Why #MerryChristmasStarbucks is Everything Wrong with American Christianity

A few days ago, former pastor Joshua Feuerstein posted a video announcing a campaign against Starbucks due to their switch from festive holiday cups in previous years to a new plain red look for the 2015 holiday season. In the video, Feuerstein claims that Starbucks wanted to “take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups” because, […]

https://nathanielscottlake.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/why-merrychristmasstarbucks-is-everything-wrong-with-american-christianity/

Happy New Year

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Loc...

Buddha in Sarnath Museum (Dhammajak Mutra) Location:Sarnath Museum, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, unless I’m doing bad math, I’m pretty sure it is now 2015 across the entire surface of the Earth.

I don’t know about where you’re from, but here there’s a tradition to make New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t really know why, because it’s also pretty traditional to never actually meet any of these lofty goals.

Still I’m going to make a realistic approach to it:

1) I will get book 3 finished, get started on its editing, and hopefully make a go at book 4 before 2016
2) I will spend more time at the lake staring out over the water thinking about absolutely nothing whatsoever.
3) I will make headway on this 50lbs I really should lose if I want to be able to wear more of the styles of clothes I actually like.

There. That about does it.

While we’re at it, though, I think we ought to all look back at 2014 and the tragedies it held and make a resolution, as a species, to prevent such things from ever happening again.

Things like Leelah Alcorn’s suicide, the mess in Uganda, anything related to LGBT & Russia, various wars and invasions that took place (didn’t Russia invade Poland for some reason?  There’s the whole thing with ISIL, etc.), I could keep going but how about we just sum it up that maybe now that it’s the year we’re supposed to have Mr Fusion, flying DeLoreans, and self fitting clothing … maybe now would be a good time to get around to listening to the likes of Jesus, Buddha, and others who all said “Be excellent to each other”.

Status update

Well, I’m still in queue for my editor’s attention on Ready or Not.  The final two chapters I’m waiting for input from her before I start rewriting, because I’m not sure if I ought to totally throw them out or just parts.

Færie Patrol is still waiting for me to finish with Now & Forever.  At least, for the time being.  It’d be one thing if I paused the latter to work on the former, but in this case I’m not stuck because of burnout or brain freeze, I’m stuck simply because I need a clean ending to book 2 before I can really get book 3 kicked off properly.

Book 3 has no name yet, but it has a concept.  I know what’s going to be happening in it.  It, like Love or Lust, and unlike Ready or Not will have a more of an actual A plot throughout.  I’ll have a page for it with a proper blurb once I’ve thought of a properly witty title for it.

Love or Lust continues to sell.  No longer at the spectacular numbers of July — sadly — but selling.  At no point was it threatening to pay all my bills so I could quit my day job, but Christmas is pretty fair covered.  Thank you, everyone, again, for all the support.  Those of you still waiting to buy it, I understand — I’ve been there; in this economy one must prioritise one’s new novel allowance.  That said, maybe I should buy a few print copies and seed them to local used bookstores … one mustn’t prioritise one’s used book allowance — that’s a perfectly preposterous notion 😉

Now & Forever ABCs (Paolo)

Paolo Matteo Cristoforo Constellino

19 September 1972
Roman Catholic

Paolo has always been a bookworm, though he had his share of (mis)adventures outside with friends and siblings while growing up.

He was born and raised in Naples, Italy and has long held a deep love for the history of both his home city and his home country.  He would spend hours at a time in the library devouring books on both history and mythology, but soon he ran out of those and started absorbing anything else the library had to offer — and Paolo is one of those people blessed with the ability to get through whole novels in a matter of hours.

