“I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”–Or Can I?

“I can’t get no satisfaction…”

I couldn’t remember the rest of the words to that Rolling Stones song when I started writing this post, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. That song has always bothered me–musically, lyrically, and theologically. Or should I say it’s “left me dissatisfied”?

Practically everyone in the Western world strives for success and satisfaction. It’s human nature, and those two things seem to go hand-in-hand. People want to succeed–in their jobs and in their marriages. In athletics and in rearing successful children. In practically anything and everything.

And along with that often comes the quest for more money, more power, more recognition. More whatever.

And all to make them feel satisfied. To fill that empty spot inside that makes them feel important. To keep them from feeling like they’re no better than–no different from–everyone else.

At sixty-eight I’ve decided that being “no better than” others isn’t all that terrible. I’ve had my successes and I’ve had my failures, including some I still struggle with.  Yet I’m satisfied overall.

I’m reminded of something I read in a Ted Decker book. One character claimed that he was God’s favorite person. Then he pointed out that the person he was talking to was God’s favorite, too. His point was that God loves everyone equally, no matter how good or bad they are, no matter how successful or unsuccessful–as the world views success.

Sure, I’d love for my books to sell millions of copies. Earning an appreciable amount of money from those sales would be nice. And how thrilled I’d be if some well-known musician discovered one of my songs and made it famous. But I’m satisfied without those things ever happening.

You see, my satisfaction isn’t based on success. If it were, I’d probably be the one singing, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”

My satisfaction doesn’t come from comparing myself with others, but with knowing how worthwhile I am in God’s sight. Yes, I want to please Him. I want Him to be proud of me. But He loves me all He can just because I’m me. Not because of the feeble best I can ever do. What more could I ask for?

I finally gave in to my curiosity, by the way. I put my seldom-played Rolling Stones CD in the stereo and listened to “Satisfaction.” The only words I could understand were the refrain. I’m satisfied that my dislike of that song is well founded.

What are your thoughts about success, satisfaction, and/or the Rolling Stones? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE  if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

Right to Life

I’ve never wanted to be a politician. Politicians never please everyone, and they often seem to cave to the loudest voices rather than to the ones that are morally and ethically correct.

Nonetheless, some politicians do pay attention to their electorate—the very people who put them in office—and attempt to do the right thing, even in the face of strong opposition. I commend them.

In the November elections, We the People elected Senators and Representatives we believed were listening to us. In doing that, we sent a clear mandate to Washington about what the majority of Americans think about key issues.

Especially the need to honor and obey the Constitution.

I hadn’t read the Constitution for a while, but I skimmed through it a few minutes ago. Nowhere did I find the familiar “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No wonder. That’s in the Declaration of Independence.

Nonetheless, no civilized nation permits murder to go unpunished. “Thou shalt not kill” is one of the Ten Commandments God gave Moses, and it applies just as much to America as it did to the Children of Israel long ago.

The issue seems to be “What is murder?”

Sounds silly to even ask, doesn’t it? The answer is obvious. Taking someone else’s life.

But what about war? Killing is taken for granted there.

I’ve heard it explained that God never forbade His people from killing their enemies. The Bible is filled with numerous examples of them doing that.

What about capital punishment, though?

I suppose one might say that the judicial system is executing the enemies of law and order. I’ve heard better explanations, but I don’t recall the details.

Finally, then, what about abortion?

Hmm. The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document. Not in the sense the United States Constitution is.

But if murder is “taking someone else’s life,” then the abortion question is one of  “At what point does someone become a person?”

Back in the days when I felt more neutral about abortion, I hadn’t yet seen any of those graphic pictures of the development of a baby at various stages of his or her life. But I’ve seen them time and again in recent years, and no one can convince me that unborn babies are not yet “persons.” Persons with human features. Persons who can feel pain by the time they’re twenty weeks old.

So I have no choice but to consider abortion the killing of a miniature—but a very real—person. Not the killing of an enemy in war. Not the killing of an enemy of law and order.

But the killing of a person whose continued presence is—at least in most cases—simply inconvenient.

I’m not unfeeling, however. Where rape, incest, or the health of the mother is involved, I’m not nearly as adamant in my opposition to abortion. But even then, abortion is still the killing of a very real person.

God never stops loving his children. He forgives everyone who confesses their sins to Him and asks forgiveness. I believe that is true of hardened criminals who repent and seek God’s forgiveness, and I believe it’s equally true of women who’ve had abortions and ask God’s forgiveness. But He doesn’t free them from the consequences of their actions.

I wonder how God feels about the unrepentant law makers who fail to take We the People seriously. Those who place political expediency above their promises—and above the civilized standard of not committing murder.

