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Issue 042
The Eighth Roman Month 19, Anno Domini 2020
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84

Artwork: "Maze"  Artist: Chin Fong

Vote "I Know What I'm Talking About"

For the first time in my life, I put up a political sign. 

Why not? 

My real-life religion is a cosmic horror RPG. October 18th is almost-sort-of in the squishy-front-end of the Kalends-of-the-great-Blue-Moon of All Hallow's Eve of (nearsighted or farsighted?) 2020. What better time to put some faith and elbow grease into the time-honored political tradition of accepting the sad fact that most elections are decided by voters who only do what they are told by the majority of signs they see, and so if you do not litter in the name of your holy cause, shall your holy cause be blasphemed? 

So, not having seen a single sign in favor of the vote, I keenly placed two "Vote 'NO' on the Progressive Tax" signs in high traffic areas. 

It's a statewide vote. But my hope is this:

If I, a 42-year-old couch-carnivore got off my rump for the first time since 2008 stumping for Ron Paul in 2008 then odds are there are a positively growing and symmetrical number of similarly crazy, howling men and women just like me, taking similar action to:

VOTE LOCAL.  VOTE PRO-LIFE.  VOTE PRO-FATHERS AND PRO-FAMILIES.

The "progressive tax," for what it's worth, is an amendment to the Illinois constitution enabling Springfield to raise future taxes on Illinois citizens without asking their permission first. "We promise to use it only in emergencies and only for your good."

Rockford, Illinois, where I just bought a house after two years of living as a renter, is a third-world country, where you need to slow down and be careful at green lights. It's like the Tijuana I remember from my junior college days, only tucked into the Rustbelt, half-filled with hillbilly Germanics, somewhat filled with heroin-smoking forgottens, and rising enough in Latino/Latina population that in 30 years they will be a majority. 

I love it here. It's the perfect place to build without blowing up, while the rest of the world is blowing itself up around us.

To the east is Bolshevik Chicago, eating everything in its path, but far enough away to be stumbling over its own gargantuan belly. 

To the west, nothing much till Iowa, if by "nothing" you mean a fair share of amazing waterfront at rather benevolent prices and great farm-steading opportunities with proximity to health care, Costco, and several microbreweries.

I'm going to live and preach here for a very long time, and I expect the crooks putting their names on public street signs in South Chicago to keep making millions for their organized-crime overlords on a wicked potion of aborted black babies and imported, illiterate labor. 

But I'm not for a moment going to pretend that I will be loving my neighbor by ignoring those evil men who are stealing from him. 

I don't know what the fight is where you are. There is more than one in every place. 

Today, I heard a local police-violence story to break your heart. My heart breaks all the more as one who has invested in supporting local police by attending community meetings and events.

I am watching my local minority-led police navigate an always-hostile nanny-state disaster-zone, now flared up all the worse by election-year antics and an international Marxist organization making billions on the name of ethnic divisiveness and hating men.

I'm not advocating retreating. I'm advocating attacking. Where you are. Or where I am. Get in the battle. 

FIRST: JOIN THE SONS OF SOLOMON AND PRAY THE PSALMS WITH US.

SECOND: VOTE LOCAL.  VOTE PRO-LIFE.  VOTE PRO-FATHERS AND PRO-FAMILIES.

Until next time,

Be strong, and let your heart know courage.
Rev. Fisk

Quick Hits for the Eyebuds

🌆 A massive Google-ville planned for San Jose

🐾 Some military dogs are being trained to use AR goggles

🎵 TikTok competitor Triller could go public

🏆 When Nobel prize winners don’t answer their phones

🇵🇪  Machu Picchu has re-opened for a single stranded Japanese tourist

💨 Yeet: The Pentagon wants Elon Musk to design rockets that can carry things around the globe in an hour

🎡 Ferris wheels: the ultimate socially-distanced dining space?

💧 Sony uses liquid metal for cooling the PS5

Please remain seated for the whole performance
Clickbait Paradise
Not your grandfather's vittles

A little bit fancy: Burger King Belgium is campaigning for a Michelin star. Not quite fine dining, a massive plant in France is set to produce “insect protein” because of climate change. Baked bugs should go well with your 3D printed plant-based steaks. Mmm mmm. 

