Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Resurrection -- Synopsis and Sample Chapters

RESURRECTION was originally conceived as Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL for Election Day.  The novel tells the story of Richard Sleitzer, who in quick order loses his mother to death and his older sisters to marriages and is suddenly on his own at age fourteen.  Highly intelligent and self motivated, he finishes high school in three years, graduating at seventeen, then proceeds to teach himself law, and passes the bar exam without attending law school.  Corrupt to the core with an insatiable lust for wealth, he becomes involved in a real estate scheme, and as a direct result of his actions--contminating a lake--three people die from eating poisoned fish.  Following the deaths he lays low for several months, then quietly moves to a different town and opens his law office.  He proceeds to steal a man’s wife, and with her the choice riverfront property she owns that her husband was planning to develop.  The affronted husband punches him in the mouth and calls him a Dick, a name change sticks for the rest of the novel.
While his new wife builds a riverfront restaurant and wedding venue on the property, he successfully runs for state congress, from which seat he pursues his corrupt activities with even greater ease.  He aspires to national office, and runs for the US House of Representatives.  During that election cycle he viciously slanders and attacks his opponent, the same woman he defeated in his run for state office two years earlier.  The weekend before the election, with a comfortable lead in the polls, he returns to the lake he poisoned years before.  While there he thinks he sees a nugget of gold sticking up through some mud in the midst of a thicket.  He drops to his knees and claws his way in, and as he crawls the thin orange leaves of the undergrowth brush against his eyes.  The plant is some sort of sumac, and he becomes severely blinded, and stuck in the thicket for three days, with the gurgling of a nearby stream tormenting his thirst.  All the evil deeds of his past flash through his mind over that weekend, and he experiences an awakening and a rebirth.  He finally recovers his sight, and returns to civilization and takes out a full page ad in Monday morning’s paper announcing his withdrawal from the race and his endorsement of his liberal opponent. As the novel ends he changes his name back to Richard and the reader knows he intends to atone for his many sins. 

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Racist Foundation Of The Mormon Church

I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me.  Song of Solomon 1:5

For almost a century and a half from its inception, the Mormon church was shamelessly ingrained with overt racism. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 it took another fourteen years, until 1978, for colored people to be fully allowed into the Mormon priesthood.  And while outwardly they have acquiesced to God, and federal law, it’s hard to imagine that racism doesn’t dwell to this day in many Mormon hearts.

The foundation was laid with Joseph Smith’s cockamamie fictional history of the righteous Nephites and the wicked, dark skinned Lamanites, and as it evolved the doctrine of the Mormons traced the evil black people to the first men. 

The best way to illustrate this is to let their own mouths testify against themselves.

“Cain slew his brother.  Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.  This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants;’ and they will be, until that curse is removed, and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.”  Brigham Young, Journal ofDiscourses, 7:290

“After the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed.  And why did it pass through the flood?  Because it was necessary that the devil should have representation upon the earth as well as God.”  John Taylor, Mormon prophet and third president of the LDS.  Journal of Discourses 23: 204.

“And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion.”  The Book of Mormon, Alma 3:6

“The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence.  At least in the cases of the Lamanites and the negroes we have the definite word of the Lord Himself that He placed a dark skin upon them as a curse—as a punishment and as a sign to all others.  He forbade intermarriage with them under threat of the extension of the curse….”  Mark Peterson, LDS Apostle, from an address given at BYU called, Race Problems, As They Affect The Church.

“Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.”  Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 114.

Which all means that the Mormon church would not recognize the marriage of MOSES and Zipporah.

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.  Numbers 12:1

Having justified themselves by their own tradition, the Mormons went on to become very nonchalant about their racism.

“Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of the Priesthood and the full blessings of the Gospel.”  From The Way To Perfection, by Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth LDS president, from 1970-1972.

“There is not a man, from the President of the United States to the editors of their sanctorums, clear down to low bred letter writers in this Territory, but would rob the coppers from a dead nigger’s eyes, if they had a good opportunity.”  George Smith, LDS Apostle, from the Journal Of Discourses, 5:110

“But let them apostasize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled and black, just like the Devil.”  Brigham Young, Journal Of Discourses, vol. 5, page 32.

“I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the negro.  Darkies are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church.”  Look Magazine, October 22, 1963, page 79.

Jesus was surely a darkie.  Unless the angels protected him with sun block everywhere he went, including the forty days in the wilderness when he was tempted by Satan.  Can you really call Jesus cursed then hope for his salvation?

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.  Matthew 12:31

According to the Scriptures we all have the same father—

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Matthew 23:9

--and therefore we are all brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Nine

In the Mormon church the Three Witnesses are the three men, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer, who signed a statement attesting that they had seen firsthand the golden plates of The Book of Mormon.  False witnesses are plentiful throughout history and in the Bible.

Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,
And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days
.  Matthew 26:59-61

In 1835 Joseph Smith established the Quorum (i.e. Council) of the Twelve Apostles, by asking the Three Witnesses to name the first twelve, who were to be the ruling authority of the church.  Because every false Christ needs to surround himself with twelve apostles to bolster the authority by which he deceives his followers.

By 1838, the Mormon population of Kirtland had risen to 2000.  Joseph Smith founded a bank and launched other business enterprises.  It was actually a brilliant business model: bring fresh strangers into town and receive their money, whether through tithes or in the stores and the bank.  It’s like sitting and fishing all day while others keep stocking the lake.  Smith also claimed to have started the bank in response to a command from God.

Warren Parrish, who had been an officer in Smith’s bank and member of his congregation, and who had renounced Mormonism, was quoted in The Painesville Republican on February 22, 1838 as saying:  “I have listened to him (Smith) with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the audible voice of God instructed him to establish a banking anti-banking institution, which like Aaron’s rod shall swallow up all other banks—the bank of Monroe excepted—and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.”

