Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Release! Thee Will I Cherish

Thee Will I Cherish
An Inspirational Amish Love Story 
by Joyce Daley

David and Naomi Bontrager have a secret. To protect their adult children, Daniel and Anna, they agree to leave their Amish community in Buck Mill, Ohio, and become Englisch. The siblings, however, find it impossible to stay in Eastern Ohio after their parents’ shunning. So Daniel and Anna move to a small Amish town a few hours away in Western Pennsylvania. 

Rumors of their family’s scandal, however, chase them across the state line and some of the Elders of Levity, PA, are none too pleased to have Daniel and Anna settle in their community. Will their parents’ shame prevent the siblings from finding love and acceptance? Or will each of them, with God’s grace and guidance, find a new life with the person of their dreams?

Email me, Lyn Perry, directly to purchase an e-book of Thee Will I Cherish (choice of format) for only $2 via PayPal.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Why I'm Not In Favor of the Death Penalty

I’ve stated on Facebook (and may re-post those arguments here later) that I do not see an inherent contradiction between being pro-life and pro-death penalty. That being said, while I am pro-life, I am not an avid proponent of the death penalty, even though I can affirm it in principle.

Here are some reasons I’m not generally in favor of the death penalty, or rather the implementation of the death penalty. These are not necessarily persuasive taken individually, and they are admittedly not equal in weight. The first three, for example, are more pragmatic to my way of thinking and so aren’t automatic game changers. But cumulatively, they make a difference in my mind.

1) The death penalty does not appear to serve as a deterrent against future homicides. The delay between conviction and execution can take decades. This doesn’t seem to be an effective strategy to me. And I’ve heard that studies don’t really provide evidence of the death penalty being a deterrent.

2) The way the legal system works today means that a lengthy appeals process will inevitably put off the day of execution into the far, far future. This creates an exceptional expense for society and burdens all parties involved. I’ve also heard that studies show it’s cheaper for prisoners to serve life terms than go on death row.

3) The death penalty (if its purpose is to remove a person from society) is not necessary (at least in the U.S.) in light of the life-in-prison option. No one in high security, supermax type facilities escapes (that I’m aware of) and life-without-parole effectively does the same thing as putting a person on death row (given that a number of inmates on death row die before their execution date).

4) More weighty in my mind is that the potential for an innocent life to be taken is ever present. In some (many?) murders, the murderer is obvious; the case is open-and-shut. But in some (many?) situations, there may still be reasonable doubt, yet the jury decides to convict. This is a troubling possibility and should be troubling to any thinking person.

5) Which leads to an uncomfortable, and immoral state of affairs. The wealthy in America can generally avoid the death penalty, while the poor cannot. This is just a fact and an indictment on our current system. Do we really want to entrust the process of deciding to end a person’s life to a system rigged in favor of the wealthy?

Now, for me, a strong reason to support the death penalty is that it is the government’s job to remove from society immediate threats to its citizens. In other words, execution is a form of protection and self-defense. Just like when a person defends him- or herself against an imminent threat to his or her life. I am, as a citizen, permitted to defend myself. This may result in the death of someone else. The goal is not to kill, but to keep one’s self, one’s family safe. 

By the same token, a government must keep its society, its nation safe. This perspective acknowledges that all life has value, even the criminal who is being convicted and executed. That person simply forfeited his or her right to life by perpetrating a crime.

That being said, while the ‘government’ has a right to execute such criminals, it really is not the government (a faceless, no person) that is injecting the drugs, flipping the switch, opening the valve, pulling the trigger, or dropping the rope. It is a person or persons doing each of these acts.

So a final (and for now, the last, but not ultimate) reason I’m generally opposed to the implementation of the death penalty (and so also against war itself) is the trauma it causes the executioner. This seems to be a terrible moral burden to place on another human being, the responsibility to end a person’s life. It is a grave matter, and one in which the dark humor of the pun involved is included reluctantly.

Well, I’m sure I have more to say but for now this will do. I’m not tied down to this position 100% - it’s a topic that I will continue to reflect on and develop. I’m interested in your perspective, but not interested in arguing back and forth. If you have rational reflections on this issue, feel free to comment.