But some Frenchmen take traditional food very seriously, in this case, butter.

When life gives you lemons: Wildfires left California wineries with smoky grapes, but one Napa vineyard is making the best of a bad situation, distilling them into brandy instead.

A senior citizen keeping busy is 89-year-old Derlin Newey who works delivering pizza. He has many admirers among his customers, who film his deliveries for their TikTok accounts. His videos have gained such a following that fans managed to raise $12K to help cover his bills, meaning he doesn’t have to work so much. 

Another octogenarian man was busy being awesome last week, diving into a canal to rescue a driver from a sinking car. 

Yelping and squealing

Yelp, the crowdsourced review site, has decided to go all in on activism, allowing reviewers to report racist behavior. "The new Business Accused of Racist Behavior Alert is an extension of our Public Attention Alert that we introduced in response to a rise in social activism surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. If someone associated with a business is accused of, or the target of, racist behavior, we will place a Public Attention Alert on the business page to warn consumers that the business may be receiving an influx of reviews as a result of increased attention.”

It is good to challenge racism, wherever it may lurk, but with the definition of that term being very vague, what is to stop businesses from being wrongly accused? Yelp is even helping the Woke cause by offering a diversity toolkit for businesses wanting to create an “inclusive environment” featuring "a 60-minute "Unlearning Bias" training video for employees, and outreach language for customers and employees.”

Keep the Writers Writin'
The streetlights have eyes

San Diego has decided to turn off sensors on smart street lights over privacy concerns. The lights installed in 2017 to reduce energy costs for the city, are connected wirelessly to monitor when globes burn out. But the sensors and cameras also collect footage, which has been used by law enforcement as evidence in criminal cases. The city has decided to switch off the surveillance capability until laws can be made for gathering information and privacy.

Hunter, not hunted

This week has seen social media and tech giants throwing their weight around in a way that should bother everyone. A document known as the Great Barrington Declaration was signed by numerous infectious disease experts and scientists, outlining the damage done by current COVID policies. However, online searches for the document were missing from results, seemingly censored by Google.

Academics and left-leaning media attempted to discredit the Declaration by claiming it was funded by the Koch brothers, that it is the product of climate change-deniers, and was endorsed by fake signatories which turned out to be hackers trying to undermine it.

In addition to this, social media decided to carry water for the Progressive cause by preemptively deciding that a story dropped by the New York Post regarding Hunter Biden was disinformation and needed to be hidden from the public. Twitter and Facebook initially disappeared the story, and suspended accounts that attempted to link to it, before they slapped an “unsafe” warning label on it. The Post's story revealed emails recovered from a laptop which raise many questions regarding Hunter Biden’s dealing with foreign oligarchs and Joe Biden’s knowledge of them. 

While the corrupt dealings of the troubled son of a presidential nominee are worrying enough, the way media and big tech continue to censor speech and shape a Progressive narrative is also a massive concern. Mark Hemingway didn’t waste any words on Issues, Etc, saying that the decision of big tech companies to block a credible story (this isn’t Hunter Biden’s first scandal) that has implications for the Democratic campaign is dangerous.

Made your bed, now lie in it

More on our story last week about CEOs being activists... Sixty Coinbase employees took payouts rather than work for a company who has banned political activism at work. CEO Brian Armstrong came under fire for suggesting that CEO's should just focus on making good products. "We've seen what internal strife at companies like Google and Facebook can do to productivity. I believe most employees don't want to work in these divisive environments,” he said.

Staying with big tech and also oligarchs… Apple, Google and others are looking to move their supply chains out of China.

This is not the database you’re looking for

An agency collecting COVID testing data for the UK government has drawn scrutiny this week. Employees imported data into a Excel, not realizing that there is a million-row limit to the spreadsheet’s file format. This meant that some 16,000 results were lost. 

A piece from The Federalist last week shows how the World Health Organization has reversed its advice on lockdowns.

Talk Them Into It

Did you know every week you could tune into a Talk Them Into It discussion with the author himself?

