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Quitting Time.

I just can't be doing this.

I am spending my days blogging or thinking about blogging or reading other people's blogs or writing comments on other blogs. Enough.

Politics is a drug to me. I have a hard time keeping it at arm's length. I have a hard time not obsessing.

Problem is my day job is writing. I only have so much "writing energy." I can't spend it here. I need to obsess over my real job, not over my hobby. I'm in the middle of a novel and I'm phoning it in. I can't be phoning it in. There are too many people out there willing to kill themselves trying to take my slot on the bookshelf.

So, I'm done. This time for real.

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“Quitting Time.”

  1. Blogger Alan Stewart Carl Says:

    I hear you. Blogging can suck all the writing energy right out of you. And as much as we all enjoy your words (and will miss them), we don't pay you to write them. Go write for people who pay.

    But keep in touch and next time you're in central Texas, drop me a line and we're get a drink or 8.

  2. Blogger amba Says:


    you're right of course . . . (although I'm giving up writing for editing, for a while . . . but maybe if I weren't blogging, the writing drive would go where it should go).

  3. Blogger Tom Strong Says:

    Ah, go write yer book. See you on the other side.

  4. Blogger reader_iam Says:

    Tak: Believe me when I say I saw this post almost immediately after it went up.

    Still don't know how to put into words what I immediately thought.

    Maybe an offline thing.

    For now, three toasts (did I ever mention that I'm a quarter Irish?) to you:

    "Health and life to you;
    The mate of your choice to you;
    Land without rent to you,
    And death in Eirinn."

    "Here's a toast to your enemies' enemies!"

    "Here's to a long life and a merry one.
    A quick death and an easy one.
    A pretty girl and an honest one.
    A cold beer—and another one!"

    I think the spirit of things would permit the substitution of a fine single malt--NOT chilly, please!--for the cold beer.



  5. Anonymous Damien Says:

    When I saw that you had returned to blogging after your last "quit" I had a feeling it wouldn't last long. You'll be missed here in Blogworld; let us at least know when you finish your book will ya? :)

  6. Blogger Objectivist Says:

    That’s too bad. Make it a weekly column at least.
    Please, send out an email when you get back to it.

  7. Blogger Howlin' Hobbit Says:

    I like objectivist's idea.

    If you're ever in the great Pacific NW get in touch. I'll treat you to a scotch and a good stogie.

  8. Blogger cakreiz Says:

    politics is a drug to me I understand, M Tak. It's certainly something that can distract one from details- like making a living. I'd invite you out to the Plains but figure you'll never come out here anyway. So I won't. There. I feel better now.

    I hope the book kicks some financial ass. You deserve it.

  9. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Too bad. The template was so good! Good-bye from the 9 year old webmaster.

  10. Anonymous Walrus Says:

    You're cheating. I've seen you commenting on other blogs. One little compromise leads to another and then another... ;o)

    Best of luck with your book!

  11. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    Oh, common, not even a comment,.. now?

  12. Blogger Tom Strong Says:

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. Anonymous Natalia Says:

    Bah humbug!

    And I had just recently found this blog!

  14. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    Rather than drop off a response on Miss Snark's blog to your December 11 comment, I thought I would say hello to you hear.

    First, I must admit -- I have to admire someone who gives H.L. Mencken his due !

    Second, I also give you kudos for your degree of writing success !

    I do however, want to take issue with your comments concerning Thomas Nelson.

    Here are a couple points to consider:

    1. Their product is "Christian fiction" and "Christian literature." As a Christian publisher, they have a right to establish standards by which such product is created. I am not saying that an atheist can't create Christian literature, per se. But company wide, they will have a better chance of consistently producing "Christian literature" if their writers are Christian believers.

    2. You have in several posts called their policy -- and now the correction to the misinterpretation of their policy -- "un-American." I think you err in this assertion. What defines American ? Is it not the freedom of individuals to choose how they conduct their lives and businesses ? Within, of course, the laws of the land. And are they simply not exercising their right ? Writers who are not Christian and do not meet their standards, in contrast, do not have a right to be offered a publishing contract by Thomas Nelson. Nor do Christian writers for that matter ?

    Can you not, at least, concede this point ?

    Inquiring minds want to know !

  15. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    here, not hear.

  16. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    What defines American ? Is it not the freedom of individuals to choose how they conduct their lives and businesses ? Within, of course, the laws of the land.

