By D.Thomas

“So there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles, between slaves and free men, between men and women; you are all one in union with Christ Jesus.”[GALATIANS 3:28]

I was going to write an “About Page”– and got writer’s block, sort of, but maybe this is–. I keep a journal, my record of life in the world and in my head, and don’t want to write about myself more.The life-long journal is practically life-sized, and with it I am an observer, recorder, historian– and psychologist, sociologist, philosopher, theologian, autobiographer–

My first birth scarred my mother,

My second scarred my Lord,

And between or after was another, third,

the Me on paper, I in words,

The Narrator.

So I was going to write around that January full moon, the Wolf Moon, and was thinking of wolves and fangs and Women Who Run With The Wolves because I had just had a tooth pulled, and had the metallic taste of blood in my mouth.

But I don’t really run with the wolves, much as I love them, and ideas of them (I once wrote a full-length play about a Dostoevskiian Werewolf and the woman who loved him). I run with deer. I see them on my walks and sing “Amazing Grace” to them, so they know it’s me, and when I passed the whole extended family, a herd of at least twenty white tails lying down for noon naps, they looked at me, but none even bothered standing up.

I had my fangs pulled when I was eleven, so that wisdom teeth would have room to come in; they took the milk teeth that hadn’t yet come out, and the permanent canines as well. I have not eaten red meat since I woke up from that, my only surgery so far.

My scars and stitches have been from spiritual warfare and cat bite.

Another moon, the Snow Moon, has gone by, and I have been re-reading Dostoevsky, and watching the Olympics regularly, and the Russia- Ukraine border glancingly.

I was nervous, in the beginning of the figure-skating, for all those girls–like the summer games’ gymnasts– with the eyes of the world and the pressures of competing, underground- warring Nations on them– fragile perfectionists on skates– The Winter Games all seem dangerous– bobsleds, skeletons, the big jumps on blades, the arials, insane flights!– boards, skis–. (Except for the gymnastics, the Summer Games don’t seem as dangerous to life and limb, ankle and neck!)

And the Super Bowl in the middle; I remember reading the the Super Bowl occasions the biggest annual international sex-trafficking event in the world, and when Kamila Valievna cried about missing one landing in her incredible first free skate, looking more stress-haggard than Olympic excited, I began to wonder what happens to those gorgeous girls if they do not succeed, flying away with golds? Is she terrified that if she falls and fails she’ll be sent to work the Super Bowl? Maybe I saw Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow too recently, but–.

Meanwhile, there was Putin putting more troops at Ukraine’s border, and newscasters saying that Putin had invaded Georgia during the opening ceremony of 2008 (Summer) Games, in Beijing–.

Putin said that he had a responsibility to protect Georgians from, apparently, Georgians, since the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, which is an agency formed to prevent genocide, found no legal cause. In 2014, Russian troops seized Crimea, bordering Ukraine and the Black Sea.

I am not prejudiced against Russia.( I said I’m re-reading Dostoevsky? I have read the major novels eight to ten times each, but now it has been at least ten, perhaps more, years since I have, so I have just gone back through Crime and Punishment and The Possessed ) In the late Soviet Socialist Republic days, I was not pro- U.S.S.R., but was and remain anti-capitalist, fervently anti-Reagan, and zealously anti-nuke. The Vaganova trained ballet dancers, the decades of gymnasts and figure skaters are amazing, set the standards of excellence– the Russian Pairs skaters have been dynastic, and there are the girls– in ballet, in rhythmic gymnastics, and standards in crime procedurals and cop shows –. I am extremely worried about nukes, and I am worried for the young women.

Alina Zagitova, gold medalist of the class of amazing, unrivaled Russian skaters of 2018, and her teammates, who were 15, 16, and 17 then, have all but disappeared from figure skating; Zagitova “Took a break” from skating, after. I have not yet found out more, but noticed that she was never mentioned by commentators this year.

In the USA, over 300 gymnasts, including superstar Simone Biles who was strong and wise enough to not risk her neck for the sake of gold, have spoken out, accusing the US Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual misconduct and abuse. This did finally get him sentenced to 300 years in jail, but The team doctor used his authority, his title, his power, his work, to frighten, threaten, and molest minors in his charge. Their bodies’ health and well-being were in his charge, for decades.

Children are abducted and coerced, and are even sold, around the world, by despairing and impoverished families, but– who buys? Buys the services? Buys people ?

