Archive for January, 2010

J.D. Salinger: The Catcher in the Sky

There is no character in literature that I instantly identified with more than Holden Caulfield in J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye.

Salinger passed away this week, at the age of 91. A comprehensive and accurate article on his life and work is on Wikipedia.

On November 6, 1999, I wrote the following five-star review of The Catcher in the Rye, with the subject line “A story of a grief observed”:

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the half dozen books which I’ve read over a hundred times in the 30 or so years since I first encountered it. Being a troubled teenager when I read it, I identified with Holden, and when I became a writer, it was hard for me at first to shake Holden’s narrative voice and find my own. I’ve studied the book to death, and read most of the critical books about it and its author, J.D. Salinger, but somehow everyone has focused on the book’s language and Holden’s teenage alienation, without ever getting their brains around the central point to the book.

Holden Caulfield is a teenage boy who’s lost his younger brother, Allie, and is terrified that something equally horrible might happen to his younger sister, Phoebe. All his obsessions — the title of the book itself — have to do with his inability to deal with the grief of his loss, his distrust of a universe that could do this, and his wish that he could wrap his arms around innocent children like his lost brother and protect them forever — protect them from falling off a cliff as “the catcher in the rye.”

You can see this influence most visible in my earliest finished short story, “The Second Remove,” published in my anthology, Nasty, Brutish, and Short Stories.

It’s not just The Catcher in the Rye that I read and studied. Excluding the bootleg release of Salinger’s uncollected magazine fiction, I read everything by and about J.D. Salinger that was carried by the New York Public Library.

I read the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P Kinsella — a novel in which the viewpoint character, who is also named Kinsella, kidnaps J.D. Salinger to take him to a baseball game, and I corresponded with W.P. Kinsella about Salinger. When Shoeless Joe was made into the classic movie Field of Dreams J.D. Salinger became a fictitious novelist played by James Earl Jones.

Another great movie, Finding Forrester, also fictionalized J.D. Salinger, as a reclusive one-novel author played by Sean Connery.

I have a cousin who roomed with J.D. Salinger’s daughter, Margaret, at college and who visited with J.D. Salinger, and through her parents I received a lot of inside information about the reclusive author.

Very early in his career, Salinger met Ernest Hemingway, who took the younger writer under his wing, corresponding with him for years afterward. But J.D. Salinger did not pay this forward, shunning correspondence from younger writers for most of his life. I was one of those younger Salinger-influenced writers who tried and failed.

J.D. Salinger is one of four authors I’ve considered my literary quartet of major influences, the other three being C.S. Lewis, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ayn Rand. Lewis died when I was ten, and I never got the chance to correspond with him, though I have met and corresponded with his stepson, Douglas Gresham. I interviewed Robert A. Heinlein in 1973, and we became friends to the end of his life, and both he and his wife, Virginia, were generous in their friendship. Also in 1973 I had the chance to argue on the phone for about four hours with Ayn Rand.

J.D. Salinger was the only one of the four alive during my writing career with whom I never managed to make a personal contact.

I’ve told friends — only half-jokingly — for many years that I intended to write a novel that combined Salinger’s approach to writing young characters with the approach Robert A. Heinlein took in young-adult novels like Between Planets and Tunnel in the Sky — and that I was going to title the novel, The Catcher in the Sky.

I consider J.D. Salinger to be one of the greatest fiction writers who ever lived, as a storyteller, as a master craftsman, as a stylist, and as a creator of lifelike characters. He also had a lot of virtues as a human being. But he was deeply flawed in his choices of how to relate to people who admired his work, and with other writers.

The other three writers in my quartet — C.S. Lewis, Robert A. Heinlein, and Ayn Rand — were all generous with their admirers, and maintained friendships with other writers. All of them were bestselling authors during their lifetimes. All of them had followers as fanatically devoted and persistently intrusive as J.D. Salinger. All of them managed the consequences of celebrity with far more grace and basic human decency.

When it came to dealing with the world, J.D. Salinger was as mean as Ebenezer Scrooge … and no Jacob Marley managed to save him.

J.D. Salinger’s contemptuous regard for his fans is best reflected in his decision never to allow a film adaptation of The Catcher in the Rye. This is usually attributed to a bad film adaptation of his short story, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” made into the mawkish 1949 Susan Hayward soap-opera, My Foolish Heart — which also featured Kent Smith, who the same year played Peter Keating in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.

But that explanation won’t wash.

J.D. Salinger achieved in his lifetime the ultimate bargaining power for the filming of his work, equal to Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling. He could have handpicked the director, the cast, and demanded he be an executive producer with name above the title, and could have had not only final script approval but his own final cut of the movie — something Ayn Rand demanded for Atlas Shrugged and never achieved.

It was just stupid for J.D. Salinger not to choose a Clint Eastwood, a Martin Scorsese, a John Hughes, or a Cameron Crowe to shepherd The Catcher in the Rye to the screen while he was still alive. The movie will eventually be made, even if the world has to wait for the copyright to expire in 2046. Now, the immortal J.D. Salinger will have no more say about who adapts his novel to the screen than William Shakespeare has about Romeo and Juliet and Charles Dickens has about A Christmas Carol.

I’m pretty sure that whatever restrictions Salinger’s will or trust (if he did not die intestate) imposes on his heirs, executor, or trustees — regarding the sale of his literary rights to the movies — would not withstand a court challenge.

So we just might see Taylor Lautner play Holden Caulfield — directed by Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese — after all.

I, for one, can’t wait.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith: Heaven

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Supernatural Law

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 13: Heaven

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Neil, given your experiences, and how you’ve used them to help produce this current work, in terms of novel writing and script writing, why do you think there are almost no stories, at least none that I can find, where a character goes to Hell and can just come back the way characters seem to go to Heaven and don’t stay there?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, of course, there’s one classic version of it, and that’s Orpheus in the Underworld, which has been made into various operas. That’s where I first encountered it. I suppose Inferno — both Dante’s version and then the later re-doing of it by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle — is precisely that of a human being who gets to go to Hell and then come back, maybe not necessarily to Earth, but in the case of Dante you manage to get out and go to Heaven.

But in terms of modern stories, I guess the only one I can really think of here is Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come, where the hero follows his wife from Heaven into Hell to rescue her, which again is an Orpheus story. But in terms of why it’s not done, I don’t know.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Well the Persephone story and in the case of Dante’s Inferno you’re kind of getting a tour of Hell, there are the exceptions admittedly. But it seems like there are a lot of stories about people going to Heaven and they don’t stay, which confuses me because if I ever got to Heaven I would not want to leave. And then you have lots of stories, horror stories especially, nobody gets to leave Hell.

I guess the idea is, if you get to leave Heaven, why would you ever choose to? I guess, maybe, you don’t get to leave Hell because it’s a punishment, like you don’t get to leave prison. But why would anybody choose ever to consciously and deliberately leave Heaven?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, only when the writer writes Heaven in such a way that it’s not worth staying. Which means essentially that what we are doing is we’re encountering stories in which Heaven is a device written by a writer who doesn’t believe in it.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s the thing about your novel. You’re very pro-Heaven, and you very much have the idea that Heaven is a place that you want to stay, and yet the title of your novel is Escape from Heaven because of the plot situation that you’ve got, and the ultimate fate of Earth with the political campaign between Jesus and Lucifer.

But it’s interesting that people who might pick up your book, or see the movie that will eventually be made of Escape from Heaven, could expect this more typical modern idea that when you get to Heaven you can’t wait to leave it. I guess it’s dull or something. That is the opposite, actually, of what you’ve written, despite the fact that your work is entitled Escape from Heaven.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, that’s because my fundamental premise about Heaven is different.

Heaven is supposed to be “perfect.”

Well, if Heaven is “perfect,” we know that perfection means that there is no moving forward. I mean, once you are perfect, why do anything except basically sit around and sip tea? You know, there’s nothing to do. You don’t have to do anything. All your needs are fulfilled. You don’t have any wants. There’s no excitement. And it does come across as dull.

In the same way that when we have the concept of God being “perfect” it makes Him static as well, why should God take any action whatsoever? Why should He create? Why should He do anything, if everything is perfect?

Perfection is death. Perfection is an ending. Perfection is saying you’re done.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: But your Heaven is not perfect.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right! “My” Heaven is not perfect. My Heaven? My portrayal of Heaven, my map of Heaven.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You know what I mean.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. The Heaven in which I am mapping is not mapped to be perfect. The God who I am saying that I have been in communication with is alive, and dynamic, and makes choices, and, therefore, there’s a before and after, better or worse. But there is none of this static idea of perfection. Everything is still alive. Everything is still in play — and I play it that way.

Now. It’s interesting that my view is actually scripturally correct, because not only does the Old Testament show us God changing His mind and “repenting the evil that He thought to do unto His people” — as it says in Exodus — but also, in the last book of the Bible — The Revelation of Saint John the Divine — we are told that there is a war in Heaven, and Heaven is destroyed, and a new Heaven is created afterwards.

People don’t remember that there is a re-creation of Heaven, very much the same way as the restoration of Eden is supposed to be the re-creation of Heaven. There is a fall of Heaven itself, and then a re-creation of Heaven itself, or a new Heaven, a new and better, improved Heaven.

Well, that’s what I portray in my novel.

We have a war in Heaven, which goes back to the dream I had, in which Heaven falls under attack and, in essence, is devastated in this war.

Well, a Heaven which is devastated is not a nice place anymore. It’s not Heaven in the way that we think of Heaven.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It’s not “Heavenly?”

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It’s not “Heavenly,” right. But again, this is playing with words.

If Heaven is a real place, then it is a place that can suffer the same destruction as other real places, such as New York City, being hit on 9/11 and having the Twin Towers disappear.

So when Duj goes there — and he has to escape from it because it’s a war zone — then that accounts for both the experience that I had in my dream in which I had to escape from Heaven which had fallen under attack, and then, in the novel, Duj has to escape from Heaven because it’s fallen under attack.

But the title is also a more general metaphor than that, because — in essence — aren’t so many of us in effect escaping from Heaven?

If, in fact, we don’t like the meal that is set before us — and we reject it — if we don’t like the idea that Earth is not perfect but it is perfecting — it is designed to be a tool to perfect us, an environment in which we play a game to get experience points — to use an old gamer’s metaphor — and what happens afterward is a goal we don’t want, we don’t like God’s plan — how many different ways do we escape from Heaven everyday?

If God says that it takes sperm and ova to have babies — and sperm come from a penis and eggs come from an ovary — and the two of them getting together is what sex is — and yet somebody chooses two women or two men, well, that’s an escape from Heaven.

Not that I’m condemning it as evil or anything like that. I’m simply saying it’s not part of the plan because you don’t get babies from it.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Unless you go to the lab or something like that, which is another escape form Heaven.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, we could argue whether it’s a diversion or part of the learning process, whether it’s Science Lab or not.

Remember, I do believe that we are intended to become gods under God. That is part of the cosmology, and part of the eschatology, that I’m portraying in Escape from Heaven. That, in fact, the whole point of this exercise, both for angels and humans, is that we are going on paths to make us into gods who are capable of having these enormous powers, and using them, and living forever. With all the challenges of that, the challenge of living forever, you have to be the sort of person who can survive living forever without going crazy, in the same way that God had to figure out a way not to go crazy, not to be bored, not to accept perfection as an end.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: So, in essence, it’s also an escape from perfection, and that’s where the story begins.

That’s when things become interesting. And if you believe that we live forever, it basically means that we go through perfection, as a verb, but not end up in it as a noun.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: In other words, “Escape from Heaven” can also mean “escape from the idea of perfection,” because that is static?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now, my last question in this sequence, and this is a psychological question, not scriptural, not based on any of the world’s holy texts.

Neil Schulman, before, during, and after these experiences – psychologically — never seemed to accept the idea of Hell. Give me psychological or philosophical reasons but not scriptural reasons — why do you think there is no Hell?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Wow. Well, for one thing, I guess I’m optimistic enough to think that God, sooner or later, will get through to us. I don’t believe in a punitive or penal philosophy to begin with. I don’t think that God goes out of His way to administer punishment. I think that, sometimes, He steps out of the way and lets us suffer the consequences of our own actions, and that is in fact punishment. But there is no necessity for creating the prison called Hell, to condemn prisoners forever, to accomplish that because what, in fact would be the point?

Let’s look at it in terms of capital punishment here on Earth. Capital punishment is a contradiction in terms, because if you are killed the punishment is over. In fact, you have destroyed the punishment by ending the person who is capable of regret or perceiving it. Once you have eliminated that which is capable of perceiving punishment, you have eliminated punishment.

So, in the same sense, that it is only something which is able to reform the criminal or, in this particular context, the sinner, would there be any meaning to the concept.

Now if you want to argue that Hell is a reform school, a penitentiary — with “penitent” being the root word — that you reach the point where you are penitent for what you have done and attempt to make reparations — if you want to argue that is what Hell is then, okay, I don’t have a problem with Hell. I think the Roman Catholics would call that Purgatory though.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, I like what you’re saying. It’s like when we talk about libertarian as capital “L” or little “l” or the State as capital “S” or little “s”. What you’re saying is small “h” hell, you can see that, but capital “H” Hell, you don’t see why that would be necessary, and what purpose it would serve for God. Is that right?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. In other words, the idea of eternal punishment — I have said this before — seems to me to be such a dumb idea that only someone who lives a short human lifespan could have such contempt for the idea of eternity as to think of eternal punishment.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That sets up my final question for I Met God by J. Neil Schulman. Here is my final and obvious question: do you think, expect, or hope that you will meet God again in this lifetime or do you think the next time you meet God will be after this lifetime?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: You’re asking me about my hope and my expectation.

Well, of course my hope is to meet God anytime I can, and if I can do it while I’m still alive, great. And if I have to wait until after I’m in the next life, great.

I still feel I have work to do here and so, if I were to die soon, I would die regretfully because there are still things I need to do. I have a daughter who I want to see to adulthood. I have a mother who I’m still taking care of. I have works which I still want to write and — very frankly and very selfishly — I want to be here to see Escape from Heaven produced as a movie and done right. That’s something I want to hang around to do.

