the teachings of Jesus, with the idea that they will prove heretical, and the high priest can use them against what he sees as a threat to his authority.
In essence, Adam will be the one who pulls together the document known today as “Q”. Short for Quelle [i.e. Source], this is a document thought to have existed prior to Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels. First proposed in the early 1800s, by the mid-1900s, Christian scholarship seems to have more or less accepted this as having been a true document. It’s contents, while technically unknown, are proposed to be the sayings of Jesus, that large body of teaching that appears in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark. The supposition is Mark was written first. At the same time, “Q” was written, and was available to both Matthew and Luke as they wrote their gospels. Possibly both Matthew and Luke had other sources, which of course is the subject of Doctor Luke’s Assistant.
So, I’ve been researching “Q”. What I’m finding is its existence actually isn’t all that universally accepted by scholars as I thought. A lot of scholars seem doubtful to downright derisive. If “Q” existed, they say, where are the copies? Why haven’t we found any manuscripts? To that I would counter: We haven’t found any copies of any New Testament manuscripts from the first century. Once the contents of “Q” were incorporated into the gospels, to continue to copy it as a separate document would have been silly. You copy the later and more complete document, not the earlier notes that you used to write the later document. Doesn’t that seem logical?
The “Q” opponents don’t seem to think so. Some of them are almost vitriolic in their arguments against “Q”. Why? I read some other essays/papers on the existence/non-existence of “Q”. What I gather from that is that those who say “Q” existed—at least those who say “Q” existed widely, and was copied frequently and used in the early churches before the gospels were written—say that “Q” represents a purer form of Christian teaching than the gospels do. Why purer? Because it came before the gospels. Why widespread? Because if both Matthew and Luke had it, it must have been often copied and widely disseminated.
So what? you might ask. Why is this important. The proponents of “Q” say it consisted of only sayings/teachings of Jesus, not the virgin birth, not the miracles, not the passion, death, and resurrection. It presented Jesus as a great moral teacher, not the divine Son of God, the God-Man that we think of him as today. So say some of the proponents of “Q”.
This, I think, is the reason why some people are hitting back so hard against “Q”. If you’re going to expand “Q” from someone’s research notes into a document intended to stand alone and be used as teaching, and if you’re going to say that represents true Christianity before it was “corrupted” by all this God-Man gibberish, well, yeah, I can see why other scholars would push back so hard against it.
The amount of time spent on this question, based on the large mass of documents available on it, is mind-boggling. It seems logical to me, almost intuitively obvious, that someone, somewhere, before Matthew and Luke began to write their gospels, had written some notes on Jesus’ sayings. Someone else had probably written something about his passion, death, and resurrection; so it made sense for someone else to concentrate on his teaching. Why argue against that? Why try to make it into a proto-gospel, and claim documents subsequent to it are un-pure Christianity, i.e. corrupted Christianity? It’s this larger claim, I think, that fuels those who say they don’t believe “Q” existed.
Both sides, then, appear to be over-stating things. And so the controversy goes on. Scholars are trying to use what were someone’s simple research notes and make them more than they were, which causes others to say they probably never existed.
My take in Adam Of Jerusalem will be that they existed, but they were never widely copied or disseminated, and never formed a stand-alone teaching document. Maybe that’s a middle-of-the-road position, but I think it’s a good one, and I’m sticking to it.
After a four day weekend trip to Meade, Kansas, for the funeral of my wife’s aunt, we returned home Monday evening, around 6:15 p.m. That’s what I call getting in in good time. After unpacking and relaxing a little, I went to The Dungeon, with the intent of resuming my writing career.
However, I saw that I had two directions to go in, and that one was necessary and one was optional. On the weekend I had spent some time reading for research into my next church history novel. I could continue with that, as well as re-read what I’ve written in my workplace humor novel, and decide which I would do next. Those two, together, form one direction: a writing path.
The other direction was publishing tasks. I need to get the print version of Documenting America: Civil War Edition finished and published. I need to get the print version of Headshots finished and published. On Monday evening, as I sat trying to make the decision, the former needed only a little work, while the latter had the interior done (I think; it’s been a while since I did it), and the cover needs to be done. I also need to get recent books listed on Goodreads, and a couple of short stories added to Smashwords.
I could see right away that the publishing tasks were more important right now. Yet, I couldn’t do them. Just something about them made me want to not start them. The same was true Tuesday and Wednesday. I couldn’t make myself do them. The DA:CWE cover it on my computer at work, and the interior on my computer at home. I guess it’s also on OneDrive, but I don’t really know how to use that or access it from work. But at work, in my personal time, I couldn’t make myself work on the cover. At home, I couldn’t make myself finish the interior. Consequently, Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday I got nothing done on my writing/publishing.