Thoughtful regards, Lyn


Note: Some of the above points are addressed by Matt Walsh in a 30-minute podcast from 2015 (see link below). He also includes a few more points: a discussion of the danger of trusting the government with such absolute power, along with the argument that if killing itself is unjust, killing a killer is also unjust (‘two wrongs don’t make a right’). Plus, as a person committed to the pro-life position, Walsh sees an inherent conflict with being pro-death penalty. He tries to explain this biblically, but goes a bit off the rails when he starts talking about OT and NT scripture in the last 5 or 10 minutes. If you have time, take a listen and let me know what you think.

Another thought. Some people like to throw this one up as a kind of gotcha – how can you be pro-life and still be pro-death penalty?

Sure, it may be slightly problematic to be pro-life and pro-death penalty – to hold these views together. I don’t think it’s a logical inconsistency because I believe one can forfeit one’s right to life by committing murder. However, it must be admitted that there are opposing arguments to be considered. For example, if killing is unjust prima facie (as Walsh posits, correctly) then killing the killer is also unjust despite what the killer has done. My initial response to this is that there are differences between murder and killing. But still, I understand the point.

That being said, while pro-lifers need to carefully think through this issue, pro-aborts who are against the death penalty are in a far worse position – they have no leg to stand on and are in complete hypocrisy here. They can not explain how murderers should be saved yet babies can be executed. Theirs is a depraved position. So my response to their ‘gotcha’ is this: When they answer logically how they can be pro- guilty murderer yet anti- innocent child (they can’t), then we can take our turn to answer logically (we can) how one can be pro-life and pro-death penalty at the same time.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SynCorp Saga Continues

A couple of SF writer friends of mine - Chris Pourteau and David Bruns - are expanding their SynCorp Saga into the next trilogy with the upcoming military/corporate syndicate science fiction novel, Valhalla Station (available for pre-order NOW, March 12, 2019 for only 99 cents - ebook launches on March 21 for 99 cents as well, but price may go up later, never know).

Either way, you'll want to pre-order your copy this week!

I was fortunate enough to land an ARC and just finished it. I'll post my review on Amazon and Goodreads later this month, but you can rest assured it's a solid Book 1 of a new stand alone trilogy that continues the near-future story of "corporate intrigue that spans from the boardrooms of Earth to the red sands of Mars." (from the description on David Bruns' website)

The first three books are: The Lazarus Protocol, Cassandra's War, and Hostile Takeover.

I admit, I have not yet read these first three books, but Valhalla Station works as an adventure in and of itself, and one need not be familiar with the SynCorp universe to enjoy this new offering. (Note, though, Valhalla Station is definitely part of a new trilogy, of which the remaing two books will drop in the coming months - so you won't have to wait long once you get hooked on this new storyline.)

If you're not a big fan of military SF, never fear. This is more adventure and corporate intrigue (think multi-national conglomerates dividing up the solar system for their own ends). It is an adult SF book for adults, however - probably rated R if put on the big screen. Nevertheless, it will keep you reading and whet your appetite for Books 2 and 3. Again, pre-order now for 99 cents.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

My Thoughts on Pronouns

My Thoughts on Pronouns

Words have meaning. This is because words are connected to reality – they represent something actual and thus convey what’s real, what’s true. Sure, words themselves (I’m thinking of nouns, especially) aren’t ontologically related to objects. A tree is real, the word tree is a mere representation. A tree could just as well have come to be known as a gigglypoo.

But over the centuries, definitions arise, standards are set. We recognize that words mean something. Now, I wouldn’t use the phrase ‘social construct’ (because of its current political and SJW connotations) but if you made the point that what we call things seems arbitrary, I wouldn’t argue with you. Why isn’t a tree a gigglypoo? I won’t go into language theory at this point, but the short answer: that’s how it is.

You can insist on calling a tree something else, but that simply causes confusion and discounts centuries of dictionary usage. I recall in junior high one of my friends had a running gag calling cows fish. On the bus to school we’d laugh at his juvenile (and nonsensical) joke, but we all knew his words were being twisted beyond meaning.

I think you see where I’m heading with this.

Pronouns, too, have meaning. He, him, his refer to the male of a species. She, her, hers refer to the female. They have done so (through various forms and via word/gender endings) for centuries. They represent biological reality. Pronouns (and words in general) adhere to standards that help society function smoothly, with clarity and precision. Meaningful words make communication possible.