It is a natural thing that the prophet chosen to restore the church which had been fallen for eighteen hundred years since the death of the last apostle should open a bank.  Judas Iscariot was the apostle who handled Jesus Christ’s finances. 

For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor.  John 13:29

Like Judas, Joseph Smith was beholden to his love of money, the root of all evil; and like Judas, Joseph Smith was an unclean man who betrayed Jesus Christ.

For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.  John 13:11

And both Judas and Joseph Smith betrayed the Lord for money: Judas for the infamous thirty pieces of silver; and Smith by propagating false truths about Jesus Christ in the name of God, for ready cash in tithes and bank deposits.

The bank collapsed, and lots of people lost lots money.  There were also numerous rumors of sexual improprieties involving Smith, including affairs with other men’s wives.  These rumors were later effectively validated in 1842, when Smith announced his revelation of God’s commandment to engage in ‘celestial marriage,’ a euphemism for polygamy, which he proclaimed that certain special individuals were permitted to practice, himself being one.  Because David and Solomon and other biblical heroes had multiple wives it is difficult to wield scripture against Smith in this regard; notwithstanding the Bible does say that a man leaves his parents and cleaves to his wife, not wives, wherefore it is fair to conclude that Smith both committed and persuaded women to commit the sin of adultery.

It is no surprise that practicing a false religion which abused Jesus Christ, and defrauding people of their money, and having carnal relations with other men’s wives, had aroused enough anger in the community that Smith and his followers were forcibly driven from Kirtland by the middle of 1838.  They continued westward, and tried to settle in Smith’s prophesied ‘promised land’ of Independence, Missouri, but they were met with such violent opposition there, that on October 27, 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs took the extraordinary measure of issuing ‘Executive Order 44,’ or, the Mormon Extermination Order, which read, in part: ‘Mormons had committed open and avowed defiance of the law…had made war upon the people of this state…and the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond description.’

The Mormons continued their westward migration, and settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1839, where Joseph Smith bought 18,000 acres of land.  That's a huge tract of land for a man to purchase who worked no trade and had just had his attempt at starting a bank collapse.  Since the money the bank took in and lost went somewhere, Smith seems more like a thief than a prophet.

In Nauvoo, the Mormons who had followed Joseph Smith were joined by European converts, and they set out to build a city and to create a society in preparation for Christ's return.  The population grew quickly, and by 1844 had swelled to twelve thousand, which rivaled Chicago.  In Nauvoo, Joseph Smith was described as obsessed with increasing his military and political power.  He scripted the Nauvoo city charter to grant himself greater authority.  He was elected mayor and had himself appoint Chief Justice of the city court.  He was named Lieutenant General of the Nauvoo Legion, an armed militia.  He created a church council of fifty which sought to establish a 'theodeomocracy,' and to that end the council elected Joseph Smith prophet, priest and king of the coming millennial monarchy (doubtless a reference to Christ's one thousand year reign after the devil is bound up in Revelation 20).  In 1844 Joseph Smith launched a third party candidacy for President of the United States.

The earthly titles Smith held and the powers he sought were in disregard of Jesus Christ, who taught: Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
 Matthew 23:10-11

In Nauvoo, Joseph had two major ‘revelations.’  The first was the previously mentioned one regarding ‘celestial marriage.’  The second was that of the baptism of the dead, in which he explained to his congregation that God gave Mormons the authority to baptize deceased family members into the church, so that they would be reunited in the bliss hereafter.

This is yet another doctrine which is in direct contradiction to that of Jesus Christ, who said:  Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.  Matthew 8:22

There are two prevalent interpretations of this scripture, either of which can be applied to the bizarre Mormon practice of baptism for the dead.  The first is to let the ‘spiritually’ dead human beings bury the ‘physically’ dead.  For their practice of the rite of baptism for the dead, and for the rest of their doctrine, Mormons are indeed ‘spiritually’ dead.  The second interpretation is simply to take the scripture literally (the interpretation which this author has always believed to be the meaning of the verse).  In this case the Mormons can be considered to tamper with that which Christ forbid.

A fee was charged for the performing of this rite, which revenue generating practice continues in the Mormon church unto this day.  There was a recent scandal in the Mormon church where it came to light that they were using their ritual baptism for the dead to convert dead Jews to Mormonism.  This bizarre twist on their bizarre practice came to light when a request was made to baptize Jewish Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who is still living.

It also written in the Scriptures:  And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.  Isaiah 8:19-20

Because the Mormons contravene the law of Moses and controvert the gospel of Christ, there is no light in them.  The Bible says so.

When Christ went to the cross it was as a lamb, in complete submission to his enemies, to whom he had done no wrong.  God was glorified.  When Joseph Smith met his death it was as a deluded thug and power mad bully.  A false prophet was slain.

On June 7, 1844, a man named William Law published the first and last edition of a newspaper called the Nauvoo Expositor.  Law was a former Mormon, and in his paper he accused Joseph Smith of polygamy and of coercing young women into sexual relationships; and of wielding dictatorial political powers.  The Nauvoo city council quickly declared the newspaper a public nuisance, and on June 10th Smith ordered the city marshal to destroy the paper and its printing press.  Residents of surrounding counties were horrified by this act, so contrary to the constitution held so sacred, and there were calls for Smith to be put to death.  Warrants were issued for his arrest on the charge of treason.  On June 18th Smith called 5,000 men of the Nauvoo Legion to arms and declared martial law.

The governor of Illinois became involved, promising Smith protection in exchange for surrender, and on June 25th Smith and his brother Hyrum turned themselves in to authorities, and were incarcerated in a jail in Carthage, Illinois.  On June 27th a vigilante mob of 200 men attacked the jail.  As they approached one of the nervous jailers informed Smith of what was happening.  Deluded to the end, he told the jailer that they were rescuers come to liberate he and Hyrum.  A gun fight ensued—Smith was armed with a pepperbox pistol that someone had given him earlier in the day—and Smith and his brother were shot dead.  God was not glorified; a devil was exterminated.