Yesterday was different. Thursday morning, before work started, I pulled up the cover in G.I.M.P. Just using that program makes me want to vomit. But, I didn’t really have much to do. I had one block of text I needed to change the font on, move an image a little, and I was done. I couldn’t figure out how to make the text changes. I looked in the manual, in some on-line tutorials, all with no help. Finally, I looked closer at my cover, and could see that the text, which was placed in the cover by someone else for the last book in the series, wasn’t a text layer at all; it was an image that couldn’t be changed. I quickly deleted that layer, created a text layer and put the text in with the correct font. I had the cover done and saved at 8:05 a.m.
Then, last night I took a look at the interior. I had finished it a couple of weeks ago, but wanted to give it one more look-through, just to make sure. I did that, and judged it “done”. I e-mailed it to my office (because I don’t know how to use OneDrive) to make the PDF today. I’ll do that shortly. At that point, I’ll have the cover and the interior files done, and on the same computer, and so will do the upload. I hope to have the finished on the noon hour today.
That brings me to Headshots. I think this weekend I’ll see what I can do with that. If the interior is really done, all that will be left is the print cover. That will have to wait until next week, unless I wake up my old computer (which had G.I.M. P.) and try to do it there. They say it’s to rain much of the weekend. How I would love to get Headshots done.
Adding books to Goodreads is easy; there’s just a few steps to go through. Adding the short stores to Smashwords will take a little formatting, but that should be only 30 minutes for each. Who know? Maybe by Sunday I can have all my publishing tasks behind me, and Monday I’ll be ready to get back to writing tasks. I’ll give you a report then.
My wife and I, along with her mother, just made a four-day trip to Meade, Kansas, for the funeral of Faye Pohl, aunt of Lynda and sister of Esther. As a result, I didn’t get a post written for today. I’ll be back at it Friday.
My wife’s aunt, Faye Irene (Moler) Pohl, passed away on July 18, 2017, in Wichita Kansas. She had gone there for surgery, an extensive surgery for one who was 90 years old. She didn’t survive this, passing away less than a week later.
I first met Faye in October, 1975. I was dating Lynda at the time, things were getting a bit serious between us, so I was obliged to make the trip to the hometown and meet the family. After a late arrival and a night’s sleep, we walked the two blocks from my (then future) mother-in-law’s house to Faye’s. Her husband was in the midst of remodeling a large home in Meade. I didn’t see a lot of Faye on that trip, as there was much to do and many people to see. But we ate Sunday dinner at her house, and I could clearly see she was a gracious hostess and a good cook.
Over the years, I’ve had many chances to be with and see Faye, always at family times. We made trips to Meade, she and her husband Leonard made trips to where we were, and I got to learn much about her. Her gifts as a hostess I saw demonstrated many times, in meals large and small. She always had a nicely set table, a balanced meal fixed, and desserts at the ready. She also always urged second or third helpings on me. Yet, I’m not going to blame my lingering though shrinking obesity on her. I did that all on my own.
Faye’s life was spent mostly in Meade County, Kansas. She was born in Meade, the county seat, but the family soon moved a few miles north of town to the silica mine, where her dad, Millard Moler, was the crane operator. Her first seven years of school were at the Artesian Valley School, a one-room, rural schoolhouse. The family moved back to Meade in time for Faye’s 7th grade year. She lived in Meade, or on a family farm south of Meade for most of the next two decades. Briefly the family moved to Colorado then Idaho, but was back in Meade by 1973, stayed there until the late 1990s, when Leonard retired and the moved to Hutchinson Kansas. After Leonard’s death in 2005, Faye moved back to Meade for the remainder of her live.
For those of you who don’t know the Kansas high plains, it’s bleak, dusty, and windy. Part of the so-called “Great American Desert”, it’s devoid of trees except where the town folk plant and nurture them. It’s farming country, traditionally for winter wheat, though more recently for corn, always with other crops mixed in. If you aren’t a famer or farmer’s wife, you are working to somehow support agriculture. The land isn’t quite as flat as you might think. It’s gently rolling, with a fair amount of true flatland. Farmers have done some major earth moving and flattened miles and miles to make the land more suitable for easy farming. Despite the bleakness, I fell in love with the Kansas prairies a long time ago.
That was an aside to say that Faye learned to be prepared for weather on the prairies. I remember stopping at a cemetery in Spearville, Kansas, at Faye’s request. We were taking her from Meade to Hutchinson sometime after her husband died. She and Esther had an uncle buried there, who had died as a boy in an accident with some horses, before the family moved to Meade. She wanted to see his grave, which she hadn’t seen for a long time. We found the cemetery, on the prairie north of Spearville. The minute we got out of the car that wind hit us hard—not a storm; the wind just blows constantly. I noticed that Faye already had on a clear-plastic rain hat, to protect her hair from the wind. She must have pulled it from her purse and put it on before leaving the car. Yes, she was well prepared for what the prairie would throw at her, that time, and every time.
Faye was active in her husband’s accounting business in Meade, as well as on the farm for the years they lived there. She was a life-long member of the Church of the Nazarene, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, and taking various positions of service within the church. Faye demonstrated the heart of a servant in all she did. Her ministries extended beyond the local church. She served as treasurer of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and was active in Country Gospel Music Association events, singing with other family members.