Enter gender theory, which finds its roots in the writings of a French philosopher and novelist named Simone de Beauvoir. She was one of the first to popularize the conception that, “One is not born, one is made a woman.” (The Second Sex, 1949) I think she was arguing against gender roles (which is a separate and important topic), but extreme feminists have since proclaimed that we are ‘assigned’ gender at birth (which is complete nonsense, by the way, since our sex, also known as gender, is biologically determined at conception, no one assigns it to us).

The biological reality is that there are two sexes, two genders. And the words representing these realities have meaning insofar as we adhere to reality. Gender confusion has produced pronoun madness – people are insisting that they be referred to in fantastical ways. Women want to adopt he, him, his pronouns; men want to adopt she, her, hers pronouns. (Some even want to adopt they, them, theirs – as if a singular person can be a plurality!)

This is delusion. This is fantasy. This breaks with reality. This is untrue, incredible, and nonsensical. A man cannot become a woman; a woman cannot become a man. Chromosomes are what they are. We are binary beings. Talk of non-binary persons and third gender persons is simply a journey through the rabbit hole into absurd silliness.

Unfortunately, the situation we find ourselves in today is not silly. It is dangerous. The Evil One has cast a great deception on our culture with regards to gender and pronouns – and this has real world consequences.

For example, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are censoring views like this one from the public square. This post (or link to this post or tweet about this post) may be arbitrarily taken down for violating an ever-changing set of ‘community standards’ – which, by and large, defines opposition to the prevailing regressive left’s agenda as hate speech. One can be banned for simply pointing out biological reality (if that’s the case here, it’s been nice to know you). There is an admitted bias in Silicon Valley against conservative views.

Big tech companies aren’t alone in their attempt to suppress free expression. Mastercard and Visa have been pressured by the country’s leading hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, to discontinue servicing groups the SPLC deems are hate groups. This is a very dangerous precedent and amounts to an attack on free enterprise.

Back on topic – for NOT using a student’s preferred pronoun, a teacher in Virginia was fired. The teacher said he would call the student by her new name (she wants to be viewed as a male and has taken on a masculine name) and would simply refrain from using any pronouns at all with regard to this student. But that was not good enough for the trans-movement tyrants. He must be *compelled* to use untrue speech. This, too, is a dangerous trend.

And this is the issue. Pronoun madness is forcing people to use words that no longer align with reality. And communication suffers as a result. Now if you are going by a different name than the one you were ‘assigned’ at birth, great. Your choice. Your name was assigned. Your gender was not. If you want to be called Gigglypoo, wonderful. But if you want me to use gigg/giggly/poo as your preferred pronouns, then you are living in a fantasy land. I mean you’re free to do what you want, you’ve got free speech as well, just don’t expect me – or force me – to eat the mushrooms with you.

Happy New Year.

Addendum: There are many more words that have lost or are in danger of losing their meaning due to extended misuse, including phobia, gender, racism, privilege, Nazi, hate, marriage. And literally.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Republishing Two Jack Daniels Stories

Bit of backstory...

At his open call invitation a few years back, a number of us writers jumped at an idea and collaborated with Joe Konrath and collectively wrote a number of stories that featured his spunky female homocide detective, Lt. Jack Daniels, while introducing our own main characters.

My private eye is Ava Jane (AJ) Rakowski, a mentalist of sorts, who is called into assist Daniels and her partner in a series of abductions and murders. I had a blast writing my two stories (Abductions and Beat Down), which Joe edited and added to. He then was kind enough to publish these collaborations and split the royalties with us authors 50/50.

This was actually before Kindle Worlds, but when Amazon launched that initiative, I think most of us agreed to put our stories in KW - and it was wonderful exposure. Over the last few years, I've had a steady (if smallish) income stream hit my bank account each month. Fun times!

Then Kindle Worlds closed. But Konrath, like Hugh Howey (of Wool fame), is an indie writer advocate and very generous with his IP. He encouraged us to re-publish our collaborations on our own. So with Joe's permission, I'm making available (on Amazon for now and then on other platforms like B and N, Kobo, etc.) the two short stories I wrote with him.

Here they are! Hope you enjoy them. (BTW, I wrote them under my pen name, Garth Perry, as they are a bit grittier than my usual speculative fare. Also below is another AJ Rakowski story called Drinking Games. I think you'll like this one too.)