Also, when I die, I want to die thin. That’s just a very vain thing and, dumb as it is, I’d like to get myself back into shape before I go. Leave a beautiful corpse, as they say, for the short amount of time before it turns back into dust.

But, I’m not ready to go, but if I do go, then I know that where I go next is going to be exciting, and I’m confident that God’s going to be there and it’ll be a return home.

I’ve already been shown my home on the other side. So I know that it’s going to be someplace that’ll be very much like a kid being offered dessert and then turning away from it. You know, “You don’t want dessert?” “No, I don’t want dessert! I want to stay here!” That kind of thing.

So, again, I may not have my phobia about death anymore, but I’m not ready to embrace it yet.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Thank you, Brad.


I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith: Supernatural Law

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Doctrines

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 12: Supernatural Law

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I think that God, in His original state — I talked about the original state and then the developed state – God in His original state was the one being who violated the first axiom of Korzybskian epistemology. When God was both the only Consciousness and the only Existent, the map was the territory.

At the point where God allowed Himself to think fantasy, in other words to think thoughts which He did not put into effect — for Him to contemplate without taking action — those became in essence, images, maps, those became unreality. I do see a distinction. And that, in essence becomes the beginning of the development.

In other words, where God starts thinking free from His own body, starts thinking of possibilities other than His reality, in essence He becomes non-mundane.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: So that would be a crucial dividing line between before and after, in God’s time-line, in His own individual personal time-line.

Now after that, however, the idea being that when He fissions off other souls from Himself — or fissions them off and allows them to develop independent from Himself — we’re real. I do not believe that you can have a living intelligence which is not real. I do not believe that you can have an intelligence which is only virtual. There has to be some physical reality to it.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Well, once you give birth to a child, you can’t just suddenly recall it. And you’re saying, in a way, if we’re all God’s children, we’re all real once we exist. You can’t just suddenly recall your children — well maybe God could but He doesn’t — because you also believe God operates under natural law.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. And let me explicate on that, since we’re bringing that out.

While I agree with the traditional view of God as the Creator — that God creates natural law, that God is the author of natural law — He is not the author of all natural law.

I can see Him when He, perhaps, goes into the primal atom — or whatever the current scientific paradigm is — before the Big Bang, and in essence designs into it what’s going to happen when the fireworks go off. What the chemical compounds are going to be, whether you’re going to have atoms and electrons and molecules and physics and gravity and space and time and all these sorts of things within a particular closed space-time continuum — or another sort of continuum which may not even have time or space as part of it. Now I can’t conceive of that. Maybe God can. But nonetheless, when God creates a closed continuum, God is the author of the natural laws of that universe and if those natural laws have as part of the primal mathematics within it that it will reach a point where life will evolve, then God is the author of life within that continuum.

I can see a universe in which all of the development of life is in the seed, that God, in essence, puts the DNA for us in the very DNA of the universe itself. I can see that as a possibility.

But where I differ from most theologians — it may even be all theologians I don’t know any other –

Again we have to keep in mind that I’m not a religious scholar. I’m simply a guy who thinks, and who says that God talked with him. So there are vast areas of ignorance in me, dealing with some of the technicalities of other viewpoints, of traditional religions or theologies.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You have less to unlearn.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I have a lot of Zen going for me in that sense.

But what I’m saying is, where I think that I disagree with most others who conceive of God, is that I see God being subject to the Law of Identity, because He exists.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Which means there’s a meta-natural law that even God subscribes to?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. And we could call that, perhaps, a supernatural law because it is above the natural laws which God creates.

So therefore, the supernatural law is, perhaps starting with some of the laws which Aristotle identified — the Law of Existence, the Law of Non-contradiction, the Law of Identity — these would be laws that God, being an existent, would be subject to, and would not be able to violate.

And I think C.S. Lewis accepted that. When Lewis says that not every sentence that starts with “God can” is a possible real sentence, Lewis himself is putting forward the idea that God can’t do something which is self-contradictory.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, that’s right. He’s at least suggesting it very strongly.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. So again, this is why all sorts of theology which as we have discussed — not necessarily in these recordings but which we have discussed — are not necessarily even scriptural, making claims of God of being Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: — which you’re not the first to point out —

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I say He was in His primal state, but not now.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, you’re not the first to point out those three things can not coexist, in terms of the universe we know.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And when I say that the concept of creation out of nothingness — creation ex nihilo — is ridiculous, that it violates the Laws of Existence and the Laws of Identity to which even God is subject, I say that God can create out of very little. He may be able to create out of quantum probabilities — in other words, something that would look to us like practically nothing, like waves or dust or even subatomic something — but nonetheless, He would be starting with something and imposing pattern on it, imposing form on it, and the void would not be totally void — it would just be formless.

So the creation is taking the formless and imposing a new form on it or taking an existing form and reforming it.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Well, as a matter of fact, the opening line of Genesis describes God “re-creating” the Earth. There is no Biblical scholar worth his salt — Lot’s wife not withstanding — who does not admit that the opening lines of Genesis — “The Earth was without form and void” — it is describing the re-creation of the Earth. There is no doubt.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily have to use the word re-creation, in the sense of, would you say that a painter who starts with a blank canvas is re-creating a painting?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It’s not a blank canvas, “The Earth was formless” suggests that material of Earth is already there.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, the material. In other words, in the same sense that a sculptor comes to a block of marble —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: If you paint a painting on top of an older painting, isn’t that the use of the materials that are there?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Absolutely! But it is also true that if God were starting with a tabula rasa — if He were starting with a blank slate that —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It’s works just as well for a re-creation of Earth.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It works either way. It’s not a distinction that we find it necessary to concern ourselves with.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It doesn’t tell us whether this Earth was the only Earth God has created.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. Now, again, I believe that this is possibly His earliest creation of this sort. That He had never done something like this before. And the reason I think that is that His learning curve is so steep.


Next in I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is Chapter XIII: Heaven

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Any Profit in Being a Prophet?

How do you pay your bills? Got a job? A stipend? Live off an annuity? Receive interest income? Collect rent? Turn in recycling? Stand on street corners with a sign?

Me, I don’t have those sources of income, although earlier in life I held a lot of odd jobs like most people struggling to establish themselves in any hard-to-break-in profession.

I make things and try to sell them, things that are mostly written or filmed.

I’m an artist and a communicator.

Of all the various job titles I’ve put on my resumé, this is what it comes down to. I’m a writer but only on rare occasions has someone else hired me to write.

I’ve written, produced, and directed a movie — but I hired myself on that gig.

So if I want to stay in business, it’s Job One to create a brand out of the name I stamp on my products: J. Neil Schulman.

On occasion, when I had money, I’ve engaged the services of professional publicists for projects I’ve worked on — most recently, in 2007, when Nichelle Nichols and I were bringing our movie, Lady Magdalene’s, to the DragonCon in Atlanta.

But most of the time, I’m on my own. If I don’t promote my brand, nobody else will. I’ve had to learn the skill sets of writing news releases and ad copy, graphic arts production, website design, and publishing tools.

That’s why I have lots of websites promoting me and my products.

That’s why I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, IMDb, Withoutabox, and elsewhere.

That’s why I spent years of my life working to start up media companies to open up new distribution channels that don’t require millions of dollars in capitalization.

A lot of that work was in the field of eBooks — but that word hadn’t yet been invented when I started my first company to try doing it in 1987. Back then I had to find my own marketing label for this new product, and I called them “paperless books.”

Yesterday Steve Jobs of Apple stood in front of assembled media who had gathered because he can afford his own publicists, and showed off his new product, the Apple iPad. It’s just about the ideal device for reading paperless books. I know because I’d needed such a device to make paperless books as attractive a product as printed books, going back to 1989, when I first started selling them.

Here is a description I wrote in an email on July 23, 1997, of what an eBook reader would have to be:

I have always thought the e-book reader needed the following features:

Weight — no more than 2 lbs (the weight of a large hardcover) with under 1 pound preferred (the weight of an average hardcover).

Screen size needs to be about 9″ vertical and 6″ horizontal, with the maximum dimensions of the device being 10″ X 10″ X 1″. The space under the screen needs a touch-control mousepad and some basic function keys like arrows, home, end, page up, page-down. The QWERTY keyboard should be a pressure-sensitive slate hidden inside the device and slide out when needed. The screen should be a good quality color-VGA backlit screen. There shouldn’t be anything like a flip up or flip out cover or anything that would make it inconvenient to read while lying down or in cramped quarters. It should operate for about five or six hours on a battery charge; and be able to shove in a replacement battery pack in seconds.

The software? Probably the Mac OS or Windows 95 or whatever succeeds them in the marketplace. The software needs to be able to run web browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer, Adobe Acrrobat’s reader, and probably MS Word 6.0 or later — the three current distribution formats.

There needs to be an easy way to get data in and out, and save to disk: probably an internal modem or a PCMCIA card port. And, it would be nice if there were a floppy drive so books could be easily transferred from other laptops and desktops.

In other words, it needs to be a fully functional handheld computer, but optimized for reading rather than other uses.

Yep. And, it needs to sell for $500 or less.

THEN we’ll have a device that can compete with printed books.

I put that on my Facebook page yesterday, with a link to Apple’s product page for the iPad.

I also sent it out in an email to friends and business associates with the subject line, “J. Neil Schulman, prophet again!”

Yes, the subject line was patting myself on the back.

Yes, it was blatant self-promotion.

Yes, it was a bit over the top.

Yes, it was designed to grab attention.

I did it because if I don’t promote my brand myself, nobody else will.

I did it because if I don’t take credit, there’s no Santa Claus to give it to me wrapped up for Christmas.

And if my brand can’t become popular, there’s no chance for me to pay my bills with the literary and other media products I stick my brand on … and my voice is silenced to speak out for any cause or issue that’s on my mind.

I can’t afford to be a prophet if I can’t make a profit.

Yet, I got the following email in response, today, from David Nolan. He’s known as the founder of the Libertarian Party in 1972, and there’s a graphic called the Nolan Chart which is supposed to define who’s a libertarian and who isn’t.

Here’s David Nolan’s response to my email:

Well, gosh, Neil. When I was about 15 years old, half a century ago, I wrote a short story in which I predicted that credit cards would replace paper money. Maybe I should send out a message saying “Nolan prophetic once again!” Or maybe I’d just look like an ass if I did.

Wow. Harsh. Buzz-kill.

Another old friend of mine, Emmy-winning film producer Mike McNulty, sent me this response:

And so why didn’t you build one a dozen years ago? Ahh, that’s where the magic comes in, huh Neil.

Yeah. But that “magic” requires capital, and I didn’t have that.

So, one more “friend” trying to take me down a peg.

I did get one email that read, “You should write to Steve Jobs about your visionary tech ideas, and verifying your early involvement. Someone like you is just weird enough that it is conceivable that Apple might have interest in you as a consultant. I’m serious.”

Now that was a picker-upper. That one made my day.

Paraphrasing Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in The Godfather: Part II: This is the business I’ve chosen.

I learned a long time ago that jabs come with the territory.

But I can do without “friends” who tear me down just because I got one right.

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A Five-Point Plan to Save America, Haiti, and the World

I’m not an economist, but I have studied economics.

I’ve been described as a science-fiction writer and a futurist.

More than a couple of times I’ve made projections about the future — not only in fiction, but also in business plans — that have turned out close to the mark.

I’ve come up with one or two billion-dollar market cap ideas that made billions of dollars … for someone else.

These are the credentials I’m standing on when I offer a solution to the political and economic crisis that has weakened the economy of that geo-political entity called the United States, but which in reality is comprised of people, what they do, what they have access to, what they count on, and what is expected of them.

The United States of America as a geo-political entity is doomed.

That sector of the American economy tied to the entitlements and obligations of its federal and state governments — and whose capital and obligations are calculated in terms of a dollar issued by its secretive central bank — is “upside down.” Its debt and obligations far exceed the capital owned by and current productive capacity of its people.

The two alternatives, when reduced to essentials, come down to either a bankruptcy involving a repudiation of debts and entitlements — which means some people are going to be thrown to the wolves, and many will actually die — or a bankruptcy involving a reorganization that can lead to a real recovery.

This second plan involves risk and courage. But if it’s put into action, economic salvation lies this way because it relies on the one proven cure for any sort of poverty: the creation of new wealth.

Discussing only currently existing debts, obligations, and entitlements — which are the limits of all mainstream political, economic, and financial debates — is moving around the deck chairs on the Titanic. It’s playing zero-sum or negative-sum games in which the outcomes are already known: chaotic collapse.

Until now the collapse has been put off by a Ponzi scheme in which new marks were found to pay dividends to the older marks.

But the mathematics of all Ponzi schemes reach a point where the number of new victims needed to keep the scam going exceeds the number of new victims available.

We’re there.

The only benevolent solution is to close out the game — so no more new victims are added — and simultaneously to prevent the pyramid collapsing in on itself so rapidly that the victims are thrown to the wolves, to live or die.

I propose here not the anarchistic solution of allowing a full-on rapid collapse with the chaos that would follow starving millions of victims but a minarchistic Five-Point Plan to capitalize the creation of new real wealth with the slow retirement of current debts, obligations, and entitlements.

Here are the essentials of the Five-Point Plan.

1. The free sector of the economy must be immediately capitalized with new real wealth. Much of this wealth exists in exploitable resources currently under the control of the federal and state governments. This includes mineral and energy exploitables that can be developed on land currently claimed by the federal and state governments. This land and these resources need to be devolved to the private sector, but kept out of the hands of economic oligarchs who will continue to keep them unexploited. I propose a national lottery for private ownership of these resources in which only real American citizens — not corporations, foundations, or other fictitious entities — may participate. Then the new, private owners must be given the freedom to develop and exploit these resources.

