As always when discussing religious beliefs, I want to start with a caveat: I am not God, nor do I think I have any special message from Heaven that only I can hear. If God is speaking to me (and I wouldn’t ever dare to tell God what He can and can’t do), He’s being quiet about it. My authority is only that which comes from a lifetime of study, checking with experts, a decent knowledge of history, and the original text (as best as I can determine).
What I have to say may well be of interest to Christians and mystics; it might also very well be of service to those who have only a passing knowledge of the Bible but are well up on current politics.
Across social media, we’ve all doubtless seen memes about the Sign or Number or Mark of the Beast and how it relates to the Coronavirus. Perhaps you’re one of those whose only other encounter with it was during a Supernatural episode, or perhaps watching the movie Constantine. So let me tell you a bit about where it comes from.
It’s gotten easier to ignore the news now that Trump’s no longer featured daily. (Except on MSNBC, which has for the 1,346th straight day announced he may be going to prison — but this time they mean it.) Let’s face it: America has gotten sick of depressing things, and now that we’re approaching 50% vaccination, we’re ready to go back out and enjoy the world.
(Well, some of us. Personally, I haven’t been terribly inconvenienced by the lockdown. I like it at home; all my things are here.)
So, if you’ve been tuning out for a couple of weeks, or if your only source of information is major media and your Twitter feed, here’s a few things you might have missed:
One of my newer acquaintances recently asked why it is that Tucker Carlson is considered unreliable by even his allies and in turn hated, despised, and reviled by those who oppose him politically. And it struck me that, while I’ve long stated his unreliability as fact, I’ve never taken the trouble to detail my reasons.
I’ve had my second vaccine shot, it’s unbearably hot outside, and really, what else do you need to know?
Well, quite a bit, actually. It’s been a busy few days, and you might have missed some of the more important items if you rely on chance glimpses in your Twitter feed to get your news. Here’s a quick rundown:
Today, the House G.O.P. selected a new leader for their Conference to replace Liz Cheney. Rather than a divisive conspiracy theorist or a decrepit senior member, they went with newcomer and relative unknown Elise Stefanik, a moderate representing New York’s border North Country.
But who is Elise Stefanik — really? Well, here are a few things you should know.
No headlines say this. A few lines in some of the financial papers hint at it, explaining why every rideshare and gig delivery company just took a massive stock hit. Frankly, when it comes to hard news, it’s tough to go wrong with the financials.
On Wednesday the 5th, President Biden’s Department of Labor issued a reversal for the Trump-era “final rule” that defined most gig workers as non-employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In an interview, Labor Secretary Marty Walsh explained that this was designed to make gig workers eligible for the benefits everyone else gets. In reality, what it’ll do is force the contracting companies to limit worker hours, particularly during slow periods, so they aren’t suddenly required to pay overtime for someone who’s just sitting around doing nothing. For customers, it’s going to be just that much harder to get a ride at odd hours or to get food delivered.
(The following is one of our occasional ventures into short fiction. We hope you enjoy it.)
The killer backed out of the room into the empty hallway and knelt at the keyhole; peering inside, he examined the end of the old-fashioned key. From the pocket of his windbreaker he took a small pair of what looked like bent needlenose pliers padded with thin strips of cloth. These he inserted. Gripping the key, he turned until he heard the lock click. The pliers went back into the pocket, and were replaced by a flash and small magnifier.
He peered through the lens, tsking at a couple of small scratches he’d left with the tool. From a different pocket he removed a bottle labeled (but not containing) Wite-Out. Using the brush, he carefully and methodically applied a thin coat of translucent lacquer onto the end of the key, dulling the scratches. It would dry long before the body was ever discovered.
Besides, by then they’d be looking for a vampire, not him, he thought, and chuckled to himself.
Your elderly parents trust Tucker Carlson and refuse to wear a mask no matter how much you beg them. Uncle Gene is getting secret messages from Q about the Conspiracy and is convinced that Trump won the election and that mass arrests of Congress are coming soon. Your college friends have moved to Portland to join the Resistance, and your ex just dropped out of Harvard Law to become a cop. Meanwhile, the president you worked hard to help elect has backtracked on his campaign promises so far that not only is he not legalizing marijuana and mass-pardoning prisoners, instead he’s banning menthol cigarettes.
Now, I don’t often choose to explain to folks in detail exactly what my politics are. For one thing, if I’m going to write honestly about the issues and try to tell you the facts of the matter, my politics don’t make any difference; truth is truth, and politics (as we all know) is something else entirely — and I’m here to tell the truth. If it disagrees with my position, it might just be I’ll end up changing my position, which is the way it ought to be.
The other thing is, if you’ve read much of what I write, the way I feel on the issues ought to be pretty apparent by now, so if you don’t get it you’re obviously not reading, and why should I give a hoot what you think of me anyhow?