Every Saturday morning Rev. Fisk goes live and leads a devotion for Us, the Chill, on his newest release.

Invite your friends!  Everyone who signs up for the Mad Monday newsletter receives a free digital copy of the book.  Want a physical copy?

Buy the Paperback
Evolving and devolving

An Australian study claims to have evidence that humans are still evolving. More babies are being born without wisdom teeth and, some people retain an artery to the hand, which usually disappears soon after birth. Darwin’s theory is often characterized as “a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form.” 

Modern evolutionists may quibble with the definition, but the mechanism for Darwin's theory is currently assumed to be genetic mutation.  This raises a question in our minds whether being born without wisdom teeth represents an increase in complexity or if it's caused by a mutation. God created all creatures after their own kind and in his wisdom, gave them the ability to adapt as needed. Perhaps the study of epigenetics will reveal more about this “microevolution.”

This one is for the lovers of stats, tech, and graphic visualizations of information… Well, that’s a lot of you! The video tracks the expectations of technology over time in a “hype cycle” and follows the successes and failures from the last 25 years. It’s rather fast-paced but it’s always nice to see new technology making it through the Trough of Disillusionment, up the Slope of Enlightenment to the Plateau of Productivity. Kind of like a Pilgrim’s Progress... 😛

Another theory laid out with graphs: The Goldilocks Format speculates why media formats that tell stories (TikTok, Snapchat's Stories) have become so popular. It seems to have a lot to do with pitching to the middle, balancing Simplicity and Storytelling. 

Yet there is clearly a thirst for less ephemeral media, as shown in the popularity of long-form podcasts. This might support Rev. Fisk’s theory that the future of humanity will be divided into those who can use language in complex ways and those who can’t.

Party like it's 1799

It may surprise the classical music lovers among our readers and those who enjoy live orchestral performances, to hear that these things are, in fact, racist. Well, not so much the music itself, though that is up for debate (all those old, white guys, all that standardized notation...), but the etiquette surrounding it.

In response to an article in Vox that criticized these etiquettes, Joshua Lawson writes, "Classical music concerts have long-standing conventions. So do most associations, group activities, and institutions... Rules for how to act at concerts, like nearly all ceremonial traditions, arise for a reason. Etiquette rules that accompany traditional classical concerts have nothing to do with racism, 'superiority,' or 'exclusion,' and everything to do with the respect and reverence due to a special event."

There seems to be an "inside baseball" debate happening in the classical music world regarding whether some of the traditions surrounding performances should be reviewed or discarded, and whether boisterous applause is appropriate in some situations. But to say that "things like punctuality and 'being polite' [are] signs of 'whiteness'" is as laughable as it is disturbing. Lawson writes that the Vox piece “lament[s] that classical concerts are the sole remaining American institution that typically insists on starting on time. The horror. The absolute fascistic horror."

Correct us if we're wrong, but even Antifa seem to have start times for their riots. After all, one can’t riot alone. Not to mention their dress code...

While etiquette may at times follow fashions - whether you serve soup first or wear knee breeches at court - it isn’t hard to see that good manners are a reflection of the Law: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Thinking of others more highly than yourself is at the heart of cultivating good manners, and in a “you do you” culture, manners represent a kind of constraint on ME that is problematic.

British writer Niall Gooch sums it up this way: "so-called [repression] is seen as very dangerous because it will eventually result in a great uncontrolled outburst of pent-up emotion, and prevents us from showing our true self, that is to say our most strongly-felt impulses. Much healthier, in this view, to let it at all hang out and not take the risk of leaving a thought or feeling unexpressed.” Tweet, tweet.

Yet manners are "a way of making clear that you prioritize [other’s] comfort over your own convenience or your own self-expression... To say 'please' and 'thank you' to someone, to listen carefully to them, to not impose on them...the obscenity on your T-shirt, is not mere prissiness. It is an act of humility and kindness.” Gooch says that people who use good manners "help others feel at home in the world. They treat the world as if it is genuinely a shared place, where we must take into account the needs of others."