I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness; they are all of them unto me as Sodom and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah.  Jeremiah 23:14

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part One
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Two
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Three
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Four
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Five
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Six
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Seven

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Eight
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Nine

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Ten

Monday, July 16, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Eight

But the prophet, who shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.  
Deuteronomy 18:20-22

Since Joseph Smith feared not to make bold in regarding himself a prophet, it naturally followed that he issued prophesies to bolster his masquerade.   These are recorded in The Doctrines and Covenants, one of the sacred Mormon texts, which was largely dictation of his ‘revelations’ by Joseph Smith. 

Some of the prophesies did come to pass, and others did not; and some were ambiguously worded.  This has led to their being used by both his supporters and detractors: his supporters cite the prophecies that came to pass, or yet may still, as evidence verifying that Smith was divinely inspired, while his detractors cite the failed prophesies in their denunciations. 

But since every last one of Christ’s prophesies have fulfilled with uncanny accuracy, and since Smith claimed to be the chosen prophet to establish the one true church of Christ on earth, which had been astray for eighteen centuries, since the death of the last of the apostles, we ought to expect the same from Smith; for if that were the truth then so would have been every word out of his mouth, and it is fair to hold him to a standard of perfection.

For anyone interested in exploring it, there is a Wikipedia page which details many of Smith’s prophesies and their outcomes.  I am just going to present three here which corroborate my understanding that Smith was a false prophet.

1)   “Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.  Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.”  From a revelation through Joseph Smith, received in Kirtland, Ohio, September 22nd and 23rd, 1832, as it appears in Doctrines and Covenants 84:2-3. 

That never came to pass, and the Mormons were driven out of Missouri in the late 1830’s.

2) “Verily, thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will eventually terminate in the death and misery of many souls; And the time will come that the war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place.  For behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain, as it is called, and they shall also call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves against other nations; and then war shall be poured out upon all nations.”  From a revelation received by Joseph Smith on December 25th, 1832, as it appears in Doctrines and Covenants 87:1-3.  

This is another clearly false prophesy.  Mormons point to the Civil War as the fulfillment of this prophesy, but the Civil War started in Virginia, and did not escalate to involve other nations and eventually all nations.

3)  “I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.”  April 2, 1843, as it appears in Doctrines and Covenants 130:14-15  

Joseph Smith died at age 39 in a gunfight with authorities while incarcerated in Illinois in 1844.  The Mormons deny this being a failed prophecy as Smith did not live to be 85, but I say that his death was like the fulfillment of the following biblical prophesy, in that the LORD made the same example of Smith as He did of Hananiah.

Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.  Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD.  Jeremiah 28: 15-16.

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part One
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Two
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Three
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Four
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Five
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Six
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Seven

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Eight

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Seven

About the Bible, Joseph Smith wrote: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.”

About itself, it is written in the Bible: Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.  Deuteronomy 4:2

The Mormons staunchly professed the authority of the Bible, and were quick to quote its verses, particularly those that supported their doctrine.  But The Book of Mormon protected them from the passages that ran contrary to their beliefs by proclaiming: many “plain and precious things” had been lost or expurgated from the Scriptures.  In this manner anything in the Bible that contradicted Mormon doctrine was explained away as mistranslation, which arrogantly questions God’s ability to keep the word perfect in any language over any length of time.

When a commandment or sentiment of particular importance appears in the Bible, it is frequently repeated for emphasis.  So it is when warning men of the dangers of tampering with the word of the LORD.

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.
Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
  Proverbs 30:5-6

Despite the stern warnings contained in its pages, and despite the fact that he knew neither Hebrew nor Greek (the languages in which the Old and New Testament were written) from 1830-1833 Joseph Smith undertook to ‘translate’ the Bible, which, according to his claim, had been circulating in mistranslation for eighteen centuries. Working from the King James version, and guided by revelation, Smith produced the Joseph Smith Inspired Translation of the Bible.   Despite all its preposterous and glaring shortcomings, the Mormons still link to it on their website here.  

To get a little sampling of Joseph Smith’s butchery of the Scriptures I decided to do a side by side comparison of some verses from the Gospel According to Saint John.  Here are several for you to decide if Smith’s handiwork qualifies as adding to or removing from the word of God.

King James version, John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Joseph Smith’s Inspired Translation, John 1:1: In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son.  And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God.

King James version, John 1:16-17: 16And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. 
17For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

The Joseph Smith Inspired Translation of those two verses is so clumsy and verbose that it becomes three verses.  John 1:16-18: 16For in the beginning was the Word, even the Son, who is made flesh, and sent unto us by the will of the Father. And as many as believe on his name shall receive of his fullness.  And of his fullness have all we received, even immortality and eternal life, through his grace.
17For the law was given through Moses, but life and truth came through Jesus Christ.
18For the law was after a carnal commandment, to the administration of death; but the gospel was after the power of an endless life, through Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father.

And here is Smith's reworking of the very verse that refutes and disproves his contention that God Almighty himself appeared to Joseph Smith on several occasions.  Notice how it is conveniently altered to be availed in support of Smith’s claim.

King James version, John 1:18: No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Joseph Smith Inspired Translation, John 1:19: And no man hath seen God at any time, except he hath borne record of the Son; for except it is through him no man can be saved.

Now let us turn to the very last words of the Bible, where the warning about tampering with the Word is yet again made crystal clear and gravely dire.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly.  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.  Amen.
  Revelation 22:18-21

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Six

Read What The Bible Says About Mormons revised and in its entirety here.  

As Smith’s church slowly grew, he sent out missionaries (a euphemism for reconnaissance scouts) to Ohio, then in 1831 led seventy five followers to Kirtland, Ohio, where they joined a preacher named Sidney Rigdon and his congregation of one hundred.

Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.  Matthew 15:14

There Smith utilized the basic and effective psychological ploy of telling his congregants what they wanted to hear.  To this end he started referring to them as ‘latter day saints.’  Again, Smith usurped God’s authority when he sanctified others.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
  1 Corinthians 4:3-5

Once settled in Kirtland, Smith sought to grow his church by sending missionaries to fan throughout America seeking converts.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.  Matthew 23:15

The church grew gradually in Kirtland, and in December of 1832 Smith convened nine priests in prayer, and they claimed to have received a revelation that spanned two days in which they were told the only way into the presence of God was through the temple.  Very true...

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  1 Corinthians 6:19

...yet Smith's understanding of that seems wildly misinterpreted.  Instead he and his followers constructed not a Christian church in Kirtland, but a temple inspired by the Old Testament, 'a house of God and a school for the Prophets, dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the priesthood.'  Comprised of a lower and upper court spanning three stories, the edifice was a combined place of worship, school and Mormon office, as well as a place of secret rituals of anointing and blessing that connected the latter day saints to God.  Following consecration of the temple, Mormons claimed to have experienced three months of miracles within its walls, which they likened to Pentecost.  They heard rushing of wind, and angelic choirs; they witnessed angels fly in through the windows, and God standing beside Joseph Smith.

In the Bible, New Jerusalem appears in Revelation. 

And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  Revelation 21:1

Joseph claimed to receive all knowledge through revelation, and proclaimed to his followers that new Jerusalem, or the city of Zion, was to be located in Independence, Missouri, where one of his followers had purchased a tract of land.   In a vision he saw it as the gathering place of saints in the last days, and that he was to build a temple there. 

He also began teaching his followers that the garden of Eden was also on the site in Independence, which begs the question: where are the rivers? and Assyria and Ethiopia?

And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.
The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and onyx stone.
And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.
And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria.  And the fourth river is Euphrates
.  Genesis 2:10-14

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part One
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Two
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Three
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Four
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Five
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Six
What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Seven

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Eight

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Five

Read What The Bible Says About Mormons revised and in its entirety here.  

After completing the translation of the golden plates, Smith returned them to the angel Moroni, which made it conveniently impossible for him to ever validate his claim by producing them.  Instead for proof he offered several witnesses who swore to having seen the plates.  One of these was a man named Oliver Cowdery, one of Smith’s earliest followers.  One day in May of 1829, Smith and Cowdery went into the woods to pray to God specifically regarding ‘baptism for the remission of sins.’  Their prayer was answered by the appearance of a being who identified himself as John the Baptist.  John placed his hands on their heads, and conferred unto them the ‘priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering angels, and of the Gospel of repentance, and of the baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.’

If they were lying—and the truth states that they were—then how great the lie! And to make God, Jesus and John the Baptist part of it…how much greater the condemnation!

Smith and Cowdery immediately baptized each other, then commenced to baptizing proselytes.

Publication of The Book of Mormon was financed by Martin Harris, and the book was published in 1830.  On April 6, 1830, Smith’s Church of Christ formally established itself in Fayette, New York.  Joseph Smith boldly proclaimed that ‘his was the one true church since the death of Christ’s apostles.’  The arrogance is staggering, to state that eighteen centuries of civilization had lived without the true church of Christ; that all of mankind was lost until Joseph Smith came to bring them the light.

Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect
.  Matthew 24:23-24

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What The Bible Says About Mormons -- Part Four

Read What The Bible Says About Mormons revised and in its entirety here.  

Smith’s twenty first year brought several major life events.  He had returned to the hill Cumorah once every year, and on the fifth visit, when he was twenty one, he was able to take the plates away with him.

Also that same year, Smith was brought to court.  Treasure divining and money digging were illegal activities, and Smith had hired himself out to a man named Josiah Stoal, also of New York, to find the location of a silver mine in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania.   The charge was brought by Stoal’s relatives, who wanted to prevent their kinsman from wasting any more money on Smith.  The charge was classified a misdemeanor, and at least twelve witnesses were issued subpoenas. There are varying accounts of the outcome.  In some, Smith was acquitted by Josiah Stoal’s testimony; in others, he either escaped or was convicted and left town.

And also that same twenty first year, he married Emma Hale, who he had met while searching for the silver mine in Susquehanna.  Following the trial Joseph and Emma left New York for Pennsylvania, to translate the golden plates.  Their trip was financed by a prosperous local farmer named Martin Harris, who had heard of the plates and taken great interest.  Smith had worked for Harris in the past; Harris gave the couple fifty dollars for their trip then followed them shortly thereafter.

The translation of the plates was a process of dictation from Smith to his wife or Harris.  Smith positioned himself behind a curtain, then upturned his hat, placed the seer stones therein, then thrust his face into the darkness of the hat, making a point to exclude all light, before 'reading' The Book of Mormon aloud. 

Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you.  Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.  John 12:35

In a series of revelations over the course of the months of the translation, Joseph received the account of the ancient peoples of the Americas.  Their history begins with that of the Hebrews.  Around 600 BC, at the time Israel was being carried into its captivity in Babylon, a prophet Lehi and his family were divinely inspired to leave Jerusalem just before the conquest and journey to the Indian Ocean.  There they built boats and sailed to the west coast of the Americas and resettled. They spent the ensuing centuries—when not engaged in war with one another--building elaborate cities and temples.  Conflict eventually divided them into two tribes, the Nephites and the Lamanites. 

The Nephites were descended from Nephi, a son of Lehi.  They were at first a righteous people. The Lamanites descended from Laman and Lemuel, Nephi’s rebellious brothers.  They are described as cursed by God with a skin of blackness for their wickedness and corruption.  Immediately after the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to both tribes to announce that he was come to organize his church.  For two centuries the two tribes co-existed in peace; then strife arose, and they warred until the fifth century, when the Lamanites destroyed the backsliding Nephites—Moroni's tribe.

The Book of Mormon asserts that the Lamanites were the ancestors of the Native American peoples.  Notwithstanding that archaeologists have found no shred of evidence that the Nephites and Lamanites ever existed, and that scientists have genetically determined that Native Americans are primarily descended from northeast Asians, and Polynesian people descended from southeast Asians.  But the Book of Mormon asserts many things that simply are not true; it is a work of FICTION.