    The laws of the land changed because we came to understand that it was wrong -- immoral, not just unconstitutional -- to divide the American people up by race, by religion, by national origin or gender.

    Look around the world. Do you not see that the problems of the human race are most concentrated in those places where men are divided by sect or ethnicity? Sudan, Iraq, Pakistan. . . There's quite a list, as I'm sure you know.

    Conservatives make the argument - correctly in my opinion - that multi-culturalism as a theory is injurious to the unity of a people. Conservatives argue -- correctly again, in my opinion -- for a common American language because what unites us should always be emphasized over what divides us. Why should we seek to unite all Americans across racial and ethnic lines only to divide them by faith?

    These aren't just legal or political questions, they are moral issues. Are we not, at the end of the day, all American citizens? Then why, given that Nelson can accomplish its goals by looking at the product rather than the man, should they make a point of rejecting the objective criterion in favor of the more divisive sectarian criterion?

    To argue that it is more likely that a Christian will write a convincing Christian book is probably true. By the same logic it is likely that an agnostic or atheist will write a more convincing science book. It's more likely that a black writer will write a convincing black character, that a straight writer will do a better job portraying straight characters and on and on.

    Is the way to handle this to ask a writer whether he is black enough to write black? Shall we exclude Christians from writing about Jews? (That would put quite a crimp in Nelson's list, no?)

    The relevant issue is not the writer, but the writing. Ezra Pound was a Nazi sympathizer: also a hell of a poet. We can both sit here all day and name writers of great talent who failed as moral men. What matters, the writing, or the author? When you read Hamlet do you care whether Shakespeare dallied with women not his wife?

    I was under the impression that Christians understood that men are by their nature fallible creatures, prone to moral failings. Men are also capable of genius. Moral perfection and genius generally don't go hand in hand.

    And if you believe that talent is a gift from God, but that men are sinners, is it not logical to focus on receiving God's gift of genius even from sinners?

    It is profoundly American to believe that great things can come from prince or pauper, from black or white, from native born or immigrant, from Christian, Jew, Muslim and even atheist.

    Nelson has a perfect right to judge manuscripts. They have no right to judge faith.

  17. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    You make several good points.

    I am not sure, however, that Thomas Nelson is really trying to judge your faith or my faith. I think they are more likely just trying to align the values of their authors with the values of their customers.

    I do think there may be a fundamental disagreement between us as to what it means to be an American.

    To my mind, the entire set of laws, customs, and social mores that define America arise from a Christian world view that was dominant in the minds and hearts of most of our Founding Fathers.

    I'll grant you that Jefferson and Adams and Franklin were Deists, but the core of American values are Christian.

    That we are trending towards the civic disintegration that Robert Putnam talks about in his book Bowling Alone is merely a reflection that these Christian principles are not practiced by the majority of our fellow citizens. I know you like to cite the 80 per cent Christian number, but look around you and ask yourself this question -- do 80 per cent of us try to conduct our lives based on Christian principles ? I think not.

    And the core problem I see is the rise of value less Secularism. Where everything is allowed, and therefore there are no standards whatsoever.

    You are right about this.

    Christians should recognize the fallibility of man. We see that all around us every day in professed Christians as well as non believers.

    I am all for inclusiveness as a society, but would you not agree that there is a difference between inclusiveness that embraces our values and inclusiveness that destroys not only our values but our lives ?

    And here, quite frankly, I speak of the danger posed by the spread of Islam.

    Is this not a group whose beliefs call for the destruction of our civilization ? And if is so, should we not defend ourselves at all points ?

    I would be curious as to your thoughts on this.

  18. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    It's simple nonsense to pretend that the United States -- let alone the Founders -- somehow represent uniquely Christian values. Rather the contrary.

    All monotheisms are intolerant toward competing religions. The Constitition by contrast is explicitly tolerant. There is no suggestion in the Bible that Jews or Christians should be religiously tolerant, but the Founders insisted on it.

    Christ came down very hard on the rich. But we're a country that loves the rich.

    Christ set aside the rigid, draconian laws of the OT, emphasizing love and forgiveness. Our national laws are rigid by design and have nothing to do with love.

    Of the Ten Commandments only a handful are codified in American law. In fact, American law specifically excludes more commandments than it codifies. Is there a law demanding that we honor God the Father? No. A law demanding we keep the Sabbath? No. Idolatry? No law. Honor our parents? No. Coveting? No problem. Adultery? There's not a single national law on the topic.