Paolo eventually grew into a tall, well-built young man.  In his teens he had taken a fondness for sports cars of all sorts, from American muscle cars to the high performance works of art put out by Italy and Germany.  He had a special soft spot for the Camero — especially the first and second generation styles.  He and his friends spent a great deal of time trying to fix up a junker that Sergio, the youngest of the group of friends, had managed to buy:  a Pontiac GTO that was possibly more rust than body, had less than half an engine, five flat tires (even the spare had a hole in it), and was missing the windscreen.  The eight boys made it their mission in life to make that care the envy of Naples.  They didn’t succeed, but they did get it running reasonably well and gave it a rather eye catching paint job.

When it came time to go to University, Paolo was adamant that he would attend in Rome — the very centre of the universe to him at the time.  He was accepted at Sapienza – Università di Roma where he took a  dual major in History and Library Science.

Eventually, through a mutal friend, he met Zoë Ayishah, an alluring French woman studying architectural engineering and mathematics.  The two became friends, and she asked him on a few dates.  Before long he was one of her handful of regular boyfriends.

As time went on the handful of boyfriends came down to only Paolo, and a few months before graduation the pair were engaged.  Not so long after their graduation Zoë discovered — to the couple’s absolute shock, given that Zoë had been told she was sterile — she was pregnant.  The couple’s wedding plans we left unchanged, so Paolo stood at the altar beside a three months pregnant bride happier than he could recall ever feeling.

The honeymoon was short a week in Switzerland, a gift from Zoë’s parents, then they were busy trying to settle into a small house in Toronto, Canada where Zoë had been offered her first job with a small architectural firm.  Paolo had little interest in teaching, so took his Library Sciences degree to the nearest library to put it to use.

Zoë found a better position with a company in Colorado and, three years after settling in Canada the family found themselves in the Rocky Mountains, in a little apartment in Estes Park while they looked around for a house — Zoë being adamant that a child needed a yard with trees in to grow properly, especially when said child was Salencia.  They quickly found a home for sale in a nearby tourism town.  The ranch style home was spacious, beautiful, and had a small stables and a lot of acres.

The first wedding anniversary at their new home, Paolo came home to find a small note on the table, wife and daughter nowhere to be seen, and an unfamiliar set of keys laying on the table.  Following the note he went out to the stables to find a chrome and black 1971 Camaro with leather seats, in beautiful condition, and his wife waiting inside wearing a smile and holding champagne.  His gift to his wife, delayed a couple of hours, was to drive her out to a local ranch to select a horse.

Zoë taught him and their daughter how to ride, before long the household had a second horse for him.  The family began spending a lot of time together on trails, their little girl riding in a parent’s lap (often Paolo’s — the little girl being positively enamoured with his mare, Elouise).

Paolo is very fond of his family.  He teases his wife and daughter for their direct and irreverent manners, which can lead them to seem utterly lacking in social grace, and for their attitudes toward God, but he’s intensely proud of them for their stubborn insistence on always being who they are and speaking what’s on their mind regardless what anyone else may think — even him.

It only saddened him to discover his daughter was a lesbian, because he’d long dreamt of being the beaming new grandpa waiting to hold the tiny newborn child — a detail that came and went in the blink of an eye; he was saddened far worse and far longer by the fact that it upset Sally to be both rejected by the young lady she’d taken an interest in and by so many of her classmates.  He watched helplessly as people called her names, and avoided her; he defended her and fiercely where and when he could, usually without Sally’s knowledge when speaking to parents of a few of her friends.  Needless to say, he was actually thrilled by the job offer in Washington, knowing that the state was notoriously more open minded.

Now & Forever ABCs (Nonnina)

Rachele Carmen Agata Constellino née Gentile

5 March 1947
Roman Catholic

Rachele was born and raised in AgrigentoSicily, Italy to a family that was not well off, but was well to-do enough that they always had plenty of good food, and had no trouble keeping clothes on their backs.