So much is hidden, reporters are kept dark, are silenced.

Around the world, journalists and whistle-blowers are imprisoned and silenced, 293 in 2021, 24 killed and 18 more dead, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

In China, 50 journalists are behind bars.

Extremists, Autocrats and megalomaniacs holding dubious power do not like Truth.

“Pilate replied ,’Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people and the chief priests who handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus said, ‘My kingdom does not belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my kingdom does not belong here!’ So Pilate asked him, ‘Are you a king, then?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. I was born and came into the world for this one purpose, to speak about the truth. Whoever belongs to the truth listens to me.’ ‘And what is truth?” Pilate asked.” [JOHN 18:35-38].

In this Black History Month, I remain worried about local girls– Jaquanna must be in her mid or late twenties now– and I am appalled and grieved that it was only hours later, reviewing my rough draft, that I looked up terrorist abductions of children and women, rapes and forced marriages– that it took four separate searches and scrolls to remember Joseph Kony and the LRA, and three Human Rights Watch and United Nations Security Council pages, and BBC reports to recall and spell Boko Haram–.

These armies exist today, most recently active in Cameroon. The extreme Christian Terrorist Lord’s Resistance Army, formed by Joseph Kony in Uganda in 1987, is infamous for attacking schools and abducting or “recruiting” wives, concubines, slaves and child soldiers, including the nearly 200 Aboke girls from St. Mary’s College in 1996, and continuing such pillages after being forced out of Uganda into Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon, traveling with their enslaved porters, child soldiers, teenaged “wives” and targeting schools and churches– this so-called “Christian” army–, killing over 800 people and abducting 160 from a church in the Congo on Christmas Eve 2008, repeating over days in December in 2009, looting diamond and gold mines, poaching elephants for ivory, and this LRA is still listed as dangerously in violation of international human rights and humanitarian laws.

Boko Haram– Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l-Jihad— is similar, and similarly active. (“Boko Haram” means something close to “Western Education Is Forbidden”). It was begun in Nigeria in 2002, and is an Islamic terrorist group targeting schools, children and women especially, and most notoriously in April of 2014, when forces attacked and abducted 200 girls from Chibok, Borno, Nigeria. They have also moved into Cameroon, Chad, Niger.

Back in 2016– the date on one article, Amnesty International reported that 2000 children were still in captivity– forced labor, forced killing, forced sex.

The world has not gotten better since 2016.

COVID 19 has worsened the conditions of the world’s poorest, the displaced, refugees and slaves.

Oxfam International reminds and warns us that inequality kills.

Look up “Who got richer during COVID?”:

“US Billionaires got 62 percent Richer During Pandemic”; “the richest Americans became 40% richer…”;”World’s 10 Richest Men Got Richer During Pandemic…” and so on.

It is easy to forget the world outside our own circles, especially when we are the privileged, the safe, those secure enough to watch the Olympics on TV and to speculate and write personal essays for– fun? For talking about the Gospel of Christ Jesus, which my blog is still for, but Jesus said,

Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

“There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” [LUKE 12: 2]

The hard line, would-be Soviet, nationalistic pomp of Putin, and the white European “Populist” and “Nationalist” movements, the white-supremacist, MAGA, and neo-Nazi groups in the United States, are criminal in my personal lexicon. People who can see their “type” or “kind” as superior by DNA to other humans of other “kinds” or “races” or colors or genders are the great danger: to them, lesser creatures can be used, can be bought and sold and manipulated, they exist for use to the owners/masters/ “Master Race”. They can bayonet and shoot children, and traffic children as slaves in sex work and hard labor– because minors and females are not their equals, in their eyes, or at any rate, not as important as wealth and profit.

Ivan Karamazov, in The Brothers Karamazov, has made a study of child abuse in Russia, and tells his brother, novice monk Alyosha, that he does not find Christ or salvation worth the suffering of children– if even one child must suffer on earth as the cost of heaven, he does not want God, he “returns his ticket.”

Yet to Christ Jesus, and those who would “put Him on” as a garment, who take Him into their hearts, who try to see and love as He taught, will see no different worth in different people; each one of us, like each dog, each leaf, each snowflake, is unique and singular, and no one is better, worth more respect, or more deserving of abuse or negligence, none is lower, none is higher– to the Creator, life-provider, molecule-arranger, and physical-law-sustainer, all human beings are equally human, equally worth trying to salvage, save; yes, even__.