    The commandments that are encoded in US law are encoded in every nation's laws: theft, perjury, murder. Japan outlaws the same. Are they a Judeo-Christian nation? In fact, each of those prohibitions is encoded in Hamurabi's code.

    Do the math yourself. Go down your list of 10 commandments. Tell me all the ones that are represented in American law. I believe the count is 3 out of 10.

    Now go through the beatitudes and tell me all the ones you think are somehow represented in American legal or political thinking. Meekness? Hah. Poverty? Right.

    Sorry, but no serious examination of the facts leads to the conclusion that the Founders in any way, shape or form intended this to be a Christian nation. They specifically intended this country to be secular. Which may be why the name "Jesus" or "Christ" appears nowhere in the Constitution, and the only references to religion exist to place limits on same.

    The opposite of radical Islam is not radical Christianity. The opposite of intolerance is tolerance, the opposite of tyranny is liberty, the opposite of clan and sect is not denomination, it is the individual. Tolerance, liberty and individual rights are not Christian values, they are enlightenment values.

    And your notion that the secular are without values is offensive. I go entire weeks without committing murder. And I, sir, act morally without the threat of Hell or the promise of Heaven to force my hand.

  19. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    You can assert that it is nonsense that the United States represents uniquely Christian values, but that is not my argument exactly. My argument is that our culture and are government is at its core based on Christian values. Read any of the writings of Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Washington and you cannot avoid this conclusion.

    I will grant you that Thomas Paine was devoid of Christian principles, but to consider him anything but the match that lit the powder keg ready to explode would be to give him much more credit than he deserves.

    The founders did not intend the nation to be a Christian theocracy -- on that we can agree. But read de Toqueville on the importance of the Christian church in providing the glue that held communities and the country together.

    Read any of the Founders, and they comment incessantly about the importance of the belief in God and attendance at Church. John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Governeur Morris said this over and over again.

    Your assertion that the United States-- at least the "ideal" of the United States-- does not represent Christian values because Jesus "came down hard on the rich" misunderstands the Christian view of money and wealth. It is not money itself that is "evil", but the love of money, right ?

    And you misread my comment on secularism.

    I did not say all secularism was value less. I said that we currently are awash in value less secularism, as opposed to what might be called "value" secularism. Upon which I imagine you could elaborate in some detail.

    Your serve.

  20. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    I did it again.

    our culture and our government, not "are" government.

  21. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”

    It doesn't say anything about the love of money. That's what you might call an "after market" addition. Jesus said one thing, but American protestants need it to mean something else. So they rewrite it in their heads.

    You stil have not explained the connection of Christianity to our national character. You haven't explained what you mean by Christian values. Name a single "Christian value" that is at the core of this country and is not a universal value, or a value that long predated Christ. Just one.

    Yes, most of the Founders were believers. And?

    They were believers who had the historical sense -- long since lost in conservative religious circles -- to understand that when you put religion and politics in a room together only politics comes out alive. The Founders had a long view. They did not seek to use the government to shove religious views down people's throats precisely because they valued religion.

    In short, they were more historically aware, more philosophically grounded and wiser than contemporary Christians who seek to abscond with their legacy and turn them into apologists for conservative protestantism that is now little more than an auxiliary of the Republican Party.

  22. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    I will leave a longer post later, but thought I would return serve a bit here.

    Unlike you, I am as yet an "unpublished" author, so I am wading through the fun of FINISHING that great American novel while I ponder the growing list of query rejections.
    Actually, I don't ponder them. Reaganesque, I just forget about them completely.

    It seems your main objection to Christianity in the modern world is your perception that it is constantly being inserted into the political arena.

    My point is that it is not WITHIN the political arena where Christianity is most powerful. It is within the every day civic life of communities across the country where Christianity -- in its best form -- has the greatest impact on our society.

    More on this later, for now, it's back to making a living and then off to more wordsmithing.

  23. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    What are you writing?

  24. Blogger Michael Patrick Leahy Says:

    A novel of antebellum New Orleans and the Civil War, titled Fort Desperate.

    Think Jeff Shaara of Gods and Generals meets Robert Hicks of The Widow of the South but set in Louisiana.

    More info on my website at http://www.michaelpatrickleahy.com or my blog at http://michaelpatrickleahy.blogspot.com

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