They, too, must ultimately live with the consequences of their decisions–including the loss of support from We the People.

[NOTE: My daughter is adopted. I cannot imagine how different–how less wonderful–my own life would have been if her birth mother had aborted her.]

Abortion is a hot topic. While I hope you will feel free to leave comments, I ask that you do it in a thoughtful and civilized manner.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

 

 

Authors Are Tough Readers

I’ve read a couple of novels this week. Lorena McCourtney‘s Dying to Read is a cozy mystery–cozy mysteries are ones solved by non-law enforcement people (e.g., Jessica Fletcher on Murder, She Wrote, and in this case an inexperienced private investigator)–and Christy Barritt’s Dubiosity is romantic suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed both of them.

I was already familiar with Christy’s writing because she’s a friend, and I like her writing so much I always ask for a chance to review a new book. I’d never read any of Lorena’s before, but in corresponding with her earlier in the week learned that the Kindle version of this book was free and decided I could afford that.

I’ve pointed out how much I enjoyed both of these novels for a very specific reason. Authors are tough readers, and it’s hard for us to read a book without stumbling at places where the author failed to follow one of the so-called rules of writing.

Generally, those are things a less knowledgeable reader won’t be bothered by. And I don’t mean misspellings or grammatical errors.

One example is using “s/she said” a lot. A more polished author uses what are called action beats to identify the speaker. For example:  He scratched his head. “I’m not so sure about that.”

Another is a failure to show, not tell. Instead of “He was angry,” say “He hit the table with his fist.” This is tough for a number of authors and would be authors. It can take a number of well thought out words to show.

Another thing I stumble over as a reader is the use of any form of the verb “to be.” The “He was angry” in the previous paragraph is an example of this.

I could list dozens of similar “rules” that writers are taught to obey–one is to avoid unnecessary uses of “that,” something I failed to do in the first part of this sentence–but that would be pointless. I’m not trying to educate anyone here about what good writing requires.

What I am trying to do is explain briefly that authors make tough readers because we stumble over abuses related to the rules we’ve been taught to follow, and we tend to be far more critical than normal readers.

That’s why I mentioned the two books I’ve read this week. Their authors are good. Really good. If they broke any of the rules, they did it so well I didn’t stumble.

The interesting thing is that authors tend to be especially critical of best-selling authors who consistently break the rules and get away with it. To which I can only say what I’ve heard a number of times, “Story trumps the rules.”

What about you? If you’re not an author–or even if you are–what makes you stumble when you’re reading a novel? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.
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Best regards,
Roger

 

 

When Should an Older Adult Quit Driving?

I’m smiling as I think about my father’s driving. For just about as far back as I can remember, he drove as creepingly slowly as any stereotypical little old man. That started years before he became a little old man, although his driving got appreciably worse as he grew older. He continued to drive until a few days before his death. Probably up to the day before he had to be hospitalized for the last time.

As a widow, my mother was in a quandary about driving. Her health wasn’t good, and she readily agreed that it probably wasn’t good for her to continue driving. So on the condition that I would drive her when needed, she let me trade in the Crown Victoria along with my car of the time and get a new car. One that we could conveniently put her walker–and soon thereafter her wheelchair–in.

My parents were in their eighties when they died. My mother had quit driving when she realized she could no longer do it safely. My father probably should have quit, but hadn’t.

What about me? I’m only sixty-eight and in good health.

But a year or two ago I drove through a wire barrier I didn’t see, and a few months ago I backed into a light post I couldn’t have missed seeing if I’d been more alert. I’ve always hated night driving, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to feel even vaguely comfortable doing.

Last night I rode to a meeting with a friend. And I’ve asked my wife to please start being the driver for Wednesday night and Sunday night church activities.

But I’m far from needing to give up driving completely. I’ve never hit anyone or even been in an accident with another vehicle. I don’t feel uncomfortable with daytime driving in familiar territory.

So what’s the big deal? Why write this blog post?

Honestly? I think I just needed to think all of this through and realize that I simply need to be more careful. Especially in parking lots!

What about you? What’s your opinion about or experience with older drivers? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out . If you’re interested, here’s the Amazon link.

Best regards,
Roger

I Don’t Write Suspense

I’ve been writing off and on for the last fifty-some years. I’ve written poetry, dramatic monologs, short stories, short plays, and essays.

I’ve been writing novels for the past eight or nine years. Two of my young adult novels have been published and my one satirical speculative novel–that’s what the Christian market calls “supernatural” now–was published in November.

I’ve written eight other novel  manuscripts in varying genres that have yet to be discovered by a discriminating publisher.