The “Powers” and “Rulers” and “ruling spirits” of groups and nations seem to me the evil ones, and we have often seen what these spirits can do, transforming groups of people into mobs– in Black History Month, this should be obvious. Mobs lynch men. Mobs smash windows, bomb and burn churches. People in groups respond with non-violence; self-discipline, self-control, non-violence..

Today’s English Version uses “Mob” where my other Bibles have named the demons “Legion” at Gerasa in Luke 8 and Mark 5, and I think “Mob” suits our days:

When Jesus, crowded by the followers who wanted the bread he had miraculously multiplied, and the wondrous healings and exorcisms of demons and diseases, got into a boat, he fell asleep while they were crossing; a storm came up, wind and waves, and the disciples, including the professional fishermen, were terrified and woke him up. He shook his head at their lack of faith and “Jesus stood up and commanded the wind. ‘Be quiet!’ and he said to the waves, ‘Be still!’ The wind died down, and there was a great calm.” [MARK 4:39].

When they landed and got out of the boat, a man possessed by demons was there to meet him, a man who lived among the tombs, whom no one could control, who screamed and cut himself and broke any chains put on him.

He was some distance away when he saw Jesus; so he ran, fell on his knees before him, and screamed in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Son of the Most High God! What do you want with me?For God’s sake, I beg you, don’t punish me!’ (He said this because Jesus was saying, ‘Evil spirit, come out of this man!’) So Jesus asked him, what is your name?’ The man answered, ‘My name is “Mob”– there are so many of us!’…There was a large herd of pigs nearby, feeding on a hillside. So the spirits begged Jesus, ‘Send us to the pigs, and let us go into them.’ He let them go, and the evil spirits went out of the man and entered the pigs. The whole herd– about two thousand pigs in all– rushed down the side of the cliff into the lake and was drowned.” [MARK 5:1-13].

I like to think that the pigs killed themselves rather than be possessed by demons.

Dostoevsky used this scripture as the epigraph to The Possessed, and in the chapter known as “Stavrogin’s Confession,” Stavrogin asks the holy man Tikhon to read to him from Revelation, about the Church of the Laodiceans, who were “lukewarm”, recognizing himself:

This is the message from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, who is the origin of all that God has created. I know what you have done. I know that you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich and well off; I have all I need.’ But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you are! You are poor, naked, and blind.” [REV. 3:14-17]

My favorite scene by Dostoevsky is in Crime and Punishment, where the murderer Raskolnikov goes to the poor prostitute Sonia, and asks her to read to him about the raising of Lazarus (JOHN 11). Lazarus, the friend of Jesus and brother of his friends Martha and Mary got sick and died, and Jesus intentionally went to them after, when Lazarus had been dead and entombed for four days. Jesus wept over death, but told the people to open the tomb, and he called him forth, and the dead man walked out of the grave, alive.

The point in the novel is that Sonia believes in this wholly. She believes in the miracle, and she believes that God can and does work miracles.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see the glory of God if you believed?” [JOHN 11:40].

In the thin woods on the hillsides of this part of town, where humans and other animals are still co-habitating,it looks like there have been wars, as if the demons tried to win influence over earth and tree and other animals before whispering to humans, and the demons were defeated: the thick leaf cover, the grassy mounds and hullocks, the fallen limbs and dirt-packed uprooted trunks are now providing food for funguses and bugs and worms and saplings, and providing nests for birds and squirrels, dens for deer and foxes, thatch-roofed cottages for racoons and skunks, burrows for rabbits, and beds for bears. Provision: enough for all if we cooperate.

Watching Valievna’s nervousness before the doping scandal broke, back in the team competition, and then the stress in all three Russian teenager’s faces– the Mother Instinct was–remains– alarmed. Will world media keep an eye on them, after these falls, failures, eruptions– to keep a maternal eye on what does happen to them, these Zagitovas, Trusovas, Shcherbakovas, and the next ones? while watching nuclear forces’ exercises and amassed troops at the Ukraine border?

Maybe I am more wolf than I think– when I think children are endangered.

It was a broken wisdom tooth with a long curved root that was pulled at the dentists’ that Monday morning, a snow day, the week of the Wolf Moon.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” [MATT. 5:3-8].