2. An economy grows when new products are brought to market, but capital is required to invent, develop, and market these new products. Economic action free from the tax of bureaucratic paperwork and entry barriers, burdens of taxes and fees, and the hidden tax of monetary inflation can enable much of this. But much capital is currently tied up in the operation of government, itself. Merely eliminating government jobs creates more unemployed people — and repudiating their pensions creates a counter-revolutionary class that would poison-pill any possibility of economic freedom. I therefore propose that instead of continuing to pay bureaucrats to interfere with progressive capitalization of new products they be given the opportunity to become wealthy themselves by converting the budgets of government departments into prize monies available to current government employees when they entrepreneur new businesses that successfully find customers willing to pay for them.

3. Calculation of wealth must begin to be based on actual market value rather than the bookeeping fictions of the Federal Reserve Banking system, which builds in the hidden theft of having increasing amounts of ledger balances chasing a relatively smaller amount of real goods. A date certain must be set on which only actual commodities such as precious metals may be used as money.

4. The size of government and its operations must be regressive rather than progressive. A two-percent reduction per annum in the real budgets of all government entities — and a devolution of services from the public to the free and competitive private sector — should work. This will require closing foreign military bases and retiring the current policy of foreign wars, world policing, and foreign military entanglements — in other words, a return to the United States operating within the confines of its constitution. National defense must be defensive rather than preemptive. Defense against terrorism must rely on a well-armed and well-regulated militia — that means American civilians like those who stopped al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on United Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 and on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009. And, yes, American military personnel must be armed at all times. No more Fort Hoods.

5. It’s necessary to look beyond the earth’s atmosphere to produce sources of new wealth. Some of the current real capital — land and mineralogical wealth currently under the control of the federal government — must be allocated to prize-money for achievements in the fields of lowering the cost to lift payloads into orbit and beyond, produce goods in space that can be sold on earth, and create industrial and colonial habitats in space.

For anyone looking at this Five-Point Plan who thinks it’s undesirable, impractical, or otherwise unachievable, consider the alternative:

Collapse, chaos and violent revolution.

Not just in the United States, but everywhere dependent on the health of the United States economy.

Haiti. Ethiopia. Russia. Saudi Arabia. Japan. China. Malaysia.

Choose your future.

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I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith: Doctrines

Go to book’s beginning.
Read the previous chapter Heresies

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 11: Doctrines

BRAD LINAWEAVER: We’ve talked about when you were an atheist. We’ve talked about when you were an agnostic. We’ve talked about when you became a theist. What I want to suggest to you in this question — which I think is the most important question I will ask you in this series of questions in this entire interview: isn’t it right to say that after you had contact with God, and started making these discoveries — or started having these experiences — that in one extremely specific sense, when you became a theist you also became an atheist again about one thing?

You are now a more-convinced atheist than even most atheists, of knowing certain beliefs of what God is to be false. In other words, when a person has an experience of God, doesn’t that force him into knowing certain views of God must be untrue. And if that is so, isn’t that the ultimate irony, that the deep experience of God must make you an atheist about other people’s absolutely false impressions, if it runs too counter from what you have experienced?

Clearly your view of traditional religion’s misinterpretations of God, from your experience, would make you an atheist toward many traditional religious views of God, only because you’ve experienced God and he’s not that guy! That is my primary question in this book.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It’s a brilliant question. I love the irony of it.

God is an existent. He has His own identity. The law of identity says both what a thing is and what it is not. It is the sum of its characteristics, the sum of its particulars.

And God is the sum of His own particulars, He has a specific identity. The Law of Identity says that a thing is its characteristics.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And God is His characteristics. He is a specific thing. Just as you, Brad Linaweaver, cannot, at the same moment, be both a communist and an anticommunist.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: You cannot both be a libertarian and a non-libertarian. You cannot both be wearing charcoal pants and red pants — unless you’re wearing one over the other.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But the point is, the sum of whatever you are — the fact that you wear glasses, the fact that your hair is a particular color and is a particular pattern — these are the specific particulars that make you you.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The choices that you make, the decisions that you make, the opinions that you have, the jokes that you tell. All of this sums up the particulars which become Brad Linaweaver.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And God is the same way.

The particulars of His choices, of His thoughts, of the consequences of what He does, are the particulars that make God God as a person.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: But when you meet Brad Linaweaver, you are meeting somebody, and noticing some of those characteristics and noticing some of those particulars, that make up that character. Is that not true?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: And therefore, having an experience of God starts giving you an impression of God in the same way that having contact with a fellow human being gives you an impression of that fellow human being, correct?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is correct. My experience of meeting God is the same as meeting any other human being I’ve ever met with the one difference that there was not, outside of me, an observable physicality.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: So here’s the logical corollary to the other question: here it is.

You are not a New Age mystic, though many people might consider you that, who do not pay attention to what you’re saying. Even if this book is being sold in that part of the bookstore, you are not New Age because you are being Aristotelian and Randian about the Law of Identity. When you are saying that God cannot be a certain thing and its opposite, simultaneously, or anything you want God to be — to be more precise I’ll repeat that, anything you want God to be — at that moment you part company with most of the so-called New Age mystics and it puts you in the company of traditional orthodox religion.

But you are not done because Part Two is that your encounter with the “characteristic particulars” of God show you — from your point of view, which is the only point of view you have to work with — that the claims which traditional orthodox religions make about God are mistaken. They are wrong. They are not talking about the God you have encountered.

And for the same reason, that you cannot be a New Age mystic and say God can be kind and cruel, and wet and hot, and tall and short, all simultaneously — for the same reasons you reject the New Age God–can-be-anything position — you are in direct conflict with all the traditional religions of the world to the extent that the God you have discovered — a God who’s a libertarian, a God who is even subject to natural law himself — is not the God of the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims or any other religion I have ever studied.

That is the corollary to my big question.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The God who I have met is the God of the Jews, the Muslims, the Christians and all the others. But they run away.

The doctrines — the articles of faith that you must adhere to – “I accept Israel along with God!” to be a Jew, “I accept Jesus as my personal Savior!” in order to be a Christian. All of these things are external to the attempt to accept the reality of what’s going on.

In the same way, we are told in the Old Testament that the Hebrews went to Moses and said, “Don’t have God talk to us again! Have Him talk only to you! We can’t take this!”

A lot of religion is substituting tradition, ritual, form, performance — anything — to give them the impression that they are obeying this God, but the last thing that they want is the personal contact because that’s dangerous — that’s scary.

Let me put it another way.

Suppose you had a child who was orphaned, and that child always wanted to meet his parents, and then, some day, discovered that he wasn’t, in fact, orphaned, but that he’d been placed in an orphanage and his parents were still alive.

Over his entire life, he has built up all these expectations and beliefs and ideals, and images and stories and fantasies –about what his parents will be and who they will be … when he finally meets his parents.

And he leaves the orphanage, and moves in with them, and his parents are real.

His parents are grownups, and when he does something that they don’t like, they spank him. They’re capable of delivering pain.

And he realizes something about his parents that he didn’t fantasize about: his parents are fundamentally dangerous.

Now C.S. Lewis — when he describes Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia — a phrase over and over and over again throughout The Chronicles of Narnia is: he is not a tame lion.

When Jill Pole in The Silver Chair meets Aslan — not knowing who He is, she asks, “Do you eat girls?” and Aslan says, “I’ve swallowed up entire kingdoms, boys and girls, men and women.”

This is not somebody who’s trying to make you comfortable with the situation.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s Jehovah’s destruction of people in the Old Testament, isn’t it?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. God — if real, if not merely a myth, if not just a story, if not a creation of religion — is fundamentally dangerous because He has power and His own will, and we are less powerful and our wills can be conquered by His decisions.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You know where the phrase “God fearing Christian” comes from?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: They’re afraid of God and think that God is scarier than the devil!

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, right. Okay. And the fear of God is, in some sense, something that must be overcome in order to meet God.

Now, let me go back to your original point — which I love — the idea that I’m an atheist who knows God, and is an advocate for God.

If you take it, I am not an a-Deist — I’m not without God — I am an a-theist, in the sense of…

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Without theology! You are without theology!

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Without theology, right!

BRAD LINAWEAVER: This would be a different definition of “atheist” that would actually make more sense than how the word is normally used.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: In other words, if we look at it not in the metaphysical sense but in an epistemological sense, that I am not rejecting God. I am rejecting the maps.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That regarding religion’s maps of God, I’m being a cartographer and I’m laying them out on a table. And I’m saying, “Yes, this is right here. This is right here. No, that’s wrong!” I’m correcting the maps.

I’m looking at the maps, and I’m saying, “This matches up with my experience, with what I know. This is wrong. This is impossible. God couldn’t possibly be this, or this, or this.”

So, in essence, I find myself outside the religious traditions, even though I am at the center of all of what they say their core belief is.

Because, I reject Judaism but I accept the God of the Jews.

I reject Christianity but I accept the God of the Christians.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You can say the same for Islam too.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I reject Islam but I accept the God of Islam.

I have been less concerned with labels for a while now, and I had to be, because I realized that I was more concerned with being true to my principles than being true to my label. And again, this is a theme which goes through a lot of what I’m going to say.

I was not concerned: am I still a Jew?

I was not concerned — if I bring Jesus Christ into the picture — am I now a Christian?

It’s interesting to contemplate, but it’s not important to me. What’s important to me is: am I accurately apprehending the reality of what God is and what He is saying?

Both Jews and Christians, today, act as if God and Jesus are historical figures and not active in our daily lives. If you pray, maybe a very tiny miracle might happen, occasionally. But it’s not something to be expected in the same way that you are a blind man walking around when Jesus is doing His ministry. You heard the rumor that here is this man who can cure the blind, and you actually find Him.

And He goes up to you and He can.


Next in I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is Chapter XII: Supernatural Law

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith: Heresies

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Read the previous chapter Collaboration

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 10: Heresies

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Neil, in one of your interviews with Jack Landman on CyberCity, you and he were discussing Escape from Heaven as a book about God, while at the same time being a novel or a work of fiction. The subject came up of the Bible, and also the Dead Sea Scrolls, and you pointed out that the holy books of the world are books about God written by human beings, but that doesn’t mean God does not exist. Just as Escape from Heaven is a novel about God but that doesn’t mean that God does not exist. The point you made was that human characters, people you’ve actually known, you could put into a novel that doesn’t suddenly mean, if you’re writing an historical novel, that all those people cease to have ever existed.

So you were arguing that books about God are interpretations of God but they cannot be taken as the ultimate experience of God in the sense that traditional religious people think they are. But they should be taken more seriously than atheists, who believe that God is a completely fictional construct. With that in mind, I would like to ask you after your experience your epiphany and what you have done in your post epiphany novel, which is Escape from Heaven, and the screenplay, I view those as two separate works. What I would like to know is do you now look at the Bible and the Koran and the Talmud, and all these holy texts of the past, with different eyes than before your epiphany?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: My viewpoint is — I hesitate to use the word — “evolving.” “Unfolding” might be a better word, for what’s been happening.

I find, going back, looking at what I’ve written over the course of my career, back to when I was an atheist, several of my earliest short stories — two of them in particular “Benny Rich is Dead” and “For the Sake of Ten Men,” both in my short story collection Nasty, Brutish and Short Stories — both of them are dealing with religious themes, with Biblical themes. “Benny Rich is Dead” is a fantasy story which takes place in the Court of God. “For the Sake of Ten Men’ has to do with a general, on the brink of nuclear war, who takes Biblical text to decide what the moral choice for him to do is.

I find that I was dealing with this way back before I had thought of myself as having any religious impulse, or any God-driven impulse. I looked back at Contemporary American Authors, when they gave me the form to fill out in 1979, to describe how I saw myself as an writer. I remember the quote I gave: “It is the birthright of every storyteller to try to save the world … we exist in a messianic competition.”

So I was seeing the thrust of what I was doing — even though I thought of it in a secular sense — as being messianic, even back from the beginning of my writing.

I also have to say that part of what I’m doing here, I have had a great deal of difficulty of expressing, of being able to find the right words, which is strange for an writer who lives and dies by words, trying to find the right words to describe an experience which is almost entirely without external referents.

And the primary axiom of General Semantics, when Heinlein got me to read Count Alfred Korzybski and S.I. Hayakawa — the negative axiom that the map is not the territory, the symbol is not the referent — has been extremely useful to me.

I realize that both fiction and nonfiction are symbol structures. They’re maps. And they are not so different from each other when it comes to the way that they reflect reality. One might be a topographical map and the other one a geopolitical map, but they are both maps of reality using different reference points.

It’s almost like a novel is more algebraic than nonfiction and nonfiction is all particulars, where you attempt to draw every particular from reality, a particular time and place, a particular person. Whereas in fiction, what you try to do is, you try to draw a symbol structure, which applies universally, to a number of different points rather than one particular point, but they are both abstractions.

When you draw a particular in nonfiction, it is not the thing itself. It can’t be the thing itself because you are leaving out a thousand particulars and choosing maybe two or three to focus on. You are editing. The very fact of editing makes every work of nonfiction a map and, in that sense, fictionalized.

The point is the way that I’ve come to view scripture is that part of it is history, part of it genealogy, part of it is myth, part of it is political observation, part of it is rhetoric, part of it is lists of laws, part of it is war stories — and it’s all mixed together. What I’m saying is that we cannot look at it dumbly. We cannot look at it as just one level. We have to look at it as a rich tapestry of different things, and my criticism of my atheist buddies when they look at it, for the most part — and I have to exclude certain close friends from this who were very scholarly when it came to the Bible — but a lot of them simply take the dumbest possible interpretation of the Bible and then they try to debunk it, without seeing the richness of the levels, not merely metaphor, not even taking into account the experience of the peoples at that time, the historicity of it, who were part of the context, you understand, aside from anything else.

Now, I am not a Biblical scholar, I have read scripture, reread parts of it. But I have not read it from cover to cover. I’ve read the important parts of the Old Testament and I’ve read the Gospels and I’ve read some of the latter parts of the New Testament, certainly The Revelation of St. John the Divine. So seeing the Bible as all these different things, I try to interpret them according to what it is.

When I’m reading Genesis, I actually regard Genesis as possibly the most important book of the entire Old and New Testament, put together. It seems to be the one which tells us the most about God. Exodus also tells us a lot about God, but Genesis tells us, almost directly, the most about God and what His original intents were. What His original creative purposes were, what He was like as an artist. Which is how we first meet Him, as an artist, as a creator, as a parent.