In a culture that is currently seeking to erase any distinction or difference, manners are also a way of showing honor to people in authority and respecting the expertise of a profession. This is not “a judgment about the personal virtues of the person addressed — it is a sign of respect for the role itself...We salute the rank, not the man.” 

There is something refreshing about stepping back from the mad self-promoting scramble of modern life, resting in the fact that we are approved by our King. Gooch wonders "whether some of the modern antipathy to cultivating good manners is that they are generally a quiet and unshowy form of virtue. It’s difficult to post on social media about how impressive your manners are, because they so often consist of what you don’t say, what you don’t do, and of small gestures and minor sacrifices known only to yourself." Mad Christians are free to do our good deeds in secret, knowing our reward waits for us in the world to come.

Only Illuminati Need Apply
Your Reaction Highlights

Thank you, Heidi, for sharing your prayer with us:

I heard Rev. Fisk’s sermon mentioning the power of anxiety and doubt. A similar discussion happened in Discord on 15 Oct, re: anxiety and feelings of exclusion.

About 3 years ago, I was struggling with pretty severe clinical depression. I did a lot of soul searching and scripture reading as I worked through to a better place. I wrote this prayer/litany during that time, when I realized the power that I was giving to others to convict and control me, to dictate how I felt about myself, and forcing me to always feel the need to justify myself. Simply having an awareness of that was liberating; recognizing that it is only God who both justifies and condemns freed me from a lot of those feelings.

Lord show me your perfection and convict me appropriately of my sins.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Open my eyes to the true scope of my faults and remove delusion from me. Preserve me from self-deception and attempts to minimize.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Show me the impact of my actions and reveal the ripples of my sin in the lives of others. Show me how my sin offends against people You dearly love.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Your Law is a mirror, rule and guide. Give me clear sight, clear insight and clear vision. Do not let me deceive myself. Do not let me muddy the water of Your clear commands. Do not let me obscure your clear guidance.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Preserve me from un-godly guilt. Preserve me from guilt and frustration driven by the standards of this world.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Release me from the power of unjust human expectations. Release me from confusion and anxiety driven by the expectations of others apart from You.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Free me from all attempts at self-justification. Free me from the panic and helplessness of needing to be right in the eyes of others, to justify myself according to standards that are not Yours.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

You are both Just and the One Who Justifies.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

If God is for us, who can be against us? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Who is he that condemns? It is God who justifies.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution? Shall self-doubt, self-recrimination, self-imposed guilt? Shall anxiety, fear or frustration?

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Rebuke the power of sin and death in my life and mind. Bless me with Your Spirit, set my mind on what Your Spirit desires: on life and peace.

Against You, You only have I sinned.

Abba Father, against You, You only have I sinned. I groan inwardly in this mortal body and in this sinful life. Preserve and protect me from the fear of sin; from irrational fears inspired by the threats of the world; from fears driven by self-centeredness and pride; from fear that comes when I forget Your mercy and grace. You work all things together for my good in Christ, in whom I am justified. Against You, You only have I sinned; You, You only have redeemed and forgiven me.

Amen.

A Good Word: Rec's from Rev. Fisk

SMChill heard it first. Voices of the Martyrs is a comic anthology of the traditions of over 20 martyrs from the first two centuries, including Jude who was featured in this week's sermon. This massive book has been stamped with Rev. Fisk's seal of approval. If you are interested, it can be found at Kingstone or on Amazon. (Note: some images are graphic, afterall, it is a book about martyrdom.) Check out some of their other comic books here.

Fans of Christian comic books: Invite your friends and stick around. We've got good stuff comin' your way.

Promo of Friends
Do More Good

The authentic Everbook is now available for pre-order!  Check out Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller's reaction in this Everbook unboxing.

Made from genuine leather at Murdy Creative Co., this cover is the backbone of the completely customizable planner.  For more information on the Everbook, check out their website or YouTube channel.

Pre-Order the Everbook Now
Sweetness You May Have Missed
This Week Preached

Talk Them Into It
Jude Observed

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Be Intentional about the Meaning

Podcast Release

Post-American Boomtown

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Lutheran is a Bad Word

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Let us pray:  O God, the protector of all who trust in You, have mercy on us that with You as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.