She was the second youngest of eight children, and the third — and youngest — daughter.  She is rather well educated, her father adamant that a good wife should also have a good mind, so made certain she got to  and did well in school and encouraging her to attend college when she was offered a scholarship to Università degli Studi Suor Orsola Benincasa in Naples.  There she studied Letters (Literature) and earned a degree as well as meeting a young fisherman’s son who was working in a coffee house while studying history at, in his words, L’Università della Biblioteca Civica (The University of the Public Library).  His name was Amadeo Constellino, a Corsican who’d come to the city to make his fortune.

Amadeo made a determined effort to win the affection and hand of the charming young Sicilian girl he’d met; and she was quite popular with the lads being both beautiful and an incomparable cook as well as, as her father had predicted, witty and intelligent … many a young man would try again harder to win her attentions after a sharp-tongued rebuke from her it making her that much more an alluring challenge.

Amadeo supplemented his pocketbook with busking in parks and on the street, being a remarkably good guitarist, even writing his own songs.  Rather than stubborn determination (because Rachele had turned down his first request to take the pretty college girl to a movie) he took a subtler approach:  not charging her for her orders at the little café, and by writing her a song which he convinced the owner of the shop (the eldest brother of one of Amadeo’s childhood friends) to let him perform the next time she came in.  She finally agreed to the movie.

The couple was married a year and a half later and went on to have five children.  She worked as a school teacher and he eventually found himself manager, then owner of the café.

Rachele has always been a strict and opinionated woman, sharp tongued and sharp witted she kept her family in line and got them all, even her carefree and religiously lackadaisical husband, to Mass regularly (and for both husband and children, frequent trips to the confessional — her children being a little much like Amadeo, at times).

When Amadeo died the couple had already been retired for a number of years, he having given the café over to a daughter-in-law, and she having earned her pension from the school.  In 2008 Rachele was widowed by Amadeo’s weakening heart finally giving up.

She does not approve of Sally’s sexuality, because she does so deeply love her grandchildren and she is concerned for the young girl’s soul.  She has long prayed that it was merely a childish phase that her granddaughter was going through and eventually would grow out of once she’d met a good man — after all, she loved and admired Amadeo, and is so very fond of so many of her uncles, her father, and her male cousins (Rachele having a vague notion that lesbians must, inherently, dislike men in general).  It was a shock to her when Sally told her about Lauren, but still she loved her Salencia and became so much more determined to pray for the girl — a good child, really, but clearly corrupted from living in that Godless country her daughter-in-law had dragged her son and grandchild to (she loves Zoë like a daughter, but considers the woman to be quite insane at times — a sentiment that Zoë is wont to agree with).

Now & Forever ABCs (Lisa)

Lisa Jean Carroll

21 April 1996
Roman Catholic

Lisa is one of Lauren’s best friends, the two having become inseparable since they met on their first day of kindergarten.

Lisa is one of seven children in a very devout family.  Lisa herself, while not as scholarly about it as Lauren, is just as religious and holds her own in the AP Relgious studies classes — even if they are grade appropriate.

Lisa is not the world’s most complex person.  She is an avid reader, a huge Wesley Snipes fan (even before she decided he was the ultimate expression of male sexiness), and general comic book geek.  She spends what time she can over the summers at conventions when her parents will let her.  She generally goes with her uncle, and has even been known to cosplay as various favourite heroines, especially Batgirl, Starfire, Psylocke, and Cheetara.

She hopes, one day, she’ll be able to write comics — she’s also prone to drawing them, if not (by her personal standards) well.  Many of her friends have said she should just do her own comic.

Though a long time friend of Janet, the two do not always get along well — in fact they will readily admit that a major component of their friendship is their arguments and sniping at one another.  Janet aside Lisa is a very valued friend among those she elects to use the word for, being very good at keeping secrets and listening when they need someone to talk to if sometimes being unable to resist derailing a serious moment with some attempt, successful or ill-conceived being equally likely, at humour.