I draw a lot from that and when I’m writing, now, Escape from Heaven, I’m taking a lot of what I think was — I’m trying to find the right word here — conveyed to me. The word “conveyed’ is nice and loose and doesn’t really focus on the means by which I gained this knowledge. But information came to me, was implanted in me, was conveyed to me, was told to me — whatever word you want here — went from there to here — and then I am again drawing my own symbol structure, my own map. I am creating a mythology and — as I have said — it may be a revisionist mythology, because I am disagreeing with some particulars of the way the myth has been told in scripture.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I’ll get to that in a second. Now, I agree with you that Genesis one of the most interesting things of any religious text. The reason I asked you the question, though, about books as interpretations of God — without being necessarily the Word of God — is when you were being interviewed briefly on Jack’s CyberCity, you were asking John Hogue, regarding his epiphany experiences or spiritual or mystical experiences, what some of the concrete details were. You were looking for a “something” out of that. His response was classic Buddhist Nirvana stuff, to tell you that you were off base to look for something, that his first true spiritual experience was nothing — he experienced nothing — and then Jack —

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, but it was not that I was looking for something. It’s that I was getting something.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, but what I wanted to ask you —

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I did not try to initiate that experience. That experience was initiated from the other end.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, you made it very clear that you did not go seeking the experience that you were on the receiving end, just like Lewis maintained when he was tracked down by a God intervention in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Precisely!

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I don’t think this guy ever fully grasped that, how much you said you were on the receiving end. You did not seek it out. But when he talked about the big mystical nothing, I realized that, from my point of view, the atheist tracts of the nineteenth century, these superficial, free-thinking tracts, strike me as of more value than this mystical big nothing.

You have never claimed, out of your experiences, a big nothing. On the contrary, you seem to have had an increase in the data inputs from your epiphany, not a decrease or an absence of it.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The reason I like the word unfolding or flowering of the experience, is that it’s like certain kernels of very basic axioms were given to me, certain observations, on a very crucial fundamental base level, were given to me. And as these seeds grow, I am able to see more and more of what they grow into.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Do you have a profound shift in how you view morality from a religious perspective before your experience and after your experience, or is it the same? Because you were a libertarian before — as you and I define the term — and you are a libertarian since, as you and I define the term. So, I’m assuming that nothing in your epiphany experience fundamentally shook or distorted previous libertarian ethics, which I assume you got from natural-law beliefs, which are to some extent religious.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I think that the Creator of natural laws would choose as somebody possibly worth talking to, among us, a believer in natural laws, a person who believes that you could look at the universe we’re in and derive the fundamental premises of moral behavior, as Ayn Rand did. It is possible to observe certain fundamental things, which are the roots of morality, without reference to the Ten Commandments. I am chagrined, frustrated, not sure what word I want to use here, when I hear people like Dennis Prager say that our morality comes from the Bible. That without reference to the Bible, people aren’t going to behavior morally. Now, in a practical sense, it may be true. In some practical sense, people with a religious education may have more of a moral sense, simply because they think about it, because morality is on their mind.

And I have to say, simply as an observation, I have not been particularly impressed in the overall world at people who say that their morality is derived from Objectivism, and they go out and cheat and steal, and do not act in a moral sense. But nonetheless, it’s hard to make comparisons because it’s all anecdotal. There’s certainly no shortage of Christians who act shoddily, or people who call themselves Christians, who act shoddily. It’s no guarantee.

But nonetheless, as a believer in natural law, as a believer that the universe is intended — it was created — to be comprehensible, it puts me more on the side with the atheists than with the superstitious religious person who thinks that the universe — and God’s mind — are fundamentally incomprehensible, and therefore all we can do is look at this rule book and do what we’re told like good sheep.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: So you were a natural-law libertarian before and after your epiphany experience.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And what’s more, one of the things that came out of the — I’m not sure epiphany is the right word, but I’ll use it — one of the things that came out of the experience was, in essence, God conveying to me that the reason why He was there, or we were together — whatever you want to call it — was because of what I was and where I had come from. That it wasn’t a random sort of thing where in Oh, God! George Burns is talking to John Denver’s character and he says “Well, you’re like the millionth guy through the bridge gets to meet the governor.” It wasn’t random.

That God was looking for something specific and I fit the job description. I had gone through — to use a much more contemporary reference — the winnowing out to become The Apprentice. There were other candidates who I had to beat out, much like I said. We were in a messianic competition.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Do you think the fact that you were a natural law libertarian —

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: — crucial to it!

BRAD LINAWEAVER: — beforehand, made the experience easier to get through? Because what’s found, from your point of view, is a very strong vindication of the natural-law belief.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Did I take comfort that God agreed with me? Yes!

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Well, the natural-law God position?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now what I want to ask you — because that means that you’ve got things to separate people religiously — certain areas of rule-keeping and laws for their own sake. You don’t have that problem with your C.S. Lewis in terms of the Tao, the Golden Rule, the basic morality level of religion, where different religions have an area of real agreement. A lot of them have an area of agreement.

What I want to ask you, now, is one of the areas that separate people in religion — that mystics sometimes argue against — are the various specific claims that religions make historically. So I want to begin with, do you believe, before or after — I don’t care which or both — do you believe there was an historical Jesus Christ?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Do you believe he came out of the tomb three days after crucifixion?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Okay, take it from there, because right there, a lot of people from a Jewish background are going to be screaming for your head at that moment.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Where I differ from the Christians, I guess what makes me a heretic and not a Christian accepted by any of the churches today, is that I do not believe that there was or is an eternal Trinity. I take the idea of One God seriously and the reason I take it seriously is that it fits in with my metaphysical approach.

My metaphysical approach is that the words “God” and “existence” are two different words for the same referent and there is only one existence.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: No matter how many universes, no matter how many parallel universes, no matter how many probabilities, it all comes down to one existence.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I Am that I Am, and God being the Alpha and the Omega.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, there is one Existence.

Therefore, how is it that we now have multiple minds?

To me it means that God fissioned. He started splitting off parts of Himself into their own little universes so that they could have free will. But what I’m leading up to is the idea of an emergent Trinity, one which starts out with God fissioning Himself into male and female and then God and Goddess and then out of that, the first angel and the first angel would be the soul which we would identify as Jesus. But who I believe we know Him by the name Adam before then. Because only Adam could redeem his own original sin, and that makes me a heretic to the Christians —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: — and the Jews —

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well I’m not sure it makes me a heretic to the Jews because it’s almost a Jewish thought.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Well, every Jew I’ve run it by, who claims to be a religious Jew, claims you’re a heretic. So I think you’re a heretic to the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims, as far as I can tell. But that makes your theology original.

What I want to ask you is this, because I followed everything you just said, but what I want to ask is this: you really don’t even need the Trinity.

The Trinity was cobbled together for the Nicene Creed, to answer what they deemed to be some contradictions, in problems in terms of how much adoration do you give the Son and how much power does the Son has after He’s Risen and all of this. Isn’t it fair to say that the Neil Schulman theology as applied to the Christian beliefs — I’ll get to some others things in a minute — that the Neil Schulman theology, as applied to the Christian beliefs, is that Jesus is distinct from the Father, to the extent that we ourselves are. To use the old Jewish phrase that upset the priests of the Temple so badly, “the Son of Man,” which only the Jews understood the full significance of “the Son of Man” when Jesus said that.

Isn’t it arguable that Jesus Christ had these supernatural powers, and was therefore able to do things that “normal” human beings couldn’t do, and was truly in that sense more the Son of God than the average Joe — Joseph, the average Joseph — but despite that, is still distinct from the Father? That’s my question. Because you don’t even have the problem of the Trinity, if you have the pre-Nicene Creed approach.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I’m not sure that it makes a difference for the following reason: being in flesh, being in a corporeal body, has its own logic because of it, its own consequences, its own effects. God — You take that Mind, and you put it in a human body — and God looks out of the eyes from the body like anybody else, can feel pain, can die, can be mutilated, can eat, can fall in love, can have sex, can suffer dandruff or psoriasis or boils, impotence — any of these things which flesh is heir to — you take God Himself’s soul and figure out a way to put it in flesh — which is, by the way, the reason why Jews consider it blasphemy to consider that, this is what they reject more than anything else — the idea that that Soul could be put into flesh —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, that’s clear. Every educated Christian knows that’s the ultimate heresy to the Jewish belief.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That is the heresy to Jewish belief, that it could happen. But nonetheless, if you believe that God is powerful, that God is a genius, that God who created the Heavens and the Earth might want to experience that — He might figure out a way to do it.

Given that — once He has done it — He is a man and, as a man, He thinks as a Man, He feels as a man — and He’s still God.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: But can there still be a supernatural dimension intruding on that tent of flesh, which are the miracles of Jesus Christ? Yes or No?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, and I will say exactly how I know. I think that what Jesus experienced was something akin to what happened to me on February 18, 1997 only it was longer and deeper. I had just a taste of it for a few hours, of what it was to have that mind of God inside me.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: So if you had it for 30 years of a mortal life?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How about three years? How about His ministry, three years?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Yes, okay the three years of the ministry.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Suddenly, He wakes up one day, and He’s the genetic candidate for that time and place. He’s the clone. He’s the chip off the old block.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: The stars are in alignment and into Him it comes.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. And He has, for the next three years, what I had for eight hours, and that means that He has time to develop the powers that I wasn’t able to do in eight hours.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I consider that a perfectly legitimate view which a lot of traditional religions would call a Gnostic heresy, that I consider a perfectly valid, plausible scenario, every bit as reasonable as anything argued by the orthodox religions. But I repeat, to repeat an earlier statement, I maintain that it’s heresy to the Jews because it’s not just your normal “wizard.” It’s not your normal magic. It’s not Moses having God stuff channeled through him for the purposes of a miracle. It is that full God consciousness in the full human body that you just expressed so beautifully a few minutes ago. It is that that was so heretical to the priests of the temple and made Jesus Christ the ultimate heretic to the Jews. Therefore, I maintain that you are a heretic to all the religions.

Do you see what I’m saying, do you follow this?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: How dare Man — whether Jew, Christian, Muslim or any of them, these children of God — how dare they instruct God what He may not do?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s exactly right. That’s what they all do, all the traditional religions every last one of them. Sometimes it gets almost funny, with the levels of bureaucratic rules.

It is hilarious that the human institutions pretend to know God’s mind so well, so intimately, and in such excruciating detail, that they can do precisely what you just said. Which makes no logical sense, because these are the same people who turn right around in the next second — you’ve heard it from Dennis Prager — and say that God is unknowable. So how can God simultaneously be so unknowable, and yet all the Jews can know all the rules, all the Christians can know all the rules, all the Muslims can know all the rules? How can you know all the rules and, at the same time, say that God is totally unknowable? That is a total contradiction.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. Here’s the thing, and this is why I love Genesis so much, because Genesis has God telling us about Himself, and by the way so does Exodus. Let’s just talk about those two books, Genesis and Exodus. Forget about the other three books in the Pentateuch. What does Genesis tell us about the nature of God?

Number One, it tells us that he’s not a perfectionist. He looked at His creation and does he say “Perfect”? No. It says, “He looked at it and saw that it was good.” “Good” is good enough for God. “He looked at it and saw that it was good.” That tells us something about His personality right off.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: If it was perfect there would have been no choice in Eden.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right and tells me something else, leading into another…


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But let me make the point with full force. I maintain that perfection is a verb, not a noun. As a noun, it is without referent — including God Himself — because God — being dynamic, being alive, being a chooser, being an experimenter — is a risk-taker, and all action has the risk of imperfect results. Because, if you did not have that possibility, action would be futile.

The very nature of being a living, active, consciously volitional God, means that you have taken this idea — that you’ve had possibly for eons before — of being perfect and whole, and thrown it out for this Grand Experiment called Creation. And that means You’re a risk taker, You’re an experimenter, You’re a scientist, You’re an artist.

You start out being a scientist, and then being an artist. Which, by the way, is the same evolution we see in children, where they come out, and the first thing they do is start exploring and being a scientist, and then later they become artists and they become creative.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, I say that God went through the same sort of thing. That at the moment He decided to make minds, souls, other than His own who could disagree with Him, results uncertain — experiment started — God at that point is no longer one soul, He has given up being the only one existing. There are now multiple existents, the very multiplication of souls itself makes God’s soul part of a community and is the first step to Him becoming a human being.

Going back to what God tells us about it so that we know Him so that He isn’t ineffable and unknowable.

I just had a Passover service a few ago, and I noticed something that I never noticed before.

God says, I am not going to send my angels to do the tenth plague, the killing of the first born of the Egyptians. I will do it myself. Now, what is the word “Passover” about? It means that God asked the Jews to put a symbol on their doors so that He would “pass over” their doors.

Now, let’s think about this for a second. God’s doing this Himself.

Excuse me? If God’s omniscient, what does He need anybody to mark any doors for Him? If God’s omniscient, He doesn’t know which are the Jews and which are the Egyptian firstborn? He’s going to make a mistake?

No! It means that God is operating within our sphere, within this universe, within the rules of this space-time continuum, and He is capable of making a mistake and so He wants a backup there.

Then why does every atheist use God’s “omniscience” and His “omnipotence” as a contradiction to hang their atheism on, and why do so many theologians demand that if He’s not omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, that He can’t be God?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right. Yet Gene Scott was the first TV Christian I ever saw who said there’s no claim in the New Testament, there’s no claim in the Old Testament, there’s no claim in the official holy text of Jews, Muslims or Christians claiming any such thing. You cannot find the verse, because Scott says it does not exist. Now do we agree with Scott on that?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: We sure do.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Okay. Now let’s go somewhere with this. When do theologians start coming up with this poison and then when did the atheists start figuring that if they could answer the poison they would have answered the claims of religion? It’s worthy of research.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: You now what it is? Oh, I don’t know when it happened but I’ll tell you the purpose for it. It’s inflation. If you can blow God up so much that the word becomes meaningless, you no longer have something concrete to deal with. You’re now dealing with the phantasm, or as I like to say, it’s not the worship of God, it’s the worship of Fog.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: So I don’t know where it all began but it’s definitely poison, it’s theological poison, and atheists for generations have felt if they could disprove this crap they’d disprove religion.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Atheists prefer an impossible definition of God because it makes God impossible. Theologians prefer an impossible definition of God because it makes God whatever they want Him to be for their own political purposes. You really have to have met God before you’re really interested in who God is and what He is, and at that point He’s not ineffable, He’s not malleable – any more than meeting anybody else. Everybody who you meet is somebody, and so is God.

