Thursday, May 30, 2019

On A Broken Button

The Home Button on my phone is not working.

The Home Button, for those that do not know, is the button at the base of the phone that allows you to control the phone.  It brings up the security code log in. It allows you, when tapped in quick succession, to access individual screens or remove them all.  In a real sense, it makes your phone very usable.

And my is not working well - to the point I cannot use it at all.

There is a work-around fortunately, an accessibility option that allows you to tap a screen icon in order to access the Home Button.  But it is a two-three click process that is not terribly convenient.

So, my phone still works.  It is just a little less convenient to use.

But what I have discovered is that making it a little less convenient to use has actually been a grand thing. 

I have gotten into the habit, when temporarily bored or when the thought immediately grabs me, of reaching out to the phone and using it.  It has become almost an unconscious action.  Now, it takes time and effort to get to where I want to go.  Suddenly the unconscious habit has become a very conscious choice, one that is not "difficult" but one that takes some effort.

It appears that it is a great deal like eating junk food:  if it is there and easy it will be be done; if it is not convenient the chances that it will be eaten decreases dramatically.

Am I sorry this happened?  Initially I found it rather annoying, but now I find it rather freeing.  The "smart phone" is being put back into the place it needed to go:  not an unconscious addiction or time killer but a tool like any other, one that is used with thought and determination.

I am super hopeful no-one forces me to buy a new one...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

On Breaking And Essentialism II

Occasionally - very occasionally - one gets an immediate answer to ponderings and prayers.  Unfortunately, these too often seem to be precisely not the answer one was hoping for.

I went to bed pondering in the back of my head everything about essentialism and goals and what should really be focusing on, with the slow disposal of items as the backdrop to my thoughts.  And then, like the proverbial bolt of lightning, the answer hit the following morning.

The most essential thing I am doing right now is my career.

This is not, as you can imagine, the answer that I was desirous of.  For years I have been looking at my career field of the last 20 plus years as an interruption in my true calling, that somehow my real calling was right around the corner.  I was only in the wings, waiting for my call to drop what I was currently doing and roll into the task that I was truly appointed for.

That call, however, has never come.

I had pictured that it come as an author or speaker or wise person (past versions of this had me as a performer or pastor or real estate magnate) - my time would come, the call would come in, and I could go in one morning and simply say "I am moving on to something more grand, something more fulfilling".

But it is time to face reality.

After a lifetime of waiting, the single purpose of my life is to serve God (on which all Christians agree)  - which in my case means I work well in my job, seeing it as the only job I am likely to have until such time as I do not have it, for the purposes of providing income for my family to enable their activities (including college) and having money to support the various good works of the Church. 

That is it.

That said, what then becomes essential is what makes me a better and more valuable employee in that field.  In that sense, the path is pretty clear:  more study on quality, regulatory, biology, chemistry, and information technology.  None of these are my passion, to be sure - but they are needs to happen to move forward in this most essential task.

Everything else?  It fits into a much narrower scope and is limited by the time available.  And to be perfectly honest, they are the sort of thing to balance out my life, not be the main focus of it.

Am I disappointed?  Yes.  One likes to believe that one is going on to greater and more important things; it is disappointing to realize that what one has spent one's live trying to move beyond is apparently one's destiny.

But it is as it is.  I can either continue to fight and be disappointed and unhappy or simply accept what is and make the best of  it.

We hope for our desires.  What we more often seem to get is our needs.  One can only hope that in God's economy, this will come out for the better.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On Breaking and Essentialism

Last Friday I nearly broke at work.

It was the on the tail end of what has been a rather long and hectic two month lead in to two graduations, one that has put a rather lot of strain on the energy and time of our family (I underestimated this.  Hopefully, they will be smoother from here on out).  A project, which I though I was done with, was not done at all.  We still had one graduation to go.

Needless to say, I am seriously begin to question a lot of things.

As part of this questioning exercise, I began to make a list as part of my Essentialism Exercise.  I listed activities that I have been interested in that I currently own something for, interests which seem to support those activities, and actions (which are the ways I spend my time, socially and employment).  The list for activities will probably be close to 30 by the time I am done calculating; interests were around 10 and actions were a small 4.5,

Yes, in case you are counting.  That is a rather large amount of things to be interested in and doing, especially when almost 30% of a week is consumed by work and another 35-40% by the simple acts of living.  So yes, I do have a problem and I need to resolve it.

