Art – Azazel the Fallen Angel

ACEO artist trading card featuring Azazel the fallen angel from Jewish/Christian mythology.

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Check out my art for sale on ebay!

Logical Religious Thought Experiment

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Think this through:

Why would any kind, loving, graceful deity demand the torture and death of something innocent in order to be able to bestow simple forgiveness for wrongs committed against them? Why would they create such a system?

How would you feel about a human being who demanded the torture and death of an innocent 3rd party in order to be able to forgive a person who wronged them in some way?

Why would a deity demand humans forgive freely but refuse to do so themselves?

Let me know your conclusions if you wish!

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Poetry – Astaroth

Astaroth
Astaroth:
guidance counselor
to the fallen –
because, hey,
even demons
get discouraged.

(Note: Lately I have been reading a book about fallen angels and their mythology. I had to write something about it when I came across the information that the demon Astaroth supposedly fulfilled the role of “guidance counselor” to the other demons in hell lol.)

Poetry – Scrambled Savior

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I meant to share this poem around Easter, but forgot. Guess I had too much going on. This poem just sort of wrote itself, with the images of both the commercial and sacred aspects of the holiday mixing together in my mind. It is not meant to be offensive to religion, but instead, to compare and contrast the cheerful, innocent brightness of welcoming spring with the actual gruesome reality of a crucifixion and resurrection:

Scrambled Savior

Easter
pastel eggs
poor Jewish carpenter
whipped, beaten, and scrambled
last supper
omelet

Kindle Direct Publishing’s New Reporting System and Some Author Updates!

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Yesterday I logged into my Kindle Direct Publishing account on Amazon and while looking at the reports, noticed there is a new “beta” reporting program they are working on that I could test (the picture above shows the new graphing, with part of the book breakdown below). I checked it out and it is WAY better than their old reporting program! It uses color coded graphs to plainly show which books you are selling, when you are selling them, and also easily separates books sold from “free” promotions vs. paid sales.

I am thrilled they are updating their system, because what they have had the last few years sucks in my opinion. It was hard to even tell which books sold! In other good news, while checking out the new system, I looked at my overall numbers from the last quarter and was pleasantly surprised to see that all together I’ve sold more than 230 ebooks (including promotions) during the last 90 days! Not bad for an indie author!!! It makes my heart happy to know that many people are reading my books!

If you use KDP publishing, I would recommend checking out the new program if you are able to under your own reports! By the way, if you want to check out my Amazon Author Page and maybe give it a follow, that would be awesome! I also have a FREE ebook promotion running today through Monday for my art ebook, “Stories Behind My Art” (if you like it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!)

Lastly, a few years back, I published a little short story/spiritual ebook called “Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham – A Parable about Love and Peace” under the name M.N. Russell ($0.99, FREE for Kindle Unlimited) . I decided to add that to my Amazon author bibliography, so you can check that out if you think it sounds interesting!

I’m Not An Atheist

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Many people jump to the conclusion that I am an atheist because I am not religious anymore and can be very critical of organized religion. However, I am not an atheist. I do often listen to atheist podcasts and read atheist books, but I also sometimes listen to and read material from spiritual or religious sources (even the crazy ones, although I listen to them more for amusement). I find myself overall agreeing more with secular thought, but I do feel that differing points of view are essential for having a realistic, down-to-earth view of life.

If I had to choose a label for myself spiritually, it would be agnostic. I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’m not a deist, because I’m not positive that there is a greater being or consciousness, although I hope there is to an extent. I don’t believe in the specific gods of any earthly religions, but I wouldn’t mind if there were some wiser (and hopefully caring) beings, or at least some sort of a meaning to all that is.

Because of the state of the world and the suffering, abuse, and slaughter of the innocent, I find it hard to believe in an “all good” being in power, unless that being gave us a choice about being here and what we would face. If earth were some kind of “school” where we choose the lessons we want to learn or the experiences we want to have, then I could see how the powers that be could still be moral and have values. Otherwise, their absence and inaction in the face of so much injustice and pain speaks volumes.

I do not believe in “original sin”. I do not believe in a God who must spill innocent blood in order to be able to forgive someone else for doing something wrong (seriously, how is that even ok???) I do not believe in a being that has such a huge ego all they want is to be worshiped for all eternity (too Donald Trumpish for my taste). I do not believe that there is necessarily an afterlife or heaven/hell, but if there is I would not be shocked or upset unless there was some kind of tyrant running things. If there is some sort of being in charge of it all, I simply hope that they are just and kind, but not cruel or punitive.

Family Issues and Ex-Pastor’s Wife Resentment

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So I am going through a couple things right now. For one, my already strained relationship with my mother seems to be going farther downhill. To get a bit of the backstory on our relationship, you can check out this post. Anyhow, ever since I confronted my mother about the past, I could feel her slowly backing away. She now lives in another state and at first she would call me once or twice a week and would call back within a day if I called her. Now she doesn’t return my calls for a week at a time and it has been three weeks since she last called me, even though she said she would call me in a few days the last time we talked.

I can’t help but feel a little snubbed and like I am slowly being phased out of her life, which doesn’t surprise me now that she has remarried and doesn’t need me so much anymore. This has always pretty much been the pattern when she gets a man in her life. I stop mattering as much. Honestly, there have been times I’ve considered going “no contact” because the little bit of contact we have now only tends to make me sadder, and the more I feel put aside and ignored, the more I hurt.

I’ve also been dealing with some pent up resentment I didn’t even realize I had about the years I spent as a pastor’s wife. For the first 11 years or so of our 15 year marriage, my husband was a pastor. In the past few years we have kind of drifted from the faith and become agnostic, which is a huge change from what our lives used to be. However, I just realized when having a conversation with my husband the other night, how much being a pastor’s wife for so many years deeply bothered me.

For one thing, I constantly felt judged by the congregation and compared to previous or other pastors’ wives that the congregation knew. I was not old-fashioned. I was not meek and submissive. I did not want to teach, play piano, or lead anything. It just isn’t my personality. My social anxiety makes leading anything a horrifying thought for me, but yet, I found myself almost forced to sometimes be in these roles I hated. I was pretty much forced to teach at times, and while I loved the kids, I felt panic at the responsibility. No one helped or trained me, I was just thrown right in. At one point, I had a panic attack and burst into tears about my fear of teaching in front of the head pastor, his wife, and my husband and yet none of them seemed to take it seriously and pretty much just patted me on the shoulder and said I would be all right. But I wasn’t. Even when I found out I had autism and tried to explain to the head pastor why that made social things so hard for me, his response was that everyone has those problems. But no – everyone does not!!!

My husband now realizes how many mistakes he made by pushing me. He is sorry and has genuinely apologized for putting pressure on me and making me feel like I had to do things that made me anxious to the point of sickness. He realizes now that he learned that behavior from his own parents who pressured him constantly about being involved in church and often tended to ignore his feelings if he didn’t want to do something. Like most people, he was acting out the unhealthy patterns of his family as an adult and unfortunately, I got the brunt of it.

* For a great resource on couples therapy, check out this article from BetterHelp!