You see, the two hardest things I have, in conveying my experience to people, is that what makes me convinced of its reality is that God is real. He come across to me like a real person — a personality, opinions, thoughts. Not the physical body. The one thing that I didn’t meet was the physical body. It’s not like on Joan of Arcadia where there’s this person showing in a different guise every time, I haven’t had that. I haven’t had the John Denver and George Burns experience where you could see Him and feel Him. It was something inside, behind my eyes.

But everything else is exactly the same as meeting somebody. That means, a person with thoughts, opinions, a style, a sense of life, a sense of humor. And that’s what makes me convinced.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It seems to me that the God experience you’ve had — and your belief that He split off all these entities that we are because He didn’t want to be alone, He wanted to have other beings to share existence with and to have free will, your origin of us as the fissioning of God model, for want of a better term, I think God fissioning is a good way to describe what you’ve got — is it not possible that God could have performed this operation whether He created space-time or not? In other words, I’ll state it slightly differently. That what we call existence could be eternal and not in need of creating — like the atheists say — and there could still be God creating all of us? Or God could have created the space-time continuum but the essential thing about God’s relationship to us exists independently of whether He created space-time or not? I can rephrase it you want.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I understand the question but I’m not sure in reality there’s a distinction. Because I see certain necessities involved. The necessity for free will requires, I think, some sort of actual physical separation from God. Now I’m not sure what the word “physical” means in this context but it may mean in some sense an extra dimension, or an extra universe, an extra continuum. I’m not sure of the right word to use. But for the separation to exist and be real, for us to have a will free from God’s will, thoughts free from God’s thoughts, real actual freedom of choice, that it would require creation of an independent universe for us to exist in.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Which can logically imply the creation of the universe, but it’s not essential.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, but that’s my thought of why.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You don’t have a firm certainty on it?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Because you don’t think it’s essential ultimately, to your real discovery.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Let’s just say it’s above my pay grade.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Or it’s not essential to your real discovery is another way of putting it.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, not yet, but right now it’s above my pay grade. It’s beyond the detailed understanding that I have.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Very good. Good answer. You obviously believe there are creatures that are more supernatural that God creates in addition to us. In other words you have no trouble believing in the angels of various religious traditions?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. But as I portrayed in Escape from Heaven, not necessarily superior. Possibly cognitively or physically superior, but not necessarily superior in the sense that we may have capabilities that they don’t have.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: But they may have some we don’t have?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now having said that, can you accept the idea that, from our human perspective, there’s good ones and bad ones, which we can call angels and demons, for want of a better term?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, inasmuch as angels would have free will —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s a reasonable idea.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It necessitates what we would call “good ones” “and bad ones.”

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Now, you don’t doubt that Moses had a God experience, with the burning bush? And Exodus — just like Jesus Christ is an example in human history of a God experience — Moses is an example in human history of a God experience. Do you believe Mohammad was in a cave, as I remember, and he’s supposed to have had contact with angels in a cave?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Did Neale Donald Walsch have a God experience? Did Mohammad have a God experience? Did Joseph Smith have a God experience? Did David Koresh have a God experience? Did Joan of Arc have a God experience? All of these are different people who, at one time or another, have claimed God experiences.

Now the Bible is the writing of writers. The Koran is the writing of writer or writers. So is The Book of Mormon. So were whatever David Koresh thought he was unsealing. So is what Neale Donald Walsch is writing. These are the writings of writers, writers other than me.

Now I’ve had my own experience, and I have my own interpretations, and I have my own writings, which have come to me because of these. It is with things done by other people who claim contact with God, I am in an odd situation.

I do not do what most religionists do, such as Dennis Prager, or Pat Robertson, or Billy Graham.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Which is judge their experiences by the written down revelations of other people. I do not judge the reality of what happened to me by what other people have written down. I do the opposite, which is, I judge the reality of what I see in those writings by what I know to be true from what has happened to me.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You do not let traditions influence your first-hand experience.


I do judge the tree by its fruit and the problem I have with Islam is that any club which says, “Join, obey — or die” — as far as I’m concerned — is not a respecter of free will and not a respecter of God.

I am looking for the truth. I am doing it by trying to extract meaning from my experiences, and apply logic to them, and try to tie them in to the vast writings and cultural experience and all these other things. That’s why I find something like Genesis or something like Exodus or the Gospels relating what Jesus did, to be informative to me, because I find things that have happened to me which has meaning there.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: My earlier statement though — the area where you become a heretic even to the Jews — is I’ve known a lot of Jewish Kabbalistic believers, in science fiction over the years, and their imagination shuts down at the precise moment that your imagination catches fire. You know where that is?


BRAD LINAWEAVER: The Jesus story.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It’s because I see God as an Artist and, particularly, I see God as a Storyteller and that tells me something crucial.

Genesis, the Creation, is a First Act. It tells the story of a creation. It tells a story of a fall.

Now, I will tell you this much. The granting of a patch of land in the Middle East — surrounded by a billion hostile enemies, without any oil on it — does not strike me as a good Second Act.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Amen, brother!

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: If you’re going to tell the story of a creation and a fall, you have to tell the story of a resurrection, and Judaism does not tell that story.


Next in I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is Chapter XI: Doctrines

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

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I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith: Collaboration

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Read the previous chapter Aftermath

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 9: Collaboration

BRAD LINAWEAVER: And that’s where the God voice — I’ll call it that — turning the volume up, if you will, on the God broadcast — is that where the God voice made a crucial difference in guiding you through what was to be dropped and what was to be used?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, and let me try to explain the process, the way that it was happening.

First of all, 9/11 happens. I am, at that point, maybe no more than three chapters, maybe four chapters, into the book. Okay, three or four chapters, right near the beginning. okay, 9/11 happens. I am up all night, writing on the book. I’m at my computer in the family room. On the couch next to me, my daughter is asleep. I have the TV on in that room, with the sound muted.

About six o’clock in the morning, I look over to the TV and I see –


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I see the Twin Towers. I’m looking at New York live news footage as smoke is coming out of the Towers.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: They haven’t collapsed yet?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Oh, way before they collapsed. And I turned up the volume, was shocked when they talked about the second plane having hit. Okay, I watched around a half hour, went upstairs, woke up my mother, and said you’ve got to see what’s happening here.

Then around seven o’clock that morning, I called my daughter’s mother and I said, “I’m keeping her out of school today.” I said, “I don’t know, they’re talking about things hitting Washington. I don’t know what’s going to be happening here on the West Coast, if anything, but I’m keeping her out of school today.”

I then got dressed and I went to the nearest supermarket and I did the sort of shopping I had done when everybody was talking about Y2K. I got canned goods, batteries, bottled water – basically, what, living in California, we refer to as earthquake supplies. And then the towers started collapsing while I was at the supermarket. I got back into the car and heard about it on the radio.

Okay. So, I did not see that happen because I was already in emergency mode, trying to protect my family.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: You saw it with the ten million reruns.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, that’s right.

Now, 9/11 did not stop me from writing the book. It wasn’t like I’m going to stop at this point. I knew I had to continue more than ever.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It even increased you motivation.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It increased my motivation. Now I really felt that I had to get this book done, and get it done quickly. And also, in the back of my mind, was sort of like a promise I had made to my father, that I was going to have this book done by his birthday, which was October 1st, which was only a few weeks away from 9/11. So I felt the pressure on me.

Now I had experienced this period of intense writing the last time in 1981 when I was writing The Rainbow Cadenza. I hadn’t had anything like it since, even working on The Frame of the Century?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Which is your O.J. book.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, my O.J. book. I’d had bursts of energy, where I was writing maybe 50 or 60 pages but a lot of that book was simply collecting various things and putting them together. It was, in many ways, almost more of an editing job than a writing job, from stuff I had previously written in discussion boards on the Internet, where I was arguing with people, and I was collecting pieces of data.

Writing nonfiction is, in may ways, much more about research than it is about writing.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Fiction writing and nonfiction writing are different experiences, as you and I both know.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: So this was like the first time that I was at this level of intensity of creation since 1981. Here I was, 20 years later. It had been 20 years since I’d done this. Plus, I didn’t have the chemical aids which I’d had while writing The Rainbow Cadenza, because every day, my writing formula — when writing Rainbow Cadenza — was to make myself an Irish coffee – and only one Irish coffee because — the way that I said it — the caffeine was focusing my mind and the alcohol was calming down my fear of writing.

Well, I was doing it without the Irish coffee this time, and to get to that level of intensity without it took me a while, and that’s one of the reasons it took me so long to get into the groove again.

So here I am, in the weeks following 9/11, with, of course you know, all this chaos and intensity. And of course, while I’m writing the book, I’m also writing four or five short articles about 9/11 and the impact. I couldn’t disengage from it. I tried to and couldn’t write anything for the first few days but then too much was going on that I couldn’t stay out of it.

So while I’m writing the novel I’m also tossing off these nonfiction pieces.

And then, suddenly, something strange started happening. I abandoned my outline entirely and what was happening to me was that I would write a chapter and end a chapter, having put things in that I didn’t know why I put it there. In essence, painting myself into a corner.

I was laying out problems for myself, putting things in there, and asking myself, “Why is that there?”

Let me give you some concrete examples.

Two things, in particular. I’ll just mention two of them because I think it makes the case very adequately. One of them is that I have Lucifer’s press conference in Heaven, when — having successfully won her coup to take over Heaven and driven God and God’s palace out of Heaven — and by the way, the image of God’s palace being missing from Heaven was directly taken from seeing the Twin Towers gone.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I think it’s one of the most powerful images in the novel. Please go on.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: So after she has driven God and God’s palace out of Heaven itself, Lucifer holds a press conference and I say, in describing her, here she was about to announce her victory but she looked sad, as if she had just been defeated.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: And what you mean by that was?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I had no idea why I wrote that. Why is that there? Why am I writing that, that she looks defeated even though she is announcing her victory?

Why? I had no idea when I wrote that.

Then, later on, a couple of chapters later, the explanation is given to me as if I’m a reader and I’m reading along and then suddenly I’m reading the answer. And the answer was, it was because — having made an arrangement with God to hold elections on Earth to determine who is going to rule Earth — she had to go back to God, humbly, hat in hand, and say, “Can you help me set up the election? I can’t figure out a way to get the votes of everybody on Earth. Can you solve that problem for me?”

The way that I describe it in the novel, it’s like a rebellious teenager who — having decided to move out in a huff — has to go back to Daddy and say, “Can I borrow your van to move?”


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And that’s why she looked so defeated. But I had no idea, when I wrote that sentence, about why she looked defeated, when she was about to announce her victory at the press conference, I had no idea. That’s one example.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It came to you later?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It came to me later.

Another example. I have Duj Pepperman, when the council forms around him — and again, I took that direct language of “A circle will form around you” and I put it into the novel and gave it to Duj Pepperman —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It had been Pulpless.Com before and now it’s in the novel?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Now it’s in the novel, right. And, by the way, I wasn’t even sure, at the time, whether that was the circle or whether that was simply part of a circle. I wasn’t really sure again what “A circle will form around you” actually meant, and still, to this day, I’m not really sure.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: It has multiple meanings. In an occult practice there are circles that have certain arcane meanings as well.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. I have Duj Pepperman have all these famous dead people who become sort of his cabinet – the circle around him —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: H.L. Mencken and everybody else?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, everybody. Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, and that sort of thing.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Even Charles Lindbergh?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And it is about Charles Lindbergh that this happens. Because I say, at a certain point, Duj had a special mission for Charles Lindbergh. But that doesn’t come into the story yet.

Now when I wrote that I had no idea what the special mission for Charles Lindbergh was going to be. Not a clue. Why am I writing this? Why am I creating this problem? I’m trying to get this novel done and I’m putting things in there that I have no clue why. How am I going to pay that off? I don’t how I’m going to pay that off.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And yet, again, a few chapters later it turns out that what Charles Lindbergh’s mission was, was to go into the tunnel, connecting Earth and Heaven, and basically slip in there, to be able to open it up at will when Duj needs to be able to get Jesus to Earth.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But I had no idea that that was going to happen. I didn’t know what that mission was. But it works out so perfectly when it happens.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Now this was what was starting to give me the idea that God was active within me again, that the volume was up again. Because I was getting all these things and it was just coming through full force with such high pressure that it essentially carried me to the point where, in essence, I think I wrote the last ten chapters of the book in about four days.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Writer to writer, that’s impressive.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I couldn’t sleep. I was only able to sleep a couple of hours a night while this was going on. I was, you know, at full intensity. But unlike what had happened with The Rainbow Cadenza when it was a fearful experience, this time I was ready for it and I was able to handle it. It was pleasurable this time just like it was scary the first time.