A Jack Daniels/AJ Rakowski Mystery
by J.A. Konrath and Garth Perry

Psychic Investigator AJ Rakowski can't talk to the dead, but she can 'dial' into a dead person's vibes. Why this qualifies her as a consultant for the Chicago Police Department is a mystery to skeptical Homicide Lt. Jack Daniels, who has real cases to solve.

But when Rakowski is brought on to help stop a serial kidnapper from abducting his next victim, Jack is forced to work with AJ. A girl's life is on the line, and maybe if the two learn to accept their differences and join forces, they just might be able to stop the...ABDUCTIONS.

Kidnapping can be murder...

(Note: Abductions is a 9,000 word novella (about 35 pages) featuring JA Konrath's heroine Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels who is the star of more than 1 million books, and Garth Perry's new heroine AJ Rakowski. Features action, suspense, and a fair dose of dark humor.)

Available at Amazon.


Beat Down
A Jack Daniels/AJ Rakowski Mystery
by J.A. Konrath and Garth Perry

Psychic Investigator Ava Jane Rakowski, part time consultant for the Chicago Police Department, just solved her first crime. Her supervisor, Homicide Detective Lt. Jack Daniels, is skeptical. Good old fashioned police work would likely have tracked down the serial kidnapper, Raphael Ortega, in due time.

Unfortunately, Ortega is now out of jail because of an apparent clerical error. And when the brutal killings begin it doesn’t take a psychic to connect the dots. The only question is if they’ll find Ortega before he gives his next victim – which happens to be AJ’s best friend Tomen – a brutal BEAT DOWN.

Revenge can be murder...

(Note: Beat Down is a 14,000 word novella (about 60 pages) featuring JA Konrath's heroine Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels who is the star of more than 1 million books, and Garth Perry's new heroine AJ Rakowski. Features action, suspense, and a fair dose of dark humor.)

Available at Amazon.


Drinking Games
A Nbonivoy/Rakowski Short Thriller
by Garth Perry

More Mentalist than Medium, Ava Jane Rakowski has finally accepted the fact that she can't speak with the dead. That doesn't stop her from using her paranormal gifts to help the living - especially those in desperate need. From finding missing persons to solving homicides, Rakowski is on the case.

With each success, however, comes unwanted attention. AJ knows it goes with the territory. The occasional nut job will propose marriage. An oddball stalker will make a fool of himself. But when she captures the attention of a serial killer known only as Carlton, that's when the real game begins.

"Laugh out loud moments combined with real terror." - An Amazon 5 Star Review

Available at Amazon.

(Note: Drinking Games is a 12,500 word novella (about 45 pages) featuring mentalist AJ Rakowski, who appeared with JA Konrath's heroine, Lt. Jack Daniels, in two collaborations: Abductions and Beat Down.)

Monday, July 23, 2018

God of Love, God of Wrath

I'm preaching a summer series on "Tough Questions for the Christian" and we are currently exploring the topic of God's wrath. The question is: How can a God of love express wrath toward His creation?

Here's the outline of my sermon from this past Sunday.

1. God’s Wrath vs Human Anger
     a) God’s wrath (often translated as anger) is a position against sin, death, and the devil.
     b) Human anger is often an emotion that comes and goes based on circumstances.
       - See Ephesians 4.26-27 – “In your anger, do not sin.” That is, St. Paul admonishes us that our anger, when it occurs, should be more like God’s anger who takes a stand against injustice and evil. God’s wrath is never sinful or wrong. He is holy.
       - But if our anger is a result of an emotional flare up, then don’t let it fester. (“Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.…”)
       - Why? It can give the devil a foothold (vs 27) in one’s life and thus opens the door to sin.
       - Anger as an emotion isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can lead to sinful reactions and actions.
      c)  God’s anger/wrath is different. It’s not an emotion. It’s an expression of his love.