Faye will be missed much. She enriched the lives of those she met and interacted with. She lived her last twelve years as a widow, and survived cancer during that time. She’s now singing the old hymns and choruses in the celestial choir—with maybe a little country gospel mixed in.
In a recent post, I mentioned how my mind was starting to focus on things I might be writing next. Documenting America: Civil War Edition is finished. All except the print version, that is, but I think I’m not more than two days away from having that done and submitting it for checking by CreateSpace. I have a few publishing tasks awaiting me that don’t involve writing, such as getting the Headshots print version done. And making corrections to the Smashwords edition of Preserve The Revelation so that it can be pushed out to other vendors via Smashword’s premium catalog. Yes, I have much publishing to do.
But that’s not writing. With one book finished, it’s time to work on the next. But what to work on? I have two obvious choices:
The Gutter Chronicles, Volume 2. The first volume of what I hope will become a series, of workplace humor about the engineering business, has been out since 2012. It’s one of my five highest selling items, mostly to people who work where I do. A couple of years ago I started the next volume, and got into chapter 4 (of a planned 15 chapter book), when I set it aside to do other things. I have the book mostly planned out, the humorous stories pulled from my past or manufactured. All that remains it to decide to write it and get it finished. Hopefully, I can find my scattered notes.
Adam of Jerusalem. This will be a prequel to Doctor Luke’s Assistant. It’s been on my list of things to write for some time. A few plot elements came to mind early, but not how I’m going to get it done. How do you squeeze a prequel ahead of a book when you never planned on it when you wrote the first book? You can’t go back and unwrite, or rewrite the second in the series. But ways of doing this have been coming to me. I’ve figured out how I want to open the book, and what the inciting incident will be. A few other scenes have come to mind.
What to do? The Gutter Chronicles makes the most sense, and I suspect I’ll at least give it a try. However, the gray cells have been giving me more ideas for Adam of Jerusalem. What to do? I could wrap up TGC Vol 2 in 30,000 words; AoJ will take about 80,000.
As an example of what I mean by the gray cells activating, until recently I have having a hard time figuring out how to show Adam’s slide from Judaism to adopting Roman ways. As mentioned above, I had decided what would be the inciting incident for this, but how to make it work in the story without violating anything I’ve already written in Doctor Luke’s Assistant. Well, the way to do this came to me recently. I don’t have every scene worked out, but it’s clear how I can accomplish this. I’m not receiving similar clarity on The Gutter Chronicles—although I’m further along with that book. Perhaps that will be less of gray cells stimulation and more of in-the-seat perspiration.
While these two books are prime on my to-write-next list, they aren’t the only candidates. The next short story in my Sharon Williams Fonseca series has been coming to mind. It will be set in Paris. Also on my mind is a book about the Stephen and Elizabeth (Cheney) Cross family of Ipswich, Massachusetts, in the 1600s. Last year I spent a month of intense work on this couple. It is intended to be a chapter in a book about Elizabeth’s father, John Cheney of Newbury. When I finished the Crosses, I saw I had between 60 and 80 pages (formatted as 5.5×8.5 pages), and was shocked. John Cheney had ten children who grew to adulthood. The work before me seemed to massive to continue with, so I set the project aside. However, I have the Cross portion done, and, I figure, why not publish it as a small, stand-alone family history? It would take perhaps another month of tidying up, expanding the narrative a little, and doing all the publishing tasks. I may do that, but not as the next book. Maybe after I finish whichever one I choose to do next.
So, while the gray cells are active, and I can sense writing in the near future (such as in August, if not some in July), I don’t know which book is next. Today will be a day of publishing activities. Tomorrow, who knows? I may take some time at work to read what I’ve already written on TGC. If I like what I read, perhaps that will be next.
Total sales to date—502
So, the 2nd quarter was a little better than that 1st, and certainly better than the 2nd quarter last year. It’s a little deceiving, however. My sales by month were: April 13, May 5, June 3. So sales were trailing off. The April peak was due to my personally selling some print books to acquaintances at work and church. Once those were done, sales trailed off.
Once again, I did no advertising this quarter. My only promotions were a few Facebook posts, and talking my books up in person when the opportunity seemed right.
Here’s my sales table for the year. Note that I had one sale at Kobo. Kobo has reported that I had a sale, but not of which book. So that the table would be right, I applied the sale to “Growing Up Too Fast”. They should report for June in about two weeks. When they do, I’ll correct the table, if needed and edit the post. Click on the table to see it in readable size. Note: I did come back and edit this post to show one additional sale, but it’s not the Kobo sale. In June I sold a an e-book copy of Documenting America: Lessons From The United States’ Historical Documents – Homeschool Edition, to a library through Baker & Taylor Blio. First sale through that bookstore, and, so far as I know, first sale to a library.
So, I still haven’t given you the post about the gray cells awakening. I plan on doing that on Monday. This last week I was working on getting Documenting America: Civil War Edition published. That took all my gray cells for a few days.