Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | April 10, 2014

Ed Gillespie Should Debate

Ed - show up and debate.

Ed – show up and debate.

Dear Editor of any Virginia Newspaper:

Ed Gillespie’s Conservative claim to fame is that he wrote the Contract for America in 1994. He was Dick Armey’s right hand man. Then, he became President George W. Bush’s right hand man. As the Manchester Union Leader reported, “the party’s new chairman [Ed Gillespie], energetic and full of vigor, said in no uncertain terms that the railings against the expansion of federal government are over.”

Twenty years ago Gillespie made his Conservative credentials. Then, for more than a decade, Gillespie made his big government, deficit spending, crony capitalism, less freedom credentials. Gillespie made it worse when he was the Chairman of the RPV. He supported the unelected regional governments and tax increases for the bogus transportation bill, HB 3202, which was ruled un-Constitutional – unanimously by the Virginia Supreme Court.

If Ed Gillespie is really Mr. Conservative, defend the TARP bailout, his version of Obamacare, and amnesty for illegal aliens in a debate. Why is Ed so afraid to face Shak Hill?

If Ed Gillespie is a consistent Conservative and not just another career politician, consultant, lobbyist, hired gun, and right hand man – like the other guy whose only reason for ever living in Virginia is the commute to DC, Sen. Mark Warner – he should debate.

Ed can explain why his right hand man, John Feehery, who runs his company, Quinn Gillespie Communications, is so rabidly anti-TEA Party. When Ed was a right hand man, he kept his mouth shut and did what he was told.

Show up and debate, Ed.

James Atticus Bowden

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | April 4, 2014

Southern History Month 2014

Look at the Flaggers

Look at the Flaggers

I write about Southern History Month every year.  Not Confederate History Month.  Southern history is much bigger than Confederate history.  And, unlike the Confederacy, the South has a future.  The opening pic above has the Confederate Battle flags that create so much excitement in these ignorant times – and something else.  One of the Flaggers is a young black lady.  She is one of the fewer than 200 Virginia Flaggers whose passion for proper respect drives them.  And, that makes several points.

In our Commonwealth of about 7.7 million people, maybe 200 people take their free time on weekends, in all weather, to wave a flag that is the symbol of hatred, racism, slavery, segregation and over-the-top extremes of evil to way too many people who live in Virginia. So, what does that tiny number mean? It means the power of heritage, history, family, faith and the ideas that motivate humankind are alive in Virginia.

I believe it so across the South.

The ideas that made the South – Southern, not Northern – are still alive. The huge influx of Yankees, other foreigners, and illegal aliens since the 1970s when air conditioning became commonplace, means there are fewer folks throughout the South who were raised with Southern ideas. The infiltration of foreign ideas in Southern public schools is worse than the dumbing down of education up North. Foreign ideas are out to destroy the South. Yet, enough folks are still “Southern” enough to matter.

Southern ideas are the uniquely Southern context and concepts for Family, Faith and Freedom. These ideas resonate with many Americans. But, in the South the ideas, and what they mean in their particulars, strike a chord with a majority of the folks. They speak to a majority of Black Southerners – despite their post-plantation mentality to vote en masse. And, their voting betrayal to themselves, their families and their race by voting Democrat.

One idea, which isn’t Southern, but moves more Americans in the South than anywhere else in the U.S. matters the most. More Southerners read the Holy Bible regularly than anyone else. The ideas that motivate humankind who read the Word of God rule the Universe. The ideas are ascending. The ideas have a future.

So, the South has a Future.

Americans from all across America will stand up, sooner or later, restore the Rule of Law and the Constitution to save our Republic. Those patriots – the Tea Party, other Conservatives, and Libertarians – will be a majority in the South – and much of the West. The South is a full third of the country, while the frontier-minded West is far less.

Americans from all across America will fight – and never quit – to stop and eventually roll back the Islamists. Those Christian and Jewish warriors will be a majority in the South. Bible-based Believers, from the Bible Belt, are best-equipped to be the new Crusaders.

The one-dimensional, cartoonish South that Liberals, bigots, Democrats, Hollywood and the historically-challenged (ignorant) fellow travelers promote is theirs alone. The multi-faceted, multi-layered, complex and nuanced web of humanity inhabiting the South today has an interesting future ahead.

The bloody red banner may not march again. But, the South is rising -

Southern ideas of faith, family and freedom will rise.

