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And the beach and pyramids in the ID card? -W-h-a-t-???

An Oasis and the Fires of Hell

    Tuesday, January 16, 2018 -- (Long Beach, CA) -- The politics I write about for Party of Grace are not like any being written by anyone about politics.

    Having spent 25 years working as a press secretary for five elected officials and as a PR hack for organized labor, what I put forward now is not like anything I spent decades writing for others.

    And it is not like religion as I’ve ever known, because I was not born of faith, or raised with any religion. Indeed, my parents scorned it, considering religion to be a "crutch." When I was born -- in a state hospital -- my mother was furious when a nurse asked, "... and what religion will he be?" They didn’t want a religiously-operated facility, so she replied, "He’s... he’s a Buddhist."

    Thought my mom’s great-grandfather was a Methodist minister, and my dad’s family read the Torah, neither gave a drop of faith to the kids.

    So being raised with no faith, and engaging in politics that my parents also viewed as a crutch, I simply marched my own path. In Orange County CA, the Democratic party seemed a ghost, so I was initially a Republican and shifted to independent for a decade. I married at 27 to someone who also was not of deep faith. When our daughter asked about The Christ, all I would tell her was, "I don’t know."

    My own spiritual life has been to add the letter "o" and then "God" is "Good." I abide by that, but I never read any Holy Book, nor did I ever attend mass in any religion. I visited cathedrals, and temples, and a mosque, and when my heart was sliced open in major surgery, I spent an hour with Buddhist monks the night before. (I figured since I had talked at length with many of other faiths, they seemed fitting for my own trip to the hospital.)

    Five decades of life carried no bond to faith.

    So when I awoke, unable to rise, tied to a bed, unable to figure where I was or why, life felt a little different. I could not speak more than a word or two, and so laying trapped in a bed, what flowed through my thoughts was, "You can just take me, God.... I’ve just fold it up." For a day, I was ready just to sleep and not awaken. (Then, there’s my kid and brothers and father, so I trade "fold it up" for "Just never give up.")

    My kid rescued me, after a stroke and then giving the thumbs up for major brain surgery. I had no comprehension for what was happening, and thought I had been captured and taking as a prisoner to another country. Why would my family fly to another country and not rescue me? Obviously, I was not in whole sense of mind.

    Days after the surgery, finally I could hobble. Still couldn’t speak. Could barely think. Yet, as I walked, the words that floated within me -- in absolute clarity -- were, "Let go of selfishness and arrogance." Okay, I thought. Seems like something to remember, since I couldn’t speak. Words that were not of a voice again said in the hospital, "Humbly messenger." Um, okay....

    Doctors in that one month stay in St. Mary’s Medical Center, of Long Beach CA, seemed amazed by my rise. Everyone gets knocked down, and not each soul is so fortunate, so certainly I can only count myself to be truly lucky. But one doctor said that I had done better than anyone she’d seen in her thirty years in medicine. Okie dokie. No one else in the stroke ward could walk, and as I pushed myself to hobble and count laps, I heard television stations and weeping and silence.

    Upon getting home, I told myself to continue pushing, because one either is finding capability, or rolling into a ball. Bake bread. Took longer, but it was edible. Walk, though I was slow. Read, which I couldn’t for quite a while, let alone write. Calendar 2016, which began in St. Mary’s, had the single goal of, "Survive" and was the hardest year of my life.

    However, I was the luckiest soul in America. While everyone else had to endure a miserable national election, I simply had to stand and walk and think. As the year ended, a Christmas that I felt wouldn’t happen embraced me, and letting go of selfishness and arrogance marked a personal growth. Though I could not understand what "humble messenger" spoke to, I accept that I am simply called upon to do that which is given to me to do.

    The second year was like running up a mountain that previously I could barely see, like steps up a pyramid. Indeed, in September 2017, while riding a bus to run errands, I passed through Cal State Long Beach, where I earned my bachelors in 1991.

    "Enroll!" was once again an internal instruction. Okie dokie. Jumping through the hoop of a computer application was hard enough, but I got accepted. On the two year anniversary of getting my brain sliced open, I picked up my ID card for the college.

    The 2017 year also included another major instruction, and unlike college, this was one I had no idea what it meant. "Party of Grace." In January 2017, within me was the instruction to exit the political party that I had spent 25 years working for and earned a career. Instead, I was to registered for a party that did not exist, as the first member.

    Okie dokie.

    It took months before I felt driven to change registration, which finally I did in May. Having worked politics for decades, the work I had done offered simply, predictable "drills" that every politicians does -- use time, meet people, put out a message.

    Since time is inexorable, you either use it in politics, or you are certain to not gain anything. Basketball players lose if they watch the other team score and do nothing. But how do I run? What do I do? What am I supposed to say? Indeed, what matters?

    I accept that people who I’ve known for decades don’t return calls or email, and scowl as I smile at them. That’s politics, and in that world, selfishness and arrogance are the top of the pyramid. Everyone in politics push others down so that they can stand at the pike.