2. God’s Anger and God’s Love – Not “Either/Or” but “Both/And”
     a) Both are a reality found within the scripture. “It is simply impossible to read the bible as a whole and not recognize the reality of God’s anger.” (Wright, p 130)
     b) It is equally impossible to read the bible and not see that God is love and has love for all.
       - 1 John 4.7-10 – Love is from God. God is love. This is love, that he sent his son.
       - John 3.16 – For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…
       - Psalm 145.17 – The Lord is kind/faithful (expresses “covenant love”) in all he does.
     c) God IS love but God HAS wrath.
       - God’s love is eternal because God is eternal. Love is God’s very nature.
       - God’s wrath is temporary and will end with the destruction and elimination of sin.
       - Why? Because the only thing that arouses God’s wrath is evil (not his creation).
       - “The very essence of evil is to resist, reject, and refuse the love of God.” (Wright, p 131)

God’s wrath is an expression of his love. “It is precisely because God loves the world so much that he is angry against all who defy the goodness of what God wants for the world.” (Wright, p 133) That is, if God were not angry with evil, he could not really claim to love the world. (Think of the injustices of the world. Could God really just wink at them in doting love or benign neglect? NO! God is rightly angry at evil and injustice because of his great love for creation.)

3. Enter the mystery of the cross.
     a) The cross represents a host of wonderful metaphors (“pictures of reality”) that demonstrate God’s love: redeemed, reconciled, justified, adopted, healed, forgiven, cleansed, in Christ…
     b) But the cross goes beyond metaphor. There is an actual substitution going on – God’s love and wrath work together as God takes on the sin of the world (love) in order to eliminate it (wrath).
     c ) See John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. – “The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.” (as quoted in Wright, p 125)

Conclusion: 1 Thessalonians 5.9-11 (NIV)

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Basic Theology for Christ-Followers by Vic Gordon
The God I Don’t Understand by Christopher Wright

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Closed Communion – Go Away!

(Note: I wrote this piece below as a FB post back in 2014. During that year I took a break from being a pastor and visited a number of churches looking for a 'home.' I was on a spiritual journey - still am! - and am still thinking about this topic, communion. In 2015 I returned to pastoral ministry and last year I wrote this piece on the Eucharist. Now I'm thinking about writing another reflection on how this issue divides believers; the following thoughts can serve as my jumping off point. So that's the context. Hope this is of interest.) 

March 23, 2014.

Visited another church today. As you might guess, I’m sort of on a journey to find a spiritual home, post-pastorate. Have recently experienced a few contemporary churches – which, although supposedly visitor friendly, left me dissatisfied. I’ve already ranted about the shallowness of band-centered worship and won’t go into that here.

So I went for the opposite end of the spectrum and worshiped at a liturgical church this morning. Lutheran – WELS. And, as is often the complaint of many who are unfamiliar with the liturgy, it wasn’t very visitor friendly. But not because I had to juggle the hymnal and lectionary.

It was because of communion.

Though we didn’t ‘commune’ (partake of communion) this morning, I doubt I would have been allowed to had the church celebrated it. Most conservative Lutheran churches practice ‘close communion’ – which I’d always thought was spelled closed. There’s a slight difference, and you can google it like I did.

But my take away is this: Want to turn away visitors? Card them.

That’s right. There was a card in the pew that I had to sign and give to the pastor before the service if I wanted to commune. I had to affirm that I belonged to a church that was in fellowship with theirs before I could share in the Lord’s Supper. (Oh, whose supper? Ah, just checking.)

Now, don’t get me wrong. Communion’s not a free-for-all. But verbalizing that the meal is for serious disciples of Christ is one thing. Telling Christians they can’t participate in the Lord’s Supper unless certain hoops are hopped is another. I’ll tip my hand right now, I’m an advocate of open communion.

Here’s why.

First, communion is a picture of grace. It’s the body and blood of Christ offered freely to sinners. The meal is not for perfect people, it’s for repentant people. All Christians are sinners, therefore all Christians should be invited to eat at the table, regardless of church or denominational affiliation.

Second, communion is for the universal community of believers (called the communion of saints). Who determines membership in this communion? God’s Holy Spirit. Upon one’s confession of faith (Rom 10.9) one is saved and therefore an invited participant at the table.

To place non-biblical hurdles before the table isn’t just visitor unfriendly, it’s a misrepresentation to the seeker what God’s free offer of salvation is all about, imo. The Lord’s Supper is for Christians who want to be right with God and right with others – regardless of church/denominational standing.

Now, I get it. Those who advocate for close communion are seeking to protect the sacrament. But, you know, I just don’t hear God calling us to protect something he’s offering us free of charge.

Not that communion is for everyone - it makes no sense for a non-believer to participate in this spiritual activity. So really, if someone’s not a Christian, why would they want to eat the body and drink the blood of Christ?

But even then, that’s between them and God. I’m not a bouncer.

And I’m not going to card someone at the door.