Southern ideas of faith, family and freedom will rise.

on Southern ideas.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 30, 2014

Understanding Grief. Part 2: What I Say

What I'm Supposed To Do

What I’m Supposed To Do

Part II: What I Say
The good doc said reconciliation is healing. I have to relate my experience of loss to a context of meaning. Huh?

Then, I’m supposed to convert my relationship of 41 years with my wife from presence to memory. Ugh.

I have to develop a new self-identity to heal. I have to become a new man. A different man.

[Long chain of loud expletives.]

The one thing that I must do to heal is precisely what I don’t want to do.

I’m 63 years old. I don’t want to be a different man. I don’t want a new self-identity. I especially don’t want to convert my relationship with my wife from presence to memory.

Death sucks. Death of a spouse totally, absolutely and completely sucks. It’s far worse than I ever imagined – and I’ve experienced death of deeply loved ones.

I had the best parents – who had the most wonderful love affair of a marriage – then Daddy died when I was 29 and Mama died when I was 36. But, this is a completely different experience. Their deaths were tough and sad, but nothing like this.

When my parents died I was still their son. They were gone to Heaven – not present – and became memories in this world. But, their absence didn’t change who I was.

My wife and I were an ‘us’. When she died, ‘us’ died. But, I’m still here. I have the same thoughts and feelings. I have the same memories. I’m in the same relationship with her. But, she is in Heaven – not present – so we can’t be us. And, I can’t be me when we aren’t us. Because being me has been being us for 41 years.

Nellie is part of me. I’m part of her. Remember the Bible verse from Nellie’s memorial and burial ceremonies, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” Part of me is dead and gone from this world.

Healing means my life is under re-construction. Death sucks.

I could choose to not change. I could refuse to be a new, different man. I could refuse to reconcile.

Then, I’d make a lousy Miss Havisham. This life and my family isn’t Great Expectations. God has a purpose for every person through every season of life – from birth through death’s transition out of the body into the rest of eternity.

His Will, not mine, means what I want – and as much as I want to NOT become a different man living with memories instead of the presence of Nellie Katherine Kyle Bowden – doesn’t matter. I’ve learned many, many times that my wishes and wants don’t matter. Either the Universe doesn’t care or the Good Lord has a plan. Choose one.

Who is this new, different man? I have no clue. I only know how to be me. I’ve had a lot of practice. I’ve got it down.

My daughters say I’ve been a rock since their Mom had her first stroke. That’s a generous, humbling compliment. A rock that cries every day. A rock that feels sad, missing, and hurt. A rock that’s unable to express what those emotions and thoughts mean in their overwhelming complexity of color, context, shape, scope, depth and every other dimension other than to simply speak their labels – sad, missing, hurt.

This rock can think of things to do. Places to go. But, I have no clue – saying it again – how to be a different, new, re-constructed man and for my wife to be memories, not presence.

I know how to do all that other stuff in the Doc’s book. I know how to read and follow The Book.

Nellie wrote “God never wastes our sufferings” in her well-worn Bible. Okay. Got it.

God won’t waste my suffering. He has a plan.

I can do my all old duties and relationships – except be husband to Nellie. I can do my job – “You will read and write.”

Live life one day at a time – from rising to resting. I can do that in Him.

In Nellie's hand on the first page of her Bible

In Nellie’s hand on the first page of her Bible

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 29, 2014

Understanding Grief. Part 1: What the Doc Said

Nellie's book on grieving.

Nellie’s book on grieving.

Understanding Grief, Helping Yourself Heal by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD is one of Nellie’s books. She saw this guy speak several times. This book is from 1992. I don’t know if she has any of his later books. She used what he said in the grief groups she lead at Mt. Vernon Elementary School. Sadly, there were enough little kids who had lost a parent, sibling or grand-parent to keep her group full every year. She counseled them when actually she was ministering to them.

This book has good teaching, despite the occasional lapses into psychobabble. Like, “embracing your grief.” I get past my gag reflex because I learned a lot of psychobabble helping my wife earn her Masters in Counseling. Here’s the good stuff.