Now & Forever ABCs (Lauren)

Lauren Felicia Conners

9 January 1996
Lutheran (ELCA)

Lauren is a perfectionist.  She is always striving for excellence in anything she puts her hand to, be it her dancing, her studies, or setting the table.  Often this leaves her with an remarkable lack of confidence — she’s always worried she’ll mess up or fail.

She fell in love with dance at an early age.  By three she had shown such intense desire to dance that her parents had signed her up for lessons, because her wish to learn exceeded her family’s ability to teach her given that none of them knew more than ballroom dancing.  It became her life.  She has studied ballet from that first day — her love of dance having been born upon seeing a ballet, she’d begged to learn ‘the pretty dance’.  From there, however, she branched out and has taken further lessons in ballroom and latin dancing.  She has taken belly dance lessons, and is a long time student of a local modern and jazz dance instructor.  And, of course, ballet — always, she studies ballet.

Eventually she moved from her old ballet school to Mademoiselle Jeanette‘s as it offered a chance to gain greater experience on stage as well as a far more advanced study of technique.  In addition to dancing, Lauren has some interest in general performance so often tries out for school plays and takes drama electives when she gets the chance.

Lauren’s next great love is church.  She has grown up in a very religious family, and has a strong sense of the importance of God and faith.  Between that and having received all of her schooling from Catholic schools she took a strong interest in theology, especially Christian theology.  She has read every English translation of the Bible she could, and thoroughly, as well as making a devoted study of the history of the Abrahamic faiths and the Hebrew people.  She tries to understand her religion and its origins.  This has lead her to frequently excel in her Religious Studies lessons, such her school eventually ran out of options but to skip her ahead in subject, first placing her in Freshman theology in eighth grade, then in Junior’s level in her ninth grade year.  Even placing her in AP level courses has done little to assuage her boredom in these classes.

Her perfectionist and pious nature expresses itself in her relationships with others.  When she dates, she approaches it with the assumption that this person could be who she spends the rest of her life with — she doesn’t date to date or for social status, but to find the one person God has meant for her to be with.  When she makes friends she loves those friends and values those friendships deeply — even a casual friend, or even simply a friendly acquaintance is someone who Lauren cares deeply for and about.  Her capacity for forgiveness and caring even extends to those who are anything but friends — she’s human, she still manages to have angry thoughts and to see horrible things happen to those who upset her, but she simultaneously feels rather guilty about those thoughts and quickly tries to forgive them as much as she can.

This, plus her encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible have led many to, depending how much they like her, affectionately or derisively refer to her as Saint Lauren and similar.  She’s seen as too sweet to be real, too good, and other things.  Those who know her well know this isn’t true — that she can be catty or mean when provoked, the she can hold the occasional grudge, that she does not always follow the rules, and that — despite being a virgin — she possibly knows as much or more than some who aren’t — she will investigate any curiosity she has in books and internet, including sexuality.

The one naïvety she ever expresses is in the form of aspects of pop culture.  While Lauren’s family has a television, it is used expressly for watching DVDs, Apple TV, and Blu-Rays; they have no cable nor antenna.  She does listen to the radio, both internet and airwaves (primarily satellite, but sometimes FM) and has an impressive collection of music, both physical and iTunes, and she enjoys movies from every era starting with the original silent silver screen flicks to the newest special effects blockbusters.  Still, the latest hit shows, latest popular talk show trivialities, and other goings on in the daily lives of the little people in the magic box are lost on her.  She’s watched the telly before, and it bored her.

Her friends call her a humble Hermione Granger (simply Hermione for short), and Linus — as in the Peanuts character who has such a habit of quoting Bible verse — but thanks to Salencia they’ve taken to simply calling her Pixie; a nickname she’s far more fond and proud of.  It’s also rather apt.  She has forever been a tiny girl, not always shortest in her class, but close to, very much lithe and petite — many of her clothes can still be bought in the children’s section of the department store, what of it she doesn’t make for herself, and combined with a complexion that is all freckles with copper red hair, she agrees with Sally:  the name fits.