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
  2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

Saturday, June 30, 2012

TSBOD Chapter 1 -- Bootleg

Bootleg is the first chapter of The Second Book Of Deak, which is the second novel in The Deak trilogy, which is the fictional autobiography of international rock superstar Deak.  I completed the first novel in the late nineties.  That one is called simply, The Deak.  You can read more about it and a few sample chapters by following this link to my website.  While The Deak is played mostly for comedy, the back story necessary to understanding Bootleg is pretty simple and tragic:  Deak married Podi when they were both twenty, and within a year their son Isaac was born.  Podi fronted her own successful band called The Belle Blossoms.  Their home was in New Orleans, and one night while Podi was at home with Isaac, Deak cheated on Podi with Charise, The Belle Blossoms bass player.  The adulterer slinked home to find his wife cradling the body of their baby in her arms, another victim of SIDS.  She recognized the trace of Charise's perfume lingering on Deak, and humiliated him before leaving him.  Distraught, Deak seeks relief in alcohol and comfort from his hobo friends who dwell on the bank of the Mississippi river.  Bootleg opens in the cemetery, where Deak is saying goodbye to his freshly buried son.

Chapter One

The afternoon evolved into twilight, which quickly declined into night.  Still, I sat there beside the footstone, sobbing and suffering.  Everything was gone—my Podi and our Isaac…my whole family—and suddenly I was alone…miserable, wretched and pining…an abject pauper in spirit….. 
It was the dark night of a new moon.  The few stars visible through the black shroud were quickly obscured by swirling storm clouds, which were like an impenetrable shroud of death.  It covered me like a blanket, clung to me like a second skin, smothered me with terror, and suffocated me with fear.  I dreaded what it portended.
I experienced the revelation that I had reached a crossroad in my life.  Since the path I most desired, to backtrack and change the past, did not appear, I became angry with the Fates, and violently cursed them.  That ineffable moment was simply bizarre, and when confronted with the choice between left into the light and right into the night, I trembled and went wrong.  I got to my knees, crawled across the ground, and with my hands pressed into the fresh dirt covering the coffin of my precious Isaac, I leaned forward and kissed his tiny marker, and broke into sobs over him one last time.  In that same instant the death clouds above burst and pelted me with bullets of acid rain.  I jumped to my feet, shook my fists skyward at the confusion, and unleashed a primal scream.   With the determined resolve born of passion I walked over to my guitar and calmly stomped it into splinters.  Then, without turning my head (though stifling sniffles and tears), I walked out of the cemetery and into a bar, where I took a glass of vodka, then another, and another, and another…until I was sitting on a stool in Cosimo’s, where I bumped into Arthur, my old friend who had formerly managed a number of Bourbon Street bands (see chapter 34).  And just as we had that night we hung out shortly after Isaac’s birth, we filled a couple of bags with beer, food and tobacco and went to hang out with the homeless drunks by the riverside.  But unlike that first night, this time when Arthur left at sunrise, I did not accompany him, but stayed there boozing with my new friends.
We were many and varied—the denizens of the riverbank—and came and went daily, but we all had one thing in common:  we had been seduced by the mesmerizing spell of alcohol.  Whether by addiction, escape or passion, we were a brotherhood in the bottle.  And we were in New Orleans, where every moment was an open spigot pouring party.
During the weeks that I lived at the water’s edge I met veterans of war and has-been musicians; broken-hearted losers and lovable bums.  I met all manner of man who for one reason or another succumbs to the false charms of liquor.  And not only was I among their number, I became one of their leaders. 
The first guy there I truly befriended was Shank the fisherman.  When Arthur had first brought me there, and then again the time I stayed, Shank was sitting on a stump at water’s edge with a fishing pole propped between his legs, a cigarette in one hand and a can of beer in the other.
So at the break of the day following Isaac’s memorial, I staggered over to him with a spilling bottle of vodka and plopped myself beside.  “Sooo….” I slurred.  “Who are you?”
He turned to me with friendly smile and extended hand, and said:  “I’m Shank.  Who are you?”
“My name is Deacon, but my friends just call me Deak,” I answered.
“You’re Deak!” he cried.  “All right!  I knew I recognized you!”
He whipped out a harmonica, and tooted and sang, Down By The Riverside.

“I'm gonna lay down my heavy load
Down by the riverside…
Down by the riverside…
Down by the riverside…
I’m gonna lay down my heavy load,
Down by the riverside.

I ain't gonna study war no more
Down by the riverside…
I'm gonna lay down my sword and shield
Down by the riverside…
I'm gonna lay down my travelin' shoes
Down by the riverside…
I'm gonna lay down my gun and belt
Down by the riverside…
I'm gonna put on my long white robe
Down by the riverside…
I'm gonna put on my starry crown
Down by the riverside….”