Understanding Grief
• Grief is the internal meaning to bereavement. Mourning is taking grief from the inside and expressing it outside.
• Grief isn’t what we ‘get over’. It’s what we ‘live with’.
• Every individual has a unique journey to go ‘through’ grief.
• The ability to love requires the necessity to mourn.
• Tears shed are the beginning of the healing process.
• Expressing grief outwardly is necessary.
• Final dimension of grief is reconciliation.
• The sense of loss becomes a renewed meaning and purpose.
• Your support group – and sub-culture – influence how you are allowed to grieve and mourn.
• Death affects the head, heart, and spirit.
• Grief comes like waves.
• Going through grief is more like going through dimensions than stages. The stages – shock, denial, numbness, and disbelief – aren’t fixed like a schedule on a calendar.
• Grief doesn’t necessarily get easier over time.
• Work of mourning – and grieving – is draining. It leaves one wiped out.
• No critical decisions should be made.
• Problems with sleeping and low energy happen. Gets hard to fall asleep.
• Guilt over having joy comes from feelings of loyalty.
• Survivor guilt can be an issue.
• May take weeks or months to reach the depth of grief and mourning.
• Cry as much and as often as one needs.
• Grief attacks come suddenly. It’s emotionally draining. Tears and sobbing are healthy. “Sobbing is like wailing and it comes from the inner core of your being.”
• Loss of intimacy and sexuality is part of the process.
• Reconciliation as healing means you live with grief and work to reconcile yourself to it.
• 6 Control Needs
o Experience and express the reality of death.
o Tolerate pain that comes with grief while taking care of self physically, emotionally and spiritually.
o Convert your relationship with the dead from one of presence to memory.
o Develop new self-identity without the dead.
o Relate experience of loss to context of meaning
o Have an understanding support system – for you.
• Be compassionate with yourself.
• Person who died was part of you. Mourn the loss of outside self and inside. Overwhelming sadness and loneliness can accompany.
• There is a time to get on with your life. But, not when others determine it.
• 12 Freedoms
o Realize your grief is unique.
o Talk about your grief.
o Expect a multitude of emotions.
o Allow for numbness.
o Be tolerant of physical and emotional limits.
o Experience grief attacks or memory embraces.
o Develop support system.
o Make use of ritual.
o Embrace spirituality.
o Allow search for meaning.
o Treasure memories.
o Move toward grief and heal.
• Avoid critical people. Avoid people who try to steal grief.
• Death changes life forever. Your life will never be exactly the same as before.
• You are the expert about your experience.
• How to help
o Have a support group.
o Listen attentively. Be compassionate. Avoid clichés.
o Write personal notes. Be aware of holidays and anniversaries.
• Your life is under re-construction.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 28, 2014

Grand Budapest Hotel

Brought back memories of living in Europe.

Brought back memories of living in Europe.

Grand Budapest Hotel, the movie.


Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 26, 2014

Divergent, the Movie

Good enough Sci Fi

Good enough Sci Fi

Divergent, the movie, seemed like the convergence of Hunger Games and Ender’s Game. It was good enough to be entertaining Sci Fi. It spun my nerd worldview – which is always good enough for me.

If Ender’s Game had spent as much time developing the significance of lessons learned in training, it could have lived up to the book. Ender’s Game, like Starship Troopers, was a cult book for Army officers. It had great insights on military training, education and leadership.

Like the Hunger Games, this movie has a female warrior. Also, this post-apocalyptic America has another oppressive, evil social order. It’s amusing and super-ironic that Chicago is one place that succeeds after war instead of being the epicenter of the destruction.

The divergence in Divergent is from one faction to another or several. Society is divided into five factions – the Abnegation (selfless), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), Erudite (intelligent) and Dauntless (brave). And, there are factionless – who look a lot like homeless. Factions are more important than family. These ideas probably can be traced back to the unhappy school days of some, if not all, Hollywood writers. Cliques vs. misfits recurs so much it’s too clichéd to even be a cliché.

So, when the writers’ hard times come to life on the screen, so do their biases. Like all the farm folk are simple-minded and kind. Like, selfless people should govern in a natural order.

And, oddly enough in a society that is based on factions working in harmony to create peace and order, there are people without a faction. Doesn’t that go contrary to the whole idea of a society based on factions?

Yet, the basic idea – How should society be ordered? – is a good question. By factions based on personalities is a terrible answer. Tribe was the answer from the end of the Ice Age – and long before – until civilizations started around 4000 BC. Kingdoms worked for the times. Then, around 500 BC a few Greeks in a city-state of 50,000 people asked themselves what is the best way to order society. They wrote it down. Civilized people have been talking about it ever since.

What is best? Depends on where, when, and who is in the society.

When you have a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, heterogeneous society based on a Post-Enlightenment, Judeo-Christian, free market, Western Civilization culture, I believe the Rule of Law works best. The People are Sovereign and delegate authority and power to different branches of government. A system of checks and balances works to limit government power. Most of all, it depends on the culture.