But do I read Young Adult novels? Only periodically.

How about speculative novels? Sometimes.

What do I really enjoy reading, then? Suspense.

Not mysteries, although suspense can involve mysteries needing to be solved. Not terror stories, although suspense often deals with some indescribably terrible things.

I like straight out pure and simple  suspense. The kind that keeps me turning pages and–figuratively speaking–biting my nails.

But I don’t write suspense, even though my novels sometimes have suspenseful moments.

Why not? I don’t think my creativity works the right way for suspense, and I don’t feel like trying my hand at something I have strong doubts about succeeding at. Coming up with a really fresh idea would be extra difficult after all of the suspense novels I’ve read, and having to keep so many details straight–so many balls in the air, as it were–doesn’t appeal to me.

But that doesn’t keep me from reading suspense and loving it. I just finished a really good one–Redeeming Grace by Ward Tanneberg. The blurb on Amazon is brief, but compelling:

“Hello Grace, did you think I wouldn’t find you?”

Those nine chilling words end Grace Grafton’s self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. She knows the President’s dark secret – a secret that could destroy his presidency. Thought to be a fatal casualty in a drunken boating accident, now Grace and everyone she loves are in grave danger as a killer prepares to take the oath of office.

When a murderer moves into the White House no one is safe – not even the dead.

Who wouldn’t at least be curious about a book like that?

I’ve read political thrillers by various well-known secular authors, but this novel is right up there with them. The Christian elements only made it better. I’m not going to give away any secrets about the plot, but suffice it to say that Mr. Tanneberg has crafted his story extremely well.

When I’m dying to read something else by an author, that tells you something.

What do you like to read? Please share a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

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This Global Warming Is Freezing Me!

I just got back from a quick trip to the grocery store, and I sure was glad I don’t ride motorcycles anymore.

I wore the next-to-the-warmest coat I own and a hat my wife crocheted for me. Normally very snug clothing when the temps are lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

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But I’m not sure I’d ever been so cold in that outfit that I wished I’d worn more. The 25 degrees Fahrenheit was bad enough, but the wind was ferocious. I just checked the wind chill: 12 degrees.

I have a parka that’s heavier than my normal low-temp coat, but I never wear it unless snow is falling or lying on the ground. Somehow that seems like the appropriate time to wear it.

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But when I go to church tonight for Bible study, I’m resorting to the parka–with no apologies to my wife, who likes to tease me when I wear the “Nanook coat.”

Would somebody tell me, please, what’s going on with this supposed global warming that the government insists will finish off planet earth unless it’s turned back? A number of respected scientists believe the climate variations we’re experiencing are normal, not an ultimate threat to the planet, and insist that “warming” is totally inaccurate.

I agree. The global warming just about froze me today.

What’s your opinion? Is global warming real? Or is it a hoax that allows politicians to invest in and make millions of dollars in the process? Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger

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Farewell, Famous Dave’s

Alas, the 2014 Christmas season saw the passing of one of our favorite restaurants, Famous Dave’s across the street from the Regal Cinema at Virginia Center Commons.

We understand that the employees didn’t know about the closing until they arrived at work one day and read the note on the door. I’ll bet they weren’t any too happy. Not only to find themselves unemployed at the beginning of the new year, but to be told in such an impersonal and uncaring way.

My assumption is that the management didn’t have the guts to let his employees down gently and thoughtfully. Then again, who’s to say that he knew in time to do that? I could easily see him getting word from some out-of-town higher up sometime after closing on what turned out to be the final night. An out-of-town higher up who didn’t have the courage to treat the local manager properly.

I really enjoyed their grilled chicken sandwich, among other things. Kathleen normally had their ribs. I especially liked their jalapeno flavored mac ‘n’ cheese, and both of us loved the grilled pineapple they used to have on their menu.

One of my biggest regrets is we never sat at the single very tall table that offered special deals to anyone who sat there.

We didn’t get to know the servers at Famous Dave’s as well we’ve done at some of our other favorite eating places. Nonetheless, they always made us feel at home.

I’ll miss seeing those cute t-shirts. The only saying I can recall at the moment said, “PIG — Very important pig.” I wonder how many employees have shredded their t-shirts in anger.

That’s about all I have to say. We still have a good BBQ place nearby–Q Barbeque. But I can’t get my chicken sandwich there. Or my mac ‘n’ cheese. Or those grilled pineapple slices.

Have you lost a favorite restaurant–or maybe a favorite retail store? How did you feel when you learned of its closing? Please share a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

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My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. If you’re interested, please check it out at Amazon.

Best regards,
Roger