But how?  That is always the struggle.  I can state that I will not continue to invest in activities, but in point of fact for all of my activities, the sunk costs are already in place.  It is not as stopping them will change the amount of money or time I have already invested in them.  And to "stop" something somehow feels like I am surrendering on something.

Interestingly, nothing remotely related to my career field is on the list.  Which is telling to me, although I have no idea what to do with that particular sliver of information.  As you can probably imagine, none of my activities are such that they would generate any income at all, let alone an income sufficient to even remotely replace the one I am making now.

I tried to split the difference today, going through my closet and doing another sweep of clothes I no longer need (how many Highland Throwing Event T-shirts can one own!) and papers that I have preserved over time for no particular good reason at this point.  It felt good to make that much progress - but in the back of my mind I understand this is really only a time filler at this point.  Serious surgery needs to be done if I want to actually make significant progress.

And, if last week is any indication of the rest of the year to come, I need to get my house into order rather soon.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

For all who made the sacrifice, thank you.

(Photograph taken by Frank Glick, Fort Snelling Cemetary)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Congratulations Nighean Bhean!

I probably should have posted this before.  Nighean Bhean is actually graduating from high school today (I am already up, probably in line at the venue for a seat.  She made her college decision last month (almost at the last day).  She will be attending the University of Texas at Austin.

For the absolute life of me, I refuse to say "Hook 'Em Horns".  That said, I am sure she will do very well there.  She is majoring in Environmental Studies.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Do Not Live Someone Else's Life

(Mr. Jobs was a driven and unpleasant individual in a lot of ways, but he also had a lot of wisdom at times).)

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Essentialism Again

This past weekend I re-read Essentialism:  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.  It was highly recommended by my strength coach and I, in turn, recommend it as well.  His thesis is simply this:  on the whole, we are doing too much, making an inch of progress in a hundred directions instead of miles of progress in a few because we have failed to understand our purpose and the actual goals that support it.

It is probably not a bad time to be reconsidering all this:  Nighean Dhonn graduated from 8th grade and moves to high school, Nighean Bhean graduates from high school this weekend and moves on to college.  Life is changing and (in four years) will change again. 

This whole process is reflected in my journaling over the last weeks if I go over it:  writing and re-writing goals and intentions, looking for common themes, trying to balance my time.  It has been an undercurrent for a while now.

Sadly, I find myself behind most of my readers in this respect (yes, I read your blogs.  I know what you are doing).  So mostly this reconsideration is directed towards me.

What are the themes that keep coming up as I considered them?

- Iaijutsu
- Writing
- Reading (History, The Classics, Old Science Fiction).
- Ichiryo Gusoku (which covers a number of things including gardening, cheesemaking, and other self sufficiency activities).
- Foreign languages (Primarily Japanese, but there are others on the list)
- Fitness (Weight Training)
- The Ranch (Really, my heart place on earth)

I am not sure where to go, but these are the things that are constantly on my mind (and in my time management).  I am simply not sure how to go about making my life more about these things, and less about the other things that are filling it now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Last Day Commute

So this morning I dropped off Nighean Dhonn for her last day of 8th grade.  It was the quiet passing of an era disguised as just another day of commuting.

A double ear ender of sorts: not only was it the last day for Nighean Dhonn, it was also the last day of 10 years of dropping Na Clann off for elementary and middle school.

We have been driving there for 10 years now, literally from August of 2009 (the day after everyone arrive here) until today.  For about half of those years The Ravishing Mrs. TB drove them; for the remaining years I did.

Over the years things have changed, of course, from listening to children's songs to them watching movies to Nighean Dhonn plugged into her headphones while I slowly wend my way through morning commute traffic and grumble about it.  But for eight months of the year, that was how mornings were spent.

And now, with a single car door closure, it is all gone.

It strikes me as odd, of course - this precipitous ending of eras that seem to happen in the blink of an eye.  Reading history, I rather like to think that most people see the big changes coming instead of having them just arrive, but in point of fact they arrive more quickly and unannounced than they do in a slow, stately fashion.