Culture commands. Only one culture can guide a society at a time. No society is multi-cultural. None. Ever. The contemporary political term “multi-cultural” means multi-racial and multi-religious – especially if it can mean suppressing Christianity.

Meanwhile, the climax of Divergent is the fight for power over society. That is good Sci Fi, because all good Sci Fi is history with new costumes and toys on a different stage. We’re in that fight right now – in Virginia and across America.

Past is prologue.

Another girl warrior hero.

Another girl warrior hero.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 24, 2014

God Isn’t Dead

Truth In a Movie

Truth In a Movie

The movie “God Isn’t Dead” is several sermons on the big screen. It includes the most hopeful demographic best wishes – brave Muslim convert, aggressive Liberal Professor dying profession of faith, liberal young woman opens up, and Christian seduced by the Left returns to the fold.

The Christian Apologetics were strong. The Big Bang as “Let there be light” and the explosions of life in evolution came across clearly.

The movie was sermons strung into story. Since most movies are anti-Christian, by intent or arrogant inference, this movie feels desperate to say all it can say. Perhaps other Christian movies can tell great stories with the Christian characters whose faith is the fabric of their lives. Christian characters don’t have to be identified by the cross jewelry.

Scenes with authentic Christian living had the subtleties that shout. Like when the Christian performer spoke up and then said he was led to say what he said. That happens to Christians. It does. It really does. Sometimes it is a nudge to say something. Sometimes it’s actual words that just pop in the head of the Believer. The God who created the entire universe does that. He is involved from the infinitely large to the infinitely small. As unbelievable as it all seems, it’s all true.

Like this morning when Psalm 30 is shoved in my face – twice. When I wake up, my phone is on this Bible verse.

I didn't have this open last night.  Maybe I butt-dialed this exact verse.

I didn’t have this open last night. Maybe I butt-dialed this exact verse.

Then, when I did my daily Bible reading on another device - there it is again  – the whole of Psalm 30.  Thank you, Lord.

Psalm 30
A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.
I will exalt you, Lord,
for you lifted me out of the depths
and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said,
“I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me,
you made my royal mountain[c] stand firm;
but when you hid your face,
I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called;
to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced,
if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me;
Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever


I loved when the two preachers in the movie said over and over, “God is good, all the time.  And all the time, God is good.”  That is authentic.   The movie got it right.

The movie is so right, indeed, God isn’t dead.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 23, 2014

Give Praise Always

Please play this video with your speakers turned up as loud as they can go.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Now, play the video again and cry as you sing along until you can’t see through your tears.

Cry for what you will. I grieve for my wife, Nellie. The sadness, the missing, the hurt of her loss is greater than my words – and actually beyond what I can comprehend. I know what I feel and think – only. Her absence is everywhere. Her silence is deafening.

We’re just past 3 months gone – how much longer can this be as it is?

Play the video another time and weep as you try to sing until you are out of breath.

Weep for what you will from this life. I groan from my bones for the life I loved – hers, ours, mine, my kids, our family and families, our friends – that ended. I know she is alive in Heaven. But, the life that was known as hers, ours, etc., isn’t here anymore and never will be again.

Wipe your eyes. Take a deep, if staccato gasping, breath. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Make your to-do list and get about it.

I know the past is past. I know the future is ahead and different. The process of going from the past to the future is a long, hard path. I knew it would be.

I’m not complaining, whining and, sure as Hell, don’t want sympathy or pity. I’m not holding on to grief. Just want to share for those who’ve been, those who will be or those who need to serve the Lord for those who do – that God is good. Praise God. Love and worship God.

Weeping is for the night, but joy comes in the morning. That night may be many nights – a season of nights – but compared to eternity, it can be called a night.

This music provides a great ministry. I embrace its message. I follow The Word.

Play it again as loudly as you can – and give praise. Rejoice in Him.

First page of Nellie's Bible - in her hand.

First page of Nellie’s Bible – in her hand.

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 23, 2014

Little Things Can Matter

Two doors with crepe paper streamers

Two doors with crepe paper streamers

We started a family tradition the first year our oldest child could walk out from her big girl bed.  It probably was her third birthday - when we were in Boston.  My late wife would remember better which year was first.  Anyway, after she went to bed we decorated the dining room with crepe paper streamers – like we had when I was a kid.  I had some streamer paper left over.  So, I taped them to make a door she had to walk through – the very first thing in the morning.