Just as he was fading out I picked up, and sang:  “I’m gonna leave all my sorrows here, down by the riverside…Don’t want to spend my tomorrows here, down by the riverside…down by the riverside….”
Our rendition of the standard was beautiful, and the friendship sealed with a handshake.  Then Shank said:  “So, what troubles lead you into the fold?”
I had been waiting all night for someone to open that gate of my mouth, and darted through with a lightning tongue.  I berated him with my babble about Podi and Isaac for fifteen of his patient minutes before I suddenly halted my egocentric self and inquired about him.  “And what brought you here?” I asked.
“No troubles,” he nonchalantly replied.  “I’m just waiting to catch a particular catfish, and I’m not going to leave here until I do.”  He sipped whiskey from a filthy brown bottle, which he then handed to me.  “Well, maybe I want a wife, family and house, like you had…but I haven’t found my woman yet, and there’s a certain catfish I need to land first.”
“Moby Dick?” I facetiously asked.
“No, I just call it Fat Cat.  It’s a hundred pound channel cat I saw with my eyes right here six months ago, and I’m going to sit here pinning mudsuckers and nightcrawlers to my hook until she bites, then I am going to eat her, and share her with my friends.  Peace, my brother.”
He slapped my hand, cast his line back into the water and sipped a beer.  I went to meet some of the others. 
There was Chuck Barry—not THE Chuck Berry—but a carefree white fiddle player from San Antonio.  There were O’Malley and Liffey, the wandering Scots, and Abdul O’Doul, one the world’s few muslim Irishman.  There was Riley the sailor.  There were Zak, Arne, Covino and Woodman, who had run out of money on a road trip and were mingling with the locals till they had enough jack to refuel their van and go.  There was Callahan, who sang the Dada Song, and Big L, who had ostensibly been driven mad by his computer.
But with the high times came dry times, and so it was that after a full fortnight fat on the hog we crashed and burned, and for whatever mysterious reason, went a couple of days without food nor drink, and without the slightest motivation to walk the two blocks into the city.  It was the middle of August, and the broiling humidity was oppressive.  It was all we could do to haul ourselves into the water and then back out to flop onto the bank.  Night fell heavily.  The moon was full, but obscured by thick clouds, and six of us—myself, Shank, Callahan and Woodman laid there dreaming aloud of drinks and crawdads.  We had just resigned ourselves to a night without either and achieved a peaceable reverie when a gaunt man, all shadow and bone, appeared behind us.  I couldn’t tell if he was real or a craving induced hallucination, but he inspired a shiver that iced my blood.  He was a madman.  He leaped around menacingly, and taunted us with his sinister song.

When your booze is gone
And you’re all alone,
Watch out for Monkey Jones.
All shadow and bones,
You’ll shiver when he moans…
Here comes Monkey Jones.

The queer figure jigged about my head incessantly repeating those lyrics in a strange and sinister melody.  Suddenly the clouds overhead parted, revealing the full moon.  At the same moment fog rolled in off the river.  Then I heard a low, gravelly voice command:  “Monkey Jones, be gone!  Get out of here now, d’ya hear?”
I looked up and saw a strange figure approaching.  He was of diminutive stature, with a heavy beard and a thick head of long hair.  He had a pronounced limp in his right leg, and below that same knee I could see dazzling jewels sparkling in the moonlight.  His right calf seemed three times the size of the left.
Shank sat up and triumphantly said:  “All right!  Bootleg is here!  Monkey Jones is history, and we’re all set!”
“Bootleg?  Who’s that?” I asked.
“Him,” Shank whispered, pointing to the approaching man.  “Watch this.”
There followed a surreal confrontation.  Monkey Jones cowered.  Bootleg stalked and towered, waving the pinky and index finger of his left hand in Monkey Jones’ face, jabbing the air and growling:  “Bafongol to the bogey man!  Take the onus, take it and go!”

Monkey Jones meekly yelped once and melted into the shadows whence he had emerged.  Bootleg then hobbled over to us, seated himself on a rock by the embers of what had been our fire, and flipped a silver latch on the side of his knee.  His hollow wooden leg popped open, and he removed a magnum bottle of a clear liquid that splintered the moonlight like a prism.  I was mesmerized with curiosity and desire.  He got up and spread a few fresh pieces of wood on the coals, and splashed them with several drops of the liquid, which brought the fire blazing back to life.    Then he tipped the bottle and took a draught before passing it to me.
I was both bold and timid.  I seized the bottle, then hesitated to drink.  “What is it?” I asked. 
“Grapa,” he answered.  “Go ahead, I made it myself.  It’s an Italian drink, fermented from what’s left of the grapes when they’ve finished making the wine.”
I filled my mouth, swished it around, then eased it down my gullet.  It was a strong liquor, and a warm glow radiated throughout my body, to the tips of my fingers and toes, and to the very follicles in my scalp.  I gazed at the moon while my body embraced the spirit.  Then Shank took the bottle, swigged and passed it, and in moments we were gathered around the fire chatting and drinking, with spirits greatly raised.
Bootleg was quite the character.  He had the gift of gab, and kept us entertained with both his stories and jokes, and his witty repartee.  As we jabbered I studied his prosthetic by the light of the fire and the moon.  It was more a magnificent sculpture than a replacement leg.  It was made of teak, and burnished to reveal the very essence and soul of the wood.  There were dozens of pearls, garnets, rubies and emeralds inlaid with silver and gold.  There was fur trim around the top, a huge diamond in the tip, and a glinting silver spur.  It was a more beautiful a boot than I had ever imagined could exist, and my hypnotized eyes were riveted to its glory. 
The bottle quickly emptied into our bellies, and upon its conclusion, Duppy, Joop, Callahan and Shank drifted into contented drunken slumbers.  But Bootleg and I were not yet satisfied, and sat staring at each other and the fire, with the others snoring around us.  Our eyes locked, burning not only with the grapa, but with a bond we knew had been forged a million years before, and that had finally brought us together in that moment.
Then Bootleg said:  “Hey buddy, you still thirsty?”
All I wanted was another drink, and all I could do was to nod my head.
“I got a little something else—my special reserve,” he said.  He opened his boot again, pulled out a little glass and put in the empty grapa bottle.  He then buckled the boot back up, held the glass down by the heel, and opened the spur. It was also a tiny tap.  A thin stream of golden liqueur filled the little glass.  He offered it to me.  I sipped half then handed it back.  The feeling that suffused my flesh transcended drunkenness--it was intoxicatingly divine.  I had never experienced such euphoria in my life.  “What is that?” I finally asked.  I had never tasted anything like it, and was completely perplexed and befuddled.
“Church wine,” he answered.  “I’m friends with a priest, and he gives it to me.  He’s a compassionate man, and he knows it kills my pain like nothing else in this world, and so he smuggles me out about a pint a month.  It’s what they drink as the blood of Christ when taking communion.”
“You’re still in pain?” I stupidly asked.
“It’s called phantom pain, Louie,” he replied, “and it haunts me every moment of every day.  It’s like the leg is always there yet constantly being torn away.”
Emboldened by the drink, I decided to push him.  “How did you lose it, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I don’t mind,” he replied.  He refilled the glass from the spur, grimaced, swallowed his mouthful and handed it to me.  “The Crippler stole it.”
I drank my half greedily, and responded to him as if speaking from a dream.  “The Crippler?  Who is that?”
“Polio,” he replied.  “You probably don’t know much about it because you were born after Salk discovered the vaccine which spared you.  It’s a degenerating muscular disease, and for decades it ravaged the country, maiming and killing like a mad tornado.   I got it drinking from a mud puddle when I was two.  I probably passed the bug along to all my friends.  We the afflicted spent our childhoods in iron lungs and on crutches, and as outcasts from the untouched.  I—“  He caught himself, and then got lost in a mournful thought.  Then he tapped the hollow boot with a knuckle, and said:  “But knock wood, one friend lost both legs, another lost both arms, and four died, so I could be worse.”
I suddenly felt guilty that I had always taken my perfect health for granted, and apologized.  “No need to apologize, buddy,” he continued.  “God said two things about me:  that he made me ‘in his own image,’ and that ‘I am what I am.’  So notwithstanding the missing kicker, I still am whole.  But we have a bigger problem right now.”
“What’s that?” I dumbly asked.
“The leg is empty and I’m still thirsty.  How much money you got?” he bluntly replied.