Now & Forever ABCs (Charlie)

Shock and amaze your OCD writer friends:  A C entry on D-day!  Flipping through my notes I realised I should have done an entry for Charlie yesterday.  So here it is today, instead.

Charles Vincent Varhoeven

21 November 1993
Roman Catholic

Charlie is a brilliant, and woefully adolescent young man.  He has a genuinely good mind for programming, electronics, and other aspects of computer design.  He’s been known to use software modelling tools to design chips and circuits for fun, and owns (and uses) an oscilloscope as well as an Altair 8800, and built a working scale replica-amalgamation of his favourite early transistor and tube computers in his parents basement that he’s been forbade to ever turn on again after they got the light bill from his first day of trying to use it.

He’s an old friend of Zach’s, their parents having met while the boys were very small through their work; the two have been getting each other into trouble of various sorts since they were six.

Despite his geekish and childish behaviour, Charlie can be a very nice guy; sweet, charming, and thoughtful being completely relative terms and not applicable in all vocabularies, but he’s certainly nice.

He takes a deep pride in being That Guy Everyone Comes To For Their Computer Troubles, which he shortens to TGECTFTCT and seems genuinely confused when told that it doesn’t make that a less awkward title — though it did look impressive on the business cards he made in eighth grade.

His current passion is graphics design, and has been studying hard so that he can get a job with somewhere like ILM, Pixar, DreamWorks, or one of his favourite computer game companies.

Now & Forever ABCs (Bertrice)

Bertrice Skye Klasson

22 February 1996
Roman Catholic

Bertrice, better known simply by B, is one of Immaculate Conception’s more notorious gossips.  She enjoys having the choicest news first and being the one to tell the dirty little secrets of the school to those who’ll hold still long enough to hear.

She’s a very tiny girl, smaller than Lauren even, and without the musculature with incredibly pale skin due to her insistence on constantly protecting herself from UV rays to somewhat ridiculous extremes.

She’s musically somewhat skilled and fairly talented.  She plays piano very well and is in the school’s Jazz Ensemble class, and is in her church’s choir.  Though her dream is to marry an insanely rich man, or to design Haute couture fashions.

Bertrice’s mother was a huge fan of Bertrice Small‘s novels and named her for the author and her favourite book, Skye O’Malley her parents had actually bet each other over the sex of their child when learning Tasha was pregnant, the prize being naming rights.  Bertrice has actually been known to begrudge her sex because of this, firmly believing she’d rather be named Felix Aragorn.

Announcing: Love or Lust now available!

Love or Lust coverNow available in eBook and Print: Love or Lust the first of four books in the Now & Forever series.

A light-hearted, slice-of-life, romantic-comedy for young adults, Love or Lust introduces you to Lauren Conners, a ballerina, a Good Girl, studious, and sweet, and to Salencia Constellino, an exotic, irreverent cowgirl new to the little Washington town.

When the girls meet it’s love at first sight; sparks fly, angels sing, lightning and fireworks. But they attend the best school in the area, a Catholic secondary school, Immaculate Conception. It’s not just their school that brings trouble for the young couple. The young teens have their own inner turmoils and anxieties — especially Lauren, who always wants to think the best of people, but quickly learns just how petty people can get.

It’s an uplifting story, though, meant to inspire and give hope. The girls have supportive and loving friends and families. And, largely, the obstacles of life and of being teenagers are navigated with quirky senses of humour and strange misunderstandings.

In this book Lauren and Sally are first and foremost, young high school freshmen, fourteen years old and trying to make sense of themselves and the world around them. It is my hope that it might show people that we’re all human beings no matter who it is we choose to love. That homosexual, heterosexual, bixsexual, asexual, trisexual, or what have you, are still people; still feeling beings with hopes and dreams.

Print book us$17.99/£11.50/€13.75
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eBook us$3.99. Available in numerous countries at proportionate price.
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