Next Monday - and every Monday hence - the route will change.  It will just be me in my little car, taking a direct route to work, the only occupants of my car the ghost of an era now gone and my memories.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Haloed Moon

Night rainbow Spring Moon
stands in the scudding storm clouds:
Summer is coming

Monday, May 20, 2019

Another Iris

I received my wish!  Another Iris!:

I am not very good with garden design, but my little block behind the house is coming along nicely.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Brief Life

"Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short-lived care;
The life that knows no ending,
The tearless life is there.

There God, our King and Portion,
In fullness of His grace,
We then shall see forever,
And worship face to face."

- Bernard of Cluny

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A (Few) More Words From... A.W. Tozer

"If some watcher or holy one who has spent his glad centuries by the sea of fire were to come to earth, how meaningless to him would be the ceaseless chatter of the busy tribes of men.  How strange to him and how empty would sound the flat, stale, and profitless words heard in the average pulpit from week to week.  And were such a one to speak on earth, would he not speak of God?  Would he not charm and fascinate his hearers with rapturous descriptions of the Godhead?  And after hearing him could we ever again consent to listen to anything less than theology, the doctrine of God?  Would we no thereafter demand of those who would presume to teach us that they speak to us from the mount of divine vision or remain silent altogether?"

- The Knowledge of The Holy

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Old ZInfandel

Of all the wines I have tasted, I still love Old Zinfandel the best.

Old Zinfandel (or "Old Zin") is a red wine made specifically from old vines that are, for the most part head trained (e..g single plants either originally attached to a post or grown up around one) versus the trellis trained that pretty much is all that goes in place any more (there are reasons for that, of course:  It is easier to manage the vines and the production is more reliable year after year).  In some cases, the vines can be from 40 to 80 years old.

I cannot tell you fully why I like them - I like red wine in general and zinfandels in particular.  And perhaps it is just something in my head.  But I like the thought of drinking wine that is pulled from vines that have been around for a while (in some cases, longer than I have) planted in the old style (again, I am becoming more and more "old style" as well.

Two of my favorites are Bogle's Old Zin and Gnarly Head Old Zin:

Do you have a favorite wine?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Losing A Playlist

So somehow in the transfer process, I lost my I-phone playlist.

I had it on my phone, one that I had carefully built over the last 10 years, occasionally adding songs to it but (on the whole) keeping it more or less the same.  Until I accidentally added everything on my phone to the playlist. I tried manually deleting them for a while but there were too many.

No problem, I thought:  I will just delete the list and then add it.

So I deleted the list.  And then tried to add it.  And then my phone failed to synchronize.  And suddenly the "copied" playlist disappeared.

My initial reaction was shock, then anger.  How long had I had that playlist?  And now, I could not find it?  I was aggravated, searching through my computer and my phone.  Nothing.

But then I started thinking.

How long had I had that playlist?  And how many songs - really - did I listen to from it?  Not many.  And how many should I be listening to from it?  Probably even less (mostly due to the headphone and hearing issues.  I really do not need to be listening to loud music any more).

So I composed myself.  Found a partial list that I could transfer if I wanted to. I have all the songs still there if I want to recreate it.

And strangely enough, felt more free.  It was a relic that had been with me a very a long time indeed.  I will try a week or two without it.  Who knows: I may find that I no longer need that list at all and I can just "listen" to music.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


One of my Irises finally bloomed.  I have been waiting 10 years.

They were originally planted in Old Home, when they were dug up and brought here.  They were planted, then re-planted in a pot, and then re-re-planted in the ground two years ago when the dog broke the pot.  Every year they had leaves but no blooms.

Irises were my maternal grandmother's favorite flower.  So I am super happy that after waiting so long, we finally got to see one.

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Loss Of Touch

As I was wandering the highways and byways of the InterWeb last week, I found a rather interesting article entitled "No Hugging:  Are We Living In A Crisis Of Touch?" (actually from 2018, but I just found it).  Having had some thoughts about the matter, I decided to make the time to read the article.

Turns out, we may be a victim of unintended consequences.

Touch, states a neuropsychologist interviewed for the article, is now associated with setting off legislative processes and hysterical processes (his words, not mine) and is creating problems for mental health because (it turns out) we need some level of touch.  It has gotten to the point, says the article, that in at least one school in Britain children were asked to band-aid themselves up rather that the teacher do it and risk a complaint.