I was off guard and totally unprepared for such a response, and stupidly answered, “Uh, none.  Not a nickel.”
“Then you’d better start limbering up your fingers, cuz we’re gonna have to play some blues for booze.”
“I don’t get you,” I slurred.
He stood up, hobbled over to me, grasped one side of my head with his left hand and lightly slapped the other with his right.  “We’re going to play a few songs for the tourists and partiers, pass the hat, and as soon as we have a handful of rags, we’ll go somewhere for a few more drinks.  I know where we can get a hold of a guitar and a bass.  Come on now.”
He grasped my hand and yanked me to my feet.  I came to life like a sinner at the resurrection.  I suddenly no longer craved liquor, but only to play the guitar again.  We were just about to set out for the French Quarter—I walking and Bootleg hobbling--when the faint music of a harmonica drifted out of the dusky morning mists and into our ears.  We both turned and saw Shank lightly puffing on his harp. 
Then he said, “I heard every word, and y’all ain’t going anywhere without me.”
He set aside his fishing pole, came over to us, threw one arm around me, the other around Bootleg, squeezed us to his heart, and The Nightcrawlers were born.
We three wandered up the six blocks to Bourbon Street.  Bootleg seemed to know everyone we passed along the way.  He acknowledged a greeting or shook a hand at every step, and stopped to have a dozen conversations.  At last he brought us to a bar called Tropical Joe’s, where he knew just about everyone, including Joe the owner, who immediately treated us to cocktails. 
After a few minutes of chit chat Tropical Joe looked at us expectantly and said:  “Well?”
“Well what?” we replied.
“The first round was on the house, but you’ve got to sing for the rest, so get to it!”
The house band’s instruments were there onstage, so I strapped into the guitar, Bootleg had to mount a little stool so he could reach the neck of the double bass, Shank lubed up his harp and we showered Bourbon Street with a short set of simple blues standards.  Though we generated a certain chemistry playing together, we were far from tight—booze and blues don’t always mix.  Nonetheless, we brought in a few patrons for Tropical Joe, earned enough in the hat to drink a river of margaritas, and, most importantly, The Nightcrawlers were able to say they’d had a successful debut.
During the months of my bender I tried several times to sober up, but found that none of the pains in my heart had yet relented, and so always proceeded to get even drunker than before.  While before and since alcohol generally accentuated my happy nature, during those dark days it largely transformed me into a mean, nasty monster.  And the beast it unleashed knew nothing of love and loyalty to friends, nor of kindness and courtesy toward strangers, it only knew Deak slaking his insatiable thirst.
And my descent into the abyss of perpetual inebriation resulted in my frequently finding cuts and bruises on myself, with no recollection of how I’d acquired them.  On numerous occasions I woke up in strange places and strange beds, on and under benches, and once in a pile of leaves.  Twice I came to wearing clothing I didn’t recognize, and once thirty miles away in Metarie, across Lake Pontchartrain.  And at some point almost every day I’d feel as if someone had sawed off the top of my skull, basted my brain with iodine, then secured it back in place with fifty wood screws.
Throughout the bender I did manage to maintain playing with The Nightcrawlers a couple nights a week.  Our repertoire consisted almost solely of standards—“Built For Comfort,” “I Got a Woman,” “Kansas City,” “Money,” and “Sweet Home Chicago,” among many more.  We also worked up one trademark original, Bootleg’s ranting “Monkey Jones.”
I really don’t recall many specific details of those Bourbon Street performances—until the last couple.  My hasty downward spiral into the bottom of the pit began one morning when I awoke on a park bench in a rum fog so dense that I couldn’t tell if I was dreaming or awake.  Oddly, it turned out to be a little of both.  The dream was that The Nightcrawlers and I were performing “Monkey Jones” on Bourbon Street.  The reality was that a recording of the song was actually pouring from a nearby radio.  I shook my head to confirm that I was awake—or rather, that I had crossed that threshold from drunkenness to hangover—then tracked the song to its source.  The sound quality was excellent, but I couldn’t understand where a recording of “Monkey Jones” had come from.  Then, when the song ended and I heard applause, I recognized it as one of our Bourbon Street performances.  I was mystified by the song’s existence as a recording, but had only been pondering that for a moment when the deejay announced the next song, the latest release from The Belle Blossoms, a surefire hit called “Adios, Loser.”  It was Podi’s musical stab into my rent heart, and it stung like Cleopatra’s asp. 