My first time where God is directly encountering me, He’s putting His hand on my heart and saying I can kill you now. The second time, it’s this benevolent mind sharing, totally different experience. And here again, I wasn’t fully ready or understanding what was happening the first time. The second time it’s a gas.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: We talked about this earlier, it’s pain into pleasure.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, because I am becoming more the sort of person who is able to handle it. I’m being made into a person who’s able to tolerate it and who actually enjoys it.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I’m the one who’s changing, God isn’t changing. I’m changing.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I will want to ask about the screenplay. But I’ll wait until we finish talking about the novel. This sets up my first question about the screenplay please continue.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I started finding out, piece by piece, that there were things put into the novel, great important central symbols, which my religious education had never told me anything about and why was I putting them in there?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Kabbalistic symbology?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right, two things in particular I have as a central part of the book that God has a wife and that that wife was also the mother of Jesus. In other words, and this I took in essence from the mythology of The Book of the Holy Grail, which J.R. Ploughman brought to Pulpless.Com.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I’ve read it.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Okay, the idea that you have God who is Erebus, and His wife who is Yse, and that is the god and goddess who are the mother and father of the human race. In fact, they are also the mother and father of Jesus, because they come down and meld their spirits into two human beings. One of them Joseph, who God goes into — who Erebus goes into — and the other one Mary, who Yse goes into, and then as both gods and human beings they procreate and their son becomes Jesus — Yeshua — and that is how God and man, the bloodline is formed on Earth which they then go off — and here is where I become a heretic to The Book of the Holy Grail — they say at that point that the whole point was so this bloodline could be created and therefore Jesus is never crucified and it’s a trick. I want no part of that! But nonetheless, here’s the thing in meeting with J.R. Ploughman in the Summer of 1999, to meet with him and experience his presence, he is saying that he recognizes my God experience as real.

And other people who I met around my sister said they recognized my experience as real, they had a sense that this had happened. And also I started doing some things which almost came to the point of being miraculous. I sat with one of my sister’s friends who is very, very psychic, and she would put a pebble in my hand and suddenly I was getting a flash of where the rocks were from. And this was a collection of rocks which she had taken from all over the place and she told me I was getting one hundred percent. “Yes, this is from there, yes this is from there” and it’s like it was a total psychic connection.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I remember you and Soleil talking about feeling somebody’s heartbeat at a distance.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: One of my sister’s friends — a man named Art Barteldt — who was close to being a full blooded, I think, Apache — I’m not sure that that was his tribe. But he was able to do something, in which he would stand across the room from me — at least eight or ten feet away — put up his hand, and say, “Put up your hand, I’m going to send you my heartbeat.” And then I would feel his heartbeat in my hand. Then I could feel his heartbeat thumping in my hand. And that was my first experience with actual magic.

So, in other words I knew that there were more things in Heaven and earth than even I had experienced. In other words I’d had some profound things happen to me, but this was also remarkable.

Okay. So all of this is going on during this period, and then I find out that I have these symbols, and this is post publication.

After the book is already published, after Escape from Heaven is in print, that’s when I start discovering what I put into the book. What God has revealed to me without my even knowing it.

And two things in particular. One is that I got ahold of Leonard Nimoy’s photographic book, Shekhina, and I had never heard the word Shekhina before then. But this is what was interesting to me, and here is the sequence of knowledge and learning here.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Back to kabbalah…

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Right. Leonard Nimoy was raised Jewish, in Boston, and when he was taken to the Orthodox synagogue, you had the ritual of everybody turns their back so they can’t see the Holy of Holies and I guess the Rabbi holds up his hands and does the Vulcan greeting, as we know, with the two fingers separated into a “V” in the middle.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: “Live long and prosper!”

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The “Live long and prosper” symbol, which is a representation, Nimoy explains in his book Shekhina, of the Hebrew letter “shin,” if I’m not mistaken, which is the representation of Shekhina. Shekhina being the Holy Spirit, the feminine aspect of God.

And I am learning, when I start now researching this — having learned about it — that it’s God’s wife, the female aspect of God. And here’s the important part: the advocate of man to God.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I have to ask you a question.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: But let me, before you ask me the question. I can’t let this go by without emphasizing it too strongly.

We go back to 1988 where I had that dream, the dream that changes my life, where my attorney — my advocate — is God and she is a woman. God was a woman in my dream, okay?

I put that in Escape from Heaven and now I find out that Shekhina, the Holy Spirit in Judaism, is a central part of the hidden kabbalistic doctrines, and I’ve met her in my dream in 1988, and put her in a novel? And only now I find out who she is? That the defender of humanity before God, in essence, represented me?

This is — I’m starting to think — this is a central part of Judaism which I never knew about.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I always thought it was a hidden part of Judaism.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Hidden, but you know it’s not something I was taught in the year of Hebrew School.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s what I mean, I always thought it was kind of like secretive.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It is. It’s secretive. It is deliberately secretive.

Here is Leonard Nimoy doing a book about it, telling me about it, starting me researching about it, and what I find out is that who Shekhina is, the Holy Spirit, the defender of man before God, was in my dream, defending me in 1988, after I had the experience where I had God — the male God — having His hand on my heart.

I’m blown away when I learn this.

Then something else.

In writing Escape from Heaven, I have the image of God’s palace. Remember the palace that Duj is invited to, so he can have this conversation with God, and be sent back to Earth.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And I describe as a giant diamond, two pyramids — one the apex pointing up, the other the apex pointing down — and joined at the middle.

I then start doing a little research and here’s what I find out. That symbol — if you just overlap it a little bit so that the bottom pyramid’s base is sticking out a little bit –


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: It’s the Tree of Life symbol, and that, when flattened, becomes the two triangles of the Star of David.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: That’s where the Star of David comes from, the three-dimensional representation of the two pyramids opposing each other, and that is the central image of Judaism. Now actually some would argue, some would say it’s the Menorah, but nonetheless, I don’t think we can discount the Star of David as being a powerful symbol, identified with Judaism, and certainly a kabbalistic symbol.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Okay, now why did I put that in there? I didn’t know anything about that when I wrote that. One of the things that Sam Konkin, that actually impressed him about my description of my experience, is that he knew how little I knew about any of this stuff. That I was never interested in reading about Judaism or theology or any of this sort of stuff. No interest in it.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: In fact Sam and I discussed that on a number of occasions.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: What did he say?

BRAD LINAWEAVER: What you just said, I’m providing you a third party witness.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Okay. So, in other words, it’s not like I’m trying to say, “Well this was in there and I was taught it in Hebrew School” or had read up a lot of it. I wasn’t interested, never knew any of this stuff, and here it is, it’s ending up in my book and I’m discovering that it’s there after the fact, after it’s written.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, you have me convinced that you did not have any of this kabbalistic background and yet work these images into your book. You did not have the background. You have me convinced of that.

Let me know when I can ask my next question. It does tie in to this.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I think we’re at that point right now.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Okay, here’s my next question, why is it Christianity has been criticized for really being polytheistic by having the Trinity? Remember, there was a God view from various dimensional aspects.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And also the sentence that I did want to get out, and that is that I really think it doesn’t matter whether, in my conception, God creates the other two parts of the Trinity, so that there’s three personalities, or since He is fissioning Himself — and what they are are aspects that have always been God and been with God. As Saint John says in his gospel “And The Word was God and the Word was with God.” He’s saying both, so in essence what I’m saying is, is that my view may appear to be heretical to Orthodox Christianity, but I don’t think it really is.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: My question is, why is Christianity criticized for sneaking polytheism back into a monotheistic religion if the original Hebrew religion has a God and a Goddess, the same as Zeus and Hera on Mount Olympus? That is my question.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Sure. Very good. And more than that, going back to Genesis, God never says He’s the only God, and speaks as if there are other gods. He’s almost talking as if some of the angels are gods.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: May I ask you something about the screenplay?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes, I think we can go to that point.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: When you were writing the screenplay for Escape from Heaven, was it purely your technical skill as a scriptwriter that elaborated certain sections? Dropped certain parts of the novel, then put in new material that’s more dramatic cinematically? Was that just J. Neil Schulman the technician or did — to stick with the earlier metaphor — did the volume turn up again and were you hearing the God voice again, at any point during the screenplay, the way you were during the novel?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The volume was turned up again, and particularly in certain things coming together.

For example, in the novel, I have the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” as the song which the angels sing as they take Duj to be transitioned over to Heaven. That’s in the novel, that’s written September 2001. So now I transfer that song into the screenplay for the same scene.

Then at a later point in the book, you see, the way that I structured the novel was not dramatically structured enough to be a screenplay. Too much of it is Duj, his narration, his exposition, his telling things at a distance of what happened. He’s telling it like a storyteller, of events that have happened in the past, and really it’s all in flashback, because he’s a narrator.

So I have to make everything present and open it up and externalize it and make it… and Duj is still the viewpoint character but really, maybe from the standpoint of the novel, I don’t have to have Duj’s personal problems be at the center of it, but I do have to focus it so that we know what the central dramatic conflict is much more sharply in the screenplay than in the novel, and that’s why I decided as a concept in essence to make it a buddy movie between Duj and Jesus.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: But why isn’t that all Neil the technician?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Because we haven’t gotten to what I’m talking about yet. That is all Neil the technician. What isn’t Neil the technician is things coalescing around November, 1966, when suddenly things start happening. I suddenly find out that the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations” came out in November of 1966. When I find out that there was an Elvis Presley recording from his movie Spinout, which came out in 1966, and the song is called “Adam and Evil.” Then I found out that Howard Hughes moved into the Desert Inn, in November 1966.

Suddenly these all points start focusing in on November, 1966, so that I have a sequence in the screenplay of Duj having to time travel back to November 1966, as a centerpoint of the film, and all these sorts of things which become central plot points in the screenplay, particularly having to do with Howard Hughes and the Desert Inn and the song, “Adam and Evil,” which really explicates and motivates the plot moving forward to the second-act climax, and setting us up for the resolution in the third act.

All this started coming together much more elegantly than I was ever able to plan it out.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: When did you write the screenplay, Neil?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I wrote the screenplay probably just about a year ago now.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Okay. See, I view them as different works, and in a few ways I like the screenplay better than the novel, if only because it seems to answer a few more questions. Yet I don’t think it would work as well if you ever tried to rewrite the novel to incorporate the new material from the screenplay. They’re different media and there are certain things you can do in one medium better than another medium.

But I think some of the extra scenes you added to Escape from Heaven, the screenplay — especially some of the scenes in Vegas — and we’re not that far from Vegas now. We’re doing this interview in Pahrump, Nevada. We’re about an hour away from Las Vegas, as I ask this question: did you do it all by yourself or did God give you a little help on the Las Vegas scenes in the screenplay?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Well, as I say, I was guided toward November, 1966, as the spacetime conclusion for this. For some reason, the idea of Las Vegas on the day Howard Hughes is moving into the Desert Inn, I seemed to be guided there and ended up there with the song “Adam and Evil” as a crucial plot point.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Right. So do you feel that you now have expressed the full potential of the Escape from Heaven story concept between the novel and the screenplay? And yet there is a possibility of other stories, drawn from these same sources, in the future? This is a question for both Neil the novelist, Neil the screenwriter, and Neil, receiving these experiences.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: I keep on getting flashes of additional imagery and different plot lines.

I think I know what the first line would be for the sequel to Escape from Heaven, which I list in the forthcoming books in the novel Escape from Heaven, itself, in the front pages, in which I say that the title is Raising Hell. I believe that the first line of that novel is, “Everyone in Heaven smokes.”

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s a great line.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Because, obviously, once you’re in Heaven smoking isn’t going to be damaging to your health anymore. How you can object to tobacco and people smoking, because it’s bad for your health, when you’re an immortal? That’s pretty funny.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: So “Everybody in Heaven smokes” is a really funny first line for that novel.


J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Now I sort of indicate what the plot of Raising Hell would be, and to give just a little foreshadowing of it here.

It would be that the great divorce is over and Jesus, and Jesus’ ex-wife Satan, are back together again — and are Adam and Eve again. And, in essence, Duj Pepperman has been the Jewish Messiah who is bringing Eden back on Earth by opening up the gates. So that Earth is now in full communication with God again and God can walk freely on the Earth again, not having been frozen out anymore during this great interregnum when Satan was able to keep God at bay.

That’s the cosmology and the history I’m giving in the novel, the revisionist mythology. Now that Earth is Edenized again —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: That’s the whole planet?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The whole planet, in fact I say: and Earth was returned to its original name, Eden.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Oh, so you’re arguing Eden was the whole world, not just the garden.


BRAD LINAWEAVER: People wandering around, trying to find the location for the Garden of Eden, are missing the point that Earth was Eden.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Earth was Eden, but then there was the Garden of Eden. But the Garden of Eden was a specific place on planet Eden.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: Beautiful, beautiful.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Now, the sequel to that, now that that problem is solved and Jesus and His ex-wife are back together again, and she is not in rebellion anymore, she has apologized, she has, in essence, rejoined the team. You still have the problem of what to do with this fallen planet that she has created. Where she, as a demiurge, to basically take the Gnostic heresy and turn it on its head, that in fact the really imperfect god who creates this really imperfect world — which is called Hell — is Satan. Now that she’s good again, she has the job of saving her planet from its misery.

And who does she go to? She goes to her husband, Jesus, who is going to go with her to that planet, and now they have the job of saving Hell, of “Raising Hell.”

Now, who do they call upon to help them? The same crew from the first book, starting with Duj Pepperman.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: I like it. Not everybody listening to this audio book may know, if I may have your permission to explain this.


BRAD LINAWEAVER: The demiurge is the idea that Jehovah in the Old Testament is so wicked and evil He can’t possibly be the God who is the father of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. It’s basically trying to say the Jehovah is really another manifestation of the devil or Satan. That is one of the original Gnostic heresies

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: And of course, it’s the Gnostic heresy that Robert Heinlein explicitly plays with in Job: A Comedy of Justice.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: There are other very famous people in recent times who are into it as well.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. But you see people are always coming at me with various different books before mine —

BRAD LINAWEAVER: The books are endless.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Yes. Dante’s trilogy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce, Robert Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice, The Last Temptation of Christ by Kazantzakis. All these sorts of previous books. And they try to figure out, well, did I take this from this and this from that? And of course that wasn’t my approach at all.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, it was not.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: My approach wasn’t even to try to make my book kabbalistic or Gnostic.

BRAD LINAWEAVER: No, not at all.

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: The logic of my story — not any of these other things — were what told me that Adam had to redeem his own sin, that the best loved of God would in fact be like an ex spouse. All of these sorts of things and then coming together and saying that would mean that, if Adam has to redeem his own sin, then Adam is Jesus.

And that means that there is this continual spirit that runs through the story, more than we know.

That in fact it makes sense for Eve, the fallen, to, in essence, be redeemed and that could mean that, after her disappointment with Earth, then she becomes Satan, and foments the rebellion because of her profound objection to Creation.