We thought it would be fun for the child – and way to let her know it was her birthday and a special day for her.  We covered the doors every birthday for all three of our children from then on.  That little thing started about 34 years ago.

34 years later my oldest daughter covered the doors of her twins’ doors on their 6th birthday.  It made them feel special.   Yesterday, one of them, Lillian, wanted me to “come up and see my room.”  She glowed when she showed me the crepe paper.  Like I had no idea something so cool could happen.  I smiled and told her how neat it was.  And, didn’t she like it and feel so special?

Wish my wife could have shared that moment, too.

We would have had such fun remembering all those birthdays and crepe paper memories.

Will our four grandchildren (and more to come I hope) do the same for their children another 34 or so years from now?  Will crepe paper still be used for decorations?  How long will this little thing live as a family tradition?

My Mother told us about putting butter on the birthday kid’s nose – first thing in the morning.  We didn’t do that when I was a kid, except for the time her baby brother visited – and she did it to him.  Some little things end over time – or abruptly with death.

Our little thing is a simple act of love.  A point of celebration and recognition.   A symbol of family love to rejoice and honor year after year.

May that love be given in abundance by our grown children to our grandchildren.  May our grandchildren give such abundant love to their children.  And on and on and on.

Love is no little thing.   Giving it in a wee gift, like our simple tradition, is such fun.  It’s such a joy to share love.  Missing that sharing is a good reason to grieve.

Seeing love live is wonderful.

“Papa, come upstairs and see my room!”

Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | March 19, 2014

Russia Being Russia

Catherine the Great conquered Crimea for Russia - fair and square

Catherine the Great conquered Crimea for Russia – fair and square

Catherine the Great annexed Crimea in 1783.  It was the same year the new nation – called the American Empire by Ben Franklin and other Founding Fathers – won its war of independence.  Two Great Powers were growing and expanding.  The Russians pushed the borders of bloody Islam back.  The Americans pushed back indigenous Neolithic tribes, old colonial power claims and Mexico.

The Russians made Crimea Russian.  Nikita Khrushchev gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954.  But, he didn’t change the people.  The majority remained Russian.  The Russians want to be part of Russia, not Ukraine.  So, what’s the problem with self-determination and majority rule?

Oh.  Apparently, sometimes self-determination is good and sometimes it’s bad.  Depends on the situational ethics.

Setting aside the silliness, consider what Russian moves to regain Crimea are not.

Putin isn’t Hitler.  There are no dominoes.  This isn’t Cold War II.  This isn’t ideological.  This isn’t a threat to US National Security.  It isn’t Barry Soetero’s fault, but it is much, much easier to do with him playing President.  And, it isn’t Bush’s fault.

It’s just Russia being Russia.

Since Russia has been an autocracy for 1,000 years, it isn’t a surprise if enterprising politicians, enter Putin, restore autocracy.

Russia is a Great Power.  They have legitimate interests in protecting Russians who are on the wrong side of borders since the fall of the Soviet Empire.  If Russians are actually the majority in some Oblasts, what is the problem in secession – based on self-determination?  Why is such democracy bad?

And, Russia is a crossroads.  It will become a growing Great Power with great resources and a talented, dynamic people or so decline in population that the Muslims become a majority and destroy Russia forever.  Putin is trying to head Mother Russia in the right direction.

Frankly, the US should look forward to the day when we align our mutual interests in destroying Islamists, improving economics, and securing the international commons.

Sidebar: I understand some of Putin’s motivation.   He was a career KGB officer.  He was a patriot when Russia ruled the Soviet Union – and a patriot when Russia became just Russia.  The loss of the Cold War was a humiliating defeat.  Men, patriots, remember and want to win their pride back.  Putin is doing it, reclaiming Russians and old Russian land for Russia, in a big way.  Got it.

Finally, there couldn’t be a better time to act.  The feckless weakness of Barry Soetero is obvious.  Not surprised the Russians are laughing at his sanctions.

Someday, if a strong, wise man or woman is President of the U.S. – and moving America back into Superpower power – the two powers could negotiate well together.  We can align on common interests.  We can define special and regional interests.  We can compete in some areas without being a threat to one another.  We can let Ukrainians keep Ukraine where it is Ukrainian - and feel secure.

All in all, there are many teachable moments for International Relations 101.

First among many, Russia is just being Russia.

Catherine knew what she was doing.  Barry doesn't.

Catherine knew what she was doing. Barry doesn’t.

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