Adios, Loser

In the beginning, I’ll admit, you were winning,
When you had me on your arm,
The world was your pearl when I was your girl,
When I was your sweet lucky charm.

But now it’s all over,
You’ve plucked not one…not two…not three…
But all four leaves from the clover,
And instead of singing “Hola lover,”
I’m screaming “Adios, loser!”

Adios, loser!  Adios, loser!
Adios, adios, adios, loser!
Now you’re the beggar, while I’m the chooser.
I’m the shining star, and you the wretched boozer.
You had a princess, but you misused her,
And changed your prince’s robe for a pauper’s rags,
Adios, loser!

And as if predetermined by Fate, the moment the song finished playing I espied Ricky and Podi across the street, walking together with their fingers interlocked.  My heart sank and burned, and from that instant events unfolded in rapid succession to the explosive culmination that same evening on Bourbon Street.  First I guzzled a pint of vodka and got a good buzz working.  Then a quick stroll around the French Quarter revealed to me that a bootleg tape of one of The Nightcrawlers shows had been pressed and released and was selling like proverbial hotcakes.  My anger, compounded, escalated.  I spent the day pissed off at Ricky for his betrayal, furious with the scoundrel who’d had the audacity to record and release a Nightcrawlers show without my authority, mad at life and the world for nothing but reasons of my own making, all the while chugging the booze that was fueling the bomb.
However, there was a calm before the storm.  Just after sunset I stumbled down to the riverside, where Shank, Bootleg and some of the others were sitting around a campfire passing a couple of bottles.  I had barely slurred ‘hello’ to everyone when Shank’s fishing line snapped taut and the pole flew into the water.  “That’s her!” he cried as he dove in after it.    “I’ve got her!” 
We jumped in to help, but he waved us off, saying that it was a fight he needed to wage alone; and after a momentous, two hour struggle that left him sweaty and exhausted, with palms striped with string burns and lacerations, he had successfully landed the approximately one hundred pound channel catfish that he’d so aptly nicknamed Fat Cat.  I was happy for him, but while our comrades cheered and congratulated and raised toasts to his conquest, I sat sullenly in the background, slowly sipping myself into an oblivious stupor.
The great fish was greatly admired, and through Shank’s impassioned recounting of the struggle to land it, apotheosized into legend.  Then there was a brief discussion as to what next, whether to take it to a taxidermist or to simply eat it, which determination was made by Shank when he plainly said:  “Well, since I’ve got no use for trophies, much less a place to display them….”
And so the fish was gutted and filleted, marinated in some wine, wrapped in some seaweed and an old blanket and thrust into the embers, and at midnight the legendary fish became a mere feast for ten drunks with the munchies.  I had a couple of nibbles out of respect for Shank, but my anger at Ricky and Podi, and the rogue who’d pirated a Nightcrawlers show, had festered to a height that killed all appetite, leaving only the unquenchable thirst for the liquor that was fueling my rage.
After everyone had stuffed themselves with catfish and laid belly up for an hour or so, Bootleg suggested we go up to Bourbon Street and kick out a few tunes.  I was incoherent verging on blackout, but recall thinking a jam might help to sublimate my anger, and so staggered along with them.  The next thing I remember was standing at Tropical Joe’s looking at the instruments.  Then the strangest thing happened, an occurrence that set the chain of events in motion.  Bootleg had left the room without my noticing, just a moment before I excused myself from Shank to go to the bathroom.  When I came out of the john I heard some strange noises in the hallway behind the stage.  I stuck my head around the corner, discreetly peered through a gap in some slats, and saw Bootleg loading two microphones and a recorder into the hollow of his prosthesis.  I was infuriated around the moon and back, and almost confronted him on the spot, but for some reason refrained and went back to Shank to await Bootleg’s return so we could begin the jam session.  He came out a few moments later, and we set up and started the performance.  That night may have been the worst guitar I’ve ever played.  Between my extreme intoxication, and my intentionally not wanting to produce quality music for Bootleg’s bootleg, I stunk up the joint.  The people that didn’t boo or hiss gave me funny looks as they walked on by.  Then I noticed Podi and Ricky in the distance, arm in arm, pointing at me and sniggering.  I proceeded to scramble the tuning nuts and to ferociously pound the guitar—discordant would have sounded ordered compared to the noise that I produced.  Then Bootleg tapped my shoulder and said:  “What the hell’s the matter with you tonight?”
While his tone was one of genuine concern, I heard only what I wanted, which was a pissed off and antagonistic someone confronting me.  “What’s the matter?” I slurred.  “What the matter?  I’ll show you what’s the matter!”
I unstrapped the guitar, grasped the neck with both hands, cranked it behind my back and swung it with all my might.  The solid body guitar crashed squarely into his wooden leg—the guitar cracked in half and his leg splintered into fifty pieces.  The tape recorder and microphones spilled onto the sidewalk a moment before Bootleg landed up them with a crunching thud.  
“That’ll teach you to steal my music!” I screeched at the top of my lungs.
I had not disabled him, however; I had enraged him, much like throwing mud on a hen, water on a cat, or wagging a dog.  After letting out a blood chilling howl of anguish, he hoisted himself up onto his good leg, hopped three steps towards me, and in one motion clamped my throat, thrust me backwards and landed on my chest, knocking me windless.  His eyes were two blazing infernos of rage, and I could see that I’d fractured the tip of the small piece of fibia that remained extended below his kneecap.  He yelled—not screamed—at me, and his words were punctuated with the droplets of spittle that speckled my face.
“You arrogant, egotistical, reeking piece of crap!  The music is ours, not yours; and the money from the tape is going to help some of my less fortunate friends with polio, since our government thinks it’s more important to know the effects of outer space on pregnant vermin than to care for a cripple here on earth.  I didn’t realize you needed the money on top of your millions…next time I’ll be more considerate!”
The last thing I remember through the haze is his fist rapidly growing large before crushing my face.