The article has some of the science behind touch (it appears, as with so many other behaviors, there is a point to it) and some interesting facts (the high point of touch seems to about age 20, after which it declines 1% a year.  You can do the math).

This is not surprising, of course, given the current general climate that any touch, any time, any where can be considered grounds for angst - even years after the event has happened.

The market has stepped in, of course. From the article, there are now "cuddle shops" where a client can choose from up to 72 different "cuddle" services.

As I have written before, physical touch has essentially become a no-go for me.  If you are not family I have to know you well - pretty well indeed - to consider anything beyond a handshake.  It is nothing personal of course, just me trying to protect myself in a world where the slightest unwanted brush can be misinterpreted and ruin one's life. 

The fact that people will soon be paying for the service of a touch is, I think, is as sad and foolish a statement on where we have ended up as any I can think of.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Micah 4:4

"Everyone will sit under their own vine, 
and under their own fig tree,
and no-one will make them afraid,
for the LORD almighty has spoken."

(Nighean Dhonn was confirmed last Sunday.  This was her choice for her confirmation verse.)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A Few Words From...Jayne Cobb

"Shepherd Book used to say 'If you can't do something smart, do something right". - Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), Serenity, 2005

Wednesday, May 08, 2019


Thank God for garlic.  Without it, I would have surrendered gardening a very long time ago.  It has continued to produce for me every year since 2000.

Entitled To The Knowledge Of Others

I do not know the Patriot Nurse ( other than from reading an occasional reference in someone else's article (we all tend to run in the same circles as some point, do we not?) but was struck by this quote from her which was posted on Survival Blog:

“The Internet has brought us both good and bad. Like the Guttenberg press so many years ago, a revolution in widely accessible information has ushered in an era of unparalleled appetite for knowledge. Because of the non-concrete nature of this information’s platform, people lose sight of the fact that solid wisdom and experience is not free, nor is it easily gained from surfing the web. Information is a-plenty nowadays, but wisdom and real experience is preciously scarce. My degree, all of my travels and the lessons I learned to make me the healthcare professional that I am cost me. It cost me lots of money, lots of time, lots of pain, heartache, disappointment, and long hard days and sleepless nights. With Reid [Heinrichs], amp that up ten-fold.

People nowadays feel entitled to the labors of others. Instead of feeling grateful for the life experience given away, many display contempt. The astonishing thing is that people now feel baselessly superior to the person on the other end of the screen without recognizing their own limitations. Welcome to the new era of no experts, ‘free’ information. Beware of the Internet expert behind the comment section. When the lights go out, he won’t be able to help you. The tried-and-true experienced individual will.”

It is part of a larger article called "The Death of Expertise In The New Era of Free Info", one which I commend to your attention as well.  

It is a rather profound point, and one that I have intuited (but have never been able to state so forthrightly).  If you think about it, it is more and more becoming an underlying current of our society:  doctors should practice medicine, researchers should develop medicines, farmers should grow food, fire fighters should fight fires not only because it is there job but because - even if they were not being paid for it, or paid appropriately - they "should" do it as that is their duty to others.  In other words, their training and expertise exists as an obligation to others, not as the property of the individual who worked to gain the experience.

This was predictable, or course.  Ayn Rand predicted it 50 years ago in Atlas Shrugged.  You will remember, if you have read the book, how Henry Rearden came to his moment of clarity when he carefully pointed out to the government officials that their expectation was for him to use his expertise, his experience, and his money because he was "obligated" to do so for the betterment of society, not from any sense of economic benefit.  He and his company had become servants of people who could not do what he did, did not know what he did, but demanded that he serve them because of their need.

There is only one problem with all of this, of course:  when disincentivized, people stop doing things.

To the doctor, the handyman, the researcher - if they are not being rewarded for what they do, they will ultimately find another way to do it to get rewarded.  You see this now in doctors that only accept non-Medicare patients or have paying pools of patients.  You see this in the handyman that works for cash locally.  You see this in the researcher that moves to a different area or research, something that does not involve making a drug.  Society does not make experts work for others by demanding it - instead, it drives it underground, depriving society of that expertise.