    I figured, tell people I’m doing something, and invite them. If no one shows up, at least they know I invited them. The first-ever public event drew exactly one person -- me -- after I had spent six weeks using social media to touch base with 500,000 people.

    Okie dokie.

    Symbols have risen. How do you make a barn? By working together. That’s how you build a country. So my brother did carpentry of the smallest working barn in America, as I wheeled it in a child’s wagon to the event no one attended. The barn is just big enough to stand above an antique record player, and the only work possible would be for a barn danced. I accepted what I was called upon to do, not knowing what it would be, or how. Symbols, all symbols.

    After no one showed up, I kept marching. When I picked up my ID card for the college, it felt like rebirth, where again I was a child. In these past two years, I have fallen to my knees, to thank Mary, to honor God, and to acknowledge The Christ. My life was saved, not by actions I understand, but with gratitude that is planted like a cherry tree within me. One cannot step away from a tree without knowing that the tree is mighty, tall and dominates and feeds life itself.

    This humble messenger write unlike anyone simply because these words flow as I look onto the keypad, and my weak eyes can barely ascertain what has flowed. My mind is like an island, where the memory of history and politics is unbroken. My awareness of faith’s place within society also is deep, though not previously of personal fidelity.

    Now, today, after placing a website and posting press releases and doing material that guided me (rather then me guiding it) comes thought that now seems clear. And frightening. And likely unpopular. And perhaps simply wrong.

    What is "Fire and Brimstone?" How do they rise and fall?

    Is the hatred that is ripping our nation arart a symbol of exactly that? I have no answer, except that we are being poisoned by hate, and that one imperfect soul -- for everyone IS imperfect -- wields selfishness like a hammer, and slams arrogance upon nails. Is that what defines these things? I don’t know.

    But what does seem real to me -- and my I simply pray to be wrong -- is that "Fire and Brimstone" themselves are indeed fire. Please, God, may I simply be wrong, but when our own division is like the fog of chaos, the risk is that other powers will see the opportunity for control.

    Heavy bombs of terrifying destruction are easy to recognize, since nuclear weapons are nothing new.

    This is my fear.

    In 2003, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency told an open-hearing in the US Senate that indeed the North Koreans do have The Bomb, and a possible capability to strike the west coast and Hawaiian islands. The President’s spy chief does not sit in an open hearing and say a thing if there is doubt. Yesterday, the Hawaiian state emergency team wrongly posted a warning, that the State urged people to get into shelters because bombs were about to fall.

    We know that the former Soviet Union built tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, and while thousands were dismantled when the USSR collapsed, still the rising power of the Russian nation has plenty left. Indeed, as news coverage of the last days have shown, the Russian military is driving massive trucks carrying massive bombs in a massive drill of how to move strategic weapons around.

    Again, God, may I simply be wrong. May it be that perhaps I am simply eroding within my sliced open brain. Let others call me crazy, and I will smile if the life I live is to simply attend college to find out whether I can read, remember content, and then take tests. Cal State Long Beach is a beautiful colleges, that I consider an Oasis with chaos.

    But upon what came within today, I made a minor tweak to a website I’ve a year building. Until now, it has been a writing exercise. Gee, can I write? use HTML? edit botched words since I can barely read? Every word in the material is how I think and feel, but uncertainty has been accepted as an act of faith.

    Now, it is fear. And within such fear, I cannot remain silent for something that I have no answer to. Will North Korea’s insane leader view the chaos of hatred that cuts Americans apart as his opportunity to grab the moment? Truly, he would be utterly insane, if hurling strategic weapons is his casting of the Fires of Hell. But he is insane, and we are waging a deep division.

    We can think what we want about the President, and good luck to him. This is a free country, and everyone has their views. But if the division is but a tool used by the President to keep his opponents on the back of their heels, then it comes with danger. You can’t build a barn if everyone yells at each other. You can’t save a nation by hating half the people.

    Will anyone ever know if the former Soviet spy chief used his own tools and money to buy an American election? Let that be the work of God, the courts and investigators. But since the court of public opinion is again divided, it is not just the insane leader of North Korea who could play a game with America.

    The Russians play what has for centuries been called, "The Great Game." Who shall control half the world? Russia itself spans 11 time zones. They are a leading nation by virtually any measurement. They are the most dangerously armed potential foe. The current President holds absolute power. And he therefore has been playing "The Great Game" for decades.

    If our President has his own game of "Divide and Conquer" as a silly game for domestic players only, then the risk is that our own eyes will be lost in a fog of chaos. When combat happens, it’s hard to tell what actually is occuring, because who can see through a fog?

    So please, God, let me simply be completely wrong. Let it be that this rich man is simply getting richer by allowing Russia to play its game, while he plays his. Let it be that the insane wanna-be bomb-thrower snarl and growl, but hold back from jumping off a cliff, into the burning fire.

    But if this humble messenger now is gripped for the first day of a long and terrifying fear of bombs that may drop upon us, then the explosions will not simply be symbols.