That she has been promised that there’s going to be meaning coming out of it, and she hasn’t found the meaning, and she thinks that God has basically sold her a bill of goods and is a liar.

That’s the rebellion. It is looking at your parents and saying, “You’re not perfect!” And what child hasn’t done that?

When you get to the point where you realize that your parents — as great as you think they are – aren’t perfect. And remember, I worshiped my father — but he wasn’t perfect.

And I’m sure that I’m not perfect to my daughter.


Next in I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is Chapter X: Heresies

I Met God — God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Quotations from EasyChairman Neil

There Is Such A Thing As A Cheap Lunch. (TISATAACL)

Schulman’s Law: Books > Bookshelves.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to go into politics.

Always look a gift horse in the mouth. If the Trojans had they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble.

The right to be funny is the most basic human right.
(Screw ‘em if they can’t take a joke!)

It’s the job of the novelist to reflect life — with a parabolic mirror. We storytellers are in a messianic competition to see which one of us can save the world first.

Sometimes I feel like a projectionist in a movie theater for the blind.

Thoreau talked about marching to the beat of a different drummer. I had my own dance band.

Always clean before guests come over. Then apologize profusely for how much of a mess you’ve left the place. This puts even the white-glove housekeepers off their game.

Those who live by the sword die by the sword.
The pen is mightier than the sword.
Those who live by the pen die by the pen.

Red states? Red has always been the color of revolution. Do they know something I don’t know?

Each of us has the right to defend the rights of life, liberty, and private property, if necessary applying violence against those who threaten or first use violence to violate those rights. A right that cannot be exercised is no right at all. A right which is not yours to defend belongs to no one.

It’s just me, but I don’t trust Christians who dislike C.S. Lewis; I don’t trust science-fiction fans who dislike Robert A. Heinlein; and I don’t trust libertarians who dislike Ayn Rand.

Unintended consequences of being a lazy slob: I just found a bag of grapes I’d forgotten in the back of my refrigerator for about six months. It’s now a perfectly fine bag of raisins!

You do better as a businessman reading Gandhi than reading Sun Tzu.

You know the world is getting just plain weird when you get an email that starts, “Dear NRA Wine Lover …”

If you’re upbeat and busy all the time, you’re hyperactive — and there’s a prescription pharmaceutical for that. If you’re melancholy or grieving, there’s a prescription pharmaceutical for that. And if you are sometimes upbeat and sometimes melancholy, you’re bipolar — there’s a prescription drug for that. Heads they win, tails you lose. No matter what your mood is, you’re sick and need their drugs. What a racket!

Once you understand that all moral defense of property rights begins with self-ownership, the case for libertarianism is that everything that exists can be owned. Every thing. Once one has made the identification that it is a thing, the moral case for ownership in it has been made. Any exception to this is a corruption of the case and inevitably leads to the case for communism.

There are those who think there are already too many people and wish to reduce the human population by discouraging human fecundity. They think the earth has limited resources and if human population growth continues unabated our species will use them up. But they have it just backwards. The only actual resource is intelligence, and every human body comes with the potential of being that mind which solves the problem of satisfying a need. So I say: the more minds the merrier. Be fruitful and both multiply and divide.

The solution for poverty is the creation of new and plentiful wealth. But as every indie filmmaker like me quickly learns, there’s nothing to distribute if you don’t first produce it.

Today I know that even for an immortal, all things end. Even if you go on forever, you die every moment and are reborn as something else. Every thought you have — every act you take – makes you into something different — and that which you were is left behind, dead. The child who grows into an adult has died: that adult takes over the body and continues. When we leave our bodies, we die as human beings. The human is dead while a new god is born. The friend or loved one we see tomorrow has continuity only with our friend or loved one of yesterday: they are different, even if only incrementally different. If we are lucky, we find that which we love still alive in the new; but the old is surely dead by virtue of having been changed out of existence.

If all one portrays in movies is that powerful officials are heartless, conscienceless monsters, that’s the behavior we’ll get from them.

People who refuse to see this planet as capital for the human race have no alternative than to see the human race as slaves to the planet. Are you a human being or an imperialist rock? Find your class interest and decide.

Senate — lit. “council of elders,” from senex (gen. senis) “old man, old” (see senile). Well, that explains everything!

I am continually astonished that libertarians and propertarian, free-market anarchists accept at face value Marxist and communist spin as their own view of history.

Nowhere in the Constitution of the United States is there authority for paper currency issued by a cartel of private banks to carry the signature of the Treasurer of the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States — a cartel that the Treasurer of the United States, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Congress, the Courts, and even the President are forbidden to audit. Yet if any private bank were to issue gold and silver coins to be circulated as money in the United States, the bankers would be imprisoned, their bank shut down, their gold and silver stocks confiscated, and their customers left as helpless as Bernard Madoff’s victims. And we’re supposed to believe that it’s the love of money that’s the root of all evil?

To the civilian airline passengers of Northwest Airlines Flight 253: Thank you for your service.

Zuzu Bailey: “Look, Daddy! Teacher says, ‘Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings!'” George Bailey: “Shhhh! Zuzu. You trying to get your teacher fired?”

Objecting to any State’s military is consistent with anarchism. But to regard the United States projecting military power against totalitarian regimes as more evil than the continuation of dictatorships in Venezuela or Iran is a moral travesty. The objections to the U.S. going to war are doing so without civilian collateral damage, or cost to Americans, not because liberating those countries wouldn’t be a good thing.

If you believe in God because you read about him in a book and accept the existence of God on faith, you’re legally sane. If I believe in God because I had direct mind-to-mind conduct with the Almighty, I’m crazy. No wonder atheists don’t take religious people seriously.

If PETA were consistent they would oppose sterilization of animals as a violation of the animal’s right to reproduce.

A Jew goes into a bar in Tel Aviv and orders an alcohol-free beer. An Arab comes up to him and says, “This is a Sunni bar. Are you a Sunni or a Shia?” “I’m a Jew,” he replies. The Arab thinks a moment then says, “Are you a Sunni Jew or a Shia Jew?”

Anyone claiming to be a Know-It-All on any subject is no scientist.

I just saw a teenage girl on TV hoping a snow day will close down her school. As far as I’m concerned, any school with as many as 25% of students who wish it were closed — even for a day — is a failure and should be closed until it’s good enough at teaching to find a clientele of students who consider a snow day a tragedy.

Without Choice existing first, one can’t choose the Right to Life.

I’m the Ultimate Minority. There are 6.7 billion of you and only one of me.

That the snake-oil security of gun control has become so dominant that our own army can’t ordinarily be trusted with a gun — that soldiers on an American army base need to dial 911 to call civilian cops for rescue from a lone gunman on an unabated rampage — is the single-most humiliating, despicable, evil, dishonorable, and disheartening loss of face in the entire history of the United States military … That’s far, far worse than the insanity of continuing a broken policy that none of the people who speak from the American heart even notice that it’s broken.

How can Al Gore expect me to accept that the scientific debate on man-made global warming is over when scientists had to take a vote to decide how many planets there are in this solar system?

What is most holy on planet earth? Love, wit, orgasms, and music.

God has earned a place in my heart. Not churches built by men. Not religions organized by men. Not scriptures written by men. Not traditions and customs practiced by men. Men are untrustworthy and corrupted — often enough when they wear funny robes and hats. Demand I treat those artifacts of human existence as holy — demand piety for my fellow men from me — and you make me as much your enemy as if I was still an atheist.

If there is life after death then there is economic life after death, because the axioms of praxeology apply to immortals equally well as they apply to mortals. Volitional consciousness, itself, necessitates the desire to act, thus Nirvana is only achievable if death is real. By the way, “Nirvana” is just a code-word for “death.”

I love capitalism. Think there’s a chance we’ll get it in America?

Here’s a “what if” — and my anarchist friends need not answer. What do you think would happen to the general education level in the U.S. if compulsory schooling after grade 6 were abolished and every dime of taxpayer money currently spent on public schools from grades 7 through 12 were diverted to public libraries?

It is so damned hard sometimes to be a law-and-order anarchist.

A question for the student of history: what’s it called when the people give an order to the police to disperse?

If sending messages on Twitter to protesters from a motel room can be the basis for a federal raid on your home and a federal Grand Jury investigation, wrap it up for liberty in the United States — we’re done.

Oh, while we’re giving warnings, a word to the wise: protesters who want to keep this libertarian on their side better remember that smashing store windows and overturning cars is a good way to get me to dial 911.

I am so sick of political partisans tossing recent history into an Orwellian memory hole to advance their narrow agendas. To attack President Obama’s plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and relocate the prisoners to Supermax prisons on the U.S. mainland, they make the silly argument that “prisoners of war” can’t be held safety on the U.S. mainland. Oh, really? The highest number of prisoners I’ve seen held at Gitmo is 558. According to Wikipedia, “In the United States, at the end of World War II there were 175 Branch Camps serving 511 Area Camps containing over 425,000 prisoners of war. The camps were located all over the US but were mostly in the South because of the expense of heating the barracks. Eventually, every state with the exception of Nevada, North Dakota, and Vermont had POW camps.” Were 425,000 Nazis and Kamikaze Japanese less dangerous than 558 Jihadis? I don’t think so.

I don’t care if this will make it impossible for me to buy an NFL team, but it’s got to be said: Barack Obama dances like a white guy.

Why do neocons like Sean Hannity constantly defame Neville Chamberlain as an appeaser? On 9/30/1938 Chamberlain drew a line in the sand when he signed two treaties with Hitler. On 9/1/1939, ignoring those treaties, Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later Chamberlain became the first world leader to declare war on Hitler. That doesn’t seem like some wimpy appeaser to me — nor to Winston Churchill, by the way.

Why is it that “gun-toting” sounds dangerous but “gun tote” sounds like something Carrie Bradshaw might have bought from Prada?

Even if not an intended part of government health care, any sort of universal health care does inevitably grant the government the power to define risky behavior and punish people for engaging in it — whether it’s owning a gun, or eating a supersized Big Mac, or driving over 55. Once the government has seized the power to regulate your personal life choices freedom is ended and totalitarianism is the way of life. Is there any subsidy for your health insurance that’s worth this total loss of personal liberty?

Iraq and Afghanistan have earned the right to be called democracies the same way Barack Obama has earned a Nobel Prize for achieving peace. That is — not at all, not yet, and maybe never.

Some libertarians are right-wing. Some libertarians are left-wing. This libertarian is spicy-Buffalo-wing.

It’s very simple. If the money is bogus, whatever issues the money is bogus. The day the Fed is audited will be the day the Chairman of the Federal Reserve and all the Federal Reserve members join Bernard Madoff behind bars.

The paradox of the 24-hour news cycle is that with virtually unlimited time to examine the subtleties and nuances of a story the coverage is so dumbed down that even Geico’s cave men should feel they’re being patronized. “Heisman Trophy Winner stabs ex-wife and frend” never explained why forensic evidence actually points more to O.J. Simpson’s son, Jason, and “Hollywood Director drugs and rapes child” can’t explain why the survivor of both the Holocaust and the Manson family would crave a barely-post-pubescent model who now, unquestionably as an adult, wants him left alone. But that doesn’t lend itself well to a smug “End of story!” — does it?

Whenever someone argues the State has a compelling interest to limit individual rights, you’ve identified an enemy of your liberty.

In the name of Darwin, would someone please explain to Bill Maher that his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell doesn’t give him any science credentials to call out the climatologists who don’t buy into the religion of global warming?

Your life doesn’t start when you’re born and your adulthood doesn’t start when you pass through puberty? Such is the progressive thinking that passes for conservativism, ignoring the true conservatism of remembering thousands of years of human culture before our own.

The entire criminal justice system is a one-sided con game if “victims’ rights” is justification for harsher punishment when the victim comes into court to make an impact statement but the victim is told her statement will be trash-canned if she favors excusing her perp. Just one more data point on the destruction of the premise that the individual matters in the United States of America.

The Democratic Party’s attempt to universalize health care falls into the category of the War of All Against All. It is purely Marxist in that it places every individual’s need as a legal claim upon every other individual’s labor and property. If the government can make it a crime to refuse to be a customer for their favored clients, Marxist premises in theory are Fascism in practice.

Property boundaries exist to define the limits of who may protect or utilize what. If everyone has standing to regulate everyone else’s body and property then we are in Hobbes’s war of all against all and that is as good a definition of Democracy as there is.

What distinguishes libertarian legal theory from all others is the premise that only individual moral actors who can be held accountable for their actions have the right to act without the permission of others. Anything else may be protected by the creation of a guardianship but if they are not capable of being held accountable for their actions they do not have the right to act without their guardian’s permission.

Applying the libertarian premise that things that cannot be held morally accountable for their actions do not have rights but may be protected anyway, the question arises: who has standing to protect them? Just anyone? Or only those whose dominion they naturally exist within?

In granting the unborn legal rights “Pro Lifers” use identical logic to environmentalists who grant rights to trees and PETA that grants rights to fish and microbes. All wish to deny human rights to undeniable human beings on behalf of a speculation that something else deserves rights — and assume Godlike legal standing to invade another’s sovereign realm to do it. This is the very definition of imperialism.

Libertarians who choose sides between left and right can do well. Play up free-market capitalism and shut up about being pro-choice, you can mix with conservatives. Play up anti-imperialism and shut up about the Second Amendment you can function on the left. But if you’re a pure out-of-the-closet libertarian, you are so screwed.

The problem with someone like Michael Moore isn’t that he attacks capitalism for having devolved into a corrupt Ponzi scheme. The problem is that the Democracy Michael Moore wants to replace it with is an even more centralized and all-encompassing Ponzi scheme.

Love-Me Tender makes better money than Legal Tender.

Sports. I get it now. You get to see the whole picture. Brilliant!

For my left-libertarian friends: Let’s call an intellectual-property-free market what it really is: Universal Identity Theft.

Remember the posters “Obama’s the One”? I still remember the buttons from 1968 — “Nixon’s the One.” And with the Humana gag order the Obama administration is outdoing Nixon in trying to silence the opposition. Gee whiz, I know the major health-care providers are running a fed-protected racket, so why work overtime to make them sympathetic?