One day, these people who are so demanding that others serve them will wake up and discover that they expertise they demanded no longer is accessible.  Gulliver, it will have seemed, has simply gotten out of his tiny ropes and moved on.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The Tragedy Of The Commons: A Modern View

As part of the transition from 18th Century Agricultural to Industrial England, I was introduced to the concept of "The Tragedy of the Commons".  In short, at one time English villages (perhaps many others as well) had a village commons where anyone could graze their sheep.  Over time, as other land become less and less available, more and more people would use the commons - but as it did not belong to anyone it was not cared for by anyone and thus degraded more quickly as a usable land such that in the end, no-one could use it.

Fast forward 300 years or so.

As I drive to my gym I transit under the major North-South Artery and through an underpass.  As I have looked over to the northern side, I one day noticed a pile of garbage and stuff rising up.

I have no idea where it came from.  One might think it was from those occasional road cleanups that the community service folks do.  There is an ongoing homeless encampment 200 yards away under the overpass that may contribute.  Or perhaps someone just dumped a load there (for all of the civic "We are the future", there is still plenty of that which still occurs around here).

No matter where it came from, the larger question is who is responsible for cleaning it up.  It is on at least four different kinds of property:  city, county, state, and federal (through the interstate).  Yet no-one has taken any responsibility for cleaning it up.  I suppose, if I were to ask, I would get the answer one typically gets at most bureaucracies:  "It is not our responsibility, it is X's, because they have the budget line item for it" or "Our authority ends within 25'/7 m of the freeway.  That  is a problem for Y". 

So, it really belongs to no-one.

Mind you, the pile is just sitting there in our humidity and heat and rain, slowly rotting away and providing a breeding ground for mold, yeasts, and who knows what vermin.  And I am sure that there are some level of individuals (like myself) that drive by it every day and notice it.  And yet there it continues to sit, an eyesore and dumping ground that grows and spreads.

The ultimate breakdown of societies is not always tied to a major failure or event.  It is just as often tied to the simple development that no-one takes care of the major things that society needs to get along - until, like the commons, they are no longer able to be used by anyone.  And once no longer able to be used, things tend to collapse rather quickly.

Monday, May 06, 2019

A Second Thought On An Open Letter To Men

Brett and Kate McKay have posted a wonderful (and telling) article over at The Art of Manliness called "Marriage Isn't A Game of Russian Roulette".  It is less than 1,000 words and rather short but but pithy, so I do commend it to your attention.  In short (and I do not it justice), the thesis is that rather than marriage being an unknown risk with more bad outcomes than good, it can be something that one goes into with risk assessment for a better outcome.

(If  you would like, feel free to take a moment and review it.  I will just be here, drinking coffee....Read it?  Great!)

I do not find any of the recommendations or suggestions in the article at all unreasonable - in fact, they are pretty good ones and ones that (looking back) I probably would have benefited from in my (rather anemic) dating life as a whole, once upon a time.  But what I find terribly interesting is that they feel this sort of article needs to be written at all.

As I have commented before, this is one of the most dangerous times (socially) to be a man of any age or status, but especially one who is dating.   Almost anything you do is likely to be carefully scrutinized and judged against what the "new social culture" says a man should be.  You are incredibly open to misunderstandings, outright accusations, or social shunning.  So while I was a little surprised that this article came out now, I am not surprised that it came out at all.  I suspect the cultural backlash of men to the current society has begun, and is becoming noticeable enough that something had to be said.

My recommendation?  I do not really have a dog in this fight specifically any more, but my comments now would be as my comments then (and really, no different than the article):  Risk management and risk avoidance are the best paths forward.  Carefully come to know the women you are dating - mostly in public venues where the risk of single source accusations are at a minimum.  Assume your actions will always be misinterpreted, and instead hold yourself to a business level interaction (be professional, be thoughtful). 

And to re-emphasize one of the article's points, if you have a hint of anything untoward or concerning, walk away.  The risk, any more, is simply too great.

Sunday, May 05, 2019


Friday night I watched the 2016 movie Silence. 

The movie is based on the novel by Shusaku Endo and follows the travels of two Jesuit friars to Japan, who have heard that their mentor, Father Ferrerira, has renounced Christianity due to the persecution taking place in the mid-17th century.  They set out for Japan, knowing that if they are captured it could cost them their lives.