    The Fire of Hell itself may rain upon us, in Brimstone that kills all souls.

-- Billy Orton

S   A   V   I   N   G       A   M   E   R   I   C   A

Armistice Day 2018    And yet exactly one century later.... The President didn't show up FB     Grace
Election Day 2018    Laughter smacked down early on Election Day FB     Grace
October 29, 2018    Hatred evaporates a Grand Old Party FB     Grace
October 22, 2018    ‘Saving Lewis and Clark’ isn’t on CBS without lottery money FB     Grace
October 20, 2018    God knows who wins, for, “It’s not over, Til it’s over..., Over There.” FB     Grace
October 16, 2018    Ten absurd promises to America FB     Grace
October 16, 2018    Will a GOP evaporation spark a ‘stable genius’ to fulfill an absurd prediction? FB     Grace
October 14, 2018    Know what’s crazy, to not be insane FB     Grace
October 13, 2018    Can Americans ever laugh again? FB     Grace
October 11, 2018    The Grand Old Party is evaporating FB     Grace
October 9, 2018    The snowflake’s chance in Hell FB     Grace
October 6, 2018    Convict the President in the ‘Court of Public Opinion’ by throwing out the bums FB     Grace
September 26, 2018    Let “post gender” fiction take the prize FB     Grace
September 24, 2018    Dick Bomber ain't just fiction FB     Grace
September 22, 2018    When Mr. Putin seizes the vacuum FB     Grace
September 18, 2018    Will ‘Angel Baby’ make Americans laugh again FB     Grace
August 29, 2018    Vladimir Putin’s warm-water lust FB     Grace
August 28, 2018    Oust the President and save America FB     Grace
August 22, 2018    The most absurd political prediction you’ll ever read FB     Grace
August 20, 2018    Shockingly, Party of Grace not slapped down for sharing literature FB     Grace
Bastille Day 2018    France and Europe wonders what the future may hold FB     Grace
July 4, 2018    Can Americans keep hold of 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?' FB     Grace
May 17, 2018    How can Americans dance together again? FB     Grace
March 1, 2018    The Universal Truth of Time FB     Grace
February 15, 2018    Go, Washington Fat Cats! FB     Grace
February 8, 2018    When the Commander-in-Chief orders more then a military parade FB     Grace
February 6, 2018    Jerry Brown’s true act of grace is "Ronald Reagan Day" FB     Grace
February 5, 2018    Will God stand beside her, if hatred guides her? FB     Grace
January 31, 2018    Who shall smile, when Russia fires brimstone upon North Korea? FB     Grace
January 30, 2018    What is the State of our imperfect Union? FB     Grace
January 29, 2018    ‘We are all equal in the eyes of God,’ said Mr. Reagan FB     Grace
January 28, 2018    Does America still have a Confessor-in-Chief? FB     Grace
January 26, 2018    Not ‘that’ Animal Farm, but -t-h-e- Animal Farm FB     Grace
January 24, 2018    Thugs, lackeys, hacks, apparatchnik, and the Apprentice versus Members of Congress FB     Grace
January 22, 2018    The President will soon announce that Grace belongs to him FB     Grace
January 21, 2018    The imperfection of the human soul FB     Grace
January 20, 2018    When leaders learn from “sh_t-hole” nations FB     Grace
January 18, 2018    One meaning of A.D.A. FB     Grace
January 16, 2018    An Oasis and the Fires of Hell FB     Grace
January 14, 2018    Who shall rise from a Party of Grace? FB     Grace
January 12, 2018    Perhaps Water, Soil and Coffee are God's Greatest Gifts FB     Grace
January 11, 2018    Let Dr. King’s Two-or-Ten show the true meaning of love FB     Grace
January 10, 2018    Will dancing veterans make America smile again? FB     Grace
January 10, 2018    When you lie to farmers, someone will ‘Give ‘em Hell’ FB     Grace
January 6, 2018    'Fire and brimstone burn all souls' FB     Grace
January 5, 2018    (A dream) -- The Pyramid and the Ring FB     Grace
January 4, 2018    A soul slain like a sacrificial lamb FB     Grace
January 1, 2018    Lemonade Park, America FB     Grace
December 21, 2017    Obscure novelist to be first candidate for Party of Grace FB     Grace
October 6, 2017    ‘Hurricane Donald’ and the rising waters of hate FB     Grace
July 18, 2017    Ronald Reagan still rises from the dust FB     Grace
July 6, 2017    A minor Party of Grace versus the major Inempt and Beholden parties FB     Grace
June 26, 2017    Love the people, and they will love you FB     Grace
June 25, 2017    America’s smallest working barn offers a July 4th reviv’ul mtg with Thai food and fireworks FB     Grace
June 18, 2017    Three fathers construct America’s smallest working barn FB     Grace
June 15, 2017    Party of Grace throwing Independence Day barn dance to help save America from hate FB     Grace

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Billy Orton is a novelist and historian living in Long Beach, California.