Wait a second, wait a second! For 222 years — since the Constitution was ratified — an excise tax is a tax paid when you buy a product — like liquor or cigarettes — which you can buy tax-free in duty-free shops at airports. Now Max Baucus writes a bill which imposes an excise tax when you DON’T buy something. Er, isn’t that the kind of extortion prosecuted as a protection racket? So let’s follow Max Baucus’s logic about paying an excise tax if you don’t buy acceptable health insurance. Can I avoid paying the excise tax by not buying health insurance in a duty-free shop?

I’m sorry but it comes down to this. The destruction of the World Trade Center was nine decades of New York gun-control — starting with the Sullivan Act in 1911 — coming home to roost. If the cockpit crew or flight crew or passengers on Flights 11 and 175 had been armed on 9/11/2001 the Twin Towers would be standing tall today. In this case, 1911 minus the 1 = 9/11.

TANSTAAFL move over. TANSTAFHC. There Ain’t No Such Thing As Free Health Care.

I’m sorry but there is no vocabulary that can justify the Orwellian notion that forcing healthy people who are not using medical services to purchase health insurance is ending a policy of giving them a free ride. The opposite is the truth: it is indeed taxing the healthy to pay for the sick. Obama is not only lying but he is expecting anyone with a logical mind to implode.

In the name of God, would somebody please send President Obama a DVD of Jurassic Park so he can listen to Jeff Goldblum’s explanation of unpredictability in complex systems? Does the President think he can reliably predict what 300 million Americans will do when forced to buy health insurance better than John Hammond could predict what a T-Rex would do when faced with a Jeep and a couple of tasty-looking kids?

I’m obese and Type II diabetic — a classic “preexisting condition.” Anything President Obama is proposing would benefit me personally because it ropes in healthy and younger people to pay for me. But with that subsidy comes a loss of independence: by assuming the costs of my health care the government claims the right to tell me what I can and can’t eat, force me to perform calisthenics, and become their lab rat.

Blame me — I voted for Obama.

President Carter is absolutely right about me. I am a racist. I would not have voted for someone with his policies if Barack Obama were not black.

It’s not that I want to im-peach President Obama. It’s that I think his higher education has left him learning im-pear’d.

President Obama’s Declaration of Interdependence ends with his pledge of your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor.

When the Founding Fathers set up the federal government with three co-equal branches so we’d have checks and balances, I’m pretty sure they didn’t mean the federal government would be able to write checks when they couldn’t figure balances.

The question is not how to make our country more fuel efficient but less fool efficient.

Would you bring back Cash for Clunkers for another few days, please? I want to turn in Congress.

Grand Theft Autocracy.

Bernie Madoff must be sitting in prison and thinking, “If only I was named Obama I could have kept the Ponzi scheme going forever!”

Am I Big Brother’s keeper?

The historical strength of America does not come from its government but in spite of it. It is not the spy & dominate machine that is powerful. America’s power comes from America’s people: proud, innovative, ornery, sneaky, contrary … and armed to the teeth!

Tyranny stops when you just say no.

All statist propaganda comes down to this: You must comply because we are all-powerful and know everything about you, and you are small, weak … and alone.

Everyone loves President Santa Claus. Only what he’s doing is re-gifting!

Socialism is like a convoy. You put the slowest clunkers up front. So what’s wrong with a convoy? The clunkers keep breaking down and everything keeps coming to a halt. So if you want to spend your life never getting out of first gear, demand that we all travel together in lock step. Or, you could break out of the convoy, pass, and take off!

They want to burden the better to pay for the worse. Obama’s health plan burdens the healthy to pay for the sick. Bush’s bail-out burdened healthy banks to pay for failing banks. Social Security burdens the young and fit to support the old and frail. Nothing’s wrong with any of this if you ask. A strong healthy person can act out of empathy and pity. But let the government take it by force and the human heart dies.

I honestly believe Barack Obama to be both brilliant and decent. If only he understood America.

What’s the enforcement tipping point? How many people have to not register their cars, smoke where it’s forbidden, not collect sales taxes, fail to file tax forms, don’t pay property taxes, don’t pay tickets, fail to make court appearances — before the system loses the voluntary compliance of most of the public needed for it to work? When police cruisers pull a motorist over, the vast majority meekly offer up their documents. Even so, often enough to make traffic cops nervous, a motorist takes a pot shot at the officer. What percent of driver armed confrontations breaks the system to the point cops regard highways like the Green Zone and refuse to do it?

To Glenn Beck: Let me make it easy. I voted for Obama and Bush. I have both socialized and done business with revolutionary anarchists, gun nuts, Hollywood liberals, Communists, Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Muslims, Christians, blacks, atheists, Scientologists, Mormons, sexual deviants, lawbreakers, cops, Congressmen, lobbyists, outside agitators, and propagandists of every stripe. My associations don’t define me.

I get it. Bad people working for the State do bad things. But if you fail to understand that many holding government office are just as concerned with liberty as you are you fail to understand that when tyranny comes they will be resisters on the inside who may turn the tide in the defense of freedom. Yes, there were even good Nazis and good Communists. Is it so hard to believe in good Democrats and good Republicans?

I propose a Nobel Prize in Science for the dude who figures out that every TV remote control should have a “half mute” button to take down the volume by half because the commercials are twice as loud as the program.

Since its founding in 1972, the Libertarian Party has offered the American people an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties. The American people have largely said, no thanks. Could the failure of the LP have something to do with the American people using government checks and services to pay for their family’s food, education, medicine, transportation, and often everything else?

Forget ideology. Forget high flying rhetoric. What does anyone proposing real freedom have to offer in a purely practical sense to a man or woman whose ability to pay their rent or mortgage, their food, their utility bills, their doctor bills and medicine, and their ability to get to work or school is entirely dependent on one level or another of the government? If you can’t provide a practical alternative, you lose.

The basic principle of any agreement is if one party violates its terms, the other parties are freed from its obligations. Examples: If spouses pledge fidelity and one cheats, the injured spouse is entitled to a divorce. If two nations sign a peace treaty and one invades, peace is off. And if none of the three branches of government abide by the limits the People have set in agreeing to the Constitution …

Oh, by the way? The deal works both ways. You can’t, on the one hand, complain that the federal government is operating outside the limits set by the Constitution, and, on the other hand, still demand Social Security, Medicare, student loans, Cash for Clunkers, etc. You can have freedom or a check … but not both.

Today, a new Declaration of Independence would have to read like a 12-Step Program.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the movie Jurassic Park over the years, which I recently watched again on HBO. I love this movie. But you know what? It’s worth losing a few people for the magnificent scientific breakthrough of bringing back dinosaurs and putting them in a zoo. Hell, we lose more people than that each year driving to zoos. The success of the movie itself proves it’s worth the effort.

First when cigarette smokers defended their freedom to smoke, statists said all we were hearing from was the tobacco lobby. When gun owners stood up for the Second Amendment, statists said it was the gun-manufacturers’ lobby. Now Americans who stand up against proposals for nationalizing health care are accused of being a mob organized by pharmaceutical firms. Get the pattern? Same old trick, new rabbit.

Don’t you get it? By allowing them to define the health-care debate as being between private insurance and single payer, they’ve already won. The real debate should be over medical freedom versus single standard. When government defines what is allowable health care and who may provide it, who pays for it is actually beside the point.

Okay, can anyone think of a single reason why Priceline should not be letting people bid on unused hospital beds the same way they bid for unused hotel rooms?

Here’s an idea for reducing health-care costs. Reduce the bureaucratic cost of bringing new drugs intended for adult usage to the market by allowing pharmaceutical manufacturers to label them “X” for experimental then allow manufacturers to put a skull and crossbones on all X-drugs and require prescribing physicians and patients to sign an informed consent form waiving legal liability for all adverse reactions.

How often do we hear the question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” as a moral imperative justifying forced labor or confiscating its fruits? Does anyone remember that the phrase comes from a Bible story about the very first murderer, who had just killed his brother, mouthing off to God when he was interrogated about it?

Love of money may be the root of all evil but not liking money is just stupid.

And while we’re at it, if Casablanca proves anything, it’s that the problems of three little people do amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world!

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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Updated from the version published June 11, 2000 at

As the author of two books on the “gun rights” issue, I must conclude that I have been less successful than I had hoped in making my feelings clear about the NRA, the Second Amendment, and even guns themselves.

When all is said and done, I really don’t care all that much about the NRA, the Second Amendment, or even guns.

The NRA could cease to exist tomorrow, and my political activities would be unaltered. As a matter of fact, I have been embarrassed in the past by the NRA publicists’ apparent inability to convey my beliefs to the media, American intellectuals, and most urban professionals.

The Second Amendment could be repealed tomorrow, and it would make no change whatsoever in my political beliefs. I believe that Americans have no greater right to keep and bear arms than anyone in any other country that doesn’t have such a right written into its constitution. The Second Amendment is irrelevant to the existence of the right to keep and bear arms.

Tomorrow, all the privately-owned guns in America could be grabbed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, then melted down into a mountain of slag, and my ultimate political goals would be unchanged. The absence of guns would not stop me from pursuing the same personal and political goals that I do now.

Those who want to ban guns think I care about the NRA, the Second Amendment, and guns. They think if they can marginalize the NRA, so that it is regarded as an extremist organization such as the Ku Klux Klan, they will be free to repeal the Second Amendment. They think if they repeal the Second Amendment, they will be free to pass all the laws they like banning the private ownership and possession of guns. They think that if they actually succeeded in collecting all the privately held guns in America, they will be free from violence, free from fear, free from extremists who oppose their oh-so-benevolent plans to remake society in their image.

I’m here to tell them that not only do they not have a good sense of reality, they don’t even have a good sense of what motivates the people they think of as enemies.

I am personally motivated by my belief in inherent human rights. I’m an advocate of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I believe people have the right to pursue their own lives free from tyranny, regardless of whether the tyrant is a schoolyard bully, a street thug, a violent family member, nosy neighbors, or armed bureaucrats.

I’m seeking a society where property rights enable people who disagree with each other’s lifestyles to live in peace with each other.

I want a society where a gay bar can peacefully coexist next door to a Seventh Day Adventist church — and as long as the blow-jobs are kept behind the closed doors of the gay bar, and the Seventh Day Adventists keep their prayers for the souls of the gay men on their side of the property line, they can live as neighbors.

I want a society where channel 44 is Jimmy Swaggart and Channel 45 is Baptist Babes in Bondage–and I can unsubscribe to whichever channel I find offensive.

I want restaurants and bars to be free to cordon off smokers’ sections and non-smokers’ sections — and saloon keepers are free to make a rule that in the smokers’ section you have to smoke.

It is only respect for the demarcations of private property that enables people who despise each other to coexist. For many people, it is only the fear of retaliation for violating someone else’s rights that motivate respect for them. In the real world, there is no respect without deterrence.

Each of us has the right to defend the rights of life, liberty, and private property, if necessary applying violence against those who threaten or first use violence to violate those rights. A right that cannot be exercised is no right at all. A right which is not yours to defend belongs to no one.

These are fundamental principles. The problem with those who want to ban guns is that they do not have the ability to think in principles. They think not in syllogisms but in what I’ve termed sillygisms.

A sillygism is a sequence of statements which appear logical but which produce nonsense.

For example: People who die after jumping out of airplanes are almost always wearing parachutes. Therefore, if people jump out of airplanes without parachutes, they will be safer. That’s a sillygism.

This may seem obviously ludicrous to you. But I can point out to you studies conducted by people with doctorates and medical degrees, and published in The Journal of the American Medical Association and The New England Journal of Medicine, where the logic is just as silly: People who die from a gunshot wound more often keep a gun for protection than people who don’t. Therefore, if people don’t keep guns for protection, they will be safer.

The sillygism is the same for both parachutes and guns. People who jump out of airplanes need parachutes far more often than people who don’t. The failure of a parachute to save a jumper’s life in a few cases doesn’t mean that jumping out of a plane without a parachute is safer. Most of the time parachutes save the jumper’s life.

Likewise, the failure of a gun to save a victim’s life in a few cases doesn’t mean that living in a dangerous world without keeping a gun for protection is safer. Most of the time, the availability of a gun will save the victim of a criminal attack.

It is a love of life, liberty, and the property rights that protect pursuit of one’s own concept of happiness that motivates me politically.

It is an historical study of what has been necessary to secure fundamental human rights that dictates where I devote my energy to shape the future.

It is an understanding of the usefulness of guns in defending the rights of the individual that causes me to defend the Second Amendment as a political barrier to the unilateral disarmament of the private individual.

And the NRA being the only well-funded, popular institution that defends the Second Amendment is what causes me to support that organization, despite its failure to convey my beliefs to the media, American intellectuals, and most urban professionals.

Destroy the NRA, and I will be no less enthusiastic about preserving human liberty. I will merely see it as necessary to organize fresh grass-roots support to preserve the Second Amendment.

Repeal the Second Amendment, and I will be no less committed to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. That right precedes the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution is merely a contract among the American people in an attempt to secure this and other rights. If that contract is broken, it may be assumed that I am no longer bound by the terms of that contract — and I will start renegotiating until I secure acceptable terms.

The American Revolution which began on April 19, 1775 at the old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts was such a renegotiation.

Ban private guns — send armed bureaucrats house-to-house to collect them all — and my right to self defense will be lessened in no way. There are weapons other than guns that can be effective in combating even the best armed and most tyrannical government. In countries where guns are few, home-made bombs are many. There are chemical propellants other than gunpowder that can be effective in aiming and accelerating small objects at a target, and drilling holes in it.

In an America with common household things including aerosol oven cleaners, laser pointers, microwave ovens, light trucks and vans, GPS navigation, and iPhones, you seriously don’t want to piss off millions of Americans who believe they own guns to keep the government under the people’s control. We’re peaceful and law-abiding now because our right to defend ourselves with guns is politically secure.

Here’s a sillygism for them: They think gun owners are dangerous. But they also think it is safe for them to try taking away guns from millions of gun owners.

Maybe they should try thinking that one through again.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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