The movie follows these two friars as they make contact with the kakure kurishitan, the "hidden Christians" who exist in the midst of a very active persecution of Christianity.  They move from village to village and separate until the main character, Rodrigues, is captured by the local magistrate's men.  From then, it becomes a struggle of wills between the magistrate Inoue Masashige and Rodrigues to make him renounce his faith (the Japanese learned that forcing a priest to apostatize was far more effective to their ultimate cause than killing individual Christians).

The movie is based on actual historical events (which I previously knew little about) and was directed by Martin Scorsese (he of The Last Temptation of Christ fame).  I would recommend the movie, except that one should be prepared to be disturbed.

The depictions of the persecution of the Japanese Christians, although not gory, is certainly difficult to watch - more so knowing that it is based on historical events.  The atmosphere of fear, of constantly living under the threat of discovery, is palpable.  Christians are tied to crosses at low tide and then battered and drowned at high tide.  Christians have water from hot springs slowly poured over their bodies, burning them.  They are hung upside down and slowly allowed to bleed out.  They are (in one case) beheaded.

The main character, Rodrigues, struggles constantly with the silence of God.  Why are these Christians being made to suffer?  Why has God not acted?  If he apostatizes Christians may be saved - but what does that mean about his relationship with Christ?

I cannot discuss the movie itself more than that without revealing the plot - but I would argue that it is an important movie for every believer to see because it asks real questions about the role of faith and outward Christian living in the midst of a persecution none of us has ever had anything like in our lives.

It is one thing to be asked to renounce our faith to avoid being ostracized on social media.  It would be another thing entirely to do it knowing that such a decision may be the choice between life and death - for ourselves or others.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Collapse XXII: A Quiet Waiting

06 August 20XX

My Dear Lucilius:

Have you been listening to the radio of late? I generally tend not to as I find myself becoming either aggravated or depressed (or occasionally, if I listen to the music of my youth, nostalgic) but after my shopping trip of a few days ago, decided that it might be worth “tuning in” (as they say) to see what people are saying.

I have to confess I find the whole thing rather alarming.

On the one hand, I listen to the local national news broadcasting stations. To listen to these, it appears that all we have been experiencing recently is a rather small problem, a “hiccup” in the economic engine of the United States (and the world, apparently) easily resolved in a few days. Certainly, there may be individual outages or slight inconveniences, but on the whole things are fine and carry on about your business.

To listen to the call in shows – either local or where I can find them on the InterWeb – is a very different thing entirely.

What I experienced seems to be not the exception but the rule – not only in the country in general, but almost everywhere (so far as I can tell) – in a few places better, in many places the same, in some places far worse. I am (once again) grateful that I live here, far away from any large population center that would give such events the place to flourish.

Have I noticed anything different? Not particularly – except that traffic has slowed to an unusual event now. I have perhaps seen 20 cars over the last two days when (in usual high tourist season) I would see far more.

Have I acted differently? Again, not particularly. I have not a made driving trip since my shopping trip six days ago, but that has been known to happen in the past. I have taken the liberty of reorganizing the workshop and going through items and storing them or putting them away, or at least making them not so obvious if someone were to look in. I have also completely recleaned my closet and reorganized the supplies there as well, more to just verify what I have in place rather than from any particular need.

The thing I have heard – at least in the radio shows with callers – is the fear in the voice of some of callers. I have not heard this sort of fear for many years.

It has made me sit up and take notice.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Hated For My Name's Sake

Luke 21:17:  "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake."

Matthew 24:9:  "Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated for My name's sake."

Mark 13:10: "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake.  But he who endures to the end will be saved."

Christ was brutally honest how He expected His followers to be treated, both in His time and at The End Of The Age - and by extrapolation, during all time in between.  Yet I cannot think of the last time that I heard a sermon preached on any of the above verses.

Why?  Because they are hard to hear.  Because they go against the grain of human existence, the desire to be liked.  Because it promises nothing in this life but derision, disgust, and hate (I mean, beyond forgiveness of sins and eternal life, of course).  Because we try to find ways to connect to the world on all levels, instead of speaking Christ's words of life to a dying world.

Do we grasp that?  Do we understand this?  Or are we so dependent on the world liking us, so convinced that we have to be "relevant" to matter, that we would rather be hated by God for the world's sake? 

If the church has become the desire of the world and its system, then - per Christ's words - we are doing something terribly wrong.